Trending Topics:

On NPR, All Trivia Considered

Israel/Palestine
on 45 Comments

Yesterday I drove from my mother’s house back home and listened to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered from 4:25 to 6 pm. I couldn’t believe how much trivia I heard. Egypt is in crisis and the Snowden case leads to the detention of a leading journalist’s partner, but NPR’s signature show sounds like Muzak for the entitled.

Some of the stories that the network put time and energy into: 

–Texas barbecue, for nearly 7 minutes. Brisket is the Pinot Noir of Texas barbecue and it’s really hard to make, because it can dry out. I feel I’ve heard this story 500 times.

–More food. Two minutes on a book about a duke’s cookbook from the 1930s. Medallions of egg.

–Tech devices are getting rid of buttons. Gesture controls. Clappers. Phones went from dials to buttons once. Who knew.

–How do you pronounce the word “comptroller” in NY city race? I s— you not. Three minutes and thirty seconds.

–A story about some obscure bespoke Paris luggage maker, nearly 6 minutes long. Suitcase that fits the car’s wheelwell. How do you say yawn in French? 

–Vacation horror story. A couple goes to the Dominican on their honeymoon, and the groom slips on the pool tiles and gets an X-ray. The production values are lavish: lots of funny musical interruptions. And this is an ongoing series?

–This new novel can be held up to your smartphone and you’ll get added clues about the main character. Nearly 6 minutes.

OK, I’m leaving out the serious stories that I heard, below. But does NPR understand the times we live in? A massacre in Egypt, the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner for 9 hours at Heathrow, and they’re not having serious discussions of these issues? Both those stories got under 4 minutes, a lot less than the bespoke luggagemaker with the unpronounceable name.

One of my beliefs about the internet is that it’s undermined the mainstream media by robbing it of a traditional role: questioning authority. If you question authority, you go on internet; and the MSM misses that stuff. That is to say, in the old days, the MSM had to do some serious subversive stuff because it was the only game in town. Now it’s lost that function, so it’s become Muzak.  

P.S. Here are the serious stories I heard. They mostly come in at under 4 minutes: Federal task force on Sandy. 3:18. Some discussion of global warming. A great report on national digitized library plans. Japan considers getting rid of constitution imposed after World War II. 5:04. Serious reporting, touching on human rights. Detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at London Heathrow. Important story, of course. One expert calls it an attack on journalism. But only 3:53. Obama administration resists cutting off aid to Egypt. 3:55. Though there’s the usual prevarication, from talking head Anthony Cordesman, about our interests in Egypt: they’re the Suez canal and a flyway for possible Syrian intervention, before Israel is mentioned. Seriously: a flyway for possible intervention in Syria?

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

45 Responses

  1. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    August 20, 2013, 11:40 am

    Thanks Phil,

    Here’s a story nearly everyone has missed. Secretary Kerry last week in Brazil giving a pep talk to the diplomatic mission there, and lamenting the decline of dictatorships and the rise of the internet because it makes it harder to govern:

    “I’m a student of history, and I love to go back and read a particularly great book like Kissinger’s book about diplomacy where you think about the 18th, 19th centuries and the balance of power and how difficult it was for countries to advance their interests and years and years of wars. And we sometimes say to ourselves, boy, aren’t we lucky. Well, folks, ever since the end of the Cold War, forces have been unleashed that were tamped down for centuries by dictators, and that was complicated further by this little thing called the internet and the ability of people everywhere to communicate instantaneously and to have more information coming at them in one day than most people can process in months or a year.

