Tag Archives: CNN

Up the Establishment

This election season provides further evidence, if any were needed, that our two political parties are merely two prongs of the same pitchfork.  Let’s start with the Republicans.  The Republicans, through laxity or inattention, failed to smother the insurgency of Donald Trump.  This prompted the hilarious spectacle of Republican pundits like George Will bailing out of the party, averring they would rather see a Democrat in the White House.

There are plenty of reasons not to like Donald Trump, but – not if you’re a Republican.  If there are really such important differences between the parties, then surely Will, Krauthammer, et al. would prefer to see their guy win, no?  Maybe you disrespect him in the primary, because maybe he can’t win in the general, but once he wins the primary, you shut up.  Trump, furthermore, did not merely win the primary, he crushed it by a margin unprecedented in party history.

The Democratic establishment did a better job of rigging their primary, with the help of party hack “super” delegates.  At the appointed time (and long before the votes were tallied) friendly media called it in Hillary’s favor.  Not for nothing is it called the Clinton News Network.

This was supposed to be another Bush versus Clinton contest, with either outcome safe for the ruling class.  We would have been treated to the usual non-debate about reforming our so-called capitalism and reining in the welfare state.  Now, the pundits are stymied.  What is Bill Kristol going to say against Sec. Clinton, when she is as much a neocon as he is?

On foreign policy, Clinton is somewhere to right of Sen. John McCain.  She has backed all the Mideast wars, including the utterly indefensible bombing of Libya.  She supports all the international trade agreements, except for her poll-driven epiphany on the TPP, and she is the darling of Wall Street.  If you think she is out of step with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, you’re right.

Clinton is basically a Republican or, more to the point, this distinction between Republicans and Democrats is a sham.  There is only the establishment.  Without a candidate of their own, establishment Republicans will have to support Hillary.


Leave a comment

Filed under Center Field

Take the Red Pill

MorpheusMany people still get their news from television, at home and in public spaces like bars and airports. While CNN is not the most watched news here in America, it is regarded as the American news station of record overseas. What they know about us in Europe, for example, they know from CNN. Not the facts, mind you, but the spin. International viewers know that our news reporting is strongly influenced by government PR efforts, and so they watch to learn what those are.

Amber Lyon, a correspondent at the network, claimed in 2011 that she had been instructed by CNN to ensure her reports helped sway US opinion towards supporting an attack on Syria, and even Iran.

Imagine two traveling businessmen with CNN playing in the airport lounge. One is an American, the other from Central Europe. While Jeremiah ignores the news and checks his email, Ivan watches American propaganda.

Anita Dunn boasted of having total control over the news media and, of course, retired White House spokesmen invariably end up working for CNN. Russians used to call it the Clinton News Network.

Cynicism about the news media increases as you travel eastward across the continent, maybe due to Eastern Europe’s experience with Soviet propaganda – or maybe due to less material wealth. As long as there is a chicken in every pot, people are willing to believe the party line. This “prosperity theory” of propaganda may explain why modern Russians are losing their edge, and why Americans are so completely obtuse.

Jeremiah regularly coaches you to seek out new sources of opinion, like the blog links at right. If you must watch TV news, here are some suggestions:

  • Al-JazeeraAl Jazeera brings you much broader coverage of the world, and much more intelligent coverage of the Middle East. They have a certain “perspective,” of course, which you must take into account – but so does any other news station. In fact, we found a surprising level of objectivity here, on the Gaza conflict.
  • Russia Times – “RT” keeps trying to brand itself as something other than Russia Times. They have a strong anti-American bias, and you will see direct rebuttals of our foreign policy pronouncements – Sergey Lavrov calling John Kerry a liar, for example. We like it for coverage of police and surveillance abuses which, obviously, are hushed up here at home.
  • Fox News – We started taking Fox seriously when the administration started bitching about it. This is the voice of the opposition, and the only place on TV where you can hear that. The mainstream has also, foolishly, allowed Fox to acquire a monopoly on libertarians. The schedule is here. We recommend Special Report, which is a traditional news hour format.

As patriotic Americans, we believe in our country. We also want to believe in our government, and hope that its policies are right. Blind faith, however, does not serve our cause. It is our job, as voters and activists, to critique the policies and correct the politicians. We can’t do that job if we allow ourselves to be fed a steady diet of bullshit on the television.

