Archive for media coverage

SNL spoofs CNN: Pregnancy test sends out countless irrelevant bulletins

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cnn most trusted

Whether we watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox, or the Big Three TV networks, we are often subjected to a constant stream of non-news, redundant reporting, irrelevant stories, inane bulletins, anchors and commentators with nothing new to say, repetitive clips, video packages, you name it.

I rarely watch CNN any more, but I do keep an eye out for interesting tweets on the Twitter Machine. And guess what? The tweets from people and organizations I follow were filled with mockery and snark about CNN's incessant coverage of the horrific Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance.

Coverage of a major news story is one thing, red herrings and extraneous filler are quite another. It was hard to avoid the multitude of tweets noting how CNN devoted twenty-four hours a day (or so it seemed) to one story, even when there was nothing to report.

Ocean footage is not news.

CNN was clearly aware of the social media reaction. Well, Jake Tapper was, anyway. When I retweeted Jacki Schechner (@JackiSchechner), about it, he popped into our thread to inform us that CNN, as we speak, was airing a report about something else. Hey, if you have to interject that your network has taken a hiatus from their fixation on one story, then maybe the criticism is valid.

jake tapper tweet jacki schechner CNN Malaysia

That's an order! One that I didn't obey.

If only news networks would become, you know, news networks, instead of commercialized, ratings-centric infotainment feeds.

And with that, here is Saturday Night Live's "commercial" spoofing news media coverage generally and CNN specifically. They nailed it:

BREAKING: CNN more confident than ever that it will soon know if you’re pregnant,” read one alert from the test, in between updates about Oscar Pistorius removing his legs in court and Kesha. Ultimately, we learned nothing from the pregnancy test...

H/t: Mediaite

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Tell the whole story about Fort Hood shooter, okay "journalists"?

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Fort Hood shooting

The Fort Hood shooter gets no sympathy from me for gunning down soldiers and ending lives, but the reporting about his motives deserves some attention. I have heard at least two MSNBC anchors briefly (and very generally) refer to "paperwork" issues as a possible reason for Ivan Lopez's shooting spree. Alex Witt literally brushed it off as "some paperwork" during one interview. her tone and demeanor unmistakeably dismissive as she quickly moved on to her next point.

But that paperwork wasn't just about filling out routine Army forms at Fort Hood, it was a prerequisite for Lopez before he could go home when his mother died, and again to take care of family business following her death.

In no way does this excuse him for murdering three people and wounding sixteen others, obviously. But the responsible thing to do would be to provide context and depth when describing what happened. It's imperative to tell the whole story, because... journalism.

That brings me to today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Shooter said to be furious," April 5

The article states that investigators may never have a motive for Fort Hood shooter Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Really? A soldier who was being treated for depression and anxiety was granted less than two days to go home to Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral five months ago; more recently, he was denied another temporary leave to return home to deal with family matters related to his mother's death.

This man was sent into harm's way to protect our country, and we can't give him compassionate leaves of duty during such a tragic time in his life? This is unconscionable.

Lopez wanted to go home to Puerto Rico; we sent him a lot farther away than that to defend our country.

Moira Niblo Obermeyer

Laguna Niguel

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Beating the Kochs: Dems get it-- Turnout, turnout, turnout. Show UP! #GOTV

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vote  turnout  gotv

The media is feeding feelings of growing panic among Democrats about losing the Senate in November, to which Dems are finally responding with one word: Turnout. This is a good thing. This is a very good and healthy thing, not just this November, but for every election ever. Without a huge voter turnout, Democrats lose, but when turnout efforts are successful, we generally win.

Here at TPC and on Twitter, I've been on a mini-campaign on this very thing. As Harry Reid so wisely framed it recently, Ridiculously Big Huge Enormous Gigantic Money (read: the Koch brothers) is a major obstacle that we must overcome. And that point underscores all kinds of issues that Democrats are passionate about, such as income inequality, the wealth gap, increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for women, and more. Targeting the Kochs gives voters something on which to laser focus and channel those passions.

And when voters are passionate, they make beelines (and long lines, and slow lines, thanks to GOP voter suppression laws) to the polls, and at this point, that is our best remedy. The Kochs may have tons of money, but we have tons of people. They have monetary power, we have people power... as long as we show up.

