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It's been more than a year now since Andrew Keen's indictment of the Internet in The Cult of the Amateur. According to Keen, the sad result of recent trends in how information is circulated has been the deterioration of authoritative sources and uncertainty over the relative importance of stories. I completely agree.

Where I disagree is the source of this rising cloud of confusion.  It's not the blogs that have caused faith in the media to decline.  It's not Wikipedia which has led to a diminished respect for facts and research.  The fault doesn't lie with the amateurs.  It's squarely in the court of the professionals.

By this I don't mean to engage in a "Judy Miller Attack," placing the blame on those who gather and report the news.  Keen is quite correct to point out that many -- most -- reporters are both knowledgeable about their subject areas and courageous in their efforts to gather information.  As someone who never held a reporting position higher than $5-a-story stringer to a small town weekly, I feel both awe and gratitude for the people who place their careers and bodies in harm's way to see that I get news from halfway around the world. There are a few bad apples (and sour Picklers) in the barrel, but most reporters are in fact both capable and objective.

That's not enough.  Keen's attempts to defend the traditional media by stating that reporters are good is like trying to sell a Yugo by boasting of its high-quality tires.  

The media -- newspapers, radio, and television -- is not made up of reporters running on a sparkling field of journalistic integrity.  Those reporters are instead embedded in a machine intended to do the one thing that Mr. Keen sets as the mark of professionalism -- make money.  And the way the media has chosen to make money over the last few decades is, perversely, by devaluing their own product.  The clearest illustration of this can be found in three massive changes that have affected news over the last two decades: the increase in radio pundits, the establishment of the Fox News Network, and the reaction of the remainder of the media to the first two events.

The idea of folks who jabber about politics on the radio certainly isn't new, neither is the ad-mix of news, gossip, advertising, and opinion.  Paul Harvey carried on this way for over seven decades, and acted as a bridge to even earlier practitioners.  Harvey, like his predecessors, mingled ugly disdain for liberals and selectively distorted newscasts amongst his folksy product pitches, helping to lay the groundwork for the Limbaughs and Savages to come.  The critical difference between the newcomers and what's always been there is little more than a switch in balance between the amount of vinegar added to the honey.

But the right wing talk brigade doesn't exist just to build up their own or tear down Democrats. They have, from the moment they first rolled onto the air, existed to tell you that traditional news organizations are no good.  The Washington Post?  Inside the beltway losers out of touch with real America.  CNN?  The Clinton News Network.  The New York Times?  Please.  Do you really have to ask?

Punditry has always aimed as much artillery at the people who deliver the news as it does at those who make it.  There's a very good reason for this.  Before you can convince someone of a lie, you need to make it more difficult for them to check your information.  If you establish from the start that NPR is communist, MSNBC and CNN are slanted, and every newspaper this side of Journal's editorial page should be printed on pink paper, then any exaggeration you deliver becomes the de facto standard.  Impugning the validity of other news sources is the first job of a successful pundit.  They don't seek to be your sources of information by passing along reliable news.  They do so by constantly assailing the legitimacy of other sources until you're left shaking your head at the absolute ignorance of everyone but Rush/Bill/Sean/Ann.

The same principles apply to an even greater degree for Fox News.  Yes, the network exists to promulgate a rigidly conservative agenda, but it can't do that without first informing you that every other source of news is invalid.  Fox doesn't compete with the other networks, it sneers at them. From its motto to its non-existent boundaries between opinion and reporting, Fox exists by being an instrument of destruction to other news providers.  Why do those who watch Fox News continue to believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11 despite that idea having been disproved over, and over, and over?  Because Fox tells them to.  Because Fox's pundits repeat the lie.  Because Fox has convinced them that no other source of fact exists.

Fox News Network alone has done more to devalue the whole idea of news than every supermarket tabloid, every radio ranter, and every blogger combined.

If both the institutions at blame are heavily weighted to the right, that's no coincidence.  Conservative dogma has long held the idea that it must discredit the press by claiming that the Fourth Estate is in fact a Fifth Column.  They have depended on their ability to defame factual sources as a means of easing the way for misinformation since well before the time of Joe McCarthy.  The right has successfully extended this campaign into the realm of science, convincing people that both evolution and global warming are somehow "political issues," deserving of no more attention than alternatives despite reams of evidence.  

The myth of the "liberal media" came long before the blogs. Discrediting the "nattering nabobs" of the press is not a game that originated with bloggers.  Every blogger I know is fully aware that we could not survive without the legwork done by hardworking, professional reporters.  Bloggers are not competition to the traditional media -- though they do, hopefully, act as an occasional check on its excesses.  However, even if the Internet were entirely dedicated to the downfall of existing media, it would be only one popgun in a chorus of cannons.  A large part of the traditional media is dedicated to nothing less than making war on the rest.

Suffering the wounds from that war, the media might have chosen to hold to strict standards and fought back by dissecting the falsehoods being directed against good reporting.  Instead, that job has been left, almost without exception, to the very bloggers Keen blames as the cause.  The reaction of the traditional media was quite different.  

In response to the assault from less factual sources, media both accelerated the already existing trend toward mingling news and entertainment and -- in the most twisted move imaginable -- sought to imitate the mudslingers.  They joined the war not by upholding their standards, but by dismissing them.  And again, they did so for the reason that Keen indicates as the break between amateur and professional: the perception that there was more money to be made on the less truthful side of the aisle.

Rather than fight back against patently nonsensical claims of bias by professional vomiters like Hannity and O'Reilly, the other networks responded by filling their ranks with Becks and Buchanans.  Dazzled by Fox's growing ratings, the other broadcasters became quislings to their own cause, confirming the idea that they were less than reliable by becoming less reliable.

At the same time, both networks and newspapers devoted increasingly fewer resources to "hard news," and turned more dollars toward entertainment features.  The drive to do so affects everyone from the no-longer-so-Gray Lady and the freshly perk-ified Tiffany Network to the 24 hour cable shouting festivals.  As time goes on, they've increasingly broken the barriers between the news and entertainment, a fact reflected in the ever-thickening fashion sections of papers, the mainstreaming of trash like the New York Post and Washington Times, and the unweighted transition from war news to visiting pop-stars in the midst of news broadcasts.

In interviews, Keen has often attempted to dismiss the value of Wikipedia by pointing out that the entry for "truthiness" is nearly as long as the entry for "truth" itself.  Why not apply the same standard to every network that expended more hours on Natalie Holloway than it did on topics with far more impact on American lives and futures?  Which gets more attention in professional media, birth defects or Brittany?  What gets promoted about the candidates, their energy plans, or their preference in beverages?

Keen's contention that the fault of the failing media lies with the amateurs is attractive to those claiming a paycheck to distribute information.  It's a theory that's certainly given him plenty of air time and lots of approving nods.  But the truth is, the "Web 2.0 movement" that he wants to blame is a bystander in this fight.

The media is working very, very hard to make sure that you don't trust the media.  Professionalism defined only by dollars dictates that they chase declining ad revenues through alleys of filth.  News outlets have become devoted not to providing stories that are timely and accurate, but to providing proof that their competitors are slanted and unreliable. It's devolved into a battle in which all sides lose.  And the biggest loser is the consumer looking for a reliable, authoritative source of information.

But it's certainly nice that Keen has given them somewhere to place the blame while they pick each other apart.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:01 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Absolutely brilliant insite (20+ / 0-)

    If only youd been on the FP posting this years ago when any suggestion that the media was corrupt and incompetant was met with loud screams of protest.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

    by cdreid on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:12:33 AM PDT

    •  Who was protesting? (6+ / 0-)

      "No! Ne'er was mingled such a draught In palace, hall or arbor, As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed, That night in Boston Harbor" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

      by Boston to Salem on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:15:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Corrupt, incompetent, and/or simply afraid. (16+ / 0-)

      Intimidated.

      The CNN folks discovered evidence of American use of chemicals in Laos and western Vietnam. Look what happened to them.

      9/11 attacks also happened.

      Still, no mention whatsoever with any feature article in any major American publication that the 9/11 attack mirrored exactly the "Afghansi" suicide-hijacking scheme carried out December 24th, 1994, agianst Air France Flight 8969. Four of Usama bin Laden's veterans carried it out on behalf of an Algerian Islamicist organization.

      No mention whatsoever in the corporate press.

      FAA sent a team to France. The FBI participated. The French announce that "the Afghan War has turned West." The French changed cockpit security and ICAO warned all not to allow turnover of airliners to terrorists.

      FAA changed nothing -- uniquely.

      The one and only major American coverage: CBS's 60 minutes. Once.

      That silence is only from fear. Only from intimidation. The threat, as with the chemical warfare story, that if a reporter or publication offends the powers that control American government, they will be destroyed professionally.

      Dixie Chicks, Amy Winehouse, Imus, and Rev. Wright. Overcome our evil with good.

      by vets74 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:38:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read this: 'The Terrorist Within' (0+ / 0-)

        here
        the Seattle Times excellent series, in it's way, a continuation of the Flight 8969 story. What is similiar is the complacency of the Canadian and US security apparatus. Except for the alertness of Customs inspector Diana Dean we wouldn't have found out a lot of what is now known.
         Dozens, maybe hundreds owe her their thanks for their lives.

    •  Beyond Corruption (18+ / 0-)

      Calling it corruption suggests that it is an individual moral failing rather than a structural feature.

      The logic of degraded news coverage is the logic of capitalism. The "product" of the media here is NOT the news. It is consumer eyeballs which are sold advertisers. We are the product that is for sale.  The news (and all other programming) is nothing more than bait used to attract us to view advertising. The more crass and insulting to our intelligence they can make things without actually driving us to turn off the tube the more elevated the advertising seems. They don't care if we mutter and scream at Tweety and Dobbs so long as we sit back and absorb the soothing sales pitches for personal financial planning services, sleep aids and SUVs.

      Sick of candidate diaries? Kasama!
      "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories" -- Amilcar Cabral

      by Christopher Day on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:45:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bait for viewing advertisers (7+ / 0-)

        You hit the nail on the head.  As a member of a journalist family, I am always surprised that most people, well informed people, do not realize that newspapers, radio and TV are businesses just like GM or WalMart, make their money off advertising not subscriptions and answer to the powerful in the community, not the public.

        It has always been this way.  So long as people buy the products, it will remain so.  The form of the product may change (print media to TV, for example), but the business model won't.

        •  but in order to sell advertising (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cdreid, Pescadero Bill, lotlizard, redtex

          you have to offer a certain audience. How many people have cancelled print medea subscriptions, dumped their cable, and don't use their TV except to watch DVDs?

          That describes our family. If you want to reach us with advertising, you're going to have to go online.

