Sunday, June 05, 2011

Media: After the 'revolution'

Recently, we've spent a great deal of time thinking about the ending of Sleeper. That Woody Allen film, starring himself as Miles and Diane Keaton as Luna, is set in a repressive state and Luna becomes a revolutionary with Miles more or less the Patty Hearst going along for the ride (he's kidnapped twice in the film). They're dispatched on a mission by Erno, the head of the revolution. But in the midst of their mission they discover The Leader's home was bombed ten month's ago and all that's left is a nose which scientists hope to clone a new Leader out of. Miles and Luna ditch Erno's plan because, as Miles observes, "Now is the time to strike. The Leader is suffering from a terrific handicap, he has no head or body." They defeat the nose and escape.

Luna: Miles, Erno's going to lead the revolution and head the new government.

Miles: Look, don't you understand? In six months, we'll be stealing Erno's nose. Political solutions don't work. I told you that.

In the first half of the last decade, maybe well up to 2006, there was a sense that the left -- however it was defined (and when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, seems like a lot of the right started pushing over to the left) -- was going to grab power and change things. A new crew of voices were coming alive, mainly online. Media Whores Online is no longer with us but, while it was active, it called out pretty much everyone who whored for the administration. And their attitude was echoed across the left spectrum -- or what passed for and posed as the left.


But early on, one of us made the infamous remark online that proved prophetic, about how we may cut off the head of Cokie Roberts only to discover a hundred new Cokies sprouting to take her place. Before the decade ended, by 2008, in fact, there was no denying that the left was either seriously screwed up or had been taken in.

The same crowd online that never forgot the way the vote was stolen in Florida in 2000 suddenly was a-okay with refusing to count Florida and Michigan's votes in the 2008 primaries. Not only that, they were a-okay with Barack -- whose name wasn't on the Michigan ballot -- getting votes given to him by the so-called Rules Committee of the Democratic Party. They were fine with a rigged system that rewarded Barack with the nomination as a result of his getting less votes than the winner of the primaries (Hillary Clinton). Long before the infamous May meeting of the so-called Rules Committee took place, we'd already seen the crazy as various people supposedly on the left began repeating the falsehoods and lies about the Clintons that the right-wingers did in the 80s -- taking the same disproved lies and running with them in an attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton.

We saw that lies get rewarded, over and over. One example, Melissa Harris-Lacewell (yes, she's married again since 2008) went on Democracy Now! as a 'professor' who took some students to New Hampshire and was just speaking as an independent analyst. Her analysis raved over Barack Obama (and completely ignored Hillary who went on to win New Hampshire) and that was surprising only if you didn't know that Lieface Melissa began working for the Barack Obama campaign in 2007 (and had already traveled across the US for him before 2008 rolled around).

But, thing is, Lieface Harris didn't think you had a right to know that. Some of you may be familiar with FAIR. It used to have a fairly good name. Used to. And one of the lessons it liked to impart was that disclosure needed to be followed by the media. That means, if you're working on a campaign, and you go on a TV show or radio program, you need to disclose that fact. Lieface didn't. Amy Goodman turned to whoring in 2008 because she didn't think her audience needed to know that Melissa Harris-Lacewell was working for one of the campaigns. Amy did know. She'd taken part in a discussion about just that subject weeks before booking Melissa for her show -- when she and Melissa were both guests on Rev. Jesse Jackson's radio show.

A week later, Melissa was back on Democracy Now! and spitting mad -- so mad that, oops, she disclosed on air that she was part of the Obama campaign.

She didn't do that in subsequent media appearances. In March, for example, she appeared on Charlie Rose's PBS program and neither she nor Rose disclosed that she was working for the Obama campaign. She participated in a roundtable with journalists (Mark Halperin, Time magazine; Errol Louis, The New York Daily News; Melissa Harris-Lacewell, "professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University": and Connie Schultz, The Cleveland Plain Dealer). Certainly, no other Democratic Party campaign had a participant in the roundtable. While failing to disclose that she was working for Barack, Melissa also mentioned her campaign against Tavis Smiley that began with her blog post "Who died and made Tavis Smiley king?" -- except Melissa forgot to mention that she started the campaign against Tavis or that she was even part of it.

Lieface Melissa Harris-Lacewell broke every ethical rule in the book. Yet she was rewarded by The Nation magazine with a spot to do a column in. "Do"? No one who's read her gibberish would accuse her of "writing." And that tells you how there are no ethics at The Nation magazine and how lying, trickery and deceit are rewarded.