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Memoli and David Lauter wrote about that very thing:

Faced with a strong prospect of losing control of the Senate in November, Democrats have begun a high-stakes effort to try to overcome one of their party's big weaknesses: voters who don't show up for midterm elections.

The party's Senate campaign committee plans to spend $60 million to boost turnout. That's nine times what it spent in the last midterm election, in 2010. [...]

"Disgruntled voters turn out at a somewhat higher rate than what I like to call the gruntled voters," said Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist.

However, there are a couple of catches:

But Democrats disagree on how populist an image to present. Some advocate a turn toward the left that they say will spur younger and minority voters to take interest in the election. Others argue for a more centrist tack, which might attract more moderate voters.

Mitch Stewart, who was the battleground-states director for Obama's 2012 campaign, said, "The conventional wisdom is that you don't start contacting voters until after Labor Day, [but that's] an outdated model." He couldn't be more correct about that. The time is now to knock on doors, make calls, email, you name it, in order to educate and inspire voters.

Why now? Because "motivating core parts of the Democratic voter base, particularly younger and less educated voters, is not easy." I can vouch for that. Trying to get young voters to pay attention to politics, especially during midterm elections, is, well, challenging. I've tried, and while their first impulse is to respond enthusiastically, they often lapse into:

UP squirrel dog animated gif

Terry McAuliffe, like him or not, had the right idea when he won the Virginia gubernatorial race. He emphasized issues that Dems cared about, like Medicaid, marriage equality, and women's reproductive rights. He also targeted those who only voted occasionally.

But of course, that costs money, which brings us full circle to the Kochtopus. Again, though, they may have the money, but we have the numbers.

We can do this, but we must, MUST, register to vote, do everything we can to help others register and then get to the ballot box, and never, ever acquiesce to Big Corporate Money or the Corporate Media, both of which thrive on manipulating the message and pushing meaningless speculation.

Below are four words that are both meaningful and our most urgent message:

gotv 3

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How to practice honest journalism, in 26 seconds: VIDEO

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journalism

there is no news missing plane tweet media coverage

 Link

Journalism, are you out there? Hello? There is no news any more. It's become commercialized, packaged, and infotained. It's all about ratings, not facts or investigative reporting.

So when someone comes along and makes a refreshingly honest statement about an ongoing news story, one that's been over-saturating the airwaves the way the GOP over-saturates its speeches with religious references, it's time to pause, blink, and applaud:

applause gif

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On Friday, Rachel Maddow did something we rarely see these days. She practiced honest journalism. Oh wait, she does that a lot. But this time she was so honest, so clearly and succinctly honest, that for those few seconds, I felt pure relief.

Relief from the constant bombardment of shoddy, desperate journalism by networks in search of an audience.

Relief from relentless speculation and painful reports after which the headlines are reversed within hours.

Relief from recap after recap of grasping at straws, straws that are breaking the spirits of loved ones who hang on every word.

So thank you, Rachel, for being responsible and sensitive:

"There is no news on the missing plane...

"There are NO developments to report...

"We will not try to turn the lack of news in this very sad story into something that sounds like news when it isn't."

"We will not try to turn the lack of news in this very sad story into something that sounds like news when it isn't."

Thank you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled 24/7 coverage of nothing already in progress.

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Abby Huntsman, "really, really upset about Social Security," would lead her generation into poverty

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Abby Huntsman The Cycle Social Security

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"Abby Huntsman is really, really upset about Social Security." That's how Michael Hiltzik begins his Los Angeles Times column today, and he is really, really upset about Abby Huntsman's message. We should be, too. Just watch the video above, and then read Hiltzik's dissection below. As the L.A. Times hard copy title put it, "On the reality of Social Security, she tells it like it isn't."

Michael Hiltzik points out how Abby Huntsman is part of a show (The Cycle on MSNBC) that tries to cater to a younger audience, but that doesn't mean she has to lie to them. And mislead them. And be uninformed and pass misinformation on to them. She rants about Social Security going bankrupt, and that her generation will be left with nothing.

