Archive for November 2009
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on November 26, 2009
New York Post, The Washington Times
The New York Post and The Washington Times are two of the most conservative newspapers. But they are also have one extra element in common.
They hemorrhage money. Lots of money.
Yes, it’s the in thing now for newspapers to lose money. But these two daily newspapers lost tons of money long before it was chic to lose money.
If these papers were to survive on their own merits — a free-market concept — their titles would have been gone under a long time ago. The New York Post and The Washington Times survive even though their prominent owners, Rupert Murdoch and Rev. Sun Myung Moon, are two enterprising people who preach to us that free market is the way to go.
Except for these daily newspapers.
Rupert Murdoch does know how to make money. Rev. Moon also has a knack for accumulating wealth. Which makes the irony of these two newspapers’ track records all the more intriguing.
The New York Post’s circulation dropped almost 30 percent in 2.5 years, resting at 508,000. Newspapers are by and large dropping in circulation, but the Post’s drop is also linked to the fact that the newsstand price rose from 25¢ to 50¢. Yes, for the New York Post, going up to 50¢ was a 100% increase. Check to see if your newspaper sells for as low as 50¢. But for readers of the New York Post, 50¢ is huge, and a number of them find that the Post’s content isn’t worth 50¢.
But at least the Post has a decent circulation. As of March 2009, The Washington Times has a daily circulation of 83,511 and a Sunday circulation of 43,889. These are not misprints. And these are improved numbers from the previous 6 months.
The Washington Post reported in 2002, on The Washington Times’ 20th anniversary, that the paper received $1.7 billion into subsidies from Rev. Moon and his businesses. That’s a lot of money for a newspaper that struggles to reach 100,000 in circulation.
For Rev. Moon, owning The Washington Times removed the concept of “Moonies” from the mainstream landscape. Having a “legit” newspaper magically made that coverage go away.
Despite its recent upheaval, The Washington Times isn’t going anywhere — at least as long as Rev. Moon can pour more gasoline, er, money onto the fire.
The New York Post story is all the more appalling when you consider that the paper would have gone under on its own merit in 1993. But the government came to the rescue of the Post and Murdoch.
Murdoch was forced to sell the New York Post in 1988. The mogul had purchased WNYW-TV as part of the brand new Fox Network. The rules prohibited any subsequent ownership of a TV station and a newspaper in the same city (previous deals were grandfathered when the law changed in 1975).
But when the Post was struggling in 1993, numerous politicians (not just Republicans) pushed for the FCC to make an exception. The Federal Communications Commission granted Murdoch a permanent waiver from the cross-ownership rules.
Now, Murdoch owns two VHF stations in New York City (which is also supposed to be against the rules), the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Let’s not forget that Murdoch is consistent in this “free market works, except for his publications” philosophy. After all, Murdoch owned The Weekly Standard, which reportedly loses more than a million dollars a year, until the magazine was sold this summer to Philip Anschutz.
In a 2006 article on Murdoch, Bill Kristol told The New Yorker that Murdoch is “pro-markets” but the same article notes that “If Murdoch no longer wanted to be associated with the contents of The Weekly Standard, which loses more than a million dollars a year, his (Kristol’s) only options would be to sell it or close it down.”
The power and legitimacy afforded by owning these two daily newspapers allows conservative views and thoughts to leak into editorial content, whether it be a racist chimpanzee cartoon in the New York Post or The Washington Times’ flat-out lie this week of saying House Minority Leader John Boehner wasn’t invited to the White House state dinner, when he actually was invited.
Like Fox News, the MSM gives cover to these two newspapers as “legitimate” because they look and act like newspapers. They conveniently ignore the unethical journalism practices consistently on display in the two publications.
The histories of these two papers are contrasting: The New York Post was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, while The Washington Times has only existed since 1982. But they currently have much in common — run by conservatives whose journalistic practices are laughable yet get cover from the MSM. And the biggest thread in common: both conservatives believe in the free market system, except for their newspapers. For this media travesty, we jointly award the New York Post and The Washington Times the Media Putz award.
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on November 25, 2009
Free the Children
“Won’t somebody please think of the children?” is a running gag on “The Simpsons,” a popular phrase for Helen Lovejoy, Reverend Lovejoy’s wife.
All too often, we don’t think about the children, especially when it comes to the stuff we buy, not knowing who made it — an adult or a child.
Stephen Colbert of the “Colbert Report,” in one of its running gags, talks about the joys of buying a dozen pair of tube socks for $1.99. There are no ramifications over how those socks get made or who makes them as long as they stayed priced really, really low.
After his latest installation of that gag, Colbert interviewed Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children.
