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  • Sylvia Moore 3:54 pm on January 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arizona, assassination, , , , Clarence Dupnik, , , , , extremism, , , First Amendment, , , , Gabrielle Giffords, genocide, , , Jared Lee Loughner, , license, , , media monopolies, , , political, political violence, , public broadcasting, , , , right wing, 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 7:23 pm on November 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: balance, Bill Maher, , false equivalency, John Stewart, , left wing, , , objectivity, , right wing, Stephen Colbert   

    Comedian Bill Maher Takes Down False Equivalency 

    In my last post, I took a stand against mainstream news organizations’ custom of giving equal weight to opposing views on an issue, even when one side is complete nonsense. The mainstream media calls this approach to doing the news as “objectivity.” But these same news organizations rarely tell their audiences in their stories who – whether it’s a politician, a think tank, a spokesperson – is stating a fact and who is telling a falsehood. What you have is “false equivalence.” News stories tend to be descriptions of an event or an issue, with a quote from Politician “A” giving a comment, and Politician “B” giving an opposing comment. The reader or viewer is left to figure out on their own who’s pulling a fast one. So you end up with global warming denying crackpots being given the same amount of deference as climate scientists.

    The media’s love affair with “objectivity” has unfortunately spilled into our political discourse. We now have the spectacle of political movements that stand up for the rights of citizens being conflated with demagogue-led movements that are front groups for corporate interests. Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time, criticized the mainstream media’s notion of “balance” in a rant taking on the much publicized John Stewart-Stephen Colbert rally that drew more than 200,000 people to the Washington Mall last month. At the rally, Stewart gave a speech casting equal blame on the Left and the Right for America’s current harsh political climate. Maher pretty much trashes that idea. His commentary is as inspired and spot on as it is funny. Click here to see the video.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:28 pm on September 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , lobbyists, , , , , right wing, , ,   

    Waxman Compromise on Net Neutrality DOA 

    When word leaked a few days ago that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman had drafted compromise legislation that would effectively neuter strong net neutrality rules, media reformers erupted in protest. Waxman has been a strong proponent of net neutrality, and had reaffirmed his support in a meeting with citizens and members of L.A. Media Reform and Free Press earlier this month. So the news came as a shock. Or perhaps it shouldn’t have been. Lobbyists from the telecommunications industry have literally been inundating members of Congress like flies swarming a piece of meat. I’m quite sure they were breathing down Waxman’s back.

    Theories abound as to why Waxman decided to cut a deal with the telecoms – one possible reason being resolving the issue in the best way possible in case the GOP takes over the House in November. But, no matter. The Washington Post reported today that the GOP shot down the bill anyway, and Waxman is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reassert its authority over broadband. Waxman is still pinning his hopes on a bipartisan approach to this issue, but he realizes it probably ain’t likely.

    The fight over keeping corporations from treating the Internet like their own personal fiefdom illustrates the sorry state of America’s electoral system. The fact that Waxman feels that he even has to compromise with a bunch of amoral profitmongers, who, I believe, wouldn’t hesitate to put Web users in digital straitjackets if that will pad their bottom line, shows that the needs of ordinary Americans count for less and less in Congress. If we Americans want different behavior from our political representatives, we’re going to have to support politicians who are going to work to take away corporations’ ability to meddle in our democracy.

    I wonder if the Democratic Party leadership realizes how a free and open Internet is the only thing right now that is keeping the party competitive with the Republicans in the wake of Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that practically handed the electoral store to the monied interests. It was the blogosphere that enabled the Democrats to retake Congress in 2006, and it was the legions of small donors who used the Web to help put Barack Obama in the White House.

    The corporate media cabal made up of network and cable television, print newspapers and talk radio simply does not put the progressive point of view on an even playing field with the conservative one.  The Internet is the only place one can turn to for an alternative to the conventional, corporate-dominated Beltway thinking of the traditional media.

     
    • Michael E. Russell 7:00 am on October 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Sylvia, keep up the good work. I’ll re post it.

      • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on October 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Michael!

    • maximus 8:07 am on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Email press@google.com and tell the people at google that you have stopped using the google search engine and all other google products until Google decides to break the deal with verizon to end net neutrality.

  • Sylvia Moore 11:45 am on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , open internet, , , , right wing, , , Tina Dupuy,   

    Tina Dupuy – Net Neutrality: A Crucial Issue With a Lame Name 

    A funny essay by humorist and journalist Tina Dupuy about Net Neutrality:

    The term “net neutrality” has the magical property of making most people’s eyes glaze over. First, it sounds like a gambling term. “I have a system and net neutrality – I can’t lose!” Second, no one using the Internet calls it “the net” anymore. Just like no one in San Francisco calls it “Frisco.” So the term “net neutrality” either sounds super techie and over-your-head, or more dated than the 1995 Sandra Bullock movie called…The Net.

