Sunday, September 07, 2008

TV: More sexism, more self-promotion

Last week the RNC held their convention at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis and The NewsHour and Democracy Now! covered the convention. It wasn't pretty for anyone but the GOP.


Let's start with the convention itself which we watched like anthropologists studying another culture. Hysterically, some Democrats wanted to offer that the Republican Party didn't talk about "plans." That claim went a long way towards revealing that Thomas Frank isn't the only crackpot 'helping' the 'left' these days.

The 'fear card' was not played at the RNC convention. Let's dispel that myth right from the start. The fear card was played at the Democratic Party convention in Denver -- over and over, as they attempted to say that John McCain was exactly like the Bully Boy. You heard it over and over in speech after speech -- even if some, like Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden -- blew the line by stepping on the laugh.

The biggest surprise for us was the lack of the fear card. Some wrongly insist it was played and that's because they're so hopeless and stunted they can never see beyond their own limited view. There are very sharp differences between the base of each party. One of the differences is over security. While Democrats can rightly point out that Bully Boy has done nothing to make the world (or the country) more secure and can point to his repeated efforts to utilize fear as a campaign tool, they err when they insist the fear card was played last week.

9-11 is not just a 'hot button' issue to the Republican base, it is an indication of what they see as the differences offered in leadership from the two parties. That's a very important point and one that those killing trees with all their useless 'how to win!' books better start grasping. After nearly seven years, you'd think they'd have figured out something but their bad (and banal) writing demonstrates no knowledge learned or even that basic facts have been grasped.

The difference in leadership was supposed to be accentuated by a speech on the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building and we've seen or heard no commentary that grasped what was being set up there. The first 9-11 was what was being sold. While that is ahistorical, you have to grasp what was being set up to grasp the points of the convention and, yes, the GOP was on message all week.

Oklahoma was spoken of in terms of people pulling together. Left out of the summary (intentionally) was what was done? How did Bill Clinton pursue 'wrong doers'? That was the unstated question which was supposed to hang in the air and it did. They played that very well. We have always opposed the illegal war on Afghanistan. That's not the issue. We're not Republicans. And until you can strip away your own point of view, you're never going to grasp what they managed to pull off in Minneapolis.

The Clinton administration approached the terrorist attack from a legal framework. Unless you can grasp that Republicans do not see that as a good thing, you'll never get how each speech was making the point that, whatever else he did, Bully Boy took action. It was there in Governor Sarah Palin's speech, in one of her least understood remarks where she stated the Obama-Biden ticket was more concerned with the rights of terrorists. It was there throughout.

9-11, for the right, was not just a tragedy, it was a tragedy that couldn't have been predicted, that was totally unexpected, and that came after all that 'we' did for so many in trouble throughout the world. Bully Boy and the right used 9-11 to ratchet anger and hatred. That was then. The message points are instilled in the rank and file in the GOP and the convention was about massaging those points. Bully Boy gave a yawn-fest speech (he was the worst speaker at the convention -- though 'at' was via satellite for him). But even he stayed on message.

The message the convention was sending can be boiled down as: "We do take action." For their base, Democrats are wishy-washy and don't stand up. For their base, Democrats are splitting hairs when decisive action needs to be taken. Many studies (some genuine, some crackpot) have underscored the differences between Democrats and Republicans finding the members of the Republican Party are more distrustful of the world around them. The convention last week acknowledged that distrust over and over. It played to it. It did not advance it.

Why didn't it advance it? Because the point they were attempting to make was that "Republicans take action." Belabor it and you can lose some portion of the base which will rightly note (yes, even Republicans can note this) that the action wasn't effective.

The perceptions of the two parties were played with throughout. It was done very effectively and very skillfully.

Those wrongly insisting the Republican convention offered nothing are begging to lose every election because they refuse to see what really went down. 9-11: The Tragedy That We Took Action On! was played over and over. The fear card wasn't used because the selling point (to avoid tying McCain to the Bully Boy) was action -- not exploring the action, just noting it.

