President Obama recently nominated Tom Wheeler as the new Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal agency tasked with protecting the public interest in broadcasting, particularly over our public airwaves.
One of the first questions Wheeler's FCC will have to (reluctantly?) decide: Is Talk Radio the same as "bonafide news"?
More than three quarters of the American public say no, according to Pew Research, and one would think an agency sworn to protect the public interest and its airwaves would agree with that vast majority. But will Wheeler choose to put the public interest first, or will his FCC continue to simply turn a blind eye, as the agency has done since the Reagan administration?
After what we documented last year in Wisconsin, and after official complaints were filed in turn with the FCC about how corporate radio stations there appear to have abused their licensed privilege to broadcast over our public airwaves, that question may finally have to be answered by the federal agency tasked with enforcing the law over those very airwaves...
It's a beautiful and maddening film, featuring many voices --- such as Julian Assange, John Nichols, Dan Rather, Amy Goodman, Robert Parry, Robert McChesney, Dan Ellsberg, Sibel Edmonds and many more, including even yours truly --- who will be familiar to readers of The BRAD BLOG. While aspects of a number of the stories told in the film may be familiar, there were elements that even I hadn't heard about it, in just about every one of them.
I had planned to ask Tremblay about his struggles finding commercial theatrical distribution for the film in the U.S. I'd presumed that, at least, would be next to impossible, given the subject matter of the film (the corporate takeover/merger of the near-entirety of our mainstream media in collusion with the highest levels of the U.S. government.) What I hadn't counted on --- what caught me completely off-guard --- was that Tremblay said that, while the film has been featured at prestigious film festivals around the world, the bulk of the major festivals in the U.S. had turned the film down. Yes, those supposedly "independent" film festivals are, apparently, not quite as independent as they used to be, it seems.
Our conversation, today, was the first, as I understand it, that Tremblay has been able to have in the U.S. media about this important film which has been several years in the making. (I was interviewed for the film about three years ago as I recall.)
The good news: We were able to talk about all of that today, unencumbered by any corporate filter and over our public airwaves on Pacifica Radio in L.A. (and over 110,000 blazing FM watts across much of Southern and Central California!)
The even better news: You can watch the film, in its entirety, streaming on the Internet as of tomorrow, Thursday, April 4 at Shadows.KCETlink.org. (You can watch a number of clips from the film there already.)
And, the even better news still: Shadows of Liberty will air on actual television, beginning Friday, April 5th at 8pm ET and PT on independent KCET in Los Angeles and nationwide on Link TV (DISH Channel 9410, DIRECTTV Channel 375).
Until then, you can listen to my conversation with Tremblay from today's BradCast, which includes a number of clips from the film --- along with a few more items of note in the news week (such as concerns about the 100% unverifiable voting systems set for use in the race of Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, in her run for the U.S. House in S. Carolina against former Gov. Mark Sanford; the Virginia GOP voter registration worker who was caught tossing registration forms into a dumpster just before the Presidential Election last year, but who seems to now be getting off the hook, and, of course, a visit from our own Desi Doyen, as usual, with the latest Green News Report) --- all right now here.
P.S. Please be the media and spread the word. Thanks. P.P.S. If I haven't "sold" you enough on the film here and in the radio show above, see the official trailer embedded below. Those of you who know my voice will recognize it a few times...
"First I want to say thank you, if you tuned in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last administration tricked the U.S. into the Iraq War," she said. The film garnered the highest ratings of any documentary in the history of the channel.
"The success is really exciting. It means there will be more of where that came from in coming months and years," Maddow explained before announcing that the film will re-air on Friday, March 15th at 9pm ET. (You can watch the entire documentary online before that right here, if you like.)
Congratulations are certainly due. While there were several new revelations in the film, much of the story of the string of blatant lies and scams culled together to hoax the country into war had already been known to those of us news geeks who follow this stuff too closely. Nonetheless, it was very helpful, and an excellent reminder, to see the entire case laid out in a single, simple, watchable presentation. We're delighted to hear it was a ratings success.
