Monday, April 16, 2018

TV: Neither humanity nor honesty factor into corporate news

Friday night, around nine p.m. EST, US President Donald Trump appeared on television to announce bombs being dropped on Syria.

What followed was one long embarrassment -- kicked off immediately by ABC's David Muir.

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If you were looking for honesty, you wouldn't find it by watching American TV.  Kat opted out early, binge watching NETFLIX's LOST IN SPACE (we also highly recommend the show) and  explainine why she did that, "First, there is no honesty about Syria on TV.  The American news media is giddy with war lust.  There's no honesty at all."

Others saw similar limitations.  On Sunday, T.A. Frank (VANITY FAIR) observed:

The most important thing to establish before taking action was that a chemical attack had taken place and that Assad was behind it. I spent the days following the first reports looking for independent verification of the claims being made. I could find none. As of Friday, when the missile strikes took place, we had nothing but assurance from interested parties. The New York Times editorial board cited the World Health Organization as an authority, but the WHO was merely citing reports, not drawing on its own findings. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was due to start investigating the attack this Saturday. The missiles struck even before the OPCW could start its work, let alone conclude it.

None of that reality Frank noted was allowed in the corporate media.  For example, CBS' FACE THE NATION pretended to delve into Syria on Sunday but viewers got a strange 'report' from Seth Doane, "The advances here that the Syrian forces have made going into Douma is the big news this morning, remaining control of that area that had been held by the rebels. And that is quite significant because it likely gives chemical weapons inspectors access to that site."  The 'rebels' are al Qaeda and ISIS linked fighters.  They're not 'rebels' -- they've been backed by the CIA for some time.  (See Seymour Hersh's 2013 expose.)  More to the point, if Doane was concerned about "chemical weapons inspectors [having] access to that site," why didn't he report that such access was to take place on Saturday but was prevented by Friday's bombings?

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was then brought on to insist, "Assad had been using chemical weapons multiple times."  And, this being corporate media, nobody bothered to challenge her assertion.  Of course, this being CBS 'NEWS,' Margaret Brennan -- host of the talk show -- was even more hawkish than Haley, lamenting that "Assad's military has reclaimed the area where chemical weapons were used."  Do we need to point out that she's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations?  That's sort of self-evident, isn't it, by her fretting on air that, should Trump pull US troops out of Syria within six months, he would "cede the battleground to Iran"?

Remember folks, if you go on corporate media to oppose war, you are an activist and you must be treated with hostility; however, if you are on corporate media promoting war, you're just a 'journalist' and you're just 'reporting' what is (rambling around in your blood lust mind).

Over on NBC's MEET THE PRESS, Senator Joni Ernst was explaining to host Chuck Todd how wonderful it was that Donald had "joined with France and Great Britain and took these strikes."  She would also insist, "Well, I think we do need to find a way to make sure that Syria is rid of all of its chemical weapons. They are not sticking to the chemical weapons convention. We know that for a fact now."  We know that for a fact now, do we?  We're asking that question -- because Chuck Todd didn't.  Chuck was worried about other things.

For example, he fretted on air that "we didn't take it all out." We?  Is Chuck a member of the media or the military?

Over on ABC's THIS WEEK, the always ridiculous George Stephanopoulos used the hour as a long infomerical for his ABC Sunday night special interview with James Comey.  Syria?  Oh, please, he barely got the topic in between all of his plugs for his James Comey interview.

Doubt us?

Here are George's Syria comments from the show.  First, to ABC's Martha Raddatz:

1) Martha, thanks for joining us this morning. A late night for you on Friday night, that strike on Syria. We saw the tweet from the president yesterday, “mission accomplished.” In the Pentagon's view, what exactly was accomplished? And what difference will it make on the ground in Syria over time? 
[. . .]
2) And, Martha, there does seem to have been some kind of struggle behind the scenes over the scope of Friday night's raid. What can you report on that? 
[. . .]
OK, Martha, thanks.

