Ebola and the Construction of Fear
by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:
Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002, first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as “The McLaughlin Group on acid.” Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube. [more inside]
Australia's 2014-2015 budget
was just released. Amongst the casualties: television
, young people
(and the organisations that help them
) and old people
, tech startups
, postgraduate students
, people with disabilities
and anyone seeking medical care
, foreign aid
, Indigenous people
, the arts
, renewable energy
, and the environment
. However, if you are in defence
, or Indonesian immigration
, you should be fine.
A few years back, Fox News head Roger Ailes
moved to Garrison, NY, built a house, bought the local newspaper, and got involved in local politics. New York Magazine has the story of Ailes' efforts to remake the small town in his own image
, and the rage, paranoia, and narcissism those who've interacted with him have come to expect.
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki
has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy
on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki has died.
The first prime minister
after the fall of communist regime in Poland was later an UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Bosnia and resigned this post in protest over the failure of international community to prevent the Srebrenica massacre
. [more inside]
On the 15 May, Max Fisher of the Washington Post penned an article titled A fascinating map of the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries
. Fisher surmised that Anglo and Latin American countries are the most tolerant, linking racism to economic freedom based off of a study by two Swedish economists. Siddhartha Mitter responds, who, in The Cartography of Bullshit
writes, "Although the results don’t pass the sniff test in the first place, I took a look at the data as well, in an effort to identify the exact problems at play..."
Despite widespread popular support, on April 17th, 2013, the US Senate voted
to defeat four legislative amendments
that would strengthen background checks for gun purchases and place a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Victims and survivors of victims of recent shootings
who were in the Senate audience were heard to yell "Shame on you" at legislators as the final votes were tallied.
Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon
is speaking out against the network
after it decided for "editorial reasons" not to air its documentary iRevolution
on CNN International. Lyon worked on a 13-minute segment
interviewing democratic activists in Bahrain, who risked their own safety to be heard. Glenn Greenwald reveals that at the same time, CNN was being paid by the Bahrain Economic Development Board to produce pro-state coverage
as part of its "Eye On" series
. A senior producer complained to Lyon about the nature of her coverage: "We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain govt on how we violated our mission, etc."
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law.
The product of a strict party line vote following a
of debate, disinformation
, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act
would (among other popular reforms
) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool
for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives
(including presidential contender Mitt Romney
) is the central question facing the justices today
. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step
of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured
, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state
But despite the pessimism of bettors
, some believe
the Court will demur, wary of damaging
its already-fragile reputation
with another partisan 5-4 decision
. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know
. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog
for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
Due to budget cuts
, CBC's Radio Canada International
has ceased broadcasting on shortwave; it is now Internet-only and therefore blocked by authoritarian regimes around the world. Mark Montgomery is somewhat emotional
about being the last voice on the air
Following an amendment
in the recent Conservative Party budget, VAT on 'Baked Goods
' will be re-instated. In response, the question of whether or not David Cameron
once ate a Greggs
pasty infects the British press. The Telegraph have a live blog
covering what has been termed by some Pasty Gate
While Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of major American politicians, its counterpart in Canada has been mainly a municipal headache. Despite inequality north of the border
rising at a comparable rate
, and similar political sentiments, most Canadians also believe the movement is ineffective
, though their hearts are in the right place
. As the movement slows
as winter weather sets in, cities are taking various measures to discourage the protests
, hoping a combination of inconvenience and weather will disperse the encampments. [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time
: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing
— foreign affairs
, social trends
, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.)
By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues,
) America’s entry to WWII
. Video samples are available at Time.com,
the March of Time Facebook page
and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required)
at HBO Archives. [more inside]
Gawker's John Cook yesterday published an exclusive report
on a trove of documents from the Nixon Presidential Library
tracing the development of Fox News to a 1970 internal memo annotated by then-consultant Roger Ailes
. Part of a 318-page cache of similar documents
, the memo -- "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News"
-- called for the creation of a strongly pro-Nixon news outlet operated from the White House which would disseminate partisan news packages free of charge to local affiliates across the country. By coordinating release of these targeted reports with allied politicians and duping opponents into hostile interviews, Ailes hoped to bypass the "prejudices of network news" -- a desire which led him to advocate for some unexpected political policies at the time, from campaign finance reform to anti-poverty efforts. The report comes as Fox is waging an aggressive two-front PR war with perceived ideological enemies -- calling on viewers to file IRS complaints against Media Matters' tax-exempt status
for their dogged fact-checking
of the network, while on-air hosts launched a campaign to label Jon Stewart "racist"
after he called out their record of falsehoods
following a critical interview with Chris Wallace
"When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough."
