Category Archives: MSM

Quotes of the day: TrumpAscension™ auguries

We begin with a prediction from the former House Speaker who served divorce papers on his spouse while she was in the hospital, recovering from cancer surgery, via Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Gingrich, what can we expect during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency?

Gingrich: You can expect a great deal of action. Donald Trump is a very action-oriented person. I think in the first few weeks, you’re going to see a lot of executive orders repealed, peeling back the Obama legacy. You’re going to see steps moving forward across a broad range of fronts, and I think they are likely to be very successful opening weeks.

And from Vox, an exchange between reporter Sean Illing and Guardian cultural critic Stuart Jeffries, author of Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School, a study of a group of German scholars, many of whom migrated to the U.S. during the Hitler years, who founded critical theory and studied — among other things — the way media impact society:

Sean Illing: Here’s the thing: If Trump’s rise represented an actual substantive rebellion, that at least would suggest a revolution in consciousness. But it’s not that serious. There’s no content behind it. Trump is just a symbol of negation, a big middle finger to the establishment. He’s a TV show for a country transfixed by spectacle.

And so in that sense, Trumpism is exactly what you’d expect a “revolution” in the age of mass media to look like.

Stuart Jeffries: Sadly, I agree. If you listen to Trump speak, it’s all stream-of-consciousness gibberish. There’s no real thought, no real intellectual process, no historical memory. It’s a rhetorical sham, but a kind of brilliant one when you think about it. He’s a projection of his supporters, and he knows it.

He won by capturing attention, and he captured attention by folding pop entertainment into politics, which is something the critical theorists anticipated.

Quote of the day: On America’s plutocratic press

From an essay by musician and writer Will Meyer for Jacobin:

Today, at the same time local newspapers shut down and cut costs, the combination of increasingly concentrated ownership and for-profit technological innovation has convinced a new generation of billionaires to buy up media outlets and launch new media enterprises.

Some have become the personification of avarice and confused priorities. They purchase a newspaper, gloating about their investment in the public interest, and then offer their newsroom a big shrug as they slash jobs to increase profit margins. Others are philanthropists who support adversarial public interest journalism or inject much-needed cash into shrinking newsrooms.

Yet the problem isn’t the character of individual billionaires per se, but the fact that the political system has allowed such power to accumulate in the first place.

While it matters on some level whether these billionaire-owned or privately funded outlets churn out self-interested coverage (as Sheldon Adelson wants his Las Vegas Review-Journal to do) or critical reporting (as Pierre Omidyar justifiably sees his First Look Media as doing), a journalism dependent on the whims of the wealthy is not a media system worthy of a democracy.

Trump asks Rupert Murdock to pick new FCC chief

It’s a real-life case of the Fox [News] guarding the henhouse

Created in 1934, the Federal Communications Commission offers this definition of its mandate on its website:

The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.

While originally conceived as an agency designed to ensure that radio would serve the public interest, the commission’s role was transformed to cover a broader range of media.

Under successive Republic abnd Democratic administrations, the commission has become a tool of corporate interests, and now Donald Trump is handing the keys to the kingdom to man whose Fox News did more than anything else to ensure Trump’s election.

From U.S. Uncut:

Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News parent company Newscorp, has been asked by the Trump transition team to submit names for the open FCC chair position.

The rumor of Trump’s request to the Australian media mogul comes from an unnamed “well-placed source” cited by New York Magazine, which reported on Tuesday that “Trump has asked Murdoch to submit names for FCC Chairman,” adding that Murdoch aims to influence the Federal Communications Commission to use its muscle to halt the AT&T/Time Warner merger as it would help his competition.

Tom Wheeler, who was the FCC chairman under President Barack Obama, previously announced he would be stepping down from his role after Trump’s inauguration. If Murdoch is indeed providing names of candidates for the job to President-elect Trump, it’s very likely that net neutrality could be a thing of the past very soon.

As PCMag argued in 2014, Murdoch, who owns a global media conglomerate, easily has the capital to buy an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and then direct that ISP to promote content that aligns with his business and political interests, while throttling content that runs opposite of his interests.

Under Wheeler’s chairmanship, net neutrality — in which ISPs are required to provide all content at the same speeds to all internet users — was famously upheld, along with low-income access to broadband through government subsidies and additional privacy rules for broadband. Wheeler was also responsible for killing the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. A Murdoch pick could reverse all of those decisions, and serve to enrich and expand his already enormous media empire.

The makeup of the five-member commission is dictated by presidential appointments. Existing FCC rules stipulate that one party can’t be represented by more than three of the five members. The FCC already has a Republican majority, which will be strengthened after the departure of Obama appointee Jessica Rosenworsel.

Map of the day: A deadly year for journalists

From the International Federation of Journalists, a map showing nations where journalists were killed in 2015.

