Category Archives: MSM

Blood on the newsroom floor, still flowing

With the biggest recent news coming from the Tribune Publishing, who holdings include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

From CNNMoney

The long-anticipated staff cuts at The Los Angeles Times will begin this week and will likely target at least one-tenth of the paper’s newsroom, CNNMoney has learned.

On Monday, Tribune Publishing (TPUB) announced a new “Employee Voluntary Separation Program” (read: buyouts) and warned that “there may or may not be a need for additional involuntary reductions” (read: layoffs) if Tribune fails to meet its staff reduction goals.

The cuts will come across Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and some regional papers. But no paper is expected to be harder hit than the Times. At least 50 editorial positions are expected to be cut, whittling the Times newsroom down to fewer than 450 staffers, sources with knowledge of the situation said.


Tribune employees will have until October 23 to submit buyout applications. If Tribune does not meet its staff reduction goals by then, it will move to layoffs.

More from Kevin Roderick at LAObserved:

Employees at the Los Angeles Times have until Oct. 23 to apply for the new buyout offer unveiled today and being sent to homes this week. Just about everyone on staff for at least a year is eligible to apply. It comes with a big inducement for older staffers. If you are still working at the paper on Dec. 31, you will no longer receive any retiree medical coverage should you stay at the paper long enough to retire. If you leave before Dec. 31, you will get the previously promised retiree medical coverage (for as long as the company still offers that benefit.)

This is for all of the Tribune Publishing’s newspapers and there’s no attempt to hide that this is about reducing costs. The company’s stock price is in the tank and revenues are down, especially in Los Angeles, apparently. I expect to see a lot of more senior LAT staffers take this buyout, especially now with the retirement inducement. Apparently the severance portion will be paid out as salary rather than as a lump sum, so the tax bite is lessened and health benefits are retained during the payout time. If I am reading that correctly. It’s unknown exactly how many people the LA Times will allow to leave, but speculation is that the target dollar figure adds up to between 50 and 80 positions.

Beantown journalists are also facing the chop, as Boston magazine reports:’s rough month continued on Tuesday when a dozen staffers were let go in an afternoon bloodletting at the Boston Globe-owned property.

The news of layoffs comes a day after the site’s former editor-in-chief Tim Molloy left and less than a week after it was announced that general manager Corey Gottlieb would depart for the daily fantasy sports site DraftKings. Gottlieb was one of the people who spoke to employees when they were informed they were being let go, according to those familiar with the situation.

The pair were replaced by former Boston magazine digital editor Kaitlyn Johnston and Eleanor Cleverly,’s executive director of digital strategy and operations.

The disaster plaguing print is hitting alternative as well as mainstream papers, as in this instance covered by CityLab:

Philadelphia City Paper will cease to exist on October 8, according to Wednesday’s announcement by Broad Street Media, the new owner of what it describes as the publication’s “intellectual property.” It was only after that article (which resembles a press release) was posted online at one of the company’s outlets that City Paper’s editorial staff actually found out—not by hearing from anyone in charge, but from a flood of texts from friends and requests for comment from other media outlets.

The end always seemed around the corner during my roughly four years at City Paper, where I was a staff reporter until this spring. The page count had long since shrunk into the mid-double digits. Last summer, we were sold to the company that owns Metro, a free daily newspaper that in depth, style, and frequency of publication was our antithesis. Now Metro has turned over the paper to Broad Street Media, where it will be absorbed by the long-ago-eviscerated Philadelphia Weekly. I have no idea what that means except that City Paper editorial staff has been laid off, and that alarmingly, according to a post by my former colleagues, they expect the paper’s web archives will “vanish along with us.”

Next up, the nation’s largest newspaper conglomerate has announced yet another round of cuts, reports news media blogger Jim Romenesko:

A Romenesko reader writes: “I am not eligible for the early retirement buyout, but several of my colleagues are. They feel like they are now being pressured to take it, even though it’s supposed to be completely voluntary.

“They also see this line as a veiled threat: ‘If we don’t achieve our goals, we will need to re-evaluate where we stand and we can’t rule out implementing other actions in the future.’”

