After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Last week, The BRAD BLOG reported on an effort by notorious right-wing radio conglomerate Salem Media to bring Rush Limbaugh back onto the public airwaves in Boston, after Entercom-owned WRKO-AM decided to discontinue its decades-long relationship with the ratings-challenged reactionary.
As it turns out, it appears that it will be a different wingnut-friendly radio conglomerate --- iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), which owns Premiere Networks, the entity that syndicates Limbaugh's loathe-a-thon --- which will return Rush to our public airwaves in a radio market whose listeners no longer wish to have anything to do with him...
Back in 1989, a classmate of mine from a Christian family convinced me to listen to a nationally-syndicated radio program entitled "Talk Back with Bob Larson." The host was an Arizona-based radio evangelist whose shtick was to warn teenagers about the dangers of rock music and to perform exorcisms on-air. (I assume Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was a fan.) Larson's show was entertaining from my twelve-year-old perspective; he had a theatrical voice and was a gifted storyteller. However, I eventually grew tired of his repetitive shtick, and stopped listening to his show by early-1991.
"Talk Back with Bob Larson" was broadcast from 4:00pm to 6:00pm Eastern on 1260 WEZE-AM, a Christian radio station based out of Marina Bay in Quincy, Massachusetts. The station was quite popular among Christians in the Bay State; the line-up featured right-wing radio evangelists Charles Swindoll and John MacArthur, as well as the "Focus on the Family" program hosted by future GOP powerbroker James Dobson. WEZE-AM, as you might imagine, was beloved by those who hated the Bay State's Democratic (if not exactly progressive) political culture.
In the late-1990s, Salem Media, the ultra-conservative corporate parent of WEZE-AM, sold the station for $5 million to Radio Disney. (The right-wing Christian shows were moved to a less powerful AM signal.) Now, sadly, it appears that everything old is new again, as right-wing propaganda from supposedly Christian hosts is expected to return to this station, in an apparent desperate effort to ensure that aging agitator Rush Limbaugh still has a presence on Boston's airwaves after being rejected by another notorious Boston-based GOP grievance generator, WRKO-AM...
Every few months, when climate change deniers decide they've come up with an all-new reason to convince themselves that global warming is all a big hoax, we like to take a look at whatever the latest scam is that they are propagating, either because they are part of the effort to help out the fossil fuel industry, or simply because they enjoy being their brainwashed and/or incurious little tools.
Back in 2013 these stooges were promoting the phony notion that "Arctic ice has grown to a record level!" It hadn't. After that debacle, they claimed UN scientists had found their predictions of warming were off by 50 percent or more. They weren't. More recently, they were pushing the false claim that the globe has been cooling ever since 1998. It hasn't been. And, of course, when all else failed, they could always fall back on their old standby: weaning ourselves from dangerous fossil fuels won't make any difference anyway because China would never do the same. But, of course, China is now doing so at a rate that should embarrass these jackasses. But it won't. Because they are never embarrassed about being wrong.
So, with 2014 recently clocking in as the hottest year for the planet on record, according to every major world agency that measures such things, and with 13 of the hottest years on record all falling within the past 15 years, these clowns are getting pretty desperate for something --- anything --- to use to keep the denialist scam going on behalf of the most profitable industry in the history of civilization.
The latest such scam, helpfully propagated on several Fox "News" shows last week, is that the so-called "scientists" have been caught red-handed in the act of "lying" about raw temperature data! That's right! They have been manipulating the data to exaggerate the extent of global warming!
Except, of course, they haven't, and they aren't...
Granted, MSNBC's weekend programming hasn't been the same since Chris Hayes left Up in 2013 to host his weeknight broadcast All In, but this segment was just too daffy. Holder, who answered graciously nonetheless, seemed to know that something had gone off the rails; while responding to Harris-Perry, he seemed to be second-guessing his decision to participate in the interview.
