Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Why Is The MSM Afraid Of Scrutinizing Rush Limbaugh?
The New York Times Magazine's recent ridiculous puff piece on Rush Limbaugh continues a trend in which the mainstream media has shied away from any serious scrutiny of the nation's top-rated talk radio host.
It's a courtesy that Limbaugh has never reciprocated. After all, Limbaugh spends day after day on his radio program, demonizing The New York Times in the harshest language imaginable. After listening to Limbaugh's ramblings, you might well be under the impression that the Times is working closely with Al-Qaeda.
But the Times is hardly alone in treating Limbaugh with kid gloves. For such a major celebrity, Limbaugh has never faced any sort of real scrutiny from the mainstream media in his two decades as a national radio star.
It wasn't the MSM, for example, that broke the 2003 story of how Limbaugh was being investigated in connection with illegally obtaining OxyContin. It was the tabloid media (specifically, the National Enquirer).
Amazingly, in 20 years, there has really only been one in-depth look at Limbaugh (and it didn't come from the MSM). It came from author Al Franken's 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.
Franken's best-selling book exposed Limbaugh for the fraud he is. For the first time ever, the book brought to light Limbaugh's astonishing hypocrisy (such as the fact that he once collected government jobless benefits and the fact he never voted for GOP hero Ronald Reagan) as well as his crude, vicious hate speech (such as calling then 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a "dog").
Big Fat Idiot also revealed how Limbaugh's program peddles outright lies and misinformation on a daily basis. Until Franken's book appeared, little of this information had ever been revealed to a broad audience, thanks to the MSM's silence.
Frankly, if the MSM had been doing its job, there would never have been a need for Franken's book in the first place. Readers appreciated Franken's job in exposing Limbaugh (sending Big Fat Idiot soaring to the top of the best-seller lists).
The MSM has always given Limbaugh a pass. To this day, he serves up a daily helping of outright lies, GOP propaganda and misinformation to his Ditto-Head audience of 14 million.
And Limbaugh isn't the only Right-Wing Hate Spewer treated with kid gloves by the MSM.
Recall how in 2005, Time magazine did a puff piece on Ann Coulter. The article's author, John Cloud, stunned many readers with his cover-story valentine to Coulter, as well as his contention that he "didn't find many outright Coulter errors" in her unhinged, rambling books. (In reality, watchdog sites like Media Matters have documented loads of outrageous lies in Coulter's shoddily researched writings).
And radio host Glenn Beck is yet another nutcase fringe right-wing extremist who gets a free pass from the MSM. In fact, in Beck's case, the MSM rewarded this hate-spewer with his own daily hour-long program on CNN's "Headline News." This, for a right-wing talk show host who once called Cindy Sheehan a "slut."
Friday, March 28, 2008
Media's Swooning Over McCain Echoes MSM's Love Affair With Bush In 2000
In case you haven't heard, it's now official: John McCain is the darling of the mainstream media. And as reporters swoon over McCain, some of us are experiencing deja vu.
Where have we seen this sort of fawning MSM coverage before? Oh, that's right: it was in the 2000 campaign, when the MSM fell in love with George W. Bush.
Although today I'm sure they'd like to forget it ever happened, the fact is, reporters fawned over Bush in 2000. And while this love affair was going on, the media was sharpening its claws to attack Al Gore over GOP-invented bogus controversies like "I invented the Internet."
As Al Franken pointed out in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, the media just plain didn't like Gore:
"Somewhere along the line, the pack decided that Al Gore was a sanctimonious, graspy exaggerator running against a likeable if dim-witted goof-off."
As Franken notes, the widely respected Pew Charitable Trusts foundation documented that the tone of the media coverage was decidedly anti-Gore and pro-Bush during the campaign.
As Pew notes, a comprehensive survey of 1,149 news stories from 17 leading news sources in 2000 showed a "positive" slant in 24 percent of the stories about Bush (versus only 13 percent for Gore). By contrast, the "negative" slant was 56 percent for Gore versus 49 percent for Bush.
And now a MSM love affair for a GOP candidate is happening all over again. As Gabler points out, "reporters routinely attach 'maverick,' 'straight talker' and 'patriot' to (McCain) like Homeric epithets." As Chris Matthews of MSNBC put it, the media is now "McCain's base."
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Memo to Keith Olbermann: We Don't Care About Britney Or Paris
For many of us, Countdown with Keith Olbermann is, quite simply, the best thing on television these days. It's a thought-provoking newscast that towers above the sleazy, sensationalized crap that passes for "news" on the major media channels.
Olbermann's show is like a breath of fresh air and it has made the past few years of George W. Bush's nightmarish reign at least a bit more tolerable. But there's a slight problem with Countdown that I'd like to complain about.
For some reason, Olbermann always insists on closing his show with "entertainment" news--and more often than not, it's "news" about the latest activities of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
(I know, I know: Olbermann is being "ironic" in his coverage of these irritating celebrities. But there's only one problem: even if you cover them from an ironic angle, Paris and Britney are so vapid that they're still boring).
