Saturday, January 28, 2012
The day of Joe Paterno's death, many in the sports world who knew him speaking to the media said they thought he died of a broken heart. Lou Holtz said it. Bobby Bowden said it. Brent Musburger said it. Todd Blackledge said it. But none of that is true. Joe Paterno had more heart dying than all of his critics had living. So, aside from the ravages of cancer afflicting a man of 85, it had nothing to do with a broken heart. But a case can be made that a contributing factor were the injuries he sustained from the beating he took in a back alley from a gang of punks otherwise known as journalists.
The reason the journalistic punks attacked Paterno is for the same reason punks anywhere attack anyone. Because they felt he was vulnerable, that it was safe for them to attack, and the biggest reason and most importantly of all, because of what they knew he had and going after it was for their own benefit.
A gang of punks would never attack anyone if they thought there was a risk the person they are attacking would fight back and cause them real harm. And of course they never attack anyone unless they feel they have something of real value they can take.
That's why it was Paterno who was jumped on by the punks in media and not Steve Turchetta, the coach at the high school where Sandusky's shower victim was a student even though Turchetta, even after complaints by the boy's mother, continued to allow Sandusky to take the kid out of school over the mother's objections. Its why Karen Probst, the principal at the boy's school, and other school offcials, didn't have their picture on the front of page of the Philadelphia Daily News with the words "Shame" even though when told of Sandusky's abuse, according to the mother, tried to talk her out of going to the police.
Ray Gricar was also left alone. He was the DA who the mother went to with the same complaints about Sandusky as far back as 1998 and decided he didn't have enough to prosecute. And without ascribing any negligence at all to the Penn State police, it has never been adequately explained why, when the mother went to the police in 1998 and detectives set up a sting ,eavesdropping on a conversation between Sandusky and the boy's mother where Sandusky allegedly confessed, nothing further was done.
But the roving gangs of punks in the news media ignored all of them. Because none of them had anything worth taking. None had anything near what Paterno had. And what Paterno had that was worth taking was the whole point.
Everyone knew Joe Paterno was a rich man, rich in all of the values he taught and inspired, and all his contributions and accomplishments that made his life and those who came contact with him as rich in their own way. If you're a journalistic punk like Sean Gregory at Time magazine or Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com and you want to make a name for yourself, you want attention, you want to elevate yourself, who are you going to go after? Steve Turchetta? Karen Probst? Time Curly or Gary Schultz? What did they have of value worth ?
So the roving gang of journalistic punks they left them alone. For the most part they even left Jerry Sandusky alone. And went after Paterno. Because that's where the money was.
The media's excuse, their cover story for their attacks was they were sticking up for children and standing up against child abuse. No one should be fooled by that. Or believe a word of it. They weren't. As has been pointed out before, none of them, including the Philadelphia Daily News ever took on the Catholic church or the present Pope, who, as a cardinal knew about countless instances of sexual abuse by priests and made not reporting it to the police official policy so he church could handle it in house. And it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to know that the reason the church wasnt attacked is because those who say they care about child abuse felt it wasn't safe enough for them. There might be backlash, retribution, the church, even in a weakened state could hit back. There also might be financial damage in the form of boycotts in attacking the church.
So instead of going after all of the people who didn't report or act on Sandusky's abuse, they went after the one person who did Joe Paterno. And said it was because he didn't do enough ( it seems to escaped all these people that even if you wanted to believe that Paterno didn't do enough, it would only be because everyone else did nothing).
Okay, so how ludicrous really was the media's narrative and reporting?
The mantra of the media that Joe Paterno "didn't do enough" was the fiction used to justify their attacks for their own self-serving reasons. But this is how ludicrous their empty fiction was. ESPN reported:
"Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have been indicted for perjury and failing to report a crime after being informed of the allegations of Sandusky's child sexual abuse." Anyone notice what they left out?
ESPN conveniently omitted three crucial words, "by Joe Paterno".
Was it because pointing out that two Penn State officials were indicted for failing to report a crime of which they were informed of by Joe Paterno would make the media's attacks on Paterno look idiotic? How could Paterno not have done enough when a grand jury handed down two indictments based on what Paterno did do? If what Joe Paterno did was inadequate, if what he reported was inadequate, how could a grand jury indict these officials for a felony for failing to act on inadequate information?
