Posts Tagged ‘news’

Network newsI have been watching the network news for a long time, going back to the 1960s, with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC and Walter Cronkite on CBS. For you not from the US, these were legendary journalists.

Currently, I watch two network news programs. And by “watch”, I mean, record to view afterward. The reason? Commercials, the majority of which are for medicines that must be prescribed by a physician. They’re for all sorts of ailments that I didn’t know I had or that even existed until I saw the ads, diseases generally designated by initials.

First I watch CBS News. They used to have a solid anchor, Scott Pelley, now 61, but he was pushed out after six years for low ratings.

After an interim period, he was replaced by Jeff Glor, a forty-something guy with a boyish face from upstate New York. But the real change is now, at the top of the broadcast, they summarize the news in 60 seconds so you don’t actually have to watch it. And the network is still in third place.

Then I watch the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. He was the weekend guy who replaced Brian Williams when Williams was suspended for six months for “misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003.” I usually zap through the first half of the NBC news unless they’re covering a different story. They tend to differentiate more after the first commercial.

I gave up on ABC News years ago. It was my go-to network when Peter Jennings anchored before he died in 2005. But by the time Diane Sawyer was in the chair, the network was telling me what was trending on Twitter. If I wanted to know what was trending on Twitter, I’d have gone to that platform. I’ve not seen the broadcast since David Muir took over.

I watch other news and read other sources, and here’s why. Some people don’t believe the news at all and don’t watch. I have a healthy suspicion, so I watch/read a LOT of it, including a variety of online versions of the print news. I feel that, as a librarian, I cannot NOT be informed.

Arthur wrote a post which linked to a video, Why obvious lies make great propaganda. Hint: it wasn’t, initially, about DJT. He also cites an article, How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News, and it’s totally credible. I’ve recently spent a good amount of time with such people; intelligent, basically kind, and believing things that were demonstratively untrue.

For ABC Wednesday

ralliesA guy I know and respect IRL posited: “The media shouldn’t be covering Trump pep rallies. It would drive him crazier not to be covered.” I understand this position.

Omorosa Manigault Newman, the former reality show villain turned White House adviser turned regime foe suggested as much: “There’s one way to shut Donald Trump down and that is to just don’t give him the oxygen,” she said on The Daily Show recently. “And the oxygen comes from the clicks, the likes, the shock, the discussions. If you ignore him, then you starve him of the thing he loves the most ― and that is controversy and attention.”

Yet I’m resistant to the idea.

1. He’ll still be covered by FOX, CBN, right-wing bloggers. Do we want to cede the analysis and the reporting of news to them?

2. He’ll tweet about it. I remember some folks early on suggested not covering those. But unfortunately, he makes pronouncements on the platform. He fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter.

3. Failure to cover him will feed into his narrative that the news is biased. Some have suggested that point anyway after the “editorial collusion by dozens of newspapers,” in response to the regime’s “fake news” claims.

4. He announces things at his rallies that the public should be aware of. At the rally in Great Falls, MT on July 5, 2018, he announced, “I’ve directed the Pentagon to begin a process of creating a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces called the space force.”

It’s also where QAnon, which is either a “a deranged conspiracy cult” or a faux movement, leapt from the Internet to the crowd at the Tampa MAGA tour on July 31.

There are, I imagine from reading enough right-wing literature, some people who DO believe the regime actually “installed Robert Mueller as part of an ongoing plan to capture the Muslim terrorist Barack Obama. At the climax of the consensus narrative, Trump supporters will have to unite for a mighty Good vs Evil fight in which Hillary will team up with George Soros in an attempt to overthrow the government, only to be cast down by Trump, who will then usher in a new age of Christian righteousness.”

(My head hurts.)

I’m pained by the cost of these rallies. While the core event expenses presumably comes from the campaign of the presumed 2020 Republican candidate for President, the taxpayers are on the hook for the Secret Service, which is already overextended, plus state and local law enforcement.

So I say cover the guy, and then read The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims he’s made since assuming office. It’s about 50 truth-bending comments per week, a goodly number of them at his rallies.

When 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Florida high school on Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday 2018, the Daughter was understandably upset. She had unfortunately seen many stories like this in the past five years or so, when she started watching the news.

Interestingly, she also felt empowered by the protests since that event. Moreover, she’s participated in a couple herself. I’d say that I have no idea where she got this activism streak, but I suppose that would be a lie.

Still, she felt really terrible after the May 18 killing of 10 at a school in Santa Fe, Texas.

Terrible as in scared; I understand that. My wife, who is a schoolteacher, CERTAINLY understands that.

But, I think, it was also a function of disappointment, that her actions, and the activities of millions of children across the country ended up with the same old results.

Goodness knows that I get THAT. When you fight against racism and war and poverty and violence, and racism, war, poverty, and violence remain, it is easy to become discouraged that the efforts are pointless, or one hasn’t done enough.

