Lying Media Bastards

October 11, 2011

Recursive

Some years back, I wrote about my recent visit to Comic Con, the yearly pop culture mega-convention in San Diego. I did some critiquing of it, and “entertainment journalism” as willing accomplices/collaborators of the entertainment industry’s marketing machine. What was most interesting to me at the time is the way that secrecy built hype. You’re a big video game company, you’ve got a new game coming out in a year, but you hide all the details. Which makes all of the fans and “journalists” so hungry for news that they’ll jump at your tiniest leak or press release. This makes good tacticaly sense for marketers, but ends up being pretty insane for the audience.

And today, I’ve just seen the most ridiculous example of parceled-out hype in a while.

A big, new superhero movie called “The Avengers” is going to be released in the spring of 2012. And today, there was much pomp and giddiness for the release of the First Official Trailer. Remember, this isn’t the movie that fans want to see, this is a commercial for the movie. But that wasn’t enough. Yesterday, the television show “Entertainment Tonight” gave us all an “exclusive first look” at the commercial. For those of you who couldn’t wait 12 hours, the TV show showed clips of the commercial for the movie you actually want to see.

And that’s not all! One popular fan site gave readers a “preview” of the Entertainment Tonight segment! So you could watch a preview of the preview of the commerical for the movie.

I understand why the studios do this, and I sometimes get caught up in the spiral myself. Hell, there’s even some logic buried in there for the fans. But, objectively speaking, that doesn’t make it any less nuts.

Posted by Jake on October 11, 2011 7:44 am

May 12, 2011

Revolving Door or Stationary Cooridor?

Many of you probably saw this story:

After approving NBC buyout, FCC Commish becomes Comcast lobbyist

All proposed media mergers have to get approval from the FCC before they can proceed. Meredtih Attwell Baker was one of the five commissioners on the FCC responsible for approving or denying these mergers. She gave her approval for the merger in question, between Comcast and NBC, making them a megahuginormous media titan. Then, she quit the FCC and got a job with Comcast. Not just any job, but to be in charge of lobbying the government she was just a part of, to make decisions favorable to Comcast.

This sort of thing has become so common it’s rarely even remarked upon anymore. The main reason that Baker here is taking heat is because the conflict of interest is so brazen. These days, corporate executives quit the private sector, to get a job with the government, only to quit again and rejoin the industry they were just in charge of “regulating”. They often refer to it as “the revolving door”, but it seems that with many industries, it’s just a big blurry area containing both corporate and government folks, who all pretty much feel the same about their industry.

As always, my solution to this problem is simple: the elimination of all corporations.

Posted by Jake on May 12, 2011 9:13 pm

June 7, 2010

Keeping Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer… and Neutered

Glenn Greenwald has posted an article with some stories about cozy relationships between the Washington press corps, and the politicians they cover. The first is the most embarrassing, an excited series of Twitter posts by CNN’s Ed Henry from a party held at the Vice President’s mansion. Apparently many Washington journalists were invited and attended, and there was much giggling and chasing each other with squirt guns.

Now, this has led a few of said journalists to ponderously weigh the ethical implications of a reporter going to a party thrown by the people he is supposed to cover. No. No no no no. This completely and utterly misses the fucking point. No one is saying that Ed Henry or Wolf Blitzer shouldn’t be able to go to certain parties. We’re saying that Ed Henry and Wolf Blitzer are already utterly fucking compromised, and that this party is just an example of this charade.

You could imagine this in any setting. You’re a reporter covering the mayor’s office, your local sports team, the mafia, the record industry, the police beat, whatever. By covering this topic, you’ll be interacting with some of the same people frequently, and quite possibly become friendly. The closer you get, the harder it can be to treat them impartially, or even negatively, when required. Solving this would either mean colder reporters who don’t get attached, rotating reporters to different beats (at the expense of losing that reporters’ learned expertise), or accepting that reporters are people who will inevitably be biased.

That’s one of the points I’m getting to here. You want to go to parties and chase Senators around the pool, possibly causing warm feelings that soften the punch of your news articles. Fine. Party on, Ed. Just don’t try to pretend that you’re an objective, unbiased reporter.

