Roger L. Simon

Night of the Living Dead?

Nixon’s not just out of office… He’s dead! But some people act as if he’s still alive, Austin Bay reminds us in this excellent column.

MEANWHILE: Claudia has a superb piece on the self-absorption of the US press. [Andrew Sullivan should read this one.-ed. No kidding.]:

What’s really going on here is two stories. One involves Newsweek and the ups and downs of U.S. journalism. The other involves a swath of the Islamic world in which anger, fueled by years of gross political misrule, is a chronic feature of life–seeking to acquire a target. What produced these particular riots was the intersection of Islamic-world furies and that brand of U.S. self-absorption in which no subject is more fascinating to the American media than any possible misdeeds of the U.S. itself.

For better or worse, the U.S. media occupy an extraordinary position in the world. Richer in resources than most, and freer than almost any, American reporters enjoy an astounding ability to pursue stories of many kinds, in many places. By and large they produce a brand of journalism that despite its flaws is more reliable than most. But it is also focused chiefly on the U.S.

The tragedy in all this is that while the entire world is by now acquainted with tales–true and false–about Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo Bay, the information pretty much ends there. When it comes to the Islamic world’s most despotic states, almost no one outside their borders can reel off the names of the prisons they run, let alone tales of what happens within. Afghanistan is still recovering from the Taliban blackout of the human soul–which at the time received almost no coverage. Saudi Arabia–whence the Arab News, in its disquisition on Newsweek’s story, denounces the U.S. as “ignorant and insensitive”–provides no accounting to the world of its dungeons. Can anyone name a prison in Yemen?