Quantcast
subscriber help

artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Misconceptions of Obama fuel Republican campaign”

I won’t tell you what network this news story aired on (though some of you may recognize the logo in the bottom left corner). It’s identified at the end.

I will ask: Why should we have to go to this network for this perspective? And don’t say that they’re just trying to make us look bad. Clearly, we don’t need any help in that regard.



Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
  • Yea, I’ve seen this elsewhere, so I already know the punchline. It’s still amazing to me that these people are out there and voting. It’s frightening, more so for me as a black male (thankfully, without a “Muslim” sounding name).

  • JoshB

    And don’t say that they’re just trying to make us look bad.

    Nice try at preempting the obvious opposing argument. It won’t work.

  • Nathan

    March of the dinosaurs…

    And, yeah, it’s unfair to make people look bad by showing what they say and finding out how they think. We should be more pro-America than that.

  • MaryAnn

    Nice try at preempting the obvious opposing argument. It won’t work.

    I see. So they hired actors to say things on camera that no actual American would say. Or do you have another explanation?

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“Why should we have to go to this network for this perspective?”

    What perspective? The blooming obvious? Of course some people won’t vote for Obama because they’re racist – and those people spout the usual racist nonsense and fears. Who doesn’t already know that?

    Allegations of Obama’s past connections to domestic terrorists, and conservatives’ fears that he’s a radical socialist disguised as a moderate, get a lot of play in U.S. media. That’s how the small-town people in the news clip know about those issues. They don’t get their news from Al-Jazeera.

  • MaryAnn

    Allegations of Obama’s past connections to domestic terrorists, and conservatives’ fears that he’s a radical socialist disguised as a moderate, get a lot of play in U.S. media.

    Yes, they do. And yet the actuality of how some Americans respond to the nonsense is ignored. If the media can report outright lies as the truth — or as a matter of “perspective,” not a matter of simple falsehood — it can sure as hell report the facts of the impact of those lies.

    I think a lot of people *would* be surprised to hear how outspokenly and proudly racist and ignorant some people are — I don’t think it’s “blooming obvious” to everyone at all.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“If the media can report outright lies as the truth…”

    I don’t think the media, in general, is doing that. Conservative talk shows and commentators, maybe, but not the media as a whole. But the media does have a responsibility to report the existence of such rumors, and to report both the truth and the lies behind those rumors. The media has done that.

    The “impact” is obvious. Conservatives who are convinced Obama is a radical “liberal” are going to vote against him, as is their right.

    –“I think a lot of people *would* be surprised to hear how outspokenly and proudly racist and ignorant some people are…”

    Really? You can think of someone old enough to vote who’d be suprised by that? In their own way, they must be just as appallingly ignorant of current affairs. I mean, they’d have to be very sheltered from news and the internet, and not get out much.

  • MaryAnn

    But you just acknowledged that the American media hasn’t made an issue out of these things! How can people be informed about things that aren’t reported?

    The mainstream media believes it is being “balanced” when it reports rumors and facts by giving them the same emphasis, or by reporting rumors as merely “one side” of a story instead of stating outright that the “rumors” are lies.

    And yes, depending on the circles one moves in, it is possible to go for a very very long time without hearing actual people say proudly racist things.

  • MaryAnn

    Not that I mean there aren’t racists everywhere, but in some places, people know to be ashamed of being racist, and aren’t so blatant about it. Like by talking to a reporter. When people feel comfortable doing so, that speaks to a whole ‘nother level of racism that does NOT get any kind of play in the mainsteam American media.

  • JoshB

    Or do you have another explanation?

    No, I meant that some people will insist that Al Jazeera is trying to make us look bad despite your effort to preempt that argument.

    But in truth, it is possible that they only edited in the most embarrassing screeds. I’m sure they talked to many people who were more reasonable than this, but opted not to show them.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“But you just acknowledged that the American media hasn’t made an issue out of these things! How can people be informed about things that aren’t reported?”

