Posts Tagged ‘NBC’

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”–Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805

I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful holiday weekend. And to the rest of the world not down with the Monday Morning Punter: I hope y’all had a pretty good weekend as well.

We will start the Television Edition of the MMP’s ‘Summer Reading’ list with an examination one of the more ubiquitous and controversial sources of news coverage these days: 24-hour cable news networks. In spite of (or perhaps because of) the dominance and influence of the major media corporations, television is still a hugely powerful medium when it comes to delivering news and information. Whether or not it’s all bullshit, TV news coverage is still how the vast majority of people get informed on events around the world or around the corner. And specifically, 24/7 cable news is becoming increasingly more significant as viewership wanes for the traditional 6/6:30 nightly news.

History

Back in the early 80s Ted Turner and his rag-tag, little network-that-could, CNN, began broadcasting news 24/7 from its Atlanta headquarters; becoming the first network in the United States to do so. A little over a decade later CNN came of age as a major news outlet after it was the sole network covering the initial bombing phase of Operation: Desert Storm. (There is a fantastic HBO film about CNN’s historical scoop called Live From Baghdad, starring Michael Keaton and the lovely Helena Bonham Carter. Check it out.) In 1991, while CNN was making broadcast history in Baghdad, it passed the big three networks in ratings, and cable news was born. This subsequently launched CNN into the major media stratosphere, paving the way for its acquisition by Time Warner in 1996.

At around the same time CNN was being acquired by Time Warner, two competing cable news networks were about to toss their hats into the ring. In 1996 both the Fox News Channel and MSNBC launched their respective 24-hour news networks.

After achieving “fourth network” status in the early 90s, and having previous experience in the 24/7 news business overseas, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp gave birth to the Fox News Channel on October 7th, 1996. Republican strategist Roger Ailes was picked to lead the network. (It should be noted here that at one time Ailes was in charge of America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC, who then passed on Ailes for leadership of the new network.) FNC really brought a modern graphical overhaul to its presentation of news coverage, with lots of bright red, whites, and blues highlighting summations of the current topic at the bottom of the screen in bullet-point format. Fox News quickly ascended to the top of the cable news mountain by the turn of the century, and is still the highest rated cable news network (and 6th overall amongst all cable networks.)

A few months before Fox officially launched, on July 15th, 1996, MSNBC officially began airing news, interviews, and opinions. The collaboration between Microsoft and NBC created the MSNBC network in an effort to reach a younger, more tech-savvy generation of news viewers. From the get-go, the MSNBC internet site was heavily integrated with the network. But in perhaps an ironic, unintended consequence of this focus on the burgeoning medium of online news, MSNBC.com has by far outperformed its television parent; as it is currently engaged in a fierce battle with CNN.com for top online news site honors. After being mired deep in low ratings, and approaching its 10th anniversary in 1996, columnist for the New York Post (like Fox News, run by Murdoch’s News Corp), Don Kaplan clowned MSNBC by writing: “the running joke in TV news is Fox and CNN are news channels with websites, but MSNBC is a website with a cable channel” While still lagging behind both ratings leaders Fox and CNN, respectively, MSNBC has managed to turn a corner and seems to have found its niche in the world of 24/7 cable news coverage. And the future looks bright for MSNBC as they have seen a steady incline in the ratings amongst the coveted 25-54 demographic.

So that’s a brief little history on how the three cable news networks came to be, and how people like Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, and Lou Dobbs became household names and lightning rods for criticism

Bias

We’ve all heard about the “liberal media bias” from conservatives when describing newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. (The basis for this argument is that most reporters would describe themselves as leaning left or voting Democrat, and not on their actual reporting itself.) And we’ve all heard liberals screaming about the “conservative agenda” put forth by the Fox News Channel. CNN and, now MSNBC in particular, often find themselves the targets of conservatives for a perceived liberal bias on their part. It might surprise some to learn that both MSNBC and CNN have been accused of a conservative bias as well as the typical liberal criticisms by media watch-dog groups like Media Matters. Of course, the Fox News Channel has never been accused of leaning left in any way. Really? What about that liberal pit-bull Alan Colmes?

