Sunday, May 16, 2010

TV: They get paid for this?

Last week, we were reminded of why we used to like Amy Goodman and why we honestly can't stand her these days. It all took place over the span of approximately an hour and everything we loved and hate was on display.


It all started because Hulu friends are in a panic. They're coming off their best numbers ever but . . . they're really not a content originator, just a provider, and season finales are upon us. Meaning, save a few really bad 'reality' TV shows, there won't be a whole lot to drive people to Hulu until the fall season starts up.

They insist they have plenty to offer and point to the original-for-USA-cable shows they feature prominently each summer and they pointed out that they always offer movies . . . And they listed and they listed for a good ten minutes before we said, "Wait, what?"

Public affairs. They're offering, for example, Charlie Rose's PBS show and assorted other shows and they just posted one with that major lefty. Yeah, that's it. With Amy Goodman? 'Yeah, she's like a left hero.' Oh, our poor deluded Hulu friends.

The show they're referring to is's Politics. (Click here for the Goodman episode and we have no idea how long it will be up.) Never heard of

Don't feel bad. We're on the road for over 44 weeks each year and we hadn't heard of it. We know premium cable, we know basic cable, we know satellite channels and even a few public access channels. But had escaped us. boasts that it's "changing the planet" with "people, issues, and ideas" and if you can wade through all that pompous you still haven't reached anything. They interview 'notables' like John Yoo (apparently Miguel Estrada was still out cruising) and Christopher Hitchens. They interview?

Well they tape them. 'Taping' might be overly generous. For example, the episode we're dealing with is actually Amy Goodman before the Commonwealth Club chatting with Big Boned Angie Coiro. Is "Big Boned" hostile?

We'd argue Angie Coiro's presentation is hostile and offensive and we'd further argue that should she ever leave the Bay Area, we loudly encourage egging, pieing and any other food-related hurling in her direction -- not limited to but including rotten tomatoes. Possibly Ang didn't know that the taping meant people all around the country could see her . . . and learn to hate her. For those not of the Bay Area, please take our word for it, we're not all pompous snobs who hate large portions of the country.

For those who don't know Angie Coiro -- approximately 99% of the country, she attempted national prominence as the host of Mother Jones Radio back in June 2005 via Air America Radio. She did not storm the country. She did not become a national obsession. Nor did she even see a two year anniversary. Now she's back on local radio in the Bay Area where she's largely -- and rightly -- ignored.

Again, for those who think we're being overly harsh, we're being nowhere near as rude to her as she was to the country. In the early minutes of the broadcast, she established just how snotty Jabba The Hut in earrings could be as she whined and sneered that there were people in this country who listened to US House Rep. Michelle Bachman and not President Barack Obama.

Angie all but furiously fingered her crotch as she gasped, ". . . I don't know with what's happened to our education system, particularly in the last two decades, if the average American person has the discretionary thought process to seek out truth and understand it when they find it when you see parallels being drawn between -- This is -- Michelle Bachman is as qualified as say Barack Obama. And they're being compared as equal parties in some cases! There are literally a good number of American people who can not tell you why that's not a fair comparison."

Oh, the horror!

We pictured Angie rolling on the floor and gasping for air if anyone told her there were people who listened to neither Bachman nor Obama. Or if we pointed out that, as an American citizen, Bachman bows to no one nor does any other American citizen. That, as an American citizen, Bachman no knows no King or Queen who rules over her. That, as an American citizen, she is equal to any other American citizen -- be they a leader or not.

And, to be clear, Angie didn't mean "listen" as in "hear what they are saying." She meant follow. It's a good thing Jabba's no longer with Mother Jones Radio because there's nothing of-the-people about this great White whale.

We waited in vain for Goodman to point out the reality: That politicians were public servants and that, instead of forming fan clubs, the people should be making demands. However, as Lou Reed once sang, "Those were different times." And these days, Amy operates under "Exception for the Ruler." It was really cute to listen to her babble on about Barack Obama's 'meaning' and to read between the lines on Barack personally and on health care and get what she was really saying (we've provided the link, view for yourself if you have doubts) which was: Stupid people shouldn't be awakened.

Stupid people need to be fed lies. It was probably a more honest pose for Goodman, certainly in keeping with the real self, but it was a bit of a shock to hear her admit publicly that it was never about telling the people what Obama was actually offering but about gearing them up for something else.

That Goodman finds so much of the public -- including African-Americans -- to be children is only shocking if you've never noticed the way she objectifies them.

Take last week. Monday, it was revealed that singer, activist and actress Lena Horne had passed away. Tuesday on Democracy Now!, Goody decided the thing to do was bring on the author of a trashy book, riddled with rumors and loathed by Lena. This White man was allowed to declare on air that Lena had "a Caucasian singing style, Caucasian in a lot of her manner." As Betty pointed out, Amy Goodman just sat there while her guest called Lena someone attempting to pass for White. It was offensive.

The idiot -- a Kris Welch fave, by the way (Kris was his entree into Pacifica Radio) -- wrote a bad book about Lena and never should have been invited on. He's neither a historian nor a noted writer. And, as evidenced by his statements, he knew nothing about her. Asked about a specific interview Lena gave in 1966, he states that she was trying to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Excuse us? She already had many years -- public years -- under her belt in the Civil Rights Movement. She wasn't trying to change her image, she was continuing her work. Repeatedly, he degraded her work and portrayed her as a puppet. This is how we remember a pioneer? This is how we remember a woman who stood up when few would? With lies and attacks?

Now a person -- of any color -- who knew something about, for example, the Civil Rights Movement or jazz or cabaret singing could have discussed Lena. Certainly, many academics could have. There are WBAI personalities who could have discussed Lena at length. Instead Amy Goodman felt the go-to was the 'author' of a bitchy little attack on Lena. And a White man at that.

Near the end of the talk on Hulu, an African-American man stands up and lists the staff of DN! before asking the obvious question: "Where are the Black pundits on Democracy Now?"

A defensive Goody immediately begins insisting that they have guests, they have regular guests, that African-Americans are represented as guests.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

Is that what she meant? How very 'progressive' of her. But, more to the point, they're not guests. Lena Horne passes away and the 'expert' -- or guest -- brought on is a White man. A White man who knows nothing about music or acting or activism. He knows a tiny little bit about celebrity. That's all he knows about outside of clubbing and sponging off others and coming on to straight men (including two who happen to be good friends of ours -- reject him and he gets really bitchy). Why was this man brought on? Why not a music scholar, a film scholar or a Civil Rights Movement scholar?

As Goody was asked, where are the African-Americans on her show? A pioneering African-American dies and three people (two hosts) and one guest discuss Lena and not one of them is African-American?

If you didn't know what she actually did on the air, her answer may have caused you to wince. But if you knew how the program actually plays out, you were howling.

At another point, Goody was stating of the lead up to the Iraq War, "But when the media got it wrong. I mean it showed -- People not only lost faith in the White House, but they lost face-faith in the media. And that's why I think they turned away. I mean people care. People care if US soldiers are dying. People care if people -- if Iraqis and Afghans are dying. I do think that's what people care about. That media got it wrong and people started looking elsewhere. You know Democracy Now! went from a couple of dozen stations to 800 public radio and television stations within a matter of years because people were looking for, I really do think, original voices and I'm not talking about partisan voices. But they were looking for independent voices that were telling the truth about their own lives and what they were seeing. And I think that also drove people to the internet because, when they couldn't find it in the establishment media, they looked elsewhere."

We agree completely with that and have made similar comments many times ourselves. And we don't believe that the Iraq War stopped in 2003. Sometimes we have to wonder if Amy Goodman does believe that it did? We also are fully aware that Barack Obama does not represent the left and is not of the left and the failure of left outlets to tell that truth has driven huge numbers away, demoralized many. Amy Goodman likes to claim that Barack can be held accountable. By whom? Who is left for her to reach at this late date? As she wastes one program after another defending Barack Obama when does she ever plan to hold him accountable? And should she decide to this week, wouldn't she first have to spend a lengthy amount of time explaining to her audience who he really is since she's never bothered to do that?

War was on Amy's mind during the talk. She declared at another point:

Because I really do think . . . if for one week in this country, every newspaper, every surviving newspaper, every newscast in this country had, at the top of their cast or above the fold in the newspapers, the photographs and the articles, the stories about war, showed the images, the babies dead on the ground, the women with their legs blown off by cluster bombs, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan, the soldiers dead and dying, for just one week, Americans are a compassionate people and they would say, "No, war is not the answer to conflict in the 21st century." But we have to show the images. That's our job.

And that's the talk but again our minds went to the walk. Goody's got an hour long, five day a week program -- one she says airs on over 800 outlets. So when has she spent the week doing that? Doing what she recommends others do?


If you don't actually expect Amy Goodman to live up to her prattle, you're a lot less likely to be disappointed. For example, she declared:

You mention WikiLeaks and that's a story that we have been really focusing on in the last week. It's this watchdog website. And I write a column every week distributed by King Features -- you can ask The San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers to run the column, scores of newspapers do around the country. It's called "Breaking The Sound Barrier." The same title as my book. And this week's column, uh, is on WikiLeaks, uh, and it's this non-profit, watchdog website that is dedicated to releasing classified documents. And several years ago, in July of 2007, two Reuters employees in Iraq were killed when an Apache helicopter opened fire on a group of people in New Baghdad -- a community in Baghdad. Uh, Reuters asked for the videotape and they were denied under a Freedom Of Information Act request. Well someone in the military, we believe, posted the video only last week of this attack. It's absolutely chilling. You can go to and see it or go to WikiLeaks and see it. It shows the targets and it has the radio transmissions of the soldiers in the planes talking to each other in these helicopters. They're laughing, they're swearing, they're talking about getting these people on the ground. And they do it right up the chain of command. They're constantly asking for authority to attack which they get. And you see these individuals on the ground blown to pieces. Uh, the Reuters photographer was 22. Uhm, Noor -- The reporter -- The photographer was 22. Saeed Chmagh was the driver. He had four kids. He didn't die in the initial attack. Uhm, you see him crawling away. Uhm, and they then blow him up when a van comes to save him. And they blow up the van. In the van were two children who were critically injured. And, uhm, they show you in this videotape -- they circle the faces of the children. They also, uhm, uh transcribe the radio transmissions so you can clearly hear and read what the soldiers are saying. This is a huge story. We will continue to follow it. And this shows the power of actually having the videotape. Showing the pictures.

