Couch Commando

Debbie Almontaser VS. The New York Post

Posted in Shouting Fire: Stories...Free Speech by LaurenStheTA on February 26, 2010

I believe that newspapers are, and can be partisan. Newspapers have been partisan and biased since American society started producing them. In Almontaser’s case, the New York Post is not guilty of partisanship so much as they are guilty of bad, lazy journalism. This newspaper is infamous for swaying the public opinion of public figures. Within the media, the Post is noted for tight, neat copy and sloppy ethics. The central redeeming quality is its ability to sell papers and ads based on snappy, funny headlines. Of course, a newspaper that is known for these qualities should not have an incredible amount of influence on persons or organizations. But does it? Yes. And that, excuse my colloquialism, sucks.

I would like to say that it is possible to give a nuanced explanation of 9/11. As someone who is looking to be a part of the media in the future, I would love to say that it is possible. However, I think that as long as Almontaser or Ward Churchill are saying, doing, or being accused of anything that could be construed as negative about 9/11, they will end up paying dearly for it. In fact, the mainstream media practically chums the water for this sort of thing. In the time period Almontaser and Churchill had these experiences, it wasn’t possible to speak about 9/11 without first wrapping yourself in the American flag and crying tears of love for your country – no matter how much America did, or did not screw the pooch on that one.

Although Almontaser was only a few degrees away from Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media who produced a shirt that was probably largely misunderstood by the American public, I don’t think that should reflect as bad as it did on her. She made it clear that her connection was minimal, though I suppose the damage had been done by that time. For bad example, let’s talk degrees. I could be six (Kevin Bacon style) degrees away from Paris Hilton, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am also a blood sucking blight on humanity who deserves to be blamed for everything that is wrong in the world, now does it? That organization had little to do with how effective Almontaser was at her job – so why punish her and the kids that will miss out on an experienced principle they can not only look up to – but also relate to?

New York Post: Making headline magic and ruining lives since the Rupert Murdoch buy out of 1976.

In the case of Almontaser versus the New York Post, I’m siding with Almontaser. Her track record makes it pretty clear that the New York Post article was a sloppy monument to bad journalism in the style of someone like Jayson Blair. The part that really bothers me is why the Department of Education made her do the interview. Any public relations agent worth his or her salt would know that the New York Post was going to throw her to the sharks. That’s what the Post does. I’m a journalism student and I could have spotted that situation all the way from my Reporting 101 class. So I’m siding with Almontaser – and I am blaming the spin doctor that didn’t have the good sense to take this story to a newspaper that would have given her a fighting chance.


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