June 06, 2004

The LNS "Reagan Retrospective" Edition

Two more US soldiers died today in Iraq. FOR WHAT? We have a failed administration (i.e. the Bush abomination). There are well over 800 US soliders dead in this foolish military adventure. Our military has been stretched beyond any reasonable expectation for wholly irrational reasons. We have squandered over $100 billion so far in Iraq. That money that could have been spent hardening homeland security inside the US, and crushing Al Qaeda-style terror organizations both inside and outside the US. Instead, it has been poured into Iraq, allowing Al-Qaeda to regroup around the world and swelling its ranks with new recruits from the Arab Street. Now Ronald Reagan has passed on. It is all Reagan all the time on the air waves. Indeed, the propapunditgandists will spin so that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) is running against the ghost of Ronald Reagan, instead of an increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident...Well, the LNS provides CONTEXT and CONTINUITY...When Reagan lost hundreds of US Marines in a suicide bombing in Beirut, he got us the Hell out of there. The increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident has lost many more US soldiers already, and has brought us a Mega-Mogadishu, predicated on LIES, with no end in sight. When Reagan was in power, he had a strong ally in Pope John Paul. There was mutual respect and a shared geopolitical view on the threat of that time (i.e. a crumbling, and therefore, very dangerous Soviet empire). But there were 501,000 protesters awaiting the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident in Rome last week: 500,000 protesters in the street, and one very powerful protester sitting alongside him. The increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident made Pope John Paul wait for 15 minutes -- an unprecendent and appaling insult. But Pope John Paul, despite his fraility, his age and his infirmity, tongue-lashed the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident publicly and in blunt language for a failed "war on terror" in general and for the unnecessary war in Iraq and Abu Ghraib in particular. (BTW, use the LNS searchable database to reference a fascinating article about Vatican insiders confiding that the Pope is concerned that the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident might indeed by the Anti-Christ. Remember borne from the world of politics and presenting himself as a man of peace?) Nor will you hear any *truth* about what Reagan and the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident do have in common: e.g. "vodoo economics" for which the only cure is what Clinton did in the early 1990s and what JFK will do IF there is an election in November and a Constitutional transfer of power in 2005: i.e. RESTORE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY and GET RID OF THE DEFICIT!!! Nor will you hear anything of course about the Reagan era crimes -- both Constitutional (Iran-Contra) and "against humanity (the Central America of John Negroponte, the "Ambassador" to Iraq, and Elliot Abrams, now assigned to the Middle East). Nor will you hear that Osama bin Laden, whose madness has shaped the Bush abomination, was launched into the business of killing people during Reagan's proxy war in Afghanistan. The myth of Ronald Reagan's *greatness* has two sources: 1) his genuine gift for communicating positive emotion on the overtone, almost viscerally or subliminally, despite the inannity of the rhetoric, and 2) the courage, skill, intelligence and vision of Mikhail Gorbachev. Oh, yes, something else that the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident does NOT share in common with Reagan: the blue-collar "Reagan Democrats," the LNS predicts that they are "coming home" to vote for JFK. A sheetmetal worker from Chicago told us so...No, of course, you won't hear any of this CONTEXT and CONTINUITY over the next few days in the propapunditgandists of the "US mainstream news media." Our only hope is Nancy Reagan. She has distinguished herself for integrity since President Reagan's sad descent into Alzeheimer's. She denounced Oliver North during his thankfully failed run for the US Senate in Virginia, and she rebuked the increasingly unhinged and incredibly shrinking _resident's American Taliban ban on expanded stem cell research. Keep your fingers crossed that Nancy does not allow them to spin her husband's death into another photo op for the failed Bush abomination. Otherwise, as LNS Correspondent Dunston Woods says, all we will get on the air waves is "Gipper Grease." Yes, indeed...It's the Media, Stupid

Eric Alterman, Center for American Progress: Last week, the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism [PEJ] released a Survey of Journalists that included some significant findings. Among the most worrisome: The vast majority of journalists believe increased financial pressure is "seriously hurting" the quality of news coverage. Sixty-six percent of national news people and fifty-seven percent of local journalists see it this way. This percentage, moreover, is rising. In 1995, for example, forty-one percent of national and thirty-three percent of local journalists agreed with the statement. In a related finding, the poll found journalists who fear their stories are "increasingly full of factual and sloppy reporting" rose from thirty percent in 1995 to forty percent in 1999 to forty-five today."
Interestingly, management is considerably more sanguine about the current state of journalistic affairs. Most executives at national news organizations (fifty-seven percent) feel increased business pressures are "mostly just changing the way news organizations do things" rather than seriously undermining quality. What we have here is a perfect example of how conglomeration interferes with the public's reception of information. Now it is certainly possible the dismissal (in the past x years) of nearly sixty percent of radio news personnel, for instance, has improved that medium's ability to keep its audience informed. But it is far more likely management is shilling for the bosses while the journalists on the ground are in much better touch with the quality of the product they are now providing. And that product has been decimated by round-after-round of consolidation, budget-cuts and the integration of radio, television, and print products that do not naturally combine but really ought to compete.

