Archive for the ‘“Liberal” Media’ Category

Believing the Opposite

February 9th, 2011 4 comments

Reagan cut taxes, but raised others; in the end, more people wound up paying more in taxes. However, people mostly believe that Reagan only cut taxes.

Obama raised some taxes, but cut others; in the end, more people are now paying less in taxes. However, people mostly believe that Obama only raised taxes.

Such is the effect of the right-wing PR machine.

This comes up via Obama’s second interview with Bill O’Reilly. Only two interviews? Obama must be afraid of Fox News “journalists,” I guess. Remind me, though: how many times did Bush go on Olbermann? Hell, Palin won’t even go one some Fox News shows herself, much less any other media outlet.

Categories: "Liberal" Media Tags:

Doing Something Bad Twice as Much Apparently Makes It Good, or, IOKIYAR Yet Again

January 5th, 2011 Comments off

Remember how the filibuster was unconstitutional and evil, until Republicans lost the majority and abused it like never before in history? Remember how Republicans thought reconciliation was fine when they used it, but was outrageous when Democrats used it?

They’re at it again, this time with a process called “deem and pass.” When Democrats used it, Republicans almost literally “demonized” it, calling it every name in the book; some called for Pelosi’s impeachment over the issue, even though Democrats eventually did not use the measure for health care passage.

Now that they’ve got the gavel back, guess what procedure is suddenly OK again?

Not that this is a surprise. When Democrats used the procedure in the 80’s and early 90’s. Republicans railed against the procedure. But when they took over in the mid-90’s, they used the procedure at about double the rate Democrats did.

This is the Republican SOP: call Democrats villains for doing something, then do it twice as much themselves. Because, after all, IOKIYAR, and the “Liberal Media™” which greatly publicizes Republican outrage will rarely if ever say anything about the hypocrisy once Republicans do the same thing but worse. Note the virtual absence of reporting on Republican filibustering in the media after the extensive coverage of Democratic filibustering at far lower levels.

You’ve Probably heard This

December 24th, 2010 15 comments

Many people who voted in the midterm elections voted Republican, not because they knew Democrats did a bad job, but because they were misled into believing so. A poll conducted by the university of Maryland found that not only were voters misinformed on key issues, but viewers of Fox News were most misinformed, with the greatest lack of understanding about what is true and what is not. The highlights of how Fox News viewers fared on some basic points that the average voter should be be responsible for knowing:

  • 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
  • 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
  • 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
  • 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
  • 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)
  • 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
  • 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
  • 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
  • 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs

Seriously, it’s a pretty solid conviction of Fox as being a source of misinformation rather than of information. The evidence could not be more clear that the stimulus saved millions of jobs–not a few, but millions. And that a quarter to a third of it was tax cuts. And half of these people don’t even know what their own tax status is? Almost two-thirds are birthers?

Some of these I could almost understand–the economy certainly would feel like it’s getting worse to many, and it could be hard to understand health care’s impact on the budget. But let’s face it, it’s not as if these are issues that Fox gives a fair and balanced look at. They constantly spread lies (excuse me, “opinions”) about this kind of thing.

Nor are Fox viewers innocent dupes, the likelihood is that many if not most of these people watch Fox because it tells them what they want to believe. Which right now is anything bad about Obama.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, GOP & The Election Tags:

In Case You Bought Into Bush’s Self-Serving Image Repair

November 14th, 2010 1 comment

Okay, national crisis settled. Kanye West backed down from his statement five years ago about Bush not caring about black people, and Bush magnanimously forgave West his horrific sin. Goody.

For something slightly more relevant than whether or not a under-inhibited rapper hurt the feelings of a former president, why not go down to New Orleans and ask the families of the more than one and a half thousand people who died in the predominantly African-American city whether or not they forgive Bush for dawdling for five days before finally sending national guard troops to rescue and assist people and bring materials and support?

It speaks a great deal to the man’s judgment and humanity that he perceives his greatest mistake was to fly over New Orleans and publish a PR image of him looking out the window, and his greatest heartbreak was a rapper’s insult and not the people who suffered and died in the storm and flood.

In the photograph, he said, he looked “detached and uncaring,” as if that was really anything to be concerned about. As if staying on vacation to celebrate his birthday while the crisis raged was an understandable delay, or that waiting for five days before deploying the national guard was a minor technical detail.

Though he repeated it in his current book-selling tour, it was at his final press conference as president that he came up with this insipidly self-serving idea that he could have shown his concern more effectively by landing in the area and having a photo op. In what can only be called an astonishingly heartless attempt to spin the reality, he then acts out painful realization that landing his jet would just have distracted from the rescue effort. The rescue efforts he failed to begin for another three days.

Setting aside the fact that his failure to act, which caused hundreds of Americans to die in neglect, was his greatest blunder, Bush’s humanitarian concern over the potential disruption of rescue efforts is transparently dishonest. Remember the whole “Heckuva job, Brownie” incident? The irony of that unearned compliment is what caught the headlines, but what went largely unreported was that Bush’s photo op halted rescue efforts at a time when dozens of people were still dying every day. Instead, Bush commandeered the nice, shiny helicopters (not being used or serviced during his photo op in front of them) to serve as a backdrop for his heroic PR campaign where he lauded a criminally incompetent crony. Remember, that photo op came just as the guard troops began to arrive and were needed most urgently. Nor was it the only time he held things up. Bush made repeated trips to the area, each time diverting and delaying rescue efforts while lives were still being lost.

Worse, when Bush “came to the rescue” with supplies and equipment, these things tended to stay only slightly longer than Bush did. After he left, the supplies and equipment were pulled out after him, showing that they were for show, not for helping people. Flash but no depth.

And yet, even with all of this clearly recorded and easily available to anyone who cared to look back at it, we still allow ourselves to have the narrative hijacked by irrelevant bullshit like the story of Kanye West hurting Bush’s feelings.

