Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.

In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.

One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).

Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and vas presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

“The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece,” Neuman said. “Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.

I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton’s “loss” was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the “losers” won the popular vote.

Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn’t seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.

OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the “state” can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.

Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly’s power against it.

Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.

[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

General thoughts

I found it interesting that former Australian Rupert Murdoch was being grilled on ANZAC day by the Leveson Committee.  Even more interesting was his comment along the lines that “Citizens should take an interest in their media”  First off, the comment comes from someone who has done a wonderful job of subverting the media in most of the markets which he is a player.

That said, we come to the US media which hasn’t caught on, or isn’t allowing its citizens to watch the actual Nordic Noir programmes such as the Killing, or the latest–the Bridge.  I seriously doubt that the Bridge will make it to the US airwaves due to its controversial topics and “class war” plot.  A body is found on the Bridge which goes between Denmark and Sweden leading to a five point manifesto by the  perp.  The first two points being that there is inequality before the law between the rich and poor, the next point has to deal with the homeless.

Can’t have ideas like those running loose in the land of opportunity, especially since the advent of the occupy movement.  Not to mention, the occupy movement sounds as if it will be coming out from hibernation on Mayday, the worker’s day in the rest of the world.

The reason that the right wants to destroy public media and come up with ridiculous reporting is because it wants to control the public.  The problem is that control leads to revolt and disillusion when people find out they have been told lies.  In the case of the US,  people will become disillusioned that opportunity has been snatched from them.

To go back to the Australian thing,  Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan wrote an essay where he said he feared Australia’s “proud egalitarian tradition” was in danger from the huge economic changes of the Asian Century. Australia has had the belief that everyone deserves a “fair go” and the opportunity to do well.  Unfortunately, that tradition is being threatened by the super rich who are doing what the super rich are doing in the US and elsewhere–dismantling the societal institutions which allow for people to get ahead in the world.

Mr Swan said he was against “the combination of deep pockets, conservative political support and the ranting of the shock jocks” which had promoted the interests of very narrow section of the economy. “So the debate over the future of our country is at risk of being distorted and decided not by the strength of ideas, but the strength of influence,” Mr Swan told the National Press Club.

It’s not socialism or anything else to allow people a fair go, if anything it would be considered the “Christian thing to do”, but the right has taken aim at any religion which mentions social justice.  But, isn’t the real question whether a society which talks about equality should be working on destroyin the mechanisms which allow for people to be equal?

LUV News–GET IT!!!

Each morning we get up to scan the Internet for news and opinion censored by the US corporate media and put out what we call LUV News. We never ask for money at LUV News for anything we do and ask people who want to contribute to instead help the web sites that are putting out public interest stories each day, like Intrepid Report, or to help other worthy causes. To join and get the daily email one need only go here.

We have long stated our goal at LUV News is to go out of business, and that will be possible when a mass media source opens which allows important censored facts to get to the public. About 500 people currently help get LUV News out to friends, family, work colleagues and Internet groups.

There is currently no public interest network existing. PBS and NPR are a joke, taking the corporate money and doing their bidding. I have a standing offer to PBS NewsHour and NPR Morning Edition to take on their big news programs any day of the year and show them their bias going against the public interest . They have so far refused to take me up on it, because I have asked for an hour of time should I prove my point, while bringing them a hundred new or renewed members should I not be able to find such bias any day of the year. I am convinced they know they would lose the bet.

Told ya that Murdoch was slime!

As a Brit, the name Rupert Murdoch has always made me cringe. Now, if we add in the fact that US Media is being controlled by smaller group of people, in particular Rupert Murdoch, that should make any American cringe. The News of the World Scandal was nothing new, or surprising, to me.

So, it is no surprise when I see John Nichols’ piece in the Nation, Rupert Murdoch Has Gamed American Politics Every Bit as Thoroughly as Britain’s, where he starts out:

Rupert Murdoch has manipulated not just the news but the news landscape of the United States for decades. He has done so by pressuring the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to alter the laws of the land and regulatory standards in order to give his media conglomerate an unfair advantage in “competition” with more locally focused, more engaged and more responsible media.

