Posts tagged ‘CNN’

Opps

Yeah, I know I have used Alfred E. Neuman before, but is there any better example for our Village Idiot in Chief? According to the WaPo through leaks from our security agencies they are appalled at President Cheeto-heads actions, the moron released critical classified information:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency.

When the White House denied it, nobody believed them.  It is almost funny that we know it is the lying show. The leakers are far more credible than the White House.  Secretary of State Rex Tellerson came out and made an identical denial as the White House was pitching, and when the State Department was asked about it, they had no idea what he had said.  They were totally out of the loop.  Clearly it occurred and the hypocristy of going after Hillary’s email system when no damage has ever been identified, the classified material was not classified by some agencies, and this leak that will probably cost lives is just enormous.  I wonder if the Russians left any listening devices behind after their visit?  At least they got all the pictures.  The American Press was barred.

But I think the most poignant moment in this latest Cheeto-head fuck up came when Allen Dershowitz, famous attorney, was on CNN and got quite animated about warning fellow panelists not to conflate this with the collusion investigation.  “They are entirely two different things!”  No, Allen, they are not.  Now legally he is right, but they come from the same motivation and misunderstanding that caused them both.  

On the collusion thing, the reality I believe we will soon find out about is the flow of money to finance Trump adventures (investments), much of it laundered or being laundered through his deals.  So in Trump’s little mind the Russian boys and girls are really just good fellow business men and woman and of course there was collusion to send them a signal that the sanctions were just a hinderance to business.  I don’t know this, but I think it is the most likely scenario here with all the denials and head fakes.  Cheeto-head does not get the adversary thing at all.  And if I am right, they have their hooks in him and he has no idea.

So Cheeto-head does not see the Russians as an adversary, but a way to make lots of money. It’s jus business.  He has no idea he is so far out of his league that they are using him to undermining our democratic system.  Thus the leak was just an exchange among the boys and he is clueless about the damage done, as he is clueless about just about everything.  He is their perfect captured idiot in spy talk.  But, hey, it is just business, right?  And with a businessman in charge, everything should be hunky dory, right?  You people who voted for him are morons. As I have pointed out before, none of this is a suprise.

I know what we are going to hear next.  “Who leaked this?  We have to get those leakers! Leakers, leakers, leakers.” Or said another way, deflect, deflect, deflect. Except he is the biggest leaker of all.  And the leakers leaked in order to wake up the nation to the danger he poses and the damage he has done.  And it is only the beginning.  He alienated all the intelligence agencies and the FBI.  Now his bumbling is putting the nation at risk.  They are good Americans and will not stand idly by while he destroys their hard work and undermines our intelligence sources.  It is going to be a fun and dangerous ride.  I hope he did not kill anyone with his leak, but he may well have.  

The White House Correspondents’ Dinners, The Real One and the Not One

While Cheeto-Head was up in Pennsylvania doing his best interpretation of Hitler to a crowd of sycophants and idiots, the media was gathering in two places to have a little fun.  First some thoughts on the Pennsylvania rally.  What president in his first 100 days is out giving a campaign speech full of lies to his base? Adolph Hitler. See, he his the same guy you elected, full of hate and lies, working diligently to tear down democracy by going after the free press.  I watched some of the rally and was filled with hate and divisiveness.  I was filled with a sense of revulsion for my fellow Americans in Pennsylvania.  Somehow in my little mind, I did not think that was what a president was supposed to do.  Yes we have entered a different era.  Of course he did his best to undermine the free press and (getting ahead of myself) as Samantha Bee pointed out about the Press:

“You basically get paid to stand in a cage while a geriatric orangutan and his pet mob scream at you. It’s like a reverse zoo, but you carry on.”

Meanwhile there were two White House Correspondents Dinners, the official one and Samantha Bee’s Not the WH Correspondence Dinner and I watched both (oh the miracle of DVR).  I am not sure who got roasted more, Cheeto-Head or the media itself, which is fair because their endless coverage of him in the campaign without fact checking him and using competing pundits got him elected.  Policy and facts did not matter anymore, just outlandishness.  What was nice about the Pennsylvania rally was that it reminded you this presidency is not normal and what a true pig he really is.  But I get distracted.  Here is Hasan’s full speech:


Hasan Minhaj did a splendid job at the real dinner as he spent most of his time on the press itself.  He started by saying the obvious:

“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”

Then he got real:

“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”

My favorite was when he made fun of the endless viewer polling CNN (and MSNBC) do.  “If you think attacking Korea is a good idea, text 1.”  As he asked are they trying to get us to give them the news?  Both he and Samantha Bee decried the nonsense of shouting pundits that has taken the place of real news and informed analysis (He said/she said news) and here is their take:

Hasan Minhaj:

“Don [Don Lemon of CNN Tonight], every time I watch your show, I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show. ‘CNN Tonight’ should just be called ‘Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!’ with Don Lemon.”

