the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

Archive for the ‘the msm blows’ Category

RANT: Cable News

In RANT, the msm blows on October 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm

As elections approach, the best thing you can do is turn off your TV.

All forms of news media, perhaps most notably television, have a strong incentive to convince Americans that We are the beating heart of a healthy public discourse. CNN has “YOU DECIDE” plastered to its ads, Time magazine named “You” as the person of the year in 2008, Fox News relies on instant text polls when it’s not directly taking calls from Real Americans. In this You Decide narrative, the town hall health care meetings of last summer are held up as the pinnacle of Participatory Democracy.

But individual voices didn’t emerge from the clangor of those meetings—unique anecdotes of suffering un/underinsured Americans were repeated so often they became meta-narratives. And the “You” foregrounded by Time or CNN has been similarly conflated to the point where living people become talking points. This is not the golden age of participatory democracy: the Citizens United case confirmed what the downturn of 2008 proved—corporate “free speech” (ie, profits) will be maintained even if their protection inflicts human suffering; anti-war positions are quickly denounced by both political parties as un-patriotic. We (small “w”) are the sclerotic heart within a sickly public discourse.

While most discussions of about the capital-P Public center on entitlements—our country’s system of shaky-at-best “safety nets”—these debates quickly become emotional exchanges, untethered to reason, logic, etc. Nazis are usually mentioned, Sarah Palin tweets nonsense, shouting ensues. It’s not very productive. But I think—or, at least, I really want to believe—that we can have important, human discussions about what the public discourse, and the media’s inevitable involvement  in this discourse, should look like.

How should politicians receive input from their constituents? What percentage of cable news programming should cover international events? What role should advocacy groups or lobbyists play in developing new laws? How can we combat still-continuing disenfranchisement of minority groups? What role should physicians or health insurance companies play in the development of health care legislation? Does the world really need Wolf Blitzer? –these questions (excluding the last) are critical because their answers reposition the collective consciousness on the process of democracy and away from its current obsession with defining American-ness, Freedom, and other proper nouns made vacant of meaning from overuse.

The fallacy of the “You Decide” media is its reactive nature. At no time are outside individuals dictating what news is presented or prioritized by the Fox News’s of the world—we can only respond to their narrative, which serves only to reinforce the media’s obsession with a stark (and false, constructed) polarity of arguments.


This is Not Yellow Journalism. It is Good Journalism.

In the msm blows on May 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm

The Guardian‘s coverage of the Israeli commando attack on an aid ship off of Gaza:

Meanwhile, the Times and the Post both use a form of the word “condemnation” in their leader. Like Israel was a child who simply misbehaved.

Maybe it’s still too early to slap a definitive label on the actions of the Israeli navy—there’s a lot we don’t know about last night’s raid. But the Guardian is not passively accepting the narrative fed to them (note the accompanying story “Israeli publicity machine cranks into gear,” and the emphasis on video evidence). And they’re not afraid to use the word “Terrorism” in describing the actions of a non-Muslim, internationally recognized state.

The editors are also discarding with the classic victim-aggressor dichotomy that much of the American press feels obliged to propagate when discussing all conflicts involving Israel. This tragedy, the lives lost, cannot be redeemed by such clearheadedness, but a press that demands a return to reality from the disturbingly dogmatic Israeli leadership can certainly prevent future and deeper wounds.

Recent Triumphs in Journalism

In the msm blows on March 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Today, the SF Chronicle web editors choose as their top 3 headlines the following:

1) Escalators stalling at a city subway stop

2) A wolverine humping a tree because he can’t find a mate

3) Lindsay Lohan being an idiot

Stellar work, Chronicle—you remain a paragon of journalistic integrity.

this week in shitty news reportage

In the msm blows on July 19, 2009 at 12:06 pm

reading the top 10 (or 5) “news” stories on the websites of u.s. papers is illustrative these days of the general worthlessness of traditional current events outlets. a sample:


Ahh… the wall street journal. their calculus is almost beautiful in its infantile simplicity: puff piece with fake gravitas + glenn beck as your editorials’ ghost writer + karl rove and john yoo as guest columnists = news that’s as fair and balanced as your spawn of murdoch conjoined twin fox news.


The new york times… let’s see: witty columnists? check. front page article on driving while texting? check. actual news? it’s somewhere in here… wait—does “news analysis” count? oh, i have to go to the “global edition” for that?


The SF Chronicle. A story of someone self-described as a “total idiot” wandering aimlessly through life… reminds me of a certain profession.


The Washington Post… okay, so besides the pet obsession and unhealthy nostalgia for the days of nixon, they actually do their job (sort of). just stay away from the editorial page (where a certain not-a-dead-fish alaskan governor was a recent contributor). which is still not as bad as:

Picture 7

Columbus’ Dispatch, the “voice of ohio”. umm…yeah.

cable news ≠ journalism

In the msm blows on June 16, 2009 at 8:56 am

by channel:

CNNInitiation of my spiral of disillusionment? mumbai bombings (thanksgiving ’08), when “the situation room” and wolf decided to run live footage of the burning raj hotel instead of, you know, talking to people on the street, reporting on the dozens dead at the downtown railway station, etc. Nail in the coffin? Their non-coverage of the iranian elections/riots this weekend. Hope? Anderson Cooper still knows how to talk to people. Chances that I willingly watch them again? 5% (on the rare chance Jon Stewart appears on crossfire)

FOX: Initiation of my spiral of disillusionment? When Bill O’Reilly opened his mouth. Nail in the Coffin? Simultaneous. Hope? Shep Smith standing up against the hate O’Reilly stirs up. Chances that I willingly watch them again? 10% (if i need to shout at an inanimate object for awhile)

MSNBC: Initiation of my spiral of disillusionment? Olbermann tries to do the Edward R. Murrow look-into-the-camera-thing and ends up sounding like this . Nail in the Coffin? Scarborough doesn’t get the joke. Again, non-coverage of Iran. Hope? Rachel Maddow and tea-bagging jokes. Chances that I willingly watch them again? 10%