What NOT to watch

I think you know where I’m going with this. For the love of God, and all that is good and true in this world, please, I implore you, a thinking American citizen, whatever you do, DO NOT watch the Fox News Channel if you want an honest source of information. If you are in the mood for a little entertainment or a good chuckle then, by all means, tune in.

One of the catchy slogans Fox News has adopted, “We Report, You Decide,” should most definitely be changed to the more accurate, “We Decide, Then Report.” And another one of their self-described subtitles, “Fair and Balanced,” is the equivalent of Amy Winehouse calling herself, “Clean and Sober.”

I could go on and on about the clear conservative agenda being pushed by Fox as manifested in the bullying, blow-hard, Bill O’Reilly, harping on meaningless, socially divisive issues like his crusade against a perceived ‘attack on Christianity’; or the hilariously mismatched pairing of Hannity and Colmes – respectively, one a dashing and eloquent conservative pundit, the other a little Gollum-looking, spineless whipping boy, meant to personify the caricature of a bed-wetting liberal; and I could continue on about how the president of Fox News since its inception, Roger Ailes, is a stalwart supporter of the Republican party, and was media consultant to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush. But all you really need to know about the Fox News Channel can be found here:

Fox News airs altered photos of NY Times reporters

and here When Fox News is the Story

After Fox “News” doctored actual photos of reporters who had the audacity to write a factually correct piece about how both MSNBC and CNN are closing the ratings gap with Fox, how anybody can watch this shit and honestly call themselves an intellectual is beyond me. It kind of makes you wonder if there is anything else they might have slanted to the right. Hmmm? It may not be fair or balanced, but from here on out if I find out that you, my faithful reader, watch this propaganda passed off as news, be you friend, family, or otherwise, I will simply have to conclude that you, my friend, are a moron. Sorry. You’ve been warned.

What TO watch

Forget for a moment that I lean towards the left (I am left-handed after all.) Instead try to think of me first and foremost as someone who is very open-minded and welcomes new and opposing ideas. If you know me, you know that I love to argue. And one of the most effective ways to argue one’s point is to get intimately familiar with the opposing stance. Also think of me as someone who spends a lot of time watching these various cable news channels as I speed along the Information Superhighway, passing the on and off ramps of various media exits. Please keep all of this in mind when reading the following recommendations.

If you are going to watch cable news, and you haven’t already, please make the switch to MSNBC. From the perspective of journalistic integrity, I have found that MSNBC, along with CNN, present their regular news coverage very subjectively and void of the editorializing often found in Fox’s coverage, be it from their anchors or the carefully worded summations beneath them on the screen.

MSNBC has really surged forward as of late, and much of that success can be attributed to a fervent interest in a historical primary season, and now a presidential campaign that will result in a new leader taking charge of our nation. MSNBC has a stable of political heavy-hitters amongst its anchors and correspondents such as Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, former White House correspondent and Press Secretary agitator, David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe and a former Republican congressman, Pat Buchanan, former advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and conservative/libertarian Tucker Carlson, to name a few. Judging just by some of names on the preceding list, one can surmise that MSNBC strives to present both sides of the political spectrum.

And finally, if you need any more reason to make MSNBC your cable news source, know this: they are partnered with some of the most trusted and respected print media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek.

Morning Joe

If you have the luxury of spending a little time in the morning watching television, and you are looking for some perspective on the news making headlines, please avoid the banal network morning shows with their cooking segments, shitty concerts “live from the plaza,” and the countless rube tourists jostling for camera time behind the jolly weatherman. Instead, head on over to MSNBC and grab a cup of Morning Joe, hosted by conservative pundit and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. The lovely Mika Brzezinski co-hosts Morning Joe, and provides the liberal viewpoint, along with the hysterical Willie Geist, who supplies the witty comic relief.