That’s the absolute lightest thing I can say on this subject. Greenwald’s article reminded me of a similar story I had written about five years ago, during the Bush era, in which the then-president invited a bunch of reporters over to his Crawford compound for a barbecue. When reporters are blind to their own ambition, love of money, love of prestige, and love of proximity to power, they become little more than gossips. It has been with great sadness that I’ve learned that the adult world is very, very frequently the same cliques, vanity, fads and scorn that it was in high school. Bunch of cool kids and a bunch of kids sucking up to the cool kids, both united in their belief that the rest of us deserve the shit the pour down on us. Might be kind of funny, if things like war, poverty and mass extinction weren’t on the line.

And while I’m no journalist, I’m as biased as a motherfucker. Just for the record.

Posted by Jake on June 7, 2010 10:42 pm

October 18, 2009

There’s a Journalistic Sucker Born Every Minute

The “balloon boy” hoax wouldn’t be getting 24/7 news coverage now, if the cable news networks hadn’t given the story 24/7 news coverage back when they thought it was real.

In other news, the United States is still fucking occupying Iraq.

Posted by Jake on October 18, 2009 6:59 pm

September 14, 2009

White Pixel Privilege

The Non-White Gaming Experience

Nice article about depictions of race in video games, most prominently the lack of non-white people as main characters. Covers some of the reasons behind it (race of game designers, presumed race of game audience), stereotypes of gamers based on race, and the fatigue/ambivalence faced by gamers of color in seeing people like themselves systematically erased from the media they enjoy.

Also of note: the commenters of this article aren’t immediately “shut up, bringing up race is racist!” assaults I usually see in essays about race in video games.

Posted by Jake on September 14, 2009 10:00 pm

June 3, 2008

Mega Extreme Action News!

In a vital, exclusive, headline story, Hillary Clinton may or may not be conceding the Democratic presidential nomination later today. Or sometime this week. Or never.

In an unrelated story, Hillary Clinton may or may not be vowing to continue her fight to win the Democratic presidential nomination, no holds barred! Or not. Whatever.

Some guy at the bus stop told us, why do you ask?

Posted by Jake on June 3, 2008 9:51 am

March 29, 2008

Leisure of the Theory Class

Ah, to be a columnist. There’s a fucking gig. Every week, you are required to provide your news publication with x number of words about… whatever. True, some columnists have categorical boundaries– politics, sports, I knew one guy who wrote solely about his area of expertise, America-Asia relations. But some number of columnists really seem to be allowed to write about whatever they damn well please, no matter how trivial, poorly researched, or full of shit. Frequently leading to the painfully bad “trend” columns, where a columnist discovers a new societal happening and gives us the scoop on this new thread in the tapestry that is our world (or in the world of upper class white folks living in NYC or DC. Whatever). Sometimes these articles are researched by asking leading questions of as many as four people who the columnist knows personally. Why would you write such crap? Idiocy? Laziness? Tight deadlines? Self-importance?

But a good antidote to trend column nausea is this new article by a snarker over at The Onion, 5 Trends I Just Made Up Looking Around The Office.

It’s mostly a savage takedown of a disease of a column which discovers/invents the “Urbane Tomboy” trend (a metrosexual except female except not. Kinda). My favorite line from the takedown: “I didn’t know that not being a lesbian while not wearing a dress is a trend, but that’s why I read: to learn.”

Posted by Jake on March 29, 2008 8:29 am

September 29, 2007

Nothing to See Here

We all knew it was gonna happen.

AT&T’s internet division announces in their new Terms of Service that if they believe that your conduct online “tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries” that they can terminate your contract (Section 5.1).

Yes, if AT&T is your ISP, and you badmouth the company– even if the things you say are 100% true– AT&T will kick you off the internet.

Which is why all this talk about the need for net neutrality is complete hogwash. I mean, if we can’t trust our omnipotent corporate overlords to respect our rights, who can we trust?

Posted by Jake on September 29, 2007 9:33 pm

July 27, 2007

Making the News

Whoa. This is one of the most insane news stories ever.

