It's Radio, Stupid! (Or is it Stupid Radio?)

July 26, 2011
Why has the Tea Party flourished?  Why are people in the US grossly misinformed?  Why can just a few run our country off the cliff?   

The Right Wing hijacked Radio fifteen years ago;  the effects are just now being completely felt.

Compare these maps representing numbers and sizes of  "Conservative"
"Right Wing" radio stations and "Liberal" radio stations across the USA:

Then look at a map of the 2010 Midterm Election Results:

About 50 million Americans listen to Right Wing Talk Radio.

Now here's the SCARY part:
Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have far more reach on Radio than Fox News.
You won't believe it until you
See These Charts!  

Radio is still the country's number one source of news and information,
but fewer than 10% of the country is able to hear any progressive talk radio.
Those who do tend to vote for more Democrats than those who do not.

How did this happen?
See the story from Broadcast Blues:

Media Reform Victory: People Win, Corporations Lose!

 July 11, 2011 

The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia handed the public a huge victory last Thursday, and giant corporations a rare loss, in their decision [PDF] on a case that (ironically enough, given the subject matter) most of the public knew nothing about, but one which has the potential to benefit real people with better quality news and information for decades to come. 

The case, Prometheus Radio Project v FCC, pitted "Citizen Petitioners" who seek more persons owning local media outlets to ensure diversity in viewpoints and news coverage, versus "Deregulatory Petitioners" who want fewer persons (spell that "corporations") to own local media outlets, and the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves that go with them, in order to enhance their profits.

At stake were the rules determining how many local TV and radio stations one company can own in a single market; whether a newspaper owner can also own a TV or radio station in the same town; and how broadcast ownership by minorities and women should be handled.

The Deregulators challenged the FCC's constitutional and legal authority to set rules and restrictions on ownership of broadcast spectrum licenses, while the Citizen Petitioners sought to protect the FCC's authority, even while challenging a number of new rules the agency speciously attempted to enact without appropriate public input.

Six attorneys representing Free Press, Media Alliance, The United Church of Christ, and Prometheus Radio Project went up against 48 lawyers representing such corporate behemoths as Clear Channel, CBS, Belo, FOX, Cox, Sinclair, Tribune, and Gannett, and groups including the National Association of Broadcasters, plus another 8 attorneys for the FCC and 5 more from the US Department of Justice. The case became a classic David v. Goliath struggle.

The good news this time around, at least for the moment, David finally won one...

The case dealt with current ownership rules, as determined by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There are a myriad of rules, among them these, which now allow that one party may own no more than:

  • two TV stations and six radio stations in the same market (or one and seven);
  • three TV stations in large markets where 18 or more stations exist;
  • up to eight radio stations in the same town.

The FCC is tasked with making sure the broadcast media --- via the limited broadcast spectrum which is owned by we, the people --- serves the public interest. Every four years, as required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC must revisit the issue of public interest in media ownership (the "Quadrennial Review.")

In 2003, the FCC Commissioners held public hearings on media ownership, then essentially ignored what the public told them. The FCC, chaired at the time by Republican Michael Powell, next laid out a group of rules that put more broadcast media stations into fewer hands. The public rose in protest (as covered in my 2009 documentary, Broadcast Blues.)

After Powell's hearings, Prometheus Radio went to court to challenge the new rules. They won a Third Circuit Court ruling which found that the FCC had not properly listened to the public and would need to start from scratch.

So, four years later, from October 2006 to November 2007, the FCC, this time under Republican chair Kevin Martin, once again held a series of public hearings on media ownership, but in some cases, as the court find this time around, they offered the public as little as 10 calendar days notice before the meetings. Worse, as revealed during the trial, the FCC actually buried studies with findings which undercut their own advisement for relaxation of ownership rules. (An Inspector General's report even found that the FCC had a research strategy specifically designed to justify their preconceived goal: the repeal of the newspaper-media cross-ownership rule.)