This show is great because the crew gets a head start on the day’s early news as they analyze and discuss it in a relaxed, round-table format. The core that is Joe, Mika, and Willie are often joined by pundits and journalists like Pat Buchanan (does this guy ever leave 30-Roc?), Mike Barnicle and Andrea Mitchell. Even the Big Man himself, Jack Welch, former GE CEO, stops by now and again. While I often find myself disagreeing with a lot of Joe Scarborough’s political views, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him because while he is conservative, he is also a free-thinker who has no problem criticizing this administration and his own party when he feels they are not acting with the best interest of America in mind.

Again, if you are up at 6am, and have a little time to watch television, and want some good information, have some Morning Joe with your morning joe.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Now that it is summer, and re-runs and reality dominate network primetime, it is the perfect time to discover a wonderfully informative and entertaining program. I highly recommend watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann at either 8 or 10 pm, or least TiVo it. (When our programs are on at 8, we watch Keith, while recording the other show, then fast forward through the mindless network commercials. DVR or TiVo technology is the type that I now cannot imagine life without). I should mention that this show is often blasted by conservatives for its liberal perspective. I will concede that Keith may lean left; but most of his ire is not so much directed at conservative ideology in general as it is on an administration that has used conservatism to hijack our government while pissing on our Constitution and waging an unnecessary war for profit. Keith is also an unabashed critic of Fox “News” and their obvious water-carrying for an administration whose policies have made the average American less secure, less prosperous, less informed, less free, and more fearful. Can you blame him?

But Countdown with Keith Olbermann is no less an honest program covering the current events in politics and news in spite of a perceived liberal bias from its host. You may remember Keith from his days as an anchor on SportsCenter, as part of the legendary duo of him and Dan Patrick. The sarcastic wit on display in those days, as Keith read the highlights, is out in full force on Countdown. But nevertheless, the stories he covers are the big, national stories of the day (as opposed to the often local, fringe stories The O’Reilly Factor focuses on in a clear effort to spread fear and the far-right’s political agenda.)

The format and title of Countdown is meant to ironically highlight the varying emphasis that networks place on covering social and celebrity stories alongside “hard news.” The program counts down from five, the top stories of the day, leading with, and devoting the most time to, the biggest national news at #5, and then finishes with the nonsensical celebrity voyeurism news of the day at #1. Speaking of which, what possible value is there in bringing the American public the sordid details of a divorce between a very former model and her uber-cad of a husband? I cannot imagine giving less of a fuck, but somehow, I know all about it. And I need to take a shower.

So please, give Keith and his Countdown a chance. I promise you will find the show both informative and entertaining. And if you are coming from a conservative perspective, don’t worry, Keith and MSNBC won’t turn you into al-Qaeda, and you can still keep your flag pin on your lapel.

Arbitrary Commentary

  • Maybe people would be less inclined to climb the walls of The New York Times building, in New York City, were those walls not covered in a gigantic fucking ladder!
  • Our man Andy is still going strong on I Survived A Japanese Game Show, as the Yellow Penguin team pulled out its second straight victory over the reeling Green Monkey squad. Big ups to Belinda for her efforts on the tricycle. Poor Darcy was eliminated for the second and (apparently?) final time. You gotta hand it her though; she was tough little fighter. Andy has been fantastic so far, excelling in the competitions as well as the social maneuvering. Keep it up, Homie! And thanks to Andy, the MMP

    has received a huge amount of traffic from people searching for ‘Andrew Kelly-Hayes,’ as my site is one of the first that is recovered when he is Googled. Thanks, Big Man!

  • And finally, since I’ve mention Bill O’Reilly, I just couldn’t resist. The video below is a behind-the-scenes look at just what ol’ Billo was actually seeing on that teleprompter. Hahahahahahaha. I just LOVE this guy!

