CNN Cruising Towards Inanity

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

200px-Cnn.svgI must admit that I gave up watching CNN years ago, even before they attempted to become FOX News lite. Originally, as they created the standard for Cable News, they were an informative leader in providing television journalism. Because of their devotion to the news alone, they became the preferred alternative to Broadcast Network News, which at each network had been put under the “Entertainment Division” and thus viewed as a profit center, rather than a public information service. At the beginning and “golden age” of Television Network News, the FCC had mandated that each network was to provide “news” as a public service, in exchange for their license to control a band on the airways. The leader in this was CBS, a network under the aegis of William Paley, who hired war tested Journalists such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. CBS News was independent of the “Entertainment Division” and as a public service wasn’t expected to turn a profit. While it is true that there was an establishment bias on all news programming yet the coverage ranging from Joe McCarthy, to the Civil Rights Movement and to the Viet Nam War informed the public of great issues and brought home the realities through pictures indelibly imprinting horrific images on the public mind. Reactionary elements within the Corporate/Military Plutocracy viewed all of this with alarm. Their continued success depended upon an uninformed public, lulled by jingoistic propaganda and unaware of who really controlled our nation. There was a determination in these elite circles that the network news, the preferred means by which the public was informed on current affairs, must be reined in. William F. Buckley had already created the meme of a “liberal news bias” by this time as an explanation of why his philosophy of the supremacy of the elite was being bought by the general public. Building upon this meme networks were bought out by conservative corporations, news operations were put under the entertainment divisions and the FCC stop requiring news broadcasting as a condition of licensing.

Ted Turner realized that the traditional network news had been reduced in size and homogenized into a rather unpalatable product. He founded CNN under the paradigm of a 24 hour network dedicated solely to examining the news. Following CNN was the entry of Rupert Murdoch and the “tabloidization” of Cable News along with FOX News becoming a propaganda provider for his Conservative views and allies. This was nothing new for Murdoch who bought out the New Post and the Village Voice, turning them both into neo-conservative propaganda operations, sensationalized with gossip and racy pictures. Sadly, in terms of return on investment, it was a winning strategy for cable news as FOX shot to the top of the ratings. CNN the former ratings leader faltered and tried to become “a little” more like Fox News in order to regain their stature. In the process they became a failure as a serious news provider and have become every bit as inane as shows like “Entertainment Tonight”, even in their coverage of “hard” news stories. At this time in our country’s history with so many serious problems that need to be dealt with, CNN has proven not only incapable, but uninterested in providing coverage of issues that affect us all and of which we the public require more information.

Today, as with many Americans who try to be informed, almost all of the “news” I pay attention to comes from the internet. While I occasionally will watch Rachel Maddow and MSNBC coverage of important events, their coverage too seems lacking of content or even intelligent analysis. There are exceptions at MSNBC when they go away from their usual pundit crew to have on original thinkers undaunted by the need to parrot the establishment. Indeed, the first time I became familiar with Jonathan Turley’s work was seeing him on MSNBC. Since this is the case I had to discover something about CNN’s recent coverage from two articles I read in the Huffington Post, one of which made me snort with amusement, while the other just made me shake my head in disgust as to the current state of CNN, as a representative of mainstream Cable News

The first item was from perhaps the “purest” form of cable news, John Stewart and the Daily Show.

“Jon Stewart opened Thursday’s “Daily Show” by calling out CNN for their exhaustive coverage of Triumph, the Carnival cruise ship that was stuck in the Gulf of Mexico for six days. Despite other perhaps more significant stories occurring simultaneously, CNN, which recently came under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, devoted their entire morning and afternoon broadcast on Thursday to following the story of the ship that had lost power and forced its passengers into disgusting conditions, such as defecating into bags.

“CNN has been on the case, for some reason giving this boat crisis wall-to-shit-covered-wall coverage,” Stewart opined, before rolling a clip of a CNN anchor showing a young girl on the ship waving to her mother via the TV cameras.

“You’re not heroes, guys,” Stewart said, referring to CNN. “It’s not a hostage situation or a baby in a well. You reconnected them? They weren’t supposed to see each other. They were on a cruise for a few days.”

Stewart lamented that the CNN coverage was at the expense of notably more important stories, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Cairo.

The second Huffington Post Story added depth to the Daily Show comedy and clarified the Jeff Zucker that Stewart Referred to:

“Media watchers took notice on Thursday when CNN sent out a press release detailing its incredibly extensive coverage plans for the final leg of the journey of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which has been struck with power failures and squalid conditions for five days. The release made clear that CNN was going all in:

“CNN’s Erin Burnett will anchor “Erin Burnett OutFront” from Mobile, Alabama, where the ship will dock. Sandra Endo covers the ship’s arrival by helicopter; Victor Blackwell monitors by boat; and David Mattingly and Martin Savidge report from the dock in Mobile. and the CNN apps will live stream the docking. CNN International will simulcast the arrival later tonight.On Saturday at 7:30pmET and 10:30pmET, CNN will broadcast “Cruise from Hell: Stranded at Sea,” a 30 minute special reported by Martin Savidge.”

 “CNN wound up going beyond even that: during much of the late morning and early afternoon, there was literally no other story for the channel. Fox News talked about various matters, and MSNBC talked about the Chuck Hagel nomination and other political stories, but CNN had eyes only for the ship. The network devoted at least an hour of commercial-free coverage of its journey. The helicopter zoomed in and out, the correspondents reported from land and boat and studio, and the words “CNN Live Exclusive” were plastered in the top right hand corner of the screen the whole time.”

“It was not hard news, and it was not the most “important” story that CNN could have been covering. Jon Stewart will probably have a field day. But it was, if anyone needed it, a reminder that television news is still television — and it was very attention-grabbing. Substitute Matt Lauer for Banfield, and it could have easily been seen on “Today.” (The cruise ship was second only to the Oscar Pistorius murder allegations on that show’s Thursday edition.)Coincidentally (or not), “Today” happens to be where new CNN chief Jeff Zucker cut his teeth. Zucker has made clear that he wants to, in his words, “broaden the definition of news,”

The Today Show has been an NBC standard since the 50’s. It’s hosts through the years became TV lengends such as Dave Garroway, Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs. While it has always had a news content it was always really an entertainment show, with news content. As the years have progressed this had become truer and now with morning show competition the pressure to deliver light content has grown. Since these type of shows are cheaper to produce they have always been very profitable to the networks. Bringing Jeff Zucker in seems a clear sign to me that CNN will become even more of an entertainment network, pretending to provide serious news content. If the Zucker experiment is successful, how log will it be before the other cable news networks get the message and how much less informed will the America Public become?

As I said in the beginning though, I don’t generally watch cable news, but a viewing experience this week aroused ager and disdain, so when these “cruise ship” stories came up they caught my attention. Being in my late 60’s and having always been a political junkie, I’ve watched every State of the Union address that has ever been televised since 1965. Though they began televising the SOTU’s in 1947, in 1965 LBJ decided to make it a prime time affair. I probably watched some before that depending on where I was at the time. I believe that it is the duty of a citizen to watch the SOTU, no matter who is President, since its delivery is mandated constitutionally and thus serves as a  common ritual. With the advent of cable news it has become traditional to have news programs concerned with the SOTU leading in to them and then analysis afterwards. When my wife and I sat down to watch on MSBC at 8:00pm, an hour before it was scheduled to begin, we were shocked to see a picture of a burning cabin in the woods. They were giving full on coverage of the Richard Dorner story and it seemed he had been surrounded in the woods. We had the expectation that this would entail bringing viewers up to date on this story and then become the usual background and analysis leading up to the SOTU. The time passed and not only did they stay with the story, but turned their coverage over to the local station that was covering the story. The problem was that like most “wrap around” news coverage we see on TV, think helicopters chasing OJ’s Bronco, there was little breaking news to cover and so we were treated to a constant rehashing of the known material, as each broadcaster seeking their moment of national fame, regurgitated essentially the same story.

