26 June 2003

The PBS Home Team

Though this detailed expose concerns the PBS show Think Tank, it offers a instructive roadmap on the rise of right wing think tanks serving as advocacy organizations for conservative causes, elevating fringe politics into the mainstream via their fully stocked financial coffers.

The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Olin Foundation, Smith-Richardson Foundation, and Scaife (who's funded all of these) foundations pay millions to writers to advocate their agenda which is in near total alignment with Republican politics and ideology. PBS programming influence is increasingly dictated by conservative philanthropies, using tax-exempt monies.

23 June 2003

Al Gore's Support of the Internet

Al Gore never said he "invented the internet". The exact quote was "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." While that statement can be construed to mean invent, it also can be taken as the boasting of someone who used his power and influence to spearhead, as part of a collaborative team, the net's sustainment, nurturing and dissemination during its formative years as it transformed from a text only network of geeks to the commercial, graphical and open online haven it is today.

I know this is all old news but it seems like poor Al is still subject to smirking zingers on this verbal guffaw, especially from many who couldn't distinguish the escape key from the tilde key. From recent news headlines to every corner of the web. Last Friday, KFYI Barry "barely famous" Young repeatedly scoffed at the former vice president's "internet boast" in a diatribe that resembled an audition for a Bush administration Ministry of Disinformation post. While Mr. Young has never let facts get in the way of a entertaining monologue, I thought I'd share the thoughts of those immensely more qualified to comment on Al Gore's internet involvement. Just for the record.

Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn, creators of TCP/IP, the networking magic behind the net, both came forth in September 2000 and presented a strong statement in support of Gore's remarks:
» read more

17 June 2003

Massive Media Facts and Figures

Mother Jones collected some facts from NY Times and Bill Moyers in regard to the recent FCC decision to deregulate further:
Number of trips FCC Commissioners and staff took in the last eight years that were "primarily" paid for by telecommunications and broadcast companies:

Cost of those trips:

Number of closed-door meetings FCC has held with industry in recent months:

Number of public hearings on the new media ownership rules held in the last year attended by Chairman Michael Powell and the two Republican commissioners:

Percentage of the 500,000 comments posted to the FCC's website that voiced opposition to the new rules:

Number of owners of full-power TV stations and newspapers in 1975:

Number as of 2000:

Change in the number of commercial radio stations since passage of 1996 Telecommunications Act:

Percentage change in average cost of cable rates since then:

16 June 2003

Fibbing It Up at Fox

Dale Steinreich at has posted his diary of Fox News campaign to "legitimize" the Iraq conflict. From bimbo reporters who don't have a clue to the dogmatic Colonel David Hunt. Not to mention the lack of objectivity displayed by O'Reilly...

13 June 2003

U.S. Funded Middle Eastern Television Network to Launch By End of Year

Norman Pattiz, Westwood One chairman, with a $30 million chest full of taxpayer funds, is planning to launch a new satellite TV network to compete with Al Jazeera and counter what's perceived as "the negative portrait of U.S. policy". Children's programming and music videos with "a western flare" will occupy show slots, in addition to news.

Al Franken Discusses Calling Out O'Reilly Lies

BuzzFlash has posted an interview with Al Franken, author of the bestseller Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and soon to be published Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. During a recent appearance on CSPAN Book Show, Franken confronted O'Reilly about his repeated fallacious claim that he received the prestigious Peabody award while hosting Inside Edition, a trashy, sensationalist tabloid journalism TV show.
Well, it isn't just that Bill O'Reilly claims he won a couple of Peabody Awards. Whenever he was asked about Inside Edition and it being sort of a tabloid show, O'Reilly would indignantly say that they had won two Peabody Awards. Who says we're a tabloid show? And O'Reilly would offer as proof the Peabody Awards that Inside Edition had supposedly won. And he did this on a number of occasions. I got through watching him once on C-SPAN and then went researching on Nexis. I just followed it up because I couldn't believe that Inside Edition had won a Peabody. And I did the research. And, of course, they hadn't won any Peabody Award. I thought I would call O'Reilly, and that way he could stop saying the wrong thing, which any journalist would be embarrassed about. Instead of being grateful that I had called him, he just got angry. Well it turns out that Inside Edition had won a "Polk" Award a year after he left. And so he got very, very angry and said, "Go ahead go after me, Al." And so I just thought that it'd be fun to do.

Franken also talks about how some disproven bunk is disseminated from right wing think tanks and morphs into an "echo chamber" of disinformation. Examples given are anecdotal blurbs plucked from Bernard Goldberg book Bias that were taken out of their meaningful context to construct something that just isn't so. And more egregious, when Goldberg is queried about it, he is truly ignorant on the matter, lending weight to the hypothesis that he's a tool, blindly spreading the mantra of some conservative think tank agenda.
» read more

9 June 2003

Selling Papers

Newspaper editor Richard Hart describes how the recent FCC decision to allow further media consolidation is going to harm local newspapers. Hart gives a first hand account of what happened to The News and Observer in North Carolina after a buyout - how news coverage was skewed to attract affluent, conservative readers.

The newspaper's focus became improving readership in Wake County--an increasingly conservative, Republican place. The North Raleigh News section was created. Staffing in Durham and Orange counties was reduced. Stories were discussed in terms of their appeal to Wake County readers.

The N&O is filled with talented, professional, profoundly ethical journalists. No one will ever say they were told to skew news coverage for marketing reasons. But it's clear to me that editors at The N&O, which made its reputation as a leading, liberal Southern paper under Jonathan Daniels, did not aggressively look for stories that forcefully challenged the Bush administration on Iraq because they were afraid of alienating conservative, Wake County readers.

So what does this have to do with further media consolidation? McClatchy is considered one of the least profit-oriented chains in the country, one that puts good journalism first. There are also constant rumors that, being a medium-sized media company, it is ripe for takeover by another media giant.