A.W.O.L on Comcast/NBC Merger: Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz, Matthews

 

--I heard the news today, oh boy, About a lucky man who made the grade...He blew his mind out in a car, He didn't notice that the lights had changed..-- (Sgt Pepper, The Beatles, 1967)

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 triggered a wave of media ownership consolidation.

You will, of course, remember the vigorous debate on that bill, recounted night-after-night on the major news programs, regaled even more on the "pundit" shows of the time, and consuming nearly all the air-time on the Sunday blabberfests? And , recall getting tired of 60 Minutes running this story week after week after week?

You don't remember?....well, not to worry, you are not suffering memory loss or suppressing a painful experience.

You do not remember it because the major networks and cable operators who stood to gain financially from this bad policy said virtually nothing about it. Their "independent" newsrooms reported next to nothing about it. There were no "round-tables" discussing its merits. I believe I recall ABC's Ted Koppel, who hosted Nightline that prided itself on covering stories in depth and without apology for ruffling feathers, being asked whether he supported the bill, and giving a rather lame "yes, it is valuable to my network" answer. If you knew about it at all, it was because you watched C-SPAN at some ungodly hour. [And, to be completely fair, Olbermann-Maddow-Schultz-Matthews were not on the air in 1996).

When it came to Citizens United--the recent decision by the Supreme Court that found the original intent of the Founders was to grant Constitutional personhood to corporations, creatures of the State--Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews were intensely concerned about its implications. They covered the case, the aftermath, and periodically follow-up with reports of Congressional efforts to blunt its effects or overturn it by Constitutional Amendment.

Enter, Comcast/NBC Universal. Comcast is the nation's largest cable operator, and NBC Universal one of the major content creators. Comcast wants to purchase NBC Universal from General Electric. MSNBC and CNBC are part of NBC Universal and would become owned by Comcast.

Where is the coverage Rachel? Ed? Olbermann? Matthews? Where is the outrage over increased media concentration and corporate control? Where is the exposé of Comcast's past egregious actions? (For a chronicle of those, see, e.g., Josh Silver's article,"Senator Franken Rips Into Comcast CEO Brian Roberts", February 5, 2010).

Just to provide a taste--Comcast opposes Net Neutrality, and has already tried to violate it on its own. It lavishes money on Members of Congress, and packs FCC hearing rooms with paid "supporters". Brian Roberts lied to Senator Franken right in his office about the FCC protecting consumers against price increases while his lawyers argued it was unconstitutional.

So where are Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews? How can they, as they all rightly have, extol the virtues of a Wendell Potter (former insurance executive who outed his industry during the healthcare reform debate), and yet sit idly without investigating and reporting the dire implications of Comcast owning NBC Universal?

The deafening silence from this quartet is all the testimony needed to show why this merger is...very bad news, indeed. . 

Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 231

This week, because of increased readership, I am expanding my coverage in Georgia and Virginia. Right now NY, CA, TX, VA, GA and NJ are the states where most of my readers live. I consider that quite an interesting mixture.

Last week I ended my introductory statement by saying, "It may not always seem this way, but things have been moving (slowly) in the right direction." This last week adds a great deal of emphasis to my statement. Looked at from afar, what Obama has been doing is amazing. Of course there is the Nobel Peace Prize, which I discuss in this week's newsletter. Whether or not you think Obama has earned it, it is a sincere expression of just how relieved the world is that America has a good President again and of how hopeful the world is that Obama can turn things around. But the Nobel Prize is just the most obvious expression of this. Simply put, almost every nation in the world views America better thanks to Obama. From Reuters:

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Glenn Beck's New Book: Dishonesty, Arrogance, And Racism At Their Finest

Adapted from Blue Moose Democrat.

Earlier this week, I accused Glenn Beck of lying about what his critics say about him - of putting words in their mouth while ignoring their true criticisms. His new book is more proof of that. In it, Beck pretends to teach his audience how to "argue with idiots." These idiots are allegedly representative of progressives, only they say things that no liberal ever says, giving the reader a false impression of half the country's populace. From Media Matters:

In [the book], Beck is engaged in an ongoing argument with "the idiot," who comes armed with some truly idiotic statements, such as, "They may not be perfect, but France is doing socialism right -- we should be more like them," and, "Private schools aren't beholden to unions, but they should be closed because they're only for the rich." Beck fearlessly tears down these strawmen throughout the 300-page book.

