February 17, 2007

Osama bin Times? Or, bin TIME?


“Part of a bizarre image that Alexandre Batlle, of Miami Beach, Fla., hoped to put on T-shirts after registering Obama bin Laden as a trademark. His application was flatly refused last week.”

— Caption accompanying illustration (above) at NYT “The Lede” blog.

The blogosphere grew up with the keenest focus on a weak-kneed MSM.  But now, who’s keeping an eye on those proliferating, sharp elbowed MSM blogs?

Literally tossing print baggage overboard to boost their web presence, “old media” conglomerates like TIME and the NYT‘s are paddling like mad to establish their own beach front  property in the blogosphere before it’s too late.  And what’s one quick way to make it happen? How about leveraging your brand, and your more upstanding credentials, with the kind of gawkerish sleaze lining the political bottom of the indie-web?  (And, of course, doing it visually.)

Take last week, for example.

First, the NYT Lede blog, written by (or “with”) Tom Zeller Jr., gave a platform to some no-name t-shirt maker with a nuisance trademark petition (which was vehemently denied) to splash a blown-up portion of an ugly cartoon image on their blog.

Fast on their heels, TIME did their own racial pandering in the name of boosting eyeballs and lowering mindshare.  Picking up the drumbeat was a blog-offering called “Swampland,” produced by TIME and billed as “covering politics in the nation’s capital.”  (In essence, it’s really a TIME/Wonkette blog, however, since — in addition to TIME political writers Joe Klein and Karen Tumulty — it features TIME’s Washington Editor, Ana Marie Cox.) (Yep, Washington Editor.)

Dredging this swamp, Ms. Cox, herself, wrote their Obama slash piece, reproducing a misprinted NYPost headline in which that paper, apparently also infected with the not-so-subliminal hate bug, ran a headline alluding to Barack Obama as “Osama.”  Just for good measure though, the Swamp also scanned the facing page, the first column picturing some black man accused of a petty crime alongside a large partial image of a black women in a swim suit top.  Oh, those criminally-minded but alluring blacks!

Not that they wanted to drive home the mistaken inference, but Cox titled the piece “Osama Strikes Again” — highlighting “Osama” with a strike-through.

And I thought, in my post the other day, that Obama’s biggest problem would be his mixed-race.  Considering this visual treatment at the hands of desperate-to-rise and suddenly morally-unregulated MSM blogs, however, it seems having a father from Kenya (born on almost the same continent as bin Laden, right?) and a middle name reminiscent of one of America’s formerly-favorite dictators, is just too irresistible not to exploit.

(image: thelede.blogs.nytimes.com via Obamabinladen.net)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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