Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Garofalo a Bigot

Poor Janeane Garofalo... her vitriolic anger, unsettling bitterness, and surprising ignorance (in calling the American citizens who attended the Tea-Party protests nothing but "racist rednecks") was a clear example of someone who has fallen for the political stereotypes that permeate our media. Or, maybe she's just damaged her frontal lobe...

The media stereotype of the conservative Republican is of a closed-minded, racist, sexist, and/or elitist voter, with an extreme-fundamentalist Christian bent. The media stereotype of the liberal Democrat, on the other hand, is of an open-minded, conscientious, community-centered citizen who cares about the environment and humanity. (Well, eff! Who wouldn't want to be a Democrat with those kinds of labels?!)

Aaah, stereotypes. Stereotypes are so tempting, aren't they? They make a complicated world simple. Good versus Bad. Right versus Wrong. Janeane Garofalo versus Redneck Racists. In such a world, there are absolutely no Democrats with unfair prejudices or Pro-Life leanings; and there are definitely no feminist Republicans who care about the environment and the community. Except...

Life isn't that simple. It's complicated. There are shades of grey, and overlaps, and conflicting ideas. And perpetrators of over-simplified stereotypes (like Ms. Garofalo and the media) are taking the lazy way out. It's easy to demonize a political party - it's a fast-track toward recruiting students, audiences, and...ourselves. If we believe we are on the "good" side, and the other side is "bad," it certainly cuts down on any kind of thinking we have to do. (And really, after a long day of work, kids, or studies, who the heck has time for thinking?!?)

Who wants to be told that Republicans are simply a group of voters who believe in a small government role in American lives, and Democrats are a group of voters who believe in a large government role? Then you have to actually educate yourself on issues, and you have to start examining what a "smaller government" means, or what the consequences of a "larger government" might entail, and then it gets all deep and intense and introspective, and you find yourself questioning the politics of Brad Pitt and the cast of Gossip Girl, and - wait, wait, WAIT!!! Can't someone just tell me which is the bad side and which is the good side again? I want to be on the good side! I want to be on the good side! (The media happily steps forward...)

But in the real world (without the dismissive "good" vs. "evil" stereotypes), how would Ms. Garofalo's mind be able to handle Commissioner Michael L. Willliams, for example? An African-American Republican who spoke so eloquently at one of the Tea Parties? What would she say about Alfonzo Rachel, or Condoleezza Rice, or Ken Blackwell, or Joseph C. Phillips, or any of the other African-American Republicans whom Janeane dismissed with such ignorant bigotry? Not to mention the millions of Republicans who are white and (get ready for this, Ms. Garofalo) not racists or "rednecks"? How tedious for Ms. Garofalo: she'd actually have to listen to opposing views, and...make an argument about her own. (Nah, you're probably right,'s a whole lot easier to dismiss the other side as racists...)

And in this bizarre media-created "good" vs. "evil" and "broad stereotypes rule" scenario, where exactly do Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, or Bill Clinton fit in? Because of these three men, it follows that all Democrats are anti-monogamy? When Democrats protest, Janeane will shout "those are just a bunch of misogynistic wife-haters"? And Rod Blagojevich? Because of his actions, all Democrats should be seen as dishonest crooks? Does that make sense?! And yet the media is happy to do that with Republicans, and there are some who actually buy into it. For example, Janeane Garofalo...

It comes down to this: stereotypes are a manipulation tool, and the media is being irresponsible by not admonishing Janeane's remarkably ignorant statements. Surely, if Kelsey Grammar were to call Democrats,"a bunch of mindless and irrational lemmings," the repercussions would be great indeed. We would see headlines, and 60 Minutes specials, and videos with Bono, Sean Penn, and the Black-Eyed Peas holding hands and singing about how "mean words hurt the ozone layer"...or something...

Media, I'm sending you back to grade school, so you can re-learn that whole thing about how damaging stereotypes can be. And while you're there, I'm going to give you a 20-minute TIME OUT, to consider the danger of encouraging broad labels and hyperbole.

Oh, and bring your friend Janeane.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeling Dizzy? It's the All the Spinning...

Remember the old days, when the media used to track a president's approval rating like the weather? "old days," I mean, "Bush's presidency"...

America couldn't turn on the evening news or read a newspaper without hearing about President Bush's falling approval rating. (No matter what your political leaning is, you're nodding along with me. I mean, c'mon. Bush's approval rating was given more air time than Octomom and Britney Spears combined.)

Which begs the question...why isn't the media covering President Obama's approval polls with the same fervor? (That's got you thinking, hasn't it?) Hmmm... let's come back to that.

The media is crafty - it knows the power of suggestion. Talk about how crummy a restaurant is enough times, and you can bet no one's going to want to eat there. Spend every night reporting how a president's popularity is falling, and you can bet that trend will continue. It's not rocket science. Even high schoolers know the power of popularity. If the word on the street is that K-Fed is a joke, then it's a no-brainer. Literally. Why even bother to think about it? Just go with the flow. Follow the crowd. The media counts on Americans to act like high schoolers. What brand of jeans are cool? What kind of car should I drive? Should I like my president?

Which explains why President Obama's approval rating is noticeably absent from the news. The media doesn't want to start a domino effect by actually publicizing Obama's plunging popularity. They know that will only add to his falling approval rating - just as it did with President Bush. As I said, the media is crafty. But we're onto you, Media...

So, let's look at an article in the news today (Or, as I like to call it, "seeing past the spin"). The AP announced with a frenetic giddiness reserved for the insane: "Americans High on Obama, Direction of U.S." Intelligent Americans, however, will notice immediately upon actually reading the article that the subsequent AP poll results are far from "high." The article reports that 48% of Americans say the country is on the right track, while 44% say it is not (since when is less than half considered "high"?), and more importantly, the article brushes by its own report that 80% of Americans are fed up with federal spending. If you find yourself gasping at the dishonesty of the media, like a child learning there is no Santa Claus, we'll ease you into this a bit more gently: Um, maybe the AP made a typo. Maybe it was supposed to read, "Americans Sigh at Obama, Direction of U.S."? I'm sure they didn't purposefully use a misleading title that misrepresents their news. Surely the media doesn't think it's actually smarter than its readers, right? Right? (You're still recovering from the Santa comment, aren't you?)

It should be noted that the reputable Rasmussen Reports polls show that 57% of Americans feel the country is heading in the wrong direction, while 37% feel America is on the right track. Incidentally (and not reported by the media), Rasmussen Reports show that 58% of Americans believe the release of CIA memos endangers national security, 60% believe that the government has too much power, and only 37% strongly approve of President Obama. Hmmm. Why doesn't the media talk about those polls?

And while we're noting polls the media doesn't like to discuss, how about the Gallup polls that showed Obama behind Bush, after each man's first month as President? Obama's 59% approval rating serves to point out the growing gap between the American people and the media mind-control attempts... But America is onto you, Media.

Media, I'm afraid there's a 100% chance you're getting a TIME OUT. It's not fair that you're not reporting Obama's dropping approval rating with at least as much hysteria as your coverage of President Bush's. But more importantly, your concerted cover-up attempts confirm your knowledge of how damaging negative polls can be...and that you use them when you see fit. And that's an abuse of power.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Media Mocks Democracy in 2009

If a tree falls in the forest, and the media doesn't report it, does it make a sound? Hmmm...something to mull...

Hey, here's a question: Where is Eleanor Clift? Eleanor? Oh, Eeeeeeeleeeeaaaaanor?

Back during Bush's first term as president, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift called President Bush "stupid" for "overlooking democratic expressions" in the form of the February 15, 2003 anti-war protests. She wasn't alone. ABC's Peter Jennings also publicly decried Bush's response to the anti-war protests. MSNBC called the anti-war protesters the second "world superpower." And The New York Times carried headlines that spoon-fed readers on exactly how to "see" the protesters. Um, literally. "Wide Range of Ages, Races, and Parties Unite on Iraq," was actually a headline. I kid you not. As was: "Throwing a Party with a Purpose," and "A Festive Tone, But Somber Ideas." The media did not attack or debate the protesters; did not accuse them of being extremists; and did not dismiss them because their protests were encouraged by, well, the media itself in the days leading up to February 15th. Instead, the protests were lauded by the media as democratic, meaningful, and significant. And I am proud to be an American because of that...


