Cashin’ In, Sellin’ Out

On Fox News Channel’s The Cost of Freedom, they presented a segment they call Cashin” In. It’s billed as a program that, “tells you what you need to know to make your money grow and keep what you already have.”

The October 7th, edition, however, tells you what they want to you to believe to advance their right wing political agenda. From the transcript:

Terry Keenan: If we get a Democratic House, is that going to be something pleasant to look at if you’re an investor?

Stuart Varney, FOX Business News: As an investor, it’s a disaster. Who will be the chair of the house ways and means committee? If the Democrats take the house, it will be Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. He is right out there saying he is going to raise taxes. Who will be the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She is right out there. “I’m going to raise taxes.” That’s bad, bad news for investors.

Terry Keenan: But Tom, Nancy Pelosi says maybe we need a woman to clean up this mess.

Tom Adkins, Well, she can clean up my bathroom! I’m sure not going to let her clean up the House. Look, Nancy Pelosi is a communist. She wants to raise taxes. She came out and said it yesterday. Look, every campaign is a battle between the Democrats’ ability to lie, cheat, and steal versus the Republicans’ ability to tell the truth. Republicans stink at getting the truth out.

Adkins (who is married to Fox Anchor Brenda Buttner) went on to assert that the Mark Foley CybersexGate affair was, “nothing,” saying that, “What happened was a guy talked dirty to an 18-year-old.” Even after being corrected by another panelist, he insisted the page was 18. He then proceeded to explain that a Democratic plan to cut taxes for the middle class is, “essentially a tax increase.” And he didn’t stop there. Despite some level-headed analysis from Mike Norman, Adkins falsely claimed that the Clinton tax bill, early in his first term, nearly resulted in a recession. The only recession in or near that time, was the Bush recession that Clinton’s legislation pulled us out of. Later, Varney chimed in, escalating his biased rhetoric:

Stuart Varney: I have great hopes that the democrats are peaking too early. There are weeks to go before this election. They are peaking too early and the dirty tricks that they are playing, especially in the Foley case, may rebound against them. It’s entirely possible. And later: “The Democrats would be a lot worse. I don’t approve of what the Republicans have done in Congress, period, but the Democrats would be worse”

I’m not sure how this program “told me what I need to know to make my money grow and keep what I already have.” It did, however, tell me that Fox News is so contaminated with propaganda that even their business news is poisonous. This does not bode well for the prospects of the previously announced Fox Business Channel that is expected to launch next year. With this kind of programming, their audience is going to lose their shirts.

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You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

This is an actual screenshot of a story published on The Hill Online. The story refers to the Foley/Page CybersexGate scandal. Click here to read the full story.

Lights Out At The L.A. Times?

The turmoil continues at the Los Angeles Times where the Chicago mob (Tribune) is exerting more pressure. Starting with the announcement that the publisher, Jeff Johnson, has been fired and replaced by mob boss, David Hiller. Nikke Finke has the goods on Hiller, whom the Times has soft-peddled as a tough, but charming executive. Finke’s research paints a very different, and partisan, picture:

“Hiller, along with now Supreme Court Judge John Roberts and Clinton/Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, helped serve as funnels for the right-wing think tanks to shape Reagan Administration social agenda. Hiller’s role inside the Reagan Justice Department was described to me as one of “legal hatchet man”.

Johnson’s fate was sealed when he and editor, Dean Baquet, refused to go along with Corporate’s budget and staff cuts. Baquet, for the time being, still has a job, but if Hiller pulls off Chicago’s edicts, the Times will be a worthless weed that deserves to wither. I’m starting my search for a new paper now.

Give Bush A Blow Job…

For the past six years, America has endured the incompetence, corruption, dishonesty, greed, criminality and ruinous hostility, of the Bush regime. And through it all, it has been a promethean undertaking to exact even a modicum of accountability. The blame for that rests with both an administration that has no capacity for shame, and a media that wallows in it.

While atrocities in the form of wars, deficits, hurricanes, environmental devastation, and Constitutional collapse, were raging, it was all but impossible to focus media attention on the perpetrators. If Bush and his cronies were not subject to impeachment for these litanies of failure, then what needs to transpire before the press will take notice?

S E X ! Of course.

The affairs of Mark Foley have brought to life the bumper-sticker satire displayed above: “Will somebody please give Bush a blow job so we can impeach him.” Now that prurient interests are aroused, the media is employing wall-to-wall coverage of an issue that, while important, pales in contrast to some other topical stories. Stories like 14 more American deaths in Iraq; Congress legislating away habeas corpus; or more revelations that Condi Rice ignored warnings on al Qaeda prior to 9/11.

