Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shoot the messenger

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was a lethal weapon. I knew it listening to him then, and it's confirmed now in his book. I won't spend the money to read his lilly-livered attempt to cover up his own complicity in misleading the American public about Iraq.

What should McClellan have done? Quit. He would, of course, have been replaced by another messenger. That one also should have quit. The logical conclusion is that after awhile, there would be no messengers left.

McClellan should have known what we knew at the time -- that it was all bosh.

Even before 2003, I was advising KSFR's news staff to be ultra cautious with so-called "news stories" about the need to invade Iraq. I did not want KSFR to be part of carrying messages that smelled of lies.

There was the UN nuclear weapons inspectors reports that they could find no WMD in Iraq. I read it and believed it then.

I had closely followed the revelation, debunked at the time but admitted to now, that Tony Blair had "sexed up" British intelligence with the claim that WMD from Iraq could strike England in 45 minutes. A BBC reporter and BBC leadership got the axe over revealing that.

Consider Former ambassador Joe Wilson and his debunking of one of the Bush administration's claims.

Terrorism advisor Richard Clarke was talking. Why hadn't McClellan listened? I did.

Of course, the media sucked it all up thanks to Scott McClellan and Ari Fleischer before him.

A little radio station in New Mexico chose not to listen to Scott McClellan. He was the messenger carrying sleazy messages.

We wanted no part in the whole, rotten thing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Big number, or small?

In an on-air interview with New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman recently, I asked about the $800 billion, 30-year carbon cap-and-trade program he and other senators were considering. If you believe the projections about climate change, I asked, was it enough money? He said, it was a lot of money. But, I asked, if you are in a sinking ship, do you worry about the cost of life jackets? He said, it depends on who's paying the bill.

My thinking: That $800 billion amounts to $27 billion a year. Combine New Mexico state government, the two national labs and the military in New Mexico, and you digest virtually that entire amount. That doesn't even count the other 49 states. Now, the number becomes pretty small.

Our conversation is about 12 minutes into this audio file.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Illegal propaganda

More about those Pentagon "generals" sucked up by TV nets as "analysts" and how it was illegal proganda under U.S. law.

This from a crusty reporter.

There's little doubt that this program violated the laws against covert propaganda operations mounted against the American public by their own government. But in this administration, there's no one left to enforce that law or any of the other laws the Bush operatives have been busy violating.

The real crime is that the scheme worked. The television network bosses swallowed the bait, the hook, the line and the sinker, and they have yet to answer for it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Better news on Spanish TV

At least that appears to be the case in Los Angeles. Consider this:

Take a recent night, after a typical day of Los Angeles news. English-language TV led with the weather (it was raining, which is not as unusual as you might think during an L.A. winter), then moved into splashy reports with dramatic footage of a gang shootout and possible hostage situation in a city neighborhood. Less than eight minutes into the newscast, trivia took over. The CBS affiliate's third piece involved new questions about the death of Marilyn Monroe. The NBC affiliate dwelled on a hepatitis scare at a party for celebrities and swimsuit models, then attempted a brief consumer-oriented investigation about people's need to replace their tires more frequently. The ABC affiliate gave five minutes to movies and entertainment, from an Oscar preview to a sit-down interview with Jon Stewart.

In Spanish, viewers got fewer soft features and more deeply reported, longer pieces. KMEX mentioned the gang shootout but provided far more context, interviewing local residents about recent crime and about how local businesses and schools were affected by an hours-long neighborhood lockdown as police searched for a suspect. KMEX also aired a detailed report on a major beef recall from a local firm, a couple of pieces on local politics (including a roundup of what city and county leaders had done that day) and a four-minute examination of key policy issues in the presidential campaign. The Oscars went unmentioned. KVEA's half-hour newscast, " En Contexto" (which means what it sounds like), was even more substantive. It gave a thorough review of local political and government news, then delved deeply into nearly 20 minutes of explanation of rising home foreclosures and mortgage problems. (Yes, Spanish-language viewers were callously left to figure out that it was raining all by themselves.)

They get the best ratings, too: KMEX's 6 p.m. program has ranked either first or second for years among newscasts in the market in any language; its 11 p.m. newscast leads the ratings among nearly every adult demographic. KVEA lags behind, but its audience is increasing. "There's such a thirst for news," says Maelia Macin, vice president and general manager of Univision's Los Angeles stations.

More in the Washington Post.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The story TV "missed"

NYT reporter David Barstow’s investigation of the Pentagon’s military analyst program — whereby ex-military talking heads, often with direct ties to contractors, parroted Defense Department talking points on the air — has been noticeably absent from television airwaves since the story broke on April 20.

But, according to The Politico.Com, a possible congressional inquiry may force the story to be covered by television and could prompt stories on an investigation into themselves.

Here's the full list of documents the Pentagon released.