I am generally pleased when the axiom " you are entitled to your own opinions, but you can't invoke your own facts" is played like a trump card in a heated debate.
It refreshes the mind, like a hit on the reset button, and makes paramount a very serious question. Your opinion may very well be flying into the headwinds of the revealed facts. At which point the educated western mind says.. speculative and/or untenable.
My mind has been nagged since the Times Square Bombing attempt first appeared. Within 24 hours I had digested narrative "facts" that were, at the very least, incongruent and more plainly, contradictory.
Tonight's episode of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" addressed the failure of the media to get out a coherent narrative of Faisal Shahzad. And that, as is the function of the Daily Show, reminded me that I am not alone in getting queasy when "national security terror events" unfold. Are you comfy?
Why can I not get narrative established in my mind about the arrest of Faisal Shahzad?
Because I listen to and read and watch a variety of news providers I suppose.
Because between NPR, Cable TV news Channels, Network newscasts, PBS, BBC it is CLEAR that Faisal Shahzad was arrested:
- before boarding his flight
- as he boarded his flight
- after he boarded his flight but before the plane left the gate
- after the plane lined up on the runway
- before the flight left, but then the plane was ordered back to the gate because of 2 other "people of interest" who were subsequently arrested.
- on the plane along with the other 2 people of interest.
Take your pick. Journalism 101. Each of these assertions, mostly attributed to "officials" ( yes folks, Orwell, Zamiatin, Bradbury,Huxley fans) ............. Officials.
is, in theory, supported by two or more independent sources with discernable motives.
The product is chaos as fact. This is so complicated and involved, believe me , it's just the first draft of history, a lot of confusion, witnesses say funny things, how can you expect it make sense with all that excitement going on........
What the Fuck ?
When did we peasants grant permission to three serious and reliable outlets of the news media to tell us stories about very serious stuff that they can't defend against contradictory claims in three other equally esteemed outlets?
What's worse? None of those outlets takes note of, or finds any significance in the inconsistencies of these narratives.
Those who detest "conspiracy theories" will jump up now, loudly, to defend the right of several legitimate and professional journalism outlets to contradict each other on basic information that requires sourcing.
Yes, you can get sources who observed the sinking of the Titanic and saw contradictory "facts".
But here we have an immediate access of multiple media "feeds", professional journalists close to the scene, means of accessing witnesses......
The truth should be easier to tease out of the chaos of events not harder to discern.
But we are, in fact, confounded. Less sure about what happened.
And we ought to complain about it. Telling us what happened is the primary, singular, central, existential premise for the existence of journalism.
Journalism has failed, in my opinion, when an "over-informed" consumer/client of "news product" remains unable to simply restate what the newsmedia has told me without feeling embarrassed and silly.
Mr Shahzad may be one of many things, including an American intelligence asset used to penetrate Pakistan's jihadists fringes, a delusional trendy guy who stumbled from a Sapphire gin and tonic into martyrdom, the embodiment of the long slow developing and growing menace of Islamic terror, an angry mortgage victim, a truly weird dude. Some or all of the above.
There is a fog of war. But the events at JFK airport did not take place under heavy shelling pre-dawn. The satellite trucks were 30 minutes away driving time. The groomed correspondents.... wait.... on this story, I saw none.
I am feeling a bit too lazy to link to the CNN, AP, Times, BBC et al that I read and that triggered this essay. If you wish to demand links I will provide at great length.
I assume that all readers of this entry have already noted.. or were reminded... that the story of Faisal Shahzad's arrest is .. pick and choose. I wonder what you chose: