10 September 2006

The program you are watching contains lies and numerous unsubstantiated smears deliberately inserted by rightwing operatives

Much hubbub has erupted over a new crock-umentary (I think that's the proper term for a fictional dramatization full of bold faced lies) titled The Path to 9/11 to air on ABC to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the savage 9/11/01 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Democrats, naturally, are outraged, and lodging their disatisfaction all across the internet. Even Bill Clinton has fired off a letter of protest. And it appears that the show makers are indeed a well honed right wing propaganda operation, which in my view, doesn't necessarily disqualify the output, but the fact that they've taken steps to hide and obscure who has been involved is not a positive point.

Personally, it's like day 25 for my family's self imposed television blackout, and even when I return to watching, network news fare is probably at the bottom of my viewing wish list. While I concede that Path to 9/11 is garbage, it's not like all the other "non-fiction" shows put on are models of truth telling. Mainstream network journalism sold out to its corporate and government masters long ago, and spare an occasional spark of enlightenment here and there, it's a vast space of overhyped sensationalism, celebrity worship, cowing to authorities and extreme dearth of critical questioning. About the only thing I miss are sports telecasts — football, hockey, soccer. And maybe just filler time when it's time to feed and the fingers are no longer free to bang on a keyboard.

Still, I'd like to illustrate this item as another episode in Republican hypocrisy. Consider that ABC is owned by Disney, the same Disney that in 2004 refused to distribute Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911.

Miramax had funded the film but Disney, which owns the art-house studio, had declined to distribute the movie, saying the documentary and its criticism of President Bush's war on Iraq were too politically charged

Now, Moore might be over the top in the manner which he gets in the face of interviewees and how he juxtaposes scenes together to create an outlandish picture, but he didn't make stuff up, and jam obvious false telling into fabricated reenactments (Dramatization, may not have occurred!). Not to make this post about Michael Moore, but even the worst criticism against Farhenheit 911 failed to show anything more than nitpickings or subjective dings on what was left out.

Liberal media bias my arse…

20 August 2006

It's not a sacrifice. It's how we want to be living

For one family, living without a TV is the right program
"Living can be a tricky thing. There are a lot of things wanting our attention and allegiances. And often they aren't life-giving, leading us to a deeper, freer, more restful life. Television is not something that is life giving."

Not the first occasion I have written on this theme, but on a personal note, it is day 3 on a 30 day quest for my family — we've pledged to give up television for 30 days. And after my contractual obligations with the good folks at DirecTV are met, we plan to permanently discontinue satellite service.

While, it's not a total viewing blackout — at this juncture, we're still availing ourselves of DVD movie library and video games, it's the first step in breaking free of a sort of electronic bondage. Not that I watch much network television, but increasingly, I've noted the the gravitation to a default act of sitting down to watch HD movies and to satiate post World Cup withdrawl with televised soccer games around the globe.

Thus far, it's not been much of a sacrfice for us, though I'll have to check back once football season begins (and then the one true sport, hockey, begins another season).

4 February 2006

A world without television

An economics professor writes about his family's experience of living without television. There are some real gems in this essay.
This is a particular area in which television's costs are great. Becoming informed takes some work. This traditionally involved reading books, newspapers, and magazines to develop opinions about what you believed (or didn't). Unfortunately, some of the most uninformed people I meet each day receive their news solely from television, which reduces complex social problems into emotional, highly manipulative one- or two-minute segments.

And these people vote.

The Framers of the Constitution created a decentralized republic, and explicitly not a democracy, because they knew that the latter tended toward centralization and tyranny. Even Jefferson believed that the small role actual voting would play in the new country would only be tolerable with an educated electorate. Not only would he hate television, he'd despair over a culture that promotes democracy and television as goods that must be universally available. What does it mean for freedom when so many voters are only informed to the extent possible through CNN and Fox News?

While I haven't chosen this drastic a course for my own family's television viewing practice, I completely share Mr. Westley's sentiments. As it is, I feel the monthly satellite fee (along with the high definition package, a recent upgrade purchase) is mostly wasted, as I rarely watch television, except for sporting events. It's been a conscious decision, and inertia at times propels me to switch the television on in a mindless stupor — before I become cognizant of the choice, and immediately power off.

Like the author of this article, I frequently feel left out of work place (or other public settings) conversations where the topic is a popular television show. And when, on infrequent occasions, when I do take in some cable news network fare, I'm simply stunned at how stories are framed, compared to in depth reads. Sure, the visual imagery can be overpowering, and overly enhances the emotional impact for big earth shattering stories like Katrina or a terrorist strike aftermath — but minus the historical background and missing the complete truth.

