Archive for the ‘Media Influence’ Category


HARDBALL and Chris Matthews

June 19, 2013

It’s accepted practice to play “hardball” in many instances and over the years I have enjoyed watching an occasional HARDBALL program on MSNBC….tolerating Chris Matthews because his guests were thoughtful and knowledgeable on a wide range of topics.

And today?  I still tune in when I have time…but more and more, my tolerance for Matthews himself is eroding.  For me , he is the perfect caricature of the 20th Century Boomer Angry Old Bird…and despite obviously being a liberal, he belongs in the same category I place many other aging men still engaged in the political and press activities in our world today.

He knows bests, he screams loudest, he is impolite and interrupts his guests by shouting over them-often when they are making a rational point I want to hear.  He positions himself as THE EXPERT in most everything – for some reason because he was an aid to Tip O’Neal. 

I am not sure if my tolerance for his antics is what has changed or if indeed, he is becoming unhinged.  Most days I watch him screaming, not completing sentences, spitting, talking so  fast he cannot even complete a coherent sentence – and as for loud, that is one show I watch with remote in hand, constantly monitoring volume  as his voice raises to dangerous level decibals!

As time passed, I began to view him as the “comic relief” that perhaps is needed in discussing issues that are controversial and have far-reaching consequences…and so, although it was not my style, I tolerated him for what I learned about issues from his guests which gave me a direction to pursue if I wanted to learn more – as I had names of people that DID have the facts that I could research, and thus learn more and reach coherent decisions.

Recently most times I catch the act, I feel like he is auditioning for a role in the entertainment channel known as Fox News….but I do give him credit with at least sharing guests and names that I can use to dig up my own FACTS that he – perhaps unwittingly – no longer allow to come forth much on his program.

So, with that as the background, I pose a question:

On June 6 the IRS manager responsible for actions leading to the “IRS SCANDAL” testified in Congress.  By June 8, I had seen tape of that testimony and wrote my first blog questioning whether this was the Obama Admin spying on innocent citizens, or a lucky break  that happened innocently in the IRS that had exposed some pretty suspicious practices.  On June 12, I again blogged about this topic, as I had seen much more about this in my hometown newspaper. I wrote more on June 17….meanwhile, nary a word about it from Chris Matthews.

Finally, yesterday, he presented the whole thing as EUREKA – LOOK WHAT I AM UNVEILING…there is no IRS Scandal.

So that’s my question.  Why did it take a supposedly cutting-edge up-to-the-minute, somewhat left-focused cable news program anchored by Chris Matthews until TUESDAY 17 to “rule” that perhaps there was no IRS scandal” ?




June 2, 2012

Friday nights are “ME” time.  In my youth it was school games and gatherings, parties, dates, and a poker party or two with the girls.  I might take an extra night on my shift at the Kahler if I needed money, but surely not on Friday nite!    As I transitioned into my life in the business world, it remained a sacred time…at BI, a night with whomever of the Travel Gang was not on the road…and at Carlson, it was perhaps the only night of the week you could be sure you would not find me in my office… as I was at Mulligan’s- “unwinding”. 

And then my life changed as I became a one-person company so socializing with co-workers faded into the past and slowly but surely Fridays emerged as time for me and the news – to the point that I often find myself shifting get-togethers with friends around to Thursday or Saturday so I can be sure to be home for the weekly ritual.   Early Friday afternoon is also ME time- but reserved for errands, or a visit to MIA, or the Walker, or a walk along the river.  But by late afternoon I’m back and catching up with MSNBC talk show hosts; then KARE-11 for local and national news; and then for sure, do not interrupt me  – I’ m glued to Public TV – can’t miss Brooks and Shields on PBS, nor Almanac for my weekly dose of of Minnesota news and politics with Eric and Kathy, and then to Gwen for Washington Week in Review. 

So yesterday was no exception-even though I knew it would be aggravating, as all attention would be focused on a “bad” job report (I consider the millions of jobs losses of 2008-9 to be BAD news, so interesting to see how perspectives change over four years, isn’t it?)  And of course, that is exactly what I heard…..a variation of the theme of Chicken Little’s “The sky is falling in”.

