....LMB: "Skeptical to the Opposition"....

February 26, 2003

I get tired of this sort of thing.

MSNBC is cancelling the Donahue talk show. Donahue was a fairly liberal, fairly open-minded political debate/interview program that the station had put on in attempt to support its sagging ratings. Despite the fact that Donahue got some of the network's highest ratings, the show is being cancelled.

That's not the part I'm tired of, we'll get there in a minute.

Now, the lefty blogs are all abuzz at a month-old MSNBC study which claimed that Donahue had to go, because it could hurt the network if they were "stigmatized" as anti-war by Donahue's views. And therefore this proves that the media is pro-war, blah blah blah (as if you couldn't tell by simply turning on a television).

But what's our source here? The source of all of this hubub is a column by Rick Ellis, in which he claims that received this report from an "NBC news insider." Rick Ellis writes for AllYourTV.com, a site I have never heard of in my life.

So that's it. The left-wing of the blogosphere is running amuck over an alleged report by an unnamed source mentioned on a column by an unknown writer in an unknown website. Some of my fellow bloggers are even claiming this pile of anonymity is a "smoking gun" proving media bias. But if a White House claim had come out with this hazy type of sourcing, they'd be crucifying it. Sorry folks, if you're going to be picky and skeptical, you have to view every source of information to that kind of critical eye, even the ones that confirm what you already believe.

So that's what I'm tired of, selective skepticism, selective eagerness. For all I know, Rick Ellis is true-blue and his article is 100% pure fact. But until I have some harder evidence, I can't embrace his claims, and I wish some of my compadres would hold out for better support as well.

Posted by Jake at 08:16 PM
Comments

Selective skepticism is extremely annoying. I'm a member of a "collective" in which a member posted about Donahue and supported MSNBCs decision--merely because he's a Republican. That sort of thing has always jerked me the wrong way.

Posted by: amoran at February 26, 2003 09:14 PM

allyourtv.com are belong to us.

okay, i'm really sorry about that.

Posted by: jeremy at February 27, 2003 10:23 AM

I understand the sentiment you've expressed. But, let's suppose the alleged leaked memo about MSNBC wanting to squash anti-war viewpoints is a lie. Even then, the story is still worthy of outrage IF these key facts in the story are correct:

1) Donohue had the top-rated MSNBC show. This statement is testable ... anyone have access to published TV ratings?

2) New hosts being added include Savage, Ventura, and Armey. I know Savage is confirmed, but what of the other two? And are any other hosts being added?

Posted by: Z at February 27, 2003 12:03 PM

Thanks, Jake. This sort of (self-)skepticism is what separates thinkers from chauvinists. I can appreciate this more because I too often want to read only the stories that support my views.

Posted by: Shawn at February 27, 2003 12:42 PM

Z, I agree with you completely. Those key facts you are talking about make a compelling story that certainly imply that MSNBC is intentionally moving in a more pro-war direction. And whether it's true or not, the leaked document explains why they would do this from a economic point of view. Maybe I should've written about that instead. But as a pretty hardcore skeptic, this gullibility I see on the part of many smart writers bothers me.

Posted by: Jake at February 27, 2003 01:16 PM

The biggest problem with this theory is that Chris Matthews is against escalating the war with Iraq and still on the air.

Posted by: micah holmquist at February 27, 2003 01:35 PM

Micah: But there is a big, big difference between a Chris Matthews discussion and a Phil Donohue one. First, the nature of the guests. Second, Phil actually lets the lefty guests complete their sentences. Yes, Chris is expressing doubts about an Iraq war, but he's not ripping the Bushites in any way like they are (were) ripped by some of Donohue's guests.

The other thing is that you can count on Chris Matthews rallying around the flag when the war starts. If Phil's show were still around, you would fully expect anti-war guests to be showcased during the war.

Posted by: Z at February 27, 2003 05:15 PM

Z,

Maybe. It certainly would be easier to portray Donahue as out of touch with the public than Matthews.

Posted by: micah holmquist at February 28, 2003 09:41 AM

I,for one,am so very sorry that we the subscribers to these t.v. networks are at the mercy of their lack of objectivity! I ask you: if Donahue is the #1 show, and brought up the MSNBC ratings, WHY oh WHY even think of cancelling it? I believe, as many do now, that it is FEAR...Phil has the guts to bring out the "other side of the coin" that the conservatives so much want to keep hidden from the very subscribers to this manopoly of a cable system and controlled media! The corporations that pay to keep out the truth will end up paying the price in the end! I pray that someday there will evolve integrity into this mess of a media system again! Phil Donahue will always be one of the greatest men of integrity in my book! Sincerely, SJD

Posted by: sjd at July 28, 2003 08:35 PM

I,for one,am so very sorry that we the subscribers to these t.v. networks are at the mercy of their lack of objectivity! I ask you: if Donahue is the #1 show, and brought up the MSNBC ratings, WHY oh WHY even think of cancelling it? I believe, as many do now, that it is FEAR...Phil has the guts to bring out the "other side of the coin" that the conservatives so much want to keep hidden from the very subscribers to this manopoly of a cable system and controlled media! The corporations that pay to keep out the truth will end up paying the price in the end! I pray that someday there will evolve integrity into this mess of a media system again! Phil Donahue will always be one of the greatest men of integrity in my book! Sincerely, SJD

Posted by: sjd at July 28, 2003 08:35 PM

I,for one,am so very sorry that we the subscribers to these t.v. networks are at the mercy of their lack of objectivity! I ask you: if Donahue is the #1 show, and brought up the MSNBC ratings, WHY oh WHY even think of cancelling it? I believe, as many do now, that it is FEAR...Phil has the guts to bring out the "other side of the coin" that the conservatives so much want to keep hidden from the very subscribers to this manopoly of a cable system and controlled media! The corporations that pay to keep out the truth will end up paying the price in the end! I pray that someday there will evolve integrity into this mess of a media system again! Phil Donahue will always be one of the greatest men of integrity in my book! Sincerely, SJD

Posted by: sjd at July 28, 2003 08:35 PM

I,for one,am so very sorry that we the subscribers to these t.v. networks are at the mercy of their lack of objectivity! I ask you: if Donahue is the #1 show, and brought up the MSNBC ratings, WHY oh WHY even think of cancelling it? I believe, as many do now, that it is FEAR...Phil has the guts to bring out the "other side of the coin" that the conservatives so much want to keep hidden from the very subscribers to this manopoly of a cable system and controlled media! The corporations that pay to keep out the truth will end up paying the price in the end! I pray that someday there will evolve integrity into this mess of a media system again! Phil Donahue will always be one of the greatest men of integrity in my book! Sincerely, SJD

Posted by: sjd at July 28, 2003 08:35 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.

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