Monday, August 14, 2023

Media: The guessing game passed off as reporting

Thursday night found Lindsay Wagner back on ABC.  Why? Because America loves guessing games.  



We didn't say Americans were nice and fun when they played guessing games.  We didn't and we wouldn't.  We wouldn't have said it last month and we certainly wouldn't have said it after this past week.

That's when Ramona and Monway Ison began to be 'guessed' about.  The Baytown, Texas couple were in their seventies and died June 16th from the heat.  The ac in their trailer home broke down.  They were presented with an estimate of $1700 dollars to get the ac back up and running.  They didn't have the money.  They applied for a loan from their credit union and the credit union decided to make the loan the day before the couple died.  

It's a pretty horrible story.  Or, at least, to us it seems like a pretty horrible story.

Seeing the guessing games taking place online, we'll guess that it didn't mean much to a number of people.

If the deaths of two elderly people matter to you, you're not writing things like 'They were probably Trumper, good riddance.'  We found that in one online discussion.  We found a lot worse.  Why, one person huffed, didn't they just go to a mall? Or why didn't they just go to one of those theaters that's cheap and shows films at the end of their runs?  Dollar theaters, dollars shows, that's what they used to be called.

Well, forget the fact that you can't sleep in a mall, Baytown's San Jacinto Mall closed in 2020.  Three years ago.  

Apparently, they could have spent $13 to be admitted to Showbiz Cinema where, as a patron who visited in May pointed out, "Everything is sticky and gross" and the seats you sit in are broken.  That's the matinee price, by the way.  That's the city's only movie theater -- yes, only one.  It is not a dollar show theater.  Now there's Cinemark Hollywood Movies 20 in the neighboring city of Pasadena.  It's noted as a place where "the restrooms are dirty," where "leftover popcorn in seats, the cup holders had food and sticky stuff in it, the tables were peeling, and the seats were broken" and " the floors were super sticky and the tables were all beat up and peeled. The recliners make noise when you recline and the seats are all torn up and some don't even recline. This place is disgusting!!!!"  Seeing a pattern? And that's just this year.  Go back to 2022 and it's even worse -- including no toilet paper in stalls.  The reputation alone is enough to make young people in that city not want to visit but you're expecting an elderly couple to drive into it from another city?


 Over and over, we read comments blaming the elderly couple for their own deaths.  One guess after another about how they were just being cheap and they could have gotten a window unit from Walmart for as low as $148.  Does no one understand fixed income?

Did the guessers not grasp that this couple needing a loan for $2000 clearly did not have money to blow?  

Do we understand fixed income at all, those of us online and so ready to serve judgment?

The air conditioning is said to have broken on June 12th.  Does that mean anything to you?  It should.  Social Security checks arrive at the first of the month.  


A couple, described as high school sweethearts, that would have been celebrating their 52nd marriage anniversary a few weeks later, instead died June 16th. 


And they are being attacked.  


Jan Wesner Childs (THE WEATHER CHANNEL) notes, "The Isons were among nine people in the Houston area between June 14 and Aug. 3 whose cause of death was officially listed as hyperthermia, which is the medical term for dangerously high body temperature. Most were in their 70s and 80s and had medical conditions that might have made them more susceptible to the heat, according to records from the Harris County coroner. T​hey were also among millions of people nationwide who at times struggle to afford air conditioning."  But we're attacking the elderly couple  

Climate change isn't the bad guy, fixed incomes aren't the bad guy, the cost of electricity isn't the bad guy, it's the  dead couple that we want to attack?

Apparently, they chose to die -- to read the various guess'work' online.

Some blame them for being "proud" since they didn't ask their daughter for the money.  These guessers don't know the daughter had the money to loan.  But, no, parents generally don't try to impose on their children.  It went out on the 12th, they applied for a loan and secured it by the 15th.  Why are we trying to blame them for not asking the daughter?


