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  • Sylvia Moore 12:44 pm on February 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , commercial television, FOX, , , , , , , PBS, Pew Research Center, Public Policy Polling, public television, ,   

    PBS Most Trusted News; ABC Least Trusted 

    ABC is officially the least trusted name in news. That’s according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling. A plurality of respondents, 35 percent find ABC trustworthy, while 43 percent find it untrustworthy. But 50 percent of respondents find PBS trustworthy, while 30 percent don’t. Fox, or “Faux” News as its detractors like to call it, has seen its credibility with viewers hit the skids recently. Though the cable outlet was in the middle of the pack in trustworthiness, it had the highest percentage of people who found it untrustworthy at 46 percent:


    Source: Public Policy Polling

    The fact that commercial television news has so little credibility with the public is no surprise. Much of what passes for “news” on these stations are screaming talking heads, stealth advertising, fluff, misinformation and disinformation. It’s little wonder that the public is hungering for alternatives like public television – which should be expanded – and the Internet. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that more and more people, young and old, are turning away from television as their main source of news and fleeing to the Web. But if the enemies of net neutrality have their way, the Internet will come to resemble the putrid cesspool that television has become.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 3:54 pm on January 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arizona, assassination, , , , Clarence Dupnik, , , , , extremism, , , First Amendment, FOX, , , Gabrielle Giffords, genocide, , , Jared Lee Loughner, , license, , , media monopolies, , , political, political violence, , public broadcasting, , , , , Roger Ailes, , Telecommunications Act,   

    How Many More Have to Die Before Big Media Stops Peddling Hate? 

    Last Saturday, when I saw the headlines blaring from Internet that a Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, had been nearly assassinated in Tucson, my blood ran cold. My initial shock turned to anger as I read that the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, allegedly gunned down another 18 people, killing six of them, including a young child. I had been fearing this day ever since President Obama’s inauguration two years ago, when incidences of threats and actual political violence suddenly exploded, amid a noxious stew of violent rightwing rhetoric emanating from our public airwaves.

    For years, I kept hoping that the President and Congress would do something to rein in the corporate media companies who continue to showcase hatemongering radio and TV commentators, and rake in millions of dollars at the expense of reasoned debate and civil public discourse. I wrote letters about my concerns to my congressional representatives. I blogged about it. I wanted our public officials to take this abuse of free speech on our public airwaves much more seriously.

    I wasn’t as worried about President Obama’s safety, because of the fortress-like security apparatus afforded to American commanders-in-chief. No, I had a feeling that the first attempted political assassination of a government official in many years would be on a member of Congress. Now it’s happened. And so many other innocent lives were lost or ruined in the attack.

    None of these extremist broadcast commentators told Loughner, or anybody else, to go and massacre people. But they and the companies who employ them have perpetuated an environment where violent rhetoric is deemed an acceptable form of entertainment, where media personalities steer close to or even commit incitement, and where alternative viewpoints are scarce. Unfortunately, our public leaders – Democrats as well as Republicans – have acquiesced to the wishes of Big Media by allowing deregulation and corporate consolidation. Our government has also gotten rid of equal time rules, and declawed the Federal Communications Commission, which is supposed to oversee broadcast outlets and protect the public interest. On top of that, the United States, unlike other Western countries, lacks a robust public broadcast system that can provide an antidote to corporate media’s worst programming. So we see large portions of the population whose only source of news and information comes from extremist radio figures and lightweight local TV news broadcasts. Add to this large-scale ignorance, a toxic brew of massive income inequality, racism and bigotry, and easy access to guns. It took Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who oversees Tucson, to finally say to the mainstream what many of us in the media reform movement have been screaming about for years:

    “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

    “It’s the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business. People tend to pooh-pooh this business about the vitriol that inflames American public opinion by the people who make a living off of that. That may be free speech but it’s not without consequences.”

    Many are calling on the haters to tamp down the vitriol. Interestingly, Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News, the cable network that is now synonymous with rightwing flamethrowing and propaganda, is asking “both sides” – meaning left and right – to tone it down. Other mainstream media outlets are also continuing to put out this false meme that liberals and conservatives are equally responsible for the venom polluting the public airwaves. Ailes and his ilk know perfectly well that it is conservative leaders, media pundits, TV and radio personalities who are primarily the ones spreading hate speech and violent rhetoric. Liberals just don’t have the kind of money or access to as many broadcast stations as do conservatives. And what liberals have said in public, while provocative, just doesn’t reach the same level of bloodthirstiness that we’ve seen from conservatives.