With a sharply-worded rebuke of the congressional GOP, Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond has announced he is withdrawing
as a candidate for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors due to GOP obstructionism. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a leading critic of Diamond's appointment, welcomes the announcement
and raises a predictable call for a candidate "capable of garnering bipartisan support in the Senate."
10 O'Clock Live
is a show currently airing on Channel 4 in the UK. It could be considered a British take on the Daily Show, but longer, weekly, with more discussion, and performed live. MeFi favorite Charlie Brooker
is one of their presenters, along with David Mitchel, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr. While focused on British issues, the show sometimes covers international topics, and is wildly funny. Here are some highlights:
Charlie Brooker: On Gaddafi - On Berlusconi - On the 'Big Society' - On Sarah Palin -
On the iPad 2 - On the English Defense League & the Daily Star - On Ed Miliband (Leader of the Labour Party, beating out his brother David) - On Prince Andrew
David Mitchell: On political hyperbole - On language in the media - On encouraging rich people to immigrate - On what to do with the Olympic Stadium
Jimmy Carr: As Berlusconi - On Product Placement
Lauren Laverne: Guide for new democracies - Inside the brain of Ed Miliband - British PR companies helping tyrants
Everyone on David Cameron on The One Show (this one's awesome) [more inside]
Miami Police Set to Become First State in the US to Use Drones.
As also discussed here on TPM, the new drones offer "unique hover and stare capability... advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) with real time video documentation." If things proceed to plan, this will represent the first use of such devices both in the US and outside of combat environments. The resemblance between these Honeywell-manufactured devices
and the ubiquitous, menacing City Scanners
that populate the dystopian landscape of the popular video game series Half-Life is striking.
Misinformation and the 2010 Election - A Study of the US Electorate. The key findings of the study are:
1. Perceptions of Misleading and False Information An overwhelming majority of voters said that they encountered misleading or false information in the last election, with a majority saying that this occurred frequently and occurred more frequently than usual.
2. Evidence of Misinformation Among Voters The poll found strong evidence that voters were substantially misinformed on many of the issues prominent in the election campaign, including the stimulus legislation, the healthcare reform law, TARP, the state of the economy, climate change, campaign contributions by the US Chamber of Commerce and President Obama’s birthplace. In particular, voters had perceptions about the expert opinion of economists and other scientists that were quite different from actual expert opinion.
The Honourable Gordon Campbell
as Premier of British Columbia. Citing his spectacular unpopularity
, his resignation comes after almost a decade in power. His tenure has been dogged
and most recently, a barrage of protest
over the newly implemented HST
. His most lasting legacy may prove to be the implementation of North America's first carbon tax.
Richard M. Daley
announces he will not run for re-election
as mayor of Chicago in 2011. In the past half-century, Chicago has had only 13 years when a Daley was not mayor
. Is this fallout from RMD's botched
, and, many say, ill advised
, Olympic bid? Or just the fact that the city is more strapped for cash than ever
? Should be interesting.
Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now. And what we should do about it. (one-page link
With newly released video, Rachel Maddow
shows that the Fox News/Breitbart/James O'Keefe takedown of ACORN in California was fraudulent. For example, coverage depicted ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera as eager to participate in a pedophile prostitution ring suggested by O'Keefe's character. In fact Vera had reported O'Keefe to police. Nevertheless, Vera was fired, and months later ACORN was dissolved. (Previously: 1
coming through that a South Korean Navy Ship with 104 crew is currently sinking off Baengnyeong island
in the Yellow Sea near the North Korean Border. No reports of casualties and causation yet to be determined. No word from the North Korean Korean Central News Agency
Florida's Republican US Senate hopeful and self-identified "Conservative Outsider" Mark Rubio delivered a populist speech
in defense of American exceptionalism and full of hope and change at today's CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference)
event, while also taking the occasion to share a good chuckle over the subject of waterboarding terrorists
with fellow conference attendees. Political rival, current Florida Governor Charlie Crist, offers a response in the form of a slightly different speech Rubio might have given
. [more inside]
The Lobbying-Media Complex.
