January 31, 2010

Spiro Agnew: Prophet [OregonMuse]
— Open Blog

Looks like another slow day, so here's another thread.

To our discussion of the nature and role and defects of the national media, I thought I'd add my two cents by adding someone else's two cents, namely, the two cents of Nixon Vice President Spiro Agnew. Yes, we all of us know he was forced to resign from office in disgrace on corruption charges stemming from his tenure as governor of Maryland, and I'll even stipulate at this point that he was as big a rotter as the MSM kept telling us he was. After he resigned, Nixon never spoke to him again, ever, so maybe they're right.

But, apart from all this, Spiro Agnew did make one remarkable speech. It was in 1969 and was in response to the television news coverage of an earlier speech by Richard Nixon on the Vietnam War.

What's interesting about this speech is that it hits pretty much all the topics we complain about today, to wit:

1. The constant coverage of "bad" news at the expense of "good" news.

2. The content of the news, which influences tens of millions of Americans, is determined by a mere handful of individuals.

3. And, unlike the print media, there are no other alternative TV new sources available.

4. News analysis or news stories that are actually partisan political commentary in disguise.

We recognize all of these as still being problems, except for perhaps #3, which has pretty much been alleviated technologically, thanks to talk radio and the internet.

But here's my favorite bit:

When the President completed his address -- an address, incidentally, that he spent weeks in the preparation of -- his words and policies were subjected to instant analysis and querulous criticism. The audience of 70 million Americans gathered to hear the President of the United States was inherited by a small band of network commentators and self-appointed analysts, the majority of whom expressed in one way or another their hostility to what he had to say.

It was obvious that their minds were made up in advance.

...

To guarantee in advance that the President's plea for national unity would be challenged, one network trotted out Averell Harriman for the occasion. Throughout the President's address, he waited in the wings. When the President concluded, Mr. Harriman recited perfectly... [H]e twice issued a call to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to debate Vietnam once again; he stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam...

All in all, Mr. Harrison offered a broad range of gratuitous advice challenging and contradicting the policies outlined by the President of the United States. Where the President had issued a call for unity, Mr. Harriman was encouraging the country not to listen to him.

This actually sounds somewhat quaint, because what Agnew is complaining about, the "instant analysis" that immediately follows a presidential speech, is now standard journalistic practice, practiced by every news outlet, and no one objects to it. In fact, the media are usually given copies of the speeches beforehand to facilitate this practice.

Agnew goes on:


[T]he President of the United States has a right to communicate directly with the people who elected him, and the people of this country have the right to make up their own minds and form their own opinions about a Presidential address without having a President's words and thoughts characterized through the prejudices of hostile critics before they can even be digested.

I understand what he's saying here, but unfortunately, the 24/7 news cycle makes this basically an impossibility. It probably was an unrealistic expectation even in 1969, but Agnew is wise enough to realize that some things take time to digest. Sometimes I find myself wondering what it must have been like to hear about historical events days or even weeks after they had already happened.

Below the fold is Agnew's speech in its entirety:

I think it’s obvious from the cameras here that I didn’t come to discuss the ban on cyclamates or DDT. I have a subject which I think if of great importance to the American people. Tonight I want to discuss the importance of the television news medium to the American people. No nation depends more on the intelligent judgment of its citizens. No medium has a more profound influence over public opinion. Nowhere in our system are there fewer checks on vast power. So, nowhere should there be more conscientious responsibility exercised than by the news media. The question is, Are we demanding enough of our television news presentations? And are the men of this medium demanding enough of themselves?

Monday night a week ago, President Nixon delivered the most important address of his Administration, one of the most important of our decade. His subject was Vietnam. My hope, as his at that time, was to rally the American people to see the conflict through to a lasting and just peace in the Pacific. For 32 minutes, he reasoned with a nation that has suffered almost a third of a million casualties in the longest war in its history.

When the President completed his address—an address, incidentally, that he spent weeks in the preparation of—his words and policies were subjected to instant analysis and querulous criticism. The audience of 70 million Americans gathered to hear the President of the United States was inherited by a small band of network commentators and self-appointed analysts, the majority of whom expressed in one way or another their hostility to what he had to say.
It was obvious that their minds were made up in advance. Those who recall the fumbling and groping that followed President Johnson’s dramatic disclosure of his intention not to seek another term have seen these men in a genuine state of nonpreparedness. This was not it.

One commentator twice contradicted the President’s statement about the exchange of correspondence with Ho Chi Minh. Another challenged the President’s abilities as a politician. A third asserted that the President was following a Pentagon line. Others, by the expressions on their faces, the tone of their questions, and the sarcasm of their responses, made clear their sharp disapproval.

To guarantee in advance that the President’s plea for national unity would be challenged, one network trotted out Averell Harriman for the occasion. Throughout the President’s address, he waited in the wings. When the President concluded, Mr. Harriman recited perfectly. He attacked the Thieu Government as unrepresentative; he criticized the President’s speech for various deficiencies; he twice issued a call to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to debate Vietnam once again; he stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam; and he told a little anecdote about a "very, very responsible" fellow he had met in the North Vietnamese delegation.