The second gloom and doom message followed, naturally, as over and over I heard the DOW was wiping out all the gains made all year.  The stock market has spoken; the economic slowdown is widening and accelerating…gold went up, Treasury bonds were forced a record-low and the downward spiral was happening again…Obama is a one-term President and Romney will win.  What?  Aren’t these the same experts that started this whole mess?  Sometimes I fantasize how great the country would be if we just did not TELL those Wall Street Boys any bad news; then they would not panic and do their knee-jerk thing, and by today, the possibility for gloom and doom would have passed.  Yes, in the real world, I know better, but over and ovber these guys prove they are not very level headed, can’t be calm in view of unfavorable news, and yet we tie our whole world to them.

But last night there was another news thread that ran from afternoon all the way through to 8:30 when I had ODed and fled from the TV.  I guess they just ran out of ways to say over and over, THE SKY IS FALLING-  Job creation is stalled and Armageddon is coming.  So they ALL zeroed in on some comments made by Clinton that Romney did meet the qualification requirements to be considered  to run for President.  And the spin was clearly, here is another surrogate for Obama that is sabotaging him.  Really?

Thanks to the STRIB this morning, I learned what the real jist of the comments were about.  Clinton while predicting that Obama would win a second term suggested BOTH CANDIDATES change this negative campaign cycle that is already driving most of us to tune out.  “I think the real issue ought to be, what  has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president?  What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do?  How do these things stack up against each other?”

As far as I am concerned, that was a voice of an elder statesman,  warning both candidates and the world to quit acting like pre-schoolers fighting in the sandbox.

I am tempted to change up my Friday night ME time – maybe read a book each week until Nov 2 – tune in for an update, spend the weekend deciding who to vote for, and go vote on November 6 – oblivious to five months of childish battles – at least I will have avoided having sand thrown in my eyes!





November 13, 2010

The Republican two-year campaign to win the 2010 elections was effective; yet, it has been made to seem more ominous and a sign of the times than it was.  Remember, it is a relatively normal cycle that has been repeated in some fashion throughout our country’s history – a contribution to the over-arching system of checks and balances as effective and important as the interplay among the branches of government the administration, the congress and the courts.  It was neither a great country-changing victory nor a life-threatening disaster.  It was an adjustment and should be treated as such. Learn, integrate the impact, and move on.  For me, I hoped this would signal  a return to sanity as we eliminate the extremes so that some measure of collaboration could be introduced into the way we govern ourselves…and perhaps as time healed the campaign wounds, together we could have an honest discourse of what we need to do to move forward.

This week, an Obama-appointed bipartisan deficit commission released a preliminary report on what needs to be done to get the country on track – to recover from the expense of the 21st century wars and the emergency actions to stop the 2007-2008 slide into a repeat of the Great Depression.  It laid out options – some favored the right; some favored the left – but the report in general clearly laid out the over-arching problems this country is facing and some options that need to be considered in order to move forward.  The conversations on TV and on-line over the last two days seem to show a general consensus – this will be hard; there are some things I as a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party member, or simply a independent-thinking American individual would not wish to happen, but in general, most of the feedback thus far indicates those that have read the initial overviews feel it is a realistic assessment of the problems we are facing and a realistic assessment of what kinds of things need to be addressed to get back on track.  And most feel it is a starting point for discussion and reassessment of needs and values that will form the basis of the actions that may take ten years to cement.  And although I naively wish for a quicker relief, it did take decades of dangerous thinking to get us to this place of pain, so I should be happy it might only take ten years to recover.

So, for me, there was a sense of relief to hear that perhaps sanity will prevail.  Just like the American public that made hard decisions and sacrifices to individually whittle down their own personal debt in the past 2 years to the tune of $ One Trillion, so must the government.  Some changes I will be happy about; some things I will be less so – but none will be life-threatening – nor will they place this country in a place where we are worse off than the rest of the world inhabitants – we will still live a good life.

And yet I fear in today’s world of internet and cable TV connectivity, the negativity and our new tolerance for half truths and outright lies in this election may have a broader and deeper consequence. 

