Tag Archives: truth

In political discourse, cable maybe minuscule but broadcast news not helping

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Cable news punditry may reach a small hardcore section of voters but their broadcast news brethren seem to follow their lead which doesn’t contribute to accurate information for the average voter.

Cable news is like fantasy football leagues for the political wonks. The audience for the pundits on cable never rises above 3 million total viewers. But viewership is never close to the average number of voters in the US (in 2008 there were 133 million total votes cast). The broadcast news channels have more viewers (ABC, NBC, CBS) with an average of 14 million a day. Even radio has more of an audience than cable TV news channels.

Of all those shows, only O’Reilly gets significantly above two million total viewers. By contrast, NBC’s nightly news program doubles O’Reilly’s ratings in both total viewers and in the coveted 25-54 bracket. Even CBS, the lowest rated of the three, easily outdraws cable, and both broadcast and cable news face the same aging demographics: the median Fox News viewer is 65, two to three years older than the median broadcast news viewer, and CNN and MSNBC aren’t far behind.

But outpacing all of TV news is radio, and that’s where Koppel and other media observers should be focusing their attention. At first glance, radio may look like a conservative-dominated field. Rush Limbaugh’s weekly audience of 15 million dwarfs any television news program, and even Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck’s radio audiences are several times their TV audiences.

In fact, though, NPR provides a counterweight both to conservative talk radio, and to the charge that both sides have equally partisan media. Twenty-seven million people listen to NPR each week, and its morning and evening news programs get fourteen and thirteen million weekly listeners respectively, just behind Limbaugh.

The Tiny Cable News Universe

But the conclusion of the article quoted above – that the audience is small – is beside the point. It seems the drivers of broadcast news follow cable’s lead in deciding what is news and the coverage of the issues and often either give misleading information or don’t squash outright lies quickly enough.

* Polling data during and after last week’s midterm elections suggested that many Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes — even though the reality is that our president actually lowered them for most of us. This means that people trust pundits like Rush Limbaugh, a major force behind spreading that lie, over the numbers on their own tax returns.
* Another recent phenomenon? Half of new Congressmen don’t believe in the reality of global warming. It’s not that they don’t just disagree on the source or the severity of the problem. They flat out don’t think the world is getting warmer–despite the evidence outside their windows.
* The new Congress will probably try to restore millions of dollars of funding for scientifically inaccurate, largely disastrous abstinence-only curriculum in schools, many of which have been shown to spread lies like “condoms don’t work” and “abortion causes cancer.”
* News outlets picked up a wildly inflated and completely outlandish claim from an Indian blog that Obama’s trip abroad cost $200 million a day–and listeners have swallowed it. (In this case, the White House flat-out denied it.)
The scary thing is, these kinds of rumors have a way of taking root in the popular consciousness. Just as the election season began heating up earlier this year, Newsweek published a list of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” While some of them are garden-variety lunacy, a surprising number are lies that were fed to Americans by our leaders on the far-Right. This demonstrates that media-fed lies can easily become ingrained in the collective memory if they’re not countered quickly and surely.

16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe — And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them

Another example is the media blow job NBC gave to former President Bush who is trying to sell a book. Matt Lauer, looking for his Frost-Nixon moment, never pushed Bush hard enough to actually answer questions about his presidential screw ups like Katrina and the Iraq war. I mean when the biggest nugget from the interview was Bush being hurt by the statement of a rapper just made me sad for journalism.

Broadcast media does a disservice to the citizens of this country by letting cable news pundits lead them by the nose and giving up their needed advocacy for the truth. Just ask a follow up question – please!

FOX “News” is all about Argumentum ad populum

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logo for FOX 'news' I have to remind my friends who are avid watchers of the FOX “News” channel that just because they have the highest ratings of the big 3 opinion cable channels doesn’t mean what they present is true. FOX peddles in what is called Argumentum ad populum. Facts and the truth isn’t subject to popular choice. FOX could have 300 million viewers a night and their race baiting still would not be factual.
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Why the facts are bad for Republicans

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It amazes me some of the crap people believe even when facts and the truth prove them wrong on a regular basis. I’m use to such “thinking” having been involved in the atheist/humanism/freethought movement for more than 15 years. I’m use to religious believers being stubborn but I have to slap my head when usually smart people believe stupid crap. Republicans seem to have a corner on that freaky behavior.

Markos at Daily Kos posts samples of the hate mail he gets being the founder of a major liberal blog. Here is a comment sent to him and his response:

just a comment

I just recently discovered all this “interesting” information on your website and I have concluded one thing……..it is YOU and people like you that are responsible for my ripping up my DEMO-NUT card and becoming a PROUD REPUBLICAN! There is nothing more dangerous to America than a rabid left wing liberal. Well maybe a crazy jihadist with a bomb strapped to his chest; but you haven’t figured that out yet and probably you never will. Idiot.”

Dude, where have you been? A crazy jihadist might be able to kill some people, but liberals would provide (true) universal single-payer healthcare, work toward peace on earth, spread tolerance and equality of opportunity, hold greedy corporations accountable for their looting of America, work to replace fossil fuels with clean renewal energy, create a fair and sane immigration policy, and even the negotiating playing field between workers and big business.

Saturday Hate Mail-a-palooza

Some Republicans get spoon fed the wacko idea that LIBERALS are destroying the country when the facts and the truth show that we would be so much better off as a nation if the liberals ran the government. Those pesky facts would also show that it was the work of the GOP in Congress and their corporate lords that brought us the 2008 economic collapse and helped make the Gulf oil spill worse that it needed to be.

