Saturday, April 19, 2008

From Brave New Films

I thiought this from Brave New Films' Robert Greenwald worth a look:

Last week's Democratic debate in Philadelphia was an abysmal display of journalism. By sticking to trivial topics for half of the debate, ABC sought to provoke controversy without asking the candidates serious questions. The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins wrote that the debate "ventured into territory so utterly asinine that I could scarcely believe what I was witnessing."
Ironically, the mainstream media have been giving John McCain a free ride while trying to pin Clinton and Obama with manufactured "gotcha" questions. In fact, they don't seem to be challenging McCain at all. So there's no reason to think ABC's brand of pseudo-journalism won't continue tomorrow morning, when George Stephanopoulos will interview McCain on his show. Here's a satirical look at what that interview might be like.


Watch the video: http://bravenewfilms.org/watch/25903945/36224?utm_source=rgemail

We used satire here because we felt it's our most effective way to make a point about the shoddy journalism coming from ABC. The network was so desperate to stir up controversy at the debate that Stephanopoulos took incendiary remarks from FOX's Sean Hannity and tried to pawn them off as his own question.


Robert Greenwaldand the Brave New Team blog went on to say, "We can't let the FOXification of the mainstream press continue. What's more, we can't allow journalists like Stephanopoulos to give John McCain a free pass. What are the satirical questions you think Stephanopoulos and his colleagues should be asking McCain? Post them to the website and let us know just how shoddy their journalism has become. We'll award the best (meaning worst) satire. It's high time we hold ABC to higher journalistic standards! "

Support the work of Campaign for America's Future in forcing intelligent questions onto Sunday news shows. Weekend Watchdog's Bill Scher wants Stephanopoulos to ask, among other things, why McCain hasn't given "consistent straight answers about what seven years of conservative economic policies have done to the American economy?" Weigh in with your own substantive questions.

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Brave New Films is located at 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. You can get our latest videos on email, iTunes, RSS, Facebook, and YouTube here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cut Big Oil Subsidies and Invest in Clean Energy

Hey guys-- I just signed Sierra Club's petition to Senator John McCain, telling him to cut Big Oil subsidies and invest in clean energy. I think you should be a part of it too! Take a moment and sign the petition:

https://secure2.convio.net/sierra/site/SPageServer?pagename=gas_tax_petition

Thanks!

Debate feedback needed...

If you missed the Democratic presidential debate on ABC Wednesday night, Editor & Publisher called it "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years."


Moderators George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson spent the first 50 minutes obsessed with distractions that only political insiders care about--gaffes, polling numbers, the stale Rev. Wright story, and the old-news Bosnia story. And, channeling Karl Rove, they directed a video question to Barack Obama asking if he loves the American flag or not. Seriously!I just signed a petition to ABC and other media that says: "Debate moderators abuse the public trust every time they ask trivial questions about gaffes and 'gotchas' that only political insiders care about. Enough with the distractions--ABC and other networks must focus on issues that affect people's daily lives."Want to sign it too? We need a bunch of signers for ABC to take this concern seriously.

Click here to sign:

http://pol.moveon.org/enoughdistractions/?r_by=-538505-0W4EA.&rc=confemail

Thanks!

Debate feedback needed...

If you missed the Democratic presidential debate on ABC Wednesday night, Editor & Publisher called it "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years."


Moderators George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson spent the first 50 minutes obsessed with distractions that only political insiders care about--gaffes, polling numbers, the stale Rev. Wright story, and the old-news Bosnia story. And, channeling Karl Rove, they directed a video question to Barack Obama asking if he loves the American flag or not. Seriously!I just signed a petition to ABC and other media that says: "Debate moderators abuse the public trust every time they ask trivial questions about gaffes and 'gotchas' that only political insiders care about. Enough with the distractions--ABC and other networks must focus on issues that affect people's daily lives."Want to sign it too? We need a bunch of signers for ABC to take this concern seriously.