Sadly, Miles appears correct about how the opposition becomes as crooked as what they were opposing once they get into power.

Was he?

We decided to pursue the issue by checking out Liberal Oasis due to a large number of complaints we got over the podcast. The complaints usually began with "I'm told . . ." And it appeared the actual show had been missed. Bill Scher started the website Liberal Oasis, he's also written at least one book (Wait! Don't Move To Canada) and he's with the Campaign for America's Future. We know of him via The Majority Report where he was a regular guest. We know of him from the airwaves and of him from friends then with Air America Radio. We've never met him. But, for the most part, he seemed like one of the better and more insightful pundits on the left.

So we really couldn't believe what we were hearing. We didn't call friends liars but we pointed out that they themselves hadn't listened to the show so maybe something was lost when news of it was passed around.

And then we listened.

Traci Olson was Scher's co-host -- although that term may grant her more maturity than she deserves.

She had a "Stabby Five" segment. For people she'd like to stab in the face.

Excuse us?

She lists five people she'd like to stab in the face. And this is weekly segment.

Is it going to take someone she names being stabbed for this tasteless segment to be dropped? It's not funny. Someone being stabbed -- in the face or body -- isn't funny.

Nor is her 'analysis.' Example: "I know! 'Cause Tim Pawlenty is an ass!"

That's the level of her 'keen' 'analysis' or maybe mind reading since she -- so very Cokie Roberts -- thinks she can peer into a person's head and tell you why they Tweeted something, what they thought when they were tweeting and what they hoped would come about from their Tweeting.

But what we'd heard complaints on was the 'news' of Peter Fonda.

Traci Olsen: So the Cannes film festival, Peter Fonda who was in Easy Rider and my grandmother was horrified to find out that Peter Fonda would make such a movie -- "I can't believe Peter Fonda would make a movie like that" -- anyway --

Bill Scher: That he would make a movie about hippies?

Traci Olsen: I guess. I don't know. Drug use. I don't know. I don't know. I think she thought it was Henry Fonda. Anyway. Apparently he's gone completely bananas crazy. He says out loud in an interview at the Cannes film festival "I'm training my grandchildren to use long range rifles. For what purpose? Well I'm not going to say the words 'Barack Obama' but . . .".

Bill Scher: Hmm?

Traci Olsen: Right?

Bill Scher: Hmm.

Traci Olsen: I'm pretty sure you just threatened the president of the United States. I believe that is a little bit illegal.

Bill Scher: I mean that is enough to at least get the Secret Service to at least pay a visit.

Traci Olsen: Yeah-yeah, you're getting super searched on the way back. Because what?

Bill Scher: I mean has he gone Tea Party? What's the --

Traci Olsen: He's, he's, uhm, a super environmentalist and he thinks --

Bill Scher: They're the worst!

Traci Olsen: I know! I hate them! So, he, uhm [loudly smacks her lips] thinks that the president sold us out on the whole BP deal. Which the penalty for that apparently is assassination.

We'll end it there sparing you more air head nonsense from Traci who would benefit from seeing a speech therapist. We'll note that Bill Scher then launched into an attack of Peter's views. Peter's views which were never offered.

The assassination was done by Traci Olsen.

Facts got assassinated when Traci kept insisting that remarks made at a press conference were made in an interview. Facts, Traci, cannot be distorted and still be facts.

Then there's the fact that they attacked Peter for his views without presenting them to their audience. Third covered it here on May 22nd with "Attacking Captain America" and "Truest statement of the week." We'll recommend Deborah Dupre's National Examiner article.

Peter's problem with Barack Obama over BP was that he turned the crisis over to them, he let them bully and order the residents, the press and the Coast Guard around -- you know what, let's go to the video.

That's for the documentary The Big Fix which, Traci couldn't make time to tell you, is executive produced by Peter Fonda and what he was in Cannes promoting. Who appears in that film? Among others, a name Bill Scher knows very well: Greg Palast. Is Bill today pretending he's more aware than investigative reporter Palast? Well then goodness how the times have changed.

Traci couldn't quote Peter on the environment or why he considered Barack Obama a traitor. But she could show her ignorance, she could flaunt her ass.

Peter Fonda didn't threaten Barack Obama. And his remarks were in keeping with remarks he made when Reagan was in the White House. Peter is not saying he is training his grandchildren to kill Barack Obama. He is saying he is training his grandchildren to learn to defend themselves. Because?

He feels that Barack Obama (as he did with Reagan and others) is taking away more freedoms and the US is becoming more of a police state and that, at some point, people will have to defend themselves.

