Farewell, Shepard Smith

This was the shocking farewell sign-off by Shepard Smith last Friday at the end of his “Shepard Smith Reporting” program. As a news host at the Right-wing Trump-lackey FOX News network, he dared to go against the grain. Though a sensationalist in journalistic style, he did speak truth to power, or as close to it as it gets in the mainstream media. He was the only one at FOX who ever put Donald Trump’s lies on trial. For example, as taken from the NYT story covering Smith’s departure:


A member of the network’s founding staff in 1996, Mr. Smith became increasingly conspicuous at Fox News for his skepticism on President Trump. “Why is it lie after lie after lie?” Mr. Smith asked during a 2017 newscast; this summer, he deemed the president’s attacks on minority female lawmakers as “misleading and xenophobic.”


In a separate article in the Times, they covered in-fighting between personalities at the self-proclaimed”fair and balanced”news outlet. Smith had even been clashing with FOX talking head Tucker Carlson on air (And now this only leaves poor Juan Williams, best known for his presence on “The Five”, straying from the lock-step behind Trump and his revolting march towards infamy).

Do not get me wrong, there are absolutely no real mainstream Left-wing news outlets here in the U.S. But in the battle that joins liberals and far-leftists together against FOX News, we lost an ally.

Don’t Be Distracted by This Bourgeois Drama!

If you have been paying attention to the mainstream media over the last week or two you know that the usual outlets are running around with their hair on fire over Pres. Trump getting dirt on Joe Biden from the Ukrainian government. Now with all the evidence I have seen and read, it’s almost undeniable that Trump is guilty of what he is accused of.

That said, the GOP is now busy attacking the non-Rupert Murdoch owned media outlets of being part of a larger deep state conspiracy against Trump and the Right-wing, in general. And, of course, the progressives refute this argument saying FOX News and their print and online cronies are serving as “state media” in the service of the present administration.

Now this is a great soap opera for all of us to watch (I am guilty, too). But it’s sucking up all the oxygen in the mass media coverage of the world. What needs to be covered by the mainstream press is even being pushed further to the margins. This infighting between bourgeois puppets should not be covered. The real story is socio-economic status conflicts all but ignored by the bourgeois media.

I know that before this latest row the mainstream press has never given the proper coverage to the issues that really matter. I’m talking about issues from the astronomical prices of prescription drugs here in the U.S. to the effects of neoliberal policies on the Third World.

The essence of my argument is that the mainstream/bourgeois media currently have a godsend in the form of a juicy drama between bourgeois actors in a bourgeois arena. But it would be completely outside of that arena for CNN or MSNBC to cover issues in the interest of the people.

All this media coverage is drama, not important news to us. Don’t let it fool you. Keep your eye on the prize: media serving the interests of the working class. The rest is just games.

Smashing Capitalism, Not Fancy Measures

In the “Broken Capitalism” series being published over at The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/01/broken-capitalism-economy-americans-fix?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other, Heather Boushey argues that the way academics measure economic growth is outdated and doesn’t show the full picture of the wealth gap between the 1% and the rest of us. Here’s her argument:

GDP used to be a good indicator of national income. If GDP rose 2%, most gained 2% across the board. But due to the current economic separation between the 1% and the 99%, simple GDP is no longer a valid measuring tool. Boushey gives us this example:

Take 2014. While aggregate national income grew by 2.3%, after taxes and government transfer programs such as supplemental nutrition assistance, incomes for those in the bottom 90% grew by less than the average – 1.5% – while those in the top 1% saw their income grow by twice the average – about 5%.

She then argues for a new disaggregate measure made up of national income and product accounts with data from surveys and administrative sources to clear the picture. This would not only produce more representative ratios between the rich and poor, but also between race, gender, and age

That’s a great idea, but it does not get to the question of what is to be done.

Boushey offers that better published numbers will make the masses more aware of the economic canyon between those of the top SES and the rest of us:

Better, fairer growth measures are a vital step towards better, fairer growth. A clearer picture of the disconnect between overall growth and worker welfare will force a deeper examination of what’s gone wrong with the capitalist engine

Boushey goes on to argue that these new measures will give more power to the people enabling unions to rise. But that is not what I take issue with here.