Click here to sign:

http://pol.moveon.org/enoughdistractions/?r_by=-538505-0W4EA.&rc=confemail

Thanks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

***********************
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Friday,April 11, 2008, Volume 54, Issue 31, p. A 37. Seehttp://chronicle.com/free/v54/i31/31a03701.htm
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COMMENTARYSo Much for the Information AgeToday's college students have tuned out the world, and it's partly our faultBy Ted GupI teach a seminar called "Secrecy: ForbiddenKnowledge." I recently asked my class of 16freshmen and sophomores, many of whom hadgraduated in the top 10 percent of theirhigh-school classes and had dazzling SAT scores,how many had heard the word "rendition."Not one hand went up.This is after four years of the word appearing onthe front pages of the nation's newspapers, onnetwork and cable news, and online. This is afteryears of highly publicized lawsuits,Congressional inquiries, and internationalcontroversy and condemnation. This is after therelease of a Hollywood film of that title,starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, and ReeseWitherspoon.I was dumbstruck. Finally one hand went up, andthe student sheepishly asked if rendition hadanything to do with a version of a movie or aplay.I nodded charitably, then attempted to define theword in its more public context. I describedspecific accounts of U.S. abductions of foreigncitizens, of the likely treatment accorded suchprisoners when placed in the hands of countrieslike Syria and Egypt, of the months and years ofdetention. I spoke of the lack of formal charges,of some prisoners' eventual release and how theirsubsequent lawsuits against the U.S. governmentwere stymied in the name of national security andsecrecy.The students were visibly disturbed. Theyexpressed astonishment, then revulsion. Theyasked how such practices could go on.I told them to look around the room at oneanother's faces; they were seated next to theanswer. I suggested that they were, in part, thereason that rendition, waterboarding, Guantánamodetention, warrantless searches and intercepts,and a host of other such practices have not beenmore roundly discredited. I admit it was harsh.That instance was no aberration. In recent yearsI have administered a dumbed-down quiz on currentevents and history early in each semester to geta sense of what my students know and don't know.Initially I worried that its simplicity wouldinsult them, but my fears were unfounded. Theresults have been, well, horrifying.Nearly half of a recent class could not name asingle country that bordered Israel. In anintroductory journalism class, 11 of 18 studentscould not name what country Kabul was in,although we have been at war there for half adecade. Last fall only one in 21 students couldname the U.S. secretary of defense. Given a listof four countries - China, Cuba, India, and Japan- not one of those same 21 students couldidentify India and Japan as democracies. Theirgrasp of history was little better. The questionof when the Civil War was fought invited an arrayof responses - half a dozen were off by a decadeor more. Some students thought that Islam was theprincipal religion of South America, that Roe v.Wade was about slavery, that 50 justices sit onthe U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb wasdropped on Hiroshima in 1975. You get thepicture, and it isn't pretty.As a journalist, professor, and citizen, I findit profoundly discouraging to encounter suchignorance of critical issues. But it would beboth unfair and inaccurate to hold those youngpeople accountable for the moral and legal morasswe now find ourselves in as a nation. They areearnest, readily educable, and, when informed,impassioned.I make it clear to my students that it is notonly their right but their duty to arrive attheir own conclusions. They are free to defendrendition, waterboarding, or any other aspect ofAmerica's post-9/11 armamentarium. But Ichallenge their right to tune out the world, andI question any system or society that can producesuch students and call them educated. I amconcerned for the nation when a cohort ofstudents so talented and bright is oblivious toall such matters. If they are failing us, it isbecause we have failed them.Still, it is hard to reconcile the students' lackof knowledge with the notion that they are a partof the celebrated information age, creatures ofthe Internet who arguably have at their disposalmore information than all the precedinggenerations combined. Despite their BlackBerrys,cellphones, and Wi-Fi, they are, in their ownway, as isolated as the remote tribes of NewGuinea. They disprove the notion that technologyfosters engagement, that connectivity andcommunity are synonymous. I despair to think thatthis is the generation brought up under thebanner of "No Child Left Behind." What I see isthe specter of an entire generation left behindand left out.It is not easy to explain how we got into thissad state, or to separate symptoms from causes.Newspaper readership is in steep decline. Mystudents simply do not read newspapers, online orotherwise, and many grew up in households thatdid not subscribe to a paper. Those who tune into television "news" are subjected to a barrageof opinions from talking heads like CNN'sdemagogic Lou Dobbs and MSNBC's Chris Matthewsand Fox's Bill O'Reilly