Man Without Qualities

Friday, May 21, 2004

Letting Go Of Abu Ghraib

This Washington Times editorial gets the media fixation on Abu Ghraib exactly right:

Accounts and graphic photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse persist in the press despite the fact that the story has run its course. The world already knows salient details of the prisoner humiliation and nudity, the causes of the abuse are under official investigation, and the courts-martial have begun. Yet, the caterwaul in the press against the American military and the war in Iraq continue.

Even today, the Washington Post is showing more icky nude photos and the Associated Press breathlessly informs us that prisoners were "fondled."

Why won't the media let go? Much of the explanation surely lies in the sterling excuse for running nude pictures (images! remember, this whole story is supposedly driven by the shocking images!) of nude men in sexual humiliation. In other words, the mainstream media editors are able to be pornographers without having to accept the lowly social positions of pornographers. Of course they want to continue long after the points have been made.

Then there is the political content. There is the simple fact - noted here previously - that both the general war on terror and the domestic economy are going the President's way (and, generally, the Republican way) as election issues for November. One can sense the joy in mainstream media reports of the decline in the President's approval ratings over Abu Ghraib, just as one can feel the corresponding frustration, even anger, over his continuing lead in almost every poll over his Democratic competitor - the one for whom the reporter writing the mainstream media story will almost certainly vote.

But the public is bored, and some media are getting the point. Even the front page of today's Los Angeles Times carries not a single Abu Ghraib story.

Give it up, guys. If people want pornography, there are better places on the net. And the prospect of driving a successful president from office with some pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse was always fanciful and desperate, at best.

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