Marc Kielburger told Colbert that they’re trying to take kids out of child labor and put them in school. By going to school, these children could someday grow up and be able to afford products, raising the level of workers around the world. Kielburger points out that there are 55 million unemployed adults in India, yet has 50 million child workers.
What makes Free the Children remarkable is that the organization was founded by a child (Marc’s brother, Craig) and is funded primarily by children. So it’s children who are thinking about the children.
Craig Kielburger was 12 in 1995 when he read a story about a young boy in South Asia who was sold into slavery at the age of 4. The young boy had spent 6 years chained to a carpet-weaving loom.
Craig Kielburger was so inspired by the plight of those who are forced to work and don’t have the opportunity to receive an education that he gathered his classmates and started this organization.
Free the Children helps out more than 1 million young people in 45 countries. With a mantra of “children helping children through education,” the organization has built more than 500 schools in developing regions worldwide.
Child labor issues aren’t the ones that make the front page too often. But it took one 12-year-old reading his local Toronto paper, seeing a story about another boy his age who had a much worse existence, and doing something to make a difference.
And Free the Children isn’t just about education. The organization also runs an Adopt a Village model in China, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Sierra Leone, India, and Ecuador — involving education, health care, alternative income, and clean water and sanitation.
Children — no matter their situation — feel like adults just don’t understand them. And too often, children feel like they can’t do anything about the world’s problems. But having an organization geared toward children, on both sides of the equation, encourages children to see themselves in others their age around the world.
Breaking the cycle of poverty needs to start at the current level of children. Improving education is crucial to accomplish those lofty goals. And children understand this — they just needed a way to get started. Craig Kielburger was a child when he started, inspiring children to do their part. And “a little child will lead them.”
For encouraging children to get more involved in helping fellow children around the world, Free the Children wins this week’s Wings of Justice.
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on November 19, 2009
Poor Bill O’Reilly.
Bill O spends his hour-long show spinning lies and deceit about the world around him, but lately, he has felt a little ignored and neglected. People started paying more attention to Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and yes, even Rupert Murdoch.
O’Reilly and Fox “News” Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano were discussing on Tuesday the necessity to try terrorist suspects in New York City.
Napolitano: But it is not I who is saying it. It is the Constitution that is saying it.
O’Reilly: I don’t care about the Constitution.
Napolitano: I do.
O’Reilly: The Constitution isn’t here, you’re here. Don’t be a pinhead.
Just because the Constitution isn’t sitting in the studio with you, Bill, doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. Of course, this could be in the same GOP spirit of House Minority Leader John Boehner, who claimed he had the Constitution in his hands and was reading from it at Michele Bachmann’s Super Bowl of Paranoia. Then again, Boehner said he was quoting the Constitution but it was really was the Declaration of Independence. Oops.
When Glenn Beck is albeit temporarily the voice of reason, you know you’re headed for a certain award.
On Glenn Beck’s radio program, the two were recounting an O’Reilly-Dennis Miller conversation about an insurrection, er, tax revolt.
I think people, when they figure out how badly they’re going to get hurt in the next few years, there’s going to be a tea party on taxes and it’s gonna get nasty. Nancy Pelosi’s going to be bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor.
Even Beck had to say, “Uh, I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Oh, and Bill, most of your audience makes so little money that their taxes won’t go up. But your taxes will go up. Then again, you’re severely overpaid.
This was also the week that O’Reilly decided to ask Lou Dobbs, of all people, whether President Barack Obama is the devil?
O’REILLY: All right. So you’ll be in the radio, you might come back to TV if the right circumstance presented itself, and you might run for office. Final question. Barack Obama, is he the devil?
DOBBS: He’s not the devil, but he is certainly a man who is right now not making it easy to understand why he’s making the public policy choices that he is. There has to be a better understanding from — and it can only result from his expression to the American people as to what is taking so long to come to a decision in Afghanistan, why it is so necessary to turn over a sixth of the economy to the United States government, which is not showered itself…
O’REILLY: Health care, right.
DOBBS: …with glory on any other sector…
O’REILLY: So you don’t think he’s a devil, but you think he’s mismanaging the country at this point?
DOBBS: I think that — absolutely.
A centrist — at best — president is seen by O’Reilly as an actual Devil so much so that he thinks it’s a fair question to ask Lou Dobbs. Even Dobbs knows the answer is “no.” Imagine what figure O’Reilly might consider a president who really was to the left of center.
And let’s not forget the upcoming “Bold & Fresh Tour” starring O’Reilly and Beck. And Beck is the opening act. Calling these two “bold” and “fresh” would be like saying an ideal diet starts with Baconnaise.
