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

    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 5:16 pm on August 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Al Franken Calls Net Neutrality “Biggest Issue Since Freedom of Religion” 

    Video of Sen. Al Franken’s speech at last week’s Federal Communications Commission hearing on net neutrality:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 10:53 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Will the Public Finally Get Energized About Net Neutrality? 

    Sometimes I wonder what it was going to take to get the public more galvanized on the issue of protecting Net Neutrality. As if the Supreme Court’s enthusiastic approval of oligarchy wasn’t enough, we’re facing another one of the biggest threats to free speech and democracy – corporate control of the Web.

    Basically, the telecommunications industry wants to erect tollbooths on the Internet. They want to make content creators pay top dollar for their web sites to download faster. They want to choose winners and losers, get rid of competition and make consumers cough up more money. Gutting net neutrality is great if you’re a certain cable company, like, say, Comcast, who wants to merge with a certain entertainment company, like, say, NBC Universal, and combined, you wish to crush any troublesome Internet entertainment startup. Gutting net neutrality would also be great news for the giant television news outlets and bad news for any of the myriad of web sites that criticize them.

    Unfortunately, net neutrality was never the sexiest political issue. So maybe the announcement last week that Google and Verizon were proposing to put up the tollbooths on the wireless Internet (your smartphone) would wake people up. Google was initially the premier corporate champion of net neutrality, so the company’s about-face shocked and angered many. Apparently, since Google is now getting into the cell phone business, suddenly net neutrality was no longer good for the bottom line.

    Google and Verizon swear they want to keep the wired Internet (your PC) free and open, but the proverbial camel’s nose is sniffing under that tent. Consumer and media reform groups and some lawmakers have been the most vocal advocates for net neutrality. But greater support for net neutrality has to come from average Joes and Janes who use the Web. Too many people I fear are still apathetic on this issue. If you don’t start bugging your representatives, you may one day find that your favorite web sites are taking five minutes or more to load. Or you may find you have to pay extra for content you once got for free.

    Comedian and now U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has been at the forefront in fighting for net neutrality in Congress. Today, at 4PM PST (6PM Central), the Federal Communications Commission is holding a hearing in Minneapolis on the issue. The proceedings will be streamed live.

    In the video below, Franken talks on local Minnesota television about the importance of net neutrality.

    Below are some good opinion pieces about net neutrality:

    Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

    Our view on ‘net neutrality’: Don’t erect tollbooths on information superhighway


    To show your support for net neutrality, sign Sen. Franken’s petition and send your comments to the FCC by going to Save the Internet. And also, call, write and fax your congressperson and senators. If you don’t know your representatives, you can look them up by entering your zip code on Congress.org.

     
  • Amanda Shaffer 11:47 am on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: acme, action coalition for media education, , , media education foundation, media literacy, media ownership, mef   

    LAMRG’s Jim Rhyne: “Comcast Distracts with Corporate ‘Goodwill’” — Media Literacy is Key 

    As a follow up from an Sylvia’s earlier post about the Chicago hearing on the Comcast-NBCU merger , LAMRG’s former leader, Jim Rhyne, was able to attend one of the hearings and offers this report back:

    “As large media conglomerates grow bigger, individual voices are increasingly left out of any meaningful dialog—even at a “public” hearing.  You might think it’s a great opportunity to speak truth to power, but you’d be mistaken. The same money and power that allow corporations to control the public airwaves is also painfully evident in their ability to control the tone at a public hearing.”  Read More>>

    Jim argues that in our increasingly commercialized and corporatized media system, media literacy is the key to engaging citizens to demand better media that truly informs our democracy.

    A similar argument is made by the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) the nation’s only media literacy organization that does not accept  funding from Big Media:

    “No matter what one’s cause, media reform is crucial for the success of that cause, and since only those who are media-educated support media reform, media education must be a top priority for all citizens and activists…”  –from the ACME Mission Statement

    So what can we do to advance media literacy?