All in all, Mr. Harrison offered a broad range of gratuitous advice challenging and contradicting the policies outlined by the President of the United States. Where the President had issued a call for unity, Mr. Harriman was encouraging the country not to listen to him.

A word about Mr. Harriman. For 10 months he was America’s chief negotiator at the Paris peace talks—a period in which the United States swapped some of the greatest military concessions in the history of warfare for an enemy agreement on the shape of the bargaining table. Like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Mr. Harriman seems to be under some heavy compulsion to justify his failures to anyone who will listen. And the networks have shown themselves willing to give him all the air time he desires.

Now every American has a right to disagree with the President of the United States and to express publicly that disagreement. But the President of the United States has a right to communicate directly with the people who elected him, and the people of this country have the right to make up their own minds and form their own opinions about a Presidential address without having a President’s words and thoughts characterized through the prejudices of hostile critics before they can even be digested.

When Winston Churchill rallied public opinion to stay the course against Hitler’s Germany, he didn’t have to contend with a gaggle of commentators raising doubts about whether he was reading public opinion right, or whether Britain had the stamina to see the war through. When President Kennedy rallied the nation in the Cuban missile crisis, his address to the people was not chewed over by a roundtable of critics who disparaged the course of action he’d asked America to follow.

The purpose of my remarks tonight is to focus your attention on this little group of men who not only enjoy a right of instant rebuttal to every Presidential address, but, more importantly, wield a free hand in selecting, presenting, and interpreting the great issues in our nation. First, let’s define that power.

At least 40 million Americans every night, it’s estimated, watch the network news. Seven million of them view A.B.C., the remainder being divided between N.B.C. and C.B.S. According to Harris polls and other studies, for millions of Americans the networks are the sole source of national and world news. In Will Roger’s observation, what you knew was what you read in the newspaper. Today for growing millions of Americans, it’s what they see and hear on their television sets.

Now how is this network news determined? A small group of men, numbering perhaps no more than a dozen anchormen, commentators, and executive producers, settle upon the 20 minutes or so of film and commentary that’s to reach the public. This selection is made from the 90 to 180 minutes that may be available. Their powers of choice are broad.

They decide what 40 to 50 million Americans will learn of the day’s events in the nation and in the world. We cannot measure this power and influence by the traditional democratic standards, for these men can create national issues overnight. They can make or break by their coverage and commentary a moratorium on the war. They can elevate men from obscurity to national prominence within a week. They can reward some politicians with national exposure and ignore others.

For millions of Americans the network reporter who covers a continuing issue—like the ABM or civil rights—becomes, in effect, the presiding judge in a national trial by jury.

It must be recognized that the networks have made important contributions to the national knowledge—through news, documentaries, and specials. They have often used their power constructively and creatively to awaken the public conscience to critical problems. The networks made hunger and black lung disease national issues overnight. The TV networks have done what no other medium could have done in terms of dramatizing the horrors of war. The networks have tackled our most difficult social problems with a directness and an immediacy that’s the gift of their medium. They focus the nation’s attention on its environmental abuses—on pollution in the Great Lakes and the threatened ecology of the Everglades. But it was also the networks that elevated Stokely Carmichael and George Lincoln Rockwell from obscurity to national prominence.
Nor is their power confined to the substantive. A raised eyebrow, an inflection of the voice, a caustic remark dropped in the middle of a broadcast can raise doubts in a million minds about the veracity of a public official or the wisdom of a Government policy. One Federal Communications Commissioner considers the powers of the networks equal to that of local, state, and Federal Governments all combined. Certainly it represents a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history.

Now what do Americans know of the men who wield this power? Of the men who produce and direct the network news, the nation knows practically nothing. Of the commentators, most Americans know little other than that they reflect an urbane and assured presence seemingly well-informed on every important matter. We do know that to a man these commentators and producers live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, D.C., or New York City, the latter of which James Reston terms the most unrepresentative community in the entire United States.

Both communities bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism.
We can deduce that these men read the same newspapers. They draw their political and social views from the same sources. Worse, they talk constantly to one another, thereby providing artificial reinforcement to their shared viewpoints. Do they allow their biases to influence the selection and presentation of the news? David Brinkley states objectivity is impossible to normal human behavior. Rather, he says, we should strive for fairness.

Another anchorman on a network news show contends, and I quote: "You can’t expunge all your private convictions just because you sit in a seat like this and a camera starts to stare at you. I think your program has to reflect what your basic feelings are. I’ll plead guilty to that."

Less than a week before the 1968 election, this same commentator charged that President Nixon’s campaign commitments were no more durable than campaign balloons. He claimed that, were it not for the fear of hostile reaction, Richard Nixon would be giving into, and I quote him exactly, "his natural instinct to smash the enemy with a club or go after him with a meat axe."

Had this slander been made by one political candidate about another, it would have been dismissed by most commentators as a partisan attack. But this attack emanated from the privileged sanctuary of a network studio and therefore had the apparent dignity of an objective statement. The American people would rightly not tolerate this concentration of power in Government. Is it not fair and relevant to question its concentration in the hands of a tiny, enclosed fraternity of privileged men elected by no one and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by Government?

