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Archive for the ‘press’ tag

Pentagon spokesdrone reveals all, or not (video works now)

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It can withstand interviews with Larry King, Michael Moore … and, of course, jail time.

Written by Jeremy

January 30th, 2010 at 1:32 am

Malkin spins hate speech petition

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Today, in Michelle Malkin’s continued right-wing drivel, she alerted readers that “left-wing church leaders” want the FCC to “crack down on ‘hate speech’ over cable TV and right-leaning talk radio airwaves.”

First, let me say that the preface, “Lead story,” at the top of the Web site is classic and choice … as if one is about to read some hard-line news piece from The New York Times or The Los Angeles Times … as if she actually talked to people on the ground and did any reporting on her own. Does she even know what “lead story” means? In truth, for this post and all others, she cobbles links together and puts forth some argument like any other blogger. I’m not doing anything much different (although I would like to think I’m a little more even-handed), but to claim this is any sort of “story” a la, a piece of journalism, is laughable.

But continuing on. She said various religious organizations, along with the National Hispanic Media Coalition, have teamed up to compel the FCC via a petition (Malkin fails to link to it directly, but there it is) to launch efforts “for combating ‘hate speech’ from staunch critics of illegal immigration.” Think of this as an illegal immigration version of the Fairness Doctrine critique. Now, not only are conservatives, who, let’s admit it, own the talk radio airwaves, railing against attempts to make radio more “balanced” in its presentation of political positions, but honing in on certain specific issues to argue against such equalization. In her column with Creative Syndicate, she said,

Now, the gag-wielders have a friend in the White House (President Obama) – and they won’t let him forget it. Their FCC petition calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration critics (italics mine) cites Obama’s own words in a fall 2008 speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The first part of this is patently false, and I hope someone more widely published than myself calls her bluff on it. The FCC petition does not call for a crackdown on illegal immigration critics. The summary of the petition is clear:

The National Hispanic Media Coalition requests that the Commissin (FCC) invite public comment on hate speech in the media, inquire into the extent and nature of hate speech, examine the effects of hate speech, including the relationship between hate speech in the media and hate crimes, and explore options for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of such speech.

I’m all for freedom of the press, and networks have the right to air any crackpot talk show hosts or anchors they wish. In fact, members of the press, TV stations or newspapers have the right to be as biased as they want, though I personally think it’s a disgrace to the profession of journalism, and I discourage anyone from encouraging that sort of “news” venue.

But Malkin is wrong here to the nth degree. It’s about hate speech, not about debunking or overthrowing critics of illegal immigration. By their unlearned rhetoric, they pretty well debunk themselves without any effort from myself or others. What Malkin fails to note are any instances of alleged hate speech from members of the “media” (I would use that term loosely for some folks in question, including Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and others, who fall outside that category).

Case in point. Savage, as Malkin fails to bring to our attention, has made numerous incendiary comments toward immigrants, illegal or not. I would dub them as outright racist comments. Here’s a taste, from a May 10, 2006 taping, Savage said:

… [t]he immigrants, when they take over America, won’t be as enlightened as the (European) people running America today. There is a racial element to the ‘immigration invasion’ … We’re going to lose our nation unless one million people go to the border. …

And then on Oct. 13, we have this gem:

… these immigrants don’t have morals that are similar to those of Americans. They haven’t even gone through the Middle Ages. They’re never going to be compatible with America. They’re never going to assimilate.

Yep, and folks in the 18th and 19th centuries thought slaves could never assimilate either. They were ignorantly wrong there as well. I’m curious to know more about Savage’s comment that immigrants won’t be as enlightened as the European people currently running the country. I didn’t even know Europeans were running the country. Sure, some of European descent are members of state or federal bodies, but so are those of African and Latino descent. One is our president and another is a Supreme Court judge. And before Obama and Sotomayor, there were many other black and Hispanic leaders.

