I told the Newshour some time ago that I was no longer interested, but I still watch. What else is there to watch, "Battlestar Galactica?" David Brooks is always amusing and his plug ugly Irish friend is so familiar that how could one pass up the chance to watch the two of them "duke" it out? Shields’ point tonight about the utter insignificance and emptiness of the gesture of wearing a piece of tin in the shape of the US flag struck me as "the real stuff." People ask me at times why I don’t wear one. My answer? "I gave at the office." I don’t fly a modern American flag at home either. This is not a post office. I fly flags with inscriptions like; "An appeal to heaven," or "Don’t Tread On Me."
Tonight we had Robert Satloff, the intelligent and fervent Zionist director of AIPAC’s thinktank, "The Washington Institute For Near East Policy" (WINEP) debate Mark Perry, who is something or other with the "Crisis Fora." (forums?) They squared off over the issue of whether or not former president Jimmy Carter (never one of my favorites) should talk to the Hamasniks.
Satloff’s response was prophetically pre-ordained. I won’t go into it. Perry professed to believe that Hamas’s position is so nuanced that it should be explored. Maybe so.
My problem with discussions like this is that the participants are so compromised by sponsorship and ideology that their statements are meaningless.
In my opinion, Satloff is basically an Israeli with ties to the US. Perry is a man whose leanings toward the Palestinians are so pronounced and unequivocal that his objectivity is as much in question as that of Satloff. His sponsorship and that of his British colleague; Ramsbotham, Cruikshank or whatever is so deeply affected by partisan money that his words lack meaning.
Why doesn’t the Newhour actually try to find some neutrals, instead of just matching up the usual talking heads?
Not me. Go find someone new or watch the Newshour decline into insignificance when Jim leaves. A Georgetown socialite like Judy Woodruff as anchor is not going to "cut it." pl
I wonswews why you hadn’t been on in some time. I agree. The”on the one hand, on the other hand” stuff doesn’t particularly advance one understanding, which i take it to be the function of a news program. I regret you won’t be on and I admire your stand.
Couldn’t agree with you more on this, and I don’t blame you for not showing up there anymore though they really could use your knowledge.
They’ve been going down this road for quite a while. Time was when they used to have people like Juan Cole on regularly, but even he got dumped very early in the Iraq war, if I remember correctly. Academics and other professional neutrals used to be the staple of the show.
I think the big change came when the right-wing congress put so much pressure on their funding about a dozen or so years ago. Now they need to dance to their sponsors’ tunes. The wingers over-reached with their tool at, I think, CPB, but the impulse and necessity are still there.
For viewers the result is exactly what you describe– you can watch with the sound off and not miss a thing, once you know where the talkers are affiliated.
Kind of sad, really, for all of us who aren’t tied in with the sponsors.
I think the journalistic integrity of National Public Televison and Radio have been compromised over the years by constant attacks by the far right.
To my mind The News Hour is the last bastion of Journalism on TV. I can’t watch the network or cable news shows anymore.They are entertainment, not Journalism.
It seems like we are sinking like a stone. I never thought I would look back on Nightline with Ted Copple as part of “the good old days” .
A democracy of uninformed idiots?
It’s hard to feel optimistic.
Yes, just look what happened to ABC’s “Nightline” when Ted Koppel left–it became Entertainment Weekly. I think the reason they put on rabidly partisan opposites, as opposed to a panel of experts with nuanced differences, is to move more towards “Dr. McGlaughlin’s Gong Show,” as one pundit called The McGlaughlin Group–where you have to fight to be heard.
There was a funny story that Robert MacNeil told about the PBS Newshour when it was only a half hour and did one story. It was about the Portuguese Election. MacNeil said, “In the first fifteen minutes we told you more than any American wanted to know about the Portuguese Election, then in the last fifteen we told you more than any PORTUGUESE wanted to know about it.” Well, they’ve certainly moved away from that, haven’t they?
Theoretically we oughta be able to ignore who’s talking and concentrate instead on the merits of the talk. After all, so what if a person has an agenda that they’re wed to advance regardless of the merits? Basing an opinion on who is giving it rather than the merits is just the old “argument from authority” all over again. And look at all the “authorities” who thought this Iraq thing was gonna be just dandy.