Helicopter crash. Actually, two helicopters crashing into each other, 4 dead. 2 news helicopters. News helicopters that had been filming a live, high-speed police chase.

So, in order to bring you the most sensationalized, least newsworthy spectacle of the day, two competing news teams ended up colliding with, and killing each other.

And note, that webpage has a link “Viewer-Submitted Photos Of Media Helicopter Crash”. Classy.

[thanks, Brad]

Posted by Jake on July 27, 2007 1:45 pm

July 19, 2007

Just Like Real Life

Man, I can’t stop giggling at this comic. Especially the last line.

Posted by Jake on July 19, 2007 11:35 pm

May 28, 2007

Priorities

A new report about the 24-hour cable news networks shows that, on average, these channels spent 23% of the first quarter of 2007 covering the Iraq war, and 7% on Anna Nicole Smith. Fox News spent 15% on Iraq and 10% on Anna Nicole Smith. And during the day, Fox spent 6% on the Iraq war and 17% on Anna Nicole Smith.

Watching nooz maks yoo smrt.

Posted by Jake on May 28, 2007 9:19 pm

March 13, 2007

Baby Steps

I find the $1 billion lawsuit launched by Viacom against YouTube/Google to be amusing. YouTube makes its money by advertising surrounding video clips produced by other people. Viacom’s top property, MTV, got its start making money by advertising surrounding video clips (music videos) produced by other people. Record companies saw airplay on MTV as a powerful form of advertising. Viacom sees airplay on YouTube to be a threat and loss of control. MTV, you used to be cool*. What happened?

I am curious how this is going to play out. Will Viacom vindictively try to destroy Google and YouTube? Will YouTube cut a deal and institute stronger monitoring and prevention of copyright infringement in their videos?

___
* Okay, not really.

Posted by Jake on March 13, 2007 10:59 pm

March 7, 2007

Movie Piracy Destroys Movie Industry… Not So Much

After all of the tooth-gnashing and fury by Hollywood about the devastating impact of movie piracy, the movie industry just released their 2006 statistics. And well, things don’t look too bad for the studios.

- Revenues up 5.5% over 2005, $9.49 billion altogether.
- Ticket sales up for the first time in 3 years
- Ticket prices up 2.2%
- International box office up 14%

Granted, the movie studios made more movies, spent more to make each movie, and spent more money advertising their movies.

The MPAA tells us with horror that the industry is losing about $18 billion per year to piracy. Yes, they are losing twice as much as they are making. Or something. A ridiculous figure that the industry pretty much pulled out of their ass, by taking a mysterious estimate of how many illegal bootleg copies or yearly downloads are made of their films, and assuming that if those people hadn’t pirated the films that they would’ve bought tickets in theaters or bought the DVD. On top of that, this 2006 report claims financial success in bootleg-happy countries like China, Russia, and India.

And for years, there have been studies implying that the people who download the most media also buy the most media.

So it’s not about profit, it’s about control.

Posted by Jake on March 7, 2007 9:53 am

February 19, 2007

When Their Satelites Line Up Just Right, They Look Like the Death Star

Wow, XM satelite radio and Sirius satelite radio are going to merge. Didn’t see that one coming for every year the two have been around. The article above implies that Congress is going to take a close, skeptical look at this merger, which clearly creates a monopoly. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Reminds me of how satelite radio really got its start: Janet Jackson’s nipple.

The FCC got so many letters of complaint about Jackson’s Super Bowl boob flash in 2004 that they ramped up their attacks on “indecent content” and massively upped the fines levied against offending broadcasters. This led to many radio stations getting fined for the behavior of their “shocking” on-air personalities, and attempts to restrain their behavior. Angry at being treated so shabbily by his corporate clients Viacom and Clear Channel, mega-popular radio host Howard Stern then cut a deal to move his show to Sirius satelite radio, causing many of his millions of fans to buy satelite radios and pay the monthly subscription fee, launching Sirius into new heights of popularity. XM then struck back by hiring shock jocks Opie and Anthony, and then signing a deal with Major League Baseball, and the battle was on.

Just one of those funny historical footnotes.

