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02.19 Bees brought Bavarians together. And they have a lesson for us all

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02.18 Tesla big battery is holding its own in a burgeoning energy storage market

02.18 Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

News Media Matters

02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.16 The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS [With bribed-to-be-biased media and government, we all live in a "Truman Show"-style concentration camp]

02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]

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02.19 The Political Revolution Is Back: Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run for President

02.18 The Green New Deal Isn’t Too Expensive. Doing Nothing Is.

02.18 With the Green New Deal, Democrats Present a Radical Proposition for Combatting Climate Change

02.18 Dictator Trump

02.18 With Americans Outraged Over Trump's 'Power Grab Based on Lies,' Nearly 250 President's Day Protests Planned Across the Country

02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]

02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]

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02.19 California Leads 16 States Suing to Block Trump Border Plan

02.19 Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie [Hurrah!]

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02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]

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02.18 They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]

02.15 In Germany, the Green New Deal Actually Works

02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]

02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]

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  The Politics of Media

RARE HONESTY:

The Politics of Media

by Robert Parry
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier yesterday, 24 March 2010

If you believed what you saw on Tuesday’s NBC evening news or what you read in the Washington Post’s lead editorial on Wednesday, you wouldn’t have a clue that Republicans are engaged in a scorched-earth political strategy to destroy the Obama administration.

Instead, you’d think that everyday Americans are solidly behind the congressional Republicans in their unanimous opposition to health reform (NBC) and that President Barack Obama and the Democrats have done next to nothing to bridge the partisan divide (the Post).

Let’s start with NBC’s biased coverage of Obama’s signing into law the landmark health care reform. The multi-part opening segment could have been scripted by the Republican National Committee.

“Make no mistake,” NBC anchor Brian Williams said, “for millions of Americans who were not in the East Room [of the White House] today, it was the beginning of a fight against what they see as a government health-care behemoth that they have to now live by.”

Then, after dismissing the White House signing ceremony as a political pep rally of “giddy supporters” – and after explaining none of the new law’s features – NBC lovingly interviewed Republicans about their determination to roll back this government overreach.

NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell gave Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, his say without mentioning DeMint’s foiled scheme to make health reform President Obama’s “Waterloo” to “break” him. Normally, that would seem like a natural question to ask, but NBC apparently didn’t want to cast the GOP’s stalwart opposition to the new law as part of any partisan strategy.

NBC’s reporting also featured comments from Sens. Mitch McConnell, John McCain and John Barrasso explaining their high-minded goals. O’Donnell also checked out the flood of anti-reform calls coming into two GOP Senate offices. (No mention was made of the views of Democrats, and there was the usual silence about criticism of the health-reform bill from the Left.)

O’Donnell’s report was followed by a similarly uncritical look at anti-reform lawsuits from Republican state attorneys general. Then, NBC did what is called a vox populi, the voice of the common man, except in this case it amounted to tracking down one couple living near Oklahoma City who recited more Republican talking points about the Democrats playing politics and ramming the law through.

NBC's coverage included no one who either liked the new law or who felt it didn’t go far enough, even though polls show that most Americans either favor the new law or fault it for failing to include a single-payer system or some other form of “public option.”

Yes, I know, some MSNBC hosts have addressed those positions as part of the cable network’s experiment of having a few liberal voices in the evening. But not only does the NBC evening news reach a much wider audience than MSNBC, but NBC’s other cable channel, the business-oriented CNBC, has beaten a steady drum against health reform, even predicting a stock market dive if the bill became law.

Instead on Monday and Tuesday, the U.S. stock markets surged, another case of CNBC’s remarkable record of giving out ideological market advice that could cost its listeners money. As Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart joked last year, that if he’d listened to CNBC’s bullish advice before the 2008 crash, "I'd have a million dollars today. Provided I started with 100 million dollars."

It may be coincidence but General Electric, which owns NBC and its sister networks, has been running a flurry of ads that amount to paeans to right-wing Republican President Ronald Reagan. GE, where Reagan once served as the company’s spokesman, is sponsoring next year’s gala celebration of the centennial anniversary of Reagan’s birth.

The WPost’s Blindness

If you followed up watching NBC by turning to the Washington Post’s editorial page on Wednesday morning, you’d find a similar blindness to the Republican strategy of obstructionism.

Anyone who followed the debate on health care would know the Democrats made extraordinary efforts to bring Republicans onboard, including time-consuming negotiations within the Senate Finance Committee and Obama’s political courtship of Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

And, even though many of the GOP demands were met, including adding many Republican amendments and subtracting the “public option,” Snowe and the other Senate Republicans wouldn’t even allow an up-or-down vote, forcing the Democrats to line up their 60-member caucus to shut down a filibuster on Christmas Eve.

However, that’s not how the Post’s editorialists saw matters.

“The bill could have been improved with the inclusion of more Republican ideas – by giving consumers more ‘skin in the game,’ for example, to promote cost control, or by reforming the nation's crapshoot of a malpractice system,” the Post’s  lead editorial said on Wednesday.

“Neither party has all the answers. Most of the country agrees with us on this point, not with the apostles of ideological purity. A plurality of Americans are independents. They want pragmatic cooperation, and they want sensible ideas acknowledged regardless of which party promotes them.

“Fundamental reform passed on party-line votes has less credibility with them and less chance of quickly weaving itself into the American social fabric.”

Then, the Post added: “We're purposely not apportioning blame to one side or the other.”

But what if one side is more to blame than the other? This “both-sides-are-equally-at-fault” notion of “centrist” journalism fails to recognize that sometimes the truth doesn’t rest comfortably in the middle.

Nor do the Post’s editorialists really believe that it does. On many other issues, the Post has concluded that the truth lies close to the neoconservative pole, such as the Iraq War (which the Post enthusiastically supported) or the Middle East conflict (where the Post almost always sides with Israel).

But the Post isn’t willing to acknowledge that the Republicans embraced a strategy from the start of the Obama administration to take the knees out from under the new President, a game plan very similar to what worked against President Bill Clinton in 1993-94.

The slanted coverage at places like NBC and the Washington Post makes sense if you understand the mix of ideology and careerism that influences mainstream news judgments.

The slanted coverage at places like NBC and the Washington Post makes sense if you understand the mix of ideology and careerism that influences mainstream news judgments.

At high levels, the owners and top executives have their pet favorites, whether the Post’s neoconservatism on foreign policy or GE’s fondness for Reagan’s anti-government ideology. At working levels, reporters and editors know that their livelihoods are protected if they tack in those directions.

It’s also important to avoid offending the Right, which has invested heavily in attack groups created to go after and "controversialize" wayward journalists. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Even if a working journalist realizes how corrupting this process is to the integrity of the news, he or she can personally justify going along under the rationale that it’s up to someone else – politicians, other journalists or even citizens – to somehow straighten the mess out.

That’s where independent journalism comes in. Without strong news outlets willing to tell the truth on important topics, the U.S. democratic Republic has little hope of climbing out of the pit of political ignorance where many Americans find themselves mired.


Robert Parry

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on March 25, 2010.

 

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