Category Archives: Media failures

Greenwald, Scahill and Flanders on the modern media

This is an extraordinary discussion.  Don’t miss it.  God knows how many arguments I have had with other leftie/liberal types on the accuracy and credibility of Noam Chomsky’s analysis of modern media as handmaiden to the powerful and wealthy but it has been many more than it ought to have been.  These three very bright people get it.




Though there are some good staff at Politico now, it is a site which I purposefully avoid and which I have commonly recommended that others avoid too.  As I’ve written earlier, its business model is not “dig in and report on Washington for the sake of citizens’ increased knowledge and understanding” but rather a model that can be more correctly stated as “let’s make money”.   Josh Marshall at TPM notes:


You may have seen that there’s a new meme afoot in the news world which has it that the mainstream media either ignores or is insufficiently ‘in touch’ with the right wing noise machine of Fox, Drudge, Glenn Beck, etc. What’s notable however is that the idea seems to be emanating from the folks at Politicowhose founders’ theory of the media is that its narratives are largely defined by Matt Drudge and who used Drudge as the key vector to build their national audience. I’m not sure how these two facts compute.

Chuck Todd, media celebrities, priviledge and the degradation of news operations

I was going to post an exchange between Jeremy Scahill (auther of the extremely well-researched and well-written book on Blackwater) and MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on the Bill Mahrer show last week but opted to go make some money rather than write sentences few will read (I’m working on prudence).

But Glenn Greenwald this morning related a message he got from Scahill of a conversation between Todd and Scahill that occurred immediately after and it is so representative of a serious problem with modern cable “journalism” that I thought it ought to be here.

You can see a bit of the Mahrer exchange  here (apparently, youtube pulled the full piece, apparently on a complaint from HBO?).

So, Scahill takes Todd to task on the show for shoddy journalistic standards and performance.   And after the show, Scahill recounts this exchange:

Right as we walked off stage, he said to me “that was a cheap shot.” I said “what are you talking about?” and he said “you know it.” I then said that I monitor msm coverage very closely and asked him what was not true that I said on the show. He then replied: “that’s not the point. You sullied my reputation on TV.”

Medical insurance PR exec turns whistleblower

If you haven’t seen this, attend.  An insider lays out how the medical insurance industry operates its PR divisions in order to paint a benevolent and caring picture of themselves while covertly spending multi-millions to obstruct and thwart any change to the status quo which might do damage to their bottom line.

And Potter on CNN… watch here

Income inequality trend – what matches it?

Paul Krugman (and others) have noted recent income inequality figures from  Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley.    Here is the historical perspective graphed…

Two major trends are immediately evident – downwards from the 20s and then upwards from the the mid-70s.  We know what brought the trend down from “the guilded age” but what brought it back up?

I’ve previously noted here Lewis Lapham’s essay “The Tentacles of Rage”. What Lapham describes in this essay matches yjod rise and does so far better than any particular individual or party holding the Presidency or the inititation of any particular policy or the establishment of or dismantling of any particular institution related to governance in the US.

Further, one can see quite clearly how what Lapham describes is presently in full bloom in the broad campaign underway to kill healthcare reform in the US and to bring down a President who likely will, if he is able, move the country back towards the sorts of regulations and perspectives which caused or facilitated the downward trend mentioned above.

I encourage everyone to read the essay with care and with attention to the correspondences between the timeline demonstrated in the graph and the correspondences between the thesis Lapham advances with what we have all experienced since the mid 70s and are still experiencing now.

The dictatorial conception of leadership

Barton Gellman writes a rather hagiographic piece (functionally, if not by intent) on Dick Cheney in the Washington Post this morning. In that sense, it is pretty typical of the majority of mainstream press coverage of the man and his tenure as VP and isn’t of much value.

But there are a couple of passages which, if one assumes they are accurate portrayals (and I do assume that), reveal a mindset that is distinctly authoritarian or dictatorial as regards how government ought to operate and how it ought to stand in relationship to citizens.

He’d [President Bush] showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming. It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory.”

…But there is a sting in Cheney’s critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end.

These notions do not reflect what we normally consider ought to be the relationship a leader of a representative democracy imagines ideal between himself/herself and the citizens who placed him in office.  Rather, they are notions that we would imagine to reside in someone who is interested only in gaining or maintaining power and which he might then wield with zero regard for the popular will and with absolutely no sense of a responsibility to be honest or forthright or accountable to the citizens.

From such an “understanding” of the proper role of a leader, it is immediately obvious that propaganda operations will define or mandate all communications between that leader and the citizens of such a state, of the press, of Congress and of the courts.  Secrecy, pervasive stone-walling, purposeful deceits and obstruction of Justice Department or other investigations will mark how such a leader will operate.

Haley Barbour – Today’s lying liar and another typical media failure

Barbour is clearly weighing a run for the Presidency. Tim Pawlenty likewise (who has a looming problem as governor of Minnesota where, given the expected Minn Supreme Court decision on Frankin/Coleman, he will either have to certify Frankin or refuse to and send that case on to the federal SC, either way making powerful enemies). On the matter of Mark Sanford and Ensign (family values conservatives who just got busted for humping women other than their christian helpmeets), Pawlenty has described the two, accurately, as “hypocritical”. Haley Barbour, on the other hand, refused to make a moral or ethical indictment against Sanford saying,

“I just don’t talk about people’s personal problems. I don’t think it’s appropriate, I don’t think it’s polite, and I don’t think it achieves any purpose,”

Right.  A man of admirable principle.  But as Kos notes (with video footage), in 98 Barbour’s principles pointed in a quite different direction.

And now we have this president who treated Monica Lewinsky in such a way that it makes prostitution look dignified and ennobling. I mean, he made her a sex toy, a sex object. And now what do these women say? That it doesn’t make any difference?
The American people hear that with a voice louder than a bolt of lightning and thunder when these same people never say one word about the way that this young woman was treated, when they’ve spent their whole careers complaining about it when it was the president of a company or a Republican Senator or a possible judge? The public sees through that like nothing you ever saw.

Journalism as stenography.  I mean, for fuck sakes.  Do some research prior to your show.