Monday, January 21, 2013

Ruth's Radio Report

Ruth:  2013.  Another year.  Maybe certain people could use the new year to take a new start?

Specifically, maybe they can start addressing public radio's ongoing gender imbalance?

Are you unaware of that imbalance?

NPR's Talk of the Nation? "30% isn't 50% (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" explains it.  The Diane Rehm Show?  "Diane Rehm's gender imbalance (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" explains it.  Fresh Air? "Terry Gross' new low (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" explains it.  Ann, Ava and C.I. have been tracking gender imbalance.  They are often alone in doing so.

Everyone, it seems, wants to wish that women were on the radio more but no one, it seems, really has the guts to call out the specific offenders.

Instead, we are supposed to criticize it without naming names, without getting specific.  And you wonder why nothing ever changes?

It really is appalling that we would have to watch dog public radio to begin with.  But if you do not, nothing gets done.  I was re-reading Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class and came across an interesting passage on Ralph Nader.  Mr. Nader was speaking of how, with the seventies winding down, the Democratic Party began turning its back on issues that mattered to the people as they rushed to pick up even more corporate donations.  This conincides, Mr. Nader explains, with the silencing of public advocates, like himself, on the airwaves and in print.  He goes on to offhandedly offer that in all of Bill Moyers' public television shows (1971-1976, 1977-1981, 2002-2004, 2007-2009, 2012-present day), Mr. Moyers has only had Mr. Nader on once as a guest.

If you do not grasp why public media needs to be watch-dogged, there is your answer.  How pathetic.  How many times has Mr. Moyers grandstanded about his own greatness and the greatness of PBS and blah, blah, blah.  Yet Mr. Nader, one of the most important public advocates of all time, has only been a guest twice -- in fifteen years of weekly public broadcasting -- fifteen years, 52 shows a year.  780 shows and only twice could he bothered to bring on Mr. Nader.

Mr. Moyers is not a voice for the public, he is a voice for the Democratic Party.  So put on MSNBC and get him off public television.

We are three weeks into the month.  As 2012 wound down, C.I. (in "2012: The Year of Avoidance") and I (in "Michael Ratner and Michael Smith") found ourselves forced to call out Law and Disorder Radio for sexism.   If you missed that broadcast, how lucky you are, Michael Ratner and Michael Smith went to town on director Kathryn Bigelow for her film Zero Dark Thirty -- a film that neither had seen but, hey, it was directed by a woman, how good could it be?

The sexist b.s. was outrageous.  And we both, C.I. and I, pointed out that they really do not have a track record of supporting women to distract from that kind of sexism.

Misters Ratner and Smith want to pretend it is because the film, they say, endorses torture -- the film they did not see.  I saw the film and did not see any endorsement of torturePaul Schrodt (Esquire) sees no endorsement of torture, Susan Zakin (Truth Dig) sees no endorsement of torture, Spencer Ackerman (Wired) sees no endorsement of torture, and I could go on and on.  Ms. Bigelow herself has written:

First of all: I support every American's 1st Amendment right to create works of art and speak their conscience without government interference or harassment. As a lifelong pacifist, I support all protests against the use of torture, and, quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind.
But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.
Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.
This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.

Maybe it is not as clear cut as those who started slamming the film before they saw it -- like right-wing libertarian, sexist, pro-Iraq War cheerleader, and one-time Bully Boy Bush supporter Glenn Greenwald -- have tried to make it seem?  Or maybe their own guilt for making excuses for the last years is what is boiling over?

In C.I.'s look back at 2012, she noted this conversation that that took place in November on Law and Disorder:

Michael Smith:  What if Obama wasn't re-elected and the new president personally has a kill list?  And he's being advised by one of the top CIA guys who was in charge of the torture program five years ago?  They're killing, from the sky, not only foreigners but American citizens.  You would have a huge constituency opposing that.  You're not supposed to murder people without due process, particularly American citizens.  But that's the very thing that Obama is doing.  It's like people are in a trance. No one's even criticizing it.