Fox Continues Unbiased Coverage

October 31st, 2010 4 comments

Here’s their current postage stamp:

Screen Shot 2010-10-31 At 12.45.32 Pm

When you click on it, the story doesn’t actually focus on the politics; instead, you get this:

Screen Shot 2010-10-31 At 12.46.47 Pm

In both cases, their focus is based upon picking and choosing a few people out of the crowd, not the entire event–which, frankly was about as non-political as you could get, with as many references against the far left as there were against the far right. In their clips of raging cable news hosts, Olbermann appeared perhaps as often as Beck. Stewart and Colbert raged against fear-mongering and hate, not against Republicans and conservatives. That it attracted and pleased a mostly liberal crowd speaks more to the nature of the crowd than the crowd speaks to the nature of the event. In other words, Fox got it backwards–not that they care or were even paying attention.

Frankly, if you saw it as a get-out-the-vote rally, it would have been greatly disappointing. There was no urging to go to the polls that I remember (I think one guest said so as they left the stage near the end, but nothing planned), no overt calls to defeat the Tea Party–instead there was disapproval hurled at all politicians, exactly the sentiment that is working to the disadvantage of Democrats and liberals in the election so far. I cannot see this by any stretch of the imagination as being a pro-left rally, despite the makeup of the crowd. It was a pro-entertainment rally, perhaps, and a pro-reason rally, for certain. But pro-left? Not really.

Indeed, when Fox covered Beck’s event, they made a big deal about how non-political it was (despite Palin being there, urging people to be engaged and “knowing never to retreat”), not to mention covering the “strong turnout,” a point they studiously ignored (instead focusing on the negatives of a large crowd) in today’s rally (estimates put it at 2-3 times larger than Beck’s) in favor of calling the crowd “insane.” So much for unbiased (not that it was really in question).

That said, I could not pass up the chance to note my admiration for Stewart and Colbert to make such a great Trek reference, from Corbomite in bottled water to Uhura’s command tunic bearing a science insignia in the same episode, #10. Stewart then wondered if they got it right or if they would be picked apart in Trekkie chat rooms–but no, they got it spot on. Here’s even an image of Uhura from that episode:


A few minutes later, they even brought out R2D2. And later still, Colbert made a LOTR reference. Showing our geeky roots, are we?

Categories: "Liberal" Media, The Lighter Side Tags:

Fair & Balanced As Always, Not to Mention Not at All Ironic

October 31st, 2010 3 comments

Fox New’s coverage of the Stewart/Colbert rally:

Screen Shot 2010-10-31 At 2.35.59 Am

I’d have to check, but I’d be willing to bet good money that they didn’t cover Beck’s rally that way… or with that small a postage-stamp sized story box. One of the stories next to it: about how a Democrat is going to lose his Senate race.

Not that the Rally today is not somewhat political… but it certainly is no more political, and probably somewhat less political, than Beck’s rally. Watching it, I hear nothing coming from the stage that’s political. In fact, right this moment Stewart is awarding a Medal of Reasonableness to Velma Hart, the woman in the Obama town hall who took him to task and asked him incredibly tough questions.

And let’s not forget that this coverage is coming from an incredibly biased politically biased news network, so much so that they are virtually the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, even going beyond that with tea Party candidates–but which at the same time insists that they are fair, balanced, and non-political.


I will also be very interested to see the crowd estimates–that looks like a pretty darn huge crowd.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, The Lighter Side Tags:

Afraid of Journalists

September 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Especially in the 2008 elections, Fox made a pointed claim: if a Democratic politician did not grant Fox full access, or if Democrats refrained from joining a debate hosted by Fox (essentially placing themselves in the hands of a network dedicated to destroying them and giving every advantage to the other side), they were “afraid of the media” and unwilling to answer honest, straightforward questions. If the Democratic candidates didn’t appear on Fox talk shows as much as Fox wanted them to, then they were afraid to “talk to journalists.” Even when Obama gave unprecedented access to Fox, appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s show (can you imagine Bush or McCain going one-to-one with Olbermann or Maddow?), he was still “afraid to come on Fox” because he didn’t give them more chances to take swings at him live on the air.

And yet, since Sarah Palin more or less blacked out the media for the most part of the 2008 elections, it now seems to be the standard with the new brand of conservative politicians to do exactly that: block out the entire mainstream media, and only speak through Fox News. And it’s not just restricting themselves to Fox–because there are perhaps a few people even on Fox who might not be 100% sympathetic–but certain personalities on Fox. Christine O’Donnell canceled out on a Fox interview last weekend because it was Chris Wallace, who sometimes will challenge right-wingers. So instead, O’Donnell is going to appear on Hannity, who is well-known as a go-to guy for cases like this.

Even more to the point, Palin even spelled out this strategy publicly, encouraging O’Donnell to do exactly that, to “speak through Fox News” and avoid the rest of the media.

And, of course, we have not heard more than the slightest peep about candidates being “afraid of the media” or unwilling to “talk to journalists” from Fox or the other right-wing sources that shouted about Democrats being that way in 2008. Even the rest of the media is somewhat mute: Palin’s outright statement of this practice was virtually ignored by the major outlets, appearing mostly on political blogs.

Since this is now becoming a new standard for right-wing politicians, it should be pointed out more. Avoiding a “news” organization that is so biased that it would be politically damaging to put yourself in their hands is one thing. But to speak only to news sources biased in your favor is something completely different–something which I am certain right-wingers–and probably more than a few on the left–would agree with if, say, a Democratic politician only agreed to appear on TV if it was with Maddow or Olbermann on MSNBC.

There has always been an attempt to cow, maneuver, and manipulate the media, but it has been a two-sided game, with the media at least usually trying to fight back. But now the game has changed, and with it the fundamental aspects of political answerability to the public.

