Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blog #89: CNN – A Cracked Channel of Record?

Graphic from


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Piranhas Circling the CNN Newsroom

What in the world was wrong with CNN last weekend? John King’s State of the Union spent far too much time giving Rep. John Boehner the CNN megaphone to spout his tired, mostly meaningless message to the American people. John King, I hate to tell you, you’re the experienced newsman and I’m very possibly a no-nothing fool, but John, the Republicans are losers. They lost last year’s election decisively and it was a well deserved loss. They have earned every one of the deflections they have suffered by their conduct in the running of this government over the preceding eight years. And to assist them in their rehabilitation by turning over the CNN megaphone to them is in our opinion a lame exercise in futility.

There is a new time in American alright. Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America has finally dawned. And guess what, it’s a Democratic morning, with not a meaningful Republican in sight?

And here’s real breaking news, Newt Gingrich favors the resignation of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. No? What a shock! Could’ve fooled me. Putting such an announcement on once or twice could be loosely termed reporting the news, even though the quality of such news is pretty lame since Gingrich had to resign in disgrace, and naturally he would like Ms. Pelosi to share his fate.

But airing it two or three times an hour day and night? Does that mean CNN really considers Gingrich a serious spokesman for the Republican Party? The Catholic Church may have annulled his previous marriages and absolved him from all of his past sins, but does that mean the rest of us have to join hands and sing in the choir. We hate to disappoint Newt but we don’t sing We Shall Overcome on behalf of used Republican has-beens with axes to grind.

Of course Gingrich would like to bring down the Speaker just as he himself was brought down lo those many years ago. And I’m absolutely sure that nothing would please him more than to be a key part of her dethroning. So what else is new? Whereas the airing of his quite unsurprising views once or twice could possibly be construed as news, when you air it two or three times an hour, day after day and night after night it becomes shameless promotion. CNN is not being the News Channel of Record that it would pretend to be when it mindlessly promotes something it ought to be smart enough to know is wrong. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth CNN. Are you really hoping that someone in the Gingrich – Boehner mold will be elected our next president?

You have a full complement of newspeople. In the interest of fairness and balance, where was this story? From Politico on Wednesday we learned that Senator Arlen Specter seems to be siding with Speaker Pelosi in her spat with the CIA over harsh interrogation methods, saying the agency has a history of being less than forthright with Congress. “The CIA has a very bad record when it comes ... to honesty. It goes back a long time,” Specter said in a speech before the American Law Institute at a Washington hotel.

The Republican-turned-Democrat listed a handful of examples in the past where the CIA has withheld key information from Congress. “During my tenure as chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the 104th Congress, there were repeated instances where we didn’t get information that was there,” Specter said. "It's a real problem as to how you get the information."

After his remarks, Specter said he spoke about the controversy because it fit into his speech's theme about the growth of executive power. Still, his comments were consistent with arguments that Pelosi and her lieutenants have been making for days.

Not a word about this did I see or hear on CNN Wednesday. What’s the matter, CNN? Is Arlen Specter no longer newsworthy because he’s now a Democrat? Or is it you’re not interested in any authoritative backing of the Speaker’s position? I learned of it by reading the Daily Beast which reported it and had a link to Politico for the story. Funny how CNN missed that. We have been treated to Gingrich’s opinion of the Speaker’s future ever since the weekend, rolling by at least twice an hour, day and night. But not a word about Senator Specter’s remarks to the American Law Institute which would tend to be a rather authoritative backing of the Speaker’s position. Virginia, can you say bias?

CNN’s correspondents do report that Democrats in Congress are backing the speaker, but none that I have heard have reported what a single one of those talking points might be. The infestation of piranhas swarming the CNN newsroom seems to only be interested in promoting the Speaker’s ouster, not in reporting on any backing of her position. For the complete account of Sen. Specter’s remarks go here!

the baby Dick Cheney at feeding time

graphic from


It is inconceivable to me that CNN cannot see that whatever the Speaker of the House knew or didn’t know back in 2003 is completely irrelevant? That it is a Republican sideshow, a cheap diversionary tactic to keep the country’s mind off of what really matters. But CNN presses on, seemingly gung ho in its support of the Gingrich line.

As you well know the fact is that it matters not a tinker’s damn whether or not the Speaker knew that torture was being used. What matters is that in 2000 the regime we had elected to lead this country (Strike that, the regime the Supreme Court anointed to lead this country by stopping the recount in Florida before it found out that Al Gore really won Florida) were the ones who broke our national and international laws by using torture and calling it “enhanced interrogation techniques.” And it turns out that waterboarding was being used not just to gain intelligence to prevent another 9/11 so much as to try and prove a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein so the administration could justify its senseless invasion of Iraq. Which was why the man who is credited for masterminding 9-11 was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA’s own count.