    “It makes it much harder to govern, makes it much harder to organize people, much harder to find the common interest, and that is complicated by a rise of sectarianism and religious extremism that is prepared to employ violent means to impose on other people a way of thinking and a way of living that is completely contrary to everything the United States of America has ever stood for. So we need to keep in mind what our goals are and how complicated this world is that we’re operating in.” http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/08/213088.htm

    To further abuse Plato’s cave metaphor, the internet let’s everyone see what’s outside the cave, so the role of the philosopher kings [and the traditional news media] to pipe that information into the cave, and to manipulate it, as the Imperial Elites deem necessary for the “common good,” as only they are privileged to perceive it, is threatened, and exercising that manipulation is made harder now by people being able to check the facts and communicate directly . . . tsk, tsk.

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      August 20, 2013, 12:48 pm

      David Doppler,

      Money quote:

      To further abuse Plato’s cave metaphor, the internet let’s everyone see what’s outside the cave, so the role of the philosopher kings [and the traditional news media] to pipe that information into the cave, and to manipulate it, as the Imperial Elites deem necessary for the “common good,” as only they are privileged to perceive it, is threatened, and exercising that manipulation is made harder now by people being able to check the facts and communicate directly . . . tsk, tsk.

      Nice writing.

      In other words, the Internet may help enable the development of authentic democracy empowered by a fully informed electorate — or it could be used to build the ultimate oppressive and totalitarian surveillance system — wielded by a small super-elite of billionaire plutocrats and oligarchs to keep the masses in line.

      We may be trending more in the latter direction, with the enthusiastic cooperation of much of the US Congress.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 5:46 am

        @seanmcbride
        Yep. Those were my thoughts too–the phrase “informed consent, the bedrock of democracy” popped up in my mind–there’s Kerry, our new SOD–whining about it as a hassle for such a patriotic patrician as Kerry.

    • eljay
      eljay
      August 20, 2013, 1:12 pm

      “Well, folks, ever since the end of the Cold War, forces have been unleashed that were tamped down for centuries by dictators … “

      If he means personal freedoms, human rights, democracy and equality, that’s not a bad thing.

      If, instead, he means corruption, persecution, torture, assassination and destruction, well, why should dictators have all the fun?

      ” … and that was complicated further by this little thing called the internet and the ability of people everywhere to communicate instantaneously …

      “It makes it much harder to govern … “

      Yes, it’s much harder to govern when people know – or have the ability to find out fairly easily – what sh*t you’re trying to pull.

  2. American
    American
    August 20, 2013, 12:05 pm

    I think the internet has been a huge pro for truth…and yea, for propaganda too…but I also think it has a tendency to make people ‘internet activist’—-spend a lot of effort on discussing as we do here —instead of more direct and public or street protest directed at the powers.

    • David Doppler
      David Doppler
      August 20, 2013, 1:13 pm

      So Mondoweiss needs to add a “meet up” feature, maybe. It would be good to incorporate good old fashioned social interaction to this unique website, and from their possibly to local political activism (all politics being local, as Tip O’Neill said).

      • MLE
        MLE
        August 20, 2013, 2:31 pm

        What will all the hasbots do when they’re not able to make it?

    • ritzl
      ritzl
      August 20, 2013, 3:23 pm

      +10 The granularizing forces are directly pitted against the informing and organizing forces. Granular is winning by a neck.

      Great comment.

      @David Doppler a meet-up tool could be useful.

  3. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    August 20, 2013, 12:52 pm

    NPR=Neocon-lite Propaganda Radio; or, Neoliberal Propaganda Radio (same thing).

  4. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    August 20, 2013, 2:03 pm

    Commercial MSM started abrogating their responsibility for hard news before the rise of the internet, when they started paring back their staff of journalists to contain costs and maximize profits. The remaining staff was expected to fill the same amount of space with less time to do investigative reporting, often relying on reworked press releases and news agregators. The rise of the reliance on the internet for hard news was initially a response of consumers seeking real news from alternative sources (and finding international papers more easily accessible than the dated hard copies at the public library) combined with a proliferation of citizens willing to share their opinions (some of whom not only could write well, but had formerly been employed as journalists by some MSM outlets). Slate, Salon, HuffPo, etc. were a response to people who were already seeking alternatives online; they didn’t drive the demand. The owners of major papers have only themselves to blame for cheapening their product and then being surprised that fewer consumers wanted to buy it.

