Showing posts with label Media-Spin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media-Spin. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some of the Best and Worst Reporting on the Oslo Norway Massacres had an excellent conversation online between Michael B. Dougherty of The American Conservative and Michelle Goldman (distinctly liberal and feminist) of the Daily Beast and other venues.  It is at
These are just two earnest people grappling together over what to make of such an event and looking a bit shocked and grief-stricken.  One of the shocking things to these two was how coherently he wrote (though with a good bit of lifting of passages from other works).  He seemed nothing like the obviously insane shooter of Congress Rep. Giffords.  Dougherty (who admits he or his periodical are quoted by the apparent mass killer Breivik), says based of the first fragments he got of Breivik's saying or writing, he did not believe he was a "Christian Fundamentalist", and apparently Dougherty was right despite part of Breivik's manifesto indicating that part of his dream was a "Christian monoculture".  The two seemed to agree that, besides Muslims, he seemed obsessed with a sense of "emasculation" by the feminist culture.

Meanwhile,, which was founded "to provide content and analysis you can't get anywhere else on a daily basis" has next to nothing to say about the whole thing.  There only piece on it was titled  "Norway, with a substantial rate of gun ownership, is normally noted for non-violence".  Right, a hundred schoolchildren gunned down at camp provides such a nice segue to a reminder of their theories that the more guns, the less crime.  But the main theme of the article was "Well you can just bet that the liberals will be whining for gun control and more civility".  Better to make a preemptive strike on liberals reacting to what they haven't said yet.  Once you let them speak you then have to argue with real people rather than strawmen, which is always a pain in the ass.

I've been cruising a lot of new media lately, and intend to attempt some regular coverage and commentary.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"They All Do It (Distort the News)" "The New York Times is Notorious"

This is running through my head since I was listening to a conversation on the Radio.  The guest is discussing the Murdoch media, giving an example of a story that was spun in a ridiculous way to attack Gordon Brown (the last UK Prime Minister).

A woman called in sounding agitated saying (see title), and "If you know something about a story and read the NY Times coverage you just won't recognize it."  A question I'd have asked her is 'what is the objective source she's been reading that gives her some basis for saying the NY Times coverages is distorted?'  Granted, the NY Times is "notorious" in the sense that a large percentage (maybe around half, maybe more) incessantly says that the NY Times is notorious for distorting the news.  If so many people say it then that's a sort of notoriety by definition.  But we can be sure that nothing like that number of people actually reads the Times, much less reads the Times, and has access somehow to the raw facts making them qualified to make that judgement.

Obviously she is hearing a version of the news different from what is in the Times.  But on what basis does she have such confidence in her version?

On what basis does anyone have confidence in their version?

How do I know what I think I know?  I think my version of reality is fairly well grounded -- granted, I may be wrong about some pretty significant things, and I must always ask the question "How can I be more sure?  Or perhaps find my errors and discard them?"  To many people, the answer seems as simple as turning to their favorite news source and saying, "See, this is what's really happening so obviously you have it all wrong."

Does anyone have an answer?  I have a few. But I've had enough exposure to the the sources I think that woman listens to to know that counterarguments to everything I might say have been given to her and repeated over and over again.  No matter which side you are on, you might be able to see a valid way to get out of the mess, so I want to engage people with different versions of world political reality from mine.  Mostly what both sides are doing is name-calling.  Except some people are trying to discover what's really going on and report it.  I really believe there are a lot of people like that, but what's my basis for saying they're here rather than there?

Please do comment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Back to Truthology: "The Real Truth Project" Needs to Become a Reference Site

I still believe in the critical need for work on "Practical Epistemology", or maybe I should drop the Latinism and call it Truthology.

A blog should be a small part of that project.

About 15 years ago, I started the web site, or JMISC.NET (one is a synonym for the other) to explore and try to understand and share understanding of the period around the 1830s, with frequent excursions a couple of decades in either direction.  The title page said "Tales of the Early Republic", and I spent a lot of time looking at "miscellaneous" period documents, and, on an email list called "Jacksonian Miscellanies", publishing excerpts from these documents, with some commentary.  There were newspaper stories on spontaneous combustion, some very odd poetry, which was welcomed as filler material for newspapers in those days, a dueling manual (A high percentage of "Southern Gentlemen", including many congressmen had fought at least one duel -- in the majority of cases nobody died though injuries were common).  I got to have a mailing list of several hundred people, including many of the best historians of the era.  After a year or so I began going to conferences of the leading historians of the era, and in time it seemed to me that around half the people I met there were aware of my work, and very encouraging.

I started out not knowing anything about this period.  What it took was a lot of patience, reading historians past and present, but always going back to the original sources when I wanted to make a contribution, finding something that cast a surprising light on things, and putting it into one of my "Jacksonian Miscellanies" posts.  And meanwhile, gradually building a encyclopedic framework for jotting down detailed information as I learned of it.  What was New York like in 1830?  Well for one thing, New York much less than half of Manhattan Island -- not the other way around.  What sort of roads existed between Boston and Portsmouth, Maine.  When were they first connected by railroad?  What were the issues of religious controversy?  I built up a file of particular schools and colleges, small town, even particular churches and who had served as minister there and what their politics were.  I never knew enough to write a work giving important insights into some particular issue, but could hold my own in conversations with historians.

