Sunday, July 24, 2011

TV: The unexamined (American) lives

Last week, David Walsh (WSWS) reported, "The Obama administration is proposing trillions in cuts to programs wide layers of the American population depend on. Life will become harsh and even unbearable for many. There is confusion and illusions in the working class, but the objective logic of events is unmistakable: an extraordinary intensification of the class struggle is on the agenda whatever the details of the deal eventually worked out with the Republicans in Congress." It seemed like such an important story would be covered by more than Walsh and Lambert (Corrente). And if you wanted left coverage on your TV (and radio and internet), surely you could count on Democracy Now, right?


Amy Goodman's vanity-cast is an exercise in many things (next week, we plan to explore that further) but it pretends to be about the news and the issues effecting the people. Surely 'brave' Amy would spend the entire week zooming in on the attempts to gut the safety net, right?

If you're surprised by the answer (she didn't spend the week zooming in on it), you haven't been paying attention to Goodman who sold out whatever was left of her sordid reputation to whore for Barack. And if Barack wants to gut the safety net, you better believe Amy's more than ready to look elsewhere. Over and over.

As they sharpened the scissors for the safety net, Goodman had so many other things to cover. Monday found her doing two segments -- the first on what the British Parliament would be doing (asking questions of Prime Minister David Cameron) and the second was boring us with yet another White man telling us how great it was that apartheid was no more in South Africa. Is it really that difficult to find a Black South Afrikaner to speak on the topic?

Tuesday, the topic was briefly raised by Ralph Nader who was brought on to talk about Barack by passing Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Though that was kept brief, Goodman had plenty of time for the British story again (she's obsessed with Rupert Murdoch -- and she's as damaging as Murdoch, again, wait for next week's piece) for not one but two segments, then more Murdoch obsession due to an NYC issue and then it was time for a death row story.

Wednesday found Goodman fearing she hadn't done enough on the Murdoch and David Cameron stories so she did a segment on each and also chatted up a Newsweek reporter about nothing new, nothing current.

Thursday, Goodman again had a segment on David Cameron and one on Murdoch, she had one on Gaza and one on Israel.

Friday, Juan Gonzalez explained the court verdict against the crooked SEIU, there was a segment on famine in the Horn of Africa, a segment on how the Republicans were attempting to use the debt ceiling to impose GOP desires and Cenk Uygur whining.

She had time for everything but the issue that will effect the lives of so many Americans.

Let's leave the assholery of Amy Goodman for a moment to jump over to stupidity. We try so hard to ignore Libby Liberal so we won't have to call her out but she's a very uniformed person who grows ever more dangerous as she wallpapers her writings (ravings) all over the internet. In her latest, she wants you to know that "Cenk Uygur escaped this week with his soul and his scalp from MSNBC." Did he? Did he really?

Because he said so.

And Cenk would never lie, right? And he and his beliefs must mesh perfectly with Libby since she's rushing to vouch for this person she's never met.

He told Amy Goodman, "I think President Obama is clearly, you know, a Republican. I know, because in the 1990s I was a Republican, and he's way to the right of me, and I've hardly changed any positions." That's Libby? He told Amy Goodman, "I think Rachel Maddow has done a brilliant job in becoming more and more independent. And I think she does a fantastic progressive show, and she did it by accruing power, by getting better and better ratings." That represents Libby's thoughts as well?

Strange because she writes, "Or a dazzlingly bright Rachel Maddow sells her soul for celebrity and money. That GE paycheck can turn around an anti-war stance faster than a speeding bullet." Libby's really stupid. Rachel Maddow was an Iraq War cheerleader on Air America Radio. She has always applauded the Afghanistan War. Those are facts and it would be helpful if Libby would acquaint herself with a few before attempting to write.

Equally true, she should grasp that just because one person says something doesn't make it the complete truth or even a section of the truth. Cenk Uygur is out as host on MSNBC for a number of reasons including the fact that he was a temporary host of a program due to go dark when he was brought on as host. Here's another fact, while Uygur brags that he increased the ratings of MSNBC Live, it wasn't by much and he continued to lose viewers. Hardball aired before his program and after and both Hardballs had higher ratings on most days than Uygur. Meaning people went out of their way to turn off the TV or watch another channel when Uygur came on. Al Sharpton will be hosting a program in the hour Uygur previously occupied; however, Sharpton was not the first, second or third choice. Had MSNBC been able to close the deal they wanted to in February, Uygur would have left the airwaves as host by the end of March. There is also the issue of likability and, as one MSNBC executive joked, "Leona Helmsley has a better TVQ rating than Cenk."

Libby is off in la-la land declaring the whole Uygur drama to be Network and Howard Beale leaving us to wonder if no one in her tiny circle has ever told Libby that Network is a deeply sexist film? They'd have to tell her, Libby's demonstrated for over a year that interpretation is not a skill she possess.

Libby seems confused as to what Uygur was doing on MSNBC. He was not reporting. He was a TV host doing interviews. The sort of thing that Johnny Carson pioneered so effortlessly. And MSNBC wanted a warm and friendly host for the talk show. That's not an unreasonable request.

Building on Uygur's airy claims, Libby appears to be arguing censorship. MSNBC is adament to us that they never told Uygur what he could or could not say in commentaries or interviews. They just asked that he be less hostile to guests appearing on the talk show. Like Uygur, Libby tries to string together other MSNBC personalities. Tellingly, she leaves out Ashleigh Banfield (whom Uygur does mention on Democracy Now!). It's that sort of move that repeatedly distances Libby from political women (though female doormats embrace her).

