Category Archives: Media

PR Stunts

So let me get this straight: Teanuts like Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann push for the government shut-down which results in shuttered national parks and monuments. Then they orchestrate a PR stunt at the World War II Memorial with a bunch of veterans where they get to look like big damn heroes? And the media gobbles it up like candy?

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Bachmann said. “It was big buses and a narrow strip of sidewalk, and there were all these veterans standing here behind police tape and they’re prevented from going in to see the memorial.”

Really? What the hell did you think would happen when you shut down the government, lady?

Gohmert Tweeted photos of himself with the veterans. This was grandstanding of the highest order, an obvious PR ploy and attempt to deflect any responsibility for the mess they themselves created:

Gohmert and other Republican members of Congress also went to the memorial and criticized the government for preventing visitors from coming to the memorial.

“We’ve got park service employees out here,” Gohmert said before the gates were opened. “Why wouldn’t you have them here to allow the veterans in, instead of stand and keep them from coming in?”

Umm, because it’s closed? Because you closed it? Do you break into convenience stores when they’re closed, too?

Again: the national media ate this BS up like candy. No one, not WTVF (my local CBS affiliate) or CNN or even the Associated Press bothered to point out that the very “heroes” breaking down the barricades were the people who voted for the shutdown in the first place.

And that’s it in a nutshell, folks. That’s all this whole government shutdown thing is: one big giant PR stunt. One chance to capture donations and B-Roll and optics for the 2014 election. I mean I’m sure it’s all a big coinky-dinky that news cameras were on site as Gohmert and Bachmann busted through those barricades, right?

Wake up and smell the bullshit.

I’m not surprised that the media plays along with this nonsense. They’re the ones reaping the financial rewards when campaign season rolls around and the TV ads start running. This is collusion of the highest order.

Shame on all of you.

More from Wonkette ….


And more from Gawker. Apparently the vets were flown in on a chartered jet and Reince Priebus has vowed to keep the WWII memorial open.

If you don’t think this whole thing wasn’t manufactured for its PR value, I have a bridge to sell you. Wonder how many fundraising emails this little stunt has spawned?

And yes, maybe Bachmann, Gohmert and Steve Palazzo should have worked harder to keep from closing the thing in the first place.


Filed under Congress, Media, media manipulation

Ersatz Politics

Ted Cruz’s marathon bloviating session is no filibuster — he’s going to have to sit down and shut up when the Senate convenes this afternoon, because he doesn’t have the power to stop the cloture vote. But this little charade provides us with a useful peek behind the curtain of our modern political establishment.

You have a powerless faction pretending to take a bold stand on an issue that’s already been decided — after first negotiating the terms of this piece of theater with the opposition ahead of time. Meanwhile the facts-be-damned news media winks and nods and plays along, and partisans on both sides of the aisle prepare to exploit this for donations.

This isn’t politics, this isn’t even the peoples’ business, it’s theater. Or, as Charles Pierce put it, just part of the never-ending campaign that has taken over our modern American political discourse:

As has been pointed out, this is something of a mock filibuster, but that’s because it isn’t an attempt to do serious legislative business. It’s an extended campaign commercial, B-Roll for the local stations in Ottumwa and Council Bluffs.

Eggg-zackly. Really, that’s all this is — that’s all anything coming out of Washington is these days. It’s all one giant PR campaign as both sides scramble to “define the issue” (any issue, it doesn’t matter) and prepare the flood of fundraising e-mails and direct mail requests. Washington has become one vast telemarketing and direct mail operation. Ted Cruz is merely the clip art for this week’s campaign. Next week it will be someone else.

This isn’t me being cynical, this is reality. This is how Washington works today and make no mistake: is feature not bug. This politics of dysfunctional is working exactly as intended for those on the inside. It’s the raison d’etre for that whole “politico-industrial complex” I wrote about a year ago. Nothing has really changed except now the star players are members of Congress themselves.

With all of this going on it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that what Ted Cruz’s theater is all about is denying people access to affordable private, for-profit health insurance. Because no one really hears that amid all of the other Kabuki. And that’s the biggest shame of all.


Filed under Congress, filibuster, healthcare, Media, media manipulation

People, I Bring You The Term “Chucksplains”

MSNBC chucklehead Chuck Todd “Chucksplains” the media’s role in the age of truthiness: not to present factual information, nooo that is so old fashioned, you guys! That’s how they did it in the old days when journalists wore green eyeshades and papers were sold by street urchins in knee britches who shouted the headlines at you when you walked by.

No, see, nowadays what we have is a marketplace of ideas, all of them equally valid, I mean I dunno, maybe not, but does it really matter? And the media simply goes with whatever set of facts has been most successfully sold to them in said marketplace. Freedom! And ponies!

TPM has the ugly details:

During a segment on “Morning Joe,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) speculated that most opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been fed erroneous information about the law. Todd said that Republicans “have successfully messaged against it” but he disagrees with those who argue that the media should educate the public on the law. According to Todd, that’s President Barack Obama’s job.

“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it,” Todd told Rendell. “They don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

Wonkette has the hilarious follow-up where Todd took to Twitter to claim he’d been misquoted. Silly, silly Chuck Todd! Doesn’t he know they’re just going with the version of the truth which had been most successfully sold to them? Chuck, honey, it’s just the free hand of the market deciding you’re an idiot and a really bad journalist.

Suck it up. Also, irony.


Filed under Media, MSNBC

Not Really Giving A Shit About Miss America, Sorry

Please stop telling me to give two shits about Miss America. Because I don’t. And I won’t.

I’m sorry some people on the dark corners of the internet were mean to her because she’s of Southeast Southwest Asian heritage, and they thought that meant Muslim. This is what the internet is for: to give equal voice to the stupids and extremists of the discourse. They are the minority. I’m sure most people don’t care and those who do were fine with Nina Davuluri. She seems perfectly fine.

What I find offensive is the entire concept of women “competing” for a meaningless title based on how they look in a swimsuit, formal wear and similarly superficial judgments. Whether she’s white, brown, caramel, yellow, or purple really is immaterial to me. I just find the whole spectacle offensive. Surely there’s an easier way to get a job on morning television.

But it’s all Kabuki. Seems like all of this is ginned up to bring some much-needed relevance to a completely outdated relic of our pre-feminist culture.


Filed under feminism, Media, pop culture, racism

Zombie WMDs


And on NPR this evening, I heard national political correspondent Mara Liasson refer to Syria’s Bashir as “Saddam.” NPR is really harshing my post-vacation mellow.


In the car this morning I caught about 10 minutes of On Point’s discussion of Syria. It’s a call-in show and if you were listening you heard an Ohio Teanut phone in to ramble something bizarre about “Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood” and advising John McCain to talk to Sarah Palin. But the kicker was when he said, I shit you not,

“Those Iraq WMD’s? Looks like they ended up in Syria.”

You gotta give ’em credit: there’s no true believer like a conservative true believer.

This idea that Saddam’s WMDs ended up in Syria has cropped up occasionally on wingnut websites over the past 10 years. It’s one of those zombie lies that just won’t die. I figured it was only a matter of time before some Breit Bulb suggested maybe there’s a connection between Iraq and Syria, and it looks like the chain e-mail FWDs have begun.

Iraq’s WMDs did not end up in Syria. It’s been debunked aplenty, but officially by the Iraq Survey Group. But the Breitbarts and Freepers have kept the myth alive because they need it to be true. Desperately and pathetically, they need to believe Saddam Hussein had WMD. It’s crucial to their entire worldview to believe our intelligence wasn’t faulty (or our Administration didn’t lie us into war). If the WMD thing is false, it all unravels — every bit of it. It is the worst institutional failure conceivable. That the mighty U.S. intelligence apparatus we’re always told rules the world like a master puppeteer is not just incompetent but irresponsible? Even dangerous? Not possible. We’re the good guys! We’re AMERICA, man! We’re Big Daddy and Big Daddy is not incompetent.