        •  well, I'm certainly not buying ED drugs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cdreid, redtex

          and it seems like 1/3 of the ads when I'm watching MSNBC are for those

        •  It hasn't always been like this... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Devilstower

          And that's the real problem, as Devilstower hits at the beginning.  News has now become about making money, and the news business, when done properly, is really a money-losing proposition.  

          When there were only 3 TV stations, the news divisions were money losers, subsidized by the entertainment branches of the networks to bring viewers and "legitimacy" to their broadcast door.  Newspapers survived on classifieds and advertising, but they were the only source of information available to the masses.  Now it can all be found for "free" on cable TV and the internet, and in so many forms that the competition is cannibalistic.

          As soon as news was expected to COMPETE with entertainment, it had no choice but to become entertainment.  And that's where it all began falling apart.  

          Progress truly is a paradox.

          She has every right...but no good reason.

          by mralex1974 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:11:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But newspaper circulation has been declining (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          redtex

          brutally and drastically - for years - and this can't be blamed all on the internet at all.

          It's been decades since there were multiple editions of newspapers, morning/noon/night, long before the internet - and those were published back when because there was demand for them, because they were more content than fluff. But it's been decades - again, since way before the internet - that people have been complaining that the mainstream media (news and TV) is all pointless fluff, and not worth watching.

          Small and indy newspapers, however, the ones that choose to focus on quality of / relevance of content, and not regard it as "fill", have been doing pretty well. I wonder why that is?

          The big money men have consistently over many generations shown themselves to be consistently blind - and therefore blindsided - when it comes to what people want, and only the fact that they have gobs of money to burn is what has allwoed them to get away with it for so long until they can no longer float their sinking ships. Just look at Detroit, frex...

          "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

          by bellatrys on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 10:07:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm always curious as to how much BOTOX (0+ / 0-)

        they sell, to be able to afford to put so many ads on during the prime morning news shows. And how many people really do suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, anyway? I used to be able to understand how you can sell a lot of cars or Cheerios to pay for the ads you run, but some of these products just don't look like they have huge markets. I decided that there is something else at work, in cases like this. I don't know what it is, but they're sure not about making a profit on these products...

    •  You're just wrong (4+ / 0-)

      I've been on this site since 2004 and the incompetence of the media has been a topic the whole time I have been here.  You may be right about the problem with the media as a whole with the general public but not with people at this site.

      McCain: Less jobs, more war.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:37:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the consumer (6+ / 0-)

    Blame the consumer--the reader.  Many Americans have always been bigoted and anti-intellectual, now they have found a home.  The surprise is how many fit that description.  If there were more loberal enlightened Americans, FOX would cater to them.  Remember, the same gang shows The Simpsons.  Everything, anything for a buck.

    •  That's key. (4+ / 0-)

      A major reason for the success of the media trashing of the media is that people are looking for a reason to justify their laziness and hatreds. So they eagerly latch onto anyone who tells them that they don't need to worry about those poor people because they brought it on themselves and that anyone who tells you different is lying.

      RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it's not worth fighting. CHENEY: So?

      by RickMassimo on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:19:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (8+ / 0-)
      For one thing, ratings and circulation are dropping so obviously many people are feeling unease and dissatisfaction with the available news sources. You are also assuming that an educated, activist public, who are always going to be a minority, could influence the direction of mass media. We can't even influence NPR, for pete's sake. I get a little tired of people blaming overwhelmed, stressed-out people trying to survive for the fact that we don't have a more balanced and sophisticated media. Many people barely have time to process what they are seeing/hearing/reading.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:52:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Critical thinking (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melvynny, lotlizard, jgtidd, ozarkspark

        doesn't depend on having a lot of time.  It's a skill and a mind set.  Most people have always spent the majority of their time trying to earn a living.  Except now.  This is the first era in history where entertainment is one of, if not the largest, part of the economy.  How many hours a day does the average American watch TV?   When people are trying to survive they spend their time knitting, repairing clothes and tools, cooking, weeding, making things from scratch, not glued to the TV.

         

        •  Actually, the largest part of annual GDP is the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jgtidd

          financial sector of the economy, and this is what has created the distorted economy that we have in the US, where investments go into financial paper, not into factories or innovative technology. But you won't find that out on the news programs, because those corporations have a vested interest in making people think that the problem is their own borrowing ways, their own laziness in not working hard enough, and not the financial predator industries that are fattening at the public trough.


          -7.25/-6.41 Consumerism is the disease that allows the ruling classes to thrive; therefore, not buying is a political act.

          by sravaka on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:05:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is perhaps the first era in history where (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melvynny, bluebrain, jgtidd, BYw

          critical thinking itself is or has been under very deliberate attack and mocked is mocked openly.

          The class clown has become the most popular person in school and everyone wants to be like him.

          This serves the corporate elite very well.

      •  or (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, bluebrain, BYw, redtex

        FOXNEWS learned the nazi successful big lie technique--repetition breeds acceptance hatches power leads to corruption being the fruit of power. Media concentration has been very profitable--and politically useful.

    •  the Fox view is the ideal consumer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melvynny, redtex

      Unquestioning, gullible and easily lead.

    •  market forces don't work re talk radio monopoly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluebrain

      the talk radio monopoly after reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine was heavily subsidized and is now strongly protected.

      the millions they lose in staying with liars who have been wrong about everything is more than made up with the billions the monopoly made for them in tax breaks and war profiteering and deregulation.

  •  The MSM sucks!!! (4+ / 0-)

    They played the Rev. Wright comments on an endless loop for 2 weeks straight, yet when McSame makes a totally stupid statement, they mention it once and move on!!!!

    Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts, hot ashes for trees, hot earth for a cool breeze?

    by minerva1157 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:13:07 AM PDT

    •  The end result of Fox Envy (18+ / 0-)

      Is that everyone ends up being as stupid as Fox.

      But hey, look how everyone has upped their game on special effects, and what nice noises things makes as they whoosh and zoom onto the screen.

      •  Example (7+ / 0-)

        This morning on CNN they did a "fact checking" segment, examining statements from Obama and Clinton.  They determined that both were "technically correct" but deceptive, twisting themselves into interesting pretzel shapes come to that conclusion.  Amazingly, they did no fact checking on John McCain.

        "There are no happy endings in the Bush Administration". - Randall L. Tobias

        by MadRuth on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:43:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hopefully (0+ / 0-)

        with Fox struggling a bit other news organizations will be able to take a step back and rethink what they're doing.

        McCain: Less jobs, more war.

        by Unstable Isotope on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:45:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sesame Street for grown-ups (0+ / 0-)

        Please don't yell at me, but Sesame Street was banned in my house. Good God, why?

        It is the way it teaches. It is loud, bright and very, very fast. It was training kids not to have an attention span.
        Reading books increases kids attention spans. I had one kindergarten teacher tell me that she needed to jump on a desk and yell just to get the kid's attention.

        Fast forward that to now. The sets on the news channels are very bright. Red, glaring. Fast.  

        Do you remember the old newscasts? They set behind a desk and reported. That would not work,now.  

        I'm not blaming it all on Sesame Street because there are other factors.  

        And, I think the diary is proven to be true by the amount of time all the networks spent on Anna Nicole Smith.

        Years ago, I offered by 5 teens a choice. Internet or cable. They chose Internet. And, they still love books.

        Why do we ignore Indian Reservations?

        by redtex on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 11:53:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a long-winded vocabophile who loves to read... (0+ / 0-)

          I'd just like to say that the classic Sesame Street I grew up with did not have any negative impact on my ability to grow to despise the encouraging of a simpleton mindset, and seek and absorb intelligentsia.  I only ever saw Sesame Street as dangerous when used as a "switch it on, forget about your kid, now" crutch.  In its better days it was a decent stimulative supplement to learning, and I would say there are many things about the program that propelled me into learning to read at an incredibly early age (three.)  It wasn't just a vapid carnival of pretty, shiny flashes.  It showcased the creativity of individuals, showed children how things were made, effectively promoted an appreciation for music and theater.  These approaches are head and shoulders above the screen-whooshery that stains the news media.  Nevertheless, your sentiment is well taken.

  •  Interesting times (8+ / 0-)

    we live in. Great diary, thanks so much. I really think that we are in the midst of a great change akin to the printing press. It feels very messy, but I bet you in 100 years it will look very glamorous!

    Lisa

    "No! Ne'er was mingled such a draught In palace, hall or arbor, As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed, That night in Boston Harbor" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

    by Boston to Salem on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:14:39 AM PDT

    •  Agreed. Brilliant rebuttal to Keen's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluebrain

      glib and supercilious "analysis." The traditional media have replaced investigative journalism with gotcha journalism and the ideals of objectivity and analysis with the phony ideal of "balance" where facts, spin, and outright lies are all given an equal footing.

      Rock on, Devilstower.

      "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government....President Bush has repeatedly violated the law for six years." Al Gore

      by psnyder on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:06:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, there's such a thing as progressive talk (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frandor55, fabucat, RickMassimo

    radio. This piece doesn't take any notice of it at all. Progressive talk hosts do an excellent job, for the most part, of presenting informative and entertaining content.

    •  But it isn't as available (0+ / 0-)

      in many markets as the the right-wing spin machine, is it?  I'm guessing here, don't really know.

      Our economy is a house of cards. Don't breathe.

      by Youffraita on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:28:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's unhearable (7+ / 0-)
      Progressive radio was ripped off the air in Cleveland and Columbus with no notice at all. Yet on a drive from Cleveland to Columbus one afternoon, I got Rush Limbaugh on four stations.  Here in Cleveland, I cannot get ANY progressive talk show host, but I can hear Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage, Bennett, Ingraham, Beck etc etc ad nauseum.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:57:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What progressive talk radio? (5+ / 0-)

      If you mean Pacifica and Democracy As a Last Resort! (otherwise known as Democracy Now!), please realize that they spent the last three presidential elections fanning the flames of Ralph Nader, and scaring the bejeezus out of any sane Americans who happened to tune in. Their Iraq coverage was so full of naked pro-jihadism as to be thoroughly destructive of anything "progressive."

      If you mean Air America, yes it was a valiant effort, but far too often they sacrificed truth for some kind of mirror-imaging of right-wing talk.

      Let's get clear. Right-wing talk is premised on Big Lie theory. Countering that does not mean fabricating counter lies, which are transparent and alienating. It can only mean radical truth-telling, and that we just haven't seen, with rare excep[tions from Jim Hightower and Molly Ivins.

      •  You're making some pretty serious accusations (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, certainot

        and I'd like to see you back them up.

        First of all, just which occasions were the "all too often" when Air America "sacrificed truth for some kind of mirror-imaging of right-wing talk"?

