Suddenly it hit me. It’s very simple, really. The filter that professional journalism provided is mostly still there, but it’s no longer the only megaphone to the masses. It no longer protects the masses against disinformation and evil intent.
Legitimate journalists must now compete with another megaphone, one that’s available to the liars among us, the lunatic fringe that wants only to bend the masses to their self-absorption and delusion. Those who are blinded by avarice. Those who blindly accept the lies.
As a result, millions of Americans have been left believing not the truth that’s put forth by legitimate journalists, but lies being spewed daily over the Web and on right-wing broadcasting. Lies, like real news being fake and Fascism being preferable to Democracy.
How we reconcile stopping this evil without corrupting the First Amendment is beyond me, but if we don’t, it could lead to our downfall as a free people.
It’s really very simple. It’s about evil. It’s about the liars among us. It’s about who will have the courage to call them out and take them on. It’s about who will have the courage to stand by the law. As Robert Bolt wrote in “A Man For All Seasons,” whatever your belief system might be, we are in a battle with evil over the rule of law both figuratively and literally.
As Bolt has written: “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.” – Sir Thomas More in “A Man For All Seasons”
Why are the Communist Chinese so uncharacteristically unnerved about the visit by Nancy Pelosi? Could it indicate a struggle inside China, pitting military against political leaders? If that’s the case, then what are the implications for the United States and the West?
Why is the 7/24 U.S. media mostly ignoring the situation as though it isn’t happening as the Communist Chinese turn the water and air space around Taiwan into a free-fire zone? I know the networks no longer have correspondents overseas, so they’ve pretty much abdicated any responsibility they might have for covering it in person, but they could at least discuss it on the shows in that it is LEGITIMATE NEWS, as opposed to the same old political nonsense about exactly the same players they continue repeating ad nauseam.
Why do the 7/24 news channels refuse to do “news?” Can they no longer identify what it is? If they don’t know what to do they could watch the BBC and France24 where news coverage is still going on.
They have no audience because people are sick and tired of hearing the very same three or four topics being discussed again and again and again by the same three or four “experts.”
Is it a simple question of the same pundits spouting opinions being less expensive? Has actual news coverage become too expensive for commercial television to cover?
What to do about the new 6th Street Bridge in Los Angeles? Almost from the moment it opened the bridge has attracted consternation, conflict and controversy leading to the LAPD shutting it down on multiple occasions.
The first problem I recall reading about, was the muscle car people “taking over” the bridge to do donuts, spinning around in circles with their cars. After that, people started doing all kinds of goofy things on the bridge, like a barber cutting some guys hair out in the middle of traffic. And then it hit me. It’s not the bridge that’s attracting all the attention, it’s video of what people are doing on the bridge that gets posted on social media. The 6th Street bridge, has apparently become the biggest “Look at me!” social media site in Southern California? Please understand that I’m not there, so I’m just guessing based upon news coverage. And a little history.
Some years ago, way before O.J. and his famous “slow speed chase,” police pursuits were a new thing for Los Angeles television. It started at some point when someone noticed that helicopter coverage of a police pursuit pulled in an audience. After that another station did it and then another and another, until eventually we had a half-dozen or more choppers up, chasing a police pursuit regardless of the reason for it or the speed involved. Some guy could have been driving an old tractor down Ventura Boulevard at three miles per hour. If the police were in pursuit then by god, we’d all be there with our choppers overhead providing live tv coverage for an audience that loved it. We knew they loved it because they were watching in record numbers.
A couple of the stations decided to stop covering pursuits because they had no news value whatsoever and their ratings crashed. That’s how we knew. But back to the 6th Street bridge.
It was during one of those early pursuits that something really strange happened that led to me having an epiphany. There we were, chasing the police who were chasing a suspect – our helicopter was overhead and my cameraman and I were in our truck on the ground – when the strangest thing happened. Crowds began gathering in advance of our arrival. That is to say, people were running out into the street to cheer and jeer before the parade passed by because they wanted to be on television. We, had become the cause of all those people gathering out in the street. They were watching the pursuit on tv, and then running outside when they saw it was headed their way because they wanted to get their faces on the tube.