Samantha Bee:

“With so much excellent reporting out there, why do 96 percent of Americans believe the media should be strung up by its own bowels?” she asked. “I don’t know — maybe because when they turn on the TV looking for news, all they can find are journalists trying to referee a pack of well-coiffed message robots shouting at each other all day from increasingly tiny boxes.”

And I think that gets to the heart of our problems today.  We are not looking for the truth through carefully researched journalism, but a mud wrestling contest, winner has the best costume.  Ratings are king if some cloths are ripped off.  Samantha made the point most effectively by quoting Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide and then making the point that they had effectively turned news into a sporting event (news as entertainment):

“There’s no truth or falsehood in sports. There’s just winners and losers, and people giving 110 percent because sports thinks that’s a number. The difference is, on CNN, the cheerleaders get paid.”

His barbs at MSNBC and CNN were well deserved:

“MSNBC is here tonight. And I’m glad you guys are here. That way if I’m bombing, Brian Williams will describe it as stunning.”

— “MSNBC. It’s hard to trust you guys when you send so many mixed messages. On the one hand you tell us the prison industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of ‘Lockup.’ You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison.”

— “I had a lot more MSNBC jokes, but I don’t want to just ramble on, otherwise I might get a show on MSNBC.”

“CNN is here, baby. You guys got some really weird trust issues with the public. I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to DEFCON-1 just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer.”

Yes, the press was on trial here and mostly they were (TV media) guilty as charged.  Maybe they learned something, I just don’t know.  We know Cheeto-Head is a disaster for this country, but last night was a reflection on how we got an ignorant racist misogynist for a president and sadly news and the way it is presented is a large part of the problem.  But they are also our only hope.  Samantha wondered why CNN, who has many great journalists, would just stop with the reality show and let them do their job.  Hasan probably summed it up best and maybe we need to hear it from a 2nd generation immigrant Muslim who does really appreciate what America should be and was about (here is the only copy of a video I could find and it was on twitter and I could not find the embed code):

Even though Mr. Minhaj said he had been told not to mock Mr. Trump or his administration in absentia, he felt he had a duty to “get on this stage and make fun of the president.”

“But the president didn’t show up,” Mr. Minhaj said. “Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”

A few hours from now, Mr. Minhaj said, “Donald Trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner. And he’ll be doing it completely sober. And that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would.”

After thanking the White House Correspondents’ Association, and thanking Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein “for inspiring a generation of journalists,” Mr. Minhaj concluded by saying, “I would like to thank Donald Trump for inspiring the next.”

Finally, I would like to leave with Woodward’s comments about what journalism is about:  Trying to find the best obtainable version of the truth we can.  We have a large portion of our citizenship who does not have a clue what that means.  A nobel endeavor and they are our only hope against ignorance and fascism on display in Pennsylvania that same night. A lot of things that needed to be said to powerful people was said.  I only hope they were listening.

The News

Yesterday I was watching a very good interview of the Mayor of Santa Fe New Mexico speak on the reason for sanctuary cities and how they would resist Trump’s Executive Order when they interrupted it to bring us the news of the death of Mary Tyler Moore.  Say what?  And then the rest of the news was dominated by it.  Is this the “E” network?  I think every one my age was at one time in love with Mary Tyler Moore, but the nation is facing a crisis and entertainment news takes precedence?  People’s live could be severly disrupted, family separated, kids who have never lived in Mexico sent there, and we focus on the a TV star’s death?  It swamps everything else?

Of course it does when corporations own News and the measure of success in quarterly profits.  Think about priorities.  News, real news, is to inform us, educate us, get the real truth of what is going on.  That requires reporters and satellite trucks, and people on the ground.  Sometimes the news is not what people want to hear. It’s measure of success is whether it is getting the real story and exposing the truth.  Entertainment’s priorities is to entertain and distract us.  It’s measure of success is ratings.  I am sure you have heard the statement that news is whatever people want to know.  It’s an excuse for covering things that are interesting (read ratings) but not important (won’t affect our lives).  Sure there is room for it in news, but it shouldn’t take it over.