The views of the majority of this fraternity do not—and I repeat, not—represent the views of America. That is why such a great gulf existed between how the nation received the President’s address and how the networks reviewed it. Not only did the country receive the President’s speech more warmly than the networks, but so also did the Congress of the United States.

Yesterday, the President was notified that 300 individual Congressmen and 50 Senators of both parties had endorsed his efforts for peace. As with other American institutions, perhaps it is time that the networks were made more responsive to the views of the nation and more responsible to the people they serve.

Now I want to make myself perfectly clear. I’m not asking for Government censorship or any other kind of censorship. I am asking whether a form of censorship already exists when the news that 40 million Americans receive each night is determined by a handful of men responsible only to their corporate employers and is filtered through a handful of commentators who admit to their own set of biases.

The question I’m raising here tonight should have been raised by others long ago. They should have been raised by those Americans who have traditionally considered the preservation of freedom of speech and freedom of the press their special provinces of responsibility. They should have been raised by those Americans who share the view of the late Justice Learned Hand that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues than through any kind of authoritative selection. Advocates for the networks have claimed a First Amendment right to the same unlimited freedoms held by the great newspapers of America.

But the situations are not identical. Where The New York Times reaches 800,000 people, N.B.C. reaches 20 times that number on its evening news. [The average weekday circulation of the Times in October was 1,012,367; the average Sunday circulation was 1,523,558.] Nor can the tremendous impact of seeing television film and hearing commentary be compared with reading the printed page.

A decade ago, before the network news acquired such dominance over public opinion, Walter Lippman spoke to the issue. He said there’s an essential and radical difference between television and printing. The three or four competing television stations control virtually all that can be received over the air by ordinary television sets. But besides the mass circulation dailies, there are weeklies, monthlies, out-of-town newspapers and books. If a man doesn’t like his newspaper, he can read another from out of town or wait for a weekly news magazine. It’s not ideal, but it’s infinitely better than the situation in television.
There, if a man doesn’t like what the networks are showing, all he can do is turn them off and listen to a phonograph. “Networks, “ he stated “which are few in number have a virtual monopoly of a whole media of communications.” The newspaper of mass circulation have no monopoly on the medium of print.
Now a virtual monopoly of a whole medium of communication is not something that democratic people should blindly ignore. And we are not going to cut off our television sets and listen to the phonograph just because the airways belong to the networks. They don’t. They belong to the people. As Justice Byron wrote in his landmark opinion six months ago, “It’s the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.”

Now it’s argued that this power presents no danger in the hands of those who have used it responsibly. But as to whether or not the networks have abused the power they enjoy, let us call as our first witness, former Vice President Humphrey and the city of Chicago. According to Theodore White, television’s intercutting of the film from the streets of Chicago with the “current proceedings on the floor of the convention created the most striking and false political picture of 1968 -- the nomination of a man for the American Presidency by the brutality and violence of merciless police.”

If we are to believe a recent report of the House of Representative Commerce Committee, then television’s presentation of the violence in the streets worked an injustice on the reputation of the Chicago police. According to the committee findings, one network in particular presented, and I quote, "a one-sided picture which in large measure exonerates the demonstrators and protestors." Film of provocations of police that was available never saw the light of day, while the film of a police response which the protestors provoked was shown to millions.
Another network showed virtually the same scene of violence from three separate angles without making clear it was the same scene. And, while the full report is reticent in drawing conclusions, it is not a document to inspire confidence in the fairness of the network news. Our knowledge of the impact of network news on the national mind is far from complete, but some early returns are available. Again, we have enough information to raise serious questions about its effect on a democratic society.

Several years ago Fred Friendly, one of the pioneers of network news, wrote that its missing ingredients were conviction, controversy, and a point of view. The networks have compensated with a vengeance.

And in the networks’ endless pursuit of controversy, we should ask: What is the end value—to enlighten or to profit? What is the end result—to inform or to confuse? How does the ongoing exploration for more action, more excitement, more drama serve our national search for internal peace and stability?
Gresham’s Law seems to be operating in the network news. Bad news drives out good news. The irrational is more controversial than the rational.

Concurrence can no longer compete with dissent. One minute of Eldrige Cleaver is worth 10 minutes of Roy Wilkins. The labor crisis settled at the negotiating table is nothing compared to the confrontation that results in a strike—or better yet, violence along the picket lines. Normality has become the nemesis of the network news.

Now the upshot of all this controversy is that a narrow and distorted picture of America often emerges from the televised news. A single, dramatic piece of the mosaic becomes in the minds of millions the entire picture. The American who relies upon television for his news might conclude that the majority of American students are embittered radicals; that the majority of black Americans feel no regard for their country; that violence and lawlessness are the rule rather than the exception on the American campus.

We know that none of these conclusions is true.

Perhaps the place to start looking for a credibility gap is not in the offices of the Government in Washington but in the studios of the networks in New York! Television may have destroyed the old stereotypes, but has it not created new ones in their places? What has this “passionate” pursuit of controversy done to the politics of progress through logical compromise essential to the functioning of a democratic society?