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      August 20, 2013, 2:24 pm

      Public Broadcasting, on the other hand, has always projected the image of the quality alternative. Even so, it is subject to pressures from government, which has not only decreased its funding, but imposed conservative leadership on its boards. Further, its major corporate sponsors and wealthy donors can pull funding from programs when they don’t like the coverage they receive. The “Citizen Koch” documentary is a good illustration of those dynamics. In addition, Public Broadcasting has been subjected to so many consumer campaigns from interest groups, like CAMERA, in the past, that it preemptively censors itself to try to meet those groups expectations. Then when those groups continue to complain that it fails to hit every propaganda point and when other listeners complain that it is spouting any propaganda points at all, Public Broadcasting is satisfied that it must be getting things right.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 5:54 am

        @ Rusty Pipes
        Yes, mainstream media is now owned by a handful of corporations with the bottom line as the highest value; advertisers basically rule content, along with a small bunch of controlling managers and shareholders, gate-keepers re foreign affairs. NPR depends more and more on corporate sponsors.

  5. DavidK
    DavidK
    August 20, 2013, 2:04 pm

    I think NPR has been irrelevant as a news source for at least a generation. William Blum, author of “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy” , called NPR, National Pentagon Radio because there’s always some four star general or neoconservative pundit trotting out the latest reason why we have to invade this or that country. As for the truth about the I/P conflict, you’ll never hear it there. Of course there’s a lot of junk out there, but there’s a lot in print and on television too. I think you need to know where the source is coming from. For instance, when NBC was owned by GE they were big promoters of the Iraq War. GE doesn’t just make toasters. They make weapons systems too. Big rewards for them in promoting war.

    As for the Kerry comment that’s out of the playbook of one of the godfathers of the neoconservative movement, Leo Strauss. He always thought the masses were too stupid to make there own choices and had to have some invisible hand guiding them. All very authoritarian and Facist.

  6. Ellen
    Ellen
    August 20, 2013, 2:07 pm

    I don’t know where to post this, but under a commentary about NPR media Muzak might be best.

    Daniel Seaman was (or still is) in charge of promoting Israel’s imagine online.

    So to promote Israel he writes on his very public FB page, on the recent commemoration of the victims of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima:

    “I am sick of the Japanese, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Peace’ groups the world over holding their annual self-righteous commemorations for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims,” he wrote. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the consequence of Japanese aggression. You reap what you sow…”

    To Saeb Erekat, who commented on new settlement expansion he wrote “Is there a diplomatic way of saying ‘Go F*** yourself’?”

    To the Church of Scotland when the Church argued that Jews do not have a divine right to the land, he wrote: “Why do they think we give a flying F*** what you have to say?”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/16/israeli-daniel-seaman-facebook-postings

    This is the public and primitive face of Israeli government PR?

    He is suspended after the most recent horrible rant on the Japanese, but maintains a government position to promote Israel in the internet.

    ” When he returns from his suspension, Seaman is expected to oversee a far-reaching plan to utilize students and other supporters of Israel around the world in the state’s efforts to defend itself in social media.” as the J Post reports.

    http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Netanyahus-social-media-director-suspended-323275

    Will All Things Considered or “On the Media” cover this dynamic?

    • RudyM
      RudyM
      August 20, 2013, 2:20 pm

      Israeli government social media experts must make it very difficult for The Onion to do its job.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      August 20, 2013, 2:51 pm

      “I am sick of the Japanese, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Peace’ groups the world over holding their annual self-righteous commemorations for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims,” he wrote. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the consequence of Japanese aggression. You reap what you sow…”

      Oh, what a vile, immoral statement. Virtually no one who were murdered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in any way responsible for Japanese aggression. At all. It was mostly children, women, old folks and every day people — who had no say in the make up of the government which controlled their lives. Compound that with the fact that these were inhumane radiological weapons.