Had Malkin read to the end of the petition she references, she would find example after example of commentators in mainstream media and other outlets, railing, not just against illegal immigratants, but immigrants in general as well as blacks, “chinks,” etc. We can trace this immigrant hatred back to similar feelings leveled against Italians, the Irish and others. It’s a very predictable cycle.

Might I add: this post by Malkin, and her others comments, are very curious, as Malkin, born in America to parents who were citizens of the Phillippines, has, ironically, taken a position against the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, although she herself is a benefactor of that same amendment. Peculiar, indeed.

Time for something ridiculous … Ok, 2 things

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Stupidity No. 1: We at the newspaper I work for attempted to write an editorial about this foolishness, that is, the porn industry’s plea for a $5 billion bailout, but found it far more of a challenge to write the piece without including 10 puns rather than flesh out the 500 words required for the piece.

(Larry) Flynt’s and (Joe) Francis’ announcement coincides with the start today of the four-day Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. They hope to find support for the bailout bid from other industry leaders.

“People are too depressed to be sexually active,” Flynt said in a news release. “This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such, but they cannot do without sex.”

Too depressed to be sexually active? Heck,  that’s one of the few joys folks have left: the mortgage payment is beyond reach, credit cards have thousands of dollars in balances and the recently bought Christmas presents are being more a burden than a joy on the giver. Flynt is right: Perhaps aside from the joy of enjoying the outdoors and natural wonders or the joy of raising children, sex is at least in the top 3 joys of being human. I don’t think folks are going to neglect it; I don’t think folks can.

But that’s a moot point. Of course it’s a publicity stunt. For financial security, one can seek one of a few professions: nursing, teaching, law, modeling, the gambling industry and porn. (Notice, I listed them descending further down the moral rabbit hole.) But I digress. …

Stupidity No. 2: Palin (urgh). She’s not going away. You know, it’s amazing to me that whenever I post something on this blog and mention her name, my hits go up exponentially. But if I attempt to talk about something vastly more important, and meh, the hits are minimal. I suppose that begs the question: Am I only mentioning her now so I can get hits? While I admit there is a level of euphoria involved in seeing that magical WordPress stat graph go up and up after a Palin post, I mention her occasionally as I do simply for that reason: She’s not going away and there is a good chance she will vie for the presidency in 2012. Why shouldn’t she? She’s clearly still got the media and certain segments of Republicans captivated by … something … I’m not sure what. Her knowledge of moose and grizzly bears? Her “You betcha’s” and “Darn tootins?” Pleasant she is, but competent enough to lead the free world, she is not, and unless she suddenly becomes a tower of erudition and foreign policy, my view won’t change.

For many, I’m sure the thought of a genuine “soccer mom” sounds like a dream come true, but soccer moms aren’t qualified to negotiate with folks like Putin and Kim Jong Ill. The thought of Palin and the latter sitting across from each other in serious negotiation can’t even be rendered by my feeble mind.

In this most recent story, Palin thinks the coverage on Carolina Kennedy has been soft and the result of some “class issue.” In favor of Kennedy because of her family? Because the Kennedys are richer than the Palin? We aren’t talking about the difference between Tiny Tim and Donald Trump. We are talking about levels of richness. The Palins and Kennedys have it. Most of us do not. The complaining over favorable press coverage can stop there. The fact is that Katie Couric (though a bit brashly) asked tough questions, most that even average citizens could answer, and got insufficient answers (from a vice presidential candidate!).

Written by Jeremy

January 10th, 2009 at 2:29 am

Fairness Doctrine and freedom of the press

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Quite a bit of talk has sprung up recently about the Fairness Doctrine. Some Democrats, like Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have worked quite extensively (Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is another supporter) to have the legislation reinstated, while many Republicans, suggest the doctrine is specifically targeted toward silencing, or at least, dulling influence from conservative-dominated talk radio.

The Fairness Doctrine, which seeks to mandate that broadcasters give opposing viewpoints to an issue (or have both conservative and liberal viewpoints represented by separate programs, etc etc), dates back to the mid-20th century when it was introduced and put into law and then added to the Federal Communications Commission regulations. In 1987, Congress tried to turn the regulations into law, and Reagan handed down a veto. It hasn’t been enforced by the FCC since. Now since Barack Obama was elected, word is that the Democrats will attempt to reinact such legislation.

