Nothing will make me happier than when the utterly delusional notion that the media in this country is liberal has been refuted, defeated, exterminated, and cremated.
While most observers are already aware of the fact-hating editorial policy of Fox News, at least they did fire Glenn Beck earlier this year (although only because his increasingly hysterical ravings were making them look bad). What people may not have noticed is that CNN is taking up Fox’s slack.
This morning on CNN viewers could have awakened to see two of Beck’s surrogates bloviating on the events of the day. Amy Holmes, an anchor on Beck’s GBTV was a guest commentator on Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz. A couple of hours later, Will Cain, a repoter for Beck’s The Blaze appeared on CNN’s Your Money.
For CNN to feature two representatives of Glenn Beck’s insignificant and failing Internet venture is unbelievable. Is that the best they could come up with? Was CNN unable to find any reputable commentators from distinguished networks, newspapers, or universities? Or maybe their attempts to book members of the John Birch Society fell through.
Elsewhere, NPR made news by firing the host of an opera program because she had taken part in an OccupyDC protest. According to NPR, Lisa Simeone was sacked because her activity “has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased.”
Never mind that Simeone hosts a music program and does not cover politics or any other subject that could pose any kind of a conflict. Unlike NPR’s Mara Liasson who is a political reporter as well as a commentator on Fox News. Somehow NPR justifies Liasson’s fraternizing with Fox on matters that are explicitly political, but Simeone can’t introduce classical music after having exercised her Constitutional right to free speech on her own personal time.
Conservatives assail CNN as the Communist News Network due to their perception of it as unabashedly liberal. NPR is a perennial target of right-wingers in Congress who seek to defund what they considered to be a hopelessly biased mouthpiece for the left. At what point are these fallacies laid to rest? Do we really need any more proof than when CNN hosts two Glenn Beck flunkies on the same day, or NPR fires an opera program host because she is a liberal outside of work?
The Occupy Wall Street movement has done a great job of defining the 99% of Americans who are being rolled over by the !% of wealthy, corporate interests who are dominating our political culture. Something the Occupiers need to remember and focus on is that the media in this country is also wealthy and corporate, and they are Platinum members of the 1%. Wall Street firms and bankers spend billions on advertising and the media rewards them with positive coverage and the sort of ludicrous editorial decisions noted above. This needs to be addressed and corrected if we are to see any substantive improvement in the massive social and economic disparities that are threatening our nation’s welfare.
It is important to be accurate here. Fox Nation obviously spins stories to advance the ultra-rightist fairy tales they present as “news.” But they also engage in overt, blatant lying, not mistakes or differences opinions, but outrageous, unambiguous lies. Here are a couple of examples from this morning:
GE’s Immelt Surrenders on Climate
No he doesn’t. The article, sourced to the science deniers at the Fox-affiliated web site, JunkScience, brazenly misrepresents remarks by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of GE. What Immelt said was that he had some regret that his prior focus on green technology was misinterpreted by critics as downplaying other priorities such as job creation and general business goals. In the article he expressly affirmed his support for Climate Change science and said that GE’s businesses in this area will create between 10 and 15 million jobs. He also said that those businesses will generate $21 billion in revenue this year. That hardly sounds like surrender.
NPR Caught Abusing Taxpayer $
No they weren’t. There was absolutely nothing in this article, sourced to the right-wing Daily Caller, that even remotely suggested abuse of any kind. The Fox Nationalists made it up from scratch. It was an article about NPR’s use of lobbyists to help them preserve the congressional funding that has been under attack since the release of phony sting videos by criminal videographer James O’Keefe. (Those videos, which were published by the Daily Caller, were subsequently proven to have been deliberately edited to create a false impression.) If the Fox Nationalists are implying that any use of lobbyists is inherently abuse, then they are accusing a lot of their pals of being corrupt.
It may seem futile to point to yet another example of Fox News being purposefully dishonest, but the need to be vigilant does not wane just because this band of liars are so prolific. The more we can demonstrate that Fox does not deserve to be believed the better chance we have of altering their behavior and preventing their distortions from taking hold.