    No, I didn’t. I just said that the media isn’t engaging in daily repetion of the blooming obvious, not that they never report these things. Obviously, these things have been reported from time to time, or they wouldn’t be obvious to all but the most naive. Few people in the U.S. would be shocked, shocked to learn of blatant racism in America by watching an Al-Jazeera report.

    Not all rumors are lies. Many a scandal began as a rumor in the media, and if the media had adhered to your criteria of saying nothing until all facts were in hand, many a scandal would never have come to light. Media attention can bring facts to the surface that would never emerge otherwise. Your policy would mean the end of public pressure for investigations of allegations, and would cripple investigative journalism. You want the media to stay out of Obama’s (and everyone else’s) past? Be careful what you wish for.

    Knowing of Obama’s past association with radicals is like, say… I dunno… knowing about W.’s alcoholism. No longer relevant, right? Or is that for the voters to know and decide?

    –“And yes, depending on the circles one moves in, it is possible to go for a very very long time without hearing actual people say proudly racist things.”

    That isn’t nearly the same as being so ignorant of bigotry as to be unaware of it until seeing it in an Al-Jazeera newsclip. What would you have the media do? Repeat the obvious weekly? Daily? Personally, I want the media to give me news, as in something I didn’t already know. The Al-Jazeera clip might have been very informative to that network’s audience outside of the U.S., but it didn’t inform me of anything I didn’t already know. I presume that it didn’t for you, either.

  • Jay Walker

    I totally agree with you, Frizzy, but wanted to add one note: isn’t it sad that we agree on the obviousness of some people’s blatant racism?

    I currently work with kids who have been in foster care, and ofttimes feel I am totally immune now to stories about abuse or neglect. But, when I tell stories about the kinds of things I see to other people, they gasp in shock, and I realize freshly that YES, these things are horrible. I feel like we (as a generation, a nation, a group, readers of this website, however wide you want to cast the net) are in a similar position. I am so aware that there are people out there with these view that I am neither surprised, nor do I blame the news for not reporting it because I don’t think anyone would be surprised.

    I’ve lost my faith in the ability of just shedding light on something to heal it. If we give these people a larger microphone, I’m afraid they’d make more (or maybe just louder) people feel it was ok to be like them. A sad commentary.

  • MaryAnn

    Knowing of Obama’s past association with radicals is like, say… I dunno… knowing about W.’s alcoholism. No longer relevant, right? Or is that for the voters to know and decide?

    This isn’t quite the right analogy. The right analogy would be for the media to note that Obama’s past association with a then-former radical is precisely the same as the association of some Republicans with that very same former radical. But when the media mentions the one without mentioning the other, there’s something else going on.

    What would you have the media do? Repeat the obvious weekly? Daily?

    So those are the only options: either the media covers something continuously, 24/7 nonstop, or it doesn’t cover it at all?

    Or might there be a more thoughtful, more truly balanced middle ground?

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“But when the media mentions the one without mentioning the other, there’s something else going on.”

    By that logic, then, the media should be delving into the past of all Democrats with past alcohol problems, because they delved into the past of a Republican running for president. Or would you have preferred that the media not reported Bush’s alcoholism, out of respect for fairness and his privacy?

    Presidential candidates receive closer scrutiny in the national media than other politicians, for good reason.

    I find muckraking distasteful, to be honest, but the alternative you propose is far worse. I don’t want the media being “thoughtful” about what information I should and should not get, and how much I should get.

    –“So those are the only options: either the media covers something continuously, 24/7 nonstop, or it doesn’t cover it at all?”

    No, that’s the opposite of what I said.

    –“Or might there be a more thoughtful, more truly balanced middle ground?”

    I understand and sympathize with your sentiment, but I don’t see how to get there from here without paving the road to hell.

  • MaryAnn

    the media should be delving into the past of all Democrats with past alcohol problems

    No, the media should be doing its fucking job. Which is not to act like press agents merely transcribing the words of politicians, but analyzing what is said and putting it in context. The media has been failing for decades, spectacularly, in this respect.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“Which is not to act like press agents merely transcribing the words of politicians, but analyzing what is said and putting it in context.”