    But the real point here is that no amount of pleading for calm will stop the behavior. There may be a pause for a while, but I doubt it will last. The media conglomerates are just making too much money from hate speech. That has to change. Unless and until laws with teeth are put back on the books to regulate the media companies, the invective will escalate and more tragedies will happen. What should be done?

    1. Break up the media monopolies: There are only a handful of companies that control almost everything Americans see and hear. That means only a handful of executives (typically white and male) are dictating what kind of information is available to an increasingly diverse public. This also means that a handful of executives are using toxic radio and TV personalities to sow divisions among the citizenry just so they can try to sell us their corporate propaganda. That must end. Allowing Comcast and NBC Universal to merge is taking American media in the wrong direction.
    2. Give the FCC and the public more enforcement power: When President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act in 1996, the interval between renewing broadcast licenses increased from five to eight years. That should be reversed. (FCC Commissioner Michael Copps wants to reduce the period to four) In addition, broadcasters whose media personalities routinely incite violence and threaten people or groups with bodily harm should have their licenses revoked. In addition, it should be just as easy to file a challenge against a station for hate speech as it is for profane speech. We may have free speech rights, but no one has the right to own or broadcast on a radio or TV station. Broadcasting on our limited public airwaves is a privilege, and broadcasters must be held to certain standards.
    3. The United States must implement an independent, 100%-taxpayer-funded public broadcasting system with TV and radio stations available in every community – urban and rural. PBS and NPR, with their paltry taxpayer subsidies and commercial underwriters, just don’t cut it. We need something on par with the BBC. This new public system must have access to frequencies equally as powerful as the ones available to commercial stations. Public broadcasting systems in other Western countries have a much more expansive array of high-quality produced shows featuring culture, politics, science and documentaries. Citizens in countries with robust public broadcasting systems are exposed to a wider variety of political views and are therefore, more informed than Americans. Toxic speech must be counteracted with more diverse and better speech.
    4. All Americans deserve equal access to fast, affordable and high-quality broadband that is free of corporate manipulation and control.

    Thanks to our First Amendment, Americans probably enjoy the most permissive free speech rights of any modern democracy. But this right is not absolute. Some are abusing the First Amendment by using the public’s airwaves to stir up hatred and division. They are profiting off the public trough and giving out only garbage in return. Extremist radio and TV commentators are not directly responsible for the political violence plaguing America today, but they have contributed to the creation of an environment of nastiness in our public discourse that can influence disturbed individuals like Jared Loughner. If this extremist speech isn’t soon ostracized from public life in the U.S., the lone, crazed gunman will morph into organized mobs hell bent on murdering political opponents and even committing genocide.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 3:00 pm on January 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, FOX, , , , , Washington Post   

    FAIR Lists the Stinkiest Moments in Journalism in 2010 

    Media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has just announced its 2010 P.U.-litzer Prizes, a roundup of the best of the worst in Big Media reporting. And there are some real whoppers. From blatant class bias and explicit saber rattling to outright lies, the list shows how much of American mainstream news is a joke. Some examples:

    –Prosecute the Messenger Award: Diane Sawyer (ABC News)

    On October 22, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a report on WikiLeaks‘ exposure of thousands of classified documents from the Iraq War. ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz summarized the contents of the WikiLeaks files: “Deadly U.S. helicopter assaults on insurgents trying to surrender…. The Iraqi civilian death toll far higher than the U.S. has acknowledged…. Graphic detail about torture of detainees by the Iraqi military.” After Raddatz’s report, Sawyer offered this followup: “I know there’s a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?”

    ….

    –Pay Cuts for Everyone (Except Me!) Award: Steven Pearlstein (Washington Post)

    Under the headline “Wage Cuts Hurt, but They May Be the Only Way to Get Americans Back to Work” (10/13/10), Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein argued that “structural adjustments”–that is, lower pay–“are necessary if the U.S. economy is to find a new equilibrium.” But he made clear that a 20 percent pay cut isn’t for everyone–it’s not for people like him, for example:

    “I’m sure many of you are reading this and thinking that if anyone is forced to take a pay cut to rebalance the economy, surely it ought to be overpaid investment bankers, corporate executives and newspaper columnists. That’s how things would work in a socialist paradise, but not in market economies, which are much better at producing efficiency than fairness.”