The members of Congress or the Senate who follow their principles and philosophy quietly in a spirit of compromise are unknown to many Americans, while the loudest and most extreme dissenters on every issue are known to every man in the street. How many marches and demonstrations would we have if the marchers did not know that the ever-faithful TV cameras would be there to record their antics for the next news show?

We’ve heard demands that Senators and Congressmen and judges make known all their financial connections so that the public will know who and what influences their decisions and their votes. Strong arguments can be made for that view. But when a single commentator or producer, night after night, determines for millions of people how much of each side of a great issue they are going to see and hear, should he not first disclose his personal views on the issue as well?

In this search for excitement and controversy, has more than equal time gone to the minority of Americans who specialize in attacking the United States—its institutions and its citizens?

Tonight I’ve raised questions. I’ve made no attempt to suggest the answers. The answers must come from the media men. They are challenged to turn their critical powers on themselves, to direct their energy, their talent, and their conviction toward improving the quality and objectivity of news presentation. They are challenged to structure their own civic ethics to relate to the great responsibilities they hold.

And the people of America are challenged, too—challenged to press for responsible news presentation. The people can let the networks know that they want their news straight and objective. The people can register their complaints on bias through mail to the networks and phone calls to local stations. This is one case where the people must defend themselves, where the citizen, not the Government, must be the reformer; where the consumer can be the most effective crusader.

By way of conclusion, let me say that every elected leader in the United States depends on these men of the media. Whether what I’ve said to you tonight will be heard and seen at all by the nation is not my decision, it’s not your decision, it’s their decision. In tomorrow’s edition of the Des Moines Register, you’ll be able to read a news story detailing what I’ve said tonight. Editorial comment will be reserved for the editorial page, where it belongs. Should not the same wall of separation exist between news and comment on the nation’s networks?
Now, my friends, we’d never trust such power, as I’ve described, over public opinion in the hands of an elected Government. It’s time we questioned it in the hands of a small unelected elite. The great networks have dominated America’s airwaves for decades.

The people are entitled a full accounting their stewardship.

Posted by: Open Blog at 06:54 AM | Comments (64)
Post contains 3971 words, total size 24 kb.

1
If I remember correctly, that speech was written by William Safire.

Posted by: Brown Line at January 31, 2010 07:06 AM (WqOmW)

2 So, essentially, we need to eliminate the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Posted by: Winston Smith at January 31, 2010 07:07 AM (BFqyO)

3 I'm actually good with that.

Posted by: Winston Smith at January 31, 2010 07:07 AM (BFqyO)

4 he stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam...

Gotta love those commie sympathizers.

Posted by: 18-1 at January 31, 2010 07:08 AM (bgcml)

5 If I remember correctly, that speech was written by William Safire. Posted by: Brown Line at January 31, 2010 12:06 PM (WqOmW) That sounds about right to me.

Posted by: nevergiveup at January 31, 2010 07:08 AM (ekqTc)

6 Can we start with Keith Olbermann?

Posted by: Winston Smith at January 31, 2010 07:09 AM (BFqyO)

7 Oh, and to continue, isn't it interesting none of the leftists that got the cold war SO wrong ever had to pay a political price for it?

One would think that the people who predicting Reagan's military build-up would start WWIII, for example, would be publicly laughed at every time they make further predictions...

Posted by: 18-1 at January 31, 2010 07:10 AM (bgcml)

8 One would think that the people who predicting Reagan's military build-up would start WWIII, for example, would be publicly laughed at every time they make further predictions... Posted by: 18-1 at January 31, 2010 12:10 PM Nah, they get elected to congress

Posted by: nevergiveup at January 31, 2010 07:11 AM (ekqTc)

9

1969 was the beginning of the capture of the news media by the communists. Nixon, although a massive liberal, was anti-communist so they hated on him.

Watergate was nothing. If it had happened to a Democrat it oulw not have been reported at all.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 07:11 AM (QrA9E)

10 he stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam...

Assholes that are so explicitly wrong should be flogged, right, Sheriff Joe?

Posted by: Frank G at January 31, 2010 07:13 AM (I+To0)

11

To get a perspective go back and watch Network. I was like five when that movie came out. I was under the impression the state of the media has grown exponentially worse over time. It hasn't,  it just has new mediums like cable and internet. Network looks like it could have been made yesterday.

Posted by: Blazer at January 31, 2010 07:13 AM (t72+4)

12

A single, dramatic piece of the mosaic becomes in the minds of millions the entire picture. The American who relies upon television for his news might conclude that the majority of American students are embittered radicals; that the majority of black Americans feel no regard for their country; that violence and lawlessness are the rule rather than the exception on the American campus.

And if you watch the History Channel when it does a show about the 60s they STILL feel that way.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 07:14 AM (QrA9E)

13 When that speech was written Olberdouche would have been booted after his first rant.  It just goes to show what years of conditioning can do. I always thought some of the characters in the sci-fi epics were designed to condition the kids for the PC diversity. I also think the reality shows like cops and the like are serving a purpose.

Posted by: sonnyspats at January 31, 2010 07:15 AM (68tQb)

14 Watergate was nothing. If it had happened to a Democrat it oulw not have been reported at all.

Of course, it did happen to a Democrat and it didn't get reported. Nothing that Nixon ever did or is accused of doing, wiretapping, dirty tricks, using federal agencies to harass political enemies, etc., all of those things were practiced enthusiastically by his Democratic predecessors, in particular JFK and LBJ, and the national media simply ignored it.

