Try to separate debate from dissension and difference of opinion from division. President Obama, today announced in a press conference that he will not tolerate division. Where does the media draw the line between debate and division? Three different types of media use the techniques of debate, dissension, or division to portray any given person by the use of dialogue and gestures to illustrate articles.There are the daily newspapers locally, nationally, and globally, and online news wire services.
There’s the culture of magazine journalism that has the longest amount of time to go to print. So there’s space for mentioning whether the person interviewed gestured and how the individual gestured with fingers, space for dialogue between one person and another colleague, and dialogue spoken. You won’t find this type of description generally in newspapers because of space limitations and time deadlines.
The outcome results in a debate as to what signifies division and what represents debate. But isn’t freedom of speech about being able to dissent with words in the media without being divisive? Is one person’s opinion allowed to act as a final judge of his or her character? When does dissent become division or debate turn into difference of personal opinion? And where’s the space allowed for verifying facts?
Did the General have division in mind or difference of opinion? Was it division in his intent or debate espousing difference of opinion? And where does free speech separate difference of opinion from dissension or division if the person speaking is thinking in terms of debate? Who can say, “I beg to differ,” and still have a job? Sure, everything’s about unity. But how does unity handle debate? The key is the ability to verify facts and evidence and be convincing.
How do Sacramento media report the news that General Stanley McChrystal has been relieved of his command as Chief of the Afghanistan operation? The media also notes the President has accepted the General’s resignation. According to a report on CNN 1:25 p.m. EST, Wednesday The general has been now replaced by General David Petraeus. In Sacramento, you learn the news first on the Internet, second from a televised press conference scheduled by CNN, where the President explained full details, and third from print sources the next day.
Consider the financial and human life risk any given General is to his or her troops. Which is valued more in society and in the media? Is the media with or at odds with what society values most? You’re hired when you pose the least financial risk to your employer.
The Rolling Stone magazine article by Michael Hastings published online June 22, 2010, had the most dialogue and body gestures illustrated by words worth their weight in pictures. Full of dialogue between the general and his staff, the article reads like an excerpt from an action suspense novel or more likely, a true adventure with dialogue providing the opportunity for visual imagery.
The theme is good general versus bad general. It’s a media-made image most recently explored in Rolling Stone magazine, in the article, The Runway General, with the ‘bad’ general giving the middle finger to his chief of staff, a Colonel. That’s the picture image the reader gets from the Rolling Stone article. Now look at mainstream Sacramento media and how it reported the general. Compare mainstream media with the Rolling Stone magazine article which is written up to grab your attention and hook your eyes. This type of vivid writing is not flat.
It’s good writing, in fact great theatrical writing–for a novel or screenplay, and also it reports true reality as does reality TV, the style and format works just as effectively in magazine journalism. It is written as if it were a drama with ape-like finger positioning of sorts. In short, we’re seeing territorial chimp behavior that brings the general down from pedestal to animal gesture adapted by humans to mean “we’re screwed.” So what stands out is the general gives the middle finger. And then comes the dialogue.
The sidebar in the Sacramento Bee today published quotes from Gen. Stanley McChrystal where the general apologizes for poor judgment. And then you read two other quotes from others about the repeated contempt for the now newly fired General to consider other people’s judgments. How does one preserve a career by separating effective or blindsided judgment from good decision making and personal opinion from division?
Is the article, The Runway General about self-sabotage of a career at its height? Or is it simply about the freedom to dissent in debate, a difference of opinion? And how to you determine what is divisive and what is debate? What did the President think when he read the article? Who checked the facts?
And you have a quote from another person about how frustrated Gen. McChyrstal was. So you have a few sides covered by brief quotes in a sidebar in today’s Sacramento Bee’s article. Interestingly, culture preceded media, that is a culture, niche-oriented magazine, Rolling Stone, ran a controversial article, and the end result: the President fires General McChrystal.
Apparently, someone showed Rolling Stone to the President because the article reported that the General and members of his staff, made disparaging statement against the President, Vice-President and othe top level officials of this administration. If you’re in Sacramento, you learned of this news first by the press conference on TV and radio, secondly online, and lastly, in print via today’s Sacramento Bee.
It’s on the first page of the June 23, 2010 article, “Obama to confront Gen. McChrystal – Sacramento News – Local….” According to that article, “Last week, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, appeared on Capitol Hill and answered questions about whether he supported the July 2011 withdrawal timeline with a “qualified yes.”
At a press conference held at 1:40 pm, today, President Obama told the media that General McCrystal has tendered his resignation and that General David Patraeus, will be taking over as commander of Afghanistan Military Operations. He added that general McCrystal was not being replaced because of incompetence or personal affront on his part. So what’s the local attitudes like in the ‘war’ between media and culture?
On one hand you have the President saying that the USA is still at war in Afghanistan and that the moral of our soldiers is very important. You have a President that emphasizes unity, at least a unity of effort–or should he have said efficacy instead of effort in order to win the war? So the President reads Rolling Stone? Or he was given a copy by staff members who read the publication?
You can be sure pretty much that Rolling Stone is not read by the average senior citizen, but it’s read by soldiers and numerous younger, working, and military service people. The President remarked that the conduct in the Rolling Stone interview was conduct unbecoming a four star general. If you’re looking at local media, you can analyze the psychology of the remark made by the general in question.
The effect on the troops and the population (as in the Senate and the Roman–er–American people) is that the type of behavior noted in Rolling Stone undermines trust and confidence in leadership. So the President concluded that such verbal behavior (let alone body language) had not been in the best interest to our national security. If you’re following this in local Sacramento media, you can read between the lines about how difficult a decision is for President Obama.
The President’s conclusion noted that it pains him to have to make the decision because he admired General McCrystal. On one hand, the President recognizes the General in question as a man of integrity. How is a person judged by most people when the individual gets to become a general? How few military careers end that way, with promotion to General. But for those looking for a local angle in the news, you have to realize that a change in command is “a change in personnel not a change in policy.”
Now think about it, doesn’t really a change in policy have to come first before anyone with power decides to make a change in personnel? If any executive is fired from a job, usually the boss first changes policy, and then fires the worker to make a change in personnel comply with the change in power. The three main reasons given usually is that you’re terminated when you don’t fit into the group, are incompetent, or there’s a change in management’s policy. A new person is hired when he or she poses the least financial risk to the employer.
In this case, getting fired for mocking administration, as noted in the Sacramento Bee article on the first page today, June 23, 2010, emphasizes getting fired for the act of mocking, criticizing, or expressing what’s wrong as one individual sees it. So Gen. Stanley McChrystal has no choice but to resign, but he didn’t even get the chance because the President fired him first.
He didn’t fit into the group and posed too much of a financial risk to his employer. But was he incompetent? Or is the reason behind the scenes illustrating that there’s a change in management policy? As far as the point of view from Sacramento media sites, it’s another showdown, perhaps a territorial display that harks back to chimp-like behavior linked to a desire for expansion.
Why else would the Sacramento Bee put the name of the Rolling Stone magazine’s article in it’s headline sidebar? The title of the article is “The Runway General.” Read the Rolling Stone article at this site. The media article’s title, that is the use of the word ‘runway’ in connection with ‘General’ drags the power and self-esteem of the rank of General down to the level of a fashion model on the runway as seen in various reality TV shows featuring the drama of being in the spotlight. In other words, do you think that the article’s title picks itself up by putting the General down psychologically? The answer might be subjective. See, Breaking News: “Obama Fires Afghan General McChrystal.”