....LMB: "Media Assault"....

February 25, 2003

Pentagon's Recipe for Propaganda- unlike the Gulf War, the Pentagon is at least pretending to give reporters full access to the battlefield. This will be done by having journalists go through specialized combat-preparedness training, and then "embedding" them within a military unit "for life":

At a recent orientation meeting with Washington bureau chiefs, [Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Bryan] Whitman described the ideal "embed" as one who follows a unit (ground, air or sea) from load-out to deployment through combat (subject to field approval) to the "march on whatever capital we happen to march on" to the return trip home and the "victory parade." This could take "two weeks, two months, two years." If reporters leave a unit there is no guarantee they can return or even join another unit. Probably they will be "pooled" in mobile media clusters that form and dissolve as the action dictates. "Itinerants" (reporters working independently) are not encouraged.

In other words, journalists will be trained as soldiers, and then live, work and risk their lives with American soldiers for the duration of the war. Could this lead the reporters to identify very strongly with the soldiers and lead to strongly positive coverage of the war? Nah.

Journalists Are Assigned to Accompany U.S. Troops- as if the mild brainwashing above wasn't enough, journalists will need to get permission from "their" commanding officer about "live, continuing action," "future operations or postponed or canceled operations." While that sounds reasonable in the name of military secrecy, I also note that "the outcomes of mission results can be described only in general terms," and most tellingly, that "other ground rules remain to be spelled out." Which could presumably include complete censorship when the military feels like it.

MSNBC adjusts image as war looms- apparently the MSNBC news channel is "rebranding" itself as a "hard news" station. Which probably has more drawing power than their previous, unofficial "we kinda suck" brand image.

Caught on Film: The Bush Credibility Gap- are the Democrats growing some balls? They are allegedly beginning a new political and media strategy of questioning the truthfulness of George W. Bush. This page is a series of comparisons between what Bush says at political photo ops, and how his true policies frequently contradict this statements 100%. The page appears on the Appropriations Committee Democrats webpage.

Fla. Court Overturns Reporter's Jury Award- this one pisses me off because I've been writing about this story for years. Back in 1997, two Tampa reporters put together a series of television news segments about the use of artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) in dairy cows to increase their milk production. The two found that rBGH posed a risk to human health, and that there was really no way of knowing if the milk Floridians were drinking came from rBGH cows or not. Enter Monsanto, one of the most evil corporations on planet Earth. Before the story aired, Monsanto (which manufactures and sells "Posilac," the most popular brand of rBGH) intimidated the reporters' television station into re-editting the piece so that it was "more fair" to Monsanto's point of view. But repeated re-writse were not good enough for the scared execs, and eventually the reporters were fired for refusing to lie in their story.

The reporters recently sued their old employers, claiming that they had violated the state's whistleblower act. The two argued that they were about to "blow the whistle" on their station's illegal practice of distorting the news, and that their station illegally fired them in retaliation. They won the suit.

And then their win was overturned. This latest judge found that the whistleblower claim didn't hold up, because her station did not violate the law. And since they didn't violate the law, they couldn't have a whistle blown on them.

The ruling explicitly claims that when a TV station distorts the news, it is not violating FCC regulations. In other words, it is perfectly legal for television news to lie to you. Which is good for the Fox News Channel, I suppose.

Posted by Jake at 10:23 AM

This case is an example of the real reason the fatcats who own the Republican party have been working so hard to pack the judiciary for the past 22 years.

The alleged, highly-publicized reasons are abortion and civil rights. And true, rightwing judges usually vote to almost-but-not-quite overturn Roe v. Wade. (They can't overturn it, because to do so would deflate a large part of their voter base: the "pro-life" single issue voters.) However, the real purpose of these judges is to consistently rule in favor of the interests of the powerful corporations that back the Repubs, regardless of the merits of the case.

Posted by: Z at March 1, 2003 08:50 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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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.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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