Recent comments

  • Reply to: The FCC on "Fake News": Who's Trying to Persuade You?   16 years 3 months ago
    Paul McLeary has written a [|nice critique of the FCC statement] for CJR's CampaignDesk blog: <blockquote> Nice try, but producers and station managers likely see little to fear in statements like "operators generally must clearly disclose ..." This borders on the nonsensical. What exactly is meant by "generally?" Most of the time? Some of the time? At least six times out of 10? Worse, the notice also says that "No sponsorship identification is necessary with regard to material that is furnished to the licensee 'without charge or at a nominal charge.'" Since many VNRs are already given to stations for free, or at worst for a "nominal charge," the new language basically means it's business as usual.</blockquote> Also at CJR, Brian Montopoli points out that "[|these high-profile transgressions don't exist in a vacuum]" but actually reflect the common journalistic practice (in print as well as on TV news) of having reporters rewrite news releases into actual news stories: <blockquote> For what, really, is the point of just rewriting a press release? If you're just regurgitating PR, you might as well just send the press release itself over the wire, or print it in the newspaper -- isn't that ultimately more honest? (Although, admittedly, probably not that good for circulation.) Reshaping a press release into story form without adding any real context, pertinent information, or countervailing opinion isn't journalism, appearances notwithstanding. It's actually not all that different from what a Karen Ryan does -- packaging PR so as it give it the imprimatur of editorial legitimacy.</blockquote>
  • Reply to: Terrorism's Up, But Who's Counting?   16 years 3 months ago
    Unfortunately, the statute authorizing the report does not stipulate that the report be made public. So the administration can stay within the law by "publishing" the report and keeping it secret. Hopefully some enterprising media group will manage to get its hands on a copy and at least put the administration on the defensive about the effectiveness of its so-called "war on terror."

    The annual report was once a serious policy tool, used by American and international governments to develop terrorism security policies. It was used as well by insurance and other industries for risk assessment and other types of business planning.

    It was pressure from those groups that caused the administration to scrap the politicized version of last year's report and reissue a fact-based one. Realizing they cannot bamboozle serious institutions with a propgandized report, the administration has simply decided to keep the facts out of sight.


    Co-founder of Midwest Center for American Values, a new progressive policy think tank.
  • Reply to: The FCC on "Fake News": Who's Trying to Persuade You?   16 years 3 months ago
    <p>I just realized two things - one, that the links for the bill texts, above, expire after some length of time. So, if you're trying to get to S 266 or HR 373 and the links aren't working, go to and search by bill number.</p> <p>The other thing is that the S 266 definition for "propaganda" deserves attention unto itself, so I'll post it here:</p> <p>In this Act, the term 'publicity' or 'propaganda' includes--</p> <ol><li>a news release or other publication that does not clearly identify the Government agency directly or indirectly (through a contractor) financially responsible for the message;</li> <li>any audio or visual presentation that does not continuously and clearly identify the Government agency directly or indirectly financially responsible for the message;</li> <li>an Internet message that does not continuously and clearly identify the Government agency directly or indirectly financially responsible for the message;</li> <li>any attempt to manipulate the news media by payment to any journalist, reporter, columnist, commentator, editor, or news organization;</li> <li>any message designed to aid a political party or candidate;</li> <li>any message with the purpose of self-aggrandizement or puffery of the Administration, agency, Executive branch programs or policies, or pending congressional legislation;</li> <li>a message of a nature tending to emphasize the importance of the agency or its activities;</li> <li>a message that is so misleading or inaccurate that it constitutes propaganda; and</li> <li>the preparation, distribution, or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or video presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress or any State legislature, except in presentation to Congress or any State legislature itself.</li></ol>
  • Reply to: Porter Novelli's Pyramid Schemes   16 years 3 months ago
    The Center for Science int the Public Interest is hardly objective when it comes to food either. As a sociologist who believes we are experiencing a moral panic around food and weight, I see it as a fight between greed and ignorance on one side and fundamentalism and ignorance on the other. I truly believe that some at the CPI are Nutritional McCarthists and no corporations are paying me to say that. As a matter of fact, I think the insurance industry are as pleased as punch with CSPI advocating allowing them to charge more for "overweight" people in group policies. Anyone who had any insight into the issue whatsoever would know it will only lead to more weight obsession = more risky weight loss practice = more obesity. But that is just the point. They are not interested in learning about the complex dynamics of this phenomena. IMO they are interested in forcing their beliefs about what is healthy down the publics throat. Not that they havent done some good in getting the major food companies to stop putting poison in our food. But that they are willing to support measures to coerce the public into buying their agenda is scary. I see no difference between this and any religious group with a sincere believe in its doctrine trying to impose it on everyone else. (Other than the former is allegedly "science" and the later faith.) If the government must stick its nose in my dinner plate, than they should have gotten a broader range of "experts" on the committee.
  • Reply to: Porter Novelli's Pyramid Schemes   16 years 3 months ago
    [|I have high hopes now] for the quality of the color scheme on that new Pyramid.