Actually, I'm unclear as to why Olbermann insists on including "celebrity" news on his program in the first place. Most of us are sick to death of today's sensationalized, tabloid culture anyway. If we never heard another word about over-exposed celebrities like Paris and Britney, it'd be too soon.
By inexplicably including this dreck at the end of his program, I'd suspect that a lot of people never watch Olbermann's show to its conclusion.
And I'd like to offer a suggestion. Please, Keith: dump all "news" about Britney and Paris. Instead, use that segment on your show for something more interesting and useful.
How about something like this: "Right-Wing Lie of the Day"? Surely that alone would offer enough material for the next two decades of programs.
Or how about a regular feature called, "Today's Buzz In The Blogosphere"? Of course I'm biased, but I'd like to see more coverage of news and views from the blogosphere. CNN already has a "what's hot on the blogs" segment; it seems like such a feature would be a natural for Olbermann's show (which, no doubt, has an audience that frequents the blogosphere).
Those are just a couple of suggestions. But really, the fact is, anything would be better than devoting yet more coverage to Britney and Paris. The first time Olbermann mentioned these two vapid celebrities on his program, it might have been a bit funny to some people. Now, it's just tiresome.
Monday, August 20, 2007
How Fox News Blew Its Chance To Go Beyond Preaching To The Choir
At first glance, the Fox News Channel appears to be a big success these days. Since launching in 1996, Fox has come out of nowhere to lead the pack in cable news ratings.
To the delight of conservatives, Fox News pumps out a GOP-friendly message 24 hours a day across America. Between Fox News, Drudge and HateWing radio, Republicans have a variety of outlets these days to spread the word.
I hate to rain on Fox News' parade, but there is still one major nagging problem with this "news" channel's efforts to get out the GOP message.
That is: Fox News long ago blew its chance to be a credible news source.
Oh sure, Fox News is the gospel truth to the dwindling 29 percenters who still support Bush.
But to the rest of America, Fox News is increasingly seen as a joke these days.
The fact is, Fox News is simply preaching to the choir these days. And, as the GOP has increasingly lost its luster since 2000, it's clear that Fox is going to have a smaller and smaller choir to preach to in coming years.
Simply preaching to the choir is clearly not what Rupert Murdoch had in mind when he launched Fox News. But in order to go beyond that limited audience, Murdoch needed to build Fox as a news outlet that at least had the appearance of being credible.
Really, what Fox News should have done from the beginning is work hard to build its credibility image. Then, it could have effectively sneaked the partisan GOP content in occasionally through the back door. That, in turn, would have led to a winning of hearts and minds across America.
But Fox News blew it when it completely ignored the issue of credibility and instead just rammed through blatant GOP viewpoints to its audience 24 hours a day.
Liberals often fret that Fox News is nothing more than an outlet for GOP propaganda. But that dignifies what Fox is actually doing. Truly effective propaganda subtly changes people's minds without them even realizing that they're being propagandized.
That's clearly not the case with Fox News. Few people's minds are being changed by the heavy-handed GOP sludge pumped out by Fox News these days. And to Liberals and Independents (and indeed, the vast majority of clear-thinking rational adults) Fox News is nothing more than a joke these days.
What has to be most troubling to Fox News is the fact that credibility is by far the most valuable asset that a news outlet can have these days. And once you've blown your credibility, it's really pretty much impossible to ever get it back. The latter is especially true these days when watchdog sites like Media Matters are only a mouse click away.
The ironic thing is, if Fox News had strived for at least the appearance of credibility from the beginning, it would today be a much more effective tool for spreading the GOP's message. Instead, I would suspect most Americans will never take Fox News seriously again.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Joe Klein, Who Claimed Liberals "Hate America," Now Slams Progressives' "Bile"
Time magazine blogger Joe Klein is upset with the way the progressive blogosphere is treating him these days. In his latest piece, "Beware the Bloggers' Bile," Klein expresses bafflement that he's been criticized by liberal bloggers recently.
Klein writes that much of the progressive blogosphere these days is "is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance."
Klein expresses dismay at his critics and tries to play up his supposedly liberal credentials. He writes that he's being unfairly targeted. As far as he's concerned, "the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered."
Wow, that's a pretty heavy charge.
There's only one problem that the supposedly reasonable and "unfairly" criticized Klein fails to point out.
The fact is, Klein himself has been guilty of the most vicious, Rush Limbaugh-like attacks on liberals in recent years.
Here's an example (as reported last year by Media Matters). On April 11, 2006, Klein declared that Democrats wouldn't find success among voters "if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past 20 years."
Let me see if I understand this correctly: Klein claims liberals "hate" America. And then he turns around and claims that the progressive blogs are guilty of "intolerance" and Rush Limbaugh-like tactics because they dared to criticize him.
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