Tag Archives: media

The Revolution Won’t Be Photographed

History is written (or recorded) by the victors, or so the saying goes. Today I saw an art installation from Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar which really illustrates that idea.

For some background, here’s what the BBC wrote about Jaar’s installation in 2014:

Jaar chose not to show us any pictures but instead blinded us with a blaze of projected light. Rather than a despairing nihilist gesture, Lament of the Images was integral to a strongly held argument that images mattered.

Jaar’s installation was a response to the increasing political control, erasure and suppression of images. Our encounter with Jaar’s field of light was preceded by three glowing panels of back-lit texts presented in a darkened room, all musing on different forms of blindness and erasure: beginning with Nelson Mandela being dazzled by the light on his release from prison and how prisoners were blinded by the glare of the sun on the limestone as they broke rocks in a quarry on the centre of Robben Island.

Texts two and three considered the loss and control of images in relationship to two significant events: the burial of 17 million photographic images from Bettmann and United Press International, purchased by Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, in a limestone mine, and how before launching airstrikes against Afghanistan, the United States Defense Department had bought all rights to satellite imagery of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, creating an “effective white-out of the operation”.

And here is the final panel, the one related to the “white out” of our bombing of Afghanistan:

IMG_1745 3

It’s powerful stuff. Presented in an art context, it was more than powerful: it was enraging. As a reasonably engaged American, I wanted to know why I hadn’t heard about either the Bill Gates or Afghanistan incidents of image suppression. Especially Afghanistan. I remember much uproar about the Bush Administration censoring photographs of coffins arriving home from Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t remember anything about this.

Pictures are powerful, a picture is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. No wonder the Bush Administration wanted to make sure nobody saw the devastation our bombs wrought on Afghanistan.

Today if you Google this story, you find this, from the New York Times:

The Pentagon contract, concluded on Oct. 7, also means that news media and other organizations outside government will not be able to obtain independently their own high-resolution satellite images of the Afghanistan region.

In addition, the contract effectively allows the Pentagon to keep the images it bought out of the public eye forever. None can be released without Defense Department approval.

The old disputes between the military and news media centered on access for the media pool. The new dispute is about access to images collected in the nonsovereign territory of space.

The Pentagon has also taken a more subtle approach to the fight. Under the law, the Bush administration could have blocked news media’s access to the satellite on national security grounds by invoking a never-used provision, “shutter control.” Such a move would have quite likely set off legal challenges and heated protests. Instead, the Pentagon achieved its desired result through its contract.

For some reason, this story basically disappeared. And that’s exactly how the Bush Administration wanted it. By using economic power instead of legal power, they made sure there was little if any knowledge or protest about their actions.

The power of the pocketbook — be it the U.S. government’s or Bill Gates’ — is not new. That these are the people who can control our history by controlling what information the world sees is scary, indeed.

I recommend that someone in the news media petition the Obama Administration to release these images, much as President Obama allowed the photographing of coffins arriving home from war. We need to see what we have wrought. We bought this war, we need to see the damage we caused.

And let me add a final word of caution: we can petition the government to release these images. We can use FOIA requests, the news media can make an argument about the First Amendment. We have no such recourse with the Bill Gates images. None.

Next invasion, wait for Son of Dick Cheney to get Bill Gates to buy (and bury) satellite images on the government’s behalf.

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Filed under Afghanistan War, media, media manipulation

Emily Miller’s Pro-Gun Memoir Can Now Be Found In The Fiction Aisle

[UPDATE]: Welcome Crooks & Liars!

It seems Emily’s books is getting some creative book reviews over at Amazon. Hilarious.

———————————————————

Oh, dear:

A document from the D.C. police department shows that Emily Miller, the chief investigative reporter for WTTG-TV (Fox 5), didn’t fall victim to a home invasion on New Year’s Day 2010 as she has told various interviewers in recent years, including some gun-rights lobbying groups. Instead, Miller spotted someone leaving the property as she returned from walking a dog.

Emily Miller has made quite a career out of pimping her tragedy, shilling for the NRA and writing the hilariously named “memoir” Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours. And now it’s looking like her tragic story of being accosted by 15 — fifteen! — drug addicts in a “terrifying” home invasion was all made up.

