Posts Tagged ‘MSNBC’


I wasted a hell of a lot of money for a hell of a lot of years by paying for cable and satellite TV.  When I finally cut the cord, I was paying $75.99 a month for DirecTV, and it’s probably gone up a bit since then. I was also  subscribing to the mlb Extra Innings package (major league baseball, for all you furriners readin’ this), which at the time was $169.95; it’s also probably gone up. So, I was paying nearly eleven hundred bucks a year for satellite TV.

Last summer I finally asked myself, “Why? What am I actually getting for my money?” The answer was “not much.” I had the news (Al Jazeera or MSNBC, which is really more PC opinion than news) on  in the background while I worked, and would actually watch it occasionally–and it was often more of an irritant than entertainment. Beyond that, I usually watched “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report,” the occasional show on the Science Channel, the very occasional show on the Discover Channel or the Hitler Channel, baseball games, occasionally a football game, and the local news, and that was it. I was paying over a thousand dollars a year for the privilege, so, I canceled my satellite subscription.

The better part of a year later, I barely miss it. I have high speed Internet (which I had anyway), Netflix ($8 a month), and the mlbtv streaming package ($109.95 last year), which provides the same programming at lower cost than the Extra Innings package. (Free sports programming is available via Stream2Watch. Some of the streams Stream2Watch points at aren’t strictly legal, but if God didn’t want us to watch them, why did He create proxies?) I can watch “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central channel, sans commercials a day after it airs.  For news, I mostly use the Guardian, Al Jazeera, and BBC sites, and occasionally the CNN-for-grownups site.  (Yes, CNN has a kiddie site aimed at the U.S. audience, and an actual news site aimed at the rest of the world. The difference between the two is sometimes jaw dropping. Kiddie CNN seems to think that Idiocracy is a documentary. As I write this, the headline on that site is “Jurors Get Superbowl Talk.”)

But getting back to cutting the cord . . . For the local news, I just watch it over the air. Any flat screen TV will receive digital over-the-air channels, and the only piece of additional gear you need is an antenna. Commercial ones typically cost about $30, but you can easily build a better one in under an hour for no more than $10. I built one entirely from junk in the back room, and all it cost me was about 45 minutes of time.

At the end of all this, I find that the only thing I miss is Al Jazeera, which for those who haven’t seen it (and that includes most U.S. cable and satellite viewers) is, overall, a very good news channel. But it’s not worth a thousand bucks a year.

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by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

(Note: The final Palestinian civilian death toll resulting from the 2014 Israeli bombardment of and incursion into Gaza, was 1,660, including 527 children, resulting a grisly end result of 527 Palestinian children murdered by the Israeli armed forces to one Israeli child murdered by Hamas.)

I’ve had it. I’ve had it with being silent in the face of murder.  I’ve had it with my tax dollars paying for murder.

I’ve had it with American politicians kissing the butt of the brutal Israeli extreme right, thanks to AIPAC, which will bury in negative ads any politico who stands up for basic human decency. I’ve had it with the intimidated/complicit corporate media (hello Phil Griffin and MSNBC), and I’ve had it with politicians whose first loyalty is to Greater Israel rather than the United States (hello Chuck Schumer).

You’ll find more diversity of opinion in Israel than in the United States. Only here will you find apologists for mass murder arguing, somehow, that the two-hundred-plus Palestinian children killed by the Israeli “self-defense” forces were complicit in their own murders. Only here will you find headlines trumpeting the deaths of single Israeli soldiers, while the scant details of the deaths of dozens of Palestinian civilians are buried in later paragraphs.

One has to go back to the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to find such nauseating apologetics for the killing of innocents–and, no, not “hello” Ward Churchill, but rather “go to hell”–you who called the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.”

That effectively dehumanized the 9/11 victims, just as the corporate media dehumanizes the hundreds of children who have been murdered in recent days in the world’s largest open-air concentration camp.