Read It Didn't Start With Watergate by Victor Lasky. It is truly an eye-opening book.

Posted by: OregonMuse at January 31, 2010 07:16 AM (hoowK)

15 the majority of black Americans feel no regard for their country


I can think of one in particular.

Posted by: Winston Smith at January 31, 2010 07:17 AM (BFqyO)

16 Now, my friends, we’d never trust such power, as I’ve described, over public opinion in the hands of an elected Government. It’s time we questioned it in the hands of a small unelected elite. The great networks have dominated America’s airwaves for decades.

The people are entitled a full accounting their stewardship.

One of the interesting things that happened in the late 60s, is that there had been a consensus in the American political culture from the end of WWII until that point. It was conservative on foreign and domestic social policy and liberal on economic policy.

We can see that in the leaders selected from that period - Truman, Ike, JFK (though he was more conservative on economics), LBJ, and Nixon.

But the new Left took over the Democrats and the media and started to dismantle that consensus. There had been plenty of media bias before, but the bias was widely shared by the public.

Now the bias began to cut against the public's views, and eventually to shape the views of the more easily led.

This would continue to evolve, speeding up in the 90s, until mere  bias has morphed into outright political activity on behalf of the hard left - with the 2008 election being the most obvious example...

Posted by: 18-1 at January 31, 2010 07:19 AM (bgcml)

17
okay, but who is Mr. Harrison?

he talks about a Harriman and then a Harrison.

Posted by: This is lolboner in the well with Timmy at January 31, 2010 07:22 AM (z37MR)

18

This would continue to evolve, speeding up in the 90s, until mere  bias has morphed into outright political activity on behalf of the hard left - with the 2008 election being the most obvious example...

I repeat, the first amendment has been rendered irrelevant by today's media.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 07:22 AM (QrA9E)

19 Of course, it did happen to a Democrat and it didn't get reported.

Posted by: OregonMuse at January 31, 2010 12:16 PM (hoowK)

You can see echoes of this all the time actually. When Gary Studds (D) molested a congressional page, the media didn't think it was very reflective of the party as a whole, but Mark Foley (R) became the face of the Republican party.

When Clinton (D) fired all the AGs it was no big deal. When Bush (R) fired some AGs for refusing to take voter fraud charges seriously it was a scandal.

When McCain (R) had connections to a lobbyist, the media accused him of being in bed, literally, with her and her employer. When Barney Franks (R) was having an affair with a lobbyist - who was fired after the affair ended - it was no big deal.


etc...etc...



Posted by: 18-1 at January 31, 2010 07:24 AM (bgcml)

20 Among the muttering members of media, one man's nattering nabob of negativism is another man's pole polishing partner.

And in that long-ago day of 3 stations, when conservatives would get no more than a few minutes per week, George Will often spent it talking Baseball.

It was in that BF environment (Before Rush) that Reagan carried 46 and 49 States.

Everything is possible.

Posted by: Robert at January 31, 2010 07:28 AM (cd6Ip)

21 I was a kid during this time but I knew that the MSM didn't always tell the whole story. I may have picked this up when my Mother would throw things at the TV during the evening news.

Posted by: Butzi at January 31, 2010 07:28 AM (qLV03)

22

Other good books on this subject from Bernie Goldberg:

 

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News

 

A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 07:28 AM (QrA9E)

23

he told a little anecdote about a "very, very responsible" fellow he had met in the North Vietnamese delegation.

Named "John Kerry"? Or was the meeting not in Paris?

Posted by: andycanuck at January 31, 2010 07:42 AM (2qU2d)

24

We have all heard Hillary Rodham Clinton's accusations of the vast, right wing conspiracy that targeted first Bill Clinton and then her.  But, if you look back over the last fifty years, especially the last thirty years, you can see a pattern, not on the right, but on the left.  The rapid change in sexual mores, the breakdown in families fostered by the rise of feminism and the welfare state and the relentless dumbing down of American education are all products of the left.  Assholes like BillyAyers, who escaped prison by way of his daddy's money,  recognized in the early eighties that the revolution they promoted could be more easily achieved by radicalizing a generation with the consent, hell, even the support of their parents, who sent them to universities to be educated.  And, boy, have they been educated.

Posted by: huerfano at January 31, 2010 07:45 AM (sf1Eo)

25 where is the birth certificate ??

Posted by: sheik Yamani at January 31, 2010 07:49 AM (mhD2v)

26

"instant analysis" is actually the only thing that is saving the country, knock on wood.

I am convinced that the Marxists have invested billions in researching and inventing the art of lying, i.e., propaganda.  They have raised it to the level of an art form.

And Obamy is the greatest practitioner of the art form.  Lying is the only function of 98% of his unprecedented staff.  To think it is Gibbs only is ludicrous.  Obamy has thousands of people who work 24x7 to lie to the public.  It's all they do.

If Fox wasn't on TV, we would be a 100% dictatorship already.