Why isn’t CNN going after the former Republican leadership on that score, instead of serving their Republican masters by broadcasting the GOP’s diversionary line against the Speaker of the House? That my dear Virginia, is the question of the week.

It was these very same tactics that CNN and the rest of America’s media used which allowed the invasion of Iraq to take place in the first place. You media guys swallowed the dictates of the Republican leadership hook, line, and sinker. What is it going to take for you to learn? Or I guess the real question is: are you going to learn? Ever? Judging from what I saw on CNN last Sunday, I’m afraid the answer to that is a flat out no.

As that inspiring Republican leader of olde, Tricky Dicky Nixon, used to say, “Let me make myself perfectly clear.” Of course, that was always followed by the further muddying of the waters, but what else could he do? Truth is the very last weapon in the quiver of the charlatan.

But in my own words, let me make myself perfectly clear. As you may have noticed, I am a Democrat. Proud and unashamed. Quite possibly a left of center one, but these days being left of center is a term of pride, not shame. may be a rallying point for evil in the world of Republican politics, but in my opinion it has been right a lot more often than it was wrong, and the things it shined its light on needed the world’s attention.

Democrats believe in a strong federal government, but they believe in one run with competence by honest individuals who know their jobs, an administration that is being run not for the benefit of the rich and the powerful, but as a strong check and balance against the excesses of those very same rich and powerful. I believe the federal government, which takes our money, should serve the needs of all of its people. Republicans have vilified the terms liberal and left of center since the 1980’s, and look what their various regimes have done to the country after getting themselves in power. Here’s why I am a Democrat, and PROUD OF IT!

Souvenir of 2004 – from


Republicans say what is wrong with the country is the federal government. They claim that if we just cut the number of regulations and restraints that have been put into place in the banking and business communities, then everything will be hunky dory. And in virtually every case they stocked the federal bureaucracy with knaves and incompetents. Think back, how many in Ronald Reagan’s regime ended up serving jail time? It was in the hundreds. Republicans are nothing, if not hard of head. Time and time again they have tried a weakened federal government and it has not worked. The extravagances of the twenties were followed by the Great Depression of the thirties. It was during this period that many of the regulations which were deemed necessary to put checks and balances on the economic system were put into place.

Ours is a system of checks and balances. Strong businesses need strong unions to protect their workers, and a strong federal presence is needed to regulate and protect both business, unions and the public. I’m sorry to disillusion all of you Supply Siders out there, but business cannot and will not regulate itself. Bernie Madoff”s lurk under every financial stone. There needs to be a strong federal government to protect both our workers and the public.

Phil Gramm, the so-called economics professor from Texas A&M, spent his latter years in the Senate deregulating the banking industry. After which he left his Senate seat for a cushy job with UBS, the giant Swiss Banking firm which had taken advantage of Gramm’s weakening banking regulations to enter the American banking market. And guess what, lo these many years later, the banking industry has fallen on its face thanks largely to Gramm’s deregulation, and it had to be bailed out by government taxpayer money. And what was it that Phil Gramm called Americans who dideth protest loudly at the collapse of the financial markets? “Whiners,” was it? Let’s hear a cheer for Phil Gramm and banking deregulation. Friends, every last regulation that was put into place was put there for a damn good reason. And when the Republicans claim otherwise they are whistling Dixie, which they seen to be doing a lot of lately.

Republicans believe in the power of the rich, and see themselves as the servants of the rich. The reason they are always screaming “tax cuts” and decrying the tax money Obama is investing in bringing back America, is because they are trying to save their money, and ours, for the Rich for whom they would serve. Their only use for the ordinary voter is when election time rolls around. Then they need us, but only then. All other times they operate in secret behind closed doors. And when that is pointed out to them they take the position that what they do in our name is none of our damn business.

To me the most dangerous and destructive side of the recent Republican regime has been in the way in which they have weakened the quality of the federal bureaucracy by staffing it with incompetents, while at the same time strengthening the power of the executive branch to a frightening degree. This was done post 9-11 in an atmosphere of fear under a cloak of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The level of incompetence of the Federal Government under Bush/Cheney was unbelievable. The way they ran the war in Iraq in the early days and the cleanup after Katrina would give them F’s in almost any reasonable person’s grade book. Is that what CNN really wants as it seeks to support a Republican comeback while doing their bidding in trying to bring down the Speaker of the House?

