Tag Archives: CNN

Time for lesson on 'mainstream media'

Listen up, students. Professor John is going to lecture you today on the “mainstream media.”

You’ve heard the term, yes? It’s meant as an epithet. It’s said by those who think of the media as a four-letter word.

The term “mainstream media” came from the right wing of the political spectrum. I cannot cite the precise date the term surfaced, but it’s been around for some time.

MSM usually is a kind of code, students. It comes from those who want the media to think like the righties think. They see their own brand of MSM as pure. They’re the truth-tellers.

They hold, for example, Fox News as their model of truth-telling. Why? Well, Fox has an agenda. It is to undermine the “other side.” By that I refer to the president, Democrat Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in government. Watch most Fox broadcasts and you see how they continue to harp on the same so-called “scandals,” while other media turn their attention — usually — to other issues of the day.

What the righties don’t get, though, is that Fox has become as “mainstream” as the other media. Fox enjoys good ratings among news-and-commentary junkies across the nation. As the leading “conservative mainstream” outlet on cable TV, Fox has a good portion of that segment of the TV-viewing public to itself. Thus, its rating are good.

However, since Fox “covers” the news in a fashion that is suitable to those on the right, it is exempted from the pejorative label of “mainstream media.” Fox’s own talking heads even refer to other media as “mainstream,” sounding as if Fox is some outlier network seeking to be heard by a vast viewing audience.

The other so-called “truth-tellers” reside on the right. They comprise a variety of websites, online political newsletters, unabashed conservatives (of which I have no problem, if they ID themselves as such) and self-described political “watchdogs.” They, too, are exempted from the MSM label.

How about the other major networks: CNN and the broadcast networks — NBC, ABC and CBS? They’re the bad guys, according to those on the right. Why is that? Well, they report the news — in my view — without the flair of some other media. I’ll lump the “liberal” media outlets in that category, such as MSNBC. Don’t forget PBS, the network funded by private donations and from the government. At times, even PBS gets tarred with the MSM label. How silly.

Print journalism also gets lumped into the MSM camp. Namely it’s the New York Times and the Washington Post, the two big daddies of print journalism. Throw in the Los Angeles Times and a smattering of other major metros across the nation and you’ll see them criticized because they don’t cover the news with enough ferocity to suit those on the right. My own view is that they’re doing their job, which is to report the news … period.

However, these media outlets continue to be seen by those on the right as coddling left-wing politicians. Those critics miss a fundamental point here. It is that human beings rarely recognize their own “bias.” They see it in others, but not in themselves. If a news medium does not report on issues with one’s own slant, then they’re “biased.”

With that, students, our lesson ends.

If you’re going to criticize the “mainstream media,” take care to include your own favorite news organization in that category. Chances are they’re as “mainstream” as the media you are trying to criticize.

That slope is slippery, Mr. President

The Vietnam Generation remembers a time when U.S. military assistance overseas went from “advisory” to engaging in bloody combat. It didn’t take terribly long for our role to change in Vietnam.

It is that memory that’s been stirred in recent days as President Obama has announced the return of U.S. advisers to Iraq to aid the Iraqi military in its fight against Sunni insurgents seeking to take back the government Americans overthrew when it went to war there in March 2003.


The president has declared categorically that the United States will not send combat troops back into Iraq. I and no doubt million of other Americans will hold him to his word on that.

I just watched an interesting segment from CNN’s series “The Sixties” that dealt with the Vietnam War. President Kennedy was killed in November 1963 and by then our advisory role in ‘Nam had grown to several thousand troops. President Johnson fairly quickly granted military requests for more troops, ratcheting up our involvement to a level where Americans were shouldering the bulk of the combat operations against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.

By the time I arrived at Marble Mountain, just south of Da Nang, South Vietnam, in March 1969, American troops strength was at its absolute peak: 543,000 of us were deployed there. But soon the drawdown began as President Nixon implemented his “Vietnamization” program of turning the combat responsibility over to those who had the most skin in the game.

Surely, the wise men and women at the White House and perhaps even at the Pentagon will remind the current president — who was not quite 8 years old when I arrived in ‘Nam way back when — of the folly of resuming a ground combat role in Iraq.

Listen to them, Mr. President. Please.

Sterling 'baited' into saying those things?

I’m going to need some help processing this “apology.”

Donald Sterling, the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team owner, says he’s sorry for saying those racist things to his — what shall we call her? — girlfriend/assistant/”silly rabbit.”

He said he was “baited” into uttering those disgusting remarks. Baited? Does that mean he was lured into saying things he didn’t mean? Was there some promise or payoff if he declared in a phone conversation that V. Stiviano — the said “silly rabbit” — shouldn’t be seen in public with African-Americans? Did little ol’ V. put a gun to his head and make him say those hateful things?