From the International Federation of Journalists, a map showing nations where journalists were killed in 2015.

The year just ended proved a bloody one for the world’s dwindling population of journalists, and Mexico proved one of the most dangerous of nations for members of the Fourth Estate, with 11 journalists slain, trailing only Iraq [15 killed] and Afghanistan [13 killed].

From the International Federation of Journalists:

93 journalists and media professionals were killed in 2016 according to new statistics published by the world’s largest journalists’ organisation.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents 600.000 members in 140 countries, today published a list of 93 journalists and media staff who were killed in 2016 in work-related incidents. A further 29 died in two plane crashes.

The killings, including targeted murders, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents span 23 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Arab World regions.

Although the figures for 2016 are down on previous years the IFJ has warned against complacency citing reports of rising threats, intimidation and self-censorship as evidence that attacks on freedom of expression remain at critical levels.

In addition to the 93 targeted killings, 20 Brazilian sports reporters perished in a plane crash over the city of Medellin in Colombia, a country where for the first time in many years no killing was recorded this year, against three listed in 2015. 9 Russian journalists were killed in a military plane crash.

The Wall Street Journal refuses to say Trump lies

Anyone with half a brain would have to admit that His Puerility is a compulsive liar, telling the public whatever he thought they wanted to hear to win the nomination and then the White House.

Hell, the man even lies about the length of his fingers, even though the proof of his falsehood is cast in bronze.

But the Wall Street Journal, the paper that represents the Pussygrabber’s class interests more than any other, refuses to use the L-word when reporting on his profigately prodigious prevaricating.

From teleSUR English:

The Wall Street Journal would not call a lie a lie if it was told by President-elect Donald Trump over concerns of “objectivity,” the paper’s editor-in-chief told Meet the Press on Sunday.

“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie,’” said Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of the conservative paper. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”

Instead of calling the lie by what it is, he would print the facts next to Trump’s statement and let readers decide for themselves which is the truth.

“I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective,” he said.

He also orders his staff to respond similarly on social media, despite “questionable” or “challengeable” comments from Trump. But he added that there should be “a little less deference, a little less insider behavior” by the media on politicians.

The Journal‘s refusal to call a spade a spade should come as no surprise, given that it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same loathsome reptile who gave us Fox News.

Obama’s revenge: Russian diplomats expelled

Angered over those alleged Russian hacking attacks on his party, President Barack Obama has ramped up the pressure on Moscow, today expelling a host of Russian diplomats.

Cold War 2.0 is escalating once again, though we suspect the new Oval Office occupant will do what he can to damp it down, perhaps the one silver lining in a very dark cloud.

Form teleSUR English:

The United States expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to an alleged campaign of harassment against American diplomats in Moscow, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The move against the diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco is part of a series of actions announced on Thursday to punish Russia for a campaign of intimidation of American diplomats in Moscow and interference in the U.S. election.

The Obama administration was also announcing on Thursday a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for allegedly hacking into U.S. political institutions and individuals and leaking information to help President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, two U.S. officials said.

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has called for better relations with Russia. It was not clear if he will be able to immediately overturn the measures announced on Thursday.

The Russian diplomats would have 72 hours to leave the United States, the official said. Access to the two compounds, which are used by Russian officials for intelligence gathering, will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the senior U.S. official added.

And on a related note. . .

Lori Harfenistis a Manhattan-based punk artist who did a show cal The Resident for the weekly show for the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public access channel, then moved it over to RT America in 2003.

In this brief segment she points out a conflict for the news medium that’s been doing so much on the alleged Russian hacking of the American political system. You might even call it financial hacking.

It’s short and well worth watching:

WaPo refuses to add disclosure about $600M CIA contract

Program notes:

In 2013, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Only 4 months later, he was awarded a $600 million contract with the CIA. So the CIA has a direct connection to the Washington Post, the paper of record in our nation’s capital, but they refuse to add a disclosure to stories they write about the CIA.

Quote of the day: Call him President Bubble Boy

From a long, fascinating story by Washington Post reporter David Farenthold on his long efforts to find out about Trump’s claims to have given millions to charities:

By the end of the election, I felt I’d done my job. My last big story about Trump started with an amazing anecdote, which came from a tip from a reader. In 1996, Trump had crashed a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a charity opening a nursery school for children with AIDS. Trump, who had never donated to the charity, stole a seat onstage that had been saved for a big contributor.

He sat there through the whole ceremony, singing along with the choir of children as cameras snapped, and then left without giving a dime.

“All of this is completely consistent with who Trump is,” Tony Schwartz, Trump’s co-author on his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal,” told me. “He’s a man who operates inside a tiny bubble that never extends beyond what he believes is his self-interest.”

“If your worldview is only you — if all you’re seeing is a mirror — then there’s nobody to give money to,” Schwartz said. “Except yourself.”