It’s an old story: while Murdoch’s Fox News hosts prattle on and on about their enthusiasm for the free market, they work for a firm that seeks to game the system so Murdoch’s “properties” are best positioned to monopolize the discourse.

I have been mentioning that Murdoch was on the board of the Cato Institute and News Corp is a big supporter of that “think tank”. But for all the talk of free markets, the real upshot is that the “Libertarians” want to dismantle government so that they can monopolise its services and pass the cost on to the consumer. Little surprise that the rich are getting richer as the rest of us see our standard of living decline.

Disobey Rupert Murdoch every chance you can!

Nichols sets it straight that the whole point of Fox, according to Murdoch, was to “dethrone” more traditional media outlets—outlets that did actual news reporting and that were not expressly ideological. Instread, Fox is dominated by talking-head commentators and places itself at the service of the corporate-dominated and militarist wing of the GOP.

Ultimately, Rupert Murdoch is a case study of how libertarian policies will end up shafting the American public. Murdoch has cozied up to the regulators and tamed them such that they are toothless. He has the legislators in his pocket so that they propose the laws that groups such as The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) want to see passed. And the “Tea Party” astroturf group is passed off as the will of the people.

There needs to be an inquiry into how far Murdoch has corrupted the American Political system.  The most critical focus of any inquiry into Murdoch’s influence over US political and regulatory players should include  those American politicians and regulators—Republicans and Democrats—who remain in positions where they can do the mogul’s bidding.  Murdoch’s misdeeds deserve to be examined—thoroughly, and aggressively, but the actions of those in government who appear to have been every bit as obedient to Rupert Murdoch as their British counterparts should be scrutinised as well.  This does not bode well for the US government.

I have to add this quote from White Rabbit:

The short answer is this: I am of course suffering terminal schadenfreude at Murdoch’s present difficulties and the more odium – and damage – heaped on his head the better. Essentially this is because he is the worst sort of bully – the sort that acts on the belief that they cannot be thwarted or checked in any way. They can do anything they like and there is no power on earth to stop them – they are above the law and above the constraints that make the rest of us more or less behave despite our own worst instincts. Anyone and anything that opposes them will be crushed – an individual expressing opposition will be browbeaten – usually by character assassination. A business opponent will be taken out by any means required. Political figures will be cowed and reduced to courtiers and supplicants. Public opinion will be bent to suit the Murdoch corporate interest – an interesting example is the rabid Europhobia of the Murdoch titles – a product of the fact that he plainly recognises the EU as too big and too unbiddable to bend to his will. The inevitable result – the endless torrent of abuse of the Murdoch titles.

Murdoch is a bit like Hitler in that he wanted the world–now his thousand year reich is crumbling and perhaps democracy will replace it.

More media!

For some really strange reason, I have been chosen to receive a trial subscription to China Daily. My first reaction was that it’s for the dog, but she can’t read. I also assume that she is fairly apolitical as well. She’s happy as long as she can chase squirrels in peace.

Anyway, one of the counterpropaganda techniques is to be able to recognise it. Although, it’s not really hard to do that with China Daily. First off, it spends most of its time puffing The PRC. I do have to admit that there were some intersting stories, such as Dagong International Credit Rating Co. has already downgraded the US Credit rating in relation to QE2.  Not that such an action really makes that much difference in the “free market economy”.

I have to admit that I am desperate enough for newspaper delivery that I am willing to take a free subscription to this rag just for the laughs. I do have to admit that daily newspaper delivery WAS one amenity that the US had over the UK. Although, some newpapers have stopped regular delivery (e.g., Detroit’s and Ann Arbor’s).  Of course, Newspaper delivery was never really much of  a fixture here.

Posted 16/07/2011 by lacithedog in China, media, propaganda

Media self-censorship.