Since two County Sheriff’s had been shot, we were treated to pictures of the hospital and the police guard keeping the media away. This continued on even though we knew that the status was that one officer was dead ad the other due to recover. I became increasingly frustrated as this coverage continued up until 3 minutes before the 9:00pm start. Tuning to the other news networks I saw the same coverage of the Dorner story.

The Dorner story indeed is one of interest. His murder spree and escape certainly merits attention, as doe the fact of his firing as a police officer, which he claimed was done to quiet his ratting out another officer’s improper conduct. However, perhaps some might think me insensitive to state that this story didn’t merit the coverage it was getting. It certainly pales in comparison to the SOTU speech, however one might feel about the President. The SOTU is the executive’s opportunity to lay out an agenda for the ext year. We are facing continued unemployment, a financial crisis and the continued deterioration of the infrastructure of this country. There are foreign policy issues that also are urgent and need to be discussed. It is horrible that Dorner murdered people, but such murders are really common place in this country, while there are urgent crises we face. We know the news maxim “if it bleeds, it leads” has too often been a ratings grabber.

This is the state of public affairs in this country as our newspapers fail and television journalism becomes an oxymoron. This coverage, leading up to the SOTU, was disrespectful of the traditions and rituals of this nation. We find this trivialization occurring consistently today and in truth it has been this way for years. We see a citizenry that is alienated from the concept of the American community and a good part of that is because those common rituals of our have been trivialized in the name of commerce. It is ironic to me when I as a Jew can understand Fundamentalist Christianity’s decrying the “War on Christmas”. Christmas in America has become yet another opportunity of commercialization, where presents and Santa subsume any meaning of what the holiday is supposed to be about. This is true though of our other Holidays as Thanksgiving has become football and Macy’s Day and as “President’s Day” has become the opportunity to have actors dressed as Lincoln and Washington offering “tremendous” deals on new cars. Sadly, the same traditionalists who decry these changes, fail to recognize that they are the accoutrements of a Corporate Plutocracy that will sell anything in pursuit of profit.

Which leads us back to the News and the need for a informed citizenry. I my opinion the American Empire has emulated Rome’s “bread and circuses” to keep the masses under control. The last vestige of a “Free Press” informing a “Free Citizenry” has fallen to the internet and to blogs such as ours. CNN to me stands for the “Clown News Network” just as FOX has become “Faux News”. MSNBC is not a news paradigm either, even though its political stance has some similarities to my own. I find them all stultifying and boring in content and structure. They all confuse the concept of journalism, with entertainment and therefore I damn them all.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

81 thoughts on “CNN Cruising Towards Inanity

  1. Mike,

    I read a story with a video indicating that a CNN anchor asked Bill Nye if the Asteroid that just missed us was caused by global warming.

    I wonder if they would have allowed the following ad, which Oil-Qaeda bullied another network from running (Huffington Post)

  2. Here in San Diego, there was a local independent station[KUSI] that stayed w/ the Dorner coverage when the local network stations went to the SOTU. The independent stations ratings went up by 30% during that time slot. This was a local story that had gone national. It is judgemental to question what type of news people consume. There are choices people make and I say, “To each their own”, my mother’s wise words spoken in situations like this.

  3. Mr. Spindell:

    Everything that you have said about the media is true, however I beg to differ in one regard.

    We have viable alternatives.

    You and I probably disagree on a lot, but your message reaches me. My choice whether I read it or not. Your choice whether you read my response or not, but I have a chance to respond on your site – the ultimate in fairness.

    While I don’t like the MSM (and worse, I think that they are failing us), Americans have enough alternative sources that we are well served on the information front.

    In your example, CNN has chosen a certain business model. Their choice, not ours. We have the option of going elsewhere. We certainly do not have the right to demand that they follow our wishes (nor do we have the right to legislate their programing).

    If a citizen fails to avail himself of resources, that is his problem; he has the right to be a boob. The risks that arise when somebody else sets the programing are obvious.

  4. Mike,
    I agree that the MSM news outlets are fixated on entertainment, more than news. I do think that you can get some decent political analysis on MSNBC, especially from Rachel Maddow who you mention in your article. I do not see any change for the better on the horizon. The dumbing down of our society is in full swing and the only possible savior for that is the internet. No surpirse that the media moguls are trying to limit and control the internet as well. Great job.

  5. “We certainly do not have the right to demand that they follow our wishes (nor do we have the right to legislate their programing).”

    Mr. Fleisher,

    I find much too agree with in your comment above, but I do need to correct one impression of yours. I decry CNN and its business model as misrepresenting what is news. However, I would oppose any legislation that would curtail their right of free speech. The purpose of my blog was ot a call for any sort of governmental action, it was merely to expose the failure of the mainstream media, upon which I trust we both agree.

  6. “Here in San Diego, there was a local independent station[KUSI] that stayed w/ the Dorner coverage when the local network stations went to the SOTU.”

    I have no doubt that some local California stations stayed with Dorner and didn’t broadcast the SOTU and moreover that is irrelevant to me. I questioned all major cable networks on a national basis, airing this local story prior to the SOTU.

    “It is judgemental to question what type of news people consume. There are choices people make and I say, “To each their own”,”

    There is nothing wrong with being judgmental as long as one maintains an open mind and if one can provide cogent arguments for their judgments.

  7. “Up with Chris Hayes” is a good panel discussion…… usually has some known names plus some relatively unknown younger bloggers.

  8. FWIWI:

    n the evening I watch local news for weather and local sports. I take the local paper every Sunday for that week’s community events (and coupons)

    Each morning i view, in order, the local paper, this blog, Think Progress and a couple of work related blogs. In the evening its various HuffPo sections and their nay links. If time permits, TED

    At least every other day I check out the following daiies:

    About once a week (usually weekends), I hit these and a boatload of activist sites


    I also have favorite lists of news/information sites for specific topics, the largest by far pertain to food issues, gardening (including aquaponics), and being green. I also monitor certain “newsy” YouTube sites.

    What are some of y’all’s (two apostrephes!) favorite news sites?

  9. So you’re mad that MSNBC didn’t cut away from an ongoing firefight to broadcast a room full of political hacks schmoozing around in preparation for a “speech” (read: political stunt) the text of which is released hours before it’s given?

  10. TLDR: I am so far left that I consider CNN to be Fox News Lite. I know this even though I only watch Maddow on MSNBC. Instead of covering tabloid stories like the fate of thousands of cruise ship passengers, a true news outlet would continuously run excerpts from our Dear Leader’s SOTU address. In fact, this should be mandated by the FCC.

  11. “CNN’s Erin Burnett will anchor “Erin Burnett OutFront”

    Erin Burnett is the one who counts off the days since the credit rating of US government securities was reduced and poses the question ‘what are we doing to get it back’.