The press is supposed to be our bulwark against tyranny, as it is in principle unafraid to challenge politicians and speak truth to the people. Thanks to Fox, right-wing politicians now have an out: their very own “news” media arm willing to campaign for them and against their opponents. And our primary defense against tyranny crumbles.

Scared Spitless of the Media

September 17th, 2010 3 comments

Sarah Palin on how the latest whackjob Tea Partier, Christine O’Donnell, is going to have to campaign:

She’s going to have to learn very quickly to dismiss what some of her handlers want. Remember what happened to me in the VP. […]

So she’s going to have to learn that, yes, very quickly. She’s going to have to dismiss that, go with her gut, get out there, speak to the American people. Speak through FOX News and let the Independents who are tuning in to you, let them know what it is that she stands for, the principles behind her positions.

Yes, she should go the Palin route and simply avoid any media organization that will ask her questions she doesn’t want to answer. (“In what way, Charlie?”) And it’s not because Fox News is a biased source which will only empower her, ignore or dismiss her negatives, and trash her opponent. It’s because Fox is the only fair and balanced news organization out there who won’t join the liberal media campaign to unfairly malign any reasonable conservative who comes along, by asking them savagely biased “gotcha” questions like, “What newspapers do you read,” or “What are your foreign policy credentials?”

The magical powers of perspective should not be misunderestimated.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, GOP & The Election Tags:

Another One…

July 20th, 2010 11 comments

From California:

(07-18) 17:59 PDT Oakland — A 45-year-old parolee, described by his mother as angry at left-wing politicians, opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers on an Oakland freeway early Sunday and was hit by return fire while wearing body armor, authorities said. …

[Janice Williams , the man’s mother] said her son, who had been a carpenter and a cabinetmaker before his imprisonment, was angry about his unemployment and about “what’s happening to our country.”

Williams watched the news on television and was upset by “the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items,” his mother said. …

Janice Williams said she kept the guns because “eventually, I think we’re going to be caught up in a revolution.” But she said she had told her son many times that “he didn’t have to be on the front lines.”

Gee whiz, I wonder what “news” network he has been watching.

How many times do we have to see police officers shot at by right-wing loonies spurred into violence by the hysteric, crazed, wildly exaggerated extremism spouted by Fox before someone holds them responsible?

Free speech is free speech, but there is also a little thing called “incitement to violence.”

Someone remind me, during the worst days of the Bush administration, when we liberals were at our strongest fervor pitch, how many liberals snapped like this, armed to the teeth, and headed off to kill large number of people and went shooting at police officers? Because right-wingers are starting to build up the score pretty respectably on their side. Is it that liberals aren’t as predisposed to violence, or was it that the loonies on our side weren’t pushed over the edge by the “Liberal Media” as much as right wingers are today by Fox and others like them?

And, by the way, because the guy was a felon, not to mention because they won’t like the emergence of another right-wing crazed police shooter, countdown before right-wing bloggers start claiming he was really a liberal in three, two, one…

Update: According to recent news reports, Byron Williams was winding up 3 years’ probation following being released after a 6-year term for bank robbery, and has a history of violence. But the irony:

His mother, Janice Williams, said that her son, who had previously worked as a carpenter and a cabinetmaker, was angry at left-wing politicians and upset that no one would hire him because he was a parolee.

The irony, of course, is the the left-wing politicians are the sort who would pass laws making it easier for him to find a job. It’s the right wingers who tend to be more of the “throw away the key” types, and balk at anything which rings of reform or rehabilitation.

Crime and Fraud in “Climategate”–on the Part of the Accusers

July 10th, 2010 1 comment

On November 17th, someone with an IP address apparently located in Turkey hacked the servers used by the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. 160 MB of data was stolen before the breach was noticed and the server shut down. Within a few days, the stolen data was sent, via Russia (which is highly dependent upon oil and gas revenues), to groups opposed to climate change. Groups with vested interests in fossil fuels and heavily biased against the very concept of global climate change scoured the stolen emails and documents, cherry picked “random” information which, out of context, made it seem that climate change was fraudulent and the scientists who studied it were dishonest hacks, and then executed a “highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal” which the “liberal” media immediately lapped up and made a world-wide sensation.

The damage to the reputation of climate change studies is done; despite the fact that the accusations are now completely discredited and the scientists in the “scandal” cleared of any fraud or misdoing, people around the world now have the impression that climate change science is tainted by fraud. Those who disbelieved before now feel they are vindicated, many who doubted now are swayed away from the side with real evidence on its side. And everywhere there will be the stigma of mistrust, however undeserved.

And the liberal media whose agenda is supposedly to front claims like climate change? Are they covering the story of how “Climategate” itself was a fraud and a crime with anywhere near the same fervor and hype that they covered the fraudulent claims in the first place? Of course not. A few retracted, but none cleared the scientists with a fraction of the volume or intensity in which they smeared the researchers.

It is the sad fact of the nature of the media, and how it is so easily manipulated by those who have no scruples: scandals run on page one; stories about how the scandals were not scandals at all run buried in the back. Not only are they not as sexy, but the media don’t much like admitting very loudly how easily they were scammed. And so the scammers get what they wanted.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Journalism, Science Tags:

Rewriting History, Literally

May 29th, 2010 3 comments

The conservative majority on the Texas state school board is pushing through a set of changes to History and Social Studies textbooks which present a view of these subjects more in line with politicized, right-wing thinking. The school board, made up of ten Republicans and five Democrats, is dominated by a conservative Christian bloc. None on the school board are experts in the field of History or Social Sciences, and have rejected the opinions given by those who are experts in those fields. The board is not interested in making changes across the board, but instead only in fields which have a political bearing. The changes reflect a definite bias toward conservative Christian biases. Therefore, it is blindingly clear that this is not a debate over balanced education, but rather the desire to dominate the education of children with political views rather than objective information.