        Secondly, are you really stating that Pacifica and Democracy Now! concentrated their air-time on (1) pro-Nader coverage in 1996, 2000, and 2004, and (2) pro-jihadist coverage of the Iraq War? Really?

        •  Some examples (0+ / 0-)

          On Jean Garafolo's Air America show, the totally-discredited Helen Caldicot, who has been canned by three different non-profits because of her constant distortions of the truth, fielded a call from the wife of a Gulf War veteran who felt "vaginal burning" after intercourse. The caller wanted to know if this could be caused by depleted uranium in her husband's semen. Without telling the caller to see her own physician, Caldicott answered "Yes." Garafalo did not interject.

          Now without getting technical --NO, it cannot be caused by depleted uranium. The caller may have been provoked into not seeking medical treatment (like allergy testing), or to divorce her "contaminated" husband as a result of Caldicot's B.S. It was reprehensible, and only one example.

          The depleted uranium hoax, which by the way you hear nothing about now (because it was a hoax) was shamelessly used as a hot-button fundraising issue on both Air America and Pacifica, long after the truth was clear.

          The truth, by the way, was that depleted uranium actually reduced collateral casualties compared to older munitions, because it required far fewer rounds and tonnage expended. The hucksters also overlooked the fact that the Iraqi Army, the Iranian Army, the Taliban, and indeed all other militaries in the region were using DU munitions themselves long before 2003 (and it is still used all over the world).

          That truth didn't fit the jihadi/U.S. left narrative, so was dispensed with. And as a result, anti-war activists were misguided into searching for "radioactive battlefields" that didn't exist, and crying about equally non-existant Pentagon "cover-ups" which then fed directly into the insanity of the 9/11 "Truth" Movement and the phenomenon of Ron Paul.

          Pacifica introduced the locution that the Baathist forces fighting for Saddam during the 2003 invasion represented "the resistance of the Iraqi people." This kind of blatant distortion mucked up discourse about the war and made it impossible for Americans to achieve clarity about what was actually happening.

          You can fill in the rest.

          •  Wow, I didn't realize that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dyfrgi

            Helen Caldicott (whose name you misspelled) had been totally discredited, in between her 19 honorary doctoral degrees, nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, being honored by the Smithsonian as one of the most influential women of the 20th century, etc.

            Nor did I realize that Janeane Garofalo (whose name you also misspelled) was under an obligation to step in and overrule a physician, nor that by doing so, she was taking responsibility for possibly ruining a caller's marriage, and certainly for jeopardizing Air America's credibility.

            There are plenty of subjects we don't hear much about until much later -- say, the politically motivated hirings and firings of U.S. Attorneys. That hardly makes them hoaxes. I don't really see how vaporizing uranium can be good for long-term health in the area where it's used, but maybe that's just me. Well no, it's not just me: it's also the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, a coalition of more than 90 non-governmental organizations, and the European Parliament.

            You know what? I don't think we have the same approach to credibility. So I'm not surprised that we differ on the subject of progressive talkers.

          •  Re DU: I despise this kind of pompous ignorance (0+ / 0-)

            You know nothing, you arrogant baffoon. Before you speak out about Depleted Uranium, dismissing it as a hoax, you sure as hell better be armed with the balls to face American veterans suffering from the Gulf War 1 sickness, now diagnosed as part of a sweep of factors known clinically as "Gulf War Syndrome" (used to be called "Gulf War Sickness". Two, you better show up with your degrees in nuclear science and munitions pathology. Three, you at minimum, ought to have the baseline timerity to post a link, you ignorant bastard.

            The depleted uranium hoax, which by the way you hear nothing about now (because it was a hoax) was shamelessly used as a hot-button fundraising issue on both Air America and Pacifica, long after the truth was clear.
            The truth, by the way, was that depleted uranium actually reduced collateral casualties compared to older munitions, because it required far fewer rounds and tonnage expended. The hucksters also overlooked the fact that the Iraqi Army, the Iranian Army, the Taliban, and indeed all other militaries in the region were using DU munitions themselves long before 2003 (and it is still used all over the world).
            That truth didn't fit the jihadi/U.S. left narrative, so was dispensed with. And as a result, anti-war activists were misguided into searching for "radioactive battlefields" that didn't exist, and crying about equally non-existant Pentagon "cover-ups" which then fed directly into the insanity of the 9/11 "Truth" Movement and the phenomenon of Ron Paul.

            I spent months during 2003 shooting documentary footage of veterans of Gulf War 1 who were dealing with this sickness, particularly Dennis Kyne, as well as interviewing Major Doug Rokke about this issue. You can find pieces about D.U. in mainstream news such as 60 Minutes.

            Put up or shut up you asshole, and don't ever feel you have the right to disparage and dismiss Gulf War Veterans just so you can try to make a point where you force facts to fit your narrative.

            Refute these, know it all:

            http://www.mindfully.org/...
            http://www.truthout.org/...
            http://www.news-journalonline.com/...
            http://homepage.mac.com/...
            http://www.apfn.net/...

            _ it's now a fight to the finish>> Dean progressives v. Clinton centrists.

            by rhfactor on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:16:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  no one hears your "radical truth telling" (0+ / 0-)

        If you mean Air America, yes it was a valiant effort, but far too often they sacrificed truth for some kind of mirror-imaging of right-wing talk.

        Let's get clear. Right-wing talk is premised on Big Lie theory. Countering that does not mean fabricating counter lies, which are transparent and alienating. It can only mean radical truth-telling, and that we just haven't seen, with rare excep[tions from Jim Hightower and Molly Ivins.

        equating right wing talk with Air America and other prog talkers doesn't work.  the right wing monopoly is dedicated to pushing uncontested repetition of often coordinated GOP propaganda.  they lie for a living, the progressives lie by mistake. and do a lot of truth telling along the way.

        the right wing talk radio monopoly, reaching 50-70MIL, cannot be countered with anything other than demonopolization and perhaps some kind of new Fairness Doctrine that will even the playing field in talk radio- its range-  although written transcripts of their propaganda that can be analyzed and addressed with other media would help.

        this is a big reason why talk radio has been so effective in getting us into this bush disaster- those it attacks the most don't or can't listen to it.

        •  If only it were so (0+ / 0-)

          "the progressives lie by mistake"

          You can't actually believe that. The progressive radio such as it has existed is driven by the very same base motives that drive right-wing radio, and that is, primarily, fundraising. If it doesn't start that way, it ends that way.

          Time and again Pacifica and Air America chose their guests on the basis of their proven track record in generating call-in donations. Hate to tell you but the "guests" successful at generating cash were the ones willing to lie, shamelessly and blantantly, in order to make listeners enraged and therefore willing to phone in a donation.

          Why do you think charlatans like Caldicott and Nader get air time over and over again, especially during fund drives?

          That is exactly the dynamic that drives right-wing talk. If you don't understand it, you don't understand the business.  Did you ever try convincing a program manager to not put on a guest with a proven track record of telling outrageous lies but who raised a lot of money for the station?

          Sorry, but any progressive media that even approaches honesty will have to be organized on a different business plan than what has been tried.

          •  self-correction (0+ / 0-)

            ok, yes, I realize that Air America and most right-wing talk radio have relied on commercial sponsorship not listener donations, but the fundamental dynamic is the same. The flaming prevaricators boost listener ratings, which then translates as commercial revenue.

            Thus each side relies on the gullibility of a different segment of the population.

            NPR had the only model that allowed the program managers to fucus on getting out the straight story, but that was only when the were generously supported by government grants. Now they too are forced into commercial considerations, or worse, offending the funder-bureaucrats.

          •  you're wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AlanF

            i've been around listener supported radio and have been monitoring right wing talk radio and recently the growth spurt of progressive radio and there is no comparison.

            for the most part the motivation is toward truth telling and within that motivation there is ample opportunity, especially with all the crap bushco and their cheerleaders have provided, to spread truth and entertain, shock, and either raise money or attract ad money.  if anything Air America and other progressives have often had to watch their tongues to stay on the air.

            right wing talk radio has no motivation to tell the truth- it's purpose is to distort and attack anything progressive and make excuses for anything republican.  most of their talkers are protected by professional screeners and are never seriously challenged on air- they can't be.  most progressive talkers regularly take challenges on air.

            fundraising drives happen maybe twice a year.

            right wing talk radio is a monopoly and 'market forces' are greatly distorted by the fact the GOPs benefactors will continue to protect and subsidize that monopoly for millions while making billions in tax breaks, war profiteering, and deregulation.

  •  Four years old, but still relevant... (5+ / 0-)

    "You're miserable, edgy, and tired. You're in the perfect mood for journalism."

    by Spider Jerusalem on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:15:36 AM PDT

  •  great essay (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shadan7, frandor55, lotlizard, Youffraita

    as for broadcast media, you left out falling all over Drudge to see what leads.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:18:38 AM PDT

  •  You left (19+ / 0-)

    out the biggest part of the equation.  Media consolidation.  Deregulation, in my opinion, is at the heart of just about every ill that has befallen America in the past 20 years.  

    * 4033 * http://icasualties.org/oif/

    by BDA in VA on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:19:31 AM PDT

    •  Totally (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, lotlizard
      and the solution is to shatter the mega-conglomerated media into tiny little pieces. And I think this is what is actually behind the rightward race of the media: it is supporting the party that allows it to consolidate and make big profits (well, used to make profits anyway; it's falling on hard times because of the unsatisfying product it delivers, with terrestrial radio in especially dire trouble). It wants government to continue to support a media policy that is opposed by 99% of the American people across the political spectrum: no other single policy has more total bipartisan support than de-consolidation of the media. Everyone from the NRA and the Concerned Woman of America to the ACLU and the HRC recognized how bad consolidated media is and how it threatens THEIR voice. In 2003, when the FCC was again proposing to loosen ownership rules to allow more consolidation, even though it tried to not solicit public input and refused to read what it got, the issue got the second largest response received by any government body about any issue that year, exceeded only by the invasion of Iraq, qhich had just occurred.

      Again: I don't think the right slant of the media is ideological at all. It's merely a factor of supporting those who will give it the right to do what they think willgive it the greatest profits.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:03:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The ultimate indictment of our current media? (9+ / 0-)

    Those of us that watch fake news shows, (TDS and Colbert) are, on average, more informed than those of us that simply watch the news networks.

    An agnostic not because I don't know if there's a God, but because I don't care.

    by filmgeek83 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:21:04 AM PDT

  •  OT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InsultComicDog

    Devilstower, do you want to FP Sams Sunday Talk Diary? Sorry for the interruption.

  •  It is "hard work" to tie the real issues (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deha, henna218

    facing our nation to the goals of the corporate media masters.  Until the FCC stops all the media consolidation this will not change.  I am sure there are great journalists out there, I wish I knew where to find them.

