Reclaim the Media

October 28, 2009

Conservative right-wing author Brad O’Leary, who heads PM Direct Marketing and is promoting his new book, “Shut Up America–The End of Free Speech,” co-authored a poll with Zogby, filled with misleading questions and false statements that could have been written by Glenn Beck. Not surprisingly, O’Leary is a frequent guest on Fox News programs. The not only misleading, but also race-baiting and bigoted Zogby/O’Leary Poll, claims that the results show that, “President Obama’s Attacks on Free Speech Opposed by Most Americans,” as announced in a mass email sent out by O’Leary. How convenient for O’Leary’s book sales. Read more.
White House technology policy adviser, Susan Crawford will leave her position in January to return to the University of Michigan Law School where she is a tenured professor, according to the Obama administration. Crawford, known as a proponent of controversial net neutrality rules, has been on temporary leave from the university to serve in the White House. That sabbatical, which began two months after she received tenure at the University of Michigan, will end in January. “Susan has done an outstanding job coordinating technology policy at the National Economic Council where her expertise on issues from intellectual property to the Internet has been invaluable," said a White House spokesman. "We understand that she needs to return to her responsibilities in Ann Arbor, but we will miss having her wise counsel in the White House.” Read more.

October 24, 2009

Instead of being simply a draw for Hispanic viewers, CNN’s four-hour documentary, “Latino in America,” turned into a political rallying cry for activist groups who are calling on the cable news channel to fire Lou Dobbs, a veteran anchor with well-known views on immigration. An array of minorities held small protests in New York and other cities on Wednesday, the first night of CNN’s presentation. They are trying to highlight what they say are years of lies about immigration by Mr. Dobbs, who anchors the 7 p.m. hour on CNN. Read more.

October 23, 2009

After the Yes Men pulled their now-famous prank earlier this week on the US Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber issued a vague threat of "law-enforcement action." The group doesn't appear to have called the cops on the Yes Men just yet, but on Wednesday it issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act take-down demand notice for the parody site that the Yes Men set up to publicize their fake event, in which the "Chamber" announced that it would support a sane global warming policy after all. Read more.
Glenn Beck Day in Mount Vernon was an expensive lesson for this small town, as it found out the cost of hosting a controversial celebrity. It's on the hook for $17,748.85, mostly for 239 hours of police overtime. Isn't that a little steep for a one-day event? "Honestly, I'm a bit surprised at how big the cost was," says Alicia Huschka, the town's finance director. Well, says Ken Bergsma, the town's police chief, better to be prepared than not. The chief says the crowd of 800 to 1,000 demonstrators that greeted Beck for his early-evening appearance on Sept. 26 was the biggest protest he's seen in his 32 years as a Mount Vernon police officer. Bergsma Read more.

