Saturday, October 24, 2009
Fark.com had to bring this one to our attention. On Friday, they linked to the blog page of CeaseSPIN.org, a website “dedicated to uniting voices in support of a return to more objective, truthful, fair, balanced, relevant and representative news reporting.”
The CeaseSPIN headline gets right to the point: “Fox News gets okay to misinform public, court ruling.”
Here’s the rundown: On August 18, 2000, journalist Jane Akre won $425,000 in a court ruling where she charged she was pressured by Fox News management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information.
The real information: she found out cows in Florida were being injected with RBGH, a drug designed to make cows produce milk – and, according to FDA-redacted studies, unintentionally designed to make human beings produce cancer.
Fox lawyers, under pressure by the Monsanto Corporation (who produced RBGH), rewrote her report over 80 times to make it compatible with the company’s requests. She and her husband, journalist Steve Wilson, refused to air the edited segment.
In February 2003, Fox appealed the decision and an appellate court and had it overturned. Fox lawyers argued it was their first amendment right to report false information. In a six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals decided the FCC’s position against news distortion is only a “policy,” not a “law, rule, or regulation.”
So, Fox and the other gladiatorical cable news channels were given the okay to legally lie right around the time of the Iraq War’s birth – when media lies coincidentally hit a peak in both frequency and severity. More here
Friday, October 23, 2009
Since the Obama administration began accusing Fox News of being "a wing of the Republican Party," the war of words has intensified. The latest counterattack from Fox's defenders is the claim that the White House is putting Fox on a Nixon-like enemies list, a list which Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) describes as also including the insurance companies and the US Chamber of Commerce. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), however, believes that an enemies list is exactly where Fox belongs.
"Fox News and their Republican collaborators are the enemy of America," Grayson told MSNBC's Ed Schultz on Wednesday. "They're the enemy of anybody who cares about health care in this country, the enemy of anybody who cares about educating their children, the enemy of anybody who wants energy independence or anything good for this country. And certainly the enemy of peace, there's no doubt about that. They are the enemy."
Grayson thinks that the White House is doing exactly the right thing in going after Fox, because "what you do with a bully is you confront the bully and the bully backs down."
"That's a good description of Fox News," Grayson explained. "People come on the air, they insult them as they did me. ... Why would anybody think that Fox News is some sort of valid news organization?"
Grayson did not go any easier on the Republican Party than on Fox. "The Republicans operate simply by vilifying their enemies and nothing else," he told Schultz. "All they do is try to distract people from issues of health care, issues of jobs, issues of energy independence. They've got nothing. ... The Party of No is well on its way to becoming the party of nobody."
Liberal sites like Daily Kos have been predictably enthusiastic about Grayson's remarks, while conservative bloggers have just as predictably attacked him as "off his meds." In a post mockingly titled, "Alan Grayson: Fox News, GOP are the enemies of America, peace, puppies," Allahpundit described Grayson as a "grandstanding idiot" who's "relishing his role as the left's new golden boy / attack dog."
Thursday, October 22, 2009
This article by Eric E. Burns, President of Media Matters for America explains why, yet again, why we should make our collective fathers turn it off.
Fox News Channel is twisting American politics in an unprecedented way, and too many members of the press still aren't getting it.
The White House has exposed Fox News for what it is: not a news organization, but a partisan political entity that is waging a war aimed at destroying the Obama administration and its progressive agenda. Fox's Glenn Beck said so himself last Friday, predicting that he would soon "take the administration down."
Despite such unambiguous proclamations and the truths about Fox that they reveal, many mainstream reporters and commentators, and even some progressive ones, have spent their time effectively circling the wagons around Fox by focusing their attention not on the network, but on the Administration's comments about it. The entire matter has largely been treated as a political game -- should the White House have so bluntly criticized the press, or will the tactic backfire?
"The Obama administration’s war on Fox News is dumb on multiple levels," wrote Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post. "The Obama administration really needs to get over itself," added John Nichols of The Nation. "[T]he motivations of the White House are clear," wrote Politico's Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen. "Fire up a liberal base disillusioned with Obama by attacking the hated Fox. Try to keep a critical news outlet off-balance." That same article quoted Project for Excellence in Journalism director Tom Rosenstiel: “You should beware of politicians playing press critic.
[This video demos numerous examples of Fox News attacks on the Obama Administration]
All of this completely misses the point. The issue is not whether it was a good idea politically for the White House to say that the emperor has no clothes. The issue is that the emperor actually has no clothes. In other words, the administration's comments about Fox News aren't the story. Fox News is the story.