    Not all who wander are lost. J.R.R. Tolkien

    by temptxan on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:22:11 AM PDT

  •  The MSM is a trade, not a profession. (9+ / 0-)

    The definition of a profession is a group that sets standards of performance, tests for compliance with those standards, and self-polices its failures.  When journalists finally sit down and commit to this type of quality they will transcend their status as a trade, which now depends on the individuals commitment to skillful, comprehensive, investigation of a particular situation.

    Thus far, the MSM, e.g, USA Today, NYT, etc., has been content to use band-aids to address the problem.  They wait until a reporter(s) get caught making up facts and then they come up with a limited oversight mechanism, e.g., an ombudsperson, to try and prevent the big gaffs going forward.

    With modern enterprise software, a big news organization could create a work-flow system that routed potential stories through a series of reviews and checks, documenting sources securely, and providing clear assurances of quality.  While no system is perfect, the simple commitment to rigor in business administration could demonstrate a serious step up in quality management.

    Whenever I have suggested this idea on an MSM blog, the only response seems to be to cry censorship with a vague reference to the First Amendment.  Avoiding responsible, self-policing of reporting quality is never a matter of constitutional protection.  It has never been okay to scream "fire" in a crowded theater just because you wanted to see people panic.  

  •  I can't think of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joseph Hale

    any traditional media that has not been wrong or biased. They gave up their moral backbone on their own.

  •  "News judgment" is a phrase (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    that ought to be elevated to the Oxymoron Hall of Fame. The only reason it isn't, I suspect, is that the phrase isn't widely used outside the field of journalism itself.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:26:38 AM PDT

  •  Where is the good news? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, Eloise

    I read the Economist and listen to NPR.

    They both provide in-depth, global news...rather than the frivolous provincial stuff on all the TV channels.

    Any other good news sources?

    "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

    by AdamR on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:28:57 AM PDT

    •  Places to look (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, Red Bean, CTLiberal

      - Independent talk radio (Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!")

      - Independent television (Independent World Television/The Real News [see also my diary])

      - Progressive magazines (Mother Jones, The Nation)

      - Progressive talk radio (Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow)

      •  The problem is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Janet Strange, Wild Starchild
        every one of us here KNOW those "places to look," but they are virtually inaccessible to the average person who can turn on their TV and watch bad news or turn on their radio and get Rush Limbaugh on four stations. Not one of those outlets is accessible to me on a regular basis except the magazines, and magazines by the nature are very limited in circulation and not timely unless you read them online.

        We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

        by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:07:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, which is why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Janet Strange, Wild Starchild

          I've been putting the bulk of my activism efforts into building up progressive media that the public will find on the same dial as the other radio and TV channels. When our group in Boston buys our station and gets on the air, you can bet that we're going to advertise in all the media we can find. So we're going to aim for not only people who will catch our station as they scan the radio dial, but people who see billboards and read mainstream newspapers.

    •  Ian Masters (0+ / 0-)

      does in-depth interviews with academics and policy insiders on his once-a-week radio show. It's meaty, intelligent, has respect for the audience. It's left without being blinded by an agenda.

      Unfortunately the show isn't widely syndicated. It deserves to be much better known. It's live on KPFK in L.A. and available on the web in different formats.

      http://www.ianmasters.org/

      Greed makes a really shitty foundation for a civilization to build itself upon.

      by Red Bean on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But the Economist has shifted far rightward (0+ / 0-)

      ... since the Nineties, becoming (even more so than in the case of pre-NATO intervention Bosnia) an apologist for war crimes, and now unfortunately mingles fact and opinion in its unsigned news articles with the best of them. I subscribed to them for years but cancelled when the Economist, as they say around here, "jumped the shark."

      The Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “kids for kids”): is a world cultural treasure.

      by lotlizard on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:21:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent post (4+ / 0-)

    I would love to have a televison station that reported on international news; wouldn't it be nice to know what is going on in other countries?

    NPR plays the BBC on the radio late at night, but nothing is on T.V. My cable company gives me 650 channels with most of them being music, sports and mindless entertainment reality shows. There are three cable news channels that can barely be called news.

    You would think they could make one or two channels that would tell me what was going on in Africa, Russia, India, South America; I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know.

    The moral arc of the universe is long, my friends, but it bends toward justice. - MLK

    by CTLiberal on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:31:52 AM PDT

  •  isn't this unavoidable when you have media (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumblebums, subtropolis, henna218

    owned by large corporate entities?  Isn't this the core of the problem? For example: hedge funds, subprime mortgages, etc. Writers such as Jim Kunstler were blowing the whistle on this years ago. Why was such an obvious scam, a giant Ponzi scheme, allowed to proceed to its inevitable collapse?

    Which candidate will rescind Executive Order 13233?

    by el vasco on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:33:19 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, I post this quote from time to time (12+ / 0-)

      from Bernie Sanders:

      If you are concerned about the environment, if you are concerned about women’s rights, health care, foreign policy, Iraq, the economy, if you are concerned about any of those issues, you must be concerned about the media. And what people like Bob and John Nichols and others have been saying for years, which I fully agree with, is we have got to make corporate control over the media a political issue in the same way that health care and education and Iraq is a political issue. And that means that when somebody runs for office and comes before you and they talk about the issues, you raise your hand and say, what are you going to do about corporate control over the media? And after the candidate recovers after his fall on the ground, he or she will start responding, but we have got to make it a political issue, because it is as important or more important than any other issue that we talk about.

      The Telecommunications Act of 1996 - thanks, Bill.

      Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

      by bumblebums on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:40:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  bingo (0+ / 0-)

        Which candidate will rescind Executive Order 13233?

        by el vasco on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:49:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is why (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bumblebums, lotlizard
        media reform is the second of my two priority issues, after election reform. Those are the gateway issues, without which nothing else can even be tackled.

        Bernie's 100% right.

        We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

        by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:09:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Media Reform Conference next summer . . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, bumblebums, lotlizard

        I've been to the last two of these and they were well-worthwhile. At both of them, Bernie Sanders was there making the exact point you quote.

        It's in Minneapolis, June 6–8, 2008. Put on by freepress.net (The moving forces behind freepress are the Bob (McChesney) and John Nichols Bernie is referring to in the quote above.)

        If you can't actually go to the conference, no worries. They put every single talk, panel, etc online as mp3's at least. Videos for the main talks and the keynote. I have a friend that downloads them all and listens to every single one after each conference (she drives a lot). She learns more from the conferences than I did, actually going to them.

        I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. - Barbara Jordan

        by Janet Strange on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  GOP relies more on the talk radio monopoly (0+ / 0-)

      and its uncontested repetition.

      while the increasingly consolidated media is increasingly a problem today's bush disaster would not have been possible without the talk radio monopoly.  it was also critical in furthering the consolidation itself.

      while the corporate media in general still has to put on an appearance of balance  the talk radio monopoly with its 50-70 MIL is the real juggernaut selling the GOP talking points, lies, and swiftboating and enables much of the rest of the dumbing down of the US media.

  •  By comparison to.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nimbus, Wild Starchild

    While I agree with many of the indictments of your diary, this isn't a new phenomenon.  That mythical time when the press were fair, objective, reported the important rather than the salacious, etc. ... simply never existed.

    •  The difference is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wild Starchild
      the media used to be competitive. Now you have a handful of reporters spinning for dozens of tv outlets and radio pundits on hundreds of station and local newspapers, who have slashed staff, running the same AP or Reuters story.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:11:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader

      JFK's sex life was off-limits, not merely because the media liked JFK, but because the mainstream media of the time left that sort of thing alone.

      In general, TV news, when it was young, had lots of faults. One of them was not elevating the Paris Hilton's of the day on the nightly news.

      Greed makes a really shitty foundation for a civilization to build itself upon.

      by Red Bean on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:14:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Umm...? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sravaka

        Marilyn Monroe was the Paris Hilton of her day, and her (and other starlets') activities were common grist for the late-segment, "soft" stories.  From her marriages to her breathy "Happy Birthday" for JFK to her death, she was a hot news commodity.

        Again, while I agree that present-day "news" is largely self-serving twaddle, I disagree that this is a new phenomenon.  Our news media, from the caustic ranting of Thomas Paine through the yellow journalism of the Hearst empire to the present day, has been sensational more often than substantive, opinion more often than fact, and propaganda more often than information.

        The miracle is that, despite that, the public are usually ahead of the media - and government - when it comes to policy.  We the People generally have a pretty good sense of what is and isn't working, and what will and won't work to fix it.  We manage that despite being told that we're ignorant, that we're incapable of understanding the issues, and that we ought to stop listening to each other and listen to The Experts.  And we've been managing to do that - to listen to each other more than we listen to The Experts - throughout our history.

        Yes, we sometimes get it wrong.  Yes, we can for a time be swayed by irrational appeals.  But I think We the People get it right more often than we get it wrong, and we see through stupidity and lies far sooner than The Experts believe or would like us to believe.  We're down here in the grit and grist of everyday life, where high-flown ideology faces the test of harsh reality.

        •  I was essentially talking about nightly news (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, Janet Strange

          on network TV. It's a reasonable comparison because it's where most people got the news. In the fifties and sixties they had strict, traditional notions of what was news and what wasn't. I'd be surprised for instance if there was ever anything on the nightly news on the murder trial of Lana Turner's daughter for killing Turner's boyfriend. You can imagine how a story like that today would dominate everything - the election, Iraq, the economy.

          Your general point, that there has always been sensationalism in print journalism is true. It's not true that the NYT was always a daily lifestyle magazine, equally as concerned with newest coffee bean imported from some remote hillside as it is with that other stuff it's required to put on its front page.

          Greed makes a really shitty foundation for a civilization to build itself upon.

          by Red Bean on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:52:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  A teensy squirt gun (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, Wild Starchild

    in an obscure back water of the Podunk internet:

    http://therealnews.com/...

    But yeah, without media reform, progress on all other issues is stalled.  When we're all too busy staying alive to look beyond the chatter, the population gets stupider - that's the ticket. We're just chattel for ratings. Eyeballs for pharma ads.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:35:52 AM PDT

  •  Excellent (4+ / 0-)

    writings like these is why I park my ass here reading !

    Thanks

  •  It's the newspapers and "balanced reporting" too. (3+ / 0-)

    Where the definition of 'fair reporting' has somehow been changed to counterbalancing facts from one side with fiction from the other.

  •  I've always thought any idiot could be a pundit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wild Starchild

    it seems that for the traditional media, being an idiot is a pre-requisite.

    Sean

  •  Excellent summary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, lotlizard, sravaka

    There's nothing wrong with making money per se; it's how that is accomplished that makes the difference. The traditional media serves a large audience - in much the same way as the old Science Fiction story about the aliens who came to Earth To Serve Mankind - for dinner.

