Note to anchors and reporters: stop smiling  MAR 21 2003

The TV coverage by the cable news networks of the war in Iraq is disappointingly shoddy. Somehow, they think we want to see green, pixelated pictures of trucks moving through an empty desert; endless grainy shots of Baghdad at night; choppy, pixelated live reports from embedded reporters; and the neverending analysis of the minutia of warfare. This is supposed to give us a sense as to what's happening and what to make of it all?

I've had the TV on all afternoon, watching it while I work. Right now, I'm watching tiny pixelated people moving around on the deck of an aircraft carrier. This scene imparts absolutely no information, knowledge, or perspective to the viewer. I understand that the assault of Iraq is important to cover, but what about the protests around the world, the terrorist suspects on the loose with possible dirty bombs, and the plans for humanitarian aid? Those things are just as important to the story, and the news channels have devoted about 2 minutes to covering them over the course of the entire afternoon, opting instead to fawn over U.S. military might, their tech toys, and, wheeee, look at us, we're embedded.

A lowlight from earlier was an enthusiastic Neil Cavuto on Fox News asking some jackass Congressman how he felt about what he's been seeing so far (this was after seeing the severe bombings in Baghdad). The grinning Congressman replied, "I'm very happy".

And just to be fair, a few good things about the coverage this afternoon:

- The live views of the bombing in Baghdad. As much as a grainy picture on television can, it gave viewers a sense of the scope of the bombing. Certainly didn't fill me with a sense of happiness as it did for that Congressman.

- Extensive coverage of the Iraqi ambassador's comments to the UN on MSNBC. Surprised me to see coverage of an alternative view of the war.

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