Posts Tagged ‘media’

Language in the Crosshairs

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Cable news was all abuzz over this CNN clip this week.  Notice the language “hold us accountable when we don’t meet your standards.”   This idea that we have to cleanse the language of every allusion or metaphor that has any relation to guns, combat, or violence didn’t come from the masses it came from these clowns in the media.   He might as well be saying “this is the standard you should be holding us (and everyone else) to, after all that’s what a person of high culture and values would do…..” Of course then you wouldn’t feel like you thought of it yourself.


Glenn Beck

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s almost as if Glenn Beck read my brief post yesterday and did a show explaining the other side’s view of democracy.   I recommend watching the whole thing, it all fits together, but if you want to just get the gist of what I mean jump to 17:30 and watch until 32:00 (or from 29-32 if you’re in a real hurry).  Suddenly the idea that the weakening of a government sponsored media organization and strengthening of a private media organization is a threat to “democracy” starts to make sense.  Also when you see the clip of Bernays saying “if you can use propaganda for war, you can certainly use it for peace” remember step 2.


January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

In an earlier post I implied that I thought Ellen Weiss would probably take the fall for the Juan Williams firing at NPR which I then retracted since she wasn’t fired after a couple weeks.  But now I am retracting the retraction since she resigned

People at NPR said resigning may have preserved severance payments that Weiss would have had to forgo had she been fired.

Also, Vivian Schiller was denied a bonus.  So please draw the original conclusion to which I was leading you.  Also notice this line:

I do not think this kind of capitulation [by NPR] assures the future of an independent press. . . . Democracy is on the line and NPR is one of the last bastions of its possibility.

To whom are they capitulating exactly?  Fox reported the facts.  The public willingly went to Fox to get the facts.  The public got upset about it.  NPR capitulated….. to the public!  The people to whom other news organizations that don’t get their money from the government have to answer all the time.  Am I the only one who sees the irony?  Capitulation by a government sponsored news outlet in the face of public opinion is a threat to democracy and an independent press.   This highlights the true progressive vision of “democracy.”  More on that to come.

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Media Wars and the Argument From Intimidation

October 25, 2010 3 comments

Years ago my favorite cable news personality was on MSNBC.  It was Tucker Carlson.  Now he’s on Fox.  And remember when John Stossil used to be on ABC?  I don’t, but apparently he did….

I’m a little behind the news cycle but if you haven’t heard, Juan Williams was fired by NPR last week.  This came after comments on the O’reilly Factor following this incident on the View.  The state of the media is getting frightening.

First of all, the case of O’reilly on the View is a particularly insidious form of the argument from intimidation.  And let me say that I saw Whoopie Goldberg speak about it afterward and I think she was acting honestly.  That is, I think she was honestly furious and left to keep herself from losing her temper  any more than she already had.  I don’t think it was a calculated stunt on her part.  But that is why this form of the argument from intimidation is so powerful. 

The statement that Bill O’reilly was trying to make was prevented from reaching the minds of Goldberg and Behar years ago, probably decades ago.  Somehow, they have been conditioned on a subconscious level to immediately block out certain kinds of speech.  They have been taught that anyone who says certain things is evil and they must react with violent contempt the moment these things are said or else they are not good people themselves.  This reaction is not logical it is emotional, and it makes logical analysis of the subject impossible (at least temporarily). 

What’s more, the effect of this reaction, especially when it comes from multiple people at the same time, is to perpetuate the epidemic in others.  It says to anyone watching “you just heard something that is not to be said, and this is how people who break this rule will be treated.  You don’t want people to think you are a bad person do you?  You don’t want to suffer the scorn and outrage of your peers.  If not, then you better not say what he just said.  In fact you better not even think it.  You better not even consider whether or not it’s true (in this case it was factually accurate but that seems to be lost in this debate).  And it would be best if you acted outraged anytime you heard anyone else say it just so that we all know that you are on the level.  You wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea and think that you could ever consider such a thing.”