    It would seem that even the dimmest journalist would note that interest rates on US securities are the lowest in generations. In fact some real interest rates are negative which means the smart guys with bit bucks are paying to store their money is US government securities. (real interest rates are the difference between nominal interest rates and inflation)

    This directly contradicts the idea that there is a problem with the credit worthiness of US securities.

    The real question is what are the Credit Rating Agencies doing to get their own credibility back. Obviously they do not have a clue regarding the credit worthiness of US government securities.

    Another interesting question is why DOJ is taking credit rating agencies to court. What role did the Credit Rating Agencies play in the recent financial crisis?

    Another interesting question has to do with the obvious conflict of interest the credit rating agencies have with the corporate securities they rate.

    But you won’t find Erin Burnett asking questions like those.

  12. “But you won’t find Erin Burnett asking questions like those.”


    Erin enjoys the money she makes and her celebrity. Questions like that might put all of that in jeopardy.

  13. Equally simple: MSNBC = Moronic Stupid Numbskull Broadcast Communications. Always has been; always will be.

    CNN and MSMBC know their markets well.

  14. The problem with news is the uninformed voters we end up with. How many people cared about our President having a kill list prior to the election? How many voters cared about the $ Billions given to bankers for their mistakes? How many voters can explain our “War on Terror”? And more importantly, why do we have a “war on terror”? So we re-elect a man that took GWBs terror policy and made it more terrifying. The one person running against him (oh wait, that’s right there were several other options but the “news” media gave them no air time), was a near perfect clone of GWB and BHO. So what choice did we have in the last election? The uninformed gave us a repeat performance.

    We are getting exactly what we deserve.

  15. I remember as a kid (I guess I was a trifle weird at the time) insisting on not coming to dinner until John Facenda, our local news anchor, signed off. I loved watching the news and grew up still feeling that way. Now if I turn on any of the outlets, broadcast or cable I fid that salaciousness always wins out over necessity, (i.e. informing us).
    I get most of my news from the internet, here on this site, and on my email from mother jones, etc.

  16. Oh my GOSH! The only news you ever get on any MSM is the news that ”they” want you to have. They being the owners of all large media and corporations and government. You hear exactly what they want you to hear. Which is why they want SO badly to crack down on the internet, where you can find real news. The only problem with finding real news, is figuring out how much input the shills and Dept of Disinformation have in that particular place. ALL MSM only reports what their owners want reported. It makes not one whit of difference whether it is truth, half truth or total falsehood. They push their propaganda through to the people who watch these stations, and the people who listen treat it as gospel. I’ve found that most times you get much more information on what is going on in the US from media outside the US. I see MANY, MANY articles on websites I look at, and the next day JT has the info on here. And I do NOT mean MSM websites!

  17. Nick, I didnt know that he had done that with the NFL, He did have a voice but there was something reassuing, for a kid, I guess to hear the news delivered by him, maybe a young person’s version of Cronkite. (:

  18. Fiscal cliff, Debt ceiling, Sequester, these three concepts are the sugar bomb cereals of current news reports. Help Help, were hopelessly, falling, rising, or the end is near !!! Depending on the topic. 24/7 …..or at least when a cruise ships toilets are not overflowing.

    These 3 concepts are the result of Congressional incompetence. Period.
    Congress created, Congress debated, Media inflated.
    Smoke and mirrors, bread and circuses. 100 % correct Mike Spindell.

    And the public sits and listens (those that do) and wants more milk poured on. ….. Listening to the Snap Crackle Pop of empty Congressional bluster.

    Meanwhile back at the wealth farm, muffled sounds of greed and lavish yahoos cheer, safely insulated from the perceptive eyes of a sight deprived public.
    The eyes of the public are steered elsewhere by the MSM.
    The MSM sits at the same table shoulder to shoulder with the Yahoos.

    PS. Mike Spindell, …if you keep up these quality columns Huff Po may be calling you,….. or homeland security!!! :o) Thank you.

  19. Dredd
    ” I read a story with a video indicating that a CNN anchor asked Bill Nye if the Asteroid that just missed us was caused by global warming.”

    You missed the 1st part. Three repubs on the house science committee called the anchor and requested the question be asked.
    ….. It’s kinda like a scarlett letter for a repub to be seen talking to a scientist these days. :o)

  20. I am glad to hear to people still remember John Facenda, who was originally a newsman from the Greater Philadelphia area. He was a very short man, bit he a had a larger than life personality, and he was a very warm and engaging person with a wonderful, powerful voice. I have always considered him to be the “Frank Sinatra” of the news media: perfect diction and sincere, absoutely credible delivery. Although most people today, if they remember him at all, know him as the voice of the NFL–and he was absolutely riveting in that role–he was originally a great news commentator.

    If you really appreciate great vocal delivery, or you want to learn from the best, here’s a clip from John Facenda’s days on Philadelphia radio in the late 1950s:

    The guy is so good, that after listening to his pitch for Esslinger Beer, I actually wanted to go out, buy one, and savor it. (Esslinger is a defunct Philadelphia brand.)

  21. “We’ll wait and see” that seems to be a lost concept too, even the supposed impartial news has to add a slant and comment on the stories.
    Boy thats a voice from my long ago (I was in elementary school when I refused to come to the table so i could hear him.) Thanks for the clip.

  22. Hard to understand why anyone would feel the need to remind us that ALL corporate media represent the interests of the ruling class. Period.

    Not hard, therefore, to understand why most people – including, ironically, self-labeled liberals (or do you all now sheepishly describe yourselves as moderates) are no more informed than FOXers when it comes to what Peter Dale Scott calls “deep politics”, and I oughta know, because anytime I try to raise issues that involve hidden government operations, the long knives come out and one can hear the gunshots of those folks who STILL don’t understand that government-sponsored conspiracies are as common as that bastion of liberal journalism, “HUFFPO”. Shooting the messenger is a sure sign of mediocre minds(sic) at work.

    You are not going to hear the truth from those whose interests are better-served by propagandizing you into accepting, well, “official stories”.

    Don’t expect corporate media to tell you the truth about 9/11, JFK RFK MLK, Osama bin dead and buried since mid-December, 2001, Nazi prison camps, U.S, prison camps, PEARL HARBOR, and all the rest.

    Hey look: it’s Kim, Brad, Oscar “Blade” P, and the Academy of fixed Awards
    coming to a teevee near you, real soon.

  23. Scrolling by comments to add mine, here goes my spiel.

    As uaual, the best essays and prose on the blawg. No embarassment intended. Having got that said—-

    I remember the first days of the cruise missiles striking of Bagdhad.
    CNN had a man there, balding, not impressive, but he must have been a student of old style journalism. He presented the facts, not the ones to be found palatable in America. It was fascinating. Of course the nightly cruise missiles in real time did in those days have a large effect. Nowadays folks would yawn at nukes on Kabul (GeneH did I get that from you?)

    He was eased off the beat which was inevitable. Truth will NOT endure, dolts as we are and on our diet of pablum. We can’t even chew bread although circuses ad infinitum are OK.

    Wish I knew his name.

    After that haven’t watched the news. Although Maddow’s mud slinging Is amusing occasionally (every six months).

    American news? There isn’t any. Commercialism bought out the FCC, like it has all regulatory agencies. Leaving hollow hulks pretending to do their jobs while covering up for commercial interests.

    What the hell do we need true news for. Americans are so indoctrinated that they can’t imagine that there is another world with people of value, with good value systems, etc etc etc. So Americans would be at a loss at the sight and would not understand sh*t of what was presented. News is translated to Amerispeak and packaged in commercial suitable bites.