Revisiting that disaster also helped encourage The BRAD BLOG to examine several still-existing loose ends --- beyond the fact that, shamefully, nobody in the Bush Administration has ever been brought to account in any way for what happened, including what are clearly a series of very serious war crimes. Among the points we've been looking into, in the wake of the Hubris documentary, is the questions of whether or not Colin Powell "knowingly lied" in his presentation of what turned out to be blatantly false evidence for the case against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, when the then-Secretary of State spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003 and helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of an invasion.
Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, admits during the film that he and Powell "did participate in a hoax." But, in a statement in response to our request for comment, Wilkerson vigorously denied that either he or his boss knowingly did so. He sent his statement after we'd published anti-war author and activist David Swanson's critique of the Hubris film, on the day after it initially aired. In the critique, Swanson cites his own 2011 essay which offers evidence to argue that Powell "knowingly lied" during his presentation to the U.N. (Both Swanson and 27-year Sr. CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was cited in Wilkerson's response, each replied to him in turn. You can read all of their responses here.)
While Swanson "applauded" the MSNBC documentary for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he also offered a number of pointed critiques for the cable news channel itself. His observations are on-point in both regards, and help to raise a suggestion for an important and necessary follow-up documentary that, we suspect, would likely garner ratings at least as high as those earned for Hubris.
After all, though Hubris:Selling the Iraq War focused on the lies told by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war, unfortunately, they were not the only ones "selling the Iraq War"...
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 UPDATED below with tonight's audio archives.]
It's our final night this week of guest hosting for the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show. Mike will be back LIVE on Monday! (A grateful nation rejoices.)
For the last time this week, we'll again be BradCasting LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open, at the bottom of this item, a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
PLUS! Much more, including whatever it is that you and/or I might be thankful for this time of year, and as many of your calls as we can possibly get to over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at our Sante Fe affiliate KTRC 1260, or our Minnesota affiliate KTNF 950 (tell them you're from "Minnesota" when asked). Also, you should be able to listen live at WhiteRose Society if the radio gods are with us.
* * *
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Thanks to all our listeners, callers and chatters for a great Thanksgiving week filling in for Mike and Kathy. My thanks, especially, to them! The ad-free audio archives from tonight's show are now posted below (along with the chat room archives). Enjoy 'em all over the holidays and have a great Thanksgiving....until we meet here again...
There is a little known ritual that occurs in the election years when Democrats prevail: Big "Conservative" Media starts to pull progressive talk radio off the air.
I documented this in my 2009 documentary film, Broadcast Blues: after Democratic candidates made big gains in 2006, Clear Channel and other public airwaves radio licensees pulled several well performing progressive talk radio stations off the air, and replaced them with sports and other programming. It would be easier to understand if the new programs got big ratings bumps, but that didn't happen. The new shows' ratings are typically only half those of Progressive Talkers.
True to form, Clear Channel Communications, which owns about 850 radio stations nationwide, took the Progressive voices off of the public airwaves in Portland, Oregon just days after Democrats won big nationwide. When devoted listeners tuned in to Portland's 620 AM, they expected to hear Thom Hartmann, Mike Malloy and other Progressives waxing exuberant in the wake of this year's election results and looking forward to new possibilities in the new session of Congress under a wildly popular re-elected President. Instead, they heard fans exuberant over some football game or other. FoxSports620 now broadcasts over that 25,000 watt frequency on our public airwaves.
It isn't like Portland needs another sports radio station; there are already two in that very same market. But the community does need to hear an alternative to the "conservative" talk which is broadcast on eight, count them, eight separate frequencies on Portland's radio dials.
On Friday, as the news was breaking, and even as the unannounced flip was occurring before it had otherwise been planned, I detailed the outrage of Bain Capital-owned Clear Channel killing KPOJ, the only commercial Progressive talk radio station in Portland, one of the nation's most progressive cities, while leaving their two "competing" Clear Channel-owned Rightwing stations in the same market intact.