Posted by: proreason at January 31, 2010 07:54 AM (Rllt+)

27 When I was young, there were only 4 channels on tv, so Agnew was correct in his analysis.  Thankfully, we have cable and internet to get differing opinions now, which the liberals just hate, but still the network news gets large numbers which gave O thousands of hours of free 'campaign commercials' during the last election.

Posted by: Guy Fawkes at January 31, 2010 07:54 AM (DIYmd)

28

I've been sick of the right crying media bias for years. Of course they're biased against us. And then people say that they should make that clear somehow by say, prefacing every story with a boilerplate statement, instead of hiding behind their ostensible neutrality.

The problem all along has been the Right's expectation that the news and media should be neutral. Sure, it would be nice if that were a dependable assumption. But it never has been the assumption that the media has operated under.

So when I go to snarky sites like Newsbusters or Hannity goes into high dudgeon over some blatant bias, it really makes 'us' (whatever 'us' may be) look naive and stupid to get upset about it. The media has NEVER hid its biases from us. Their bias is as open and upfront as it can be without them stating flatly-I AM A STRAIGHT TICKET DEMOCRAT AND GEORGE SOROS IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR. They aren't trying to hide anything from you and they never have.

The solution is very simple to figure out and difficult to implement but Andrew Breitbart and (possibly) Tucker Carlson have started. And it is our duty to hold them to a high standard (objectivity over hyperbole, truth over propaganda) and not let them get sloppy and complacent.

Posted by: CozMark at January 31, 2010 07:57 AM (HK4Kc)

29 and thus FOX News came into being because of this disconnect between the media and the consumer ...  It took almost 30 years ...   you might say the 1 on 3 is unfair odds ...  But just watch the other three and its obvious that its unfair to the three, they get trounced daily ...

Posted by: Jeff at January 31, 2010 07:58 AM (gvwSW)

30 Maybe a small thing, but Nixon had 70 million viewers when all we had was 3 broadcast networks?  I'm sure I saw somewhere that Barry had 48 million last Tuesday, in a media environment where the only way to avoid it was to turn off the tv.  Hmmmmmm

Posted by: Peaches at January 31, 2010 08:01 AM (9Wv2j)

31

When I was young, there were only 4 channels on tv

LOL, we had 2 stations and one of them was fuzzy. As for Fox, don't be fooled. Almost ALL of their actual "news" readers is an Obama voting liberal and it shows on many occasions. 

Also keep in mind that a large portion of the public lives in an urban environment so they are not likely to have cable and thus don't get Fox. That makes their ratings even more significant.

When Megyn gets back tommorow we will have "1" who is fair and balanced.

 

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 08:05 AM (QrA9E)

32

My husband and I didn't watch BO's rant. I have had enough of his BS. I did follow Ace's live blog. The live blog was much more interesting and informative.

I think a lot of people are sick of hearing him.

Posted by: Butzi at January 31, 2010 08:07 AM (qLV03)

33 Spiro Agnew...the dumbest name for a politician ever till Huckabee.

Posted by: Rocks at January 31, 2010 08:13 AM (yguwr)

34

The definition of insanity was putting Averill Harriman in charge of negotiations at the Paris peace talks.

Spiro Agnew showed up at Nixon's funeral. That was a surprise. I think it was the first time I'd seen him in the public eye in years...maybe the first time I'd seen him in public, ever.

Posted by: Dack Thrombosis at January 31, 2010 08:18 AM (P33XN)

35
No Sanctions for Lawyers Who O.K.'d Torture
That's a Fox News website headline today. Fox is conservative compared to the MSM like wine is water compared to brandy.

Posted by: Flying Monkey at January 31, 2010 08:20 AM (Oxen1)

36

I was a kid during this time but I knew that the MSM didn't always tell the whole story. I may have picked this up when my Mother would throw things at the TV during the evening news.

My awakening started in earnest back when I was a teenager and one of my friends died in a fight. Other guy pulled a knife and that was that. I went to one day of the trial and then read about it later in the newspaper. In an article that ran four or five paragraphs, the reporter got almost everything wrong. Names, places, quotes...I wondered whether the guy saw the same thing I did. I quickly started to ponder how many other articles in the paper were incorrect.

Posted by: Dack Thrombosis at January 31, 2010 08:21 AM (P33XN)

37

Also keep in mind that a large portion of the public lives in an urban environment so they are not likely to have cable and thus don't get Fox.

Ummm, wanna run that by me again?

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 08:23 AM (GkYyh)

38

I wondered whether the guy saw the same thing I did. I quickly started to ponder how many other articles in the paper were incorrect.

I watched a 60 Minutes show about construction of a nuclear plangt in Illinois years ago. It was the typical CBS hit job edited to make the CEO of the utility look like a dumb shit crook. The difference this time was the utility had their media depatrtment film the thing in parallel with the 60 Minutes crew.

They put together a tape showing what 60 Minutes said vs what actually took place in the interview. The idea was to distribute the tape to all the local PBS stations. Since most of them were liberal they refused to air it. Especially after CBS put out the word that they would sue anyone who broadcast it.

