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Schwarzenegger and Brokaw on ‘Meet the Press’

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was on “Meet the Press” this morning, and new host Tom Brokaw — in his first outing since replacing the late Tim Russert — wasn’t pitching softballs. In two parts:

Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Media | No Comments »

Tim Russert of ‘Meet the Press’ dead at 58

From the Washington Post:

Tim Russert, the Democratic operative turned NBC commentator who revolutionized Sunday morning television and infused journalism with his passion for politics, died this afternoon.

Russert suffered a heart attack while working in his office on Washington’s Nebraska Avenue. Details were not immediately available.

Russert served as NBC’s Washington bureau chief and the host of “Meet the Press,” the top-rated Sunday talk show, which had an enormous influence on politics and was marked by his aggressive style of interrogation. As a frequent commentator on the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News” and other shows, Russert wielded such clout that when he declared that Sen. Barack Obama had wrapped up the Democratic nomination last month, his pronouncement was treated as a news event in itself.

Russert may have been a love-him-or-hate-him figure in political journalism, but his audience — and so his influence — was enormous; Time magazine last year named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Feel free to share opinions of Russert and his show in comments posted to this item.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M. FRIDAY: I’ll be adding testimonials from various political figures as they come in, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2008
Under: General, Media | No Comments »

Oakland journalist will ‘Rock the Trail’

Oakland journalist Raldon “Donny” Lumpkins, 20, is among five selected from among hundreds of applicants from across the nation to be one of Rock the Vote‘s campaign reporters this year.

From the Web site:

lumpkins.jpgRaldon Lumpkins is a content producer for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, a youth media organization based in San Francisco. He is the host of YO!Radio, a weekly radio segment that airs on KMEL 106.1′s Street Soldiers and around the Bay Area, including YO!TV on the local CW network. His favorite thing to do is sit at home and drink all of the orange juice.

I couldn’t immediately track Lumpkins down for his comment this afternoon, but here’s an interesting look at who he is posted less than two weeks ago.

Rock the Vote’s 2008 campaign aims to register two million young people through online and offline efforts, and will include an interactive mobile program, a national public service announcement campaign, a youth journalism program, volunteer street teams, and a platform outlining youth demands of the next President.

UPDATE @ 4:53 P.M. TUESDAY: Lumpkins says he’s “elated, I’m very excited” at being chosen for the program; the gig will start with a trip to Washington later this month for training, and then he’ll see where the trail leads him.

“What I’m hoping to find is this kind of excitement and optimism that I’m seeing with myself and my friends about politics,” he told me a few minutes ago, adding he and many others his age have found it hard to engage in the political process. “This year, I do care, and my friends care, and that’s exciting and I want to see if that carries over into other young people across the country.”

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, Media, Oakland | 2 Comments »

Did last night’s ABC debate prove Obama right?

The blogosphere is abuzz with criticism of last night’s ABC Democratic debate, moderated by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Many are calling it a superficial poke-fest which failed to address substantive issues facing the American electorate.

And I suspect that’s not far from what Barack Obama was trying to communicate at that now-fateful April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco. There, he said working-class Americans are feeling “bitter” about the economic neglect they’ve experienced in the past few decades: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Why? Because it’s those things on which politicians and campaign strategists harp in order to raise blood pressure, poll numbers and voter turnout, and on which the media — yes, I’ll say it: ESPECIALLY TELEVISION — harp in order to raise ratings.

Look at what the candidates were being asked last night: Wearing a U.S. flag pin? Gun control? To Obama, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”

Really? This is our national discourse? How about the issues that really affect the day-to-day lives of working-class people? Health care. Education. The housing crisis. Gas prices/energy policy/global warming. Trade policy’s effect on U.S. jobs.

jeremiah-wright.jpgInstead, we ask who loves America more — and by the way, did you know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright volunteered to serve six years first as a Marine and then as a Navy corpsman who provided medical care for President Lyndon Johnson, starting at a time when this nation still subjected him to the most pernicious racial discrimination?

It’s a disgrace, and if you read or listen to the entirety of what Obama said that day in San Francisco, this is exactly what he seemed to be trying to get at: Substantive discussion and action on issues of vital importance to American families has been replaced by shouting about hot-button matters which simply aren’t as important, if at all.

Political operatives, with the complacency and perhaps even conspiratorial cooperation of some media, bait the emotions of people frustrated by the constant struggle to get by, either to get them to the polls or to get them to keep watching. It’s a massive three-card monte, a giant con job.

