SOLOMON: It's Time For "Media Jeopardy!"
Welcome to an all-new episode of "Media Jeopardy!" This is a game that never ends, whether you like it or not.A reminder of the rules: First, listen carefully to the answer. Then, try to come up with the correct question.Today's main category is: "Overseas and Under-reported."* When President Clinton visited this far-off nation of 64 million people in mid-November, a New York Times article reported that he "gently nudged the country to strengthen its adherence to human rights." That was a newspeak reference to ongoing patterns of torture and murder by police and security forces.What is Turkey?* The director of the American Kurdish Information Network, Kani Xulam, recently said that this powerful country is "an enthusiastic ally of a Turkish government that has waged a war on Kurds which has killed over 37,000 people, destroyed over 3,400 Kurdish villages, and displaced over 3 million Kurds from their rightful homes." This same ally delivered more than $5 billion worth of weapons to Turkey since 1993, while the Turkish human-rights situation has gotten even worse.What is the United States?* The commander of Israeli forces in Beirut after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, he intentionally allowed notorious Phalangist troops to move into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, where they massacred Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Estimates of the death toll range from 700 to 2,000. But Israel's prime minister has just named him director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense -- an appointment that has not raised media eyebrows in the United States, even though the U.S. currently provides Israel with nearly $2 billion a year in military aid.Who is Gen. Amos Yaron?* In Kosovo, since last summer, "ethnic cleansing" has killed hundreds of people and has caused the exodus of many thousands of others. But the White House and the American press corps don't seem very concerned about these victims.Who are Serbs?* This is terribly lacking in U.S. media coverage of foreign affairs.What is a single standard of human rights?Our next category is: "Vanishing History."* Reporters and pundits often express admiration because he endured several torturous years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. But media accounts rarely provide any details as to what he'd been doing when his plane went down. One might think that he was engaged in some humanitarian mission. Actually, he was participating in an air war that took the lives of many Vietnamese civilians on a daily basis.Who is Sen. John McCain?Now it's on to: "Quips Beyond the Screen."* Thirty-five years ago, he wrote: "All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values."Who was Marshall McLuhan?* This wisecracker observed in 1955: "Television is a medium, so called because it is neither rare nor well done."Who was Ernie Kovacs?* This writer posed a question and then answered it: "Where is Hollywood located? Chiefly between the ears. In that part of the American brain lately vacated by God."Who is Erica Jong?* This famous economist wrote in his memoirs: "Television newsmen are breathless on how the game is being played, largely silent on what the game is all about."Who is John Kenneth Galbraith?* This renowned woman, publisher of The Washington Post for many years, remarked: "The power is to set the agenda. What we print and what we don't print matter a lot."Who is Katharine Graham?Now we're on to: "Final Media Jeopardy."* On Nov. 17, three corporate giants announced a "strategic alliance" that will "share news material and technological and promotional resources." Microsoft, General Electric and the Washington Post Co. made a new deal to consolidate their media leverage. The MSNBC website will soon become Newsweek.MSNBC.com. And we'll be seeing intensive cross-promotion. The president of NBC News, Andrew Lack, said: "We are pleased to be teamed with The Washington Post and Newsweek in our effort to deliver news across all available media platforms." But some media consumers won't be so pleased, since it all adds up to another step along the road toward a widely feared result.What is media monopoly?