    The concept of Net Neutrality is simple: all content should be treated equally. The Internet should be, as it has been, on a virtual level playing field.

    Google and Verizon announced at the beginning of August their agreement for an “Open Internet.” In their statement the FCC will continue to lack the power to enforce an open Internet, and it excludes wireless broadband from transparency, citing proprietary concerns. This is worrisome since wireless broadband is the future of the Internet. Plus, in order to ensure “openness,” wireless or not, the Internet should be regulated like any other public utility.

    So as soon as the word “regulation” is uttered, a Frankenstein monster of a faux populist movement arises to dispute and/or cloud the issue. With corporate sponsorship they’ve become a loud lobbying spectacle for business interests. Cleverly they use pro-working people language, and often working people themselves, to sell policies of freedom for corporations. Yes, the Tea Party or the Grand Old Party on caffeine, is (of course) against Net Neutrality.

    The Tea Party and its coalition of “grassroots” think tanks want corporations to be in control of the Internet so it will “stay open.” In a signed letter sent to the FCC and the media the day after the Google/Verizon agreement was announced, the Tea Party groups’ statement added that government regulation, “could also remove the ability for parents and ISPs to prevent inappropriate material from entering the home.”

    Catch that? Let business do what it wants or you won’t be able to protect your children from smut. It’s the most vulgar thing I’ve ever heard. Horribly untrue. And a cynical attempt at fear-mongering. “Your children are at risk!” Deplorable.

    Government regulation is always annoying – unless we can’t swim in the Gulf of Mexico, or eat eggs, spinach, beef or peanut butter. But wait – annoying to whom? Government regulation irks corporations. For those of us who drive the cars, eat the food or take the medications made by corporations, government regulations are in the most basic way – lifesavers.

    Personally, I would like a government bureaucrat between me and Salmonella.

    The Tea Party would have opposed the National Parks system. Sectioning off millions of acres of land which otherwise could be privately developed is a job killer! Letting places like Yosemite Valley just sit there without allowing business to “improve the experience” is an affront to freedom! Uncle Sam’s telling Americans where they can and can’t build is government overreach! The whole scheme will raise your taxes! Taxes – and they’ll take your guns!

    But no, Republican leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt saw how these parks should be nationalized, saved for future generations to have and enjoy. Lincoln did coin the phrase “for the people, by the people,” the perfect slogan for a walk through a government-regulated and, therefore, pristine forest.

    And our more perfect union needs to ensure that the Internet can be open and indifferent to content (even if you disagree with said content). Congress didn’t just sit on their hands and hope that just because no one had yet developed Yellowstone it wasn’t at risk of such a fate. No, they acted. They protected it. Yellowstone is still there for all of us to enjoy. It’s ours.

    What needs to happen? Earlier this year, the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia handed down the Comcast Decision stating under current law, the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate equality of content. This means the law must be changed.

    Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce that oversees the FCC, said he is for Net Neutrality. Waxman said any bill about the issue would have to come out of his committee. What’s taking so long? The hold up is that the term “Net Neutrality” sounds like a fishing ordinance instead of what Senator Al Franken describes as “the free speech issue of our time.”

    Reprinted with permission.

     
    • Scott Arboleda 12:14 am on August 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse and prove me now herewith saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.- Malachi 3:10-12

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

    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 5:01 pm on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , American Taliban, , islamic radicalism, , , , , netroots, , radical, religion, , right wing,   

    Markos Moulitsas Speaking in LA September 22nd 

    From The L.A. Progressive:

    Markos Moulitsas Speaking in LA September 22nd

    Daily Kos Founder Discussing New Book, “American Taliban”

    Markos Moulitsas, a driving force in new media and founder of The Daily Kos, will speak and sign his ground-breaking book at a free reading to support the LA Media Reform Group’s annual media summit to be held February 26, 2011.

    The Daily Kos is among the largest and most influential progressive online political communities. Known for his biting wit, unwavering gaze, and willingness to take on all sides of the political spectrum, Moulitsas is a regular on cable news shows such as Meet the Press, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and Real Time with Bill Maher and is a columnist for The Hill. He was recently banned from MSNBC for a Twitter fight with right-wing host Joe Scarborugh.