Then there are the guessers who blame the daughter.  Why wasn't she checking on her parents daily?  They were elderly, yes, they were also mobile.  They didn't tell their daughter that the ac broke, she had no reason to be especially concerned from June 12th to June 15th (they died the 16th).  We're talking three days.  Can everyone of the guessers slamming the daughter online declare that they check on their parents every three days?  


What happened to the couple is horrible.  And it's not their fault.  And it's not a 'personal' problem.  It society's problem that's only going to get worse due to climate change.  And, isn't it interesting, already there are a large group of people ready to blame individuals who were victimized and not the governments and leaders who have done nothing at all to address the climate crisis.

Friday, on DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman noted:


In Hawaii, the death toll from the historic Maui wildfires has reached at least 55 people and decimated the town of Lahaina, once the epicenter of the Kingdom of Hawaii. One of the more than 1,700 structures that were destroyed is the Na ’Aikane o Maui Cultural Center. Earlier today, Hawaii Governor Josh Green described the sheer scale of the disaster.

Gov. Josh Green: “What we saw was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii state history. … We are seeing loss of life here. As you know, the number has been rising, and we will continue to see loss of life. … We also have seen many hundreds of homes destroyed, and that’s going to take a great deal of time to recover from. But that’s why we come together. … But we talked to an old gentleman who hadn’t seen anything like this ever in his life, a wildfire that took a whole city. His neighbors have all lost their homes. His home was intact, but he was in tears. This is a gentleman that doesn’t cry easily.”

Some residents questioned why Hawaii’s emergency warning system didn’t go off as blazes raged closer and closer to their homes. President Biden has declared a major disaster as the Hawaiian tragedy has shone a spotlight on the urgency of the unfolding climate catastrophe, as well as the ongoing exploitation and occupation of the islands by the U.S.

Greece is also having wildfires.  Last week, Daniel Villarreal (LGBTQ NATION) reported:


A British male same-sex couple and their young son were denied shelter in a house while fleeing wildfires in Greece because the house owner disapproved of them being gay.

Sean Palmer, his husband Matt Smith, and Matt’s six-year-old son began their one-week vacation on the Grecian island of Rhodes on July 18. The family stayed in a hotel on the island’s eastern city of Pefkos just as wildfires broke out, shutting off water and electricity citywide, bringing the scent of smoke within the hotel, and causing the staff at nearby restaurants and bars to evacuate.

[. . .]

That night, they waited for several hours in a parking structure alongside hundreds of people carrying suitcases. A bus eventually picked them up and they slept in a nearby school, using towels on the floors as a bed. The locals kindly provided food and water during the night, but the school’s toilets were “disgusting,” Palmer said.

The following day, the family was offered a house to stay in while awaiting their flight back home to Newcastle, England. However, when the homeowner arrived to pick them up, he said he was expecting a “family.” Palmer explained that they were a family, but the homeowner explained that he had expected “a man and woman.” The homeowner then removed the family’s bags from his vehicle and left the family at the school.


Is that what will pass for compassion as climate change gets worse?  


We can play the guessing game as well.


Let's note that refusing the family because it was two fathers and a child?  For those who want to try to hide behind the Bible on sodomy?  Two things.  First, Ezekiel 16:49,  "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."  Did not aid the poor and needy?  That kind of describes what just happened.  And second, are you kidding us?  

We've never seen Robert Aldrich's SODOM AND GOMORRAH nor had we perused the story in THE BIBLE.  But in our crash course for this piece, we're trying to figure out where the gay is in the story.  Are we understanding correctly: God sends two of his angels to Sodom as Abraham's request and Abraham's son Lot takes them in but the male villagers, having seen the angels arrival, demand that they be allowed to "know" the angels?  Is that what we're basing condemnation gays on from the story of Sodom?


If it is, our first thought wasn't about man on man sex because that's not what it is.  It would be man on angel sex.  God sending two angels on a mission to Sodom and village males wanting to have sex with them is not same-sex sex.  God would be equivalent of a general or a leader of a country sending service members in and the issue would be the harm to God's representatives, not males having sex.  And if angels existed, would they even have a gender?   