    1.) ACME has a lot of free tools for teaching ML.

    2.) The Media Education Foundation offers study guides with their topically relevant films that employ many of the tenets of media literacy.

    3.) Free Press is calling for ideas for its April 8-10, 2011 conference in Boston, and ACME is having a 1-day pre-conference on April 7, 2011.  Now is the time to tell Free Press you want workshops and speakers to address media literacy.  Become a fan of ACME on Facebook to receive the latest updates on the National ACME Conference.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 2:26 pm on July 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alliance Hollywood, , , , , conservative, , Crooks and Liars, David Neiwert, , , LA Progressive, left, liberal, , , , , President Obama, , ,   

    Rage Against the Right: Blogger John Amato Speaks About Politics & Media 

    John Amato is frustrated about the state of American politics. But he hasn’t let that frustration bring him down. Instead, for the last decade, Amato has been wielding his sword against the American right-wing machine from his computer.

    The founder of Crooks & Liars, one of the most influential left-leaning blogs in the country, recounted his journey from working musician to liberal commentator to a group of about 40 people at a private event in Beverly Hills on July 16. Amato shared how he and co-author David Neiwert researched their new book, Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane. The event was hosted by LA Media Reform, Alliance Hollywood and the LA Progressive. Amato signed books after his talk.

    Amato, a Brooklyn native, said he used to have little interest in politics, and was registered as an independent until 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with George W. Bush in his lawsuit against Al Gore, essentially handing Bush the presidency. Horrified by that decision, Amato decided to get politically active. He started Crooks & Liars in 2004, focusing on providing an alternative news source of, by and for citizens. The blog now has several writers, and showcases video and extensive commentary on the hot political issues of the day. Amato has won several Weblog Awards, including Best Video Blogger in 2006 and Best Weblog About Politics in 2008.

    Much of Amato’s talk focused on the aftermath of President Obama’s election in 2008, Republican losses in Congress, and criticism of the corporate mainstream media. He said he is “dumbstruck by what passes for journalism these days,” and that the traditional media – newspapers, television, radio – is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Amato expressed particular outrage at 24-hour cable news, wondering why cable devotes so little time reporting on actual legislation. Fortunately, the blogosphere has made some headway in leveling the playing field with mainstream media. Amato said if it wasn’t for liberal bloggers, the Democrats wouldn’t have taken back the House in 2006.

    “Through citizen journalism and the blogosphere, we’ve had an impact,” Amato said. “But we have a long way to go.”

    Watching the conservative cable outlet, FOX News, is a daily ritual for Amato, and its content is regularly in Crooks & Liars’ crosshairs. Amato said he worries about the right-wing media’s obsession with race, which has intensified since Obama’s election.

    “The race baiting that has been going on is beyond belief,” Amato said.

    Amato talked about rising right-wing violence in America, mentioning the murder of Dr. George Tiller, by anti-abortion zealots in Kansas, the targeting of law enforcement, and the more than 200 hate crimes committed since Obama became president. Amato said he fears that if Obama wins re-election, the violence will get worse. He said the public can fight back against hate speech in the media by forming local media reform groups, and by going after advertisers.

    “Those are the most powerful tools that we have,” said Amato. “Hold pundits and politicians accountable for their words.”

    For photos of the event, click here.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 5:20 pm on July 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , consolidation, , , , , , , , , merger, , , , ownership, ,   

    Big Media At It Again: Broadcasters Want FCC to Let Them Own Even More 

    As if the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal merger just wasn’t enough, the nation’s big broadcasters are strapping on the feed bag, ready to engorge themselves with more tasty snacks of the public’s television and radio airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing its media ownership rules for the fourth time since 2000, and the National Association of Broadcasters is again asking the commission to ease up on the regulation.