    This is an unstoppable roll by commerce. Get used to it.

  24. Nancy Grace. Media as spectacle. Form over substance. This is CNN. And FOX, CBS, ABC and NB (We are now Comcast) C. Branded and pre-spun. Homogeneous in methods. Increasingly devoid of investigative journalism. Have any flavor you like so long as the content is vanilla. How many eyes can your ad reach. Conflicts of interest. In your face.

    That and one point of agreement with Ralph: hearing Facenda’s pitch made me want an Esslinger too.

  25. Good thing I did not read the comments, if they are of billmcwilliam class. I scrolled up and stopped at his just before mine.

    I would be obliged not to post my gabblings here. But perhaps the cruise rape (not ship) of Bagdad was amusing to those who saw it on CNN.

    Nowadays with everybody maxing everything, who would notice a cruise missile impact on a real building.

    Amazing we don’t get livecasts from drone flights and simulated combat from Afghanistan. Guess it is not available in color with real sound. Dubbing anyone. Remember I suggested it first, on these lines.

    Of course there would be a lot of dead air time, not much happening there. But re-runs of condensed events would help pad the time away.


    SOTU is watched best on Cspan, IMHO. What a joke that was.
    Promises promises promises. And great production with the Caesarian entry march. OMG, we are back at Rome again. Don’t Constitution SOTU to me. I am not impressed by this mockery of the people and the Constitution. He stands there with blood up to his ancles and declaims his greatnest. New projects to blow up as being great, but failures as usual.
    Do people believe such sh*t? New mumblngs on SS, etc which he is compromising away. Or he just likes the air time which the “negotiations” provide. Do the prols see this? Doubt it.

    A spell for an empty gallery, except for the pols who live on it.
    Poor Boehner who looked like his lunch was not good.

    And no cries of “YOU LIE”. Now if ever would it have been an appropriate exclamation.

    More than enuf said.

  26. There were three CNN reporters in Baghdad in 1991. John Holliman, who was killed in tragic car crash in 1998. New Zealander Peter Arnett was there. The elder statesmen of the trio of reporters was Bernard Shaw. At one point during the bombings, Shaw was so tired and sleep deprived he started rambling on the air.

    Those three men provided the best news reporting since Edward R. Murrow broadcast from a London rooftop during the blitz. There is a lyric in the Scottish national anthem, Flower of Scotland, that asks the question, “When will we see your like again….?”

    IIRC, John Holliman was still with CNN when he was killed in that auto accident. My memory is hazy on this, but I seem to recall Peter Arnett left CNN on less than cordial terms. Bernard Shaw retired from CNN sometime about 2001.

    They are all sorely missed.

  27. Idealist – I think you were trying to make a point, and not just an insult against an intellectual superior, but damn if i can figure out where you’re coming from. Do YOU know?

  28. Most conspiracies are just not convincing to me. And at some point I think one has to make a decision regarding evidence and what is possible to know.

    Nevertheless I note the almost total lack of media interest in the admission by military officials that the US maintained microphones and video in areas used by defendants and their attorneys at Guantanamo.

    I am sure we are all reassured to know that military officials clarified that no conversations between defendants and their attorneys were monitored.,0,7819586.story

  29. Below are quotes taken from speeches delivered time and time again by our so called leaders of ” the free world”
    i’ve taken and posted just a few which tells us why we no longer receive news but tabloid gossip and misinformation from those who pledged to provide us with the ability to make informed decisions based on the information we receive thru their services

    “There is no such thing as an independent press in America, unless it is in the country towns. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

    “I am paid $150.00 a week for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things. If I should permit honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, like Othello, before twenty-four hours, my occupation would be gone.

    “The business of the New York journalist is to destroy truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon; to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. We are the tools and vessels for rich men behind the scenes. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

    John Swinton, editor of the New York Tribune.
    “We are going to impose our agenda on the coverage by dealing with issues and subjects that we choose to deal with.”
    Richard M. Cohen, Senior Producer of CBS political news.
    “We in the press like to say we’re honest brokers of information and it’s just not true. The press does have an agenda.”
    Bernard Goldberg, as quoted by Harry Stein in the June 13-19, 1992 TV Guide.

    “We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”
    David Rockefeller, Baden-Baden, Germany 1991

  30. Oro Lee,
    I apparently view the same news blogs as do you, although I also check in on Red State and NewsBusters (they are kept in my RWNJ link folder.) It helps me to know what talking points from the right I will need to debunk each day.
    Incidentally, to comply with the rules of proper punctuation I believe the second apostrophe should follow the s in y’alls’ as this is a plural possessive.

  31. Milford Cutter, I too need many English lessons. Whether Oro Lee appreciates them or not; I do. As soon as I am perfect and know everything I will announce it. ….. Of course I am assuming your correction is correct.

    PS. What the heck was the purpose of paragraphing in grammar school.
    Blessed Sacrament, Nuns of St. Joseph. If paragraphing is the wrong word. It was noun, adjective, adverb, subject, and maybe other things, that we had to graph on a bar….. ,,, ????? I haven’t used it since 6th grade, but I do still remember it.

  32. Dear Bill McDonalds HACK. They must have forgot my father in laws pictures. What little tube of reality do you live in. What kind of cheese do you find so tasty that you write such trash!!!!!

  33. @rafflaw “That is a big story!”

    I think it is plausible to argue that any story that makes it to the NYT is a big story.

    But my quick check shows one story on one day in the NYT. A similar check of the Washington Post shows three stories on two days. The Washington Post is a bit difficult to count because they sometimes show different listings for essentially the same story that appears in different editions – so you might get a listing for a story in the morning edition and then a different listing for the same story in the final edition – is that two stories or one?

    And yes other papers carried the story of microphones in the meeting rooms – for maybe a day.

    Did CNN ever carry the story? Were they able to sandwich it between the story about the cop killer, and the cruise ship, and the meteor. I don’t know. Somehow I missed it on CNN – but I definitely heard about the cop killer, and the cruise ship, and the meteor.

    I am sure Chris Mathews mentioned the story and I will bet Maddow spent an entire segment on the story. And O’Donnell must have nearly come through the screen expressing his indignation.

    But if they did you will have to tell me because I missed it on MSNBC. But I did hear Mathews go on about Rubios drinking habits – interesting story. And Maddow has kept us up to date about voter suppression – important story. Some how I am blocking on O’Donnell – is he past his fascination with 30 round magazines yet?

    But microphones…Guantanamo..consultation rooms…defense attorneys? I don’t remember hearing about it – do you?

    Now don’t get me wrong. I am no champion of Al Qaeda. I have no sympathy for anyone that wages war against this country.

    But if anyone thinks these people deserve a tribunal and a firing squad then let them make that argument.

    Right now it is my understand that they are entitled to a trial, with counsel. Yes I know it is not the usual kind of civilian trial. But still, I am not aware of any decisions which support government monitoring of defense conferences.

    Ops…I nearly forgot. The military clearly stated that no information was turned over to the prosecution.

    I am reassured.

