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Criticize the Olympics, please

One of the unfortunate features of our political discourse is that real concerns get ignored because one side will get worked up about a stupid angle to a story, and the other side will respond by dismissing the story altogether.

A case in point is a recent flap over a Chicago TV station killing a short piece on residents who oppose the city's bid to host the Olympics. Conservative bloggers jumped all over it because of the insinuation that the orders to kill the story were somehow linked to Obama, who is a big Chicago 2016 supporter. Steve Benen knocks down that insinuation, pointing out that the orders came from the station's higher-ups, at the prompting of the Chicago Olympic committee.

So far so good -- but Benen then declares that the story "isn't especially interesting." But I think it's plenty interesting, and plenty reason for concern, that a media outlet would cave to pressure from an outside group like that. Certainly the media should be responsive to legitimate concerns about its reportage that outsiders raise (e.g. "stop calling trans people by the wrong gender," "stop trying to 'balance' stories about evolution and global warming"). But "stop making the city's Olympic bid look bad" is not one of these cases. Having recently read some research done on Sydney's Olympics experience, there is definite pressure on the public, exercised through the media, to sign on to a pro-Olympics patriotism. But there's also plenty of research showing that mega-events like this are economic and urban-planning boondoggles. I'd oppose Pittsburgh making a bid for the Olympics, and I would hope that despite the wheedling of the Olympic committee, the media takes a critical eye toward Chicago's efforts.


Blogger Bill Baar said...

All local network TV in Chicago has been cheerleading for the Olympics.

Radio and print has been open to some criticism.

There is a tough racial angle as I heard one AA women heading to today's protest saying the Olympic bid was a plot to move Afridan Americans out of the city.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Stentor said...

The racial angle doesn't surprise me -- in Sydney there was a definite effort to keep the city's poor Aboriginal population out of the Olympic realm (though they were happy to appropriate a sanitized version of Aboriginal culture to make the country look cool and unique).

7:47 PM  

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