I made the mistake of turning on "Meet the Press" today. I lasted about seven minutes before screaming at the Tee Vee Machine and turning it off. The entire seven minutes was similar to what happened here: “Does this open the president up for criticism? Will critics have new ammo? Well, will they, huh? Huh?” #LibrulMediaMyAss
All I heard was Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi, criticism of the president over the Boston bombings, and then more hyperventilating about anything else that ever existed within the vast political scope of all things Obama. BAD Obama. FAILURE Obama. INEPT Obama. LEAD FROM BEHIND Obama. BLAME Obama.
I'm fine with healthy, constructive criticism, but this is out of control. There is no more news. News died when it was swept into the greedy, self-serving world of commercialization. What we have now is any excuse to create controversy, to even create a non-existent news story, in order to ramp up the ratings.
What better way for corporate-owned media to achieve higher Nielsens for their beloved corporate sponsors than to bash Obama, ignite passions, beat the drums for war, and scare viewers so that they'll glue themselves to the screen to catch the next BIG, SCARY CHYRON!
But back to the Benghazi Noise Machine. Today, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) claimed that President Obama's administration is threatening and intimidating witnesses, but he couldn't even back up his claim:
But hey, that's okay, people watched, some pointed and laughed, and some even mistook his warped opinion for fact. Key word: Watched. What more could a news program hope for? Oh wait, that was Fox, not news.
I previously posted a video of a segment in which Chris Hayes said this on his "All In" show:
“Question mark.” You know, there is this thing we do in cable news. Sometimes magazines do it too. You want to grab someone’s attention but the thing you want to say is just too irresponsible to get away with or stand behind. So, for example, maybe I want to say, in discussing Lindsey Graham’s demagoguery in constitutional due process, “Lindsey Graham, comma, Constitution hater.” So no, instead what we would say is, “Lindsay Graham, Constitution hater?” Since you are asking a question, you don’t have to stand behind what you are asserting.
And then, as if on cue, MSNBC displayed a chyron only a few minutes ago that read, "Lame duck already?" Since they asked, allow me to respond: "Idiotic question chyron?" Question mark?
Thankfully, someone out there is covering the recurring drumbeat, the one that seems to be the kneejerk reaction, especially of those on the right, and often of those we affectionately describe as "chickenhawks."
It often seems like Chris Hayes speaks for me personally, because I shudder when I see Congress members urging President Obama to repeat mistakes made by GW Bush, egging him on to act before knowing all the facts, not hearing what he wants to hear.
Now he's repeating that concern regarding Syria:
"Question mark." You know, there is this thing we do in cable news. Sometimes magazines do it too. You want to grab someone's attention but the thing you want to say is just too irresponsible to get away with or stand behind. So, for example, maybe I want to say, in discussing Lindsay Graham's demagoguery in constitutional due process, "Lindsey Graham, comma, Constitution hater." So no, instead what we would say is, "Lindsey Graham, Constitution hater?" Since you are asking a question, you don't have to stand behind what you are asserting.
The real take away from the hearing should have been that Chechnya is a massively complicated place, a place of tremendous suffering and pain and violence on both the part of Russian security forces-- We're waging a brutal war on terror that involves kidnapping people from their homes and disappearing them-- and jihadists who are blowing up innocent civilians left and right.
But it's also a battle that has not of yet conclusively come to our shores. In fact, this is what the head of one of the most extremist groups of Chechnya said after the Boston Marathon bombings. "The Caucasian mujahedin are not fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia..."
There is however another threat in another country that now has our attention. Chemical weapons and Syria. Even though our country's intelligence community quite carefully described the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria with the qualifier had the qualifier that they had made the determination, quote, "with varying degrees of confidence." That sounds sort of like "Chemical weapons?" Question mark?
It's not an accident that that's grabbing our attention in the wake of the Boston bombing. Our fear centers are primed in the wake of Boston. Understandably so. But that's also when we tend to make our very worst decisions.
Here is the entire segment:
I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am that Chris Hayes covered this worrisome crescendo last night on "All In." It's about time somebody did.
Just what we need, another pounding-pounding-pounding drumbeat to war, egging Americans on, literally drumming up support for, or at least the expectation of-- and subsequent acquiescence to-- yet another war.
What, Bush's fraudulent Iraq invasion wasn't enough for us? His, and the media's, onslaught of misinformation didn't teach us anything?
Watch the entire video, because Chris gives us a much more objective look at what's going on with North Korea... and our often-irresponsible news media.
Tensions are high... partly because the rhetoric in the U.S. has been ratcheting up at a remarkable pace...
