Friday, June 25, 2010


Writing this sitting on a metal folding chair at a beat up old folding table some kids just had a little pizza party on after skate boarding at the indoor Shields skate park over in the the wilds of central Jersey.

Here with my grandson and his uncle, my youngest, both twelve (or nearly, my grandson turns twelve at the beginning of August, my youngest thirteen this Fall). After over a week of nonstop summertime fun with my sister visiting and her youngest with three of his four kids and my daughter and granddaughter and son-in-law coming down from Massachusetts the day of my nephew's visit with his kids, and the community outdoor pool and down the Jersey shore with friends Sue and Jeannie with Jeannie's three kids, and visits with old friends of the family and high school friends and Father's Day up in the Berkshires babysitting my grandson, youngest and two other boys their age at the skate park and another outdoor pool and etc. etc. etc.

Got a little worn out, especially over the past few days when we had a little heat wave going on with temps getting close to 100, etc. So yesterday's post was a little more less well thought out than usual, maybe some of the comments also—too generalized and maybe a little strident in my frustration with how disappointing the political "dialogue" and news coverage of important realities has become.

I know it's partly because of the economy and the economics of declining media outlets and formats (the network and cable news etc.) so there are fewer reporters and their camera"men" out in the world doing what television seemed so good at after it broke free of the studio confinement of early TV and helped shaped the 'sixties and how it is still viewed.

But except for the cell phone videos of more recent unavoidably historic moments—like the death of that murdered-by-the-state (their thugs), beautiful young Iranian woman—almost all the news shows actually "show" is talking heads repeating the same tired perspectives that we could easily reduce to a twit in almost every case: on the right: Obama, liberals, progressives, government, all bad. On the left: save the world from corporate and government greed and malfeasance.

With some variations. But as Frank Rich put it, and others, government might not be so great a lot of the time, but no government, which seems to be the cry of the right, is unacceptable. (Whenever anyone pulls that "big government can't do anything right" jive with me I tell them my social security checks always arrive on time, as did my G.I. Bill benefits when I was younger, and the interstate highways I used to travel all over this country throughout the 1960s and '70s and '80s, et-I could go on and on-cetera.)

The news shows should be using the technology available to create little works of art. The Daily Show manages to do something like that with an obviously smaller staff and budget etc. But I mean something much more interesting and invigorating and entertaining and enlightening! It's 2010 "for cryin' out loud" as my sister would say.

How many times can we stare at a visual of the leaking oil at the source of the leak on a screen in the background while someone sitting at a desk or behind some kind of stand-up bar table (or whatever that horrible set is on CNN) babbles on about stuff we already know and have heard repeated endlessly.

Have you see any in depth footage and firsthand perspective on any of the boats supposedly "skimming" the oil from the surface the water in the Gulf? Or footage of other oil rigs in the Gulf or for that matter in locations around the world, especially of other recent "spills" (that innocuous term that sounds like corporate-speak, "woops, sorry dear, I spilled some oil") etc.?

There are great documentaries being made with the new HD digital technology, and some are shown on HBO or other cable networks, but I haven't seen much other than "true crime" stuff on the networks (and on much of cable for that matter, trying to find news on any of the supposed news networks on the weekend leaves me watching mini-docs about some specific murder that's mostly a reporter trying to make the mundane "facts" of some crime seem important or "sexy" etc.).

Where's the anti-Murdoch, the new ted Turner, someone with the money and power and insight to take advantage of 21st Century technology to give us a TV news network that really excites and inspires as well as educates a wide audience to the realities not of opinion and celebrity sightings and "here's the same three-top-stories-we'll-be-repeating-endlessy-everywhere-for-the-next-twenty-four hours" jive, but of what's really important going on all over the world that will impact all of us now and in the future.

Okay, I'm still tired and it's time to head home from this skate park, so that's enough (more than, I'm sure) from me for today.


Anonymous said...

the "new" news? well,
we got it!

3 or 4 rich white guys Old Pharts OWN the media,
lock, stock and barrel... so

it is all about dumbing things down so that "we the consuming people"
all the while thinking that we got "the straight/honest poop" on things via the trusty 6 o'clock news and our "honest" reps.

what did levy write IN NINETEEN SIXTY SEVEN?:

you don't understand
i Can Not find the love
freedom of speech - a lie
freedom of religion -a lie
freedom from want - a lie
freedom from fear - a lie

Freedom is $


from d.a.levy's poem what can i say?

not much has changed since 1967... just more and more of less and less...

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Right on, Michael. Great commentary. And so true. There are so many avenues to have eyes on and spread awareness about what is really going on in this world and yet, all we get are the boilerplate "branded" backgrounds (ususally red/white/blue)with heads-in-squares spouting opinion without foundation. I worked with actor Ron Eldard back in '98 and even then he referred to them as "pontificating putzes." Then we see Anderson Cooper interviewing some guy standing in an ND environment, not revealing what's really going on. Then we see the twirps on Fox news saying there shouldn't be a moratorium on drilling and that all oil companies should not have to participate in preventive measures as "no disaster has yet happened with their drilling, only BP".

It's complex, but there's no question that we need more truth, better communication and more OBJECTIVE news reporting over malformed opinion told by wind-up clones.

Robert Berner said...

Dear Lal---"Objective" reporting is a stick with which to beat anyone who reports in a way you don't like. The mainstream media give you the mainstream news. If you want alternatives, you can find plenty online. Every day you can watch DemocracyNow or GritTV online, or you can read CounterPunch or rns, successor to TruthOut. I'll take Alex Cockburn over Wolf Blitzer any day.
Bob B.

Robert Berner said...

Lal--A correction: Reader Supported News (rsn) is not the successor to TruthOut. The latter is still around.
Bob B.

Lally said...

I hear ya Roberts. But Bob B., I read several alternative news media online every day including some you mention. But I'm talking about a major TV channel. CNN is still seen by many as the most neutral so it's often the default news channel (like at my gym) to avoid arguments. And the network news still get the largest audiences.

Butch in Waukegan said...

One of our local public TV stations, WYCC, has an adjunct cable channel that presents English language news programs from other countries. Al Jazeera, Germany, France and Russia (RT) are a few I catch occasionally.

What a contrast. Very little of the swirling graphics and blaring music you see on US networks — fireworks meant to entertain the uniformed and distract the rest of us from the frothy content.

The stories are more varied. Important events that are happening to other (non-American) are, can you believe, shown and discussed. Longer video clips too.

Last night I caught a little bit of Al Jezeera. There was a long segment on the upcoming G20. It gave a good synopsis of the issues. It was every bit of 8 minutes, with no commercials.

I don't know enough to confirm this but I've read in a few places that there is a significant difference between domestic CNN and CNN International.

It seems that a major portion of US news content is designed to confirm that We’re #1 and tell us who to hate and fear. Hey, what do you think about those evil Turks?

Anonymous said...

The internet is the New Press. The problem is left to the reader to discern which sources of news are credible and as many would desire 'objective'.

While AP was once the standard for breaking news, today the standard has become Twitter.

Once Walter Cronkite let us know that Viet Nam was a waste of lives over a series of lies netwok news became entertainment.

The more things change , the more they remain the same. The internet has returned us to the days when we cannot trust the rumors or pronouncements until we feel some reliable source can give them credance. The 'yenta' and the gossip have become more reliable than the slanted news networks and the blogosphere.

It seems with all our great advancements in communication and technology, we have moved back to an era when 'word of mouth' is the most reliable source of news.