See also: U.S. ranks 46th in press freedom

Update: The Economist directly attacks RT as Russian propaganda. Charlemagne calls for amping up the European side, with government funds, to counter it. Best line: there is truth in reporting, not “just a postmodern potpourri of perspectives.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

Media Self-Censorship

An interview with ex-Reuters bureau chief Andrew MacGregor Marshall is here, in Russia Today. Of course, you already know that the mainstream media are censored. Marshall describes how this censorship is implemented, without any conspiracy or direct interference. It is merely the subtle and persistent pressure of certain editorial norms, and biased standards of evidence.

There are some things that are safe to say and we become conditioned that they are safe to say, and there are other things that … if we say them we are mocked or delegitimized.

Marshall makes the obvious but important point that other people don’t share our prejudices. News stories that seem unbiased to us may sound like total propaganda to them. He cites some examples from his experience in Iraq. This is why we must develop the ability to question and critique all news sources, and seek out differing points of view.

Without the freedom to report on politics and strategy, coverage of the Iraq war(s) degenerated into a daily body count, like the box score of some macabre sporting event. Viewers have no way to process this contextless violence, and so they tune out. They click on a story about – Marshall’s example – Paris Hilton instead.

Jeremiah complains all the time about stupid viewers of stupid stories, and this discussion points to a solution. If a news outlet could show, in some detail, who is behind the violence – and why – that might garner an audience. Why did the Iraqi army disintegrate, for instance? Whose policy mistake was that?

If someone started a news outlet that would place the day’s tragedy in its political and historical context, so that readers could make sense of it, people might just generate actionable ideas that would make a positive change in the world. One can hope.

See also: Written by the Victors

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

Read Pravda, It’s Truth!

We saw a comment today on the FT site, saying that more objective coverage was to be found over at RT.com. So, it’s not just Jeremiah, then. RT is short for Russia Today. It’s the official Russian state news, as China Daily is for China, and CNN is for America.

With the Russian news, you know what you’re getting. It’s pretty easy to spot the propaganda, and you end up better informed than if you merely read CNN. As far as state news goes, China Daily is actually quite good. The official “editorials” tend toward constructive engagement with the West, and they criticize their own government a fair amount.

Jeremiah has often given you guidelines for detecting media bias. In the past few years, CNN seems to have entirely stopped criticizing the administration. That must be because it’s perfect, Da?

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

It’s Kevyn Or Nothing

Kevyn OrrCNN has a misleading editorial on the Detroit bankruptcy.  Jeremiah’s bullshit alarm went off when Kevyn Orr, pictured here, was described as “unelected.”  That’s a cheap shot.  Bankruptcy managers are, of necessity, appointed.  So are federal judges.

The author, Ross Eisenberry, suggests that bankruptcy is Mr. Orr’s scheme to cheat Detroit’s pensioners and put Wall Street bankers at the head of the payments queue.  He forgets that Chapter 9 is called “protection” for a reason.

Bankruptcy allows the city to restructure its obligations in an orderly manner, rather than face lawsuits from multiple creditors.  As Natalie Cohen puts it, bankruptcy gives the city breathing room.

It was only a matter of time before one creditor filed a suit that would force the city to protect itself.

If you want a grownup analysis of who gets what in bankruptcy, read Ms. Cohen.  It’s a little more complicated than “screw pensioners, pay bankers.”  The city needs protection from all of its creditors, and all of them are going to take losses – even the bankers.

It is heartbreaking to see Detroit’s retirees deprived of their pensions.  They were robbed, and the authorities should track down the culprits.  Indeed, the FBI has already indicted a few of them.  That’s better justice than the easy answers proposed by Mr. Eisenberry.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of plan assets were [diverted] to the annuity savings accounts of active employees outside of the defined-benefit pension plan.

The thieves turn out to be city trustees who robbed the pension fund.  Note that many were elected officials, unlike the “unelected” Kevyn Orr.  They’re the ones who brought in the Wall Street sharks, took bribes, and went on junkets to Hawaii.

Still, stiffing the bankers sounds like a good idea.  Why not do that, and make the pensioners whole?  The practical answer is that Detroit will need continued borrowing to stay afloat, and that gets harder with each default.  Rates for municipal bonds are already on the rise.

The moral answer is that there are pensioners on the other side, too – not some Wall Street bogeyman.  Municipal bonds are “widow and orphan” investments, because they’re tax exempt and (were) considered safe.  It’s a tough situation with no easy answers, and Kevyn Orr deserves a lot of credit.

The Eisenberry editorial is misleading and inflammatory.  He has even got racial and class war stuff in there.  We were so dismayed that we looked into this Economic Policy Institute that employs him.  Turns out, it’s an advocacy group for the unions.  See here.

The unions have a right to their opinion, and we would expect them to be advocating this line.  Dressing it up as an “editorial,” though, is dishonest.  At least one union, the AFL-CIO, is a party to the bankruptcy.  Eisenberry isn’t even a real economist.  He’s a lawyer.