      Thus, one can only make the statement that Seaman made if one subscribes to the notion that it is okay to murder children and commit massive war crimes, but only if they are of the same nationality as someone who committed “agression” against you.

      Scratch a zionist, uncover a fascist.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 6:04 am

        @Woody Tanaka

        Yes, we bombed the s— out of Japanese cities with incendiary bombs; those wooded buildings burned like crazy. We carpet bombed Dresden too. Look what Sherman did on his march to the sea. Look at OP Cast Lead. Economic sanctions too, like those Iran now suffers from; trying to crush the civilian population since the elite don’t suffer at all–it was the same in Japan in ’45–the Imperial Japanese military didn’t care how many civilians died from those A bombs. Christ look at what Nixon did to Cambodia, and what happened there subsequently with Pol Pot. Look at Obama’s drone carnage. Are we going backwards or forwards in terms of the old rules of war that treated civilians differently than uniformed soldiers? I guess gentleman wars ended when the English longbow penetrated the best armor a knight could buy. Sorry, just some stuff that popped in my head here–not sure where I’m going with it. Asymmetrical warfare? Was 9/11 payback, “the chickens coming home to roost” similar in pattern to Truman dropping those A bombs on Japanese cities?

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        August 21, 2013, 3:55 pm

        Yes, the atomic bombs were not the only war crimes committed by Allied forces in the war. Far, far from it. So you get victor’s justice. Nor have the crimes stopped. The talk of an interest in human rights is demonstrated to be so much hot air.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 21, 2013, 11:15 pm

        Are we going backwards or forwards in terms of the old rules of war that treated civilians differently than uniformed soldiers?

        I think we’re going forward. It wasn’t possible to prosecute anyone for internationally recognized war crimes until WWII. It wasn’t possible to prosecute crimes against humanity in peace time until the 1990s. The UN for all of its faults, has always had organs and officials who have pointed out violations of international law, e.g. Iraq war illegal, says Annan: The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the BBC the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter. — http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661134.stm

        Pundits predicted that it would take decades for the Rome Statute to ever enter into effect and that the majority of states would never join. None of those predictions have come true. The UN Security Council has either established tribunals or assisted in the work of others , like the ones for Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and Cambodia in situations that weren’t or couldn’t be turned over to the ICC. It will eventually handle cases like those.

        The ICC was established outside the UN Organization and no state has a veto. The first review conference adopted amendments on aggression that signaled a desire to make the Prosecutions more independent from the UN and the Security Council. That trend will continue over time. Initially the Court was structured to complement national judicial systems, but it’s already acting independently as a Court of first resort in several situations. That trend will increase over time too. I think the Assembly of State Parties will evolve over time into something much more like a legislature that will modify and enlarge the statute and take over some of the roles of the General Assembly and the International Law Commission in the area of codifying international criminal law. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it will probably have something like its own Marshall Service.

        We have human rights and humanitarian rights treaty bodies and watchdogs these days. Crimes against humanity are routinely reported during UN periodic reviews that are universal in application. There has been a trend to establish ad hoc and permanent international criminal tribunals in some of the places you mentioned, that I cited above. Many States have even made self-referrals to the ICC. Although the African Union has complained about the ICC focusing on situations in Africa, the Union itself has established its own extraordinary regional criminal tribunal. So the trend is toward more criminal responsibility and accountability, not less and prosecutions based on self referrals. The regional human rights courts are also moving toward compulsory jurisdiction over human rights abuses.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 22, 2013, 12:31 am

        So you get victor’s justice. Nor have the crimes stopped. The talk of an interest in human rights is demonstrated to be so much hot air.