I get the need to hold onto this thing, I really do. So much of the conservative worldview has to be taken on faith anyway — evolution is false, peace through war, tax cuts create budget surpluses, feminism killed the American family. At least if the WMDs had been found there could be one tangible thing they could hold on to proving their worldview correct.

Now even a Republican Congress Critter is bringing this zombie lie back to life:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said on Thursday that he is against military intervention in Syria, even though his “gut feeling” is that the Syrian government now possesses chemical weapons that came from fallen Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.

“The theory then and the evidence was that Iraq was an enemy of the United States and had direct plans in either support of al Qaeda and/or with other weapons that we found out weren’t there — which I still think they were moved to Syria,” said Terry. “And it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the chemical weapons that have been used by Syria actually came from Iraq.”

There is no evidence that Hussein sent weapons of mass destruction to Syria. When Becka asked whether Terry’s claim about the transfer of weapons was based on information he had received as a member of Congress, Terry replied, “Gut feeling. Yeah, I have not had any classified briefing, but all we know that Iraq had … chemical and biological weapons and then they weren’t there. … It wasn’t that the U.S. was guessing; that was something that they had actually declared. But they went someplace.”

Hilarious. Rep. Terry has been in Congress since 1999, and was a gung-ho supporter of the Iraq invasion. Now he says he doesn’t support military intervention in Syria. Why, Rep. Terry? If having WMD was good enough to take out Saddam, why not Assad? Don’t bothering answering that one. We all know the difference: only Republican presidents are given their pet wars!

By the way, that On Point radio show I was telling you about? The Teanut caller’s comments about WMD and “Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood” were both completely ignored by Tom Ashbrook and the rest of the panel. Instead, they addressed the guy’s belief that President Obama wants to pass all responsibility/blame related to Syria onto the Republicans. Which is a heads-we-win-tails-you-lose proposition, since certain Tea Party Republicans have been yammering for President Obama to bring any action on Syria before the U.S. Congress for a full debate.

I guess it makes sense to ignore the truly nutty stuff on the air, but seriously: when even a member of Congress starts bringing back the Zombie WMD lie? Maybe y’all need to start paying attention to it. “We’re going to have to leave it there” on WMDs is kinda how we got into this mess in the first place, isn’t it?


Filed under Iraq War, Media, NPR, WMD

Al Jazeera America, Day One

I thought I posted this yesterday afternoon, but apparently something went wrong because this morning it was still on my dashboard … Sorree….

Here’s an update of this post, for those who have asked:

I’ve been watching AJAM since they went live yesterday afternoon. And yes, let me say from the get-go: it’s a hugely refreshing change. So far, no prognostications on the 2016 presidential election, and only one anchor has said, “we’ll have to leave it there….” And it’s incredibly refreshing to see stories on things like Obamacare and climate change without any of the political BS. It’s, “here’s the economic impact of climate change on x, y, z.” Not, “is it real, is it Biblical, a Republican said this, Al Gore said that,” etc. etc. I mean fer goshsakes, it’s like the other networks are afraid to even utter the words “climate change,” so to see a news story which mentions the words like it’s no big deal was really … different.

Ditto with Obamacare. It’s just not a controversial topic at AJAM. It’s a new law, and this is what it means on the ground. Last night Ali Velshi’s economic report included a piece about what Obamacare is and isn’t doing for poor, rural areas — namely, the perpetual problem of there being “healthcare deserts” in places like Mississippi. None of the political BS about Obamacare being a “government takeover of healthcare” and Republicans trying to defund it, nor the liberal “President Obama’s signature healthcare act” stuff, in fact, politics wasn’t mentioned at all — right or left. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a policy story approached in this way that it was a little strange.

