Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

 
Kids Day of Fishing began with $20 donation

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Chabad will begin Torah for Solano Jewish community

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Library foundation executive moves to Child Haven

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Theater schedules free screening of Sundance film

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A8

Vacaville plans recreation expo

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Frazier to discuss transportation at EDC breakfast

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Fairgrounds site of horse-betting seminar, brunch

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A8

Il Fiorello schedules vegetarian cuisine class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A8

 
Fairfield police log: April 19, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 19, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Lawmakers seek FDA review of ingredients used in cosmetics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecutors: Capsized boat captain and crew member arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
High-speed rail approves 5 bidders for more construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sheriff’s domestic violence-related conviction erased

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Utah woman gets up to life in prison in deaths of 6 newborns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Police: Video didn’t capture suspect’s fatal spine injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

California Uber driver accused of running down bicyclist

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US warship heads to Yemeni waters; could block Iran weapons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lawyer: Washington Post reporter in Iran faces 4 charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Many migrants drawn by jobs, welfare in northern Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bombs shatter houses in Yemen capital, hit near Iran Embassy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Questions, answers about federal anti-radicalization effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Where US sees terror prevention, some Muslims see profiling

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments | Gallery

Sacramento woman eats 3 steak dinners in 20 minutes in Texas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chemistry Ph.D. student illustrates her thesis in comic book

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Public memorial held for the Rev. Robert Schuller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
SC paper wins Pulitzer for reporting on domestic abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

6 from Minnesota charged with trying to join Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Opinion

 
Why does Fed insist on targeting inflation?

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Income disparity study results ironic

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 21, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd pleads guilty to threatening to kill

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bobby Brown’s lawyer: Bobbi Kristina Brown has opened eyes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

US writer who fled Austria to escape Holocaust dead at 90

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Vice News, NPR, CNN, WNYC win double Peabody Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

HBO planning to deal Web pot sitcom ‘High Maintenance’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Kolbert’s ‘Sixth Extinction’ wins Pulitzer for nonfiction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Wolfe’s ‘Anthracite Fields’ wins Pulitzer for music

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Anthony Doerr wins Pulitzer Prize for fiction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Elizabeth A. Fenn wins Pulitzer Prize for history

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Gregory Pardlo’s ‘Digest’ wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

David I. Kertzer wins Pulitzer for biography-autobiography

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Stephen Adly Guirgis wins Pulitzer for drama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Sports

Mustangs rally in seventh inning to top Falcons

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
AP source: Peterson stays home from Vikings workouts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Report: 2 teams needed to make California stadium profitable

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Data deluge: MLB rolls out Statcast analytics on Tuesday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Doug Buffone dead at 70

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
New format means injured drivers no longer must race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Saunders: ‘I’m the coach until I say I’m not’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Faldo to make final appearance at British Open this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Braves’ McKirahan suspended 80 games for positive drug test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raptors Lou Williams wins NBA Sixth Man Award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Ugly Olympic conflict breaks into open at Sochi conference

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Pacquiao gets in 2 words before conference call cancelled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Eagles sign quarterback Tim Tebow to 1-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McLellan out after 7 years as coach of San Jose Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Pelicans coach says Warriors arena noise might be too loud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Police: LA Kings’ Jarret Stoll had cocaine, Ecstasy in Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Desisa wins 119th Boston Marathon; Rotich takes women’s race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jockey Chris Antley leads Racing Hall of Fame class

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

.

Business

Judge returns ultra-rich club founder Tim Blixseth to jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Running out of time: Limited-time deals can be limiting

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

$134M proposed for 10 BP-funded oil spill recovery projects

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Hormel says bird flu outbreak will hurt turkey sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Bird flu confirmed at Iowa farm with 5.3 million chickens

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Trucking group urges government to move on speed limiters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US stocks gain, rebounding from Friday’s slump; Hasbro jumps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Survey: US businesses expect sales rebound, more hiring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Bristol-Myers: 2 cancer drugs beat 1 against melanoma

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Halliburton says has cut 9,000 jobs in wake of oil’s drop

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: B4

Labor group seeks rehiring of workers at 5 Wal-Mart sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Frederick’s of Hollywood files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Willie Nelson becomes latest celebrity in marijuana business

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Kraft Mac & Cheese shedding the dyes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

ESPN says Verizon’s new FiOS TV packages violate agreements

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Lawsuit: Southwest failed to respond to medical emergency

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Bridge April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Get Fuzzy April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Peanuts April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

For Better or Worse April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Dilbert April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Cryptoquote April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Sally Forth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
B.C. April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baldo April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Zits April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Pickles April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8