Well, now he tells Anderson Cooper of CNN that he’s sorry. He declares “I am not a racist,” which of course is the usual dodge from those who actually do have racist tendencies.

The National Basketball Association has banned him for life from the game. He can’t take part in any basketball-related operations; he cannot attend Clippers games; he cannot attend league meetings; he’s going to be pressured to sell his team. He’s a pariah.

The players want him gone. His fellow owners want him out.

This is a disgraceful episode that so far has produced only one bright, shining moment: the swift and decisive action by brand new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to banish Sterling from the NBA.

The timing of the “apology” also is suspect. He was revealed to have said these things about three weeks ago — and now he offers his mea culpa?

This individual said some truly awful things. That’s no longer in doubt. There will be plenty of explanation required now to persuade many of us that he didn’t really mean what he said.

I do not believe this “apology” is going to fly.

Enough of the plane coverage already!

Gosh, this is hard to admit, but Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column is on target: CNN is overdosing on the plight of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.


I tune in to CNN to catch on the latest headlines and breaking news. The problem with the news network, though, is that it has redefined “breaking news” to include any tiny tidbit about an on-going story that doesn’t break any new ground.

CNN’s commentators have been among the worst in trying to determine the fate of the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It now appears to have crashed into the Indian Ocean somewhere off the western Australia coast. An international search team has deployed an unmanned submersible vehicle to look for the wreckage on the ocean floor.

But for the past month, CNN has been speculating out loud about the plane’s fate. “Experts” have actually suggested it was hijacked by someone and landed safely, or that it crashed on the Asian mainland in a forest so dense that no one can spot it.

The all-time best question, though, came from CNN anchor Don Lemon, who wondered out loud whether the plane might have flown into a black hole. Someone reminded him that a black hole would have swallowed the entire solar system … so that theory is out.

My heart breaks for the families of those who wonder about the fate of the 239 people on board the still-missing jetliner.

This incessant reporting — and repeating, actually — of what we already know, however, is getting to be too much for me to handle.

As Leonard Pitts writes in an open letter to CNN: “Granted, the missing jetliner is not an unimportant story. But neither is it a story deserving of the kind of round-the-clock-man-on-the-moon-war-is-over-presidential-assassination coverage you have given it.”

Tell us when you have something new to report.

Ingraham joins ABC … so what?

Media Matters is a left-wing journalism watchdog group that takes great delight in exposing Fox News Channel’s big lie that it is the “fair and balanced” cable news network.

I agree — usually — with Media Matters’s take on Fox.

However, I think the group if off base in attacking ABC News for hiring conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham as its newest “contributor.”


Why go after Media Matters on this one?

Well, I am one who likes to see news/commentary outlets offer wide-ranging points of view. Do I agree with Ingraham’s world view? No. However, she isn’t the first conservative voice to be heard on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday news talk show. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is a regular on the show, as was syndicated conservative columnist George Will before he left ABC to join the Fox News Channel’s Sunday talk show as a contributor.

ABC, as does NBC’s “Meet the Press,” quite often invites conservatives and liberals to sit at the same round table to discuss issues of the day. They debate. They even argue.

What is so wrong with that?

CNN, arguably the pioneer news network, does much the same thing on any of its myriad political talk shows. Newt Gingrich and Van Jones — a rightie and a leftie, respectively — are regulars on CNN’s revamped “Crossfire” program.

I don’t see why ABC is getting so worked up over Ingraham. Yes, she’s provocative and she occasionally crosses — what I consider, at least — the line of good taste and decency in making her points.

You’ve heard the old term about the “marketplace of ideas.” It’s broad, wide, deep and varied. Let all voices be heard. We’ll be the judges of who’s right or wrong.

So long, Piers Morgan

When you think about, the news that CNN has canceled Piers Morgan’s prime-time talk show should come as no surprise.

His ratings were terrible, almost as terrible as his show.

I tried many times to sit through his hour-long broadcasts. I don’t think I went the distance a single time.


CNN brought in the “Britain’s Got Talent” judge to succeed the venerable Larry King. From the get-go it became clear why Morgan was so different from King: He wouldn’t let his subjects speak their minds without getting into an argument with them.

Yes, King got downright bland late in his lengthy run on CNN. I reckon he grew tired. He’s, what, about 150 years old by now, right?

Morgan, though, distinguished himself — as the link attached to this blog notes — by making a fool of himself while trying to shame his guests.

He got onto an anti-gun kick for several weeks in a row after the Newtown, Conn., massacre of those children and their teachers, prompting some diehard Second Amendment fanatics to call for his deportation back to the UK. I did not buy into that silliness. He is, after all, entitled to speak his mind — even if he is a citizen of another country.

However, he seemingly failed to grasp how so many millions of Americans hold the words written into the Constitution as bordering on the holy.