What’s depressing though is how sophisticated so many of these folks come across now. They’re all so savvy-smooth in presenting what they say as if they’d really change their tune if the facts were different.
And that’s the problem it seems to me. People who reasonably *do* change their mind as the facts dictate, or acknowledge that an issue is difficult and that they may therefore be wrong or etc. aren’t reliable, and therefore tend not to get hired anymore by the think tanks, or even, sadly, by ideologized university departments. And then even the fair-minded media tend to shy away from calling such folks because they too need a person they can rely on to present this or that side of an issue.
Seems to me maybe the single biggest challenge facing democracy in this sophisticated modern environment might just be distinguishing polemicism from analysis.
Of course it seems horrible on both sides of every issue now, but I can’t help but think that the worst recent example is the relative lack of hesitance in going along with a “war on terror.” That is, incomprehensibly, a war on a mere *tactic.*
Sure can seem that the path ahead might be a long and problematic one.
I no longer watch Newshour nor listen to NPR. I’d rather watch Jimmy Kimmel and read internet news.
How many of those lapel flags are made in the US?
As well as suffering from the usual problems such as entropy that afflict a mature organization, I think the previously mentioned threatened loss of funding due to concerns about liberal bias, has had an enormous negative impact on the program. The Newshour no longer seems able to present news without ensuring that it is presented in a politically correct, i.e., fair and balanced way. Tonight’s discussion about Carter and Hamas is a good example.
I also think that The Newshour is experiencing a lack of leadership. Jim Lehrer has been a steady and positive force since MacNeil left in 1995 but recently his on-air presence has not been the constant it had been. The uncertainty as to who will be tonight’s host comes across to me as a lack of interest in maintaining The Newshour brand.
Similarly, featured players, such as Shields and Brooks could well be replaced. Their ideas are no longer fresh or stimulating although their role as analysts is an invaluable one.
I think the only correspondent who could replace Lehrer would be Ray Suarez who has the presence and intellectual chops the job requires.
Gwen Ifill would do well but she has her own show and might not want to take on the responsibility for maintaining and rejuvenating this 33 year old TV icon.
That said, I still think that The Newshour continues to do well in other, perhaps less politically controversial areas. For example, the piece they did tonight on the impact of David Shribman on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was both interesting and timely. And the work they have done on health and education has also been excellent.
I’d hate to see us lose The Newshour. A makeover, however, that avoids the mistakes of “cable news” is certainly warranted.
The News Hour is now part of MSM! The basic problem is that federal money brings federal controls. They may be hidden, or indirect, but they are there. Once Congress gave up protecting CPB independence the result was preordained. Now the more fundamental question arises, if TV is a federally regulated industry both both as to its finances and content, as other MSM is to a large degree, then how do the people in a democracy predicated on the need to know of the people in order to remain a democracy get its information? Added to compartmentalization and diversification of interests very few are able to synthesize the dynamics of the MSM and their coverage and presentations. Interesting to speculate on what 24/7 MSM coverage, and MSM concentration have really led us to or where it is leading us! A famous Sci-Fi story is about a future where because of the dynamics of information overload, the totalitarian government issues one new word each day and that is the “NEWS.” Here’s to the future.
It’s going the way spats went. It is a corpse for the very reasons you point out. It provides aid and comfort to a particular part of a governing class. It reaffirms the echoes in their heads. It is a mirror, really, for acceptable debate in America these days.
Col., I hope you might reconsider your decision not to appear on that show. Certainly you have your reasons and are entitled to do as you wish. But how is the public to learn and come to informed conclusions if they are never exposed to facts and reasoned analysis?
I recall my mild surprise in the run up to the first Iraq war, when my middle east studies professor appeared for a 30 second spot on one station. He provided concise, reasoned, accurate facts and analysis, with historical perspective. A tour de force, without slant or posturing. I never saw him again. It was clear that the network had been hoping for a cheerleader.
I have great faith that I and your esteemed readers above are not the only market remaining for accurate and incisive news and analysis. Yet we are reduced to finding unvarnished news in the cracks, in their absence, in what has been overlooked and considered too unimportant to suppress or twist, and on page C87 – behind the stock tables, classifieds or box scores.
