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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This is getting ridiculous

From CNN:

Traces found on piece of pressure cooker

  • Sources: DNA may be from victim or accomplice
  • Suspect's widow tested for match
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev's cause of death determined FULL STORY
See suspect play with niece? What does that have to do with anything or add to our understanding of the case?
 From Fox News:

 We don't want you here? What is that about? Why is that news?

The mainstream media are engaged in a "feeding frenzy" about this case, and yet there is nothing about hazardous workplaces, which in the past two weeks have killed more people than terrorism has all year.

Monday, April 29, 2013

CNN: Be afraid, be very afraid

We all witnessed the horror of the Boston bombings.

And we've been told, consistently, that two men acted alone. This was not an international conspiracy like, say, the 9/11 attacks. And al-Qaeda had nothing to do with it.

Yet, remember after 9/11, anytime an attack was launched anywhere around the world, the media would report about possible "links" or "ties" to al-Qaeda. It would often turn out in those cases that there was no link or tie to al-Qaeda, or that the link or tie was perhaps a single email exchange or that an attacker had once met a member of al-Qaeda or something like that. Having an interaction with someone means you are linked or tied to them does not make it a meaningful link or tie.

Yet, with the Boston bombers, CNN is at it again. Today, CNN reported, live on the air, that a raid in Russia was possibly connected to the Boston bombing. The reporter repeatedly said they were showing images of a violent raid by the Russian military today (where a man was killed) because it was the latest image and information they had on the Boston bombing. In this context of tanks rolling in and a building being exploded on the air, the reporter repeated that this may be linked or tied to the Boston bombing.

Going to a reporter live elsewhere (but strangely not on the scene of the raid), the CNN reporter asked the other man about this supposed connection. Astonishingly, the other reporter indicated that the older Boston bomber (now dead) had posted a video of a man on his YouTube page, a video supposedly promoting some kind of jihad. So that is the link or tie to this group in Russia now being raided by the military there? Got that, the Boston bomber was linked or tied to this group because one of them posted a Youtube video about them?

Wow, CNN, given this, I guess it is also fair to say that you are linked or tied to the group as well.

What, exactly, does this supposed news report have to do with the facts? And what value does it add to the discussion of the Boston bombings?


Friday, April 26, 2013

Media bias: A case study

This is easy.

Turn on MSNBC today. Watch what they are covering.

Then turn on Fox News. Watch what they are covering.

I bet it's not the same thing. Nor is it being covered the same way.

On MSNBC this morning, they were covering President Obama live talking at and to Planned Parenthood's National Conference. He was talking about women controlling their own health care decisions.

At the very same time, on Fox News, there was a panel discussion about President Obama's investment in electric cars and whether this is an appropriate use of taxpayer resources. No live coverage of the president nor discussions about how Planned Parenthood actually does far more than provide abortions.

This form of bias--what to cover and what not to cover, as well as how to cover it--is the most significant source of bias in the news today.

When it comes to crime we see the same thing--some forms of crime are coverered and others are ignored. Only MSNBC and Fox News typically cover and ignore the same kinds of crimes.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why is THIS the top story?

USA Today, one of the most widely read newspapers since it is available in every major city in the country, has THIS as its top story today, another "high profile trial" ...

Jodi Arias trial
Why is THIS the most important story of the day, a story about one woman charged with one crime? As the media remains focused on such stories about individual crimes, corporations continue to kill people and receive almost no media coverage.

These stories help explain why Americans are so focused on street crime in spite of the fact that it is NOT the greatest threat to our safety.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top stories in leading newspapers today

From the New York Times

 S.E.C. Is Asked to Require Disclosure of Donations

The Securities and Exchange Commission may soon make publicly traded corporations disclose all of their political donations, and business groups are already preparing a counterattack.
News Analysis

Unraveling Boston Suspects’ Online Lives, Link by Link

Once the search for the marathon bombing suspects focused on Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers’ social media postings provided a rich vein of material to mine.

Boston Suspects Are Seen as Self-Taught and Fueled by Web

Investigators’ early portrait of the two brothers accused in the marathon bombings suggests they were driven by extremist Islamic beliefs and may have learned to build bombs on the Web.
Senators See Problems in Agencies’ Data Sharing

From the Washington Post

FBI searches home of another man in ricin case

Authorities dismiss charges against Mississippi man in case of poison-laced letters sent to lawmakers and are now investigating a second man.

Bombing suspects appear to lack ties to foreign terrorists

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired him and his brother to attack, officials say.
Baltimore City Detention Center’s guards are accused of aiding a gang. (Post)

‘The inmates literally took over’

13 female guards are accused of aiding gang’s criminal efforts in case that also alleges sex with inmates and access to fancy cars.

Collapse of building housing garment factories kills at least 87 in Bangladesh

Collapse of building housing garment factories kills at least 87 in Bangladesh
The collapse stirred memories of a fatal fire at a garment factory in November that killed 112 people.

Why Americans aren’t mad as hell about failure of the gun bill

Why Americans aren’t mad as hell about failure of the gun bill THE FIX | Post-Pew poll suggests that Senate vote reflected how people generally feel about guns.


These are the top stories from two leading--inner ring or first tier--newspapers.

What do you notice about them?

Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, criminal justice, guns ...

AND ....

two stories about possible crimes committed by the powerful.

