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

Censored 1998 Saturday Night Live Segment about Corporate Control of Media

One of the frequent gripes of this blog is that the US media has become consolidated into the hands of a few multinational corporations. They are attempting to place the public media in a position where it must take corporate funding to exist by defunding public broadcasting.

While the first Amendment provides for Freedom of the Press, those guarantees only apply to government action, not those of private industry. Private industry is not required to present other opinions and can engage in self-censorship to its heart’s content. Likewise, individuals can do what they will to drown out unpopular opinions though astroturf.

Stop Blacking Out Progressive Protests

Ever notice how progressive events and speakers don’t get too much air time on US media? Here’s an example<

A sparsely attended Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., on March 31 in support of federal spending cuts received generous media attention. One report (Slate, 3/31/11) suggested there was “at least one reporter for every three or four activists,” and a Republican politician joked that there might be more journalists than activists at the event.

An antiwar rally in New York City on April 9 was in some respects very similar. Protesters were speaking out on an equally timely issue (wars in Afghanistan and Libya), and connecting them to the budget and near-government shutdown in Washington.

The difference? The ratio of activists to journalists. The antiwar protest had thousands of attendees–and received almost zero corporate media coverage

This is despite the progressive events putting out extensive media outreach. What gives here?

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR.ORG) has noted this phenomenon before. It’s time for to media explain why it seems that any Tea Party event, no matter how small, is considered far more newsworthy than progressive citizen activism. Now, it has a petition drive to get more attention to this lack of media attention:

Thousands marched against war in New York City on April 9. Two thousand protested the Koch brothers in Washington, D.C. Neither event was covered by major media. A sparsely attended Tea Party rally just a few days earlier, though, was big news. We call on news media to explain the journalistic principle that makes thousands of progressive activists far less newsworthy than dozens of Tea Party protesters.

A face in the crowd…

What right wing media does to your brain

From Charlie Brooker:

Posted 14/03/2011 by lacithedog in Charlie Brooker, media


I’ve been saying it, others have been saying it, and Southern Beale put it really well:

Sadly, we can no longer rely upon the news media to adequately inform us. The mainstream media has, as was pointed out recently, “become journalistically irrelevant when it comes to national issues and coverage.” Unfortunately, as my local newspaper’s eagerness to publish corporate propaganda demonstrates, local media isn’t much better. So we need to find a better way of communicating the facts without letting the special interest groups do their spin job.

So, how does one get informed in this digital age? After all, there is a huge volume of information out there available digitally, but how much of it is worth paying attention? Online astroturfing is more advanced and more automated than we’d imagined. Corporate media is pretty much in the hands of a few and that spills over into “public” media. US mainstream media is journalistically irrelevant when it comes to national issues and coverage. Broadcast media is incapable of explaining anything outside a commercial corporate framework. The US media is pretty much afraid to address anything that hints at the class warfare in fear of scaring away corporate underwriting through actual commercials, or the “underwriting” on US Public Broadcasting.

Sure, there are news sources outside the US, such as the BBC, but that isn’t helpful to the US citizen who needs to understand what exactly is happening in their country. How corporate interests have hijacked public interest through the US government.

The problem is that the war is on: it’s a war against women, workers, anyone who isn’t insanely rich, and those who would speak out about this situation. The problem is that people’s freedom is at stake as they become slaves of the corporate hierarchy that works to keep them silenced and in debt.

What a ‘Liberal Media’ Might Look Like

From via Keeping the public in Public Broadcasting

What a ‘Liberal Media’ Might Look Like

By Lisa Pease
February 9, 2011

Editor’s Note: For decades now, the American Right has pushed the myth that the national U.S. news media is “liberal,” even though the owners are mostly wealthy corporations run by rich executives who generally favor Republicans over Democrats. And that was true even in the days before Fox News and right-wing-dominated talk radio.

Even the limited inroads of liberalism in media have been under pressure in recent days with MSNBC’s ouster of liberal icon Keith Olbermann and AOL’s purchase of HuffingtonPost (raising new questions about Arianna Huffington’s ideological sojourns). However, in this essay, Lisa Pease contrasts what today’s media is versus what a “liberal media” might look like:

I’m surprised that otherwise intelligent people continue to believe the myth that the media is “liberal.” I think it’s worth discussing what a liberal media would look like if we had one, so we can better understand that we don’t have one.

Let’s imagine a fictional cable network called LNN – the Liberal News Network. What might the morning news on such a channel be?

The show might lead with pictures of starving children all over the world, so that while you sat down to breakfast, you’d be reminded of just how lucky you were to have been born in the U.S., and how others are still very much in need.

Viewers would be encouraged to send in at least some of their morning latte money to feed a baby for a week. Each morning, the number of children who had been moved out of poverty would also be shown. If there were truly a liberal media, that number would be growing, daily, by leaps and bounds.