    Specifically, the NAB wants the FCC to eliminate rules restricting cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations, relax radio station ownership rules as well as rules restricting ownership of television stations in certain markets. Media watchdog group, Free Press, immediately petitioned the FCC, criticizing the NAB’s request, and noting that the commission has gone too far already in allowing more media company consolidation. Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright:

    “The FCC’s media ownership rules are critical to ensuring that the public’s primary news and information sources do not become consolidated in the hands of a few companies. Moreover, the so-called efficiencies of consolidation have not materialized. Instead, the cost of consolidating has placed a number of companies that might otherwise be profitable in dire straits, resulting in disinvestment in newsgathering and job losses for journalists.

    “We urge the Commission to resist industry pressures to further weaken ownership limits. Companies that have made poor business decisions should not be rewarded with permission to engage in even more media consolidation that would further injure competition and diversity among local media outlets. It is not the Commission’s job to protect industry profit margins. Rather, its role is to promulgate and enforce regulations designed to promote competition, diversity and localism so that the public interest is served.”

    If the FCC lets broadcasters own just about every newspaper, television and radio station in one market, quality journalism will continue to suffer. We’ll have even fewer – if any – news stories about how the City Council is spending taxpayer money, and more gossip about Lindsay Lohan’s legal troubles. After all, to a media company looking after its bottom line, gossip sells – government doesn’t. And there will be fewer alternatives available for the kind of reliable information one needs to make good decisions in a democracy. The Internet has yet to become a sufficient destination for local news. Besides, most people still get their news from television. Instead of informing viewers, broadcasters are spoon-feeding them entertainment disguised as “news,” with the result being too many people who know next to nothing about how their government works. That’s what rampant consolidation has brought us.

    These broadcasters have stuffed themselves enough. Isn’t it time the FCC put them on a diet?

     
  • Sylvia Moore 12:07 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: broadcast, , , , competition, , , , , , , , ,   

    Common Cause Joins 20 Other Groups Opposing Comcast/NBCU Merger 

    Good governance group Common Cause is joining with 20 other organizations in opposing the proposed merger between cable conglomerate Comcast and NBC Universal. Calling themselves The Coalition for Competition in Media, the groups include organizations across the political spectrum, from the conservative-leaning Parents Television Council to the more liberal National Organization for Women to the non-partisan Common Cause. The coalition argues that the proposed merger threatens consumer choice and fair competition in the media market.

    In the meantime, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission held public hearings July 8 and July 13 in Chicago on the merger. Click on the links below for testimony:

    Field Hearing on “Comcast and NBC Universal: Who Benefits?”

    “FCC commissioner is skeptical over Comcast, NBC Universal merger at hearing”

    “Critics Dominate Latest Hearing on Comcast-NBC Merger”

    “Free Press to FCC: Say No! to Comcast/NBC Merger”

     
  • Sylvia Moore 11:53 am on June 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , house judiciary committee, ,   

    Proposed Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal Will Hurt Diversity, Critics Say 

    It was a telling moment. At a public hearing this past Monday, Rep. Maxine Waters, whose district encompasses a predominantly minority area of south Los Angeles, ticked off the names of NBC’s new fall season shows and the number of actors and producers of color on each. The paucity of representation was pretty obvious.

    Waters and other members of the House Judiciary Committee held the hearing at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to hear from Hollywood producers, cable executives, academics and others about Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal. Some of the panelists expressed fear that the merger would result in fewer opportunities for minorities in the entertainment business and therefore, fewer outlets to have their stories told. Other panelists, mainly television executives, were supportive of the merger, saying that Comcast has a proven commitment to diverse programming. It was a standing room only crowd inside the center’s Donald P. Loker Conference Center, where lawmakers took testimony from 11 witnesses. Interestingly, although NBCU sent several representatives to the hearing, Comcast sent none. Besides Waters, the lawmakers included her fellow Democrats, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers from Michigan, Rep. Judy Chu of San Gabriel, and Rep. Steve Cohen from Tennessee, and Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert from Texas.

