....LMB: "Do They Even Try Anymore?"....

January 22, 2003

Surfing Television News For Antiwar Demonstrations- non-scientific examination of cable news coverage of this weekend's anti-war protests via flipping back and forth among the channels.

War Journalists Should Not Be Cosying Up to the Military- Robert Fisk attacks war reporters who try to suck up to and sympathize with the subjects of their stories, the military. Key passage:

So here's a thumbnail list of how to watch out for mendacity and propaganda on your screen once Gulf War Two (or Three if you include the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict) begins. You should suspect the following:

Reporters who wear items of American or British military costume – helmets, camouflage jackets, weapons, etc.

Reporters who say "we" when they are referring to the US or British military unit in which they are "embedded".

Those who use the words "collateral damage" instead of "dead civilians".

Those who commence answering questions with the words: "Well, of course, because of military security I can't divulge..." Those who, reporting from the Iraqi side, insist on referring to the Iraqi population as "his" (ie Saddam's) people.

Journalists in Baghdad who refer to "what the Americans describe as Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses" – rather than the plain and simple torture we all know Saddam practices.

Journalists reporting from either side who use the god-awful and creepy phrase "officials say" without naming, quite specifically, who these often lying "officials" are.

The Unseen Gulf War- what happens when photojournalists don't "cosy up to the military." Grisly, terrible images of the aftermath of the U.S. ground war in Iraq, by photographer Peter Turnley. I think you owe it to yourself to check these out, but the pictures are mainly of charred corpses.

The dangers of plumbing public view on Iraq war- article that claims that Americans have very complex and conflicting views about the proposed war on Iraq. But strangely, they tell this tale primarily from the point of few of hand-wringing journalists who apparently have a hard time talking about individuals' beliefs without an official opinion poll handy. The subject of the story, the complicated desires and fears, is treated as a frustrating and terrifying aberration, which reporters hope will go away once the war begins in earnest. In the author's defense, I notice that he is the paper's media columnist, and perhaps this was the only way he could "officially" write about this subject.

Sensitive? Step Aside- Most news outlets seem unable to cover the topic of science with an ounce of intelligence or accuracy. Any "new study" that is "provocative," confirms commonly-held beliefs, or contradicts commonly-held beliefs gets coverage, even if that study was designed and performed by Professor Idjit from the University of Can't Do a Damn Thing Right. The above article is about a new study which "proves" that "women who are on birth control pills are more attracted to sexy, macho men, while women who aren't on the pill prefer sensitive, caring guys."

The first five paragraphs of the nine paragraph article state the study's "conclusions" in fairly objective terms (except for the word "suggests" that appears once). By this point, many readers will have stopped reading the article and moved on to another. But the final four paragraphs point out significant flaws with the study, flaws big enough to make its "conclusions" meaningless. So the story is that there isn't really a story. That sort of thing drives me nuts!

Posted by Jake at 06:46 PM

Well thank holy hell I went off the fucking Pill, or I'd still be dating that evil asshole I was seeing back then...because, y'know, I'm ruled by my hormones, see, and motivated by nothing but base primal physical urges buried deep within my little reptile brain. Yes. Now that I'm off the Pill and am nothing but an oven with no bun (and hence biologically useless, of course, so much deitritus and waste in the universe's grand plan for self-replication), I am mute and cowlike, dumbly following the zeros and ones coded into my genes, and choosing a NICE MAN to be with.

I mean, why else would I want to do something asinine like that?

This way if I do happen to get pregnant (since we all know my entire selfhood and existence is predicated on that one function, right?) I can live off of his sensitivity and kindness, parasite-like, much as the child inside me will subsist, parasite-like, off of my own formerly inviolable body. 'Cos we all know that as much as us women pay lip service to careers, selfhood, independence and individuality, we are in the end nothing but slavishly at the whim of the chemicals in our bloodstream and our biological destiny.

But seriously, reading the last five paragraphs of that article was hilarious. How fucking insulting. "We told you all this insulting bullshit, and now we're going to progressively re-ingest it like vomit."


Oooh, ooh, look out, all this anger and agression might cause my delicate female hormonal balance to go out of whack and I might start twitching and getting hair on my face or something.

Okay, so I'm sick of all this facile and halfassed "gender studies" shit that gets tossed around like salad in pop psychology. Some of it is valid. But so much is insultingly dismissive of the individual and our own faculties for change and growth.



Posted by: michele at January 22, 2003 10:29 PM

I did a little research on the only fellow mentioned about that article, Tony Little. He's a psych student going for his PHd at the University of St. Andrews, with his focus on facial recognition. When I put my nerd hat on, it's an interesting subject, what it is in our brains that makes us recognize or not recognize, be attracted to or not attracted to certain faces. But it looks like he comes to this topic by way of the shady school of evolutionary psychology, a field that seems obsessed with proving that gender stereotypes are rooted in psychobiology.

Posted by: Jake at January 23, 2003 12:14 AM

"a field that seems obsessed with proving that gender stereotypes are rooted in psychobiology."

I know it well. I used to eat that shit up. Let me tell you: if you're a woman and you consume all those ideas like so much crack left in a paper bag down on 7th street in Los Angeles, YOU WILL BECOME HORRIBLY FUCKING DEPRESSED and think your life is purposeless--at least, if you're the type who tends to buck "normal" tip-of-the-bell-curve trends like mawwiage (sic...ahem) and gettin' preggers way too fucking early.

There may be truth in that stuff or there may not, but for my sanity I have to cleave to the notion that I can buck my biology and be a self-determining, fully aware person.

Would you really want to spend any time in a room with a woman--no, with any person--who wasn't?

Posted by: michele at January 23, 2003 09:06 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply don’t know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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