O’Reilly’s childish antics are a cry for help, as if he felt he had disappeared within the media landscape, like stealing a baby’s nose. But his destructive bent never went away. Now that O’Reilly feels ignored, his tantrums are going to get that much louder.
We don’t have a pacifier or a security blanket to soothe O’Reilly’s fears, but we do have this week’s Media Putz award for him.
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on November 12, 2009
In searching for a Media Putz, we try to find one over-the-top incident within a week. This week’s winner made it very easy to select him due to multiple infractions.
Backing up Glenn Beck’s cries that President Barack Obama is a racist is enough to get you the Media Putz crown. But this wasn’t Rupert Murdoch’s only offense — this week.
However, we should start with the big stuff.
DAVID SPEERS: The Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him —
RUPERT MURDOCH: Yeah.
SPEERS: — to Stalin. Is that defensible?
MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don’t think. I don’t know who that — not one of our people. On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But he did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn’t have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
In the 43 seconds of video (above), Murdoch says Glenn Beck was right (uh, no), Obama was a racist (still, no), and claims no one on Fox News compared Obama to Stalin (wrong again, Glenn Beck did so).
And how did we find this out? By watching Murdoch being interviewed on Sky News Australia, owned by, you guessed it, Rupert Murdoch. Imagine how difficult the questions would have been if, perhaps, Murdoch had the courage to go on a network where he doesn’t directly control the financial fate of his interviewer.
The finishing touch came when a spokesperson for Murdoch claimed that the News Corp. founder “does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist.” It was as if the video and memory of the incident didn’t even exist; we have the proof. Murdoch said so.
That would be enough for one person, but not someone with the well-diverse gumption of Rupert Murdoch. There are the allegations about the New York Post stemming from the lawsuit over Sandra Guzman’s firing. Guzman says she was fired after complaining about the New York Post’s despicable Obama-dead chimpanzee cartoon from earlier this year.
Guzman says the paper’s Washington bureau chief said the goal of the paper was to “destroy Barack Obama.”
Guzman’s attorney, on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown,” said “Rupert Murdoch is certainly responsible for this racist and sexist environment. So stay tuned about whether he will be able to avoid this lawsuit.” If even a quarter of the allegations are true, racism and misogyny run rampant in Murdoch’s New York Post.
Then there is Murdoch’s quest to delink his properties from Google. Google does help spread the word of media stories to reach new audiences, but Murdoch is only worried about pennies. But given the recent financial losses that his newspapers have suffered, perhaps Google is a handy excuse to assign blame.
Oh, we’re so scared. The anguish of losing online access to the “not even good enough to help litter-train a puppy” New York Post isn’t worth the sweat of thinking about for two seconds.
We go after Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, Col Allan, and numerous other Fox employees for their mishandled, misguided realm through what some people would call journalism. But in the end, when the paychecks come around, this is all about Rupert Murdoch.
In an era where there is great concern over monopolies in the media, Murdoch prances through with owning 2 VHF TV stations in New York City, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal without concern that someone or something will change this.
To call Rupert Murdoch a “yellow journalist” might be insulting to what yellow journalism used to be. But we’ll settle for calling Murdoch our Media Putz of the week.
This is Rupert Murdoch’s first individual award, though his media properties and their employees have won countless times.
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on November 11, 2009
Progressives who have been fighting for health care reform have been asked, “At what price do you want it?” Why universal health care should come at some imaginary price — when single-payer is the most effective and most efficient method of health care delivery — is beyond belief. However, in the world of bizarre political compromises, this question is an unfortunate reality.
The weakening of the public option — triggers, opt-out — is some of that price. Waiting for certain benefits to kick in is a price. Having those trapped in an employer situation not have access to a public option is a price. And not having abortion, a legal procedure, covered under the public option — as a result of the Hyde Amendment is a price.
But the more than 40 House members led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) have stood up and said the Stupak Amendment is too high a price to pay for health care reform.
“This is offensive to women — the notion is an insult, it is unworkable and it is discriminatory. Why should a woman purchase separate insurance in advance because she might have an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that goes terribly wrong — who anticipates that? Would we expect someone to purchase supplemental coverage because they might get cancer or get hit by a bus?” said Rep. DeGette.
These are some of the many people, in power and out, who have been fighting for health care reform. And they are willing to risk not having a health care reform bill if it contains the Stupak Amendment or some similar legislation.
Being so close to historic legislation (even if it somewhat watered down), the prospect of throwing it away over an amendment seems depressing. But health care means health, and women’s health counts, and abortion, as long as it is a legal procedure, counts as health.