I am arguing that better tools for showing the income gap between rich and poor will not fuel the smashing of capitalism. The proletariat is not concerned with new academic information to show how poor they are. What they are concerned with is putting food on the table. This is why “Peace, Land, Bread” was so effective in 1917. Lenin and the Bolsheviks didn’t lay out Marx’s material dialectic to the masses as a way to spark them to action. Not in the slightest. They got down to the brass tacks of what ailed the Russian workers and peasants at the time: the end of participation in WWI, land redistribution, and food for their families.

I am not arguing against Boushey’s proposal of how to better measure the income gap among in American society. Her methods show who is making all the money (the 1%) while the vast majority (the 99%) receive so little. Great! I love it! But don’t fool your bourgeois self into thinking that fancy numbers will serve as a catalyst for real social change, Ms. Boushey. The masses could never understand this measurement with more than a 100 years of educational development and the destruction of media power.

A “clearer picture” of the math of inequality is definitely valuable among the academy. But to the masses, it means very little. They do not understand nor are concerned with such matters. They know they are working harder to make less as they fall further and further behind. This how you fix broken capitalism. Peace, land, bread, not disaggregate GDP measures.

“False Consciousness” Through Tucker Carlson

If you are not familiar with the Marxist concept of “false consciousness” and you hate FOX News, this is the post for you.

Below is a video from Vox.com that exposes that ridiculous man Tucker Carlson who hosts a nightly prime time “news” show over at FOX News for what he is: master of redirection. Now the art of redirection I am speaking of is called “false consciousness” if you haven’t heard it already from a Marxist or a sociology teacher…wait!

Before I get to far, let this entertaining and informative short vid from Vox explain it in a much more fun way [we need more laughter over here at STL]…

Expanding the Mainstream Media Spectrum to the Far Left

I watch and read a lot of mainstream news right now because that is what the public consumes. Now there are great leftist media sources out there I like to watch/read, such as DemocracyNow!, Libcom.org, or even the centrist PBS Newshour. But most Americans do not watch or listen to those outlets. What they do read/watch is FOX News, CNN.com, and whatever else flows across their social media news feeds. And the one thing I observe in the mainstream media most glaringly in terms of a leftist movement is the argument made by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their classic analysis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.”

Herman and Chomsky argue in MC that there is only so wide of a spectrum of allowable opinions which can be covered and/or expressed by journalists and/or pundits. E.g., The “Medicare-for-All” movement which, I admit, has finally started to squeeze in to the margins of discourse, has been outside of the spectrum of possibilities for decades. The journalists and pundits always put forth the arguments that it would be too expensive, or that it would lead down the slippery slope towards Soviet-style communism. But according to a Nov. 7, 2018, AP poll, nearly 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage. So, the majority of people want, following that simple logic, a Medicare-For-All law, a public option, or a fully socialized healthcare system. And even though all other industrialized countries have healthcare provided to there citizens by the government, it has always been off the spectrum of acceptable media discourse here in the U.S. until the last few months, I estimate.

Therefore, leftists must widen that spectrum to the left the best ways we can. Rather it be on a blog, or podcast, or through social media, we must provide an alternative to the mainstream news because we mostly control these media. Even though we can complain about FB or Twitter suspending accounts in the name of “proper discourse,” it’s still the Wild West out there. If we spread the word, like what has happened with Bernie Sanders’ supporters who first argued for Medicare-for-All in 2016, we can expand the spectrum. But this will be tough, e.g, the public has supported stricter gun laws for decades, yet NRA lobbyists keep it taboo on the GOP congressional floor. But if we remain tenacious in our efforts, we can affectively expand the mainstream media’s spectrum of acceptable discourse.

The mainstream media is influenced by blog posts and Tweets, if even subconsciously through retweets and responses read by readers, but do not think it is going to happen overnight. Yet it shouldn’t be given up on by good radical leftists all over the world.

