Category Archives: media

White Privilege, In One Tweet

[UPDATE]:

Add the Associated Press to the list of media outlets who just don’t get it:

APfail

Sweethearts. Who “pilfered checks.” Why don’t you just give them a reality TV show while you’re at it?

——————————————————————

From NBC News’ Twitter feed:

NBC News FAIL

Sweethearts? Let’s see:

An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they’re suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.

“It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous,” the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The sheriff’s office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne’s father reported missing on Jan. 3. They’re accused of stealing a neighbor’s red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.

They apparently ditched the truck Thursday in Henry County, Georgia, south of Atlanta, and are believed to have stolen a silver Toyota Tundra — which Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said had .45- and .38-caliber handguns in the back seat.

Chaffins said that both are suspects in at least the two auto thefts and that Hayes is also wanted on charges of custodial interference — that is, luring Cheyenne, a minor, away from her legal guardians.

So basically we have auto theft, kidnapping, possibly statutory rape, all wrapped up in a nice shiny “sweethearts/Bonnie & Clyde” package. How do you suppose this message would be packaged if the couple were black, not white?

16 Comments

Filed under media, racism

What It Takes To Be A Fox News Expert

[UPDATE]: Welcome, Crooks & Liars!

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the Fox News terrorism “expert” who made ludicrous claims about the Muslim population of Britain, in particular that

[…] in London “Muslim religious police” beat “anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire”.

and that Birmingham is

a “Muslim-only city” where non-Muslims “don’t go” […]

This of course prompted the hilarious #FoxNewsFacts hashtag on Twitter, which has mocked Fox News and Steve Emerson for days. This is all very cute but Emerson is a far more nefarious figure than merely the buffoon who trusted a bad source. And media coverage of a Twitter hashtag has completely overlooked the bigger story here, which is that Fox News has been promoting a professional hatemonger and, it appears, scam artist.

Four years ago during the Murfreesboro mosque controversy our local fishwrap profiled Emerson, who profits from spreading fear and hate of Muslims (warning, link has one of those obnoxious auto-start video ads which I despise, so you may want to turn the sound off):

Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.

That’s how many dollars Emerson’s for-profit company — Washington-based SAE Productions — collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they’re in imminent danger from Muslims.

Holy grift, Batman! Emerson founded a tax-exempt organization to solicit donations from the gullible, which are then funneled to his for-profit corporation? How is this not fraud?

Emerson is a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances.

Leaders of the so-called “anti-jihad” movement portray themselves as patriots, defending America against radical Islam. And they’ve found an eager audience in ultra-conservative Christians and mosque opponents in Middle Tennessee. One national consultant testified in an ongoing lawsuit aimed at stopping a new Murfreesboro mosque.

But beyond the rhetoric, Emerson’s organization’s tax-exempt status is facing questions at the same time he’s accusing Muslim groups of tax improprieties.

“Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit,” said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. “It’s wrong. This is off the charts.”

So, profiting from spreading fear and lies… sounds about right! And the wingnut welfare gravy train rolls on.

You can read a few of Emerson’s other greatest hits here. My favorite?

In 1998, Emerson helped push a story that claimed that a “senior Pakistani weapons scientist who has defected” was saying that “Pakistan was planning nuclear first strike on India” (Observer, 6/28/98). The supposed scientist turned out to be “a former low-level accountant at a company that makes bathroom fixtures” (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/3/98) and a fraud (USA Today, 7/7/98)–but not before Emerson’s behind-the-scenes promotion of the bogus tale helped push rivals Pakistan and India closer to nuclear war (Extra!, 1-2/99).

This is what passes for an “expert” on Fox News. Why other journalists aren’t seriously offended that this kind of hackery is going on in their midst is beyond me. They’re letting Fox News discredit an entire profession.

4 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media, right-wing hate

I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

I don’t believe in censorship. Nor am I calling for censorship. But I don’t understand why we, collectively, don’t ask people to show a little self-censorship when it comes to being offensive, intolerant and bigoted.