Rep. DeGette: “Our message is clear: we will not support any final bill that restricts women’s access to reproductive health services beyond current law. Before any bill reaches the President’s desk, language that takes us back to the last century by undermining women’s rights must be eliminated.”
Given the treatment of women lately when it comes to health, whether it’s the ignorant stupidity of Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) comparing women to smokers or women being shouted down in the House, there is all the more reason to stand up for women’s reproductive health.
The naysayers who voted for the Stupak Amendment and yet against the health care reform bill — and some of them are Democrats — are concerned more about politics than women’s health. And some who consider themselves neutral are tempted to go along just to get a health care reform bill passed.
But not these House members. They are willing to put their names out there and say, “Enough is enough.” They are willing to sacrifice something they have worked tirelessly to accomplish. And they didn’t take much time to think about it. After all, no one last Friday was talking about such an amendment.
When faced with this Solomon-esque dilemma, they didn’t consult polls or hemmed or hawed. They decided that there was too high a price to pay for health care reform. Because of their courage, they now are a threat to bring down the Stupak Amendment.
After all, Rep. Stupak (D-MI) implied that conservative Democrats wouldn’t support the health care bill without this type of amendment. Given the numbers of Democrats who supported the Stupak Amendment (64) and not the overall bill (23 voted for the amendment but against the bill), their coalition isn’t that strong.
This is all the more reason why the courageous stand of those standing up against the Stupak Amendment needs to be appreciated. Too often, progressive causes have to be shuffled to the wayside for “political compromise.”
For their brave stand, risking what they and others have worked for to get some semblance of health care reform, these House members collectively win this week’s Wings of Justice award.
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on November 5, 2009
The MSM loves to tell us that there is Fox “News” with O’Reilly, Hannity, and Beck and then there’s Fox “News” on the rest of the time. Fair and Balanced.
Hmmm, well, based on what we’ve seen lately from the “news” part of Fox “News,” their argument is as thin as the pastrami in a New York City deli.
Chris Wallace is seen as the legitimate face of Fox “News.” After all, Wallace, son of a real journalist in Mike Wallace, has hosted “Meet the Press” on NBC and was on “Primetime Thursday” on ABC. Certainly, Fox plays that up when accused of news bias.
Here was the chance, the ultimate chance, to toss a few hard questions to Rush Limbaugh, prove the naysayers wrong, show them that Fox has a real news department. But Wallace’s cushy softball interview with Rush Limbaugh is much more typical of the style of “journalism” Wallace has brought us for many years.
“I think you’re a great broadcaster. How can you possibly be worth that kind of money?”
When you go back to Wallace’s interview with former President Clinton in 2006, you find Wallace asked some tough questions. But that Chris Wallace, rarely seen in public, wasn’t on display with Limbaugh.
“Do you think the individual mandate is constitutional? Do you think the government has the right to tell people, You’re going to get health insurance, and if you don’t get it, you’re going to pay a penalty?”
This question of Limbaugh could have been phrased in a way that would have sounded legitimate. The question, exactly the way Wallace phrased it, sounds like he agrees with Limbaugh, described in a court of law as leading the witness. Then again, when you are all on the same side, every question is a leading one.
And this doesn’t even factor in that Limbaugh was allowed to spew out “facts” that weren’t even close to being true, but that seemed just fine with Wallace.
LIMBAUGH: I mean, just a couple days ago, they talked about these 650,000 jobs that they’ve created or saved. There’s no such thing as a saved job. Besides that, they’ve destroyed jobs. They’ve lost 3.3 million jobs in this country since Obama’s stimulus plan, and it’s going to get worse.
Wallace couldn’t even ask Limbaugh where he got such a ridiculous set of numbers. And Wallace wouldn’t dare correct him.
Then there’s Gretchen Carlson. Okay, she works on “Fox and Friends,” a pseudo-news show even by Fox standards. But they do interview newsmakers, and they do work on a morning show on a channel that masquerades as a news outlet.
Carlson was interviewing a rather prominent newsmaker in Rep. Michele Bachmann recently. The interview was typical Fox fluff, including Carlson’s reference at the end to providing a link to Bachmann’s “Super Bowl of Freedom.”
But no one mentioned the conflict, where George Will of all people, disclosed that Bachmann used to be Carlson’s nanny. Yet, the “news” department at Fox didn’t have an issue with Carlson interviewing Bachmann and a lack of disclosure over their relationship. Do you think Keith Olbermann could interview his nanny (if he even had one) without mentioning a conflict of interest and not receive scorn from the MSM?
Carlson’s two “questions” weren’t any tougher than those seen on a 3 a.m. infomercial. And when Bachmann referenced the “whites of their eyes,” Carlson’s eyes didn’t even blink.