That's a conundrum the news media would rather not deal with, so in reporting on Curley and Schultz's indictment, let's just forget that the root of their indictment is based onwhat Joe Paterno told them and what they failed to do with it.
Here is something else for the non-thinkers in the press to think about. If Curley and Schultz had acted on what Paterno told them, there would be no stories about Joe Paterno having "not done enough".
Instead the press kept their narrative going, even so far as to twist and distort Paterno's own words, saying that "even Joe Paterno said he hadn't done enough". Joe Paterno said no such thing, at any time anywhere. What he actually said was " with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more".
Saying "I wish I had done more" is what anyone would say who looks back on an event and wished they could have done something to prevent it or fix it. Its not an admission of guilt. Its an admission of humanity. We have heard it from parents going through the heartbreak of losing a child because of bullying wishing they had seen the warning signs and wishing they could have done more to prevent it.
One further thing to keep in mind about the fiction of how Joe Paterno "didn't do enough". After almost three months later there hasn't been one person anywhere who has actually said with any specificity and detail what they think Paterno should have done. They haven't because they don't know. And never did.
Now that Paterno is gone, and the damage was done, it seems that journalistic reflection and remorse is starting to set in.
Jim Litke, who has a byline as sports writer for the Associated Press wrote on the day of Paterno's death:
"On the other end( after speaking highly of Paterno's legacy) was John Surma, vice chairman for a Penn State board of trustees that couldn't muster enough courage or decency to fire Paterno in person."
Litke went on to write " Now all those people who rushed to judgement (italics mine) about Paterno's role in the Sandusky case will have to find their way out from under the sordid scandal without their longtime coach".
The problem with all this is that every word of it could have been written two months ago when it all happened and when it might have had an influence, when it might have done some good when it might have thrown some water on the fire the news media had set and continued to fan. Writing it now is saying it after the fact, after Paterno is gone, after the injustice and damage was done
Brent Musburger, in an ESPN interview on the day of Paterno's death, was now referring to what he characterized as "a slight lapse in judgement" on the part of Paterno. So what Musburger is saying is even if you wanted to believe Paterno should have done more, ( and there is no evidence that he or anyone else in his position should have or have been reasonably expected to), not doing more was now a " slight lapse in judgement".
So the revisionism, the corrections that newspapers always put on page 63 are starting to appear. Maybe they'll decide it's a matter of better late than never. Maybe.
But one can only wonder after Paterno's death, if Jim Litke and other members of the press who are now writing the truth, almost three months later, and seeing the attacks on Paterno for what they really were, aren't now thinking to themselves, "with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more".
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Obama's State of the Union: From the 4th most accomplished president or single most accomplished liar?
In the wake of President Obama's State of the Union speech the real question is, does anything Obama say matter? The only honest answer is no. Because Obama has proved, not just over the first 3 years of his presidency but throughout his entire political career, that he never means what he says, will say anything to anyone at anytime for his own political benefit, and has reneged on more promises and pledges and lied more brazenly about them than any president in history as the videos below will show.
When Barrack Obama used the word "audacity" for the title of his book in relation to his political ambitions it was probably the only time in his life he actually told the truth. Not because he had audacious ideas. He had no ideas that were his own. Not because he dreamt of audacious accomplishments -- he never accomplished a thing in 16 years of elected office going back to his days in the Illinois state senate where he spent 11 years doing nothing to such a degree his lack of accomplishment and initiative became a joke during the presidential primary campaign in 2008. But when it comes to audacity, he is without doubt the most dishonest and audacious liar to ever sit in the White House surpassing even Richard Nixon for that dubious honor. And so nothing he has to say, especially about his vision for the future, matters. It's nothing but in-the-moment politics to Obama.
Obama has always been a man of hollow political ambition, wanting elected office for the sake of having it not for sake of accomplishing anything and to that end, he lies consistently about almost anything of significance to appease whoever needs appeasement at the time, and has done so during his entire political career.
So while "progressive" groups are praising Obama's pledge to investigate and hold accountable the financial practices of the big banks that caused the economic crisis, one has to keep in mind that one of his most significant and damaging lies was about the single most important Democratic issue of the 2008 election and probably the last 40 years -- healthcare reform.