See we can play the guessing game too.  Only our guesses don't depend upon or amplify hate.


 Nor do they risk the future  of the world.

By the guessers who look away from the science and dismiss/ignore climate change are risking the world and all life on it.  From FAIR's latest episode of COUNTERSPIN which started airing Friday and will air around the country through Thursday:


Janine Jackson: Listeners may have encountered some variant of the statement attributed to labor organizer and folk singer Utah Phillips that says, “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”

It’s cited because it’s powerful, and its power derives in part from the fact that it goes against the pervasive discourse, certainly of corporate news media, that things are bad, even scary bad, even unprecedentedly, hard-to-imagine bad. But the point is, you know, progress happens, and getting angry doesn’t help, and disrupting things, well, that’s criminal as well as misguided. And then, what’s that? Things are getting worse? Well, that’s another story for another day.

There are myriad things that account for climate disruption and for its devastating and disparate effects. But the top-down resistance to naming the obstacles to a safer world is an important one, and one in which news media play a big role.

Our guest is one of those working to fill that void. Matthew Cunningham-Cook covers a range of issues for the Lever. He’s also written for Labor Notes, Public Employee Press and Al Jazeera America, among other outlets. He joins us now by phone from Costa Rica. Welcome to CounterSpin, Matthew Cunningham-Cook.


Matthew Cunningham-Cook: Thanks so much for having me on, Janine. I appreciate it.


JJ: The latest, the last I checked, is that a crucial Atlantic Ocean circulation system, that’s a cornerstone of global climate, may collapse as quickly as two years from now. Though as Julie Hollar wrote for, that wasn’t enough to get it on everybody’s front page.

But truly, there is no need to cite any indicators here. Anybody who believes in science and their sensory organs knows that bad things are happening and more are on the horizon, and that there are things that we can do besides throwing up our hands and saying, it is what it is.

 So tell us about your recent story that tells us that there are things stepping between what people want and what is reflected in policy.


MCC: We just took a look at the latest funding bills that are winding their way through the House right now, and the different insane aspects that Republicans have added.

There’s one particular component that’s extremely egregious, that bans research on climate change’s impact on fisheries. And this is while traditionally Republican states like Alaska are dealing with the collapse of their fisheries, currently.

There’s requiring that the Biden administration issue these offshore oil/gas leases, that slows down wind power leases, and that defunds the US’s very limited responsibilities under the Paris Climate Accords.

It’s a full-on assault on basic reason, and how we respond to the climate crisis. And what we do at the Lever that is not typically replicated in the corporate media is we just line up the policy with the campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. So the members of Congress who are championing these draconian assaults on basic climate science receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.

And you really don’t see this in the New York Times or the Washington Post. If they do report on these types of developments, it’s usually separated from basic questions like campaign finance, which is clearly what drives these proposed changes more than anything else.

So that’s what we did, and it’s a depressing story, for sure. What we’re hoping to do is ultimately shame the corporate media into doing more reporting like this that directly lines up policy with campaign contributions. Because if you’re reporting these two issues separately, the public is just not getting the full picture.


JJ: Absolutely. And folks are misunderstanding the disconnect, because media will do a story about the way the public feels about climate disruption, or about just the horrors of climate disruption. But, as you say, it’s going to be on a separate page than a story about campaign finance, as though it’s not a direct line from A to B.

And I want to point out: Part of what’s key about the piece that you wrote is these are not things that Republicans are putting forward, this idea of supporting bad things and also preventing responsive things; they aren’t introducing them as legislation that people can look at and think about. They’re sneaking them in, right?


MCC: Yeah. It’s just these small components of appropriations bills that nobody is paying attention to that, yeah, have very meaningful consequences.

