With Love and Squalor

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

I’m trying to get ready, simultaneously, for tonight’s Watkinson forum (which will also be a live audience taping of our show and a benefit for three local nonprofits so do please think about coming), tomorrow’s full-show interview with Peter Tork (!!!) and the Nose on Friday.

For the Nose, I’m drawn to Michiko Kakutani’s attempt to limn the lives of the Boston suspects using their social media droppings.

She wanders off into other modes of speculation:

People drew analogies between the Tsarnaevs and such varied siblings as the twins in the David Cronenberg film “Dead Ringers,” the title characters in Dostoyevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov,” and the Corleones in “The Godfather.” A Twitter message posted by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hours after the marathon bombings (“Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people”), prompted some amateur detectives to wonder if that reference to Jay-Z’s song “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” is a direct allusion to 9/11, since the album containing that song was released on Sept. 11, 2001.

America has processed the Boston Marathon bombings in different ways from the terror attacks of 9/11 — in part because the level of digital sophistication has grown so exponentially since then (in 2001, there was no YouTube, no Facebook, no Twitter).

This environment of Total Noise is very much the theme of James Gleick’s piece in New York magazine. Discussing the piece with MoDo, Gleick gives good quote:

“The battle lines are being drawn between the crowds and the experts. The crowds are fast and can be smart, but sometimes they’re horribly wrong, like the Internet vigilantes on Reddit who thought they could do better than the F.B.I. in looking at photographs and exposing the guilty. But crowd-sourcing was also part of the newsgathering. In a very real way, we had eyes and ears everywhere.”

I asked him about the episode on Tuesday, when Syrian hackers took over The Associated Press’s Twitter account and falsely reported that there had been two explosions at the White House and that the president was injured — a hoax that sent the Dow into a tailspin for three minutes and wiped out $136 billion from the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

“There’s no perfect trust in cyberspace,” Jim said. “There are not only millions of voices, but millions of masks. You don’t know who’s who. There was a real Twitter account for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but, instantly, there was a fake Twitter account for him, too.

The Kakutani piece references Holden Caufield, an odd coincidence, because another article today points up the difference (I think) between modern Cubist attempts to piece together a personality from tweets, etc. and a much older kind of record people left about themselves.

And yes, the use of “limn” was an inside joke.

The Courant is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on courant.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.

9 thoughts on “With Love and Squalor

  1. Richard

    There’s a certain amount of generational pimping here. News forums and others were flooded with info both good and bad after 9/11. Emails were looked at for clues. Cell records. Instant messages. Chat rooms.

    Social’s added some additional interaction. As has the slow adoption by the cowpokes in traditional media. Very slow to process the new media and understand it. Some are still intent like the Courant to restrict social interaction on their columns to an approved list of sycophants and call that progressive.

    When you consider where the Instagrams and Twitter Vines are going with this the cross-platform hash tag search will yield all sorts of new info-graphs for sociologists and advertisers to look at.

    My favorite: Melissa Harris Perry and Eric Dyson down playing the Islamic angle while social already tracked down and confirmed the Islamic connections. Then Tom Brokaw and others looking for US military angles and missing the whole US as Israeli lapdog angle as the older brother fell into the Protocols of the Elders of Zion camp. Hard core anti-Israeli jihadists and mainstream media is simply refusing to say it. A whole other bias and distortion in liberal media which considerably clouds the bias and reckless rumors arguments being tossed around between the two camps

  2. SaddenedByHypocrisy

    The “mainstream” media has worked hard to earn the “lamestream” label. Its relevance drops by the day. Its no wonder the polls show them circling the bowl

  3. Richard

    The beat reporters, the investigative journalists aren’t the ones being hurt by social. It’s the photogenic commentators and others using derived resources particularly for taped shows or with pre-canned commentary or topics.

    No one sane wants a domestic anti-Muslim backlash. Ignoring the facts is one issue. Presenting it as something other? Media bias.

    Disruptive technology is an overused term but applicable here. The fact is the Mo Dowd’s can’t write about breaking news 48-hours in advance. The Sunday talk show Hosts need to be more nimble. The Morning Headline really isn’t news anymore.

    Sports Enthusiasts and Stock Market enthusiasts long ago gave up on print media or regular broadcast news for their action. They’d rather get theirs at the old Jai Lai and other OTBs with CNBC on a couple channels while glued to their Androids.

    Quite simply traditional media needs to learn to be disruptive once again. Properly pointing out social rumors as unconfirmed but in circulation. The fringe movements win coverage even if labeled as the fringe.