Minor perceptions were utilized as well. One example would be the wrongful stereotype that Democrats don't give a damn about the country. John McCain's military service was stressed, Palin's son and nephew being in the service was stressed, the men and women serving was stressed. "We stand up in time of need!" was the call.

Utilizing perception management, the convention played to why people identify as Republicans to begin with. Palin would give a crowd pleasing speech (and an amazing speech) on Wednesday night but the convention all week was about solidifying the base behind the ticket.

That's what the Democrats didn't grasp. That's why their convention flopped. They didn't manage perception. They insisted upon making the entire convention about Barack. (Only Hillary and Bill Clinton spoke of why people were Democrats -- going to the core issues.) Reality is that the Republicans were no more solidified behind McCain in the primaries than Democrats were behind Barack. Had the Republicans utilized the same primary system, McCain would not have been able to declare (presumed) victory in March and Mike Huckabee could have stayed in the race. Republicans used a winner-take-all strategy for awarding delegates from each state and they did so because that's how it works in the general election for the electoral college. Had such a system been utilized by the Democratic Party, Hillary would be the nominee. They're not interested in soothing egos, they're interested in winning. They aren't interested in a primary system that allows stragglers to stay in the race, they're interested in finding out who is the strongest candidate.

The Democratic 'leadership' seemed truly confused that the unfair system could backfire on them. You heard that in June, July and in August leading up to the convention. They couldn't understand how anyone could disagree with their crooked system. (One example of the crooked system will suffice. More people voted for Hillary in Texas than Barack. She won the vote. Due to caucus rigging, Barack ended up being awarded more delegates in a state he lost than the winner received.) They thought they could run their crooked and rigged system and appoint a leader who was not popular with the base. As it dawned on them (due to polling) they decided they could 'heal' the wounds by selling Barack throughout the convention. It was an embarrassment and it wasn't effective.

By contrast, the Republicans didn't worry about doing a sell on McCain. They noted their candidate repeatedly -- as every political convention does. But they grasped their mission as getting the base together for the party, not for an individual. So they touched on the themes that resonate with their base over and over.

If Barack loses (no one knows the outcome until the votes are cast and counted -- and we see whether the Supreme Court decides to sit the election out or not), the Democratic convention will be one of the many factors pointed to by historians. It will be noted, in higher toned language, that speech after speech informing people how 'groovy' Barack was really wasn't the way to drive Democrats to the polls. It will be noted that the gauzy sop tossed out over and over about Barack was issue-free and, as it repeatedly stressed how 'groovy' Barack was, only made the point he must not be so 'groovy' if everyone can't shut up about it and get to the issues that matter.

On every level, the Republican convention was a success. Democrats had hoped it would be thrown off message on the first night due to a hurricane. Instead, they opened on a low-key note that was effective. Laura Bush and Cindy McCain walked out on stage together Monday night -- a First Lady and the woman who would like to be the next First Lady. Laura got right to the point immediately, "But as we all know, events in the gulf coast region have changed the focus of our attention." It was one of those effective speeches that Laura can carry off and she handled it very well. Cindy opened with, "I am so proud to standing next to Mrs. Bush as we work together to extend our support to relief efforts in the gulf. As each of the gulf coast governors just expressed to us, their challenges will continue in the days ahead. I would ask that each one of us commit to join together to aid those in need as quickly as possible. As John has been saying for the last several days, this is a time when we take off our republican hats and put on our American hats." Cindy noted Cause Greater, a website where people could help with the relief efforts by making donations. Laura mentioned her husband twice and John McCain once. Cindy mentioned her husband once. It was a very effective start when transposed with the last speech of the Democratic convention, Barack in that stadium looking far from presidential and very much like a celebrity.

The women managed to send the message (true or false) that the Republicans were about the American people and after Barack's latest bit of vanity, it was a highly effective moment. Democrats closed asking America to worship one man. Republicans opened asking Americans to pull together.

Again, should Barack lose in November, the two conventions will be examined by historians at length and the Democratic Party convention will be seen as one reason the party lost.

We open with that overview because neither The NewsHour nor Democracy Now! provided it.

What did they provide?