    The audience is not there to be served information they need to know, given an accurate view of the world, or otherwise left better off than they were before tuning in. They are there to be served up, to advertisers and the agenda of the owners of the media.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:43:49 AM PDT

  •  The MSM = tittilation overload (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, subtropolis, lotlizard, henna218

    In the early 1990's, I hired the daughter of an editor at the National Enquirer and I got to talk with him about the news environment in which we operated.  It was a memorable conversation, but the part that resonates even now were his comments about the challenge of keeping the Enquirer's market niche.  He commented that the MSM were "stealing our schtick."  He went on to say that his business depended on making up stuff that tittilated, and now his consumers were getting that stuff with their daily newspaper.  Of course, that was only the beginning.  The readers are figuring it out, and they just don't need to pay for that bs day after day.

  •  Awesome post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wild Starchild

    Now get off my lawn, brat!

    Never confuse kindness and patience with stupidity and weakness!!

    by Joes Steven on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:46:08 AM PDT

  •  God! The NY Times has Bill Kristol! (5+ / 0-)

    How much more evidence do you need that professional journalism is a sham?

  •  Best FP article in a lot of Sundays, (5+ / 0-)

    Nice work.

  •  Great post DT! (5+ / 0-)

    One of the great conceits that the MSM has about blogs in general and DKos in particular, is that it is filled with unhinged radical head bangers. This post is a very rational look at what our media has become and flies squarely in the face of the prevailing wisdom about who and what we are. This piece should be submitted as an op-ed to a major newspaper or magazine. The many deniers in the media have yet to bring themselves to face what has happened to their profession.  Fox News has, in fact, been a cancer to our national discourse yet no one in the traditional media will admit that. Instead, as you point out, they try to become more like Fox. The traditional media companies do not serve the national interest in any measurable way.

    Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you...Sartre

    by kevsterwj on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:49:59 AM PDT

  •  I have a friend (3+ / 0-)

    who responds to any suggestion that the coverage of politics is biased to the right with "Oh, blame the media!" as if any such notion is ridiculous. "It's not the media, the Democrats are just lousy!" he often writes. I've tried to point out that I don't disagree with the second sentiment one bit (at least until very recently) but that they're not opposing concepts. I mean that a corrupt enabling media and weak-willed Democrats are not opposing concepts, but in fact each contributes to the other's existence.

    I suspect that this is exactly where he gets this notion (aside from the fact that he works in media, of a sort) of defending the news media, because he knows the history of the right wing attack on the "mainstream media" and rejects it.

    I don't think "the media" is the entire problem with the world. I do think it's an essential and very effective part of the corporate/government machine, the propaganda arm specifically, and with very few exceptions parrots the message carefully crafted by people like Karl Rove, to cite only the most high profile personality involved. Fox News is the most blatant example, with news anchors and Bush press secretaries being literally exchangeable positions.

    If Democrats for years were trembling in fear of being labeled "unpatriotic" for say, opposing torture, then we have to consider who was going to be doing the public humiliation duties. If no one took it seriously enough to print it or spend endless talk shows repeating every right wing smear, then who would care? The Rovians penned the accusation, but the media printed the broadsheet and nailed it to the post for all to read.

    I'm preaching to the choir here I realize, but I found that having to hone my thoughts over the years in the ongoing (very good-natured) debate with this friend was useful, and gave me more clarity on how to present the whole issue to the non-convinced.

  •  "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war" (7+ / 0-)

    Great moments in Professional Journalism:

    When the Maine blew up causing the deaths of 266 men,[7] newspaper owners such as William R. Hearst leapt to the conclusion that Spanish officials in Cuba were to blame, and they widely publicized the conspiracy. Such publications practiced what was called "yellow journalism", which originated in New York. Yellow journalism fueled American anger by publishing astonishing "atrocities" committed by Spain in Cuba. Hearst when informed by Frederic Remington, whom he had hired to furnish illustrations for his newspaper, that conditions in Cuba were not bad enough to warrant hostilities, allegedly replied, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."[8] Lashed to fury by the yellow journalism, the American cry of the hour became, Remember the Maine, To Hell with Spain! President William McKinley, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed and the business community opposed the growing public demand for war.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    (You think Iraq was the first time the Professional Media scammed the public into a war? Think again.)

  •  WAY WAY over-generalizing... (0+ / 0-)

    Here's the sad truth about the professional/amateur divide:

    A professional will always, always, always have an amateur either a) who's his boss, or b) who's his customer.

    In either case, the professional will be subject to pressure from time to time to debase his professional conclusions, unless he owns his own "means of production."  This is for the very simple reason that people in power do not like to hear bad news.

    The amateurs thus like to skew things.

    The fact that there's a few bad apples in the professional bunch (and there are, to be sure) does not mean that "professionals are to blame."

    I say this as an engineer who has seen his share of amateur decisions made by amateurs for the most absurd of reasons by people in power, across multiple continents.

    The real issue with the US media is that the bad apples, like a bad metaphor, like bad cream, tend to rise to the top.

    And the fault with that is that the amateurs that own the media see fit to keep it running more or less like North Korea's, albeit with more advertising.

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:57:36 AM PDT

    •  "A few bad apples" is a metaphor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mumon

      that has been irretrievably corrupted from its original meaning. Thanks to its abuse by the Pentagon and the current White House crowd, it now means, "Oops, our wrongdoing has come to public attention. Let's blame a small handful of low-level scapegoats, very loudly, so that people won't realize it was on purpose and directed to happen from way up the command chain."

      "A few bad apples" is no longer a straightforward, literal statement. It is, by definition, a self-serving blame-deflecting lie. As such, it is a useful label. The tactic is age-old, but we didn't have a name for it; now we do.

      When that's not what you mean, however, it's better to avoid the phrase.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

      by Canadian Reader on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:12:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Darn. I DO know better (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mumon

        than to write 'literal' when I mean 'metaphorical'. Really I do. I think there's an internet law of nature about that -- post anything about someone else's use of language, and no matter how many times you preview, you will still make some error of your own in the use of language, one that you won't be able to see until after you hit Post.

        Anyway. I think the point of the diary is that it is not the working reporters who are to blame, but the structure of the industry, which provides perverse incentives that have all but destroyed quality news. I think that's what you're saying, too.

        Don't let's get caught up in a professional / amateur distinction, especially if the definition of "professional" is allowed to devolve to "paid to do this job." By that yardstick William Kristol and Ann Coulter and Nedra Pickler are all professionals and Meteor Blades and Jerome a Paris are amateurs.

        These days, the paid-unpaid divide is orthogonal to quality.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is.

        by Canadian Reader on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:33:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but the structure of the industry (0+ / 0-)

          in which case, I'd agree, but those who are "professinals" are increasingly at the mercy of the structure of the industry, not in control of it, a few quislings notwithstanding.

          "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

          by Mumon on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:37:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent post. (0+ / 0-)

    It's about damn time someone properly attacked the people attacking the JOURNALISTS among the traditional media. Journalists traditionally do a good job. News as entertainment is just fucking stupid and hurts us all.

    The true Ben Franklin quote from Poor Richard's Almanack is "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

    by Andy30tx on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 06:59:53 AM PDT

  •  The analysis is incomplete (7+ / 0-)

    It's also important to remember that the media oligopolies put out vacuous, propagandistic pseudo-news because they are part-owners of the corporate state.

    News Corp, CBS, Disney, Time Warner, GE, and so on, have to maintain that stake in the corporate state, and that determines their "news policies" at least as much as any immediate profit motive.  So for instance Phil Donahue was kicked off of MSNBC even though his show fetched high ratings because, to put it bluntly, Donahue was a threat to the corporate state's investment in unpopular foreign wars.

    "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:02:37 AM PDT

  •  The "Liberal" Media (3+ / 0-)

    It is true that most reporters are Democrats, but the Media is very Conservative in their choice of stories.

    An easy example is the coverage of Harry Potter author JK Rowling.  The US media loved the controversy of her outing of Dumbledore as gay and revealed that she was once clinical depressed, but there was ZERO coverage of her endorsement of Obama and Clinton and her attacks against the current occupant of the White House in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

    If it doesn't meet the "Conservative" agenda, it doesn't get published.  Sure Rowling is a only a Brit, and only a huge best seller in the U.S., but there wasn't a paragraph of ink probably because it was support for the Democrats and Rowling's fans are now voting age.

    In Spain...
    http://www.elpais.com/...

    In Indonesia...
    http://www.antara.co.id/...

    In English...

    Q: We live in dark and sad times; you say it in your books, especially in this one. How do you live in these times?

    A: I have to believe in the kindness of the people. I think people are in nature, good. But actually, I continue watching American politics very closely. I am obsessed with the US elections. Because it will have profound effects on the rest of the world. The political situation in the US in recent years has badly affected your country as mine.

    Q: And if you had a magic wand, what would you do?

    A: I want a Democrat in the White House. And it seems a shame to me that Clinton and Obama are rivals because they are both extraordinary people.

    http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/...

    Americans for Effective and Equitable Government www.agilepeople.org

    by try democracy on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:03:04 AM PDT

  •  Competition for your eyeballs (4+ / 0-)

    The New York Review of Books is still solid, we've got C-SPAN, NPR, PBS. And the NYT can be read selectively.

    But the competition for your eyeballs is now so intense, they've sold the bottoms of the plastic bins the TSA gives you for your public strip show. Those little perfed tear-off ads on the envelopes for mailing checks to your utilities? Same thing.

    There is no "left-wing bias" in media, but the dumbing down of our national discourse has reached a level where the movie Idiocracy is starting to look rather prescient. News has always been a loss leader, but news organizations were traditionally owned by families. When the suits take over, the results are always bad.

    And this, of course, is why Murdoch's gobbling up of the WSJ was such a damn tragedy. Maybe you have to be in the business to understand how bad that was.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:05:05 AM PDT

  •  The internet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wild Starchild

    is our only hope. That is, as long as Crooks and Liars can resist Cheney mirror sunglasses reflection stories.
    But FOX is not alone in trashing other news sources. Bush tried to kill NPR, if you recall. And when he did try, NPR changed. They became "more balanced". More Kristols and Feiths started showing up on the air. Mara and Juan started sounding a little "less NPR-ish".

    I think the fact that news outlets can change so flippantly is a testament to their irrelevance.

    AT&T considers you a suspect~

    by plok on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:14:12 AM PDT

  •  I'm amazed Keen (6+ / 0-)

    still has an audience. I think it's because he says something that appeals to professional journalists (i.e., those who get paid), even though most of his theories have been thoroughly debunked, and he operates on a highly hypocritical plane.

    One thing I want to say in defense of journalists (read my username to see why) is that there are a great number of people out there who are genuinely trying to do "real reporting" at news outlets both small and large. They don't usually end up in the headlines, unfortunately.

