Sunday, September 02, 2012

Media: Anger wasted, anger utilized

Robin Morgan's rant.  We kept coming back to that all week.  The media was in meltdown mode and it was difficult to follow because so many people depend upon a functioning media.  In fact, we all depend upon it so much that we've pretty much buried hopes of excellence and instead will just settle for functioning.

But last week was one long meltdown.



Possibly this was due to the GOP convention in Tampa and the fact that media outlets really don't want to play fair anymore?

Last week, Mitt Romney finally went from "presumptive Republican presidential nominee" to "Republican presidential nominee."  But before Mitt even delivered  his acceptance speech, the crazy had started.

Blame it on Bob Somerby if you want.  The media critic was at his worst last week.  Not since he savaged former US Ambassador Joe Wilson in an attempt to salvage his buddy (disgraced journalist) Matthew Cooper have we seen him so off-the-rails insane.  And people appeared to want to emulate that crazy.

On Saturday, Bob was floundering, trying to figure out what happened to The Washington Post which had spent most of the week joining him for the crazy?

What happened was the paper took a look at itself from the highest offices and didn't care for what it was seeing.

If you give a speech promoting the eating of citrus fruit for greater health and wrongly insist that oranges are best for their strong  vitamin A nutrients, part of a report on that speech is that, no, vitamin C is the nutrient oranges are famous for.

Part of a report.

Fact checking is part of journalism.  Fact checking isn't journalism.

And lost in the reporting was whatever message or themes that GOP convention might be providing as various 'independent' reporters and columnists worked from DNC supplied e-mails and faxes.  What was the convention about?  What plans were presented?

All of that was lost in screams of "LIE!" over and over.

And you can be sure that's not how the Democratic Party's national convention this week will be covered.  You can be sure that, for example, The Seattle Times will not allow a columnist to ridicule Michelle Obama the way they allowed a male columnist to ridicule Ann Romney. 

Lost in the the huffing and puffing was the fact that women were up on the stage in large numbers, larger than we saw at the DNC in 2008.  Women gave important speeches.  Former Secretary of State Condi Rice gave an in depth foreign policy speech that argued for the rightness of the Iraq War:

 And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal -- as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder,  "Where does America stand?"
Indeed that is the question of the moment -- "Where does America stand?"  When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question -- clearly and unambiguously -- the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.  The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer -- we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them -- we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom. 
To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.  I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made -- yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest.  Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty.  We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer -- they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom.  And we owe them our eternal gratitude.

 And she argued for more wars like the Iraq War:

And I know too that there is weariness -- a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough.  But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen -- no one will lead and that will foster chaos -- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.  My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead -- and one cannot lead from behind.

We didn't agree with her on war and haven't in the last decade so weren't surprised that Condi didn't channel our inner peacenik.  She delivered the speech well, we enjoyed the personal part about the little girl from Alabama.  We didn't feel the need to tear her down.  Another strong speech came from the governor of New Mexico, the first Latina governor in the US, Susana Martinez:

 My parents also taught me about having the courage to stand for something.  So I went to law school.  And I became a prosecutor.  I took on a -- a specialty that very few choose to pursue.  I prosecuted child abuse and child homicide cases.  Cases that were truly gut-wrenching.  But
standing up for those kids, being their voice for justice was the honor of a lifetime.
Sometimes you pay a price for standing up.  When I was a young prosecutor, I got called to testify against my boss.  I could have backed down, but I didn't.  I stood up to him and he fired me for it. So, I took him on, ran against him for district attorney, and beat him by a landslide.
I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand up.  What we have now are politicians. They won't offer real plans, and only stand up when they want to blame someone else.

Other women speaking included Sharon Day, Barbara Comstock, Zoraida Fonalledas, Marsha Blackburn, Mia Love, actress Janine Turner, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kelly Ayotte, Mary Fallin, Nikki Haley, Sher Valenzuela, Luce Vela Fortuno, Ann Romney, Iraq War veteran Jeanine McDonnell, Pam Bondi, Oympic gold medal winner Kim Rhode and Jane Edmonds.

The message they were offering was largely lost in the press that hissed and attacked.

Also lost in the coverage was anyone pointing out that Barack Obama was yet again breaking the rules.  We (the left) largely overlooked his unprincipled decision in 2008 to forgo public financing in the general election (though we all want to whine about the Supreme Court's verdict on Citizen's United).  Last week, we also seemed to want to ignore his campaigning.

Specifically that it is considered bad form for the Democratic candidate to campaign the week of the RNC and for the Republican candidate to campaign the week of the DNC.  Even Bully Boy Bush observed that decorum.

So much went unexplored as alleged independent journalists recycled talking points from the DNC over and over.

It was a sudden and selective interest in facts to be sure.  Last week, various outlets wrongly reported that all US troops were out of Iraq.

