....LMB: "Press Follies"....

October 10, 2004

Hannity Cancels Appearance- Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity agreed to give a speech at St. Louis' Washington University to "counter" a recent speech given there by Michael Moore. But alas, it was not to be. Hannity cancelled his speech because although the school agreed to hire a private jet to fly him out to STL, he had had a "bad experience" with that particular brand of private jet. I imagine we can all relate to that.

Kerry Fights Back- honestly, this article is as much about the reporters covering Kerry as it is about Kerry himself. If this author is to be believed, these reporters disliked Kerry and didn't bother hiding it. He claims that they refused to write anything positive about Kerry, even when it was warranted, and that on one occasion that the reporters had taken a "perverse pleasure in standing up to Kerry, in not giving him what he wanted."

How Would Jackson Pollock Cover This Campaign?- NY Times ombudsman/public editor/"readers' representative" writes an article claiming that his newspaper is completely unbiased, and if you think it is biased, then it's just your own passions coloring your vision. Then, he printed the names and hometowns of people who had written critical or angry letters into the paper about perceived bias. That's kind of a nasty thing to do. I probably wouldn't even do that to someone who had written me an angry email about my blog, and I have several million fewer readers than the NYT.

Both Sides Not "Equally Accountable"- I'm loathe to link to Matt Drudge, because he's a conservative smear-monging hack. But one of his recent posts is leading to some interesting discussion. Drudge posted an internal memo from the political director of ABC News, that Drudge is trying to spin as proof of a pro-Kerry/anti-Bush bias. But really the memo is a plea for reporters to stop playing the faux objectivity game.

"Objectivity" is one of my top beefs with the American press. Frankly, it's a marketing gimmick. Once upon a time, American papers were printed by political parties, and were completely biased. Then someone got the bright idea that maybe if they dropped the ideology, they could sell papers to members of both parties and make more money. Objectivity was born.

But modern objectivity might be more accurately called "anti-bias shielding". It seems that most reporters simply want to get through the day without being called biased, and the easiest way to do that is to try write a story in such a way as to maintain a perfect balance between conservative and liberal opinions. "Republicans say this, Democrats say that, who's right, who cares, enjoy this commercial for hot dogs."

The ABC memo refers to lies and distortions made by both presidential candidates at the last debate. Journalists reviewing the debate found that Bush's lies were more serious, yet slapped a "everybody's a liar" type of headline on top, as though all their sins were equal. This is what the ABC memo is speaking out against. It says that

The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.


We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

Which is my point. Fake equality and fake balance slant the news just as definitively as any ideological bias could. To me, the key part of that memo is that phrase "the facts." Where do the facts lead you? Tell that story. "Bush said this, Kerry said that and Bush is wrong". You can say that, so long as the facts back you up.

But in these increasingly ruthless political times, that sort of thing could cost a reporter their job. Journalists become minor nobles in the King's court, trying to deftly appease all sides so as not to incur anyone's wrath. Which in the end, serves absolutely no one. Just get your comics and sports scores and use A-1 to line your birdcage.

Maybe reporters--good ones, anyway--have to be like all the other countercultural figures. Great artists and rockers and writers often have to follow their passions and create in their spare time, because they simply can't get paid enough as a professional painter or singer or what have you to survive. Maybe all that's genuine has to come from that place that's drive, compulsion, love, and anyone who depends on it for a paycheck risks selling out.

Just a thought.

Posted by Jake at 09:54 PM | TrackBack (0)

I'm beginning to wonder about how the blogsphere is going to influence journalism in the near future. We've already seen it play a pretty major role in "Memogate" and "Wiregate"; I think more and more people are starting to turn to blogs for their news. I wonder if we'll start to see some famous blogs become bigger players in journalism.


Posted by: Nareau at October 14, 2004 09:05 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.

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