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Archive for the ‘Fox News’ Category

new_sheepLast night I was trying to find the latest news on Barack Obama’s cabinet appointments, when I ventured to the front page of the CNNPolitics.com, and was thoroughly annoyed by the headline they’d placed atop all the others: “Is Romney the Man to Save GOP in 2012?”

This is not news now, and might not even be news later. Something that may or may not happen four years from now is not a current event. Yet, there it is, the top story at CNN.

Presidential elections in this country now last for over half the length of a sitting president’s term. The 2008 elections are barely a week behind us, and already we’re blitzed with speculation and hearsay about what’s in store for 2012. Perhaps Americans wouldn’t be so economically screwed today if, back in 2004, when the mortgage crisis was still avoidable, our citizens been less concerned about when Hillary would officially announce her future plans to run for President?

As unprofessional as our friends in the mainstream media have been, the “dumbing down” of the news is as much our fault as it is theirs. They are, after all, in the business of making money. The higher their ratings soar, the easier it is to find sponsors willing to pay to advertise during their programs. That means what we see on the so-called “news” is a function of what we most desire to see—and not a reflection of what is important. If, collectively, we were more informed, we’d be outraged over the fact that this bullshit passes as newsworthy. We’d cry out for details about Blackwater shadiness, or about the growing U.S.-Pakistan conflict. Were we an engaged citizenry, our sneaky Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wouldn’t have gotten away with his $140 billion gift to banks, courtesy of taxpayers.

In fact, fuck it; I’m deleting CNN.com from my Mozilla bookmark icons. For too long I’ve let that network remain my “most trusted source” of Internet news every morning, the site I check when time only permits me to check one. As MSNBC leans Leftward and Fox News bends unapologetically back toward the Right, many viewers remain convinced (as I was until recently) of CNN’s fairness and neutrality. Is that because they dump on all U.S. presidential candidates equally? Of course, nearly all my early assumptions about media bias were misguided or wrong, starting with the premise that “news” should be considered “objective” and “fair” so long as it doesn’t clearly favor one major political party over the other. That might have made sense; but only if all possible worldviews and political stances were covered by one major political party or the other.

But another imbalance exists, taking the form of an apparent consensus, by all mainstream news channels, to over-report on the presidential race and under-report on everything else. That’s where the real bias lives. They do it because they’re lazy and self-absorbed; they get away with it because, so are we.  Far from being fed up with these overblown non-stories, we rather prefer to read trumped up rumors about John McCain’s mental health fluctuations or Barack Obama’s scandalous adolescent acquaintanceships—while American wars persist on multiple fronts and our economy continues to crumble.

I don’t mean to imply that election outcomes are not important. But the day-to-day gossip mill that churned out pages of useless trivia about different spats among presidential hopefuls is not (as CNN would have you assume) the most pressing news event on any given day.

ashley-dupre-spitzers-prostitute2So engrossed were we in our own insular political sideshows that it barely registered when noteworthy events occurred outside of U.S. borders. So, if you’re from one of those countries that are having a crappy decade, please pardon our outward indifference to your plight. We have no idea what’s happened in the world these last two years. We missed it all, or tried to. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitute’s sucky MySpace songs got more play than genocide in Sudan, the Cyclone Nargis, and the Sichuan Earthquake combined.

The hyping and overmarketing of presidential campaigns lets the media to ignore the crucial or controversial news stories. This is good for the media because it can refrain from reporting real-life news that might aggravate their sponsors. And while this is problematic on their part, we viewers give them an excuse by reinforcing the notion that we care more about the presidential race than we do about other important happenings in the world today. That we care more and more about the presidential rumor mill means we care less—or not at all—about Congress passing some obscure, quickly buried bill that will allow domestic spying or torture. We care more about which presidential candidate’s religious affiliates offended which rich white person today.

Rather than solely condemn CNN and Fox News for the stories they choose or refuse to supply, one might blame the American citizens for our own spoiled ignorance and the information we do or do not demand.

As a result of the media’s failure to cover stories outside the soap opera, any sly scumbag with aspirations to cheat, swindle or manipulate large majorities of people knows to wait until election season to do it. Alas, perhaps that’s why the next campaign season is starting before our wet-behind-the-ear President Elect even knows who his Secretary of State is.

Still, there are some who saw and see nothing wrong with the saturation of Election ’08 coverage. They believe they need to mull over the vibes they get from the candidates, and that requires constant surveillance. As long as we crave that overconsumption, CNN will happily pour provide it; see which comes up with the goofiest Freudian slip; inspect their medical records; condemn the drugs they did in high school; make sure the male candidates don’t act too flamboyant; make sure the women are both feminine and sufficiently masculine; evaluate their acquaintances; insist they ditch the ones we deem too rude.