Dave Harmon
Chief People Officer

As mentioned earlier – the program is completely voluntary. We will finalize acceptances after the 45-day consideration period has closed, which is Oct. 12, 2015.

A notable California print closing will sees the end of the San Francisco-based California Lawyer, reports Romenesko:

California Lawyer, which called itself “the nation’s leading legal magazine,” has been killed by parent company Daily Journal Corporation.09Cover-210×276 Two employees confirmed that the memo below was distributed on Wednesday. I’m still trying to find out how many people lost jobs. Please email me if you have information. UPDATE: A tipster writes: “The toll is seven full-time staff: Editor, a senior editor, associate editor, copy chief, design director, art director and production manager.”

At 9:30 this morning a representative from the Daily Journal Corporation announced to staff that CALIFORNIA LAWYER would cease publication in the print and digital editions, as of the October issue.

Termination for all staff is immediate, as of September 30, 2015. At the close of work today our email will no longer function.

Finally, there’s another hemorrhaging plaguing the nation’s Fourth Estate, signaled by a new survey from Gallup, “Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low”:

BLOG Papers

Ted Rall, banned cartoonist, on Snowden, media

The population of American newspaper editorial cartoonist is dying off faster than the population of salaried journalists, in part because the best cartoonists are both irreverent and provocative.

Ted Rall was one of two op-ed cartoonists for the Los Angeles Times until earlier this year when he was fired because the Los Angeles Police Department challenged a column and cartoon he had penned earlier this year about an encounter he had with an aggressive cop [more later].

His pen remains busy, and he has just turned his skills to the book, producing a graphic biography of Edward Snowden titled, aptly, Snowden.

In this 29 September Seattle Town Hall conversation with Paul Constant, Rall talks about Snowden and the events leading to his ouster by the Times.

From TalkingStickTV:

Ted Rall (Author of “Snowden”) in Conversation with Paul Constant

Here’s Rall’s graphic account of his ouster from the Times, via aNewDomain:

On July 27, 2015, the Los Angeles Times fired me as its long-time editorial cartoonist. The reason given was their belief, based on a secret LAPD audiotape of my 2001 arrest for jaywalking, that I lied about my treatment by the police officer in a May 11, 2015 blog for the Times. However, when I had the tape enhanced and cleaned up, it proved I'd told the truth. So why won't the Times comment or admit they were wrong?

On July 27, 2015, the Los Angeles Times fired me as its long-time editorial cartoonist. The reason given was their belief, based on a secret LAPD audiotape of my 2001 arrest for jaywalking, that I lied about my treatment by the police officer in a May 11, 2015 blog for the Times. However, when I had the tape enhanced and cleaned up, it proved I’d told the truth. So why won’t the Times comment or admit they were wrong?

Note that in his video talk, Rall drops a bombshell: The largest owner of shares in the Times‘ parent corporation is the pension fund of the Los Angeles Police Department. Curious, no?

And continuing with the subject of the relationship of editorial cartoonists and the LAPD, consider this 1968 R. Cobb offering from the late Los Angeles Free Press:

BLOG RCobbCops

India’s Daughter: Banned by India’s government

Watch it while you can, before the powerful documentary is pulled from YouTube once again. India’s Prime Minister is desperate to prevent the film from being viewed in Indian because it reveals deep and abiding violent sexism in the nation which proudly proclaims itself to be the world’s largest democracy.

The focus is on a violent and fatal gang rape, and criminals who justify their action on that hoariest and most deplorable of rapist excuses, “She was asking for it.”

We had planned to post a better quality version from Vimeo, but that company has removed all copies of the video. While YouTube had originally also withdrawn videos, copies are again available, though at lower resolution than the Vimeo version we had seen.

From BBC’s Storyville via vlogger Sourabh Anand:

India’s Daughter Storyville, BBC Four, Full Video

Program notes:

India’s Daughter – Storyville, BBC Four

The documentary on ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape that happened in Delhi on December 16, 2012. Directed by Leslee Udwin and broadcasted on BBC Four Storyville.

