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Matt Taibbi’s Ten Rules of Hate

November 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

Here’s something almost everyone can agree about: Dysfunctional public discourse is ubiquitous. What is feeding it? There are many ideas out there, but one that I find compelling is that the mass media has adopted “Dysfunctional public discourse” as its favorite method of providing us with “news.” Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone boils down his criticisms into the form of “Ten Rules of Hate.”

First, here is an excerpt from his article:

We’ve discovered we can sell hate, and the more vituperative the rhetoric, the better. This also serves larger political purposes.

So long as the public is busy hating each other and not aiming its ire at the more complex financial and political processes going on off-camera, there’s very little danger of anything like a popular uprising.

That’s not why we do what we do. But it is why we’re allowed to operate this way. It boggles the mind that people think they’re practicing real political advocacy by watching any major corporate TV channel, be it Fox or MSNBC or CNN. Does anyone seriously believe that powerful people would allow truly dangerous ideas to be broadcast on TV? The news today is a reality show where you’re part of the cast: America vs. America, on every channel.

The trick here is getting audiences to think they’re punching up, when they’re actually punching sideways, at other media consumers just like themselves, who just happen to be in a different silo. Hate is a great blinding mechanism. Once you’ve been in the business long enough, you become immersed in its nuances. If you can get people to accept a sequence of simple, powerful ideas, they’re yours forever. The Ten Rules of Hate.

Here are Taibbi’s Ten Rules, but I highly recommend reading the entire article:

1. THERE ARE ONLY TWO IDEAS – Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. Boolean political identities.
2. THE TWO IDEAS ARE IN PERMANENT CONFLICT
3. HATE PEOPLE, NOT INSTITUTIONS
4. EVERYTHING IS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT (“The overwhelming majority of “controversial news stories” involve simple partisan narratives cleaved quickly into hot-button talking points. Go any deeper and you zoom off the flow chart”).
5. NOTHING IS EVERYONE’S FAULT (“If both parties have an equal or near-equal hand in causing a social problem, we typically don’t cover it.”)
6. ROOT, DON’T THINK (“By the early 2000s, TV stations had learned to cover politics exactly as they covered sports, a proven profitable format. The presidential election especially was reconfigured into a sports coverage saga.”)
7. NO SWITCHING TEAMS (“Being out of touch with what the other side is thinking is now no longer seen as a fault. It’s a requirement.”)
8. THE OTHER SIDE IS LITERALLY HITLER
9. IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HITLER, EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED. (“If the other side is literally Hitler, this eventually has to happen. It would be illogical to argue anything else. What began as America vs. America will eventually move to Traitor vs. Traitor, and the show does not work if those contestants are not offended to the point of wanting to kill one another.”)
10. FEEL SUPERIOR. (“We’re mainly in the business of stroking audiences. We want them coming back. Anger is part of the rhetorical promise, but so are feelings righteousness and superiority.”)

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Lee Camp Replies to “Neo-McCarthyite” smears of RT Network

December 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp refuses to let go of important issues of the day, and that is why he, and others who follow the facts where they lead, ended up at RT. But RT’s shows are now being smeared with a broad brush, as though all of its shows are the product of Russian propaganda. Lee Camp’s response:

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The Heroism of Chelsea Manning

May 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

Now the that Chelsea Manning has finally been released from U.S. custody, Glenn Greenwald takes this opportunity to recount her heroism:

Though Manning was largely scorned and rejected in most mainstream Washington circles, she did everything one wants a whistleblower to do: tried to ensure that the public learns of concealed corruption and criminality, with the intent of fostering debate and empowering the citizenry with knowledge that should never have been concealed from them. And she did it all knowing that she was risking prison to do so, but followed the dictates of her conscience rather than her self-interest.

BUT AS COURAGEOUS as that original whistleblowing was, Manning’s heroism has only multiplied since then, become more multifaceted and consequential. As a result, she has inspired countless people around the world. At this point, one could almost say that her 2010 leaking to WikiLeaks has faded into the background when assessing her true impact as a human being. Her bravery and sense of conviction wasn’t a one-time outburst: It was the sustained basis for her last seven years of imprisonment that she somehow filled with purpose, dignity, and inspiration.

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Craig Newmark’s Truth-Seeking Philanthropy

February 27, 2017 | By | Reply More

Craig Newmark is the introvert who founded Craig’s List. Now he is turning his attention to the needs of organizations seeking to do excellent news reporting and fact checking. The story appeared in NiemanLab:

In recent weeks, Newmark’s foundation has given $1 million gift to the Poynter Institute for a chair in ethics and a $500,000 donation to Wikipedia for its anti-harassment Community Health Initiative, after giving Wikipedia $1 million last June. Those gifts look like they be might be just a start of his news/information-centric philanthropy; Newmark now tells me he is committing to give away, at this phase of his philanthropy, another $3.5 million. Those further gifts — to companies in the news and information sphere — will be announced over the next weeks and months. Taken together, we’ve got to be impressed with this renewed spurt of news-oriented philanthropy and the big subscription upticks we’ve seen post-election.

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Lee Camp offers evidence that the “mainstream news” is not news at all

January 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp offers clips of “mainstream news” that will leave you shaking your head:

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How the American Media Covered Hitler and Mussolini

December 14, 2016 | By | Reply More

Smithsonian.com looks back to how the American media covered the rise of Hitler and Mussolini:

How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people? These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

How does the press cover a rising dictator? Not as a “dictator.”

Dorothy Thompson, who judged Hitler a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928, realized her mistake by mid-decade when she, like Mowrer, began raising the alarm.

“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.”

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Why we should distrust big media

September 2, 2016 | By | Reply More

Why should we distrust big media? I’m still sorely disappointed that much of big media rooted against Bernie Sanders, contributing to his defeat. But, of course, Big Media simply moves on, often taking sides rather than reporting. Check out this photo of the same paper, The Wall Street Journal, spinning the same story in two different ways to two different markets, trying to make Trump more palatable in two disparate places.

 

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Glenn Greenwald: Journalists must not give Hillary Clinton a Free Ride, despite the danger of a Trump Presidency

August 29, 2016 | By | Reply More

At Truthdig, Amy Goodman interviews Glenn Greenwald, who urges that journalists vigorously investigate Hilary Clinton. That is their job, even though her opponent is a madman.

Here you have Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton having this Clinton Foundation, with billions of dollars pouring into it from some of the world’s worst tyrannies, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and other Gulf states, other people who have all kinds of vested interests in the policies of the United States government. And at the same time, in many cases, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are being personally enriched by those same people, doing speeches, for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, in front of them, at the same time that she’s running the State Department, getting ready to run for president, and soon will be running the executive branch.

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John Oliver warns us that the death of newspapers makes us all far more vulnerable to political corruption

August 9, 2016 | By | Reply More

Here is yet another excellent video by John Oliver. This issue of the defunding of responsible newspaper reporting, and the lack of investigative journalism effects you and me every day. The answer, I believe is public funding of legitimate media, because it is a common good that can no longer sustain itself. Oliver’s ending video is a very sharp sword. We are living in dangerous times where no one is babysitting most of those in power at all levels of government. We can’t have a democracy without the Fourth Estate. We are rapidly approaching the time when we won’t have a Fourth Estate, merely a shell of what it used to be. This is an extremely complex and serious issue. Thank you, John Oliver for given it the spotlight. Please share.

For more on this loss of serious reporting, consider the writings of Robert McChesney and John Nichols, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

I spoke with John Nichols a few years ago about the loss of reporters:

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