    They should be doing both. I’d like to also continue getting the the raw data, please, so I can do my own contextual analysis.

    Let me get this straight: when the media reports Obama’s past ties to radicals, it’s acting like a “press agent” and not “doing its fucking job.” When the media reports Bush’s past problems with alcohol, it’s “analyzing what is said and putting it in context.” I note that your praise or condemnation of the media for rummaging in a candidate’s past falls largely along party lines.

    You work in the media. You don’t like inconvienient facts from Democrats’ pasts revealed to the public. You do like inconvienient facts from Republicans’ pasts revealed to the public. You have a bias. Doubtless, some of your journalistic peers have their biases. Therefore, I’m not willing to entirely trust their analyses, though I value it for their insights. Give me the facts, please. I want dirty laundry.

  • MaryAnn

    You’re completely misinterpreting what I’m saying. I want *facts* reported, not innuendo and not smears. I want the *facts* on *everyone,* whatever “side” they’re on.

    When the media reports on this Bill Ayres nonsense, as just one example, it continues to create the idea, in the *way* that it reports it, that there’s something nefarious going on. And it does this by NOT reporting the simple, basic reality that Ayres is now a respected professor AND that Republicans and others on the right enjoy similiar associations with Ayres, to this day, as Obama did. If the media did that, it would demonstrate that McCain et al are deliberately attempting to gin up a controversy where there isn’t one.

    On the other hand, to continue using your example even though they’re not at all analagous, there was absolutely no disputing the fact that Bush *is* an alcoholic, even if he doesn’t drink anymore. Even so, we did NOT see constant harping on the campaign trail by Democrats reminding voters of this. If we had, the “balanced” response would NOT be to “delve into the past of all Democrats with past alcohol problems.” It would be to delve into Bush’s alcoholism and explain why it is or isn’t a potential problem for whoever is in the White House.

    The difference between us is that you see “balance” there, perhaps because you are a far more informed consumer of “news” than others are. Good for you: you’re able to see through the crap. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to dish out the crap to those who are not as informed, because they don’t spend all day online like we do. All the background info will always be there for those who have the time and inclination to be their own journalists. But that’s no excuse for the shocking lack of balance in the work of actual supposed journalists.

    Of course *everyone* is biased. The problem is that almost all the mainstream media is biased to the right — and here’s the insidious thing: the right has managed to convince much of the public that the media is biased to the *left.* It’s truly Orwellian,

  • bitchen frizzy

    I was in the middle of typing a longer response, but then I noticed a really basic point at the heart of this discussion, evidenced in this line:

    –“Even so, we did NOT see constant harping on the campaign trail by Democrats reminding voters of this.”

    You’re conflating rumors and innuendo voiced by campaigning politicians, with rumors and innuendo generated by the media. When you do that, you seem to be stating that the media should not forward public remarks and press releases from candidates without first vetting them for factual accuracy. I don’t think you really mean to say that.

    If McCain insists on harping on the Bill Ayres thing, then the media should report his continued harping. The media HAS explored the validity of those claims, and reported on the lack of results.

    The media cannot easily change the minds of the proudly ignorant. I don’t think there’s any way to “balance” reporting, without editorializing and censoring everything, that can change the opinions of those so blind they will not see.

    –“The problem is that almost all the mainstream media is biased to the right — and here’s the insidious thing: the right has managed to convince much of the public that the media is biased to the *left.*”

    Swap the words “left” and “right” in the above quote, and it reads like an oft-heard sentiment from voters on the right. Nobody likes the media.

  • misterb

    @bitchen frizzy,

    If “Nobody likes the media”, does that mean that they are doing their job?

    After all, if one side liked them and not the other, they would clearly be biased. If both sides liked them, then they could hardly be speaking truth to power.

    Maybe nobody likes the media because they hold up a mirror that we don’t care to see.

    Note that I’m not arguing with your call about their popularity, or even suggesting that I know why this is or what to do about it. I’m just wondering if the media is in a no-win situation. Ultimately, the country is in pretty bad shape, and nobody likes the messenger when the tale is sad.