It should come as no surprise that James O’Keefe is an unethical liar who produces deliberately deceptive videos to smear his political opponents. That’s been proven on many occasions. What’s surprising is that now even Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze, is confirming this after having analyzed O’Keefe’s latest videos attacking National Public Radio.
Scott Baker, Editor-in-Chief of The Blaze, published a fairly in-depth review of O’Keefe’s scam wherein he compared segments of the edited version to the original unedited source material. What he found he described in his conclusion as “editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented.” Here are some of the overt misrepresentations O’Keefe manufactured:
1) O’Keefe’s edited video portrayed NPR’s Ron Schiller as happily willing to take a donation from a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The long-form video downplays the connection to the Brotherhood, and discusses its current status as a moderate, non-violent organization.
2) The edited video portrayed Schiller reacting approvingly in a discussion of Sharia law. The long-form video shows that the response was actually to a different subject entirely. It was just edited in to make it appear as if he was responding the discussion of Sharia law.
3) The edited video portrayed Schiller as hostile to Republicans and conservatives. The long-form video shows him praising the GOP. Those remarks were completely cut out.
4) The edited video portrayed Schiller disparaging the Tea Party as racist. The long-form video shows that those remarks were actually the views of others that was describing.
5) The edited video portrayed Schiller demeaning the intelligence of conservatives. The long-form video shows both him and his NPR colleague defending the intellect of conservatives and even Fox News viewers.
6) The edited video portrayed Schiller asserting that federal funding for NPR was not necessary or desirable. The long-form video shows him going into detail about the necessity of those funds.
When Glenn Beck’s web site calls out a conservative for being unethical, there must be something seriously wrong. His lies must have been so egregious that they surpass the threshold for lying ordinarily maintained by people like Beck. Part of me worries that this whole critique of O’Keefe is a prank and that tomorrow The Blaze will reveal that they were just kidding to see if liberals like me would pick up the story. But for the time being it appears to be a legitimate thrashing of a corrupt propagandist.
Granted, The Blaze is not nearly as judgmental as I am, and much of their criticism was couched as questions, i.e. the article’s headline: Does Raw Video of NPR Exposé Reveal Questionable Editing & Tactics? Yes, it does! But they seem loathe to come right out and censure their ideological ally. Nevertheless, this damning analysis is a significant departure for a Beck enterprise. Perhaps there has been some influence from The Blaze’s new boss, Betsy Morgan, who once ran the Huffington Post.
The examples above are representative of the grossly deceptive practices that James O’Keefe, a convicted criminal, engages in repeatedly. They are further evidence that nothing he does or says deserves to be taken seriously.
This also demonstrates the crippling naivete of NPR for reacting so hastily in compelling the resignation of NPR chief Vivian Schiller. Have these people learned nothing from the Shirley Sherrod affair when an innocent person’s reputation was dragged through the mud based on fraudulently edited video? And are they oblivious to the very real harm they do by empowering jerkwads like O’Keefe?
The only attention that O’Keefe and his ilk should get when they release a video or publish a story is from the Weekly World News or Comedy Central. Responsible journalists should avoid these obvious fabrications like the plague. Why anyone in the media would afford this known liar any respect given his propensity for bastardizing the truth is beyond me. They only embarrass themselves by doing so.
And that goes for the targets of these phony stings as well. People on the left need to have much greater resolve to defend their associates and their principles in the face of vile and dishonest attacks from the right. Otherwise we are handing them unwarranted influence over the debate and cutting ourselves off at the knees. That has to stop NOW!
I really didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t want to add to the hype that surrounds video pervert and propagandist James O’Keefe. But subsequent developments that have resulted from his escapade make it impossible to refrain from reiterating what is a much bigger problem than O’Keefe or a couple of bureaucrats at National Public Radio.
Ron Schiller, a fundraiser for NPR is the latest victim of O’Keefe’s Borat-like practice of pseudo-journalism. In a hidden video sting, O’Keefe captured Schiller saying that…
“The current Republican party, particularly the Tea Party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian. I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of movement. [...] not just Islamaphobic but xenophobic, and they are, they believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting, I mean it’s scary. They’re seriously, racist, racist people.”
