May 8, 2012

The Right-Wing Propaganda Devil vs. the Goddess of Truth


February 6, 2011

Collegiate Teabaggers Celebrate Ronald Reagan’s 100th Birthday


July 22, 2010

Newscasts become the shell game

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:39 pm

How disconcerting would it be if Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes, and Mike Malloy agreed on something? – Anything? On Wednesday, July 21, 2012, this columnist was totally flummoxed to hear that all three of those radio personalities were telling their respective audiences that Journalism in America is kaput.

Rush was asserting that the “state owned” media was giving President Obama a pass on criticism and letting a villainous politician get away with dastardly deeds. Rush has started to sarcastically refer to the media as “The Ministry of Truth.” Obviously all the teabag party members will get the sly reference to Orwell’s novel “1984.”

Conversely, Randi Rhodes was very critical of the media for their role as accessories in the Shirley Sherrod brouhaha because they (according to Randi) helped the Republicans take a deceptively edited video and inflated it from a virtual lie up to the major gaff level news story.

Mike Malloy was charging Fox News in general and Glen Beck in particular of inciting violence on an individual level and attempting to incite race riots.

One of this columnist’s (if not the most) favorite metaphor is the parable of the six blind Hindus touching an elephant and drawing some very diverse conclusions based on the information they had available. The first touched the tail and thought an elephant was like a rope. The second ran his hands over the trunk and said that an elephant was very similar to a snake. Three felt the ear and thought elephants were like a leafy tropical plant. The stomach made four compare an elephant to a wall. The guy who felt the leg jumped to the conclusion that elephants were like trees. The last guy touched the tusk and said with certainty that elephants are like swords.

[For a totally irrelevant aside, we must note that this writer’s favorite book title is “An Elephant is Soft and Mushy.”]

The three radio talkers may not agree on the conclusion to be drawn, but it does seem that on Wednesday July 21, 2010, they were agreed that in the USA Journalism is DOA.

It also seems to this columnist that one of the best reasons to live in Berkeley is that the University of California Berkeley has a journalism school, and that may explain why a goodly number of great books concerning journalism turn up in the Berkeley Public Library’s Used Book store (at very affordable prices). Hence, when we decided the topic and commenced to write this column, we quickly skimmed through a recently acquired copy of a paperback book we read (approximately) 50 years ago, “Citizen Hearst” by W. A. Swanberg.

William Randolph Hearst made a big success out of the San Francisco Examiner by striving for sensationalism. Swanberg describes the underlying philosophy of journalism (Bantam Book paperback page 68) thus: “Any issue that did not cause its reader to rise out of his chair and cry, ‘Great God!’ was counted a failure.”

To build his audience, Hearst exposed political greed and corruption, which sometimes embarrassed his father who was a U. S. Senator.

Hearst imbued journalism with a tone of sly mischievous rascality that in more recent times was personified by Hunter S. Thompson and not Rupert Murdock.

An incident in Swanberg’s book gives a hint of the devil may care attitude Hearst fostered. Examiner employees were prone to overindulging in liquor and Hearst was very indulgent in forgiving anyone who became inebriated. “One day Hearst met a reporter who was perfectly sober, yet was supposed to be on a spree. ‘On the scamp’s assurance that he had honestly intended to get drunk, but lacked the price,’ (Ambrose) Bierce recalled, ‘Mr. Hearst gave him enough money to reestablish his character for veracity and passed on.’” (Ibid page 71)

Would William Randolph Hearst or Rupert Murdock be more prone to sending a reporter to the Gulf Region to get arrested in a National Park for snooping on BP?

During George W. Bush’s Reign of Terror, wasn’t Rush Limbaugh very enthusiastic about shutting up the “pro-liberal” media, but now that a Democrat is in the White House, he seems to be a champion of the free press’ right to criticize any and all Presidents and he seems bent on excoriating the media for not doing so with President Obama. If the sudden reversal was sparked by party loyalty doesn’t that contradict Limbaugh’s self proclaimed right to be called “America’s Anchor Man”?