Fast forward to 2009. Americans gathered by the thousands around the United States on April 15th for "Tea Parties" in protest of taxes and high government spending. And the media completely lost its shizz. Hardcore. CNN's Susan Roesgen, after questioning one man (holding his baby) on why he was protesting, proceeded to cut the man off, get into his face, and actually debate the man in front of the shocked onlookers. Um...did we mention the man was holding a baby? And that Roesgen is a news reporter, and therefore obliged to be unbiased and impartial? The fair and balanced Roesgen then went on to declare the gatherings "anti-government," "anti-CNN," and "not family viewing." We're still not sure what she meant by that last comment (unless she was referring to her spraying the baby with her spit). More importantly, since when is the news meant to be "family viewing"? Unless Roesgen is using the term "family" mafia-style, as in Leftist Familia?

So, suddenly, on April 15, 2009, Americans gathering in numbers to have their voices heard was no longer portrayed by the media as democratic, meaningful, or significant. And the media DID attack and debate the protesters (Ms. Roesgen); DID accuse them of being extremists (thanks to a conveniently timed statement from The Department of Homeland Security widely covered by media ); and DID dismiss them because their protests were encouraged by news outlets. CNN's Anderson Cooper made lowbrow and unprofessional statements about the protesters. The New York Times' Paul Krugman called the gatherings "Astro-turf," not grassroots. And the unbiased media laughed itself silly, when it bothered to cover the protests at all.

No matter which side of the aisle you favor, every American has the right to expect fair news coverage and not propaganda. We don't live behind a wall, for crying out loud. Whether you're against the war and for taxes, or for the war and against taxes, shouldn't Americans be able to trust that their media will give both the same level of coverage and respect?

Media, I'm ashamed of you. I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you two detentions and a recess TIME OUT. But Media, these TIME OUTs are adding up. And when a teacher notices that her punishments are becoming ineffectual, she must adopt a new strategy...

Perhaps, Media, the solution is not in asking you to change your stripes, but instead to embrace them. OK: you have biases. CNN leans to the left. Fox News leans to the right. We're humans, not robots, and our emotions and passions are expected to bubble up to the surface, whether we're viewers, reporters, or news producers...

Then, media, let us agree to this: you be straightforward about your biases (no more "holier than thou" pretenses of fair and balanced reporting), and I will agree to accept you as you are. Can you do that, Media? Can you own up to your favoritism and partiality, and allow Americans to choose their news from there? It seems the wisest solution. As it stands now, the only ones you're fooling are children, puppets, and Europe...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What the Eff is Going On?!?

Here is the situation: Media Matters is gathering a petition of 25,000 signatures to present to Fox News Channel, to demand more "fair and balanced" coverage. (WARNING: Make sure you're not drinking any liquid when you read this next part; let's keep those computer screens dry.) The petition is accusing Fox News Channel of encouraging "conservative paranoia and anti-Obama political activism."


Are you kidding me?! Did they post that on April 1st? C'mon...that has GOT to be a joke, right?

Hmmm...just in case:

Dear Mr. Burns,

I am thrilled your website, "Media Matters for America," is so concerned with monitoring the media. I applaud your mission to call out any news channels that encourage dissent against a sitting president. I am guessing you must have REALLY had your hands full with the media during President Bush's administration, eh? There was so much irresponsible anti-Bush reporting, you must have just been pounding out those petitions, right? Um, right?! ...Uh, What?!

Oh...that's right. Your mission statement says, quite clearly, that you are interested in "correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Conservative misinformation. You silly goose! Are you trying to make less work for yourself? Correcting liberal misinformation would be a really impressive undertaking, wouldn't it? Take it from me...

