Thursday, April 19, 2007


Big Ed Schultz Jumps on the I-Hate-NBC Bandwagon

OK, I can't stand the fat lump, radio talk show poser, faux-leftie, Ed Schultz, but I have my reasons. Today, he opened his show with a monologue about NBC's airing last night of the video made by the Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hu, and criticizing NBC for doing so.

He keeps asking what was added to the the story other than "added grief," etc. Maybe, since Ed isn't a journalist, somebody should clue him in. The video is news, you idiot, big news. The video manifesto was produced by the killer after he had killed one person and was on his way to kill more. It brings up plenty of questions, most remarkably, where were the police for an hour and a half while this nutjob was making this video?

NBC had the video, photos and text as they were FedEx'ed to their headquarters in New York. They had them exclusive of all other media outlets. NBC apparently ran them by the FBI, who said they had no problem with NBC airing the video and reporting it. What was NBC to do, admit they had it, explain that they aren't airing it out of "sensitivity" to the parents, and just recap, with no photos and no video?

In case fat boy Ed and any of the other morons criticizing NBC haven't noticed, NBC is in the television news business. Video is their lifeline and exclusive video is like a bag of fresh plasma. Any other network would have done the same thing and rightfully so. The media exists to cover news and report events without bias. This video was enormous and NBC would have been chastised roundly if they hadn't aired it.

Sure, the video was distasteful, nasty and played to the most morbid interests, but it may provide some insight into the perpetrator and may provide researchers with some insight into the mind of a deranged killer. Maybe that information may lead to preventing of this kind of rampage happening again.

Ed is criticizing Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, two of NBC's top newsmen, and Steve Capus, president of the news division, for running their business in a prudent manner and defending that decision. Big Ed would have done exactly the same thing, because he, just like Williams and Lauer, is a poser, just not such a big one as those network biggies.

He wishes he was, and since people are critical of NBC out of sympathy towards the parents of the victims, Ed's jumped on that particular bandwagon today, because that's the money side of the issue, the side with which most of his listeners will agree. What a windbag, perfectly willing to be blown about by popular opinion. Maybe he should go on American Idol.

I'm not necessarily a big fan of NBC news or any of the mainstream outlets, but I'd much rather have those people making decisions on what to air than an unsophisticated midwestern hick who pretends to know what's right and wrong in the news business. Ed's a talk show host, not a journalist, and as such, he should stay out of the fire lest he get burned.

He's gotten a whole three callers agreeing with him after 45 minutes and he's still saying, "I think I'm right on this one..." Maybe not, chubby. NBC was right and you're, as usual, wrong.

UPDATE: At 2:27 pm Eastern, Ed Schultz zays live on the air, "I think Americans are split on this issue, how about hand guns?" suggesting that listener feedback on the NBC airing of the killer video didn't fit his profile (i.e., people disagreed with him) and that he has to switch topics to keep his listeners. What a simpleton,

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Media Bias: Dead Students Trump Dead Soldiers

I had wanted to get this post up a day ago, but the rigors of competing in the great American fiction writing contest, otherwise known as the federal income tax filing deadline (yeah, I know, I'm a procrastinator), and some interesting research into dream theory kept me more than busy enough yesterday.

The 32 deaths at Virginia Tech are surely a tragedy worthy of our attention, remorse and sharing in the grief of the families of the victims. The murder rampage was an horrific act perpetrated by a deranged individual who apparently needed psychiatric medical attention more than the right to buy handguns.

But the media coverage of the tragedy bordered on pandering and sensationalism in its most overt form. On Tuesday, a day after the awful event, all three major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) expanded their usual half-hour nightly news programs to an hour to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the aftermath, the grief, the President's visit and speech. PBS devoted their entire news hour to coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

The networks also each aired special reports on the story, grasping desperately for every last heart-string and crushed emotion.

I, for one, found no good reason to immerse myself in the media spasm and could not bring myself to watch. There was nothing newsworthy in rehashing these morbid events.

But the networks' coverage got me to thinking about death, Americans and the media. Why is it that a senseless tragedy such as this merits additional coverage when our military routinely loses that many American soldiers - many of them roughly the same age - every two weeks in Iraq?

Are the students more deserving of our attention and grief than the soldiers? The students were victims, unsuspecting and innocent. The soldiers who die in Iraq (to say nothing of the countless Iraqi civilian deaths) are ostensibly putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. They deserve at least the same coverage by the media, if not more - more focused, more poignant, more probing - than the sobbing narration that substituted for journalism these past two days.

I offer no apologies for the media's choices, nor do they, but perhaps events such as those in Blacksburg, Virginia are easier to cover than those in Baghdad, Iraq. The networks can get more reporters, film crews and staff in place much more quickly and efficiently than to the arrival points of the flag-draped caskets from Iraq. (The sad fact is that the media is barred from covering the homecomings of dead soldiers by the government.)

