Saturday, February 10, 2007

How Accurate Is The News?

Shame on you CNN! You may or may not have seen a
story running today on CNN's Headline News about
a $25,000 Dinner that was prepared by Chefs flown
into Bangkok for 40 diners.


WAIT! Don't follow the next link! The one below!!!
Until you read the rest of what I have to say here.
Nooooo! Naughty Naughty. Don't even THINK about

your mouse.

Seriously. To see what CNN did, you have to do this
in the right order. Or it won't have the same effect.
Trust me on this, ok? Read this blog first.


CNN would have you believe that diners flew to
Bangkok to eat a meal prepared by the best chefs
in the world and in return, paid a sum of $25,000
apiece. And, that said meal was filled with fare
exquisite to the eye and palate, from near and
far, and wine of supreme vintage, bottles of which
have rarely, if ever, been gathered together and
drunk under one roof, at one time, during one
event. And. Everything that CNN says is true.
Except. That this is where their story ends.

And this is neither the beginning nor the ending
of the story. In fact, its not even a good rep-
resentation of a portion of the story. In my es-

So let's talk about the real story that CNN should
have covered had they felt like engaging in some
broadcast journalism today. This dinner was NOT
put together by a bunch of "foodies" who wanted
to see how much exotic food they could cram into
their faces for twenty-five grand. Because I've
got to tell you, for that amount, even with the
wine, you could hire one of the chefs who partici-
pated, buy the ingredients, and have him come to
your kitchen. True, if it was just you alone, you
might not have been able to afford the food and
every single bottle of wine on the menu, but
bring along one or two of the other guests at 25k
a pop and you'd have been set.

But THAT was not what THIS dinner was about.
This project was conceived for a two-prong pur-
pose. To promote tourism in Thailand while rais-
ing money for two extremely important charities
that benefit impoverished Thai people. The fab-
ulous food and wine was just a neat way to attract
donors, have them actually visit Thailand so that
they could see the place to which they were con-
tributing, and have a once in a lifetime decadent
unforgettable, sinfully fantastical 10 course meal
to boot.

But let's talk about those charities for a minute.
Since CNN could apparently give a damn.

1. The first is: Medecins Sans Frontieres - Trans-
lated into English, that organization is:
Doctors Without Borders. Right.
NOW it seems pretty familiar to you, I'm sure.
Here are some links though, just in case you've
slept through the last decade and have never
heard of it:

Doctors Without Borders - U.S. Site

Doctors Without Borders - International Site

2. The second charity is: The Chaipattana Foun-
dation - While I immediately recognized the first
charity, as I can read French, I had not heard of
this charity, so I looked it up. Chaipattana is a
Charitable Foundation set up by the King of Thai-
land in an attempt to deal with the massive pover-
ty and health crisis in his country by encouraging
development from within his country. Unlike many
sovereigns, this King does not raid the treasury
for his own gain, instead, in what has to be an
ALL-TIME royal first for any nation, he has used
his OWN money to help his impoverished country-

This has lent global support to his efforts to spur
economic development. Before providing these
links, let me preface this by saying that when you
visit these sites it will at first appear a little
amusing to those of us who are American, because
we are not used to having Sovereign Rulers and Kings
(although some of our rulers have seemed to appear
to THINK they were sovereign - but that's for another

So if you look at any of these links it may
at first appear unusual to you the deference to which
the writers refer to the King. The Beloved King, His
Majesty, His Majesty the King, etc. are titles always
used when referring to the King of Thailand. It would
appear though, that he is doing very good work and
really IS beloved by his people. A rare thing indeed.

This first link explains how the King gave his own
money to begin a foundation whose purpose was the
development of the country, particularly in terms of
rice paddies, farming, and helping the Thai people to
develop their own food sources for the future.

Embassy Explains Foundation Development

The Chaipattana Foundation

News article about The Chaipattana Foundation

By the way, the King of Thailand appears to be an
interesting chap all 'round. He is multi-lingual, has
I'm not certain how many degrees (more than one at
any rate), and is an engineer. He wasn't supposed to
be the King. That fell to his brother. He wasn't pre-
pared to be the King. And yet, since his brother died
and he became the new King by default, he has become
a ruler of extreme longevity whom the Thai people seem
t0 love and respect.