Lord knows we expect it of blowhards like Rush Limbaugh when they go on one their racist or sexist tirades.

Lord knows we expect it of all the homophobic preachers and NOM activists who have unleashed a torrent of anti-gay bigotry as marriage equality has spread from state to state.

Lord knows we expect it of ubiquitous purveyors of hate speech like Ann Coulter.

Lord knows we expected it of Bill Hobbs when he published that “Mohammed Blows” cartoon on his blog back in 2006.

But for some reason now that idle threats have turned into a despicable, vile, violent act of murder, suddenly it’s okay? Suddenly we have an obligation to spread the same offensive, anti-Muslim images because, freedom? Seriously?

You want to defend free speech? Then take up the cause of the Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

You want to fight terrorism? Then condemn the bombing of the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP two days ago (something which the mainstream media has given little attention to, in light of their “if it bleeds, it leads” SOP.) Get to work fighting the poverty, inequality and injustice (yes, even in France) that breeds these diseases. Republishing cartoons that show Mohammed being sodomized is the lazy way out. Reprinting offensive materials to show you won’t be bullied doesn’t prove you’re free, it shows you haven’t evolved beyond the maturity of a kindergartener.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why we don’t expect better of ourselves and others. If lowering yourself to a level where offending people is your best show of support for victims of violence, if that’s the best way you can stand up for freedom, you’re doing it wrong.

The world needs to grow up and fast, because we’re not going to get many more chances to get it right.

16 Comments

Filed under Current Events, free speech, media, Media, terrorism

I Hate It When Mom And Dad Fight

Grab the popcorn:

For the third time in a month, Dish Network customers are missing out on popular programming due to a dispute with a channel owner.

This time it’s Fox News, one of the most popular cable channels in the United States. The channel disappeared from Dish (DISH)’s lineup shortly after midnight Eastern time Sunday because Dish’s contract to carry Fox News expired before it could be renewed. It was still blacked out on Monday.

Free hand of the market, y’all. Dish is a private company and they can do whatever they want.

I’d like to think Dish customers who watch Fox will be forced to watch “real news” but Dish opted to replace Fox with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, so there is still a steady diet of lies and wackaloonery for the RWNJs to digest.

In its 18-year history, Fox News has never been blacked out by any major television distributor. This dispute will be particularly interesting to watch because Fox has an extraordinarily loyal audience — a “base,” so to speak, that might be motivated to drop Dish.

That’s what Fox says it wants.

I’m not so sure about that. Having just gone through the awful ordeal of changing providers, I think most people will just wait it out. Changing your cable/satellite provider is like changing your health insurance, it’s so confusing with all of the different plans, different bundling options, etc. It’s a huge fucking hassle. We wouldn’t have bothered if our internet hadn’t been so outdated.

Anyway, most people are locked into contracts, and Fox’s “base” are mostly old people who are flummoxed by a lot of this stuff already (I can say that because while I’m not a Fox viewer, I am an old person completely irritated that we have to go through this BS. Back in my day you just turned the TV on and everything you wanted was right there! Off my lawn!)

This is particularly rich:

Earlier this week, Fox News Channel’s parent company 21st Century Fox started to warn that another blackout was looming. On Saturday, Fox ran warnings on-screen that urged its fans to lobby the satellite provider and said “don’t let Dish control the news you watch.”

Um, I’m sorry, but no matter who your provider is they are controlling the news you watch. That’s the glorious, shiny, sparkly, awesome free hand of the market at work, you morons.

Maybe their grandchildren will tell them they can watch all of this stuff on the internet … as long as their ISP doesn’t wrench control of their internet speeds.

2 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media

Where Your Treasure Is

… there your heart will be also.

And with a record $4 billion+ — that’s billion, with a B — spent on this midterm election, it’s safe to say that America’s heart is with power.

