Sunday, March 27, 2016

TV: Truth and the lack of it

"We've just won six out of the last seven contests," Senator Bernie Sanders told Jonathan Karl this morning on ABC's THIS WEEK about his repeatedly defeating Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries and caucuses. "We have the momentum."

It's the kind of truth you rarely get on TV these days.


We were reminded of that as we watched NBC's latest reality hit LITTLE BIG SHOTS hosted by Steve Harvey (produced by Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres).

Whether it was the little girl explaining to her father why she wasn't a princess or the twins with ties, they spoke their minds.

It was truth.

Which is partly where the humor comes from -- it also comes from comedian Harvey's facial reactions and ad libs.

Truth can provoke giggles when it's so long suppressed.

And if you doubt how much truth is suppressed in the United States, just flip over any Sunday night to CBS' 60 MINUTES -- or, as we like to think of it these days, BIG LITTLE SHOTS.


Once upon a time, the program did investigative reporting.

These days it's all p.r.

That was made clear by Sunday's big story: Gossip columnist Charlie Rose dishes with rich people about the money they give away and how great they are.

This was an 'update' to an earlier fawning.

We should clarify, an earlier fawning on 60 MINUTES.

Equally true is that Rose has repeatedly used THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW to promote Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

The update was about as 'in depth' as anything else Rose has done on the topic: gossip, jokes and a bunch of distraction.

The Giving Pledge, it should be noted, is not binding.

Anyone can sign it but they're not bound by it.

It should be noted by us . . . because it wasn't by Charlie Rose.

Not much was noted by Rose.

At one point, a testimonial was offered about how Bill and Melinda were eradicating polio.

No proof of this was offered but, more to the point, claims of polio eradication are nothing new.

For example, polio was eradicated in China in 2000 . . . until it returned in 2011.

The issue of taxes was never raised -- higher taxes for the rich would reduce some of these 'problems' the Gates and Buffett face.

The issue of tax breaks was also ignored.

People giving away money and getting gushing and praise and tongue baths but no one thinks to ask about the tax breaks they're receiving for these donations?

In 2010, DER SPIEGEL spoke with billionair Peter Kramer:

Krämer: I find the US initiative highly problematic. You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the USA. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That's unacceptable.

SPIEGEL: But doesn't the money that is donated serve the common good?

Krämer: It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires. So it's not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide. That's a development that I find really bad. What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?

Rose would say -- and did suggest -- that they have the legitimacy because they've made money.

In Rose's hierarchy of saints, day traders and sweat shop owners rank near the top.

Then there was the issue of the foundations.

One billionaire wasn't too sure where to give so the obvious answer was The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Never explored was how these foundations provide (large) token payments to board members (generally family members).

When the late billionaire Robert Wilson turned down Bill Gates' offer to join the movement/scheme, he wrote:

Your “Giving Pledge” has a loophole that renders it practically worthless, namely permitting pledgees to simply name charities in their wills. I have found that most billionaires or near-billionaires hate giving large sums of money away while alive and instead set up family-controlled foundations to do it for them after death. And these foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards. These rich are delighted to toss off a few million a year in order to remain socially acceptable. But that’s it.

Charlie Rose's gush aired on what is called CBS NEWS and did so today, 3/27/16.  It had no serious questions to ask.

But back in 2010, Alan Maass (SOCIALIST WORKER) could think of many issues including this:

You'd never know--from the pledgers themselves or the media reports about them--that the wealthy could learn a few things from "all Americans" about giving.
Every study of charitable contributions confirms the same fact--people who have the least give the most of themselves, and those with the most are downright stingy by comparison. Thus, Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for 2007 show that the poorest one-fifth of the population gave 4.3 percent of their household income to charity on average, while the richest one-fifth donated just 2.1 percent.
You'd also search the media in vain for any hint of how the Giving Pledgers amassed their fortunes in the first place.
Take John Arnold ($3.4 billion, number 91), who says he and his wife Laura view their wealth "not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to effect positive and transformative change." Arnold runs the positive-sounding Centaurus Advisers, a hedge fund based in Houston that specializes in investments in the energy industry.
Okay, now: "Houston" and "energy industry." Does anything come to mind when you put those two things together?
You guessed it: Enron. John Arnold's "instrument to effect positive and transformative change" got its start at the energy conglomerate Enron, which became the country's seventh-largest corporation by the late 1990s by taking advantage of deregulation to manipulate energy markets and gouge consumers. Then it went belly up in 2001 in a scandal that actually sent a few executives to prison.

The fawning Charlie Rose never asked how money was made, just glorified the men -- and token women -- as hard workers who'd made their money the hard way.

He noted with bewilderment growing resentment towards the extreme wealthy and offered that the Giving Pledger movement/scheme might lower resentments.

Watching Rose's endless garbage, it was hard to believe that 60 MINUTES was ever a hard hitting, investigative program.

If this is all the tired program has left to offer, let's all hope LITTLE BIG SHOTS wipes the floor with 60 MINUTES.

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