        I couldn’t agree more. But the members of the UN, the ICC, and the African Union are publicly criticizing the superpowers over their abuses, serious crimes, and attitude on impunity. That has even affected policy debates and decisions here in the USA. There are a few countries that are willing to arrest responsible US officials for things like the drone program and I think that those voices will eventually turn into a chorus.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 6:20 am

        Dresden? 9/11? Sherman’s march to the sea? Nixon’s bombs on Cambodia? Obama’s drones in Afghanistan and Yemen? OP Cast Lead?
        Asymmetrical warfare? Prior guerrilla warfare? Weren’t all Japanese being trained to fight the pending invaders–with sticks and stones even? Island warfare against the Japanese was very costly to the US Marines; did they do the math estimate cost for invading Japan?

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        August 21, 2013, 4:06 pm

        “Weren’t all Japanese being trained to fight the pending invaders–with sticks and stones even?”

        Yeah, and it would have been about as successful as you would imagine an “army” of old men, women and children carrying sticks going up against the largest amphibious military force in history would be.

        “Island warfare against the Japanese was very costly to the US Marines; did they do the math estimate cost for invading Japan?”

        The problem wasn’t the fighting, it was the insistence by the politicians on “unconditional surrender,” which they didn’t even follow in the end, that was the problem. Had the US issued a pre-atom bomb, post-Potsdam “clarification” that offered to accept what it ultimately accepted (i.e., retention of the Imperial House), it is almost certain that all that killing would have been unnecessary.

  7. Empiricon
    Empiricon
    August 20, 2013, 2:15 pm

    Have felt the same way in the last year or so. I’d think rather listen to Top 40 or watch TMZ than listen to NPR. At least those don’t claim to be anything other than junk food for the mind.

    My impression is that NPR, like almost all legacy US media today, has been neutered by the loud voices and dollars of the rightwing and/or The Lobby. To stereotype a bit, NPR listeners are urban liberals who are either PEPper or non-Jewish. Those who are PEPpers react sharply whenever anything pro-Palestinian is aired, while the non-Jewish listeners can be satified with the mundane, like talking about barbeque for 7 minutes.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 21, 2013, 6:30 am

      @ Empiricon
      Cable’s Washington Journal on CSPAN is more provocative, although I’ve noticed they have ever fewer guests on that are critical of Israel or our “special relationship” with Israel, and, too, callers are cut off very quickly even if they begin with tame comments or questions on the same subject.

  8. eljay
    eljay
    August 20, 2013, 2:26 pm

    >> “I am sick of the Japanese, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Peace’ groups the world over holding their annual self-righteous commemorations for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims,” he wrote. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the consequence of Japanese aggression. You reap what you sow…”

    I strongly suspect that if the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel were to be nuked because of its past (war) crimes and its on-going campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction, torture and murder, a Zio-supremacist like Mr. Seaman, hypocritically, would fail:
    – to note that Israelis “reaped what they sowed”;
    – to condemn “annual self-righteous commemorations” for Israeli victims of the devastation.

  9. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    August 20, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Phil:
    You’re right, of course. NPR runs these cutsie little stories, harmless fluff.
    Why are they doing this?

    Addressing serious issues in any way that offends powerful interests will lead to repercussions for NPR. The right wingers in Congress keep threatening to liquidate public radio and public TV. Although they never carry out this threat, the menace makes NPR very cautious about possibly controversial topics. In many cases, NPR’s coverage doesn’t go much beyond the rest of the MSM.

    Since this is MondoWeiss, the readers are no doubt aware of NPR’s extreme caution not to offend the Israel Lobby.

    Want another example? Labor unions.
    At the end of the World War II, there were about a thousand labor reporters on the staff of U. S. newspapers. Now they’re all gone. Even though many of these newspapers were anti-union, the labor reporters kept readers aware of the reality and history of labor unions. So how can working men and women find out about labor unions? They can’t. And NPR is not filling the gap. Instead of labor reporting, they have “market” reporting, meaning they adopt the perspective of management, not labor.

