Archive for the ‘News’ tag
I’m not sure why news on this is just now breaking because excavators have been working on this for quite some time, but apparently the statues on Easter Island aren’t just heads, but full bodies.
Loving news talk, but not having satellite radio, I purposefully subjected myself to about an hour or so of the Mark Levin Show on the way back tonight from covering something for work. Levin, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of the many current fear-mongering talking heads dubbing themselves “Constitutionalists,” and his show is aired on this new radio station in Northeast Georgia on the 103.7 dial. The radio station airs the usual cast of Levin, Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage. This is no surprise, given the location, but several months ago, I actually e-mailed the station and said something to the effect of that, while I appreciated the fact that we now had a talk radio station in Northeast Georgia, I find the content they’ve chosen to air to be disingenuous and destructive to any kind of constructive political conversation. An official with the station replied back that, as programming manager, he must strike a balance between the kind of content offered versus what is marketable. Basically, he was saying something along the lines of, “This is what is popular right now, and this is what sells and people in this region want to listen to.” While that may be true, that fact certainly doesn’t give the station any credibility as a real news source. Of course, in radio and many news outfits today, credibility isn’t the important thing, now is it?
But back to Levin. His usual shtick, in which he condemns Obama of having some sinister socialist mind and agenda, was very much evident tonight (Actually, a taped episode from Oct. 29), as in every other episode to which I have listened. Tonight, right in line with the theme of his book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, available in fine book stores everywhere, Levin seems to equate the Obama administration and everything certain Democrats and progressives are trying to accomplish as tyrannical efforts, efforts such as bolstering the effectiveness of government programs and, well, helping those who can’t help themselves.
Here is Levin from Oct. 29:
Conservatism is the only antidote to tyranny because conservatism is our founding principles (sic). Conservatism is a recognition of the value of the individual human being. That’s the bottom line. All these other models, all these other philosophies, political philosophies, they’re not about the individual human being. They’re about some centralized power where masterminds, whereas I decided to call them, stateists (?), decide what’s best and isn’t best, but I don’t care how they dress it up. Tyranny is tyranny.”
Might I remind Levin that some of the most important Founding Fathers, namely Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, would today probably have been Democrats for their belief in a strong centralized government. For what is the point of having a government at all if it’s not to be a strong one, and I think Hamilton and Madison understood this. Do we really want a weak or measly federal government? What would be the point of that? State governments surely can’t be expected to regulate international commerce, markets and provide for the common defense and welfare.
On Levin’s statement about the value of individual human beings, I couldn’t agree more, in circumstances where said individual is, indeed, capable of finding and keeping a job and engaging in entrepreneurial enterprises, but we well know that many people in our nation are not capable of exercising their supposed “value” within the job market because of disability or education or economic disparagement. So, while Levin’s theory may work with economically upright Americans, it doesn’t work with others, and indeed, it’s a slap in the face to the thousands who need help and have nowhere to turn but the government. Sure, some abuse exists within the system, but to assume that the majority seeking government help abuse the system is a heartless exaggeration. And this heartlessness is, I think, at the heart of the current wave of Tea Party, constitutionalist movement. We are not an open prairie, agricultural society anymore, and I’m not sure we ever have been, except under the clouds of slavery, indentured servitude and sharecropping. So, I’m not sure what Levin and others are trying to achieve, but it seems that the world they seek is an illusion, anachronistic and irrelevant from modern America.
You know, the good folks over at News Corp. and FOX News really do a terrible job at concealing their unbelievably obvious bias toward the (once) Grand Old Party, almost as terrible a job as they do presenting the news in a fair and balanced format.
According to this report from The New York Times and many others, New Corp. has passed along a contribution in the amount of $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which is one of three amounts over a million given to the Republican group in the last quarter. The largest donation to its Democratic counterpart, as it happens, was $500,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
According to News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner,
News Corp. has always believed in the power of free markets, and organizations like the R.G.A., which have a pro-business agenda, support our priorities at this most critical time for our economy.
Horner also said the gift would bear no impact on the newsgathering side of the company (They gather news?). Horner, seemingly anticipating the waves of criticism said, “There is a strict wall between business and editorial.”
Sure there is. I suppose that’s why there is no mention on FOX News’ website about the contribution. Only one of three largest contributions to the group this quarter and not a sentence on the donation? Enlightening.
According to The Times report,
In an e-mail to reporters, the Democratic National Committee said the donation showed that Fox News’ well-known mantra, “Fair and Balanced,” had been “rendered utterly meaningless.” Hari Sevugan, a D.N.C. spokesman, added that Fox News’ political coverage “should have a disclaimer for what it truly is — partisan propaganda.”