But hey, we have no room for stories like those when a congressman is fiddling with little boys on the Internet. At least the media now has what it craves and we can get on with the business of celebrating scandals. Control of Congress may be in the balance. Not because they have produced the largest deficit in history or for their rubberstamping of the White House’s abuse of traditional freedoms, but because one of their members is a pervert.

This is what it takes to foment change in America. This is what the press yearns for. If somebody isn’t getting off, the story isn’t getting covered. Lies about weapons of mass destruction that launch a war of aggression that murders 100,000 innocent people won’t do the trick. But turning a trick will. This may not be the most dignified or democratic way to transfer power, but at this stage of the game, I’ll take what I can get.

Fox News Plants Folay-age

We already know that Fox is a mouthpiece for the theo-con Republican agenda and that they have no problem with lies and propaganda. But this is low, even for them.

On three separate occassions, the network displayed photos of disgraced Republican pedophile Mark Foley (R-Perv) that identified him as a Democrat(?). It should come as no surprise that the “mistakes” occurred during Bill O’Reilly’s program where Fear of Shameful Smear Tactics is obviously No Factor.

The FCC Weapons of Mass Comminication Tour 2006

The people do not want bigger media monopolies stuffing homogenized content from corporate headquarters down the throats of local consumers.

In the first of six public meetings on new rules for media ownership, members of the Federal Communications Commission brought their dog and pony show to Los Angeles. All five commissioners were present before a standing room only crowd of over 500.

The opening statements foreshadowed the predictably fixed predispositions of the commissioners.

The Dogs:
Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Robert McDowell gave lip service to the importance of public input, but their remarks were typical Washington pablum that offered no substance. Commissioner Deborah Tate provided even less, but she had the excuse of having a throat ailment and was unable to speak.

The Ponies:
Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathon Adelstein, on the other hand, delivered detailed and passionate speeches that stirred the audience. Representative of their views were remarks from Adelstein that called for a media that would pursue the public interest, not the interest of those who seek profit from public airwaves. He discussed how program creators used to worry about the story content, and characters, but that now they worry about getting Coca-Cola in the scene. And he lamented the fact that, on many stations, real investigative reporting had been replaced by video news releases.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters was there to take on the Tribune Company and it’s request for a permanent waiver that would allow it to own both the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV. That arrangement is in violation of FCC rules, for which they currently have a temporary waiver. After itemizing Tribune’s failures to operate in the public interest, she insisted that the permanent waiver be denied by stating flatly that, “They don’t deserve it.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson pointed out that too few companies owned too much media at the expense of the people. Marshall Herskovitz, president of the Producers Guild, observed that the media is a huge industry and that they would make money even if they were broken up into 100,000 pieces. Mike Mills of R.E.M. brought the perspective of musicians that are held hostage to the radio conglomerates that dictate playlists and eliminate local programming. And Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication, confronted Chairman Martin with the hypocrisy of the FCC’s policy on publishing research. Read his statement here.

The Show:
After commentaries by the commissioners and the panelists, the public was invited to speak. Of the approximately 30 citizens that rose to address the panel, all but one advocated an end to the ever more permissive policy of consolidated ownership. Some of their stories were broadly stated views of the industry and its impact on independent business and localism. Some were deeply personal stories of how concentrated ownership damaged or ended careers.

The sole dissenter from these views was a representative of the conservative astroturfers, FreedomWorks. The firm is headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey and lobbies for the kind of deregulation of media companies that would allow them to own as many properties as they want in any market. Their representative was roundly booed, but defiantly delivered his pro-monopoly message anyway.

If the commissioners were listening to the citizens at this meeting, they surely received an unmistakable and unified message. The people do not want more media consolidation. They do not want bigger media monopolies stuffing homogenized content from corporate headquarters down the throats of local consumers. They want the commission to restore opportunities for small, independent artists, producers, and businesses. This may have been just the first of the series of meetings to be held, but if the others follow suit, then we must expect and demand progressive reform from the commission.

It’s not too late to have your say. The FCC is accepting public comments until December 21, 2006. The last time these rules were revised, the FCC’s attempt to rush through its business friendly regs was derailed by over 3 million citizens voicing their disapproval. We have that power and we have to use it again. Visit Stop Big Media and use their forms to submit your comments. No, really…Do It! The effect is real and it’s a long ways to 3 million. Every comment counts.

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Let My Newspapers Go

“American newspapers are passing through an era… in which a corporate ownership model seems increasingly unworkable.”
Tim Rutten

The Tribune Company is emblematic of the pitfalls of corporate ownership of media. It’s portfolio includes 11 daily newspapers, 25 television stations, and cable superstation WGN, as well as WGN-AM radio, the Chicago Cubs, and news, information and entertainment websites.