Setting aside the fact that that is indisputably true, what is more important to note is that it is irrelevant. Schiller is a fundraiser, not an editor. He had zero influence on the stories NPR broadcasts or their content. His private statements may have been indiscreet for an organization that is presently being attacked by Tea Party Republicans, but they play no role in NPR’s operations other than this effort to solicit a contribution. And analysis of NPR’s reporting shows that it has been exceedingly fair with regard to the Tea Party.
However, with only the video of a known liar and convicted criminal to go on, NPR responded by repudiating Schiller’s comments and terminating CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation). How is this different from the travesty that saw former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod fired from her job over a similarly fraudulent video that was also heavily, and deceptively, edited?
Nevertheless, another allegedly progressive enterprise has kowtowed to a right-wing propagandist. If nothing else, this proves that the media is dominated by conservative forces who consistently control the narrative. Contrary to the spin from the right, NPR is anything but liberal and often it serves only to validate the dishonest mainstream press. They’ve had two correspondents working as paid contributors to Fox News. How many have they had on NBC or Democracy Now? And NPR’s Mara Liasson continues her employment, even after Fox News CEO Roger Ailes called them all Nazis.
The myth that public broadcasting is liberal has got to be buried once and for all. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is headed by Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a former chair of the Republican Party. And has everyone forgotten the irrepressibly corrupt Kenneth Tomlinson who was the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and was run out of office just ahead of an indictment? Perhaps the Republicans in congress are right and defunding should be explored more seriously. I simply can’t continue to make excuses for these agencies that are too often used as political pawns without fulfilling their mandate to serve the public.
Even if NPR was disposed to unload Schiller, they should have waited a few months so that O’Keefe couldn’t hang another trophy on his wall. They are empowering a dangerous and dishonest cabal of right-wing activists and they seem to be completely oblivious and irresponsible. And to what end? Do they think that firing a couple of patsies will mollify their critics. All they have to do is listen to one of their harshest critics on Capital Hill, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who said that, “Our concern is not about any one person at NPR.” These folks are out to destroy those whom they perceive as their progressive opponents and they will settle for nothing less. Yet the victims of this political massacre are behaving like battered spouses who are certain that the beatings will stop as soon as they no longer deserve to be beaten.
This reflects the moral buckling exhibited by the White House every time someone is targeted by conservatives or Fox News. Just ask ex-administration personnel like Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, or Yosi Sergant. Did any of those terminations elicit a truce from the right? You have to wonder why liberals always seem to get the boot for off-the-cuff indiscretions while conservatives remain at their post to continue their deliberate insults and hate speech. Why is Vivian Schiller now unemployed when she didn’t have anything to do with the offending remarks, but Roger Ailes is still running Fox after calling NPR Nazis? And why is NPR correspondent Mara Liasson still working for Fox News? And why does Glenn Beck have a job at all? (But let’s not get into that bag of nasty right now).
It needs to noted that the cheesy tactics of O’Keefe should never be given credibility. First of all, he has personally been exposed as a liar and a crook who deceptively edits his videos. And the process of acquiring his stories is devoid of credibility. It is relatively easy to sucker some chump in an organization of thousands to say something stupid, especially if he isn’t aware that he is being recorded. That puts him at a distinct disadvantage where his interviewer is able direct the conversation and to carefully phrase everything that is said, but the subject will be less guarded and more candid, not realizing that his words will be chopped up and used against him.
We need to strengthen our resolve against these sort of attacks. We need to support those who represent our values, just as those who represent the right are supported by their GOTea sippers. We have to stop being cowed into submission because we think someone on the right might not like something. They aren’t going to like anything we do anyway, so why bother attempting to placate them? What we really need are more leaders like those in Wisconsin who are unafraid of standing up to criticism and standing up for principles.
I agree with Eric Cantor. Our concern is not about any one person. It is about courage and commitment and loyalty. If we can’t get that from the folks at NPR or members of congress or the White House, then we need to start looking for it somewhere else. Our agenda is America’s agenda and that makes it our obligation to fight on. And we must never, EVER, allow jerkwads like O’Keefe, or his patrons at Fox News, to steer our course.
