Sunday, February 24, 2008

Radio: Panhandle Media

Jim note: This is one of two pieces by Ava and C.I. Francisco called Saturday afternoon to thank them for their commentary in today's El Spirito. I hadn't read it so I was hearing about it for the first time. They were out so I got on C.I.'s laptop to find the piece. It was wonderful calling out all the Latino issues KPFA ignored Thursday night. I then saw the piece they'd written for Hilda's Mix this Tuesday, also on the KPFA broadcast. I begged and pleaded with them during the writing edition to please, please, please consider tackling KPFA for us. They relented. Finally. So they offer this as well as their TV commentary this edition.

Thursday night, KPFA presented "Obama-Clinton Debate." The two-hour special should have raised eye brows just from the title. Chilvary died long ago but who knew alphabetical order had as well?

In Austin, Texas, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took part in a debate as they sought the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Despite being the home of free speech radio, no one -- including host Larry Bensky -- bothered to note that Mike Gravel remains in the race and was uninvited.

The first minutes were Bensky speaking with KPFT's Ann Rayburn as both pretended to know something about what they were talking about but neither did. Bensky piped up that Bambi "filled a sports arena" in Dallas. Sports arena? If Benksy knew half what he thought he did, there could have been a real discussion. Reunion Arena is the venue Barack Obama rented. Reunion Arena is nothing but a glorified convention hall. And a real news broadcast could have addressed that. Years ago, it was the home of sports (Dallas Stars, Dallas Mavericks) and big concerts. The City of Dallas government made a deal to build America Airlines Center and, as part of that deal, agreed not to book Reunion Arena for concerts and other big events. That's why Dallas has very little concerts today. Tori Amos goes to Dallas? No, she goes outside Dallas as do most concert tours. If you can't get in the America Airlines Center, you don't play Dallas when you're a top act unless you go the shed route or risk the Granada which has the most offensive and rude 'security' staff -- an outsourced staff that does not check tickets. Not only does it not check tickets inside the hall, but should you find that your seat is occupied with someone not holding a ticket, you're attempt to address it with security will lead to your being yelled at by the little thugs. (A Joan Baez concert this decade is notorious for the way the security bullied and yelled at a man who had a ticket to the more expensive seats and was told to "get out" by the thugs yelling so loudly that Baez' "Rexroth's Daughter" was drowned out for several rows.) Reunion Arena today is nothing but a glorified convention hall and Bensky didn't know what the hell he was talking about but did offend people listening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who take the issue of what was done very seriously.

Early on Bensky plugged the KPFA blog for this 'live' coverage. Bensky and KPFA both seemed to be unaware of what a message board or blog is and of what free speech is. An effort was made to impose a topic: Write the question you wish the candidate had been asked. They dubbed it a "Live Blog" and expected those listening to the two hour special to contribute nothing other than, "Oh wow, if I could, like ask one question to the groovy candidates, wow, I guess I would ask them about . . ."

That's not free speech, that's not what a blog or a message board is. The debate was the topic and those posting comments confined themselves to the candidates, their records and the debate. That wasn't good enough for the screeching monkey Larry Bensky who repeatedly felt the need to constantly 'remind' posters to stick to the topic. That's not free speech radio and it's not KPFA. Listeners -- for the two hour event -- were supposed to do nothing online but think of a question that should have been asked. Bensky and his guests weighed in on whatever they wanted to -- often offering the most useless and banal of 'information.'

But the event was promoted with the promise that listeners would be able to call in. And, in fact, a listener line was created for just such a thing, a toll free number. There was no point to offering it, we'll get back to that.

Twenty-five minutes in, Barack supporters Laura Flanders and Clarence Lusane will join the broadcast and comment throughout the first hour and the second hour. Larry Bensky will never note that they are Barack Obama supporters despite the fact that both have published repeated columns on just that fact. KPFA will, however, do everything possible to create an echo chamber that spins everything in Bambi's favor. Not surprising when you only invite Obama supporters, is it? While not surprising, that action is the sort of thing that can get KPFA in trouble when it attempts to renew its FCC charter -- can get and, in fact, should get KPFA in trouble.