    While it’s hard to see investment bankers, whose industry survives because of a massive government bailout, as paragons of free-market efficiency, his inclusion of newspaper columnists is even less convincing: It’s clearly inefficient for the Post to pay Pearlstein when people would write columns of a similar caliber for a lot, lot less.

    ….

    –Immigration Misinformation Award: Bill O’Reilly (Fox News Channel)

    During the debate over Arizona’s harsh immigration law SB 1070, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly made a case in support of Arizona’s crackdown: More immigrations equal more crime. According to O’Reilly, Phoenix’s crime problem is “out of control” (5/3/10); in the state overall, the crime problem is “through the roof” (5/4/10, 5/13/10, 5/14/10), it is “overwhelming” (5/6/10). One problem: There was no crime wave in Arizona or Phoenix, where authorities were reporting that crime was actually down–which research suggests is typical in areas with higher immigrant populations (FAIR Action Alert, 5/17/10). After FAIR noted O’Reilly’s errors, he actually stopped making them. But he soon found new ways to justify his anti-immigrant stance, like arguing that crime is indeed down along the border–because immigrants have stopped coming into the country (FAIR Blog, 6/21/10).

    Read the rest of the “winners” by clicking here.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , business, class, , , FOX, , ktla, , , , , , SEIU, , , , workers   

    Janitors Protest: A Rally Against Economic Injustice or A Public Nuisance? 

    Last Thursday, hundreds of activists staged a protest in Century City outside of the JP Morgan Chase-owned Century Plaza building in support of 16 janitors who were laid off in a company cost-cutting move. The Service Employees International Union organized the demonstration, including a hunger strike – part of a series of actions that ended on Friday. Thirteen protesters were arrested after they sat down in the middle of a street intersection in an act of civil disobedience.

    These protests were just the latest expression of outrage among the working classes across the country, who have suffered massive job losses and wage stagnation, while failing bank behemoths who wrecked the economy got bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars. The day of the janitors action, I wondered how much local news coverage it would get – if any at all. The protest did get the media’s attention, probably more so because of what it did (caused traffic jams), rather than what it represented (economic inequality and distress).

    All five major local news stations – CBS2/KCAL9, NBC4, ABC7, FOX11 and KTLA – had stories about the protest. Most had videos on their web sites, along with a print version. NBC4 was the only site without video, but you can read its account here. What was fascinating was the different tone each newscast took, what they chose to focus on and whom they chose to interview.

    KTLA’s coverage was by far the absolute worst in terms of corporate bias and tone. The narrative was just downright snarky. The station, which is owned by the struggling Tribune Co. (parent of the Los Angeles Times), broadcast two reports – one during the actual protest, and a longer report later on. Most of the focus was on how motorists were inconvenienced, and less on the grievances of the protesters. It’s as if the producers were more concerned about wealthy entertainment and banking executives who work at Century Plaza being aggravated, rather than whether the janitors were getting a raw deal. Watch the broadcasts below:

    FOX 11 was more sympathetic to the janitors, choosing to focus on a woman who participated in the hunger strike. But inexplicably, the focus then turned to an interview with TV sports commentator and former basketball star, John Salley. Salley just happened to be in the area, but what does the point of view of an athletic personality add to the story?

    ABC7 and CBS2/KCAL9 did the best in terms of fairness and tone. Each station interviewed more of the protesters, in addition to obtaining statements in response from the janitorial firm. It was good to see that both broadcasts allowed the participants to clearly get their messages across, and that both noted the rally was peaceful. Interestingly, though, ABC7 chose to talk to the police, whereas CBS2/KCAL9 did not. CBS2 doesn’t allow for video embeds on blogs, so you can watch the video by clicking here. The ABC7 video is below:

    It was great to see a workers protest covered in the news and across multiple outlets. Labor news gets short shrift in the mainstream press nowadays. But I wonder: Would the media have showed up at all if no one was blocking the streets?


     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:30 pm on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , FOX, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Activists Take Aim at Fox News 

    Calls to drive out Fox News grew louder this week. On Monday, media watchdog groups demanded that the White House Correspondents’ Association boot Fox from the front-row seat the conservative-leaning channel gained in the press briefing room after Helen Thomas’ resignation. A former WHCA president then called the decision to give Fox the seat “a travesty.”

