Comparing Paris and Beirut coverage and super PAC interactive newsletter

Today in Slate: Comparing Paris and Beirut, and Comparing Super PAC Funds, Graphically

Today in Slate: Comparing Paris and Beirut, and Comparing Super PAC Funds, Graphically

What’s happening.
Nov. 17 2015 6:41 PM

Seeking Equitability

In news coverage, in campaign funds, and in women’s rights.

496844110-emergency-personnel-gather-at-the-site-of-a-twin
Emergency personnel gather at the site of a twin suicide bombing in Burj al-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut, Lebanon on Nov. 12, 2015.

Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

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The Paris attacks ignited debate over how to defeat ISIS and how to treat refugees. (The battle over the latter could shut down the government.) The ISIS bombings in Beirut ignited nothing of the sort.

The media didn’t ignore the Beirut bombings, but it did treat them with less empathy.

Along with horror, the Paris attacks brought belated attention to the ISIS attacks that struck Beirut, Lebanon the day before. The Beirut attacks did not incite a global outpouring of grief, nor did they inspire an outpouring of tricolored profile pictures. Many on social media, at least among my feeds, called people out as ethnocentric or even racist for not acknowledging the Beirut bombings. One could make a different, colder case for why Beirut went relatively ignored: Fewer people died there (“only” 43 in comparison to the 129 killed in Paris), and it’s in the Middle East, a region from which Westerners are used to hearing about lethal violence. But there’s another explanation: The disparate style of media reports each attack inspired. Many major outlets did report on Beirut immediately. But compare those stories to Paris coverage, and you see a clinical, if accurate, portrayal of death. By contrast, Paris stories provided scenes, characters, and empathetic portraits. In most of the Beirut stories, readers got numbers. A major problem with the media’s coverage of Beirut wasn’t exactly apathy; it was style.

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The 2016 presidential race already has mountains of money in it. Super PACs—which can legally spend unlimited amounts of cash as long as they don’t coordinate with a campaign—have already shelled out $63 million to influence the race. They haven’t been too successful: A lot of those millions have supported Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, both of whom are polling in single digits, and to attack Hillary Clinton, who holds a commanding lead in the Democratic contest. Still, these dollar amounts will rise exponentially, they will fund ubiquitous television ads, and they will be a very visible part of campaign 2016 and beyond. The interactive shows precisely what each donation has been spent on, and will continue to track expenditures as it’s updated throughout the campaign. Give it a gander, lament the role of anonymous big money in politics, and definitely turn on the Atari-style sound effects.

Not a game: The black car shooters, an important abortion case, and global gender inequality.

Equitably, I hope,
Seth Maxon
Home page editor for nights and weekends