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Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

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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“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

-Upton Sinclair

By now you’re probably familiar with Bill O’Reilly’s attack-dog style of pseudo-journalism, whereby some no-name lackey (say, Jesse Watters or the balding Porter Berry) ambushes an unsuspecting civilian, gets right up in the person’s face, and asks the same question repeatedly. The O’Reilly Factor then edits the entire clip down, so only the parts that serve the show’s objectives make it onto the air. O’Reilly then portrays himself and his producers as “looking out for you”even though they’ve compromised your ability to interpret what actually happened by cherry-picking which parts of the interaction they’ll allow you to see. (more…)

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“What went wrong?” is the question we pretend to ask. But what most of us really mean is: “Whose fault is it?”

Who can we blame?

It’s important to have a scapegoat, preferably a human being or a group of them. Assigning fault is not only a soothing process; it’s one helluva way to make a political point. Got some enemies you don’t like? Wait for something horrific to happen, then hop on your “political hobby horse” and find a way to pin it on them. (more…)

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250px-robertdavispolicebrutalaty.jpgIn an unusually clear-headed performance, Bill O’Reilly deviated tonight from his usual “shoot first and ask questions later” mentality. After showing a video of retired elementary school teacher Robert Davis being ruthlessly attacked by New Orleans police officers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O’Reilly acknowledged that it looked kind of disturbing.

To be sure, the police beating, as well as officer Robert Evangelist’s subsequent “Not Guilty” verdict, looked more than disturbing. Evangelist’s bogus trial and subsequent acquittal epitomized the “blue wall of silence”–the double standard that places cops above the laws we trust them to enforce.

It was refreshing to see O’Reilly for once live up to his claims of being a populist who “looks out for the people.”

But alas he reverted to his typical cowboy mentality in the following segment about Abdullah Mehsud, a suicide bomber released from Guantanamo who later blew himself up in Pakistan. (more…)

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Right now the media elites are weeding out the unwelcome candidates–those most likely too rock their boat. If elected, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich or even John McCain would severely jeopardize the too-comfy corporate lifestyles of Fox News and other pretend news sources. So the effort to swat these ’08 boat-rockers into Howard Dean-land is underway. (more…)

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You may have guessed by now that my views are indeed more consistent with Democrats than with the ultra-conservative Cowboys currently sitting in the white house. Despite my (general) leftward leanings, I maintain a capacity to assess every situation and issues by its own merits, meaning that I do not consult my “How To Be a Proud Democrat” manual before announcing where I stand on a given topic. And now I will prove it.

To avoid calling the kettle black, I should probably show how, as a wandering grad student with much less to gain or lose, I possess a sense of honesty long since abandoned by the news media hogging the public’s airwaves. Here, to distinguish myself from left-handed MSNBC and its right-handed counterparts at Fox, I present the side of the Libby story that renders unflattering impressions of the party I’m pulling for in ’08, rather than sweeping certain insights under the rug (as Keith Olbermann does whenever Bill O’Reilly unwittingly stumbles over an insightful point of his own). (more…)

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