Posted by Jake on February 19, 2007 9:55 pm

December 23, 2006

Foaming at the Mouth

Most Outrageous Comments of 2006

Definitely worth a read. Put together by lefty media watch group Media Matters, a list of the most extreme right-wing comments made by mainstream commentators and pundits. Racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, war-mongering, Christian supremacy, eliminiationism (”people who disagree with me are traitors who should be killed”), and quite a few rants which claim that anyone who’s not a neocon or hawk is actively working for Islamic terror groups.

The important thing to remember is that these aren’t fringe wackos on CB radio or quasi-fascist messageboards, these are popular radio hosts, best-selling authors, and news anchors. Fox News, MSBC, CNN, nationwide radio shows, nationwide newspaper columns. Some of them have agendas, some of them are deranged, some of them are simply entertainers who know their paychecks come from conservatives who want to be outraged about something. Overall, shows that Americans are very tolerant… of hate.

Posted by Jake on December 23, 2006 11:39 am

December 15, 2006

News and Media and News

The Great Wealth Transfer- good column by lefty economist Paul Krugman about the astounding jump in wealth inequality in America. He also debunks a few persistent myths about the reason some people are rich and some people are poor. He uses an analogy to describe the unequal distribution of personal income that is a little complicated to set up, but powerful once he gets there, that I’ll try to simplify here.

Imagine you have a line of 1000 people, that represent all the people in America, and that the height of each person represents their income. In 1973, the average height/income in that line would be 6 feet, the poorest person would be 16 inches tall, and the richest would be 113 feet tall. In 2005, the average height would have grown to 8 feet, and the richest guy would be 560 feet tall.

Crunks ‘06: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections- found a strange blog that focuses solely on “corrections, retractions, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.” And they have recently put out their yearly “awards” for errors and corrections and such. Some are fun, some are disturbing.

UK ‘plot’ terror charge dropped- you know how you’re no longer allowed to bring liquids or gels onto American airplane flights? That ban got started because of an alleged terrorist plot to blow up an airplane with liquid explosives (even though that particular scheme wasn’t even really possible). Now, it turns out that the authorities can’t even scrape together enough evidence to try the “ringleader” of this plot for terrorism charges. Yet I don’t think their going to remove their anti-liquid rules anytime soon.

A friend of mine and I came up with a foolproof method of secure air travel. First of all, no carry-on luggage for anyone. Second, before anyone gets on board, they are injected with a chemical that renders them unconscious. Then they are stripped naked and thrown into a big pile in the center of the plane. When the plane arrives, the passengers are re-awakened and given their clothes back. No fuss, no muss.

John McCain’s War On Blogs- John McCain has proposed a new bill called the “Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act”. While the bill seems aimed at preventing sexual predators from using messageboards or blog comment sections to lure in children, it seems to have the broader implication that the owner of a messageboard or a blogger is responsible for the comments or actions of other people. This runs counter to existing legal rules which say that commenters or posters are responsible for their own actions. While this wouldn’t have much impact on a site like mine, blogs with few writers but many commenters could be in trouble.

Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist- Michael Crichton is a prick. In recent years, the immensely successful sci-fi/action author has begun speaking out publicly against the theory of global warming. In fact, his 2004 book “State of Fear” largely claims that global warming is a big hoax (I guess the Antarctic ice shelf is in on the gag). In March, Washington-based political journalist Michael Crowley wrote a very critical article about Crichton and State of Fear for The New Republic magazine. This seems to have made Crichton a bit cranky. His newest book contains a character named “Mick Crowley”, who is also a Washington-based political journalist. And in the book, the fictional Crowley anally rapes an infant. That’s some petty, vindictive shit.

Please don’t support blog awards- popular blogger Steve Gilliard argues that the various “best blog of the year” awards are a waste of time and serve to divide rather than unite. He’s got a bit of a point. How do you figure out which blog is “the best”, and why would you really care? I imagine people get involved with them because a) awards are fun, and b) if you happen to win, that can get you some publicity and new readers.