Obama lied more about health care reform than any president has lied about any one single issue since Nixon and Watergate as the videos below will show ( though George W Bush is not far behind in his self serving lies about why he couldn't prevent the 911 attacks when he had enough information to do so).
Obama's lying is so brazen that even his new campaign literature claims as one of his big accomplishments "getting health insurance for 32 million uninsured". It should be remembered that Obama's health care bill is the same one former DNC chairman Howard Dean said should be "junked". And the bill Tom Harkin,and other congressional Democrats could only say was "better than nothing".
The audacity of Obama's lie that he "got health insurance for 32 million uninsured", is nothing short of an insult to the intelligence of every voter in the country but its only one of many that Obama has gotten away with time and time again especially in the press who, from the beginning have decided to look the other way when confronted with outright lies coming from Obama because they didn't want anything to interfere with their narrative of electing the " first black president".
What Obama's healthcare bill actually does get is 32 million new customers for the insurance companies, the lobby he sold out to when he made a back room deal at the White House (as reported by the New York Times) with the for-profit health care industry to dump the public option. Though it is still an open question as to whether his mandate that the uninsured buy insurance will survive a Supreme Court challenge.
Not long ago, in a recent "60 Minute" interview, in a head shaking display of the audacity of lying, Obama essentially declared himself, based on what he called his "accomplishments" the 4th most accomplished president in history.
The right wing went ballistic as the right wing always does and with the usual lack of credibility because they would blast Obama if he said the sky was blue, but the real criticism should have come from Democrats, liberals, and so called "progressives", that political group that used to be called liberals but instead of standing up to Republican attacks on liberalism, changed their name.
With healthcare reform having been on the Democrats agenda for 60 years, and with Obama having the biggest congressional majority of any president in 60 years, and with having promised a public health insurance plan in his speeches and campaign literature since 2007, and with a public option being overwhelmingly supported in every poll by a huge majority of the American people, passing it should have been a snap. For any other president except Barrack Obama.
After making his backroom deal to dump the public option, Obama continued to publicly support it in speech after speech, including his 2010 State of the Union message, and in televised town hall meetings. Privately he instructed Harry Reid to dump it from the final bill even though 55 Democratic senators had publicly proclaimed they would vote for it in reconciliation.
After the bill passed, Obama claimed in an interview with Jim Lehrer on PBS that he had gotten "95% of everything" he wanted in the bill. When Lehrer pointed out the bill had no public option Obama replied, " I never campaigned for a public option".
That audacious lie set off a barrage of indignant responses from Democratic commentators. But not enough to matter because the same groups who attacked Obama for that audacious lie didn't have the guts to stop supporting him, hold him accountable and pressure the DNC to encourage Democratic challengers to Obama in the 2012 primaries. Instead the DNC has embraced Einstein's definition of insanity -- doing the same things over again and expecting different results.
Health care reform isnt the only one of Obama's outright lies. One could easily fill a book with them. He lied incessantly during the 2008 Democratic primaries about what he knew about Jeremiah Wright's anti-American diatribes until You Tube videos started to surface proving that he was lying. Having his political back to the wall is what motivated giving his "major speech on race," a vacuous,self-serving and empty speech only the most easily conned, which usually includes news media, didn't laugh at it. At the time, former Democratic New York city Mayor Ed Koch commented that Obama threw his own grandmother under the bus in the speech.
Obama has been caught lying almost from his first days in office. When the public was outraged to learn about the huge bonuses AIG executives were going to receive after taking billions in tax payer bailouts Obama publicly said " I share the public's outrage". What he didn't say was that he not only knew about the bonuses more than a week in advance, he actually approved them. Making his "outrage" as dishonest as his claimed ignorance.
And during the 2008 primaries in Ohio, he was caught in a lie so outrageous and manipulative it would have ended the political career much less presidential candidacy of any other candidate.
That happened in Ohio where Obama told the unemployed in a state that had lost 280,000 jobs before the economic crisis that NAFTA was at the heart of their problem ( something Politfact.org said itself was a lie) and he promised the unemployed in Ohio and those afraid that they might next, that he would get rid of NAFTA if he were elected. At the same time, he sent Austan Goolsbee his economic advisor to the Canadian embassy in Chicago to tell them to ignore everything they were hearing about Obama getting rid of NAFTA, he has no intention of getting rid of it, that what he was saying publicly was just politics.