Should you think this is exaggeration, then consider this board member as an example:

Board member Cynthia Dunbar, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School and author of a book declaring that America’s founders created a theocratic government, opened the final board session with a prayer for “a Christian land governed by Christian principles.” She explained the ideology driving curriculum changes: “[N]o one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England … the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

Well, I’m glad the board members have no preconceived notions.

This will affect more than Texas: since so many textbooks are made for Texas’ large population, textbook publishers often apply these changes nationwide. This fact is not lost on the school board, the conservative members of which have obviously taken the cue from national conservative leaders and gone whole-hog with the now-popular out-and-out divisive wingnut strategy. That strategy is to claim a liberal bias which, if it exists, is mild, and “counter” it with such an outrageously one-sided bag of rabid right-wing polemics as to make one gag.

Among the proposed changes:

  • increased emphasis on the ideas of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis;
  • increased attention to Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich;
  • new entries on the NRA and Phyllis Schlafly, replacing removed entries on Kennedy and César Chávez;
  • requirements to study right-wing personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, but no requirements to study left-wing commentators;
  • critical analyses of “unintended consequences” of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society;
  • change in terms used–e.g., “capitalism” changed to “free enterprise,” “imperialism” where applied to the U.S. will be called “expansionism,” and references to a “democratic” society are replaced with references to a “republic”–not because of the meaning of the words, but instead because of their connections to political parties;
  • slavery de-emphasized as a factor in the causes of the Civil War;
  • “slave trade” now referred to as the “triangle trade”;
  • insertion of critical analyses of Social Security and Medicare in the context of conservative critiques;
  • increased scrutiny of the idea of separation of church and state;
  • Thomas Jefferson’s role in U.S. history to be de-emphasized, while the roles of Christian personages such as John Calvin to be more prominent;
  • lessons framing the United Nations as detrimental to U.S. sovereignty;
  • watered-down coverage of the Civil Rights movement;
  • insertion of lessons regarding causes and key organizations of the conservative movement, including the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority;
  • major political ideas examined under the paradigm of “Laws of nature and nature’s God”;
  • the image of Joe McCarthy will be cleaned up; and
  • where President Obama will be mentioned, he will be referred to, unlike all other modern presidents, by his full name–Barack Hussein Obama.

Well, these are hardly political at all, wouldn’t you agree?

All of this, of course, is supposedly to “remove the liberal bias” from existing education standards. In short, to counter what is claimed to be a perceived liberal bias, make the whole shebang blindingly conservative, knowing that the nation will tilt toward you.

Welcome to Fox Education.

Using the iPhone App Store as a Campaign Tool

May 25th, 2010 Comments off

During the 2008 election, Obama used an iPhone app to help spread his message, raise money, and generally help win him the election, as part of a much broader Internet campaign strategy. Since then, many politicians and parties have published their own apps on the App Store, left- and right-wing alike.

Ari David, the Republican challenger to Henry Waxman in California’s 30th District (Malibu, Beverly Hills, & Santa Monica), is trying to win himself some free publicity by violating Apple’s App Store policy and then crying over how he’s being denied “free speech.”

Apple’s policy on this is:

3.3.12 Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.

One may presume that Apple would rather avoid being held culpable in libel suits, or perhaps, in the same vein as keeping porn off its mobile devices, just wants as nice and calm a playground as they can manage. There is nothing at all keeping David or anyone else from publishing positive statements about their own records, but when you start smearing an opponent, Apple steps in and tells you to take it elsewhere.

Waxman claims that Apple singled out specific statements as being defamatory, and lists them. Included in the listing are allegations that Waxman “would have brought us $7 a gallon gas and … would make electricity rates ‘necessarily sky rocket.’” … “would severely hurt seniors” … “jeopardized the US and Israel” … and “TRIED TO STRANGLE family farms with insane Soviet-Style regulation.”

Yeah, that’s not defamatory.

Now, we can debate whether Apple can and/or should have such a policy, but one thing here is pretty clear: David is just using this as political fuel. Sure, maybe he was just clueless and figured that a vehement attack app would get approved. But I think it is much more likely that the entire app idea itself is a ploy to get free publicity, and make David out to be that favorite of favorites for right-wingers: the victim.

Here’s how I see it happening. At a session among his staff to see how they can get some good, free press, someone brings up the App Store policy. Political cartoonist Mark Fiore had his political cartoon app initially denied under the same policy, but after a good deal of controversy, Apple reversed itself and let it go through. Apple has a history of relenting when put under pressure. So somebody on David’s strategy team gets the idea of making an iPhone app intentionally designed to trigger the policy–enough so that it gets stopped, but not enough to look completely outrageous. When Apple inevitably rejects the app, David’s campaign goes all over the media shouting about how Apple is censoring their speech and denying them their First Amendment rights.

Right there, they have a winner: they (1) get free publicity, (2) get to play the victim, and (3) get their attacks printed free. There is zero chance that no one will listen to a story like that–at the very least, Fox will cover it, and likely other networks will follow. It’s sure to get on the local news. David’s campaign can’t lose.

They add another dimension, though: they insinuate that Apple is secretly a liberal bastion which allows Democrats to bash Republicans, but not the other way around. They try to build up an image of Apple as being populated with liberal elitists working for Democrats:

… Apple is now making an in-kind contribution to Henry Waxman by denying his competitor a modern tool for political communication. They are stifling my right to free political speech and they are carrying water for the Obama administration … Apple pulled all of their advertising from the Fox News channel … Clearly people who work at Apple are likely to be the kind of creative people who may tend to vote Democrat and hold liberal views, but this goes far beyond that. This experience with Apple clearly shows that there is a political agenda going on within the culture of the company, and business decisions are subject to Apple’s political views. … it would be interesting to see what iPhone apps Apple has approved for Democrats in which negative statements about Republicans are made, and what standard Apple has held those statements to before approval.