    We focus on the "frat brothers" at large media corps, but ignore the many working class kids who come to journalism out of a passion for the truth. Not every journalist graduated from Columbia or Missouri. there are kids who love reporting, who love journalism who are going out to find jobs that offer them about as much as they'd make at McDonalds or Wal-Mart.

    Finally, if we looked at the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes announced a week ago, notice the top winners from the Washington Post that exposed the abuses of the Bush administration. That is good journalism. Say what you will about the MSM, but there are good journalists plying their trade. We need them.

    •  unfortunately, J School also churns out PR flacks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      Nothing personal meant, but this seems a good a place as any to bring up the problem of the PR "industry" and its symbiotic relationship with the media. I, too, feel that we often tar with too wide a brush when complaining about the media. There has been some truly excellent work done in the past few years, in spite of the best efforts of the Cheney admin to keep everything bottled up. But the taint from the corporate and political lackeys is pervasive in modern news media, unfortunately.

      Again, nothing personal. I'm not suggesting that J School is the problem. PR understands how to subvert journalism to its own ends and so knows who to hire.

      "People who say I'm dystopian are middle class pussies!" – William Gibson

      by subtropolis on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:44:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No offense taken (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        subtropolis, lotlizard, henna218

        I'm always baffled as to how advertising and PR end up in journalism schools, when both are antithetical to the true ends of journalism.

        But I also know that many journalism grads end up in the PR industry after a few years because the pay (and the hours) is so much better.

        And the cruel fact is that most of the enrollment comes from PR/Advertising and broadcasting. Print journalism is the lowest enrollment at many schools.

    •  Who doesn't like to be flattered? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joseph Hale

      I'm amazed Keen still has an audience. I think it's because he says something that appeals to professional journalists (i.e., those who get paid), even though most of his theories have been thoroughly debunked, and he operates on a highly hypocritical plane.

      Keen tells these people that they're great, and they are happy to pass that message along.

      President JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's third term.

      by chumley on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:27:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What made me physically gag about Keen's book (0+ / 0-)

      was the phrase "killing our culture." Anytime somebody talks about the destruction of culture I'm immediately suspicious. Culture is fluid; it changes to fit the conditions into which it is channeled. Moreover, the idea that the conditions of human life ought to be husbanded to suit the needs of preserving a particular culture - especially ours, which is at best no older than a single human lifespan - is putting the cart so far in front of the horse that it isn't funny to either the horse or I, and the horse isn't particularly hard to amuse.

      But whatevz, print sensationalism sells. Actually, one of the least fortunate things about the information trade prior to the internet was that the quantity of given types of available information skewed directly to whatever criteria best got books off the shelves - gormless panic-mongering and moralistic pissmanship, for example. Now, if you have a quibble with something printed, you can put up a blog or a website pointing it out, and stand a decent chance of reaching the book's audience.

      Finally, it's easy to love the gatekeeper if you've already got both feet in the door, as Keen has got. It's the rest of us, throwing rocks at the window from outside, who see most clearly the gatekeeper's insularity, his arbitrariness and the fact that he sits in the gatehouse smoking crack and listening to Phil Collins. It's definitely no kind of valid intellectual argument to just sit there attacking someone's motives, but one cannot help observing that in a world where everybody could publish panicky horseshit whenever they wanted to, the overall standard for panicky horseshit might rise beyond Keen's talent as a commentator.

  •  great essay (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, Wild Starchild, ozarkspark

    Really well put together critique. Thanks.

    I find I can't watch/read MSM news stories without a recurring feeling of falling down the rabbit hole like Alice. Up is down. White is black. In fact I've noticed I treat a lot of "straight news stories" as opinion pieces now - what's the Times got to say on this.How's the Post spinning that...

    Love the comments on Wikipedia too. Many academics treat this like the devil's spawn. Weird!

  •  all media is not alike (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, subtropolis

    We should be careful not to meld print and TV/radio into the same discussion, for they are not the same, their ethical and structural traditions are different, and their audiences are different.

    TV, for example, is entertainment. The reason news is on TV -- the reason cable news channels exist -- is that news programming is less expensive than sitcoms and dramas to produce. And the reality shows exist, in large part, because of writers' strikes. (And because they draw an audience.) That means pundits are performance artists, not journalists. And, having -- once, only once -- done a national show against a professional pundit, I'm pretty well convinced they're far more interested in the performance and the attention it draws than they are in the truth or accuracy or, dare I type, essential goodness, of what they say. (This hack turned to me afterwards and said, "That was fun. Maybe we can take it on the road." I realized I was at a disadvantage because I actually believed what I was saying.)

    It is also the case, as Fox ably demonstrates, that people congregate toward outlets which tell them what they want to hear. If you look at the colonial tradition of newspapers, about which I know very little, they were apparently very, very partisan. Much as today's TV networks are.

    The problem I have with internet journalism is that it's not journalism, and that -- at its highest levels -- it does not value the church-state separation between advertising and editorial. Er...content. It's now called "promotion" or some such, but it's a culture that simply does not believe it prudent to maintain the walls that we would expect at a daily paper, or even in a decent community weekly.

    All in all, it's troubling for a democracy. Regardless.

    Beware all ventures which require new clothes, and not a new wearer of clothes. -- Henry David Thoreau

    by Shocko from Seattle on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:33:56 AM PDT

  •  Spot on, DT. The media empire may be with us (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wild Starchild

    much longer than we like, but from to time, there are moments of clarity coming from the likes of Gloria Borger, David Schuster, et al.  And KO's rise at MSNBC is a nod toward the changing narrative that America is on the wrong track and viewers want more truthtelling. We need to keep pushing the media to critical thinkers and not spewers of psuedo-journalism.  The narrative has changed, but not nearly enough.  

  •  The media is dead. Long live the blogosphere. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wild Starchild
  •  FEAR. (4+ / 0-)

    The right has used fear and "patriotism" to trump good journalism. 9/11 made them all cower, afraid to be called un-American. It prevented them from doing their job - which is to not merely report what the White House said/says but to check what they say and tell us if it's true or BS (and, guess what, it's been all BS).
    America cannot be America without real checks on the three branches of government, which is the duty of the fourth estate. In this they have failed. It is what has allowed Fox to become as big as they are and for CNN to try to be like Fox.
    Journalism is meant to seek truth, no matter how much it might hurt.
    Would Americans have been worse off if they knew the painful truth that the war in Iraq was bogus from the start? That we would send Americans (and far too many Iraqis) to their premature deaths unnecessarily...for nothing?
    Or, had they done their job, America might have been spared so much pain in lives and treasure, both of which we cannot have back.
    Which pain is worse?

    "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

    by MA Liberal on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:45:20 AM PDT

    •  Al Franken's analysis of 9/11 and fear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MA Liberal, lotlizard

      I believe it appeared in "Truth (With Jokes)". Franken argued that the 9/11 attacks made Americans more conscious of their mortality, and that Republican strategists exploited this aspect of human lizard-brainness.

      What astonishes me is that, six and a half years after the attack, there are tens of millions of Americans who still cannot think rationally about issues of terrorism and national security. The average American is more likely to be killed in a car-deer collision or by a bolt of lightning than by terrorists.

      Replete with "misstatements" and elisions and retracted and redacted and revoked assertions.--Carl Bernstein on HRC's record.

      by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:12:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        The right keeps hauling out the "Islamo-fascist" BS and some Americans still lap it up. Terrorism is the new "witch hunt." All you have to do is point to someone and brand them a terrorist and they can be hauled away without benefit of facing their accuser or a fair trial. How long before it happens to average Americans who are simply against the policies of the country. in some ways it already has, in small degree (the detentions in the '04 convention in NYC).
        Frankly, those who cannot be rational and fight the fight that needs fighting (the destruction of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, privacy, etc.) are the weak ones. I prefer leaders who tell us that "We have nothing to fear but FEAR itself." Or who remind us that "Those who would give up a little Liberty for a little security, deserve neither."
        Those are the lessons we need to remember.

        "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

        by MA Liberal on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:17:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Imagine another attack of 9/11 proportions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MA Liberal

          You can pretty much say bye-bye to the system of government the Founders created. It will mutate into an elected emperorship, and if the elected emperor is ambitious enough (pretty much a given), eventually a dictatorship.

          Even without another attack, the expansion of Executive Branch power is an invitation to future presidents to crowd Congress and the courts out of the structure of government. Just say the magic phrase "national security" and they disappear.

          Replete with "misstatements" and elisions and retracted and redacted and revoked assertions.--Carl Bernstein on HRC's record.

          by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:22:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's one of the reasons I think Jim Webb (0+ / 0-)

            should be Obama's VP choice. Obama has no military experience, while Webb's is impeccable. Plus, he has a son who served in Iraq and yet he (Jim) was against the Iraq war from the beginning.
            With Webb on the ticket, we could focus on just how much the BushCo "national security" BS has hurt us. McCain will be more of the same. Webb could trump McCain's military background, makes it a moot point in a way.
            National security will once again be the focus of the next election because the right will make sure it is - it's all they've got.

            "The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off!" - Gloria Steinem

            by MA Liberal on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:50:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This diary is a good piece of writing. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, henna218, ozarkspark

    Witty and with good images to feed on. i do want to point out one thing that you might have missed in laying out your view of the obvious sickness of the media. And that is that when the news organizations were independent of corporate America, and thought of as public services. they were more or  less reliable as sources of information. But when NBC was bought by GE, and ABC was bought by that entertaiment company, Disney, whose main goal has always been pushing fantasy for money, and CBS was bought first by Tisch and then by Viacom, a conglomerate whose first concern has always been delivering eyeballs to advertisers, the news changed from a public service to a profit-oriented part of various entertainment empires. And to top it off, those entertainment empires, purveyors of hackneyed hacks to hypnotized viewers, were mega-corporations whose interests lie in keeping people in the dark about the pernicious activities and results of corporate class interests and their deleterious effects on the political process and  ultimately the Constitution.

    You will never, for instance, find a bad word about nuclear power or the military-industrial complex on NBC, because GE wouldn't stand for it. And there are no personnel problems or pollution issues at any of the Disneyworlds, or any issues with Disney's ubiquitous simpleminded storytelling and its value chain of products that flow from that as the dumbing down of culture, because ABC wouldn't report it, and that Cable companies are God's gift to America, or so Viacom would have CBS say so. And they all agree with each other that nobody needs to know what they don't want anyone to know. Which is the information that we need to know in order to make informed decisions about who to vote for, what to support or protest, and where to put our declining amounts of money, such as it is.