If your most pressing concern about the upcoming elections is Amy Goodman's arrest than possibly you were well served and 'informed' by Democracy Now! and its ten hours of coverage last week. Tuesday's two hour broadcast noted the arrest in headlines and went to straight to it for the first segment. It was referred to in the second and fourth segment. It was the third segment on Wednesday's show. Thursday it was referred to in the second segment and was the topic for the fifth segment. And Amy Goodman was going to the well on it again Friday for the fifth segment. Has one arrest ever gotten so much attention?

You can't visit the website for Democracy Now! without being aware that Amy was arrested. Before anything else, across the top of the screen you see, "Drop the Charges Against Amy Goodman and DN! Producers." Mumia doesn't get this kind of attention and he's on death row. Doubt us? Monday evening it was time for an action alert proclaiming that Amy Goodman had been "unlawfully arrested" and that her arm had been "yanked" ("DN! Urgent Action Alert: Amy Goodman Unlawfully Arrest At RNC," 6KB). Four hours and one minute later, it was time to issue another press release (also called an "action alert) only now, instead of "yanked," Goody was "violently manhandled by law enforcement," to inform people exclusive video would be broadcast on Tuesday's show and that "Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press" ("DN!: Action Alert: Update on Arrest of Amy Goodman and DN! Producers," 7KB). Wednesday afternoon it was time for "DN! Action Alert -- Drop the Charges Against DN! Journalists!" (6KB) asking that people flood the county and city attorneys' offices with phone calls and e-mails. And on Friday, because Panhandle Media is nothing but begging, it was time to use the arrests to beg for donations to the program ("DN!: After RNC arrests, we need your support more than ever," 6KB) which bragged the "YouTube video of Amy's arrest has been viewed more than 750,000 times" -- as if all viewing were sympathetic to Goody. And noting various publications that covered "journalists arrests" -- as if all articles even mentioned Goody. Now the arrest was never not mentioned in last week's "daily digests." What we're noting above is the special e-mails sent out on top of the "daily digest."

Not surprisingly, all that self-focus didn't leave a lot of time to actually cover the convention. Tuesday's first segment broadcast the video of Amy's arrest and, as usual, she couldn't tell the truth. She declared, "Shortly after, I arrived and was arrested while questioning the officers about Sharif and Nicole’s arrest." The video was then shown. Amy Goodman arrived on the scene as people were being arrested. Denis Moynihan (a true idiot) is with Goody and antagonizing the police. (Yelling "Release the accredited journalists!" is neither press-like behavior nor is it likely to calm a chaotic situation.) Goodman was advised "get back on the sidewalk." Denis continued yelling like a crazed banshee and Goody refused to go to the sidewalk even after again being directed to do so ("Sidewalk now!") at which point she was arrested. It was not a surprise, it was not a great tragedy though didn't some try to paint it as such.

Including Goody. She described it on air Tuesday, "Finally, I made it to the police line, where the police in riot gear were lined up. I asked to speak to a commanding officer. They immediately grabbed me. I said, 'Sir, I just want to speak to a commanding officer. My reporters are inside.' They've got their ID. I mean, we've done this in New York, as well, when there is confusion about a reporter. They immediately grabbed me, handcuffed me--and as you haven't quite talked about, those plastic handcuffs cut right into your wrist, and they make those tight --pushed me to the ground." She was arrested and she deserved to be arrested. There had been riots and, in fact, the building her program was housed in had a window broken. She was asked to step to the sidewalk and, had she done so, she could have then made any request to the police from there. However, she refused to comply immediately making her suspect (before you even factor in Denis' non-stop crazed screaming) and she got arrested.

Goody needs to lose the sense of entitlement. It's there in her words. She told the audience that she ran down the street and told a police officer "Get me to that site. Our reporters have been arrested." Golly, Goody, we don't think it even works that way in NYC. The police are not your taxi service. We spoke with network correspondents to ask if they would ever make such a request and were informed that they wouldn't. Goody said of that officer, "he didn't comply." Didn't comply is what she did and why she got arrested. She did not follow the order to move to the sidewalk and she had lunatic Denis yelling like a psycho at the police officers. She got arrested. It wasn't the end of the world though she has played it like it was.