Last night Bill Moyers interviewed McClatchy’s baghdad bureau head. Her few minutes on screen easily provided more information and clarity on the situation than a full year of any network’s coverage. For that alone I’d give her a Pulitzer, a raise, and an extra bodyguard. I wish we could demand and expect such quality on every news outlet and every subject.
At a certain level, what you are noting is the increasing tendency of American journalism to report “dog bites man” rather than “man bites dog” type stories.
Dog bites are settled, routine, and classifiable. Man bites are rare, startling, and eclectic. So discussions of dog bites a predictable. Boring.
The entire Israeli-Palestinian issue is such an old saw that it is largely a dog bite story. As you have noted, we can have the pro-Israeli guy and the pro-Palestinian guy – and the rest of us can fill in the blanks… There are novelties in this story. For example, the recent Israeli Lebanon assault has given all of us much new stuff to chew on.
But whether we should “legitimize” Hamas by talking to them? Bring out the No-Doze.
( There is obviously an important place in the general American polity for serious, critical policy analysis of the MidEast – or of dog bites, for that matter. The settled, well- known aspects of this are just not the stuff of journalism. )
What a news organization might do to overcome this battle of competing cliches, would be to have a paradigm shattering series. “Here is the guy with the new, startling, upsetting, even weird approach to the MidEast.”
For what it may be worth, I recently have become interested in the role that slums are playing in the MidEast – the idea being that, worldwide, slums are a problem and that various MidEast problems are part of this larger slum problem.
See, e.g. Forbes:
This is just a new perspective. Hopefully there are many more. E.g. why are there no Romeo and Juliet stories about the Palestinian boy and the Israeli girl? I once was told that – for all the Israeli and Palestinian strife, the Israeli and Palestinian mafias actually get along quite well.
With respect to MidEast policy, “let a thousand flowers bloom.” We will prune them later.
Mainstream Israelis have various views, often views that AIPAC would attack as anti-Semitic. I wouldn’t characterize the AIPAC spinner an Israeli, rather a representative from the Likud party.
You’re better off with Battlestar Galactica. They’ve got better looking actors.
I too, no longer find The Newshour worth my while.
As for the broadcast networks, a pox on their houses. Katie “But I’m a cheerleader!” Couric has all the gravitas of…well, of a cheerleader!
The same goes for almost all of the cable news networks.
I started watching the BBC America news hour exclusively a few months ago as our political silly season went into overdrive.
Each of the American corporate cable networks claiming they were the “best political blah-blah-blah”. Pfui!
Non-stop political gotcha gossip repeated endlessly 24×7 because that’s cheaper than having real journalists doing real journalism. Double pfui!
While BBC America too has its “entertainment as news” faults, at least they do it in the typical British understated manner.
The best reasons I watch the BBC America news hour are the facts that they present a more “worldly” viewpoint and far less American-centrism.
Heaven forbid we Americans find out that the universe does not revolve around us.
Lastly, my candidate for a replacement anchor on The Newshour?
Aaron Brown, formerly the best thing CNN had going for it, and unceremoniously dumped for more CNN “trash is news too!”
Yes, Aaron Brown might have worn his liberal flag too high for some, but he was (and is) engaging, thoughtful, articulate, heck, even principled.
None of those characteristics have any value to the American corporate media moguls and their pet
If you can’t dance or sing, you ain’t gonna be an anchor on American TV news. Pfui!
Lets face it. It is the only real news program available, even if flawed. I thought the piece on Carter/Hamas was informative but incomplete. No one mentioned that Carter was not acting alone but probably on behalf on someone or some group in the US.
Most of the MSM has now evolved into a House Organ for reporting on the ‘circuses’ (the ‘bread’ being the Bush tax cuts, I suppose). Presenting a spectacle has become the agenda, as has promoting the Cult of Personality (Have you seen the Hardball ads lately? Do you think Lehrer, Cronkhite or Murrow would have agreed to be pimped like some kind of movie star?)
Reportage and analysis of substantive issues has been replaced by ‘he said/she said’ soapbox editorializing, which panders to both sides by presenting each side as equally worthy (a tactic always appreciated by ‘the wrong side,’ as it legitimizes the talking points of their side). Obfuscation of this sort is simply meant to kick the can down the road, which again, is to one side’s advantage.
