Friday, May 15, 2009


It is time to rant and rave and stream some consciousness about the building progressive assault on the distribution of information and opinion. Be warned, this one is incoherent.

The Communications Daily [subscription only, so no link], a telecommunications a media industry daily, reports the following taking place at a conference in Washington:

[Interim FCC Chairman Michael] Copps criticized broadcasters and papers over news coverage and other issues. He said there’s too much “infotainment” and not enough investigative journalism. “We are skating perilously close of depriving our fellow citizens” of information they need “to make intelligent decisions about the future of their country,” Copps told the conference audience.


The U.S. ought to consider PBSS -- “a public broadcasting system on steroids,” acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said at the conference, alluding to the Public Broadcasting Service. “Other nations find ways to support such things” and it can’t “be done on the cheap,” he said. There should be a “permanent trust fund” for public broadcasting, instead of annual appropriations, Free Press Communications Director Craig Aaron said. “We need new policies to support media and I hate to break it to some of you, but the government is going to have to be involved.”
Well there you have it. The cozy, nonchalant, matter of fact belief among the Beltway nomenclatura that “the government” is the answer to the nation’s “media” problem. And once again the soft fascism of the American left is revealed.

In the first instance, we observe Interim FCC Chairman Copps, more recently known as Commissioner Eeyore, always warning that our democracy (never our Constitutional Republic) was but one banana peel of criminal policy from the precipice of corporate fascism and dictatorship of the airwaves and the Intertubes, calling for the injection of massive quantities of anabolic tax dollars directly into that bleeding heart of the liberal corpus – public television. He believes this will save public television, which by his definition is journalism. In other words, government will save journalism by funding the one entity guaranteed to serve the purpose of always making government’s case for more government action. Almost all PBS programming is one constant call for government action.

This is part and parcel of Copps’ other hobbyhorse - “localism.” In short, broadcasters are licensed by the FCC on a local basis and, due to scarcity of spectrum, they have certain public interest responsibilities to the community in which they are licensed. Thus, most local broadcast and radio stations do not continuously broadcast Gilligan’s Island or Stairway to Heaven, but also offer a medley of local news, talk, sports and such. They do this for the very simple reason that you can make money on distributing other people’s creative juices, which is as it should be. They spend unconscionable sums of money researching what people want to see and hear. Critics, scolds, and intellectuals who want to control what people hear and see more often than not call it dreck and pine for content that no research has ever proven to be a long term viable business case. More fantastical is that businesses spend huge sums of money (albeit less so and in more discriminating fashion these days) to position their products and services alongside that crap. Now, broadcasters have some very real public responsibilities, such as conveying emergency alerts and ensuring the uninterrupted presentation of SBD’s sacred primetime network programming. Under the “localism” rubric, broadcasters’ continuing license to operate will be judged against the extent to which they serve the interests of their local markets. This almost always translates into serving a phalanx of special interests, community activists, and minority shake down venture capitalists that claim they are not being heard by the community, are being ignored by broadcasters and in compensation need free government mandated access to the airwaves. There’s always the accusation of institutional racism of broadcasters as they supposedly ignore a diversity of voices by blocking it with crap that people actually want to see and hear. Or broadcasters are not recognizing America’s diversity by segregating the airwaves. Around election time, it means liberal and progressive candidates aren’t monopolizing local news coverage. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but what are blogs for. In any event, localism in application is a taking, plain and simple. The Tea Party people could make a compelling argument that they are local and every time they show up at some park in the thousands with their terrible hand lettered bad punning signs they are summarily dismissed by local broadcasters, who already peddle a constant stream of concerned progressivism, as anyone who suffers through local evening news knows all too well. But the Tea Partiers aren’t a bunch of whiny pussies for the most part and will find other means of getting their message across, which is the way it should be.

