Archive for the ‘journalism’ tag
Allison and Jamie discuss the relationship between hipsters and Hitler, give updates on the Bangladesh factory fire, talk about the targetting of journalists by Israel, the UN passing a resolution on female genital mutilation, drone stories, another innocent black teen gunned down, the ongoing fuckery known as the War on Drugs, global horrific treatment of women, and our future Water World.
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Jamie thanks Philly Maniacs, Allison (kind of) meets David Frum, the Palestinian death toll reaches 100in Gaza, 10 members of one family killed, Israel bombs media,statement from youth of Gaza, the changing attitute toward Palestinians in the United States, Marco Rubio: Not a scientist.
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Allison and Jamie discuss Eugene Jarecki’s “The House I Live In” in depth, along with the War on Drugs, and discuss how the Chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, claims to have no knowledge of the “kill list”. Also, Allison and Jamie offer advice to aspiring journalists.
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Jamie gives the latest updates on his training for the fight with Jonah Goldberg, Mike Elk joins the show to talk about the crazy thing that happened when he dared to ask the Honeywell CEO a question, why drone strikes and kills lists are a bad thing, and yes, the banks really did rip off everybody.
Check out Jamie’s Wonkette article on the Goldberg fight.
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More than 100 people arrested protesting the Keystone pipeline in DC, NYPD infiltrates Muslim communities, sometimes out-of-state, Jamie’s cape, FOX News’ audience is confused by facts.
Special announcement: Unite Against Fascism, together with United East End and other community organisations, is calling a national demonstration against the racist English Defence League on Saturday 3 September.
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Harold Pollack went out on a limb, and unfortunately fell off the edge, when he suggested that healthcare reform was the “best-covered news story, ever.” Not even Pollack himself seems to really believe that premise as he peppers caveats throughout the article, and ultimately cites a few genuine examples of good journalism that occurred during healthcare reform. Ultimately, however, Pollack only manages to convince that citizens may have been able to hunt down some good nuggets of genuine journalism…if they knew where to look…which most citizens didn’t.
Right out the gate, Pollack attempts to amend his thesis.
It’s certainly easy to find examples of shoddy journalism and public ignorance to bolster this charge. Every night, one could watch cable TV screamers trafficking in untruths about death panels, or commentators offering with certitude political predictions that (a) were generally wrong and (b) generally detracted from discussing the actual substance of a hugely important piece of legislation.
Pollack cites the Wall Street Journal (circulation 2 million), Fox News (the highest rated basic cable channel in primetime), and Investor’s Business Daily (circulation 210,000) as a few examples of the “bad journalism” which peddled the worst kinds of healthcare miseducation nonsense. He’s absolutely correct that these forums engaged in shoddy journalism, but their low-quality gutter-dredging techniques successfully brainwashed millions of readers and viewers. That’s a big “FAIL” for the state of journalism right there. The worst journalmalism reached the most people.
1. Journamalism: An attempt to report the news marred with shoddy research, fact suppression, or a mere retyping of the press release/talking points.
The Washington Post recently featured a story by reporter Monica Hesse that ran on the front of the Style section in which Hesse profiled Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM was active in supporting California’s Proposition 8, which took away gay couple’s rights to marry in that state, and the group continues to lead the fight against legalization of same-sex marriage. Hesse’s story was called “Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile,” giving one a fairly accurate idea of how unbalanced the rest of the article is.
Hesse calls the bigot Brown “instantly likable,” a “thoughtful talker,” and describes how “he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.” Brown is the guy who claims gay people are demanding “special rights” as they fight for marriage equality. Quite frankly, he opposes gay marriage because he sees gay unions as alien, deviant, and something that must be contained and segregated from sanctimonious heterosexual unions. It doesn’t matter how cute his wife is, or how pretty his smile is, this is what the man believes even if he’s really “likable,” “thoughtful,” and “pleasant” while he does it.