If you have ever wondered where Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity et al, get their propensity for accusing every liberal or Democrat of being a Nazi, the mystery is solved.
Roger Ailes is the chairman and CEO of Fox News. As such he can be considered the role model for his staff and the authority on the network’s journalistic doctrine. In an interview this week with The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz (Part 1, Part 2), Ailes demonstrated precisely the sort of example he hopes to set for his team. In response to a question about Juan Williams’ departure from NPR, Ailes said:
“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”
That’s right. The folks at NPR are synonymous with a genocidal regime that murdered millions and sought to create a vast tyrannical empire for a “master race.” I always suspected that Lake Woebegone’s predominately white, Christian residents were secretly fascists.
This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. He said it three times. And if this is what he says in public to a reporter for The Daily Beast and CNN, just imagine what he says privately to direct the activities of his news producers, correspondents, and anchors. And what must Mara Liasson, an NPR correspondent and Fox News contributor, think of Ailes trashing her primary employer this way?
Ailes is guilty of a typical anti-Semitic tactic of trivializing the Holocaust in an attempt to dampen its historical impact and ultimately deny its existence. This is illustrated further when Ailes defended Glenn Beck’s atrocious smear of George Soros as a Nazi collaborator. Ailes dismissed the criticism directed at Beck by disparaging an imagined cabal of…
“…left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use word, Holocaust, on the air.”
Of course, there is no support for that statement. The Jewish organizations that condemned Beck’s programs are not averse to using the word, they merely object to it being used to slander actual Holocaust survivors, and to turning it into a colloquial insult. However, Ailes apparently believes the word should be used more frequently, no matter the context, and aimed at any progressive individual or institution that he doesn’t like. And his network is evidence of that belief. (See Lewis Black’s Nazi Tourettes)
The interview revealed several other examples of the inherent bias of a network that calls itself “fair and balanced.” On President Obama, Ailes advanced the notion that he is somehow “foreign” saying that…
“He just has a different belief system than most Americans.”
That must be why most Americans voted for him and still prefer him to every potential Republican opponent. They also prefer him to our previous president, George W. Bush, whom Ailes praised saying…
“This poor guy, sitting down on his ranch clearing brush, gained a lot of respect for keeping his mouth shut.”
I may have to give him that one. Keeping his mouth shut may be the only way Bush could ever gain respect. However, Ailes must not be paying attention because Bush hasn’t set foot in Crawford since he left the White House. His faulty attention span also missed some critical facts regarding Rupert Murdoch’s political contributions:
“Rupert Murdoch’s worked for 60 years. He’s the biggest media mogul in the world. I don’t think anyone can tell him what to do with his money. That’s sort of his right.”
Except that the millions of dollars that Murdoch donated to partisan GOP campaigns didn’t come out of his pocket. It was from News Corp, so it was the shareholders who were paying for his electoral largesse.
Finally, Ailes couldn’t help taking a swipe at a perennial foe whom he apparently thinks is another enemy of America: Jon Stewart.
“He openly admits he’s sort of an atheist and a socialist. [...] He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives. He’s crazy.”
OK, let’s just set aside his hyperbolic derision of Stewart’s faith and patriotism. Ailes casts Stewart as crazy and hateful toward conservatives. But he sure gets along well with Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich and many other conservatives who have been guests on his show. But here’s the fun part:
“If it wasn’t polarized, he couldn’t make a living. He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it. He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It’d be a bomb.”
Couldn’t you make almost the exact same comment about Fox News? Just switch liberals and conservatives as the objects of attack and you have the Fox business model. And he’s right. Without the constant liberal bashing and polarization Fox would bomb. That’s because they don’t have any actual news to support their network.
Ailes exhibits a stunningly dense appreciation for reality. He is oblivious to what every objective analyst sees with crystal clarity. But the worst part remains his personal affinity for the sort of rhetoric that divides our nation. His embrace of Nazi and socialist slurs is a crucial part of the broadcast philosophy of Fox News, and now no one can wonder who set that repulsive and hostile tone that the rest of the network emulates.
