Faux News: Fair and Balanced

Well, the toothless FCC is looking into the faux news produced by the Bush Administration and corporations to dupe the public:

Independent Online Edition > Americas

Ms Farsetta said the public relations companies commissioned to produce these segments by corporations had become increasingly sophisticated in their techniques in order to get the VNRs broadcast. “They have got very good at mimicking what a real, independently produced television report would look like,” she said.

Wait. . . .  What *does* “a real, independently produced television report” look like, anyway?  This is an especially tough article to know how to read, especially for one who is currently reading Noam Chomsky: Radical Priorities.  He is absolutely convinced that the media is basically an organalle of the same ruling class, and therefore not at all independent in the first place.

Of course, a story such as this sort of presupposes a certain level of independence in the media, because there would be no other reason to go around them in this way.  At the same time, I think most of us who pay attention have seen a dramatic shift in the priorities of the media and the tone of thier delivery, so there does seem to be a certain prevailing influence of power on the media, whatever thier declarations to the contrary.  Perhaps in this as in all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle: the media is under pressure to book members of the Administration guests, and therefore cannot rock the boat too much.

But back to these so-called VNR’s (Video News Releases).  That the Administration and Corporate America seem to be engaged in exactly the same types of deception ~ and by all accounts, primarily through the collusion of Fox media outlets ~ is the kind of thing that should give even those cynical of media independence reason to pause.  This is about as obvious a Fascist crony system as you could ask to have in our society.  Perhaps there is indeed a collusion between the media and the government, but when it is this eggregious, it needs to be broken up. 

Perhaps reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine would help in other areas, perhaps not, but a society that holds the pretense of the democratic principle cannot allow this type of thing to continue nor can it ignore the problem without criminal prosecution.  We shall see how true to our principles our society is prepared to be. . . .

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Oh, the Whole Wiretapping Thing is No Big Deal, Eh?

Witness the Federal Government actively wiretapping journalists.  This is just the beginning, folks.  The Bush Administration plays by no one’s rules but thier own.

The Blotter

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

“It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told us in an in-person conversation.

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NYT on Cheney, Hayden and Warrantless Wiretapping

OK, so hang on to your hat’s folks, ‘cuz this one’s gonna come as a shocker: Dick Cheney pushed the warrantless wiretapping regiem into being.  In fact, the way it’s being spun in the media, General Hayden was the one trying to find a compromise solution that would fulfill the needs of Cheney’s itchy snooping ear and the NSA’s lawyers who have been (thankfully) trained to follow the law.

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping – New York Times

By several accounts, General Hayden, a 61-year-old Air Force officer who left the agency in April last year to become principal deputy director of national intelligence, was the man in the middle as President Bush demanded that intelligence agencies act urgently to stop future attacks.

News Flash: Fox May Be Somewhat Biased!

Oh, crap!  Whatever shall we do with this latest revelation?  It turns out that Fox News has significantly skewed voter behavior to the Right over the last few years, even among those who still vote Democratic.  Well, I’ll be Garfunkel’s uncle!  What a damned surprise!

The Fox News Effect

We report. You decide. Does President Bush owe his controversial win in 2000 to Fox cable television news?

Yes, suggest data collected by two economists who found that the growth of the Fox cable news network in the late 1990s may have significantly boosted the Republican Party’s share of the vote in the 2000 election and delivered Florida to Bush.

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Arianna Huffington on Big Media and Blogosphere

On the HuffPo, Arianna Huffington talks about the percived threat of the Blogosphere on the Big Media industry.  An interesting read, and one that is couched more in her mindset for the upcoming conference, meaning heavily sympathetic to the cause of print media:

The Blog | Arianna Huffington: Magazines and the Internet: A Match Made in Media Heaven | The Huffington Post

On Monday, I’m going to be speaking at the annual conference of the American Society of Magazine Editors in New York about how the mainstream media can thrive in the brave new media world by making friends with the blogosphere and embracing the online universe. . . It’s not an either-or proposition. Despite drops in circulation, print magazines are not going the way of the dodo bird (indeed, there are over 5,000 more magazine titles on sale now than there were in 1988) — and the 75,000 new blogs appearing every day won’t be the death knell of Big Media.

Michael Caputo on Fiscal Responsibility

Every once in a while, I like to check in on what Michael Caputo has to say.  I don’t often agree with him, but at least his arguments are intelligent ones.  However, in his latest post, I believe he misses the mark by a substantial margin:

The Political Notebook: The Message with Sizzle

To New York State lawmakers, it is the doling out of state money for projects and to local governments that “has the sizzle.” They believe this is what sells to the voter. It put me in mind of something written by Jay Gallagher, the Albany Bureau chief for Gannett News Service. He posed a few questions in his column a few weeks back. Among them: How can state lawmakers hold down taxes by increasing spending well beyond inflation? How come we keep hearing that the state debt is huge, yet we still borrow more? Aren’t these good questions to pose to state lawmakers when they start on the road to reelection? Don’t these have “sizzle?”

The phrase “doling out money” is a great Republican bullet point, but the projects he cites in this post aren’t bridges to nowhere. They’re money for schools and renovation projects, which while not the most thrifty of choices, do go to the benefit of the people who live in this state. I don’t know that I intended to vote for representatives in Albany who planned on keeping the money in Albany, nor do I suspect that anyone else did.