The documentary was supposed to be broadcast on March 8, 2015 (International Woman’s Day) but the date was brought forward and it was televised on March 4 following a ban on the television broadcast of the documentary by the government of India.

The ban was imposed apparently due to a controversial interview of one of the convicts by the name of “Mukesh Singh” who showed no remorse for the crime he had committed.

Some background on the ban, via the Guardian:

Indian government remains defiant over ban on BBC rape documentary

  • BBC film India’s Daughter, about the fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student, was banned in the country, with government threatening legal action against BBC

The Indian government has remained defiant over its ban on a BBC documentary about the 2012 fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi despite a groundswell of acclaim for the film from prominent Indians who watched it online.

After India’s Daughter broadcast in the UK on Wednesday night, the hour-long film surfaced on YouTube, where the Guardian was able to view it on Thursday afternoon despite reports in Indian media that the government had ordered it be taken down.

India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, has threatened to take action against the BBC, though did not elaborate on what form this may take, save that “all options are open”.

Police in Delhi continue to pursue the investigation against filmmaker Leslee Udwin, who has left the country, and her Indian crew. Officers visited the homes and offices of Indian crew members on Thursday in a bid to collect the entire footage of the film.

We have no admiration for Modi, a man who is eager for his country to adopt GMOs because, in part, his literal readings of ancient Indian religious texts have convinced him that his ancestors had genetic modification, stem cell research, space ships, automobiles, and the like thousands of years ago.

His favorite example and proof of genetical technology is the elephant-headed god Ganesh.

From the Independent:

That Modi supports theories such as Ganesh’s head is well known. He has spoken about them before and propagated them in schools when he was chief minister of Gujarat, writing the preface of a book that claimed the ancient inventions of motor cars, airplanes and origins of stem cell research.

In a similar vein, Modi’s water resources minister, Uma Bharti, has revived a geological search for the mystical River Saraswati, which is mentioned in Vedic texts and is alleged to flow roughly parallel to the Indus from the Himalayas to the Arabian sea.

Even under the recent Congress government, the Archaeological Society of India, an official body that is in charge of ancient monuments and sites, last year authorised a (fruitless) dig under an old fort in Uttar Pradesh after a seer had dreamed that 1,000 tonnes of gold were buried there.

The notion of women as equal, creative, and positively sexual beings doesn’t appeal to Modi or for that matter Muslim, Christian, and Jewish fundamentalists, who all agree that women are better seen than heard — and when seen must be concealed behind garb that leaves everything to the imagination and nothing to the eye, and have no place in realms traditionally dominated by men.

All agree that women are sexually dangerous, object to be covered and sequestered, as in the case of America’s stalwart ally, Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t allowed in public without male escorts and must never, ever drive themselves anywhere.

Women who defy conventions, in the eyes of fundamentalists, are simply asking to be raped, and in a country like India where female foetuses are regularly aborted to avoid the high costs of dowries, the resulting sexual imbalance ensures an ample supply of men with no marital prospects and high levels of testosterone. Combine frustration with beliefs that facilitate blaming the victim, and stories like those in the documentary become increasingly likely.

Modi’s efforts to ban the BBC documentary are hardly surprising.

As the Times of India reports, more than half of the Indians surveyed believe a husband has every right to beat a wife.

But as the paper reported in another story Thursday, things may be changing:

Rape accused dragged out of jail, lynched in Nagaland

A man, accused of raping a girl, was beaten to death today after being pulled out of a jail by a mob at Dimapur in Nagaland.

A mass protest rally against the rape was held at Dimapur this morning after which students and angry people forced into the district jail and managed to pull out the accused.

The accused had allegedly raped the victim several times on February 23 and was arrested the following day following a complaint lodged by the victim.

The police resorted to blank firing and fired tear gas shells but failed to control the situation, officials said.