This time, the number of Palestinian deaths (mostly civilians) is “only” about 30 to 1. Last time, it was a hundred to one. The only comparable death toll that comes to mind is Lidice.

I hold no brief for Hamas. I hold no brief for Fatah. I despise them. Just as I despise the brutal, expansionist Israeli extreme right.

In the end–despite all the sickening blather about “self-defense” as bombs hit schools, homes, and hospitals–it’s pretty damn simple: STOP MURDERING CHILDREN.

 


ahd-144-aby Chaz Bufe, author of The American Heretic’s Dictionary

MSNBC and Fox News are comparable in some ways, but differ in others. They’re similar in that they’re primarily opinion channels, and they both have political agendas. Fox is unabashedly right-wing evangelical Republican and outright Obamaphobic, while MSNBC is moderately secular-Democratic and outright Obamaphilic. Both have hired politicians as hosts and commentators, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin being the most prominent GOP politicians on Fox, and Washington Democratic insiders Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell being the most prominent on MSNBC.

But that’s where the similarities end. Fox at least makes a pretense of being a news channel, while MSNBC doesn’t–it consists of little but pro-Obama opinion. Fox spends about four times as much as MSNBC on news coverage, though the quality of that coverage tends to be poor. Fox viewers are the least well informed of all news viewers. They’re so poorly informed that people who do not follow the news at all are better informed, while MSNBC viewers are just barely better informed than those who don’t follow the news.

Another place in which Fox and MSNBC vary is in their approach to news and opinion. Fox “News” hosts get daily directives from the head of Fox “News,” Roger Ailes. Ailes tells them what stories to emphasize and even, apparently, the talking points they should use, as witnessed by the identical and near-identical phrasing Fox hosts routinely employ. (Catch “The Daily Show” for examples of this on a regular basis.) As well, Fox day in and day out does its best to manufacture stories that will benefit the Republican Party, reinforce Republican positions, and bolster the fears and hatreds of Fox viewers. Examples include outright false reports about ACORN perpetrating voting fraud; grossly exaggerated reports about the tiny New Black Panther Party intimidating voters; repeated reports about the relatively few cheaters using the SNAP program (food stamps–most beneficiaries are children and the elderly); and the never-ending blather about the “war on Christmas” and supposed attacks on religious freedom, which invariably turn out to be the government’s refusing to allow right-wingers to use public facilities for religious purposes or the government refusing to give bigots the right to discriminate based on their religious “principles.”

Rather than employing the same Machiavellian manipulation of the news, MSNBC takes a simpler approach: It seems to hire only hosts who share the same rather narrow, Obama-worshipping ideological views. Several of MSNBC’s most prominent hosts–Chris Matthews, Ed Shultz, Al Sharpton–virtually never criticize the Obama Administration for anything, while routinely heaping fulsome (in both senses of the word) praise on it. Other hosts will occasionally criticize Obama and his administration, though their criticisms tend to be muted, and they also routinely defend Obama. The most prominent hosts in this category are Rachel Maddow and Laurence O’Donnell. One suspects that even the most independent host on MSNBC, Chris Hayes, who dares to routinely criticize the Obama Administration from a left-leaning/civil-liberties viewpoint, mutes his criticism.

This brings up another apparent part of MSNBC’s approach: self-censorship. MSNBC hosts avoid certain topics like the plague. One very noticeable example is the Israeli brutalization of the Palestinians, and more especially the stranglehold of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on American politicians and policies regarding the Middle East. MSNBC hosts never examine this stranglehold, and rarely mention it even when AIPAC (which represents the Israeli extreme right) and its numerous minions in Congress are trying to stampede the U.S. into war on Israel’s behalf.