Reportedly, there has been a lot of second-guessing at the network, and it's not hard to understand why. MSNBC has a credibility problem --- though its not about ducks or even Brian Williams --- but a segment on the February 9 edition of The Ed Show unintentionally highlighted its magnitude...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Sen. Mitch McConnell dodges on climate change: "I am not a scientist"; Republican candidates retreating from climate change denial; U.S. auto fleet achieves record fuel efficiency; PLUS: 'Clean Coal' goes online in Canada - but there's a catch ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Printable solar cells coming soon; Obama to designate San Gabriel Mountain as America's newest national monument; Artificial turf linked to cancer cluster; The future of food amid record drought; Kansas wind energy takes off; Massive oil train fire in Saskatchewan; US east coast cities face chronic flooding due to climate change; Hyrdopower drying up in CA ... PLUS: Solution Is the Soil: How Organic Farming Can Feed the World and Save the Planet ... and much, MUCH more! ...
P.S. While you're listening, please consider donating to The BRAD BLOG so we can continue to afford to keep bringing you this kind of news, programming, journalism and analysis. We really need your support these days to keep going. Thanks in advance!
The question I hear time and time again from audiences who see my documentary film, Broadcast Blues is, "Why did you leave your lucrative career in broadcasting to become a media reform activist?"
The truth is that, once upon a time, I worked in a newsroom where a corporate owner ordered me, a reporter, to skew my reporting to purposely make a man on trial for murder --- look guilty.
In an instant, my entire life changed. The trust I'd had in my news organization vanished. And the deeper I looked into the way corporate owners manage the message they want the public to hear, the more disillusioned I became.
There is more to that story --- so much more --- but you'll have to wait for me to finish my book to get all the chilling details on it.
But this is the kind of story that many reporters could tell, if only they dared. But when they dare, as Jane Akre and Steve Wilson did, they can get fired for telling the truth. (Who can forget the story of these Fox affiliate investigative reporters who tried to report on Monsanto Bovine Growth Hormone being injected into cattle, only for it to then be found in the milk supply, which experts said could cause cancer? WTVT fired them after Monsanto complained to Fox "News" chief Roger Ailes.) The reporters filed a whistleblower suit, and Akre won. But Fox won in the end, by getting a court order that, legally, news does not have to be true. Akre and Wilson lost not only their jobs, but ended up having to pay Fox' attorney fees. (See my story from Broadcast Blues on this case, including courtroom footage here.)
This is the kind of information I suspect the FCC was hoping to tease out in their planned "Multi-market Study of Critical Information Needs" [PDF] which, as I wrote last week at The BRAD BLOG, sparked a right wing firestorm in recent weeks when Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai went public with a Wall Street Journal op-ed accusing his colleagues of "meddling with the news" by simply asking voluntary questions of newsrooms. The study was part of the FCC's statutory requirement to report to Congress every three years, as they have for decades, on identifying "barriers to entry into the communications marketplace faced by entrepreneurs and other small businesses."
The question for reporters from the CIN study that was most disturbing to Pai: "Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?"...
As I was digging into the archives, I was reminded again that while many folks know us for our coverage of election integrity issues, voting machine problems, whistleblowers, etc., it was our scoop about a story concerning the George W. Bush White House in the lead-up to the 2004 President Election that was our first to "go national" and have a direct effect on the national political discourse.
It was before we had even begun digging as deep as we eventually would on the e-voting beat, and the fallout from the story itself resulted in national pick-up by the MSM, pressure on officials and questions at White House press conferences, an academic study (years later) and, the most fun part, the Bush White House eventually being forced to spend what must have been an enormous amount of man hours restoring date to the White House website in the week before the actual election that year...
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio we spoke first with Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) about whether the MSM --- despite recent hand-wringing over failures in the run-up to Iraq 10 years ago --- repeated the same behavior in the run-up to the almost-war in Syria.
I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post, where he worked for more than a decade before becoming Washington Bureau Chief for the Huffington Post before becoming the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Center for Accountability Journalism at FearlessMedia.org.
His response to that question and others on the recent shameful history and hopeful future of journalism were much more optimistic than mine --- but, as I note during the show, I really need a break (which I hope to get somewhere in the mountains next week), so I may be a even more cynical this week than usual.