Though they presented nothing of value, we should note Clarence Lusane offered up one of the most girlish and feminine voices a grown man may ever posses. Laura Flanders may have been handicapped by the fact that she was on radio and not TV so not able to resort to her usual "tight t-shirt, no bra, make my aggressive points with my thrusting nipples" approach. Lusane tittered and Flanders just came off smug.

Did Hillary get done what she needed to get done tonight, Larry Benksy pretended he wanted to know. But if he, or KPFA, really wanted to know that, they wouldn't have invited on only Barack supporters, would they? For any who've forgotten or don't know, KPFA is a California radio station and Hillary Clinton won the California primary. So it was twice as troubling that Bensky's tired act (which always includes sexism) was hauled out of mothballs. Along with being amused with himself on air, at this point, sexism is all he has to offer. He pimped a single poll, one poll, a Washington Post-ABC poll, found Clinton and Obama "essentially tied in Texas". One poll. Laura Flanders -- who was Whoring big time and that's the only word for it -- would inflate it to "those latest polls" because she never knows what she's talking about. It's how she also got it wrong on when early voting in Texas would start (it had already started on Tuesday). How a poll is news, a single poll, goes to the problems with media -- the problems FAIR regularly criticizes MSM for.

You can be sure that if the poll had found Hillary in the lead, KPFA wouldn't have pimped it Thursday night. Just as they ignored all the polls with Hillary in the lead on Thursday night.

Clarence Lusane, a reported academic (and don't most academics pursue the intersection of jazz music and international relations?) immediately replied to Bensky's query of whether or not Hillary achieved in the debate, "No, she didn't." Lusane would go on to declare "she lost" and when it was Flanders' turn she would begin with, "Well, you're absolutely right." Of course, two Little Media Whores agreed, they are both supporting Barack. This wasn't a discussion -- informed or otherwise -- it was a fan club meeting for Obama groupies aired on free speech radio under the guise of being fair and free wheeling.

The news at the start of last week, even making it onto ET, was that Barack Obama was passing off the words of Patrick Devlin (aka Governor Who -- another pretty talker who can't deliver) as his own. That's plagiarism. Laura Flanders -- the lesbian who couldn't call out Barack's use of homophobia as a campaign strategy -- disgraced herself further (there's funny graffitti throughout the Bay Area on Laura Flanders these days, by the way, and our favorite is "Gay when she wants to be"). She shamed herself by dismissing ethics with her silly excuse (it's the Obama's campaign's excuse too but that's where the Uncle Tom of the LGBT set gets all her talking points) that it's okay for him to use other people's words without crediting them because Barack's friends with ("his very good friend") the man he stole from. It should probably be noted that KPFA broadcasts from California -- which went to Hillary -- and neither Lusane or Flanders is in California. It should probably be further noted that when Lusane's name-checking American Idol, he never needs to be invited back on as an expert for anything.

And Larry Bensky never needs to be invited back as a host. He loves his voice, true. But he's out of date, he's hopelessly sexist and he is KPFA's past. (Bensky retired last spring.) Though a pro-Hillary voice wasn't allowed on the two hour special, we could hear Benksy yet again whine about changes in Pacifica as he does every time he's given the mike. On this special he got in his dig about the 'decay' of Pacifica by lamenting how they used to report -- "when we did such things" -- and he always gets those digs in. Everyone's tired of it. Everyone's tired of his self-glory and his self-love and his pretending that he did something groundshaking in the last decade at Pacifica when all he proved is he knows how to read The New York Times and The Washington Post and accept both as gospel while wanting to be considered "independent" media.

Back to the 'experts.' Maybe Laura Flanders' f**ked up sense of right and wrong allows this as a 'disclosure': "I've not been a Hilliary supporter"? No, it wasn't 'disclosure.' Self-disclosure is disclosing on air that you endorsed Barack Obama on Super Duper Tuesday. Flanders didn't offer that up and many listeners may have assumed she's the typical a pox-on-both-their-houses KPFA guest. That is not truth. And truth is not what Laura Flanders (or KPFA) offered up Thursday night. Whora Flanders wanted to offer that even though she's not a Hillary support (she outrights hates Hillary Clinton) "I felt sad." Whora Flanders has engaged in non-stop trashing of Hillary.

She wasn't "sad." A sad person doesn't cackle gleefully (as she did) when she twice mentioned -- in one response -- that Hillary was "booed." That's one of the reasons that the Whores are out in full force, by the way.