Lynching isn’t the answer, but the mass action itself indicates the growing frustration of many in a country where sexual violence, bothing in beatings and in rapes, is all too readily condoned.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, drugs, politics, warnings

We begin with the latest epidemiological curve from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, depicting the number of new cases for each week since the outbreak began:

BLOG Ebola curve

And the bottom line, via South Africa’s Independent Online:

WHO: 99 Ebola cases in past week

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone reported 99 new confirmed Ebola cases in the week to February 22, down from 128 the previous week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Sierra Leone accounted for the bulk of the latest infections with 63, signalling a halt to a steep decline recorded from December through January, followed by Guinea with 35 and Liberia just a single case, the UN agency said in its weekly report.

“Cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission,” the WHO said. Sixteen of the new cases were identified in Guinea and Sierra Leone after post-mortem testing of people who died in the community “indicating that a significant number of individuals are still either unable or reluctant to seek treatment.”

The Associated Press covers a decision to come:

UN plans decision in August on mass Ebola vaccine program

The World Health Organization says a decision will be made in August whether to recommend a program of mass vaccination against Ebola in affected countries.

The U.N. health agency says an independent expert group will weigh the results of ongoing clinical trials, the state of the epidemic and the logistical challenges of carrying out such a program.

At the moment, two Ebola vaccines are being tested, but it’s unknown how effective they are or what dose might be needed to protect people against the deadly virus.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday a final decision about whether to conduct widespread immunization would be taken by the ministers of the countries involved.

On to Sierra Leone, first with a new hot spot, via the Guardian:

Ebola: Sierra Leone village in lockdown after 31 new cases recorded

  • Flare-up of virus in community just outside town of Makeni with WHO linking cases to one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown

Efforts to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone have been dealt a setback after 31 new cases were recorded in one village.

The community of 500 just outside the town of Makeni has now been put in lockdown by the army amid fears that more could be infected.

The World Health Organisation said cases had been linked to one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown to go to his village for treatment from a traditional faith healer.

The quarantine area is a fishing community, yards from the hotel where many workers from humanitarian agencies have stayed.

From the Sierra Leone Concord Times again, economics:

‘Ebola does not stop our economic activities’

– Bombali Peace Mothers declares

The Peace Mothers in Masabong Section in the Pakimasabong Chiefdom are one of the successful Peace Mother groups in Fambul Tok International’s operational areas in the Bombali District. Before the war, the community continued to be challenged by issues bordering on women’s participation in community development, gender and the rights of children. Women’s effective participation in development was more pervasive in that community where traditional practices in most cases overshadowed their participation.

After the war, it was very difficult for people to work together. There was an atmosphere of fear, grudge, suspicion, lack of cohesion and the initiative to undertake livelihood activities by community members, especially women.

After their healing and reconciliation ceremonies in 2011, the Peace Mothers initiated the idea of micro revolving loans. It all started with community members contributing money as revolve scheme amongst themselves in all 14 villages in the chiefdom.

While the government wants to call a halt to some economic activity, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:

Port Loko residents defy public emergency orders

Youth leader of Port Loko town, Mohamed Kamara, has told Concord Times that residents of the north-western township were in the habit of going about trading well beyond the stipulated 6:00pm time stipulated by government, in defiance of presidential orders.

“The district is now deemed as the Ebola epicenter with high rate of deaths. We are calling on the authorities concerned to stop street trading at night,” Kamara pleaded.

However, Sergeant Ibrahim M. Sesay of the Port Loko police division said efforts were being made to put a stop to night trading in the township. “The police force is working hard to contain the Ebola viral disease in the entire Port Loko district and we will not condone lawlessness,” he said.

And the Thomson Reuters Foundation covers collateral damage:

Ebola halts HIV progress in Sierra Leone, says UN

The West African Ebola outbreak has halted progress in tackling HIV in Sierra Leone, shutting health clinics and scaring patients from being tested or seeking treatment, the United Nations has said.

In an internal document seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) raised concerns that HIV prevalence and drug resistance in the country could increase as a result.

The worst recorded outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 9,500 people, infected over 23,500 others and placed immense pressure on already weak health systems in hardest-hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

“Hospitals have closed down because they have been overrun by Ebola patients and non-Ebola patients are too afraid to go to them for fear of catching the virus,” said Hakan Bjorkman, who manages UNDP’s AIDS programme.