On Monday night, NBC News aired its new documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, based on the book of a similar name by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. The film offered a number of new and disturbing insights since the original 2007 book was published.
While it may be maddening --- particularly for those of us who followed the massive scam as it was ongoing --- the documentary should be mandatory viewing for those who have lost sight of just how each and every single one of the key reasons used to sell the U.S. on war with Iraq was built on known lies. Each and every point --- from Saddam's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, to his alleged mobile chemical labs, to his alleged nuke program, to those aluminum tubes said to have been for use in uranium enrichment, to the "fissile material" (yellowcake) he was said to have been trying to obtain from Niger --- was a lie. And each an every lie was known to be a lie by the scoundrels and war criminals who sold it to the American public and a compliant American media.
Even with its failures, and several of them are identified here, Hubris reminds us of how each and every one of those points was a scam. Period. And, while it's not expressly highlighted (but should be in a follow up!), we are reminded how none of the liars have ever faced any accountability whatsoever, despite nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed, more than 30,000 of them wounded, well over 100,000 Iraqi citizens murdered and some $3 trillion looted from our nation's coffers. You should take the time to watch it.
The entire documentary, broken into 6 parts, narrated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and originally aired on 2/18/2013, follows in full below...
The cover for the final print edition of Newsweek was released earlier today via Newsweek's Twitter feed, noting "Newsweek's last print issue before we go all-digital features a hashtag on the cover: #LastPrintIssue!"
Chris Sacca observes in response (also via Twitter, naturally): "Newsweek's last print issue has just a hashtag on the cover. Like using your final breath to ID the killer."
Now Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have something to say about it all, whether Fox "News" likes it or not. (Note: The video is broken into two parts for some reason, so be sure to watch through to Part 2!)
There is much, much more in-between our cuts here, including a storyline involving a hacking scandal that mirrors Rupert Murdoch and Newscorp's, but at the core of the recent Season 1 finale of HBO's "must-see" Aaron Sorkin seriesThe Newsroom, was the nationwide Republican voter suppression effort.
Specifically, the finale centers around the GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws that may serve to keep tens of thousands, including 96-year old Tennessee resident Dorothy Cooper (who The BRAD BLOG reported on last year) from being able to cast her vote this year, even after she's been legally voting there for 75 years without a problem --- even during the Jim Crow era in the South.
Is Sorkin reading The BRAD BLOG? Among other evidence throughout the season that suggests as much, one character, as you'll hear in the clip below, charges, as we often have, that this issue deserves much greater prominence in the corporate mainstream media. In regard Cooper and the spate of Republican voter suppression laws that may well determine the outcome of this year's elections, the character demands to know: "I wanna know why I don't see it on the news?!...Why isn't this the first story on the news every night?!"...
(For much more of the news monologue by Will Macavoy (Jeff Daniels) on Republicans and the Tea Party in this particular episode, see this version which has received almost 2 million views on YouTube, and includes his entire speech, though it lacks the key hospital scene seen above.)
When we first wrote about The Newsroom in July after its premiere, we suggested that the show was worth subscribing to HBO for, all on its own. While it continues to be flawed in some respects --- most notably in some of its soap opera-ish elements, and some of the casting --- it is still absolutely must-see TV in our opinion.
The show's focus on what it might look like if a mainstream corporate media outlet actually decided to focus on covering the actual news that the nation needs to become a more informed electorate --- exposing the many Breitbartian scams of Fox "News" and today's GOP and the Koch Brothers and their astroturf Tea Party along the way, using real breaking news events and footage along the way --- could well, as we wrote at the time, "change the way actual news is reported in this nation." There is even evidence, perhaps, that it may have even already done so, to an extent.
Though the first season is now over, the show has been renewed for Season 2. In the meantime, all of the episodes are available to HBO subscribers via On Demand and HBO GO, so it's still well worth jumping into from the start (the first episode is available to all here), before the next season begins.