  10. MRW
    MRW
    August 20, 2013, 2:50 pm

    Where’s the discussion of the donors dictating what NPR can discuss and what it can’t? A specifically 21st C phenomenon, if you will recall, that hit NPR in 2002 when CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) “led a boycott that cost the Boston NPR affiliate WBUR at least two big underwriters and a million dollars,” according to the New Yorker. Don’t you remember what a pall it cast?

  11. just
    just
    August 20, 2013, 5:23 pm

    I did hear something worthwhile on npr yesterday– on “To the Point.” Among other topics, Barbara Slavin made some salient points wrt to our disappointing (disgusting) treatment of Iran since the election of President Rouhani.

    “Is President Obama Too ‘Passive’ in Foreign Affairs? (1:08PM)

    President Obama is accused of standing by as Egypt’s generals deposed an elected government and killed almost 1000 opponents both in the streets and in custody. Promised aid to Syrian rebels has not materialized, months after Obama’s demand that President al-Assad step down. Iran’s new president reportedly wants direct negotiations, but the US failed even to congratulate him on his recent election. Is it too late for the US to have an impact on crises in the Middle East? Have opportunities been missed, or did they really exist in the first place? ”

    http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp130819is_president_obama_t?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kcrw%2Ftp+%28To+The+Point%29

    Not so much about Israel, though– I can’t recall anything for the period that I listened.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 20, 2013, 6:53 pm

    RE: I couldn’t believe how much trivia I heard [on NPR’s “All Things Considered”]. Egypt is in crisis and the Snowden case leads to the detention of a leading journalist’s partner, but NPR’s signature show sounds like Muzak for the entitled.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Yes, because trivia (i.e. infotainment) does not ‘tick off’ sponsors/donors (as opposed to real/hard news, especially unpleasant international news); and NPR (like PBS) is very, very afraid of ‘ticking off’ sponsors and/or donors. Just as the Washington Post has been afraid of ‘ticking off’ advertisers*.
    AS OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II PUT IT:
    “Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,
    Talk about things you’d like to do . . .”

    South Pacific – Happy Talk ( Original Movie) [VIDEO, 01:28] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwIddYGse9g

    * SEE: “Katharine Weymouth Steps in It Again”, By Jack Shafer, Slate, 09/15/09 ~ A Washington Post piece gets spiked after its publisher expresses a preference for happier stories.

    [EXCERPTS] . . . Earlier this summer, Weymouth got in Dutch when a ‘Post’ plan to sell off-the-record access to reporters and government officials at “salons” at Weymouth’s home was made public by ‘Politico’. Weymouth and ‘Post’ Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli quickly canceled the events after much confusion over whether the paper had put its soul up for sale or whether miscommunication on the part of the management team was to blame.
    In the latest Weymouth miscue, she appears to have told freelancer Matt Mendelsohn, a friend of hers, that advertisers desired “happier stories, not ‘depressing’ ones” like the one he had been working on about a young woman whose arms and legs were amputated. His piece was ultimately killed by the Post’s Sunday magazine. The editor who killed it, Sydney Trent, told the Post‘s Howard Kurtz that the spike had been delivered “because it was clear the newspaper wanted to move in a different direction. That handwriting was very clearly on the wall.”.
    Mendelsohn doesn’t blame Weymouth directly. . .
    . . . The controversy has both Weymouth and Brauchli standing on their chairs insisting that the church-state boundary at the paper was never, ever breached. Brauchli tells the ‘Post’, “We are not driven by what one of our business-side colleagues, or even our publisher, thinks about a piece. We follow a journalistic compass.” From Weymouth: “I would never interfere in an editorial decision and I had no intention of interfering.”
    Can you believe for a moment that Katharine Weymouth’s ideas don’t drive what the ‘Post’ prints? Or, to put a finer point on it, that her ideas shouldn’t drive what the Post prints? Weymouth is the one in charge. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.slate.com/id/2228413/

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      August 20, 2013, 7:07 pm

      P.S. The above episode at the Washington Post where the advertisers wanted “happier stories, not ‘depressing’ ones” illustrates the editorial bias/filter Chomsky labeled “The Advertising License to Do Business”.

