Archive | Media

Jon Stewart Channels Beck

In case you’ve never seen Glenn Beck, this is exactly how he acts. What’s scary is that so many people find him credible – mostly because he’s so good at pushing buttons on paranoia, resentment, and fear.

I can’t watch him, myself. He’s too much like a parody of himself. It saddens me.

The Audacity

As someone who’s actually worked as a freelance journalist, all I can say to the New York Times is “horsefeathers!”

Note that our rules on free travel and other free or discounted products and services are stricter than those of many publications. Even if such a benefit is not directly connected to a Times assignment, it can create an appearance that undermines the credibility of The Times or its contributors. Any questions involving such benefits should be discussed with your Times editor.

First of all, Phil (I can call you Phil, right?), freelancers getting free travel is not the real reason your credibility’s been undermined. May I be blunt, Phil? It’s the shit you put on the front page that’s the problem.

And frankly, this whole idea that the prestige of writing for the Times should be worth any sacrifice is the proverbial dead horse. Because I know of people who have written for the Times who are having trouble keeping the lights on, and if taking an industry freebie allows them to write a piece for some other publication that will help them get the power turned back on, I say more power to them. Literally.

I am tired of a journalism industry that wants to have it both ways, with highly-paid, temperamental show horses at the top of the bill, and desperate freelancer work horses at the bottom.

Hey, here’s a thought: If you are so worried about the outside activities of your freelancers, why not hire them full-time? Why not cut the pay of the show horses and put some money into the pockets of the horses that pull the plows?

Or you could just shut the fuck up about your “credibility.” You don’t have any.

Your Librul Media

Honestly, I don’t know why anyone pays attention to them. And they wonder why we don’t want to pay for news online? The amount of energy that goes into researching and fact-checking the same things that they were, you know, supposed to research and fact-check for us puts the reader in the hole for time vs. money spent.

Yes, the occasional thoughtful and factual piece slips through, but how is the casual reader supposed to know which is which?

Why Is This Bastard Lying To Me?

Ravi Somaiya at Gawker with something I wish so-called “journalists” would read:

Howell Raines hit out at Fox News for ruining political debate. But it’s not justFox. By softballing and coddling interviewees, all of television news has helped politicians get away with appalling lies, distortions and… being Sarah Palin.

Put simply: almost without exception, American political interviewers fawn and simper over their subjects, refuse to ask a question more than once and never call bullshit on blatant bullshit. If anchors, interviewers and White House correspondents did their job — to hold elected officials accountable, by their lapels if necessary — politicians of all stripes could not get away with distorting and outright lying, as they do now.

Rove-ian veneers would simply be scraped away by the eight words ‘that is not true, please answer my question’. Repeated enough on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC they’d mean no birthers. No myths about healthcare or rumors of death panels. No paranoid lies about creeping socialism. No George W. Bush. No Sarah Palin.

Take, for example, Palin’s 2008 claim to ABC‘s Charlie Gibson that because she could “actually see Russia from land here in Alaska,” she had foreign policy experience. Imagine if he’d thrown it directly back to her with follow-up questions. What bearing does this have on your ability to make policy? Are you seriously telling us that your qualifications are based on proximity? I put it to you, Governor Palin, that if you have to rely on such a shabby justification, you are woefully lacking. The resulting stammering and incoherence would have sent her limping back to Wasilla. Instead she was, and is, coddled.

There is a quote passed around in British journalism, which has a more robust tradition. Every interviewer is instructed to ask themselves, when facing a politician, “why is this bastard lying to me?” Jeremy Paxman, a BBC interrogator, once asked a very senior member of the government a question 14 times (video here, skip to about 3.30) simply because he evaded it.

Next time Republican Congressman Eric Cantor is on your TV lying glibly about his party’s “no cost jobs plan,” or a government takeover of healthcare, picture an interviewer like Paxman, with the facts at his or her fingertips, making him eat his falsehoods live on air. Then consider how that might affect the level of honesty in his next appearance.

It is not easy to be confrontational. These are wealthy, powerful, intimidating people who can choose who they talk to. So reporters make an excuse for practicing Hollywood-style access journalism: they claim their job is to ask the questions, air the responses and let the people judge. They are mere conduits.

This, to be frank, is pathetic. Take a look at the dysfunction in DC for evidence. All the stations, from Fox to MSNBC, are doing is validating absurd lies by airing them as news. Politicians should fear, to their very cores, being interviewed by people other than Jon Stewart. We need to stop blaming Fox, and start asking questions. Repeatedly.

I laughed out loud when I read the “why is this bastard lying to me?” line, because that was my exact approach to journalism. Always, no matter who I was talking to. I once made an interviewee so nervous, his coffee cup was rattling in the saucer he held.

Again: this goes back to the idea of “Whose side are you on?” Far too many journalists now consider themselves on the side of the people in the know, the insiders. And the insiders are so damned good at the seduction game. You think it isn’t flattering to some lowly reporter when a politician says, “That’s a great idea, tell me more”? Of course it is.

But then, look at the incentives. If reporters kiss enough ass to become a network anchor, they get the limo and the $10 million a year contracts.

Personally (and believe me, sometimes I wish I wasn’t inflicted with integrity), I couldn’t really live with myself. But clearly, many people can – and do.

Your Corporate Media Thinks War Is Irrelevant

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Yes, but wasn’t American Idol on last night?

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) railed against the Washington press corps today on the House floor for paying more attention to the likes of scandal-ridden Eric Massa than the war in Afghanistan.

“There’s two press people in this gallery,” Kennedy yelled during a debate over an anti-war resolution. “We’re talking about Eric Massa 24-7 on the TV, we’re talking about war and peace, $3 billion, 1,000 lives and no press? No press.”

“You want to know why the American public is fit?” he continued. “They’re fit because they’re not seeing their Congress do the work that they’re sent to do. It’s because the press, the press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance and that’s the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country. It’s despicable, the national press corps right now.”

Kennedy’s comments came during a three-hour floor debate over a resolution sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that would force President Obama to bring troops home from Afghanistan within 30 days, or longer if it were necessary because of safety issues.

A Case Study in Liberal Media

It got a brief mention on some of the cable channels, but the only major TV network that carried live coverage of this healthcare reform rally in D.C. yesterday was Fox – and then, only to ridicule it:

The reason? AHIP, the health insurance lobbying organization, was meeting in (where else?) the Ritz-Carlton. A coalition of groups led by unions including SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW and Health Care for American Now declared the meeting site a “corporate crime scene” and attempted to make a citizens’ arrest:

In a reverse twist on the old protestors’ tactic of getting arrested to make a point, union leaders and other backers of President Obama’s healthcare plan issued “citizen’s arrest” warrants for health insurance executives Tuesday – accusing them of exploiting consumers.

The “warrants,” delivered to police during a demonstration outside an insurance industry meeting at a Washington hotel, were an attempt to dramatize protestors’ call for insurance reform – and to build public support for the Democrats’ healthcare legislation.

The demonstration, which drew several thousand protestors from as far away as Illinois and California, was organized by groups that for more than a year have pushed Congress to create a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers as part of national healthcare overhaul.

While that policy objective, known as the public option, is not part of the healthcare legislation pending in Congress, the groups are nonetheless mounting a multi-million dollar campaign to promote the bill. The effort will continue in coming weeks, with more demonstrations, paid advertising and other events, including a hearing to take place Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Boy, there was a time when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing someone about Tea Party rallies. I guess the only way you can get on TV these days is to be on the side of the insurance companies.

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