For the record, the two Reuters' journalists were Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.

"This is a huge story" she insisted. She'd devoted how much time to it? Not much at all. When she gave that speech, she'd made it one of four daily segments on April 6th and April 8th. After she spoke ("We will continue to follow it") she made it one of four daily segments for the 12th. She never devoted a full week to it (so much for showing the pictures) or even a full day to it.

In the same month, four days would be devoted to Bolivia's Climate Crisis (four days where the entire program -- except for headlines -- would be about the Climate Crisis). She would feature Bolivian president Evo Morales repeatedly. She'd note him constantly. She'd forget to include his homophobic remarks. Truth to power? Non-partisan?

"This is a huge story," she'd insisted of WikiLeaks. But she gave it very little play.

And she had footage. Footage of the killings. But she had other things to focus on. Such as Patti Smith yet again rewriting history, Alice Walker promoting another book that didn't sell, etc.

"Look at the Tea Party actions," she declared, savaging the media at another point. "You can get a couple of hundred people an you have massive coverage. Look at the anniversary of Iraq recently, there were thousands of people in Washington. It didn't get anything near the coverage of fewer people who were there for the Tea Party gatherings."

We agree and we especially agree it didn't get anything near the coverage from Democracy Now! In fact, this was Amy Goodman's entire coverage of the protests on the 7th anniversary of the Iraq War:

Amy Goodman: The immigration rally came one day after antiwar activists held a protest to mark the seven-year anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Organizers say around 10,000 people took part, making it the largest antiwar protest since President Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan last year.

Protester: "This is a disgrace that this country, seven years after the invasion of Iraq, is still in that country and is upping things in Afghanistan. It is wrong. Innocent people die."

Amy Goodman: At least eight people were arrested after laying coffins at a White House fence. Among them was the peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose group Peace of the Action helped organize the march. Rallies were also held in several other cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles.

That was all Goodman had to offer. She wants to whine about others (The Washington Post covered the protests and the lead up to them) but the reality is she's not doing her job.

That was especially clear during this talk in San Francisco when a man asked her about gay rights and so surprised was she by the topic -- in San Francisco? -- she had to ask him what he'd said and he'd have to repeat "gay rights."

Stalling by addressing other aspects of his question, she finally declared, "And on the issue of gay rights, I think the gay and lesbian movement in this country has demonstrated the power of organizing and the effect it can have. It is a movement that doesn't get the kind of coverage in the corporate media that it deserves."

Blame the corporate media again?

Repeating, if you just listen to the talk, if you don't expect her to do the walk, it's so easy to be impressed with Amy Goodman. But where has she been on LGBT issues?


Repeatedly. March and April saw huge work done by GetEQUAL and by Lt Dan Choi. Where was Goodman? She chatted up a bunch of tired people. When Dan was chaining himself to the White House fence, she was spending her entire broadcast excusing and justifying US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich's latest sell out. Providing an hour defense for a sack of s**t who couldn't find his spine was more important than Dan Choi's brave stand.

But that's how it usually goes with Amy Goodman. In a pinch, she'll do one or two LGBT adjacent stories a year. So it's hilarious to listen to her tell a San Francisco audience, "I think the gay and lesbian movement in this country has demonstrated the power of organizing and the effect it can have. It is a movement that doesn't get the kind of coverage in the corporate media that it deserves."

Were it not for Hulu, we might have missed those moments of high comedy and tragic reality. But, to be honest, they weren't worth paying for. In fact, nothing on Hulu is worth paying for -- the bulk of it coming from broadcast TV. And that will only become more painfully obvious as May draws to a close.

Because summer repeats won't encourage much streaming? Well, there is that, yes. But more importantly is a move Hulu intends to push through. It's their paid programming plan.

No, no Susan Powter screaming at you, no Christie Brinkley pretending to relate to Chuck Norris or QVC hawking. This paid programming will work the other way: You'll pay Hulu.

The fee will be a few pennies less than ten dollars a month and will allow you to watch, for example, the first ten episodes of this season of 24 -- as opposed to the last five that aired (currently Hulu can post the five most recent aired episodes of a series -- if the network's part of the Hulu arrangement). As two who, last year, loudly called out online and at ABC the decision to deny Hulu V for a week after it's initial broadcast, we have to admit we did that in part because we felt sorry for Hulu and felt it was serving everyone. Now as it moves to paid subscriptions that will change.

The first step is simple enough but we think people will balk at steps two and three for example. (They're not yet reported and we're not allowed to reveal them.) We tried to convince Hulu friends that they could destroy the website but they insist (a) they know what they're doing and (b) they've put a lot of time and thought into their business model.

Some may agree with that. Others would, no doubt, argue only a fool attempts to get payments during summer re-runs.
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