Posts Tagged ‘mainstream media’

Enjoy This?

Monday, 14 March 2011

This morning, I went to the website of NBC New York, to read a news story and a promo on the right-hand side of the page caught my eye: [image of Victoria Beckham (a.k.a. 'Posh' Spice), headlined 'ENJOY THIS' and captioned 'Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong'] So NBC not only expects that I would enjoy reading about the mutilation of these people, but openly caters to such presumed enjoyment, and encourages its readers to indulge in it.

I am not aware of any reason that I should find gratification here.

I'm not a fan of cosmetic surgeory except to effect some bona fide reduction of injury. Most cosmetic surgeory instead represents an falsification of youth, of health, or of preferred genetic endowment, and does so at a cost of lasting (though perhaps concealed) injury. Nor am I a fan of celebrity (a creätion of journalism, with its need for material), nor of most celebrities, who are, as the saying goes, well-known for being well-known, and rarely arrive at their status by by virtue of desirable character traits. And, sure, to some extent, virtually every one of these people has brought it on themselves, but so would most other people if given a chance.

Celebrities did not and could not elect themselves to celebrity; for all the celebrities out there, there are many more people who try for it and fail, and an even greater number who simply wish for it to be thrust upon them. And whatever one might claim about actual celebrities wasting the opportunities that they are given, my experience of other people convinces me that a share as great or greater of the wannabe celebrities would make as much a mess if they had those opportunities. If I should wish ill upon the actual celebrities, I should wish it upon most of humankind.

Nor is cosmetic surgeory driven by vanity or by insecurity just an indulgence of the famous. If I flip through an issue of the local weekly, I find plenty of advertisements for such procedures, and I'd be rather surprised if NBC New York weren't selling commercial time to plastic surgeons. I certainly see plenty of women with utterly unnatural breasts, and occasionally see ruined noses or lips. I'm not sure what I'd find at the beach, but it probably wouldn't be pleasant. Some of the rich may keep going in surgical self-destruction, but many of these other folk have merely run short of funds and of collateral.

There's nothing new in the proposition that envy, sadism, or a lack of empathy will cause some people to indeed enjoy reading about plastic surgeory gone especially wrong, and looking at images of the results. But our culture has coarsened; the presentation and enjoyment has been moved into the mainstream. Bad enough that, for some, it's a pleasure; now it's a pleasure without a sense of guilt or even of shame.

Painting by Numbers

Thursday, 3 September 2009

On 9 September, President Obama is to address Congress on health care reform. Here is what I predict to follow:

  • The main-stream media will declare the speech to be a sort of triumph.
  • In all likelihood, the President's approval ratings will blip back up over the next few days, and the main-stream media will treat this increase as a trend.
  • The approval ratings will begin again to decline, but the main-stream media will ignore the decline until his ratings are at or below the previous low.
  • When the main-stream media admit to the lack of an upward trend, it will be to declare the approval ratings to be volatile, as if they are merely oscillating, rather than trending downwards.
  • When it can no longer be denied that the President is generally unpopular, main-stream media analysis will largely be of a supposed inability of the American public to be happy with any President, as opposed to an honest examination of the differences between what had been hoped and expected (reasonably and unreasonably) of Mr Obama in particular, and what has actually come under his Administration.

A Real Coup for the Press, II

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Back in December, I drew attention to:

The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism by George Friedman at StratFor
The story of Deep Throat was well-known, but what lurked behind the identity of Deep Throat was not. This was not a lone whistle-blower being protected by a courageous news organization; rather, it was a news organization being used by the FBI against the president, […].
US paper missed Watergate scoop from the BBC:

The story began on 17 June, 1972, when a group of men were caught breaking into the Watergate complex in Washington DC. They were attempting to plant listening devices in the offices of the Democratic National Committee.

Robert Smith says that two months later — on his last day at the New York Times — he had lunch with the acting director of the FBI, L Patrick Gray.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Smith recounts how Mr Gray began divulging details of the Watergate break-in, a range of other illegal political activity, and the Nixon administration's attempts to cover it up.

Again, the big story is right there, but being ignored: The FBI set-out to covertly bring-down a Presidential Administration. Now we see that two major papers were positioned to recognize this, and each concealed this coup from the public.

A Real Coup for the Press

Tuesday, 23 December 2008
The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism by George Friedman at StratFor

[…] For Felt to have been able to guide and control the young reporters’ investigation, he needed to know a great deal of what the White House had done, going back quite far. He could not possibly have known all this simply through his personal investigations. His knowledge covered too many people, too many operations, and too much money in too many places simply to have been the product of one of his side hobbies. The only way Felt could have the knowledge he did was if the FBI had been systematically spying on the White House, on the Committee to Re-elect the President and on all of the other elements involved in Watergate. Felt was not simply feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein; he was using the intelligence product emanating from a section of the FBI to shape The Washington Post’s coverage.