Bloomberg.org’s Amity Shlaes recently grouped me together with two other “left-leaning” bloggers in an article about the nefarious world of the Internets. In this murky underworld, faceless bloggers exist only to baselessly attack innocent politicians post-election as part of a dastardly plan to undermine “gentlemanly” newspapers. My qualms with Shlaes article are threefold, but I first want to offer a little background about the article and my initial response.
I am “Exhibit B” in Shlaes’s example. “Exhibit A” is Talking Point Memo’s Eric Kleefeld, and “Exhibit C” is Think Progress’s Matthew Yglesias. In a truly bizarre turn, Shlaes links to a video I cross-posted from TPM of Bobby Jindal retelling the fictitious encounter he had with Sheriff Lee in post-Katrina New Orleans. She cites the headline I gave the post: “Bobby Jindal: Chronically Stupid.” Other than the title, that blog post came entirely from TPM. So Shlaes actually presents TPM as two of three examples of the supposedly dishonest bloggers trolling the Internet.
I am sort of disappointed that Shlaes linked to one of my cross-posted blogs because she would no doubt also enjoy my original Conservative-bashing blogs where I write that Peggy Noonan is a terrible columnist, who “practically shouts that she wants a penis inside of her” at the slightest hint of an impending conflict, Davis Brooks is “elite and clueless”, and that Douglas Feith (among other former Bush officials) are war criminals. Shlaes failed to find these other, better examples of “character assassination” either because the Jindal post really pissed her off, and she was seized by the desire to use it as example of nutty bloggers gone wild, or she was too lazy to properly search my blog for an original work. The blog post is clearly marked “Talking Points Memo” with a link to the original work at the top of the page, so I have to assume the latter is true.
I just received this e-mail from Eileen Clancy, an activist and member of the watchdog group, I-Witness.
We have begun the process of filing suit regarding our treatment at the hands of law enforcement in St. Paul during the RNC. A press release is attached.
Six months after the RNC, the government has charged only 15 percent of the 800 people the police arrested in that period. On Friday, the St. Paul City Attorney announced that he would not prosecute 323 people arrested in a single round-up on the final night of the convention.
Since most potential RNC litigants are approaching the 180-day statutory deadline for giving notice to municipalities in Minnesota, we should have a better sense of the scope of the civil lawsuits contemplated in relation to the RNC fairly soon.
Eileen and I-Witness were routinely harassed at the Republican National Convention (RNC.) By the way, this is the same RNC during which Amy Goodman was violently arrested. During the RNC (and after some initial harassment from local police, including the suspicious mass arrest and release of I-Witness,) I received an urgent email from Clancy.
The police were surrounding her office…again.
Police have arrived at our office in St. Paul. They say that they have
received reports of hostages barricaded in the building. We are behind a
locked door. Lawyers are outside dealing with them.
That was the second encounter I-Witness had with police at the RNC. The first encounter occurred on August 30 when seven members were preemptively detained at the house where the group was staying. The police were basically harassing the protest group, who are peaceful, and whose only intent was to videotape the protests.
Such was the general chaos of the RNC. I was routinely e-mailed by journalists, who were fairly certain of their impending arrest.
I had my own run-in with St. Paul’s police state when I was trying to gather information about Amy Goodman’s arrest for Huffington Post.
Something called the Joint Information Center was set up to monitor all of the hubub that occurs when — ya’ know — a city jails hundreds of activists exercising their right to freedom of speech and protest. My name and press credentials were taken down a few times by various ominous, anonymous foot soldiers.
These are the notes I took during the investigation. I was making inquiries as to the whereabout of Amy Goodman, and the two Democracy Now producers (Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar) with whom she was arrested.
11:00PM EST: The Ramsey County Jail redirected me to something called the “Joint Information Center.” Under a little pressure, the operator finally revealed his name (Sgt. William Palmer,) though he asked for my name (had me spell it twice) and asked for my phone number in exchange. Friendly stuff.
Palmer informed me that Kouddous and Salazar will be held in jail overnight until they are taken to court tomorrow. No one knows what they are being charged with, but Palmer attributes their arrest to “suspicious behavior.”
Kouddous and Salazar are still being held without any formal charges.
