Focusing on Twitter, Missing the Story on Iraq

Focusing on Pete Hoekstra's Twitter Updates from Iraq, Media Misses the Story on Iraq

Over the past week, West Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra’s use of Twitter while on a trip in Iraq, has been all over the local media and the liberal blogosphere. The Grand Rapids Press ran two articles, WOOD TV 8 ran several stories, WZZM 13 covered it, and so did WXMI. While covering what was a potentially serious issue and discussion, many stories opted to use rather tongue-and-cheek headlines such as “Hoekstra tweets set Congress a-twitter” and “Hoekstra’s trip twitters to an end” that made light of the story.

However, what is probably the most frustrating is that for all the coverage Hoekstra’s use of Twitter got, none of the media outlets in Grand Rapids bothered to report on Hoekstra’s trip to Iraq. This is unfortunate, because Hoekstra certainly made claims at a post-trip news conference that would have been worth investigating.

For example, Hoekstra makes the claim that the United States had defeated the “radical jihadists” in Iraq and that now those people–whom he does not define but associates with Al-Qaida–are moving “the focal point” of their efforts to Afghanistan. To that end, Hoekstra is now advocating a “strong military presence in Aghanistan.”

It was also news worthy that Hoekstra–a long time advocate of the US occupation of Iraq–said in the Ludington Daily News that “Everybody I talked to, and everything you saw there led you to be relatively optimistic … Now it’s a matter of how fast you pull down our troops.” Similarly, other Republicans on the trip to Iraq describe the “drawdown” of US troops from Iraq as “justifiable.”

Perhaps, the media looked at Hoekstra’s past statements on Iraq and found that he wasn’t a reliable source and decided not to report on his trip. After all, Hoekstra was the one who claimed in 2006 that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) had been found in Iraq. The claim was quickly dismissed by experts on the topic who said that the weapons were outdated and discarded long before the 2003 invasion.

Sadly, this probably has more to do with the corporate media’s laziness and zest for inconsequential, novelty reporting–for example a politician using a newfangled Internet tool–than a rejection of Hoekstra as an unreliable source.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

3 thoughts on “Focusing on Twitter, Missing the Story on Iraq”

  1. I think about the stimulus money coming to our area and I think that the area that P. Hoekstra reps should not get any. I think that only the areas in Michigan that had reps who voted for pro stimulus should get the stimulus money for their areas. Why should we reward the people who voted anti stimulus to get money. They voted and chose their person therefore they should abide by what they they vote for. Pete Hoekstra voted against and Vern Ehlers voted against therefore their districts should not get anything. That is how I think government and elected officials should be held accountable. If you vote for them and they screw you – so be it. If they think Big Business is more important than you so be it if you voted for them. Your vote is what counts and you in turn should pay the piper for it.

  2. @Patricia: I certainly understand the sentiment behind what you are saying, but the problem is that your proposal would punish people and communities who need the money. In many cases (documented on this site), Representative Ehlers has voted against what his constituents want (the examples that come to mind immediately are the bank bailout and the Iraq War). Moreover, I think that this ignores the fact that some folks–i.e. those with money–have a disproportionate influence over the political process and can overshadow what other folks want.

  3. Ed: I totally agree with you. I was just trying to make a point that I think our elected officials should listen to very carefully about what the people want. I do want the people in our area to get the help and money. I also wanted the people to think carefully about who they elect and look closely at whether they are for the people or not. I do wish someday they would realize that each person has one vote whether they are a big CEO or ordinary citizen. More importantly our elected officials should start realizing that.

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