Jack Ingram

Lately in the mainstream media (MSM), there has been talk about the vice president and some guy he shot in the face. But honestly, I have to ask: Was anyone really that surprised that our beloved vice president ” the same man who stabbed voters in the back in 2000, who profit by manipulating information to monger a unjustified “war,” who sat on his ass at his Wyoming ranch while New Orleans drowned ” is it at all surprising that he shot his friend in the face?

Granted, it was an accident. And I think that I, like most people, will agree with that: shit happens. So why then is the MSM so obsessed with this accident, other than the fact that it is morbidly hilarious? To that, I’d have to say that the incident is a characterization, a caricature of this administration. This incident reinforces the public’s conception of the current administration; it speaks of the administration’s past dealings: quick to draw and careless. It’s an example of how these guys do business.

According to a recent CNN/Times poll, the administration’s approval rating is still sagging at around 40 percent. But in the waning days of this administration, with less than 1,000 days remaining, it would appear, at least through the public eye, that this administration is rapidly approaching lame-duck status. As much as I appreciate the MSM for mudslinging, I think the public already had distaste for the administration, and I hope the MSM will move to thoroughly address other, more important issues.

While all this Cheney business is grabbing headlines, other issues of much greater significance to the American public are being pushed aside. It’s a disturbing characteristic of the MSM: headline homogenization. The vast majority of the news focuses on only one or two issues. While newspapers were quick to print the gory details of Cheney’s accident, very few newspapers have had the testicular fortitude to publish the Danish caricatures that have been the cause of so much unrest. In response to the criticism about the widespread refusal to print the caricatures, many MSM publications have claimed that printing the caricatures would be inappropriate and insensitive.

Odd word choice to characterize a news media that thrives on controversy. Something tells me that had Dick Cheney really blown that guy’s head off, every news network would have been scrambling for the gory accident scene photos. And yet it would be inappropriate to print a drawing that has been the basis of so much political turmoil relevant to our national interests. Discussion has gone on and on about these cartoons, but so few publications will reprint them to allow the public can witness for themselves.

It appears that fear, specifically fear of terrorism, has a firm grip over the media. We, the self-proclaimed bastion of freedom, are afraid to print a cartoon. What does that say about our First Amendment freedom to free speech and free press? While I enjoy watching politicians being eviscerated by journalists, I hate it when the mudslinging begins to overshadow the important issues, like Hurricane Katrina. A recent Congressional report had this to say about our government:

“We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectiveness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are.”

Which begs the question: Are we, as a nation, more secure after 9/11?

To that, I have to say no. We live in a world where all our notions, ideas and thoughts are being challenged and tested; freedom of speech and press are just the beginning. The notion that democracy is a universally good mechanism for peace went down the crapper with Palestine democratically and freely electing an anti-Semitic terrorist organization to lead their country. The idea of weapons grade plutonium in Iraq was false; the idea of plutonium in Iran is true. And the thought that the Department of Homeland Security would be able to secure the homeland from things other than just terrorist turned out to be a dream.

Jack Ingram is a political science senior and a Mustang Daily columnist.

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