One of the most important actions that the Biden administration has started to take is this Climate Disclosure Rule, which just seems so basic, which is that publicly traded companies have these massive climate risks. They should disclose those risks to their investors. And it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s been attacked by both Republicans and so-called Democrats like Joe Manchin alike.

But this is a critical step forward for the public to be able to get information about how the nation’s largest corporations are poisoning our environment, and how it not only hurts the public, but also their own investors, which includes the pension funds and retirement accounts of tens of millions of Americans.

It’s not like they’re trying to say, “Oh, let’s pass an independent piece of legislation that bars the SEC from issuing this climate rule,” because it would never pass. Instead, they’re inserting it into the appropriations process.


Is Donald Trump going to participate in the upcoming GOP presidential contenders debate?  


We don't know and we don't care.  We don't even care enough to guess.  We feel that there will be no ground shaking impact on Americans lives this month whether he does or not.




They and so many more have 'reported' on this guessing game.  They're not covering the connection between legislation and campaign contributions.  As noted above, Matthew Cunningham-Cook states, "What we’re hoping to do is ultimately shame the corporate media into doing more reporting like this that directly lines up policy with campaign contributions. Because if you’re reporting these two issues separately, the public is just not getting the full picture."


And that's the reality of the guessing games that pass for reporting in the media.  They'd rather do that -- it's cheap to produce and it's fun too! -- then report on the actual things that are influencing outcomes and endangering our world.

Voting?  It's kind of a guessing game as well, isn't it?

Which must be why so many liars keep pimping Cornel West, right?


West has never held public office, is an academic, is not a member of the Green Party but wants the Green Party to give him their presidential nomination, and somehow -- to various idiots -- that makes him a worthy candidate.  



This is the man who mere weeks ago announced he was the candidate for The People's Party, he was their presidential nominee.  And then, less than a week later, announced he wasn't.  He hadn't realized how disorganized they were, how shady they were or how offended so many people would be by his announcement.  

He's up to being president?  Yet he didn't even research The People's Party before accepting their nomination?

His skills and abilities grew more questionable with news of outstanding debt.  This is an attack!!!! So insisted his online cheerleaders when it was revealed that Cornel owes at least a half-million in back taxes. 


Tori Otten (THE NEW REPUBLIC) reported:


Presidential candidate Cornel West, who has spent most of his career advocating for higher taxes on the wealthy, owes the IRS more than half a million dollars in unpaid taxes.

Throughout his decades in the public eye, West, who is an academic at elite institutions and a bestselling author, has blasted the concentration of wealth at the top of U.S. society. Since announcing his run for president, first on the People’s Party ticket and currently on the Green Party’s, he has argued that taxes on the wealthiest Americans need to be “higher, much higher.”

But West hasn’t been putting his money where his mouth is—literally. An investigation by The Daily Beast, published Thursday, found that West owes $543,778.78 in unpaid taxes. The Beast cited tax filings in Mercer County, New Jersey, where West owns a house in the town of Princeton, and in Los Angeles, where West’s personal attorney is.

The IRS has filed liens against West for the years 2005, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, when he failed to pay anywhere from more than $62,000 to nearly $137,000 in taxes. The liens, or federal claims against property for unpaid debts, are all still open.

Federal liens don’t officially close until 30 days after the debt has been paid, so it’s possible West has paid some of his taxes within the past few weeks or has set up a payment plan. But West offered no such explanation to the Beast. Instead, he denied that he hadn’t paid his taxes and said his accountant would provide more information. The accountant never reached out.

That's a tax evader, not someone on a presidential ticket -- unless Cornel is trying to become Donald Trump's running mate. That doesn't stop various YOUTUBERS from promoting Cornel non-stop -- such as THE KATIE HALPER SHOW.  

Excuse us, that's worded poorly.  We should have typed THE LITTLE STREAMED KATIE HALPER SHOW.

