Friday, July 13, 2007

Hot Gas & America's Conservative Media

Okay, we get it. Drawing upon their memories of grade school science, a few Kansas City Star reporters did a mildly interesting story about gas stations selling gasoline that is warmer in the summer, and therefore less dense, and therefore you get less actual fuel than when it's cold. And they stretched this point out into a series of front-page articles. Now, they're making a big deal out of a few minor legislative nods to the issue, again devoting the lion's share of yesterday's front page to the issue, and a huge chunk of the editorial page today.

Now, I'm as interested in consumer reporting as anyone, but get over it, Star. Thermal expansion is not a front page issue - not once, not twice, and not for a series. Especially not when they can just turn around and raise the price of the thermally contracted gas so they make the same profit, and nobody would even be able to get a letter to the editor published about it.

And that, my friends, is why we do not now, never had, and never will have a "liberal media".

While corporate-employed reporters are trying to shine their corporate reputations by reporting on a tiny, irrelevant aspect of how the average joe is getting bilked by corporations, there is not a single article showing up on the front page about the fact that oil companies are making billions and billions and billions of dollars in "legitimate" profit. The Star and its corporate allies around the United States devote front page attention to frivolous side issues, but would never, ever, address the broader economic realities and inequities in our society. You can get an award for writing about thermal expansion, but a series questioning the underpinnings of our corporate-dominated society, the subsidies thrust upon those corporations by eager politicians, the wars we've entered to protect corporate interests, and the shadowy, incestuous world of corporate directorships is simply uncomfortable to the corporations running the papers.

Has there been a front-page Kansas City Stat article about the Vice President's astonishing claim to be a secret new branch of government? Has there been an article about some of the governmental needs that are going unfunded because of this optional war?

Perhaps all that is too "big" for a reporter to wrap his or her mind around it. How about a front-page article tracking the cost in dollars and cents that we are spending on each individual soldier we recruit, feed, clothe, house, train, equip, transport to Iraq, and expose to the hostile hot lead of angry people who grew up there? How much does all that cost? How much does it cost, in man-hours, to pick his body up and transport it back to base? Did they wipe up his blood with sponges, or paper towels, or simply let it dry on a Baghdad street under the hot Baghdad sun? How much do the body bags cost, and who makes them? The coffins? How much for the ground that we make available for his eternal rest? How much is that flag that they fold up and give to the widow? What's the quality of the cloth and thread? Are we getting a good deal on them - did we buy in bulk?

Gas is a little over three bucks a gallon, hot or cold. America's corporate media wants us to think about the temperature of the gas. In fact, they insist upon it.

I'd rather see a complete tally of the cost of the factors that led to that widow's limo ride to the cemetary than a quibble over the gas in the tank. That might be worth a front page article and an editorial or two.

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Anonymous mainstream said...

I know it may sound ludicrous, but I think the Star is trying their best to make a big deal out of the hot gas issue to be in the running for a Pultizer on reporting.

7/13/2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I agree, and it just makes me shake my head that such a tiny story makes them excited. It brings new glory to the word non-essential.

7/13/2007 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have actually been lawsuits filed over the issue, as well.

7/13/2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

In fairness to the Star and the Hot Gas issue, there's plenty of other crap that ends up on the front page too. At least the hot gas coverage is serving consumers and might maybe, maybe make a difference.

I wholeheartedly agree with your criticism of the Star, Dan, but I'm not sure hot gas is the one example I'd choose to cling to. I'm also not sure it's about the paper being conservative, as much as it is that the paper's content is being driven by focus groups, reader surveys and an effort to 'jazz up' the paper to appeal to younger readers, who the Star assumes don't care about hard news.

7/13/2007 9:07 AM  
Blogger emawkc said...

I don't subscribe to the Star. I'm too lazy to Google the story you mentioned and not interested enough to follow any links even if you had provided them.

But I do know this...

If, as an American, I don't have access to high-grade refrigerated thermally-contracted gasoline, then the Terrorists have already won.

7/13/2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

lol emaw. Hilarious, but relevant perspective.

7/13/2007 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

...this pimping of the oil industry is an old theme of The Star's.

granted, they're usually about 3 weeks behind the rest of the country's attention span, but, they, like, you know, try.

7/13/2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Spyder said...

Good post Dan! Make my blood heat up thinking about the monetary & human cost of this war for gas.

7/13/2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger Stephen Bough said...

Profits for Oil Companies = $30 Billion a Quarter

Cost of the War = $30 Billion a Quarter

Another interesting story in the Star from this weekend is how the military struggles with high fuel costs, all while President Bush is busy “with hard work.” In the eloquent words of Kansas City's own Calvin Trillin, from four years ago, "Obviously on he Sails"

7/15/2007 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back Dan. Keep up the great posts.

7/15/2007 5:57 PM  
Blogger Waldo Oiseau said...

Huh? What's the "Star"? I wasn't aware we HAD a newspaper.

7/19/2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous BuyLevitra said...

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8/17/2007 6:59 PM  
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8/18/2007 4:49 AM  
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9/09/2007 5:57 PM  

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