    The demand for Fox’s ouster is in response to parent company News Corp.’s recent donation of $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. Despite this obvious conflict, it doesn’t look like the WHCA is about to budge. Which means my overall impression of the White House press corps as an entity that has sunk into irrelevancy still stands.

    On Wednesday, the civil rights group Color of Change.org launched a nationwide campaign to get local businesses, bars, restaurants, and other public establishments to dump Fox News. Called “Turn Off Fox,” the effort also includes a petition drive. Color of Change outlined some of Fox’s recent forays into yellow journalism in a DailyKos posting:

    Fox News hosts and guests regularly attempt to pit groups of people against one another — white against black, US-born against immigrant, gay against straight and men against women. Some of the network’s most divisive rhetoric is spouted when the topic of race. In July 2009, Fox host Glenn Beck called President Obama a “racist” who has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” — a statement with which Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch has since said he agrees. Frequent Fox guest Jesse Lee Peterson has said that most black people lack moral character, and cited “what they did to the dome” after Hurricane Katrina as evidence. Recently, Fox News contributor John Stossel called for the repeal of a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prevents business owners from discriminating based on race. And Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity were the first to air maliciously edited video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the Georgia NAACP — video that cost Sherrod her job with the USDA. The recent episode involving Sherrod has helped confirm what we have long known — that Fox is a propaganda machine with no regard for the truth.

    In an interview with Mother Jones, Color of Change founder James Rucker said that targeting Fox’s advertisers wasn’t completely effective, since the network’s ratings remained strong despite losing ad revenue (something I knew wouldn’t work anyway). So Rucker decided to change tactics and take the fight to the public.

    Rucker’s campaign is an admirable endeavor at grassroots agitation, but will this also be effective? Many small business owners lean Republican (although if these mom and pops actually knew how much Republican policies favored corporations over small business, they wouldn’t be). This campaign will need to get customers in the millions to put major pressure on business owners to change the channel or else they’ll take their business elsewhere.

    However, Fox News is really the least of our worries. It’s talk radio and local network news that the bulk of the population is tuning into. There’s a great deal of violent and hate-filled rhetoric on right-wing talk radio, and a lot of dis-information or a lack of information filling local news channels. I’d like to see Rucker and Color of Change next do a campaign to encourage people to contact their legislators to do something about media consolidation. Because when the rest of the airwaves have more opposing viewpoints, Fox’s influence will be greatly diminished.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:00 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACORN, , AP, Associated Press, Bloomberg, , corporate media, correspondent, CREDO, Credo Action, FOX, , Helen Thomas, , , , , MoveOn, , , , , Shirley Sherrod, , Van Jones, , White House Correspondents Association, White House press corps   

    The White House Press Corps Board Just Doesn’t Get It 

    When word leaked out that FOX News was competing for the coveted front-row center seat in the White House briefing room formerly occupied by the legendary Helen Thomas, liberal activists created an uproar. MoveOn.org and CREDO Action launched a petition drive to stop the White House Correspondents Association board from giving the seat to FOX, and instead award it to NPR, who was also vying for the seat along with Bloomberg News.

    The petition drive was successful – sort of. Although the board eventually awarded the center seat on Sunday to the Associated Press, FOX still got promoted from its second-row place up to the AP’s former front row seat. NPR got moved up to FOX’s old seat. (Thomas abruptly retired after 50 years as a White House correspondent when footage of some rather unfortunate comments she made about Israel surfaced on the Web.)

    MoveOn and CREDO hailed the decision by the association’s board to deny FOX the center seat, but the fact that this nakedly right-wing propaganda outfit masquerading as a news channel now gets to sit in the front row is still an embarrassment. FOX shouldn’t be in the room, let alone have the same honor bestowed on it as truly legitimate news organizations. Their presence makes a mockery of the White House press corps.

    But then again, I’ve thought for a long time now that the White House press corps had turned from an institution of respectable and hard-nosed reporters digging for truth (like in Helen Thomas’ heyday) to a club of overpaid prima-donnas obsessed with catching the president in an embarrassing soundbite when they’re not at the next minute getting cozy with Beltway officials to preserve their precious “access.” Thomas was the last – and perhaps, the greatest – of her kind of Washington correspondent, a holdover from the days when the news media did speak truth to power, and when reporters didn’t bend over backwards to appease corporate overlords concerned with quarterly profits rather than informing the public.