So, today, you have a MSM that focuses on such important issues as flag pins and bowling, which they apparently can’t get enough of, while the real stories, such as the battle in Sadr City that SP mentioned in the last post, disappear down the hole, because, imo, they are so compellingly one-sided that there is no way for the Right to spin them–so they keep waving shiny objects in front of the Press, to lead them to new, ever more irrelevant circuses.
Sadly, the News Hour has been co-opted by the Right, and it bears little resemblance to what it was back when it was a real news show:
Critics have accused The Newshour, along with mainstream American media, of being “stenographers to power” with a pro-establishment bias. In October 2006, a study by the left-oriented media analysis group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) accused The NewsHour of lacking balance, diversity, and viewpoints of the general public, in favor of Republican and corporate viewpoints. FAIR studied NewsHour’s guest list for the 6 months October 2005 to March 2006. Republicans outnumbered Democrats 2:1 (66% to 33%). People of color made up only 15% of US sources. Alberto Gonzales accounted for 30% of Latino sources, while Condoleezza Rice accounted for 13% of African-American sources. Hurricane Katrina victims were 46% of all African-American sources. On Iraq, “stay the course” sources outnumbered pro-withdrawal sources 5:1 (this ratio continued even after polls favored a withdrawal from Iraq). Not a single peace activist appeared. Public interest groups were 4% of sources. Current and former government and military officials were 50% of sources.
PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with FAIR’s report. These are “perilous times,” wrote Getler in his Ombudsman column. “As a viewer and journalist, I find the program occasionally frustrating; sometimes too polite, too balanced when issues are not really balanced, and too many political and emotion-laden statements pass without factual challenges from the interviewer.”
Poor Jim Lehrer–how hard it must be to see these corrupt hacks in action, and in having take the public sliming from party hacks like Kenneth Tomlinson.
For those who may have lost track of Tomlinson amongst all of the Bush cronies who have left office in disgrace, he left the PBS board after a number of illegal activities were alleged:
Tomlinson was appointed as chairman of the CPB board by President George W. Bush, for a two-year term, in September 2003. He embarked upon a mission to purge CPB of what he perceived as “liberal bias.” His efforts sparked complaints of political pressure. His close friendship with Karl Rove, is one of many concerns the public has had about his own bias and his intent with respect to CPB, and accusations that he was attempting to turn the balanced content to a right wing agenda similar to FOX television.
Tomlinson commissioned a $10,000 study into Bill Moyers’ PBS program, “Now with Bill Moyers” without informing the board of the investigation. He also retained two Republican lobbyists to try to defeat a Congressional proposal that would have increased the representation of broadcasters on the board, again without informing the board of the contracts.
The inspector general’s report issued 15 November 2005 said that Mr. Tomlinson appears to have violated both the federal law and the corporation’s own rules in raising $5 million to underwrite The Journal Editorial Report, a PBS program by the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.
He remains under investigation, although this investigation has expanded, because former State Department IG Howie Krongard stonewalled the original investigation–like he did for many others, including Blackwater. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krongard
I guess that the only people who don’t believe there is a Right-wing Conspiracy in this country are the same people who refuse to believe we are in a Recession, or that there is a Civil War in Iraq, or that Global Warming exists. And if you watch the MSM these days, you may find yourself in that group whether you realize it or not!
Watching last night reminded me of the segment they had with Nir Rosen and Fred Kagan. I was dumbfounded by Kagan’s presence. Question: what languages does he speak? Does he speak Farsi, Urdu, Pashto? Anyone know?
The Newshour has generally declined, as has NPR, under the relentless attack from the right and the employees know it.
What to do?
The Colonel’s succinct explanation for why he sees no need to prove his patriotism by wearing and showing the Flag reminds me of a Texas Sheriff who was asked why he didn’t wear the customary “hogleg” pistol: “I’ve found that I can run faster without one.”
I guess he figured that the kind of people that such a useless show would impress weren’t worth impressing.
tv journalism is dead.
this web thing is pretty good for news and information, though it does still require ability to evaluate sources,a skill that most of america seems to have missed out on.
i way like your”not a post office” comment, it addresses the core issue. when we try to own the flag as individuals we detract from the”idea”.
no, i haven’t read obama’a full comment on “the flag as idea” but i was happy to see that someone else still had that, general, understanding.