In a December 2004 interview with Slaughter, Bill Moyers asked,

Is somebody going to say, “Is this just a question of a Democrat who feels she’s not getting her message out and she’s mad?”

SLAUGHTER: No. It isn’t. I mean I get reelected, I’ve done extremely well in my district because people appreciate that I fight for things. I think all Americans would feel the same way I do exactly if we just had the ability to tell them. Reinstating the fairness doctrine would make a major difference in this country.

Near the beginning of the interview, Slaughter said,

I was so committed to it (the doctrine) and I kept doing bills. Because the airwaves belong to the people. I think we’ve good and sufficient examples now of what has happened to us with media consolidation — the fact that the information coming to us is controlled, the fact that at least half the people in the United States have no voice because they’re not allowed in on talk radio.

Actually, the airwaves belong to whoever owns them. Perhaps in some metaphorical sense, airwaves are part of the public domain, but radio stations are not. They are privately owned and those owners can do with them as they like. It just so happens now that, apparently, conservative-minded individuals have a hold on talk radio at the moment.

One question Democrats will have to answer is the one Moyer raised: Aren’t Dems just trying to get some more elbow room in the media, particularly in radio? And this is a valid question. One can’t convince us that Dems have some unbending, irrevocable hunger for fairness that transcends party lines. That just isn’t believable because some who claim to be journalists don’t even possess that, which is unfortunate. But that’s for another article.

Obligating broadcasters, newspapers or cable news to use their mediums to present separate viewpoints sounds irresponsible to me and is tugging pretty hard, if not trampling, on the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Part of me says, “Yeah! Let’s make our media more balanced!” while another part can’t support anything, be it censorship, governmental stifling of thought or governmental addition of thought, that infringes on the press. I agree wholeheartedly that some in the press today (FOX News, most talk radio) have all but reverted back to the 19th century brand of journalism, when newspapers were nothing more than sounding boards to political parties. Others aren’t so brazen, however, offering liberal-only and conservative-only talk shows on their channels (Keith Olbermann, D.L. Hughley, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, to name a few) as seasoning to their 24/7 line up of what we are to believe is balanced coverage.

Be that as it may, even though some “journalists” and broadcasters have trampled on journalism itself, that doesn’t give the government the right to trample on it as well, in order to squash the tramplers at their own game. This goes back to a larger picture, which I’ve written about before, that one of the flaws in this country, from giant financial institutions (Wachovia, Merrill Lynch) to computer corporations (Microsoft), companies are allowed to grow and grow seemingly without checks. They thus expand to the point that their very non-existence could crumble our economic infrastructure. Thus it is with the media corporations, like Rupert Murdoch’s universe of FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, etc, etc. Give one person huge assets and a set of political ideologies, and in which direction will he attempt to take those assets? Of course, wherever his ideologies take him.

It is ironic that our oldest modern medium, radio, is today dominated by a party stuck in the past and grappling with how to modernize itself. While this seems wholly appropriate at this point, it’s not the job of the government to modernize talk radio, for that would be constitutional infringement. Nor is it the job of radio, TV or any other media to be the one and only source for people’s information. As Moyers said in his interview with Slaughter, residents have enumerable sources from which to get data. The informed person will seek out those enumerable sources, not being satisfied with just watching Hannity’s America or Keith Olbermann or listening to Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham. Those programs success speaks to the fact that Americans, at this point, aren’t willing or are too lazy or to stuck in their own entrenched ideologies to do that, and we have a long way to go in that regard.

So, how do we raise a new consciousness of self-learning, to teach people to seek out multiple viewpoints and multiple ways of looking at complex issues? Part of that obligation falls to the press. While some calling themselves part of the “press” fail miserably, others — I would start with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times — do a fine job of painting an accurate and fair picture of the American landscape. Most of that obligation is with teachers, professors and parents (and more so to the latter). This is where it must begin.

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