The King of Thailand

But back to the charities,
I know that in addition to attending to disease preven-
tion, which is a primary concern, Doctors without Bor-
ders also provides surgical intervention for children
born with facial and spinal deformities, who would oth-
erwise never have the opportunity for such medical in-
tervention. It is a marvelous organization. All of
the physicians who work for them volunteer their time
and are unpaid for their efforts. By the way, the web-
site has a volunteer area should anyone care to give
of their time.

Now we can look at the money. This dinner was set
up for forty people. There was a last minute problem
though. On New Year's Eve, several bomb blasts shook
Bangkok. Three people were killed. Thirty-eight people
were wounded. Nine of the wounded were from coun-
tries other than Thailand, on vacation, work, or what-
haveyou. Muslim extremists are the favorite suspects,
but truly, nobody knows who was behind it, and if the
authorities have any real idea, they aren't in a sharing.
mood. After the blasts, people visiting from abroad
were warned to leave in statements issued by many
foreign governments. Not exactly a boon to Thailand's
already broken economy.

New Year's Bomb Attack

In the wake of the bombing, the ten diners from Japan
decided that the security risk was too high, and they
bowed out of the event. So at the last minute, ten ad-
ditional people had to be found. Ten people who didn't
mind sitting next to next to Americans for dinner. Might
as well pin a bulls eye to your back these days. But
the seats were filled. Forty total Diners.

Now, even I can do basic math. 40 x $25,000 per plate =
WOW! A million dollars!

Ok. So I don't know if the vendors for the wine and food
donated the items as their contribution to the charity
event (frequently, this is done) or not, but even if the 200k
wine tab was removed, and the food deducted, I'd still say
there was a fair amount left for charity.

Which brings me, finally, (is anyone still with me on this ride?)
to my point. Why didn't CNN EVER MENTION that the
proceeds of this meal were going to be channeled to these
two fabulous charity organizations? If they had mentioned
the charities every time they ran the story can you imagine
how much good that might have done by bringing attention
to the charities? I'm not even certain they mentioned Thai-
land, the entire REASON for the event!

You'd have at the very least thought that they might have
mentioned this very NEWS-WORTHY part of this story. The
fact that the ten Japanese diners pulled out because of secur-
ity concerns due to the January bombings. That would have
made a GREAT story. I would love to have seen that story.

Ever wonder how safe it is to travel internationally right now
and which countries are considered the most volatile vs. the
most safe when you're looking to spend your frequent flyer
miles? I do. Ever wonder how many people are killed every
year while traveling (whether on business or pleasure) in for-
eign countries? I wonder about that all the time when I'm
thinking of planning vacations. That would have been a great
story and they could have tied it in with this one, using the
Japanese diners as a preface.

It would have been timely. Westerners have found them-
selves in danger in places other than the middle east.
Were you aware, for instance, that two Italian women were
stoned to death yesterday while vacationing off Cape Verde?
(off the coast of Africa) And that the third only survived
because the perpetrators thought she was dead? Of course
you weren't. CNN didn't tell you that on any of their headline
news segments. They were too busy reporting fluff stories
about $25,000 meals, and they couldn't even get those pieces
right. I'm not too busy though.

Here's a link: Three Italian Women Stoned at Cape Verde

So how accurate is the news? With the mere holding back of
a couple of key pieces of information, the story CNN aired
about the $25,000 per plate dinner CNN is turned on its
head. It makes the diners out to be gluttonous hedonists, as
opposed to philanthropists willing to visit a country in need
of their help, at their own personal risk, and donate funds
in the name of charity. And yep. In return, they are treated
to hopefully what will be the best meal of their lives.

CNN, DOUBLE SHAME ON YOU! One for each charity.

By the way, You can follow that link now.


Anonymous said...


So, how skeptical are you about the news media??

Do you think this is just merely a mix they didn't have enough time or room to write a good story? Or, do you think it goes further than that?

Could it be that they really wanted the story to be about the extravagance of it all? Or worse yet, attempt to further the difference between these people and say....a chicken sales person?

"how funky is your chicken"

Sydney said...

"Do you think this is just merely a mix they didn't have enough time or room to write a good story? Or, do you think it goes further than that?"

Please. Remember Don Henley's song, "Dirty Laundry?" I think they just don't give a fuck. They want the sexy part of the story, damn the facts. Especially if the facts are inconvenient to the salacious slant.

My larger point though is that it should cause one pause on ANY story. You really never are getting all of the information. For one thing, they may not HAVE the information. They may be misinformed. Or truly, they may not care.