I am not an expert on the Korean peninsula, but I lived through the Iraq War. And when people start talking about threats and war, everybody needs to double the amount of skepticism and the level of critical rigor they bring to the matter.
So. What exactly is the deal with this ominous sounding Defense Intelligence Agency report?
The precise revelation, this assessment by the DIA. was disclosed by a Congressman named Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado's fifth district, reading an unclassified portion after classified report at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Now, the Congressman has confessed he hasn't even read the entire report he's quoting from.
On top of that, the Congressman himself says his motivation, by his own admission, for leaking a small bit of the DIA report, was to argue against the president's proposed defense cuts.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is, by the way, we should note, the very same agency that said Iraq had nuclear weapons ten years ago.
North Korea does have nuclear weapons. There's no doubt North Korea is an absolute outlier, and they're a monstrous regime.
But there's an uncomfortable drumbeat that seems to be happening when tensions in the Korean peninsula are inflated creating a palpable sense of drama. It is exactly the kind of thing that positions a nation and its citizens to be ready to go to war, and a nation and its citizens ready to go to war is a dangerous thing.
Talking about things in this way has consequences.
This is the way you ready a citizenry for violence, for something horrible, and that is how wars start.
At first I was too angry to rant about this in print and even called Paddy to tell her that. Instead I ranted at poor Paddy who agreed with every seething word. That Moment of Utter and Complete Exasperation was the result of exposing myself to a few minutes of "This Week" and "Face the Nation" after which I had to switch off the Tee Vee machine in order to regain my sanity and lower my blood pressure. I haven't turned it back on yet.
I'm now ready to rant in print.
I watched as the hyperventilating moderators failed to ask follow-up questions or challenge obvious lies and misinformation. I screamed at my TV as even the guests themselves (on both sides) did nothing but stick to their talking points and/or misinformation instead of listening and responding to each other in order to actually respect viewers enough to educate them or clarify their points of view.
Fact checking would be novel.
But instead of developing a thought and taking the time to offer details to support an assertion or accusation, Democratic and Republican spokesparrots stubbornly spit out what they thought sold their idea, and viewers ingest this junk talk the way petulant children ingest Happy Meals from lazy parents.
Come on, at least acquaint voters with something other than a headline. Give us a little credit for being able to digest reasoned (and reasonable) debate and make up our minds accordingly.
Arthur Levine compares testing students once a year to having a car GPS update its position once an hour instead of constantly. In the GPS part, he forgets the driver and assumes he ignores road and street signs. In the student part, he forgets the teacher, assuming she has no idea of what her pupils have learned.
Any competent teacher knows how her students are progressing throughout the year. Standardized testing cannot determine this; only a teacher is in a position to make this assessment.
Levine says the emphasis in public education has moved from teaching to learning; it should move to educating, as only then can a child's full potential be realized.
Opponents of such practices argue that implementation forces teachers to limit curriculum to a set range of knowledge or skills in order to increase student performance on the mandated test. This produces an unhealthy focus on excessive repetition of simple, isolated skills ("drill and kill") and limits the teacher's ability to focus on a holistic understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, opponents argue, teachers who engage in it are typically below-average teachers.
Some research suggests that teaching to the test is ineffective and often does not achieve its primary goal of raising student scores.
Sunday talkers have been reduced to teaching to the test. We're the students and we are being force fed the limited curriculum from our media teachers who have only one goal in mind: winning. Our final exams consist of check marks on ballots. And by the looks of our current Congress, we're scoring low.
Critical thinking skills are being phased out in favor of repetition of those "simple, isolated" talking points, regardless of the questions asked by a moderator or challenges by political opponents. Pivoting and propaganda have replaced explanation and enlightening.
We're better than this. Or at least, we used to be.
Sunday talk shows have devolved into nothing more than infomercials, campaign ads that drum catch phrases, political invective, and focus-group-tested sales pitches into our homes ad nauseam.
That's not talk, it's hype. Hot air is what's on the air. Learning is passé, communication is being replaced by communiqué, and we as a nation are being dumbed down. Looks like we'll have to resort to independent study.
When I saw David Shuster's commentary the other night, I wanted to kiss him. It was exactly what I'd been telling someone earlier in the day, only David articulated it much better than I did:
“Countdown” guest host David Shuster breaks down the media hype surrounding the early primary season in the context of the larger election, saying that early voting, in mathematic terms, means almost nothing because of the delegate total needed to secure a presidential nomination. According to Shuster, the results from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina account for only 1.3 percent of the nominating delegates in the Republican race.
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