One of us (C.I.) has known Peter Fonda for years and years. Possibly longer than Bill Scher's been walking. Peter is a patriot. He's a super patriot. In school, he absorbed the notions of what America was supposed to be and he takes that very seriously and has always taken that seriously. He made similar comments when Richard Nixon was in office. This is the man who ripped up his draft card and sent it, with a cursing letter, to JFK.

Bill Scher and Traci Olsen apparently grew up believing that a president is God and that no one must speak against him. (Or at least a president who's a Democrat.) Peter Fonda knows damn well that, in the United States, the people are the final say.

Traci Olsen's either a liar or her grandmother is as stupid as she is. Peter Fonda had already made motorcycle films and drug films (both of which made a lot of money) before he did Easy Rider. Long before he did Easy Rider, he was already becoming a counter-culture hero. If she wasn't aware of that, maybe she is as stupid as her granddaughter. More likely, Traci was getting a little 'creative' with her 'facts' yet again.

As annoying as the walk-away from the truth, so was their non-stop laughter at each other's remarks (or half-remarks). Do they think their loud laughter makes for good radio? Bill used to appear on The Majority Report every week. Sometimes he was a guest-host when Janeane Garofalo was out. On that show, Janeane and co-host Sam Seder didn't guffaw repeatedly into the microphones -- and they were both actual comedians who did stand up. When people make a show of laughing at one another's remarks, it's generally not funny.

Cartoonist Ted Rall was the interview. It was not interesting. We're all for hard questions -- even if Bill Scher didn't use to be (we will get back to that) -- but we're not for hostile interviews. A host who's rude really doesn't deserve to have guests. When you're the host, it's your job to set the guest at ease. If that is beyond your ability, you shouldn't be a host.

"I'm actually very familiar with this issue," he interrupted when Ted Rall began speaking of the public option and Barack promising it in his 2008 campaign. He was "very familiar with this issue," he insisted. Scher also insisted that it was not a campaign promise.


It took us less than ten minutes to pull out Barack's 2008 campaign literature with this statement: "The exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and meet the same standards for quality and efficiency." It's on the campaign literature, it states that it will be required. That's a campaign promise, Bill Scher. Get the plunger, try to rescue your ethics out of the toilet and quit kidding yourself that "will require" does not count as a campaign promise.

Ted Rall spoke of David Rees' decision to end his comic as Bush left and Barack entered the White House. Bill wanted everyone to know that he knew David Rees, he went to school with David Rees, he was David Rees' roommate -- We got the feeling that he would have said he'd sniffed David Rees' jock every morning if he thought it would have further confused the issue. And, Bill finally wanted you to know, that is not why David Rees ended his Get Your War On strip. From Mama Pop's"Obama Begins, Get Your War On Ends."

Now that the sun has finally set on the Bush presidency, Rees has decided to retire the strip. I’m sure he does not do so out of the belief that War Is Over If Obama Wants It or that we will no longer experience the baffling clusterf**ks inherent in American politics, but perhaps that beautifully simple image of an empty desk represents a slight but hugely significant reduction in frustration and hopelessness.

That is the takeaway. Yes, Rees did announce he'd be ending it when Bush left the White House. (And, with one exception, he did.) How does this contradict the points Ted Rall was making? The ones Bill Scher cut him off in order to insist that Rall was wrong.

And for someone who supposedly wanted to stick to facts, Bill Scher wanted a lot of conjecture, demanding that Ted Rall explain "what do you think is his [Barack's] overall view," etc.?

What most upset Bill Scher was when Ted Rall noted of his own publishing prospects, "It's worse now because the publications that would have given you time under the Bush administration like The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones -- you know, all those kind of lefty rages, they-they don't have any space for you anymore if you're going to criticze Obama from the left."

Bill Scher made it clear he didn't agree with the notion of a blacklist.

Long before Ted published his column ("Rise of the Obamabots") that so enraged Bill Scher and Traci Olsen, we were already writing here about the blacklist, about the fear of the blacklist and about it at The Nation magazine. On the latter, that information came from friends at The Nation magazine. The blacklist exists. It's not a myth, it's not a lie. (And away from The Nation, elsewhere, a very well known columnist on the left disappeared -- with little attention paid -- after the 2008 election because the columnist was a lefty and the outlet stated the columnist was not pro-Obama. We know the columnist and have never written about this in any way before. But we think it's rather strange that this columnist who appeared in print, online and on the cable shows disappears and no one even notices.)