My criticisms are small and mostly petty. I am used to HD so on my TV, AJAM looks a little low-rent. It’s also unnerving to see so many CNN alumni on the screen. Some folks might find these familiar faces comforting, but I’ve had issues with Tony Harris since forever so, YMMV

The one thing I think AJAM could do better is not be quite so dang serious all the time. I’m getting that super-earnest vibe I get from Link TV and Democracy Now! and I’m not sure that’s going to sell with mainstream viewers. AJAM needs to offer us a little good news, or just lighten up a bit from time to time. We’re so used to the trivial celebrity crap on CNN and the rest, hell Fox News is one part celebrity news, one part squirrel-on-waterskis, and the rest right-wing ideology. I’m not saying give us Kim Kardashian news or the latest Hollywood box office reports, but Americans are not used to so much heavy stuff in such big portions. We’re really not. So how about a light human interest story every now and then? It won’t kill you. That’s my advice.

Looking forward to seeing more, though.

Anyway, those are my early, initial impressions.


Filed under Media

Save Us, Al Jazeera

Count me among those excited to see what the new 24-hour Al Jazeera America has to offer viewers:

Al Jazeera’s approach — more time for more serious journalism — is an implicit criticism of the other options for news on television.

Mr. Mora said he had sensed far less commercial pressure at Al Jazeera than at local stations where he had worked. “There’s a sense here of the news being a public trust,” he said.

None of the anchors said they had felt any slant in coverage plans, pro-Qatar or otherwise, despite accounts from some former Al Jazeera English employees of interference from above.

In interviews, the anchors made offhand remarks that it is hard to imagine counterparts at other networks making. For instance, Ms. Chen asked: “How big does our audience need to be? I don’t know. Nobody talks about that here.”

She was scheduled to be in South Dakota over the weekend, filing stories from an Indian reservation.

“That’s not even a pitch I would have made in my old newsroom,” she said, because of budget limitations. “Here, we never have any debate about resources,” she said. “It’s like this: ‘Is that a good story?’ ‘Yes, it’s a good story.’ ‘Then go tell it.’

Yes. GOD, yes. Halla-freakin-LOOYA, yes. After suffering through my gazillionth prognostication about whosgonnarunin2016 — this was “The Road to 2016” on MSNBC’s “Up With Steve,” fer crissakes (et tu, Steve Kornacki?) — I was ready to give up watching the news completely. Two more years of this crap? You people serious? So someone’s actually going to put news on the air? Sign me up!

There’s been a lot of local interest in Al Jazeera because unlike CNN or Fox, they’ve actually got a Nashville bureau — and it’s headed by a veteran Nashville journalist, Jonathan Martin:

“They wanted to be in places that the other networks are not,” he explains. “For example, Nashville, New Orleans, Detroit — places that are respected cities, people know about them, there’s stuff going on, but there’s no one on the ground every day.”

God, yes. I am so sick of Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian and whosgonnarunin2016HILLARYorCHRISTIEorRANDorSCOTT, I am sick of Balloon Boy and Sarah Palin and everything that happens in Hollywood, D.C. and New York catapulted to national importance whereas the rest of the nation is ignored unless it’s a mass shooting or natural disaster (and sometimes not even then).

I’m like a person who’s been lost in a cable news desert for years and just spied an oasis ahead. I hope it’s not a mirage.

Also? As the comments on the Scene story indicate, we’re sure to be treated to some comedy gold as the wingnuts freak out over Creeping Sharia and the eeevul lieberal media. Colbert and Jon Stewart will have fun documenting the atrocities.

Don’t disappoint me, AJAM!


Filed under Media, Nashville, Tennessee

Hating Hillary For Fun & Profit

In case you missed it, NBC has announced it’s developing a four-part miniseries about Hillary Clinton starring Diane Lane (no air date set yet) while CNN Films is working on its own Hillary Clinton documentary project set to air in 2014.

