Sunday, April 13, 2008

Editorial: Panhandle Media Exposes Itself

You people are insane! Take a look around -- you're all freaks! You're wasting your time making s**t! Nobody cares! These movies are terrible! I can't take it any longer.

So declares Dolores (Sarah Jessica Parker) in Ed Wood (script by Scott Alexnader and Larry Karaszewski) and since February, when discussing Panhandle Media. For years the likes of Amy Goodman have repeatedly insisted that the MSM has no ethics or standards but utilized the last half of 2007 and the year thus far to demonstrate that neither did they.

For years they held the Clintons accountable for various things. Some reality-based, some crack-pipe dreams (see especially the 'work' of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffy St. Claire on Mena). Well that was all well and good, people are who they are, and that's fine, as long as they're consistent.

Panhandle Media has spent close to a year now demonstrating that they are anything but. They've managed to also explain along the way why they're in Panhandle Media as opposed to real journalism: Their standards are so low and their work so poor that no real outlet would have them.


Take Stab Barbara Ehrenreich and Mother Jones. Stab pimped first in a widely derided article (hailed universally as awful) that took Hillary Clinton to task for belonging to a prayer group. Christ apparently scares Stab and, suffering from Panhandle Media's biggest handicap (the inability to leave your own frame of reference), she's sure it will outrage the nation. Senator Clinton belongs to a prayer group! Summon the town elders!


As if the embarrassment wasn't enough, the laughable Jeff Sharlet took to Stab's blog to defend her (and self-promote his own book). And yet they still couldn't leave well enough alone. Justin Elliott, recent college graduate, is learning something at Mother Jones, but sure isn't journalism. Sounding a lot like a half-pint Kenneth Starr (and nothing like a journalist), Justy calls on Hillary to explain her connection.

The whole episode reeks of Panhandle Media, from Stab's little 'joke' about autism (have you no shame, Barbara?) to the continued promoting of a non-story. They know it's a non-story, they all know that, or else they truly are that stupid. The group they're so alarmed about, the group that Hillary belongs to, guess who else is a participant? Raw Story reports:

Coe, leader of a group called The Fellowship, is a powerful, secretive and well-connected religious leader, widely known among senators across the aisles, and across faiths; but not by the general public. Coe's services have been attended by all three of the major 2008 presidential hopefuls: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).

Oh, yeah, Barack's connected as well. Something Stab and Justy and Mother Jones want to ignore as they whisper and smear Hillary. How very sad. How very pathetic. How very Panhandle Media which has demonstrated repeatedly that there are no standards at all and they will sweep all wrong doing (real or suspected) by Bambi under the rug and pretend it's not there.

The man's friend, his longterm friend responsible for $250,000 worth of campaign donations, is on trial and where's the expose from The Nation, The Progressive, Democracy Now!, et al? Where is it? The man's an alleged influence peddler, doing favors for politicians to get favors back (such as government contracts). But that's not an issue. It's not an issue that the only reason the Obamas own their mansion today is because the slumlord, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, agreed to buy the tiny parcel of land next door to it (after Bambi took him on a tour of the property).

As long as we're asking: Where is it?, let's ask that about another story. Drop back to when it was news that the Obama campaign, while the candidate was speaking out against NAFTA, was telling the Canadian government not to worry, that you just had to say something to trick people into voting for you. Goody brought John Nichols on her show. As Ava and C.I. noted at the time:

Despite the fact that the AP had to publish not just the stories of NAFTA-gate but also the memo before Goody could get off her tired ass and note NAFTA-Gate, on Friday, she was eager to set John Nichols up so he could turn an unsourced whisper into a "revelation." It was nothing and not worth repeating. It certainly wasn't journalism but, hey, consider the two goons we were watching.

During that broadcast, the tight-lipped Nichols smeared Hillary and stated taht she was in talks with Canada as well and that he was working on a 'major' story about that. Johnny, we're still waiting. It never emerged because there never was a story. It was a smear campaign, an effort to clamp down on outrage against Obama. "Yeah, well she did it too!" Where's that expose, Johnny? All these weeks later, where's that expose?

Panhandle Media truly is never having to say you're sorry -- or get your facts right.

(C.I. recalls a laughable "lawsuit" that Goody passed off as Academy Award coverage many, many years ago. There was never a follow up because there were no merits to the law suit and Goody was one of the few outlets to put the crackpot on air. This was when her program was only a radio show. Heads would roll! 'Hollywood!' would be brought to its knees!)