11:22PM: Apparently, one of the job qualifications for working at the JIC (Joint Information Center) is that you must have the scariest voice in the world. I spoke with a Coast Guard named Chief Bauman, who again took down my information: name, phone number, website I write for, etc. He had me spell my name twice and repeat my phone number three times.
The JIC seems to exist less to help media representatives and more to intimidate the hell out of them. For instance, I wondered aloud why I couldn’t directly speak to a media representative and first had to pass through Bauman’s filter. Bauman explained he was a conduit between reporter and information.
I then asked Bauman why the JIC was staffed with police officers and Coast Guards seemingly naive to the ways of media. He informed me that he was working at the JIC for “security purposes.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I see there’s a lot of security at the RNC.” He didn’t laugh.
Bauman said he didn’t know what court Kouddous and Salazar are being taken to in the morning. He said he would get back to me.
This is the state of modern protest. You can protest, but only if you have a permit, you stand back 500 feet from the target of your dispute, you stay behind the barbed wires, and only use a bullhorn if you have another permit. It’s neutered dissent. And even if you obey all their little rules, you get bullied and harassed like Eileen Clancy and Amy Goodman.
And Clancy and Goodman weren’t even protesting. One is a representative of a watchdog group, and the other is a highly respected journalist. Imagine what they do to the poor kids and students, who are usually doing nothing more than operating inside the guidelines of the law, when the cops pick them up off the street.
If the dull tool of bureaucracy hasn’t chipped away enough from America’s monument to civil disobedience, the watchful Sauron-esque eye of the government is threatening to blast it into smithereens. As I wrote over at Huffpost, last year’s DNC and RNC were both laboratories for the newest, most high-tech toys for the intelligence community. Denver dropped $50 million on the police state project.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Erin Rosa, a reporter for the Colorado Independent, explained that Denver seemed to be seriously bracing for a stand-off between the police and protesters [during the DNC], to the point where the Colorado Army National Guard constructed a makeshift barracks in the far east region of the city:
They’re not saying what the purpose is for nearly 400 people to be stationed in this private university. They’re actually going to be stationed at Johnson & Wales University in the eastern region of the city, you know, more than 400 troops in that one area. They rented more than 500 rooms across the city. And they’re not saying what the purpose will be for, but they have confirmed that it will be all Colorado National Guard personnel.
So while Denver would be immersed in a total police state, what sort of behavior could individuals expect from their new intelligence and censorship overlords? In the same interview, Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, warned protesters that new guidelines for what constitutes suspicious terrorist-like activity may include some pretty basic elements of protesting:
The Los Angeles Police Department issued an order compelling their officers to report criminal and non-criminal suspicious behavior that can be indicative of terrorism, and they listed sixty-five behaviors…One of the precursor behaviors to terrorism that’s identified in the order is taking video. And we put in our report a couple of instances where people taking video were stopped by police officers simply for taking pictures or video. And in some cases, particularly where they’re taking photographs or video of police, it actually resulted in arrests.
I argued this would put quite a damper on many grassroots responses to this kind of intelligence/police state bullying, particularly I-Witness, a group created to protect citizens from the attacks of overzealous police authorities. Clancy, the founder of I-Witness Video, explained that it’s important to keep a video log of every protest (complete with date and time displayed clearly on the camera) should the footage be needed as evidence in later court hearings.
Clancy also explained that the Deputy Chief of Operations in Denver testified before the House subcommittee that they see the DNC fusion center as an opportunity to make permanent a “super fusion center.” Clancy said the Denver crew is going to take their government allocated $50 million and “play with their new toys,” and they are going to build a permanent and more powerful surveillance apparatus for Colorado.
At the time, Clancy offered these words of wisdom to future generations of activists:
“The federal government is trying to criminalize video because it has tremendous power to expose bad acts by the police and federal agents. The best way for people to document police misconduct is to band together in video activist groups such as I-Witness Video, work in pairs or affinity groups, protect their footage by making back-up copies, publish their work in the media or on the Internet, and vigorously challenge any arrests, detentions and police orders to erase photos or videotapes. The First Amendment offers tremendous protection to people videotaping the police at work, but we must fight to maintain our right to shoot.”