Never mind that Apple would reject any app with attacks like this integrated into it, Democratic or Republican. Never mind that Apple pulled its ads from Fox because Glenn Beck told people not to go to church if they heard certain words spoken there–as did dozens of other advertisers. (I guess that Geico, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, AT&T, Bank of America, General Mills, Mercedes Benz, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagon, UPS, and Radio Shack are also in on the conspiracy.) No, forget that the claims are specious and self-serving.

This goes hand-in-hand with playing the victim card–you get double the juice if you can show that you are being crushed under the heel of liberals, with Apple being transmogrified into a Silicon Valley version of the Liberal Media™.

Beyond the hopes that this story catches fire, David’s campaign undoubtedly hopes to get Apple to eventually succumb to pressure. The MSM usually caves in almost immediately when charged with being liberal, and since Apple is known to not act on such rejections until a lot of pressure is applied, the David campaign is probably hoping for the story to be out there long enough to be milked–and then the icing on the cake would be for Apple to cave and allow the app. David is trying to compound that win for himself by asserting that all of his statements are “factual” and therefore not defamatory, presumably so that if Apple succumbs to pressure and allows his app, it will appear like Apple is admitting that his statements are factual.

As for David’s final swipe that Apple probably lets Dems bash GOPers while denying right-wingers the same freedom, just do a search for “GOP,” “liberal”, “conservative,” etc. on the iPhone App Store and you’ll see that this is a baseless charge. There are a lot more right-wing apps than left-wing ones, and a lot of the right-wing ones tend to get pretty nasty–though they do not defame specific individuals within the integrated app data, the act which runs afoul of Apple’s policy.

Interestingly, try to search for “Republican” and you get a hundred apps (the limit for a search), most of them being pro-right and/or anti-left; search for “Democratic” and you get 14 apps, only a few left-wing; a search for “Democrat” scores more–88 apps–but not many are left-wing apps.

I found a few Democratic congressional campaign apps, but they were completely inoffensive. Mike Oliverio’s (D-WV) app is just a poster showing a debt clock and a link to his site. Alan Mollohan’s (also D-WV) app includes a calendar of events and a bio, but is just as inoffensive. Felton Newell has a much more sophisticated app helping him run for CA-33, a Democratic safe seat, and that app also is positive only.

Republican Chris Cox, trying out for New York’s 1st District, is a Republican; his app allows you to read a short bio, donate to his campaign, and has a little game where you catch money “leaking out of the White House”–not really hardball, but it is a negative swipe at Obama rather than a positive statement about himself. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) has an app with news and pages for volunteering and contributing (though she recently announced that she’s retiring). And Bob Latta (R-OH) has an app with mostly just links and contacts–but also a News section, in which he–guess what–attacks Democrats, accusing them of various evil-sounding misdeeds.

Those were the first three Democratic and Republican politicians I found with iPhone apps–all Dems were only positive, two of the Republicans were critical of Democrats. So much for Apple as a liberal wing of the Democratic party stifling Republicans while allow Democrats to savage right-wingers without restraint. (In fact, Al Ramirez, a Republican running for Senate in California, has his own app–and he set up residency in Ari David’s district to run for office.)

But here’s the real tell concerning Ari David: you can get political attacks into your iPhone app. Just either make the attacks general (against a party, for example), or include a News section which you can later fill with feeds of political attacks. Either that, or build a web app for the iPhone, which is not subject to Apple’s approval.

In short, David’s insinuations about Apple are patently false, right-wingers seem to be more numerous and negative in their political apps, and David could have easily have made an app which allowed him to smear Democrats and probably even Waxman–but he was either stupid, or more likely, geared his app with the intention of getting it rejected.

Again, we can debate whether Apple should have this policy at all–but whatever the outcome of that argument, Ari David is probably just another whining, conniving smear artist hoping to get his fifteen minutes.

Moving to the Right of Everyone

March 30th, 2010 5 comments

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the alarming nature of Glenn Beck–something the Post claims is even dividing those within Fox. The article, however, like most mainstream reports on Fox News, is far too timid:

By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a “cancer,” Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status that is unusual even for the network owned by Rupert Murdoch. And that, in turn, has complicated the channel’s efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization.

Really? Is the idea of Fox News being an actual “news” organization even really a question anymore? I think it’s pretty damned clear that Fox jumped the shark quite some time ago. That anyone still makes this a question is rather indicative of how weak-kneed analysts tend to be about challenging Fox’s status. A good example of this from the article:

Television analyst Andrew Tyndall calls Beck an “activist” and “comedian” whose incendiary style has created “a real crossroads for Fox News.”

“They’re right on the cusp of losing their image as a news organization,” he declares. “Do they want to be the go-to place for conservative populist ideas on television, or do they want to be a news organization? Ailes has done a good job of doing both.”

Beck Fox“A good job of being a news organization”? “Right on the cusp”? Please. Well, maybe if you look at it from the perspective of a right-winger who agrees with so much of the commentary that he sees “Obama is a communist” as news rather than opinion, perhaps. Maybe that’s what they’re referring to–that even the politically biased cheerleaders of Fox are beginning to think the network is going too far. And when the cheerleaders stop the chant and start saying, “hey, too far, man,” you know that’s too far. It’s as if Fox is convinced of its own invincibility and has just left a brick on the accelerator pedal while they climbed atop the media car with a bottle of Tequila in their hand, shouting like a banshee without any pants.