Now that the left/liberal elite are running the studio as it were, they have a whole new slate of programming they intend to cram into viewers and listeners brains. Now that they own the big advertisers – Banks and Car Manufacturers – they can position their crappy content and have those failing industries buy ad time on it. Perfect statism all around. Copps will get them there as quickly as he can with localism. In order to softly compel broadcasters to beef up their local, i.e., progressive content, he is pushing for stations to undergo license review every three years now, as opposed to eight. The effect of this is that every leftcrank organization n the country will file thousands of “showings” against stations “proving” they do not meet their localism mandate and thus the station will have to promise al sorts of freebies to oppressed. Al Sharpton, call your office.

Copps also said:

If old media is going to be with us a while still, what implications does this have for us? It means we still need to get serious about defining broadcasters' public interest obligations and reinvigorating our license renewal process. Since we still need broadcasters to contribute to the democratic dialogue, we need clear standards that can be fairly but vigorously enforced. It is time to say good-bye to postcard renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth.
And when he says “democratic dialogue” he really means Democrat Talking Points.

I understand that many thoughtful people are ready to give up on the public interest. They would rather just impose a spectrum fee on broadcasters and be done with it. I'm not ready to throw in the towel. The public interest standard is like a grand old theater that has been badly neglected over the years. The structure is sound, and with a little imagination and a lot of hard work we can make it a showplace once again.
Right. In other words, now that we are control of the studio, it’s time to bring back the Petey Green Show (which SBD would not mind as Petey Green was a great entertainer). Copps is such a grandpa – “Let’s fix up the old crack den theater and turn it into show place for retread silent movies, because that’s clearly what The People are demanding. Of course, we’ll need a massive tax break and subsidized building funds and special favors with respect to the zoning and we’ll have to condemn the cleaners and Laundromat and the car parts supply business on the block because movie goers are going to need to eat before and after the shows at restaurants and bistros offering locally grown foods, but the community of retired hippies is certainly behind it and, dammit, it’s for the children!

As of this writing, the purpose of the FCC’s “Localism Proceedings is to gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations, and others on broadcasters’ service to their local communities. Along with competition and diversity, promoting localism is a key goal of the Commission’s media ownership rules.”

Copps talks about “clear standards” for promoting that “democratic dialogue” and what he’s talking about is the present state of mainstream journalism: reporting that government is doing X when it should (of course) be doing Y. We know that it never reports that it probably shouldn't be doing either. It always amazes how people like Copps make these broad claims that journalism is on the rocks because there actually people out there promoting ideas and policy diametrically opposed to the progressive agenda. It’s shocking to them that it’s can be allowed and was allowed under the Bush Junta. They hope to change that.

Copps’ other fatal flaw is to always project his opinion of what’s newsworthy or the source of what’s newsworthy, thus Fox News, the libtard bogeyman of the 21st Century, but which sages like Copps never openly name, is never a legitimate voice or source of information, despite its gargantuan ratings year in and year out. Copps should have nothing to say about what is newsworthy or what advances the "democratic dialogue" other than that he understands his job is to ensure that a multiplicty of avenues free of government inspection, toll, and gating are there to allow it. It vexes liberals like Copps that “consumers” consume Fox. If they had but more access to the highfalutin offerings of the publicly funded media, it would be so much easier to have the government get things done in their name. Two ways to do this is to ensure constant and huge funding for public television and, two, use the bullying power of government regulation and sanction to threaten local broadcasters into feeding your agenda to control media by imposing opinion on it.

Working hand in hand with Copps are people like Mr. Craig Aaron, as quoted above. This man is the “Communications Director” for a group called “Free Press,” a Washington “public interest” lobbying power house. Mr. Aaron suggests that only government intervention can save media, which in Free Press' mind is always journalism, because all media (must) have a journalistic (e.g., teaching and indoctrinating) angle. This “Free Press” employee, without reservation, hesitation, caution, or a sense of irony, declaims that “media” needs new policies and they can only come from and be supported by government.

At the height of their power, liberals/progressives are mewling about the sorry state of journalism, as evidenced in their minds by the failing newspaper industry. We know that two things are screwing the newspaper industry. Journalists and the economy.

