Friday, August 12, 2005

More Musings On Media Musings

Once again, it’s time to rip apart Media Musings, the weekly column appearing in the Shephard Express written by Dave Berkman, a crusty old self-hating Jew. There’s only one problem: I happen to agree with his column this week. Fuck.

The truth is, I don’t really hate Berkman. In a strange kind of masochistic way I sort of… like him? That might be going too far. But every time the Shepherd comes out, the first thing I do is flip to his column. I also enjoy listening to his show on NPR, when I can catch it.

About four years ago I interviewed Berkman for an article in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle examining why the left hates Israel. Dave was happy to cooperate and answered all of my questions forthrightly and honestly. In fact, he actually told me that when he hears non-Jews making some of the arguments that he often makes against Israel, his “antennae go up.” My first thought was: If that’s the case maybe your arguments against Israel are unduly harsh and unfair.

A little over a year ago Berkman was interviewing Alex Safian of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Mideast Reporting in America, on his radio show. I called in, shaking with excitement—here was my chance try to embarrass Berkman on air on his own show! As soon as I got on the air I went on the attack:

“Alex, if you are concerned about bias against Israel in the media, look no further than the host of this show—Dave Berkman. That man has never had a nice thing to say about Israel in all the years I’ve been reading his column. What’s worse, I interviewed Berkman for an article, and he even admitted to me that when he hears non-Jews make the same arguments he makes against Israel, he is forced to wonder whether they are motivated by anti-Semitism.”

Ha! Take that, Berkman! CRUNCH! Owned! Yeah! Uh!

But then Berkman calmly chimed in, “Ah yes. I remember your article, it was a very good article…”

I don’t really recall the rest, because I was so stunned that my plan backfired. Instead of being embarrassed and angry at me, he complimented me. WTF?

So, I was a little disappointed this evening when I read Berkman’s column and realized that not only did I agree with him, he actually shared my complaints about about the shooting of the Brazilian who was killed in London by undercover “bobbies.”

Berkman wrote:
(1) There are varying degrees of journalistic misreporting: There is the out-and-out lie—rare, but not unknown. There are omissions of key details; and there’s the placement of an event’s key finding way down in the story—a practice known as “burying the lead.”It’s the degree to which the last two have predominated in the accounts of the Brazilian electrician who was shot dead by London police after erroneously being identified as a terrorist that constitutes one of the most serious instances of journalistic malfeasance I’ve encountered in a long while.Virtually all of the reports I read or saw focused on the misidentification of the victim. But as wrong as that was, it was not the most horrific element of this story. That element, which in most reports was either omitted or buried deep inside, is that he was shot eight times—seven to the head—only after he had been overpowered and lay helpless, face down on the floor.Even had he been a terrorist, shooting someone in the head while lying prone and face down is murder! But that’s a fact that the media—always eager, whether in Britain or Milwaukee, to win favor with the police—chose not to emphasize and, in many cases, even to report!

His other two pieces had to do with porn on the Internet and another with Berkman admitting an error from a previous column he wrote.

If you want to hear Berkman’s radio show, Media Talk, check out WHAD 90.7FM on Fridays at 5pm. His voice sounds like Kermit the Frog with a New York accent. But, he’s a decent host and keeps most of his leftist political views to himself, at least from what I’ve heard.

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