Media as adversary to the government- Glenn Greenwald makes a point about journalistic objectivity using coverage of Iran’s Holocaust denial conference as an example. The press saw an issue with two sides– one that one backed by reason and facts, the other by lunacy and hate– and instead of simply presenting both cases and shrugging, reporters said “the holocaust deniers are wrong.” This implies that reporters could do this when faced with other examples of “debate”, and mention that one of the two sides is full of shit, if one happens to be full of shit. However, journalists rarely do this, unless the conclusion is 100% uncontroversial. I’m not sure if there is a historical example of model journalism, but these days the individual journalist is part of a business that is dependent upon the good graces of shareholders and advertisers, greatly hindering their ability to risk controversial truths.

The strange dust-up over ‘Beat the Press’- eventually, this article and its comment thread are about the dependence of blogs upon corporate media. While some folks seem to think that bloggers are New Media and newspapers are Old Media, the fact is that your average blogger simply does not have the money or free time to do the same level of in-depth reporting as Old Media. If bloggers really want to take that role, they need to find means of getting funding, or work in a more collaborative, distributed manner that would minimize the amount of sacrifice any one individual would have to make to get the information.

Posted by Jake on December 15, 2006 5:15 pm

November 16, 2006

Sell Outs

Radio juggernaut Clear Channel has just been sold to a group of anonymous investors led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, for around $27 billion. There are also alleged plans for the company to sell 448 of its 1150 radio stations.

I’ll admit, I don’t really know what all this means yet. I’ll keep an eye on it.

Posted by Jake on November 16, 2006 10:11 am

November 12, 2006

Second Draft of History

“Into the Abyss” is the title of an impressive series by the Columbia Journalism Review. It’s a pack of of memories and reflections by journalists who have been covering the Iraq war. On the one hand, it’s fascinating, subjective glimpses of the invasion and occupation, with the sort of details you never see in a news report. On the other, there seems to be some hindsight going on. Many of the stories are incidents which foreshadow the things we know now about the American incompetence, lack of planning, chaos and insurgency. I have to wonder how many of these reporters saw and recognized these things at the time, and how many see their importance in retrospect (or are trying to pretend that they always knew things would get this bad*).

Right now, CJR has posted 4 of the 10 parts of the series, which you can read or listen to the audio of the actual reporters. There’s also a handful of photo galleries, which are much more horrific than I think the editors intended.


* Okay, I’m probably cynical on this one. I actually did my Master’s thesis on the way that journalists talk about journalism in journalism trade magazines, and I found a fair amount of self-righteousness and self-delusion.

Posted by Jake on November 12, 2006 12:51 am

October 4, 2006

Yellin

The two-part FCC public hearing in LA took place yesterday, and from the reports, no one had a good thing to say about corporate hoarding of media industries. Well, maybe one guy.

Surprising to me, a number of power players spoke at the event, opposing the relaxation of FCC regulations: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, TV producer Steven J. Cannell, a member of R.E.M., the president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union (AFTRA), the director of the Parents Television Council, as well as a number of folks who struggle to work in the TV and radio industries.

Not many specifics so far (what? The media aren’t working on this story round the clock?), more if/when I find em.

Posted by Jake on October 4, 2006 10:00 pm

September 17, 2006

Job Hazard

U.S. holds AP photographer in Iraq 5 months

Bilal Hussein (no relation to the dictator), a native of Fallujah, has been an photographer for the Associated Press since September 2004. One of his photos was part of a package of photos that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2005.

On April 14, 2006, Hussein was detained by the US military, and has been held ever since, with no charges, no evidence, no court dates, nothing. The military claims that Hussein “has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities”. Of course, given the military’s lies, propaganda, bribery and censorship in Iraq, it’s not in a good position to define “legitimate journalistic activities.”

Hussein thinks that he’s being detained because some of his photos depicted the US military in a negative light (destroyed US vehicles, dead civilians killed in US attacks, etc.).

Of course, if the military thinks he’s involved with the insurgency, they should try him or give him to an Iraqi court to defend himself. Refusing to do so makes the accusers look suspicious.

Posted by Jake on September 17, 2006 10:34 pm

September 16, 2006

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Childr– Oh, Thank You

From the front page of North Carolina’s The News & Observer, September 15, 2006:

ADVISORY TO READERS

Today’s Life, Etc. section includes a photo of a famous fresco by Michaelangelo that contains nudity.