    And the print media, the Hearsts, Gannetts, Tribune Companies, Times Corporation, News Corp. (having bought the liberal, erudite New York Post and turned it into a titillating  gossip rag for the salaciously inclined), having lost half their readership (the evening editions of newspapers--remember them?) are only a little behind, but catching up. That USA Today, for instance,  purports to be a source of information, rather than what it is: data composed of trivia for distracted entertainment value, is a mark of the decline of our culture, to the point where our culture is itself little more than distraction of the public for the benefit of the ruling elites. Obama has it right: we can be distracted now and forever by blindly following the media narrative, or we can think for ourselves about what's happening, what's being said, what makes sense.

    Reporters can be just as they were always meant to be, scrappy, incorrigible news gatherers, but they don't control the flow of the news, so what difference does it make how good they are? (Unless, that is, they can publish a book about what they've discovered.) That the publishers control the newsroom, or that executive producers control the anchor desk, and the advertisers and media owners control them both, is the main problem and there's no one who can confront that at this point other than the bloggers, and a few tokens like Olbermann, Maddow, Colbert and Stewart (the last two are comedians, fer gawd sakes), who will be around only for as long as they can get advertisers.

    The point at which the main blogs get bought up by the ever growing media conglomerates will be the end of it, I'm afraid.


    -7.25/-6.41 Consumerism is the disease that allows the ruling classes to thrive; therefore, not buying is a political act.

    by sravaka on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07:56:01 AM PDT

    •  As in, Murdoch / News Corp. buying MySpace... n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “kids for kids”): is a world cultural treasure.

      by lotlizard on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:10:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm still wondering how Olbermann (0+ / 0-)

      is allowed to be who he is on corporate network even though he is getting good ratings. There are a lot of people here suggesting boycotting TV entirely, but while we still have this system I prefer to support the few good shows out there.

      •  I think that KO is the token, the cover that (0+ / 0-)

        "proves" that the media is not a right-wing shill for corporate privilege and plunder. High ratings doesn't hurt, but as another commenter mentioned, Phil Donoghue got pulled off MSNBC, even with high ratings, when his opinions bothered his owners. The moment that KO irritates his advertisers, he'll end up blogging or writing a syndicated column (and probably lose his girlfriend, to boot).


        -7.25/-6.41 Consumerism is the disease that allows the ruling classes to thrive; therefore, not buying is a political act.

        by sravaka on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 10:08:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but liberals need Cialis ,too! (0+ / 0-)

          so perhaps KO will survive. That would really be sad if he wasn't on the air. I like his book, but his tone and body language add alot to what he's reporting.

          •  I like his passion and his eloquence in defense (0+ / 0-)

            of liberty, but I'm not a Cialis user....yet.


            -7.25/-6.41 Consumerism is the disease that allows the ruling classes to thrive; therefore, not buying is a political act.

            by sravaka on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:08:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  wonder just what his demographics are? (0+ / 0-)

              There are very few of the ads during his show that seem aimed at someone like me- a 40 something female,and I KNOW there are women watching KO, some of us are a little crazy about him ;-)

  •  local media (0+ / 0-)

    My local newspaper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, just did a big front and center article (in the opinion section) on local independent bloggers.  It is a very interesting relationship that the local paper has with the independents.

    Just curious, what is the relationship between other bloggers and their local media?  Do you ever interact with local journalists at all; do they comment on your blogs; how much do they think of themselves as bloggers?

  •  Conservatives have a good thing going (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nimbus, Wild Starchild

    and they know it.  They've spent 30+ years convincing everyone, and most especially their followers, that the media is hopelessly biased against Republicans.  When facts are found that contradict them, they simply point out how "biased" they are.  When something comes out that supports what that they say they say "eventheliberalNewYorkTimes" admits it.  

    They have spent so much time and money convincing everyone of the media's liberal bias that now the media believes it.  They are now bending over backwards to stop being "liberal" so much so that they are now parroting rightwing talking points and hiring conservative talkers.

    McCain: Less jobs, more war.

    by Unstable Isotope on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:02:09 AM PDT

  •  Few "journalists" are knowledgeable and valient (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, Wild Starchild

    Devilstower asserted that "most reporters are both knowledgeable about their subject areas and courageous in their efforts to gather information."

    This claim is patently false. Leading up to the Iraqi War, news anchors, with few exceptions, would not even invite contrarians on their programs. Almost all reporters were verbally beating the drums of bellicosity.

    Not until immediately prior to the invasion, did Wolf Blitzer, apparently due to received complaints, finally interview doves. Blitzer's angry partiality was betrayed by the repeated interruptions of his interview of the German ambassador to the United States and Howard Dean who both opposed rushing to arms. These interviews were not engaged until shortly before the invasion.

    Scott Ridder, who had been a member and later a leader of the UN weapons inspections team (UNSCOM) that made inspections in Iraq in an attempt to ensure that it was abiding by U.N. sanctions, was seldom invited on news shows even though he eventually wrote a book that included his views on this matter.

    When Republican leaders affirmed on many news programs viewed by me that other nations such as Germany and France confirmed the claim of the USA that Iraq had weapons of mass destructions, no "journalist" asked the war proponents to cite some of the French or German sources, to inquire of any survey of European leaders regarding their views on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or to relate to their viewers that the USA was the only nation to have spy planes flying over Iraq.

    When toadies of the administration proclaimed that all U.S. experts agreed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, none of the "journalists" countered that Scott Ridder of UNSCOM as well as Mohammed El Baradei and other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency were convinced of the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    The only network that exhibited impartiality in covering the periods prior to and during the invasion of Iraq by "caolition" forces was CNN in Espanol. Their coverage of the impending and early war is an impeccable model that all other networks ought to seek to emulate. There is almost no chance of that happening, however.

    With few exceptions, reporters are primarily concerned about what their peers think of them, and are unwilling to say or do what anything that is not fully acceptable by the current media culture.

  •  Three forces that got us to this point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, Wild Starchild
    1. Deregulation. The end of the Fairness Doctrine and a permissive FCC in matters of media consolidation opened the door to Fox, Clear Channel, and wall-to-wall HannityRush talk radio. The idea that the airwaves belong to the American people has, to coin a phrase, been rendered quaint.
    1. Celebrity culture. To the extent content is driven by demand, there's an awful lot of demand out there for the latest "news" about Angelina's shopping-trip adoptions, Britney's slow-motion meltdown, and the latest Missing White Woman. Then again, demand is driven by money-fueled PR machines. How else can you explain the fame of Jessica Simpson, who has the skill set of an Applebee's hostess?
    1. 9/11. After the attack, tens of millions of Americans put their brains in cold storage, put the claim check in their sock drawer, and forgot about it. Small wonder they were so easily brainwashed by the magpies at Fox "News" who pointed the accusing finger at Saddam. Or respond to HRC's "3 am" commercial that blatantly exploits the fears of "security moms."

    Thinking about our pathetic popular culture--it's hard to tell when entertainment ends and the "news" begins--not only gives me a cluster headache but makes me wish that I were brainlessly happy, like the guys playing in the band in that tacky "Viva Viagra" commercial.

    Replete with "misstatements" and elisions and retracted and redacted and revoked assertions.--Carl Bernstein on HRC's record.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:07:50 AM PDT

    •  And President Bill Clinton helped bring us here. (3+ / 0-)

      Deregulation. The end of the Fairness Doctrine and a permissive FCC in matters of media consolidation opened the door to Fox, Clear Channel, and wall-to-wall HannityRush talk radio. The idea that the airwaves belong to the American people has, to coin a phrase, been rendered quaint

      .

      Yet now he and Hillary wail and moan about the state of the media.

      But it's a self-inflicted wound, born of triangulation.   Unfortunately, this wound was inflicted on the rest of us too.

      President JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's third term.

      by chumley on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:25:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  End of the Fairness Doctrine... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chumley

        Why we lost it and why we need to get it back from Common Dreams.org.Great article.

        First they ignore you..then they laugh at you..then they fight you..then you win~Ghandi

        by Wild Starchild on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:06:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Fairness Doctrine: Highly Overrated (0+ / 0-)

        The crap that passed for "public service" programming on locol stations in the 70s and 80s was crap twice warmed over, and played at 14 o'clock at night.

        In college we used to make fun of the guy at the Springfield Mass (pre-Simpsons) sitting in front of a sort of Star Trek insignia and bloviating.

        Then there was the long-running tussle about networks trying to say saturday cartoons were "educational."

    •  Post of the day...LOL.. (0+ / 0-)

      You could turn this into a diary..well done sir.:~)

      First they ignore you..then they laugh at you..then they fight you..then you win~Ghandi

      by Wild Starchild on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:02:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think "cult" may be the operative word here (0+ / 0-)

    I posted an extended excerpt from this post on my own rarely updated blog, because it set me to thinking about cults in general and how I've come to view the traditional media over the last few years. (What they were doing started long before, but it took a while for me to see it.)

    Beginning of my thoughts on the cult-likeness what's happening with the media:

    The parts I bolded in the excerpts from Devilstower's post reminded me of why I continually have a deeply disturbing sense that the extreme right-wing is more like a cult than a political party. As I understand it, as new members are enticed into a cult, the first thing that must be done to ensure their "capture" into the cult is to isolate them. They must be completely separated from any source of information that would cause them to question the ideology and worldview of the cult.

    The rest here.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. - Barbara Jordan

    by Janet Strange on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:10:45 AM PDT

  •  The Google Effect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower

    Here's an article on "The Google Effect and the Flattening of Expertise" by Austrailian media studies professor Tara Brabazon:
    http://www.librijournal.org/pdf/2006...
    My media studies students are now reading this and posting responses to a community blog (while working on our own wiki knowledge base).

    Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

    by Fatherflot on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:12:50 AM PDT

  •  Glenn Beck on MSM!!!??? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard

    unbelievable
    reminds me of "V"

    •  He cleared the Michael Savage bar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      Remember when MSNBC worked Savage into the lineup? It didn't take long for him to implode and lose his job there, but the face remains that he was hired by a major network.

      As bad as Beck is (and he's really awful), he easily clears the Michael Savage bar.

      Replete with "misstatements" and elisions and retracted and redacted and revoked assertions.--Carl Bernstein on HRC's record.

      by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:24:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ps...hooray for local radio (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maracucho

      like wmnf 88.5 tampa
      and "critical times" with Mabili
      Sunday mormings

  •  Brilliant, Devilstower. (0+ / 0-)

    Just brilliant.

    I'd love to see this post republished IN one of the major traditional publications.   It's incredibly insightful.

    But I won't hold my breath.

    President JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's third term.

    by chumley on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:23:11 AM PDT

  •  Look! Britney Spears! (0+ / 0-)

    I just right clicked it so I'm not sullied by the stupidity, but that tiresome Spears woman would seem to be in trouble again based on the headline.

    http://www.cnn.com/...