David Brancaccio interviewed her for a segment that aired with Friday's NOW on PBS. Brancaccio maintained the journalistic skepticism and Amy was selling hard about the unfairness of it all. She was likening the security at the two conventions which only drives home the fact that while in Denver, check Democracy Now!'s archives, when asked by anyone (including private security officers) to step somewhere, Goody immediately did. She didn't last week. She refused to comply and she got arrested. Possibly had Denis not acted so nutso, the move to arrest her would not have come so quickly but, sorry to have to be the ones to break the news to you, her arrest was a valid arrest. They may put her on trial or they may not. But there was cause to arrest her.

And, to repeat, a security officer only had to ask her to get her moving in Denver. A police officer orders her twice to the sidewalk in the middle of a chaotic scene and she refuses to comply while Denis adds to the chaos by screaming his little head off. Amy got what she deserved and she's tried to turn it into the equivalent of Chicago 1968.

Which is the other thing they don't tell you about. Denver was floated as Recreate 68 with such 'notables' as Tom Hayden promising a blood bath riot (as late as April) if Barack didn't get the nomination. What happened in Denver was everyone walked on egg shells so as not to make things look bad for Barack. A private security guard tells you to go to the sidewalk and they all did (bloggers and Goody). They wanted headlines (and bad press) for the GOP convention so they didn't worry about rules. They didn't worry that police felt they had a riot on their hands and no officer has time to be out in the middle of that and give an interview. Would Goody have tried to stop rescue workers en route to the Twin Towers on 9-11? No.

So everyone needs to grasp that while some journalists were wrongly arrested, Amy Goodman was not one of them and this is more attention-seeking behavior from her. The National Lawyers Guild's Heidi Boghosian (also a co-host of Law and Disorder) explained the basics better in one segment of the half-hour CounterSpin on Friday than Goody did all week despite repeatedly returning to the topic. The difference may have been that Heidi addressed the law and the threats to civil liberties while Goody played drama queen.

Threats? David Guy McKay and Bradley Neil Crowder were arrested and have a court appearance on Tuesday for possession of Molotov cocktails and for "shields" that would have caused harm (due to the screws and devices on the outside) that were apparently to be used to start a riot outside the convention hall. They are innocent unless proven guilty but the FBI is leaking to the press that McKay is recorded stating, "It's worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed." That's in addition to the eight arrested the Saturday before the convention began that Alan Gomez (USA Today) reported who "are members of a group called the 'RNC Welcoming Committee' . . . and [are] charged with conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism. A warrant filed in their case stated they discussed kidnapping delegates." Those are not the only arrests and the bulk weren't mentioned on Democracy Now! last week. She carried a press conference by the eight on Friday and neither she nor the participants mentioned kidnapping delegates. Something's are never addressed by Pravda On the Hudson. But sometimes, the police are to be believed without question . . . when Goody likes the crimes and the leaks. Which is why the week prior, not only did Amy Goodman run with the police version of events on arrest (allegedly men were plotting to kill Barack), she dropped all qualifiers after headlines when she repeatedly brought up the arrest. So sometimes we believe the police and sometimes we don't, judging by whether we like what they feed the press apparently.

Nicole Salazar is among the press members who have valid complaints about police brutality and wrongful arrest. Amy Goodman is not among that group. She brought it on herself by refusing to tell Denis to shut up and by refusing to comply with an order to go to the sidewalk. It wasn't the great walk to China. It would have required only a few steps on her part.

All of her self-created drama left little time to fill two hours each day with coverage. (It should be noted that WBAI didn't play two hours of Democracy Now! last week or the week prior. They stuck with Goody's one hour on the schedule. All the other Pacifica stations dropped their programming to give the show two hours each day. WBAI, which knows Goody better than anyone and remember her past false cries of 'assault,' wasn't eager to turn their station over to her and that says a great deal.)

The biggest speech of the two conventions was Sarah Palin's. This was the first time she would be speaking (to the press or to the people) since the announcement was made that she was John McCain's running mate. So it's interesting to compare what Goody offered over the last two weeks. Palin's speech was reduced to 523 words. While her Democratic counter-part Joe Biden was only broadcast for 332 words by Goody, it's equally true that America well knows Biden who has been in the Senate forever, run for president more than once and chairs high profile committees. There was no excitement over Biden's speech. Palin's speech saw record ratings and was only a half-million short of Barack's ratings for the number of people watching at home. Equally true is that Goody didn't interject during Biden's speech but was happy to do so during Palin's. Barack? He got 888 words broadcast on Democracy Now! for his convention speech segment. (If you want to include headlines, the Dems get even more time.) John McCain? The party's presidential nominee saw his acceptance speech reduced to 332 words when Goody broadcast it. After the segment of Barack's speech, Goody chose to air a feel-good segment she dubbed "reactions" to Barack's speech. Last Friday, she offered no such segment for McCain. She didn't bother to speak to delegates to find out what they thought of McCain's speech. [All of that is in the first hour of each broadcast. On Friday's second hour, she played more of McCain's speech. The second hour is the one least carried by TV and radio stations, as Goody well knows.]

Let's go to what else Pravda on the Hudson did with regards to Palin speech, an attempted 'fact check'. (Goody provided no fact check for Barack and wisely chose not to air his comments on "universal health care" because even her devoted audience isn't so stupid to swallow that garbage.) First up, Goody repeatedly mispronounced Palin's last name throughout the Thursday broadcast (the day after Palin spoke -- when any journalist should have known how to pronounce her not so difficult last name). Goody brought on Pacifica wanna be/reject Shannyn Moore for the alleged fact check which only reminded us that when Goody goes north, facts fly out the window.

Moore got in this unsubstantiated smear, "Certainly, I can tell you that in small-town Alaska, rumors abound. And this isn't any other case from that. And I know people in the media in Alaska who have known of Bristol Palin's pregnancy for, you know, over a month and didn't bring it into the press, because they didn't think it was any of their business. And certainly there have been rumors abounding regarding Trig and his--whether it was a decision or avoidance of some sort of 'how to get out of trouble' card. You know, I don't have anything to verify that, but that's certainly the small-town rumor that's gone about." 'Trig' Palin, the governor's son who has signed up for military service, certainly doesn't deserve to be smeared by Moore or anyone else. If Moore thinks she has information, she might try producing it. Smearing someone who's joined the military with rumors? Not classy and not journalism. And it may remind some of how, when Barack was exposed by AP as having had his campaign tell Canada not to take his words on NAFTA seriously, The Nation's John Nichols showed up (from Canada!) to tell Goody that he was on the hot trail of a big scoop about how it was Hillary who was really talking to Canada. The big scoop went poop because there was never anything there. But when Goody goes north, she loves to air false rumors and try to pass it off as 'reporting' and 'fact.'

For the record, Trig Palin? A newborn infant (born this year). For the record, Track Palin is the son who is in the military. A huge mistake and one an 'expert' on the topic shouldn't make; however, for the record, Moore isn't a journalist, she's Alaska's version of Randi Rhodes -- and don't we all know how that story ends?

Moore was one of the few women to appear last week but Goody did have time to put on the pig twice busted for seeking sexual encounters with underage girls online. Again, the woman published in Larry F**nt's H**lter magazine which tells you all you need to know about Goody.

When not talking about her arrest endlessly on air, she managed to interview Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, provide an update on Sami Al-Arian, chat with Jon Stewart (Stewart wasn't funny, few are when accosted in an airport), offer a report on Hurricane Gustava via disgraced Jordan Flaherty (LeftTurn turned nuts -- and those who have e-mailed to complain about the 'independent' publication becoming a Democratic Party organ get added to the publication's junk mail list -- they've forwarded the e-mails the publication sends out). If you mistook the bulk of what Goody offered for 'news,' you're probably also seeking out Access Hollywood for investigative journalism.

Then there was The NewsHour and, as with last week, we aren't speaking of the hourly newscast proper, but of the special that provided live election coverage each night after the newscast finished airing. Like Goody, they weren't interested in women. It was so bad, we wondered if Margaret Warner had been detained in Denver. Judy Woodruff was there doing what she does so very well -- interviews. She does other things very well but PBS isn't interested because she's 'just' a woman.

That point was driven home best on Thursday when the boys decided to again explore women. It was interesting to see so many speaking about women and notice that not one person speaking was, in fact, a woman. You had the three male 'historians' (will get back to them), you had Jim Lehrer, David Brooks and Mark Shields as 'analysts' and you had a man from PEW research plus Ray Suarez. Eight voices discussing women -- eight voices and all of the male. Don't count on the increasingly inept watchdogs to call it out. They didn't do a damn thing when women were sidelined by PBS in Denver and they're not going to do a damn thing now.

But it was really something to witness, really something ugly.

First up, 'historian' Peniel Joseph. He continued making multiple errors when speaking of the historical record. We'd asked about that last week (asked PBS Friends) and been told they'd look into it. When he distorted 1992, we called to ask what was going on? Seems there's a big mistake PBS made. They put him on air. The others are billed as "presidential historians." We hadn't noticed that until PBS Friends pointed it out. Peniel's not. Because he's not a "presidential historian." He is an "African-American historian." Not a historian who is African-American, he's a historian who specializes in African-American history. In other words, there's no reason for him to be on air as PBS Friends informed us. That's why the others are billed as "presidential historians" and he's billed as a professor (he's actually an associate professor, Brandeis notes "Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies" and when Tavis Smiley brings Peniel on his program he notes him as "a leading scholar of African American history") at Brandeis University. Telling PBS viewers the truth might lead to complaints. It should lead to complaints. He rarely knew a damn thing he was talking about and the reason for that is it's not his area of expertise.

No female presidential historian (Doris Kearns Goodwin is only one of many female presidential historians) was booked as an expert for either convention but a historian specializing in African-American history was?

He had nothing to offer but multiple mistakes and the reason for that is he didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Raising an issue we hadn't even thought of, PBS Friend 1 explained, "This wasn't an affirmative-action thing. He was recommended by ___." Actually, who he was recommended by goes to that it was an affirmative-action hire. And we're not opposed to that or to affirmative-action. We think there needs to be more diversity on air. But we're also aware that the African-American community includes many presidential historians such as Roger Wilkins. Bringing them or any other African-American presidential historian (male or female) on backs up the need for affirmative-action, makes the case. Elevating someone completely unqualified like Peniel only fuels the attacks on affirmative-action. PBS should have to explain why they made the decision to include someone whose field is African-American studies in a presidential historian roundtable for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.

His multitude of mistakes go to not having studied the topic he's brought on to discuss and being too young to have lived through most of it. As a general rule, 'historians' under forty don't garner a great deal of respect -- regardless of race or gender. And on the subject of race and ethnicity, it takes a lot of damn nerve to misrepresent Latinas which Peniel did. Like everything else he gas bagged on, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

We didn't raise the affirmative-action issue, it was raised to us (to be denied) and we were told if we wrote about it, we'd fuel critiques. That's not really our problem. We weren't the ones who decided to present presidential historians on broadcast TV and invited someone unqualified to take part. PBS has to answer for that, not us. We wouldn't have even gone there on our own because we know how PBS works (multiple favors) and would have just assumed Peniel was someone's nephew, college buddy or lover.

Listening to Peniel and the other boys slam women as "bitches" (being PBS, they went out of their way to avoid using that word) was really something to witness. "Even Nancy Reagan," gushed Jim, demonstrating that, in their minds, regardless of political party, every First Lady had been a 'ball buster.' Rosalyn Carter, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Pat Nixon . . . all 'ball busters.' It was an informative segment . . . only not in the way PBS might have hoped. What it informed was just how any woman with power (perceived or real) was a threat to these delicate male egos. It was unbelievable and hard to watch.

While Amy Goodman couldn't pronounce Sarah Palin's last name, Jim had his own problems. Carly Fiorina's last name was beyond his grasp even with David Brooks trying to help him. Most things (what some would call facts) were beyond's Jim grasp all week. Such as when he declared a speaker was talking about the Supreme Court being liberal and "that's the Supreme Court under Sam Roberts." Under who, Jim? Samuel Alito is a justice on the Court. John Roberts is the Chief Justice. Then there was this choice bit, "That narration was done by John Thompson. Fred Thompson! You recognize his name." You might, but Jim didn't.

PBS Friends said that our comment last week about Michelle Obama speaking at the DNC convention (and how we could only remember Marilyn Quayle speaking at the RNC) would be addressed. Was it? No. They offered women introducing men. That's not what Michelle Obama (or Marilyn Quayle) did. They offered on air that Pat Nixon introduced a film about Richard Nixon at the 1972 GOP convention. They offered that Hillary introduced Bill at the 1992 DNC convention. That wasn't the issue we raised last week. We raised the issue of spouses doing an address to the convention. Not as FDR's widow, mind you, but as the wives of men running for office. Women with no elected history of their own. During their brief discussion, they couldn't remember whether Barbara Bush addressed a convention. While it's true that Big Babs' run in with Shannen Doherty in Houston was much more memorable than anything offered onstage that year (1992), it's also true that journalists and historians should know the basics.

Judy Woodruff offered reporting from the floor and was, yet again, the only thing PBS could point to with pride. She was allowed to report from the floor as the convention came to a close and summed up quickly and factually. None of Gwen's royal 'we' or any other nonsense. As the youth craze set in at CNN, Woodruff wisely decided to leave (after being assigned insulting segments that played like In The Kitchen With Judy!). On PBS, she's practically a millennial. She's also one of the increasingly few reasons to follow the news. It's never about Judy, it's about what's happening in the news.

At least PBS can claim Woodruff as a positive. All About Amy was all Democracy Now! offered last week. Viewers (and listeners and readers) are forgiven for thinking it was the Amy Goodman convention. On Friday's NOW, she was spinning like crazy and still making herself the martyr for her refusal to follow a police order to get on the sidewalk. "I ran up to them and I stopped and I said I want to talk to your commanding officer," she declared and then quickly moved to, "I mean it wasn't seconds before they grabbed me." No, that is not what happened as her own broadcast demonstrated but that's Pravda on the Hudson for you. They'd never survive a cross because they embellish everything with each telling. She went on to insist that "when I came up I was the only one." Apparently she forgot the whack-job Denis is caught on tape approaching with her. Brancaccio asked her if she was "not just sort of swept up in the bigger process?" She answered in the negative but any honest telling of Goody's career includes one self-dramatizing pose after another.

And when she does that (as with the WBAI problems at the start of this decade) it makes it very difficult for the people with real complaints who are real victims to be believed. She's already poisoned the well. It's shameless self-promotion and there she was, on PBS, doing it again saying that her coverage was "from the suites to the streets to the convention floor, we've got to cover all aspects" and, sadly, David Brancaccio failed to ask her what she observed at the Green Party convention in July. She refused to cover that political party's four-day convention. She consistently refuses to cover it. But you can count on her expanding her hourly daily program to two hours for the Democrats and the Republicans -- while insisting that she does something different and that she goes to where the silences are.

Cynthia McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente spoke at the Nader Super Rally in Denver and, last week, at the Super Rally in Minneapolis. Goodman didn't air either speech. She didn't even acknowledge that the Minneapolis Super Rally took place Thursday in Friday's two-hour show. Democracy Now! broadcast twenty hours over the last two weeks and here's what 'alternative' translated as: one segment with Ralph Nader, one segment with Bob Barr. Otherwise the entire show was turned over to the two major parties (with hisses for McCain and kisses for Barack). That's not an alternative. It is propaganda, the sort you can hear on Air America Radio (which is praying they can make it through the November election). When people outside the two political parties are left to beg for scraps from 'alternative' media, it's time to face the reality that there is no alternative broadcast media in the US. That's the message Goodman made clear last week, PBS just demonstrated that the network built as an alternative to the enshrined order has allowed sexism to be as institutionalized there as anywhere else.
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