and his dizzying "No SpinZone." In today's journalistic world, opiniontrumps fact (the former being cheaper toproduce), and rank partisanship and virulentculture wars make the middle grounduninhabitable. Small wonder, then, that mystudents shrink from it.Then, too, there is the explosion of citizenjournalism. An army of average Joes, equippedwith cellphones, laptops, and video cameras, hascommandeered our news media. The mantra of "Wewant to hear from you!" is all the rage, from CNNto NPR; but, although invigorating anddemocratizing, it has failed to supplant theprovision of essential facts, generating moreheat than light. Many of my students can reporton the latest travails of celebrities or thesexual follies of politicos, and can be forgivenfor thinking that such matters dominate the news- they do. Even those students whose home pagesopen onto news sites have tailored them toparochial interests - sports, entertainment,weather - that are a pale substitute for thescope and sweep of a good front page or the PBSNewsHour With Jim Lehrer (which many studentsseem ready to pickle in formaldehyde).Civics is decidedly out of fashion in thehigh-school classroom, a quaint throwbacksuperseded by courses in technology. As teachersscramble to "teach to the test," civics isincreasingly relegated to after-school clubs andgeeky graduation prizes. Somehow my studentssailed through high-school courses in governmentand social studies without acquiring the habit ofkeeping abreast of national and internationalevents. What little they know of such mattersthey have absorbed through popular culture - songlyrics, parody, and comedy. The Daily Show WithJon Stewart is as close as many dare get toactual news.Yes, the post-9/11 world is a scary place, andplenty of diversions can absorb young people'sattention and energies, as well as distract themfrom the anxieties of preparing for a career inan increasingly uncertain economy. But thatrespite comes at a cost.As a journalist, I have spent my career promotingtransparency and accountability. But myexperiences in the classroom humble and chastenme. They remind me that challenges to secrecy andopacity are moot if society does not avail itselfof information that is readily accessible.Indeed, our very failure to digest the accessiblehelps to create an environment in which secrecycan run rampant.It is time to once again make current events anessential part of the curriculum. Families andschools must instill in students the habit offollowing what is happening in the world. Aglobal economy will have little use for a countrywhose people are so self-absorbed that they knownothing of their own nation's present or past,much less the world's. There is a fundamentaldifference between shouldering the rights andresponsibilities that come with citizenship -engagement, participation, debate - and merelyinhabiting the land.As a nation, we spend an inordinate amount oftime fretting about illegal immigration andpainfully little on what it means to be acitizen, beyond the legal status conferred byaccident of birth or public processing. We aretoo busy building a wall around us to notice thatwe are shutting ourselves in. Intent on exportingdemocracy - spending blood and billions inpursuit of it abroad - we have shown a decidedlack of interest in exercising or promotingdemocracy at home.The noted American scholar Robert M. Hutchinssaid, decades ago: "The object of the educationalsystem, taken as a whole, is not to produce handsfor industry or to teach the young how to make aliving. It is to produce responsible citizens."He warned that "the death of a democracy is notlikely to be an assassination from ambush. Itwill be a slow extinction from apathy,indifference, and undernourishment." I fear hewas right.I tell the students in my secrecy class that theyare required to attend. After all, we count onone another; without student participation, itjust doesn't work. The same might be said ofdemocracy. Attendance is mandatory.
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Ted Gup is a professor of journalism at CaseWestern Reserve University and author of Nationof Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and theAmerican Way of Life (Doubleday, 2007).**********************************

Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama comment...

Obama Allies Avoid Trying to Explain Most Controversial Part of His Remarks

The 3 Trillion Dollar Shopping Spree


McCain More Conservative Than His Image

McCain More Conservative Than His Image

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041408N.shtml

The Associated Press reports, "The independent label sticks to John McCain because he antagonizes fellow Republicans and likes to work with Democrats. But a different label applies to his actual record: conservative."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Voters Flood Upcoming

FOCUS New Voters Flood Upcoming Primarieshttp://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041308Y.shtml
Scott Helman and Matt Negrin from The Boston Globe report: "More than half a million people have registered to vote or switched registrations this year to get their say in upcoming Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana - the latest indication of heavy voter interest and enthusiasm in the 2008 presidential campaign."
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