I never watched 60 Minutes again after that tape. They litterally lie their asses off. They ALL edit their interviews to make it look like what ever point they want to get across.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 08:33 AM (QrA9E)

39

Ummm, wanna run that by me again?

A lot of people who liuve in the cities get their TV via rabbit ears. Who pays for cable when you don't really need it?

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 08:35 AM (QrA9E)

40 Agnew summed it up best when he called them "the nattering nabobs of negativism."  It was coined by Safire.

Posted by: Steve L. at January 31, 2010 08:36 AM (mIIVr)

41

Who pays for cable when you don't really need it?

Most people have cable. Unless you have some sort of statistics to back that statement up, I'd say you are wrong.

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 08:38 AM (GkYyh)

42

No Sanctions for Lawyers Who O.K.'d Torture
That's a Fox News website headline today.

And here's the source of that, that also illustrates the theme of this post.

Posted by: andycanuck at January 31, 2010 08:41 AM (2qU2d)

43 Romney doesn't deserve to lick Agnew's boots.

Posted by: Hugh Hewit at January 31, 2010 08:49 AM (Ylv1H)

44 Agnew was dead on about 'instant analysis'.  The talking heads shoot their mouths off with their "opinion".  Why is it that they don't have a 'retrospective', say 5 or 6 years later to see how 'their opinion' measured up to actual history?

Harriman stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam.  Having to face his own words several years later, Harriman's credibility would have been shot down in future "opinion pieces.

We face the same crap today.  Krugman screams about Bush urging people to go out and spend in the wake of 9/11.  Today Pauly is screaming, "spend, spend, spend'.  But most people have a short memory and short attention span and don't realize it's the same people pedaling the same crap over and over.

Posted by: GarandFan at January 31, 2010 08:50 AM (ZQBnQ)

45

Part of the progressive agenda early in the 20th century was for the Intellectual elite to TEACH the media so that they would, in turn, teach the ignorant population.

This bias is on purpose. It is part of a plan. It is not accidental, it is not bias (although it is biased), it is not philosophical. It is by design.

Be afraid

Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2010 08:57 AM (726kZ)

46

2. The content of the news, which influences tens of millions of Americans, is determined by a mere handful of individuals.

That one's the biggie, and there's no way around it. But the significance of this isn't so much how they report their stories so much as what stories they choose to report. Academics explain the effect of this in agenda-setting theory which, in a nutshell, says the media don't dictate to their audiences what to think, but they dictate what their audiences think about. (Wikipedia's entry on this theory is here: http://tinyurl.com/pqjdyc) By the way, this theory is pretty sound.

There's more to it than that, of course. If the audience's reaction logically follows the topic of a story (e.g., the financial crisis in 2008, an unavoidably bad story) then by choosing to print or air a particular story, they indeed tell their audiences what to think. But once circumstances change, an editor can simply choose to report on it less, if at all, opting instead on the next story that follows their way of thinking. So when things got better in Iraq, we stopped hearing about Iraq.

It gets worse. The herding trait of the media guarantee that they're all reporting on the same topics. Sure, the contect of their stories may differ, but as agenda-setting theory posits, the content of the story is far less important as the topic of the story. So CBS News and Fox News Channel will offer different perspectives of the same topics, but it's still these topics on the forefront of everyone's minds. And if you're thinking that it has to start somewhere, that somebody in some news room initially decides what stories become the news, you'd be right.

It's The New York Times.

Posted by: FireHorse at January 31, 2010 09:01 AM (cQyWA)

47

Most people have cable. Unless you have some sort of statistics to back that statement up, I'd say you are wrong.

80% of the U.S. public lives in an urban area.

 

http://tinyurl.com/yhlg6os

 

56% of people overall have cable TV

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/2vkdag

 

80% of 56% = 44.8%.  That leaves 63.2% with rabbit ears (app 190 million people)

 

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 09:03 AM (QrA9E)

48

It's not a slow news day, you chucklehead.  My hometown paper's front page is talking about Bambi shipping troops over to the ME to apply a few consequences to Iran.

Start a war with Iran?  That's a PEACE PRIZE!

Posted by: FUBAR at January 31, 2010 09:17 AM (1fanL)

49 I didn't feel like reading much past the 78th paragraph. I get why he says so much instant analysis can be bad... but where does he go with it? It's one thing to say some kind of behavior is bad, it's quite another to ban or regulate it with force of law.

And frankly, what the hell does this speech have to do with anything? Is Obama not getting his message across fairly or something? First an obscure whacko paleocon, giving questionable advice to Palin, now another obscure politician saying TV sucks.  What's next, Andrew Mellon on the gold standard?

Posted by: Stan at January 31, 2010 09:18 AM (FeJpF)

50

Can you imagine Joe Biden putting together 3 sentences coherently, much less an intelligent  speech like Agnew's?

Posted by: Rick554 at January 31, 2010 09:22 AM (GkYyh)

51 Here's the latest numbers in percentages on the news:
NBC : 5.9
ABC : 5.4
CBS:  4.2
Univision: 1.2
Telemundo: 0.4

Cable
Fox News: 1.5
CNN: 0.5
MSNBC: 0.5
HLN: 0.4

Network and local news have many more viewers than cable, so its a big uphill fight.