As Hiltzik put it, "Unfortunately, almost everything she said about Social Security in the name of making it "sustainable" for her generation was wrong. Dead wrong... And if her generation believes what she said, it's going to be in deep trouble." He goes on to explain how she exaggerated demographics to make her point. Are we surprised? No, we are not.

Hiltzik:

She concludes: "We might disagree about the prescription for the ailing patient, but doing nothing about it--that will lead to none for all, rather than at least some for us."

Where Huntsman got this idea is a mystery, because no one who understands the program--from progressive supporters of Social Security to its conservative critics--says anything like that.

The most dire projections of the program's future say that "doing nothing about it"--no benefit cuts, no tax increases--will leave the program still able to pay 75%-80% of scheduled benefits. Not "nothing at all." And that 75% to 80% would still be much more per month 75 years from now than retirees get today.

By the way, it's also untrue that President Obama's budget plan makes "no mention of entitlement reform. None," as Huntsman claims. His budget proposes a very damaging cutback in Social Security disability, as we documented here, as well as changes to Medicare payment formulas to save money.

Huntsman has stitched her spiel together out of scraps and tatters of misinformation, of a sort we've heard from the older generation for years. They're no more accurate coming out the mouths of a "millennial." But it's tragic to see that what she's learned from her elders is how to mislead her public.

That Abby Huntsman is allowed to go on MSNBC and substitute talking points for the truth is, indeed, "really really" upsetting. Click here to demand that MSNBC issue an on-air correction.

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MSNBC: Preen forward #OhButIKid

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msnbc shows

Oh, but I kid MSNBC. I watch it every single day, and despite it being the only major cable news outlet I can tolerate (or appreciate), there are a few observations that I can no longer keep to myself. Gotta vent. Here's my (satirical) take on MSNBC daytime:

MSNBC Host 1: So welcome to my very own show. So, today's guests are Goldie Taylor, Howard Fineman, David Corn, Joan Walsh, Michael Steele, Jonathan Alter, Michael Eric Dyson, Nicolle Wallace, Mark Halperin, Michael Isikoff, Jonathan Capehart, Kasie Hunt, Eugene Robinson, Ezra Klein, Dave Weigel, Steve Schmidt, and all my fellow MSNBC hosts who are all here to talk about their very own shows! Every single one of them. So have I told you guys what a great job you do? GOD you're good. You all excel at your jobs! To call you stellar doesn't do you justice! I'm so proud to call you "colleagues."

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So, thank you, my friend! So, congratulations to us! So, group hug to Camera Three!

MSNBC Host 2: So when we return, we'll explore why every MSNBC commentator begins each thought with, "So..." We'll be back in 15 minutes after these messages from Cialis, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Abilify, Celebrex, Humira, Nasonex, and Lyrica.

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So you forgot AT&T, BP, Exxon, Citibank, catheters, vaginal dryness meds, and Christian Mingle!

One hour later...

MSNBC Host 2: So here to help us make some sense of our top story is the host of [insert any MSNBC daytime show here]. Thanks for being here, Other Host.

Other MSNBC Host: So I'm honored, my friend. You are awesome.

MSNBC Host 2: So no, YOU are, my friend.

Other MSNBC Host: No, YOU! So.

Luke Russert: Um, hello? So did somebody forget to intro Tim Russert's trying-to-fill-his-father's-big-shoes son over here on the monitor? So I've got an exclusive I'm dying to break right here on your very own show, MSNBC Host 2!

MSNBC Host 2: So we could never forget YOU, Luke, my friend, my brother. What's your scoop? You always have the BEST scoops! GOD you're good.

Luke: So, so are you. You are a FABULOUS host, as are you, Other MSNBC Host. You two are superb at everything you do. Nobody does it better. So I'm in tears. Seriously. So how cool is it that we're all such good friends? So who knew being this incestuous could pay so well?

MSNBC Host 2: So tell us your scoop, Amazingly Adept Luke, my brother, my friend, MSNBC's own Sage of Washington DC, Our Capitol Hill Crusader! So don't you just love these obvious displays of public camaraderie? It's like our own private little club! So whatcha got, my friend?

Luke: Well crap. I forgot.