You have to wonder how many times Carlson has interviewed or talked about Bachmann even before Will’s disclosure. And why are we finding out about the Carlson/Bachmann relationship from someone other than Carlson or Fox? Not disclosing conflict of interest issues is a no-no. Steering a conflict of interest into a 1-on-1 interview? That’s how they do it at Fox.
At least, Wallace and Limbaugh don’t have a relationship. But given Wallace’s reaction to Limbaugh afterwards, you might want to start making dinner reservations.
“I just want to give you my reaction. First of all I had never met him. Very nice, very sweet and I’ve have to say vulnerable guy and if you watch the interview you’ll see because he talks very candidly about drug rehab…”
Wallace’s softball questions brought out the mean, petty, obnoxious side of Limbaugh, which is actually all of his sides. The “very nice, very sweet and… vulnerable guy” Wallace speaks of isn’t there in the room.
Ruth Marcus and Jake Tapper, among many many others, owe us an apology.
Fox “News” may fool the MSM into thinking it’s a legitimate news outlet. But we’re paying more attention to Fox than they are, so we really know what’s going on. Chris Wallace and Gretchen Carlson — two reasons why Fox “News” gets put into quotes, and once again, wins this week’s Media Putz award.
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on November 4, 2009
Stirring the pot is something Republican politicians are already good at doing and where Democratic politicians are catching up. We recently profiled one newcomer who has set a tone in a brash style in Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). But as we are learning from this week’s winner, sometimes you can be quieter and still be effective at stirring the pot.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) got a very late start this year. Wasn’t his fault. The people of Minnesota wanted to be really, really, really sure he was the winner. But it certainly hasn’t taken him long to get established.
And there was speculation, er, obnoxious rhetoric from the right-wing that the Senate would be nothing but jokes with Franken in the chamber. Funny coming from senators who say some very amusing, yet not purposefully funny material when they act “senatorial.”
Those who have followed Franken or heard him on Air America radio know that the modern version of Al Franken was very serious and very knowledgable.
And yet, even when Franken was known for his comedy, there was always a quieter, subtler nature to his humor.
Calling attention to Halliburton’s practices hasn’t got the progressive realm very far in the mainstream picture. But Sen. Franken called attention to Halliburton in a way where others fell short.
The plan was simple, so simple that the GOP could easily avoid the ‘trap’: just vote for an amendment that required companies getting funds from the government to not have binding arbitration to settle disputes, such as allegedly being sexual assaulted by your fellow co-workers. Yet 30 GOP senators — all white males — fell into the dogma and voted against the Franken amendment.
Sen. Franken wasn’t loud in his quest. He put forward a simple amendment that only made the GOP look foolish if they voted against it, and 30 of them did so eagerly.
Jamie Leigh Jones deserved to be treated better, whether or not the allegations are true.
Then there was the video across the Internet of Sen. Franken calmly asking Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow from the Hudson Institute, about medical bankruptcies in European countries.
Calmly, he goes through Switzerland, France, and Germany, asking Furchtgott-Roth how many medical bankruptcies there were in those countries last year. Each time, the answer is zero.
“… we’re talking about bankruptcy here today, and the fact of the matter is you’re saying that if we go more to a French system or Swiss system that we’ll have increased bankruptcies. But the fact is they don’t have bankruptcies and we do for medical care.”
When it comes to medical bankruptices, Franken knows this is no laughing matter.
And there was this video from last week, but this one doesn’t contain Sen. Franken. At a gathering, a Louisiana rape victim confronts Sen. David Vitter for his “no” vote. She isn’t using the calm mannerisms of Sen. Franken, but Franken is the inspiration for this video.
After all, Franken’s amendment, and the 30 GOP white male senators that voted to protect Halliburton from alleged rape victims, drew awareness that otherwise, sadly, might still be hidden from a number of people, including those Louisiana woman.
The 30 GOP senators became a face where people could vent their frustration. They even had a chance to do the right thing, and when they didn’t, they only had themselves to blame. Factor in that every GOP female senator voted for the amendment, every single one. They had enough sense to draw the line somewhere, the 30 did not. And it’s all thanks to Sen. Al Franken.
In a political and media era where shouting gets you noticed the fastest, perhaps the single best communicator in the upper chamber has been noticed for his quieter, more subtle ways of conveying a point. Binding arbitration is a rather difficult topic to easily break down into simpler terms and medical care related bankruptcies haven’t been on the radar of the health care reform dialogue.
But Al Franken, yes comedian, radio personality, and now junior U.S. senator from Minnesota, does have a way with words. And the way he draws attention to topics with those words earns Sen. Al Franken the Wings of Justice.