Posted by Jake on September 16, 2006 8:42 pm

September 4, 2006

Crikey

Okay, I get it, Mr. and Mrs. News Media, Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin has died. That’s sad.

You can stop telling me now.

Posted by Jake on September 4, 2006 9:16 pm

August 17, 2006

Stupid Apocalypse

You see these stories several times a year, the “look how dumb America is getting” poll. This particular edition aims to tell us that Americans are woefully ignorant about classical literature, philosophy and politics, but highly knowledgeable about “low” topics like movies and television. I’m not entirely sure what purpose these stories serve, except to make “smart” Americans feel their disdain for “dumb” Americans to be justified. Or, perhaps, to coast on the broad news theme of “everything’s going to Hell in a handbasket.”

Of course, we should always be skeptical of polls, but I would not be surprised to find, for example, that more Americans can name the winner of American idol than the name of a recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice, or are more familiar with Harry Potter than Tony Blair. But I don’t think anyone should jump to the conclusion, based upon this “data”, that Americans are idiots. In example above, Samuel Alito and Tony Blair are less well known than American Idol and Harry Potter because the latter two have been the subject of hundreds of millions of dollars of media blitz advertising, prime time TV appearances, and blockbuster movies. The American Idol people are throwing that gray-haired guy in my face ten times a day, whether I want to see him or not. To see Tony Blair, I might have to watch the nightly news every day for a week, hoping that he did something “newsworthy”, just to catch a glimpse of him. If Blair and Alito want the recognition that comes with international, multimedia marketing synergy, they’re gonna have to work a lot harder on PR.

Secondly, American culture has become one in which consumption and spectatorship are the norm, driving out other pursuits like debate, discussion, activism and volunteerism. In many ways, America today isn’t so much a nation as it is an audience (I’ll admit, writing those words is a little disturbing). So when Americans talk to each other about what they’re doing, a lot of it has to do with the media they absorb. And therefore there is more conversation about The Simpsons than The Illiad.

Third, Americans are an extremely utilitarian people, to the extent that knowledge that doesn’t immediately entertain or serve a pragmatic purpose is frowned upon*. And in average American life, questions like “what planet is Superman from?” is probably going to come up more often than “which planet is closest to the sun?” The pragmatism isn’t in knowing, it’s in the use of the info when chatting with other media-obsessed folks.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this particular poll was conducted for purposes of marketing altogether. It turns out that the poll was commissioned by AOL.com with regards to a “new game show on pop culture called Gold Rush”. Polls are always news (sort of), so by commissioning one and then sending out a press release, you have “created” news. Now people are talking about America’s obsession with pop culture knowledge, and wouldn’t you know it, AOL has a new game show about pop culture!

In conclusion… I’m tired. Make up your own conclusion.


* I believe this to be the root of America’s anti-intellectualism. If you learn something, you must have done so for a reason. And since you “couldn’t” enjoy reading something “boring” like science or philosophy, you must be learning it to show off, or because you think you’re better than other people. And if Americans hate anything (and man, do we!), it’s people who think they’re better than other people.

Posted by Jake on August 17, 2006 12:05 am

August 2, 2006

Lunatics with Credentials

Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México- a good piece summing up all of the allegations that Mexico’s recent presidential elections were tainted, but more importantly, an indictment of American news outlets getting the story way, way wrong. First, many news reports don’t even understand the Mexican election process, and assume that the guy who was declared with the most votes is the official winner. Nope. No one is official until the independent Election Tribunals say so, and by law, they can deliberate until the first week of September. So no one has won this damn election yet. Second, using this misunderstanding, the American media is denouncing the left-wing candidate (who they think “lost” the election) for his “anti-democratic” efforts to have the ballots recounted. Which makes the press both ignorant, and assholes.

As a sidenote, how come American media never puts that accent mark over the “e” in Mexico? I’d actually forgotten it was supposed to go there.

