Archive for misinformation

Maddow blasts conservative media for "bullpucky" headLIES, hypocrisy

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Last night Rachel Maddow rightfully blasted the conservative "news" media for creating false headlines, spreading "bullpucky," inventing their own news, and indulging in the worst kind of self-serving hypocrisy and propaganda. Here is the entire segment, well worth a watch. Further down is a much shorter clip in which Maddow skillfully and effectively gets to the heart of the matter.

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Maddow bullet pointed several scandals, including this one:

Hooker scandals are about as rare in politics as hot days in July. We have a lot of them. But just because we have them all the time... it doesn't mean that they're ever anything but awkward. But here, perhaps, is the mother of them all.

vitter pillVitter madame phone list

And then she documented the blatant hypocrisy of the right wing commentator who founded the conservative media outlet The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson.

They [the conservative media] decided that Sen. David Vitter's history with hookers just wasn't a big deal. Nothing that we should 'bother' the Senator about. Tucker Carlson [said], "That's barely illegal."

Tuck compared that felony to "double parking." Yes. He said that. Just watch the video above, it's at about 16:20. He tossed that out just before he blurted out that "one out of three women" patronizing New Orleans restaurants was "for sale." And then he claimed he'd defend any Democrat as zealously as he defended Vitter. An equal opportunity defender of hooking up with hookers. What a guy.

Maddow's Moment of Mockitude followed:

Who among us has not paid a hooker for sex while serving in the United States Senate? Can't these people solicit hookers in peace without us bothering them?

But oops! Carlson's own Daily Caller called out Democratic Senator Bob Menendez for... guess what?

daily caller gop fail hypocrisy hooker scandal

Of course, the Daily Caller pushed the story hard, and before you know it, that paragon of accurate reporting, Fox, ran with it. And ran with it. And ran with it. Right before the 2012 election. Of course, the story turned out to be bogus, but hey, that never stops the liberal right wing media, now does it? Oh, and Menendez won the election.

As it turns out, the only time the GOP defends paying for sex is when their fellow Republicans engage. But the minute a Democrat gets caught with his pants down, fugetaboutit. All bets are off. Peddle that story. Sell it hard. Make it sound legit. Smear the opponent. Condemn the Dem.

Here is how Rachel Maddow ended the segment. It's a concise history of right wing "news" headlies. That's no typo, it isn't meant to read "headlines." It's headlies. Because that's what they sell, and that's what eager and/or willfully ignorant and/or gullible audiences buy.

The most pointed part of the Rachel Rant came at the end. Here's the clip:

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Maddow:

...Bullpucky that has been invented by and for the conservative media who are happy to tell each other for years that this is news and not just stuff they made up. While the real media, and frankly the politicians who have to swim in that sewer, have to worry about this parallel track of paranoid, fake information, that traffics as news on the American political right, but that is disproven everywhere else outside their echo chamber...

It is one thing for us to be domestically inventing this stuff for ourselves. It's another thing for this weird, fake channel in our supposed news media to allegedly, at least, to become a conveyor belt to foreign countries' disinformation about U.S. government officials...

[This] has to do with our own intelligence as a nation and what the consequences are for all of us, of a conservative movement that has now spent a full generation telling people, telling Americans, "Do not trust the actual news," and to instead invent their own conservative version of it. And they did that. And this is where it got us.

And apparently, at least, Cuba, maybe, appears to be delighted with the results.

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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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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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Read this if you think "60 Minutes" Benghazi Exec. Producer should be dismissed

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If you think the "60 Minutes" Benghazi executive producer should leave or get the boot, please go here to sign a petition.

Excerpts from the petition page:

Jeff Fager must step down immediately because of his role in the 60 Minutes Benghazi debacle. If he doesn't step down voluntarily, he must be dismissed.

Why is this important?

The CBS news program 60 Minutes recently produced and aired a critically flawed and wildly inaccurate "news" segment on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four people including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Jeff Fager, the Chairman of CBS News and the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, made a decision to broadcast this factually flawed "news" report based solely on the potential monetary benefits provided by sensationalist ratings and book sales. [...]

After stonewalling for days, 60 Minutes finally offered an insufficient apology for its factually incorrect report on Sunday, November 10. However, the so-called apology didn't give a full account of what went wrong, what would be done to make sure it doesn't happen again, or how those responsible would be held accountable...

For more information: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/11/08/from-proud-to-pulled-a-timeline-of-60-minutes-b/196801

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