Here’s what she said:

As noted in this blog last week, Miller would subsequently tell far more scary versions of this encounter to gun groups and others. In an “NRA All Access” interview, for instance, Miller stated that “a man — the police believed to be a drug addict — got into the house and started robbing it. So when I came back into the house, he was in there robbing.” The sleek NRA presentation furnishes a reenactment of the scene, complete with night lighting, even though the event occurred just after 3 p.m., according to the supplemental D.C. police report.

On several occasions, Miller has stated that she was a “victim of a home invasion,” including at a Feb. 10 speech in Annapolis to assist gun-rights groups in lobbying against gun-control restrictions. A common understanding of “home invasion” is a terror-laden crime in which intruders burst into a residence and (in most cases) do bodily harm to the occupants.

[…]

There’s more. In recounting the episode, Miller has claimed that she confronted a veritable crime syndicate.

After the man left, I was still suspicious so I went inside, grabbed my Blackberry and clicked on the icon for the camera. I walked down the street, and as I turned the corner, I saw about 15 scruffy young men standing around two pickup trucks. We were at the end of a woody, dead-end road.

I nervously held up my Blackberry to take a quick photo of them and the license plates. Suddenly, the blood-shot-eyed guy darted out, blocking the shot. “What are you doing?” he asked. I looked around at all the men staring at me and was suddenly scared.

Super scary! Also, super not true! Here’s what the police report said happened:

“[Miller] stated that she left out to walk the dog at 1515hrs and when she returned at 1525hrs she observed [the suspect] exiting from behind the fence which leads to the side of the house. [Miller] asked [suspect] ‘What are you doing here’ and [suspect] stated ‘I am delivering firewood,’” according to a supplemental D.C. police report.

[…]

[Miller] stated that she went into the house and felt that something was not right, so she exited the house to take a photo of [suspect’s] vehicle. [Suspect] approached [Miller] and gave her a business card that stated [a tree service] and [suspect] left the scene. [Miller] stated that [suspect] was operating a silver pick up truck with landscaping on the side of it.

[Miller] stated that she was contacted by her credit card company at 1945hrs about some fraudulent charges on her credit card. [Miller] stated that she checked her purse and noticed that her Visa credit card and $50.00 in US Currency was missing. [Miller] stated that while she was out walking the dog she had left her purse on the counter in the kitchen of the offense location.

Oh. Well that’s certainly different, isn’t it? Not quite the “terrifying encounter” that she claimed.

Emily Miller has become one of the right’s media darlings, speaking out against gun control and telling her apparently fictitious sob story to right-wing media outlets like the Washington Times, all in the interest of spreading the lie that people need guns for self-defense because of scary drug addicted home invasion people! And yet, like a Bill O’Reilly war story, it’s all falling apart under closer scrutiny.

Even worse, when police tried to contact her three times about finding a suspect in the credit card theft, she couldn’t be bothered to return their calls. It appears they had to drop the case.

I’m trying to figure out why Miller would have done this and my guess — other then exploiting her made-up tragedy to become a “gun rights advocate” — was that she needed to show cause in order to obtain a D.C. gun carry permit.

Now that it appears this cause has evaporated, I wonder if her gun permit will be revoked, too? Lies and the lying liars … they just shouldn’t be armed.

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Filed under gun control, 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?

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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.

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Filed under FOX NEWS, media, right-wing hate

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.

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Filed under FOX NEWS, media

Congratulations, Unidentified CA Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour!

Hey kids, while you’re taking Pops’ car keys away, maybe take the firearms away, too:

In what can only be described as a freak accident, a 77-year-old Running Springs woman was shot in the back early Sunday morning when her 81-year-old husband’s handgun discharged as he was retrieving a flashlight from his nightstand drawer.

“In what can only be described as a freak accident”? Are you fucking serious with that shit? How about, “In what can only be described as a completely predictable incident that was just a matter of time…”

Dumbasses. Add #MediaFAIL to that hashtag, too.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, 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.

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Filed under FOX NEWS, media, Tennessee