    What really got my blood boiling was a comment attributed to a press corps board member when the petition drive was launched. This member criticized the advocacy groups for “smearing” FOX’s reporters and producers, who she said are “some of the best and well-respected in the business.” But “smearing” is what this channel does to other people 24/7 – particularly to those who don’t follow the conservative political agenda. Shirley Sherrod. Van Jones. ACORN. Those are just the most recent casualties of FOX’s journalistic transgressions. And, why would such good reporters work at a place so obviously beneath their talents? Oh, I guess if you dangle enough money in someone’s face, principles can be easily compromised.

    The association’s board stated that it was giving FOX the front row seat as a recognition of the channel’s “length of service and commitment.” Commitment to what? Commitment to spreading lies about everything from why America is in such a financial mess to those phantom Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction?” Commitment to vile race-baiting, misinformation and crude political discourse? And why is it that one gaffe costs Helen Thomas her career, but when FOX constantly engages in irresponsible behavior it gets rewarded? Why does the White House Correspondents Association board now have such low standards?

    I’ve got my issues with NPR, which is more corporate these days because Congress won’t properly fund it. But NPR’s status as a long standing public broadcaster should’ve taken precedence over FOX. NPR should be sitting beside the AP in the front row. I cannot understand why so many in the American journalism establishment keep defending FOX. This is precisely the wrong image of American media culture we are sending to the rest of the world. FOX should be treated like the television version of a supermarket tabloid – ignored and marginalized. This suck up to a propaganda outfit just makes old media look more and more irrelevant. I’d like to have the White House press corps be filled entirely with independent and foreign journalists who know how to ask tough and intelligent questions rather than the gotcha drivel with which some of the American mainstream Washington correspondents waste the viewing audience’s time.

     
    • Crystal 9:17 pm on August 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Well said. I had the pleasure of meeting a friend of a friend last week who travels occasionally to Europe. She and I discussed the difference in quality of American “news” programs versus European. What passes for television news is an embarrassment to this country. The problem is that most Americans would never consider that ours is not the best and so they’ll never watch or read any foreign press to realize just how bizarre ours is – particularly Fox. The dumbing down in this country is frightening.

      • Sylvia Moore 6:02 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. I really wish we could get the 24 hour BBC News Channel here. CNN International is also supposed to be superior to CNN America.

  • Sylvia Moore 6:51 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FOX, , , , ,   

    The White House vs. Fox News 

    The White House’s cat fight with FOX News appears to have cooled somewhat, but it doesn’t change the fact that administration officials did have a point about the network.

    The skirmish started last month when Obama administration officials began characterizing FOX as an illegitimate news outlet and an arm of the Republican Party. FOX immediately fired back, defending its so-called “fair and balanced” record. Many Beltway reporters and pundits immediately cried foul and rallied to FOX’s defense. Some believed the President’s fight with the network was ill-advised. The White House, perhaps stung by the fierce backlash, reportedly met with FOX executives, and White House senior advisor David Axelrod recently gave the network an interview.

    The war of words between the White House and FOX News over the network’s journalistic integrity obscures the larger issue of declining news standards in television overall. Ever since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and the loosening of station ownership rules under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, what the news is and what it should be has dramatically changed. We expect the news to entertain us, more than inform us. We expect the news to re-inforce beliefs we already have, rather than challenge what we think we know. Liberals and conservatives flock to their respective corners – the former to MSNBC, The Daily Show, and NPR, the latter to FOX and Limbaugh. Americans no longer collectively get their facts from one undisputed source, like, say, the British do with the BBC. Instead, the “facts” are whatever your preferred team says they are. That is not good for a democracy.

    Many journalists’ criticism of the White House for calling out FOX is especially troubling, and reflects a disturbing acceptance of a network that has consistently lowered the bar for what qualifies as good journalism and has contributed to the degradation of our civic discourse. These journalists should be taking a more jaundiced eye at the way FOX routinely plays fast and loose with the facts. MSNBC is hardly a bastion of objective journalism, but that network – unlike FOX – purports to be less a news entity than an outlet for political analysis, hence its motto: The Place for Politics.

    The hits that the Obama administration has received for taking on FOX may make it more difficult for the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress to reform what is broken in our media today – too much consolidation and too few standards – for fear of being seen as unfairly attacking conservatives’ free speech rights.

     
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