Net Neutrality Foes Rig Survey

Anyone that doesn’t have a flat EEG can recognize the deceipt built into this survey.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Verizon), is gleefully hawking a poll that claims that the public is opposed to Net Neutrality. The poll was conducted jointly by GOP pollsters, Public Opinion Strategies, and Dem lobbyists, Glover Park Group. This partnership has some touting this as a bipartisan effort, but the truth is that Glover Park has long been working with Verizon to push for passage of Stevens’ anti-Net legislation. Verizon paid $60,000 to commission this poll. Unfortunately, the false assertions of bipartisanship and the hidden corporate biases are the least of the problems with this survey.

The questions, and the manner in which they were posed, were transparently manipulative. You could not have produced a more predictable outcome if you had asked: “Which would you prefer, a pony or a poke in the eye with a sharp stick? See for yourself:

In your opinion, which of the following is the MOST important reason for your Senator to vote for this legislation?

Create state of the art communications networks to enhance public safety and improve government emergency response efforts in future. 23
Provide funding to help deploy broadband in rural and underserved communities, schools and libraries. 19
Streamlined process to deliver more choice and greater competition for new TV and video services. 16
Give Americans with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully in the modern information economy. 13
Consumer bill of rights to guarantee full access to legal content on the Internet. 10

Note that only reasons to vote FOR the legislation are offered. This is important because the very next question asks:

“Based on what you know now, would you want the Senators from your State to vote for or against this legislation?”

Not surprisingly, 80% responded affirmatively. Since only 7% said that they had even heard of Net Neutrality, the question above was the only explanation most respondents were exposed to. They were never presented with reasons to oppose it.

The final question descends into hilarity:

Which of the following two items do you think is the most important to you:

Delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice so consumers will see increased competition and lower prices for cable TV. 66
Enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee. 19

There’s a revelation. People prefer the benefits of new TV and lower prices to banning faster service and security.

Anyone that doesn’t have a flat EEG can recognize the deceipt built into this survey. Obviously the results were not meant to persuade readers that the public is yearning to abandon Net Neutrality. Instead, the purpose was to inform legislators that 91% of their constituents had never heard of Net Neutrality and, if it was properly misrepresented, the legislators could safely vote to kill it. It’s shenanigans like these that have produced some other recent survey results: Only 25% in poll approve of U.S. Congress

The one bit of useful information in this poll is that there is still a lot of work to do to inform the public about this issue. We had better get to it before Stevens and the lobbyists poison the well.

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Bill O’Reilly On Al Qaeda Death List

Bill O’Reilly will be interviewed french kissed by Barbara Walters on Friday’s episode of 20/20. In the course of the cooing, O’Reilly reveals that al Qaeda has issued a death threat against him.

Personally, I think al Qaeda is just using this as a fundraising ploy. They may be evil, but they know a profitable appeal when they see one. I predict their receipts will skyrocket, and they will tap donors from the west that previously would have nothing to do with them.

If true, al Qaeda is merely replicating the stategery of the Bush administration: conflating unrelated emotionally charged issues. Bush is doing it with 9/11 and Iraq; bin Laden with infidels and douchebag TV bloviators. Bin Laden comes a little closer to articulating a plausible relationship. Douchebag TV bloviators are statistically more likely to be infidels than Iraqis are to be terrorists.

The disclosure of this threat might just possibly be promotional for O’Reilly, too. He has just releast his book, “Culture Warrior.” He’s in a very hostile state of mind these days. In the interview, O’Reilly also refers to himself as a “T-Warrior,” short for “traditional warrior.” What he apparently means is that he is a warrior for traditional values, opposing the forces of the dreaded Secular-Progressives. Obviously, this chickenhawk has never been what is traditionally referred to as a traditional warrior.

He also believes that were it not for the media, there would be no ongoing debates over gay marriage or references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance. He intends that to be criticism of the media. He is therefore arguing against open and democratic discourse and is incensed should the media happen to facilitate it once in a while.

He refuses to criticize Don Rumsfeld even though he says that:

“war is a performance business. And Iraq is a mess. Now, I think he is a patriot. And I think he did the best he could. It’s not working.”

Right. Tell that to the families of the 2,600 American casualties; or to the thousands more who were injured and maimed; or to the tens of thousands more Iraqi civilians. Sorry, it’s not working.

I’m glad I saw this preview of the 20/20 program so that I don’t accidently tune in thinking something worthwhile would be on.

Update: Radar Magazine is reporting that the FBI has denied that any notification of an al Qaeda threat was given to O’Reilly or anyone else at Fox. Could O’Reilly lying? And Fox’ Media relations director, Leah Yoon, made this astonishing comment:

“We shouldn’t be shouldering the burden of something he said on someone else’s network.”

You know rock-bottom is near when the Fox PR department won’t even back up its most-watched personality.


