Last night on the American television news show 60 Minutes, President-elect Obama announced he’d be closing the hors de loi Guantanimo Bay Prison Base plus pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2010. As an American living abroad, which of the following news sources do you think I learned of this this morning?:
A) New York Times
C) France Culture Radio’s 15-minute news broadcast
Of course it was C, and, as far as mainstream media culpability in the Gitmo atrocity, there’s the rub.
When I finally found today’s Times’s coverage of the appearance, it was buried in a blog column called the Caucus which spent more time (a couple of sentences) on the president-elect’s bemoaning that he would now have to order out for a barber than on his decision to close the institution that’s probably been the biggest embarassment to America (and Americans) abroad over the last eight years of anything the Bush Administration has perpetrated in our name (to say nothing of its violations of international and American law and their tactile effect on the detainees). (No mention in the Times story.) More than just bad journalism, it’s this kind of mainstream U.S. media lack of attention that has enabled the Bushies to get away with this for the last seven years. Out of site, off mainstream media radar, out of the public mind.
The BBC was hardly better; no, 0 mention of Guantanimo in its segment on Obama’s 60 Minutes gig but healthy time to Michelle Obama’s update on the puppy situation. Personally, I — and many Americans and others abroad who care about the United States — am more concerned about detainees being treated worse than dogs than puppies in the White House.