Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston bombings: America's bad press

That's "bad press" as in "the mainstream media are incompetent."  And maybe it's not just them.

There's been a good deal of hand-wringing and casting of insults over the lack of knowledge that Americans exhibit on the Chechnya.  Well, "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies would like to take this opportunity to defend our fellow Americans.  No, not the imbeciles who confused the Czech Republic with Chechnya, there's no excusing that idiocy, but if people aren't very familiar with Chechnya, I can hardly blame them.  Following the MSM (mainstream media) would not have helped.  The MSM currently seems utterly confused by the Chechen connection.

On Philadelphia Public Radio (WHYY) on April 19 the Marty Moss-Coane Show* carried an interview with Chechnya "expert" Emma Gilligan of University of Connecticut.  She was supposed to talk about the history of Chechnya and the conflict with Russia, to help explain how this fits in with current events.  I was quite interested, expecting to hear about the origins of the conflict in the 1700's and the long tumultuous history that followed.  Instead we were treated to a brief bit about how it all began with Boris Yeltsin.  Then Gilligan expressed surprise that Chechens would be involved in an attack outside Russia, since they are really only concerned with Chechnyan independence.

Good grief.  If that's what 'experts" think, no wonder the MSM is lost.  I would think anyone who lived in Russia for a spell would know better than this.  I am certainly no expert, but I've followed Kavkaz Center (KC) for some time.  KC articles regularly refer to an alleged international conspiracy of nation-states warring to destroy Islam, an alliance of the United States, Russia, Israel, and India.  Leaders interviewed in KC see themselves as part of the Caucasian Emirate (sometimes the Northern Emirate)  and the front line in the ongoing battle to establish a world caliphate.  But you don't have to read KC to know that Chechens have regularly fought in the war of radical Islam against the rest of the world, including in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

But following the MSM won't help much.  One would have to read the foreign press for that.  Of course, until recently, most Americans didn't have much need to know about Chechnya.  But now that it's of interest and possible importance, the MSM -- which should know what the hell is going on -- seems lost.  Why?  At one point I didn't believe this, but I think it's obvious now that the MSM frequently sees its role as one of advocacy first, news as an afterthought, and is often poorly equipped to do news and serious analysis.

This morning I read in Haaretz that the Tsarnaevs are being investigated for possible involvement in a 2011 triple murder.  This story appeared in the U.K. press two days ago.  So far as I can tell, NPR, NYT, and WaPo are still oblivious, although Fox had it yesterday and CNN seems to have just picked this up.  I would think that this is worth noting, even if the investigation proves a dead end.  But the "most serious" "news" outlets have been asleep at the switch.  Perhaps WaPo just has been too busy explaining why it is utterly irrelevant that the Tsarnaevs were Muslims and that Islam doesn't have any unique problem with extremist maniacs, while NYT has its hands full trying to explain the rejection of Obama's plans for gun control: he's just too kind and gentle, it seems.

That's why "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies maintain links to the foreign press from around the world.  They cover more than "all the news that fits."  It still might not be enough to really know what's going on in the world, but at least one will have a better chance than those who stay in the NYT/NPR/MSM echo chamber do.**

* Incidentally, I don't mean to criticize Marty Moss-Coane here.  Her show is is one of the most thoughtful I've heard and her guests tend to be extremely interesting.  BTW, I'm unsure of the link I've provided here, because the URL references "Orphan Master," a different interview on North Korea...one that is well worth hearing.

** I nearly forgot to mention: BBC is reporting that Chinese military sources say North Korea is preparing another nuclear weapon test.  Not "fit to print," I guess.

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