Reliable Sources On O’Reilly’s Lies

Bill-OReilly-finger-pointHave you been keeping up with the “puffing-up” of Bill O’Reilly’s past mainstream reporting finally receiving mainstream news coverage? You know, the stories that are just flat-out lies?

I know I’m late on this but there was a great report on CNN’s Reliable Sources last Sunday (03/08/2015) on these mistruths. It goes through a list of falsified remarks by O’Reilly and features analysis from former Fox News anchor Eric Burns who hosted “Fox News Watch” for about a decade.

Burns describes Fox viewers as “cult-ish” and tells RS that Fox News President Roger Ailes and O’Reilly are interested in ratings above all else. He gives many other Fox insider observations that are also very interesting.

Watch Here Please:

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/tv/2015/03/08/former-fox-insider-on-oreilly.cnn

 

//

Let’s Assume “Homosexual Impulses” Did Play a Role in UCSB Shooting…

In the aftermath of the recent mass shooting in Isla Vista, Dr. Robi Ludwig suggested the killer may have been set off by “trying to fight against his homosexual impulses” during an interview on Fox News.  She has somewhat backed off the assertion and probably wishes she had chosen her words a little more wisely.  But, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume she is 100% correct.

If he were attempting to fight these “impulses”, our first question should be: why?  Why can’t he just embrace the feelings and be happy with what his brain is telling him?  What is it about the culture of the alleged freest country in the world that causes him to suppress natural, harmless, and legally acceptable impulses?  (Quickly getting to the legal part nationwide anyway.)

If Dr. Ludwig wanted the answer to that, she should realize a big part of the problem is the network in which her image was appearing, Fox News.  It’s not hard to see the hatred and bigotry, much of which is very open and not the least bit veiled, on Fox News regularly, such as the pushing of state anti-gay bills or the absurdity that ensued over the Micheal Sam celebratory kiss or any other incident in a slew of despicable acts you can find over at http://equalitymatters.org/.

It is, whether people want to admit that or not.

The fact that fighting homosexual impulses could even be plausibly given as a possible contributing factor to such a vicious act should speak volumes about the amount of bigotry that exists in the United States and it should be addressed accordingly.  It is even reminiscent of racists in the distant past claiming things about African-Americans like, “the same weak impulse control that leads to such high crime rates among young black males inevitably means more disruptive behavior in school.”  And by distant past I, of course, mean two months ago.  But you get the idea.

The underlying reality here is people just want to feel like they are special and better than others and they will find whatever ways they can to first differentiate themselves from other groups and then explain why they are better.  Whether it is race, sexual orientation, religion, or even simple geography, people want to find differences and say they are the better breed of human no matter how similar to others they actually are.  And it’s this arrogant need to feel special that gives rise to this widespread hatred.  It’s difficult and sometimes even hard work making yourself feel special by uplifting others.  The easy and cowardly way to do it is by making others feel terrible.

If Dr. Ludwig was in any way correct, the list of questions we should be asking is not just why the killer let culturally suppressed homosexual impulses take control of his behavior and led him to commit this awful act.  The question should also be why so many others let their (sometimes culturally accepted) bigoted impulses take control of their behavior and end up hurting so many.

Is Rolling-News Outdated?

Sky-news-studio-007A great piece from The Guardians’ Media Blog giving several criticisms and argument points on how rolling-news channels (mainly what we see on cable news channels where it continues with an anchor 24 hours a day) are outdated in a digital world with Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, blogs. A must read.

Read Here.

//

FOX News Only: What Was Learned?

megyn_kelly2-620x412A great piece at Salon by admitted left-of-Obama liberal John Haggerty on what he learned from not consuming any news outlets other than FOX News for a month, at three hours a day.

Now, though he is a leftist, he comes up with some insightful observations that go beyond just the usual liberal laundry list against FOX.

Very interesting.

Read Here. 

//

//

Media in a Socialist Society

hannity_oreilly_kelly-620x412A fascinating piece found at Salon.com by Fred Jerome excerpted from the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.”

Featuring a good critique of the modern media landscape, he illuminates how the media serves to ‘fool and rule” the masses. He then follows by painting a picture of what the news could be at it’s full potential when existing in a socialist society.

Read Here.

//