“HIV prevention activities in schools and awareness raising for the general population has been suspended due to the restriction of movement, the closure of all education institutions and the overall ban on public gathering.”

On to Liberia and a departure, via the New Dawn:

U.S. Joint Forces Command departs Saturday

The Joint Forces Command United Assistance of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division departs Liberia this Saturday, 28 February 2015 for the United State of America after five months of vigorous support to the Government of Liberia’s fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Speaking Thursday at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia, during a Color Casing Ceremony, the Commander of the Joint Forces Command United Assistance, Major/General Gary J. Volesky, said, the mission here was to support lead federal agency, the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, by providing unique military capabilities to help contain the virus and reduce the spread of Ebola in Liberia, and to execute the tasks with speed and flexibility that would not only help build confidence among Liberians that the virus could be defeated, but also help garner the support of the international community to also assist in the fight against the disease.

Gen. Volesky said, as the 101st  Airborne Division departs Liberia, the fight to getting to zero will still continue and the JFC has ensured that capabilities brought will be sustained in the future.  “ETU construction, health care workers training, and logistical sustainment operations for Ebola containment have been transitioned to reliable partners that will continue supporting the fight against the EVD”, he said.

From CCTV Africa, a video report on the pullout:

U.S. Military Ends Ebola Mission in Liberia

Program notes:

The Americans have ended their Ebola support mission in Liberia – four months ahead of schedule. The decision to withdraw comes due to the dramatic drop in the number of cases in the past month

The New York Times covers a plea:

Liberia’s President Urges U.S. to Continue Ebola Aid

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia on Friday urged the United States to maintain its assistance to her country as it continues to fight to recover from the Ebola outbreak, which began about one year ago.

In a meeting at the White House with President Obama, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf asked for help with power projects to keep the country’s hospitals and new treatment centers running, for clean water and sanitation facilities to stop the disease from spreading, and for road construction to make it easier for sick people in rural areas to get to hospitals.

“We can neither rest, nor lift our foot off the gas,” Ms. Johnson Sirleaf said on Thursday during an earlier event on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware. “We are determined to get to zero cases by April 15.”

AllAfrica covers help from Europe:

Liberia: EU Earmarks U.S.$326 Million for Liberia

The European Development Fund has allocated EUR 279 million (about US$326 million) to support Liberia’s development programs.

The funds will be divided and spread over good governance, energy, education and agriculture, according to a release from the European Union (EU) delegation to LiberiaThursday.

The release indicated that a high-level conference on Ebola will take place in Brussels on Tuesday, March 3, noting that the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Program for Liberia 2014-2020 will be signed between Liberia and the EU during the conference.

From StarAfrica, a drug trial begins:

Liberia: Clinical study of Ebola trial drug begins

A full-scale clinical trial of the experimental Ebola Drug Zmapp commenced at the ELWA-II Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Monrovia Friday, an official of the trial team has disclosed.

Dr Jerry Brown who is Liberia’s Co-principal Coordinator for the trial, said the trial process is a partnership initiative between the government and the U.S National Institute of Health.

Making the disclosure at the Ministry of Information’s daily Ebola press
briefings on Friday, Brown noted that the trial of the drug will target people who are confirmed positive of the disease.

He explained that the trial of the drug is intended to find a perfect cure for Ebola as well as authenticate whether if administered alone, the Zmapp drug can heal an affected patient.

And from FrontPageAfrica, pressing the press:

Liberian Journalists Cautioned On Ebola Trial Vaccine

The Communications Officer of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (Liberia), Madam Lisa White has called on Liberian journalists to properly research their information before putting it out for public consumption. She made a specific reference to journalists that are involved in reporting on Ebola victims.

Speaking at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia Wednesday February 25, 2015 where she served as a facilitator at a media training workshop on the Ebola trial vaccine in Liberia, Madam White said verifying information before publication will help the public get accurate information. Journalists mainly attended the workshop from various media institutions in Liberia including the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Abdullah Kamara.