Yes. Watch Battlestar Galactica it’s actually a very entertaining show. And unlike most of what I see on TV news, at least it’s not actively working against it’s viewers forming any kind of coherent understanding of the world around us. Plus on BSG you occasionally get angry, hateful Cylon on human sex.
This is a bit of a flippant answer I realize, but the serious answer is really depressing.
Basically the Bush administration has done the same thing to The Corporation for Public Broadcasting that they have with every other federal agency they’ve touched. Appointed loyalist conservatives to leadership positions with an eye to using it to further their political objectives.
My husband and I turned off our TV sets for good over 2 years ago. We really only watched the News Hour and didn’t like the way it was going. Col Lang we always loved it when the 3 Colonels were on.
Now we read Foreign Affairs, Atlantic Monthly, and of course your blog.
We have great conversations to, my husband served in the Israeli Army in 67 and 73 and I donate money to the Carter Center. I find we are much more interesting that TV.
Suggest you try the Spanish news stations. My son in law does, though he does not understand a word. As he says turn off the sound and just watch the beautiful women.
It seems to me the “news” media is in a state of flux and the end-state is not yet completely clear. I think the trend toward serving niche news markets will probably continue for the forseeable future with a few outlets possibly trying to serve all sides. Even The Newshour can’t completely ignore this trend and it appears that perhaps the choice of guests invited to discuss issues is a reflection of that.
It may also be a reflection of rampant claims of bias from all sides towards others that characterizes so much of our media criticism. Perhaps the Newshour is hoping to avoid bias accusations by hosting two extremes and calling that “balance” instead of inviting experts without hardened agendas to promote. The latter may risk too much agreement or analysis that falls too much on the “wrong” side of an issue which would surely invite accusations of bias in the current media environment. Unfortunately, even PBS and NPR are not immune from the hyper-partisan environment we live in today.
As an aside, it would be interesting to see the audience demographic for the Newshour and how it’s changed over the years. Anyone know if that kind of data is public? Personally I’m not able to watch anymore since it falls right in the middle of the kid’s bath and bedtime routine, but I do manage to catch it on occasion.
PBS still manages to crank out some good journalism, though. Most recently Leila Fadel got about 20 minutes
with Bill Moyers:
Frontline also produced something really needed in the healthcare debate, a look at how others are doing it on Frontline.
Frontline also produced
“Bad Voodoo”, which gives the cameras to the soldiers to tell it their way. Not bad.
“It’s not dead, it just smells funny.” -Frank Zappa
Since it appears that you have previously been asked to appear on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, I respectfully suggest that you send him a letter that is something along the following lines.
“Dear Mr. Lehrer [or Dear Jim, if you are on a first-name basis],
I have been thinking about recent events and the previous invitation to appear on your show.
During my service in the U.S. Army and for the Defense Department under [fill in the blank with a number] presidents, it was my duty not “to take sides”, but to communicate as objectively as possible.
What we face now as a democratic republic leads me to let you know that I am available to appear on the NewsHour in the following way. I would appear alone when being interviewed by you or a regular PBS employee; if you would be compelled to have another person appear on the same subject, the interview with me would be presented last; and there would be no editing of content.
In this format, I could be forthright and best stick to the subject at hand for the viewers.
I welcome your thoughts in this regard.
W. Patrick Lang”
I think to some extent the NewsHour has not put on “neutrals” because the neutral people are not pressing to get on the program, either directly or through representatives, as the usual suspects are. There is nothing non-neutral about making it known that you are available.
And it is certainly OK to insist on conditions such as those noted above, because somebody insisted on the conditions that currently govern guests.
The NewsHour is one place where your request might be honored.
pl: David Brooks is always amusing
Here’s an interesting pov in re to Mr Brooks:
David Brooks’ fictitious defense of his industry’s behavior [snip]
As always, David Brooks knows how “they” [i.e. Regular Americans] think and what’s important to “them” — so much so that no proof is ever needed for his claims.
As always, it’s not David Brooks and his childish colleagues in journalism who are interested in insipid, Drudge-like storylines.
No, not at all. They so wish they could be covering weightier matters.
But they can’t, because those stunted, unsophisticated Americans out there — the ones Brooks is able simultaneously to look down upon and understand and speak for — don’t want to hear about any weighty matters.
