Saturday, July 10, 2004

News Not on Front Page

For lunch on Friday, I went to the Expresso Royale on South Main Street, since it is between my two offices and it has good sandwiches, and, oif course, good coffee.  There was a copy of the Detroit Free Press (www.freep.com)sitting on a table.  I asked the young lady sitting next to the table if she was reading the paper.  She was not, and she graciously permitted me to take it. 

One of the top stories on the front page was the article about the Senate Intelligence Committee report about the CIA's pre-war intelligence.  Nothing unusual about that.  There also was an article about the terrorist threat to launch an attack before the November elections.  Nothing unusual about that.  We have come to expect an announcement about a terrorist threat anytime there is big news that is detrimental to the poll numbers of the Presidnet of the United States. 

What was unusal was the fact that the terrorist threat was reported on page 4A. 

I recall reading in an environmentalist magazine a couple of years ago, the observation that the White House always released environmental news of Friday afternoon.  There was speculation that this was done intentionally, to minimize the attention paid to the news by the media.  I was skeptical, not thinking at the time thatthe Administration was that devious. 

Now, like everyone else, I not only believe it, I expect it.  The Straussian gentlemen do this without fail, and without apology. 

Only now, the news editors are on to it.  They print the article about the Senate Intelligence Committee report where it belongs, on the front page.  They print the meaningless "terrorism threat" where it belongs: somewhere in the middle of the section, where those few who care can find it if they want. 

The following text  was written about the warnings we all got before Memorial Day, but it just as easily could apply to the warning we got on Friday:

Ashcroft wasn't any more specific than to say the targets might be big, since we are entering a season of "symbolic events" with the coming national election.

How revealing is that?

"Tell us something useful," state and locals are saying, "something we can sink our teeth into."

My neighbors and yours could come up with a warning that says, "Watch symbolic events like political and Memorial Day gatherings, they could be targets." It was a warning that said absolutely nothing and will yield absolutely nothing except skepticism about homeland security and the administration's goals.

In Friday's paper, the real news was not in the textual content; it was in the format  of the paper.