  34. Several times in the last year I have seen some old network farts on a talk show thing rapping about the good ol days of NBC and CBS and the grand old types like Edward R. Murrow. They over look the fact that in those days you had a half hour news show on at Six on the East Coast with ten minutes of commercials. There was no CSPAN or other 24/7 channels like CNN. Current and Aljazera (sp) are rather new to the mix but they add new perspectives. Cronkite and Murrow used to smoke on tv on their news shows and were in fact sponsoring tobacco products. In his Memoirs Cronkite relates what he thinks is a humorous story about him correcting teh Winston jingle of Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette should to proper English of “as a cigarette should” and how he got reprimanded. In his dotage he does not seem aware that he was coddling todllers to smoke and many are dead from it after these fifty some odd years.
    I for one do not have a feelling that the good ol days were good for news. I watch Book TV and all of the CSPAN shows and Aljazerra, Current and CNN. I pass by Fox like I pass by the outhouse as long as the regular toilet is working. Lately Fox is defaming some Senator from NJ by saying that he was down in the Domiinican Republic porking underage prostitutes. Ya, fair and balanced.

  35. We’ve finally hit the big time. This blog has now attracted a holocaust denier. Please give bill mcwilliams the welcome and respect that he deserves.

  36. billmcwilliams.

    If you don’t get it, it is not likely that an explanation would help.
    You are obviously looking for hatred. Poor you.

    I was complimenting you on coming with a broader and more critical post.

    What you said since that snark to me, is not read yet. Looking forward to having a misanthropist here. Which gutter did you crawl out of?

    Nothing personal, Just like to pirouette when I feel like it’:-)

  37. It was Peter Arnett that I was thinking of. I expected his dismissal because he saw the strikes in terms not complimentary to the USA. Shaw was the black one. Holliman I don’t recall. So even then CNN was corrupt in that it played to American auiences, and the truth be damned. The only truth spoken was by Arnett, I contend.

    And after that It is now a part of the entertainment world. How sad.

    Truth is often sadder than fiction. Maybe Shaw’s wife had ditched him for getting syph from a Bagdad escort girl, you know the kind that escort you 10 steps to their hovel. You’d look tired too if that happened to you.

    Thanks OS for the rundown.

  38. I am not saying that Arnett was anti-USA. He was anti-war and the suffering it gave. He did not think of it as a wow fireworks display, and a demonstration of our tech supremacy. He saw the people being killed. That was his subjects or viewpoint.

    No fireworks in color from strone strikes today. And it is not the Ministry of Defense in Bagdad. Then we issued warnings. How gentlemanly we were.
    Drone strikes are not on skyscrapers, nor any warning given to the school to be stricken.

    Get my message.

  39. David Blauw,

    “Fiscal cliff, Debt ceiling, Sequester, these three concepts are the sugar bomb cereals of current news reports…….”

    Wow, I stand humbled. My bleating alhough with my special smell, don’t compare with your. Although you have done better, but the word to MikeS was something I liked.

    Don’t bother answering, I know you won’t anyway. I am not stalking, just talking, as usual.

  40. Reblogged this on Siebenundvierzig and commented:
    Hier ein Fundstück das mich via Jonathan Turley erreichte: In einem Gastbeitrag beschreibt Mike Spindell seine Sicht der US-Amerikanischen Fernsehlandschaft. Darunter finden sich allzuviele vertraute Entwicklungen, da in Europa diese Ausrichtung – mit einer gewissen Verzögerung – nachgeahmt wird.

  41. “I believe that it is the duty of a citizen to watch the SOTU, no matter who is President, since its delivery is mandated constitutionally and thus serves as a common ritual.”

    As a citizen, I have no duty to watch one criminal spout a pack of lies and falsehoods followed by another criminal spouting a counter pack of lies and falsehoods.
    Like any other ritual, I can simply ignore it as irrelevant, which in this case, I am proud to say I did.

  42. One of the crimes the news media, like CNN, has done is to gloss over and cover-up the plundering of middle class and poor Americans by the plutocrats.

    Their sins are open for all to see:

    The gap between aspiration and reality could hardly be wider. Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.

    (Joseph Stiglitz).

  43. OT OT OT OT OT

    David Blauw,

    Maybe my work is not in your taste, but believe me I am not a hater of jews or a denier of Auschwitz. You indicated some personal connection to the jewish cause.

    I have written much about jews, cultural contributions, actions toward the world they live in. I even have 3 jewish friends!!!! (I talk openheartedly with blacks too!) Hope you see the irony in my truth. Some jews like my friend Lena D. prefer not to be addressed on jew questions, and she is not alone.
    I would quickly tire myself if constantly checked, like a weather vane, and then being asked for expressions of position on every red-neck issue of the day.

    Sometimes people just like to be people. And a little persecution even today would spoil anyone’s day. And there are many groups besides ex-red necks who suffer ;.) ,

    The first mistake I made was skipping by all the posts to post mine. And the second was scrolling upwards only one step and found the best of the Mcwilliam comments. Now having read the total, I understand the uproar he caused.

    I could offer more rebuttal to him, but why bother rebutting a rat creeping out of the sewage pipe. Shoot him, we can with terrorists, but not him.
    If O, did that, think of the million (?) hearts that would freeze in fear, when the cause would be made known in a justification press release.
    Drones would not be necessary for mcwilliam’s case. Collateral damage is not good when it is American lives. And it is assassination or execution without the usual provings in court that is the essential bit, not the drones.

    So if you assume that I am a ***jew hater, then disabuse yourself of that.
    I may be a goy, but my nose is prominent and my skin is dark. My mom said we were of scotch-irish descent, but who knows. Only a jew knows.

    ***I abhor the term anti-semitic. The arabs are semites too. But they get no sympathy from me on that account. I “sympathize” with muslims just on the basis that freedom of speech is accorded gun nuts here. Let us not create more us vs them situations.
    And the anti-islamic phobia here at JT’s smells so bad and often that I attack it or defend the right of people to be deceived by their religion.

    I don’t condone Puritans drowning of witches, nor modern day ones taking away from women their reproductive and sexual enjoyment rights.

    My favorite “jewish” mother is Irish, a sixth generation settler in AZ, the mother of a son by a Jewish father. The son is a paid teacher at 15 to the synagogue students of Hebrew. Has been for years.
    Jewish father, maybe. Jewish mother, so is baby. But some exceptions are allowed. He is an ardent jew, but doubt if he will become a rabbi. But I forget, rabbis and mullahs are allowed to have wives. Joseph is into girls now at 15 (little retarded) and don’t know how far in (pun?), but believe he has the healthy jewish attitude towards sex. I could regale with further Joseph and his pappas tales. But don’t want to risk their being doc’ed. A term and a practice of which I was made aware by another jew last night.

    Not to speak of all the Afghanis, Brazilians, Ethiopians, Eritreans.
    Rwandians, etc. that I converse with frankly. So if there is a jew that I hate. it is because his name is Bibi and is head of the Israeli government. But then he has his rights. And his land shows that multi-party democracies are a mockery just as our 2-party one ís too.

    And I am not stupid and believe that one person from one land is a fingerprint of all the inhabitants there.

  44. Dredd,

    America’s status as a low opportunity land is established.

    But some anomalies are there. Finland, a part of Norden, but not Scandinavia, has one of the highest academic raitings in the world, just after South Korea.

    But Finland accepts practically no immigrants. Sweden does poorly, but has many quota immigrants. Shall we seek the academic performance in the per cent immigrants. I don’t think so.

    But explaining America is a very very large task

  45. Like Swarthmore mom, I’m a fan of Up with Chris Hayes.


    As for Erin Burnett? A pretty face with an empty head who is a friend of the big banks.