You would see pictures of the war – really horrible, tragic pictures, showing not just death, but the maiming, the suffering, the devastation to innocents we currently think of solely as “collateral damage.” Each day, the grievances of both sides would be fully aired.

We’d hear not only from our own soldiers but from soldiers we were fighting, so we could start to understand why they are fighting back. If we are truly the good guys, there’d be no reason for anyone to oppose us.

A truly liberal media would allow us to hear the other side so we could better understand how our actions are affecting others, and what we could do to improve relations with the ultimate goal of ending all wars.

Truly, fostering better communication skills, deploring greed, and promoting fairness would be keystones of this network.

The commentators would be drawn from not merely all nationalities, but all walks of life. Instead of recycling the same news and intelligence and government figures, commentators would be sought among farm workers and blue-collar workers as well as low-level white-collar workers. The view from the socio-economic top would be balanced by the view from the bottom.

On LNN, union issues would be a regular discussion. Are workers getting a fair shake? Are unions really helping their membership or are they getting too close to management? When do unions go too far?

The ecological “state of the planet” would also be a regular discussion. Audiences would learn the science behind pollution, so that they’d make the link between the chemical elements in the products they buy and the environmental damage caused at every point in the production chain.

Corporations that were finding a way to offset their environmental damage would be recognized as heroes, while those whose policies amounted to a hit-and-run on the environment would be publicly castigated at ever turn.

Truly educational information about child rearing would be offered. Are those soft drinks making your children obese? No amount of advertiser action would stop LNN from exposing such a connection.

Can yelling at your child be a form of abuse? A liberal media would talk about things many people would rather not think about.

A liberal media would not make us feel good all the time, but would poke at us and challenge us to be better parents, better neighbors, better people.

A liberal news channel would have a regular report about working conditions around the world. Would you still buy that piece of clothing if you knew it was sown under essentially slave-labor conditions, sometimes by children working 12 hours a day?

Would you admire China’s economy if you realized its coal-powered growth made it one of the most polluted places in the world? Would you travel to Thailand if you understood how much of the tourist economy depends on sex-slave trafficking dollars?

Or might you spend that money instead on a country that plowed the money received from tourism into a public fund from which all citizens who shared that country could benefit? Would you enjoy flowers sent to you on Valentine’s Day if you found those flowers had been picked by forced labor on farms where women routinely faced sexual harassment?

If we had a liberal media, we’d be hearing about other economic models around the world. When does capitalism work best? Would the answer be like what we hear from CNBC anchors who say capitalism should be unregulated – or “self-regulating” – allowing monopolies to take over, which then can raise prices and strangle our options?

A rising tide won’t lift all boats if it’s only happening in a private pool.

LNN would talk about the difference between labor-based income and non-labor-based income (passive income), and discuss how the upper class has kept the latter from the masses to preserve the power of the rich, and how we need to change that.

There are other models, even within our own country, such as the Alaska Permanent Fund, a fund that allows all citizens of Alaska to receive royalties on the oil recovered from their state.

All products come ultimately from some finite earth resource. Imagine if we all had a share of income generated from the products taken from the ground in our respective countries.

LNN would never shade the truth to further an agenda. The facts would be selective, necessarily, but extraordinary effort would be used to ensure all sides of an issue were fairly presented.

Note that, however, that does not mean all sides would be proportionally presented by certain measures. Although 20 percent of the people control 93 percent of the wealth, it does not follow that they should be allowed to control 93 percent of the media. The other 80 percent deserve a much larger say than they have.

Our fictional liberal network would be absolutely fearless in taking on corruption within our own government. A liberal media would relentlessly ferret out secrets, exposing them unless doing so would genuinely damage more people than would be helped.

Even “taboo” topics with strong factual support, such as the Kennedy assassination and the October Surprise case, would receive a fair hearing, on our mythical LNN.

A liberal media would talk seriously about the very real danger that the use of computers in our elections may be compromising our votes. Without a transparent system, without a way to genuinely audit, by hand and in public, election results, what’s to stop a computer voting manufacturer from building in hidden switches that allow the reprogramming of elections in undetectable ways?

Nothing, as this network would point out to us regularly until people filled the streets in protest, insisting on a change.

A liberal media would even dare to explore all the money in the sporting world and ask, is anyone really worth that many millions? Should there be a cap – or at least a significantly higher marginal tax rate – beyond which some of the money goes back into the communities that have to put up with the traffic, pollution, noise and drunken damage that accompanies such events?

Sure, keep your first $50 million. You worked hard, you risked your life, you earned it. But how much more than that does one ballplayer or owner need? If that cap allowed whole communities to be employed, would that be a worthy trade? A truly liberal media would open such discussions.