MSNBC Host 2: So we'll be back right after these words from Cialis, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Abilify, Celebrex, Axiron, Humira, Nasonex, Lyrica,  AT&T, BP, Exxon, Citibank, catheters, vaginal dryness meds, Febreze, Aleve, Verizon, Samsung, Cliffside Malibu Rehab Center, Christian Mingle, GE, financial groups you've never heard of, and endless promos of other MSNBC programming and the new MSNBC website!

One hour later...

MSNBC Host 3: So now for more repetitive analysis, welcome back to the hosts of all of our other fantastic shows. You all do such great work. Nobody does it better than you, my friends. GREAT reporting! You all look GREAT! Our audiences should be tuning into each of your shows every single day and night, no matter what effect that much exposure to redundant political infotainment has on their personal relationships!

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So Rachel has a very special Special coming up! Let's plug it! Over and over and over again!

MSNBC Host 3: I was just about to. But first, may I just say, you guys really set a high bar for journalistic standards. GREAT reporting, guys! But now it's time for the Tweet of the Day from Chris Matthews, MSNBC's very own god. But first: So when is Ezra Klein getting his own show already? He may put us to sleep in seconds, but he does such incredibly GREAT work! GREAT reporting! What a find! Am I right, my friends? Hey Farrow, stop giggling. So I'll get your responses to this and more on the other side of the commercial break. We have a new sponsor: ZzzKlein, er, Quil.

Fade out.

(Laffy Note: I didn't forget to include Lawrence O'Donnell, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, or Rachel Maddow in the Long Host List. While they do pop in on election nights or to promote a special or a book occasionally, they rarely guest on other shows as commentators/panel members.)

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Expert on cultural production of ignorance "watches Fox News all the time"

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ignorance via Armando Lioss smallerPhoto via Armando Lioss

One of my favorite columnists, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), along with most sane people (read: not right wing extremists), does not think ignorance is bliss. In fact, he points out how the commercialization of ignorance has not only dumbed down America, it has endangered it. Hiltzik describes how industries thrive on disseminating public misinformation while they profit off of selling harmful concepts and products, exploit a willing media, all at the expense of increasingly oblivious consumers.

He cites the work of Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford and "one of the world's leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance."

Hiltzik's piece in the Los Angeles Times is one that should be read in its entirety, but the highlights alone will make your hair stand on end. Alcoholic beverages and/or sedatives strongly recommended prior to reading:

Robert Proctor doesn't think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don't know can hurt you. And that there's more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense. [...]

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public acceptance of the scientifically proven links between smoking and disease: In the words of an internal 1969 memo legal opponents extracted from Brown & Williamson's files, "Doubt is our product." Big Tobacco's method should not be to debunk the evidence, the memo's author wrote, but to establish a "controversy."

Yes, infuriatingly, they peddle doubt and go out of their way to create controversy in order to implant big question marks in the minds of an unsuspecting, undereducated public. By inducing the media to "present both sides" when, in fact, there may not be two legitimate sides (science, anyone?), they divert focus and evade facts. For example, we've seen how they "sow doubts about the safety of childhood immunizations" (coughBachmann!cough) and deny climate change. And don't get me started on the lies about the Affordable Care Act:

When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society. [...]

And all those fabricated Obamacare horror stories wholesaled by Republican and conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act and their aiders and abetters in the right-wing press? Their purpose is to sow doubt about the entire project of healthcare reform; if the aim were to identify specific shortcomings of the act, they'd have to accompany every story with a proposal about how to fix it.

My head couldn't stop nodding in agreement when I caught this part:

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship." As part of his scholarship, Proctor says he "watches Fox News all the time."... Citing the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, Proctor asks, "If half the country thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, how can you really develop an effective environmental policy? This sort of traditional or inertial ignorance bars us from being able to act responsibly on large social issues."

He goes on to explain how Big Tobacco exploited the tea party's obsession with what they love to call "freedom" and "choice," which of course plays into their anti-government meme, a position that consequently benefits the cigarette industry. Hiltzik emphasizes the importance of educating Americans in order to renew their trust in science. Competent journalism wouldn't hurt in that regard, now would it? He ends with this quote:

The effort needs to begin at a young age, [Proctor] says. "You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy."

in greed we trust

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