Then Martin, on November 13, 2007, just four days after the final public hearing, issued an Op-Ed in the New York Times which outlined the newspaper/broadcast ownership rules he was considering. Until then, neither the public --- nor even fellow FCC commissioners --- knew what rules he was considering.

Déjà vu. Hold public hearings, then ignore the public. Just as Powell had done four years earlier.

 image courtesy                                                                    

L A Times Whitewash of Clarence Thomas

July 5, 2011


Savage writes that what defines Thomas' career is his tendency to go solo on his opinions, "a tendency that was almost certainly reinforced by his bitter and ugly confirmation fight in the Senate..."  

Uh huh.  Opinions Thomas has written from the highest bench in our nation, opinions which Savage noted include prisoners having no constitutional right to be protected from beatings by guards and teenagers and students having no free-speech rights at all, stem from Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment, which were later proven to be more correct than false. 

What Savage neglected to say - at all - is that Thomas' ethics are once again in question, so much so that the very rules about how Supreme Court Justices may conduct themselves are now under scrutiny.  A bill called the "Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act of 2011" (HR 862) is pending in the House of Representatives.  In addition, a movement to impeach Thomas is gaining steam.   You'd think an L.A. Times piece about Justice Thomas which was syndicated in many other papers nationwide would at least mention those facts.

It would be enlightening for readers to remember that Thomas neglected to disclose his wife Ginni's $680,000 income from the Heritage Foundation.  (That was reported in January by L.A. Times writer Kim Geiger.)  But how many connected those dots from reading the Savage piece?  I, for one, would like to see mention of all relevant facts in one story.

What's keenly interesting is that both a Google search and an internal site search of the L.A.Times reveals the paper has never reported on how Thomas' friend, Harlan Crow, gave Thomas' wife, Ginny, $500,000 to form a Tea Party group to oppose President Obama's healthcare reform law.  (An earlier piece co-written by Savage and Kathleen Hennessey does raise the topic, but does not cite the fact that Crow, a personal friend of Thomas, is the funder.)  Crow is also reported to have given millions to a pet museum project of Thomas, as well as use of his private jet.  Nor is it reported that Ginny engages in lobbying activities about healthcare issues without filing required disclosures.

These ethical lapses become all too relevant when it is understood that the Supreme Court is certain to decide the constitutionality of Obama's healthcare law.  David G. Savage does report that Thomas "is seen as a sure vote to strike down President Obama's healthcare law and its insurance mandate."  

So maybe you'd like to tell us "the rest of the story," David?     

New York Times Issues PARTIAL Correction on Breitbart

July 1, 2011

As reported today in Bradblog.comthe New York Times public editor, responding to criticism from Brad Friedman Media Matters and others about inaccuracies in last weekend's Jeremy W Peters' puff piece on Andrew Breitbart,  has issued a partial correction, this about a videotape that Peters said showed NAACP members applauding former USDA official Shirley Sherrod when she talked about at first being reluctant to help a white farmer many years ago.  (That Breitbart story, which blatantly misrepresented Sherrod's comments, forced Sherrod to resign her post.  Sherrod has sued Breitbart for damaging her reputation.)  New York Times Reporter Peters apparently didn't look at the video before reporting that tidbit, as it, in reality, showed no such thing.  (Apparently words now go directly from the mouth of Andrew Breitbart directly onto the pages of the paper of record.)    

But the Times has still not corrected its long ago misstatement that ACORN advised Breitbart protege James O'Keefe and his hidden camera partner Hannah Giles on how to evade taxes and conceal child prostitution.   In point of fact, the video shows the opposite.   Read the full story over at .

But here's the takeaway:  It was the New York Times misreporting that eventually brought the group ACORN down for no good reason, other than engaging in a political hatchet job.

What does the Times hope to gain?  Access?  An answer to cries of the "liberal" media?  

It can't compare to what they've lost:  credibilty, at a time when we need REAL journalism the most.