Now it’s time to see if Eileen Clancy and the members of I-Witness will receive some delayed justice, and if the police and government officials in St. Paul will acknowledge any wrong-doing.
Please remind Mr. Coleman and Mr. Pawlenty that the behavior of law officials was (at best) overzealous, and at worst, totally fascist and unnecessary:
Contact Mayor Chris Coleman at: 651-266-8510 or e-mail him.
Governor Tim Pawlenty can be reached at: (651) 296-3391 or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-Witness press release: First Step in RNC Lawsuits Taken.
AND so on the 29th day of his presidency, Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill. But the earth did not move. The Dow Jones fell almost 300 points. G.M. and Chrysler together asked taxpayers for another $21.6 billion and announcedanother 50,000 layoffs. The latest alleged mini-Madoff, R. Allen Stanford, was accused of an $8 billion fraud with 50,000 victims.
No one knows, of course, but a bigger question may be whether we really want to know. One of the most persistent cultural tics of the early 21st century is Americans’ reluctance to absorb, let alone prepare for, bad news. We are plugged into more information sources than anyone could have imagined even 15 years ago. The cruel ambush of 9/11 supposedly “changed everything,” slapping us back to reality. Yet we are constantly shocked, shocked by the foreseeable. Obama’s toughest political problem may not be coping with the increasingly marginalized G.O.P. but with an America-in-denial that must hear warning signs repeatedly, for months and sometimes years, before believing the wolf is actually at the door.
This phenomenon could be seen in two TV exposés of the mortgage crisis broadcast on the eve of the stimulus signing. On Sunday, “60 Minutes” focused on the tawdry lending practices of Golden West Financial, built by Herb and Marion Sandler. On Monday, the CNBC documentary “House of Cards” served up another tranche of the subprime culture, typified by the now defunct company Quick Loan Funding and its huckster-in-chief, Daniel Sadek. Both reports were superbly done, but both could have been reruns.
The Sandlers and Sadek have been recurrently whipped at length in print and on television, as far back as 2007 in Sadek’s case (by Bloomberg); the Sandlers were even vilified in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch last October. But still the larger message may not be entirely sinking in. “House of Cards” was littered with come-on commercials, including one hawking “risk-free” foreign-currency trading — yet another variation on Quick Loan Funding, promising credulous Americans something for nothing.
This cultural pattern of denial is hardly limited to the economic crisis. Anyone with eyes could have seen that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire resembled Macy’s parade balloons in their 1998 home-run derby, but it took years for many fans (not to mention Major League Baseball) to accept the sorry truth. It wasn’t until the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame saga caught fire in summer 2003, months after “Mission Accomplished,” that we began to confront the reality that we had gone to war in Iraq over imaginary W.M.D. Weapons inspectors and even some journalists (especially at Knight-Ridder newspapers) had been telling us exactly that for almost a year.
The writer Mark Danner, who early on chronicled the Bush administration’s practice of torture for The New York Review of Books, reminded me last week that that story first began to emerge in December 2002. That’s when The Washington Post reported on the “stress and duress” tactics used to interrogate terrorism suspects. But while similar reports followed, the notion that torture was official American policy didn’t start to sink in until after the Abu Ghraib photos emerged in April 2004. Torture wasn’t routinely called “torture” in Beltway debate until late 2005, when John McCain began to press for legislation banning it.
Steroids, torture, lies from the White House, civil war in Iraq, even recession: that’s just a partial glossary of the bad-news vocabulary that some of the country, sometimes in tandem with a passive news media, resisted for months on end before bowing to the obvious or the inevitable. “The needle,” as Danner put it, gets “stuck in the groove.”
For all the gloomy headlines we’ve absorbed since the fall, we still can’t quite accept the full depth of our economic abyss either. Nicole Gelinas, a financial analyst at the conservative Manhattan Institute, sees denial at play over a wide swath of America, reaching from the loftiest economic strata of Wall Street to the foreclosure-decimated boom developments in the Sun Belt.