It is now 2012 and Obama is up for re-election, and lying about his "accomplishments" and making statements and promises that mean nothing. There are very few Democratic and independent voters left who are gullible enough to believe anything he says and whether they will vote to reelect him will depend on who the Republican nominee is. Assuming that its Romney Obama has virtually no chance of re-election.
Even Democrats know that Obama has been a president who has conducted his presidency with less conviction and principle than probably any other president in history, as the videos below will show. Something more important to remember than anything Obama had to say in the dog and pony show known as the State of the Union message. And now, after the State of the Union, is as good a time as any to be reminded.
Friday, January 20, 2012
A new round of sanctimonious self righteous self serving nonsense is being generated again by those addled minds with press passes we know as journalists ever ,since Joe Paterno gave a January 15th interview to the Washington Post explaining his thoughts,feelings and reactions to what Mike McQueary had told him concerning Jerry Sandusky.
It didn't take the news media long to fabricate, twist, re-write and ponitificate about Paterno's words so as to fit their own continuing narrative and attempts at journalistic face saving.
A lot of the already old debunked criticisms have returned including the one labeled " Didn't Do Enough". What is meant by that none of the critics say with any specificity except to say he should have done what he actually did do. But if for some, what is meant is that Paterno didn't follow up with Curley the AD and Schultz the head of Penn State police services to see if they were doing their jobs, had they, none of the criticisms of Paterno would have even been uttered. So what it really comes down to is a bunch of people who having no real idea what they would have done in Paterno's shoes, living out their own self-deluded sanctimonious fantasies and blaming Paterno for what his superiors are alleged not to have done.
One thing we know for certain is that none of the journalists or people who "criticized" ( its in quotes because their criticisms and opinions have proved empty and worthless) Paterno would have done any of the things they delude themselves into thinking they would have done had they been in Paterno's shoes. In fact most would not have done as much as Paterno.
We know this because the initial reaction of most human beings when being told about those kind of allegations, as non-specific as they were, about someone they knew and worked with for 28 years, would be disbelief. Shock. And it doesn't take a student of human nature to know that at least 95% of every person in the same situation would have taken a lot longer than 24 hours to decide what their next steps should be.
We know this, not only because of what we know about human nature, but because when ESPN was not just in Paterno's shoes but had more direct information than Paterno had including tape recorded evidence from an alleged victim, they did absolutely nothing because they felt they needed more information. Paterno didn't need to know more. But ESPN, one of the loudest critics of Paterno for not "doing more", needed to know more. And so did nothing for ten years.
ESPN in fact keeps beating the same dead drum, this time from an ESPN blogger named Gene Wojciechowski who, in response to Paterno's recent interview in the Washington Post, said that Paterno not being sure of exactly what to do next after being told about Sandusky by McQeary, was "no excuse". No excuse for what he doesn't really say, since what Paterno did doesnt requires an excuse. What there is no excuse for is the incomptency of Wojciechowski's column.
In his column further criticizing Paterno's responses in his Washington Post interview the factually challenged
Wojciechowski writes: "He didn't report the allegations to police "
We know of course that he did but the pathetically ignorant Wojciechowski doesnt think Penn State campus police are "real" police, so reporting it to the head of police services is not in Wojciechowski's addled mind, "the police". What he seems completely ignorant about is that the mother of one of Sandusky's victims thought they were the real police and that is where this mother went. But dont hold your breath waiting for Wojciechowski to call the victim;s mother ignorant, gutless and write that she has no excuses for not going to the police.
Wojciechowski also wrote of Paterno's going to the AD, his immediate superior and Gary Schultz head of police services:
"Did he think a college athletic director (PSU's Tim Curley) and a career Penn State bureaucrat with no formal law enforcement training (Gary Schultz, who oversaw, among other departments, the university police force) would have any more insight?"
And did Wojciechowski think that an 85 year old college head football coach is supposed to have more insight? Who does he think Paterno is? Colombo? The head of Law and Order SVU? Given the extraordinary thing Paterno was told, within 24 hours he reported it to his superior and later arranged a meeting between himself, McQueary and head of Penn State police services. And McQueary himself considers going to Schultz "going to the police". So the answer to Wojciechowski's truly and stupefyingly idiotic rhetorical question, did Paterno think that Tim Curley the AD and Gary Schultz head of police services might have any more insight, the answer is to anyone with an IQ in 3 digits is yes.
