False Hope in Appalachia

False Hope in Appalachia

False Hope in Appalachia

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Jan. 4 2006 6:06 PM

False Hope in Appalachia

Bloggers are all over the mainstream media for reporting—wrongly—that the trapped West Virginia coal miners had been found alive. They're also weighing in on the resolution of the natural-gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, and they are taking sides in the Bill O'Reilly-David Letterman fracas.

False hope in Appalachia: The consensus in the blogosphere is that print and television news sources all led with arrogance in reporting that 12 of the 13 coal miners in West Virginia were still alive, on the basis of unsubstantiated telephone discourse between mining executives and rescue workers. As it transpired, only one man was found alive.

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Bobby Eberle at GOP-friendly blog The Loft charts the timeline of the story before concluding, "The incredible urge for things to work out and for that one sliver of promising news to actually be true can often outweigh the less instinctive but necessary need to confirm the information. Everyone wanted a miracle, but someone, anyone, should have stepped up right from the beginning and noted that the information had yet to be confirmed."

Mark Williams at Dembloggers.com sarcastically contrasts Anderson Cooper's early words of restraint about "rumor" and "speculation" on the fate of the miners with the subsequent misreporting. And PSoTD at lefty PSoTD minutes, "CNN and MSNBC … spent most of their on-air resources the past few days covering the mine disaster, yet were unable to show any more news coverage maturity than a shopping mall gossip when the rumor broke that the miners had survived."

Corporate attorney Oliver Corpuz at Oliver's Place compares the presumptuous headlines to those that attended the 1987 Cuban inmate riots in Atlanta and Louisiana. "The news media needs to take a long hard look at how they cover ongoing "breaking news" and make damn well sure that they get the facts straight before they report something," he writes. "The consequences of irresponsible live reports can be devastating."

However, Hooks at Boston-based Universal Hub traces the follow back to its source and cautions, "Don't shoot the messenger over erroneous reports that filtered out. If the media is to be blamed, it is for the obscene rubbernecking that this tragedy has/will become." Hooks also provides photos of erroneous newspaper headlines and links to before-and-after screen shots of various news Web sites.

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Read more about false reports on the coal miners' story here and what bloggers are saying about it here.

A new five-year plan: Bloggers are also by and large glad Russia and Ukraine reached a five-year deal on natural gas exported to the former Soviet satellite after pipelines to Kiev had been shut down by the Kremlin on Jan. 1. They're casting the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom as the chief villain in the dispute.

One Eyed Cat at the Ukrainian reform-minded Orange Revolution analyzes the energy fracas, with Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing ever more the paper tiger: "Russia is dangerous due to its weakness. They have shown their true face to the west. Western democracies promptly slapped them down. Ukraine, however, is not a free country. The need for reforms is great. The need for energy diversification is now acute. Make no mistake about this, however, Russia declared war on Ukraine and lost."

Aaman Lamba at the multi-interest news roundup site Blogcritics.org isn't so sure. "What was probably overlooked in the battle of the giants was that Gazprom cut off supplies to smaller Moldova as well, demanding a price of $150 per 1000 cubic meters," he observes. "In 2004, Gazprom cut supplies by a day to Belarus, affecting Poland and Germany. Russia may have damaged its reputation as an energy supplier and a fair player in the global community, but in a seller's market, it may be the short-term winner."

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At Foreign Notes, Scott W. Clark, a lawyer/consultant in Kiev, is underwhelmed with the resolution: "Russia could have gotten this deal at any time without riling Europe. So they don't get anywhere near their $230 and they don't get any control over the pipelines in Ukraine and they've got Europe considering nuclear power. Sounds like a very successful round of negotiations, doesn't it?"

Read more about the Russian-Ukrainian compromise here and what bloggers are saying about it here.

O'Riled on late-night TV: Bloggers toe ideological lines in their responses to David Letterman's exchange with Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly on last night's Late Show, which had the CBS host criticizing the president, defending Cindy Sheehan, and calculating that "60 percent" of what his guest said was "crap."

Josh Horowitz of the TV and pop-culture blog Better Than Fudge gushes, "Dave has never said a ton about his political views on the air as far as I can recall. … But every so often something gets under his skin and he can't resist shedding the funnyman grin for a dose of common sense or two. And it happened last night. And it was glorious."

Manhattan media gossip sheet Gawker likewise cheered the guy behind the desk: "Be sure to watch the entire segment, if only to appreciate the audience's polite, hesitant clapping whenever O'Reilly tries to say something patriotic. You can almost smell the crazy."

Meanwhile, Ace at the pro-war Ace of Spades HQ suggests that Letterman has jumped the shark: "Forget it, Dave. Jon Stewart may not be very funny, but no one's paying attention to you anymore, and emulating his lefty politics aren't going to make you must-watch TV again." Lorie Byrd at the righty PoliPundit.com agrees. Citing Letterman's plaint that the Bush administration went to war on faulty intelligence, she writes, "It was a pretty sorry spectacle and what really bothers me is that programs like Letterman's and Leno's and Today and GMA and The View are where many Americans (possibly even the majority) get their 'news.' "

Watch an excerpt the Letterman-O'Reilly interview here. Read more about what bloggers are saying here.