26 October 2004

Doctor and a lawyer turned radio talk-show hosts battle it out

On C-Span The Washington Journal show. It's dated (taped October 13, 2004), but still, it was keen to see Valley radio talkers Mike Newcomb and Tom Liddy on television together.

Watch the video.

According to the On Second Thought newsletter, Dr. Newcomb was flooded with emails in support after the show. I'd like to post a link, but it seems the webmaster there hasn't updated the site in eons.

15 October 2004

You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show

Jon Stewart makes an appearance on CNN Crossfire and takes on bowtie boy, Tucker Carlson, and he actually called him a dick on national television.
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.


STEWART: What is wrong with you?

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.


Stewart drops the comedy bit and tackles the political pundits.

According to some in attendance at the taping, some heated words were exchanged between commercial breaks and after the show between Stewart and hosts Carlson and Begala. Props to Stewart for calling out those CNN clowns…

MTV story on the brouhaha is titled Jon Stewart Bitchslaps CNN's 'Crossfire' Show.

Video available here.

12 November 2003

Revisionist Reaganism

CBS is still backpedaling for its decision to yank the broadcasting of a miniseries on "The Reagans", claiming that the conservative outcry was not the ruling factor, just that "it was a moral decision, not an economic or a political one". I've searched and scanned the right wing internet zines, enduring the third grade reading level of many of them, but I've yet to see what the big hullabaloo is about. In fact, you can review the series script as it's been posted online. About the only specific knock against it is the literary license taken for a quote about AIDS -- "They that live in sin shall die in sin". But several biographers and historians have attested that he indeed spoke of AIDS as God's punishment for those inflicted with the deadly disease. Yes, there's a few other "fly on the wall" type conversation blurbs publicized from the cancelled show that are a dramatization of affairs, but nobody minds too much when Bob Woodward does it, or the propaganda flacks who twisted the Jessica Lynch story or just about any televised bit on the Kennedys. I suppose much of the criticism is directed at the portrayal of Ronald Reagan as a heartless ogre. But then again, here was a man who refused to acknowledge the existence of poverty in America and shared anecdotal stories with the public that were simply fiction.

Arizona Republic Viewpoints contributor Mark Genrich's The BS in CBS is a classic illustration of conservative hypocrisy. Mr. Genrich pronounces the production a "mendacious fiction" based simply on a few blurbs of dialogue, and not having even seen the show. It seems conservatives are so set on embracing the Reagan mythos, despite the historical record that marks a subpar presidency.

I haven't read the entire script, but I bet that the story, centered in scandalous personal travails of the Reagan clan, omitted some far greater historical truths:

  • Giving missles and weapons to Islamic terrorists and rewarding hostage taking while publicly disclaiming such actions.

  • Charge of an administration seeped in corruption. Much was made of the impropriety during Clinton's watch, but under Reagan/Bush, his staff claimed over 30 felony convictions (in contrast to 2 for the Clinton years) and departments like HUD were awash in wrongdoing.

  • Harsh economic times that funneled an incredible increase in income to the upper 20% of Americans but left the average working American with a lower standard of living and a larger tax bill, despite being heralded as a tax cutting champion.

  • Support of murderous regimes in Central America and the approval of the South Africa system. Of course, this was a man who was against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported segregation, rekindling the Republican's "Southern Strategy" that began with Nixon.

  • Lying repeatedly to the American public about the Iran/Contra scandal, trashing the Constitution in a gross Machiavellian display of hegemony.

7 July 2003

You should only get AIDS and die, you pig

Well, that Michael Savage crack to a caller on MSNBC Savage Nation show cost him his gig. He's been canned.

I'm not surprised that he got the axe. I am astonished that he lasted nearly five months, given his penchant for bigotry and hate mongering. It shocks me that MSNBC ever awarded a show hosting spot to such a controversial figure who had a track record of issuing offensive slurs:

He has spoken of "the grand plan, to push homosexuality to cut down on the white race" (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00). In his book Savage Nation, he complained that Sen. Hillary Clinton and Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor have "feminized and homosexualized much of America, to the point where the nation has become passive, receptive and masochistic."

Aside from being a homophobe, Savage has referred to women as "whores", Asians as "little soy-eaters", and immigrants or people of color as "natives of the Turd World". Here's what Mr. Savage thinks of those helping the homeless:

Discussing student volunteers distributing food to the homeless in San Francisco, Savage declared that "the girls from Branson [school] can go in and maybe get raped... because they seem to like the excitement of it. There's always the thrill and possibility they'll be raped in a dumpster while giving out a turkey sandwich" (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00).

Not that I was a fan of the MSNBC Phil Donahue show - but Heavens Gate, how could the network execs dump their highest rated program and replace it with hate filled jabbering of a racist?

Liberal media bias my arse...