Should people be bitter? Damn straight. Are they? You betcha. People who love this country should be angry as hell, as were most of American history’s greatest patriots. Injustice should breed contempt, matched by passion for rectification. CNN’s Lou Dobbs — himself too often a perpetrator of hot, empty rhetoric, particularly on immigration — seems to have been caught out by his own viewers in a poll run Tuesday on his Web site:


(H/T to Crooks and Liars for capturing the poll, no longer available on Dobbs’ site.)

Am I, an employee of a corporate-owned, oft-consolidated media outlet, being holier-than-thou? Maybe so; all across America, short-staffed, underpaid and overworked newsrooms too often go for the low-hanging fruit, but many of us still strive to convey useful information that’ll inspire thought, debate and action. And I don’t mean to imply all television journalists are evil; many, including many here in the Bay Area, try hard to bring out the stories that matter.

Yet on a national scale, too many of us fail too often, as do too many of the politicos on whom we report. That’s what I think Obama was talking about, and that’s what you saw last night on ABC.

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, Media | 7 Comments »

Oakland blogger at heart of Obama’s “bitter” flap

I’ve been trying to reach Mayhill Fowler, 61, the Oakland blogger who recorded Barack Obama speaking at an April 6 San Francisco fundraiser about how small-town Pennsyvanians after decades of economic stagnation and neglect have grown “bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Obama today in Washington, D.C., told the Associated Press’ annual luncheon that he “may have made a mistake last week in the words that I chose, but the other party has made a much more damaging mistake in the failed policies they’ve chosen and the bankrupt philosophy they’ve embraced for the last three decades.”

Here’s Fowler’s Huffington Post bio:

What can I tell you? I’m an over-educated sixty year-old woman with politics in my blood. Shall I write about my family’s political fortunes from time to time, if relevant to 2008? I’m thinking about it.

Born and bred in Tennessee. Many of my family GTT (“Gone to Texas,” a Tennessee tradition). Houston–or Hoo-town, as I fondly call it. Lived all my adult life in California. Oakland. B.A. Vassar ’68. M.A. U.C. Berkeley ’72.

Worked a bit as a teacher, editor, and writer, but mostly raised my two daughters. Husband a lawyer. Have spent the last few years researching and writing small books on my family history so that our younger generation, scattered from coast to coast, of course, will know “from whence they come.”

My mother, family Matriarch, decreed “no politics at the table.” Her table encompassed her house and the houses of her five daughters. Her hatred of politics will become clear in my blog, over time. But now that my mother has passed away, my innate love of politics, suppressed since a grade school adventure, rises again. . . .

Fowler has given $2,000 to Obama and $250 to now-defunct GOP candidate Fred Thompson in this election cycle; I could find no contributions in earlier cycles. Her husband, James C. Fowler, is a real estate development lawyer and partner at Bingham McCutchen in San Francsico who donated $500 to Kerry in 2004.

The angry sarcasm is flowing hot and heavy on both liberal and conservative blogs. Conservative N.Y. Times columnist William Kristol used the kerfuffle to liken Obama to Marx.

And Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor and now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, blogged today in support of Obama and against the media outlets flogging this story:

reich.jpgWe’re heading into the worst economic crisis in a half century or more. Many of the Americans who have been getting nowhere for decades are in even deeper trouble. Large numbers of people in Pennsylvania and across the nation are losing their homes and losing their jobs, and the situation is likely to grow worse. Consumers are at the end of their ropes, fuel and food costs are skyrocketing, they can’t go deeper into debt, they can’t pay their bills. They aren’t buying, which means every business from the auto industry to housing to even giant GE is hurting. Which means they’ll begin laying off more people, and as they do, we will experience an even more dangerous downward spiral.

Bitter? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And as much as people like Russert, Carville, Matalin, Schrum, and Murphy want to divert our attention from what’s really happening; as much as HRC and McCain seek to make political hay out of choices of words that can be spun cynically by the mindless spinners of the old politics; as much as demagogues on the right and left continue to try to channel the cumulative frustrations of Americans into a politics of resentment – all these attempts will, I hope, prove futile. Eighty percent of Americans know the nation is on the wrong track. The old politics, and the old media that feeds it, are irrelevant now.

After reading all that’s been said, it seems pretty clear to me that Obama was speaking sympathetically about how small-town, working-class people are angry at being economically neglected. And the idea that some conservative Republicans have replaced substantive discussion of such people’s economic needs with hot-button social issues isn’t a new concept at all — take for example U.S. Sen. Jim Webb as he ran for his seat in 2006, or the entirety of Thomas Frank’s 2004 bestseller “What’s the Matter With Kansas?