Deep In The Heart Of Dixie Chicks

The Toronto International Film Festival recently screened the documentary, Shut Up and Sing, chronicling the travails of the Dixie Chicks after their righteous slap at Crawford’s Lost Idiot. In remarks at a post-screening news conference, the Chicks demonstrate their grasp of the hazards of institutional media:

…the Chicks say they have absolutely no regrets about speaking their mind. If anything, the experience made them realize just how vulnerable to censorship we are in the world of consolidated media ownership and nationally uniform radio playlists.

“Consolidation means one guy at the top decides everything and I don’t think the media has been successful in pointing out why it’s so dangerous,” [Emily] Robison says.

Of course “the media has been [un]successful in pointing out why it’s so dangerous.” The handful of corporations that control the media are the architects and beneficiaries of consolidation. That the Dixies recognize the significance of this issue speaks to the fact that they are well informed and aware of the forces that they have learned, the hard way, are dangerously encroaching on press and creative freedom.

Since the media cannot be depended on to act in the interests of the public, it is up to all of us to act in our own interests. Visit Stop Big Media, bookmark it, and email the link to your friends and family. Contact the FCC and tell them that more consolidation does not create competition. It is critically important that people realize that we cannot solve any of our society’s problems without solving the problem of the media first. No matter what your pet issue is, you need access to communication channels to produce movement. Without a free, diverse and independent media, those channels will be denied to us.

The Dixie Chicks get it. They continue to be impressive, both artistically and socially. Their honesty and courage shines through the mud that is hurled at them. And throughout the ordeal they’ve refused to back down as evidenced by their hit single “Not Ready To Make Nice” and by the audacious declaration in the documentary that Bush is a dumbfuck.

Ah…the simplicity of truth.


Top 25 Censored News Stories Of 2007

Project Censored has published its 2007 list of the stories most ignored by the media. Here’s the top 10 as a teaser:

  1. Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
  2. Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
  3. Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
  4. Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
  5. High-Tech Genocide in Congo
  6. Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
  7. US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
  8. Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
  9. The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
  10. Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians



FCC Censors Itself On Local Ownership

A report written in 2004 by researchers at the Federal Communications Commission found that local ownership of broadcasters enhanced coverage of community issues. That conclusion directly contradicts prior arguments made by the Commission that claimed consolidation aided localism. The research analyzed over 4,000 hours of news programming and was conducted by veteran media professionals. Michael Powell, Bush crony and corporate media lackey, was the FCC Chairman, at the time the report was produced.

So what happened to this report? According to an FCC attorney, an order was issued that “every last piece” of the report be destroyed. This document, produced at taxpayer expense, was anathema to an agency that has been mightily striving to accommodate the monopolistic interests of Big Media. It could not be allowed to survive.

However, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) obtained a stray copy of the report and questioned current FCC Chair Kevin Martin about it during committee hearings. He claimed never to have seen the report or to have received the letter Boxer had previously sent inquiring as to its status. Either the Powell administration at the FCC effectively erased any evidence of the report from the agency’s files, or Martin is lying. But the stone-walling by the agency is continuing and it remains to be seen if Martin will eventually provide a satisfactory response. If he does not, Boxer has promised to request an investigation by the FCC Inspector General.

Let’s hope this process can conclude before the FCC succeeds in passing new regulations that will allow the expanded consolidation that this report proves will be harmful to the public’s interest.

Update: Former FCC chief, Michael Powell, emerged to plead ignorance, saying through his assistant that…

“he never saw the report, he never heard of the report until yesterday and he certainly never ordered anything destroyed or stopped.”

Also, Sen. Boxer has fulfilled her promise and formally requested an investigation by the FCC Inspector General.


NewsBusters Speaks Ill Of The Dead

These scumbags cannot let even a single day pass with a respectful remembrance and a consolation for Richard’s family.

The neo-Dark-Agists at NewsBusters are calling for the media to quit eulogizing Ann Richards and start smearing her.

“For a media that likes to complain about the incivility and personal attacks that Republicans have supposedly injected into our politics over the past generation, the networks’ reactions to former Texas Governor Ann Richards underscore journalists’ partisan approach to what is fair and what is foul.”

The source of their outrage is that the coverage of her passing refers to her as a smart, passionate advocate for Democratic values with a biting sense of humor. They list quotes from correspondents who are properly reporting on the loss of a prominent public figure. But it seems that NewsBusters is surprised that the headlines are not disparaging enough. They are disturbed that there is mention of one of the most memorable lines of 20th century politics. Indeed the press pack universally recalls her inspired smackdown on Bush, Sr.

“Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver-foot in his mouth.”

But NewsBusters, on the day following her death, think that she ought to be subjected to the same partisan bashing that a living, breathing politician (who can fight back) faces. These scumbags cannot let even a single day pass with a respectful remembrance and a consolation for her family. They would prefer, I suppose, an obit more like “Ding dong the bitch is dead.” In a display that is both repulsive and stupid, they offer this as evidence that the media has a double standard:

“But when some Republicans in 2004 mocked Democratic nominee John Kerry as a wealthy out-of-touch wind-surfing flip-flopper, the same networks sniffed at the bitter partisan attacks against the liberal Massachusetts senator.”

