....LMB: "Shams Revealed"....

July 10, 2002

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a late night TV program on the Comedy Central cable channel (a joint venture of Time-Warner and Viacom) that is a mix of news parody and celebrity interviews. The show frequently excels in clever, offbeat humor, although I don't like many of their "special reports," which usually mock eccentric, everyday people behind their backs.

The Daily Show for 7/9/02 featured an interview with CNN's White House correspondent John King. Stewart interviewed King about Bush's recent speech about corporate crime, and King made a number of revelations that made me wonder if he knew that he was on television.

First of all, King gave a brief description of his role in Bush's speech. Evidently King and many other Washington reporters were nowhere near Bush as he spoke. They were watching his speech on TV in a "filing room," presumably where they could write and film their commentary (although I don't know if King writes his own reports or not). This should strike everyone as odd that the man who is supposed to be telling me about this event from first-hand experience watched it on TV, just like the rest of us do. He also briefly described the filing room, and it sounded a little on the posh side.

Second, he mentioned that Bush made a rare appearance in the filing room, and the reporters actually got to ask him a couple of questions. Wait, you're a news reporter for one of the largest news outlets in the world, covering the Bush administration and you rarely get to ask questions of President Bush? What the hell good are you? You know who else watches Bush's speeches on TV and doesn't get to ask him questions? Me, and 99% of America.

And finally, when Stewart asked King if it was frustrating how Bush was able to announce his reform plans in a staged event with little external input ("like a CEO announcing his company's new soft drink," I believe was Stewart's line), King matter-of-factly described it as part of the "marketing" of issues. Wait, you're just going to accept that these parlor games are just the way things are, and only bother exposing them in off-hand comments on a talk show? You fucking jerk, exposing these guys is your job! You probably went to journalism school, I'm sure you've heard about serving the public, keeping an eye on those in power, the Fourth Estate, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

But of course, that's my righteous indignation based upon idealistic fantasy. John King is a television news reporter. He has a powerful position, and I'm sure he's very comfortable himself. The more power and wealth you have, the more unlikely you are to take actions that might upset that. I imagine that King is always balancing his actions between the news that will garner him acclaim for his journalistic skills, while carefully skirting the stories that will anger the politicians he depends on for access.

That's the best report I can do from memory. I hope to get my hands on a tape or transcript of the interview so I can write a more thorough entry.

Posted by Jake at 08:24 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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