Now check CNN and Fox News and see if those stories are there as well.

Probably not.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Americans: Addicted to Tragedy???

Wow, just wow.

This is some serious food for thought ... a serious criticism of the media and its role in our addiction, as well as how we feed it

From the article:

We've not only become attracted to catastrophe and chaos, but we've created 24/7/365 communication empires ready, posed, even eager to deliver the goods when the worst happens.

So I ask, has catastrophe become a kind of emotional catnip for us? You know, the kind of stuff we love to hate?

Whether it's school children mowed down by a crazed gunman, a bombing, even a fertilizer plant leveling half an American town, we no longer just shake our heads in disgust and disbelief and then go on with life. No, we don't. That was so last century. That's not enough today.

When one of these kind of events happen now an entire industry swings into action. News becomes reality TV - for real -- unscripted, unpredictable, unfolding as we breathlessly watch. And watch we will, because there's no escape. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, radio, internet, it's everywhere, all the time.

Read the rest:

THIS is news .... THIS is not.

Check out the front page of CNN. THIS is news.

Katherine Russell learned through news reports that the father of her 2-year-old daughter was suspected in the Boston attack, her lawyer said.
THIS is CNN's top story. An entire volume of information about a single bombing, a horrible event that killed three people.
But THIS is not anywhere to be found on CNN:
"What BP Doesn’t Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill"
"The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was even worse than BP wanted us to know."
This article is about the crimes of BP, which even after killing eleven people once, and fifteen people just a few years ago, is NOT news on CNN. 
And experts believe they will do it again!
Even so, it is NOT news on CNN.
BP is, in the opinion of this humble criminologist, a serial mass murderer. That is, they kill people over a long period of time like a serial killer. And they kill lots of people at once like a mass murderer. Thus they are a serial mass murderer.
Yet, that is not enough to make the news. Not when there is a young bomber who killed three people.
So, stay afraid. Just make sure you are afraid of the things least likely to kill you and not afraid of the things that are most likely to kill you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another counter to the "Liberal Media"

In chapters 1 and 2 of the book, I write about how people think the media and liberal but show that the media are actually owned by large corporations, and thus, the media are as liberal as the companies that own them allow them to be.

Think of it this way: There are liberals in the world. And they have money. And they are willing to spend it to hear their side in the news. So of course there will be liberal sources of information available to them. This is why there are shows like the Rachel Maddow show, etc.

But there are also conservatives in the world. And they have money. And they are willing to spend it to hear their side in the news. So of course there will be conservative sources of information available to them. This is why there are shows like Bill O'Reilly's, etc.

The news is determined by money. Not ideology.

Yet, convinced that the media have a liberal bias, Fox News was created by wealthy Republicans (Google it) in order to provide the "conservative side" (even though they claim to be fair and balanced and all that nonsense).

Now, very wealthy Republicans are planning on buying up some major newspapers. This is part of their plan that involves: 1) Taking over state legislatures; 2) Redrawing legislative districts to assure they can maintain control; 3) Stirring up the people; and 4) Controlling the media.

The net effect of these policies would be to control the law, get the population upset about issues that actually mostly harm only the very wealthy, and control information, thereby assuring policies into the future that would benefit them.

From the New York Times:

Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and supporters of libertarian causes, held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo. They laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes.       

The first two pieces of the strategy — educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics — were not surprising, given the money they have given to policy institutes and political action groups. But the third one was: media.       
Other than financing a few fringe libertarian publications, the Kochs have mostly avoided media investments. Now, Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

Not sure what will come of this. But it is likely that the news will soon become just another tool of the powerful to control the rest of us.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The news today

After the bombing in Boston and the surrounding events last night, of course THIS is the lead story in the news today:

Now, clearly this is an important story.

Having said that, all of this is over the deaths of three people (now four after the killing last night of a police officer). I wish the news would keep that in perspective and ask whether that justifies such coverage (maybe it still does, I'm just pointing it out). 

Here is an example of what I mean. During all this there was an explosion in Waco, Texas at a fertilizer factory. Many more people died there, and of course it has been in the news.

Yet, the issue of such hazardous workplaces has not been in the news. At that particular factory, the last time it had been inspected by OSHA was in the 1980s. Serious safety violations were discovered there. The company paid a fine. Wait for it. $30!

The company told OSHA there was no risk of fire or explosion at the plant. And so OSHA just believed the company. And now hundreds are injured, more than a dozen are likely dead, and property is destroyed all over the town.

So, which is a greater threat--terrorism or irresponsible businesses? If the latter, why not more media coverage?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We have to rely on a comedian for the truth?

It is a sad time when we as citizens and consumers of the news have to rely on a comedian to set the record straight about how the media cover crime and why it matters.

Yes, Jon Stewart does it again.

Last night on The Daily Show he illustrated, using humor, something that is actually quite outrageous--CNN falling all over itself to bring us BREAKING NEWS about the Boston bombing attack.

Here is part one:

Here is part two:

Watch both and see that CNN's obsession with the story and its strong desire to be first led it to be wrong, all day long. My question is, why must we rely on a comedian to show us what is wrong with our news?

And oh yeah, Jon Stewart also illustrated another important reality that has been largely ignored by the media now and that was ignored in the past, too. See it here:

My question is, since torture is ILLEGAL under both US and international law, when will we hold those responsible for it accountable?