They are capable only of thinking about whether Obama can bowl and whether Edwards likes his hair too much (and, of course, it’s the very same media stars who spout this condescension about the Regular Folk who have decreed that Barack Obama — and Al Gore, John Kerry, Mike Dukakis, etc. etc. — are elitists because they look down on Regular Americans).
It is probably best that your obvious talents go unused by the MSM or even PBS/NPR. As many others have noted, today’s “news” is merely “infotainment” designed to make sure the common people do not pretty their beautiful minds with reality. Besides, how else would you have the time for this “Committee of Correspondence” that you sponsor? All of us would certainly be less informed for it.
That your principles mean much more to you than they do to your peers is beyond doubt. I’ll let the NYT (!) describe why. (I suppose it could have been the money… but I bet on vanity and self-love.)
… a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance…
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said….”psyops on steroids” — a nuanced exercise in influence through flattery and proximity. “It’s not like it’s, ‘We’ll pay you $500 to get our story out,’ ” he said. “It’s more subtle.”
The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.
“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”
The quite “cozy relationship” between retired military “analysts” hired by media networks and the “hands that fed them” in the DoD to catapult the Pentagon propaganda is disgraceful and unprofessional. I mean what the heck do we have dedicated Public Affairs communities in every service for? So much for not using a “strategic influence” campaign against the American people, eh? That’s right, I believe the former SECDEF gave the press that “carcass”, but just like the illegal reprogramming of funds to pre-start OIF, he went ahead with it anyways (with better OPSEC I suppose).
If it wasn’t for the fact that my outrage meter was broken years ago, I’d probably be screaming at the top of my lungs with anger! Outrages upon outrages these days… they are coming fast and furious now. Torture, purjury, disclosing covert spies, conflicts of interest, war profiteering, illegal imprisonment, American citizen “enemy combatants”, habeus corpus. Now, I can barely be surprised by this latest revelation… much less hang on for the change in government 9 months from now.
George Marchall must be spinning at very high speed in his grave to see what has become of his vaunted professional military.
Good article in Sunday’s NYTimes about the Pentagon’s massaging of the US media’s Iraq reporting.
Who can you trust???
You’re right on target with the News Hour talking heads that cancel each other out point, but there’s one possible exception. Can’t recall their names, but there are two guys who always appear together, almost always with Margaret Warner — an older Lebanese (I believe) journalist (a smart, elegant, rather wistful, bruised-by-experience guy) and a younger, bearded, pudgy-faced, soft-spoken, intelligent Israeli think-tank fellow (I think his first name is David). Of course, they tend to come at the issue at hand down their respective well-worn paths, but they know each other so well by now, and seem to like and respect each other, that there are often odd moments when the underlying/overlapping actualities on their respective sides stand revealed more clearly, in a more-in-sorrow manner, than is ever the case anywhere else, at least in my experience. On the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that particular duo on the News Hour; maybe they’ve been canned for just the reason I looked forward to seeing them.
Gene in Chicago offers an interesting point. AIPAC isn’t “pro-Israel” or even Zionist in general. It is quite specifically a Likudian power player. It does in the US what its Likud Party partners do in Israel which is to beat down
less-rightwing-than-Likud perspectives and people.
I would see the Federal Funding and Control issue differently than William R. Cumming would see it. Over the past 12-16(?) years, the
Republican rightwingers have
been systematically DE-funding PBS of its Federal funding, in order to force PBS to accept an ever-rising
percent of Major Corporate Sponsors. The goal was to have for-profit bussiness corporations paying the piper so that for-profit bussiness corporations would
be in position to call the tune. That to me would explain the MSM-ification of
much (though not all) of PBS. And the MSM approach to guest-experts is to have 2 dueling heads to provide “confrontainment”. 2
well-informed neutrals would
provide less simple-minded cross-talking points than 2 opposite-ends partisans. And of course Corporate Sponsorship buys silence about stories damaging to the Corporate Sponsor. How many stories has NewsHour run about Archer Daniels Midland, for example?
PBS still has some good TV journalism. Frontline. Bill Moyers. Nova for science. I won’t give up on
PBS. It’s all we have left for information on TV, unless you live near the Canadian border and can get CBC news on cable.
Finally, what if we could
get everyone to start calling a “think tank” a “spin mill”? Which is what a “think tank” really is.