She urged journalists to protect the identity of those who have been infected with the virus and their family members. Madam White frowned on the misapplication of photos being used by print media, citing an example of journalists using a dead body photo on their front pages, “We need to protect the family of the dead or Ebola infected from stigma, if we publish the photos of these individuals, we stigmatize their families for life,” she cautioned journalists.

And to close, a potential case from the New Dawn:

Bomi quarantines Catholic priest

Health authorities in Tubmanburg, Bomi County have quarantined a Catholic cleric, Father Gary Jenkins, to conduct Ebola tests on him, a correspondent for Monrovia-based Radio Veritas in Bomi says.

The clergy has however had his first test result come negative, and a second test was due to confirm his health status before he could possibly be discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit in Tubmanburg, the correspondent adds.

The Veritas correspondent, who also manages a community radio in the county, reported on Thursday that Father Jenkins’ first Ebola test result came out on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. Father Jenkins is said to be a clergy at St. Dominic Catholic Parish in Tubmanburg, but so far there is no information available to this paper of any Ebola incident there.

A farewell to Leonard Nimoy, symbol of an era

The son of Ukrainian immigrants who grew up in the Big Apple, Nimoy won the hearts of esnl’s generation for the role which will forever define him, the ever-logical voice of detachment that was Star Trek’s Mister Spock — the dispassionate voice of moderation to the hyperkinetic Capt. James Tiberius Kirk. The oddest of couples, to a generation they represented a hopeful possibility in a day when air raid sired tests happened monthly and the threats of nuclear war and racial violence dominated the news pages.

Star Trek was a world where black, white, Asian, Russian, Scot, and Midwesterners could engage in harmonious cooperation, even with a pointy eared alien as the second-in-command.

USA Today assembled a collection of archetypal Spock moments, the fitting acknowledgments of the role that Nimoy first fought to distinguish himself from, then embraced:

Classic Vulcan Moments

Program notes:

Watch classic scenes of Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy.

The Washington Post today quoted Nimoy’s remarks on the Spock character reported in a 1968 New York Times article:

“I knew that we were not playing a man with no emotions, but a man who had great pride, who had learned to control his emotions and who would deny that he knew what emotions were. In a way, he was more human than anyone else on the ship.

“In spite of being an outcast, being mixed up, looking different, he maintains his point of view. He can’t be bullied or put on. He’s freaky with dignity. There are very few characters who have that kind of pride, cool and ability to lay it out and walk away. Humphrey Bogart played most of them.”

And in his final public words, a Tweet sent to fans Sunday, five days before his death from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, he ended with the acronym for the words his character made famous, Live long and prosper:

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 19.32.04

John Oliver wins: FCC endorses net neutrality

It’s not very often that a singular political victory can be ascribed to a few minutes of air time, but that seems to be the case in today’s three-two Federal Communications Commission vote mandating rules to ensure net neturality.

From the the Christian Science Monitor:

Net neutrality’s stunning reversal of fortune: Is it John Oliver’s doing?

  • A year ago, few outside the telecom community had ever heard of net neutrality, despite extensive news coverage. Here’s how a comedy program made the general public care about a topic considered ‘even boring by C-SPAN standards.’

Less than a year ago, when a wonky policy debate over the principle of net neutrality and prioritized Internet “fast lanes” seemed to interest only telecom company suits and nerdy open Internet advocates, a comedian’s 13-minute segment may have helped turn the national conversation’s tide.

At the time, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a former top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, was mulling new rules to allow broadband companies to provide “fast lanes” for content providers who were willing to pay for it.
Recommended: How much do you know about pop culture? Take our quiz to find out!

“Yes, the guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it,” said John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in June. “That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo…. ‘Make sure they’re in bed by 8, there’s 20 bucks on the table for kibbles, so please don’t eat my baby.’” He then urged his viewers to contact the FCC.

Tens of thousands did, crashing the agency’s website and flooding it with comments the next few days, with millions more to come – the vast majority calling for net neutrality. And Chairman Wheeler, appointed by President Obama to lead the commission in 2013, was a good sport about it, telling reporters, “I would like to state for the record that I am not a dingo.”