October 22, 2009

After a successful day of events across the country yesterday that coincided with the airing of Latino in America, seems like CNN’s Lou Dobbs realizes that it’s gonna take more than calling Latinos who call him out “fleas” to get rid of us. The producers of Lou Dobbs’ show emailed Roberto Lovato of BastaDobbs to be on the show. Roberto, never one to shy away from a good opportunity, said claro pero on one condition… Read more.
The FCC convened this morning and voted to move forward with formalizing net neutrality guidelines. The vote was unanimous, including Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker, and initiates the process of debating the proposed rules before any net neutrality policy is actually implemented. The FCC has already imposed net neutrality principles in past decisions such as banning broadband Internet provider Comcast from throttling peer-to-peer networking traffic. Without a formally sanctioned set of rules though, such decisions could be seen as arbitrary or capricious. When FCC chairman Julius Genachowski first announced his intention to pursue formalizing net neutrality, it did not take long to see that there are distinctly partisan battle lines involved. Of course, in Washington DC today there are distinctly partisan battle lines involved in where to eat lunch or what color the sky is, so I suppose that should come as no surprise. Still, it was a little shocking that within hours of Genachowski's statement regarding net neutrality GOP lawmakers had already filed an amendment (later retracted) to prohibit the FCC from pursuing it. In the weeks between Genachowski's initial statement and today's vote the lobbying pressure and the rhetoric in the media have been relatively constant from net neutrality opponents. This week AT&T was accused of astroturfing-- creating a fake grassroots movement-- by encouraging employees to voice their concerns on the FCC web site using their own personal email addresses. Proponents of net neutrality were not as vocal until more recently. A coalition of 30 tech-focused venture capitalists, under the banner of the Open Internet Coalition, sent an open letter to Genachowski just yesterday urging support for net neutrality rules. Verizon didn't completely defect, but it did break ranks with other broadband and wireless providers when it issued a joint statement with Google expressing agreed upon common ground for governing net neutrality. Perhaps it's a reflection of the new partnership forged between Verizon and Google to develop Android-based mobile handsets like the upcoming Droid. Just yesterday the Canadian government ruled on its version of net neutrality. Canada upheld the right of providers to ‘manage' the traffic on their networks, but within certain guidelines. It also stipulated that traffic throttling should be a measure of last resort. I maintain that net neutrality rules are essential. Comcast talked about how the Internet has thrived without net neutrality, while tacitly admitting that it is only because of the threat of net neutrality that it has played by the rules. AT&T reversed its position on allowing VoIP over its wireless network and pointed to that decision as evidence that the industry can police itself, while not-so-subtly demonstrating that the new policy was a direct attempt to influence the net neutrality debate. T Read more.

October 21, 2009

This week, in a nod to Hispanic Heritage Month, CNN will premiere a two-night, four-hour Latino in America. The documentary purports to thoroughly examine the Hispanic experience. We'll see. After a recent Los Angeles preview of the special, the first question from the audience came from Real Women Have Curves screenwriter Josefina Lopez. She asked whether Lou Dobbs, CNN's self-declared immigration expert, was featured or mentioned in the documentary. The answer was no, that Dobbs was just one voice on CNN. Read more.

October 19, 2009

Less than 24 hours after hosting the National Association of Black Journalists at its headquarters in Washington, National Public Radio let go the black journalist in charge of its newscasts, Greg Peppers, one of two black men in newsroom management at the network. Peppers, who has been with NPR since the 1980s, was escorted out of the building Friday, colleagues said. He was executive producer of NPR's newscast unit. "We don't comment on [an] employee's reasons for departure or any other personnel matters," spokeswoman Anna Christopher told Journal-isms. Read more.
Aneesh Chopra, the nation's chief technology officer, reaffirmed the White House's commitment to net neutrality amid increased criticism from lawmakers that the rules could hurt investment in Internet networks. "At a 100,000-foot view, we are committed to the notion that there should be essentially a level playing field for entrepreneurs and big firms to ride our nation’s infrastucture to compete with those applications that we think will deliver value," Chopra said in an interview on C-SPAN's Communicators program taped Friday. The show will air Saturday evening at 6 p.m. Read more.
This is almost impossible to believe - but it's actually true. About a month ago, the Obama administration announced its intent to write policy that would protect, by law, the freedom that has allowed the Internet to grow and flourish. It's no joke that such protection is needed. Repression of the Internet by the corporations that control it has already started. Last month, Apple told a healthcare reform group that they wouldn't carry a healthcare reform app on their AT&T network for 30 million iPhones because it was "politically charged"... Read more.

October 16, 2009

Civil rights are fundamentally about protecting fairness, equality, and freedom for all people. Net neutrality is about protecting fairness, equality and freedom for all online data. From a values perspective, these two concepts are functionally equivalent. Unfortunately, these shared values are not convincing enough for some civil rights organizations. The Broadband Opportunity Coalition (which, ironically, has no website) consists of the National Urban League, the Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza, and other groups that argue for fairness and equality every day. Read more.
Over the last eight years, even though it often made me break out into hives, I've listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh. I've heard him express the full gamut of his emotional range: from hateful to very hateful. But over all this time, I've never known him to be pathetic until yesterday. As the media has now endlessly dissected, Rush was thwarted this week in his efforts to buy the National Football League's St. Louis Rams. His ownership group, led by St. Louis Blues boss Dave Checketts, dumped Rush without ceremony or pity. Checketts issued a statement saying, "It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion." Read more.