People like Wojciechowski, sitting far away from the field of engagement usually have their own fanatasies of what they would have done in the same situation without really knowing and without the minimum capacity to think a real problem with a real set of givens, through.
Perhaps there are some who can understand Wojciechowski's thinking when he is critical of Paterno saying he didnt know exactly how to hande it. Being told that a colleague and co-worker of 28 years, someone you've known and worked with every day for 28 years was caught in the shower having some kind of inappropriate sexual contact with a ten year old boy is, as everyone knows, a common every day occurrence, something anyone would be familiar with and like Wojciechowski in his fantasies, would know instantly what action to take. Even in retrospect, the actions Paterno took, reporting what he was told to his superior and to Penn State police, were correct.
But not to Gene Wojciechowski who probably fantasizes himself like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" all decked out in his sequined Red Ryder outfit and rushing out to -- where? The Penn State campus police? No can't go there. That's where Joe Paterno went. And the mother of one of Sandusky's victims. State College Police? No,can't go there either. They have no jurisdiction and would just refer him back to Penn State Campus Police, the agency that does have jurisdication, the agency that people like Gene Wojciechowski think are toy police with toy guns and toy police cars and toy detectives and toy riot gear. So what's a Red Ryder to do? Where does this Red Ryder go and what can he do so that no one can say he had no excuses and didn't do enough? Go to Dick Wolf creator of the Law and Order series and tell him? Wojciechowski never says exactly because the truth is he doesnt know.
Most of the Penn State trustees are no better. Mark Dambly, a Penn State trustee who voted to fire Paterno recently spoke for a news article by the Associated Press part of which is excerpted here:
"A day after the graduate assistant, Mike McQueary came to see him, Paterno relayed the accusations to his superiors, one of whom oversaw campus police. Board members didn't think that was enough. Dambly said, "It was our opinion that Joe Paterno did not meet his moral obligation and for that reason -- me personally for that reason -- I felt he could no longer lead the university". What Dambly doesnt say and what he is now morally obligated to say, is exactly and with specifity and detail, what he thinks Paterno should have done and what he, Dambly would have done. It is not enough to parrot the news media's narrative or clap your fins together like a trained seal and say "it wasnt enough". Dambly and other trustees now have a moral obligation to say specifically, not with vague generalities, what should have been done. If Dambly can't or if gives a preposterous answer, he has a moral obligation to resign as does every other member of the Board of Trustees who cannot adequately answer the question of what they think Paterno should have done. But to also show just how intellectually dishonest Dambly and the rest of the trustees are, their claim that Paterno "didnt do enough" was based on no first hand knowledge. They had a moral obligation to talk to Paterno first and get his side of what happened right from him. But it seems that for the trustees moral obligations are only a one way street, since they fired Paterno without even talking to him or asking him what happened. They just buckled to media pressure, which they admitted at the time was the primary reason for dismissing Paterno and now are trying to rewrite the record.
Dambly also mentioned that there was resentment by the Board who felt that Paterno was challenging the board's authority ( imagine that!) by speaking for himself without clearing what he was going to say with the board and taking it upon himself to say he would continue coaching till the end of the season. The trustees, according to Dambly were upset Paterno didnt talk to them first. But the same trustees had no problem dismissing Paterno without them talking to him. Which just happens to make this collection of university trustees guilty of not fullfilling their moral obligations.
Dambly is just one of many of Paterno's critics in and out of the media living in a fantasy world of their own making. Another is Bobby Bowden who recently gave a radio interview in which he said what he would have done differently if in Paterno's shoes. Unbelievably,nothing he said was actually any different from anything Paterno did. Except Bowden did say he would have " gone to Sandusky, asked him if it were true and then I would have told him to get out and never come back". In Bowden's fantasy he doesn't say what he would have done if Sandusky had denied it which Sandusky most surely would have thereby denying Bowden his exit line. Paterno skipped Bowden's "never darken my door again" histrionics, didn't waste time asking Sandusky anything and reported what McQueary told him to the AD within 24 hours who effectively did what Bowden said he would have done, ban Sandusky from Penn State (without bothering with the "and never come back"). Then Paterno met with the administrative head of Penn State campus police. Yet somehow Bowden's account was promoted by the news media as "what Bobby Bowden would have done differently". Maybe the Philadelphia Daily News should put Bobby Bowden's picture on the front page with the word "Shame". If they did, at least they would be consistant.