Update: Roger Ailes has issued an apology of sorts. He sent a letter to Abe Foxman of the ADL saying that he regretted his use of the term “Nazi attitudes.” However the rest of the letter was a surreal justification for his language.
First he blamed it on his anger at NPR for having fired Juan Williams. Then he shifted gears and blamed it on a couple of rabbis with whom he had met to discuss Glenn Beck’s frequent comparisons of Nazis to Democrats, progressives and other Beck targets. He also defended Beck’s Smear-laden programs on George Soros by saying that his “Brainroom” had found the programs valid. For an apology he sure had a lot of other people to fault for his wrongdoing.
But the real flaw in the so-called apology is that Ailes sent it to the ADL. But it wasn’t the ADL whom he had called Nazis. It was the folks at NPR. I don’t think you can call it an apology if you don’t address it to the people you actually offended. It was more of a cowardly PR gesture.
A number of interesting developments have transpired since Juan Williams blurted out his repugnant feelings on the O’Reilly Factor.
First, Williams was rewarded for his bigotry by Fox News who signed him to a new $2 million contract. That is, in effect, an affirmation of intolerance and a continuation of Fox’s familiar brand of bigotry. Keep hate alive, Fox.
Second, the conversation has completely switched to NPR’s decision to fire Williams, from the more relevant discussion of his prejudice and anxiety at the sight of peaceful Muslims in an airport. The conduct of NPR’s Human Resources department is far less important than the open hostility expressed by Williams. Of course, Fox would rather talk about a fake controversy than actual hate speech.
And third, Mara Liasson continues to appear on Fox News, even as they bash her primary employer (NPR) and seek to destroy it by advocating its defunding. How can Liasson appear on Fox News while they are actively trying to harm NPR? It’s kind of like Pau Gasol switching jerseys and playing for the Celtics when the Lakers have him on the bench. How can NPR permit Liasson to appear on a network that has initiated a campaign to smear them and to take them off the air?
Conversely, do you think that Fox would continue to employ Liasson if she went on NPR and told people that Fox is not a news network (which would be the truth) and that they should not watch Fox or patronize its advertisers? Roger Ailes would fire her before she finished the sentence. If Liasson had any loyalty or integrity she would voluntarily cease to work for Fox until they repudiated the smear campaign against NPR. Either that or quit NPR and stop pretending that she is a neutral, unbiased reporter.
Each day, Fox News “keeps fear alive” with a steady stream of false and misleading attacks on President Obama, progressive members of Congress, and policy initiatives such as reforming health care, fixing the economy, and fighting global warming. Fox News is not a news organization, it is a right-wing political operation.
And that is why you should join the fight to “restore sanity.” Click the link above to sign the petition to hold Fox News accountable.
There has lately been an excess of rage expressed over a couple of charitable donations by George Soros. Both NPR and Media Matters were beneficiaries of Soros’ generosity. These are both media-related entities that play no direct role in politics.
But the same rightist critics of donations don’t seem to have any problem with Rupert Murdoch giving millions of dollars to overtly political enterprises: the Republican Governor’s Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That money is used to buy ads against Democrats on Fox News, so the money Murdoch donated ends up right back in his pocket. And another big difference in these donations is that Soros was open and honest about announcing his largesse, while Murdoch gave in secret and even remarked that he had anticipated that his donations would remain secret.
A fair observer would have to wonder why the munificence of Soros is problematic but the fact that Right-wingers are just as generous to their ideological allies isn’t worthy of discussion. They will never mention, for instance, that uber-rightist Richard Mellon Scaife has given millions to the conservative Media Research Center (which runs several right-wing operations like NewsBusters). And while Soros remains outside of the organizations to which he contributes, Murdoch has moved inside as a board member of the Associated Press.