    CNN’s New Star Is a Little Too Sympathetic to Wall Street

    Excerpt:CNN’s newest primetime anchor Erin Burnett isn’t making any friends among the Occupy Wall Street protesters. In a visit to the front lines of the movement earlier this week Burnett grilled protesters on the specifics of their outrage, many say, from a point-of-view that’s not befitting of a network that’s often boasted of its objective journalism. However, Burnett’s combative tone in her “Seriously” segment on Tuesday night–on top of a deleted tweet by business reporter Alison Kosik in which she makes fun of the protesters–is dismaying press critics and CNN viewers alike. On top of that, journalism watchdog group FAIR says that, Burnett misreported the facts in an attempt to make the protesters look uninformed. Burnett, whose fiancée is a Citigroup executive, is now being framed as the next generation of CNN personalities that stray from the network’s commitment to being the “only credible, nonpartisan voice left.”

    Neither CNN nor Burnett are winning supporters from fellow journalists either. Dave Weigel called Burnett’s Tuesday night segment “hippie punching,” and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen tweeted, “Man, the blowback on Erin Burnett’s visit to #occupywallst is like a crossover hit.” Now, the press critics are weighing in, not only criticizing Burnett but an unnerving shift in CNN’s approach that draws comparisons to Fox News. Eric Jackson at Forbes called her “vapid” in a sprawling take-down, and The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik wrote off her new show OutFront completely in his Wednesday column:

    Two of the fundamental attributes of good journalism are curiosity and a respect for the people on whom you report. Burnett got an “F” on both those counts with her Occupy Wall Street piece. Not only didn’t she listen hard enough to learn anything from the people in the group, she and her producers positioned the speakers to be seen as objects of derision. That is deplorable.

    Glenn Greenwald at Salon followed up on Wednesday afternoon with a post that thoroughly traces Burnett’s career from her job as a Goldman Sachs analyst through her tenure at CNBC and now as CNN new star. The unavoidable ties between Burnett and Wall Street–husband is a Citigroup executive after all–clashes with CNN’s ability to produce objective journalism so badly, he says, it’s “embarrassing”:

    Needless to say, Burnett and Kosik consider themselves to be opinion-free, objective “reporters.” Indeed, this is what Burnett said in the Vantiy Fair interview when asked if she sympathizes too much with the Wall Street plutocrats on whom she purports to report: “My job isn’t to give an opinion but to try and explain what’s happening.” …

    It’s the opposite of surprising that large corporations which own media outlets want to hire people to play the role of journalist on the TV who are slavishly devoted to their culture and their agenda. But that’s the point: the pretense that these people are “objective journalists” delivering opinion-free facts is so discredited that they should just stop pretending. It’s embarrassing already. Few things have exposed their deep, embittered biases as much as their snide, defensive reaction to these Wall Street protests.

  46. Elaine, your comment reminded me of the old joke that is played out in many forms, including commercials. Current version of CNN: “I am not a journalist, but I played one on TV.”

    Ted Turner is still living, or I would say he was turning over in his grave. AFIK, he has not said much publicly about the devolvement of his brainchild, but I cannot imagine he is happy.

  47. BDog,

    Yes the “good old days” were never as good as memory makes them. I don’t know your age though, but I lived through them. In context I started smoking before the Surgeon Generals report that smoking could cause cancer and heart disease. My father actually taught me to inhale and I smoked cigarettes from the age of 12 on. My parents though both died at age 54 and I’ve been very open about my ow heart troubles. I think, without looking it up, that Murrow died at 57. The “Nightly News” was originally an hour long, as I remember it and then pared down as the time went on.

    Also important to remember was the “chilling effect” of Joe McCarthy and of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) which during that “Cold War” era scared hell out of the entire media. Given those structural limitations they did a much better job than they do today and certainly were more in line with the concept of journalism.

    I can remember Malcolm X being grilled by a panel on “Meet The Press” when he first became famous. They were “bemused” by his militancy and rather dismissive of the cause of Black freedom. Actually though, Malcolm made mincemeat of their arguments and I learned to respect his intelligence.

  48. Erin Burnett: Voice of the People
    Finacial reporters revere Wall Street as much as national security reporters revere military and CIA officials VIDEO

    On her new CNN show on Monday night, host Erin Burnett was joined by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter John Avlon and together they heaped condescending scorn on the Wall Street protests while defending the banking industry, offering — as FAIR documented — several misleading statements along the way. Burnett “reported” that while she “saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown” at the protest, the participants “did not know what they want,” except that “it seems like people want a messiah leader, just like they did when they anointed Barack Obama.” She featured a video clip of herself explaining to one of the protesters that the U.S. Government made money from TARP, and then demanded to know if that changed his negative views of Wall Street.

    This is far from the first time Burnett has served as spokesperson for Wall Street; it’s basically what her “journalistic” career is. She angered Bill Maher a couple years ago when arguing that the rich have suffered along with the poor and middle class as part of the financial crisis, and that it would be wrong to “soak the rich” because they’re already paying so much taxes. She caused Rush Limbaugh to gush over her when she argued on TV in 2007 that all Americans benefit when the rich get richer: “the majority of Americans directly benefit from what happens on Wall Street,” she proclaimed, just over a year before the financial collapse.

    In an interview last year with Vanity Fair, she insisted that people on Wall Street do not have private planes and that “there are a lot of stalwart, solid people on Wall Street. There are just a few shady people providing the fodder for big budget movies”; when asked: “When was the last time you interviewed somebody on Wall Street and said, ‘Enough of your lies, we deserve the truth goddammit?!’”, she would only say in response: “I’d never use the word ‘goddammit’ in an interview.” And then there’s this two-minute video from her 2009 appearance on Meet the Press, compiled by Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in which she repeatedly heaps patronizing scorn on criticisms of Wall Street while defending its virtue:

  49. Another March to War?
    by Matt Taibbi
    POSTED: FEBRUARY 17, 2012

    As a journalist, there’s a buzz you can detect once the normal restraints in your business have been loosened, a smell of fresh chum in the waters, urging us down the road to war. Many years removed from the Iraq disaster, that smell is back, this time with Iran.

    You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. CNN’s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam’s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002. Here’s how the excellent Glenn Greenwald described Burnett’s rant:

    “It’s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn’t dare go this far because you’d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable. She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran’s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.”

    Like Greenwald, I was particularly struck by Burnett’s freak-out about Iran’s nuclear program, about which she said, “No one buys Iran’s claim that [it is] for peaceful purposes.” She then cited remarks by Director of Intelligence James Clapper, which, she said, “drove that message home.” But then she ran a clip with Clapper’s quote, which read as follows:

    “Iran’s technical advances . . . strengthen our assessment that Iran is more than capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders, specifically the Supreme Leader himself, choose to do so.”

    In other words, “If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons.” Unless I’m missing something, that’s a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn’t it?

    Virtually all of the Iran stories of late have contained some version of this sort of rhetorical sophistry. The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.”

    An NBC report Greenwald also wrote about put it this way: “Within just the past few days, Iranian leaders have threatened that if attacked, they would launch those missiles at U.S. targets.”

  50. While we are mentioning who some prominent Television “journalists” are related to, how often does Andrea Mitchell of NBC get quizzed on the fact that she married her second husband, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan (Ayn Rand Pet) Greenspan, in 1997 following a lengthy relationship.

  51. Mike S.,

    And would you agree that the media has gone easy on Ayn Rand acolyte Greenspan?