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, here’s the segment, posted 1 June 2014 and attaining 8,063,173 views by the time we reviewed today:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality

Program notes:

Cable companies are trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds, but they’re doing it so boringly that most news outlets aren’t covering it.

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

Four months after the segment aired, David Bauder of the Associated Press wrote:

Oliver has journalists who worked at the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica on his writing staff.

Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, calls Oliver’s work “investigative comedy.” Thompson has played the net neutrality segment for his students.

Research indicates that young people are much more likely than their elders to take a deeper dive into news stories that interest them, searching for more information online, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. What Oliver is doing responds to that desire, he said.

“There is a natural link between committing journalism and committing comedy,” Rosenstiel said. “They’re both in the uncovering and unmasking business, but with different approaches.”

So congratulations to John Oliver for stepping on some powerful toes and accomplishing — aided by a wide range of activist organizations and individuals — a defeat, at least for now, on yet another attempted by media monopolies to pick our pockets.

Bill O’Reilly: The Anti-Zelig with a very big mouth

Remember Zelig? If not, it’s a delightful and must-see 1983 Woody Allen film about the fictional Leonard, an otherwise nobody who funds himself in the center of many of the seminal events of the 20th Century by virtue of being the human equivalent of a chameleon:

BLOG Zelig

Leonard Zelig, Allen’s nebbish-protagonist, was actually there with Babe Ruth, Herbert Hoover, and even Adolf Hitler:

BLOG Zelg Hitler

Unlike Zelig, Bill O’Reilly, the anti-nebbish, lies when he places himself at the center of global events. And now that he’s been outed as a serial sociopathic liar, the hits just keep on coming.

Not content to interject himself in various scenes of international peril, he’s also interjected himself in that most seminal of 20th Century American events, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And as with his accounts of the Falklands War in 1982 and of witnessing the murders of nuns in El Salvador a year earlier, O’Reilly’s claims about the Kennedy assassination have been exposed as sheer, ego-aggrandizing fabrications.

Now comes another instance.

Take it away Cenk Uiygur of The Young Turks:

O’Reilly’s Lee Harvey Oswald Lie Proves His Lying Goes Back Decades

Program notes:

“Conservative TV host Bill O’Reilly has been caught repeatedly lying about being present at the suicide of a key JFK assassination investigation witness, a week after he was accused of exaggerating the dangers he faced reporting from the Falklands War.

“Bill O’Reilly’s a phony, there’s no other way to put it,” Tracy Rowlett, who worked with O’Reilly at a local Dallas WFAA station during the alleged incident, told Media Matters, an online news website.

The suicide victim is George de Mohrenschildt, a picaresque Russian émigré, who was on friendly terms with both the family of Jackie Kennedy and the assassin of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. He reportedly cooperated for decades with the CIA.

The proof of O’Reilly’s fabrication was first revealed two years ago by JFK Facts, a website devoted to the study of the Kennedy assassination, which posted the actual recordings of O’Reilly’s calls to assassination investigator Gaeton Fonzi on 30 January 2013:

A recording of three phone conversations between Fonzi and O’Reilly on March 29, 1977, confirms Fonzi’s account. Fonzi’s widow, Marie Fonzi, shared the tape with JFK Facts.

“Gaet liked O’Reilly and did lots to help him,” Marie Fonzi said in an email. “He hired him in the early ‘70s when editor of Miami Magazine at $25 a month to write movie reviews. He wrote letters of reference for him and was instrumental in getting him his first TV shot.”

But she adds, “I know O’Reilly was in Dallas” on March 29, 1977. “There is no question about it.”

O’Reilly is right about one thing. He was indeed pursuing George de Mohrenschildt in March 1977, but he did not reach his doorstep in Palm Beach on March 29, 1977, and he certainly did not hear de Mohrenschildt’s demise with his own ears. When the fatal shot rang out, O’Reilly was in his office at the WFAA studios in Dallas, Texas, more than 1,200 miles away.

So why do people still hang on the pompous blowhard’s pustulent posturing?

Let us quote someone who was a master of of propaganda:

[I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.

You may have guessed the author, a guy named Hitler, writing in a book called Mein Kampf.