Instead of providing coverage of an event, we were the event, or at least one part of it and making it bigger than it would have been had we not been there. You could say we were adding to the problem instead of just providing coverage.
Could the same thing be happening with the 6th Street bridge? You can bet video of the barber who was cutting hair out in the middle of traffic ended up on social media. If you look carefully, you can see someone holding up a smart phone to record or maybe provide a live feed of the whole hair cutting adventure.
I suppose it’s a case of “everything old is new again” or in this case, maybe it’s “news again?” But this time you can’t blame the news media. This time it appears to be just a bunch of goofballs with smartphones showing off.
Turned on the tube this AM to find Smerconish on CNN and Velshi on MSNBC. Two bald guys. I wondered if one of the channels saw their competition had a bald guy and decided they had better get one too? It can’t be coincidence that these two channels have their bald guys facing off against one-another on Saturday mornings? There has to be some reasoning behind this bald guy competition?
Then it struck me. Enough with this emphasis on hair and makeup. What America needs, is an all bald guy news channel. “All bald, all the time.”
CHILDREN SLAUGHTERED FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA WHILE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE BLOCKING GUN-SAFETY LEGISLATION. THIS CONTINUING CARNAGE IS ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND A CULTURE THAT WORSHIPS VIOLENCE AND VICE.
This is our new normal. It has been more than two decades since Steve Allen wrote in his book, “Vulgarians At The Gate”-
“As recently as 1992 the American Psychological Association concluded that forty years of research on the link between TV and real life violence has been ignored, stating that the “scientific debate is over” and calling for federal policy to protect society. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said, in a January 5, 1999, formal report, “Children don’t naturally kill. It is a learned skill and they learn it most pervasively, from violence as entertainment in television, the movies, and interactive video-games.”
ISSUE #1 So the President of the United States says the U.S. will support Taiwan, in one form or another, if they are attacked by China. This is has been commonly accepted ever since the Nationalist Chinese were driven from their homeland by Communists in 1949, so I’m not sure it’s the big “breaking news” story it’s being made out to be by the 7-24 click-bait outlets. I’m currently far more interested in the potential for the outbreak of World War III, a potential nuclear exchange precipitated by a possibly unstable Vladimir Putin, frustrated by his inability to succeed in Ukraine. A dictator, who may be facing internal pressures we know nothing about. That, is something that should get your attention, not that the U.S. will continue to support Taiwan, something it’s been doing for decades.
ABC-TV, needs to re-run the movie “The Day After.” The country needs a wakeup call about the realities of a nuclear exchange with Russia. It feels as though several generations are way too comfortable with a reality that’s been insulated by time.
ISSUE #2 I do not understand. MSNBC is reporting the baby formula “crisis” continues. Does this mean babies are dying? If babies are not dying, then what are people feeding their babies, and if there is something other than formula they are feeding babies, then is this really a “CRISIS!” or something else? Is the need for formula overblown by a profit-hungry baby food industry? Why isn’t the major media answering these questions instead of just repeatedly pushing a giant collective panic button? From microchips to vaccine to baby formula. Soon, women won’t be able to get a legal abortion. Welcome to the third world.
ISSUE #3 Our streets continue to be flooded with guns, while in Baltimore, a former mayor was just released from prison. The second Mayor of Baltimore to be indicted in ten years time. Oh, but wait! There’s so much more!
The current city council president, has been cited for ethics violations for raising money for a personal defense fund while his wife, the Baltimore States Attorney, has been indicted for perjury and making false statements in a real estate deal while the City explodes with crime. The current mayor, a Democrat, appears downright flummoxed as does his Chief of Police, who was brought in from New Orleans to help “fix” the Baltimore PD.
Bringing in Michael Harrison to be Police Commissioner in Baltimore, is working about as well as bringing in Willie Williams as Chief of Police in Los Angeles following the L.A. riots. No, check that, on second thought, Willie Williams, was far better than Harrison. Under Williams, the crime rate fell in Los Angeles and police-community relations stabilized. In Baltimore, crime just keeps getting worse with Harrison at the helm.