The hypocrisy demonstrated by the right is world-class. While the left is taking heat for being totally transparent, the right takes pride in enforcing silence about its clandestine activities. Since they have admitted that they aspire to fund their friends in secret, we have no way of knowing what other donations have been made by folks like Murdoch and his billionaire comrades. Murdoch confessed that he gave the RGA money due to his friendship with John Kasich, a candidate for governor in Ohio and a former employee of Fox News. Karl Rove is presently an employee of Fox News. Is he also receiving financing from Murdoch? We don’t know because they are not required to disclose it and they keep it obsessively private.
What we do know is that Fox News has a record of shilling for the right. Their daytime anchor Jon Scott (who, ironically, is also the host of their Fox News Watch) once read an RNC document on the air as if it were his own research. He even displayed a graphic on screen that contained the same typo that was in the original RNC memo.
We also know that Fox News relies heavily on the work of the Media Research Center and NewsBusters. We know this because their top news anchor at the time, Brit Hume, said so in public:
Hume: I want to say a word, however, of thanks to Brent and the team at the Media Research Center [...] for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report, I don’t know what we would’ve done without them. It was a daily buffet of material to work from, and we certainly made tremendous use of it.
The left has nothing to compare with the media domination of the right. Only the right has their own cable news network. They rule talk radio in part because of conservative broadcasters who deliberately shut out liberal programming. Independent studies show that even the supposedly liberal segments of the press actually lean more to the right in their editorial positions, their guests and sources, and their staffing.
So it seems curious that all of sudden we have right-wingers going bonkers over a couple of donations that will certainly help those organizations, but will have little impact on the broader media landscape. It just proves that the right is focused on maintaining their competitive advantage, that they know the value of “working the refs,” and that they have no shame when it comes to acting out their hypocrisy.
The story du jour throughout the mediasphere is the firing of Juan Williams by NPR for saying that seeing Muslims in the airport makes him “nervous.” The reaction from conservatives, who obviously feel the same way, was instantaneous and brutal. There have been kneejerk calls to defund NPR along with the usual rightist mantra about the “liberal” media.
The problem is that the language used by Williams was not harmless unless you regard Muslims as uniquely deserving of contempt. The question that has to be asked is: What would the response be if a white commentator said that seeing an African American walking down the sidewalk would make them want to cross the street?
Williams may not be a bigot, but what he said was unmistakably bigoted. He defended himself today in an op-ed on Fox News online by saying that he had been “fired for telling the truth.”
“Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.”
First of all, wearing Muslim garb doesn’t identify anyone as first and foremost anything, no more than wearing a baseball cap identifies someone as first and foremost a sports fan. Isn’t it possible to wear Muslim garb and be first and foremost a neurosurgeon? Or for that matter, first and foremost an American? But the larger problem is that Williams’ excuse suggests that it would be acceptable for Greta Van Susteren to say that seeing Mexicans in the supermarket makes her want to clutch her purse tighter, if that’s what she regards as the truth?
It is not true that people in Muslim garb cause nervousness, only that they make Williams nervous. I don’t have a problem with it. It isn’t enough to assert that a certain segment of society has prejudices and, therefore, when you express those ideas you are simply articulating something that is true for that bigoted segment of society and you’re off the hook.
For its part, NPR explained their action by saying that Williams had “undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.” They further asserted that his dismissal was not due solely to this incident, but that he had violated the ethical standards of NPR on numerous occasions and had been counseled many times in the past. However, we can expect those facts to be ignored as the right-wing hypocrites defend Williams and castigate NPR. Where were these stalwart defenders of free speech when Rick Sanchez was terminated by CNN for making similarly inappropriate comments? The same people hoisting Williams on their shoulders had laughed at Sanchez and cheered his misfortune. Ditto Helen Thomas. Ditto David Shuster.
It’s ironic that this affair, which will ignite conservatives’ accusations that public broadcasting is hopelessly liberal, is breaking now, just a few days after a report that shows how conservatively slanted PBS is.
This isn’t really hard, people. If you do not want to be punished for being a bigot, stop being a fucking bigot. Because if you don’t stop it is going to affect your career. Unless, of course, you work for Fox News (see Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, etc.)
And lest anyone try to frame this as a free speech issue, please note that Williams still has all of his civil rights. In fact, Fox News just made him a full time employee and gave him a big raise. If anyone has a right to complain about suppression…well….when was the last time you saw a network pundit in Muslim garb?