  • JoshB

    Nobody likes the messenger when the message isn’t what they agree with.

    The media as a whole is not biased left or right that I can see. The problem with the American media at this point is that they are gutless. They’re so afraid of being labeled partisan that they tiptoe around all issues and pretend that all opinions are equally valid.

    There’s something to be said for raging partisans like Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. At least they get the conversation rolling. Milquetoasts like Wolf Blitzer at the end of this video make me want to throw things at my TV.

  • JoshDM

    Obama to McCain: Bring it On!

  • MaryAnn

    you seem to be stating that the media should not forward public remarks and press releases from candidates without first vetting them for factual accuracy. I don’t think you really mean to say that.

    I abso-fucking-lutely do mean to say that! If Candidate X releases a press release or says at a rally something that implies that Candidate Y is a rancid-smelling goatfucker, it is absolutely the media’s job to say, “Candidate X today said, ‘ABC,’ implying that Candidate Y is a rancid-smelling goatfucker, which has been demonstrably proven to be a total fabrication.” And it should do that every time Candidate X tries to pull such shit. But as long as the media acts as a stenograher without offering that kind of context, politicians will continue to get away with this shit. If the media pointed out, everytime they tried it, how full of shit they are — which is the job of a free press as the watchdogs of government — maybe they’d stop doing it.

    The media cannot easily change the minds of the proudly ignorant.

    Nope, probably not. But the media should not be the cause of that ignorance, either.

    I don’t think there’s any way to “balance” reporting, without editorializing and censoring everything

    Providing context and background and factchecking is NOT editorializing, and it is not censorship. We really have gone way too way down the wrong path is you don’t even understand what the media is supposed to be doing.

  • drew ryce

    While I won’t go so far as to say that being a rancid-smelling goatfucker is a prerequisite for endorsement by a major political party.

    I will say that all evidence is that being one doesn’t act as a disqualifier.

  • bitchen frizzy

    OK, busy weekend, I’m back.

    …”‘demonstrably proven to be a total fabrication.'”

    What if it hasn’t yet been proven to be a total fabrication? Who decides the standard of proof? The editor? You’re comfortable with editors as arbiters of truth? What if the reporter is incapable of doing the requisite factchecking, because digging deeper requires warrants and subpoenas? Should the reporter just sit on an unproven allegation? We would never have known about Watergate if journalists had not gone public with unproven allegations.

    –“…which is the job of a free press as the watchdogs of government.”

    The press doesn’t have a formal job description. Media outlets have their various motives. If the media was formally dedicated to the task of government watchdog, we would no longer have a free press.

    The media is never the cause of willful ignorance, by definition.

    Funny thing is, your video clip illustrates exactly what you condemn: a reporter who is simply gathering and relaying quotes, without commentary or factchecking. Personally, I’m ok with that as one component of comprehensive media coverage, but you say such reporting methods are journalists not doing their jobs… yet it’s your example of good journalism.

    –(misterb): “I’m just wondering if the media is in a no-win situation.”

    Sometimes, yes. Media outlets need an audience to survive, so market forces are in tension with journalistic ideals.

  • MaryAnn

    What if it hasn’t yet been proven to be a total fabrication? Who decides the standard of proof? The editor? You’re comfortable with editors as arbiters of truth?

    No, they’re presenters of the evidence. I don’t want journalist saying, “XYZ are the facts,” full stop. I want them saying, “XYZ are the facts, and here’s the evidence.” Why is that so hard to grasp?

    What if the reporter is incapable of doing the requisite factchecking, because digging deeper requires warrants and subpoenas? Should the reporter just sit on an unproven allegation?

    That depends on the allegation, obviously. But when the media passes on “allegations” that a child would understand the basis for proving they’re false, that’s a problem.

    Media outlets have their various motives. If the media was formally dedicated to the task of government watchdog, we would no longer have a free press.

    I refuse to believe you really believe this.