“Some Republicans,” by the way, were in fact the Bush campaign. Furthermore, the networks did not sniff at those attack ads, they promoted them by replaying them for free ad nauseum, reinforcing the nastiness of the message. More to the point, Kerry was alive to respond to the ads. The fact that he failed miserably to do so doesn’t negate that he had the opportunity.

For the hackjobs at NewsBusters to criticize Richard’s witty jab at the scion of wealthy political family, that merely addressed his well known propensity for malaprops, would be ludicrous even if she had not just succumbed to cancer. Compare that to the likes of Ann Coulter, asserting that the 9/11 widows were enjoying their husbands deaths; or Sean Hannity, issuing a Fatwa on Nancy Pelosi; or Bill O’Reilly, inviting al Qaeda to blow up San Francisco. There is, of course, no comparison, and they, of course, have no shame.

Despite the determination of some repugnant slimeballs to forestall it, I hope that you will rest in peace, Ann. And I hope that your spirit will continue to inspire us to fight on with vigor, grace, and good humor.

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The Hypocritical Patriotism Of George W. Bush

"What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?" [by Dread Scott] is an “installation for audience participation.”…In 1989, while on display at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, [it] became the center of national controversy over its use of the American flag. President Bush Sr. declared [it] “disgraceful” and the entire US Congress denounced this work as they passed legislation to “protect the flag.” U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush stand on a carpet commemorating the date of the attacks of September 11, 2001 near a mural depicting those attacks outside the Ladder Company 10 firehouse opposite the site of the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2006.

REUTERS/Jason Reed



The News Corpse Film Salon: Update

I have added a couple of films to the Salon that deserve some attention. You can see the full list of 11 progressive-themed films that are scheduled to be released between now and election day in November at The News Corpse Film Salon.

Al Franken: God Spoke
The makers of “The War Room” turn their cameras on yet another burgeoning political career. AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE is a cinema verite pursuit of Al Franken, shot over the course of two years, which follows the former Saturday Night Live comedian from his highly publicized feud with Bill O’Reilly to his relentless campaign against George Bush and the right wing.


The War Tapes
In March 2004, just as the insurgent movement strengthened, several members of one National Guard unit arrived in Iraq, carrying digital video cameras. THE WAR TAPES is the movie they made with Director Deborah Scranton and a team of award-winning filmmakers. It’s the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves on the front lines in Iraq.


Mainstream Media Advances On The Internet

A new report finds that the usual suspects in big media are also the big winners on the Internet. The report also states that those same players will be growing faster than other sectors of the media industry.

Anybody thinking that the Internet was going to rescue us from the stodgy, entrenched, and compromised press that has been torturing journalism for the past 50 years had better wake up. The giant corporations that own the media today are not about to let go of their monopolies.

“…traditional media companies are aggressively pursuing online and mobile platforms, protecting their brands and developing new revenue streams,” said James Rutherfurd, VSS’ executive vice president and managing director.

Rutherford said amid the unprecedented fragmentation of the media market, “traditional media companies have responded by investing in multiple media platforms to reach this increasingly fragmented audience.”

Market fragmentation is really just the migration of consumers to new technologies. The media companies recognize this migration and are developing or acquiring properties in the new media space. Already, 9 of the top 11 news sites on the net are owned by big media. The most popular new Internet destinations have targets on their backs. Rupert Murdoch’s Internet division recently purchased MySpace and the rumors of YouTube’s acquisition are heating up.

If we want to preserve the net’s independence, we had better make sure that we don’t allow it to be devoured by the dinosaurs that have fouled the conventional media. That means putting your home page where your mouth is. We need to support independent sites and refrain from supporting those that have fallen into the big media abyss.

An interesting side note from the report: The number of hours that consumers will spend with media will increase to 3620 per person annually. That’s almost 10 hours a day. This projection paints a bleak picture of mankind’s future.


No Altercation At MSNBC.com

Eric Alterman, author, columnist, blogger, and media reformer, has been fired by MSNBC after 10 years. The website gives no reason for the termination and Alterman himself is typically gracious and respectful of his colleagues. However, he doesn’t ignore what many of us skeptics are thinking anyway:

“Whether my termination is, in fact, a product of a political decision at GE/NBC, which according to reports I read and gossip I hear, has lately taken a much firmer hand in guiding the content of both MSNBC and MSNBC.com, I have no way of knowing […] though the natural speculation that arises is a damn good argument against the kind of media concentration that allows a company like GE to own NBC in the first place.”

Altercation will continue as an affiliate of Media Matters and Alterman still writes for The Nation and the Center for American Progress. But there is a sad irony in the author of What Liberal Media? getting axed by precisely the sort of mainstream news outlet that he so effectively exposes in his book.