It’s a tough job—being an American citizen, juggling so many pertinent subplots at once. But we’re happy to do it, because we are “the American people”, whose honorable character is exceptional in every respect. All we ask is that there are no distractions as we’re diligently scrutinizing our candidates; our mainstream media must never burden us with trivial headlines, like:

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It’s increasingly hard to find objective info these days. Everyone wants to spoon-feed you their own agenda, some unreal version of reality. Too often propaganda adorns itself in the deceptive garb of neutrality and sincerity. Like the lies it sells us, propaganda is an optical illusion, a beautiful lie.

If you think I devote a good deal of my time to bitching about ideologues, cowboys, pseudo-patriots, and religious nut jobs, you should hear the way liberal professors misrepresent the Right. As Bill O’Reilly rightfully points out, college kids deserve to be given equal exposure to both sides of any given political debate. Conservatives may dominate the radio, but the opposite is true of academia.

Individuals form their opinions based on the information they have access to. So people who get their info from TV and radio tend to be more conservative; those who read books more likely lean to the left. When you only tell one side of a given story, you deprive citizens of their right to reach their own conclusions. It seems our left-wing academics and right-wing media are racing to see who can brainwash our youth first. Neither reporting the news nor educating our youth should be a “capitalist” endeavor where the guy holding the microphone caters to market demands.

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In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

The press is the only thing keeping the politicians honest. (more…)

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A few years ago, Phil Donahue changed my thinking.

As a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, he played the patriotism card to argue against the war.

This was a first, for me: antiwar rhetoric with a pro-American slant. Usually nationalism gets invoked to amplify the battle cry, not silence it, and those wishing to incite peace have to accept the “traitor” tag they’re branded with. Some antiwar activists even come to embrace “anti-American” as part of their political stance.

Not Donahue. (more…)

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I know jack shit

There’s no excuse anymore for those of you who aren’t sufficiently pissed off. Rupert Murdock apparently considers the quasi-awake public expendable, an insignificant contingency. Too engaged as citizens and too critical as consumers, we the perceptive minority have little to offer Fox these days. When we do tune in, it’s only for the cheap adrenalin buzz it gives us to bitch about Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. So alas Fox News bids adieu to the last of their informed viewers.

Now, absent the threat of any real accountability, Fox canpander more freely to its base–an eclectic blend of corporate sellouts and couch potato patriots–odd partners uniting to uproot democracy.  America’s spreading ignorance and acceptance of propaganda for power and profit. Thus it is now official that Fox is unconcerned about viewers whose IQs exceed their ages, banking on the majority of American viewers being too dumb to notice or too bored to care.

(more…)

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If you’re running for president in this country, what does it take to get a major news network to STOP acknowledging you as an official candidate ?

First, announce that you refuse to make major decisions on behalf of corporations to the detriment of the American public. This will ensure that you see exactly none of the money that goes to Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, etc.

When this happens, unless you pretend to be completely oblivious or indifferent to your situation, you must point out on national TV that, as a result of being blackballed by the corporations you are being snubbed by the TV stations you can’t afford to pay off.

This will pretty much get the job done, as Mike Gravel has discovered. Today when five Democratic candidates announced they were blowing off the Michigan primaries and two (Chris Dodd and Clinton) announced they would stick it out, CNN made no mention whatsoever of Gravel’s plans. At first I thought Gravel had withdrawn altogether and I’d simply missed the announcement while wasting time in the intellectual wilderness that is academia. But, of all folks, FoxNews came threw with the news that Gravel had chosen to leave his name on the ballot for now.

I may write later about how this situation, whether you are Clinton, Dodd, Obama, Gravel, or the state of Michigan, represents a demonstration of calculated American opportunism at its best. But as C. Wright Mills might remind us, the political posturing of “The Power Elite” is nothing new. What is new is CNN suddenly doing a shittier job than Fox at hiding its shadiness and corruption. Are they really that pissed about his comments at the YouTube debates that they’re trying to convince people the guy doesn’t exist?

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Keeping with my last post’s theme (whining about contemporary entertainment and its flaws), I thought I’d rant a bit about the absence of “good” propaganda in today’s movie. Why is it that whenever a politician or some faction of pop culture tells a lie, the lie seems to be told for the sole purpose of empowering all-powerful institutions such as the government or the major corporations that subsidize it. Such propaganda is abundantly observable in our society, but this form of lying is only deemed newsworthy if some audacious individual speaks out against it (at which point he is demonized and dubbed unpatriotic. (more…)

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