First, Mr. Burns, I want you to go make yourself a cup of chamomile tea, because you've really worked yourself into a lather over this, and I'm concerned for your health. Good thing you weren't around in 1776, eh? You would have really panicked at that whole crazy idea of liberty and people having the right to disagree with the government. I can just picture you hyperventilating in a corner, crying out: "No, Jefferson, NOOOOOOOO!!!!!" Maybe we can find a nice monarchy for you, Mr. Burns, where the press is more controlled and where you would feel more comfortable. How does Saudi Arabia sound? Or, monarchies aside, there's always China...

Are you drinking your tea? (Because here comes the part you don't want to hear.) Mr. Burns, Fox News Channel is not the culprit here. Their audience exists because the dissent already exists...not because they have created it. Kindly give the public some credit. There are still Americans out there who think for themselves. Who are tired of being manipulated by the Katie Courics and Sam Donaldsons of the world, and are choosing to turn to Fox News Channel for a reprieve from the liberal agenda of our mainstream media.

Your petition is pointless, Mr. Burns, because this is America. And we are allowed to be anti-Bush, anti-Obama, or anti-American, if we so choose. As much as this blog, even, may scold the media for its unethical left-leaning partiality, we would never consider petitioning to close it down or require its termination. Because Americans value our freedom, even of those with whom we disagree. Instead, we just change the channel... to Fox News.

Best Wishes,
Time Out, Media!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Obama Bows to the King

The Obamas have a new puppy. His name is Bo. He's a Portuguese water dog. And he's all we've been hearing about.

Something we're not hearing about? President Obama subjugating himself and the United States to the king of Saudi Arabia. Um, did the leader of the free world seriously just bow down to King Abdullah? (No, no, no. He was stooping to shake the king's hand, says the White House). Hmm...funny, because the bow happens after Obama has already taken hold of the king's child-sized mit. And it's a pretty deep bow, too - are we sure Obama wasn't aiming to kiss Abdullah's feet? Oh, nevermind. It doesn't matter. It was just a sign of respect (not the mutual kind - like in Asian traditions - mind you; the king certainly did not bow in return). But c'mon, a bow is no big deal! Well, if that's true...then why is the White House going to such pains to deny it was a bow?

The media's minions will scoff and say, "Why are you getting carried away by a bow, for crying out loud? Aren't there more important things for the news to report?!" Oh, you mean Bo the new puppy? Hmm, I don't know...if President Bush struggling to open two doors in China was deemed national news, then surely President Obama bowing down to the king of Saudi Arabia - father of 22 - deserves a little attention. No? I guess not...

Women - are we feeling nervous yet? Our president just bowed down to the king of one of the world's most oppressed female populations; a place where women are restricted, segregated, and deprived basic human rights (such as the right to vote, or, say, leave the house without asking their husband's permission). Our president honored that man and his country (and their billions of dollars) with a bow.

In my experience, after three summers of tutoring Saudi boys at English summer camps in Switzerland (their sisters, of course, stayed at home behind the "walls" - as the boys explained), I've learned that Saudis are obsessed with two things: 1.) gestures and perceptions, and 2.) power and submission. So...thank you, Obama, for your gesture of submission, and for giving all my old students a moment to celebrate: to jump on their desks and belt out victorious, manly chants (as they did at every single camp social).

Media, whoa. Bo is a bigger story than this? Really? You know you're journalists and not Obama's personal PR machine, right?
I'm going to have to give you a twenty-minute TIME OUT, Media. In a room full of celebrating and victorious Saudi boys.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Media Puts Sarah Palin in the Same Category as Lindsay Lohan

EMINEM: Yo, why isn't the media calling for boycotts of my new CD, like we planned? Dawg, where's the controversy we talked about?!
AGENT: Marshall, I told you we should have gone with the Hillary idea...
EMINEM: Man, @#!$ it, you're right.

In his new video, "We Made You," Eminem does what Eminem does: he mocks, and satirizes, and raps about gettin' busy with Governor Sarah Palin. Wait, what?

