Welcome Home, President Bush

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |


Hamdillah salameh, President Bush. I bet you’re glad to be back. It seems the trip didn’t turn out quite like you’d planned. Not only is Israel riding roughshod over Palestinians in Gaza undermining your peace plan, but just a day or two after you were in Kuwait, the country’s foreign minister told the foreign minister of Iran that “Our country knows who is our friend and our enemy, and Iran is our friend.”

Tough week, but don’t worry too much. No one has to know. Just set up the projector, dim the lights, pass the popcorn, and show your friends the Washington Post slideshow Bush Visits the Middle East.

In addition to seeing all the fun you had with swords and horsies and falcons, your audience will instantly understand your good intentions for the trip when they read the editors’ (or shall I say White House communications aides’) introduction: “President George W. Bush places the promotion of democracy and freedom at the top of his agenda as he makes his way through his first extended tour of the Middle East during his presidency.” They’re still just taking your word for it?

About a quarter of the pictures are from Israel, including some from Bethlehem, so your donors will be happy. And God will certainly be impressed that you invoked His name in the guestbook at Yad Vashem, but try to do better next time on the handwriting. Jeesh.

Only two of the 43 photos show any distaste for your policies—some Palestinain on Palestinian violence in one as a Palestinian police officer hits a woman protestor with a wooden stick, and the young angry men of Hamas are supposedly tearing an American flag in the other (I mean, I don’t see any rips, but that’s what the caption says, so it must be true). They didn’t include any of the Egyptian protesters’ signs likening you to the ruthless Mongol conqueror Hulagu or awkwardly invoking the 19th-century London fiend Jack the Ripper by calling you Bush the ripper of the century. So you’re safe there. No one knows what people in Saudi Arabia were thinking (they’re not allowed to say), so rest easy.

You’ll also need to inform the group that the slides are out of order. I don’t know maybe someone dropped them on the way to the projection booth? They start at the end of the trip in Egypt and after that the progression is hard to follow. Air Force One looks great by the way. How stately she is. Do you call her a she? What’s her nickname?

Also, you may have to slow the show down a bit. The pictures went by too fast for me to read all the captions—and I’m a fast reader. Not to say that you’re not, of course.

Sometimes the captions seem to be saying different things. Like in picture 9, when you’re with the King of Saudi Arabia, the editors (I mean, aides! Sorry!) write, “The stop marked one part of the Bush’s Mideast tour aimed at encouraging peace throughout the region.” Is this how you worded it for them, because in the very next picture, they say your “trip involved the announcement of a major weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. supports the nation’s defense against threats from Iran and hopes to foster support for a Mideast peace agreement.” You might want to straighten that out. I mean, I’m no expert, but I don’t get how we foster peace when we sell weapons to one of two nations who aren’t at war but are supposedly headed in that direction.

I’m still finding my voice on this blog, and I’m not convinced this is it. Still, I was appalled by the so-called journalism of the Washington Post in this slideshow and it go me to thinking about multimedia’s place in the genre of media criticism, i.e., do editors apply lower standards to multimedia pieces, like this slideshow? What are the standards we should be thinking about? When editors are choosing 43 pictures at once to represent such a trip—rather than four or five over the course of a few days—what new questions need to be asked? Look for more multimedia criticism in future posts.


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