On the same weekend that State of the Union turned over its televised megaphone to Representative Boehner President Obama had one of his finest moments with his talk to the graduating class at Notre Dame. But every time CNN went there it seemed to do so primarily to emphasize the demonstrations which were largely the work of outside groups, and which had the backing of very few actual students or faculty. In fact many of the demonstrators were arrested if they came onto the campus. An overwhelming majority of the students and faculty wildly supported the appearance of the President, and why shouldn’t they? He gave an excellent speech, not giving an inch in his own position, but making the plea that we all try harder to understand each other’s irreconcilable positions. He didn’t quote L.A. beating victim Rodney King, but he might well have as he pursued King’s theme, “Can’t we all get along?” In my opinion this country is profoundly fortunate to have a leader of such intelligence and charisma in this time of our dire need following eight dreadful years of Republican misrule. It seems to me to be a damn shame that CNN seems hellbent to join Fox News in disparaging, or at the very least downplaying the accomplishments of this president.

My advice, CNN, in the immortal words of the Beatles, “Git back, git back, git back to where you once belonged.” Let owner emeritus Ted Turner give you guidance in fairness. Listen to David Gergen, he is the ranking voice of reason and experience among your so-called experts. Silence that piranha in the newsroom that makes you smell blood and makes you try and influence the news, rather than simply report it. Forget trying to be competitive with Fox, no matter what you do, Fox is probably going to lead you in the ratings for the same reason that Rush Limbaugh leads the radio talking heads. That doesn’t mean either of them is right, or is God. It simply means that they have found their audience and are feeding it what it wants to hear. You should stick to your guns and feed your listeners the news, untrammeled, and from as wide a number of viewpoints as possible. You can do it, CNN. You did it for years. Report the news, forget trying to make the news.

Obviously John King leans heavily to the Right, whereas Wolf Blitzer is one of your more balanced anchors. But that’s alright, we all have one viewpoint or another. But keep a balance. Troll for those piranhas swimming around your newsroom, and cast them out before the smell of blood overwhelms the lot of you. Make sure all viewpoints are represented fairly at all times. And most important, avoid being a shill for any one party as you were perceived to be doing for the Republican Party last Sunday and during the week that has followed. At all costs avoid letting CNN become a 24 hour Lou Dobbs channel. One Lou Dobbs is quite enough, thank you very much.

I will admit it, CNN. I am a news junkie and am addicted to your channel, which I leave on most of every day. I have been watching it ever since I first got cable in the mid 1980’s. I remember Wolf Blitzer’s first appearance on CNN, on a show featuring correspondents of foreign publications. If memory serves he worked for the Jerusalem Post back then.

However I was so distressed watching CNN amplify the administration’s nonsense during the lead in to the invasion of Iraq that I quit watching the news altogether and spent my days and evenings with the NBA channel. I came back to CNN only after the Democrats won back Congress in 2006, and I became re-addicted during your excellent election coverage in 2008. You deserved that Peabody Award you won for your election coverage. Think back on that honest, balanced coverage as you review this past week of giving Gingrich a platform to shill for the Speaker’s removal. Honestly what kind of award do you think this week would bring you? In what might be the words of Michael Phelps, put that in your bong, light up, and toke your troubles away.§

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In Other News . . .

In other news, the ars technica website reports that Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson is getting himself involved in several suits concerning the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) He is advising one of his students who is handling the retrial of Jammie Thomas, which we reported on last week. But, and this is where it really gets interesting, one of the cases he is advising demands that the RIAA return all of the money it has collected through fraudulent means since their suits against college students and others began. Ouch, that could deliver a well deserved hurt to the recording industry. For the full story go here!

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And finally, from the New Republic comes the news that today there’s one less waterboarding advocate. Conservative radio shock jock Eric “Mancow” Muller decided to prove that waterboarding isn't torture by subjecting himself to it on the air.

"The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."

With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.

Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said.

Perhaps Mr. Cheney and some of the other proponents of waterboarding would care to take this little test. For the full story on Mr. Muller's experience point your cursor here

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Little Eddy’s Blog was created on an Apple iMac computer, which glows with the effervescence of creativity. We also pay homage to the Almighty Google for making the massive world wide web a manageable commodity, and therefore a useful one. And we are also grateful to Google for freely offering us a place where we can write and share our views with whomever may stumble upon us. We fervently believe and hope that CNN can get over its mindless pursuit of partisan irrelevance and remain once again a place where people of all bents and persuasions can congregate for free, unbiased news coverage. And we hope you may find you way back here again next week for more Little Eddy raves and rants. Bye, bye.

The Real Little Eddy

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