Wednesday, December 05, 2007


American broadcast news can be a non-stop 24hr stream of useless information-turned-white noise. We all know this. Brimming with talking head shoutfests, sloganeering politicians, soft-core porn masquerading as "human interest" topics (to catch a predator? please, I have HBO if I want to watch something pervy late night), your standard police blotter story filled with "why-is-this-making-national-news
-oh-yeah-the-woman-kidnapped-was-white-and-wealthier-than-God" news updates, the public shooting or natural disaster du jour, etc etc.

Are we at war? Is hunger in this nation at an all time high? Are we on the brink of a devastating recession? Is global warming serious?

I don't know, I'm just seeing what's on the end of what Burroughs called that "long newspaper spoon” and I'm disgusted. The garbage being spewed from corporate news channels has reached such a base level of uselessness that it's beyond joking about. Although, Stephen Colbert had a real zinger in "I Am America" when he said that good journalists know the five W's: "Who, What, When, Where, and Wolf Blitzer is for hospital patients and old people."

But sometimes, people, sometimes a serious news reporter breaks through the toxic ether and yanks at a listener's ears so hard they have to hold tight and listen to that glassy shield of infotainment shatter. Glazed eyes become clearer if only for a second when mainstream thinking, as perpetuated by pretty corporate mouthpieces, is challenged.

The other day I listened to one of the most influential corporate news anchormen actually held accountable for the hate mongering he's propagated over the years regarding illegal immigration. Not to say that Lou Dobbs will emerge a changed man from his recent appearance on Democracy Now!, but still, to make a media dinosaur like Dobbs stutter and stammer and become uber-defensive is a beautiful thing. Or to hear Naomi Klein hand Alan Greenspan's ass to him on a plate is pretty sweet. Or to see Jon Stewart question the social responsibility of a debate show like Crossfire--as a guest of said program, only to have said program canceled just months later--is a glorious thing indeed.

Here are some of my favorite Dobbs retorts:

--when Juan Gonzalez questions Dobbs on correspondent Glenn Spencer's use of the term "military incursion" when referring to the migration of illegal aliens (Spencer who, by the way, is a noted little helper of the Minute Men and has started his own non-governmental task force to assist the US Border Patrol), Dobbs says:

"My God, don't you have a sense of humor?"

--When Gonzalez compares today's xenophobia to the attitudes towards early Irish settlers, as well as to Chinese immigrants and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Dobbs blabs:

"You are ethnocentro to the point of absurdity!"

Dobbs throws out counterpunches like an amateur Rush Limbaugh disciple or a lackadaisical Bill O'Reily. You can tell when Amy Goodman's really got his nuts in a bind when she recounts factual errors in his reporting (like when his correspondent claimed that illegal immigrants could be attributed to the 7,000 cases of leprosy in the last three years, when in all reality a correlation cannot be proven and, really, there have been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the past THIRTY years). When Goodman asks him why he would let inaccuracies go uncorrected, he responds with more questions, like, "Well do you know what year that was?" as if that has anything to do with anything.

It's a real shame that Dobbs is so hellbent on his anti-immigrant agenda, because he has some truly admirable things to say. Like when Goodman asked him what the most important issues to Americans are today. Dobbs says:

The most important issue in this country today is representation of the American people in Washington, D.C., which is being denied right now by corporate America, special interest, group and identity politics that are submerging the will of the majority in this country. The fundamental tenet of any democracy is representation of the will of the majority, and that is being denied through elitists in both business and government and politics. And we have to fundamentally examine where we are and where we want to be going over the course of this next century. And that is not happening, not in the presidential campaigns of both parties. It’s not happening in Washington, D.C., even though we have a government in which the Democratic Party is leading the Congress, and the Republican Party, the White House.

Needless to say, I think this interview was refreshing to listen to, and I hope that Dobbs fires his fact-checkers, if he has them, and finds some new ones.

Listen to it here.

Also, the Naomi Klein vs. Alan Greenspan on Democracy Now! was also very heated and refreshing to hear, it can be found here.

Or, watch part five of an 80s Donahue show where Ayn Rand looses her cool when an audience member very politely states that she had outgrown Rand's philosophy:

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