Bill Scher insisted that The Nation published pieces that were critical of Barack. He also wanted listeners to know that Paul Krugman was critical in pieces as well. Paul Krugman writes for The New York Times. Could Bill stay on one issue? Or is that just too much for him? Is scattershot necessary in order to attempt to berate your interview subject?

The Nation
doesn't do real criticism of Barack. What it offers is weak-ass statements, what a friend with The New York Review of Books calls, "The equivalent of Howard Fineman's 'criticisms' of [George] W. [Bush] in his first term." How true.

And how we all did howl, back then, over the kid gloves criticism that the mainstream media types gave Bush.

About Ted's column, Scher insisted, "And, two, I have a problem with criticizing those like myself who are more sympathetic to Obama as having checked their brains at the door." We don't know about brains, but he's certainly flushed his ethics down the toilet.

At the end of the interview, it was time to return to the foul mouthed Traci who snarked, "He seems lovely" and added "Maybe the cartoons he's submitting just aren't good."

Has Traci examined her own work? Or that of her co-host?

Bill Scher wasted time whining about criticism of Barack having a beer. They wasted a ton of time proving what little suck-ups they could be. (Traci on Michelle Obama, "She looked f**king bad ass!" Bill lying that it's "national protocol" and "no big deal" for Barack to have bowed to foreign leaders. It is against protocol for a president to bow to any foreign leader. ) Bill was drooling over polling and his hopes that the American people had finally seen that "your president has a backbone of steel" as a result of the assassination of Osama bin Laden. It was as disgraceful as Bob Woodward on The Today Show insisting Bush was showing "calcium of the backbone" by going to war with Iraq -- only there was no Katie Couric present to cut Bill off.

Bill and Traci's remarsk are as embarrassing of the crap Peggy Noonan churned out regularly when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.

It's so embarrassing, it's kind of like if Bill Scher, liberal, brought on a DLC-member and refused to question him. Some pro-War Hawk and Bill Scher didn't say "Boo!" even.

That would be awful, that would be horrible, that would be . . .

December 10, 2004.

That's when War Hawk, DLC-er who moved on to the New Democrats (successor to the DLC), Simon Rosenberg, appeared on The Majority Report and was interviewed by Bill Scher and Sam Seder. That's when Bill kept his mouth shut and never questioned and never objected. (Nor did Sam Seder who had a meltdown on air due to the criticism he got on the show's blog and he snarled, "If you didn't like what you heard, I guess you got your answer" about where Simon stood.)

Air America Radio wasn't even a year old but it was already caving. The New York Times doubted, for example, that ad buys would help the paper with subscribers. But they knew it would give them some say in the cash-strapped 'network.' So they spent money on some ads and then informed AAR they were pulling the ads if (a) Sam didn't drop his AdNags blog -- a blog in which Sam wrote as if he were the paper's Adam Nagourney and a blog that existed to make a fool out of AdNags and (b) if the network didn't lay off their criticism of all things New York Times.

And, guess what, it worked. And Sam didn't just stop blogging AdNags, he deleted the whole blog. (For a taste of what is no longer online, you can refer to this Wonkette interview with "AdNags.")

So maybe it shouldn't be all that surprising that they who decried the DLC would have nothing to say against it or its policies when Simon Rosenberg presented them anew. In fairness, Rachel Maddow did stand up to Simon on air a few weeks later -- calling out homophobia, among other things -- but that was a few weeks after the outcry over The Majority Report interview still wouldn't go away.

We can't stand Traci Olsen and we won't pretend otherwise. But we did feel awful listening to Bill Scher. He had seemed to be sane and so ethical and so concerned about fairness in the past. The good guy who married "the Snow White of the left" (as Janeane dubbed his wife). But it's 2011 and he's doing a radio program which exists to distort reality and excuse away Barack's actions.

Maybe wanting the Iraq War ended in 2004 was just a good talking point? A good way to self-promote? We have no idea. But anyone who seriously wanted the Iraq War over would still be working to end that war. Especially now that these two Cassandra (we mean us) have been proven right about the SOFA and the US is engaged in negotiations to extend the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011.

But if Ted Rall had brought that up, we're sure Bill Scher would have managed to excuse that away as well. Ourselves, we share Lillian Hellman's view, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." Fortunately, we're not the only ones. Today Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox airs its hundredth episode and it's not been in the business of minimizing the actions of Barack Obama. Nor has the new RT show Adam vs. The Man hosted by Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh. But those are the exceptions. The reality is that, as sad as it may be to admit it, Miles was correct in Sleeper.
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