When we spoke last week, she talked of would-be bankers who, upon graduating, plan “to travel in Asia and teach English for a year” and then pick up where they left off. Such graduates are dreaming, Gelinas says, because the over-the-top Wall Street money culture of the credit bubble isn’t coming back for a very long time, if ever. As she observes, it took decades after the Great Depression — until the 1980s — for Wall Street to fully reclaim its old swagger. Not until then was there “a new group of people without massive psychological scarring” from the 1929 crash.
In states like Nevada, Florida and Arizona, Gelinas sees “huge neighborhoods that will become ghettos” as half their populations lose or abandon their homes, with an attendant collapse of public services and social order. “It will be like after Katrina,” she says, “but it’s no longer just the Lower Ninth Ward’s problem.” Writing in the current issue of The Atlantic, the urban theorist Richard Florida suggests we could be seeing “the end of a whole way of life.” The link between the American dream and home ownership, fostered by years of bipartisan public policy, may be irreparably broken.
Pity our new president. As he rolls out one recovery package after another, he can’t know for sure what will work. If he tells the whole story of what might be around the corner, he risks instilling fear itself among Americans who are already panicked. (Half the country, according to a new Associated Press poll, now fears unemployment.) But if the president airbrushes the picture too much, the country could be as angry about ensuing calamities as it was when the Bush administration’s repeated assertion of “success” in Iraq proved a sham. Managing America’s future shock is a task that will call for every last ounce of Obama’s brains, temperament and oratorical gifts.
The difficulty of walking this fine line can be seen in the drama surrounding the latest forbidden word to creep around the shadows for months before finally leaping into the open: nationalization. Until he started hedging a little last weekend, the president has pointedly said that nationalizing banks, while fine for Sweden, wouldn’t do in America, with its “different” (i.e., non-socialistic) culture and traditions. But the word nationalization, once mostly whispered by liberal economists, is now even being tossed around by Lindsey Graham and Alan Greenspan. It’s a clear indication that no one has a better idea.
The Obama White House may come up with euphemisms for nationalization (temporary receivership, anyone?). But whatever it’s called, what will it mean? The reason why the White House has been punting on the new installment of the bank rescue is not that the much-maligned Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, is incapable of getting his act together. What’s slowing the works are the huge political questions at stake, many of them with consequences potentially as toxic as the banks’ assets.
Will Obama concede aloud that some of our “too big to fail” banks have, in essence, already failed? If so, what will he do about it? What will it cost? And, most important, who will pay? No one knows the sum of the American banks’ losses, but the economist Nouriel Roubini, who has gotten much right about this crash, puts it at $1.8 trillion. That doesn’t count any defaults still to come on what had been considered “good” mortgages and myriad other debt, whether from auto loans or credit cards.
Americans are right to wonder why there has been scant punishment for the management and boards of bailed-out banks that recklessly sliced and diced all this debt into worthless gambling chips. They are also right to wonder why there is still little transparency in how TARP funds have been spent by these teetering institutions. If a CNBC commentator can stir up a populist dust storm by ranting that Obama’s new mortgage program (priced at $75 billion to $275 billion) is “promoting bad behavior,” imagine the tornado that would greet an even bigger bank bailout on top of the $700 billion already down the TARP drain.
Nationalization would likely mean wiping out the big banks’ managements and shareholders. It’s because that reckoning has mostly been avoided so far that those bankers may be the Americans in the greatest denial of all. Wall Street’s last barons still seem to believe that they can hang on to their old culture by scuttling corporate jets, rejecting bonuses or sounding contrite in public. Ask the former Citigroup wise man Robert Rubin how that strategy worked out.
We are now waiting to learn if Obama’s economic team, much of it drawn from the Wonderful World of Citi and Goldman Sachs, will have the will to make its own former cohort face the truth. But at a certain point, as in every other turn of our culture of denial, outside events will force the recognition of harsh realities. Nationalization, unmentionable only yesterday, has entered common usage not least because an even scarier word — depression — is next on America’s list to avoid.