That’s it. Very simple and terribly sad. Slow clap, Murrica. This is why we can’t have nice things. When I think what we could do with $4 billion — free college education, healthcare, assistance to small businesses or child care for single moms or what about high speed rail or hey, let’s fix our roads and bridges, maybe? — and realize it’s all been squandered on something as dumb as trying to sway the outcome of a midterm election, I just have to despair at how shallow we are as a nation.

Remember, too, that a large chunk of that sum was spent by people (*cough*cough*KOCH BROTHERS*cough*cough) who are fighting against even the teeniest tiniest increase in their taxes. That billionaires would spend millions to sway an election and hold onto their power pretty much proves why we need to raise their taxes in the first place.

Here’s something that makes me want to guzzle bleach:

beshearTWEET

Note the date. And time.

Are you people even fucking serious? We haven’t even had this midterm election and you’re already ginning up ideas for the next Senate campaign?

Here’s another sobering thought, from the same Wall Street Journal story linked to above:

What’s even more startling is that the $4 billion figure—which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs—doesn’t include the full picture of outside spending in this year’s races. The projection only includes spending disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. The CRP estimates that another $100 million will likely be spent on the election by next month, though the exact number is impossible to know because of disclosure rules.

Well, I suppose what we don’t know won’t hurt us, right? Meanwhile, remind me about how we can’t afford this, that and the other because of freedom and free markets and whatever. Right. Keep pretending this shit doesn’t matter, everyone.

22 Comments

Filed under elections, media

TN School District Gets Tutorial In How Fox News Operates

I have yet to fully understand why conservatives decided attacking public education was a winning message (beyond Union Thugs and shiny-sparkly Privatization Thingie), but this incident out of Elizabethton, Tennessee is a classic example of how the conservative media will take a simple incident and manipulate it into the service of their message wars. Now, Elizabethton’s superintendent of schools is questioning the accuracy of Fox stories, accusing the broadcaster of sensationalism. Gee, ya think?

So here’s what happened: Fox News personality Todd Starnes ran a story saying third-graders received a Nation of Islam handout in class that called the presidents on Mt. Rushmore racists. What actually happened, of course, is a little … um, well, different from that.

ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton Superintendent of Schools Ed Alexander said Thursday afternoon that no parent has come forward to substantiate the Fox News story that two additional Harold McCormick third-graders had received a handout from their teacher that was produced by the Nation of Islam claiming the four presidents on Mount Rushmore were racists.

[…]

Alexander said his initial Monday investigation uncovered that a teacher had downloaded a Nation of Islam document that criticized the four presidents as racists. He said the teacher had been searching the Internet for Mount Rushmore and found the document at that time because it asked “What does it take to be on Mount Rushmore.” He said she quickly discarded it after finding out its content.

Alexander called Starnes with his findings, but he said Fox ran the story, calling the document a “handout.”

Alexander said that while the Fox News story on Monday was accurate in reporting the boy had been in possession of a document he had taken from school, he went on to say on Tuesday that “what was reported (which had been rebutted prior to the airing) was misleading and totally incorrect. I can only think it was shown for its sensational effect. Sadly, regardless of any follow-up report, our system has been defamed.”

While the document the boy turned over to his mother was evidence for the initial Fox story, Alexander said when he called the network to get evidence of the handouts from the other two children, he said Fox told him they did not have any more documents to substantiate the later stories. He questioned the accuracy of the later Fox stories.

Alexander said he has received more than a hundred emails from Fox listeners who criticized him, often using profanity. He said many have called for his firing, while one letter said he should not be fired, he should be “eliminated.”

So the only accurate part of the story is that a child somehow got into possession of a Nation of Islam document calling the Mt. Rushmore presidents racists. How he got the document, and whether it was in fact used in the classroom, were all complete BS fabricated by Fox to stoke fears and anger at the public school system. Worse, Fox News knew before even airing the piece that this was utter BS. But they ran with what they had anyway. Even worse, they embellished the story, saying other parents had come forward — when they hadn’t. This is supposed to be a news organization?