Just look at the actual history of this country and you will see liberals and progressives leading the country forward and conservatives bring us down.

“I’m speaking totally for myself and I’m not speaking for the Republican Party and I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case, a $20 billion shakedown with the Attorney General of the United States who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history that’s got no legal standing and what I think sets a terrible precedent for the future,” said Barton.

“I’m only speaking for myself. I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize,” he said.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) on June 17th 2010 hearing about BP Oil spill

And it isn’t just Joe Barton saying this about the escrow fund:

The fact is BP didn’t have to set the money aside. They could’ve waited until any legal cases were resolved or any other foot dragging methods a large company employs to keep from having to pay damages.

The GOP also ignores polling showing they are on the wrong team on this issue:

68 percent of respondents want more regulation of the oil industry;

72 percent favor “Barack Obama’s proposals to develop alternative sources of energy and reduce the amount of oil and other fossil fuels that are produced and used in this country”;

69 percent believe such plans will increase jobs.

According to the poll, opposition to increased offshore drilling has grown 10 points since May and is now twice as high as it was in 2008. Fifty-eight percent of those questioned support a six-month moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf and other offshore sites; 68 percent favor increased regulation of the oil industry in this country.

“There is a gender and generation gap on offshore oil drilling – women and younger Americans are less likely to support drilling offshore and more likely to support a moratorium,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Measures that directly target BP are also popular – 63 percent favor lifting the liability cap on BP and 53 percent would support criminal charges against some BP employees or executives.

CNN Poll: Half say Gulf will never recover

Then we have the deficit hawks who show up around election time to whine about money being spent. It’s different this time because we are still in financial trouble and if these hawks get their way we might end up in another economic collapse. As Economist Paul Krugman wrote recently:

Many economists, myself included, regard this turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession.

In America, many self-described deficit hawks are hypocrites, pure and simple: They’re eager to slash benefits for those in need, but their concerns about red ink vanish when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy. Thus, Senator Ben Nelson, who sanctimoniously declared that we can’t afford $77 billion in aid to the unemployed, was instrumental in passing the first Bush tax cut, which cost a cool $1.3 trillion.

That ’30s Feeling

The major drag on the economy is still health care costs since the reform that was passed was only a start and the major parts haven’t taken effect yet. Blogger digby wrote:

Any deficit scold who doesn’t put reducing health care costs at the very top of the agenda is just a demagogic crank doing the dirty work for the aristocratic overlords.

Basic Arithmetic

The GOP want to kiss corporate ass, cut the social safety net, and lie about it all.

I hope the bruise on my head goes away before November so I can party during another Democratic election victory.

Why I hate the mainstream media

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Ever since the mega corporations took over the main stream media networks, there has been a lack of journalism on them. Outside the celeb-centric, missing white woman, serial killer style tabloid style, the networks have stopped being an advocate of the public. Nowadays, the news, especially the cable talk shows are nothing more than press releases read on the air. There is no follow up, no questioning of what is said. The flacks on the shows are allowed to say their version and we are suppose to believe the “journalists” are being fair and balanced.

That is a bunch of BS.

If someone lies, or gives knowingly false information, it is the duty of the host to call the person on it right away. Facts are not opinions to be debated. They are either true or false.

Here is an example:

The New York Times’ John Harwood wrote that Gov. Sarah Palin “assert[ed] that” Sen. Barack Obama’s “relationship with Bill Ayers, the onetime Weather Underground figure, constitutes ‘palling around with terrorists.’ ” But Harwood did not mention that two days earlier, in an article that Palin herself referenced, the Times itself reported that “the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers.”

NY Times’ Harwood quotes Palin’s “palling around with terrorists” claim, but not Times’ own reporting otherwise

or this one

CNN’s Kiran Chetry failed to challenge a McCain campaign adviser’s criticism of Sen. Barack Obama for “claim[ing] that the American military was just air-raiding villages and bombing civilians” in Afghanistan, even though Chetry herself has reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has offered “personal regret[s]” to Afghanistan over air strikes that killed civilians.

CNN’s Chetry did not challenge McCain adviser’s misleading attack on Obama’s Afghanistan comments

or this:

On Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough did not challenge Sen. John McCain’s false assertion that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote “a letter of resignation from the Army” in case the D-Day invasion failed, a claim that McCain also made during the September 26 presidential debate.

Scarborough did not challenge McCain’s false claim

And this one that just pissed me off:

On the September 28 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, during his interview with McCain campaign senior adviser Steve Schmidt and Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, host Tom Brokaw did not challenge Schmidt’s false assertion that Sen. John McCain “called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld” as Defense secretary. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, and the McCain campaign reportedly admitted, McCain did not call for Rumsfeld’s dismissal.

Rather than noting the established facts debunking Schmidt’s claim, Brokaw concluded the interview by stating, “In fairness to everybody here, I’m just going to end on one note,” then cited the results of a poll question favorable to McCain.

Brokaw allowed McCain adviser to falsely claim McCain “called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld”

Brokaw not only didn’t call Steve Schmidt on the lie he told, he also quoted an old poll about a question no other national poll asks just because it was favorable to McCain. There is also information that Brokaw has been talking behind the scenes with the McCain campaign which included getting Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews removed from anchoring further MSNBC political events.

Yes, the same Tom Brokaw who is moderating the October 7th Presidential Debate in Nashville.