This is a discussion on Anti Racism, the media, and the African American experience.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


UPDATED 1/18/2010

The first Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I believe that the founding fathers included the press in the Constitution because they expected the press to be a watch dog of the government for the people. The Constitution was written by men who were trying to avoid an autocratic governmental system like the systems found in Europe at the time.
During the time the Constitution was being drafted, “the press” was not these mega corporations, controlling 35 or 65% and often as much as 75% of a given market, it was in most cases a one man shows. And often some guy with a printing press in his barn. It was the existence of these independent journalists that helped keep the larger papers honest. The same was true with the invention of radio, television and now the internet. It was the independent stations that could be counted on to have the least amount of tendentiousness and it is often blogs that call out the mainstream media outlets.

By the 1990s, with the help of the FCC’s lack of scruples, the industry was deregulated and large corporations were allowed to own the majority of media outlets in any given market. With the power of deep pockets behind them; the large conglomerates swallowed the independents. This can be seen in all areas, from theatrical distribution companies to radio to newspapers. However, what is most concerning and what threatens the health of this nation is not only that some markets only have one journalistic voice but also the redefining of what is considered journalism and news.

There was a time when news organizations were so concerned about their integrity that they had a separate Board of Directors from their sister entertainment arms. Today, it is hard to tell what is considered news and what is supposed to be entertainment. However, the Society of Professional Journalists have established a code of ethics to act as a guide. They read:

Journalists should:

  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

  • Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

  • Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

  • Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

  • Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.

  • Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

  • Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story

  • Never plagiarize.

  • Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.

  • Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.

  • Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

  • Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

  • Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

  • Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

  • Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

These are the guidelines that journalists have placed on themselves. With these rules in mind let’s evaluate some of the organizations that call themselves “news”.

In the last 10 days the White House finally spoke up about the dishonest media outlet called Fox News. Several of the Administration’s spokespersons, including president Obama himself, have admonished that Fox News is not truly news and should not be treated as such by real news agencies. FINALLY, someone says what we have known for a long time. Not surprisingly other news agencies jumped to Fox’s defense explaining that their nighttime commentary is very different from their daytime news reporting. This discussion with Jake Tapper of ABC and White House Press Secretary is telling:

Tapper: It's escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations "not a news organization" and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it's appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one -


Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

Tapper: But that's a pretty sweeping declaration that they are "not a news organization." How are they any different from, say -

Gibbs: ABC -

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o'clock tonight. Or 5 o'clock this afternoon.

Tapper: I'm not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I'm talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a "news organization" -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That's our opinion.


Shame on Gibbs for not having the facts to back up “their opinion”. So, Press Secretary Gibbs, others have done your homework for you:
Fox News: A 24/7 Political Operation

The first ethics rule:
“Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

  • Statutory Rape – INACCURATE (a lie)

  • Veteran Death Panels - INACCURATE (a lie)

  • Sotomayor is a reversed racist, DISTORITION (a lie)

  • 9/12 Tea Parties - DISTORITION (a lie)

    • actually organized by Fox News and then staged with applause signs and the works

  • Czar mania - DISTORITION (a lie)

The litmus test for accuracy at Fox News must be akin to the test to see who will play short stop in a 1st grade kickball game...nonexistent. On Sunday, November 1st Fox reported that Dede Scozzafava, GOP candidate for NY's 23d District, endorsed the teabaggers choice Matt Hoffman, once she suspended her campaign. The truth is, as everyone knows, she endorsed the Democratic candidate Bill Owens, who went on to win the Congressional seat for that district. The fact of the matter is that their ‘news shows’ often echo their commentary shows with distortions, mistruths, and outright lies. What’s worse is that CNN and to a lesser degree MSNBC, NBC, ABC and CBS continue the misinformation distribution. This is not my opinion this is fact and thank God for youtube and organizations like: Media Matters, Brave New Films, Fox Watch and others.
FOX Attacks! Obama - Part 2

And because the true art and nature of journalism seems to be a dying art form the rest of the mainstream media has once again picked up the latest Fox News talking point – “the White House has declared war on Fox News”.
Fox News' War on the White House

October 29, 2009: For Fox Sake! – Jon Stewart


It is interesting that the right-wing of America has decided that they’re no longer interested in the freedom of the press nor a government for and by the people. Their actions say they are only interested in power. They realize to retain power you have to control the message and the only way to control the message is to control the media. Lessening the amount of media outlets enhances their ability to control the press; hence deregulation. I’m not sure when this began but I noticed the signs during the Reagan administration; the mantra during those times was “the liberal media”. As a progressive, the media has NEVER been liberal. It might have been center to center-right as opposed to far right; but NEVER liberal. With this campaign, to paint the right-wing as the victims, came the founding of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). One quick perusal of their website and it is obvious that they are not at all about advocating fairness and accuracy in journalism; they’re interested in forwarding the right-wing agenda. However, I never hear the press calling them an “extreme right-wing group” as they often refer to Media Matters and the Daily Kos as an “extreme left-wing or extreme liberal group”. This rhetoric from the likes of Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the spokesman for the right-wing, is almost laughable except too many Americans get all of their news from these men whose commentary fuels racism, anti-patriotism and to a few…violence.

Net neutrality is now under attack. For those who don’t know what net neutrality is, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia;

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for residential broadband networks and potentially for all networks. A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.[1][2][3]
The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of internet access, and another user pays for a given level of access, that the two users should be able to connect to each other at that given rate of access

Basically, what this means is that corporations cannot pay the people who control the pipelines (Comcast, Cox, Time Warner et al) to give them preferential treatment. Corporate greed and the need for some groups to control the media lets us know that left to their own devices, corporations would pay the pipeline controllers to allow their content to be accessed faster and more easily than other content. So Joe Blogger would not be able to have his content accessed as easily as say, Fox News. This is part of the fight, this is what we must stop.
Mac vs PC: McOld Prefers his abacus

John, “I’m computer illiterate” McCain has introduced a new bill:

"Today I'm pleased to introduce the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation," McCain said. "It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy."

Don’t you love how congress chooses the names for bills that are the opposite of what the bill is meant to do/be? The Internet Freedom Act allows as much freedom as the Patriot Act. For a guy who is quoted as saying:
When asked if he went online himself, the Arizona senator responded: "They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself.
It seems to me that anything that he introduces regarding the internet should be laughed off the Senate floor. However, knowing how our congress works, unless we intercede this might actually become law.

I believe that we need to start another revolution! A take back the media revolution, we need to urge our congress to re-enact the rules and regulations surrounding news organizations, anti-monopoly laws for media outlets, and of course keeping net neutrality. We can fight indefinitely for health care reform, regulation of the financial industry, prosecuting those who allowed torture, etc. But unless we have a news industry that is, dedicated to the tenants of the Professional Society of Journalists, with a strong and healthy independent media industry we will find ourselves in this position again. We need the media to help us shed light on the racketeering that has infected “Wall Street” and is now threatening our system of governance.

Write your representatives and let them know it’s time to Reclaim the Press

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