Posted by: Guy Fawkes at January 31, 2010 09:33 AM (DIYmd)

52

Vic,you should read your own source.

Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56

And I would guess come the 2010 census, it's going to be a lot higher.

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 09:37 AM (GkYyh)

53 Re the statistics on who has cable (or satellite), this DoE site suggests a much bigger number than some of the others floating around.  This info is based on 2001 data, so I think we can assume higher.

There are some appliances that are commonplace in the home regardless of income level... The percent of households that have them are as follows:

Refrigerator 99.9% Cooking appliance 99.7%Color television 98.9%
The 2001 RECS survey also shows an increase by income in whether the televisions are connected to a cable or satellite system (Figure 3).  Even for the lowest income bracket, the percent of households with cable or satellite television is 64 percent. This increases to 87 percent for the highest income level.

Posted by: Y-not at January 31, 2010 09:39 AM (sey23)

54 Vic,
Didn't you forget satellite?

Currently, 29 percent of U.S. households subscribe to satellite service alone -- up 2 percent since the 2005 study -- while 58 percent of households subscribe only to cable -- down from 60 percent in the 2005 study.
An additional 1 percent of households subscribe to both cable and satellite services, with a total of 88 percent of households with either or both.


And that report is 3 years old. It's probably over 90% now.

Posted by: Rocks at January 31, 2010 09:40 AM (yguwr)

55

And I would guess come the 2010 census, it's going to be a lot higher.

Still a LOT of people who do not have Fox and who watch the MSM only. Probably really doesn't make any difference though.  That urban demographic is filled with hard core Obama voters.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 09:41 AM (QrA9E)

56

Most people have cable.

Moot point. Fox News Channel, CNN, and MSNBC are all doing the same thing, essentially; the news is the news. Think of it this way:

NBC Nightly News = hot dog with yellow mustard

CBS Evening News = hot dog with spicy brown mustard

ABC World News Tonight = hot dog with dijon mustard

Fox News Channel = hot dog with sauerkraut

CNN = hot dog with meat sauce

MSNBC = hot dog with chili sauce

What did you have? A hot dog. What did you watch: "The news."

Posted by: FireHorse at January 31, 2010 09:44 AM (cQyWA)

57 I'm just argueing that the majority of  people in this country  actually do have Fox. Now whether or not they watch it is something else again. But it IS available.

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 09:46 AM (GkYyh)

58

What did you have? A hot dog. What did you watch: "The news."

Posted by: FireHorse at January 31, 2010 02:44 PM (cQyWA)

Well, as you may or may not have noticed, that is in fact why the most of us are on the Web. To get more information.

 

 

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 09:53 AM (GkYyh)

59

Another item about Fox.  Their news source is still AP just like everyone ese.

And sure we all know how "fair and balanced" AP is.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 09:55 AM (QrA9E)

60

Still a LOT of people who do not have Fox and who watch the MSM only. Probably really doesn't make any difference though.  That urban demographic is filled with hard core Obama voters.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2010 02:41 PM (QrA9E)


The MSM figures don't matter much. Most people don't really watch ANY national news. It's on, but they don't watch it. Local news is what matters and that's what people watch. Whoever is leading among the big 3 is doing so because their local affiliates are market leaders and the station gets left on when the national news comes on. It's a lot like why Late Night TV shows are so important. NBC has led the morning shows forever simply because most people watch the Tonight Show when they go to sleep. When they wake up they turn on the TV and just watch the channel they had on the night before. It's all the same so as long as it's mildly entertaining they can't be bothered to switch. They aren't REALLY paying attention anyway.


Cable news figures have much more impact because people actively choose to switch to those channels and watch. That active part also explains why they are much more politically active and aware. It also explains why Cable News numbers go through the roof and the MSM is relatively flat,  during a disaster or crisis because people are actively interested. Enough to seek out the news.

Posted by: Rocks at January 31, 2010 09:56 AM (yguwr)

61

Something to point out. Just to take what Mr. Fawkes posted...

Univision: 1.2
Telemundo: 0.4

Now that may be true on a National scale, but what about say, the people of Los Angeles? How many Hispanics watch those stations, as opposed to KABC or say KTLA? You could possibly have Telemundo ratings at 60% of all viewing areas in the LA area.

I've often wondered why none of those stations have moved to LA to set up a market.

I'm betting they would clean up.

Posted by: HH at January 31, 2010 10:18 AM (GkYyh)

62

the president DOES NOT have a right to a no free speech zone.   the American people have a right to hear all sides of an issue from ALL parties  before making up their minds.   the POTUS is not a special person who's words should be placed above any and all other citizens voices.   It is his mircophone that is placed above and beyond those of other citizens not his words.  In fact in this day and age with speech writers all of the president's words are written by someone else anyway.  why should a speech writers comments be more important than any other's views.

 

 

 

Posted by: unseen at January 31, 2010 10:39 AM (mQauu)

63 Thank you for the educational speech link.
Seriously.

Posted by: MoJoTee at January 31, 2010 01:36 PM (mKpVf)

64 Longest post evah!

Posted by: torabora at February 01, 2010 05:09 AM (urwqd)

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