July 07, 2005

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Getting the right answer

The bombings in London are horrific. Watching CNN just now, the reporter was interviewing an eyewitness who had been on one of the bombed trains. After the usual inane questions of a clearly rattled but nevertheless composed man, the following transpired:

CNN: Do you suspect terrorists?
Witness: As a barrister I do not want to jump to conclusions. We need to wait for the evidence. We can't be too hasty.
CNN: Can you tell me what you think of the people that did this?
Witness: I feel pity.
CNN (incredulous): Pity?
Witness: Yes. You can only feel pity for people that do these things.
CNN (throwing back to studio): Clearly a shocked and confused man. As you can hear, there is much confusion among witnesses here...

FFS. The man has just been in a bombing and still managed to string together not just sentences but cognent thoughts. Don't patronise the man just because he didn't give you the answers you thought he should. There's something vile in this desperate need for immediate reaction by news networks, shoving microphones in the face of victims.

posted by Simon on 07.07.05 at 08:10 PM in the


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Excerpt: I'm a bit stunned at the moment. London is the place from whence I came. My town of birth. So when people start blowing up commuter services you can imagine I might be a bit upset. I only hope that the people who did this, almost certainly Islamic Extr...
Weblog: Flying Chair
Tracked: July 7, 2005 11:24 PM

London bomb blasts
Excerpt: The people who did this are barbaric monsters. Our condolences and prayers go out to the people of London. Simon looks at the media responses. Daryl cannot understand the evil that drives people to do this. 7-8 is worried about
Weblog: mrbrown: L'infantile terrible of Singapore
Tracked: July 8, 2005 01:11 AM


Better still, was the BBC interview of an American tourist. Quoth the BBC reporter, ''You seem impressed by the security reaction to the bombings.'' Actually, the woman had indicated no such thing. Her response, anyway, was classic and a good taste of black humor.

''Oh, yes. Back in the States we are totally not used to this kind of stuff.'' Clearly the response of a confused adn bewildered woman.

And I don't think the CNN guy was intentinoally corrolating the lawyer's response of pity to bewilderment and confusion. I think he was probably stuck on saying that at the end, regardless. You know how tv reporters are, always saying the fucking obvious.

posted by: doug on 07.07.05 at 08:28 PM [permalink]

It was certainly a pre-meditated ending, but it put a sting in the interview, especially given the guy said "pity" instead of "revenge". I suppose it was too much to expect more than one person in the interview to be rational.

posted by: Simon on 07.07.05 at 08:31 PM [permalink]

Ask them again in a couple of days...sigh...you really can't expect them to put coherent sentences together after what they've just been through...

posted by: The Dustless Workshop on 07.07.05 at 10:27 PM [permalink]

I am glad you picked this up. I have been following the whole thing start to now on my blog. What an unbelievable tragedy. I am appalled by the total lack of concern I have seen from the Hong Kongers I have encountered so far.

posted by: jamesburnham on 07.07.05 at 10:47 PM [permalink]

I'm not a kos kid, but they're got a huge thread going about this over there, the only place I've seen so far that's got a lot of active commenters. This is nuts, but I think the British reaction will be much different than the US reaction to 9/11. Hopefully they will temper any rage with some clear headedness.

posted by: shank on 07.07.05 at 10:53 PM [permalink]

I was watching one of the news channels but had to walk away, I'm pig-sick of these cynical organisations talking up the death counts!

posted by: Richard W on 07.07.05 at 10:55 PM [permalink]

i saw that on CNN replay. the man was interviewed for quite long and described his experience. it was detailed, precise and astonishly restrained (that is, about the fact that the passengers were left in the subway without any explanation while smoke was coming into the car for 30 minutes, he could only bring himself to say that 'it was almost negligent' because he did not want to condemn the subway operator or the police without evidence).

posted by: eswn on 07.07.05 at 11:14 PM [permalink]

I resent the "temper any rage" comment for a multitude of reasons the most important being that I view the US response to 9-11 as being entirely reasonable. The second reason being the sheer magnitude of 9-11 as it far exceeded any terrorist attacks in the Western world that come to mind, a modicum of rage seems warranted.

posted by: jamesburnham on 07.07.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]

I just look at the TV, at the BBC News website, and I think: I was just there. It looks just like that.