    For some Mary Ellen tweeting ater seeing a local media face at lunch at Trumbull Kitchen is disruptive media. More power to them.

  4. WatkinsonFan

    So happy you are doing this. My teenager’s “significant other” attends that fine school.

  5. Richard

    Mona Charen touches on the battlelines indirectly. Mainsteam Media is more inaccurate after reflection than the spur-of-the-moment Tweets captured in real time minutes after the bombing? Why is this? It’s like asking why the Manchester Beer Distributor Shootings and Omar Thornton disappeared from the gun control debate. Agendas are substitutes for truth.


  6. C. Krauthammer

    Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush is: “He kept us safe.”

    Not quite right. With Bush’s legacy being reassessed as his presidential library opens in Dallas, it’s important to note that he did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.

    Charles Krauthammer

    Krauthammer writes a politics column that runs on Fridays.




    Ann Telnaes on George W. Bush:?The Post cartoonist collects her cartoons from the 43rd president’s time in office.

    You may also like…

    The principled president
    Michael Gerson

    The principled president

    When fear trampled rights
    George F. Will

    When fear trampled rights


    That homage was paid, wordlessly, by Barack Obama, who vilified Bush’s anti-terror policies as a candidate, then continued them as president: indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo, which Obama so ostentatiously denounced — until he found it indispensable.

    Quite a list. Which is why there was not one successful terror bombing on U.S. soil from 9/11 until last week. The Boston Marathon attack was an obvious security failure, but there is a difference between 3,000 dead and three. And on the other side of the ledger are the innumerable plots broken up since 9/11.

    Moreover, Bush’s achievement was not just infrastructure. It was war. The Afghan campaign overthrew the Taliban, decimated al-Qaeda and expelled it from its haven. Yet that success is today derogated with the cheap and lazy catchphrase — “He got us into two wars” — intended to spread to Afghanistan the opprobrium associated with Iraq.

    As if Afghanistan was some unilateral Bush adventure foisted on the American people. As if Obama himself did not call it a “war of necessity” and Joe Biden, the most just war since World War II.

    The dilemma in Afghanistan was what to do after the brilliant, nine-week victory. There was no good answer. Even with the benefit of seven years’ grinding experience under his predecessor, Obama got it wrong. His Afghan “surge” cost hundreds of American lives without having changed the country’s prospects.

    It turned out to be a land too primitive to democratize, too fractured to unify. The final withdrawal will come after Obama’s own six years of futility.

    Iraq was, of course, far more problematic. Critics conveniently forget that the invasion had broad support from the public and Congress, including from those who became the highest-ranking foreign-policy figures in the Obama administration — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and Biden.

    And they forget the context — crumbling sanctions that would, in short order, have restored Saddam Hussein to full economic and regional power, well positioning him, post-sanctions, to again threaten his neighbors and restart his WMD program.

    Was the war worth it? Inconclusive wars never yield a good answer. Was Korea worth it? It ended with a restoration of the status quo ante. Now 60 years later, we face nuclear threats from the same regime that was not defeated in a war that cost 10 times as many American lives as Iraq.

    The Iraq War had three parts. The initial toppling of the regime was a remarkable success — like Afghanistan, rapid and with relatively few U.S. casualties.

    The occupation was a disaster, rooted in the fundamental contradiction between means and ends, between the “light footprint” chosen by Gen. George Casey and the grand reformation attempted by Paul Bremer, who tried to change everything down to the coinage.

    Finally, the surge, a courageous Bush decision taken against near-universal opposition, that produced the greatest U.S. military turnaround since the Inchon landing. And inflicted the single most significant defeat for al-Qaeda (save Afghanistan) — a humiliating rout at the hands of Iraqi Sunnis fighting side-by-side with the American infidel.

    As with Lincoln, it took Bush years of agonizing bloody stalemate before he finally found his general and his strategy. Yet, for all the terrible cost, Bush bequeathed to Obama a strategically won war. Obama had one task: Conclude a status-of-forces agreement and thus secure Iraq as a major regional ally. He failed utterly. Iraq today is more fragile, sectarian and Iranian-influenced than it was when Bush left office — and than it had to be.

    Like Bush, Harry Truman left office widely scorned, largely because of the inconclusive war he left behind. In time, however, Korea came to be seen as but one battle in a much larger Cold War that Truman was instrumental in winning. He established the institutional and policy infrastructure (CIA, NATO, the Truman Doctrine, etc.) that made possible ultimate victory almost a half-century later. I suspect history will similarly see Bush as the man who, by trial and error but also with prescience and principle, established the structures that will take us through another long twilight struggle and enable us to prevail.

Comments are closed.