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The dog days are almost upon us as the great Sun has reached its northern zenith, and is already ten days into its six month voyage back to the equator and beyond. While the reminder that the days are now slowly but surely getting shorter may be something of a buzzkill; the summer solstice just means that the season is now racing forward in high gear like Hunter S. Thompson in his Cadillac, ‘The White Whale,’ doing 90 miles per hour through the desert on the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Summer is Americana at its finest: ballgames and barbecues, the lakes and the shores, camping and hiking, lots of hours and little clothing. It’s easy to get lost in it all.

No matter how old you get, or what you end up doing for a living, these months will always manage to capture that essence of your childhood summer vacations. Lost in warm nostalgia, I got to thinking about those summer-reading lists we all got assigned back in the day, and how they relate to this blog. One of the main purposes of my writing is help steer people towards better channels of information. It’s not so much about presenting what I see as the truth (although this perspective will be pervasive throughout), because ultimately we all must determine “the truth” for ourselves. No, here at the Monday Morning Punter we are more about getting our readers better tools to make said determination.

If you, the reader, come away from this blog with only one thing stuck in your mind, like a fly buzzing around in there, let it be this: virtually all the information that is available for mass and convenient consumption is disseminated by a small handful of mega media giants. Let me repeat that: everything you read, see, and hear, all comes from high atop 5 humongous media pyramids – Viacom/CBS, GE/NBC, AOL/Time Warner, Disney/ABC, & NewsCorp/FOX. And bullshit certainly runs down the side of a pyramid much faster than down a hill.

A Scary Hypothetical

An Examination of Mass Media

Today the average American is working harder and longer for what is clearly less and less, especially when you take into account the meteoric rise in the cost of living. More than ever we need an informed citizenry aided by an independent media. But gone are the watchdogs. Gone are the pit-bulls; replaced now with one of Paris Hilton’s shitty little yapping lapdogs. No wonder we are only getting two minutes of Iraq coverage per night. No wonder Europeans laugh at the differences between the stories written by our respective medias. However, there is a brilliance coming to outline these thunder-clouds: the infant that is the Age of Information.

We are, all of us around the world, careening towards a time when the physical constraints of time and space will be rendered irrelevant as technology shrinks the planet to a neighborhood. Already we are seeing the seismic affects the internet is having on traditional media, evidence in the decline in nightly news viewers, and most strikingly in the apparent death rattle of the newspaper business. Now that people are getting their mainstream news from the same place and in the same format as the underground and independent media, namely, us. Articles from bloggers and Time staff writers now rub elbows; and YouTube videos catch fire and spread in a manner that Madison Avenue could only dream of. And when you combine all of this with an angry, fed-up, tech-savvy generation of citizens, who are tired of being pushed around by those with an insatiable greed for money and power, what you get is a revolution; a digital revolution fought with gigabytes instead of guns and bullets.

All this is well and good, but there is a catch: as more and more information is becoming available to us, we are often too busy to sift through it all. Because the Information Age has yet to start crawling, there is still a lot of catching-up to do when it comes to providing people with an alternative to the corporate raised horseshit being shoved down everyone’s collective throat. And there is still a lot of plumbing to do when it comes to a political system that is dependent on its media partner’s obfuscation, in order to distract the Voters from its ulterior motives. But inevitably this will all reach a critical mass, and, to paraphrase Princess Leia, “The more they tighten their grip, the more star systems will slip through their fingers.”