They flipped the station, one of the first and most successful Progressive talk stations in the nation, over to the Fox Sports format, which, I have since learned, is also syndicated by Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio, further underscoring the unenforced anti-trust issues that seem to be in violation of, among other things, the 1948 U.S. v. Paramount Supreme Court decision I also briefly discussed in my Friday night coverage.
In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Paramount Pictures was in violation of anti-trust laws because it was unfairly leveraging its chain of movie theaters around the country to keep films made by competing movie studios from being exhibited. The vertical integration, controlling both the production and means of distribution, was the very definition of a monopoly. In this case, as I've argued, Clear Channel is using the very limited public airwaves broadcast licenses that it receives for free from the government --- in exchange, supposedly, for serving in the public interest --- in order to push its own Premiere syndicated programming, even when other, non-Clear Channel owned shows and formats both garner higher ratings and, arguable, are far more in the public's interest than a third sports talk station in the very same market.
More to the point, as I have noted many times in the past, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed companies like Clear Channel and a handful of other mega-corporations to buy up control of licensing rights to theoretically "competing" stations in the same market --- Clear Channel, for example, owns both the Rightwing and Progressive talk radio stations in many major markets --- assures that there is no real free-market competition in the Talk Radio business. While Rightwing talk radio is allowed to propagandize over our public airwaves in favor of supposed "free-market" competition, there is no such free-market competition in the talk radio business itself. The game is as rigged as it would be if Coca-Cola had the sole distribution rights to both Coke and Pepsi in the same major market.
Shortly after running my piece on Friday, I was informed by someone inside the business, in a very good position to know, that "the Seattle station is next." They were referring to Seattle, Washington's KPTK am1090 Progressive Talk station, owned by CBS-Viacom. On Monday morning, Stephanie Miller, whose very successful show is heard on that station, and many others, along with appearing on Current TV, told listeners the same thing, that the progressive Seattle talk station, in another very progressive market (in a state that just approved the recreational use of marijuana, for chrissakes) was expected to flip to the newly introduces CBS Sports format on January 1...
[UPDATE: As of 6:00pm PT, the KPOJ website has now flipped to "Fox Sports AM 620 Portland".]
This is horrible. Tonight, without warning, Clear Channel Communications-owned 620 AM KPOJ in Portland, Oregon, one of the most progressive cities in one of the nation's most progressive states, has flipped from its years-long progressive news and talk format over to Fox Sports as of 5:30pm local time.
KPOJ was the only commercial progressive talk radio station in Portland. The city will still have several other Rightwing talk radio stations, including one owned by Clear Channel, and they already have two sports stations, but the Bain Capital-owned media conglomerate is now killing yet another progressive voice from our publicly-owned airwaves.
The BRAD BLOG can now confirm that KPOJ has flipped its programming format and website to Fox Sports as of 6:00pm PT tonight.
When one company owns "competing" talk radio stations in the same town, and gets to decide which one enjoys a stronger signal and which one receives promotional dollars (and which one doesn't), "competition" in the market place is a mirage. It's the equivalent of a Coca-Cola distributor owning the sole rights to distribute both Coke and Pepsi in the same town. Which one do you think is going to sell better there? That's precisely what talk radio is like in almost every major market in the country now. One company, usually Clear Channel, generally owns both the "Right" and "Left" talk stations. (In Portland, Clear Channel owns Rightwing talk outlet KEX as well as KPOJ.) Promoting one station would likely decrease listeners and ratings --- and, thus, ad dollars --- for the other. Thus, there is no "free market" competition in talk radio.
This is hardly the first time that Clear Channel has done the same thing, in very progressive cities, underscoring yet again that there is no real, "free market" competition in talk radio over our publicly-owned airwaves. The market place is decidedly rigged...
Democracy Now!'s "extended second debate" (see video below), featuring third-party candidate responses to questions from last week's "official" Presidential Debate at Hofstra University side-by-side with the two main party candidates, illustrates the malaise of an American electorate which senses a fundamental disconnect between the promise of "change we can believe in" offered up by one of two corporate sponsored candidates, even as political and economic inequality, outsourcing and war have expanded over the past four years.
