Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bush's War

I use television to keep abreast of sports, politics and news, but, for the most part, have to look somewhere else to find discussion of substance. It’s a shame when the most truthful team of political analysts is a pair of comedians, Stewart and Colbert.

For example, I’m conflicted about Iraq. The reasoning and the dialogue about it changes every day, and I don’t know what to think. Just as politicians line up and down on one side or the other of the aisle to spew partisan rhetoric, so do the news networks. They say they don’t, but on issues so divisive, you have to pick which audience you want to pander to. And that’s a shame, but that’s business.

So it was refreshing last week to watch the Frontline two-part series about Iraq, Bush’s War. The second part of the program was especially sobering, as that morning The New York Times ran a three-page spread of letters and e-mails from falling soldiers, as well as pictures of the most recent 1,200 to die in the war. One of my good friends from home is about to head to Baghdad, and I pray I don’t see his face someday in The New York Times.

Five years into the war, Frontline attempted to explain how we got into this mess. It’s no secret that partisan squabbling and interagency wrangling got in the way of developing clear objectives, but, for once, the whole story, as we can imagine it so far, was presented in one narrative rather than a day-long news cycle of beating a story to death and then forgetting about it.

History is always a work in progress, and by no means was Frontline’s take on the war a completely unbiased account. No work of journalism is, whether it’s about the governors of New York or a high school basketball game. But it is important to try to develop some sense of connection between past and present, or we won’t have a sense of where we’re going.

So, much to my surprise, there is decent television to be found. Once music videos, vapid reality television, celebrity gossip, talking heads and the rest of the riffraff wears thin, it’s not a bad bet to stop once or twice by MPT before turning off the channel. Who knows what you’ll find.

Kevin Sunday
Communications Intern

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