Ultimately, I need to build up TRTP (The Real Truth Project) to be something like that.  And it is mostly too abstract for me to try to deal with the issue of truth in general.  If I spent too much time on that plane, I would probably end up building all encompassing ideologies, like those of Karl Marx and Ayn Rand, that in my opinion cause people to lose sight of the real world, with disastrous consequences.

So there will have to be more specific sub-projects, one of which, is to try to map the landscape of America's (especially, and sometimes the world's) wars of ideas.

The resources will be extremely incomplete for some time to come, but I hope there will some useful things from the beginning.

Where to begin? I am going to take a look at "Watcher" organizations that try to map out the vast landscape of organizations characterized as "Right" and "Left".  Those who lean more or less "left" have organizations that try to compile a picture of funding sources in the network of organizations on the "right".  And vice versa.

E.g., the "Media Matters Action Network" has a section called "Conservative Transparency"  ( collects information on "conservative" or "right" leaning organizations of all sorts.

I am developing my own understanding of it at this link.

Other groups that watch and analyze other groups include:
  • Source Watch at ("left").
  • Capital Research Center at ("right").
OK, that's a wrap - a not insignificant start I hope.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Obama Selling out the Brits' Nuclear Secrets?

That's the conclusion drawn from the latest Wikileaks releases, at least on countless right wing blogs and a few newspapers including the UK Daily Telegraph and New York Daily News.

google {wikileaks  trident start treaty} gets 33,000+ hits though the story only broke today, and I can find almost nothing among these hits but blog posts and a few newspaper stories that take for granted that a terrible betrayal has occurred.

The key allegation is that the U.S. in Start negotions with Russia promised to provide the serial number of every Trident missile the US provides to Britain.

I've had a hard time tracking down any actual source documents but here, perhaps is the source of that key assertion:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crosshairs, Blood Libel, and Rabid Partisans

For anyone who didn't know, the "blood libel" of which Sarah Palin accuses the left-of-Fox media was the claim that Jews used the blood of Christian children in some dark rituals.  Naturally it was useful for rousing the populace for an anti-Jewish pogrom.  Well, Sarah, there is no dirty spread of rumors about things you never did, being used to drum up a Pogrom against you.  This is just people quite openly criticizing you for some things that you did say or do.  I haven't found anyone saying you "caused" Jared Loughton to go over the edge outside of some hotheaded nobodies who post things in blog "comments" sections.

Should nobody ever say "this sort of rhetoric is over the top?"  Is that so bad that you have to compare your critics to the Cossacks who killed Jews and flattened their villages in old Russia?  Several people are actually killed and Congresswoman Giffords has a bullet hole through her head and this is what you think of?  Taking preemptive aim at anyone who dares to criticize inflamatory rhetoric.

When the right is criticized for hateful or inflamatory rhetoric, they always point to somebody calling Bush a Fascist or worse.  Somebody, yes, but potential presidential candidates and major spokesmen for your movement?  Not that I'm aware of, and for what it's worth I don't like it and think they should shut up too.

Are the apologists for looking at races through a rifle gunsight, for "don't retreat, reload" rhetoric, and "fire a fully automated M16" fundraisers, etc. equally ready to defend 60s/70s radicals and radical wannabees who called police "Pigs"?  Will they say with equal assurance that that didn't contribute in any way to the rash of cop-killings around that time?  Would they jump down the throat of anyone who said "we don't want to hear this sort of abuse"?  If a cop-killer was insane would they swear that he could not possibly have been influenced by a climate of hate?

The common complaint on the right is how instantly Palin's gunsight ads, and Jesse Kelly's "Shoot a fully automatic M16" and "help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office" fundraisers.  Well, these were very big news when they happenned,  and had direct relevance to Giffords so people just thought of them immediately.  They didn't have to search the internet as was done to find an unknown liberal saying Giffords was "Dead to him/her" for, of all things, voting against keeping Nancy Pelosi on for a few more days (trying to produce arguments in the early minutes after the gunfire that shooter was a liberal).  Google the phrase "is dead to me" (WITH the double quotes around it) and see if you can find a case where it implies "somebody should shoot XYZ".  "Dead to me" is very different from "Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest" (another phrase you can google if you don't recognize it).

Charles Krauthammer,  January 12 (?) editorial, alluded to  three "rabid partisans" who "blame" the recent shooting on Sarah Palin,  yet each has made some statement to the effect of "It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members".

People have, however been saying for some time now that the systematic racheting up of anger and hatred, the labeling every progressive as a "fascist" or "traitor", the cartoons that make Obama look like the "Joker" or a vampire (not in one cartoon, but as a regular feature on Michelle Malkin's site) -- these things are apt to inspire some hateful and/or unstable person to violence.  So when a horrendous act of violence does occur, and is even aimed at one of the primary targets of such campaigns, people are apt to say "Well, that's what I was afraid of, now can we talk about toning it down?"  And people are sincere when they ask that -- it is not an opportunistic pouncing on a chance to launch an attach on conservatives -- an absurd interpretation which the right started promoting the minute someone raised such a point, which is to say almost immediately after the news of the shooting came out.

Anyone listening to the "rabid partisans" on NPR today would have heard a segment in which an expert said the extreme abuse of marijuana combined with paranoia and/or schizophrenia enormously increase the chance of violent action.  They are actually looking at this from a variety of different angles because that is what they do.

This is an angry message but there is not the slightest hint that anyone should be the target of violence, nor have I called anyone anything for which violence might be an appropriate response, such as "fascist" or "rabid".  And anyone on either side who does this sort of thing is, in my opinion, playing a dangerous game.