About that “Betray Us” ad in the NYT…

The blather: “What are our news outlets investments coming to when they throw away $100,000 so a non-profit can run an anti-war ad attacking a ‘war hero’? No wonder their stock is down.”

First things first. There has never been a ‘war hero’. There have been heroes who have been sent to war and have shown themselves to be heroes there. These people would have been heroes as fire fighters or police or bus drivers or teachers or insurance salesmen or accountants. Heroism is wasted if the only place you ever see it is in war. The first people who will ever tell you that are soldiers.

Whether Petraeus is any kind of hero is a different argument. Heroes will risk their own wellbeing to save others. He’s certainly risking his career and credibility to save Bush’s occupation plan, so I’m sure Bush considers him a hero. Having more US soldiers in Iraq shooting at other people who are carrying guns, I admit the possibility, may make it more likely that soldiers already stationed there are at less risk, if only by increasing the number in the herd and averaging the risk among them. Removing all of the soldiers, however will reduce the risk to all of them. So I doubt the majority of the soldiers think of him as a hero—unless Petraeus has ever shown up on the battlefield personally, guns blazing, rescuing the wounded like a motherfucker. There are possibly ten or fifteen remaining Iraqis who seriously do not want the US soldiers to depart because they would likely die, so I suspect Petraeus is a hero to them.

Then there’s the blatherer’s main argument. He believes a news outlet’s first obligation is to making a profit for their investors by selling ad space profitably, not by giving deep discounts to a “deep pocketed liberal advocacy group”.

This is me, responding to the blatherer’s main argument:

One: He makes no measure of the depth of MoveOn.org’s pockets. Pocket depth is a very relative measure. I am a lobbyist. My pockets are microns deep at best. George Soros has pretty deep pockets indeed. How deep do pockets need to be before $100,000 isn’t a serious purse-lightening?

Two: There is no consideration of whether someone else’s pockets were involved. Did someone Soros-like cover the short $100,000?

Three: Executives in charge of selling ad space agreed so much with the ad that they decided to write off $100,000 in income? This appears to be the blatherer’s combination assumption and conclusion: that, potentially, the New York Times offers discounts to political advocacy organizations that are aligned with the suspected liberal bias written into the corporation’s by-laws. And that’s bad for business? Oh, come on.

Not that anti-war statements are any longer necessarily strictly liberal. Current pro-war Republicans in office have dropped to somewhat less than fifty percent.

Dear blatherer, according to your arguments, the best business a news outlet can be in is the one in which it sells every square inch of space to the highest bidder. However, many feel that news outlets have different duties that, if they were not fulfilled, would make the newspaper worthless to potential viewers of that sold space, and that would likely kill profits by dropping circulation and ad rates. Besides, if you know that the presence of that controversial ad alone will generate more than 50,000 extra sales at $2.00 apiece and get extra load/views of your online advertising, then you know you’re making the discount back AND ALSO boosting your circulation numbers—which means you can hike your ad rates. And someone paid them to run it.

In fact, I am thinking of offering to the New York Times a full-page-sized color Xerox copy of my naked pink ass (with a magic marker version of Spider Jerusalem’s “Kiss Here” tattoo applied) and a dollar to pay for the space, since I know the outrage-spurred increase in sales and circulation would more than cover the $167,156 shortfall in their standard political advocacy page-rate.

NPR (for example) exists so that we may be guaranteed of at least one news outlet that doesn’t have to be tempted to modify the content in order to satisfy pressure from investors. While they do get pressure from time to time to prove that they actually have an audience and that public funds aren’t just being converted into photons being beamed into space, they would not likely be tempted to (if it were somehow possible) air a xeroxed copy of my naked ass. Unless they could also justify that it was news: Amateur Opinion Journalist Willing To Show Naked Ass To Demonstrate Irreverence And Make A Point, Film At Eleven

In fact, Robert Reich, during an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, had some interesting things to say about how people like the blatherer come to exist—people who whine about how corporations show a lack of civic duty to (for instance) produce unbiased news and simultaneously whine about how dividends are down because those corporations aren’t screwing everyone they can for a buck. These are people who vote for minimum wage increases while simultaneously rewarding the fuck out of CEOs who cut the bottom line by firing increasingly expensive hourly workers in the US in favor of cheap overseas manufacturers. Heart in the right place, maybe, but dollars definitely in the wrong place.

I just wasn’t prepared to meet someone schizophrenic enough to try to put both whines in the same sentence.


September 13, 2007 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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