When news got taken over by corporations and became profit centers, cost cutting was in order.  What I saw on MSNBC was a great sample.  Richard Engles has been their reporter in the Middle East.  So now there is a story of Russia and how they are reacting to Trump and there is Richard Engles again.  Not that Richard is not a great reporter, but do they only have one foreign correspondent?  CNN, which was the place to go for news around the world has fallen so far.  They got rid of people in the field and gave us panels of pundits (much cheaper than real people out there getting the story) and reporting on twitter tweets instead of real reporting on real issues.  And what we get is incestuous thinking and narratives instead of facts and real reporting.

My favorite example of how far they have fallen is the almost weekly hijacking of any news by some shooter in some place who just shot down, say 10 people.  It is tragic for sure, but should it consume the rest of the news day with endless speculation about who it was, what were their motives, what are the police procedures?  After a couple of hours of this, the story has completely changed because they did not have the facts to begin with.  Why not report what happened, what we know, and come back to it when more details (verified) come it.  Because it is not as entertaining of crowd shots of people milling about.

So how do we get the news media out of the hands of Corporations and for profit entities.  Well, I do watch Vice News now every night and I learn all kinds of things going on in the world that mainstream media is ignoring.  Then there is PBS and NPR, although we have to see if Trump and the Republicans further gut their budgets.  Jessica Yellen wrote a similar piece this morning focusing on CNN and suggested that they might survive as non-profits like PBS and NPR.  I have another idea which would not force corporations to divest their news organizations.  We always forget that the government basically gives away the airways so why not say that as part of your entertainment programming for which profits are good, you have to provide news independent of ratings?  

I really don’t know what the answer is with entertainment going to the streaming mode and pay for individual shows.  But I do know this.  We got Donald Trump because a large majority of Americans are ignornant of basic facts and lack critical thinking skills.  If a democracy is going to survive they have to have an informed electorate.  So we have to do something.  Personally I subscribe to four newspapers (e-versions), but nobody reads as I have once again had it affirmed after the last election.  Facts are facts and there are not alternative facts.  News is what makes us understand this, and apparently even at the highest levels of government, they have lost this ability.

Atheist’s Sunday

There were two segments on CNN’s GPS this morning that this atheist wanted to jump all over.  The first was an interview with General Stanely McChrystal about how to defeat ISIS.  The premise was that McChrystal fought a successful insurgency in Afghanistan, and how those lessons apply (they don’t). So McChrystal gives the pitch about how ISIS is successfully using social media which is a big difference. He also said that we need to fill the power vacuum with effective government after we “whack-a-mole” them, which as an aside made me laugh. It doesn’t exist in the Middle East and getting it is the real issue, but I digresss. What was not mentioned was the elephant in the room, Islam.

They just can’t get their heads around the religious nature of this war, or why social media is effective. You get the “slick presentations attract vulnerable people” routine, which is not it at all. If slick videos are the key, make some of your own to point out the bankruptcy of the whole ideology. Oh wait! That would be the bankruptcy of Islam and some of its very basic teachings.The problem is that ISIS is fighting a religious war, fulfilling the prophecy of the Quran in establishing a caliphate. Arguing that this is not real Islam falls on deaf ears. We are so accustom to tolerating religious beliefs, we have no idea how to address a problem when religion is at the very root of it. Religious belief is the problem.

And just to add fuel to the fire, if you followed McChrystal’s plan, and say we did it, you are in fact helping ISIS by fulfilling their prophecy of a war against the infidel and helping their religious recuitment campaign. We need to take the religious nature and allure of this war to Muslims and deal with it, not with surgical military strikes and some fantasy government that will fill the void, but addressing the real issue of it being a religious war, and some religions are just evil (most at one time or another). Religion is the root problem, with sectarian political power squabbles piled on top, that make this pretty much unsolvable by us.

Okay, my other religious thought of the day also came from GPS. In the next segment, Fareed was interviewing a UN envoy on the treatment of women by ISIS. Basically she described how ISIS is enslaving them, putting them on an auction block nude to sell as sex slaves, and in one case burned one alive because she refused to perform certain sexual acts. Despictable right?  Where are their morals and decency? Oh, you are not going to like where I am going here. Their religion allows them to believe this is perfectly moral. So does our Bible (pick your version), more or less. So if morality comes from God, is this God’s morality?

I hear the wailing now. These guys don’t represent real religion. Whose real religion? Which one is the true religion? I could say something snarky about religious tolerance here, but I will restrain myself. The point is whether as degenerate as ISIS is, you can find just as morally replusive things in the Bible ordered by God. 