Luv News found two excellent articles on corporate media censorship and propaganda this morning that every American should see, to understand a bit about how their mass media work. First, Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece titled “How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.”

One “Conservative” critic likes to say that he doesn’t see very much criticism of Obama as he continues Bush’s policies, but there is good reason for that as Greewald’s article points out. The CIA uses and effectively controls a secret prison in Mogadishu, where foreign nationals who are rendered off the streets of their countries (at the direction of the U.S.) are taken (along with Somali nationals) to be imprisoned with no due process and interrogated (by U.S. agents). Although Somali government agents technically operate the facility, that is an obvious ruse: “US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners” and are “there full-time,” Scahill reported.

This arrangement is consistent with standard Obama administration practice: “they continue even the most controversial Bush terrorism policies by having some other government technically operate it so they can keep their fingerprints off it.” Scahill’s discovery of this secret prison in Mogadishu — this black site — calls into serious doubt the Obama administration’s claims to have ended such practices and establishes a serious human rights violation on its own. As Harper’s Scott Horton put it, the Nation article underscores how the CIA is “maintaining a series of ‘special relationships’ under which cooperating governments maintain proxy prisons for the CIA,” and “raises important questions” about “whether the CIA is using a proxy regime there to skirt Obama’s executive order” banning black sites and torture.

Despite the significance of this revelation — or, more accurately, because of it — the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story. Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. No major television news network — including MSNBC — has even mentioned his story. Generally speaking, Republicans don’t care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush’s CIA black cites) don’t want to hear that it’s true.

In the other piece, Marquette professor of Moral Theology Daniel Maguire pens to Rachel Maddow, “On your show of July 14, you spoke of your complete freedom to say what you want on your show,” and then he goes on to prove that she doesn’t really have that freedom. High-profile U.S. journalists often like to boast that they are free to cover whatever they want, but that is often because they choose not to cross certain lines that would otherwise upset powerful people or interests.

In this case, the Israel lobby.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke of her complete freedom to say what she wants on herr show and Bill Moyers gently demurred, speaking of restricting forces that hover over journalists on her July 14 show. Bill Moyers was correct. I cannot believe she is free to address the political influence of the Israeli lobby (which is far broader than AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on her show.

She is not free to invite John Mearsheimer or Stephen Walt, authors of The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. She is not free to talk of how their first article that preceded this book could not be published by The Atlantic even after the magazine commissioned it. The authors had to go to England to get it published.

AIPAC’s announced goal is to have “no daylight” between Israel’s needs and U.S. policy. Yet Ms. Maddow and other journalists cannot address their ongoing success.

Ms. Maddow is not free to invite Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who was on the Gaza flotilla on “The Audacity of Hope” to hear her side of the Israeli illegal occupation and continuing expansion in Palestine and in Jerusalem. Or Ray McGovern, former CIA policy analyst who used to report in person to George H.W. Bush and other senior White House officials. McGovern was also on that ship.

The Israel lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies in the US, and it works against the US interest. Still it is a sacred cow that one cannot address in USMSM.

One of the tricks of proagandising the population is the ability to control the message. US Media consolidation and power over the allegedly “public media” prevents some very serious messages being heard by the US public. The US media is owned by for-profit corporations and are funded by corporate advertising (read “underwriting” on “Public” Broadcasting), it is not surprising that they seldom provide a full range of debate. The right edge of discussion is usually represented by a committed supporter of right-wing causes, someone who calls for significantly changing the status quo in a conservative direction. The left edge, by contrast, is often represented by an establishment-oriented centrist who supports maintaining the status quo; very rarely is a critic of corporate power who identifies with progressive causes and movements with the same passion as their conservative counterparts allowed to take part in mass media debates.

While the right would have us worry about government censorship. And I will be the first to say that official censorship is something that must be constantly guarded against. In our society, however, large corporations are a more common source of censorship than governments: Media outlets killing stories because they undermine corporate interests; advertisers using their financial clout to squelch negative reports; powerful businesses using the threat of expensive lawsuits to discourage legitimate investigations. The most frequent form of censorship is self-censorship: Journalists deciding not to pursue certain stories that they know will be unpopular with the boss.