As a teacher, let me say: I know exactly how this happened. You’re Googling, you’re downloading a ton of stuff, printing it out to go through later to see what fits the lesson plan and what you’re going to toss. And then you read one document heavy on the cray and woopsies, this one goes in the discard pile. But somehow Little Johnny Patriot got his hands on it and took it home to Mommy. (By the way: I find the how of this quite suspicious. I’m guessing Little Johnny Patriot did not, in fact, deliver this “handout” to Mommy. I’m thinking some right-wing Gladys Kravitz-type was going through the teacher’s trash and found it, then passed it on to their friend in the Tea Party Muslimophobia knitting circle who has contacts at Fox News. So yes, I’m questioning the one supposedly accurate part of this story. But whatever.)

And by the way, the Nation of Islam URL is noi.org — not, you know, scaryblackpeople-DOT-islamofascismZOMG. It’s not like you can tell from the URL that what you’re downloading is probably not going to be appropriate.

Regardless, the good people of Elizabethton, Tennessee just got an upclose look inside the dirty engine of the Fox Noise machine. Their takeaway? It’s probably a really good idea to question the accuracy of Fox News stories.

5 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media, Tennessee

AT&T Uverse Wants Us To Watch The Today Show

I’ve generally been happy with AT&T Uverse once our nightmarish installation experience was resolved but this morning every Uverse customer had their channels force-changed to The Today Show as an “emergency alert” blared but there is no emergency.

The angry Tweets from viewers are just hilarious.

UPDATE: confirmed that this affects Uverse customers nationwide, there is no emergency, and it’s AT&T’s fault.

UPDATE 2: The thing that’s pissing me off about this is that AT&T and even some news reporting are trying to make it sound like we merely had to put up with an emergency alert message. And yes, that’s bad: as freaked out as this nation is right now about ISIS and EBOLA and (fill in the blank)-ghazi, that’s not cool. But what no one is talking about is the fact that our televisions were hijacked! They literally took control of our TVs. They changed everybody’s channel to the local NBC affiliate and we were unable to control our televisions. I couldn’t even change the damn volume.

That is some messed up Big Brother shit right there, on a par with Apple forcing you to own a U2 album or Amazon entering your Kindle to take back a book you’d bought because of a copyright issue.

Corporate America is overstepping its bounds and infringing on the private lives of consumers. Again.

Update 3: FCC is investigating the hijacking of private televisions:

ATLANTA, Ga. — AT&T U-verse customers in several states woke up Friday morning to find a federal emergency alert on TV. The problem is, there was no emergency and the alert somehow hijacked their TV’s, refusing to allow them to change the channel.

Alan Sams, who has his phone and internet service bundled through AT&T says he couldn’t use the internet or his phone either.

“I’m more concerned that somebody on the inside of AT&T has the capacity to deal with shutting off my communications and controlling my communications, even if it was for a short period of time,” said Sams.

AT&T is still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but says the alert should not have impacted anything but television service.

In a statement released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency said the problem started when an unidentified nationally syndicated radio show inappropriately broadcast the emergency signal. AT&T says it and a few other providers picked it up.

AT&T declined to answer questions about how decisions are made whether to air an emergency alert and why it took several hours to get it removed. The company also could not explain why customers were unable to change the channel.

FEMA has yet to say how many states were affected, but 11Alive saw complaints on social media from viewers in at least six states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas.

“Who’s controlling, who’s watching the traffic?” questioned security analyst Greg Evans, who is also a U-verse customer. As the morning rolled on, Evans began to question whether the system had been hacked.

“Anything electronic you can hack into it. If it has an internet IP address, you can hack into it,” said Evans.

AT&T insists its system was not hacked. Instead FEMA says several providers aired an emergency alert, inappropriately played by a nationally syndicated radio show. AT&T can’t say why the alert hijacked their customers TV’s, and insists the alert shouldn’t have affected phone service.

The FCC says it will also investigate the incident.

11 Comments

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, media