Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: I'm going to start off with a quote that will shock any thinking person. As you read it, remember this is from a reporter, one who is, presumably, not on the federal government's payroll. The reporter is "reporting" on the critiques of the Bully Boy's response to Hurricane Katrina, lack of response, and to the charges as to the motivations on the part of the Bully Boy.

"I think that's ridiculous. I think that's kind of spouting off of people who don't know know the president, don't know this administration, don't know the people who work there."

That was NPR's Juan Williams doing non-reporting on Fox "News" Sunday, September 4th. (See C.I.'s comments about the even more offensive Mara Liasson by clicking here.) Did you miss it? If you're a sane person, you may have. I do not watch Fox "News." There's neither enough time nor enough money to make me watch. Possibly, in the next draft of The Patriot Act, we will all be forced to watch?

Until then, we have CounterSpin.

CounterSpin is the weekly half hour program done by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In the Media). For thirty minutes each week, this program heard on non-commercial radio, they take a look at the mainstream media reporting and put it under the microscope.

I've mentioned CounterSpin before and I want to focus on it now because this Friday's broadcast, which I heard on Pacifica's WBAI, addressed a number of issues the community is interested in.

For much of the week, the community has been bothered by the frequently snide dismissals of the issues of race at another site. I said what I thought about that site at a roundtable here not long ago. Listen to CounterSpin's Friday episode, you can listen online where they archive the program, and you'll find that the fact checker is not the last voice on all issues, though he apparently wants to be.

First though, I want to note something I learned that I hadn't heard of. Armstrong Williams is a name many of us know because he was caught taking being on the government payroll, though he claims he would have pushed No Child Left Behind regardless. The story didn't end there but you may not have heard about it elsewhere.

Federal investigators just concluded an investigation. Over four million dollars was handed out to promote the Bully Boy's education programs. "In 10 out of 11 examined groups receiving monies" there was no disclosure that they'd been paid by the government to promote the program.

Tired of hearing the fact checker attack everyone all week?

On the subject of "refugees" as a term being utilized, law professor Rosa Brooks explained that,
"Legally, no, it's not an accurate term. Refugee, legally speaking is defined by the convention on refugees. It has to do with two things -- one being displaced from your own country. So anybody who is inside their own country isn't a refugee period. Technically it means fleeing from persecution."

Professor Brooks offered that the press, in this country and outside of the country, had long used the term to describe victims of natural disasters, but the fact remains that legally the term is inaccurate. The fact remains. So the fact checker is not always accurate even when he is on his high horse and attempting to castigate Jesse Jackson.

As for the issue of the two photos, where one featured the term "looting" in the caption and it just so happened that the one featuring that term captioned a photo of a person of color, Professor Brooks made comments similar to what C.I.'s said here: that they provide a wonderful starting point for a discussion on race.

Tracey has been especially upset by the fact checker this week and his determinations of what is acceptable for discussion and what is not. As she pointed out to me, "Grandma, when we went over that site, we didn't find one thing about the photos of the toppled statue of Saddam." No, we did not. The fact checker was not interested in that "Tale of Two Photos." Possibly because there was no way to play Even the Score for Gore which, though fun, really has gotten old, day after day. Five years later, two wars, and Tracey wonders exactly what is the point of the repeated fluff on fluff?

The fact checker savaged Jesse Jackson for three times pointing out that refugee was not the correct term. It turns out that Rev. Jackson was correct which would make the fact checker . . . wrong. The fact checker was also wrong to dismiss topics he clearly has no interest in and knows little about.

You did not get the same attitude on CounterSpin. Possibly, that is due to the fact that the half-hour is used to inform and not even old scores. But Professor Brooks dealt with the issues of looting and spoke of "the defense of necessity." Though it is a legal principle, Plato dealt with the laws, so our Platonic fact checker has no excuse for missing that.

Rebecca, a powerful blogger and a force to be reckoned with, called the commentaries coming from that site "white power." I think that was a good call. I remember from my college days a number of people who took up that call. What I read this week at the fact checker's site was a nervous, middle-aged man creeped out by discussions on race. If that seems like a caustic critique, I'd suggest people read the way the fact checker addressed Diane Rehm of NPR not all that long ago.

Robert Parry is someone that's frequently highlighted at this site. Mr. Parry has no problem addressing the press attacks on Al Gore in 2000. He also is not foolish enough to make the claim that it all started with Mr. Gore. Mr. Parry wrote an article that spoke to me on the issue of Roberts' nomination, he mentioned his own mother in the piece, and like Jayla and Trina who e-mailed me this week, I've wondered where the fact checker's been on this?

Apparently, since Al Gore never had an abortion, the concern is not one for the fact checker. By the same token, since Al Gore is not an African-American, the fact checker has little interest in addressing issues of race. Perhaps if Al Gore had been wrongly accused of being present when the statue of Saddam was toppled, the fact checker would have addressed the photos of that?

I am all for sticking by your college roommate. Treva was my college rommate and we've remained best friends over the years. Were Treva attacked, I would certainly come to her defense. I would not, however, use her as the prism to filter all discussions through.

Nor would I foolishly claim, as the fact checker did to CJR, that the 2004 coverage of the election was better than the 2000 coverage. Al Gore was called a liar repeatedly. John Kerry was as well. Al Gore was questioned as to his childhood chores, John Kerry was vilified for his military service with one vile distortion after another. The claim that the 2004 coverage was better is a laughable claim and one that can only be made when the prism used is all about Mr. Gore.

I told C.I. I'd be addressing the fact checker and asked if that was fine. The response was, "More than fine. I wished you let me post your rebuttal on Diane Rehm." Looking back, I wish I hadn't pulled that piece that as well.

