Short Circuit News Wire

Diverting the Main Stream

Media Confuses Obama, Osama Once Again

with 2 comments

Is it that difficult to differentiate between the name of a presidential candidate and that of the terrorist mastermind responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans?

I guess everything gets confusing when the current President is a terrorist mastermind responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

Once again, a major news source has made a mistake confusing Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden. The media as an institution is making this mistake a lot. CNN has done it twice. As a matter of fact, it seems the only time we ever see bin Laden on the TV these days is when somebody puts up his video when they’re talking about Obama. Hardball was presenting a story on the recent finnickiness among Democratic candidates as to the origin of their campaign rhetoric, but the presentation included a video clip showing Osama bin Laden.

This wasn’t a subject that came up incidentally in the conversation, forcing an editor to put images on-screen at the last minute, making the mistake more understandable. This was a situation where they had a finished presentation ready to broadcast. News broadcasts are done on a tight schedule and under a lot of pressure, but that doesn’t excuse not taking the time to at least watch the opening presentation of a news broadcast before putting it on the air.

It’s a bit suspicious when this sort of thing keeps happening. It couldn’t have looked good for John Kerry when Fox put a story online after the first debate with George W. Bush quoting Kerry as saying he “looked good” during the debate and that he was a metrosexual. Later Fox claimed this had been a “joke” article that somebody in the office wrote and left laying around, and someone else published it by accident.

Perhaps Fox is another matter. There is no shortage of evidence that Fox is little more than a propaganda machine for the right, or at least a niche market newscast for conservative viewers. The Obama campaign downplayed the recent NBC mistake, and regardless of whether this is some big business conspiracy to threaten a candidate or subliminally reinforce a mental connection between Obama and Osama in the minds of the viewers, this is a good way to make it disappear from the media and minimize the potential damage Obama’s campaign would suffer if he made himself look like a crazy conspiracy theorist for thinking this was done on purpose.

It could be a simple mistake. For example, an editor compiling clips for the broadcast could have accidentally opened something along the lines of /clips/osama/183726593 when they wanted to open /clips/obama/183726593. But how could they not watch the clip, see it in the segment before broadcasting, or broadcast it without some kind of supervisor approving the segment for broadcast?

This kind of thing could be a reflection of the current state of the economy. Big businesses are cutting costs everywhere they can; they generally like to look flashy anyway, because it sells, and are willing to pay for it, but big corporations which not only have to compete for our business but also have to compete for investors by having a higher growth rate and profit margen than other corporations are sometimes willing to cut costs even when it lowers the quality of the final product.

This on its own is cause for concern. Journalism is extremely important, but business is business and what counts are numbers. This kind of mistake really demonstrates the way news providers have put profit before journalistic responsibility. We saw it during the leadup to the Iraq war and the amount and quality of actual investigative reporting seems to lower all the time. And this trend will continue. News providers are now asking for their viewers, armed with cell phone cameras, to take their own footage of news events and send it to them for free. There was a time when this footage was paid for. Bloggers are also providing free or cheap investigative journalism that news providers take advantage of.

News providers are dependent on news wires, papers, and press statements, and the job of the television reporter is to stand in front of a camera reading compilations, sometimes with little personal understanding of the subject at hand. The people who said Osama instead of Obama on the news a few years ago may never have even heard of Obama. Now that he’s in the running for the Presidency, they don’t have the same excuse.

The bottom line, the ever-expanding profit margin, will always come first for a corporation. They need to sell on one hand, and attract investors on the other. Better journalism can make better sales, but better graphics and videoclips can too. The most important objective is to get as many viewers as possible, be ad-friendly, synergize, and keep an investor-friendly growth rate. Jobs and journalistic integrity will always be the first things to go when it’s time to cut down the budget.


Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

February 20, 2008 at 3:36 am

2 Responses

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  1. Nice overview. None of that over the top police state material one seems to get in most stuff written about Fox Schnews. This stuff reads like a slightly more moderate Chomsky, or a slightly less migraine-inducing Baudrillard, or something like that anyway.


    March 28, 2008 at 2:38 am

  2. […] Rick Warren Drops Obama-Osama Slip, Media No Longer Cares Posted in Dead Circuits by Alex on August 24th, 2008 If you caught Rick Warren’s Larry King interview following his dramatic event interviewing the candidates on matters of politics, faith, and values, interviewing the candidates in his church in a bold departure from secular reporting (OK, that’s sarcasm, the major news networks still haven’t decided whether Obama is a Muslim or not), you may have caught him saying Osama while referring to Obama, a fairly common mistake which I have written about in the past. […]

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