The thing that really spurred the questioning was Beck’s call for listeners to start leaving any church that advocated “social justice,” which he called “code words” for communism and Nazism. Even right-wingers started to blanch at that one. It may have been Beck’s “I’m more popular than Jesus” moment, and certainly allowed for a more mainstream boycott of Beck and his show. Already more than 200 advertisers have joined the boycott, including Apple, which, I am proud to say, has abandoned the Fox News network altogether–not an uncontroversial move considering Fox’s market share. But then, Apple is more popular than Fox.

Isn’t It Rather Obvious By Now?

January 3rd, 2010 2 comments

In the fallout from the failed crotch-bomb plot over Detroit, many have pointed out the fact that right-wingers have been particularly dishonest and hypocritical. Conservatives have been putting outright blame on Obama for the failure to catch this beforehand, whereas they blamed Clinton for the 9/11 attacks, not Bush; where Obama is to blame for an intelligence agency ignoring the father’s warning, Bush was somehow not to blame for ignoring a plethora of warning signs, several of which were delivered directly to him. Where Bush was hailed as “keeping us safe” even while the Shoe Bomber, in almost identical a fashion to the Crotch Bomber, attempted to blow up a plane to the U.S., Obama is criticized for not keeping us safe. And while Republicans excoriate the Obama administration for the lack of security, they brazenly ignore the fact that they themselves voted down more funding for airport security. Not to mention the fact that criticizing Bush on terror or security was seen as near-treasonous, while criticizing the president today is apparently not at all a problem.

I look at these criticisms and reflect on why I don’t blog on politics quite as much now: it’s all trite. Of course they’re acting like that. Of course the facts don’t matter one bit. Of course Republicans are being hypocritical, lying bags of scum; hasn’t that been all too well established? Just like it’s been established that Democratic politicians are generally weak-kneed sissies afraid of their own shadows.

The pattern is pretty simple: anything a conservative does: good; anything a liberal does: bad–even if the two acts are identical. Just claim they’re different somehow, ignore logic and consistency, blame any evidence to the contrary as an artifact of the “Liberal Media,” and there you have it. The neoconservative narrative. Throw in some social religion for further control, a few more tax cuts for the rich, disregard a few more civil liberties (while always steering clear of the control-irrelevant gun ownership), deepen the dependence on corporations, and you’re getting close to seeing the overall sheep-herding architecture of the New Conservative Society. Within that twisted framework, even Sarah Palin makes perfect sense.

Not Good News

November 29th, 2009 3 comments

One of the other reasons why I’m less enthusiastic about reporting on politics:

In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?
Party Affiliation definitely/probably not likely/not
Republican Voters 81 14
Independent Voters 65 23
Democratic Voters 56 40

This is what a looming national train wreck looks like, and seems to confirm that the Republican strategy of “screw the American people, we want to take control of this train so we can drive it off a cliff” is working beautifully. Obama and the Democrats are not helping by (a) beginning all negotiations with a compromise, (b) making it an imperative to look “bipartisan” when the Republicans both define what that means and make no effort to be bipartisan themselves, (c) not taking the Republican-style hardball stance of doing whatever it takes to get legislation through, and (d) generally wringing their hands and caving at the first sign of something going wrong. They are quite literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and even with a 60-vote supermajority (more or less), are having more trouble than any majority party I’ve ever heard of in getting anything passed. Democrats did not threaten the nuclear option when Republicans used the filibuster to obstruct, even though the Republicans did so–effectively–when the Democrats used it relatively sparingly; Democrats did not use reconciliation to get their major legislation past a potential filibuster, though Republicans did so–again, effectively–when they were in power.

On the media front, the conservative news media (let’s not play the game of “is the media librul?” when it is so blindingly obvious that it leans so notably right-wing) strategy is also working. Fox has dominated the national discourse and effectively created the neoconservative imperative: the self-serving narrative that everyone buys into.

I often wondered, “What could possibly happen which could blind the people to the egregiously vicious and idiotic insanity of the right wing and allow them to elect conservatives next year, when it is so clear that doing so will wreck any hope of recovery or future worth for the United States?”

And here we have the answer: a galvanized right wing whipped into a frenzy by the insane Becks, Bachmanns, Limbaughs, and Palins; a disheartened left wing driven to apathy by weak-kneed, ineffective Democrats; and independents robbed of a rational national discourse, pulled to the vitriol of the right or the lethargy of the left, or else left hanging in the middle with nowhere to go.

I keep hoping that Obama’s got a rabbit or two left in his hat, that the liberals and independents will rail against the vile madness of the conservatives, that the right will shrink into a tiny ball of fury unable to move elections, or that something will happen to restore sanity and allow the nation’s business to get back on track again.

Instead, we seem to be driven by the right wing’s incessant, obstructionist drive to destroy the nation in the name of regaining power, driven to charge off that cliff, waving flags and screaming “America’s Number ONE!!” at the top of our lungs as we go.

The most frightening thing is, when the right wing finds a strategy that works, it employs it even more strongly the next time. I thought we’d seen the worst the right wing could do under Reagan, when the neocons started taking over and saddled the economy with massive debt; then I thought I’d seen the worst with the relentless, eight-year smear campaign against the Clintons and the campaign to create a fictional narrative with the likes of Limbaugh and the birth of Fox News; then I thought I’d seen the worst with Bush & Cheney after 9/11, when the real national self-destruction got under full steam; but now we have a right-wing which is doing crap which frankly leaves me speechless. This is not a once-only thing, this is a trend. And it scares the living shit out of me to consider what’s next.

The Fox Standard

November 14th, 2009 Comments off

Remember when faking a news story meant that a journalist was forever shamed, stripped of any credibility, and banned from the business? Photographers who staged or otherwise faked images were fired. And such fakers still are held accountable, in some media establishments.

But not Fox.

I blogged on part of this story earlier, but there’s much more now.