October 15, 2009

With a unanimous voice vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Local Community Radio Act this morning. By repealing restrictions that drastically limit channels available to low power FM (LPFM) stations, the Act will allow hundreds of community groups nationwide to access the public airwaves. Read more.

October 14, 2009

More than 50,000 of us have joined Basta Dobbs' call for CNN to dump Lou Dobbs! Now it's time to take the next step. Next week, CNN will launch its new series Latino in America, telling the stories of Latinos across the country. There's just one thing missing: Lou Dobbs. That's right. Four hours about the Latino experience in America, and not a word about the man who spends every weeknight telling lies about immigrants and spreading fear and hatred toward Latinos. Together with award-winning filmmaker Arturo Perez, Basta Dobbs is calling out CNN's hypocrisy with this powerful new video: CNN: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America? Help grow the campaign by watching the video and sharing it far and wide! Read more.

October 13, 2009

While civil society groups celebrated Argentina's new broadcasting law, media giants threatened to fight it with a wave of lawsuits, and opposition lawmakers pledged to revise it after the next Congress convenes in December. In the new legislature, the result of June elections in which President Cristina Fernández's supporters lost their majority, the opposition will try to amend or overturn the law, which was approved by the Senate in a 44-24 vote early Saturday morning, after a nearly 20-hour debate. The president signed it into law later that day. The bill, which stirred up a major controversy in Argentina, brought the centre-left Fernández into conflict with the leading media groups, as it curbs the concentration of media ownership. Read more.
Something strange has happened to rank-and-file Republicans since President Obama took office. These past few months, standard-issue gray lawmakers have sounded like fire-and-brimstone demagogues. Conspiracy theories and over-the-top legislation to fix imaginary wrongs are flying wildly around formerly mainstream GOP circles. It turns out that like so much of what ails the world today, this can be traced back to Glenn Beck. Some fifth-term Iowa senator might be railing against death panels, but it's really Beck's voice you're hearing. With his show on Fox News, Beck has successfully positioned himself as the weirdo right's ambassador-at-large to the rest of the world. When the patron saint of the Tea Parties lets his freak flag fly, seemingly normal right-wing functionaries have been known to line up and salute. Republicans parrot Beck's crackpot notions and pet issues routinely -- sometimes running with his manias the morning after he first airs them. Read more.

October 11, 2009

There's a new kingpin of media in Chicago -- James Tyree, 51, chairman of Mesirow Financial and scheduled to be the next owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and most of the leading newspapers in the suburbs. Media kingpins aren't what they used to be, but Tyree said he's not content with modest expectations. Tyree insists his venture into publishing will turn out better than Sam Zell's disastrous dalliance at Tribune Co. "For one thing, there's no debt on this company, and we're not going to put any debt on it," he said. While friends have questioned his wisdom for investing in an industry under siege, Tyree said he's convinced there's still a business model to build around "high-quality, high-integrity and focused local content." As he takes control of the Sun-Times and 58 suburban newspaper titles plus corresponding Web sites, Tyree said he will stay out of decisions about coverage or editorial endorsements while concentrating on strategic and capital planning. Read more.
This morning on CNN’s Reliable Sources, White House communications director Anita Dunn defended her recent comment to Time magazine that Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” Noting the inordinate amount of attention Fox devotes to stirring fake controversies like Bill Ayers and ACORN, Dunn explained: The reality of it is that Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it’s not ideological. I mean, obviously there are many commentators who are conservative, liberal, centrist, and everybody understands that. What I think is fair to say about Fox is — and certainly the way we view it — is that it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party. [...] Read more.

October 10, 2009

Argentina's Senate passed President Cristina Fernandez's broadcast reform bill on Saturday, handing her a political victory that analysts say will do little to revive her sagging popularity. The Senate approved the bill on a vote of 44 to 24 after 16 hours of debate that stretched from Friday into Saturday, and amid opposition charges that the government had placed heavy pressure on lawmakers. Last month, the lower house backed the bill in a highly charged session that saw more than 100 opposition lawmakers walk out in protest. Read more.