The Daily Show on Republican fear mongering over health reform.

It’s hard to watch news reports on the disruptions of town hall meetings by the bat-shit insane bloc of the Republican party without shaking your head in despair. As per usual the Conservative pundits have been hard at work honing their hypocrisy into a razor sharp edge that can cut through cognitive dissonance in a single slice as this report from The Daily Show reveals:

When the Left do it, which we really haven’t on the scale we see today, we’re called Nazis. When the Right do it they’re merely expressing their First Amendment rights.

It should come as no surprise that since Walter Cronkite passed away a recent Time Magazine poll listed Jon Stewart as the most trusted newscaster, but it is rather sad. Not because Stewart doesn’t do a good job of presenting news, but because The Daily Show is a fake news program that was never meant to be anything other than funny. That a humor program does a better job of presenting the news than most of the major news programs/channels shows just how fucked up things have become. Not to mention that it takes a fake news program to hold the likes of FOX News accountable for their blatant misinformation and propaganda. Something you would expect the other news operations to undertake.

I suppose that would be difficult to do, however, when the corporations that own the major news channels are declaring truces that force their anchors to censor themselves. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC was doing a fairly decent job of taking FOX News in general, and Bill “Douche Bag” O’Reilly specifically, to task over the idiocy they put on the airwaves. Granted it wasn’t exactly hurting Keith’s ratings to take on the stunningly popular O’Reilly, but at least someone besides Jon Stewart was calling out their bullshit. All of that came to an end recently when the heads of both networks got together at a meeting mediated by Charlie Rose to agree to reign in their attack dogs:

It was perhaps the fiercest media feud of the decade and by this year, their bosses had had enough. But it took a fellow television personality with a neutral perspective to help bring it to at least a temporary end.

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

In early June, the combat stopped, and MSNBC and Fox, for the most part, found other targets for their verbal missiles (Hello, CNN).

“It was time to grow up,” a senior employee of one of the companies said.

That’s how the companies are spinning this agreement, but what it’s really about is the corporate owners censoring the news because it was rocking the boat. The New York Times article I quoted above totally fails to highlight that simple fact. Something which Glen Greenwald at Salon.com was stunned by:

According to the NYT, both CEOs agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other’s news organizations and employees.

Most notably, the deal wasn’t engineered because of a perception that it was hurting either Olbermann or O’Reilly’s show, or even that it was hurting MSNBC.  To the contrary, as Olbermann himself has acknowledged, his battles with O’Reilly have substantially boosted his ratings.  The agreement of the corporate CEOs to cease criticizing each other was motivated by the belief that such criticism was hurting the unrelated corporate interests of GE and News Corp.

[...] So here we have yet another example—perhaps the most glaring yet—of the corporations that own our largest media outlets controlling and censoring the content of their news organizations based on the unrelated interests of the parent corporation.

Greenwald goes on to point out the hypocrisy of Charlie Rose’s involvement considering statements he made back in 2003 in which he claimed the news organizations ABC, NBC, and CBS “are not influenced by the corporations that may own those companies.” Apparently a lot has changed in the six years since. Greenwald goes on to point out that MSNBC isn’t above using a corporate lobbyist—former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe who now works for Public Strategies, Inc.—as a “guest host” and “political analyst” on their network. Public Strategies, Inc. is a corporate communications firm run by former Bush White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett and it touts Wolffe’s frequent appearances on NBC and MSNBC in his bio to their clients. They don’t specifically say that if you hire them you’d have access to someone who frequently appears on a major news network as a supposedly objective analyst, but the implication is certainly there. Which just goes to show that you can’t even necessarily trust the news network that supposedly leans to the left to be honest with you. Though, if you were to believe the Conservative pundits, all American news shows outside of FOX are so far left they make Pravda look like it’s objective and impartial.

So we’re left with the host of a fake news program as the most trusted anchor in America since Cronkite kicked the bucket and the continuing need to seek out multiple sources of news to try and separate the wheat from the chaff. This is less of a problem with the Internet these days though it is a lot more work to take in the multiple sources and figure out what’s being influenced by bias and what is plain old factual. I would guess the extra effort is what contributes to the ability of news organizations like FOX to make shit up and present it as fact and have most of their viewers swallow it without question. It’s too much work to get to the truth and it’s so much easier to have your own prejudices and preconceptions catered to from a single source.

8 comments

  1. Brilliant post Les! You got it right on the money. The right wing “conservative” movement in this country has absolutely lost it’s mind. Faux News is appealing only to simple-minded, unsophisticated, and mostly religious fanatics that will believe pretty much any lie that Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Riley tells them.

    And it truly is a shame that Jon Stewart is now considered the “most trusted man” in the news. It really is telling a lot about Americans these days.

    But you really hit it right on the head when you mention that it is the Corporate influence in today’s media that is the ultimate problem. When is everyone going to wake up and realize that we don’t want, say, a major defense contractor owning the conduit that gives us our information?

    We need some regulations that clearly state that if you are in the business of the news media, then that is the only business you legally are allowed to be in, period.

  2. It’s not that hard to separate the wheat from the chaf reading multiple news sources, just a bit time consuming. Whatever things are the same in all sources are fact and you just average everything else.  It’s easier than it sounds, I swear.

  3. Les, I hate to dispute your information, but I put Olbermann on tonight to see if he might mention Fox, and so far he’s criticized Fox News three times. A Fox News reporter, Fox News for not making Dick Morris retract a statement about “terrorizing Democrats”, and he had O’Reilly as one of the “Worst Persons in the World”. It doesn’t seem he is going easy on them, he just called them “Fixed News” again.
    Either way great Jon Stewart video, and sadly I do respect him more than most mainstream reporters.

  4. Interesting note Positive. I would be interested in hearing if Olbermann is over stepping his superiors or if the cease fire has been lifted.

    Stewart really is one of the last good journalists left on TV and the fact he is on a fake news show doing is sad. Not that he is sad, but the idea that we have to get quality news from a fake show on a comedy channel. That’s sad. And it’s the end result of letting the free market control journalism.

  5. That was amazingly on topic for a bit of comment spam. Looks like the poster put some thought into it. Too bad I had to delete it due to the links to a scam dating site.

  6. Olbermann on Monday (I think) commented on the “deal.” He said that he had never agreed to any truce and nobody had asked him to. I think he’s going in extra hard on Fox this week just so nobody can say that he’s backed off lol.

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