And yet, during a recent press conference, ABC's Jake Tapper asked Robert Gibbs how Fox News -- "one of our sister organizations," as he put it -- is different from any other network. His question indicates the pervasive unwillingness among members of the media to officially kick Fox News to the curb of the press club. By legitimizing Fox News as a news organization, reporters and commentators are enabling the network to continue conducting a massive conservative political campaign under the guise of journalism. In the process, they are permitting Fox News to dominate the national discussion by spreading smears and lies -- smears and lies that become conventional wisdom. They are also defending an organization that has nothing but contempt for journalistic standards -- hence undermining their own profession and the public interest at the same time.
Criticizing Fox News has nothing to do with criticizing the press. Fox News is not a news organization. It is the de facto leader of the GOP, and it is long past time that it was treated as such by our nation's media.
The evidence supporting such a reality is overwhelming. To begin with, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has described his station's confrontation with the Obama administration as "the Alamo." Fox News senior vice president Bill Shine said Fox was "the voice of opposition." In other words, the entire operation has an explicit political agenda, not just a few hosts. There is no separation between Fox News’ "opinion" programming and its "news" programs. Bret Baier's Special Report, the closest show Fox News has to a straight newscast, portrays Obama in a negative light 77 percent of the time, according to a recent study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
But the story goes well beyond the conservative bias Fox News has historically reflected. Like all major political entities, Fox News is now coordinating grassroots (or, more accurately, astroturf) political activities, lobbying for or against legislation, and fundraising for conservative causes. The network called April's protests "Fox News Tea Parties." It encouraged people to attend town halls last summer and then broadcast only the statements of those who opposed Democratic health care proposals. The 9/12 rally in Washington was the work of Beck, who claimed that 1.7 million people showed up (it was actually closer to 70,000). A video soon emerged of one of the station's producers coaching marchers before a live "report" from the scene.
Fox news routinely implores its audience to call Congress and oppose progressive legislation. Fox's Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee have both used Fox News airtime to encourage donations to conservative political action committees.
Again, these are unambiguous campaign activities, not the work of a news organization. It is no wonder that Fox's new website, FoxNation.com, has repeatedly cheered legislative developments it favors as a "Fox Nation Victory!"
Fox News relishes its newfound activism. "The conservative media is winning now," Bill O'Reilly said on September 17. "They're damaging the president of the United States." But the damage Fox News causes isn't just political. Every day, it undermines serious journalism, misleads millions of Americans, and distorts our national discussion on crucial issues. Fox News represents an attack on democracy itself.
Much of the channel’s "reporting" takes the form of obsessive and factually inaccurate efforts to smear progressive organizations and discredit Obama administration officials. To give you a sense of priorities: over a three-year period, shows hosted by Sean Hannity and Beck mentioned ACORN 1,502 times, saying it was a corruption scandal. By contrast, their programs mentioned Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater, Jack Abramoff, and Bob Ney 109 times combined.
Fox is currently conducting a witch hunt against administration members. After Van Jones resigned, Hannity told a crowd, "We got rid of one, and my job starting tomorrow night is to get rid of every other one."
Exposing improper conduct is one thing. Inventing it is another. Fox News breathlessly reported claims that an ACORN employee had murdered her husband without confirming the story. It wasn't true. Similarly, Hannity reported that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings had concealed the "statutory rape" of a high school student. It was soon revealed that the student was 16 at the time (the age of consent), and by his own account had not engaged in sexual activity with his fictitious assailant. Hannity never apologized.
Fake stories like these are what Fox News is built on. Health care reform will create death panels? False. Cass Sunstein believes in mandating that people become organ donors? False. John Holdren advocates for "compulsory abortion and sterilization," as Hannity put it? False. Fox reported them all as fact -- and the list goes on.
Never in American history has a media organization this powerful been so willing to misrepresent reality in order to achieve a political goal. The right-wing press ran a similar campaign targeting Bill Clinton in the 1990s, but for most of that time period, it lacked the national, real-time reach and impact Fox now possessed.
The impact of Fox News’ long campaign of misinformation should concern any citizen. Fox has repeatedly misinformed its viewers on everything from the non-existent connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda to the contents of health care reform legislation. Such misinformation can have serious consequences, and Fox News should be called out for propagating it.
There is nothing wrong with the White House standing up to its most powerful, unprincipled, and self-declared political opponent, one that clearly started this fight. And beyond politics, there certainly isn't anything wrong with exposing an organization that unapologetically harms our democracy by poisoning our national discourse with falsehoods on an hourly basis.
The channel knows what it's up against. "If they repeat this long enough," said Fox News’ Bernie Goldberg on Monday, "and often enough -- that Fox News is not a real news organization, it's an arm of the national Republican Party, it's not to be taken seriously -- if they say that long enough, it might become part of bloodstream of the American culture."