All of this nonsense is because the news media always has their own narrative designed to call attention to themselves as heros and crusaders and is always self-serving. And when the truth or facts explode their narrative, and makes them all look like idiots as the Paterno story does with everyone from Wojciechowski and ESPN to the Penn State trustees, the truth becomes, not just expendable, but distorting it, fabricating it or burying it becomes essential.
Another article within the last 24 hours on the ESPN web site, this one attributed to the Associated Press claimed that "even Pennyslvania's top cop criticized Paterno for not doing enough and not going to the police"
The article doesn't say who the top cop is or names the top cop because no cop, top or otherwise ever criticized Paterno for not doing enough, and no cop, top or otherwise would not consider Penn State campus police, "the police" and as the facts bear out Paterno did go to the head of Penn State police services, Gary Schultz. By the way, referring to Gary Schulz as "the head of Penn State police services" is the term used by one of the Penn State trustees in relation to Schultz and his job description. It should also be noted that ESPN pulled the article and a subsequent search couldn't find it. Maybe it's being rewritten. Or used to wrap fish.
Its not too much to expect that the news media simply get their facts straight because that's their job. And its not a hard job its an easy job. The job of journalist is to simply gather the facts, make sure they are accurate by checking them with more than one source, and then present them in a way that any idiot could understand. And the sorry thing is that 90% of them can't do it.
The official position and narrative of the news media and commentators (whose job description should be changed to "pontificators",) related to Paterno is that they are "protecting children" and standing up against child abuse. But as we have seen in other cases they only take a position on anything if they feel its safe to do or in their own best self- interest. If not, no matter what the truth is or what the facts show, they will ignore it bury it or run from it.
None of the pontificators for example, has ever demanded that the current Pope immediately resign even though the current Pope, as a cardinal, had known about some of the most egregious and heart-sickening examples of child sexual abuse in human history, including the Wisconsin priest who had abused over 400 deaf children at a Catholic school for the deaf for decades, and about which the current Pope did nothing for 40 years because, as he said in a letter, the image of the church was what mattered most. But attacking the current Pope for "not doing enough", in fact for doing nothing for 40 years and letting it as well as other instances continue, and demanding his resignation and that of everyone in the church heirarchy who knew about this and did nothing, is not a safe position. It could cost them ratings, viewers, subscribers, it could even get them criticized and called anti-Catholic so better just downplay it.Paterno is a lot easier.
So for the editors of the Philadelphia Daily News, putting a picture of the Pope on the front page with the word " Shame" would be out of the question. And it would be out of the question for Wojciechowski to question anyone connected with ESPN and criticze those at the network who knew about the Bernie Fine allegations and did nothing for ten years. Instead, for the news media, whether its ESPN or the Philadelphia Daily News or anyone else, the prevailing journalistic standard is, do what you think is safe, if there is a journalistic mob, join it, don't get left out, find a high horse to sit on, weight the power of the subject to hit back, distort or fabricate to fit the narrative and dont do or say or report anything that might make them pay the biggest price of all -- losing advertisers.
Gene Wojciechowski can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDENDUM: By now most people know about Joe Paterno's passing on Sunday morning. And listening to the tributes come in from many of the people who knew him, people are starting to realize and it's becoming obvious, whose sins Paterno died for. And they werent his own.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The recent barrage of lies, fabrications, dishonesty and non-existent journalistic standards that comprised the media accounts related to Joe Paterno,what he knew and what he did and did not do, is unfortunately, nothing new. Lies, distortions, omissions and shoddy journalism been standard operating procedure by the main stream news media in the areas of politics, public policy and issues as significant as war, impeachment and presidential elections for at least the last 15 years. It happens on big issues and small issues, on issues that do damage to individuals and issues that do damage to the country.
The Joe Paterno fiasco which included journalists like Sean Gregory at Time Magazine, Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com, Jemele Hill at ESPN.com, the editors at the Philadelphia Daily News and a host of ESPN commentators, committing outright acts of libel in their reporting, making blatant factual misrepresentations, distortions and outright fabrications they knew they had no facts to substantiate, and the fact that in almost every instance the opposite of what was being reported was true, left not just a lot of people, but the majority of people who did know the facts, not just furious at the news media but disgusted and fed up and in the case of some Penn State students, inspired an anti-news media riot.