Now Katie did get 150,000 something streams on one segment recently.  She had to bring on wack-job Ray McGovern and not focus on a real issue -- Ray's predicting that Russia will win in the proxy-battle is a guess.  It's not for real.  It's not written in stone.  Ray's guessed wrong many times before on many other topics.  In fact, Ray's entire media career attests to his own ignorance.


Let's drop back to October of 2010 when we wrote the following in "TV: Media of the absurd:" 

And, for the record, ABC News? Isn't not cable. It's commercial broadcast. Why in the world Ray McGovern is watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and under the mistaken impression that he was watching cable news is beyond us but it doesn't speak well to the abilities of the CIA to accurately capture information. (On KPFK's The Monitor, Ray would repeat the same story with the same mistakes but reveal "I took notes on it" which again speaks to the problems with the intelligence level of the CIA and those it trains. He gets Diane's quote correct but his 'quote' of Martha's reply is bungled. On Flashpoints, he wouldn't know the channel and state, "I don't watch television very much" but insist, "I copied this down.")

Nor does his surprise at Diane's on-air attitude. We're talking about Richard Nixon's "girl," Tricky Dick. We're talking about the woman who demonized the Dixie Chicks in her attempt to publicly shame them. Who's side are you on, Ray?

Ray self-presents as an expert which is always puzzling to say the least. On KPFA, he was insisting that The New York Times only published the articles because papers outside the US were publishing stories. Here's where we drop back to Ray's claim about how Big Media's coverage will determine how much the people are informed.

Both of those claims are false. And it doesn't require detective work or a great analytical ability. It doesn't even require longterm memory. According to Ray, Big Media will inform (or not) and
The New York Times only published it because foreign papers were. How good's your memory? Our memory contains the Downing Street Memos, does yours?

For those who've forgotten, these minutes of a 2002 meeting between the British and the American officials plotting the Iraq War, became public in 2005. Became public? That was despite The New York Times and other US papers ignoring it. It was covered in the foreign press. Being covered by the foreign press, Ray McGovern, did not force The New York Times to cover it. Being covered by the Beggar Media did get the word out, did inform Americans of what Big Media was keeping from them. That's an important moment and important lesson. Strangely, it's one that escapes McGovern.

Everything that falls out Ray McGovern's mouth is questionable and, more and more, seems like an intentional distraction. Maybe his brain has just gone, but whatever the reason, he has nothing to offer the left.

If you doubted it, you only had to catch him Monday night as he carried the tired act over to The Monitor. The Monitor wasted over 30 minutes allegedly on WikiLeaks' revelations. Allegedly? Did you learn about anything in the documents? No, you didn't. You got the hosts and two guests yammering away endlessly but never talking about what was in the documents. One of the yammers was Ray McGovern who managed to -- yet again -- have [Chelsea] Manning guilty of leaking.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested [Chelsea] Manning and [she] stood accused of being the leaker of the video. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has entered no pleas as of yet and has made no public statement. Ray McGovern is -- intentionally or not -- doing the government's work for it by convicting [Chelsea] in the court of public opinion.

Ray was trashing Martha, Diane and NPR, all were "fawning corporate media." Ironically, NPR offered the only coverage worth praising last week. Ray and his cohorts offered nothing worthy of praise. Take KPFK's Uprising where host Sonali Kolhatkar couldn't even get the basic facts right. She repeatedly claimed that WikiLeaks did their release on Saturday, October 23rd. We knew that was a lie because the release was covered in the Friday October 22nd snapshot. We knew it was a lie because at the WikiLeaks Iraq War Log site, it declares: "At 5PM EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history."

