There’s plenty of news these days -- gas prices are down, the Republican presidential field is shaping up, and U.S. troops will soon be leaving Afghanistan. But despite all the political and media spin to the contrary, there’s not much good news in any of this.
While we can all breathe a little easier now that Anthony Weiner has lost his texting privileges, every silver lining has a dark cloud. Here are a few stories behind the news stories making headlines this summer.
Change is in the air. Some of this is welcome change: the grassroots democracy movement across the Middle East and North Africa comes to mind. As does the worker uprising in Madison, Wis., and cities and towns across these United States.
More often than not, however, this change has been catastrophic. Weather-related disasters of historic proportions are wreaking havoc on the people and the land across the American South. Overseas, the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to threaten public health and safety in northeast Japan and beyond.
A few weeks ago, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to defund NPR. The good news is that the Democrat-led Senate is not expected to pass the measure. For the time being, it seems, NPR has survived this latest ideological assault.
Nevertheless, this episode raises important questions about the future of US public media. For instance, could public radio survive without federal funding? The short answer to that question is yes: NPR could survive without public financial support. However, it would be a greatly diminished service -- one that caters to relatively affluent audiences and without the national reach, let alone the relevance, that it can and should have.
Colorado passes a civil unions bill, and Indiana is busy trying to write discrimination into the state constitution. Why are we living here instead of there?
It’s been a long time since we’ve been in touch. Are we a couple of slackers or what?! It’s not that we haven’t been busy reading, working, observing and thinking (uh oh!), and it’s certainly not that we didn’t want to share our opinions with our wonderful readers. In fact we weren’t sure why we’ve been so quiet until we realized how angry we were and that the anger forced us to be silent for awhile.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s plain to see just how anemic and irrelevant much of what passes for “news” is these days. In times of crisis, the public needs a robust, independent press willing and able to “speak truth to power.” Problem is, the art and craft of journalism is in crisis.
Neither you nor I have time for a lengthy treatise on the sorry state of the Fourth Estate. After all, it’s spring break. Here, then, are five unmistakable signs of shoddy journalism.
Feb. 6, 2011, marks the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan. The following is an excerpt taken from an essay titled Always Famous: Or, the Electoral Half-life of Ronald Reagan that considered Reagan’s legacy following his state funeral in June 2004. -- kh
What are we to make of Ronald Reagan’s fame and its implications for America? To begin with, we must acknowledge Reagan’s enduring influence on modern electoral politics. Clearly, Reagan’s “citizen politician” was a media construct -- the masterful orchestration of ideological content across the institutional structures of news, public relations and marketing.
While some may suggest that Reagan’s success was an anomaly, a historical aberration, a host of politicians and not a few celebrities -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Barack Obama among them -- emulate Reagan’s style and employ the media management strategies he pioneered.
File this one under: “You can’t make this stuff up.”
According to Greg Miller at the Washington Post: “The Central intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a task force to assess the impact of the exposure of thousands of US diplomatic cables and military files by WikiLeaks. Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF.”
No, you're not going to find LeBron James on this list. The man did what any self-respecting capitalist would do: Take the money and run.
Curious, isn't it? Throughout the year, James was catching all sorts of shit for his decision to leave Cleveland for more lucrative, and winning ways, in Miami. Meanwhile, people in positions of real power and authority sold out this country at every turn. Where is the outrage?
Call James a sellout all you like, but this sideshow ain't nothing like the real thing.
The election results are in and, as expected, Democrats took it on the chin. It remains to be seen how the historic gains made by Republicans -- and their Tea Party doppelgaengers -- will play out in the next session of Congress. But as one of MTV's memorable characters put it some years ago, "I've got a bad feeling about this Butthead."
In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to consider a few stories that got spun, overlooked, or just plain ignored amid the deluge of news, analysis and opinion coming out of the 2010 midterm elections. Here, then, in no particular order, are five stories that deserve a closer look.
In March 2002, Palestinian-American activist Edward Said wrote in CounterPunch, "That pseudo-pundit -- the insufferably conceited Thomas Friedman -- still has the gall to say that 'Arab TV' shows one-sided pictures, as if 'Arab TV' should be showing things from Israel's point-of-view the way CNN does, with 'Mid-East violence' the catch-all word for the ethnic cleansing that Israel is wreaking on the Palestinians in their ghettoes and camps."
Indeed, Friedman has made a career of blaming the victim, and he stayed true to form during a Nov. 4 speech at the IU Auditorium when he explained why the United States is in economic distress. Using a Power Point, the New York Times columnist and author explained his "I'll be gone/You'll be gone" theory, blaming "people who make $50,000 a year purchasing an $800,000 home."