    In his just released American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right, Markos Moulitas—known to millions as simply “Kos”—Moulistas argues that America’s radical right shares the same traits as our main international enemy—Islamic radicalism. Both extremist groups favor theocracy, curtail civil rights, repress women and revile homosexuality, subvert science and education, and revere force over diplomacy.

    “In this day and age of gut-reacting, gutter-fighting world of hyperbole and rhetoric, it is time for critical thinkers to unite and support others who commit so much time to reporting facts.” –Tapia Martinez – LA Media Reform Group; Co-Founder.

    “It isn’t possible to understand American politics now without understanding the worldview and arguments of Markos Moulitsas. If you still believe the Beltway caricature of the squishy, compromising, conciliatory American left, American Taliban should disabuse you of that notion.” — Rachel Maddow

    Kos’s earlier publications include the critically acclaimed Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (2006) and Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era (2008).

    Details:

    Wednesday, September 22, 7 p.m.
    Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Westminster Chapel
    3300 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

    *Admission is free with RSVP in advance to lamrg@commoncause.org
    *Attendees are encouraged to purchase the author’s book at the event

    The LA Media Reform group is sponsoring this event in collaboration with the LA Progressive and Alliance Hollywood.
    ________________

    The Los Angeles Media Reform Group focuses on holding news outlets accountable to the public interest and encouraging citizens to create their own media, and to be critical consumers of the mass media. Its next annual summit will be Saturday, February 26th, 2011, at Occidental College.

    The LA Progressive is a two-year-old electronic magazine that comments daily on issues of political, social, and cultural consequence to progressives in Los Angeles and everywhere.

    Alliance Hollywood is a social advocacy group that utilizes the voice, media and financial power of the entertainment industry to fight corporate interest groups on Capitol Hill.

    Questions? Contact us at lamrg@commoncause.org

     
  • Sylvia Moore 11:02 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bigotry, broadcasting, , dirty words, , , foul language, , , Laura Schlessinger, , , obscenity, , , , right wing, , talk radio   

    Why Won’t the FCC Treat Hate Speech the Same As Foul Language? 

    I thought about this question as news spread of conservative talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s racially-charged comments directed at an African-American caller on an Aug. 10 broadcast. Schlessinger, whose show is broadcast in Los Angeles on KFWB News Talk 980AM, argued with the caller over the use of the N-word, after the caller sought the radio host’s advice on what to do about racist remarks made by friends of her Caucasian husband. Schlessinger repeated the N-word 11 times over the course of the exchange, and accused the caller (and black people) of being “hypersensitive.” You can listen to the full audio on the Media Matters web site here.

    Schlessinger has since apologized on her web site and in a subsequent broadcast on her show. But even so, what she said at the end of her rant about hypersensitivity “being bred by black activists” because “it’s all about power,” is just as disturbing and racist. Objecting to the N-word isn’t about hypersensitivity or seeking power. It’s about the fact that black people – and all people – deserve to be respected as human beings, not constantly bullied and insulted by those who abuse 1st Amendment rights on the public’s airwaves.

    The Schlessinger incident is just the latest in a long string of ugly race-baiting, religious bigotry and homophobia that is now distressingly commonplace on talk radio and cable television. Talk radio – Schlessinger’s domain – reaches a far broader audience than cable, with about 50 million listeners versus cable news’ nearly 4 million. Because radio operates on the public airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission has the ability, in most cases, to restrict licenses and levy fines on stations whose broadcasts contain obscenity. But the FCC mainly concerns itself with the kind of obscenity that includes the Seven Dirty Words – not racial, ethnic, religious or homophobic slurs.

    It seems to be far easier to punish a broadcaster for one f-bomb dropped on the air, than it is if the same on-air personality unleashed a tirade of bigoted garbage. The former is relatively harmless. Nobody is likely to be physically harmed by an utterance of the f-word. But slurs directed at certain groups of people, day in and day out, encourage violence and political instability – particularly at a time of great economic stress.

    Some activists want listeners to target the advertisers of these shows that peddle hate speech as entertainment. But that isn’t good enough. Broadcasters will always manage to find new advertisers to replace those lost. And there are those station owners who will push a certain ideological agenda, no matter how much money they lose on advertising.

    Hate speech is more divisive and dangerous than mere dirty words. Broadcasters should be held accountable for what they say when those words harm others. I say it’s time for the FCC to clamp down on hate speech, and start fining and revoking the licenses of broadcast stations that harbor hatemongers.

     
  • 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, , right wing,   

    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 3:33 pm on February 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , right wing, 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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