Media Literacy/Bias

Proposed honor for Beck stirs up storm in Mt Vernon

William Yardley, New York Times

When he is not calling the president a racist or finding some other way to infuriate plenty of Americans, Glenn Beck, the provocative and popular conservative broadcaster, occasionally drifts into reverie.

“I know it’s easy to romanticize the past, especially if you grew up in a small town like I did,” Mr. Beck told listeners of his radio program one day in March 2007. “But it seems to me that my hometown of Mount Vernon was full of leaders.”

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Why the death of why? Celebrified journalism & right-wing lynch mobs

David Sirota, Talking Points Memo

Andrea Batista Schlesinger's book, The Death of Why, could not come out at a more appropriate time. It's premise has unfortunately become a truism - in the American Idiocracy, we have stopped asking even the simplest questions, much less the tough ones like "why."

Instead of offering up examples that prove Andrea's thesis, let's just take a moment and ask a meta question - why the death of why? In other words, why have we stopped asking questions in a democracy that gives citizens the historically rare chance to inquire?

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When will this White House learn you cannot negotiate with terrorists?

Baratunde Thurston, Jack and Jill Politics

After a brief respite, the most accessible American political discourse --the national broadcast media--has returned to fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of a high-volume, low-intellect minority.

In such an environment, how does one govern? Does one try to “balance” such concepts as contradictory as a “public option” on one hand and “fear of death panels” on the other? Or does one realize that this is a false spectrum and to try to find a center in such a sea is a worthless and foolhardy expedition?

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Chavez and headlines

Pascual Serrano, Público

[this is a rough translation from the Spanish original]

In Spain, information about Venezuela always arrives with an unusual political slant. Looking at the way it presents what is going on shows that if it were a nation other than the one governed Hugo Chávez, the bias would be different. Events that appear uncontroversial elsewhere are presented as exceptional when dealing with Venezuela.

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Post-Jones: taking the movement out of the Obama White House

David Sirota, Open Left

I just read the news that Van Jones was forced out of the Obama administration (and let's be real clear, despite the "resignation" billing, the White House's pathetic behavior this week makes clear Jones was forced out by the higher ups). This is a serious tragedy on three levels.

First and foremost, Jones was one of the only movement progressives in a policymaking position in the Obama White House. By that I mean, he was one of the only people in the White House who came out of grassroots movement work and not just political/partisan hack work, and one of the only movement progressives put in a policymaking job, and not ghettoized into a political/tactical job. Whenever I got sick to my stomach at the thought of Obama's Team of Corporate Zombies - people like Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jim Messina - running the show, I was able to at least tell myself that hey, someone like Van Jones is at least in there somewhere fighting the good fight as he always has. No more - and that's a damn shame.

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Paranoid racists ascend: thoughts on Van Jones’ resignation

David Roberts, Grist

Van Jones had to resign. It became inevitable when Gibbs offered no support.

Much of the blame for this incident lies squarely on the White House. The information used against Jones was freely available on the web. All it took was a search. I thought by hiring Jones they intended to take a chance on a real left progressive, but now it appears they were simply caught flat-footed. Either Valerie Jarrett—Jones’ champion in the upper echelons of the administration—didn’t know much about him or didn’t widely share what she knew. They certainly seemed disinclined to mount a vigorous defense with Glenn Beck gnoshing on his favorite new chew toy and the health care reform battle about to heat up again. No distractions.

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Van Jones resigns

Think Progress

The AP reports that after weeks of constant attacks by the right wing, Van Jones has resigned as Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality. Below is the letter he sent to chair Nancy Sutley:

I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today.

On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.

I have been inundated with calls - from across the political spectrum - urging me to “stay and fight.”

But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.

It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.

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The Real town hall story

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post

Health-care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town-hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change.

But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?

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Boycotting Beck's sponsors is not enough

George Curry, Seattle Medium

Some of the nation’s blue chip companies – many that rely on African-American consumers for a significant portion of their profits – advertised on right-winger Glenn Beck’s incendiary program on Fox TV. They include: Procter & Gamble, Kraft Food, ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice foods), Clorox, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, Honda, General Electric, Travelocity, State Farm Insurance, Geico, Farmer’s Insurance, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Office Depot, RadioShack, Sprint, CVS, Red Lobster, Nestle, Progressive Insurance and pharmaceutical companies Roche and Sanofi-Aventis (maker of Plavix).

Beck touched off a firestorm when he labeled President Obama “a racist” who has “deep-seated hatred for White people.” ColorOfChange.org, an Internet-oriented Black grass roots advocacy group, quickly organized a petition drive urging advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

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Americans need the media to give us the truth in the healthcare debate

Neal Gabler, LA Times

T.S. Eliot was wrong. August is the cruelest month. As we head toward next month's congressional face-off on a national healthcare bill, the news media are infatuated with town hall meetings. Over and over, we see angry citizens screaming about a Big Government takeover of the healthcare system, shouting that they will lose their insurance or be forced to give up their doctors and denouncing "death panels" that will euthanize old people.

Of course, none of this is even remotely true. These are all canards peddled by insurance companies terrified of losing their power and profits, by right-wing militants terrified of a victory for the president they hate and by the Republican Party, which has been commandeered by the insurance industry and the militants. But the lies have obviously had their effect. Recent polls show that support for healthcare reform -- reform that would insure more Americans, would force insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions and prevent them from capriciously terminating coverage, and would provide competition to drive down costs -- is rapidly eroding.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey