Sunday, June 07, 2009

TV: Who listens, who hears?

The Listener is NBC's 'all new' summer entry that could air for 13 consecutive Thursdays if need be. That's how many episodes aired in Canada from March 3rd to May 26th. Nothing wrong with a Canadian import, CBS' Flashpoints is a Canadian import which started airing last summer to increasingly strong ratings that only further increased when aired during the spring of this year. That summer replacement has proven a winner which has been renewed for next season, what fate awaits The Listener?


In Canada, it did very well but Canada and the United States aren't the same. For example, in Canada actual listening does take place in an input-output manner between audiences and media. In the US, it's all a one-way relationship.

Take the Blood Money funded CounterSpin which has lost all credibility and played out Friday as if it were, to take Steve Rendall's pith-less critique of MSNBC (mornings, they never criticize Keith Olbermann -- never have, never will) and toss it back at them, "a paid commercial for the Obama chain which whores so often that some listeners have wondered whether it's product placement paid for by the White House or Janine Jackson's tired john George Soros."

It's all a one-way street at FAIR's CounterSpin where the audience isn't just played for fools, they're scorned. Janine, for example, makes it clear that it's all about self-amusement for her, barely able to suppress her own editorial snorts and orgasmic moans while reading brief little news commentaries at the top of the show. She so over does it that she's left gasping for breath, like Brenda Vacarro in those early eighties Playtex commercial. It's so bad that one friend swears it sounds as if she's constipated and sitting on the toilet when she's grunting throughout her Tom Tancredo item, especially at the end when she says "racism." If only SCTV were still around, maybe Andrea Martin could parody that.

Steve Rendall is own personal parody. So desperate to attack Charlie Savage and Savage's "On Sotomayor, Some Abortion Rights Backers Are Uneasy" (New York Times) is Stevie that he can't be bound by facts. Sonia Sotomayor, Barack's nominee for the Supreme Court and CounterSpin's raison d'etre for Friday, is troubling many abortion rights activists and supporters due to her lack of a record on the issue and due to Barack Obama flack Robert Gibbs declaring in a White House press briefing that Barack and Sotomayor have never discussed abortion. It's all so confusing to Stevie: "She ruled in favor of the Bush administration's global gag rule." He lists two other cases and then asks, "But who's uneasy about these? The only one cited by any major group is the one on the global gag rule. And the second case would seem to be about . . . And the third category is absurd . . ." If you listen, you'll notice how he skips over offering more than "the global gag rule" so let's go the Center for Reproductive Rights for what Stevie dismisses as not even worthy of explanation, let alone discussion:

Judge Sotomayor has not ruled on the constitutional right to abortion. However, in 2002, she authored an opinion in a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (at that time the Center for Reproductive Law & Policy), challenging the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule or "Mexico City Policy," which prohibited overseas organizations that received U.S. funds from providing abortion services or engaging in speech intended to ease restrictions on abortion. The Center filed Center for Reproductive Law & Policy v. Bush on behalf of itself and its attorneys asserting that the Center's work overseas with women’s rights organizations seeking law reform to address the deaths and harmful consequences of unsafe abortion would be hampered by the Global Gag Rule. Writing for a three judge panel, Judge Sotomayor relied on previous Second Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court decisions to reject the Plaintiffs' First Amendment, Due Process and Equal Protection claims. The opinion focused on the application of legal precedent and did not express a view on or discuss the impact of the Global Gag Rule on abortion law reform efforts around the world.

That's not a minor issue even though Stevie treats it as such. He treats facts as if they're minor as well -- such as when he declares, "Savage even quotes an anti-choice activist saying as much though in a much more pejorative way, quote even the most radical feminist closed quote." Is that what The New York Times printed? Uh, no. That section of Savage's article:

Phillip Jauregui, president of the conservative Judicial Action Group, said he was not convinced by any anti-abortion overtones to such rulings because, he said, even "the most radical feminist" would object to forcing women to abort wanted pregnancies.

"Even" is Savage's term. "Even" is not part of the quote, though Stevie makes it part of it when lying to CounterSpin listeners.

"As far as one can tell from reading the article," declares Stevie winding down his bad attempt at bitchy -- but Steve Rendall, no one can tell you've read the article, no one can tell.

How can a fact checker on Real Media get it so wrong so repeatedly and expect to be believed? No time to wonder because Steve was stating "Finally" and mis-informing listeners about the May 30th New York Times article by Rod Nordland's "Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call on a Wartime Skill." The problem with the article, Stevie tells you, is that it portrays bombers as "lovelorn." That's the problem? Really? May 30th, the following critique of that article appeared at The Common Ills written by one of us (C.I.):

Also in the paper today is Rod Nordland's "Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call on a Wartime Skill" which finds Nordland exploring territory Deborah Haynes has been down before but with less explanation. The text messaging, this is an important point, takes place because due to the violence and due to the 'crackdowns,' texting took off like crazy in Iraq as a way for singles to communicate.

From that background we can now turn to Nordland's article where a texting relationship led to a marriage proposal and the father of the woman said no so the would-be groom blew up the family's home.

Nordland explains unnamed "authorities" have dubbed this "love I.E.D." -- always be skeptical of trend stories period and more so when they aren't tied down to named people -- which may have taken place six times already in Baghdad. Strangely, no one -- including police Capt Nabil Abdul Hussein can point to one time when it's actually happened. But they 'know' -- they just 'know' -- that it is happening.

Now that's the basic critique to offer when the media insists "Trend!" The basic. Susan Faludi's Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women addresses trend stories. But to move beyond the basic of trend stories in general, it's really necessary to contrast this 'trend' with another 'trend' The New York Times has repeatedly pushed. Back to TCI critique:

Nordland writes, "After six years of war, Iraq is a society with a serious anger management problem. That, along with a lot of men with a lot of experience fashioning bombs and setting ambushes, makes for a lethal mix." And that's when most readers may recall another 'trend' story. Female bombers 'raped' into becoming bombers.

If you do recall that mythical trend story, you might also remember how it was alarming and shocking and clutch the pearls time that a woman -- in a war zone -- would utilize violence. But notice that Nordland's not at all troubled that an alleged denial of marriage leads to a family's home being bombed. It's only when women resort to violence that it's a 'sickness' and we need to cluck over it. Nordland takes it as a normal product of the Iraq War that a young man would blow up a family's home.

CounterSpin has never taken on that 'trend' story, they've never questioned the pathologizing of gender. But, hey, they tired themselves out in 2008 with their intensive and exhaustive tracking of (and calling out) sexism in the media. Remember that?

We sometimes worry about going long but we think it is required that we include all, ALL, of CounterSpin's efforts to call out sexism last year. So here, in its entirety, is CounterSpin's critique of sexism in 2008:

One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are.

We noted that back in May 2008 when CounterSpin finally found sexism on the last Friday of May. Racism was called out loudly and repeatedly as was imaginary racism as Steve, Janine and Peter Hart whored it out to work the refs. But sexism? That's it. That's all the 'media watchdog' CounterSpin, with it's weekly look at the media, could muster.

So it's not surprising that they refuse to call out the pathologizing of gender. Or that they themselves are part of our culture's sickness.

And they proves that every week. Friday Janine was going off on Jeffrey Rosenberg. We don't applaud Rosenberg, we don't even usually mention his name. (We can't recall every quoting Rosenberg online because we loathe him so and have for so long.) But Janine went into some sort of rant that lacked all coherence and began with her quoting him asking what if "a white male" was the best person for the job and "that's the standard line women and people of color" who "unlike White men" are seen as . . .

Janine was on a holy tear and we kept laughing. The Quota Queen making a case for diversity?

For those not in the know, CounterSpin has 1 African-American host, 1 woman host, 2 White hosts and 2 male hosts. Janine is the African-American host and she is the female host. As Phoebe once put it, "Hello Kettle, this is Pot. You're black."

It really was cute to listen to Janine rant and rave over Jeffery Goldberg and his inability to appreciate diversity when, in fact, Janine's entire career is about spitting on diversity.

Doubt it?

Janine was speaking on the topic of Sotomayor for the final segment. She was speaking with CounterSpin's favorite form of "Black" -- bi-racial. The age of Barack doesn't mean CounterSpin's provided more African-American guests. But they do bring on a few more bi-racials. Some day the country may get their first Black president and when that woman or man is in the Oval Office, don't expect anything to change on CounterSpin because it never does.

Sotomayor's a woman and a Latina so listeners may wonder why a self-described Black Jew (the bi-racial Adam Serwer) was brought on to discuss her. (It was as offensive racially as Amy Goodman playing Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" for a Sotomayor segment two weeks ago). Grasp that. Barack Obama has billed Sotomayor as the first Latina to be nominated for the Supreme Court and, to CounterSpin, it's a reason to bring on yet another Jewish guest?

The lack of diversity was only more clear in the segment preceding Jackson's. That's when Steve Rendall sat down with Frederick Clarkson to discuss . . . abortion. Dr. George Tiller was assassinated for the 'crime' of providing women's health care. The best way to discuss it, CounterSpin felt, was to bring on a man. One who had nothing to offer on abortion but wanted to talk hate-tallk. To try to make Clarkson's booking more palatable, Steve stressed the man had just written a piece for Women's eNews on Tiller's assassination. Yes, he had. So did Anne Eggebroten and so did Cindy Cooper. If you're surprised that with 2 women and 1 man writing on the topic at Women's eNews that CounterSpin would book the male, you haven't been paying attention, now have you?

Had they booked Sunsara Taylor or Debra Sweet -- two other women who wrote strongly about the assassination last week -- they wouldn't have been able to have JFK's ghost hovering and it was a lot of nonsense from the title of Clarkson's piece to the details Clarkson grasped at --including claims that suggest he missed or misunderstood the report Amy Goodman did last week.

Last week started with Dr. Tiller being assassinated while attending church. The hit took place not because Tiller was a man, not because he was White, not because of any details other than what he did: provide women's health care.

And yet women were the ones repeatedly shut out of the conversation. As happens over and over. To her credit, Amy Goodman gave the hour of Monday's show to five women discussing the assassination and what it means. But two days later Democracy Now! serves up a segment allegedly on the hate involved and booked Clarkson (yes, the same one CounterSpin offered) and Chip Berlet. Two men. Because women know nothing of hate aimed at them? Because it's not a serious discussion unless you can turn it over to men? Chip Berlet's laughable 'institution' (which has succeeded only in getting rich -- not surprisingly considering whoring's all Berlet's ever been good at as he first demonstrated by stabbing the Christic Institute in the back publicly) shouldn't be invited anywhere but, for the record, Berlet has never had an abortion and we feel we can safely say he never will. Nor will Clarkson.

It really is amazing to watch these two men try to take the spotlight and reminds us of all the Whites during the Civil Rights Movement who repeatedly attempted to grab the spotlight from African-Americans. If it's not your story, you shouldn't be the guest. But vanity trumps common sense for a lot of men.

And a we-know-best attitude dominates in the US. Which is how Janine Jackson can get away with being the Quota Queen who provides cover for CounterSpin. She's only in her job to say, "We're not racist, we're not sexist, they made me a co-host!"

Yes, they did, Janine, and you provide them with the cover they need to be as sexist and, yes, racist, in their bookings and in their topics as they choose to be. The same way 'feminist' Laura Flanders existed to provide FAIR with cover. The self-loathing lesbian was able to rip apart women and do it in a 'feminist' manner. Laura was the first Quota Queen for FAIR and Janine's just another piece of window dressing for the male run, male dominated organization. (White male. Jewish, for those interested in ethnicity.)

A Latina is nominated for the Supreme Court, as Barack Obama stressed in his insulting speech where he kept referring to the Court nominee as "Sonia" and not "Judge Sotomayor," and Panhandle Media has been unable to book one Latina to discuss the nomination. Unable? Try unwilling. Michael Doyle (McClatchy Newspapers) offered "Latina pride presents challenge and opportunity for Sotomayor" last week.

At the end of the segment, Janine laughably whined that it was a shame she'd focused on this (on what?) as opposed to debating whether Sotomayor was a centrist (she is). Considering how CounterSpin and every other Pacifica outlet made bi-racial Barack's run in 2008 up through a week after the inauguration to be a Black Pride story, we damn well think that the same outlets owe it to the Latino community to offer the same celebratory (and non-probing) coverage of Sotomayor. That would be, pay attention, FAIR. But it's never about fairness, it's about them deciding what they stand for from week to week, about them determining what truths (and lies) they will tell you and expecting you to passively accept it while they urge you to rail against MSM making similar judgements about what they will cover and what they won't, how they will cover it and how they won't.

Again, the listening relationship they want is: We talk, you listen.

Any feedback is "talking back" and to be tsk-tsked. The only 'feedback' they desire is undeserved praise. White Panhandle Media composed and fueled the Cult of St. Barack so never doubt their ability to influence.

So how can Craig Olejink expect American audiences to embrace him? He probably can't. He plays Toby Logan on The Listener. He's a paramedic and Enis Esmer plays his partner Oz while Mylene Dinh-Robic plays his on-again, off-again love-interest Dr. Olivia Fawcett.

A doctor, two paramedics, must be a medical show, right?

Wrong. Toby mind reads, he can hear thoughts. And that's the focus of the show. Last week, for example, Toby and Oz rescued a woman trapped in a car that was on fire. Turned out the woman's son was kidnapped but she wasn't talking about. Toby had to find out why, find out where the child was and more. It's really more of a crime drama than a supernatural one (though NBC bills it as a "supernatural drama").

It's also interesting. That's largely due to the cast and who knows whether they would lose their freshness in a long run? But as summer programming, NBC is offering a show that actually holds the viewer's attention and is far better than the overpraised, soapy and oh-so-slow Southland.

The show has a thread running through it, Toby's family. He was raised in foster homes and has only brief flashes of his mother in his memories. Did his parents have the same gifts? What happened to them?

Toby gets to those questions but other things, such as assisting Lisa Marcos' police detective Charlie Marks solve crimes, keep this a brewing back story. And there's enough in The Listener to keep audience interest simmering all summer long.
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