He makes a fine point on the debt and borrowing, but blames the government’s money problems on it’s spending rather than where the blame belongs: on it’s taxation. New York has the most rambling, incoherent tax code you can imagine. What is the point of the ever-increasing taxes, when we’re just going to give a pass to companies in Empire Zones and COMIDA? “Doling out money” to the taxpayers makes sense, “giveaways” to Corporate America, especially when they do not create the promised jobs, does not.

Public Radio’s Podcasting Woes

Wired News presents an interesting quandry for the local Public Radio market.  Podcasting is reaching new levels in the NPR world, but in doing so, it’s turning listeners away from the fund drives that have fueled local station’s funding for years.

Wired News: Podcasting Roils NPR Fund Raising

On the upside, the medium is expanding NPR’s overall audience and boosting some shows previously unavailable in many markets. . . Yet, at the same time, it can turn ears away from local stations — possibly for good — which could be a problem for affiliates that rely heavily upon member donations to pay the dues to air some of the same programming listeners can now get free as MP3s.

I would submit that what is really in play here is the annoying pledge drives.

The Dirty Little MSM Freelance Secret

I sometimes wish I had gone to school for journalism, but after reading this peice, I’m just as happy to work in IT.

The Big Carnival

Faced with plummeting advertising revenues, media organizations have slashed their staffs and operating budgets in the past couple of decades in pursuit of ever greater profits. One of the causalities have been foreign news bureaus. As a consequence, many outlets have turned increasingly to freelancers like Carroll. Compared to staff writers, they’re cheap.

This excellent peice then goes on to describe the process by which the modern, profit-driven media is creating sharecropper journalists in other portions of the world. He points out the hypocrisy with which the MSM reports on coal mining accidents, deriding coal mine owners for not having proper safety equipment while at the same time not providing even so much as health care to a large portion of thier own workforce, which is conveniently not employed directly.

Of course, there is little or nothing that we can do in this country to combat such tactics beyond attempting to shame the shameless.

Air America Founders to Buy Thier Own Stations

Good news for AA listeners in Pheonix and elsewhere.  To combat the tactics of Right Wingers trying to suppress Liberal talk, two of the founders of the Air America Network have decided to begin buying radio stations to assure themselves a fair shot at market share:

Air America Founders Seek Their Own Stations – New York Times

Mrs. Drobny said she and her husband were motivated in part by events that began in October in Phoenix, where a Christian broadcasting company called Communicom Broadcasting bought the station that broadcast Air America programming and subsequently changed the format to religious programming.

Bush Lied? Holy Crap, No Way!!

OK, so perhaps the headline was overly snarky, but I mean, why is this even a story anymore? They lied, they cheated and they continue to steal. I am sorry, but there is no other way of looking at the Bush Administration that is sincere at all.

A few months ago, I tried my best to walk through a logical examination of the evidence at hand, trying to eschew such pronouncements as I’ve made above, even though I believed them as much as I do now. My point then, which still stands, is that even if you believe that Bush was swayed by flawed intelligence, the CIA is a part of his Administration and therefore his responsiblity either way. Also, the major thrust of this article was to argue against the Patriot Act by arguing that the last thing we need is more intelligence gathering capabilities, but that point got kinda lost.
But all of this seems meaningless in a nation where niether the media nor Congress seems willing to do anything right by the American People. I hate to harp on the media, if only because I spent so many years deriding the whining Right for thier complaints against the supposed “liberal media,” but I really do think that history will show this as the single most irresponsible era in American media.

John Conyers is, as always, willing to at least write a letter seeking the release of the Hadley Memo. And really, what else can he do? But of course that won’t happen without some sort of pressure from elsewhere, and there’s none to be found right now.

Guess we’ll have to wait until the Mid-Terms. . .

Lara Logan is Now My Hero

I finally got to a PC with sound (the 9-to-5 is such a drag like that) to watch this video from CrooksAndLiars.com, and I’m now enthralled with Lara Logan.  Never mind that the woman has the guts to stick it out in Iraq with all the chaos and no flak jacket.  The woman is probably the first journalist to actually get down with these moron suits in the studio and tell them what’s really going on, no bullshit.

The best is here scoffing, “eight days!” at the end of the interview.  Awesome stuff, too bad that will likely be the last we hear of her in the MSM.  Here’s to hoping she sets up a blog.

Alaskan Oil Spill Catastrophe You’re Not Hearing About

If you had expected the Main Stream Media in this country to follow things that you find important, you would be wrong:

Independent Online Edition > Burst oil pipeline causes ‘catastrophe’ in Alaska

The leak was first spotted by a British Petroleum worker 11 days ago, and was reported to have been plugged a few days later. Initial hopes expressed by BP that the spill was limited to a few tens of thousands of gallons proved to be over-optimistic. Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation has steadily increased its estimate of the size of the spill, the latest estimate putting it at around 265,000 gallons.

How does this not make the headlines in this country? Not one word as of 4:30pm EST.  A quarter of a million gallons of crude oil spills along the Alaska landscape eleven days ago, and we still don’t have even so much as a single article in the media about it here in the country that it happened in.  The country to whom it should matter.

Still don’t think Big Media is in bed with Big Oil and the rest of the corporate sleaze?  They’re in up to thier asses, and no one wants to blow the drilling in ANWAR deal, so mum’s the word.  This is both pathetic and disgusting.