    Media integrity? Won't see that on CNN, neither discussion nor direct evidence of it. They've made themselves worthless in our eyes ...

  •  Laurie Anderson's Expert Advice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, lotlizard

    I just saw the genius Laurie Anderson perform her new song "Only an Expert" at Carnegie Hall last month:

    "Only an Expert" by Laurie Anderson
    Only and expert can deal with the problem

    Now let's say you're invited to be on Oprah
    And you don't have a problem
    But you want to go on the show, so you need a problem
    So you invent a problem
    But if you're not an expert in problems
    You're probably not going to invent a very plausible problem
    And so you're probably going to get nailed
    You're going to get exposed
    You're going to have to bow down and apologize
    And beg for the public's forgiveness.
    Cause only an expert can see there's a problem
    And only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    Now on these shows, the shows that try to solve your problems
    The big question is always 'How can I get control?
    How can I take control?'
    But don't forget this is a question for the regular viewer
    The person who's barely getting by.
    The person who's watching shows about people with problems
    The person who's part of the 60% of the U.S. population
    1.3 weeks away, 1.3 pay checks away from homelessness.
    In other words, a person with problems.
    So when experts say, 'Let's get to the root of the problem
    Let's take control of the problem
    So if you take control of the problem you can solve the problem.'
    Now often this doesn't work at all because the situation is completely out of control.
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    So who are these experts?
    Experts are usually self-appointed people or elected officials
    Or people skilled in sales techniques, trained or self-taught
    To focus on things that might be identified as problems.
    Now sometimes these things are not actually problems.
    But the expert is someone who studies the problem
    And tries to solve the problem.
    The expert is someone who carries malpractice insurance.
    Because often the solution becomes the problem.
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    Now sometimes experts look for weapons.
    And sometimes they look everywhere for weapons.
    And sometimes when they don't find any weapons
    Sometimes other experts say, 'If you haven't found any weapons
    It doesn't mean there are no weapons.'
    And other experts looking for weapons find things like cleaning fluids.
    And refrigerator rods. And small magnets. And they say,
    'These things may look like common objects to you
    But in our opinion, they could be weapons.
    And only an expert can see they might be problems.
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    And sometimes, if it's really really really hot.
    And it's July in January.
    And there's no more snow and huge waves are wiping out cities.
    And hurricanes are everywhere.
    And everyone knows it's a problem.
    But if some of the experts say it's no problem
    And other experts claim it's no problem
    Or explain why it's no problem
    Then it's simply not a problem.
    But when an expert says it's a problem
    And makes a movie and wins an Oscar about the problem
    Then all the other experts have to agree that it is most likely a problem.
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    And even though a county can invade another country.
    And flatten it. And ruin it. And create havoc and civil war in that other country
    If the experts say that it's not a problem
    And everyone agrees that they're experts good at seeing problems
    Then invading that country is simply not a problem.
    And if a country tortures people
    And holds citizens without cause or trial and sets up military tribunals
    This is also not a problem.
    Unless there's an expert who says it's the beginning of a problem.
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    Only an expert can see there's a problem
    And see the problem is half the problem
    And only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    Now only an expert can deal with the problem
    Because half the problem is seeing the problem
    And only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    So if there's no expert dealing with the problem
    It's really actually twice the problem
    Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
    Only an expert can deal with the problem

    Now in America we like solutions
    We like solutions to problems
    And there's so many companies that offer solutions
    Companies with names like Pet Solution
    The Hair Solution. The Debt Solution. The World Solution. The Sushi Solution.
    Companies with experts ready to solve the problems.
    Cause only an expert can see there's a problem
    And only an expert can deal with the problem

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:07:02 AM PDT

  •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

    This piece is a keeper, and cut-and-paster.  Nice job.

    Your summary of the perspective which we need to hold to understand the many narratives about "media" is very  simple yet illuminating.  A very good job of sketching out the big picture.

    I'm finding that I am returning to magazines again, using frequent-flyer miles to order them, and have been pleasantly surprised at how much I have been enjoying the good writing and longer word count format.

    despair is the worst sin

    by jakarta on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:12:31 AM PDT

  •  Great Essay (0+ / 0-)

    Watching the news with the family at dinner was a tradition my family had while growing up. It was the time to catch up with the world and for us to discuss what we thought. My folks still watch, but I gave up on news from the MSM several years back. The decline had started long before bloggers, who, rather than being a cause of MSM news, began to fill in the gaps wherever possible. I turned to the Internet, because I still wanted to gather information about the world, but from sources without a profit motive.

    Thanks again for a very well written article.

    The heart of progressive values is simple: empathy and responsibility. --G. Lakoff

    by J Ash Bowie on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:26:38 AM PDT

  •  In asserting that bloggers are not (0+ / 0-)

    competitors to the traditional media you're skirting a reality of which you may not be aware.  Just because YOU don't consider yourself a competitor doesn't mean that the traditional media don't perceive you as such.

    Similarly, just because egalitarians don't perceive others as people they need to dominate, doesn't mean that the ruling elite don't need a whole class of people to dominate.

    Some things are defined by their function or contribution to the web of existence.  Other things are defined by their rank in the web of existence because that's how some people prefer to see them.  People who are committed to perceiving reality as a series of hierarchical arrangements require that there be some at the top and some at the bottom, regardless of whether the things or people so assigned recognize their status.

    Liberals are self-contained, self-directed individuals; conservatives are obedient, other-directed individuals.  What drives conservatives crazy is that liberals don't even notice they're supposed to be ranked.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:33:42 AM PDT

  •  not bad apples, bad barrel (0+ / 0-)

    Like you say, most reporters have great qualities and competence, but really its the "barrel" they are in that sullies them, much like the guards at Abu Ghraib.  I had an old high school acquaintance who went to Iraq as a journalist on a film crew actually say to me "the war has been good for me", meaning it allowed him to make book.  I could hardly believe my ears.  But this is how easily we become inured to the suffering of others.  BTW he worked for FOX...

  •  Very insightful, I would also add laziness of MSM (0+ / 0-)

    Dead on.

    I would also add to your analysis the laziness of the MSM.  The MSM has turned the focus of 2008 from policy to simply handicapping a horserace.  This is how you end up with articles about orange juice and bowling.

    It's in the best interest of the MSM to have a long, drawn-out election cycle with a number of tit for tat exchanges--this way their job is easier: instead of focusing on investigative journalism they can coast along writing inanities.

    Clearly, as you've said, there are good journalists.  But, I would add that these journalists exist within a system where they are rewarded most for being lazy, not productive.

    "There is no inherent wisdom in authority" Joe Strummer

    by bristol on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 09:45:53 AM PDT

  •  One of your best, Devilstower. (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this awesome review of the current news landscape.

  •   talk radio monopoly is root of the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower

    Excellent piece.  Thanks.

    But while on a visible level Fox may be the model much of the rest of the media may want to emulate,  fox TV is heavily reliant on talk radio.  I suspect much of its audience goes to it to reinforce the  groundwork or uncontested repetition done on talk radio to 50-70MIL earlier in the day or week.

    Edwards haircut, Dean's scream, turning Kerry into a traitor and liar and a lot of GOP media successes could not have been achieved without the talk radio monopoly and its uncontested repetition.  When the TV talking heads repeat the GOP talking points and one-liners in the evening they know they have already been heard around the country.

    Much of the attack on the "liberal" media and its dumbing down was made possible with talk radio and the ongoing and incessant intimidation of journalists and organizations and media outlets who dare to criticize anything republican and get named by limbaugh and co.

    The talk radio component in selling and enabling this bush disaster cannot be underestimated.

    Talk radio has been the difference, even with other media consolidation (which was enabled to a large degree by the same TR monopoly). Since Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine the Roves of the GOP have been framing with a nail gun while progressives have been using a rock.

    Most political and media analysis is done while discounting or even ignoring the effect of the Republican talk radio monopoly. Most media analysts read and watch. There are no talk radio transcripts to search to analyze to demonstrate the power of that coordinated uncontested repetition that reaches 50-70MIL Americans 24/5/365 and is used by the Roves and Norquists like an invisible hammer to whack their opponents in the democratic party and anyone in the media who would dare to criticize their annointed leaders and irrational policies.

    Since the Fairness Doctrine was killed by Reagan the GOP has had near complete free rein to frame and control the debate and the limits of the debate, to threaten and intimidate politicians without having to face those they threaten, to censor and to swiftboat anything and anyone progressive. The loudmouths lay out a smorgasbord of prechewed and tested one liners and talking points for the lazy celebrity media to pick from and most analysts only see the final result.

    Many of the political myths that dog progressives now could not have been created without the uncontested repetition of that talk radio monopoly. The Clintons, Gores, and Kerrys probably still don't know what really hit them. Those kinds of character hit jobs can't be done on TV and print alone, even with today's consolidation-- they have to put up an appearance of balance.

  •  Not true (0+ / 0-)

    Keen is quite correct to point out that many -- most -- reporters are both knowledgeable about their subject areas and courageous in their efforts to gather information.

    Not most.

    Some. A small handfull are courageous.

    Come on.... get real. You don't have to stroke their egos first to make a contrary point. You don't have to lie about what they are in order to then tell the truth.

  •  Lessig guts Keen (0+ / 0-)

    Lawrence Lessig's skewering of keen is not to be missed.

    In a blog post, Keen again charges me with lauding the appropriation of intellectual property. But what's the source for his renewed charge? Did Keen go back to the books? Or back to his notes? Does he offer a quote, or a passage to exemplify this defining feature of my work?

    No. The truth of this matter for Keen is resolved by asking a bunch of people at the conference whether in fact I "laud the appropriation of intellectual property." They said I did. And that resolves it for Keen.

    That's right: the truth comes from the wisdom of the crowd. These unnamed sources confirm it for Keen. And that's all the confirmation he needs. No need to actually read anything. The crowds have spoken. And now this "professional" trusts the crowds.

  •  Ownership matters (0+ / 0-)

    Web 2.0 is not so innocent.  There's the matter of blogspot, as one prominent example.  It's as rife with disinformation and smear campaigns as anything in MSM.  Google's 'do no harm' was evidently changed to 'do no harm until after IPO.'  The cover profits now the same way as MSM who have decayed for exactly the same reason.

    In fact, I'd give MSM a plus over Web 2.0.  Because MSM at least usually requires ownership of one's words.  Good or bad, there's an identifiable author who owns her/his words in publication.  Thus, some measure of accountability.  Web 2.0 has very little accountability.  It's so bad that blogs in general are getting a bad name due to all the turds floating in the punchbowl.

    =====
    Peace. It's cheaper and more fun.

    by USexpat Ukraine on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 08:57:33 PM PDT

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