Later in the show to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee:

3) Good morning, let’s start out with Syria. We saw that tweet from the president yesterday saying mission accomplished, but we just heard Martha Raddatz say perhaps that initial mission on taking out some chemical weapon site -- sites was accomplished, but that the overall declaration, that mission accomplished, is premature. This may not change the situation on the ground of Syria all that much. 
[. . .]
4) So what's next? Is the president still committed to getting our troops out of Syria right away? 
[. . .]
As you were answering that question, the president just came out with his fifth tweet of the morning on James Comey. I'm sure your phone buzzed as you were talking as well.

He cuts her off to get back to the topic of Comey. Later with Senator Susan Collins:

5) And finally, I -- I do want to, before you go, ask -- want to ask you about Syria and the strikes on -- on Friday -- Friday night. In your view as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was what accomplished and will more action be necessary?

On the topic of Syria, on the topic of war, he had two questions for Raddatz and two questions for Huckabee and one for Collins -- that's in an hour show.

On Comey?  There was way "too much on Comey" --  as THE NEW YORK TIMES' Maggie Haberman said during the show's roundtable giving instant media analysis.

Here are some of his direct plugs of the Comey special that would air later that night.

1)  We are set to hear more from James Comey's exclusive interview, his side of the story. 
And, of course, that bombshell new book from FBI Director James Comey. A Higher Loyalty. Doesn't even go on sale until Tuesday, but it's already topping the Amazon best-seller list, making big headlines with Comey's claim that the president is unethical, untethered to truth. My exclusive interview with Comey airs tonight on ABC. 
2) We're going to show more of it ahead.
3) Yes. And he repeated that in our interview. 
4)Kind of had the same experience when I was sitting there interviewing him on Monday afternoon. The whole interview is going to air tonight, of course, on ABC. 
5) In fact, Comey quotes President Obama around that time saying that Putin backed the wrong horse, that these assumptions were widespread not only through the administration, actually through a lot of the country at that time as well.
6) Okay, I promise, last time. I do, though, hope you’ll tune in tonight for my interview with James Comey. You’re going to learn a lot. It’s at 10:00 o’clock Eastern, 9:00 Central, right after “American Idol.” Thanks for joining us this morning, and have a great Sunday.

And that was only some -- some -- of the plugs he gave his own interview.  He also included clips throughout the hour.  War with Syria was not as important to George Stephanopoulos as was plugging his own TV special.

It you wanted to get any from of serious discussion of what was taking place, you had to leave the corporate media.

For example?

On Sunday's CLEARING THE FOG, Margaret Flowers and (Kat's BFF) Kevin Zeese spoke with Vijay Prashad.  Prashad wondered why, if the sites bombed on Friday night were sites with chemical weapons, they were bombed?  Is that really safe?  Bombing chemical weapons sites?  Wouldn't that just spread the chemical weapons?  Prashad noted that "allegations are taken as evidence" in the western media -- provided the allegations come from the US government.

Why American corporate media sucks so bad was actually the topic of Friday's ON CONTACT WITH CHRIS HEDGES (RT).  Excerpt:

Chris Hedges:  So let's pick up where we left off.  You had alluded to this propaganda stick -- cant -- that THE NEW YORK TIMES does repeat -- in particular the demonization of Russia, the idea that Russia was responsible for the election of Donald Trump rather than the social inequality that, in particular, it's columnists have been cheerleaders for -- I would argue, the business section as well.  And that has been very corrosive to American journalism.

Mark Crispin Miller: Oh, absolutely.  And I mean, and then there's Syria.  One reads the 'news' about Syria, one might as well be reading the news about the Hun in 1915 in Britain.  You know, it's exactly the same.

Chris Hedges: Right.