A liberal media would ask hard questions of corporations. If the product you create comes from a violence-torn region, where the violence comes over the fight for the minerals you need to make your product, what responsibility should the corporation have for that violence? What should the corporation give back to those areas to end the violence?

A liberal media would be inspiring. Every day, people who fought for justice and won would be highlighted. Legislators who took brave stands that helped the many, rather than the privileged few, would be lauded.

Shareholders who overthrew bad regimes within corporations, ushering in management that was more socially responsible would be featured. Class-action suits won against corporate polluters would be praised.

The values of fairness, equality, freedom of movement and opportunity and – perhaps especially – the freedom to imagine a better, more equitable future – would be the cornerstone of this liberal media network.

A liberal network would not treat opinions as news, nor facts as opinions. Viewers would be educated to quickly recognize the difference. And historical context would be brought into play.

Events from the past would be use to better inform our understanding of present events, because after all, everything is connected. Every event transpires based on what has led up to that point. There is no “spontaneous evolution” at play in world events.

LNN doesn’t exist, of course, and it’s no surprise why. Media depends on advertisers for sustenance. Major media outlets depend on major corporations. Major corporations don’t want you to hear the kind of stories mentioned above because then you might press them to change their ways, cutting into their profits. And that would be bad for business, even if it might be great for the planet.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t find good news on television. CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox, once in a while, produce useful and valuable stories. But not one of them shows you the spectrum of coverage demonstrated here.

There are a lot of points of view you never hear, a lot of stories never attempted. There are many places they dare not go, in their coverage.

There is no liberal network out there. There is no “fair and balanced” network out there, either. They are all unbalanced in favor of the corporate landscape from which their revenues grow.

Lisa Pease is a historian and writer who specializes in the mysteries of the John F. Kennedy era.

To join the Liberty Underground news service, email libertyuv at hotmail dot com with “join” for a subject. Here you can experience what is in fact “liberal media” — and see some of the best in populist political cartoons, as well.

The Great Scottish Haggis Hoax

I never really paid too much attention to the issue of importing Haggis to the United States until the issue came to my attention via the marketplace spot I mentioned in my last post: Marketplace gets it wrong about Haggis. First off, one can find haggis in the States just by googling “haggis US”. That will start you with Caledonian Kitchen and McKeans, both manufacture haggis in the States. That is the way they avoid the importation issue dealing with the use of sheep’s lungs, which is the hanging point on importation.

I know there are other haggis manufacturers and sources besides Caledonian Kitchen and McKeans in the US, which any decent journalist should have found and asked for comment.

According to Ron Thurston of McKean North America in regard to the importation ban:

We did the next best thing and exported those ingredients we can (the non meat ingredients) to our licensed manufacturer the WA Bean Company, and they use our recipe and US lamb to make our authentic Scottish haggis. Our company is Glasgow based and maintains the web site there but our haggis is made in Maine

In a follow up e-mail, Mr. Thurston said:

David Bean from our US manufacturer in Bangor Maine and I and our wives were guests at the annual Food Trade show in Glasgow a few years ago and were introduced to the audience – In attendance were representatives of McSween and it was reported to me later that they were surprised and perhaps peeved that another Scottish company had beat them into the US market – Not sure if there is a connection but every year during Burns season they always manage to get a story in the US media

Actually, Jim Walters of Caledonian Kitchen was the most helpful since he has been making haggis in the US since 1996 and learned from the Mr. MacSween. According to Mr. Walters, the market for haggis in the US may not be as green as the Scottish haggis manufacturers believe. Additionally, they are facing competition from the “local” businesses I’ve mentioned (“local” since McKean North America is based in Glasgow).

The question is how much of a market is there really for Scottish haggis in the US when one can buy it locally made? Mr. Walters is of the opinion that the Scottish haggis manufacturers may be more optimisitic about their potential market share.

Additionally, as I pointed out if the matter is free trade, then the trade works both ways with Mr. Walters being able to sell his haggis in Scotland! Then the story might change to Scottish haggis manufacturers not wanting foreign competition!

The real issue is that controversy sells and if it appears that Scottish haggis manufacturers are “barred” from a market by US health regulations regarding lung meat, that is far more interesting than pointing out that these people are just whinging. Scottish haggis is available whether made by a purely US firm (Caledonian Kitchen), or one which is based in Scotland (McKeans). And those two firms are just two of many (I know anecdotally of two more: Camerons and Stewart’s of Kearny, NJ).

You would like to believe that the media, especially US public media with its “reputation for accuracy” would have done better research on this topic and contacted at least Caledonian Kitchen and McKeans. But, no, they only took the “we can’t sell our haggis in the States” side of the story.

Ach weel, just have a laugh.

Operation Payback

I’m already switching to Linux rather than Microsoft’s ripoff OS and using other open source software.

Posted 09/12/2010 by lacithedog in media