Strangely, Republicans are shitting bricks over the idea that someone other than them would make a Hillary movie:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threatened to pull the group’s partnership with NBC and CNN for 2016 GOP presidential primary debates if the networks moved ahead with plans to air films on Hillary Clinton.

“If they have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor,” Preibus said in a statement.

In individual letters to CNN president Jeff Zucker and NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt, Priebus called the documentaries “a thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election.”

Oh, my but that is certainly hilarious. Priebus even had this to say:

“This special treatment is unfair to the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016 who might compete against Secretary Clinton…

Well, ain’t that sweet of him to be so concerned about the Democrats’ other nominees! Funny, I don’t recall any of this concern when right-wing group Citizens United wanted to air Hillary: The Movie right before the Democratic primaries in 2008.

You remember Hillary: The Movie, right? That sparked the infamous Citizens United vs FEC case which gave us Super PACs and the avalanche of electioneering cash we’ve all come to loathe. Thank you, ex-Republican National Committeeman Jim Bopp.

Or, let’s roll back the calendar to two weeks before the 2004 election, when Sinclair Broadcasting pre-empted its regular programming to air an anti-Kerry propaganda film.

Two weeks before the presidential election. Not two years, two weeks.

So, sorry Reince Priebus if your whining about this rings a tad false. Also? Check your fucking calendar. It’s still 2013.

Is it just me, or are Republicans now alarmed at the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign? Why yes, they are. They’re trying so hard to get ahead of the framing on this, everything from calling her “too old” to the whole Benghazi nonsense, to threats over Hillary biopics they can’t control. I mean gosh, they didn’t have a problem with this in 2008. What changed? It’s so transparent, it’s hard not to laugh.

I’m so old, I remember back before the 2008 race when they were desperate for Hillary to be the nominee. Right-wing publishers like Regnery, HarperCollins and Thomas Nelson had a library’s worth of anti-Hillary books ready to ship out, with enticing names like Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton, or American Evita: Hillary Clinton’s Path to Power. They had an entire anti-Hillary communications plan all set up and ready to go, and then that Mooslim usurper terrorist pal Nobummer had to ruin their little party. Whah.

See, here’s how it works: the books (ghost-written, ‘natch) are really just an excuse to get “authors” on the TV talk show circuit to spout conservative talking points and perform a legitimized form of character assassination. Meanwhile, the books themselves are used as premiums for donations, subscriptions to NewsMax and the like. It’s all part of the Vast Right Wing Media Industrial Complex. One could say with a certain degree of accuracy that hating Hillary Clinton is a major conservative profit center.

There simply is nothing comparable on the left. At all.

(As an aside. I’d love to ask someone at HarperCollins what they did with all those extra copies of Dick Morris’ book, Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race. I mean, seriously you guys?)

What’s really outrageous is that Obama was just sworn into his second term a tad more than six months ago. I really, really can’t believe Mr. RNC PR BS is having hissy fits over nominees and presumptive nominees and primaries when Obama’s second term has barely begun.

Again: seriously you guys? You’re that desperate?


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton, Media, Republican National Committee

Why I Quit Googling

In case you missed it, a couple weeks ago Google held a fundraiser for notorious climate denier/oil company shill/all around nutbar Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe.

Considering the great lengths Google has gone to present itself as a “green” company, more than a few people consider this a gross display of hypocrisy. You simply can’t claim to have any sort of green ethos while raising money for the Senate’s most vocal and active climate denier.

And no, saying you have a data center in Oklahoma is not sufficient explanation. You don’t get off with that trite “we don’t agree with all of their policies” bullshit. This isn’t just any policy. This is a major policy on which you’ve hinged a whole boatload of your feel-good PR, and Inhofe is probably this country’s most powerful activist working to obstruct any policy action related to climate change.

You do not get a pass on this. This is not, we have a minor disagreement on this one trivial thing but can find common ground elsewhere. This is, we are galaxies apart on a major fundamental issue of cataclysmic proportions. So, fuck you, Google. We’re not that stupid.

