Sunday, September 30, 2012

TV: Media continued fail

"I wouldn't worry, buddy, it's looking less and less like it will be your job," smacked middle-aged Seth Meyers on what they're calling Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday two weeks ago.  "Buddy" was, of course, Mitt Romney   Last Thursday turned Barack (Jay Pharoah) saying you had no choice but to vote for him into an applause line and found Seth mocking Paul Ryan's looks and Seth mocking Dr. Cornell West (played by Kenan Thompson) in a skit with the 'point' that there was no one to vote for except Barack.

This was Saturday Night Live's way of playing 'fair' and it just demonstrates how unfair the show is and how typical of the media landscape the tired program is.


Take PBS which somehow manages to receive public funding for one-sided presentations.

The NewsHour has made itself a joke this month.  News is defined (Merriam-Webster) as "a report of recent events" and newsworthy as "interesting enough to the general public to warrant reporting."  September 11, 2012, the US Consulate in Libya was attacked and four Americans were killed.    As we noted two weeks ago, this was "Media Fail."

Information that Americans needed to know was shoved to the side so that the so-called news industry could savage and attack Mitt Romney for daring to criticize US President Barack Obama.  When a terrorist attack on Americans take place, it needs to be reported.  In part, that's due to the fact that these things don't generally happen in isolation but are usually part of a chain of attacks or attempted attacks so Americans need to know what to place to be prepared.  It's also true that Barack uses linkage as Bully Boy Bush did.  While Bush falsely linked 9-11 to Iraq, Barack falsely links the death of Osama bin Laden to the death of al Qaeda.

Thursday night, September 27, 16 days after the Libya attack, The NewsHour finally described it with the term "terrorism."  For 16 days, the program left America in the dark.  It's hard to believe they did that by accident and it's difficult to believe that they weren't trying to carry water for Barack.  It's especially difficult to believe that when the next segment is all about how -- whatever happened -- it wasn't Barack's fault and he's so great and wonderful and let's not discuss the fact that the White House lied in the aftermath repeatedly, for days and days.

That segment was supposed to offer 'analysis' but it didn't.  You had supposed objective reporter Steven Lee Myers from The New York Times blaming the FBI and Hillary Clinton and never once the supposed buck-stops-here guy in the Oval Office.  The 'reporter' offered that Barack was "a president who has a strong record to run on when dealing with al Qaeda specifically and terrorism in general or foreign policy."  Jeffrey Brown didn't ask Myers to back up that ridiculous claim.  But then Brown wouldn't, he works for The NewsHour.

"Let me join my voice to those praising David Brooks' v. good column on Romney. Thurston Howell Romney [link]."

Why are we including that?  We're quoting.  In fact, we're demonstrating the problems with The NewsHour.  See, PBS decided they finally had to discuss what happened in Libya as what it was -- terrorism -- and so they needed to make sure Barack didn't get blamed because that, not providing news, is their goal.  So they book a New York Times reporter and they pair him up with a think-tanker from a centrist think tank which is false balance but it's supposed to give you the idea that they're tilting rightward.  The reality is they stacked the deck for Barack.

Because the guest who couldn't stop praising Barack -- from an impartial standpoint, we're sure -- sure does love to Tweet insults about Mitt Romney.  That would be Dan Byman and that quote above is what he Tweeted.

In what world does that Tweet allow him to be booked as an impartial observer?  It doesn't.  In fact, that Tweet should have meant that he wasn't booked in this election cycle unless he was balanced with a Romney supporter.

But the easiest way to be booked on The NewsHour these days is to savage Romney.  Tuesday, The NewsHour decided they wanted to pretend to explore Barack's foreign policy record.  They booked former diplomat Nicholas Burns and Barack supporter Richard Haass.  If you're surprised that the four years as president resulted in no mis-steps or mistakes on the part of Barack, you weren't paying attention.  Not only is Haas a cheerleader for Barack, so is Burns.

Although actually, Burns is more famous recently for making the media circuit as he went around trashing Mitt Romney -- such as on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on September 12th -- for Romney's remarks about the attack on the Libyan consulate (Romney felt the administration's first response was to apologize -- Romeny was wrong, their first response was to lie).

Time and again, what happens is you trash Mitt Romney, you get booked on PBS or NPR or both.  That's the pattern this election cycle.   And you see a lot of Republicans who are the equivalent of Alan Colmes, present because they'll play along with the media narrative.  (The better to enrich their own pockets, you understand.)

Equally curious is who you don't see.  Gwen Ifill doesn't know a damn thing about foreign policy so asking her to moderate the segment was laughable.  Equally laughable was not going with a NewsHour foreign policy guest for the segment.

In fact, we're thinking of one in particular: Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times.

Gordon's appeared multiple times on The NewsHour.  Strangely, he wasn't booked for the segment on foreign policy last week.

Why would that be?

If you're wondering, he's not suddenly press shy.  To the contrary, he has a new book to sell, one he co-wrote with Bernard E. Trainor, The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The book came out Tuesday.

Generally, that means you can expect to see and hear Gordon all over PBS and NPR. Strangely, that has not been the case.  No NPR coverage last week of the book.  No come on The NewsHour for a discussion.  Frontline loved to have him on in the past but now now.  Charlie Rose?  He has appeared 12 times in the last ten years on Rose's PBS and Coca Cola program.  But he was no where to be found last week.

Did Gordon show up at the PBS office party loaded on booze with little Gordon hanging out of his fly?

No, he did something far worse than that.

He dared to criticize Barack -- the ultimate media faux pas.  From  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

And that, boys and girls, is how you get vanished by PBS and NPR.

These days when PBS wants to 'explore' Barack's foreign policy record, they really mean that they want people to praise Barack.  And they want your money too, this is PBS, they want your money in direct donations to PBS and via whatever extra tax dollars Congress can funnel their way.

Once upon a time, Saturday Night Live would be in real trouble for the way they played it in 2008 and the way they play it now.   But, as The NewsHour demonstrated all last week, tired humor programs are the least of democracy's problems these days.

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