Kids in muscle cars were captured on video doing “donuts” at downtown City intersections – all caught on camera and dutifully sent out over the airwaves by local tv stations, without anyone asking the simple and obvious question of “where the hell were the police?” This did not happen on some deserted roadway, this happened in the very heart of downtown Baltimore. It feels almost like some of the local media view the City being totally out of control as their new reality. A terrible reality that must be accepted because nothing can be done to fix it. It feels like they have given up.
All this, while Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, whose name is being floated as a possible candidate for president, complains of the Democrat-controlled City’s inability to do anything to bring its crime problem under control no matter how many millions of dollars the state releases.
Not that it matters, but this city of more than 585-thousand people is on track to set a new record for murder. Turning it into an “us vs. them” political issue, probably won’t help anybody.
Could Baltimore turn out to be the country’s next Detroit? Maybe the state can cut a deal with one of the Mexican cartels to patrol the streets in pickup trucks like they do in TJ? Can’t be any worse than what they have now. It might even be more cost-effective.
Between Pitt, Musk, Monkeypox, mandatory vasectomies, constantly mutating Covid and the “crisis” surrounding the shortage of baby formula I feel like I am being buried under an avalanche of information super highway BS – even without the conspiracy theory nutjobs.
We are all being victimized by an unending stream of click-bait. Welcome to our brave new world, suckers. Fear and voyeurism sell soap powder. And that’s the way it is.
Instead of repeatedly screaming out in terror that “THE SHELVES ARE BARE!” and there is a “HORRIBLE FORMULA SHORTAGE!” perhaps someone might do a little reporting on what America did before formula existed. Babies have been around for a very long time you know. Presumably they have always needed food, and that should lead to some obvious questions for the journalism community.
Are there any alternatives to formula? Were babies healthier before formula came on the market? Are women who wish to breastfeed being adequately supported in the American workplace?
Is this really the “CRISIS!” you are making it out to be, or are solutions going unexplored? I dunno, maybe you’re sales departments won’t let you do any “news” that might threaten to alienate some of the women in your audience? Is that it? Or maybe you just don’t want to delve too deeply into an issue that is central to women’s health and the survival of our species?
According to kdishealth.org: “A number of health organizations — including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for babies. Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.”
Do the people who manufacture baby formula want women to know there are alternatives out there and that some of those alternatives might be far healthier for babies?
True, fear and not solutions drives the ratings, but damn this is getting old. (My apologies if anyone has already gotten into some actual journalism regarding this question. I can’t watch and read everything.)
Watching a discussion on CNN this morning. According to the political mavens, “Abortion, Economy Top Midterm Issues For Voters.”
Not this voter.
My top two issues are campaign finance reform – reversing the idiotic “Citizens United” decision and getting dark money out of American politics. That’s number one. Universal healthcare, is number two.
Ted Kennedy, was hammering away on the need for universal healthcare in the mid 1970’s. But we still don’t have it. Shouldn’t any thinking, developed culture have universal healthcare which includes comprehensive healthcare for women? Why is this still even a question?
A handful of honest politicians have been trying to get real campaign finance reform passed for decades, and for a while they did, but others then canceled it out, taking things in the opposite direction and leaving us not with transparency, but near-blindness with regard to where the money that funds our political system is coming from, giving oligarchs and giant corporations a free-hand in controlling our government. We won’t be a truly free people until we get big money out of our politics. But we still don’t have that, either.
If I were to throw in a third issue that’s being missed, it would probably be term limits for the House and Senate. And number four, and this is a biggie, eliminate the Electoral College. Elect the president by popular vote. Both, I think, would require amending the Constitution. It would be worth it.
From ballotpedia.org: “Since the national popular vote was first recorded in 1824, there have been four presidential elections where the winner won the Electoral College and lost the popular vote:”
Seems to me that these much larger issues have to be dealt with before any of the smaller issues will fall into line with what most people want. Isn’t that what our system is supposed to do? Could that be why so many Americans seem so angry? Because laws aren’t being passed and sometimes presidents elected based upon what most Americans actually want?