Other matters that MSNBC hosts do their best to avoid include the Obama Administration’s assault on whistleblowers and civil liberties, and its massive, illegal surveillance program. Some MSNBC hosts even take the part of the Administration. Ed Schultz, for example, called whistleblower Edward Snowden a “punk,” and Lawrence O’Donnell a few nights ago smirked about Snowden’s being unable to criticize Putin’s policies in Russia because the U.S. government has trapped him there.

MSNBC is also careful to avoid critical examination of the role of the media in politics. This is especially so in its failure to analyze or to report on the role of the media in the run-up to the Iraq War. Last year’s documentary by Rachel Maddow, “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War,” is the prime example. Remarkably, in this documentary, Maddow only analyzes the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, et al., not those of the media. This is remarkable, because without the active complicity of the media (including MSNBC), Bush and company would never have gotten away with that massive con job.

Maddow apparently made a deal with the devil. She apparently thought that telling half the truth to a relatively large audience was better than telling the whole truth to a smaller one (that is, not on MSNBC).

Her documentary exemplifies the primary difference between Fox and MSNBC: Fox actively manufactures “news” to fit its political agenda, while MSNBC avoids news that threatens its political agenda.

Beyond that, Fox appeals to the absolute worst in its viewers: cruelty, a preening “patriotism,” feelings of victimhood, and fear and hatred of scapegoats–poor, black, brown, gay, feminist, and nonchristian human beings. By and large it succeeds in this.

MSNBC appeals primarily but not exclusively–there’s a heavy dose of hero-worship/bootlicking in the mix–to the best in its viewers:  hope and compassion. And then it strives to turn those admirable qualities into support for politicians who cynically and systematically betray its viewers’ hopes.

Which is worse, the cynicism and viciousness embodied by Fox, or the cynicism and betrayal of hope embodied by MSNBC? You decide. I can’t.

 


by Chaz Bufe

(Continued from Part I posted Sunday August 11. In Part II we deal with Obama’s apologists and his contempt for the people who elected him. In Part III, appearing Tuesday August 13, we’ll deal with exactly how Obama is betraying those people. )

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re referring in Part I to George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the electorate, Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Obama’s apologists.

Let’s first deal with the apologists, the Ed Schultzes, Stephanie Millers, Martin Bashirs, Al Sharptons, and other pundits feeding at the corporate media trough. They have an exceptionally easy task, given the racist nature of much of the Republican opposition to Obama. And let’s be clear about this: a great deal of it is racist. This is very obvious. (Just tune in to any of the Obama supporters on MSNBC, and you’ll become well informed on the matter in remarkably short order.)

Today, the hyena hasn’t changed its stripes; but rather than howling “nigger!” it now hides behind code words: “food stamp president” (Gingrich), “Halfrican” (Limbaugh), and the like. The most obvious racists are the birthers. One can almost hear them breathing hard,  spluttering: “He’s a n– n– n– n– Muslim!” “He’s a n– n– n– n– Kenyan!”

This nauseating racism predisposes any decent person to defend Obama, to cut him a remarkable amount of slack. And he’s taken full advantage of that. He’s repeatedly stabbed the people who elected him in the back through his actions, while he’s continued to tell them what they want to hear. And, remarkably, some continue to believe him.

A recent instance of Obama’s manipulation of his base comes in the wake of the atrocious Zimmerman murder trial verdict and the sickening, racist character assassination of the victim–one example being privileged, puffed-up Ted Nugent’s evidence-free sliming of Trayvon Martin as a “gangsta wannabe.”

Obama responded in characteristic fashion. He gave a great speech on race, on what it’s like being a black man in America, while at the same time sources within his administration floated New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, whom Obama called “well qualified,” as the possible new Homeland Security chief. It would be hard to think of a more mixed message, given that Kelly presides over the largest systematic racial profiling program in the country. Short of actually nominating Kelly, it would be hard for Obama to come up with a more blatant way of saying to his supporters, “Fuck you, punks. What are you gonna do about it? Huh? Huh?! Abandon me? I don’t think so!”

(This series will conclude tomorrow.)