Last week, Sean Hannity aired a segment on a rally held by Michelle Bachmann, one which drew only a few thousand people. Right-wingers have been trying to exaggerate those figures for a while so they can claim a larger following. Their lowball estimates start at 20,000, going up to 45,000. The fact is, however, photos taken of the event (see right) show no more than a few thousand people–4,000, at most.

Hannity showed footage of the actual event, but then spliced in footage from a different, much bigger rally held earlier this year–the “9/12” rally, which had maybe one or two hundred thousand people in attendance. This gave the impression of a much larger rally. Fake journalism, intended to create a false impression that a political cause was much more popular than it actually was.

It took Jon Stewart and The Daily Show to find it, and three days ago, he aired this:

A big question is, why did it take Jon Stewart to find it? Does the media at large blithely accepts Fox’s standard of faking or generating stories? Or are they simply scared into not reporting on Fox, knowing that Fox will label them as “liberal media” and accuse them of trying to “silence journalists”? Or, perhaps, they’re just lazy and believe what they see and hear.

Having been caught so blatantly distorting the news, Hannity “apologized”:

As you can see, Hannity didn’t take it seriously. One could kindly term that delivery as “tongue in cheek,” but certainly not “sincere,” “apologetic,” or “grave.” For Hannity, it was nothing more than a “gotcha.”

A couple of points, however. First of all, this was not a “gotcha.” Well, it was for Stewart, from a comedic standpoint. But this is not something that an actual news channel would let by with a smarmy, self-serving apology like that. It’s not a “whoopsie!” and just forget-about-it kind of event. This is faking news. Actual news channels would mete out severe punishments for something like this.

Second, Hannity was clearly lying when he said it was an “inadvertent mistake.” “Inadvertent” means “unknowing,” or “unintentional,” and that’s obviously not what happened. Now, if Hannity was also airing a piece on the 9/12 march, with that footage lined up, and when it came to Bachmann’s rally, a technician accidentally aired that footage instead of the Bachmann footage, well, that would be “inadvertent.”

However, that’s not what happened. The 9/12 footage was interspliced with the new footage–meaning that it was not a slip-up. You cannot “accidentally” send someone to the video archives, “unknowingly” take specific footage and “unintentionally” splice it into footage of another story which just “by chance” happens to segue so smoothly that most people will take it to be the same story.

It was no accident, and Hannity lied outright when he made that claim. [Update: a letter from a television professional to Andrew Sullivan explains in much better detail.]

Tds-Fox MottoAnd finally, as Stewart himself later noted, Hannity should not be apologizing to Stewart. A real news network would take this all very seriously, and apologize to its viewers for having let them down.

But, of course, that would be in the context of an actual news organization. And Fox has different standards–which is why Hannity’s statement was so snarky in nature. Fox never intends to air straight news, their intent is to color it, to create an altered reality to be sold to its willing viewers as a preconceived narrative (see Stewart’s truth-in-advertising motto at right). The people who watch Fox and believe what they see want to be lied to. Which is why Hannity did not apologize to his watchers–because there was no standard of journalistic integrity to be violated, no trust that was betrayed. Instead, it was all a joke–“Okay, ya’ got me! Ha ha!” And then on to the next lie.

But there is one more irony to note. In order to inflate the crowd number estimates for the Bachmann rally, Hannity slipped in clips from the much larger 9/12 rally.

But when the 9/12 rally was being exaggerated by right-wingers, a photo from an older rally still (a Promise Keepers’ rally from 1997) was slipped in to make that rally seem bigger.

So to make Bachmann’s rally seem larger than it was, Hannity showed fake footage from an older rally which itself depended upon fake images from another rally to inflate its size. A fake piled on top of a fake.

That’s what passes for “news” in right-wing America these days.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

The First Amendment

October 31st, 2009 Comments off

Conservatives are insisting that Obama is crushing the First Amendment by treating Fox News for what it is, namely, a partisan, right-wing propaganda machine. They’re hypocritical idiots, of course.

Back in the real world, things are a bit different. In fact, with a new journalistic shield law, Obama is moving to protect First Amendment rights far more assiduously than Bush ever did–more, in fact, than conservatives would like. But this was never about actual First Amendment rights; it was about abusing journalism and twisting it into a political tool, they trying to hide behind the First Amendment.

Just to get it straight: the First Amendment protects the individual’s right to speak freely, and protects the press from government interference or intimidation. It does not, as Carrie Prejean seems to think, shield you from being criticized when you say something stupid. And it does not mean, as most conservatives seem to think, that you can pretend a propaganda machine is an objective news outfit and be “protected” from others telling the truth. Nor does it mean that you can bully the White House into giving that propaganda machine the same access as actual journalists.

Stewart, As Always, Is Delicious

October 31st, 2009 Comments off

Jon Stewart tweaks both Fox and a less-than-articulate Obama official. As always, he uses archive footage to show how the conservative side is lying their asses off, and uses nothing but his scathing wit to admonish the Dems for being so lame. Enjoy.

The Straw-Man Equivalency Justification

October 30th, 2009 1 comment

The common meme that is being pushed by much of the media today is that MSNBC is as liberal as Fox is conservative. This is being pushed especially by Fox News in its fight to counter the obvious fact that they are a Republican Party offshoot, as contended by the White House. The idea is that if another network can be shown to have a liberal tilt, then that somehow justifies everything that Fox does.

If you have been paying attention, this is not the first time that the argument has come up–but in the last few years, MSNBC has served nicely as the false counterweight. If you’ll recall, before Olbermann came to prominence, it was not MSNBC, but CBS that was supposed to be the equivalent.

There are striking similarities in Fox using the two networks as a false equivalent, the main one being that the equivalencies are entirely false. CBS was more striking, however. Why was CBS supposed to be liberal? Well, it was because of Dan Rather, of course! That flaming liberal!