Oaxaca’s State TV Station Under Popular Control- I have not at all been following the upheaval going on in Oaxaca right now. Long story short, every year, there is a sort of political dance where Oaxacan teachers march on the capital, go on strike, sometimes form a tent city that lasts for weeks, and then negotiate a new deal with the government. This year, the governor decided to replace the negotiations with a police riot that tear-gassed and bashed up the tent city. This has led to a much wider opposition and revolt against the governor. The latest of which was a march of 350 women who took over a local state-owned TV station, and are using it to broadcast their message and demands.

Josh Wolf Jailed For Refusal to Hand Over Video of Protest- Josh Wolf is a member of San Francisco Indymedia who filmed part of an anti-G8 protest in 2005. A grand jury is being abused to demand that he testify, and that he hand over the raw footage he took at the protest. This seems to violate a number of laws and “freedom of press” principles. Wolf has been jailed for his refusal, and might be stuck there for 13 months. The Society of Professional Journalists has issued a statement in support of Wolf, pointing out that if this grand jury action is effective, then every video journalist becomes a de facto agent of the police. More information about the case and on how to support Wolf here.

Stewart Slams TV News Coverage Of Mel Gibson- on a lighter note… Jon Stewart and the Daily Show ran a segment about media coverage of Mel Gibson’s arrest and Jew-bashing extravaganza. While the segment takes a few swipes at Gibson’s bigotry, it focuses on the ridiculous way in which TV news swiped footage from Gibson’s past movies and tried to use them as context for the current event. Watch it, you’ll like it.

Posted by Jake on August 2, 2006 8:59 am

July 20, 2006

CBS: Palestinians Are Mindless Beasts

CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer dropped this incredibly racist bomb last week:

“When the war broke out in the Middle East, the first thing I thought about was the old story of the frog and the scorpion who were trying to cross a river there. The scorpion couldn’t swim, the frog was lost. So the scorpion proposed a deal, ‘Give me a ride on your back, and I’ll show you the way.’ The frog agreed, and the trip went fine until they got to the middle of the river, and then suddenly the scorpion just stung the frog. As they were sinking, the frog asked, in his dying breath, ‘Why would you do that?’ To which the scorpion replied, ‘Because this is the Middle East.’

It is worth noting that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip did not kidnap that Israeli soldier and provoke all of this because the Israelis were invading Gaza. No, all this happened in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal, which was what the Palestinians supposedly wanted. But this is the Middle East. Why would fundamentalists in Gaza and Lebanon choose to provoke this war at this time? There is no real answer except this is the Middle East.” [emphasis mine]

Cutting through the cute metaphor and misleading language, Schieffer is basically saying that Palestinian people are irrational, and do things for which they have no reason. Worse, that Palestinians lash out with violence for no reason. People who are irrational are inferior to you, and if people are irrationally violent, then it is okay to act violently against them in self-defense. And Schieffer’s characterization of the Palestinian people as such justifies the brutality that anyone metes out upon them.

I’m not sure if Schieffer’s comments show bias, ignorance, or laziness. I mean, apart from the small portion of the human race that is insane, people always do things for a reason. Maybe they’re not good reasons, maybe they’re not reasons that we agree with, maybe they’re not even the reasons that the person is telling us, but the reasons are there.

Even worse, Schieffer is using the acts of one group of people to smear a much larger group. “The Palestinians” didn’t kidnap the Israeli soldier. Hell, “Hamas” didn’t even kidnap the soldier. Near as I can figure, it was members of a splinter cell of Hamas that wanted to prevent the group from recognizing Israel’s right to exist (and some Hamas members seem to explicitly blame the June 9 Israeli attack on Beit Lahiya as the reason for the kidnapping). How many people do you really think were part of the kidnapping. 10? 20? 100? Out of the several million Palestinians living in the Middle East and around the world? Nice.

It reminds me of another old story. A man walks by a building and looks in the windows, and sees a room filled with people jumping, shaking, and writhing. The man is dumbfounded, assuming that the people in that room must be crazy. Until someone opens a window, and the man hears the music playing inside the room. They weren’t insane, they were just dancing. The people’s actions appeared crazy, but only because the man was missing a vital piece of information which would explain everything.

E tu, Schieffer?

Posted by Jake on July 20, 2006 12:07 am

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