The Bible: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” 

So if morality comes from God, are we now living in sin as we become “more soft hearted”? One could say the same thing about what Rick Perry said the other day, “Our rights come from God”. So I guessing a daughter has no recourse when her father decides to stone her to death because she laid with some kid. Today we are just thankful she is not pregnant. Should we all be turned to salt? Since this is from the Bible where our rights come from, government then has no authority here to protect the daughter from stoning? If our rights come from God, then the father is perfectly justified, right?

My point is that all of this is total nonsense. Morality most probably came long before people had a god or one we would call the true god today, but were derived from what worked best for their society. More importantly morals evolved as we learned about the human condition (gay marriage is just the latest, how about treating woman as equals?). It is absolute nonsense to say morality comes from God except for the feeble minded who want to live an unexamined life. Morality comes from the human condition and the knowledge that we are all in this together. It comes from respect of the human condition, and government, not god, was instituted to protect rights derived from these moral truths. But we are living in the age of ignorance and tolerance of ignorance, and these crazy statements never get questioned except from a heretic like me.  

Maybe today instead of spending time reciting some religions slogans and knelling on the floor or prostrate on a mat, think about what they really mean and whether in living them out, you might just be harming your fellow human beings.  But then again, if your are special and chosen by God, who cares?

 

Continuing Press Follies

Lincoln Chafee was announcing his candidacy for President.  Now we have had to endure, what, 10 announcements from Republicans so far?  Well his annoucement was quite entertaining until the Press decided to cut in (both CNN and MSNBC) with some sort of political analysis about how he doesn’t have a chance.  Now Lincoln was laying out exactly what he stood for and then started to give us a history lesson in how badly the Bush Republicans, you know the ones who are being recycled now, got it totally wrong.  But the press was more interested in giving us a horse race update instead of letting Lincoln educate us on the history we so easily forget.  They are just pathetic and then wonder how 46% of nation blames Iraq on Obama.  Jounalism no longer is a profession.  Political kibitzing is.  Shoot me.

Atheists – The CNN Special

As an Atheist (maybe it is small case atheist), I watched CNN’s interesting look at atheists and it was entertaining and informative.  It is really hard to have a conversation with a nation which bases most of their social structures around religion and then talk about people who think all of that God stuff is nonsense, but they did a fairly good job.  They started with a very religious evangelical Mom and Dad whose son has become an atheist.  It brought many of the issues that I talk in this blog about home by personalizing it.

First of all atheism is not a religion.  Sure there are those who have made it such, but condemning those who believe is kind of a dead end.  It is also not Satanism, because if we don’t believe in God, we certainly don’t believe in Satan.  We just take the world as it is without magic and magical people.  That’s it and that is kind of what the show exposed for the religious.  What most of us atheist complain most about in religious belief was on display with parents of what I thought was really a neat, smart, kind, and thoughtful kid who was an atheist.  His dad said that they still talk, but he is dead.  He didn’t feel that, that is what scripture tells him.  His brain is checked at the door, but his son’s brain wasn’t.  And it made his son sad.  God help them if they had a gay kid.

The most interesting thing about this young man is that as his intellect told him there was no God, he found others who felt the same way.  And they formed a “secular group” (atheist scares people), and just tried to inform those who were interested what he and others were about, not some satan loving evil being, but a person asking questions about the world around him and wanting to be accepted for his questioning mind.

And the most interesting part was the ex-minister who was shunned from his community when he professed his belief.  Actually his aunt posted a picture of him and his son with Richard Dawkins on the internet and shunning broke out.   But what was neat about this guy is that he was a natural preacher.  What he wanted to do was to develop the community, brotherhood and sisterhood, and the striving to live good life, just without all the God nonsense.  He understood that spiritualism could exist without magical beings and a magical world.  And that is what he was doing.  It was not about convincing others they should be atheists, just providing an alternative to those who are with the benefits of community of the church.

Apparently there are more and more of us who just don’t accept the concept of God anymore.  There just is no evidence for most of us and even the indoctrination from childhood is losing sway with those who open their minds to other kinds of ideas and ways of seeing the world.  We should not condemn those who do believe, until their beliefs enter the secular world in causing injustice and cruelty, which of course they do all the time.  But hopefully those of us who want a world based more on science, data, and rational thought, and not blind belief in deities and their rules will eventually take over the world.  For those who still want the community and spiritualism of the church, that is there too.  Heck, I feel connected to all living beings.  But I don’t need a creator or rules from sand people to feel that.

One last thing.  How can people who don’t believe in God be good?  Is stoning your daughter for losing her virginity good?  Should you ostracize your child because he is gay?  Or as depicted in this special, because he doesn’t believe as you.  Isn’t your most important responsibility to a child to love and nurture your children?  Well we atheists think so and good and evil have very little to do with what religion you believe in and everything to do with how you treat your fellow-man and the steward the world around you.  So far the religious have failed on all accounts.

But I am a godless atheist so don’t let your kids get too close.  Rumor has it, it is catching. Next thing you know they may want to be astrophysicists, and live a life based on science, data, and reason.

 

 

Living in the Dark

Rachel Maddow did an interesting piece last night on all the things the CIA has either totally missed or got wrong in the last 30 years or so which include:

  • Failed to predict the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968
  • Failure to predict the Iranian Revolution
  • Failing to predict the fall of the Soviet Union
  • Failing to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall (learned about it on CNN)
  • Failure to predict the invasion of Afghanistan
  • Failure to predict the Iraq invasion of Kuwait
  • Failure to predict the Indian testing of a nuclear bomb
  • Failure to predict the 9/11 attacks
  • Telling the President that the case for WMD in Iraq was a slam dunk (they may have told the CIA to tell them that)
  • Failure to Predict the Soviet Invasion of Georgia
  • Failure to predict the Arab Spring
  • Failure to predict the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il
  • Failure to Predict the Soviet Invasion of Crimea (In fact it briefed Congress invasion was unlikely)

This is not an exhaustive list, just the highlights and the point is that we were caught flat footed on these major events. So here is the question I pose to you. Is our massive surveillance system only good at looking at what we are doing in our emails and on Facebook and Twitter?

The other question is the one Rachel posed, what happened to CNN? They were there on the spot and in many cases were the source to inform the CIA of what was going on along with the rest of us. But the company gutted its investigative reporting in favor of cheaper he said/she said pundits that provide us no useful information and we are in the dark about world affairs and our own domestic politics. Isn’t the profit motive wonderful as it dumbs us down to oblivion?

The State of the Fourth Estate

So I finished my newspaper reading and blogging and decided to turn on the “news” to see if anything is happening. Well my favorite, MSNBC is showing Olympics which is understandable (Finland is beating Norway in ice hockey). It is a once every two year thing and we get to see some live action. So I switch over to CNN.

Now Fox is not even an option because I need news, not Republican talking points. While CNN is a talking point for conventional wisdom, they usually have current events and once in a while interesting interviews.

And what do I get? Both CNN channels are covering crime/courtroom dramas. First of all this is not news, but voyeurism. There is nothing there that informs me about my political choices in the future or the state of the world. Just a soap opera about little people. Remember back in early 2000 when CNN was the go to news source for on the ground reporting? Now they are an entertainment channel for trailer trash. And we wonder why people make such horrible choices at the polls.

The Sad State of Affairs

In an episode (or two) of the HBO series Newsroom, their attempts to present serious news was sidetracked by the ratings where CNN and Nancy Grace were killing them with their coverage of the Casey Anthony trial. The show did a really great job of showing how Nancy use emotion and careful stage craft to hype the scene and prejudge the entire trial. It is called yellow journalism. And of course in reality, during the trial their ratings really did go way up. Sell that soap, or prescription drug, or whatever is advertising these days. Anybody know or care where Casey Anthony is today. Did it make a rat’s ass to the lives of real people? It was rubber necking at a train wreck. The carnage is so much more interesting than what will impact and change our lives. Newsroom did a wonderful job of depicting the state of the News today.

Well, lately MSNBC’s ratings have been dropping. Now I can see why. It is politics 24/7, with basically the same stories being worked over from a little different angle. Real focus on content of policies is more likely to occur on Alex, Chris, or Rachel, with the others hammering the politics, not the policies. Their coverage of real news can be scary when they use politicos like Chris Mathews to cover real time events like the tornados in Oklahoma and watch him ask the reporter on the ground structural questions instead of getting a real structural engineer. But what is really disturbing is to see their promo for the “full coverage” of the Zimmerman trial in the death of Trayvon Martin. It is all about ratings. It is all about selling soap.

Continue reading ‘The Sad State of Affairs’ »

What She Should Have Said: CNN and Wolfe Blitzer

It is no surprise that I am an atheist and after a horrendous event like the tornado in Moore Oklahoma, you get a lot of thanking God, which assumes everyone believes in some fairy godfather. But the best was from Wolfe Blitzer on CNN who asked an Oklahoma tornado survivor if she “thanked the Lord” on live TV and she responded “I’m actually an atheist.”

What I wish she would of said was, “and should I thank him for the destruction and the taking of 24 lives?” You can’t have one without the other. Oh, but he works in mysterious ways. It is amazing that they never get that they are shoving their religion in our face 24/7 or how inane and illogical it is.