One of its newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, is at the cornerstone of a conflict that encompasses disgruntled shareholders, rebellious executives and underserved customers. Through all of this turmoil, some insight and inspiration has come from Tim Rutten, the paper’s Associate Editor of Features. Rutten has taken a hard line position on the question of corporate ownership. How often do you see a reporter give his employer an ultimatum like this:

“American newspapers are passing through an era not only of technological change but also one in which a corporate ownership model seems increasingly unworkable. If the Tribune Co. does not feel able or willing to resist its investors’ unreasonable demands on behalf of the public’s interest, then it should put The Times into the hands of somebody who will.”

And a couple of weeks later:

“No one can argue that Tribune or anyone who owns The Times is obliged to lose money. On the other hand, no one should argue that a newspaper’s proprietor has no obligation except to make as much money as it can. Somewhere between those two extremes is a fulcrum called responsibility on which a balance must be struck. Doing so requires the recognition that, although stockholders certainly are stakeholders in this process, so – and just as surely – are a paper’s readers.

What this moment in the life of the Los Angeles Times requires is recognition that the paper’s social, intellectual and political value to readers needs to be unlocked and not just its monetary value to investors.”

While these comments were directed specifically to the affairs at The Times, they could apply generally to almost any media conglomerate. The notion that a newspaper’s responsibility to its readers is at least equivalent to its fiduciary obligation to shareholders is one that should gain more acceptance in the journalism world. The more local the control, the more likely that outcome can be achieved. The Times deserves some credit for publishing Rutten’s provocative views. And Rutten deserves even more for having and expressing them.

Blame The Internet – The Predators Feeding Ground

In the wake of the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (FL-Perv), the Internet’s culture of free speech and access could be swept under along with a few deviant and corrupt Republicans.

The fact that the offending behavior of Foley was acted out on the net could become impetus for his desperate colleagues to renew their pursuit of restrictive and censorious legislation such as the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). This bill would ban social networks (and much more) from any computer in a school, library, or publicly funded facility.

Foley himself was a sponsor of the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth (Internet SAFETY) Act, a bill that the Center for Democracy and Technology says…

“would have a profoundly damaging chilling effect, deterring bloggers, artists and even health advocates from posting legitimate information that could expose them to jail time.”

Foley’s own comments in support of the measure have an eerie drone to them now:

“Sex offenders are not petty criminals. They prey on our children like animals and will continue to do it unless stopped.”

In honor of Internet Safety Day (July, 28, 2004) Foley warned that the Internet…

“provides a new medium for pedophiles to reach out to our most vulnerable citizens-America’s children.”

Hopefully one of them was stopped this weekend. But we must not allow a pack of super-righteous hypocrites to dictate the future of access to the Internet. We need to be on our guard, because they will attempt to exploit this scandal to provoke fear and confusion about the Internet. They will characterize it as dangerous and unsupervised. Indeed, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the author of DOPA, has already declared that…

“…this new technology has become a feeding ground for child predators that use these sites as just another way to do our children harm.”

Make no mistake about it. They will come after the Internet. They will seek to explain away their political difficulties by shifting blame to other matters. They will exploit a scandal to further the establishment of their extremist theocracy. By covering up the abhorrent behavior of their colleague, they have demonstrated that they care more about partisan advantage than about children. So what would make anyone think they care about free speech or the Internet?

Eat At Cheney’s

Now at Cheney’s,

It’s The Grand Scam Warfest Breakfast
A celebration of culinary barbarism.

At Cheney’s, abuse is on the menu 24 hours a day. So tie up the wife, bind and gag the kids and come on down to Cheney’s.

Don’t Torture Yourself!

With the passage of the Freedom to Torture Act of 2006, all Americans can learn to appreciate the joys of Waterboarding and Sleep Depravation. In fact, we should be able to partake of it in our own communities in the comfortable surroundings of establishments we commonly patronize. Torture is no longer an elitist pastime reserved for the priveliged few. Thanks to the United States Congress, discrimation is once again cast out of American society. Aren’t you proud?

The Flash movie linked above is my entry in the Huffington Post Contagious Festival. I would appreciate it if you’d take a look and, if you like it, send it to everyone you know. And I do mean everyone. I’ll be checking so don’t try any funny stuff.

General Motors’ Great American Idiot

In a stunning display of marketing ineptidude, General Motors has tagged Sean Hannity as its spokesman for a campaign/contest to give away 5 new cars. The “You’re A Great American Car Give-Away”, was conceived as a means to promote GM’s American-made vehicles. But the “great” American they chose as the public face of the promotion is a controversial and contentious figure who routinely disparages the patriotism of other Americans. He is a divisive and hostile partisan that recently declared that control of the Congress in the next election is a life and death struggle:

“there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of ‘em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t become the speaker.”

GM, like other automakers, has fallen on hard times. So has Hannity, whose program’s ratings have declined 21% year-over-year. So the selection of Hannity as their spokesman may just be a case of two withering dinosaurs huddling together waiting for extinction.