Contrary to most press accounts, there was a decisive winner in the Iowa caucuses last night, and it was neither Rick Santorum nor Mitt Romney. The "winner" was the so-called "Super" PACs (political action committees), the mutant front groups for political candidates that were "created" in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that unleashed corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited money influencing elections.
As Time Magazine names 'The Protester' as person of the year, news broke that Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal joins JPMorgan Chase as a major stakeholder in Twitter, the social media network that catapulted both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement onto the global stage.
An epic new book examines the crucial role press and media have played over time in perpetuating racist views in American culture. "News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the U.S. Media," by Juan Gonzalez and Joe Torres, examines Americans' chronic discontent with the media. The book reveals how racial segregation in the media has historically distorted the news and gives numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters have actually encouraged violence towards minorities and ethnic groups through their coverage.
The authors, both seasoned journalists and researchers, note that over the decades Americans have expressed constant frustration with inaccurate news coverage, and the discontent is greatest among people of color, who feel denigrated and deeply misrepresented by the American media system.
Former Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, free after serving 43 months in federal prison on corruption charges, will now try and make a living off of his past. Abramoff was a highly influential Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was found guilty in 2006 of bribing public officials and bilking his clients, the Choctaw Indian tribe of Mississippi, out of millions of dollars. He also overbilled his lobbying clients and pocketed the extra money. Abramoff, now 53 years old, broke and unemployed, has established a promotional website and plans to charge for giving talks about corruption in Washington with titles like "How Lobbysits Shape Your Industry" and "Can Congress be Fixed?" Abramoff is also making the rounds on talk shows like "Hannity," "60 Minutes," "The Early Show" and "Piers Morgan Tonight" in an attempt to rebrand himself as a whistleblower against corruption. He has a Facebook page and game app called "Congressional Jack," and a feature film in the works about his lobbying exploits. Abramoff needs to make money fast, since he must pay back over $40 million to the Indian tribe he was convicted of bilking. To assist his media endeavors, Abramoff hired PR specialist Janet Fallon of the Washington, D.C.-based PR firm PR Options to help organize his "redemption tour" and promote his new book, Capitol Punishment, about Washington politics. Prior to establishing PR Options, Fallon worked as media consultant at Weber Shandwick and for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.
An effort by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to brand a frequent critic as a "liar" has been contradicted by a recording of the alleged deceit. AFP has not issued a retraction.
On November 8, Americans for Prosperity published a blog post on their website titled "Lee Fang Lies: The Real Face of 'Think Progress.'" Fang is a researcher and blogger for Think Progress and has written many articles about the Koch brothers, including about their business practices and lobbying efforts, and about their role in manipulating the Tea Party.
With Ohio voters looking to overturn Governor John Kasich's union-busting Senate Bill 5 through a statewide referendum, national Republican donors, strategists and corporations are pumping money into the state to defend the Governor and his bill.
On November 8th, Ohio voters will go to the polls to vote whether to repeal Senate Bill (SB) 5, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees. The bill was passed in the House and Senate and signed by Governor John Kasich, but cannot be implemented until after the referendum comes to a vote.
The "Occupy" movement has been inspired in part by the increasingly outsized political power of the top 1%, which has made elected officials more responsive to deep-pocket donors than those they were elected to represent. In response to the other 99% being left politically and economically disempowered, former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur has announced plans to work toward amending the U.S. Constitution to get big money out of politics and restore representative democracy.
It's our responsibility as journalists to let the public know who is paid by what corporation, or if they're representing the government. Otherwise, it's unforgivable. The media is our lens on the world. And it is absolutely critical we trust the media. Because, ultimately, when people are terrorized, when people are targeted, when people are marginalized, that does not make any of us safer.
- Amy Goodman, interview in "Programming the Nation?" documentary
A "radical, possibly deranged, truthteller" will be the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, said political commentator Tucker Carlson at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in New Orleans. Speaking between workshops on the benefits of carbon emissions and task force meetings where corporations and politicians vote on "model bills," Carlson joined right-wing leaders who sang the praises of the Tea Party and "sticking to your guns," cursed Obama and other "big government liberals," and praised the same "cut, cap, and balance" agenda manifest in the ALEC bills and pushed by national politicians in Washington D.C.
ABC is dominating other news outlets this summer with stories about pretty, white women in distress. The network's special about former kidnap victim J.C. Dugard garnered 15 million viewers, which prompted ABC to re-broadcast it at a later time and date. ABC sent out a press release boasting that its primetime Nightline special about then-accused child-killer Casey Anthony won the network biggest audience it has had in that time slot in five months. After paying Anthony $200,000 years ago for video and pictures to help bolster her story, ABC held nothing back after Anthony was acquitted, grabbing the first juror willing to speak to cameras and having Barbara Walters interview Anthony's attorney on TV. ABC devoted more than twice as much time to the Casey Anthony story as either of its two rival broadcast networks (22.9 minutes, compared to NBC's 8.4 minutes and 5.4 minutes on CBS). ABC even hired pretty, blonde former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart to comment on missing person cases, even though this type of crime is fairly rare. ABC argues that their hiring of Smart, the extensive coverage of J.C. Dugard and Anthony are all coincidental. Critics say ABC is falling victim to "Missing White Woman Syndrome," the phenomenon where news reports disproportionately favor coverage o crimes committed against young, attractive, white, middle-class women, while crimes committed against females of lower-class backgrounds and different ethnicities, and crimes committed against males, get less coverage.