NBC News, if that's what it is or can still be called, devotes a substantial amount of resources to stories on opinion polls. Its website boasts five such reports between July 11 and 13, 2012. Their subjects range from American confidence in organized religion and "wealthy friendly" attitudes to a growing anti-bailout mood in Finland.
Not surprisingly, the former home of John Chancellor, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley reported nary a word about a July 11 Gallup Poll that showed American confidence in television news, like that in religion, has plummeted to unprecedented depths.
"Americans' confidence in television news is at a new low by 1 percentage point, with 21 percent of adults expressing a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in it," the Gallup report begins. The figure has hovered in the 21- to 23-percent range since 2007.
Bashar of Syria is a dictator; his father was a dictator. He is a war criminal, and so was his father. It does not take a lot of wit, nor investigations, to reach these conclusions. Bashar's crimes are well documented and eyewitnesses are abundant. Even a quick look at a random sample of the flood of digitized information coming from there, be it this testimony before the European Parliment, this interview with Anderson Cooper or this New York Times piece on journalist Anthony Shadid leaves no doubts about it.
With the proliferation of social media and digital technologies, it is almost impossible anymore to hide crimes at a scale and as cruel as that of the unfolding Syrian tragedy. Journalists are being killed in Syria; Marie Colvin was. Photographers are being slaughtered; Remi Ochlik was. They were heroes, as this CNN report on their deaths shows. They were heroes because they wanted to, and they did, expose the crimes of the hateful, bloodthirsty tyrant.
Truth be told, I was only half listening to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address the other night. The once soaring rhetoric rings hollow these days. Not that I wasn’t skeptical of Mr. Hope-y Change-y from the get-go.
Even fervent Obama supporters are disappointed with the president’s inability – make that his unwillingness – to take on the moneyed interests that have colonized our politics and wrecked the economy. And Obama’s paean to militarism that bookended the SOTU makes it clear that the 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner has cast his lot with American Empire.
"The Protester" is Time magazine's person of the year. Featuring a fierce-looking, veiled figure peering back at the reader, Time's front-cover image succinctly captures the uprisings and social upheavals that made history in 2011. As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Nonetheless, we shouldn't forget the slogans, catchphrases and epithets that made headlines this year. After all, whatever comes of the Occupy movement, the mantra of the politically and economically disenfranchised - "We are the 99%" - has dramatically altered American political discourse as we plunge headlong into the 2012 presidential race.
Watching the world's youth combat the rapacious oligarchy that has poisoned their futures reminds me of a student who told me in the early 2000s that he was graduating with a $40,000 debt. That young man was born at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution. Those in the streets today were born at the end of its namesake's eight years in office. They are all Ron Reagan's kids. And their futures have been stolen.
They've been biologically contaminated since they were zygotes and psychically assaulted since the first reverberations of corporate media penetrated their developing auditory canals. Their parents ignored the clear and present dangers posed by the totalitarian-capitalist economic system Reaganism spawned and embraced it wholeheartedly. As a consequence, they have now lost, or are at risk of losing, their incomes, homes, retirements and children.
The two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement took me back to the summer of 2008, when I had an opportunity to ask author Bill Moyers about civil disobedience in 21st century America. Bloomington was abuzz at the time with an emerging direct-action movement against the greedy, antidemocratic forces driving the I-69/NAFTA Highway through Southwest Indiana. But the PBS journalist wasn't optimistic that "a great rolling movement of civil disobedience," as he described the 1960s, was imminent.
"At this moment, I can't say that civil disobedience has a promising future," he said after a book reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. "... But you never know when a tipping point is coming." Among the "deteriorating" forces that the winner of more than 30 Emmys and three George Polk Awards said could tip the balance were infrastructure, mortgages, home foreclosures and stagnant wages.
In 30 years reporting on the local political scene, I've never witnessed a more cowardly display than the Nov. 4 Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting.
The only truths that can be culled from the proceeding is that this group of "community leaders" is prepared to turn our future over to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), demonstrably the most corrupt and incompetent of all the state agencies. And they just didn't have the guts to do it on Friday.
“Hundreds turned out onto the streets of Indianapolis to protest the banksters and perpetual war machine. The crowd was high spirited and politically sophisticated. Revolution was in the air!” So went the assessment of day 1 of Occupy Indianapolis by Bob Baldwin, an Indianapolis resident.
In an e-mail, Baldwin did a good job capturing the mood of the protest, which began at noon on Oct. 8, and the corporate media did a decent job of describing its content. But no news story except one in the Bloomington Herald-Times mentioned the most exciting aspect of the event, the “leaderless resistance,” as that story described it – that is, the process through which the protest took place.
While brainstorming with editors at NUVO for the Sept. 28 cover story on the Newport prairie controversy, I told them I love covering small-town power struggles because public officials inevitably shoot from the hip. They seldom display the political savvy of, say, a deputy director at a major state agency. By the time I had finished my reporting, the point was proven, in spades. Ditto the argument that citizen input into our democratic process has become little more than a sham.
Jack Fenoglio, for example, is president of the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority and a lifelong member of the Izaak Walton League, a conservation group whose National Director Clara Walters lives in Clinton. She has organized national support for preserving a 336-acre black-soil prairie restoration on the Newport site. When I asked Fenoglio to square his opposition to the preservation with that of the organization, he minced no words.
"The prairie issue really started with one man who kind of led the project when he was working for Mason and Hanger," the retired metallurgical engineer said. "And he has got everybody else on the bandwagon to one degree more or less. But I think a lot of the rank and file members of all these organizations that he has brought to the table probably wouldn't recognize prairie grass if they saw it."
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.