Thursday, February 09, 2006

Media Matters is Losing It

Media Matters, a left wing website focused on exposing "Republican spin and propaganda in the media" has taken to timing how much applause CNN shows during speeches by liberals in front of a predominantly liberal audience. According to Media Matters, Wolf Blitzer showed footage of the Rev. Joseph Lowery as he politicized/eulogized Coretta Scott King and her legacy during services honoring her on Tuesday. The segment in question on CNN's The Situation Room was being shown to two panelists one a Republican, the other a Democrat. During the segment, Blitzer showed Lowery referring to the failure to find WMD's in Iraq followed by 5 seconds of applause. The clip then cut to Lowery finishing his statement(after the applause had ended). Media Matters' complaint in this is that CNN chose to cut 18 of the 23 seconds of a standing ovation with occurred in between the two statements they showed. In their minds this constituted "doctoring" the video since people, who may not have seen the footage, would not have known that Lowery's statment drew such a positive response from the audience.

Now I get what Media Matters is all about. I think they are disingenious in their presentation because they act as though they are "truth detectors" for the media when in fact they only point media reporting which benefits the right while ignoring numerous cases where the media does the same for the left. I also understand the need to point out when a journalist or politician is wrong in reference to certain half truths or omissions, especially as it hurts your side or benefits the other, the right has their websites that do the same thing. That being said, Media Matters is really dropping to a new level with this one. If you follow the logic used here they are basically accusing CNN of cutting out the applause in an effort to minimize the popularity of Lowery's remarks and quell any thoughts by the viewer that what Lowery said was accepted or right in any fashion.

I would like to think there is a more plausible explanation. The editors at CNN cut out the 18 seconds of applause because it did not fit within the segment. According to Media Matters account this was not a news story review of the event or the actual broadcast. Wolf Blitzer was showing the remarks in order to elicit a response from a panel. It is more plausible that it was decided that rather than wasting air time by showing 18 seconds of applause from the audience, they should simply show the remarks only and the ask the panelists what they thought. Media Matters, of course assumed it to be part of the VRWC to quell dissent and CNN should have informed the viewer that the video had been edited. This is poppycock. If anyone has watched any speeches by any President, and the State of the Union is a great example, CNN and others will show portions of the speech(which are often interrupted by mainly partisan applause) and they refrain from showing the full length of the applause. It is asanine to believe that CNN or anyone else is going to waste 18 seconds of airtime, given the tight schedules shows are put under, to show partisan applause. This is the reality of what occurred here. Voting records show that 90% of blacks vote Democratic so it is a fairly safe assumption that the audience was (1) predominantly black and (2) that 90% of them were Democrats opposed to the President. Cropping 18 seconds of these people giving Lowery a standing ovation is the same as the networks cropping 18 seconds of people giving Bush a standing ovation during the SOTU or any other speech given in front of a politically friendly crowd. The point is that it added very little to the segment which was being shown. Media Matters, who is too busy looking for a propaganda snake under every rock, cries foul when CNN does what any news channel does, edit the video to fit the time alotted or the purpose of the segment. The other aspect that makes this so incredible is Media Matters assumption that the American viewer is inherently stupid. If this logic is to be believed then American news watchers are so dumb they have to be shown the entire footage. In the minds of Media Matters people if the viewers do not see the entire footage they may come to the conclusion that the audience, who was shown clapping for 5 seconds before the cut, might not have been wild supporters of sentiment expressed by Lowery. It also should be noted that most people will form an opinion on Lowery's remarks based on what he said, not on the reaction of the crowd.

Has the hatred of Bush and conservatives really reached a point where left wing media critics are really complaining about how much of the crowd reaction get shown? The only way this criticism makes any sense is if Blitzer had characterized the crowd reaction as being ambivalent or if CNN had a history of playing up crowd reactions in Bush speeches but cropped them from left leaning speeches they show. Short of those two conditions, it would appear to me that all CNN did was edit the video as a normal part of preparing the segment to air in a certain time frame and to serve a certain purpose.

Of course if Bush had stood up and said something which caused the crowd to cheer for 23 seconds and CNN chose to only show 5 seconds of it, would Media Matters complain then? I think not.


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