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media]:

      [EXCERPTS] “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, is an analysis of the news media, arguing that the mass media of the United States “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”.*[1] . . .

      Editorial bias: five filters

      Herman and Chomsky’s “propaganda model” describes five editorially distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:
      Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners – often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.
      The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a “de-facto licensing authority”.[4] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
      Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access . . .acquiring […] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become ‘routine’ news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.”[5]
      Flak and the Enforcers: “Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet’s public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[5]
      Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the “War on Terror”, as the major social control mechanism.[6][7] . . .

      SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent:_The_Political_Economy_of_the_Mass_Media

      * P.S. REGARDING “WITHOUT OVERT COERCION”, SEE THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ON SHELDON WOLIN’S “INVERTED TOTALITARIANISM” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism

  13. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 20, 2013, 7:35 pm

    RE: I couldn’t believe how much trivia I heard [on NPR’s “All Things Considered”]. Egypt is in crisis and the Snowden case leads to the detention of a leading journalist’s partner, but NPR’s signature show sounds like Muzak for the entitled.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Check out the ABC World News with Diane Sawyer on television some evening. They are clearly trying to appeal to the lowest of the lowbrows. It is truly stupefying! ! !
    It leaves me seething with anger that they try to pass it off as a news broadcast.

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      August 20, 2013, 7:51 pm

      It is in the interest of the Israel lobby to keep Americans as dumbed down and as uninformed about the world as possible — endlessly distracted by a drone of trivial entertainment — easy to be fleeced.

      The mainstream media play their role to perfection — most Americans are in a scientifically induced stupor — they don’t pay attention to where their money has gone after it has been collected by the federal government and they have passively accepted their declining economic standards.

      But a few billionaires and hectomillionaires (many of whom are leading funders of the Israel lobby) are doing quite well and would be happy to sustain this regime for as long as possible.

      If they can get away with smearing anyone who questions this state of affairs as a “terrorist,” so much the better.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 6:39 am

        @ seanmcbride
        Well said!

  14. Hostage
    Hostage
    August 20, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Seriously: a flyway for possible intervention in Syria?

    The Joint Task Force headquarters for the Iranian hostage rescue attempt was established on an abandoned Soviet-built Air Base at Wadi Kena, Egypt. It had runways and facilities that could accommodate USAF C-141 transports.

    Sadat gave us permission to use it at a time when some of our NATO and other “strategic” allies (cough cough) refused to allow overflights of their territory or use of their bases for any reason connected with operations targeted at Iran. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/International_security_affairs/iranian_hostage_crisis/414.pdf

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      August 20, 2013, 9:34 pm

      Fair enough Hostage; But those were American hostages. The country was obsessed with them. Few here have much of an opinion on Syria. Do you take this claim seriously?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 20, 2013, 11:18 pm

        Fair enough Hostage; But those were American hostages. The country was obsessed with them. Few here have much of an opinion on Syria. Do you take this claim seriously?

        Oh no, of course not. I was sarcastically pointing out the desperate measures that we have taken in the past precisely because our relationships with “strategic allies” have broken down at critical moments and have proven to be one way streets. I used to laugh myself silly, when Jesse Helms called Israel “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East”.

        The USA just conducted a joint defense exercise with Israel, which still won’t let any P-5 country, including the USA, put peace keepers on the Golan Heights or in Palestine. You’ll never hear anyone suggest that we use Israel as a base for land-air operations against Syria, but people will still suggest Egypt and manage to keep a straight face.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 21, 2013, 6:42 am

        @ Hostage
        From what I gathered, that joint military exercise with the IDF pretty much fizzled out. We do have an advanced x-radar station in the Israeli desert, manned by our own tekkie soldiers. I read Israel was really pissed because to date we don’t give full access to its monitoring yet it gives out 8 minute earlier warnings on any missiles headed out from, e.g. Iran, than do Israel’s best radar stations. So Israel feels it’s security is left in the hands of the Americans.