    Funny thing is, your video clip illustrates exactly what you condemn: a reporter who is simply gathering and relaying quotes, without commentary or factchecking

    Again, I refuse to believe you equate passing on what ordinary people are saying as an illustration of how ignorant — willing or otherwise — they are, with passing on *what press agents of our elected leaders say* without factchecking them.

    In the case of this video, the story is, “This is what regular folks believe.” It is clearly true that these people believe what they’re saying. In the case of, for instance, the White House spokesperson saying something, the standards — and the story — are clearly quite different. How can you not see that?

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“I want them saying, “XYZ are the facts, and here’s the evidence.”

    I certainly don’t! What society of free people in their right mind would appoint one group of private citizens as the arbiters of truth? You trust the media far more than I do. Talk about Orwellian! A media that tells the people what is truth is integral to an Orwellian society.

    –“That depends on the allegation, obviously.”

    You admit to some nuance, at least. I’d prefer the media err on the side of caution when deciding what allegations I should hear; i.e., they forward along most of them.

    I do indeed believe that we lose our free press if the media devotes itself to the formal role of government watchdog. I thought that would be obvious, but I will explain. Right now, the media has a variety of motives – profit, mainly, but passion for truth on the part of some – like public radio, or even deliberate bias or slant in some cases – like religious media or rags for causes. Not the highest of ideals being met in present circumstances, to be sure. Yet, in composite, and across the spectrum, the truth will out. So, in present circumstances, exactly how is a free press to formally don the mantle of arbiter? There’s no other way except some sort of regulation, or binding code of conduct… and there’s your paving stones of good intentions. Would the media outlets meeting the standards require vetting and certification by the Ministry of Truth, or would the industry be self-policing? What would the punishment be for a journalist or editor that passed along an untrue allegation in order to attract more audience?

    “…the standards — and the story — are clearly quite different. How can you not see that?”

    Well, I was referring more to the standards of the journalist. In your video clip, he collects a bunch of quotes, selects the ones that make his point and make his story juiciest, then sends them on. Same sort of conduct as the journalist forwarding press agents’ statements without fact-checking.

  • Jurgan

    Given that airwaves are owned by the public and leased to the corporate media (Maryann, did you see that article I sent you?), I think they have a responsibility to operate in the public interest. That’s part of the FCC’s duties, but unfortunately they spend more time worrying about dirty words or brief nudity. I would fully support a regulation whereby any network that bills itself as “news” can be fined for reporting something that is factually untrue (of course, that sort of bureaucracy has potential for abuse as well, so it would have to be done carefully). If they are reporting on someone else, like a politician, saying something untrue, they should say “this is untrue and here’s the proof.” What’s wrong with that? Frizzy, I really don’t understand where you’re coming from. Maryann said she wants the media to say “XYZ are the facts, and here’s the evidence.” How is that making them unaccountable arbiters of truth? Obviously, if they abuse that power by fabricating evidence or some such, competing news networks can then point it out with their own proof. Yes, it would be disturbing to have an organization simply tell you what is true and what is not, but that’s exactly what the government will do if there’s no press to point it out. You said that you want the facts, so you can decide for yourself. What Maryann (and me, I guess) are suggesting is that the media should present all the facts- both what a person says, what facts support their claim, and what facts throw it into doubt. Without someone to hold politicians and public figures accountable for truth, you’re just reading press releases.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“I would fully support a regulation whereby any network that bills itself as “news” can be fined for reporting something that is factually untrue (of course, that sort of bureaucracy has potential for abuse as well, so it would have to be done carefully)”

    A regulation like that would be blatantly unconstitutional. If you can’t see that, then it’s no wonder the points I’m making are lost on you. The First Amendment guarantees the right of the media to report anything it damn well pleases, short of outright libel, and even libel cases are difficult to prove. Your regulation would be the end of freedom of the press. Fortunately, the courts would throw out any such regulation as unconstitutional.

    –“What’s wrong with that?”