Is it fair to expect a cheerleading squad to be nonpartisan?

During the Bush regime conservative talk show hosts were always admonishing their audience to avoid any rush to judgment when sensational news was announced. When the torture at Abu Ghraib prison was first reported, didn’t the entire roster of conservative radio personalities stress the importance of withholding judgment until someone had been convicted in a court of law? When the Shirley Sherrod scandal erupted, didn’t the conservatives respond like a lynch mob?

After Bright Bart was confronted with photos of signs at tea party rallies that indicated that racism was alive and well at those events, didn’t he just ignore reality and second the Amy Sample McPherson attitude: “That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!”?

Was the “honest mistake” attitude provided for Bright Boy, also extended to Dan Rather when he fell victim to some planted false evidence regarding George W. Bush’s National Air Guard attendance record, which indicated that the (then) President had been a deserter?

Failure to adhere to reality is fine for writers who hope to emulate Hans Christian Andersen or to produce something that would delight the Brothers Grimm, but when it comes to a standard for reporters why has America suddenly given a pass to Fox and let reality become gelatinous? Oh, wait! Mike Malloy pointed out that Fox has established a legal president proclaiming that Fox News has a (God given?) right to lie. It seem, after refreshing our memory with a skim of the Swanberg book, that even William Randolph Hearst would want to debate Rupert Murdock on that point.

Does that mean that if Fox News reports a sudden “groundswell” of approval for Jeb Bush, that it doesn’t have to be true?

It seems that Fox has made a newscast into a “play along at home” version of the shell game. It is up to viewers to ascertain which statements are facts and which are lies. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a newscast?

When a manager asked permission to fire the Examiner’s Managing Editor, Samuel S. Chamberlain, Hearst replied: “If he is sober one day in thirty that is all I require.” (Ibid page 77.) Is it too much to ask Fox News to be unbiased for one day in thirty?

Now the disk jockey will play “Dark side of the moon,” the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and the “Mickey Mouse Club” theme song. We have to go see if the Berkeley Public Library Bookstore has a bargain copy of Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?” Have an “if I saw it on TV; it must be true” type week.

March 29, 2010

The Dying of the Right: Frum Fired For Telling the Truth


“Republicans originally thought that Fox [News] worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”
David Frum on Nightline, March 22, 2010, blowing Fox’s whole ‘fair and balanced’ mumbo-jumbo, as quoted by Media Matters.

– David Frum, Frum Forum, March 21, 2010

“David Frum: “What the Hell is Going On at Fox News?”
– Jamison Foser, Media Matters, March 18, 2010

February 22, 2010

The Tattlesnake – In Defense of Tiger Woods (Sort of) Edition

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 10:07 am

The Abridged Tiger Woods Apology Speech, After a Quick Spray with the Truth Ray

TIGER WOODS: “Hello to you all. I am here to publicly apologize for cheating on my wife Elin with other women. (Why am I apologizing to the public? I didn’t cheat on them. Oh, right, kids look up to me as a role model. Kids are watching golf now? Jeez, can’t they look up to someone besides a golfer as a role model? Basketball players, baseball players, football players … okay, never mind.)

“While my publicist and marketing people actually wrote these words, I can assure you they come straight from my heart. (And a billion dollars a year in endorsements.)

“In a sane world, I could just be respected as a great golfer and my private life would be my own business, but you self-righteous hypocrites in the media and you sex-starved moralists in the celebrity-obsessed public need some cheesy scandal to drool over, and right now it’s me. (Why don’t you all get a life?) You know, you don’t make rock stars and movie idols apologize like this – at least I haven’t seen Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty pestered endlessly for cheating on their wives, but then I guess you can’t play golf and then pose with a car or disposable razor unless you have a spotless personal life. Hey, why don’t you ask the CEOs of the corporations that pay me for endorsements to publicly apologize for their marital infidelities? Oh, right, they aren’t celebrities. Besides, many of you in the media pull a paycheck from one of those corporations. What amazing courage.