Now the bigger part of the story is Juan Williams.  Williams also said something that is not to be said.  But his crime was much greater because he is a “liberal.”  Juan Williams is the kind of person who is the biggest threat to the left because he blurs the line between those to whom you are allowed to listen and those to whom you are not.  He was a liberal  news analyst on NPR.  That is to whom you are supposed to listen.  But he also goes on Fox News and carries on reasonable and thoughtful conversations with people like Bill O’Reilly.  This is not allowed.  In his own words:

They are taking bits and pieces of what I said to go after me for daring to have a conversation with leading conservative thinkers. They loathe the fact that I appear on Fox News. They don’t notice that I am challenging Bill O’Reilly and trading ideas with Sean Hannity. In their hubris they think by talking with O’Reilly or Hannity I am lending them legitimacy.

You see what’s going on here?  They have driven most of the reasonable conservatives and libertarians out of all the “mainstream” networks.  But they just keep ending up on Fox.   They have tried to bring Fox around or put them out of business by organizing boycotts and  cutting them out of the White House press pool, etc. but this hasn’t worked.  So they have to quarantine them.  They have to keep their loyal supporters from watching it.  They have to make sure that you don’t ever think to yourself “I wonder if there is actually a side to the news that I’m not getting that I could get on Fox?”  You must believe that they are only “pushing an agenda.”  But when well-respected liberals are going on there and giving their opinions and not being crucified as non believers it makes this argument difficult to make.  When those well-respected liberals also have a line to the left’s protected constituencies, then you have to worry about them getting the impression that Fox is OK to watch. 

To put it another way, their quarantine relies on you believing that only right-wing loonies are on Fox.  If Fox refuses to cooperate by only putting right-wing loonies on, then they have to cut off the supply of liberals (“Democratic senator _________’s office was invited on/asked for comment but we haven’t heard back from them” is quite the common refrain on Fox these days).  If some liberals insist on contributing to Fox, then they must be cut off from the sheep and made to look like right-wing loonies. 

Meanwhile the situation is turning into a public relations disaster for NPR.  This means that Ellen Weiss (Williams’ boss at NPR) who told Williams that the decision to fire him  “had been confirmed above her,” and also insinuated that he should discuss his views with his psychiatrist, is catching flack from all sides including within NPR.  I predict she will be gone by the end of the week.  Williams stood up for himself and his views and when he got fired he landed a lucrative contract with Fox.  Weiss probably thought that she was being a loyal servant to her bosses.  Let’s see what she has waiting for her after she takes the fall for this.  The dichotomy is worth taking notice of. 

Oh and by the way this happened the same week that George Soros donated $1.8 million to NPR.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence though…

Update: It was actually NPR CEO Vivian Schiller who said that Williams should consult his psychiatrist not Weiss as I said.  Also, neither of them lost their job yet so I guess you are free to conclude the opposite of what I intended on that one.  This is kind of amusing though.

The Fourth Estate

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

A new Gallup poll shows confidence in both newspapers and television news are both below 25%.  I have mixed feelings about this.  It’s a good thing to be skeptical and not put too much faith in any one source for information.  However, I think this is a little scary because of the media’s role as the “fourth estate.”  The typical high school civics lesson teaches us that the government is designed with power divided between different  entities with a system of checks and balances to keep any one of them from getting too much of it.  These institutions are the executive, legislative, judicial branches, and state governments.  The press is supposed to be the outside force keeping watch over all of this.

I have already argued that the relationship between the state and federal governments has been completely destroyed here and here.  Also, I have argued that the judicial branch has been corrupted here and here.  I haven’t touched on congress and that situation is a little more subtle although some like Glenn Beck have been arguing that congress is unwittingly making themselves irrelevant by giving broad powers to appointed bureaucrats and I think this is at least somewhat true.  So if we lose all faith in the press, what’s left?