What's The Matter With America?

The Village Voice coverAfter the November, 2008 general election, former House Majority leader Tom Delay commented that rather than hold a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should have "a nice little chicken dinner, and then we'll save the $125 million." Then rumors emerged that Obama wasn't born in the U.S.


News Corp Gives $1 Million to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, has donated $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful business lobbying group that was recently accused of tax fraud and money laundering by two national watchdog groups.


Netflix Hires Fake Crowd to Look Excited at Media Event

NetflixNetflix kicked off the introduction of its streaming-entertainment service into Canada by closing off a street in downtown Toronto and holding a splashy media event. Excited people thronged the street, but journalists were unaware that many of the people were "extras," hired and paid by Netflix to act like excited consumers.


Bill O'Reilly and the Fox-Comcast Crushing Machine

Bill O'Reilly tells Barry Nolan to "shut up"On May 10, 2008, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Boston/New England chapter conferred its prestigious "Governor's Award" upon Bill O'Reilly, host of the Fox News Channel opinion program "The O'Reilly Factor." Some felt the choice of O'Reilly was improper given his reputation for inflammatory rhetoric and bullying of people who disagree with him. One person who took exception to the award was Barry Nolan, host of another cable show produced by Comcast called "Backstage with Barry Nolan." One month before the awards ceremony, Nolan emailed the Academy's governing board and asked them to reconsider giving the award to O'Reilly. Nolan also made public his opposition to the award. He wrote to the Boston Herald to say he was appalled at the Academy's choice. Nolan said O'Reilly was "a mental case" who "inflates and constantly mangles the truth." Nolan sought and received some support for his protest from within the higher echelons of Comcast, but in the end, the academy's vote stood. Determined to take a discreet but public stand, Nolan attended the award ceremony, bringing 100 six-page fliers he had made up listing some of O'Reilly's more outrageous quotes.

USA Today Drinks the Tea

Drink the TeaThe front page of USA Today August 13 was consumed with an extensive article titled "Faces of the Tea Party: Tea Party members offer ground-level view," which featured anecdotal interviews with ordinary people who agree with the movement. But the article offered no information putting the Tea Party movement in the context of the larger political picture in the U.S. For example, it points out that Tea Party candidates were victorious in primary elections in Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada and Utah, and, while it questions the ability of the candidates to win in the general election in November, it fails to mention that these candidates' victories boost the possibilities that Democrats will prevail in these states. Another significant omission is that article also fails to mention how remarkably far out of the mainstream the many Tea Party candidates' views are. Nevada's victorious Tea Party Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, seeks to dismantle Medicare and Social Security and hand their functions to the private sector. Kentucky's Tea Party Senate candidate, Rand Paul, belongs to a group of physicians who deny the link between HIV and AIDS and argue that Barack Obama controls his audiences through a covert form of hypnosis. Colorado's victorious gubernatorial Tea Party candidate, Dan Maes, told a crowd of supporters that Denver's new bicycle sharing program is really part of a hidden United Nations plot to "rein in American cities," put the environment above citizens' rights, and curtail personal freedoms.

Welcome to the Infotainment Freak Show

In his essay titled, "Welcome to the Infotainment Freak Show," Marty Kaplan, Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the founding director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of the impact of entertainment on society, writes,


AMC's "Mad Men" Atones for Ubiquitous Smoking

BPlogoAMC's Emmy-award winning TV show "Mad Men" depicts advertising executives in the 1960s, including their ubiquitous smoking, which occurs in practically every scene in every show. Now "Mad Men" is holding a celebrity auction on E-Bay in which it will sell off a walk-on role in the show to benefit lung cancer research and treatment at the City of Hope National Medical Center.



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