    “I think this an historic moment in the economic life of this country,” said Conyers, after commenting on the surge in mergers and takeovers in the last 30 years of rapid deregulation. I don’t know if this is an historic moment. It’ll probably be more like business as usual. I got the feeling that this hearing was more of a dog and pony show than anything meaningful, because I fear this deal is going to go through, no matter what the public thinks. Only the 11 witnesses got to speak and interact with the lawmakers; there was no session for members of the public to comment. One witness, Samuel Kang of the non-profit public policy organization, The Greenlining Insitute, was critical of what he felt was a dearth of public input about the proposed merger. Kang, an opponent of the merger, said that the Federal Communications Commission itself has yet to have a public hearing about the deal. However, Waters said that at the urging of lawmakers, the FCC extended the public comment period for 45 more days.

    Waters’ spotlight on the near white-wash of the NBC fall shows was a highlight of Monday’s hearing, which was heavily focused on how the proposed merger may affect diversity within the entertainment business. I realize being in Los Angeles that we’re in the middle of Hollywood, but I still would’ve like to have heard more witnesses touch on how further consolidation could negatively affect newsgathering. Yes, we like our entertainment in L.A., and I’m not happy that a lot of television shows don’t reflect America’s demographics. But there are also a lot of us who are also concerned about how local news stations in this city aren’t serving residents very well, and that this merger may make things worse. Kang spoke about the news a little bit, asserting that media consolidation has resulted in a gutting of local news coverage and staff in several major cities, particularly in Spanish-speaking markets.

    Nevertheless, the conversation was eye-opening. Chu stated that the 8-9PM so-called “family hour” on television is the least ethnically diverse. She added that 40% of primetime series have only Caucasian characters, and that 80% of series are white-themed. This compares with a nation that is roughly one-third minorities, and California that is 53% people of color. The number of minorities behind the camera and in management are pretty dismal. Waters stated that in 2007, minorities owned 3.2% of U.S. television stations and only 7% of full power radio stations. When questioned by Waters, Paula Madison, Executive Vice President for Diversity at NBCU, said there are only seven minority co-executive producers associated with five of the 18 new fall shows. Of all of NBC’s showrunners – a series’ lead producer – none are African-American. Gee, no wonder my viewing habits have begun shifting away from scripted dramas and comedies.

    Several participants talked a lot about how many shows with predominantly minority cast members have disappeared over the last decade as consolidation stripped creative control away from once powerful independent producers. Former Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, who is currently co-chair of de Passe Jones Entertainment, said consolidation has slowed down opportunities for minority program development.

    “We have gone backwards,” de Passe said. “The question is why?” She said that unlike in the past, independent producers are now required by mega-media conglomerates to give up ownership and creative control of the shows they pitch. Plus, they’re paid less than they used to be. De Passe added that black executives have never had the power to “greenlight” – give permission to proceed on a project. “We need greenlight power. The power to say ‘yes,'” she said. She said Comcast has the opportunity and resources to change this kind of institutional racism.

    Other witnesses rejected the merger plan outright. Stanley Washington, chairman and CEO of the National Coalition of African American Owned Media, said that none of the 250+ channels on Comcast’s platform are 100% minority-owned, and called for a boycott of the company. Accusing Comcast of perpetuating a virtual apartheid, Washington said, “African-Americans are no longer interested in living on the Comcast plantation.” Washington verbally jousted with merger supporters Alfred C. Liggins III, President and CEO of Radio One Inc., and Will Griffin, President and COO of Hip Hop On Demand. Griffin defended Comcast by saying that minorities have the best leverage with the company. He added that the reason why shows with predominantly African-American casts have gone away is because advertisers aren’t willing to pay for a lot of slots on black-themed shows. Liggins and Griffin, who are both black, took issue with Washington’s assertion that for a company to be considered “minority-owned,” a person of color must own 100% of said company, rather than simply a majority stake.

    Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Kathryn Galan, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, said they wanted to see Comcast be more proactive in addressing the problem of minority underrepresentation. Calling Comcast’s record on diversity “spotty,” Nogales specifically wanted the merger deal to contain “enforceable conditions” regarding employment, procurement, governance, programming and philanthropy. Madison, the NBCU exec, said that Comcast has a plan in place to improve workforce recruitment, supplier diversity and community investment. She also said she has received letters from 230 organizations in support of the merger. I’d like to know how many of those organizations received money from Comcast.

    None of the lawmakers – especially free-market fanatic, Gohmert – expressed overt opposition to Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBCU. But some maintained a large dose of skepticism about the deal, especially Waters, who insisted that the merger not be rushed through without close scrutiny. Watch her speak below:

    It remains to be seen whether testimony from opponents will have any sway over the FCC, the Justice Department or Congress. Conyers said there will be more hearings in the future. The question should be whether we want fewer and fewer people running ever bigger companies deciding what we see and hear on our television sets, radios and on the Web. Common sense will tell you that the fewer people making decisions, the more homogenous the output. The new fall shows across the broadcast networks continue to follow the same pattern of medical, cop and legal dramas. Even a lot of cable channels don’t seem to have the unique signature they once had, as more of the programming seem to copy one another. For example, Bravo (owned by NBCU) used to be the classical arts channel, and TLC (owned by Discovery) used to be an educational channel. Both have completely abandoned those original missions in favor of 24-hour reality TV. They should just combine to become The Reality Channel. I thought the new Planet Green channel (owned by Discovery) was supposed to be all about ecological programming, but it includes in its lineup a show about a restaurant that trains former felons in new skills to help them turn their lives around. It’s an inspiring show, but what does it have to do with the environment? Even the History Channel (owned by A&E Television Networks) has shows that have nothing to do with history, like Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars.

    People, including entertainers of color in Hollywood, have a right to be alarmed about this merger. Comcast’s supporters would like us to believe that they are fully committed to diversity, but it’s a business like any other whose primary goal is to make a profit. And the larger the company, the bigger the profit motive. The bigger the profit motive, the more incentive there is to cater to the broadest tastes possible, to downplay what makes human beings different, and to avoid taking risks on the unique and the original. Shows that can get the most amount of eyeballs in order to attract the most amount of advertising dollars usually get the green light. Chasing profits doesn’t bode well for diversity.

    You can access the hearing’s full witness list along with links to their written testimony here. To comment on the proposed merger, go to the FCC’s public comments web page. The proceeding number is 10-56: “In the Matter of Application of Comcast Corporation General Electric Company and NBC Universal Inc. for consent to assign license or transfer control of licensees.”

     
  • Sylvia Moore 1:04 pm on May 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: federal communication commission, , , , , , , technology,   

    Public Hearing at Stanford This Friday on Media Ownership 

    The Federal Communications Commission on Friday is holding a public hearing at Stanford University on the impact media consolidation and technological innovation has had on journalism. The hearing is part of the FCC’s review of its 2010 media ownership laws. This free event will feature a panel that includes Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora Music, Eddy W. Hartenstein, Publisher and CEO, Los Angeles Times, Jim Joyce, President, National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, and Vice President, Communications Workers of America and Alan Mutter, Publisher, Reflections of a Newsosaur, and Tiffiniy Ying Cheng, Co-Founder, Participatory Culture Foundation. The public will be able to comment during two comment sections. A schedule is available here.

    The national media reform organization, Free Press, is urging all citizens concerned about too much corporate control over what we see and hear to attend this hearing. Says Josh Stearns, Program Manager for Free Press and SaveTheNews, “Even though President Obama has opposed media consolidation, Big Media has been beating down the door at the FCC. They are pushing the Obama FCC to go even farther than the Bush FCC and dramatically relax media ownership laws, letting absentee Big Media giants control even more local media.”

    Below is footage of the most recent public hearing held in Columbia, South Carolina.