See, if you actually saw the debate, you saw that when Hillary pointed out the shallowness of Bambi, she was booed, yes, and she was also applauded. (Both for the line that Bambi offered "change you can Xerox.") You probably didn't hear about the applause after, did you?

Because for those who've Whored Out for a candidate, it's not about what actually happened, it's about what they can push, what they can spin. After a debate ends, that's where the battle lies and that's where the LIARS peddle it. Which is how applause and boos is reduced -- twice -- by Flanders to "boos." She pushes that lie and tries to dab a concealer around it by claiming to be "sad." It was evident when Larry Bensky asked her specifically what grand design was missing from the Barack Obama campaign and Flanders immediately went to, "I'll tell you what grand design is missing on the Hillary Clinton side . . ." Later on Flanders would cackle again to mock Hillary as she tossed out, "Can you tell the difference?" Yet we're supposed to believe she felt "sad"? (We gladly agree she is sad. And embarrassing.)

Three minutes into the second hour, Tom Hayden joins the proceedings for a bit. That would be the same Tom Hayden who endorsed Barack Obama in the leadup to Super Duper Tuesday -- as did his 'organization' Pathetic Democrats of America (despite the fact that the actual members of Progressive Democrats of America weren't supporting Bambi -- but 'leadership' makes the call 'for them' when they want to). Hayden blathered on non-stop and none of the allegedly Iraq remarks were worth hearing. The 'anti-war' Hayden has blown his credibility repeatedly on the issue of the Iraq War.

Last week, he hammed another nail into his own coffin as he pimped in a column that Bambi had given a strong statement about ending the illegal war. Wow, Bambi was calling for something different? No. Bambi said, in a speech in Houston, Texas, "I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009!" That's no shift. Bambi has identified ending the illegal (he calls it "dumb") war as withdrawing "combat" troops. When they are withdrawn, he has made clear he would still leave "police" troops, "training" troops and troops to go after "terrorists." Hayden was a joke. To end the illegal war, he argued two things must happen (a) one of the Democrats must be elected president and (b) the public must be educated (they're so stupid apparently) that counter-insurgency strategies are not ending the illegal war.

If Hayden is serious, one might want to add up the pieces he's written on the two topics. He has written non-stop to praise Bambi. He has written one and only one article about the counter-insurgency tactics. Equally amazing is that he places a November election ahead of addressing counter-insurgency in his on-air remarks Thursday night -- the same way he emphasizes it above the counter-insurgency in his writing.

Now, think for a moment, what happens if a Republican -- or a third party candidate -- gets into the White House. By Hayden's two-pronged strategy, the peace movement is over. It's time to pack it in if, that is, if you consider Tom Hayden to be a 'leader' or 'leading light' of the peace movement. (No, he's not.)

At one point, Flanders attempted to steal points made here last week. But those points were not made here to slam Hillary. In fact, Hillary has proposals. But Flanders 'borrowed' to slam Hillary. No, Flanders is not a "very best friend" -- (to steal from the late, great Cass Elliot, neither of us would piss on her if she was on fire).

Where did the debate take place? Texas. Austin. But we had ten minutes on Bob Fritakis and Larry Bensky fretting over verifiable voting in Ohio. Now Ohio will also hold their primary on March 4th but that's not "Ohio coverage." It's not about the people of Ohio, who they are supporting, or what the candidates have done in Ohio. What about Texas?

After the introductory segment from the KPFT reporter was quickly dismissed with, you couldn't find Texas -- despite the blathering. Lusane said young Latinos in Texas were for Bambi -- he can see that from DC apparently. Lou Dubose was brought on for a few minutes to offer musings from Austin. Austin is the latte area of Texas, Austin is not reflective of the state (Molly Ivins, Dubose's one-time writing partner, used to note that very often in her own writing and commentaries). What Dubose claimed to see in Austin was typical of what one always sees in Austin during election years. It was pure garbage that pimped Bambi but then Dubose is supporting Bambi.