Joe Paterno has stated that he is looking forward to getting his story out which when it happens will more than likely further blacken the eyes of the news media, but the question remains, what can be done about the low or non-existent journalistic standards and outright journalistic and intellectual dishonesty of the news media? Most people feel that Sean Gregory at Time, Whitlock at FoxSports.com and Jemele Hill at ESPN.com still having their jobs while Joe Paterno lost his, is a gross injustice and the kind of journalistic incompetence, dishonesty and lack of standards that should cost them their jobs.
This isnt the first time the media has been guilty of this kind of egregious malpractice.They did it years ago with Richard Jewel calling him the Olympic Bomber without a shred of evidence. They did it during the Monica Lewinsky fiasco hoping to cash in on the scandal and aiding and abetting a senseless and time wasting impeachment. On the other side of the ledger, they hid under a rock and did and said nothing when the 911 Commission uncovered evidence that the Bush Administration had ample information to have prevented the 911 attacks which succeeded largely due to gross negligence. And then there were the famous front page stories by Judith Miller of the New York Times, reporting on the certainty of Sadaam's WMD which helped make the case for war when we later learned that not only was there no real evidence of WMD but the information Miller reported was splashed on the front pages of the New York Times were without any independent corroboration and, as it turned out, was spoon fed to Miller by Dick Cheney's office.
The news media also chose to put their heads in the sand during the 2008 Democratic primaries when Barrack Obama, riding an emotional wave and a news media agenda to be the "first black president" was caught blatantly lying more times about more subjects than possibly any presidential candidate in history, all of it largely ignored by the media so as not to derail their preconcieved agenda.
Almost every problem the country has faced and faces now can be traced back to a news media too cowardly, too incompetent or too inept to do the job the Founders envisioned when they wrote the first amendment. Which is to keep the electorate informed with accurate and unbiased information.
The media fails at that constantly and they do it willfully. So the question becomes, what to do about it?
It should come as no surprise that media ratings, and ad revenue continues to fall as more and more people get disgusted with the media and simply dont trust them to do their jobs honestly and that falling revenue makes news media standards fall even further as that becomes their main concern.
A Pew Research poll a few years asked whether people trusted the news media, especially cable news and the results were predictable. For CNN, 69% of those polled said they didn't trust them to accurately report the facts. For MSNBC the distrust was at 70% and for Fox News 71%. By the way to show just how dishonest the media can be, CNN used those results to run an ad campaign calling themselves " The Most Trusted Name in News" and cited the Pew poll though they didnt cite the actual numbers. So if a news organization cant tell the truth about itself how can anyone expect them to tell the truth about the news?
In terms of what can be done about it, the first step comes from the words of writer Paddy Chaefsky and his character Howard Beale, from the movie "Network" who ranted that people have to get mad, and when they do, they have to shout that they are "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore".
Once that stage is reached, and judging by reaction that stage was probably reached years ago, there is a lot that can be done.
During the height of the news media's Paterno fiasco, a reader here wrote that as a father of 3, and outraged by ESPN's dishonesty, incompetence, hypocrisy and in many cases outright falsehoods in their reporting on Paterno, and knowing that Disney was the parent company of ESPN, he was canceling his family trip to Disneyworld. I suggested in response that he write a letter to Disney CEO Robert Eiger informing him of his decision and why.
Another reader scoffed at this reply calling it "laughable" that Eiger would care or that it would make a difference.
Having started my professional career in the advertising business creating and selling ad campaigns to national advertisers as both an art director and writer while working for some of the top ad agencies in New York and LA, I have sat in rooms with VPs of marketing and can tell you first hand that they care about even one negative letter much less 100 or 1000. To those companies 1,000 complaints would be an earthquake. They care about their company's image, how people feel about their products, they care about how their company is perceived, they care about everything. Robert Eiger would not laugh at this father's letter. He would take it seriously. Which is why Eiger is where he is and the reader who called it "laughable" is where he is.
Letters, emails and phone calls, especially if they are organized to CEO's of parent companies or to the editors of news organizations like Time Magazine and their parent company Time-Warner, expressing one's anger and/or threats of advertiser boycotts are very effective. So are organized physical protests.
