Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CNN’s Bachmann Debacle: How Mainstream Media Fails the American Public

Last night, Rachel Maddow questioned the integrity behind CNN’s decision to air Michelle Bachmann's Tea Party Express speech, citing this arrangement with a PR operative:

This PR placement hardly qualifies as a legitimate news story; yet CNN gave Bachmann a national stage for blaming chronic unemployment on the Obama administration. More than merely a false narrative and a propagandist revision of recent events, it offends our sense of cause and effect.  Consider this sequence of events:
The most severe recession since the Great Depression DID NOT begin in the Obama administration. It started in 2007 - in the Bush administration. The first warning was sounded by then Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson - of the Bush administration. The TARP bill was rushed through Congress and signed into law - by the Bush administration.

When a speeding car runs out of gas in one administration and coasts to a dead stop in the next administration, who is at fault? The fault is with the administration that forgot, through lack of oversight, to put gas in the car - NOT with the administration that got stuck calling the tow truck.
Mainstream media lets lies such as these go unchallenged. In giving national exposure to Bachmann, CNN allowed a falsehood to go viral without making even a token effort to fact check the speech or offer a critical analysis. This is how CNN dumbs down the American public and lets political hacks get away with factitious murder.

There is more at stake behind this story. When propagandists and hacks game the system, how can the American public rely on accurate news? Junk journalism such as this puts our democracy at risk.


  1. I'm not as upset as most that CNN gave the woman a forum but I am upset that they didn't bother to refute her lies. Typical.

  2. I blogged on the Bachmann debacle as well, (O)CT(O). It is infuriating to see how our culture allows an confused know-nothing like her to have any say in any political arena. My French friends' children have a better grasp of American history than Bachmann has. She disgraced herself and this country with her atrociously stupid remarks on the Founding Fathers and their "tireless" work to eradicate slavery.

    More horrible is the realization that her idiotic performance was not a career ender.

  3. "Mainstream media lets all lies go unchallenged."

    Well, perhaps it's the same thing, because all the lies are coming from Republicans, but the media friendliness to falsehoods only extends to those which support the Republican narrative.

    This behavior has been so consistently one sided for so long that it can hardly be dismissed as coincidental at this point.

  4. They don't make money by allowing us an uninterpreted view of reality, but by fostering anger, unrest an addiction to anger. I used to call it angertainment, but it never caught on.

    No, I don't think it's in the least coincidental, it's a business or if your less kind, a racket.

    There are no longer any checks and balances and when I've made modest proposals that some be restored, the cry is always "Censorship!" as if giving the lied about a voice could be described that way. The media put us all on trial every day. There is no judge, no defense attorney; only the prosecution which gets paid by the jury to entertain them.

    At the risk of pulling the string on the talking doll once again, unrestrained, unopposed propaganda topples the most educated and sophisticated and democratic nations -- and you know who I'm talking about. Godwin can take a hike.

  5. As I said in a comment elsewhere, to be "fair and balanced" CNN should have had a representative of the left to offer up a few thoughts.

    We progressives need to get more pro-active. Our blog posts are vitally important (I depend on them for the real news) but essentially we are preaching to the choir. I wonder how many of us have actually sent CNN an email to complain about Bachmann's appearance (a really shitty performance, imho). How many of us have left comments? We really need to get in their faces and start yelling - politely of course.

  6. TnLib,
    Yesterday, I sent an email to Anderson Cooper 360 that included the full text of this post plus these words: "This really pisses me off."

  7. Captain 2.0,
    Until a few months ago, I was strongly in favor of restoring the Fairness Doctrine but now I am not so sure this would be enough. What we have today is a mind-numbing talking heads format that gives the appearance of fairness but is in practice just an excuse for laziness that turns reporters into stenographers.

    I am certainly with you on this: God[win] is dead!

  8. I just went to the CNN's Bachmann response. 99% of the comments were critical, mostly of Bachmann's statement but also of CNN for even carrying it.

  9. TnLib,
    As an old saying goes about 20 drowned lawyers lying at the bottom of swimming pool, this is a step in the right direction.

  10. Octo

    "now I am not so sure this would be enough"

    It wouldn't be, but I don't know what would. There's no money in impartial reportage. Of course I'm encouraged to hear that PBS may be the most trusted name in news, I'm not sure they matter and I'm not sure they have a future.

    The only effective principle is that what makes the most money is what gets done and the money is in rabble rousing.

    I'm tired of and wary of and full up to here with comparisons to declining Rome, but really, watching the news is akin to a Roman holiday, full of blood and guts and screams of pain. Anyone who supplies the most wins.

  11. But the T party has little to lose by unseemly and yes, shameless, cornered rat behavior. They're a small minority and any publicity is good publicity, or so they think. Even seems to think she's revolting rather than revolutionary today. Likewise with Georgia Republican Paul Broun with his "Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution, You believe in socialism.”

    Both of these animals have enjoyed record level fundraising efforts. It's a successful formula and we can expect more and more of it in a rathole like this whee everything smells like communism to the rats.

    But hey, they have broaddband on St. Kitts these days.

  12. It is sad, discouraging and not surprising in the least that after all the bipartisan agreement about toning down the more inflammatory rhetoric and working together, blah, blah, blah and Kumbaya - we are back to business as usually.
    Spin, right wing nuts, spin...

  13. I echo Rocky, the Kumbaya moment appears to have passed. However, I am encouraged by the predominantly critical response CNN's decision received in the web comments. I wonder if perhaps the only people influenced by Bachmann type rhetoric are those who are already inclined to support an agenda that uses the mask of alleged personal responsibility to abdicate any responsibility for a societal effort to work for the good of the planet and all who reside upon it.

    Tsk, tsk, Octo,everyone has a bad lawyer joke until they need one. Why didn't the sharks attack the lawyer who fell off his yacht? Professional courtesy. Personally, I prefer to think of myself as a barracuda.

  14. It has always been my contention that the media has given legs to the Tea Party idiots in their insatiable need to attract viewers.

    Perhaps it's the three-cornered hats, Uncle Sam costumes and "Don't Tread On Me" flags that is so seductive to media morons who unwittingly give, what would be considered primarily ignorable nut cases in other countries, somehow credible voices.

    Then again I have to remind myself that media outlets ARE big businesses themselves. In the end where are their true priorities - news and information, or dividends to stock holders?

  15. "Why didn't the sharks attack the lawyer who fell off his yacht?"

    Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne,
    Und die trägt er im Gesicht.
    Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer,
    Doch das Messer sieht man nicht

  16. Sheria,
    My apologies about that lawyer remark ... another net cast too widely with the unintended consequences of innocent bycatch. (Gotta remind myself to be more careful)


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