This was enormously important news. The Washington Post decided not to report it. The story of Deep Throat was well-known, but what lurked behind the identity of Deep Throat was not. This was not a lone whistle-blower being protected by a courageous news organization; rather, it was a news organization being used by the FBI against the president, and a news organization that knew perfectly well that it was being used against the president. Protecting Deep Throat concealed not only an individual, but also the story of the FBI’s role in destroying Nixon.

Leaning against the Gale

Monday, 27 October 2008
Media's Presidential Bias and Decline by Michael S. Malone at ABC News
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, […].


No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side — or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.


Picture yourself [as an editor] in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power … only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. […]


With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

Telling the Truth Slowly

Saturday, 9 August 2008
Statement of Senator John Edwards By John Reid Edwards

I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established.

All right, now:

  • If Edwards is not the father and ended the affair in 2006, then why did he surreptitiously visit Ms Hunter subsequently?
  • If Edwards is not the father, then why did he feel the need to publicly admit to the affair, since his supporters and the mainstream media would have taken a negative paternity test for him (or a positive test for Mr Young) as pulling the rug from under the more general claim of an affair?
I think that Edwards is telling the truth slowly, which is to say that he has planned to admit to the affair and to paternity, but is now deliberately doing so in stages. I don't know how coherently he had previously thought about what he would do, but my guess is that at various times he has told himself that the affair and paternity could be indefinitely concealed, that they could be revealed after his wife dies, or that they could be revealed after he'd achieved greater acclaim in the office of President, of Vice President, or of Attorney General.

Meanwhile, spare a tear for Chet Edwards; his chances of being chosen as running-mate have been gravely injured simply because Obama will understand that there are a fair number of people who would confuse Chet Edwards with the guy who had that affair. (Obama would have been foolish to choose Chet Edwards in any case, but he might have been foolish.)

Five Little Words

Thursday, 31 July 2008

paternity test

For some time now, tales have circulated that John Reid Edwards has fathered a child by a mistress. A specific alleged mistress has certainly had a child, but an Andrew Young (not Andrew Jackson Young jr, the famous activist and politician), a friend of Edwards, has claimed to be the father.

Young could do a lot to quash the claims that Edwards is the real father, and rescue Edwards' foundering political career, by the expedient of a paternity test — well, that is to say that Young could do this if he is truly the father. And, if Young is not sure that he is the father, but Edwards is sure that he is not the father, then Edwards could take the paternity test.

Of course, that's not happening. For some reason.

illegal campaign contribution

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer, which has been the doing most of the investigating and reporting (with the rest of the media generally ignoring the story or reporting on the reporting) now reports that a wealthy supporter of Edwards has been providing $15,000 per month to the mistress, and unspecified sums to Andrew Young.

Unlike the Enquirer, I wouldn't call this hush money. (We have little basis for presuming that the alleged mistress or Young would speak-out if not paid.) But, if Edwards is the father and thus would presumably be otherwise be bearing some of these costs, then these payments are a campaign contribution, well in excess of legal limits.

Now, personally, I'm opposed to limits on campaign contribution — they are a gross violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution — except that the politicians who themselves effected those limits should be bound by them.

A Gander Stews in the Sauce

Sunday, 29 June 2008
Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must kiss my ass for his support by Tim Shipman of the Telegraph
It has long been known that Mr Clinton is angry at the way his own reputation was tarnished during the primary battle when several of his comments were interpreted as racist.
It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To by Thomas B. Edsall at the Huffington Post
He is still bruised from the trail, really hurt about the racist charges leveled against him, and convinced the Obama campaign fomented it, said another source familiar with the former president's attitude. What he would really like is for Obama to apologize, but on one level he knows that is never going to happen, a third source said.

Very simply, Bill Clinton felt that he and Hillary were entitled to be treated by the mainstream media as the media generally treat… uhm, Democrats. Instead, the mainstream media treated Barack Obama as they do Democrats, and treated the Clintons as they do… Republicans. Bill Clinton's conviction that Obama's campaign was able to foment charges of racism speaks to the relationship that has long existed between the Democrats and the mainstream media, through which the Republicans haven't been able to do much fomenting in the last half-century. (Republicans have only been able to foment by way of alternate channels, such as talk radio, Fox News, and the right-wing 'blogosphere.)