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=85317

Think Again: 'You Call this 'Liberal?''

by Eric Alterman
June 3, 2004

Last week, the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism [PEJ] released a Survey of Journalists that included some significant findings. Among the most worrisome: The vast majority of journalists believe increased financial pressure is "seriously hurting" the quality of news coverage. Sixty-six percent of national news people and fifty-seven percent of local journalists see it this way. This percentage, moreover, is rising. In 1995, for example, forty-one percent of national and thirty-three percent of local journalists agreed with the statement. In a related finding, the poll found journalists who fear their stories are "increasingly full of factual and sloppy reporting" rose from thirty percent in 1995 to forty percent in 1999 to forty-five today."

Interestingly, management is considerably more sanguine about the current state of journalistic affairs. Most executives at national news organizations (fifty-seven percent) feel increased business pressures are "mostly just changing the way news organizations do things" rather than seriously undermining quality. What we have here is a perfect example of how conglomeration interferes with the public's reception of information. Now it is certainly possible the dismissal (in the past x years) of nearly sixty percent of radio news personnel, for instance, has improved that medium's ability to keep its audience informed. But it is far more likely management is shilling for the bosses while the journalists on the ground are in much better touch with the quality of the product they are now providing. And that product has been decimated by round-after-round of consolidation, budget-cuts and the integration of radio, television, and print products that do not naturally combine but really ought to compete.

The study has naturally not received much attention, save for its ideological findings. Among these are nearly sixty percent of journalists surveyed think the media has been far too easy on President Bush and just over a third of journalists identify themselves as "liberal." These two figures have driven the conservatives who control the cable TV and radio debates to distraction. This is surprising. True, thirty-four percent calling themselves "liberal" is a bit more than the national average, but if I'm not mistaken, these same right-wingers have been crowing endlessly that the entire media was controlled by liberals. If the number is only a third with fifty-four percent calling themselves moderates, then just what's the problem? True, the number of liberals is rising it was only twenty-two percent nine years ago and the trend among local journalists is moving the same way twenty-three percent say they are liberals, up from fourteen percent in 1995 but this is largely a product of the ability of the far right to move the discourse into its home territory. A decade ago, someone who held the views espoused by George W. Bush would be considered a far right-extremist. Someone who held views to his left say Senator McCain or perhaps George H.W. Bush was considered a liberal. Today, top Republican leaders want to kick McCain out of the party and Bush himself refers to his father as "weak" and mocks his desire in 1991 to seek a UN mandate and genuine coalition before going to war. If more journalists are calling themselves "liberal" and fewer "conservative," well that's because the word conservative has been hijacked by radical reactionaries and neocons who are closer in temperament to revolutionaries than to historic conservatives like Edmund Burke or Alexander Hamilton.

Writing in US News, the conservative columnist John Leo mocks the journalists in the survey because while "some 82 percent of the journalists were able to list a news organization that was "especially conservative" (most named Fox News), an amazing 62 percent could not name any news organization that struck them as "especially liberal." Good grief. Even 60 percent of the Homer Simpson family could probably figure out that the New York Times or National Public Radio qualify as liberal. Leave aside the fact that Homer apart, the Simpsons are pretty damned smart (though it's hard to tell yet about Maggie) Leo picked a bad week to make his point. The New York Times is in uproar over the role played by its correspondent Judith Miller and others in passing along false information much of it supplied by the neocons and their dangerous plaything, Ahmad Chalabi to fool the country into going to war in Iraq. If that's "liberal," then the word has lost all meaning. Meanwhile, over at NPR, its own ombudsman has endorsed the findings of a study by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting that demonstrates conservative, rather than liberal guests dominate the proceedings. The current issue of The New Yorker has a fine piece by Ken Auletta about the right-wing hijacking of that old conservative bugaboo PBS. (Trading Bill Moyers for Tucker Carlson and Paul Gigot hardly seems like a winner for the liberal team, much less for American journalism.)

Finally, while journalists are a bit more liberal than the rest of this country on social issues, they are generally more conservative on economic issues, as befits their elite status. You can say the same about just about any group of well-educated urban professionals. So what? Is the news liberal? Combine the sensitivities of those in the executive suites who actually determine what is covered with the constant pressure of the White House and its many right-wing allies in the foundation world, and journalists' alleged liberalism hardly counts for much when the media rubber hits the road. The fact that Mr. Bush was able to push his phony agenda for war through the New York Times, NPR and the rest with a considerable assist from the far-right dominated cable talk world to say nothing of talk radio implies conservatives are either paranoid or dishonest when they complain about the evils of so-called "liberal media." Either way, it's time they hung it up.

Eric Alterman is a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress and the author of What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News, just published in paperback with a new chapter on the Iraq war and a study guide for students.

Posted by richard at June 6, 2004 12:07 PM