And again this morning on Weekend Edition, the lie was repeated.  Scott Horsley didn't have to get it wrong, but he did.  The Iowan bartender and Barack Obama supporter Horsely spoke to appeared to grasp reality declaring she thanked him "for bringing home the troops home because he promised to bring home the troops and he has brought a lot of them home."

Despite the bartender grasping the truth, Horsley refused to and then declared, "There are no more US troops in Iraq."

There are no more troops in Iraq? 

 Earlier this month, when US General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, visited IraqRTT reported, "More than 225 U.S. troops, seven Defense Department civilians, 530 security assistance team members and more than 4,000 contracted personnel are currently in the office at the Iraqi government's invitation."

It's strange, isn't it?  How facts supposedly matter so much in this political campaign and yet an NPR 'reporter' can lie, can lie, on the air and assume he'll be able to get away with it?

And thing is, he probably will get away with it.  Devin Dwyer (ABC News) got away with it last week.

Though a number of 'journalists' were able to huff that Mitt Romney didn't mention Iraq in his speech and, Wednesday morning, that the RNC hadn't even mentioned Iraq, none of them really gave a damn about Iraq.

That was obvious by the fact that when Dwyer and now Horsley repeat these lies, no one gets outraged, no one wants a fact check then.

These are real issues but no one gives a damn.

Instead, they want to take part in demonizing Republicans.

And maybe Ellen Barkin's on to something there?  Maybe being so hateful on her Twitter feed allows her to access the hatred she exudes as Jane on NBC's The New Normal (debuts September 11th)?  Or maybe she's just tapping into her own ugliness?

We don't know but we did confirm that no one at NBC, not one executive, is happy with Ellen's current public persona.   So if The New Normal flops, it's on Ellen.  She's pissed off everyone with her attacks. 

There's talk of new clauses in contracts at NBC, new clauses that would require actors and actresses not to attack potential viewers, new clauses that would require actors and actresses to be goodwill ambassadors for their programs.  It's akin to the morality clauses that existed back in the studio days.  And if that happens, there's going to be a lot more anger at Ellen Barkin from within the industry.

For those who don't know,  Ellen Barkin's decided that interviews and Twitter are where you release your hatred for your fellow Americans.  You go there and you demonize whole sections of people.  She also seems to feel that this behavior is the best way for an untried TV actress to get publicity and viewers for a brand new show.

It's this sort of thinking that led her to the career nadir that was the direct-to-video Operation: Endgame of only two years ago.  Few actors and actresses ever recover from a film and a role so bad.  But fate smiled on Ellen and she chose to answer fate by squatting and urinating over half the country. 

Somewhere along the line, she's decided she is Voice Of America and that the world really needs her every utterance -- especially the hateful ones where she aims hate at groups of people.

CAA is in a panic mode over Barkin's antics and  NBC's asking if there's a way to continue the sitcom without the character of Jane?

Ourselves, we're just wondering who the hell Ellen thinks she reaches by spitting on people?  If her show was going to make a difference -- it revolves around a same-sex couple who decide to have a baby -- that meant it was going to have to reach out.  And maybe people would become comfortable?  Maybe it was like the conversation that Mitch and Cam's fathers had last season on Modern Family, where they talked about how things change and you're constantly going to re-adjust?

 But people you've insulted don't usually watch your program.

Art has real power and it's a power that overwhelms what a Twitter feed or an actress on a hate binge can ever accomplish.

Robin Morgan was an actress, many years ago when she was a child.

She's now the host of the latest offering from the Women's Media Center, the Sunday afternoon talk show WMC Live with Robin Morgan.   The show debuted last Sunday and it revolves around current events, interviews with guests and Robin's rant.

Robin's rant isn't lovely and sweet.  No one will mistake it for that.

But it's also not offensive.

How is she able to cover the same topics that an Ellen Barken Tweets about and Robin pulls it off?

For one thing, if she has a target, it's an individual.  She's not glomming hatred on the great masses.  Thus far, when she has a target, it is a worthy target.

Equally true, she's speaking as a woman.  Women are oppressed.  As a woman, she can sound off for women and it's perfectly acceptable.

But Ellen and a large number of journalists last week though they could sound off on behalf of the President of the United States of America.  That's not truth to power, that's teacher's little suck up.  Equally true, when you are shut out of power, as the left was under Bully Boy Bush, you can get away with a great deal.  But when your supposed great leader is swept into the White House and all you're doing is bitching and moaning and whining and attacking?  You look like the most miserable person in the world.

Robin's taken an outsider position for her radio show and we hope she keeps it.  It would be so great to have a woman on the radio who is there for women.  It would be so wonderful to have a woman who calls out all the people and all the systems that oppress women and all the ways in which women are oppressed.  To have someone show that kind of strength is true liberation because it provides behavior which can be modeled.

Robin's show last week was the best thing in radio of the year.  We have high hopes for it and hope she continues to be the outsider who will defend women and fight for them.  That's not anger wasted, that's anger channeled and that would do more for the state of women, for the state of humanity, than a million and one Twitter feeds.

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