And when New York Times attempted to find a story on FOX’s site?
While many news organizations reported Tuesday on the $1 million gift, a late-afternoon search of Fox News’ Web site produced no mention of it.
I don’t normally do this because, even if FOX News is the victim in some essay or argument, I figure, “Heck, they had it coming.” And they do. But because partisanship just for the sake of partisanship gets us nowhere as a country, I reference this article posted today by mediamatters.org, which is a watchdog group that scopes out “conservative misinformation — news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda.”
The organization typically gives folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like a pretty hard time — and deservedly so.
Today, the Web site claimed a list of seven FOXfacts, informative bits of information given by the channel during its news segments and interviews, were nearly identical to points made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a Wall Street Journal column.
Here’s the seven points from Ryan’s column and the accompanying FOXfact from a recent interview with Ryan in parenthesis:
- “The Republican budget achieves lower deficits than the Democratic plan in every year.” (GOP budget: Achieves lower deficits than Dem budget in every year)
- “Under our plan, debt held by the public is $3.6 trillion less during the budget period.” (GOP budget: Debt held by public $3.6 trillion less during budget period)
- “Our budget gives priority to national defense and veterans’ health care.” (GOP budget gives priority to natl defense and vet health care)
- “We do these things by rejecting the president’s cap-and-trade scheme.” (GOP budget rejects the president’s cap-and-trade scheme)
- “Our budget does not raise taxes, and makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax laws.” (GOP budget doesn’t raise taxes; makes permanent ’01 & ’03 tax laws)
- “Capital gains and dividends are taxed at 15%, and the death tax is repealed.” (GOP budget: Capital gains and dividents taxed at 15% and death tax repealed)
- “The budget permanently cuts the uncompetitive corporate income tax rate.” (GOP budget permanently cuts corporate income tax rate)
So, here’s the rub. Either Media Matters doesn’t understand what colons mean when writing headlines on news stories or FOX News doesn’t. When a headline, for instance, says, “Bush: Mission accomplished.” That means Bush said the mission was completed. So, whatever is on the right side of the colon is supposed to be a very succinct summary of what the source actually said or thought. In the above example, colons seem to be used without rhyme or reason. Typically, a writer or editor would use them to tell the reader about some editorial point or opinion held by the source, like this: “Bush: Presidency was the best.” That would imply that Bush said he thought his presidency was tops.
In this example, it appears that points 1, 2 and possibly 3 and 4 have a twinge of opinion or contention to them, while 5-7 are likely quantifiable. Hence, points 1, 2 and possibly 3 and 4 should have all included colons after “GOP budget” to suggest that FOX wasn’t saying these things outright, but those were assertions of the GOP’s plan. But, point 3 has no colon, while point 6 has a colon for seemingly no reason. (In actuality, one could argue that all the points need colons because the budget is simply a plan and FOX has no way of knowing whether the GOP’s claims will actually come to pass or hold water. Thus, the channel can’t accurately state such claims as facts.)
Regardless, for Media Matters to claim that FOX was merely stating as fact what Ryan had previously written in an opinion piece is a little misleading because FOX did add the colons to a couple of the more editorial-leaning points. But neither is in the clear because neither seems to see the distinction between a news headline with a colon and one without. Details matter, even two vertical dots. And perhaps that makes the entire Media Matters post and the FOX News report null and void. Of course, of the latter, we knew that from the get-go.
First, apologies for not being terribly consistent with the blogging as of late. My personal writing time has been largely devoted to some short stories I’m working on.
Today, I wanted to comment on Matt Millen’s commentary during the Super Bowl pregame show. The content of said commentary is not my concern, of course. The fact the he was and is commentating is my concern.
What broadcast executive would give this guy a job at NBC after he, for all intent and purposes, ran the Detroit Lions farther into the abyss? What would make someone think, “Eh, he failed at running a football team. Maybe he will be OK at commentary?”
I don’t know the answer there, but he started talking on NBC during the pregame show, and it was a distraction for me, as I’m sure it was for many others, knowing the history of the Lions, etc. I think NBC took some hits for that … if not in the ratings, at least in untangible viewer perceptions.
