In Which I Unleash My Stream on the ‘Mainstream’ Media

There’s a friend of my Dad’s who is sort of his circle’s George Costanza. And so Dad was in town and on Fry-day we went to the Renaissance bar to watch ACC games we didn’t give a crap about while keeping track of the ticker that told us that KU was embarrassing Niagra. Often, when the conversation comes around to the politics, Dad and I are both wont to quote cross-dressing lesbian Rachel Maddow. She is one of the few AAR radio hosts we seem to agree is wonderful.

Now George has a rather visceral reaction to even the mention of the Air America Radio. It’s a weird reaction from my perspective, one of those that doesn’t just disagree with the views elicited there, but seems to connote that the speaker feels about it the way many people in the world feel about Israel—that it shouldn’t even exist in the first place. But George’s reaction isn’t from a grinchy right-wing agenda, it’s from a real D.C. policy guy who just finds that the coverage AAR offers the issues is superficial and woefully two-dimensional. And of course he’s not entirely wrong.

I’ve been making an effort lately to try to include more mainstream media in my diet in addition to the lovely carbohydrates of Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” and the Air America Radio. I am often plugged into the Span Radio especially if there’s something goin’ on, and I have been recording the XM’s rebroadcast of the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for the commute. But they sure do make it difficult.

The NewsHour is supposed to be the most reliable, most dry source of news that exists. And yet, on the broadcast to which I listened, Gwen Iffel led a discussion panel that included William Kristol.

If you were a listener to the Al Franken Show, then you know that Al was fond of playing the following quote by William Kristol, which he snidely offered to NPR’s Terry Gross in April 2003: “There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America…that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and regular commentator on Fox “News,” was also a founding member of the Project for a New American Century. He was one of the strongest American voices in support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has also been absolutely outspoken in the smearing of Congressman Murtha and has been an otherwise very successful propagandist on behalf of the current president and our ongoing occupation.

And yet, The NewsHour still takes him seriously enough to include him in a panel discussion, as do many other outlets in the “mainstream” media.

In February 2006, Media Matters for America released a study that showed empirically that the leading Sunday morning chit-chat shows tend to lean rightward. Just this week, the media watchdog released “If It’s Sunday, It’s Still Conservative,” which found that the trend continues, robbing Media Matters’ detractors of the argument that more conservatives tend to appear on the shows because they’re in power.

Then there’s the ridiculous sleeping-giant-poking that seems to have occurred over the announced merger intentions of the two satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius. Regulations presently allow the same company to own up to three television stations, the local newspaper, the cable system and up to eight radio stations in one media market, and these folks think a merger of one of the most proprietary, non-public forms of media around is a problem. Fox “News” can exist and can continue its sponsorship of Bill “Your So-Called Compassion Helped Kill Those Kids” O’Reilly, but our George is strangely whapped on the head about bias from an upstart media outlet that admits openly that it’s liberal like Bobby Trendy admits openly that he’s gay?

Once upon a time, journalism meant something, to me and to the country. Journalists started the ball rolling on the complete unmaking of a president who was a shoplifter to the current president’s Manson murders. I majored in journalism and I listened to journalists and I still quote the AP Stylebook like some quote Ephesians. But I must take with a boatload of salt a news broadcast the treats William Kristol as if his analysis still works, and I must continue paying attention to the Air America and The Nation and other alternative forms of media. 

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