    The reporter may not HAVE the proof. The media does not have the power to obtain proof. Sometimes the best the media can do is report allegations. Once again, the public would never have known about Watergate if the journalists who broke the story waited for proof of a connection to Nixon before going public. The journalism drove the investigation which led to full revelation of the truth. You want the media to be a watchdog? The media can’t do that if it can’t spur law enforcement to action by informing the public of allegations so that public pressure will be brought to bear. Yes, the allegations are often groundless, but sometimes they’re not. Watergate started out as a preposterous conspiracy theory.

    –“…if they abuse that power by fabricating evidence…”

    IF? Try “when.” Like Maryann, you profess an almost naive trust in the media.

    –“Without someone to hold politicians and public figures accountable for truth, you’re just reading press releases.”

    In a republic, the “someone” who holds politicians and public figures accountable is the voter. If the public doesn’t want to do that, then it gets the government it deserves. If the public delegates that role to an authority responsible for regulating the media, then it gets the Ministry of Truth.

  • MaryAnn

    Bitchen, you keep talking about Watergate and proof of allegations (or lack thereof). You keep accusing me of being naive, or trusting the media too much. Yet you’re willing to trust them to report anything and everything, with no judgment, no critical analysis, no nothing other than profit motive. Maybe you’re okay with that. I’m not.

    Jurgan, what you and I understand and what bitchen frizzy does not is that there was once in this country an understanding that the media — especially the broadcast media, which operates over the public airwaves, which belong to all of us, and not to ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC — was considered to hold a public trust. Once our nation become ruled by corporations, however, this was no longer held to be important, because it hindered the making of money. As long as our so-called leaders actually serve their corporate sponsors, nothing will change. Why should it? There’s no profit in honesty in our culture.

    Of course, a revolution among viewers who rise up and turn off the mainstream media in protest is another possibility. But most people don’t realize they’re being misled, of course… because the news will never tell them that. And of course there’s no profit in ensuring a literate and educated electorate, either, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever see that revolution.

    Basically, we’re fucked.

    (Yes, Jurgan, I saw that article you sent me. We can be pretty much assured that whatever happens with digital white spaces, it will be to the benefit of big corporations, not our republic.)

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“Jurgan, what you and I understand and what bitchen frizzy does not is that there was once in this country an understanding that the media — especially the broadcast media, which operates over the public airwaves, which belong to all of us, and not to ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC — was considered to hold a public trust.”

    Oh, please. When you type this sort of stuff about the “good old days” when Mom’s apple pies just plain tasted better, you invite a charge of naivete.

    Read up on the media’s role in drumming up support for the Spanish-American war. Go back into your own city’s past, and check on the media’s role in politics during the Tammany Hall days. Where did Mark Twain come up with his famous “lies, damn lies, and statistics”? Look at how much the media helped McCarthy with his witch hunts, and putting the fear of commies into the hearts of every true patriot. It all started in the American Revolution, when the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party got spun by the media into the yarn you read in high school history books. The media has always been profit-motivated, prone to bias, and all too ready to pass along rumor and speculation. You will find no time period in U.S. history when this was not the case, and plenty of periods when the media was much worse than it is now.

    –“Yet you’re willing to trust them to report anything and everything, with no judgment, no critical analysis, no nothing other than profit motive.”

    It’s not a question of what I’m willing to tolerate or what I’m okay with. It’s reality. I’ve explained my reasoning here, I’ve explained how there’s no way around it that doesn’t throw the First Amendment out the window. You have no solution that actually respects the rights of a free press and that doesn’t trigger the unintended consequences I’ve mentioned – none that you’ve yet offered, anyway. The citizens have to be responsible for their own informed votes. Big Brother cannot take care of them in a way that’s compatible with democracy.

    –“Basically, we’re fucked.”

    No more than usual; that is to say, no more than the historical norm. The Founding Fathers knew this. That’s why they wanted the franchise limited to educated landowners (and, yes, I know, their definition of “educated” was racist and sexist).