When someone can't even get the basics right in the intro, you know they've got no idea what they're talking about. Ray repeated his "fawning corporate media" talking point on this show as well but, of course, couldn't bring himself to call out Barack Obama for a clear violation of the law, for clear War Crimes. There just wasn't time, you see. There was time to yet again trot out his Diane Sawyer ("One of my favorite folks there on the TV.") story which really does indict Pacifica Radio for their limited guest scope -- the LA-based station, the Bay Area-based station and the Houston-based station all heard that same anecdote from Ray McGovern. He would even make time to trot out the anecdote yet again on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio. The larger of War Crimes -- established War Crimes? No time for that. No time at all. Time for Ray to brag on Secretary of Defense "my friend Bobby Gates." But no time for what really mattered. It was the pattern whenever someone in the Beggar Media actually offered a little, tiny sliver of coverage.


 Katie Halper's addicted to him because he's not factual.  He can't deal with facts.  He's always promoting some crackpot hypothesis as fact and he's always ignoring actual facts.  So bring him on to discuss the proxy war -- or his feelings about it passed off as fact.  And ignore climate change?

Well if it delivers the numbers for your failing stream, we guess that's what a whore does.

What did everyone's favorite middle-aged dingbat deliver last week?

She rushed to defend Cornel, she attacked AOC, she was appalled to discover NYT is not nice to anti-war voices (and we question her notion of 'anti-war' voices), she went after a CNN anchor for being "terrified" by the current UAW president (while not noting that she never covered the UAW campaign for president or the way the union worked to destroy Will Lehman's chances of the presidency or the fact that there is now a legal case over this issue), Ray McGovern showed up to offer his 'expertise' on nuclear war a'coming-coming-for-to-carry-you-home -- a segment she so enjoyed that she brought him on for two more (including the one where he guessed the outcome of the proxy war and got 150,000 views from people who so want him to be right and were so grateful that his thin and vapid analysis conformed with and confirmed their own take). 

She's just a dirty dingbat.  The week before that, she has on Norman Solomon.  She'll bring on any known liar and treat them as though they are God.  Norman, of course, lost our respect (and trust) during the court-martial of Lt Ehren Matada when, in the last days of the court-martial, Norman was demanding that Ehren drop his own defense to allow a female reporter not to be put on the stand to testify.  He followed that nonsense up by appearing on various PACIFICA RADIO programs for months and months as an 'expert' in 2008, an 'expert' with no horse in the race, just calling it like he saw it on the Democratic Party's presidential primary.  While he lied on air for months, he didn't lie in writing.  He knew his syndicated column would get pulled and cancelled if he lied in print.  

"Independent" Norman offering all that "independent" analysis?  He was a pledged delegate for Barack Obama.  In the summer of 2008, a KPFA call-in got him pulled because he had deceived the listeners for months and refused to disclose that he was a supporter of Barack Obama.  Again, he knew it would cost him his syndicated column so he did make the disclosures there.  


That's who Katie is comfortable with: Verbose liars with penises.  

Last week, she did eight segments -- only one feature a female guest.  Do we need to start tracking this?  Remember, we shamed THE NATION into upping their representation of women in the print magazine by tracking how few women made it into the magazine.  See "The Nation featured 491 male bylines in 2007 -- how many female ones?"

She never had time for climate change or for anything that matters.  She still hasn't covered Moms For Bigotry or their attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.  She's not at all interested in any attacks on the LFBTQ+ community.  These are factual stories and she prefers guessing games. 

Guessing games can be fun and we have a natural inclination for them, no question.  It's not for nothing that Carly Simon wrote, "We may never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway" ("Anticipation").  We love to guess.  We love even more to guess correctly.

GENERATION GAP is a guessing game which airs Thursday nights on ABC and is hosted by Kelly Rippa.  It was great seeing Emmy Award winning actress Lindsay Wagner for their celebrity section last week.  Three teams -- each team is made up of an adult and a child -- were competing to see who could guess best based on the clues.  Some were rather poor guesses.  And Linsday was a good sport and cheered all the guessers on.  It was nice and it was entertainment.

That's the thing though, too many news outlets provide guessing in the place of reporting and too many YOUTUBERS mistake guessing segments for addressing reality.  In fifteen months, this country will have a presidential election and let's not confuse this infotainment with actually informing potential voters.


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