Are we really adequately represented in DC? Or is the country increasingly controlled by big, dark money from god knows where?
Nobody’s talking about any of this. Probably because it’s too complex. Not something that will attract viewers.
We have gone from suffering through four years of waking up each morning and turning on the tv to find out what new madness Donald Trump had unleashed on the country and the world to now doing the same for a man Trump has declared to be a “genius,” the Russian butcher of women, children and the elderly, Vladimir Putin.
How some Americans can still be so misinformed as to support Donald Trump, is something that should concern us all. Reversing the spread of misinformation and disinformation in the American media should be a priority.
Americans must be made aware of the critical need to preserve the transmission of fact-based information, real journalism, in America. They need to be made aware that not everything that came to us through the “Reagan Revolution” was a benefit to the country. Some of it, like the extreme deregulation of the media and media ownership, may have actually weakened our democracy.
The Federal Government, should perhaps, be considering legislation to restore some power to the FCC. Bringing back some version of the Fairness Doctrine might be a start, with the regulation covering not only broadcast and cable outlets, but American originated internet news outlets of a certain viewership and income, as well.
Something must be done to prohibit alleged news outlets from pitching pure propaganda disguised as legitimate news to a vulnerable public. At the very least, news outlets should be required to separate out and clearly label legitimate fact-based news from opinion.
We simply cannot and must not let Donald Trump and his supporters do to America what Vladimir Putin has done to Russia, through the use of misinformation and outright lies.
After years of celebrating violence and ignorance we now live in a violent and increasingly ignorant society. Why is anybody surprised?
Steve Allen, wrote about what were then the country’s creeping cultural woes in his books “Dumbth” and “Vulgarians At The Gate.” Too few listened.
Even now, it’s easier to cut funding for education than to ban the flood of assault weapons on our streets as so many of our politicians continue to complain about the effect while doing next to nothing about the cause.
The violent hi-tech entertainment being pumped out of Hollywood has become so commonplace that most of us are numb to its existence. Do you suppose constant exposure to people cutting one-another to shreds with semi-auto and automatic firearms has anything to do with turning it into a reality on our streets?
Increasingly, Americans have abandoned their cars for “urban assault vehicles.” Giant trucks and SUV’s which make them feel empowered, a phenomenon that got its start following the Los Angeles Riots in 1992. I was there and I watched it happen, as high-end sports cars and other smaller vehicles disappeared from the freeways to be replaced by giant SUV’s. It happened almost overnight and spread across the country.
And even the NFL. Yes, God help me, I am going to say something about the untouchable NFL, which is nothing more than contemporary gladiatorial combat held in coliseums modeled after the original in Rome.
Full-contact American football, is all about violence. It teaches violence and makes it acceptable. And we love it, because we have been conditioned to love it. Not to mention its appeal to our apparently primordial lust for watching combatants, in this case mostly African-American combatants, smash one-another to bits in a fight over a relatively small plot of land. This love comes with a price tag we happily accept. According to Statista, in 2020, the 32 teams of the NFL generated 12.2 billion dollars, making pro football the most profitable sport in the United States.
As of Saturday, February 12, the average price for one seat at the Superbowl was $8,733.
In movies, on tv, with video games and through sports, we continue to be conditioned to accept and even love violence. At the same time, the average cost for one year in college is now up to $36-thousand. That’s for just one year. Who can afford that? Who are the wealthy trying to hold back by not making the great equalizer of a good education available to all?
How many times must people be told that it’s more cost-effective to pay for a child’s education than for a lifetime in prison?
It all ties together, but Steve Allen, is no longer here to preach the gospel of common sense. One man who was brave enough to try and save us from ourselves. Alas, he is gone, mowed down by an urban assault vehicle, leaving us alone to ponder the possibility that our ongoing approval of violence and ignorance may have something to do with our increasingly violent and ignorant culture.
You don’t think so? According to USA Today, in 2020 there were 611 mass shootings in the U.S., taking 513 lives and injuring 2,543 others. That’s up 47% from the year before.