But I also don’t think — based on the information before me at the moment — I buy the line that Fowler was “gunning” for Obama, a “wolf” who infiltrated the San Francisco fundraiser under false pretenses. Fowler clearly has been following and blogging on the Obama campaign for a long time, and can opine on what she saw and heard as she saw fit. Now, if mainstream media outlets pick that up, take it out of context and distort what actually was said and why, that’s another matter entirely…

Read Obama’s speech from earlier today in its entirety, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Media | 6 Comments »

‘Real Time’ with Barbara Lee

It’s practically an East Bay edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” this week, as the sage of satire will be joined by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Also on the show will be actor Esai Morales and, joining in via satellite, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. It airs at 11 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, April 4 on HBO.

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
Under: Arlen Specter, Barbara Lee, Media, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Lynndie England blames the media

lynndie-england.jpgLynndie England — the U.S. soldier depicted with a smile while demeaning and humiliating Iraqi prisoners in some of the notorious Abu Ghraib photos — has given a lengthy interview to a German news magazine in which she vacillates from regret (“Of course it was wrong. I know that now.”) to defiant unrepentance (“To be honest, the whole time I never really felt guilty because I was following orders and I was doing what I was supposed to do. So I’ve never felt guilty about doing anything that I did there.”)

And guess what… she blames the media!

england2-credit-epa.jpgI guess after the picture came out the insurgency picked up and Iraqis attacked the Americans and the British and they attacked in return and they were just killing each other. I felt bad about it, … no, I felt pissed off. If the media hadn’t exposed the pictures to that extent then thousands of lives would have been saved.
Yeah, I took the photos but I didn’t make it worldwide. Yes, I was in five or six pictures and I took some pictures, and those pictures were shameful and degrading to the Iraqis and to our government. And I feel sorry and wrong about what I did. But it would not have escalated to what it did all over the world if it wouldn’t have been for someone leaking it to the media. Hell, I was at Fort Bragg when the pictures came out and I had no idea.

england1-credit-afp.jpgEven after being subjected to one of the most publicized courts-martial in U.S. history; being convicted of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act; and serving about a year and five months in a military prison, this young woman still doesn’t get it.

So here’s a quick-and-dirty civics lesson for the unduly dense: The job of the free press is to report on the world as it is, what’s really happening, blemishes at all, regardless of politics. It puts the facts out there and so that people can decide for themselves, and it lets the chips fall where they may. And that’s exactly what happened here.

If these photos incited anti-American sentiment (which I agree they almost certainly did), that’s not the media’s fault. It’s the fault of the amoral people who committed, allowed or encouraged these crimes, and who were stupid — mind-bogglingly, epically, evolutionary-dead-endingly stupid — enough to photograph themselves performing what many argue are war crimes.

Make no mistake, former U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Lynndie England of Fort Ashby, W.Va., and her cohorts at Abu Ghraib, and those who allowed or approved what happened there, brought enormous dishonor upon all the upstanding men and women who wear the uniform in defense of the United States of America, and most likely helped incite violence that claimed many of those fine troops’ lives.

England failed at her jobs as a soldier and as a human being; she has a lot of gall, a mountainous heap of hypocrisy, blaming the press for succeeding at its job.

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Under: Iraq, Media | 7 Comments »

KSFO calls to clear the air on Melanie Morgan

I just got off the phone with Anthony Licciardi, marketing director for KSFO 560 AM, who politely informed me of a few points missing from my previous posts (here and here) on the station cutting conservative talk-show host Melanie Morgan.

“ABC never owned the station; Disney did, and there’s a big difference because we are still an ABC affiliate,” he said.

morgan.jpgDisney sold the station to Citadel Broadcasting last year, and both the station and Morgan insist it’s Citadel’s financial woes — not anything done by blogger Spocko or anyone else irked by Morgan’s rhetoric — that led to Morgan’s departure.

“Melanie was not the only person to lose her job,” Licciardi said. “People throughout Citadel all over the country have lost their jobs including some major, major hosts in New York, in Washington, D.C. … Melanie’s contract really was up at the end of the month, and that is the truth. It has nothing to do with right wing, left wing, conspiracies or anything.”

Among other high-profile cuts made this week by Citadel are veteran Washington, D.C. host Chris Core; a bunch of news staffers in Chicago; overnight host Peter Tilden in Los Angeles; and New York radio veteran John Gambling.

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Under: General, Media | 17 Comments »

Spocko weighs in on Melanie Morgan’s layoff

San Francisco blogger Spocko, by reposting some of the more controversial sound clips from Melanie Morgan and other KSFO 560 AM personalities, in 2006 convinced several major advertisers to pull their accounts from the station. ABC, which owned the station at the time, in turn convinced Spocko’s Internet hosting company – by threatening it with a copyright-infringement lawsuit – to axe the blog.