1 Comment

Filed under Economy

The Knockout Game

HeadThis is really scary!  No, not getting punched by some kids.  It’s really scary that we can’t get a straight answer out of our news media.  Some news outlets report a new trend of random violence, and others say it’s an urban legend.  Come on, people.  It’s not the Kennedy assassination.

You have seen the videos.  Numbers are sketchy.  We found one source for eight incidents of “knock out the Jew” in New York, over the last month.  We found another source for six incidents in one month in New Haven.  Other headlines say it’s a myth, but read on and they acknowledge the events.  They only claim that, since there is already a lot of random violence, these new attacks aren’t news.

But CNN says violent crime is on the wane.  That’s the real myth.  Jeremiah debunked it here.  He is sick and tired of politically motivated news outlets trying to tart up, play down, and spin every goddamn story.  What if it really mattered?

What if there were civil unrest, or an epidemic, or a crime spree – and you got this kind of bullshit from the TV news.  You’d have one channel telling you to hide in the basement, and another saying “keep calm and go shopping.”

We are going back to our old standby, that paragon of journalism, Pravda.

See also:  Fight Media Bias

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

You Can’t Handle the Truth

The news media have always been biased.  In the old days, you could tell a man’s politics by which newspaper he read.  Cities would have opposing newspapers, like the Times and the Journal in New York.  They were expected, though, to give you the same basic information.

In the old days, people engaged with the other side.  If you were defending the Journal’s position, and they hadn’t given you all the facts, you could lose the debate.  You might even change your opinion, go over to the other side, and cancel your subscription.

Today, the news media have it a lot easier.  People are content to hear an endless stream of crap that confirms their existing beliefs.  No one is searching for the truth.  No one is having a debate in the coffee shop, and certainly no one is changing their mind.  This leads to the echo chamber phenomenon we have described previously.

If you want to know what is actually going on, that will take work.  You will need special skills.  Here again, Jeremiah is your guide.  Our news reader has spent the week collecting headlines from Fox and CNN.  We then sorted them into four categories –Domestic Policy and Politics, World and Foreign Policy, Newsworthy Events, and Not News.  The raw headlines are below.

Baseball’s lesson for  Washington.  Women could fix the stalemate.  Billionaire uses flip phone.  Liberals, stop whining and do something.  America’s problem: We’re too dumb.  Frat letter: Don’t rape them, but …  Why I’m saying goodbye to football.  Tea party contaminates GOP brand.  Recasting ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’  Why you should see ‘12 Years a Slave.’  Democrats more extreme than GOP?  London Zoo’s tiger cub drowns.  Republicans got what they wanted.  Let Jason Collins come out–and play.  Ancient creature had spider-like brain.  Bizarre outburst on House floor.  Parents liable for cyberbullying?  Cruz knows exactly what he’s doing.

The CNN stories are more overtly political.  They name specific people and factions.  We were surprised not to see the Afghanistan accord, or the march on Washington.  Fox, obviously, is critical of the administration.  Their reporting concentrates on finding failed policies, and reporting abuse.  This brings us to an interesting observation.

Vets march on Washington, roll into WWII memorial.  Kerry, Karzai reach partial deal on security accord.  Tea Party pushes to close Lonegan, Booker gap.  Republicans accuse Dems of moving goalposts as talks stuck on sequester.  Police give image of man sought in girl’s abduction.  Florida police make millions in stings, report says.  Dry ice device explosions at LA airport prompt probe.  $30B blown on incomplete medical records program.  NH cops trace call made by teen 2 miles from home.  Famed fishery at standstill, hooked by gov’t.  House panel rips Parks boss over slimdown.  Sheriff: Taunts continued after bullied girl’s suicide.  San Fran’s Union Square reopens after bomb scare.  1.8-million-year-old skull shakes humans’ family.  Orphaned Fla. teen makes emotional plea for adoption.  Insurers get faulty data from ObamaCare exchanges.  Some gov’t workers may be paid twice for not working.  Feds let Fla. schools give all students no-cost lunch.

Fox’s non-news stories – six by Jeremiah’s count – fit the “world going to hell” theme, making a smooth segue from the failed policies.  Those from CNN are sports and entertainment.

Jeremiah is strictly interested in policy.  For example, how are we going to close the structural deficit, reform education, and stimulate growth?  He wants to know which are the correct policies, and – only then – which people and factions are behind them.

If you already use this approach, you know that party politics is illogical and the news media are demented.  If you’re new to it, prepare to see the world in a new light.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media