By Robert Wallace
America’s media has a serious case of attention deficit disorder. This is because they are competing to have the most sensational headline. Many times an important story will break, the media will jump over it for a short time, and then the media will run off to chase a new headline even though the story is not over.
Want examples? I’ve got two.
Remember Obama’s decision to cancel our missile defense agreement with Poland? Do you remember how liberals believed that the grateful Russians would thank us by cooperating to ratchet up pressure on Iran? How is that working out for us?
Consider the Russian reaction to Obama’s missile defense strategy. They got what they wanted and they’d like more of the same, so they paid lip-service to reconciliation and gratitude. They know that as long as a few friendly quotes show up in papers over the next couple of days many Americans will walk away with the impression that Obama’s gesture worked. The attention span of the American media is not long enough to track whether their actions matched their words.
Well the #1 action that Obama wants from the Russians is an agreement not to veto new sanctions against Iran. The Russians delivered some tough rhetoric to boost the credibility of this stupid American strategy, but so far there are no new sanctions and no real prospect that there will be any new sanctions.
We’re getting played.
It’s about time for a check-up to see if the liberals hope was misplaced, or if I was being overly cynical. According to a Reuters article:
Russia has no evidence that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
“We have no information that Iran is working on the creation of a nuclear weapon,” Putin said when asked by a reporter if Iran was close to making an atomic bomb.
When asked if Russia would support international sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Putin declined to answer.
The problem is that Russia not changing their position on Iran isn’t really a story. No one will cover it. And so the stories of yesterday just sort of blend together into a murky soup of unfinished tales.
I’ve already quoted myself twice in this article, and so I feel like it’s as good a time as any to nip any nascent ego trip in the bud. After the Honduran “coup” in July, I defended Obama’s reaction before learning all the facts. I got it totally wrong.
In the days and weeks after that initial reaction, I learned the truth: there was no coup in Honduras. The military executed the lawful judgment of the Honduran Supreme Court according to their own constitution. The Obama administration did not change their approach, however, and kept up pressure on the tiny nation to accept the return of the proto-dictator Zelaya.
The pressure never let up, but Honduras managed to hold out until Sunday, November 29
when the country held its regularly scheduled presidential election. As David Kopel related, the results were a decisive win for democracy:
In Sunday’s presidential election, the voters of Honduras chose Partido Nacional candidate Pepe Lobo, who won 58%, compared to 33% for Partido Liberal candidate Elvin Santos. Both candidates supported the removal of former president Manuel Zelaya, who had violated Articles 373 and 374 of the Honduran Constitution and forfeited his office by attempting to arrange a second term for himself. Zelaya had called for a boycott of the election, and predicted that an abstention rate of over 50% would make the election illegitimate. As it turned out, 61% of enrolled voters cast ballots–an increase from the 2005 presidential election (which Zelaya won with 49.9%), and in which only 53% of enrolled voters had participated. In the 2001 election, participation was 64%; in 1997 it was 72%, and in 1993 it was 65%.
Since some folks weren’t sure what part of this was a decisive win for democracy, Kopel clarified with an update:
Since some readers were apparently unclear about what I meant by “decisive win for democracy,” I meant that a solid majority of Hondurans repudiated Zelaya by going to the polls to vote overwhelmingly for two candidates who both repudiated Zelaya’s efforts to destroy the Constitution. Which of the two of those candidates got the most votes was irrelevant to the fact that democracy itself triumphed.
Despite pressure from everyone from Castro to Chavez to Obama, the Honduran people held out. Now that they have gone through an election and have chosen a new president, hopefully we can put the whole “coup” business behind us, and return to normal diplomatic relations with the country that refused to bow to tyranny.
I don’t think the media’s ADD has anything to do with political bias, but as long as the media bias lasts so will the ADD because they are both symptoms of putting short-term gain ahead of long-term gain by focussing on readers today instead of credibility tomorrow. Maybe one day they will make a serious effort to stick with stories longer (which should be trivial using web-based content), but in the meantime we’ll keep working at AR to keep stories from falling between the cracks when they fall out of the headlines.
Robert Wallace is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.