In addition to lying about his critics and ginning up dangerous anger against forces that do not exist, Beck's new book asserts that Teddy Roosevelt is a bigger "bastard" than Pol Pot, and that Keith Olbermann is worse than Adolf Hitler. The biggest bastard of all, however, is Woodrow Wilson - because apparently if you dare to give women the right to vote, win a world war you didn't start, create National Parks, win a Nobel Peace Prize, stop powerful men from making money by exploiting the powerless (which brings someone else to mind), or simply express political opinions different than Beck's, than you have done more to harm creation than if you used"slave labor, malnutrition, poor medical care, and executions" to kill an entire 21% of your country's population.

In his chapter titled "U.S. Presidents: A Steady Progression of Progressives," Beck treats us to his list of the "Top Ten Bastards of All Time." The occupants of that list, in ascending order, are Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Teddy Roosevelt, Bernie Madoff, Adolf Hitler, Keith Olbermann, Pontius Pilate, FDR, Tiger Woods, and Woodrow Wilson. That's right, in Beck's book, mass slaughter of millions of innocents makes you a less reprehensible person than the presidents who won both World Wars for the United States... In Beck's world, any progressive is an enemy, and any enemy is progressive.

Speaking of slave labor, it may even appear that Beck thinks American slavery was a good thing. The book asserts that the Constitutional tariffs on slaves were "a price tag on coming to this country," and that we should impose that fee on modern immigrants to show that we take pride in our country. (This particular point comes as no surprise given that Beck's literary hero, Cleon Skousen, was a man who called blacks "pickaninnies" and asserted that salves "in transit were usually a cheerful lot, though the presence of a number of the more vicious type sometimes made it necessary for them all to go in chains.")

Glenn Beck does not love America, Glenn Beck loves Glenn Beck. He does not love his neighbors who were created in God's own image; he wants to remake them in Glenn Beck's own image. His book, like his TV show, has some legitimate and talented humor, which is too bad. His entertaining showmanship only helps to mask his lies, arrogance, and narrow-minded hatred for over half of America's ever-changing population. He does not truly cherish the "republic" he claims to love so very much; he loves only an imagined Aryan paradise brimming over with his beloved "white culture." To Glenn Beck, that is the true "republic," and anyone who would dare be less than perfect in it is the worst form of animal imaginable.

Please, write to Beck's advertisers and gently refute his words with your libertarian friends and perhaps on your local newspaper's letters to the editor page, before he helps get another federal worker killed.

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Where Keith Olbermann Gets it Wrong

I watched Keith Olbermann's special comment from last night on Youtube, as I was too busy wrapping Passover to watch the show.

While I generally agree with him, I find him powerful even when I disagree with him, or find his conclusions lacking, as was the case last night, and I'm not referring to the Kaiser thing.*

In this case, I believe that KO did not go far enough.

While he is correct that letting people off for "just following orders", as is implied by the statements that those , "carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice," will not be subject to prosecution.

This is wrong, and there is a bigger point, made ably by Glenn Greenwald, that there is a real and legalally binding obligation obligation under the Convention Against Torture, which was signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994, to actively pursue and prosecute torturers ( roll Article 7 para 7):

The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
This is not to say that refraining from after the little fish to target the big fish is a violation of this.

That is a legitimate prosecution strategy.

However, it increasingly appears that President Obama and Attorney General Holder do not intend to go after anyone, and in so doing, they are, but not going after anyone, witht he explanation that this is, "moving forward".

This is a obstruction of the prosecution of these actsis a war crime, and if this means no prosecution, it is an affirmative act to obstruct the course of justice.

Certainly, there are alternate venues, such as some sort of "Truth and Reconciliation Commission," but all indications are that the White House are fighting even this weak tea.

I bwelieve that, in the absence for support for some sort of fact official fact finding process, it makes Eric Holder and Barack Obama accessories after the fact to a crime against humanity.

In the short form, people who actively work to subvert any process of judicial or semi-judicial fact finding inquiry, outside of the context of legitimate activities of defense counsel, are war criminals, including the current President and Attorney General of the United States of America if they choose to continue this course.

That being, said, I am an engineer, not a lawyer, dammit,‡ and I would be interested in hearing opinions from people with a deeper knowledge of both US and international law.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Keith Olbermann reviews this disastrous presidency


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