I won’t miss Morgan. Frankly, I hadn’t watched his show in many months.

Which goes to show you just why CNN canceled his show. It’s the ratings, baby.

Will Greg and Ted stay together to the finish?

How long will it take — or should it take — for Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott to throw rocker Ted Nugent overboard?

Nugent’s appearances on behalf of Abbott have drawn considerable attention from those who oppose the loudmouth and those who endorse him. Count me, of course, as one of the former.


Nugent — aptly nicknamed The Motor City Madman — is prone to say some highly disgusting things about his political foes. He has called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” — and that’s just one of the things he’s uttered.

He was in Denton this week and introduced Abbott to a crowd as “my friend.” Friend? Really?

I’ve known and covered Abbott for a number of years. I have interviewed him in his capacity as a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court, as a sitting justice, candidate for attorney general and as the incumbent. I’ve always considered him to be a gentleman.

It utterly astounds me that he would align himself with the likes of Nugent, the flaming pro-gun rights advocate who seems to take great personal pride in offending as many people as he can with his horrendously hyperbolic hysteria.

Why the alliance? Political observers think Abbott is trying to energize his GOP “base,” as if it needs energizing these days, particularly from someone who’s reprehensible rhetoric drowns out whatever message he’s trying to deliver.

Texas politics has long been considered a contact sport. If the Madman is going to stay on the campaign trail with his good friend Greg Abbott, we’d all better put on plenty of armor.

Antoinette Tuff: America’s newest hero

Do you want to know what a hero looks like?

She looks like Antoinette Tuff, a Decatur, Ga., elementary school bookkeeper who talked a gunman out of doing tragic damage in the school where she works.


The stunning 9-1-1 call contains a riveting conversation between Tuff and the gunman who eventually surrendered to police. He did fire a shot, but no one was injured.

Pardon my repeating myself, but we use the word “hero” a bit too loosely these days. The term doesn’t belong to athletes or politicians. It belongs to those who put themselves into harm’s way to prevent injury — or worse — from happening to others.

They are police officers, firefighters, military personnel and now, a remarkably brave and calm school bookkeeper.

“Let me tell you something, babe,” Tuff said to the police dispatcher after the crisis had passed. “I’ve never been so scared in all the days of my life. Oh, Jesus.”

That’s quite all right, Ms. Tuff. Heroes are allowed to afraid.

Al Jazeera coming to America

Al Jazeera has come to TV screens all across America next Tuesday.

Get ready for the backlash, which I don’t think will be warranted.


Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, is thought by many to be some kind of mouthpiece of Middle East terror groups. Al Jazeera America, which will be shown by many cable providers, has enlisted several prominent American broadcast journalists to take part. Are they part of some terrorist cabal? I think not.

I’ve seen a little bit of Al Jazeera at work. While traveling through Israel in May and June 2009, I stayed for a few nights in the Haifa home of a wonderful couple. Haifa is a gorgeous city on the Mediterranean coast and the couple that hosted me couldn’t have been more gracious.

I awoke each morning to Al Jazeera news and talk on the television. I had heard all the criticism of the network from those who dislike its Arabic origins, apparently believing — as some in the United States do — that all Middle East residents are closet terrorists and murderers.

Having been imbued with that negative feeling, I was stunned to see that Al Jazeera presents the news calmly, without bias that I could detect and it is — to borrow a phrase — fair and balanced in its reporting.

What will Al Jazeera America bring to U.S. airwaves ought to mirror what I witnessed not far from where the network originates.

I’m hopeful it will lend another important perspective in the United States on the news of the day.

RNC marginalizes itself with boycott vote

The Republican National Committee has just voted to marginalize its standing with the broad swath of Americans who will have a say in electing the next president of the United States.

The RNC voted to exclude CNN and NBC News from any 2016 presidential primary debates.


I’m a bit unsure as to how that will work. I suppose if either CNN and NBC proposes to host a debate, none of the candidates will show up. Perhaps the RNC will set up a debate and invite the other networks — CBS, ABC and Fox — to take part.

Whatever the case, the RNC has failed to grasp the difference between news and entertainment.

At issue are a couple of proposed projects involving Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016. CNN is planning to air a film on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state; NBC is hoping to produce a four-part miniseries on HRC. The GOP says the networks are trying to influence voters by portraying Clinton allegedly in a positive light.

Well, no one knows yet how the networks are going to portray her. Nor has anyone grasped publicly the difference — in NBC’s case — the difference between the news operation and the network’s entertainment division. NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd has tried to explain that the entertainment is independent from news and neither has any say in what the other does.

That doesn’t matter, according to the RNC. I suppose the GOP would be just fine with all of this if the networks were planning to broadcast hatchet jobs on Hillary. A “fair and balanced” portrayal of a major American public figure, though, isn’t good enough.