As I grieve for the students, I grieve for the soldiers and their families who are not given rightful respect and honor even in their deaths. These too are sons and daughters, some mothers and fathers, yet when they die, the American public is hardly made aware.

Maybe a picture and a name may be flashed across the screen some days later. PBS does this most often on Fridays and ABC regularly displays the names of the fallen on their Sunday news show, This Week. But that is all the coverage they get, when they deserve so much more.

The truth is that Americans are mostly ashamed of the war in Iraq. A majority of us want our military to stop the carnage and come home, but the best the media can do is ignore the dead and report the routine killing of Iraqis and Americans in the loathsome maw of war.

Shame on them.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


Imus in the Twilight

If you were awake at all this past week, you couldn't have missed the unfolding drama surrounding radio talk show superstar Don Imus in the aftermath of his unfortunate remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Imus actually uttered the infamous three words, nappy-headed hos, characterizing the Rutgers' players as such, on Wednesday, April 4. By the 6th, Imus had already apologized on the air. He did so again on Monday, the 9th, but by the morning of Thursday, April 12, Don Imus, one of the original "shock jocks" (the other being the notoriously raunchy Howard Stern), was out of a job.

Both CBS, parent of the companies which aired and syndicated his morning show, Imus in the Morning and NBC, parent company of MSNBC, which simulcast his show on their cable network, had dismissed the jock permanently. Just a day earlier, the networks had decided on a two week hiatus for Imus, but the continuing cries for his dismissal - and probably more importantly - the defection of large advertisers like Staples, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline,
Read the complete Imus Timeline at Media Matters for America.
Bigelow Tea, American Express and Sprint Nextel - were taking a toll on network executives behind the Imus image.

By the weekend, both networks had gone into "mea culpa" mode, along with fellow giants of the public airwaves, PBS, FOX, and ABC. Soon everybody was talking about a "national dialogue" on race, women's rights and decency, pointing the finger at various rappers like Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Ludacris, who routinely use the N-word, and other racially, and sexually-charged language in their rap lyrics.

Finally, by Sunday night, CBS' 60 Minutes and ABC's Dateline featured the Imus, race, women's rights story on their shows and maybe the furor will subside and maybe some good will come of it.

The matter is pretty simple, especially concerning First Amendment rights, public decency notwithstanding. As Imus has overwhelmingly proven, anyone can say anything on public airwaves, though not necessarily without consequences. Our constitutional rights are well-established and are not threatened by this incident.

And while it may be OK to call President Bush misguided, suggest he's mentally-challenged or even opine that the Vice President is deliberately evil, it's quite a different thing to call a group of female college students - athletes or otherwise - prostitutes. Make no mistake, that was why Imus was fired. Had he stopped at "nappy-headed" he probably would have escaped with an apology and his job. But calling them "hos" stepped over the line.

He completely denigrated ten women he had never met and whose backgrounds he did not know. The fact that most of them were black makes little to no difference. Nobody, not Imus or anybody else, can publicly characterize a private person in a degrading, derogatory manner.

There are laws that preclude such speech, mostly under defamation of character statutes, and the Rutgers' women could, if they so choose, pursue the matter in the courts, and they'd likely have a winnable case against not only Don Imus, but CBS and NBC. Those are some deep pockets there, but the Rutgers women have shown themselves to be a singularly classy group of young women, and they probably won't pursue the matter in the courts.

Maybe that ought to tell us something.

As for the rappers, their use of the N-word, the "gansta" lifestyle and the self-degradation of their own race is a cultural issue - a black cultural issue - and one that I, being a 50-something white guy, have no dog in that fight. I'll leave that up to Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Jesse Jackson, Oprah and the Reverend Al Sharpton to sort out. I have a feeling they'll - apologies to Spike Lee - do the right thing.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Tommy Thompson for President?

I've just heard that former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, has announced that he's running for president in 2008. Thompson, who was also governor of Wisconsin, served in the HHS post during Geroge W. Bush's first term, otherwise known as "four years from hell."

This comes a little bit as a surprise because I thought Thompson had a really fat job as a lobbyist at something like $2 million a year. I guess that's just not enough for this particular fat bastard.

Thompson, interviewed on ABC's "This Week" called himself the "reliable conservative." I suppose that means if he's elected president, all gays will be banned from seeking employment and women who try to get abortions will be jailed.

I'm pretty sure Thompson wants to repeal most of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and add a new twist that only people who own more than 10 acres of real estate can vote.

Just what we need, a reliable conservative. Thompson is human garbage.