  • MaryAnn

    For much more detailed explanations of the problems with our supposedly “free” press, and with granting personhood to corporations — which is how corporations, including corporate media, came to dominate our culture — see these links:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-aaron/is-america-still-a-beacon_b_138221.html

    http://www.buzzflash.com/interviews/05/01/int05004.html

    You talk a lot about “rights,” bitchen, but where are the responsibilities that come with those rights? And don’t you think there’s something wrong with granted Constitutional rights to corporations? Should “ABC” or “Fox” or “CNN” have the “right” of free speech? And if so, does that extend to the “right” to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, metaphorically speaking?

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“You talk a lot about “rights,” bitchen, but where are the responsibilities that come with those rights?”

    It’s kinda like the responsibilities that come with the right to vote, isn’t it? *If* the corporations have taken over this country, whose fault is that? Who MUST ultimately do something about it?

    –“And don’t you think there’s something wrong with granted Constitutional rights to corporations?”

    Of course not. Corporations are made up of people. Taking away their rights by recasting them as faceless evil that threatens our freedom is exactly the tactic behind rendition and Guantanamo. Cross out “corporations” and substitute “supporters of terrorism” or “communists” in your sentence, then behold what you’ve become.

    –“Should “ABC” or “Fox” or “CNN” have the “right” of free speech?”

    They’re media, aren’t they? Start abridging the First Amendment because it gives rights to people you don’t like, and you’re on the slippery slope. I cannot believe you’re arguing for restricting the First Amendment rights of the media, and for government oversight of the medias’ truthfulness. Have you totally lost it? Your fear of corporate media is driving you to the same baby-with-the-bathwater extremes of right-wingers on terrorism.

    –“And if so, does that extend to the “right” to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, metaphorically speaking?”

    Straw man.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Clarification on my response on media rights and shouting “fire”:

    You’re blurring free speech and freedom of the press, in a way that’s misleading. The First Amendment guarantees each of those rights, separately. The whole shouting “fire” in a crowded theater argument is, historically, as argued in the courts, a separate issue from freedom of the press.

  • MaryAnn

    I can’t believe you think I’m suggesting that the First Amendment should be restricted for people I don’t like.

    Corporations are made up of people: yes. But today corporations have the rights of individuals without any of the limitations: People die, corporations don’t. People can be charged with a crime and put in jail, corporations cannot. People can be held responsible for their actions, but there are enormous limits on how corporations can be held responsible for what they do.

    Thats’ what I’m talking about. Individuals who work for corporations have constitutional rights. The corporations themselves should not have those same rights.

    You want to talk about freedom of the press: fine. Freedom of the press means “freedom from government influence and intervention.” We do not have that today. Paid Pentagon propagandists appeared on national news media as supposedly independent commentators to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The same corporations that own broadcast networks also own military contractors. It’s true that no media, anywhere, ever, would report something that was contrary to its own best interests. But this was not a major issue when the media consisted of many small independent newspapers or broadcasters.

    The rise of corporations — which includes the corporate media — is a direct result of federal legislation and Supreme Court rulings over the last century and a half or so. There is no reason at all why these things cannot be reversed to reduce the dominance of corporations. But people have to know about it. People have to be educated enough to understand what’s really at stake here. How do we that? Doesn’t it infuriate you that you’re going to be stuck with the leaders that all those uneducated people appear to have deserved because they don’t even know what they don’t know?

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“I can’t believe you think I’m suggesting that the First Amendment should be restricted for people I don’t like.”

    I go by what you write. When you sided with Jurgan’s suggestion for government regulations for truthfulness in media reporting, I took that as a call for First Amendment restrictions. To me, “regulation” is “restriction,” given the inevitable abuse of the power to regulate. And until your last post you weren’t disguishing between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press”. You also must account for the fact that the media is the vehicle for speech, meaning that restrictions on the media impede the speech passing through it. I’ve raised this point about making the media the gatekeeper for candidate’s statements and for individual’s allegations, but you keep glossing over it.