    An Interview with Matt Taibbi
    The Progressive
    By Carl Kozlowski, February 2011 issue

    Q: You call former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan “the biggest asshole in the universe.” Yet the press and public for so long were led to think he was an infallible icon. How do you think he got away with it?

    Taibbi: Greenspan is a classic con man. A guy who reached power by sounding smart and giving pretty speeches to politicians who didn’t know what he was talking about much of the time. He’s like religious con men who get to where they are by saying vague things and letting people reach their own interpretation. And he stayed in power by giving the powerful what they wanted. There were disastrous consequences for everybody but him. In the process, he presided over this period where more and more political decisions were moved to unaccountable financial bureaucracies. That’s a big part of the story too: how guys like him gained power and the politicians officially lost power.

    Greenspan’s whole career was built on media exposure. He was romantically involved with key members of the media, such as Barbara Walters and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who is his wife. He was very, very cunning in getting people to write articles about what a genius he was. That’s how he got into power: first economist to make the cover of Newsweek. He established himself as an infallible oracle, and a lot of it had to do with his ability to seduce key media figures, sometimes literally. In the book, I show his record as an actual economist was complete shit.


    How Alan Greenspan Helped Wreck the Economy
    POSTED: June 16, 2011
    By Jeff Madrick

  52. Elaine and MikeS et al.

    Let us begin with the FED system itself. It is the biggest privately owned bank fraud this nation has ever had. JFK issued an exec order to the Treasury chief to start printing silver certificates, which would have in time got us off paying interest (or part of the value) for every Reserve note we used (and the FED printed and issued through their own affiliated banks).

    People are killed for less. JFK was assassinated. Turkey shoot sponsored, prof domestic agency murderers?

    If my memory serves me correct, Greenspan is from South Carolina. Took his first degree there. Smart guy accdg to his admirers or as previously explaned, a media charmer. His religious affiliation can we leave aside.

  53. Classic definition of “news”: Man bites dog.

    In the United States, on the other hand, we have:

    Boobie Infotainment
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    Some chose to place a saintly crown
    Upon her dead blonde head,
    While others felt relieved at last:
    “She’s better off,” they said.
    A woman born of others’ needs:
    An unreal life she led.

    The tabloids built an image up
    To vend to those who dreamed
    Of two deadbeat aristocrats
    Unreasonably teamed:
    A fable for frustrated lives
    Vicariously beamed

    Into those households where the proles
    Preferred their rubbish crass
    Along with propaganda “news,”
    Leaked from and to an ass,
    Delivered by celebrities
    With tits or balls of brass.

    Thus Marilyn, Diana, or
    Maid Monica will do —
    Along with Michael Jackson and
    Dead Elvis Presley, too —
    Distracting ‘Murcans from the bad
    And ugly larger view.

    Just so did Bush and Blair concoct
    Some “coalition” fun.
    They’d have a go at poor Saddam
    And set him on the run:
    The mad dog and his Englishman
    Out in the noonday sun.

    This illustrates a lesson that
    Some liars never learn:
    Do not believe the lie yourself
    Or else you’ll surely burn
    And find your ashes dumped into
    A small ceramic urn.

    As Hayakawa wrote, we have
    This thing, the Empty Eye:
    A Technicolor campfire on
    Which Boobies now rely
    To dull the pain with images
    That pass too swiftly by.

    The Eye emitted “content” both
    Innocuous and bland
    And pushed it past the limits of
    What Boobie brains could stand,
    Inducing thought rejection all
    Across the Boobies’ land.

    The pictures came and went too fast
    To process on the fly,
    So Boobies felt upset but they
    Could find no reason why.
    The only thing they knew is that
    They felt compelled to buy.

    With nervous systems stunned and jazzed
    They couldn’t bring to mind
    Some cartoons from the past that told
    Of just this Boobie kind:
    A salesman of the bait-and-switch
    Who robbed a sailor blind.

    He’d beg a meal from Popeye then
    This Wimpy guy would say:
    “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for
    A hamburger today.”
    Which meant, of course, that he had no
    Intention to repay.

    King George the bumbling Boobie, too,
    Worked things the selfsame way.
    He waged a war on nothing down
    But promised that some day
    Some other one would come along
    And all the costs defray.

    “When Tuesday comes, I won’t be here,”
    He snickered as he spent.
    “I’ll eat my burger now and get
    Those lenders to relent
    Till I can high-tail out of town
    And stiff them for the rent.”

    The Infotainment tabloids, though,
    Saw no need to retort.
    They liked the dead-blonde pictures that
    They showed around for sport.
    Convinced that only “good news” lies
    Deserved a full “report.”

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006, 2009

  54. Matt Tabaii is a good read. Chris Hayes has excellent guests and good discussion. Jon Stewart’s reaction to CNN was great: I’m Wolff Blitz.. [click – dark screen].

    Did you see anything like this on CNN?

  55. “And would you agree that the media has gone easy on Ayn Rand acolyte Greenspan?”


    I absolutely agree. One of the things I hold against Bill Clinton was his reappointment of Greenspan to the Fed. An intelligent Rand acolyte is an oxymoron. Greenspan is a slimy man and so it is impossible for me to see Andrea Mitchell as a voice of impartiality. To be fair I also find it hard to believe about James Carville as a Democratic icon either.

  56. “Let us begin with the FED system itself. It is the biggest privately owned bank fraud this nation has ever had.”


    I agree with the above and in fact with the entirety of your comment.

  57. Mike, idealist, and bettykath,

    Have you read Matt Taibbi’s book “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America?” It’s a great read. The second chapter in the book is titled “The Biggest A**hole in the Universe.” It’s about Alan Greenspan.


    Welcome to Griftopia, Part 2 – The Biggest A**hole in the Universe

    Chapter 2: The Biggest Asshole in the Universe

    If there’s one villain that Taibbi singles out for special notoriety it’s Alan Greenspan. (The title above is taken directly from the book.) For decades it’s been almost impossible to find any economic policy, any critical regulatory decision, any bubble and collapse where Greenspan hasn’t been at Ground Zero just about every single time.

    A key to understanding Griftopia is the role of the Federal Reserve – and Greenspan’s role in turning it into “a permanent bailout mechanism for the super-rich.” The economic shocks of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s are when political power shifted from elected government to private and semi-private institutions run by oligarchs out to benefit their own class – and Greenspan as first an economic advisor to the powerful and then Chairman of the Fed was there every step of the way doing his best to facilitate the power shift.

    The Fed plays a critical role in the economy. While it has many duties, the principle one is to try to manage the amount of money ‘out there’. It can let banks ‘create’ money by loosening how much they have to have on hand to back up the loans they make – cutting that margin lets banks act as though they magically have more. The Fed can lend money to banks directly at relatively low rates – which they can then turn around and lend out at a higher rate. (The discount window.) The Fed can buy up Treasury Bills or bonds from banks and brokers, pumping even more money into the economy.

    The rationale for something like the Federal Reserve is to smooth out the fluctuations in the economy, the classic boom and bust cycle that’s proven so destructive to long-term financial stability and growth over the years. The Fed is supposed to cool things down when the market overheats, and goose it when it slows, while trying to factor in unemployment, inflation, long term debt, etc. etc. to find a balance where the greatest number is doing well. Or, it can tip that balance in other directions…

    The Federal Reserve operates with a great deal of independence and even mystery because decisions by the Fed can have a massive effect; mere rumors of Fed action can send stocks soaring or crashing. Although Congress is supposed to have oversight, in practice the Federal Reserve answers to no one – because of that power as much as anything. (And also because no politician wants to risk being blamed for a market crash by poking the Fed too hard in public.)

    Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve is therefore one of the most critical unelected positions in government. The ideal chairman should have the highest level of competence, a deep understanding of the economy, the integrity to resist political pressures of the moment for the long view, and the intelligence to cope with complex issues in which the Fed is one of many actors – if a major one. Instead we got Alan Greenspan.

    WARNING: You may want to have brain-bleach handy after reading Taibbi’s characterization of Greenspan.

    Greenspan’s rise is instead a tale of a gerbilish mirror-gazer who flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power and then, once he got to the top, feverishly jacked himself off to the attentions of Wall Street for twenty consecutive years – in the process laying the intellectual foundation for a generation of orgiastic greed and overconsumption and turning the Federal Reserve into a permanent bailout mechanism for the super-rich.

    Playing games with interest rates is primarily how the Fed under Greenspan manipulated the money supply. This affects things like savings and investment – depending on where rates are, people make decisions about the best places to put their money for the biggest return. Hike the rate at which the Fed loans money to banks (the federal funds rate) and everyone ends up paying more to borrow – plus getting higher rates on savings. The economy slows down.

    Lower the rate, money is ‘cheaper’ – and the economy picks up. Instead of being saved, money goes into the stock market seeking a higher rate of return. Pump in enough cheap money, and the market inflates into a bubble where the actual value of what’s being traded, and the bets made on how those trades will work out becomes less and less of a concern. Instead, people are making money just from money moving around – until the bubble bursts…

    Under Greenspan, the Fed operated like a casino that kept extending credit to the big gamblers – and stuck everyone else with the tab when their bets ultimately failed to pay off.

    Without going into a lot of detail (which Taibbi does), Greenspan’s career was spent serving the super rich at the expense of everyone else. He helped Ronald Reagan pull off the Social Security bait & switch ‘rescue’ that laid the groundwork for the current assault. He pursued inflation-fighting policies that – among other things – deliberately worked to hold down or cut wages and benefits for the working/middle class. He routinely misinterpreted what was happening with the economy leading to repeated economic fiascos, and was instrumental in fueling the dot-com and housing bubbles. The markets came to believe that it didn’t matter how risky their behavior was – Greenspan would show up to bail them out. Which he did. Repeatedly.

    At the same time he continually pushed or signed off on policies that deregulated the financial sector. He helped tear down the wall between insurance companies, investment firms, and commercial banks. (Glass-Steagall repeal), and turned the Commodities market (with Bob Rubin) into a free for all. He helped engineer the creation of ever larger banks via mergers, etc. setting up Too Big To Fail. He failed to address the Shadow Banking System that rose up on his watch, leaving it unregulated.

    What seems an obvious warning sign in hindsight is something Taibbi spends a far amount of Chapter 2 on – Greenspan’s long history as an inner circle acolyte of Ayn Rand and her cult philosophy. The man at the center of the Federal Government’s Central Bank, the supposed anchor of a stable economy, believed government regulation was unnecessary – because markets are inherently self-regulating! Further, the vast majority of Americans are parasites, not ‘producers’ in Randian terms – and Greenspan valued them accordingly.

    Even now, Greenspan hasn’t quite grasped that the Masters of the Universe who style themselves as true incarnations of John Galt are anything but. Whiny, egomanaiacal, stupid greedy bastards is more like it – but they still see themselves as the real drivers of the economy, with a Randian world view to match.

    Taibbi reduces Rand’s belief system to these four points:
    1. Facts are facts: things can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong, as determined by reason.
    2. According to my reasoning, I am absolutely right.
    3. Charity is immoral.
    4. Pay for your own f*cking schools.

    Or even more succinctly:
    “When I’m right, I’m right.” and “My facts are facts and your facts are not facts.”

  58. 1. Mr. Spindell – I enjoy and appreciate every article you share here with us!

    2. The Talmud teaches us that a person who sends another person to commit a crime, is guilty as well; thus, ALL those presidents who picked this Saxophone – Jazz – player to head the Fed, share, in my opinion, are guilty as well.

    3. The current president, who replaced Mr. Greenspan, with a philosopher-quiet-Yes-Man is guilty too.

    4. It looks like God had mercy on CNN, and just before it (CNN) was about to sink into oblivion and irrelevancy – sent them (CNN) the 9/11 disaster perpetrated by Saudi nationals. They did not stop blabbering ever since.

    5. ABC, CBS, NBC and yes, MSNBC, together with CNN, collude to synchronize their commercial “Breaks” which are nowadays inflated to almost HALF an hour for a one-hour show.
    It is common to witness Rachel Maddow (sp?) coming in, after a 2 minutes-long commercial break, injecting a sentence or two ending with the infamous “stay tuned” fading from there into another 2 minutes-long commercials. This is why I boycott the above networks.

    6. To the important, intelligent sources of news listed above, I would add the FreeSpeech TV and the LinkTV.

  59. Here is another aspect or “trend” which reflects the dumb side of America. Female news people speak like children. It is hard to mimic in print here but please just watch CNN and other news shows. The local channels here are doing the kid thing the worst. It is denigrating to females. Us dogs would not stoop to it. Adult voices get respect. Child voices get a big question when the perp is over age 12 much less over age 18 and from the looks of them over age 30. California seems to have spawned this but it is very popular. Women of America. Speak like a women, not a teeny. You are a disgrace, even to Nancy Grace.

  60. “I must admit that I gave up watching CNN years ago, even before they attempted to become FOX News lite”

    Fox News Lite – that’s a new one. So CNN streamlines its news program by stripping away all those important facts that get in the way.

    The internet has taken away the power of all the leftwing news stations because people can find out the facts that aren’t reported. Therefore, we have more and more people turning away from the leftwing stations and turning to Fox News and internet, as well as of course, talk radio. Talk radio weakened the mainstream media’s chokehold a long time ago, before the internet.

    This however, begs the question, why did we have so many “low information” voters that voted for Mr. Obama. They’re either not researching the facts, or actually believe what they’re hearing on the mainstream media.

  61. or Hubert we voted for President Obama because we did research him and on balance he was the better candidate. There is a lot to be unhappy with about what he has done but the auto industry came back (as opposed to “let em go bankrupt” Mitt’s way of dealing with it.) stock market back 5+ million jobs created despite repubs refusal to pass a jobs bill, Iraq war ended, Afghan war on its way down, ACA, and more. Just because you were for the other guy does not make those not of your view uneducated/illiterate.
    People seem to forget democracy is about disagreement but it used to be that even when the politicos called each other names the population for the most part did not. We used to be revered around the world fo thre fsact that, no matter ewho the president, (even when anointed by the Supreme Court, we came around the elected president and saw him as president as all. It is only since Obama that I have this abject hatred and disrespect.

  62. @leejcaroll

    Well, not entirely. I believe it was Dan Rather who was one of the early dis respecters when he decided to call Bush Mr rather than President.

    On he other hand, the bizarre refusal to compromise and the demand for 60 votes for everything really is an innovation.

    My recollection is that the country was formed by compromise. Some might argue that the country became great through compromise – the artful negotiation of mutually acceptable agreements so that all of us can move forward. So please, someone, tell me when did compromise become un American?

    And there was a time that filibuster was something that occurred a few times a decade – at most.

    Something is definitely going off the tracks here.

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