Call it tough love. This column frequently critiques the practice and performance of U.S. public broadcasting. And with good reason. Neither NPR nor PBS comes close to realizing its potential to broadcast in the public interest. All too often, U.S. public media act as “stenographers to power” rather than adhere to the principles of good journalism: independence, inquiry and verification.
Public broadcasting’s recent coverage of democratic uprisings in North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere is a case in point. On the one hand, public media repeats and amplifies the pronouncements of administration and state department officials with little if any interrogation of their specious claims to support pro-democracy activists. What’s more, both NPR and PBS did their share of stoking anti-Islamic attitudes and ignoring the history of American imperialism in the Arab world.
Last week's Grammy Awards certainly generated plenty of chatter, what with all of the surprising winners (Esperanza Spalding, Lady Antebellum), veteran performances (Bob Dylan, Sir Mick Jagger) and more than a few upsets (Justin Bieber, Eminem).
Then there was Lady Gaga's egg-regious entrance.
Meanwhile, across the pond the British Academy Film Awards (a.k.a. the BAFTAS) made it clear that The King’s Speech was the favorite going into the upcoming Academy Awards.
I found myself on the other side of the journalistic equation this past week, when the Indiana Daily Student published a front-page story about my work on autism and the environment, including links between vaccines and the pervasive developmental disorder.
The story drew the expected shrill and vitriolic reaction from vaccine industry defenders, none of whom identify themselves by name. The comments section attracted more than three dozen responses from some of the highest profile actors in the national debate. What follows is my response to the fallout.
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.
After decades of existing under a dictatorship regime, Egyptian people are standing up and demanding change. Demonstrations have spread around the entire country since Tuesday, Jan. 25, when people first began going to Liberty Square in downtown Cairo. Egyptian communities around the world, in major cities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries, as well as Arab nations such as Jordan, have shown support. Around the world, people are encouraging the Egyptian people to stand up for their rights of freedom and justice under a democratic system, with a new constitution.
The Egyptian government has shut down the Internet and cut off the communications and telephones in the entire country. No one can communicate; the country is isolated from the rest of the world. And sadly, the Egyptian authority banned Aljazeera from broadcasting and has withdrawn it from the Nilesat satellite; it has cut off its broadcasting signals and revoked its license.
Bloomington activist Paul Smith has discovered a heretofore unrecognized talent as a lyricist and has begun penning verse for the Bloomington-based songstresses the Raging Grannies. Here is the first. - sh
Tax cuts for the rich
Sung to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic"
Obama's seen the glory of the tax cuts for the rich;
He got them through the congress without a single hitch;
Higher taxes for the poor will leave them clean without a stitch;
It's tax cuts for the rich!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Tax cuts for the rich will screw ya!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Wall Street is marching on.
Perhaps she didn’t get the memo. Then again she’s not much of a reader. And as recent public pronouncements demonstrate, nuance, subtly and empathy are not her strong suit. Of course, I’m speaking of 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Despite calls from across the political spectrum to “tone down” the vitriol in the wake of the Tucson shootings, Palin keeps right on doing what she does best: manufacturing controversy in an effort to dominate the news cycle. Whether she’s releasing statements via Facebook or making the rounds on Fox News Channel, Palin is tone deaf to pleas -- even from within her own ranks -- to take a break from the partisan rancor and political gainsaying.
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.”
I remember my first ride on a new four-lane highway through the Kentucky countryside, and what a fine road it was: smooth, wide and uncrowded. We just floated along in our Chevrolet -- Mother, Daddy, my little brother and me, back home from Nigeria where roads were usually unpaved laterite, and we bounced through clouds of dust, moving over now and then to let herds of long-horned cows pass. It was 1956, and America was zooming full-bore into what looked like a bright future of suburban homes with two-car garages.
I think of that now as state surveyors move into Monroe County to chart the route of an interstate highway -- maybe the last interstate highway that will be built in the United States, if it is built at all, a question I hope still hangs in the air. As our town tries to dig its way out of the mess that 20th-century America has made of itself, we can hardly imagine that what we need now at the dawn of the post-oil age is a highway.
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.