Which is why he insulted "Mexican-Americans". He was dusting off his old comments from when he lived in the state. A thing happened while he was out of the state, he doesn't appear to know about it (not surprising, his focus is White Anglo men). That would be the 2006 march in Dallas for immigration rights which is the largest march that has ever taken place in Texas. Dubose seems unaware of it. But it doesn't matter, apparently, because Dubose asserted, "Mexican-Americans voters don't turn out as much."

We're unaware why, if the Latino vote's being discussed (we'd say mishandled), by the African-American Lusane, the White Flanders, Dubose and Bensky, that there wasn't an actual Latino or Latina brought on to discuss the issue. Over and over, listeners were given the unsupported claim that young Latinos were supporting Barack Obama. Really?


We were speaking in Texas last week and what we saw was far different. Take, for example, Dallas. The image is the cover of the Thursday Quick (local freebie that's put out by The Dallas Morning News) which we grabbed late Thursday as we arrived in Dallas. On Friday young Latinos showed up at Hillary events. We were on campuses all day and the Latino students were bringing up that event, they were speaking of how it was the first time they'd gone to see any candidate, they were showing the fliers they'd taken (pledging to turnout for Hillary). Or take San Antonio early in the week where we saw nothing but Hillary supporters. We're not Hillary campaigners. Our talks are about the illegal war. El Paso? We saw the same thing. We saw huge support for Hillary among young Latinos on campus after campus.

Now it doesn't fit with the 'wrap party' 'insight' Dubose offered but that's because (a) a 'wrap party' never indicates anything and (b) Austin is not reflective of the state of Texas and never has been.

And the KPFA broadcast was not reflective of the debate and never could have been when every guest was a declared Barack Obama supporter -- just not ever declared or identified as such on air. It's called stacking the deck and Little Media's been doing that for some time proving that their ethics are about the same as a garden snake's.

Whatever the outcome of the Democratic nomination, it's going to be very difficult for Little Media to ever try to claim the high ground again and be believed. The latter actually. Little Media will of course claim to have ethics -- and ethics greater than the MSM -- because they always shovel that s**t -- especially when it's time to beg people for money. In fact, we're not using "Little Media" again. We're replacing it with "Panhandle Media." That's what it is. It's beggars who couldn't get employed as journalists in the real world. It's beggars who offer up a con job while they try to take your money.

Twenty-three minutes into the second hour, Larry Bensky appeared to (briefly) remember that the special promoted itself as a call-in and stated it would feature "your calls." So he noted that calls would be taken. Then quickly moved on. Over 42 minutes into the second hour, he again remembered and this time actually noted the phone number (1-800-958-9008) for listeners to call. "And the rest of this hour we're going to open up our phones," Bensky claimed. Only that never happened. Around 48 minutes after the second hour, KPFA took the one and only call. It was not the only call they received. They screened and judged only one caller "acceptable." It was "Tom from Berkeley." As the sole caller what issue did Tom press? None at all.

He wasted his time (and everyone else's) asking what the 'experts' thought the campaigns should be doing? Had he not listened to the last two hours? There were serious phone calls that went into KPFA and those people were shot down, they were shut out. One of the callers wanted to ask a question of an 'expert.' She wanted to ask Laura Flanders how a lesbian could stay silent on Obama's use of homophobia?

Obama's use on homophobia? The topic no Pacifica Radio broadcast ever wants to touch. But it was an issue.

It was one raised on the blog. When Larry Bensky wanted to avoid callers, he began to chuckle over comments left on the blog. He should have choked on the chuckles because the blog was more representative than anything KPFA aired for those two hours. Asking a gay woman to explain her own shameful silence on the use of homophobia was not one of the comments he mentioned. How do you broadcast from the Bay Area and ignore repeated comments on the blog and repeated phone calls asking about Obama's use of homophobia?

You do it because you are not about media, you are not about the free flow of information. You are about pushing one candidate and punishing the other. So you stack the deck by inviting on only guests who are supporting Obama. You further stack the deck by never telling your listeners that the guests have publicly endorsed Obama. You let them think that 'independent' people are making observations (harsh ones against Hillary, valentines to Obama) just because that's how they see it in their 'impartial' eyes.

Panhandle Media has no standards, just beggars who beg non-stop and have their rap down as well as any other professional hustler. What aired wouldn't pass for journalism in a real media system but Panhandle Media couldn't work in real media. Any who ever doubted that only needed to listen to KPFA's broadcast.
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