Bambi's been repeatedly presented as anti-war or anti-Iraq War when he's anything but the sort. And, after you see this repeatedly, after you see Goodman and the rest bring on Barack Obama supporters and members of his campaign without ever identifying them on air as such, you grasp that they really are that pathetic and just as guilty of everything they've accused others of.

The realities is a lot of malcontents (to be kind) exist in Panhandle Media and it's not about journalism, it's never about journalism. It's about evening a score. It's really amazing, you can pick anything from Bill Clinton's two-term presidency, to hear Panhandle Media go on and on about it and feel safe that no one grasps that they were silent in real time. That includes many with the Children's Defense Fund who, as Frances Fox Piven herself pointed out in real time (but now pretends to forget) did nothing to stop welfare 'reform.' Instead they focused on drive-by shootings. It's real easy, a decade later, to look back and say, "Oh, this was a mistake" or "that was a mistake." But in real time, few were calling it out. Which is why it all sounds like so much whining today.

Prior to their revealing that they had no standards, we assumed we'd sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the fireworks. We assumed Panhandle Media would hold everyone's feet to the fire. But they didn't do that, did they?

We've pointed it out before but it bears repeating: How do Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman, Tom Hayden et al all end up cheerleading the same campaign. We're talking about people who rarely agree on anything (as Hayden's interviews by Flanders -- who is always testy with Hayden) demonstrate. But somehow they're all on board this year.

"When people ask that question," C.I. responds, "I like to point out the Katrina connection to the Facebook person working the Bambi campaign." Translation, trace the money. Look at the foundations. Those would be the foundations that David Rovics, in an idiotic post that had us all tossing his CD last month, doesn't know exist apparently.

There was never a spontaneous move towards Bambi on the part of the public, they were led there by Panhandle Media which started their 2008 election coverage in 2006 (John Nichols was writing about the 2008 election days before the 2006 mid-term elections took place). Where did all this ill will towards Hillary come from? Panhandle Media.

The intense focus on real media by too many critics has allowed for a basic press principle to be overlooked: Things rarely emerge in one outlet, they bubble up.

And Panhandle Media, with their non-stop trashing of Hillary Clinton, has been ensuring that for two years now. They got behind Barack Obama and set out to trash Hillary. That includes Matthew Rothschild who was alone in pointing out that the 2004 DNC speech by Bambi was pathetic. Those days are long gone for Matty and you might want to wonder how he came to drink the Kool-Aid.

Panhandle Media is largely nothing but a bunch of bit players, a bunch of rejects, who could never make it into the spotlight and were kicked to the curb. They've got a lot of toxic anger and they've infected the political climate to the point that people don't even question the endorsements Bambi's getting. He's running in a Democratic primary. That would be a primary for Democrats. So what's with all the endorsements from Panhandle Media types who aren't even Democrats? Not that they bother to tell you that in their endorsements. Bambi got a Super Duper Tuesday endorsement from one pretending to be a Democrat -- had it been revealed that the author didn't vote for John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000, how much weight do you think that "Democratic" endorsement would have carried?

None. Which is why so many hide in a political closet today.

There's a book to be written about this, about how KPFA, for example, can offer a two hour post-debate 'discussion' of the debate and feature a multitude of guests, 'objective' observers when the reality is that all the guests endorsed Bambi publicly but KPFA listeners were not informed of that during the special. They though they were hearing 'objective' commentary. It's how Amy Goodman can host 'roundtables' on the Democratic primary that are really rectangle-tables because, though not disclosed, all the guests support Barack Obama.

That's how you create a mania, you shut out any dissenters (hence the vanishing from Panhandle Media of guests such as Paul Krugman, Joe Wilson, et al). You shut out anyone who supports Hillary Clinton. It's a cute little trick, the echo chamber. Vanity Fair used it for years in their "___'s a star!" cover stories. The reality is ___ usually slept with the director and ___ never became a star if "star" means selling tickets. (We can name four actors and actresses that applies to.) But for a brief time, they were the flavor of the month, they were the talk of the country. They had no skills (and honestly no looks) but Vanity Fair proclaimed them "stars" and, for a few short weeks, people thought that they were.

But here's the thing about hype, it has a for-sale date stamped on it. At some point you either actually produce or the public catches onto the hype. The fact that Obamamania has now subsided indicates Panhandle Media played started the party a little too soon.

We'd like to believe the take-away for them was, "We should have actual standards and apply them fairly." However, the reality is they'll probably just internalize that next time they should wait until late 2011 to start hyping.
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