Yet, the only other voice generally offered to the American electorate is the 21st century equivalent to a snake-oil salesman, whose entire work in the private sector, along with a brief stint as a governor, have been devoted to outsourcing, predatory capitalism and greater inequality. He is a candidate who not only seeks to retain the deficit-exploding Bush tax cuts, but wants to pile on with a $5 trillion pig-in-a-poke tax cut for the billionaire class. That tax-cut, coupled with a massive give-away to the military-industrial complex would, of necessity, reduce government to the point that it would be incapable of performing its constitutionally recognized core function of promoting the general welfare.
The comments made by Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential candidate, at the time of her unsuccessful attempt to enter the second Presidential debate --- an attempt which resulted in her being arrested and cuffed to a chair for eight hours --- along with the substantive dialogue produced by Stein, Justice Party Presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, and Constitution Party Presidential candidate Virgil Goode, Jr., during Democracy Now's "extended second debate", underscore what Noam Chomsky referred to in Failed States as the "democracy deficit" --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the vast majority of American citizens and the political elites who supposedly represent them...
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.
NPR is as much the problem as the rest of the corporate MSM. Here's how Wade Goodwyn, of NPR's On Point, summarized their "Battle Over Voter ID" show from last Wednesday on their website...
Republicans say the new laws are necessary to prevent possible voter fraud.
Democrats respond it’s a solution in search of a problem, there’s no evidence of fraud except on the smallest of scales.
Well, gosh! Who knows what the truth is?! Both side lie, so the truth must be somewhere in the middle or something! Who can tell?
To make matters still worse, one of their guests was the notorious Hans von Spakovsky, the GOP con-man who has long-ago, and many times, been debunked as a "voter fraud" fraudster. He was there to offer the argument in favor of Republican voter disenfranchisement laws, meant to combat pretend, non-existent, in-person polling place impersonation "voter fraud" --- you know, the type of "voter fraud" that even Republicans, when pressed in a court of law, are forced to admit doesn't actually exist.
I dispatched with von Spakovsky's nonsense on NPR four years ago, when we were both guests on the Tavis Smiley Show. But, I guess NPR needs to keep pretending that his discredited bullshit back then isn't still discredited bullshit now. Or something.
Of course, On Point is hardly alone in their misinformative l he-said/she-said description of this un-American, anti-democratic shame. Their summary of the pretend "problem" is almost identical to the ones you'll read in the New York Times, or from the AP, and everywhere else in the mainstream media. Ya know, from pretty much the very same irresponsible news outlets which also pretended there might be WMD in Iraq, because Republicans said so, when the actual evidence was clear from the jump that there were none.
The cost in that case? Thousands of dead Americans, perhaps more than a million innocent, dead Iraqis. The cost this November? That remains to be seen. But, as before, the media is failing their job of informing the electorate with demonstrable facts.
In a piece this week at the Nieman Watchdog Blog headlined "You Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is All About, So Say So", Dan Froomkin, formerly of Washington Post, currently of Huffington Post and Managing Editor of the blog at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, called out the corporate MSM, and called on them to start telling the truth about the GOP's purposely disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions, rather than report it, as they most frequently do, as little more than Left/Right "politics as usual".
His piece begins: "Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about· voter fraud?"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's official: US drought is now declared a natural disaster; Massive anti-nuke protests in Japan; Kalamazoo River tar sands pipeline spill was entirely preventable; PLUS: Shell Oil's excellent adventure in the Arctic gets off to a rocky start ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): BLM gives away US coal, subsidizes China; GOP obstruction threatens coal miners; Koreas in worst drought in 100 years; Romney supports end of wind tax credit that would kill thousands of jobs; Greenland calves another massive iceberg; EPA drops CAFO reporting rule; FDA spied on scientists; Food safety inspection cuts; PG&E 'downgraded' pipeline safety probs to save money ... PLUS: Apple rejoins green registry, admitting its exit was a mistake ... and much, MUCH more! ...