Darn it, none of the comments so far have addressed the most interesting part of the post:
“A Georgetown socialite as anchor isn’t going to “cut it”.”
For the information of those of us outside the Beltway, which one is the socialite?
“Why doesn’t the Newhour actually try to find some neutrals, instead of just matching up the usual talking heads?”
“I told the Newshour some time ago that I was no longer interested, but I still watch.”
Maybe you just answered your own question.
I would probably have never heard of you had it not been for the News Hour. When I no longer saw you there, I started searching the web to see whether you were still talking about the war. That’s how I eventually found this blog.
If someone can tell me of something better to watch, I’ll try it. Currently CSPAN segments are the only other thing on TV that seem to be worth anyone’s time.
I hope we don’t turn our backs on the best we’ve got, like The News Hour and this blog for that matter, just because they are less than perfect.
More people like Shields, Lehrer, and yourself who have worn a uniform (but are not generals) would provide a lot more credible substance to anything currently on the air. I say keep up the good work!
Being based outside the US I have no idea what the Newshour is. I do know Battlestar Galactica though, and the irony of it is that a large section of the last series was non too subtly scripted as a protest against the Iraq war.
I don’t watch The Newshour any more, either. I tend to get most of my news from the Internet, where I don’t have to take someone’s word for things.
You’re right about the way the discussions have gone lately. They really have turned into the same tired “he said, she said” stuff you see on the McLoudmouth group or the cable news shows. There’s no useful information to be had.
BTW, do you think Starbuck really knows the way to Earth? 🙂
Personally, I think they’d be frakking nuts to come here.
The late, near-great New Zealand PM David Lange also despised the lapel-flag-wearers, saying that such of his colleagues who affected this sort of tartuffery did it only so that when they got lost overseas, a nice policeman could always help them find their way home.
Who can take these Uriah Heepish creeps seriously?
About a year ago ABC Australia (a BBC wannabe) conducted quite a wide-ranging interview with Jim Lehrer on truth, “truthiness” and the leadup to Iraq where Mr Lehrer (who seems one of the good guys, certainly as measured by his speech at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps — http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/july-dec06/marines_11-10.html) seemed constitutionally unable to see the wood for the trees — “Because you don’t assume the President of the United States is lying, that’s no way to operate, or anybody down the chain after that. So it’s not science, it’s a matter of judgment from story to story, and you have to feel your way, you have to listen carefully, you have to get the nuances, you have to check and double check, talk to all kinds of people with a variety of opinions to truly understand these things. It’s hard work, it’s not just reading somebody’s press release or for me to side on any controversy, it’s a matter of trying to understand the total picture, both the pros and the cons and the in-between.”
The Australian interviewer was far too nice to ask “but what if they actually are lying?”.
I agree with the need for more neutrals, and that The News Hour is fading.
Sometimes it looks like they are trying to get Margaret an award by sending her to the hell holes of Asia so she can dress up.
Levi: FWIW, my vote on the “Georgetown socialite” reference would be Judy Woodruff. But that’s because I know nothing at all about Margaret Warner.
I do know that Woodruff is married to pundit Al Hunt, who at least has an interesting george bush story dating back to one of h.w.’s elections (basically that junior treated him to a profanity-laced drunken tirade in presence of wife and young child in a restaurant). The story is told about Hunt, though; I’ve never seen him refer to it himself.
Warner doesn’t strike me as having socialite chops; she just seems naive and uninformed.
Both are abysmal interviewers.
All of the MSM is under scrutiny and pressure from blogdom, which has no gatekeepers (editors) except the people who run them. Some bloggies are as good or better than the managing editor of the NYTimes (puzzle over that). Others don’t check the facts; they don’t look for conflicts of interest either. We (the news’ consumers) are caught between the two.
On Thursday, April 24, the Newshour ran a segment that showed it at its best and worst. Judy Woodruff moderating a discussion on the Times story about the generals; the first network to do so (good). Unfortunately, Woodruff’s interview was bad. She was uniformly indulgent of the former ABC reporter who saw nothing wrong with the generals’ TV appearances, and she was uniformly rude (cutting him off several times) to the man who actually knew something about the subject (sorry can’t remember either name).
What was her problem? If you’re going to step out on a hot topic, why not do a good job?