[Addendum:] The frantic calls to defund NPR have materialized, including an announcement that Sen. Jim DeMint (SD-Tea Party) will introduce legislation tomorrow to do so. But DeMint’s bill may be difficult to implement because there are no direct federal funds to NPR for DeMint to take away.
Also, on Fox News today, anchor Jon Scott defended Williams by explaining that his feelings were perfectly understandable because, “the terrorists wanted to scare us and they have achieved their aim.” That’s comforting.
But it was Bill O’Reilly who managed to put it all into perspective by asserting that…
“Juan Williams wasn’t giving his opinion of Muslims on airplanes. He was simply stating what he felt.”
See? Two completely different things. Thank God O’Reilly cleared that up. And leave it to O’Reilly to sum up his defense of hate by inviting violence with this this talking point: “NPR puts itself in the kill zone.” Hear that dog whistle, Tea Party Militia?
Amongst this year’s honorees for Pulitzer Awards is Mark Fiore, the editorial cartoonist for the SFGate web site. He gained some heightened exposure last year with a piece called “How to Speak Tea Bag”:
Interestingly, this cartoon did not make a big splash at first. It wasn’t until it was posted on the web site of National Public Radio that it became a sensation. And even then it was two months after the posting until some conservatives discovered it and turned it into a cause terrible. The right-wing cacophony of criticism echoed across the blogosphere and on up to Fox News where Bill O’Reilly called NPR a “left wing jihadist deal.” The familiar (and delusional) cry of “liberal media” wafted through the wingnut press.
Sadly, even NPR took the complaints to heart as they bent over backwards to mollify the hurt feelings of the right. NPR ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, wrote in response:
“Fiore is talented, but this cartoon is just a mean-spirited attack on people who think differently than he does and doesn’t broaden the debate.” [...and...]
“Some good came from the feedback deluge. NPR’s top editors responded quickly. The word “opinion” was greatly enlarged above Fiore’s cartoon to make it clear it was not a news report.”
I wonder what Shepard’s view would be today, now that the artist has been given a Pulitzer for his work that she said was “not actually funny.” But what IS actually funny is that this cartoon, which mocks the shallow, knee-jerk, substancelessness of the Tea Bag movement, required that the opinion label be enlarged so that the Tea Baggers wouldn’t mistake an animated satirical piece for an actual news report. Isn’t that more insulting than anything in the cartoon itself?
Congratulations are in order for Fiore. He was subjected to some heavy criticism, including death threats, from the Tea Bag contingent. So this tribute was earned the hard way, and is well deserved.
Now that it has been established that Fox News is not a legitimate news network, the question arises as to whether reporters from other news enterprises who appear on Fox are merely pawns in Fox’s game of alleged balance. I have long argued that such appearances serve no purpose other than to validate Fox’s brand of propaganda. Lately, there have been others who share that view, as illustrated in this article at Politico:
According to a source, [NPR's Mara] Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the networks supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.
At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.
Liasson’s assertion that she doesn’t see any significant change in Fox’s programming is a bit of a dodge. It could easily be argued that Fox’s programming has not changed – it has always been partisan, dishonest, and factually challenged. In which case, she should never have agreed to appear on the network in the first place. However, Fox’s rightist slant has become noticeably steeper. So much so that it has even been noticed by people associated with Fox.
Just in the past couple of months, longtime Fox News contributor Jane Hall left the network citing the extremism of Glenn Beck as part of her reason. Also, former Fox anchor Eric Burns emerged to declare that he is grateful that he no longer has to “face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”
While Fox News has indeed been solidly right-wing since its inception, recent changes have cemented their already hard-core partisanship. They hired Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. They parted ways with Alan Colmes. In fact every recent announcement from their editorial management took them farther to the right.