    The 1st Amendment explicitely states both freedoms (speech and press). I think that’s in part because the authors didn’t know where to draw the line between freedom for individuals “speech” and freedom for a collective “press,” so they didn’t try and they worded the 1st Amendment such that no one else could try to draw that line. If a media outlet gets fined for broadcasting a lie told by a politician, is the government merely regulating the media, or is it infringing on the right of the politician to make his statements via the media? Candidates for office won’t be able to lie to us if they can’t do so through the media, and they have the right to lie to us. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to believe that it would be quite possible to successfully draw the line between media regulation and suppression of free speech. I disagree, and I fear the unintended consequences much more than the perceived benefits.

    If you make the media accountable for the lies told by others, by fining them for not factchecking, that gives the media incentive to bury news items and sound bites that contain unproven or potentially factually incorrect material, to avoid the fines and the hassle. What then? Laws to compel them to do their jobs? What would that lead to?

    The internet is media. You’re continually posting links to Youtube clips and various editorials containing all kinds of allegations. Your blog gets to my desk via the Evil Media(TM). If you and Jurgan get your wish, the Thought Police would have the authority to compel your ISP or site host to either shut you down or begin “factchecking” you. And that’s where the “restricting for people you don’t like” bit comes in: you’re totally o.k with anything you dredge up on the internet that’s slanted anti-Republican, and you abet the spread of this information, but you’re outraged by anything anti-Obama in the media, and want it shut down. Again, I go by what you type, and I note your bias. When I see you condemn a pro-Obama screed, and there’s plenty out there to condemn, I’ll change my mind. Let me say, though, that I don’t care about your bias, and I don’t type this as a whine against it. The thing is, depending on what administration is appointing the Secretary of Media Sanctity, it could be you they come for. The power you want to give the government could be turned against you.

    –“But this was not a major issue when the media consisted of many small independent newspapers or broadcasters.”

    This is flat wrong, based on a belief in a mythical “good old days.” I already covered that.

    –“How do we that?”

    I don’t know, but I don’t trust the media to do the job, and they can’t educate a public that isn’t interested. You can lead a horse to water, yada, yada. Thing is, you and I seem to agree that the media can’t be trusted. Seems that you think a few tweaks in the law can fix that, or do I misunderstand? My argument isn’t with your ideals, it’s with how you propose to realize them. And yes, the situation infuriates me, but I don’t absolve fat, dumb and happy voters because they aren’t being adequately nannied. Citizenship is serious business for grownups.

  • MaryAnn

    When you sided with Jurgan’s suggestion for government regulations for truthfulness in media reporting, I took that as a call for First Amendment restrictions.

    So then you think that libel and slander laws are unconstutitutional as well?

    You want to dismiss the power of the federal legislature as “a few tweaks of law,” but there’s no denying that a “few tweaks of law” are what is responsible for the consolidation of the media that has left us with so few choices in media that we have today. Not everyone can be their own journalist, as you’ve suggested is the solution to this dilemma. But we don’t need laws “regulating” the content of what the media says or “fines” for lying if we simply dis-consolidate the media (the consolidation of which was allowed, when it previously had not been before, by a “few tweaks of law”). As things stand, there is absolutely no incentive now for mainstream media to report anything that is anti-corporate. But if there was actual competition and an actual incentive to report things as they are — like by telling the American electorate they’re on the verge of becoming slaves to these corporations, which can only be done by a media outlet that not only is not itself enslaved to these corporations but does not have to compete with them — we’d be on the road to recitifying things.

    A “few tweaks of law” can have enormous impact.

    Do you honestly think there’s hypocrisy in my posting things that are anti-Republican — but honestly so — while also decrying anti-Democratic slams in the mainstream media that are NOT honest? And you’re also assuming an equivalency between this site and Fox News or CNN, which is clearly not at all fair.

    All that said, I do fully expect, say, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart adn Stephen Colbert to be as tough on an Obama administration as they’ve been on the Bush administration. And if they aren’t, I will say something about it. But as things are now, the mainstream media is wildly skewed to the right. My skew to the left here can hardly begin to balance that. The entirety of the lefty blogosphere can hardly begin to balance that when most people get most of their news from the mainstream media. Come on.

Pin It on Pinterest