Some, including Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of only a few Republicans with the courage to speak out against the insanity, are talking about the possibility of another civil war as a disinformed and misinformed American public goes mad trying to untangle themselves from the tangled mess they’re in using the tools they’ve been taught to use – ignorance and the violence it spawns.
What I wouldn’t give for another Tom Snyder to come along. Somebody with the smarts and articulation and savvy to carry a talk show without all the Hollywood hype. Somebody who just sits down and talks to a guest in a calm, intelligent, informed fashion, without breathlessly rushing forward in an effort to turn everything into a joke.
If you’re too young to remember, Tom Snyder had no fancy set, just some chairs spotlighted in an otherwise blacked-out studio. It was all he needed. Anything else would have been unnecessary. A distraction. The show was about featuring Tom Snyder, not the set or the music or non-stop technical gimmickry or feedback from a live audience. It was not rushed. It was relaxed and thoughtful. And entertaining as well. It was there, on Tom’s “Tomorrow” show that America was introduced to the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players,” The original cast of SNL.
I didn’t know Tom Snyder well, but I did know him. We both worked for KABC in Los Angeles for a time and I remember “Old Tom’s” theory about why talk shows failed. It was, he said, because the networks settled on a format for a show first and tried to plug a personality into it later. In Synder’s opinion, they should have found the personality first, and then built the show around that person, what the personality needed and wanted to make him or her comfortable. I think he was probably right. I think that’s why Snyder succeeded. And there were others.
For whatever Charlie Rose’s personal faults may have been, he was also a great talker around that big round table on PBS. Dick Cavett, also did a talk show with the conversation and not a lot of hype carrying the show.
Not coincidentally, all three of them knew how to interview by way of actually having a conversation. Unlike most of today’s comedian first and interviewer second personalities, Snyder, Cavett and Rose, actually listened to what their guests said, as opposed to ignoring what they were saying because they needed the time to formulate their next wisecrack, leaving us with a gaggle of personalities all doing the same thing – trying to recreate something Steve Allen created without Steve Allen.
It was Steve’s feeling, that the one and only reason any of the tv talk shows succeeded was because they were on tv with the captive audience television provided. He may have been right.
What we have now feels not so much like an intellectual vacuum as a lack of sophistication on the part of those who manage the tv and cable outlets. It feels like some or maybe all of them, haven’t been around long enough to develop a frame of reference for what’s possible. That keeping it simple, in the fashion of Tom Snyder, might still work. Provided they could find another Tom Snyder and were then willing to get out of the way and let him do his thing, whatever that thing might be.
CNN, has been many things. When it started out in the early 80’s, it was berated by the established media, who called it “Chicken Noodle News.” However, with time, those at the news channel proved themselves to be able competitors who demanded to be taken seriously. But that was before punditry, before the O.J. Simpson Criminal Trial showed news executives from coast-to-coast that it was possible for a relative handful of pundits covering just one topic to hold a massive audience glued to their screens for hours on end. That, changed things forever.
And now, here we are, in this brave new world of broadcasting with 7/24 “news” channels, delivering daily sermons on what their audience wants to hear, and crazies with podcasts who are permitted to spew hatred to an eager audience of misinformed and disinformed while the FCC, appears to be stumbling about, wondering what it’s supposed to be.
CNN needs to decide whether it wants to be predominantly news or entertainment programming. If those running the channel want their efforts to be considered primarily a news outlet, then they will have to wake up to the fact that the free world is currently nose-to-nose with Vladimir Putin on the Ukrainian border.
Covid, is important, but there are other developments out there that deserve some attention. As for all the coverage they continue giving to Trump and MAGA, perhaps they should consider how much their prior coverage contributed to his winning the presidency and whether it’s more important than what’s happening politically in L.A., New York and overseas.
News, is news. It is Journalism-based and requires an adequate staff of journalists to gather, verify and report out information. Click-bait to get ratings is entirely different. It’s a threat to our democracy. A very real threat that won’t go away so long as that which makes the most money trumps that which best keeps our populace informed with valid information giving them the ability to decide who and what they want to be.