With respect to journalists, when newspapermen, who really were business men, relinquished their business to the journalists and allowed editors to inject their progressive socialist beliefs in to the gathering and presentation of hard news – the who, what, where, when, and how – but moved the why from the OpEd page to the news page, they made a fatal mistake. Editors by nature think their readership are idiots and have to have to have everything explained to them; have to interpret what happened for them; have to bend it some preconceived meme or paradigm or some other geek word. People aren’t stupid and they can figure things out for themselves. They allowed opinion and manipulation to take over the newsroom floor. It was not until the full scale availability of the blessed World Wide Web that their unhindered bias was fully exposed. In other words, regular people started to fact check their asses. The LA Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post and a dozen other self-declared benchmarkers of what constitutes news have been exposed as charlatans and their shameless malpractice and agenda driven journalism, all conducted on the pretense of non-biased reporting, has brought them low.

The major urban dailies are cesspools of liberal twaddle and everyone knows it, which is why subscribership is cratering. And the fact remains that people want news and they will form their own damn opinions about it. Unfortunately, they now have to spend half the time they read the news to work through reporters’ bias, judging the use of words and syntax and wondering if the facts have been massaged or some mitigating bit left out. It’s too much work, frankly, and exhausting to read a paper like the Washington Post or the New York Times. The manipulation is constant and unbearable.

And now that the economy is in the crapper, already weakened papers are more susceptible to debacle. With Obama Motors Conglomerate shutting down wide swathes of dealerships, imagine the deep divot to be gouged out of the newspapers’ advertising revenues. There’s more suffering to be had. More papers to be closed. More business plans for the archives. Some of these papers will dump the presses and live only online but if they do not change the manner in which they gather and present the news, they will still fail. Who will pay for bull shit? Ask the New York Times how that worked out for them. And this scares the crap out of liberal/progressives because they rely on that bias to keep them 5 or 10 points ahead. That’s why intellectual cretins like SBD’s Senator Ben Cardin feel no shame in cobbling together legislation designed to make newspapers a slave of government by giving them tax exempt status on their advertising and subscription revenue, and allowing other non-profits to invest in them (like Acorn, the giant government funded community organizer!), and, although still allowing them to report on political issues, in exchange for the tax exemption, they could not make political endorsements. Is Sydney Brillo Duodenum to believe that in its regular news reporting the Washington Post or the New York Times or any dozen second tier rags do not make political endorsements in their decisions on what to cover in its reporting? They do and that is part of why they fail. And now Cardin and others want to subsidize that bias with tax dollars.

The point is that all of this is messy and there’s obvious bias across the journalistic landscape and we must be grown-ups and parse and read between the lines and draw educated opinions and not be lazy citizens and seek out multiple sources of news and opinion, or we don’t have to do any of that because we have a right to be busy people going about our lives and not giving a goddamned fig about what’s going on in the world or down the street. And you can hold the latter view as long as you accept that while you are doing so, people like Copps and Aaron are working to diminish and manipulate what you will read and hear – what you will know - if and when you take your head out of your ass and pick up a paper or turn on the local news.

UPDATE 05-20-09:

Matt Welch at the brotherhood of Reason provides crystal clear evidence of the disconnect between journalists/media and the electorate. In the wake of California voters rejecting a number of ballot initiatives that would have raised taxes, extended others and increased state borrowing power, California's major newspapers up and down the state, most of which endorsed most of the initiatives intheir editorials and in their news reporting of the effect of those initiatives, heap mounds of scorn and derision on upon the silly, ignorant, shortsighted, selfish, myopic voters, who are also presumably their readers. Those editors must be ashamed that they failed to teach the voters why all of it was good for them. It seems most voters did the hard work of parsing the articles and isolating the facts from their massaging adjectives. Others will analyse the minds of Californians hoping to devine some kind of rejection of big government, big spending, big taxes, in other words Big Obama, but in the end, Obama will probably bail out the state and none of the problems afflicting California will be addressed, as it will be another wing of the Federal Morass and its citizens welfare recipients, paid for by the rest of the country.