Those familiar with Eminem will not be surprised by the content of this latest release. Eminem is Eminem. But what is surprising is the media's efforts to excuse and downplay the potentially offensive content by pointing out - in headlines and articles - that Eminem pokes fun at several celebrities and popstars, thereby grouping Governor Palin with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson. So, the media equation is: Kim Kardashian (of sex-tape scandals and reality-TV fame) and Governor Palin (governor of Alaska and 2008 Vice-President nominee) are... equals. Subtle, Media. But we're onto you.

And therein lies the problem. Hint: it's not Eminem. It's our media's biased and steadfast attempt to undermine Governor Palin as nothing more than "pop fluff." Artists adore controversy - controversy sells. But our media will barely give Eminem even that. Other than reporting Bill O'Reilly's anger, the media has been noticeably subdued. Where are the headlines from our press, decrying the video for degrading a public official? Where are the protests by leading women in Hollywood, for debasing a female leader? Will Katie Couric feature a "page in her notebook" to discuss this troubling public attack on a political figure? Is Oprah hosting a special? [Crickets.]

Hmmm...One can't help but wonder how the media might have reacted if Eminem were propositioning a scantily-clad Michelle Obama in that video.

Media, I'm giving you a ten-minute TIME OUT to think about things like "double standards" and "transparent bias." We don't expect more from Eminem, but we should be able to expect more from you...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain...

Michelle Obama is everywhere in the media. The reason? Her clothes. But...surely Laura Bush wore clothes, didn't she? Well, if she did, the media certainly didn't notice...

Let us examine the media's fanatical coverage of Michelle Obama's first European tour today to the media's coverage of Laura Bush's first European tour back in 2001. Two First Ladies. Two trips to Europe. Two different political parties...

The Democrat, Michelle Obama's European Media Coverage: A pile of magazine covers, including an invitation to pose for the cover of iconic Vogue; fashion correspondents being brought in to talk on news shows about the effect Michelle's tour will have on Europe (like those comedians who are paid to whip an audience into a lather before a live TV taping); a slew of internet slide shows documenting her wardrobe (which consists of, um, simple a-line skirts and cardigans...what am I missing?); the press using Tiger-Beat-style, hyperbolic phrases, like: "introducing style and glamour to London" and "fashion icon" (again: a-line skirts and cardigans...?!); and top news agencies running frequent fashion updates, like this from the hard-hitting CNN: "Forget the G-20, What are the Spouses Wearing?" Um...huh?

Plus, my personal favorites: an article gushing over the press' comparison of Michelle Obama to Jackie Kennedy (the press? need I say more?), and the repeated bragging over Mrs. Obama's 76% approval rating. (Laura's started at 77% - going up as far as 80% - and ending on 78% when in Office).

Interestingly, these same articles are conspicuously quick to brush past Barack Obama's falling approval rating (below 60%). Which, intelligent minds might start to realize, might explain the sudden media-obsession with the First Lady's clothing labels and upper arms. (Aha... Smoke and mirrors! Clever, clever.)

The Republican, Laura Bush's European Media Coverage
: Um... Uh... Well, it was 2001. Did they have magazines back in 2001? Oh. They did? archived headlines or stories showing up. Well, there is this mention of Mrs. Bush's name three paragraphs into a story of George W.'s "tricky first international trip." But, uh, no fashion critiques. Nothing about her color palette. Hmm. (Well, to be fair, there were larger global crises going on during the Bushs' first trip to Europe; the world couldn't be distracted by fashion when things were falling apart here in the U.S. and abroad. It would have seemed silly - or REALLY suspicious - to talk about Laura's fashion with so many other concerns in the world...)

Media, Media, Media. Are you kidding me right now? This isn't even subtle. I mean, you've done some pretty sneaky, shady things before. But this... this is almost like you're trying to get caught.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you a 30 minute TIME OUT for this one, Media. Which will mean missing some of your lunch recess, too. But I want you to use that time to reflect (once again) on impartiality. Fairness. Equal coverage. And Laura Bush's favorite designers.