I know the newspaper industry is in trouble. I know their advertising base has been depleted by all the “new media” out there. I also know they are still needed if we are to survive as a free people. For years the “news” has been coming mostly from print reporters who went out and dug it up. What you see on television, is usually a follow-up to a story that originated with a newspaper or wire service. The great Walter Cronkite, famously, was uncomfortable putting anything on the air at CBS until it had appeared in the New York Times.
Consequently, I expect the Baltimore Sun to put the dysfunctionalism of the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, their inability to work together for the common good, under a microscope on a regular basis. With two past mayors and the current Baltimore State’s Attorney, all indicted, and street crime that continues to be out of control, they should be holding public officials accountable daily. With the indictments and the crime and the general governmental mess, Baltimore, should be a journalist’s Nirvana.
That said, what their editorial board just came up with, broadly condemning President Biden, left me thinking that the people who wrote the piece must have spent the past several years doing nothing but watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island.
I was fine with the editorial until it was coming to an end, with the accusation that Joe Biden hasn’t been “honest.” Really? When? And if that wasn’t enough, they then capped it off with, “For his second year in office, not being Donald Trump will not be enough.” They have got to be kidding. Not being Trump, will be more than enough. Except for those who have spent the past several years sequestered on an island eating coconuts with the Skipper and Mary Ann.
Can a major American newspaper really be that blind to the threat Trump and his Russian-backed cabal pose to the survival of our democracy? Apparently so. Can they be blind to the possibility that this current situation with Trumpist Republicans blocking any forward motion in the Senate, causing a federal logjam and general discontent throughout the land, and the pressure that puts on the White House – wouldn’t that be the perfect time for Putin, to threaten to send his troops into the Ukraine?
Oh, but that’s a stretch, isn’t it? Or should we be asking ourselves, “Who still supports Democracy, and who stands against it?” Maybe Joe Biden not being Donald Trump, is enough after all.
So the Republicans, bullies and cowards that they are, are threatening to stay out of future debates? Very telling isn’t it, that they don’t want to expose their platform of lying, cheating, and putting a dagger to the throat of Democracy in front of a live tv audience?
Not a week goes by without this new Republican Party, with he who must not be named at the helm, proving themselves to be in opposition to our Constitution, and as such, out to destroy our liberty, laying waste to the self-determination our founders established with the warning that we might not be strong enough to hold onto it through time. It’s happening right in front of me and I can’t believe what I’m seeing, an entire party turning its back on liberty, the freedom so many of our friends and relatives fought and died for. Some, many hopefully, of those who continue to call themselves Republicans, have been duped. The others, are traitors, doing all they can to tear us apart.
Meanwhile, out in Hollywood-
Javier Bardem, is still making the rounds promoting “Being the Ricardos.” Rotten Tomatoes, gives it a 68% rating. I think the critics are being kind. For me, and possibly most of us who grew up watching Lucy and Ricky, it just did not work. They didn’t pull it off. I’d give it 35%. Maybe. On a good day. And I’m a big fan of Sorkin, Bardem and Kidman. Hollywood, needs to leave the classics alone. Whatever you might think of her, in her time, Lucy, was classic. Some years ago there was a rumor going around that one of the studios was thinking about a re-do on “Casablanca.” It hasn’t happened, yet, thank God. The characters are too strong and too firmly set in the minds of millions to be adequately duplicated.
We’ve been watching “The Great,” on hulu, and it is mostly great. The acting and directing in this spoof of the story of Catherine the Great of Russia, are both great as is the cinematography. The writers though, need to get their heads out of an apparent mindset that it is necessary to take an otherwise outstanding production and turn it into soft-porn to generate an audience. For me the unnecessary up close and personal sex scenes put a knife through the heart of what otherwise would have been one of the best series offerings, with some of the smartest writing, ever. Not that long ago, this genre was regarded as “dirty movies,” to be viewed only at trashy theaters in a bad part of town. Now it’s becoming commonplace. Makes you wonder where we’re headed, doesn’t it? This one is up for a SAG award.