Now Melanie Morgan is out of a job, though reportedly it’s about KSFO parent company Citadel Broadcasting’s financial woes and not about any blowback on her rhetoric.

UPDATE @ 6:06 P.M. WEDNESDAY: See my newest posting on this, with comments from KSFO’s marketing director and other info, here.

Spocko, long since back in business on another hosting company, responded to my request for a comment in the wee hours of this morning, but I only just now found it (having been in court and reporting all day on the same-sex marriage issue).

Read Spocko’s thoughts, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
Under: General, Media | 52 Comments »

Melanie Morgan canned from KSFO

melanie-morgan.jpgMelanie Morgan — the conservative radio talk show host who chairs Move America Forward, the group which has led efforts to shame and boycott Berkeley for its anti-U.S. Marine Corps recruiting stand — has lost her job at KSFO 560 AM.

Morgan, 51, delivered her final broadcast there today after 14 years at the microphone, she says in a news release. KSFO owner Citadel Broadcasting decided not to renew her contract as part of the company’s announced across-the-board financial cost cutting.

“The ratings were terrific and I got to connect with a lot of passionate conservative casues, and I’m really grateful for that,” Morgan told me just now. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to the show, I don’t know what’s going to happen to KSFO.”

She’ll not be bored, though. She said her e-mail is already overflowing “with all kinds of very, very nice emails of support” and work offers. “I think I’m not going to have very much time to grieve this job.”

Among Morgan’s more incendiary moments:

  • Of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she said, “We’ve got a bull’s-eye painted on her big, wide laughing eyes.
  • Of New York Times editor Bill Keller, after the Times published a story on U.S. government tracking of terrorist funding, she said, “If he were to be tried and convicted of treason, yes, I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber.
  • Of billionaire financier and political contributor George Soros, after her co-host said Soros had “cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis,” she said he’d done so “in order to further his own career.
  • She also helped launch and grow support for the 2003 gubernatorial recall, and rallied grassroots support to convince California to reverse itself and end use of the carcinogenic MTBE additive in gasoline.

    Morgan started out as a television reporter for KGO TV in 1981. She worked at KGO radio from 1983 through 1990, then moved to Seattle for a time; she returned to the Bay Area in 1994 and went to work at KSFO. She has traveled to the Middle East twice to interview U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait; her broadcast efforts from Iraq resulted in her winning the Associated Press’s Mark Twain Journalism Award, and the Peninsula Press Club’s award for Best Interview or Talk Show.

    In her release today, Morgan said it has been an honor to work at KSFO for 14 years: “What I loved most about my time at KSFO was that it allowed me to connect with listeners and take action to make real changes in the world.”

    “We never had a one-way dialogue with our listeners, and we never believed that we had to resolve ourselves to accept the status quo. We got out of our chairs, left our homes and offices, and circulated petitions, rallied for our troops and met with government leaders,” she said. “We did all this to make sure that we left an even better world for our children than the one we had inherited from generations before us.”

    She’ll continue writing her weekly column for the news website World Net Daily; serving as an analyst on various television news programs; and working as a conservative activist leader, she said.

    “My passion and commitment to the troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world are foremost in my heart,” she said. “While I will miss my good friends Lee Rodgers and Officer Vic, and our great producer Sheri Yee, I am excited to stay close to the conservative grassroots. And I’ll always lead with my chin out.”

    UPDATE @ 4:04 P.M. MONDAY: Here’s some info on Citadel’s (and thus, KSFO’s) dire financial straits.

    UPDATE @ 6 P.M. MONDAY: Karl Frisch, spokesman for Media Matters – the watchdog group from which I culled the three controversial Morgan quotations above — just got back to me.

    “A lot of people say these are just fringe characters that deserve no notice whatsoever. We take a different opinion because, whether it’s Melanie Morgan or Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage, these people are communicating to a large audience and it has a ripple effect,” he said. “It’s important that these people are held accountable for accuracy and for the kind of fear-mongering and hate speech that they use on so regular a basis. And just because Melanie Morgan is off the air doesn’t mean she’s off our radar.”

    UPDATE @ 9:15 A.M. WEDNESDAY: Go see what Spokco, the San Francisco blogger who’d convinced advertisers to pull their accounts from KSFO by reposting controversial sound clips from Morgan and her cohosts, has to say about Morgan’s layoff.

    UPDATE @ 6:07 P.M. WEDNESDAY: See my newest posting on this, with comments from KSFO’s marketing director and other info, here.

    Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2008
    Under: Berkeley, General, Media | 44 Comments »