Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Did The North Koreans Shell The South? Who Cares: Time To Craft Policy

Here's an example of what passes for "news coverage" and "expert analysis of current events" within esteemed institutions of journalism such as the Wall Street Journal:

In case you missed it, the script is as follows:
-Summarize the (murky, indefinite) details
-Bring on an "expert", preferably an academic tied to a former or current political regime, and ignore that because of this status the person is far from an impartial observer
-Allow the "expert" to provide insight and commentary that is about as valuable and explanatory as that which you might get from flash-polling the average Joe walking down the street; allow the "expert" to litter his meaningless response with lots of hope, conjecture and outright guessing
-Don't call the "expert" out on his inability to bring anything concrete, clued-in and specific to the table
-Allow the "expert" to fill the rest of the time-slot with a brazen attempt at conditioning the mind of the viewer with what he thinks should be the proper "policy response"

No one seems to have any clue what is going on in the world or why, least of all the journalists and policy-makers. This little clip is strong evidence of it. The "expert" from Georgetown was able to provide absolutely zero context to this event aside from mentioning the violence could be related to the transition in power in North Korea recently (I assume that reasoning would also apply to Obama's stepping-up of CIA drone attacks in Pakistan following his ascension to power). No discussion of what is happening in that country, who the players are, what role might the Chinese government be playing behind the scenes and how might this relate to recent economic and political saber-rattling between the US government and Chinese government, how often things like this happen, why one country's military is able to bombard another without it resulting in a full-on shooting war (in other words, what calculus is used to determine tolerable levels of violence) and no hint of whether the South Korean and other allied militaries and politicians have provided any recent provocations of their own.

Just, "Wow, that was bizarre, may be related to X, Y or Z, but here's the important thing-- let's make sure we craft the proper policy response to this event!"

Kind of reminds you of the United States government's response to the financial meltdown: forget about figuring out why this happened, let's start proposing solutions everybody! (Oh and by the way, please ignore that the solutions don't address the problems, which they obviously couldn't because we never discussed them in the first place and really, this whole crisis has just given us the perfect excuse to implement some new policies we've been dying to put in place the whole time anyway.)

The world badly needs a free market-perspective, skeptical, thoughtful, honest and intelligent press corps. Not this clueless, immature, naive, political lapdog gang of monkeys in clown suits.

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