  15. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    August 20, 2013, 11:34 pm

    I’m with you Phil the la de da stories on NPR are nauseating. But accepting that the majority of Americans do not give a rats ass about these more serious stories is I know tough to swallow. I am always struggling with the way things are and the way I want them to be. Do these news outlets give people what they want or are some of these outlets attempting to cultivate an even more complacent American public?

    In the middle of Jeremy Scahill’s “Dirty Wars” and have to put it down all of the time because my stomach gets so upset reading about the U.S. torture programs. Thought I knew a fair amount from reading ACLU releases of torture memos etc that were detailed, sickening and should enrage any decent persons sense of humanity. Scahill’s detailed descriptions have me depressed and hating what my country has done to so many Iraqi people as a result of that horrific invasion. Had never heard of NAMA (nasty ass military area) where even more war crimes were committed under the direction of Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone (his name comes up over and over again). Chapter 14 of Scahills amazing book “Dirty Wars”

    Anyone hear NPR have Scahill on one of their one hour programs to discuss his findings. Think Terri Gross will have him on, Diane Rehm, Scott Siegel, Scott Simon on his Saturday program. Nope keep Americans asleep about what their government has been doing

  16. lyn117
    lyn117
    August 21, 2013, 2:19 am

    On the more positive side, they showed “The Law in These Parts” on POV on PBS last night, & are planning to show “5 Broken Cameras.”

    “The Law in These Parts” is by an Israeli. I thought it was relatively pro-Israel, but all-in-all a good documentary. I wish I’d watched the discussion afterwards but the movie sort of made me mad.

    http://www.pbs.org/pov/thelawintheseparts/

    We’ll see if PBS is pressured into not showing 5 broken cameras.

    • just
      just
      August 21, 2013, 5:56 am

      I made myself endure that program last nite, lyn. Prior to that, PBS here showed “The Life of Muhammed”– a 3 part series narrated by Rageh Omaar. It was pretty well done — wonder how many Americans watched it………

      I do hope that PBS follows thru with “5 Broken Cameras”.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 21, 2013, 6:55 am

      5 Broken Cameras” is currently scheduled to air August 26, 2013 on PBS.

  17. lsavage
    lsavage
    August 21, 2013, 5:40 am

    Thanks for this critique of NPR’s content. But there was a major omission. The power of propaganda is not in what is discussed, trivial or otherwise; it is in what’s not mentioned at all. Fukushima melting down anyone? Twenty years from now, that will be the most significant event of our day. Had it been vigorously reported from the moment the earthquake struck 2+ years ago, the Pacific Ocean might not now be turning into radioactive soup.

  18. jon s
    jon s
    August 22, 2013, 6:49 am

    Here on Mondoweiss plenty of relatively trivial incidents make the headlines, while in Syria we have what appears to be another major war crime perpetrated by the Assad regime: use of chemical warfare on their own population.
    See the report from Aljazzera:
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/08/2013821215836835335.html

  19. mcohen
    mcohen
    August 22, 2013, 8:16 am

    How about some npr “never heard before”

    According to the Coptic Book of Adam and Eve (at 2:1-15), and the Syriac Cave of Treasures, Abel’s body, after many days of mourning, was placed in the Cave of Treasures, before which Adam and Eve, and descendants, offered their prayers. In addition, the Sethite line of the Generations of Adam swear by Abel’s blood to segregate themselves from the unrighteous.
    A farmers prophesy
    3 companions ,a sign under a night sky,7 stars pass, a risen king,his brother cain marked by a crow

  20. jon s
    jon s
    August 23, 2013, 5:00 am

    Moderators please moderate, my comment is going stale.

Leave a Reply