The Nation explores the pervasive influence of paid lobbyists on the media landscape. [more inside]
"..when a victorious chief minister openly admits
that he himself approached the leading newspaper of his state with money for “positive stories” after learning that the newspaper had signed a “package deal” with his rivals to print negative stories
, you had better sit up and take urgent notice
is a programme from the BBC World Service. Each episode is a 30 minute in-depth question and answer session between the journalist – usually Carrie Gracie or Owen Bennett-Jones – and the subject. Over the past few years it has covered everything from literature – for example, Martin Amis
and Seamus Heaney
– to the nexus between neurology and music
, with Oliver Sacks, and what it's like to be a sprinter with no feet
. [more inside]
"The symbiotic relationship between the press and the power elite worked for nearly a century. It worked as long as our power elite, no matter how ruthless or insensitive, was competent. But once our power elite became incompetent and morally bankrupt, the press, along with the power elite, lost its final vestige of credibility." "The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News" by Chris Hedges
Fox News is the most trusted news network in the United States
, according to a new poll [.pdf]
of 1,151 Americans conducted by Public Policy Polling
(a polling firm with a mostly Democratic and progressive list of clients
), the most trusted news network among Americans is FOX News, which was trusted by 49% of respondents (beating out CNN, MS-NBC, CBS, NBC, and ABC (though PBS was not included in the survey)).
The pollsters conclude:
“A generation ago you would have expected Americans to place their trust in the most
neutral and unbiased conveyors of news,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy
Polling. “But the media landscape has really changed and now they’re turning more
toward the outlets that tell them what they want to hear.”
Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave a talk
at the Newspaper Association of America convention on April 9, 2009 in San Diego. He speaks about how Google and newspapers might co-exist in the future. [more inside]
TARP investments yield 15% returns.
Almost trom the start, critics characterized the TARP program that first began under the Bush administration and that continued through early this year under President Obama as a taxpayer funded giveaway
, while government officials insisted it was a long-term investment program whose initial costs would eventually turn a profit as economic recovery began. Now the NY Times reports that the program has already yielded $4 billion in profits, and a separate report reveals that related Federal Reserve loan programs aimed at economic stabilization have returned $14 billion in profits
US News reports that in a new tell-all book, Tom Ridge admits manipulating terror threat levels for political motives.
In the forthcoming book, Ridge reportedly acknowledges for the first time that he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he "saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." But as The Atlantic
points out, Ridge apparently gave in to the White House demands anyway, resigning only after the election. Huffington Post
also provides additional discussion on this developing story.
Fantasy Meets Reality.
The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?
) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica
-- a show which regularly explores those themes
. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here
. (RealPlayer video)
. Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up
. [more inside]
Oh those vaunted "first 100 days
," they are finally upon us. Roosevelt's legendary time period has long been applied to new administrations, but never so emphatically or with such hope as to the Obama administration. And now you can follow them! For commentary, there's The First 100 Days
, for mainstream media there's Obama's First 100 Days
, for a comparison between old and new there 100 Days: Starting the Job, From FDR to Obam
a, for new media there's Obama's First 100 Days
, and finally, for a government perspective there's First 100 Days
I smell an idea for an ironic t-shirt...
…if you are the single newspaper in San Francisco or Kansas City or St. Louis, you are just highly constrained about how rigorous you can be in the accuracy of your reporting. Because the whole model is: You are appealing to everybody. Because the whole model is: You are appealing to everybody. … That's why the existence of an independent media sector is so important.
Talking Points Memo
is one of the more notable successes in independent journalism and using blogs as a format for journalism. It has broken at least a couple of stories that got picked up by the mainstream press: The Duke Cunningham
bribery scandal, and the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal
. It's grown from being a one-man shop in 2000
to a staff of ten today.
Josh Marshall talks about how it came to be
Mock the Vote
: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert interviewed.
The Tories first by-election win
in over twenty-five years... the end
of New Labour
Thirty-six years after
the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
recommended that "simple possession" of pot be decriminalised, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill
, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), to remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three-and-a-half ounces) of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce (28.3 grams). Drug reform advocates
lit up hailed
the legislation as "an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion." Is America, at long last, having a collective moment of sanity?
- Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator
George Piro pretty fascinating.
"You Don't Understand Our Audience"
--what John Hockenberry (formerly of NBC, now at MIT Media Lab
) learned about network news--good guys and bad guys, the "emotional center", synergy, facts, and why fewer and fewer watch nowadays.