Michael Ratner:  I agree completely, Michael.  I mean we have no real constituency left on these issues.  We can't get the people out on them.  I mean, we're trying and I think it'll change over the next couple of years.  But it is amazing how his election has disabled both African-Americans as well as, uh, [pauses] --

Michael Smith:  Liberals, progressives.  A very large part of people we had hoped to count on have taken themselves out of the ballgame on this.

Michael Ratner: I mean, that's not necessarily a reason someone shouldn't have voted for him.

C.I. went on to point out:

Those aren't reasons people shouldn't have voted for him?  Seriously?  Killing American citizens isn't reason enough not to vote for Barack?
How far will you go to whore?

Exactly.  There is a kill list and people are being killed and this is supposedly wrong -- it is illegal -- but, Mr. Ratner insists, "that's not necessarily a reason someone shouldn't have voted for him."

What the heck?

You are too much of a coward to take on that but you want to go after a film?

Along with the guilt they feel, these impotent men, there is the hatred of women.

I came across that today on Law and Disorder yet again.  The guest was Karl Fogel, the topic was Aaron Swartz who took his own life as a result of the non-stop campaign by the Justice Department -- by the Justice Department under President Barack Obama.  Among the bad guys are: Mr. Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, M.I.T., and three prosecutors including a woman Carmen Ortiz.

Who did the Michaels feel the need to call out?  Who do you think?

Michael Smith:  Well Michael and I just signed a petition -- and we're going to put it on our website at Law and --  asking that this woman prosecutor in Boston's career be terminated.

Karl Fogel: Not just her. I mean she was supervising but there were at least two others who were really running the case.

But the hosts do not want to call out those other two -- both men.  It is telling.  They do not want to call out the Justice Department itself or Attorney General Holder.  They do not want to call out Mr. Obama.  But when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did anything questionable (nearly every day), they would call out Mr. Gonzales as well as Bully Boy Bush.  Today?  Their criticism never quite makes it to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Listen to Michael Smith "asking that this woman prosecutor in Boston's career be terminated."

Not "that his prosecutor in Boston's career be terminated."


He seems especially offended that the it is a "woman" prosecutor.

Who even says that?

What a ridiculous sexist.

They just do not get it.

If you doubt that, today's two guests were Karl Fogel and Ramsey Clark (a speech was played by former Attorney General Clark, a very long speech). The week before, the  sole guest was Ray McGovern.  The week before it was Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Mayer.

Can they not count at Law and Disorder Radio?

Do I need to count it for them?  5 guests, 4 were men and 1 was a woman.

That is your month so far.  You really think that cuts it?  You really think that is representative?

They did not play it but they could have: Lynn Stewart recorded audio on Ramsey Clark.  Their failure to provide non-stop coverage of political prisoner Lynn Stewart says a great deal.  If C.I. and her friends at the National Lawyers Guild call the show out (as they did so recently), suddenly the hosts will discover Lynn again.  The rest of the time?

They ignore her.  She is a 73-year-old political prisoner who needs support and who needs coverage.  But, by all means, spend over 20 minutes on the fact that Mr. Clark has turned 85-years-old.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner and the show requires no prompting to do updates.  I do not believe six weeks have ever passed without some form of coverage of Mr. Abu-Jamal.

What is the difference between Ms. Stewart and Mr. Abu-Jamal?

Gender.  Again we come back to gender.

In words and in coverage, Law and Disorder Radio repeatedly sends the message that men are more important than women.

And they wonder why listeners are upset?

They kill a segment on the rape and torture of women in Iraqi prisons and detention centers to instead trash Kathryn Bigelow for a film they have not seen.

And they wonder why listeners are upset?

On her latest single, Cher sings:

But I'm stronger
Strong enough to rise above
This is a woman's world
This is a woman's world

Tell the truth
This is a woman's world

Cher, from your mouth to Heaven's ear.