As we enter into the heart of the summer season, starting with this weekend’s Fourth of July celebrations, the reading lists of yesteryear, meant to keep us sharp and prepared for the rapidly approaching new school year, seem like an appropriate analogy for staying informed and prepared for this Autumn; and specifically the first Tuesday in November. Because so many of you out there are extremely busy and your time is very valuable, and because it is very easy to loose one’s self in the joys of summer vacation, the Monday Morning Punter is going to provide its “Summer Reading” series; which will certainly not be limited to just the printed word. A lot of the recommendations will come in the form of websites and blogs, as well as films and documentaries (some found on the web), and also some thought provoking and political music suggestions (yes, believe it or not, there is socially conscious music out there, and its growing). We will even recognize the few air pockets of independent thought found in the increasingly toxic cloud of the mainstream media visa vie the television. I spend many hours each day getting information from a wide array of sources, and have become very good at separating the wheat from the chaff.

So, stay tuned to the Monday Morning Punter throughout the week, and into the patriotic celebration of our United States of America’s 232nd birthday, for some alternative sources of information. And during this 4th of July, remember something that Thomas Jefferson once said/wrote:

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”–Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805

DANDELION SALAD

The first item on the Summer Reading list is a remarkable blog that is constantly being updated with all sorts of alternative media. Here you will find articles, video, foreign media, and links to tons of other useful information. Some of the stuff you will come across on Dandelion Salad might make your head start spinning, but you will feel like you have awoken from a coma. If you really want to get informed about what is really going on behind the scenes, then bookmark this site, add it to your homepage, and don’t go a week without dropping by. Lo, the site’s founder and moderator, is the embodiment of Patriotism. Her motto is “Audio Panton, Cogito Singularis.” Which is Latin for: Listen to everything, think for yourself.

So if you want the straight dope, Daddy-O, then go visit Lo over at the Dandelion Salad and grab a bowl.

Arbitrary Commentary

  • Andy had his primetime debut last Tuesday, and the only thing I can say is, “Hai, Majide!” If you got a chance to watch I Survived A Japanese Game Show then you know that “Majide” is the name of the popular program that our intrepid American brothers and sisters must compete on; and you would know that the name is loosely translated in English as, “You have to be crazy!” according to the pisser of a host, Rome Kanda (Majide is literally translated as, “Seriously?”). I Survived…premiered with some very solid ratings – an estimated 8 million people tuned in to watch moshi munching and treadmill face-plants. And, judging by the response to my blog, a number of those 8 million are already big fans of our man Andrew Kelly-Hayes. See for yourself in the comments section of my Andy feature. He is also apparently a big hit amongst the “bear” loving community. After the show, the Monday Morning Punter had a huge spike in hits, doubling the previous one day high.
  • On Sunday, June 29th, I reluctantly acknowledged the one year anniversary of a day in my life I’d rather forget. Let this be a cautionary tale for some of you out there. Last year some of us planned a weekend in Montreal, Canada, for a friends bachelor party; and most drove. Well, to make a long story short, our neighbors to the north weren’t very neighborly, as I was greeted with the Heisman stiff-arm and told, thanks but no thanks, you can’t come in. Now I know what you’re thinking, but no, I did not have anything illegal in the car, and yes, I was on my best behavior. Nope: sometimes honesty is not the best policy; as was the case in this situation. Upon questioning after a random car check, I simply answered in the affirmative regarding past brushes with the law, as I figured there was nothing serious like a felony, and everything should have been wiped clean by now. Eight hours later I pulled into my driveway exhausted and agitated. I figured wrong. Fortunately, everyone else was able to make it in and have a ride. But the moral of this story is that if you are trying to cross the US/Canadian border, make sure you have your ducks in a row, or dummy up like Dick, Karl & Scooter, and simply say that you don’t recall.
  • Sorry for not having a late week post up last week. That may happen now and again during the summer, as most weekends are chockfull, with some requiring preparation. It was great to be back in Connecticut these last two weekends; and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with so much family. And Friday, while back in lovely Fairfield county, I got this sweet tattoo as a birthday present from my brother, done by his friend Brian, who is an amazing artist. Thanks Chris and Brian. Here’s a link to Brian’s studio, the Iron Butterfly Tattoo, in Danbury, CT. If you are in the tri-state area, and are looking for some ink, its well worth the drive.