“Okay, sorry, I was told by my handlers not to go off script. So, here, I’m just apologizing all over myself for being a kid and young man who never had much of a life outside golf, with a Domineering Stage Father who forced me to practice all the time so that I could fulfill all of his unrealized dreams, and once I was out from under his influence I went nuts and took advantage of my fame and got laid as often as I could. Every honest man listening to me, if they had grown up the way I did, would have done the same thing. Most of you men would do the same thing even without having a Domineering Stage Father, if you had the chance, especially you sportswriters.

“You know who really owes the public an apology: The media vultures covering this story by obsessing on every minute detail of my personal life. Maybe you should try spending the same amount of time on explaining things to the public that really affects their lives – like health care reform, and the growing power of corporations over our lives, and the reality of war, and who’s lying about what in Washington. Oh, but that’s too controversial; instead you pick the safe route – go after the golfer. You know, it’s not going to put a penny in the public’s pocket, or make their lives one bit better if I apologize, but here it is, for what it’s worth:

“I apologize completely for anything in my private life that might have ever offended anyone. But I know this mea culpa won’t be the end — my bones haven’t been picked entirely clean yet.

“Just to sum up, my adulterous dalliances outside of my marriage, and any apologies I make for them, as I’ve said, really aren’t and shouldn’t be important except to those close to me. The only important thing about this story is how much valuable airtime and empty words of fake outrage the mainstream media are willing to waste to pursue the sordid details of my private life. Let me reiterate: For that, I don’t owe you an apology – they do.”

© 2010 RS Janes.

October 20, 2009

Bubble Boy Rush


December 11, 2008

Republican Spruikers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:56 am

(Fremantle W. A.)  December 11, 2008 If this columnist told you that he would sell you some magic snake-oil that would cure your leprosy, and if you bought some and it didn’t work, you could take the matter to the police.
The conservative talk show hosts who promote the Republican agenda (a spruiker is Australian slang meaning someone who touts something. seem to be immune to any accountability.  Aussies want to know if the Americans are stupid or just too lazy to make the effort to become well enough informed to know BS when they are presented with a massive serving.  (Kinda like the old song about Moose Turd Pie, eh?)
If a man gives false testimony, in court, under oath, and if it was proved that the facts contradicted what he said, he would be facing arrest for perjury.
If a reporter gets the facts wrong he can be fired even if there is no lawsuit for liable or slander.
The spruikers who tout the accomplishments of the Republicans can say whatever the **** (heck) they want and will usually get a big fat bonus if the rubes believe what they say.
Has accountability become an extinct requirement for talk show hosts?  Has the U. S. become addicted to Republican spruikers?
If the conservative radio personalities tell falsehoods, why are then not held accountable by the citizens?
Famed comedian W. C. Fields used to portray a despicable salesman who sold phony patten medicine from the back of a wagon and everyone wanted to see him tarred and feathered for his dishonesty.  Why do people like el Rushbo get a free pass?
Perhaps the very avid Republican cheerleaders believe the old Fields maxim:  “Never give a sucker and even break!”?
Want to see an example of spruiking?
This columnist has promised to plug the anti-whaling efforts of Greenpeace in Australia and, since they don’t like to print fliers that get thrown away, we also promised to do so by providing our readers with the link to their website.
Now, we have kept our promise and given you an example of a spruiker at work.
There is an old adage:  “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on you.”  Listening to Conservative talk radio next year will be like advocating a “not guilty” verdict for the Nuremberg trial defendants.
Maybe this web site should start a pool to see who can make the most accurate prediction about exactly when the first conservative media personality will make the first suggestion urging that President Obama be impeached?  (I say it will be Bill O’Reilly on Jan. 21, 2009 at 9:15 a.m. PST.)
One of W. C. Fields lines seems to cover the Republican Spruikers’ code of ethics:  “If a thing is worth having, it’s worth cheating for.”
Now, the disk jockey will (after hearing it at the Record Finder) play Johnny Cash’s recording “What Is Truth?” and we will make our escape.  Have a “and that’s  no lie” type week.

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