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “Yes, Fox is right-wing, but look at Dan Rather and CBS.” I have heard individuals say it a lot, and before Olbermann’s ratings took off, you could hear right-wingers say it all the time. Hell, even on one episode of Boston Legal, an otherwise very liberal show, the character of Alan Shore used the equivalency. It became so common and unchallenged an idea that liberals even accepted and repeated the idea.

But was it true? Of course not. Not only was Rather not the entirety of CBS programming, there were only a small handful of incidences over the span of his 24 years as news anchor which could call his objectivity into question–and a few even suggested he leaned to the right. What was called liberal bias was usually little more than a willingness to challenge political leaders when the opportunity arose, mixed with a few cases of poor judgment. Rather became the CBS News anchor in 1981 and left in 2005, meaning that for the majority of his time as anchor, there were Republicans in office. But when Clinton was president, Rather did not hold back from reporting on Clinton’s scandals any more than he did with either Bush or Reagan; even though Rather admitted to hating the Lewinsky story, he nonetheless reported on it just as much as anyone else. When the Iraq War began, Rather was particularly uncritical and in fact was an ardent supporter–something he admitted regretting later on.

The primary example of his ‘bias’ was the Bush National Guard story. The irony is, there is a list as long as your arm of strong, verifiable evidence proving that the Guard story was 100% true–Dan Rather, in what was a gift to Bush, simply went after the one piece of faked evidence because it was so alluring. While there is no evidence that Rather wouldn’t have done the same were the target a Democrat, let’s assume for the moment that this one story showed liberal bias. Does this make Dan Rather the equivalent of Fox News? When Fox has spent pretty much every hour of every day for the past 13 years on a non-stop tirade of unprecedented proportions?

Holding MSNBC up as an equivalent to Fox is just as faulty, although it is a lot easier to do. With a talk-show lineup mostly ranging from former Democrats to outright liberal firebrands, MSNBC would certainly seem to fit the bill. However, there are substantive differences. The first comes in foundations and primary motivators: while Fox News was wholly contrived as a means of advancing a conservative political agenda, MSNBC was not created to supply a left-wing agenda.

While Fox News has always been stridently right-wing, MSNBC has not always been left-leaning–in fact, a decade ago, MSNBC was noticeably right-wing in its lineup. When launched in 1996, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham hosted an MSNBC show called “The Contributors”; from 1999, Oliver North co-hosted one of their shows; Pat Buchanan had a show on the network in 2002-2003; and Joe Scarborough has been an MSNBC regular since 2003. While the network hired Matthews and Olbermann in 2003, it did not really begin to go more left-wing than right-wing until Olbermann proved a ratings success, after which they acquired Maddow and Schultz. In short, the reason why MSNBC tilts left is not because that’s its mission, it’s because that’s where its ratings have led it.

And finally, the bias at Fox is all-encompassing, and bleeds into everything it does, from the text in the “ticker” bar at the bottom of the screen to the reporting of the main news anchors. The former “straight news” anchor Brit Hume constantly exhibited bias. One good case in point was his cheerleading for Bush’s failed initiative to privatize Social Security. In one broadcast, Hume went so far as to make the claim that FDR never meant for Social Security to be permanent, but instead intended it to be privatized. As evidence, he “quoted” FDR–completely out of context. Not only that, but he did so in a way that was impossible as an error; Hume could not have chosen the out-of-context quotes unless he specifically intended to twist the meaning. Even if you believe that this was handed to him and excuse his ‘overlooking’ the error, it is hard to excuse bias when one considers that he left his news post to become Bush’s press secretary. On MSNBC, on the other hand, the bias of some of its talk-show hosts does not bleed in to its straight reporting, as to be expected from a news network which is not driven by an ideology.

The fact is, if MSNBC didn’t exist, the right-wingers would simply invent it. If not MSNBC, then CNN would be called “liberal.” And if not CNN, then CBS. And if not CBS, then anyone else who was handy. Not because there is a liberal tilt, but simply because they want to point to someone or something as a counterweight, a false equivalency so they can say, “See? There’s a liberal network out there, so our right-wing bias is excusable or even justified.” Or, more commonly, to make the outrageous claim that Fox is actually “fair and balanced,” and the liberal-scapegoat-of-the-day is evidence that the rest of the media is left-wing.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

NYT Article Exemplifies What’s Wrong with the Media

September 3rd, 2009 1 comment

This NYT article lead-in is horribly written:

Conservatives See Need for Serious Health Debate

Published: September 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — The roiling debate over health care this summer has included a host of accusations from opponents of the plan that have been so specious that many in the mainstream news media have flatly labeled them false.

First of all, the headline: “Conservatives See Need for Serious Health Debate”? Are you freaking kidding me? That’s the last thing that most conservatives “see” or want. It’s what high-level conservatives claim, which would be a more honest way of expressing it, but it’s is most decidedly not even close to what they actually want. More to the point, the article is not actually talking about conservatives in general, but instead a small minority of health care experts on the right–which shows up the headline as starkly misleading.

The next problem: the first paragraph, shown above. It seems reasonable until you catch on to the fact that it is a subtle understatement as to how reluctant the media is to speak the truth about conservative dishonesty. It plainly implies that the media will not report that Republicans are lying unless the lies are so egregious that they cannot help but call them for what they are. And even then, stark lies are, at worst, sometimes timidly referred to as “false,” as if they are too fearful of pointing out any of the blazingly obvious intent to deceive.

While the article in general leads into a serious discussion on health care reform, the thesis that conservatives are somehow the responsible party when it comes to talking about health care is so outrageously misrepresented that it isn’t even funny. Sure, I don’t doubt for a moment that there are some prominent conservative health care experts who would prefer to have an honest debate. But that’s not what the article’s introduction suggests, nor does it obviate the fact that you have to go pretty damn far down the conservative line before you get to these relative voices of reason.