Wednesday, July 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sochi coverage lacks fairness, balance

By
From page A11 | February 13, 2014 |

It seemed like overkill when NBC sent “Today” co-host Matt Lauer to Sochi to begin co-anchoring the weekday morning show there four days before the Olympics began. Not only did that edge out real news, but the advance airtime was filled with snarky reports that appeared designed to portray the Russian hosts as inept. When a network plunks down that much for an exclusive right to broadcast, it’s going to milk it for all it can, and NBC is good at that. What it hasn’t been so good at is covering these Olympics objectively. The condescension hasn’t let up, and the network isn’t alone.

It began in small, almost imperceptible ways, with a focus on all the things that weren’t ready. It hardly seemed newsworthy that someone who had reservations in Sochi had to stay miles away before Opening Day. We were treated to shots of unfinished construction work, stories of cold showers and discolored hotel water. Some of that comes with the territory; most of the world lacks the amenities we have, and this was newly constructed.

Among The Washington Post’s “15 signs that Russia is not ready for the Olympics” one was that construction errors had led to the collapse of someone’s home. Very unfortunate, but how relevant? Then, “Environmental experts predict the breakneck construction in Sochi could cause significant environmental damage, but because of Russia’s opaqueness on the issue, they really have no idea how big the problem is.” So it’s speculative. NBC informed us of problems with the halfpipe trail for snowboarders, a legitimate issue. But was it necessary to state, without attribution, that critics had used adjectives like “lame” and “garbage”?

It’s not that things are all rosy in Russia, or that there aren’t valid criticisms to be made. Syria, Edward Snowden and human rights have all complicated relations between the United States and Russia recently. But the Obama administration opted not to boycott the Olympics, as some dissenting Russians – including two members of the women’s rock band, Pussy Riot, imprisoned for two years for “hooliganism” – had urged. The president did make a statement in defense of gay rights by not attending opening ceremonies and putting gay members on the U.S. delegation.

But once we decided to participate, we should be as gracious as the event demands. We can’t have it both ways – participate but condescendingly. Was it necessary, for example, for Obama to say Russian President Vladimir Putin has a “shtick” about “wanting to look like a tough guy” or that American politicians “tend to smile once in a while”?

Is that old Cold War politics? American propaganda? Would the president have talked that way of Margaret Thatcher?

U.S. commentators are free – in fact are obligated – to criticize human rights violations or foreign policy decisions in the proper forums. But reporters should stick to covering news without inserting commentary. The Olympic Opening Ceremonies were, by any measure, magnificent in special effects, historical illustrations and performances. Yet the failure of one snowflake to turn into an Olympic ring in the graphics was what a network reporter focused on the next day, adding that Russia got more bad news when its athletes won no competitions on opening day.

The slant of American coverage hasn’t gone unnoticed in Russia. A piece in the Russian online newspaper, Pravda.ru, accused NBC of cutting out “all positive moments about Russia,” and censoring a portion depicting the communist period. It noted a U.S. petition drive launched under the twitter hashtag #NBCFail calling on the Obama administration to end NBC’s monopoly on Olympic broadcasts. The petition says American viewers should be able to watch athletes from all nations compete on a world stage, free of “derogatory commentary.”

News reporters might be picking up some of their story lines from the explosion of Twitter feeds out of Sochi – 10 million tweets in the first five days. But trained journalists should be more discerning. This generation is learning how to be widely seen and heard, but with that comes responsibility. Given the jingoism and feeding frenzy of the mainstream media, how will young people learn the value of diplomacy and of engaging even with adversaries?

If Sochi coverage is any example of a free and fair American press, my profession needs to do some serious self-examination.

Rekha Basu is a columnist for the Des Moines (Iowa) Register. Readers may send her email at rbasu@dmreg.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • FDCFebruary 13, 2014 - 6:41 am

    Yes! Your "profession" does need "some serious self-examination." Profession"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithFebruary 13, 2014 - 1:28 pm

    What a crock! Ms. Basu, they couldn't even build a half-pipe correctly. Not to mention the havoc being visited to the local townspeople and stray dogs. Gimme a break!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithFebruary 13, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Er....that would be "visited upon"........

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Solano County Fair set to open Wednesday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Marketing study looks at Berryessa resorts

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Library teens plan summer reading party

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Police arrest suspected intruder

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Activity is Medicine program coming to Suisun senior center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Big-rig crash shuts down freeway onramp

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Icon sends first A5 into the skies on maiden flight

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B7

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Suisun City police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Weather for Wedneday, July 30, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B14

 
.

US / World

Hamas demands for cease-fire and Israel’s concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Fist bumps less germy than handshakes, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
New California fines for wasting water take effect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California lifeguard injured by lightning improves

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E charged with obstruction over San Bruno blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Chevron California refinery overhaul up for vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Tuberculosis patient who refused care is arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

4 charged with murder in death of USC student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Crews make gains on 2 California wildfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Last crew member of Enola Gay dies in Georgia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Shelling adds to mounting civilian toll in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate confirms McDonald as VA secretary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

Body of young stowaway found in US cargo plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Report: Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Highway, bridge money at risk: Senate to vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate bill would end NSA phone records collection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Liberians in US worry about Ebola outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Top doctor dies from Ebola after treating dozens

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Red light camera fate now uncertain in state

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
Obscure state agency creates big money problems

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Some people have missed the drought memo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
What kids don’t know would shock you

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
Cemetery support committee thanks sponsors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
What to do when ‘it’ hits the fan

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
I like Liam, but I think he’s interested in another girl

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

Horoscopes for July 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
A do-ahead dinner to make back-to-school smoother

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

You too can bake artisanal quality bread at home

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
A healthy afterschool snack that eats like a treat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Music aside, Queen of Soul is pumped for fair food

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield Indians blank Next Level Athletic to win SRL tournament title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mudcats tie Vacaville Admirals

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

No joke: Kings’ Cousins hopes for Team USA shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Liriano fans 11 in Pirates’ 3-1 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Athletics rally for 6 runs in 9th, beat Astros 7-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Husband arrested in death of NBA player’s aunt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Triple-A brawl results in 11 suspensions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers sign former Cardinals RB Alfonso Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vin Scully to return for 66th season in LA in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
McDonald’s could be liable for labor practices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Food writers subpoenaed in ‘pink slime’ lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stocks end lower ahead of economic data

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Twitter 2Q results soar, stock flies high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Jack L Hudack

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jeanetta M. Hale

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Patricia Jo McDonald

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5