    Although the Web has become a valuable refuge for those of us seeking alternatives to the Mainstream Media, most Americans still get the bulk of their news and information from the broadcast and cable networks and commercial talk radio. Most people still listen to music on commercial radio. And because of media consolidation, many cities, including Los Angeles, have lost newspapers, creating an environment where only one publication dominates. Contrary to what the big media conglomerates argue, letting fewer and fewer of these companies own more and more stations has not created competition, but stifled it, leading to dumbed-down infotainment masquerading as “news” and a lack of diverse voices in our media. As a result, Americans are as ill-served and ill-informed as ever – a situation that is having disastrous consequences for our democracy. With the pending Comcast/NBC Universal merger threatening to make our airwaves even more homogenized, it’s imperative that the public makes its voice heard. So if you can get up to Stanford this Friday and go to this, please do so.

    What: Media Ownership Public Hearing

    When: May 21, 2010, 10AM to 5PM (the public comment section is at 11:45 and 3:30)

    Where: Stanford University, Dinkelspiel Auditorium, 471 Lagunita Drive, Stanford, CA






     
  • Sylvia Moore 3:33 pm on February 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sarah palin,   

    Is Big Media Embracing Right-Wing Populism? 

    Is the mainstream media embracing right-wing populism? I heard KPFK host Ian Masters ask this question on his show, Background Briefing, this past weekend during a segment about the tea party movement. It’s hard to shake the feeling that that may be true, especially after going through an entire weekend of wall-to-wall television coverage of the first National Tea Party convention in Nashville and the dustup over CBS’s broadcasting of an anti-abortion group’s ad during the Superbowl, after the network in previous years rejected issue ads from left-leaning groups such as MoveOn.org.

    Despite the fact that only 600 people showed up at the Nashville convention, that didn’t keep the media from hyping the event and breathlessly highlighting former Alaska governor and failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s keynote speech. By contrast, the first Netroots Nation, the yearly gathering of liberal bloggers and activists, attracted 1,400 attendees, according to the Washington Monthly. All the major networks and cable channels – CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and of course, FOX – gave ample coverage to the National Tea Party convention, including commentary and interviews with attendees. All the nightly news shows – whose audience is more than the cable news networks’ audience combined – had segments on the event. CBS even has the entire video of Palin’s speech on its website. Liberal gatherings don’t get this much press. When hundreds of thousands of anti-war activists demonstrated around the world against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, how much of that did you see on your nightly news? And the thousands of gay rights activists and health reform activists who marched in various rallies in Washington D.C. last year barely got mentioned in the mainstream press compared with the endless stories about tea partiers screaming at town hall meetings.

    What’s troubling is that too many news outlets seem to be trying to mainstream right-wing demagoguery, while downplaying or outright ignoring alternative voices. Giving disproportionate attention to a loud-mouthed minority is distorting public opinion on every issue from healthcare to taxes to foreign policy. And what’s even more infuriating is that all the major networks and cable channels continue to give a platform to Palin – one of the most unqualified and intellectually-challenged political personalities ever to to be unleashed into national prominence. She keeps being touted as a possible presidential candidate for the Republicans, even though most Americans think Palin has no business being anywhere near the White House. Thirty, 20 or even 15 years ago, no one would have taken her seriously. And all the attention given to her by the American media just makes our country look more deranged to the rest of the world.

    Showered with a cascade of meaningless soundbites, the viewing public is given little context about the origins of the tea party movement. What started as a grassroots movement of anti-war, anti-tax Ron Paul supporters has recently been co-opted by astroturfing groups representing corporate lobbyists. Few primetime news shows (primarily on little-seen left-leaning cable outlet MSNBC) have extensively exposed the corporate funders behind the tea party movement. So most of the viewing public is not aware of the true goal of this wave of right-wing extremism – to consolidate corporate power over the people. Perhaps Big Media wants it that way because, after all, they are a part of Big Business.

     
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