And I can't believe it's really here, in my backyard.

posted by: Helen on 07.08.05 at 12:48 AM [permalink]

As simon said earlier, and i would add--no matter what we deal with--we explain things by talking about what we already know.

We already know the british are restrained, so was this man remarkably restrained? There were probably =plenty of other people who were not. Kudos to him for keeping it together, but I do think that it depends on how used you are to these types of things, right?

And to the gentleman or the woman who said he/she was astonished by the lack of concern by the Hong Kong people...I'm not sure how to react to that.

I really don't know what to say, because I'm not sure how you measure concern. I measure it in what they say, and I've heard no Hong Kong person say, ''I don't really give a shit.'' I've heard much differently expressed views.

posted by: doug on 07.08.05 at 01:09 AM [permalink]

I should be more clear:

a single londoner on CNN does not a story make.

a single CNN correspondent does not define the news culture

that kind of thing...

posted by: doug on 07.08.05 at 01:17 AM [permalink]

This troll's comments have been replaced...because they are an idiot with an IP of just so you know.

posted by: I'm an idiot on 07.08.05 at 01:46 AM [permalink]

We've dealt with the IRA in the past, and no-one gave a blind bit of notice. But I still find it galling to be in Hong Kong now and not have the same coverage that the US got when they were attacked.

We simply didn't die in large enough numbers. The scale isn't important, the terror is the same.

Trust me, most Londoners do despise those that did this. But there is a certain stoic dignity and civil temperance to adversity that you wouldn't quite understand unless you've lived and grown up there.

posted by: Eshin on 07.08.05 at 02:01 AM [permalink]

doug, i agree with the single case proves nothing. but i have already seen that interview twice on cnn already (and not including simon's first mention). they won't let it drop and they therefore regard it as it as a landmark case. it is their fault, then.

posted by: eswn on 07.08.05 at 02:49 AM [permalink]

I understand that, ESWN.

Having lived in London as well as Washington, D.C., my thoughts are with londoners. Sorry about the terror attacks and CNN. I don't think they are the same things, but I guess people need a place to put their anger and CNN needs a place to put their revenue earning.

posted by: doug on 07.08.05 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

A few things:

1. Unfortunately London is a city used to dealing with terrorism, thanks to the IRA. Perhaps that's why the reaction is more stoic.
2. Unfortunately many were expecting such an attack. Again that's why the shock and awe of 9/11 is not being repeated here.
3. From all the Hong Kongers I know, both local and expat, the reaction has been one of horror. However see point 2.

Now some even more important points:

The people that did this are murderers. Not freedom fighters. Not insurgents. Murderers. There is no excusing, or rationalising these actions. That said the right thing to do, and this is implied by the man interviewed on CNN, is to NOT sink to their level, but to pursue them to the full extent of the laws and freedoms we cherish. It is also important not to generalise. All the anger and ire can only be directed at those that did this and those that incite them to do this.

As for Doug's point, he's right that this one interview is not the be all and end all of the media coverage. Watching BBC last night was far more enlightening. But I was highlighting the obvious bias in the "reporter's" interview. It should open our eyes to the agendas that drive many so-called journalists. The sooner they admit they are not objective, the better their coverage will be.

posted by: Simon on 07.08.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

But then there/s also just bad reporting.

posted by: doug on 07.08.05 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

right on simon.

posted by: Laowai19790204 on 07.08.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]

Absolutely, here here Simon.

As you say, 30 years of IRA terror as well as what London Major Ken Livingstone said following the Mardrid bombing about how miraculous it would be if London were not attacked partly explain the reaction of Londoners.

Also, if yesterday's attack, which police now estimate as using a total of 10lbs of high-explosive, is the best that al Queda-inspired terrorists can come up with then we must assume that the anti-terror initiatives carried out by western govts have taken their toll.

That's what I'm personally deducing from yesterday's attack anyway.

posted by: Martyn on 07.09.05 at 03:46 AM [permalink]

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