Fox News' own media analyst got the story right, while so many others in the media are still getting it wrong. For once, the channel was actually breaking news, even if it is merely the simple truth.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Chuck Schumer talks to Rachel's fill in Alison Stewart about what the next steps are as negotiations continue on what's in the final version of the health care bill. As Schumer explains, what happens next is in Harry Reid's hands.
Stewart: You called the bill you voted on today “Not ideal but a good bill”. Despite your best efforts the public option was not part of it. Why not?
Schumer: Well, we didn’t have the votes obviously but we are making good progress once again. We never thought we’d win in the Finance Committee but thirty Democrats have signed a letter saying the public option must be in the combined bill. There are many others who are supportive. The four of us in the leadership didn’t sign the letter because they were to the leadership. We’re for it as well and I am very optimistic that we’re going go get a strong public option. The House is standing firm on public option and I think all of those when they saw the vote in the Finance Committee who thought “Oh it’s over” hadn’t really read the situation correctly.
Stewart: Well, how do you get it done? How does it end up in the final bill?
Schumer: Well, first Leader Reid has the option of putting it in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill then you would need sixty votes to remove it and there clearly are not sixty votes against the public option. If… and so we’re urging him to do that and he’s seriously considering it. Once it passes the Senate if that were to happen, it’s in the House Bill, it’s in the Senate bill and it would have to be in the final product. So it’s very important to see if a public option is in the bill that Leader Reid puts together. He hasn’t yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so and so far we’re getting, we’re getting heard.
Friday, October 9, 2009
2. Tighten your seat belts (and other belts), it’s about to get bumpy
From Tengrain: "Well, here’s the deal. Because of fiscal policy and trade policy for about the last 30 years, we have stopped making stuff here in the United States. We’ve encouraged our corporations to off-shore (believe it or not, we actually give them significant tax breaks to move operations offshore..."
3. The Uneducated American by Paul Krugman
If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be “education.” In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the “high school revolution” of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.
But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.
8 Most Outrageous Attacks on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.
From Tengrain: "I think, essentially, they (the Nobel Judges) are saying he won it for not being Chimpy McStagger, and in spite of trying to blow up the Moon."
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Host of "Morning Meeting" on MSNBC and "Freedom Talk" on WABC RadioRead
Lately I have been using the phrase "Corporate Communism" on my television show. I think it is an especially fitting term when discussing the current landscape in both our banking and health care systems.
As Americans, I believe we reject communism because it historically has allowed a tiny group of people to consolidate complete control over national resources (including people), in the process stifling competition, freedom and choice. It leaves its citizens stagnating under the perpetual broken systems with no natural motivation to innovate, improve services or reduce costs.
Lack of choice, lazy, unresponsive customer service, a culture of exploitation and a small powerbase formed by cronyism and nepotism are the hallmarks of a communist system that steals from its citizenry and a major reason why America spent half a century fighting a Cold War with the U.S.S.R. And yet today we find ourselves as a country in two distinctly different categories: those who are forced to compete tooth and nail each day to provide value to society in return for income for ourselves and our families and those who would instead use our lawmaking apparatus to help themselves to our tax money and/or to protect themselves from true competition.
If you allow weak, outdated players to take control of the government and change the rules so they are protected from the natural competition and reward systems that have created so many innovations in our country, you not only steal from the citizens on behalf of the least worthy but you also doom them by trapping the capital that would be used to generate new innovation and, most tangibly in our current situation, jobs.
We are losing the opportunity cost of all the great ideas that should be coming from the proper deployment of that 23.7 trillion in capital. Everything from innovation in medical delivery systems to accessible space travel, free energy to the driverless car; all of these things may never come to bear because those powerful individuals who have failed, been passed over by technological advancements, innovation and flat-out smarts, have commandeered our government to unfairly sustain their wealth and power. Unfortunately, they use our wealth and laws not only to benefit their outdated, failed companies, but also spend a small pittance of their ill-gotten gains lobbying and favor-trading with politicians so the government will continue to protect them from competition and their well-deserved failure.
The massive spike in unemployment, the utter destruction of retirement wealth, the collapse in the value of our homes, the worst recession since the Great Depression have all resulted directly from the abdication of proper government. Even with all that -- the only changes that have been made, have been made to prop up and hide the massive flaws on behalf of those who perpetuated them. Still utterly nothing has been done to disclose the flaws in this system, improve it or rebuild it. Only true rules-based capitalism ensures constant adaptation and implementation of the latest and best practices for a given business, as those businesses that don't adapt fail, and those who deploy the latest innovations to their customers benefit, prosper.
The concept of communism is rightly reviled in this country for the simple reason that it is blind to human nature, allowing a small group of individuals near-total control, while sticking everyone else with the same crappy systems -- and the bill. America spent countless lives and half a century fighting against this system of government. So why are we standing for it now?