"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Entries in Media (14)


Panic in the Year Zero

I blogged about this movie in December. Click here to review my post. I remember watching the movie from an early Saturday morning or a late night creature feature in the 70's. With movies like this available free on YouTube, do you need cable? (My tongue is firmly placed in my check on that question.) But seriously I do watch a lot of YouTube, and for me it is a good and free alternative to modern TV fare. YouTube plus Netflix ($16 for 1 DVD and streaming), plus Hulu ($8) added to Russian Internet TV ($18) for my wife is all we need. I may even drop the Hulu. Right now I am going through Midsommer Murders on Netflix streaming. Maybe next week I will share that Sci-Fi classic, Day of the Triffids! Cut the Cable! 


Media Bias

Most media bias is too subtle to easily see. It is often the story you don't see. Or the story you do see that the news outlet was paid to air, such as the recent example of CNN receiving money for their coverage of Bahrain. 

There have been two stories recently, not well-covered of course, that illustrate my point. Both stories involve CBS. 

A few years ago CBS bought the tech website CNET. I used to listen to a few of their podcasts—I am not sure why I stopped. CNET reviews various tech and entertainment hardware. Every year at the electronic show CES they give awards. 

Here is how a website that competes with CNET put it. 

I’m not going to pretend that the Dish/CNET debacle is a major news story. I can assure you that it isn’t and next week we’ll still be reading a CNET camera review from 2011 to decide which ultra zoom to buy (or, arguably, you’ll just end up on Amazon and read those reviews, which, I’d argue, are supplanting traditional gadget reviews). The whole thing stinks, but it doesn’t take a super sleuth to figure out what happened. It probably shook down like this: a CBS lawyer got wind of the award, saw the damage it would do to the case against Dish, and told the board. The board made a few calls, the editors cried, and the Hopper was pulled. News got out because someone who is close to a number of CNET and Dish folks tweeted about it. This would have been a quiet kill if hadn’t been for those pesky kids.

First, I agree that this is not a major news story, but I disagree in that it should have been. The Hopper is a product that automatically records TV shows, and when you watch the show later, it automatically removes the commercials—my kind of product. The Hopper was going to win best of show, but CBS, as they own CNET, stopped this. 

I have no idea of the merits of CBS' suit against Dish. I certainly understand that CBS' business plan is more and more in the toilet because of the DVR. I would not be surprised if they won. The Hopper certainly violates the spirit of Dish Network's agreement to air CBS on the satellite network. 

Another incident happened this last weekend. Forbes describes it

CBS banned Soda Stream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.

Please pause and read that sentence again.

I am shocked that CBS would ban a spot for being too competitive. But I’m even more shocked that the advertising world isn’t up in arms about it. 

SodaStream is a product to make your own soda. I have it. It is OK if you want cola, but its carbonated water product is awful. Unfortunately this is why I bought it. 

What these two stories tell us is that the Media conglomerates will be keeping what they perceive as their own best interests. This should come as no surprise. The advertisers are the boss. Will Faux News ever point out that the gold sellers who advertise on Faux are paying a fortune for these ads, and they must pay for it with higher commissions or larger spreads/markup?  Will Faux News ever do investigative reporting on the Pharmaceutical industry as they are big buyer of ads? 

Are you that naïve? 

I know you are not. 

The first step is to be aware of the problem.  The second step is that you will be able to concentrate on those outlets where you can ignore the ads, either by a printed or internet Media, or by a DVR.  The third step is to reduce advertiser-supported media. I wish there was a fourth step of being able to buy your news media without ads. I personally am looking for that fourth step.

The irony is that in both these instances CBS actually managed to make the situation worse for them. In particular SodaStream is getting more buzz from the rejection of their Superbowl ad than they would have gotten from the ad itself. I want to do my part in this, so here is the ad. 



The BBC Exposed

Since this is across the pond, this scandal may not have reached your personal radar. While I am not a conspiracy theorist, it is easily supported that there are various groups of pedophiles that help each other—even in church hierarchies like the Catholic Church and the Jehovah Witnesses.

The power of group identity is strong; the desire to protect the group leads otherwise moral people to do evil. That "group" might be your nation, your church, or even your employer.

Media is one way this is done, and the sex scandal is used as a template by this podcaster to talk about propaganda. I do not agree with every point made here, but the general thrust of the video is correct.




Opinion Polls and Manipulation

The average voter is pretty easy to manipulate. All major news outlets are masters at it. One reason Obama won was that he and his team was better at it than Romney and his team. 

I remember a public opinion poll I read years ago. They asked two questions that you would think would have the same answer. The first question was, "Is Abortion murder?" The second question was, "Should a woman have the right to have an abortion?" In this survey both answers got a high percentage of the "vote." In fact 17% of those surveyed thought that abortion was murder and should be allowed. Note that they were not asked that question, it is the result of comparing the two answers and subtracting. 

While this is somewhat incoherent, I find myself in that percentage. The reason is the fictional quote I blogged about yesterday. Livia, the wife of Roman Emperor Augustus and mother and grandmother of emperors: 

And it’s no use arguing with you republicans. You refuse to see that one can no more reintroduce republican government at this stage than one can reimpose primitive feelings of chastity on modern wives and husbands. It’s like trying to turn the shadow back on the sundial: it can’t be done.

Instead of preaching that abortion foes get together and vote, instead I suggest that the preachers try to actually convince the hearts and minds of the people. This is a lot harder. It would require a whole generation of preachers to approach the subject differently. I have blogged about this before. 

But while I do not plan to hold my breath as I wait for preachers to abandon salvation by politics for salvation by Jesus, if I did I would die, I hope to do my part by continuing to talk about how "the powers that be" work. 

One way they control the people is through fake opinion polls. How this works is described, far better than I could do, in the British Sitcom, Yes, Minister


Manufacturing Consent

I recently rewatched this documentary Manufacturing Consent.  While I am not an Anarcho-Syndicalist as Noam Chomsky is, I have found many important ideas about how the media controls the way we think in this video. This is called framing.  If you never hear about the massacres in East Timor, you cannot be against the massacres.
There is no big conspiracy. It is the world view of the editors that cause them to act this way. I have talked about this in another post.