If Liasson can’t see this and admit that her ties with Fox are damaging her reputation and that of NPR, then perhaps her NPR handlers should take it upon themselves to cut ties with her. They previously had a similar situation with Juan Williams, an NPR contributor who also appears on Fox and sometimes fills in for Bill O’Reilly. Williams was ordered to stop identifying himself as an NPR reporter when he appeared on Fox’s opinion programs (which is most of them). NPR could go no further than that as Williams is not a full time employee.
As for Liasson, her blindness ought to yield some sort of consequences. NPR is not commenting, but Fox took the opportunity to demonstrate what a bunch of sanctimonious jerks they are by releasing this statement:
“With the ratings we have, NPR should be paying us to even be mentioned on our air.”
Any journalist who works with Fox News must be held accountable for that decision. It should follow them throughout their career and tag them as the disreputable hacks that they are. They should be regarded professionally as being in the same category as reporters from the National Enquirer. If Liasson wants the attention she gets from the Fox family, she will have to live with the scorn she receives from everyone else.
Death of a President is a new film that has been generating both controversy and acclaim. It is the winner of the International Critics’ Award from the Toronto Film Festival. The film’s web site describes it as…
“a fictional TV documentary broadcast in 2008, reflecting on another monstrously despicable and cataclysmic event: the assassination of President George W. Bush on October 19th, 2007.”
Sadly, the media’s martinets of virtue are again patrolling the avenues of our psyches, deciding what is safe for our aesthetic consumption.
CNN and NPR are refusing to air advertisements for the film. There is nothing in the ads that is inappropriate for broadcast. Indeed, the ads were approved by the Motion Picture Association of America for all audiences. But that fact has not deterred the programmers from engaging in censorship. CNN issued a brief statement that virtually admits its intention to censor, saying that…
“CNN has decided not to take the ad because of the extreme nature of the movie’s subject matter.”
By basing their decision on the movie’s “subject matter”, they have installed themselves as the public’s nanny. They believe that they are in the best position to decide for us which subjects matter. While they are a couple of yards further over the line than NPR, the public radio network’s excuse is not much better:
“The movie is fairly likely to generate significant controversy and we’ll cover it as a news story. To take a sponsorship spot would raise questions and cause confusion.”
One wonders if that criteria also applies to sponsorships from Ford or McDonald’s. Surely they have generated controversy connected to their products. Has their sponsorship raised questions or caused confusion?
This film already has an uncommon burden to overcome as a result of its premise. Two of the nation’s biggest movie exhibitors, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark USA, have announced that they will not play the movie in any of their ~8000 theaters. Newmarket Films, the movie’s distributor, insists that they will be able to open in plenty of theaters. They say that they are getting support from many exhibitors including the Landmark Theater chain.
These broadcasters and exhibitors, who have appointed themselves the protectors of the public’s tender sensibilities, deny that any partisan motive is at play. But an objective observer would note that they all previously played nice with another controversial release distributed by Newmarket, “The Passion of the Christ.”
So what is the reason that this film is getting such a different reception? It couldn’t be the subject matter, could it? Look at the trends:
The Dixie Chicks criticize the president and they’re thrown off the radio. Has that ever happend to a right wing artist?
A network TV biopic about Ronald Reagan is protested by conservatives and it gets shuttled off to cable. But ABC’s Path To 9/11 airs despite opposition.
An artist exhibits a work entitled, “The Proper Way to Display the Flag,” and the gallery is told to shut it down. But when Bush walks on a flag at Ground Zero, it’s just another photo-op.
It appears that everyone has an equal right to protest, but only Republicans can turn their protests into edicts that deny all Americans access to the embattled works. It’s called censorship, and it’s alive and well in America.
Update: Tim Graham at NewsBusters takes issue with this story. Responding to my criticism of NPR he asks…
“Can’t this blogger differentiate between a Bush assassin and Ronald McDonald?”
Tim is veering off on a detour to address a point that’s right in the middle of the road. If NPR declines an ad for this movie because of the appearance of bias in the event that they cover it editorially, doesn’t that same consideration come into play for any sponsor that they might cover editorially? And by the way, I can differentiate between a Bush assassin and Ronald McDonald. The Bush assassin in the movie harms no one except another character in the film. Ronald McDonald’s influence on real children harms thousands of them every year.