Mark Crispin Miller: It's the same playbook.  It's really staggering how little moral and intellectual progress the mass mind seems to have made especially in a country where we don't study propaganda history in school as we should.  But, yeah, THE TIMES and the rest of them are filled to the gills with propaganda and then tons of fluff -- you know, inanities, celebrity news and so on.  But to your initial point, the ground of this shift is clearly economic in that the press is-is -- there's no blood flow there, they don't have advertising anymore so they have to try to rely on increasingly on click bait --

Chris Hedges: Right.

Mark Crispin Miller: -- online.

Chris Hedges: And let's be clear that these cable news channels are all owned by large corporations.

Mark Crispin Miller: Exactly.

Chris Hedges: And it's not like the old Hearst media empire where, uh, you know, and I'm not going to defend [William Randolph] Hearst who sold us the Spanish-American War and the invasion of Cuba.  But they were a media conglomerate.  Now the news -- if you want to call it news -- is just one revenue stream out of perhaps hundreds of revenue streams.  And they compete against those revenue streams not for producing anything of quality but for producing profit and you see it with CNN -- with [Jeff] Zucker moving from NBC who created the fictional persona of Donald Trump on THE APPRENTICE.  And he's quite open about it in a chilly interview you probably read in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE where he talks about turning CNN into a species of ESPN -- including putting his celebrity style hosts outside of the convention hall the way they do outside the football stadium.  And it's always about conflict.  That's it.  So they're bringing in these figures who have no right to be on a national platform.  Their only attribute is that they're racists who support Trump and they need somebody for Van Jones to play off of.

Mark Crispin Miller: Right.

Chris Hedges: But it is -- it's so far outside of any definition of journalism.  But it produces revenue.

Mark Crispin Miller: Well it produces revenue, yes, and I would argue that as-as the press has vanished into the media cartel that you mentioned.  What is it, like six transnational corporations?

Chris Hedges: Something like that.

Mark Crispin Miller: That control something like 90% of the content that we ingest daily.  As-as the media cartel has become more concentrated, more profit focused, I think it has also simultaneously become closer and closer to the state, to government authority.

Chris Hedges: But we know that from all the pundits that they bring on.

Mark Crispin Miller: Exactly.

Chris Hedges: They're not only retired military, we have [John] Brennan now on MSNBC

Mark Crispin Miller: That's right.

Chris Hedges: -- the former CIA Director as an analyst.

Mark Crispin Miller: As an analyst.  And I'm going to add parenthetically that Trump has performed an invaluable function in all of this because Trump enables the press to get up on its high horse count his lies -- his stupid, glaring, obvious lies that are about nothing -- and then pat themselves on the back as if  the far fewer, far more dangerous lies that they routinely tell are not lies.  So Trump enables the corporate press to pose as honest, as truth tellers.  And he also enables the CIA and the FBI to look like our champions, like they're going to save us.

Chris Hedges: Well you've watched liberals all fall to their knees.

Mark Crispin Miller: That's another aspect of the present moment that I find jaw dropping: that it's liberals now who are acting like The [John] Birchers of the early fifties.  I've never seen anything like it.

Chris Hedges: Yeah.  I mean -- and the biggest lie the press is telling is the lie of omission in the sense that they are not addressing the fundamental mechanisms that are deforming not only our economy and our political system -- which is this corporate cout de tat -- but globally.  It's never mentioned.  It's never talked about. Capitalism is a word you're never going to here.

Mark Crispin Miller: Well that's right.  I would say that the things you hear us talk about the least -- because the press has blacked them out -- are what pose the greatest threat to us.

And that's what you saw from the corporate media.  It wasn't news.  There was John Brennan on MEET THE PRESS.  There was the lack of questioning on all three networks' so-called coverage.  And there was the non-stop promotion of George's Sunday night special pimped as news.

Most of all there was David Muir, interrupting the ABC prime time line up on Friday for Donald Trump's we're-bombing-the-hell-out-of-Syria and  then signing off with, "Enjoy the rest of your evening."  Enjoy the rest of your evening?  For years, people have wondered if David was gay or not.  More recently, the concern has been is he a top or a bottom?  After his moment Friday, we think the better question would be is he human or not?

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