The “mainstream media” are losing patience with, and even interest in, their erstwhile hero. President Barack Obama never had a chance with the Ailes-Murdoch crowd, of course, and it didn’t take the president long to offend the fierce left wing of the blogosphere. But now, finally, the MSM, which views itself as ideologically neutral, has found ideologically neutral reasons to lose patience with him: that he may be ineffectual; that he doesn’t know how to play the game; that he can’t get anything done. Exhibit A: the health-care bill. The Times’ Frank Rich, the astute dean of the commentariat, wrote recently that Obama has failed to “communicate a compelling narrative” in office and, as a result, “could be toast if he doesn’t make good on a year’s worth of false starts.” And yet this collective falling out of love is great news for Obama. Calling it quits with the MSM is just what he needs. A breakup might even save his presidency. —“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” Howard Fineman, Newsweek
The story is told from the point of view of a young second lieutenant, Mellas, who joined the Marines for confused and vaguely patriotic reasons that are quickly left in tatters by military incompetence. At great psychic and physical cost, Mellas and the rest of Bravo Company, Fifth Marine Division, climb a steep mountain near the intersection of Laos and the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam, then build an outpost capable of withstanding enemy artillery. As soon as they finish, they are told to abandon it because they are needed for a large operation farther south. There ensues a multiweek stagger through impenetrable jungle, the company plagued by lack of food, lack of ammunition and inadequate resupply. One man is killed by a tiger. Another dies of cerebral malaria. Starving to death and bearing a dead friend on a pole, the men of Bravo Company finish their mission and are allowed a brief rest at one of the main support bases. Soon enough, however, they are ordered to retake Matterhorn, which has since been occupied by the enemy. It is there, on the flanks of their own outpost, that the horror and absurdity of war are finally played out. —“The Vietnam Wars: ‘Matterhorn’,” Sebastian Junger, New York Times Book Review
What relics will form the archaeology of network television?
does God like it when we pretend to torture his only son?
was that God’s justice sweeping “over this land like a prairie wind” or was yesterday just breezy?
If absolute truth were the only thing photography had to offer, it would have disappeared a century ago. Photography isn’t merely a window on the world, it’s a portal into the unconscious, wide open to fantasies, nightmares, obsessions, and the purest abstraction, as envisioned by Julia Margaret Cameron, Hans Bellmer, Man Ray, Joel-Peter Witkin, Laurie Simmons, and Adam Fuss. But this is a legitimate concern, and it’s a question of trust. Photojournalism is not over — if the response, both professional and amateur, to the attacks on September 11, 2001, didn’t make that abundantly clear, the public’s extraordinary appetite for the pictures did — but when everyone knows how easily and flawlessly an image can be manipulated, its credibility is constantly in question. But credibility is an issue for all photography these days; although a certain amount of skepticism is always in order, when every image is examined for digital imaging effects, doubt can be not just distracting but corrosive. So the public’s gullibility may be over, but photography, having survived a blow to its confidence, goes on. —“Is Photography Over?” Vince Aletti, SF MOMA