There’s simply no excuse for this. I mean, I guess they’re bowing and scraping for some kind of favorable tax treatment or whatever? To which I again say: fuck you. How many bazillions in profits do you people need, anyway? I just don’t get Corporate America, I really don’t. You’re all, oooh we want Americans to love us and feel good about us! but you act like such dicks all the time, spending bazillions of dollars on lobbying and PACs and greenwashing and PR campaigns and fundraising for asshole Republicans and groups like ALEC which support legislation that oppress your customers. Why not just spend all that money on doing the right thing in the first place? Instead of spending money on being assholes and then spending more money on a PR/marketing campaign trying to convince us you’re not assholes?

Wouldn’t that just be easier?

Anyway, comedian Andy Cobb put together a hilarious video clip mocking Google for its hypocrisy. Give it a look-see:

But I have to tell you guys, this isn’t the reason I stopped Googling. I stopped Googling a while ago and here’s why: they started sucking. It’s true!

I use search engines when looking up stories for my weekly gun report, and about six weeks ago I noticed that suddenly a news search for something like, “gun accident, Memphis” would yield a whole string of Daily Caller stories having nothing to do with guns, accidents or even Memphis. Don’t believe me? Look, this is Bing’s search:


And this is Google’s:


If you click on the picture you’ll see that other than CNN’s top story, the rest is some Daily Caller BS that has nothing to do with what I’m searching for. (Daily Caller is that far-right rag Tucker Carlson started which peddles wingnut crack. Notorious for firing and missing, repeatedly, we’ve nicknamed them the “Daily Failure.”)

Anyway, I’m not tech-savvy and I can’t pretend to understand all of the algorithms and other crap which goes into making a search engine do its job. I’ve heard of Google Bombing and all that, so I’m gonna guess the people at Tucker’s Daily Failure embedded some SEO terms in their codes or whatever it is they do to make sure anyone searching for “guns,” “Tennessee” and maybe some other redneck-y sounding terms will land on Tucker’s Little Shoppe Of Internet Rumours.

Anyway, that ain’t working for me so I switched to Bing. So far, no problems.

You know, I’m not naive. Despite Corporate America’s Herculean efforts to put forth a huggsy-wuggsy image and to make sure its Twitter feed is full of Nice Time, I know they’re all evil to some extent, the difference is just in degrees. And I can handle some evil, it’s part of life in America today. But when you become both evil and you stop working? You’re dead to me.


Filed under climate change, corporations, Media

Extremists Are All The Same

David Brooks’ WaPo column today makes some interesting observations:

Democracy, the argument goes, will eventually calm extremism. Members of the Tea Party may come into office with radical beliefs, but then they have to fix potholes and worry about credit ratings and popular opinion. Governing will make them more moderate.

Those who emphasize substance, on the other hand, argue that members of the Tea Party are defined by certain beliefs. They reject pluralism, secular democracy and, to some degree, modernity. When you elect fanatics, they continue, you have not advanced democracy. You have empowered people who are going to wind up subverting democracy. The important thing is to get people like that out of power, even if it takes a coup.

Ha ha, fooled ya. Replace “Tea Party” with “Muslim Brotherhood” and you’ll have what Brooks actually wrote. But I ask you, how different are these two extremist movements, except by degrees? For example, check out this news story, also from today’s WaPo:

IkhwanOnline, the official Web site of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, posted an article on Thursday asserting that the country’s new interim president, Adly Mansour, is secretly Jewish. The article, since taken offline, suggested that Mansour was part of an American and Israeli conspiracy to install Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. official and Egyptian opposition figure, as president.

Sound familiar? Maybe Mansour can produce his birth certificate and clear this whole thing up. LOL.

This isn’t the first column to make me wonder if David Brooks hasn’t a touch of senility. The problem isn’t radical Islam, it’s radicalism, period. And to throw potshots at the radicals in one part of the world while embracing the ones at home defies logic.


Filed under David Brooks, ideology, Media, Washington Post