That is what is going on in these stories, self-censorship. Profit-driven news organizations are under great pressure to boost ratings by sensationalizing the news: focusing attention on lurid, highly emotional stories, often featuring a bizarre cast of characters and a gripping plot but devoid of significance to most people’s lives. But that isn’t the only reason for using sensational news stories, they also provide diversion from the real issues that are not being properly addressed.

It is a shame that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression is being stifled by non-governmental forces over which there are no controls. This limits the debate and creates a poorly informed public that believes itself to be much better informed than it really is.

FAIR’s What’s Wrong With the News?

Posted 16/07/2011 by lacithedog in media, propaganda, US Media, US Media Control

I hope it can’t happen here.

Let's just tug some heartstrings and play with the public's emotions.

Here, the news media is prohibited from reporting on active criminal cases, as is the case in Canada. Of course, that is not the case in the United States where criminal trials become reality TV crime stories. The latest being the case of Casey Anthony. The way this tragic case has become a “show” like any other is a sad reflection on modern America.

For example, One journalist was interviewing people in the line waiting to get into court. One woman in line said ‘I can’t wait to see it. This is the ultimate reality show.’ Then the woman giggled. She didn’t even perceive this as a real case with real people.

The phenomenon starts as a local story. Then the networks send satellite trucks and start spending money to build up the value of the story. The trial becomes like a TV show: the more details people get, the more they want. Viewers get sucked in like a soap opera. The web also played a huge part. A webcam streamed the court action to view online, message boards stoked up the debate and Facebook groups rally followers to their cause. There were even paid iPhone apps to stay in touch with developments.

Of course, one sensational case ends and the public is left waiting for the next one. The daily news on cable television needs this stuff as fodder for its continuous “news” coverage. This only leaves the public looking forward to the next trial of the century in a few months time. The problem is that the sensationalism left out the reality of the case.

Ultimately, Ms Anthony was convicted of four counts of lying to investigators and only received time served in jail as her sentence. A doctor called to give evidence was unable to give an exact cause of death, and prosecutors were unable to provide evidence linking Ms. Anthony to the body. Nevertheless, the public were allowed to judge this case based upon the information which circulated in the public domain. One could question the accuracy of that information on which the public has made its judgement of guilt.

The Fifth Amendment of the US Bill of Rights guarantees due process of law. While the US Constitution does not specifically mention the presumption of innocence, that is said to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. Yet, Casey Anthony has had her presumption of innocence removed by those who say they hold the Constitution as a sacred document. Ms. Anthony was found not guilty by a court of law using legal procedure, rather than the public’s emotion.

Personally, I believe that a person’s presumption of innocence outweighs the public’s “right to know”. especially, if that right to know means that a person is convicted by the media based upon inaccurate information. Criminal trials are not reality TV to be made into media events, but are supposed to be where justice was done.

There was no proof of how Caylee Anthony died or showing that Casey had anything to do with that death. No matter how odious her lifestyle may be to the public, that is not a reason to convict her.

I find it sad that one little girl’s cute face can distract the US public from the thousands who will suffer from Republican budget cuts relating to health care, education, and other socail welfare programmes. It is even more amazing when those who say they are pro-life (yet support the death penalty), are not willing to support a social welfare agenda, yet can express sympathy for a crime victim because that child has media attention.

Perhaps the US poor need better media relations. Of course, the media is controlled by the rich in the US which is why stories like this will capture the public hearts and minds while the poor children are destitute. Destitution doesn’t make for good TV.

See also:
Should TV cameras be allowed inside UK law courts?
What’s Wrong With the News: Sensationalism
Casey Anthony trial
Casey Anthony: The case that gripped the US
Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering daughter
Presumption of innocence

So, what does Britain do for useless news? Carolyn Bourne and Heidi Withers: Why families should never go nuclear