The arrogance and insensitivity to issues of race has outraged the community this week. Listening to CounterSpin seriously address the topics provided me with the perfect spring board to address the fact checker.

Facts are facts, he might say. True. But facts are also open to interpretation and they are also, as any Platonic student surely knows, dependent upon which ones you select. You can have a pity party that you don't feel your series on education is getting enough attention and, therefore, slam the other issues emerging in the public discussion or you can seriously address those issues. CounterSpin elected to seriously address them.

When Tracey and I poured over the fact checker's site as I was working on the rebuttal to his slams against Diane Rehm, I found a number of issues that bothered me. As a Jewish woman, I was disturbed by his apparent lack of awareness to the persecution by the Church of the Jews.
His ringing endorsement of the Mel Gibson film was offensive to this reader. But then, Al Gore is not Jewish, is he?

Gina made a comment in the roundtable that, as an African-American woman, she's never felt welcomed at the fact checker's site. As she noted in the editorial she and Krista wrote in the round-robin, this week the issue of race was dealt with and African-Americans actually were mentioned at the fact checker's site. The result is she no longer "feels" she is not welcome, she "knows" she is not welcome.

While slamming Atrios and assorted others this week (and allowing the f-word up at his own site, something the fact checker did not use in the past), there has been a serious attitude of "I am the gatekeeper." I spoke to Gina about that. Her response is that, like the troll under the bridge, the fact checker may find others will simply find other routes to journey.

So I'd suggest you consider making CounterSpin a stop on your journey. Other issues addressed, by the hosts Janine Jackson and Peter Hart, included the press coverage of the death of the Rehnquist. (Including that ABC could only find one person to put on air critical of Rehnquist.) CounterSpin's providing serious critiques. It's not fighting a battle to redeem a college roommate and claiming all roads lead to the press coverage of the 2000 election.

In college, I knew a nice young man named Tom who would respond to each new album by the Beatles, Dylan, the Mamas & the Papas, or the Rolling Stones with the charge that "they're all ripping off Buddy Holly!" "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" goes back to Buddy Holly? People began to avoid Tom because he was obviously on some personal mission with regards to Mr. Holly. This led to his dubious claim that even "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" owed a "debt" to Mr. Holly because Mr. Holly had recorded a song entitled "Peggy Sue."

The reality was, of course, that many artists had long recorded songs with women's names in the title. (With men's as well.) Near the end, as he became the laughingstock on campus, he was making the assertion that Jimi Henrix and Ravi Shankar's guitar playing was a rip off of Buddy Holly's. Even Janis Joplin and Joan Baez were said, by Tom, to be ripping off Buddy Holly's guitar notes with their vocals. It was all about Mr. Holly, all of the time.

When you came back to campus excited over a 45 or lp you had just scored, the first thing you did before putting it on the turntable, was to check and make sure that Tom was not around. As the fact checker continues his one man dedication to all things Gore, he reminds me more and more of Tom, who was not a bad person, just a young man of limited focus and scope who became a real drag on everyone around him.

Remember Juan Williams' comment that I opened with? Here's CounterSpin's editorial reply:

Evidently in Williams view people who don't hang out with White House staffers have no right to comment on them or their actions.

CounterSpin offers the critiques that I think the community will enjoy so please consider listening.

Since this entry will also be reposted on Monday, I'll remind everyone of KPFK's Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth, hosted my Margaret Prescod, regularly airs from seven to eight in the morning, Pacific Time. This week, I wrongly wrote that it airs Monday through Friday. According to the KPFK site is airs Tuesdays. It also aired Monday this week as well as Wednesday with a special Monday evening broadcast. A number of you e-mailed to note how much you enjoyed it. (Cindy had been recommedning this program to me so we should all say thank you to Cindy.) It will air Tuesday. But check in Monday morning to see if it airs then as well. This is one of my new favorites and I'm glad to know that so many of you enjoyed it as well.

As C.I. explained Friday, I've gone from having all my grandkids over every morning during the week to just myself and little Elijah. A few of you e-mailed to state that you thought it would be easier to just have an infant in the house. As Hillary Clinton has noted, it takes a village. With Tracey and my other grandchildren present, we had many hands available and Elijah was thrilled with the options provided. Now it's back to just the two of us and it is an adjustment so I'll be filing my entries on Saturday for the time being. I hope to return to doing it during the week and I'll try to pass on heads up to C.I. throughout the week when I'm aware of something that's coming up.

Here is a heads up for the community:

KPFA listen live · visit online
KPFK listen live · visit online
KPFT listen live · visit online
WBAI listen live · visit online
WPFW listen live · visit online

Those are the five Pacifca stations.

From Houston's KPFT:

Programming will be preempted on Monday, September 12, 8:00 AM -5:00 PM, and most likely Tuesday, September 13, 8:00 AM -5:00 PM, for the rescheduled John Roberts hearings. Wednesday and Thursday are also possibilities, but a complete schedule has yet to be announced.

That is central time zone. From New York's WBAI:

Coverage of John Roberts Confirmation Hearings

Hearings on Bush's nominee for Chief Justice will be covered live over Pacifica Radio. Mon., 11:00 am-6:00 pm; Tues., 9:00 am-6:00 pm (tentative times). Times for Wed. and Thurs. TBA.
Anchored by Mitch Jesserich of Free Speech Radio News and WBAI's Deepa Fernandes in D.C., and Pacifica's national affairs correspondent Larry Bensky in Berkeley, with guest analysts and listener calls during pre- and post-shows and breaks.

I'm not finding times for the west coast but when they go up, I'll e-mail them to C.I.