Now, the Daughter received The Triple C Award at her moving up ceremony this month, given “to students by the New York State Attorney General’s Office,” which “celebrates students who display courage, character and commitment in their daily lives at home and in school.”

Still, USA.gov sent out this email after Santa Fe: “Tragic news is reported every day. Sometimes these events can cause distress to people of all ages. Although you may try to avoid having your children see upsetting reports about violence or natural disasters, you can’t always be successful. Use these resources to help you navigate a difficult conversation:

“Learn how children perceive the news and how to talk to them about what they see with these tips from KidsHealth.
Call SAMHSA’s DistressLine for immediate crisis counseling. If you or your child needs support, call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs”to 66746 for help 24/7 in English, Spanish, and for those with hearing disabilities.

From the former resource: “If older kids are bothered by a story, help them cope with these fears. An adult’s willingness to listen sends a powerful message.” I must say that my wife picked up on the Daughter’s distress after Santa Fe more quickly than I.

In the midst of the chaos, we have to remember to be good to each other.

Liz Bishop, near the lower right, in front of the CBS 6 logo

When I was growing up, occasionally there would be an editorial produced by the general manager of a television station to discuss a vital issue of the day, such as whether to build a new bridge.

The words he said – it was virtually always a he – came from that local broadcaster, someone who lived in your community, not NYC or LA or DC, and had greater potential for trust and accountability. The editorial was well labeled and set apart in the local news broadcast, usually at the very end.

The Federal Communications Commission was very concerned about any one company having too much dominance in any local marketplace or nationally, and it had strict limits on radio and television station acquisition.

That was then. In August 2017, The Guardian ran a story This is Sinclair, ‘the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of’. Michael Copps, the George W Bush-appointed former chairman of the FCC, said those words.

So did John Oliver, host of HBO’s weekly satirical show Last Week Tonight, when he introduced an 18-minute segment on Sinclair in July 2017, as he noted the dreadful “must carry” requirement the company has been imposing on its 173 local news stations across the country to “parrot right-wing propaganda” and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

The current regime’s FCC has aided Sinclair’s expansion. Jared Kushner, son-in-law-in-chief, said back in December 2016, “We struck deal with Sinclair for straighter coverage.”

Now, the broadcast group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media is in the spotlight. If this unprecedented-in-size agreement is approved, it will have control of local TV stations reaching 72% of the country, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the nation’s three largest media markets. “The FCC chair Ajit Pai — who single-highhandedly has sought to kill Net Neutrality — is under investigation by the FCC’s inspector general for greasing the wheels for Sinclair.

What has caught the nation’s attention recently is this viral video put together by Deadspin “showing news anchors all over the country forced by Sinclair to parrot the same canned scripts attacking their own profession.”

It was heartbreaking to see Liz Bishop, the longtime anchor of WRGB, Channel 6 in Schenectady, NY, one of the oldest stations in the country, on the Deadspin video. It appears that their contracts make it too expensive to quit. It is difficult for staff to fight their overlords.

What to do? Write to the FCC and members of Congress, opposing the Sinclair/Tribune merger. Write to your local Sinclair stations and let them and their advertisers know that you are boycotting both as long as the “must-carry” material appears on their news broadcasts. Lessee, what else?

In general, the really bad ideas from the current regime are touted with the most positive, or at least benign-sounding, intent. Getting rid of environmental regulations will make the country more “competitive,” for instance.

When I first saw the article Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers, I seriously thought it was fake news. But it’s no hoax.

“On 3 April 2018, a solicitation for services posted by… [DHS] appeared on the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website — a system that allows private contractors to bid on providing goods or services to the United States government. That solicitation…, titled ‘Media Monitoring Services,’ seeks a contractor to create a searchable database of information about journalists, social media ‘influencers,’ and media outlets.”

This is so consequential that it has been covered by media in India, Japan, and elsewhere. Presumably the database is designed to… well, I’m not sure.

The Forbes article speaks to my concerns:

“Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this. Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years. The independent watchdog organization blames ‘new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies’ as well as ‘further crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China.’ And then it goes one step further.

“But it is the far-reaching attacks on the news media and their place in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as president of the United States, that fuel predictions of further setbacks in the years to come.”

Snopes “reached out to DHS to ask if media reports suggesting this was an effort to compile political information on journalists were unfounded, as well as to ask for details about how this effort will enhance national security. In response, DHS directed us to a tweet from Homeland Security spokesperson Tyler Q. Houlton, who confirmed the data collection…”

Houlton posted: “Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”

Well, THAT makes me feel a WHOLE lot better. Yeah, right. Hmm, I wonder if I’m considered a “social media influencer.” My Klout score has been going down recently, so maybe DHS won’t notice me…

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