Then she's off on a rant that few dare follow all the way to the hollow of her mind, "NO ONE gets to cross over, at least for long, to give too much truth or DISRESPECTFUL TONE to power. Isn’t that so, Keith or Bill Moyers or whomever?"

What is she attempting to imply?

Keith Olbermann was fired for just cause and we've covered it here. Libby's forever attempting to turn male misogynists into heroes -- she's the battered woman praising the man who beat her. Reading her, you find yourself hoping the sentences were typed between bong hits because that would at least explain their loopy nature.

However, nothing can explain her assertion that Bill Moyers learned no one can tell the truth "at least for long."

Political hack (for LBJ) Moyers left the Johnson administration to go into the print news medium. When he switched over to broadcast (1971), it was PBS. In 1976, he joined CBS. He took that year and the next off from PBS but then returned and stayed with them until 1986. 1986 is also when he left CBS. That was when his own production company was formed and he began work on the PBS series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Does Libby know that?

There's no indication that she knows anything about Bill Moyers' career. And there she is implying that Moyers' quest for honesty removed him from broadcast journalism when in fact the man she's trying to make a martyr came off, in Keach Hagey's POLITICO report earlier this month, as guilty of all the crimes Libby's supposedly outraged by.

With Libby, the question is not: How can she be so stupid?

With Libby, the question is: How can she be so repeatedly stupid?

And that's because of Amy Goodman. Libby doesn't breathe Democracy Now!, she snorts it. She snorts it, she mainlines it, she rolls it up in a Zig Zag and smokes it. Given the opportunity, she'd probably try to dry hump it. Amy Goodman's show stopped being about information long, long ago. For some time now, it's existed solely to enrage.

Apparently, Goodman's grasped that she can propagandize so much better by beating tribal drums and playing smear the scary "other."

And that motive explains why Barack's announced plans to gut the safety net were of no concern to her last week.

Baby you're just no good for me
And I'm no good for you
Let's not waste our time talking
We both know what to do

We've got to get off this road to nowhere
It's time to get off this road to nowhere
You've got to get off this road to nowhere
We've got to get off this road to nowhere
-- "Road To Nowhere," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, performed best by Judy Henske

Barack Obama is worried about the debt ceiling, if you missed it. He wasn't worried about it when he was a senator. As NPR's Mara Liasson (All Things Considered) noted at the start of the month, "President Obama, when he was in the Senate, voted against raising the debt ceiling because, he said, it was a symbol of a failure of leadership on the Republican president."

And he didn't spend the year worrying about it. But he sure did create a crisis out of it, didn't he? One he is manipulating to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In all of the talk of the 'crisis,' we find no one pointing out the obvious: Does the president of the United States acting so alarmist not influence creditors?

If we're all so gosh darn worried about our credit rating and what might happen if the debt ceiling (an artificial creation started to justify war spending in WWI) is reached, should the president be all over the TV insisting doom, doom, doom is upon us?

Or might that sort of Chicken Little behavior actually hurt the country?

It's a valid question and, you'll note, it's one that's gone unasked.

The president is supposed to set a tone. Even when it comes to a ceremonial task, Barack's a failure. He's played alarmist and petulant bully throughout the so-called crisis to the point that the number of people who take him seriously continues to dwindle.

Another question rarely covered is how many other country's have debt ceilings? None that we know of. Again, the debt ceiling was created in the US to justify WWI spending. Liberty Bonds were sold and fears that the whole venture wouldn't bankrupt the country were calmed with the creation of the debt ceiling. Economist James K Galbraith explained that at The Huffington Post and he explained:

What fiscal crisis? The great unasked question in this summer of sound-and-fury is "why?" The United States has many problems at the moment: a high-and-stubborn unemployment rate, a foreclosure catastrophe, a slowing economy that has not recovered and will not recover from the Great Crisis, and the ongoing challenges of infrastructure, energy and climate change. Fiscal crisis? The entire thing is a figment, made up of wise-men's warnings repeated endlessly and linked to the projections of technicians at the Congressional Budget Office and elsewhere.

The projections, as I've written here, are made up of two economically impossible arguments. One is that there will be a big economic rebound, restoring near-full employment by 2013 or so. We're already off that track, as some of us warned from the beginning. Of course, a recovery would reduce the deficit even if nothing were done. But CBO then recreates the exploding debt by assumptions, which include steady growth and low inflation, but sharply higher health care costs and much higher short-term interest rates. These lead the projected debt to compound skyward, soon surpassing all previous records in relation to GDP.

Is this possible? No it is not. The Federal Reserve would never raise the short-term interest rate, as CBO projects, without a prior increase of inflation, which CBO assumes will not occur. If they did, the economy would collapse! And if they don't, the debt does not compound out of control. I have presented these simple numbers here. For what it's worth, if you believe the capital markets signal anything, they signal their disbelief in doomsday forecasts, in the long-term interest rate on U.S. government bonds, every single day.

Yet it's treated as real and legitimate and Barack uses it to scare people in an attempt to enact the recommendations of his Cat Food Commission while left outlets remain silent over and over. Amy Goodman, ZNet, all the whores that put Barack into the White House work overtime to screw over the people today.

Last week, with ten hours of broadcast time to fill, Amy Goodman repeatedly distracted American viewers by focusing on a British scandal. The real scandal is that she got away without offering serious explorations of what's taking place right now in DC. If Barack is successful and manages to gut the safety net, that's going to have more impact on American lives than any other story in 2011. Which is why the silence on this issue is all the more appalling.
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