To make it worse:
Every time a certain familiar face showed up on camera Sunday during NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show, Channel 4 ran a scroll at the bottom of the screen:
“Matt Millen was president of the Lions for the worst eight-year run in the history of the NFL. Knowing his history with the team, is there a credibility issue as he now serves as an analyst for NBC Sports? …” — Detroit Free Press
Ok, so, knowing his history with the Lions, we might agree with this statement. But what of Channel 4? A television news channel should not be running editorial content to supplement its coverage. And believe me, both of those sentences were nothing but opinion. Channel 4 was unquestionably in the wrong. But, to be sure, this is a symptom of many local news television channels. The only potentially truly objective news medium is newspapers (Broadsheet, not tabloid). While the word “money” rules the day no matter where you get your news, newspapers seem to still hold the purest form for objective news.
I admit. I haven’t worked in the industry for decades. I don’t concretely know what sells newspapers and what doesn’t. I know the direction the industry is going, and I know some strategies for luring potential readers to slip their hands into their pockets, find a couple quarters and deposit accordingly. But do any of us in the industry actually know what sells papers? Is it Godzilla-esque pictures or headlines? Teasers? Coverage on the issues that matter most to them?
I’m a word guy. I think well-crafted, well-reported stories are more important to fulfilling our service to the community than pictures or gigantic headlines. Especially in this era of “bigger is better” and less (content) is more, I suppose I’m in the minoritythere.
But the truth is this: we are living in an era where Reading — and its cousin, Learning — are not just dying, but are becoming taboo. Sure, Joe Schmoe reads, but it’s a headline here, a snippet there. The ability and desire to dig deep into the written word, to dig deep into complex issues has long-since escaped us. And that’s why the written word, the printed press, is slowly nailing itself to a cross. It really is a self-sacrifice. Newspapers still claim to be the authority on local issues ranging from zoning to immigration to water authorities and crime, but the nation’s leading papers — The New York Times being the exception … because it can — do their utmost to bury that important content inside the newspaper, thus making the front page appear like some daily Michelangelo painting, replete with teasers, huge pictures and giant headlines. But, consequently, my life calling is not to graphics and pictures, though I’m adept to these things, but to words on a page. Still, I play along.
Why have even the nation’s largest papers succumbed to such devices? I offer The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a prime example. The Anderson Independent-Mail as another, which, consequently, has seemingly banished copy altogether from its front page.
This, because the economic situation at many newspapers is that bad, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle on cable television and the general dumbing down of America. Continually, we hear about buyouts, restructuring, etc. within the industry’s leading papers. Photos and graphics become necessary in order for newspaper to compete and not be drowned out in the blare.
Obviously, this speaks to a larger issue: that of our Red Bull-infused, spastic society. And admittedly, I get caught up in the great and rabbit race to nowhere. Frequently, I will catch myself surfing online, and — oooh — something else comes up that I might like to check out, thus diverting my attention from whatever I originally was seeking information about. What was it? I can’t remember. It’s maddening. In another post, I quoted Kurt Cobain on television:
I hardly write any stories and I don’t work on my songs quite as intently as in the past. You know why??? Television Television is the most evil thing on our planet. Go right now to your TV and toss it out the window, or sell it and buy a better stereo. — “Journals,” Kurt Cobain
I posit that the Internet is the new television.
Have any of you heard of The Spectator? It was a short-lived publication in the early-18th century. It was published in an era where coffee houses were hubs of political and societal conversation and learning. People then read as if their lives depended on it, and often, they did. Television, since the late 1930s has served to muck that up. The Internet has mucked it up further. I would argue that the Internet is actually more productive for the educational betterment of society than television, but neither wins a gold star.
Simply, I wish folks today read as if their lives depended on it. We simply have to promote a society that is bent on making reading the printed word a priority. Why? Because, as convenient and good as it may be, the Internet isn’t ironclad. Books in hard copy form are ironclad. Government documents in hard copy form are ironclad. But once they reach the Internet or e-mail, they can be manipulated at will by people who know more than you about Web site security. By way of example, my entire blog www.jeremystyron.com, which is on a separate server, completely went down for a few hours yesterday I can only assume, by a hacker.
I’m not optimistic that such a society will emerge in the near future — our society will continue wind-blown into its own technological tailspin — but I am committed to at least trying, in as much as I can, to focus people to more hard copy learning. I say that while admitting that any kind of learning and reading, virtual or not, is benefitial.
The most efficient studying takes place, I feel, not when one is, in tandem, listening to music, playing an online solitaire game and reading some essay for class, but when one is sitting upright at a kitchen table, hunched over a book — with nothing as a distraction — with, perhaps, only a cup of coffee as company. Such a commitment will assist in building a society again more focused on the printed word, one more focused on dissecting and vetting the complex issues that confound us.
… and chilling. “Sounds like the average day at the office for … Rupert Murdoch.”