Republicans and conservatives are very good at organizing letter writing campaigns, angry phone calls and threatneing advertiser boycotts against media outlets. It wasn't too long ago they succeeded in getting Dan Rather fired from the CBS Evening News over the questionable authenticity of a document used in a story about the disdain George W. Bush's Air National Guard commander had for him and his belief that Bush had received special treatment because of his family name. The irony is that the commander's secretary confirmed as fact everything contained in the document but because there was some question about its authorship and authenticity, conservatives and Republicans sent a barrage of angry emails, phone calls, letters and protests to CBS News and Sumner Redstone the CEO of Viacom, the parent company of CBS. The result was Rather's firing.
In another instance, though not media related, a site called Bankrate.com reported that Bank of America decided to drop their plan to charge a $5 a month debit card fee largely because of the anger and outrage of a single person who organized hers, and the outrage of other Bank of American customers against the fee.
"Andrew Plepler, who has the long double-barreled title of global corporate social responsibility executive and consumer policy executive at Bank of America, earlier this week called Molly Katchpole, a 22-year-old Bank of America customer, who started the petition on Change.org, a do-it-yourself petitions web site protesting the proposed $5 a month debit card fee."
One person not only stopped the fee from going through but her efforts earned her a phone call from a top executive at Bank of America. So much for what is "laughable" and what even one person can do.
Change.org is one good place to start in organizing and communicating a protest to corporate executives or editors at news outlets. It's not unlikely that a petition, direct letters or emails to editors or parent companies by those unhappy with the news media treatment of Paterno for example, even to the point of demanding the firing of those most responsible for the sloppy and inaccurate reporting, would go ignored. Especially if the petitions containted thousands or tens of thousands,or, as in the case of Bank of America, hundrds of thousands of signers.
When TV and radio networks originally started their news divisions it was done as a public service. CEO's like Bill Paley at CBS took the first amendment and the reason for its existence -- to have an informed electorate -- seriously. The news divisions were not only not expected to make money, they were expected to lose money.
That all changed in the 80's when news became more of a business and money, ratings, and advertising revenue and fear of losing all three, began to drive network and cable news. Because of that, any threat to any of these things coming from one person or a large group, gets their attention. Because those in the news business know the saying that those who live by the sword die by the sword.
Along with Change.org as a place to start to organize a protest and be heard along with personal letters, emails and phone calls, located here, on the right is a link to FAIR'S media list of names, street addresses, email addresses and phone numbers of media outlets around the country.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
To the surprise of no one with a triple digit IQ or any judgement at all, Michele Bachman announced she is dropping out of the presidential race after finishing a dismal 6th in the Republican Iowa caucuses. What a surprise.
What everyone who does have a triple digit IQ knew from the beginning was that Bachman never had a chance to be the nominee in the first place, much less get elected president. But you'd never know it based on the coverage and attention she received at places like CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and other news organizations.
She received more coverage than any other Republican candidate including Mitt Romney. She even made the cover of Newsweek, more for her freak show value and to sell magazines than for anything meaningful. Because the news media, as always. is much more interested in the freak show than in serious journalism or doing what thFounders intended with the first amendment -- inform the electorate. Which is probably the single biggest reason the large majority of the electorate has abandoned them and why their ratings and circulation continue to shrink. They live for the freak show.
Michelle Bachman has been that freak show, a bumbling, mind numbing self-proclaimed candidate who didn't know American history from Lithuania, who made some of the dumbest comments and speeches ever uttered by a so called presidential candidate and had ideas and a point of view so vacuous they made almost everyone laugh.
But you wouldn't know it by the press coverage. In another time and place Bachman would have gotten little or no coverage at all. Its hard to imagine Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley or the New York Times of 30 years ago taking Bachman seriously. the odds of her making the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite would have been about zero. But with this current crop of journalists and editors when Bachmann spoke, the news media sat up and made it front and center.
Now, in her first real test to see if anyone outside the media really took her seriously, the people she was trying to appeal to the most -- conservative Republican voters in Iowa --said no, we don't take you seriously.
Which leaves Newsweek, CNN and other political commentators who pretended to treat her like a serious candidate look like a bunch of scarecrows standing in an Iowa cornfield with crows on their heads and corn coming out of their ears.
And they wonder why their ratings and influence keep declining.