And this morning in the Strib, I saw proof of that fear.  A letter to the editor demonstrated for me that not all the public saw the Deficit Commission preliminary report as a ray of hope.  One reader called it a doomsday scenario, a dog-and pony show led by Bowles and Simpson to scare Americans into an austerity program aimed at further injuring the middle class.  For him, since it did not support his own ideas, it had to be a Republican plot.

It was troubling to read that proof that the polarization and negativity continues and needs to be fixed – another task for our system of checks and balances – and one, that although it starts in state capitals and Washington, must also be supported by the media self-correcting its own actions.  Put the country and its citizens first over ratings. Give the country a fair chance to let the checks and balances work!



May 2, 2010

I’ve been an avid viewer and supporter over the years of Sunday morning’s MEET THE PRESS. Its 9:00AM schedule dictates when I get up (so I have the Sunday paper read and digested before the show) and which church I attend – my favorite downtown, or a neighborhood church that allows me to leave for services AFTER the show is over.

Today they unveiled a new set which is modern, updated and gorgeous. But I’m afraid it won’t help. I have tried hard since the passing of Tim Russert to switch my loyalty to the current commentator but I can’t put away a nagging thought in the back of mind.

Has the mission of the show changed as well as the look, the feel, and the commentator?

I admit, every week I struggle with separating out the personality of Dick Gregory which I read as impolite, cocky, condescending, and intent on divisiveness rather than guaranteeing a honest, informed discussion of issues in our nation. Discussions always have more than one point of view, and more than one “right” answer. And certainly, despite highly political and controversial guests, in the past, moderators chose to present an overview as non-partisan as possible under the circumstances. I have always looked to MEET THE PRESS, along with the PBS NEWS HOUR for unbiased facts and thoughts which I could weigh to draw my own conclusions on an issue.

I’m certain that my own prejudices are impacting how I received the message of the show; but, as an example, I cite the discussion this morning about the tragedy of the BP oil rig and the fast-moving oil leak that threatens so much of our southern shores, their environment and their economy. No matter how hard I tried, I felt like the main goal of Gregory was to get someone to point a finger of blame – at BP or at the US Government – for a slow response- in order to create a sensational breaking headline. I read the information drill-down as a hunt for whose fault is this terrible tragedy. I felt like I was witnessing yet another media-manufactured divisive issue to support ratings against the entertainment-focused cable news channels. I was encouraged that all parties interrogated ignored the bait.

There is a difference, folks, between good issues discussions and ratings. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to stay tuned to the issues and what the guests are revealing of their positions in response to tough questions, when I continue to be distracted by impolite interruptions, the frequently raised voice of the moderator, and a performance broadcasting “smug, swaggering and self-satisfied “. The new set will not help me with that.



December 20, 2009

Hour after hour for a couple days now, we have heard on major networks and cable TV about this devastating snowstorm that has crippled the East Coast. I’ve watched or listened in sympathy, as those who aren’t acclimated to this phenomenon, have struggled with road, airport, businesses and mall closings and for some, with the experience of being stranded along the roadside. But little did I realize how much the media reporting was influencing me!

A few minutes ago, I looked at my lengthy list of pre-holiday and year-end tasks to be done today and thought to myself…”maybe I’ll just curl up with the paper and a little music and wait ‘til the snow stops blowing and the roads are plowed.”

That was great demonstration of the power of the press because it is not snowing here in the Midwest! And yet, the commentators, without trying to, through constant repetition and hype about a storm out East, convinced my brain that the storm was happening to us! How scary is that?!!! Of course, it could be a symptom of my own mental state, but I prefer to think of it in broader terms.

The Fourth Estate was, at one time, our source for the verifiable truth via network news programs. Kronkite, Huntly-Brinkley, Brokow and others didn’t share opinions – they gave us the facts as best they knew them, and we trusted them. Is it any wonder then, that as we added cable to our viewing experience, we took with us an attitude of trust and so have difficulty comprehending that what we hear often is opinion and not necessarily researched truth?

We add that pre-disposition to believe to a second pre-disposition to HEAR that which supports our own opinions and MUTE what might make us give pause and think, and we may have at our fingertips the reason we as a country are so polarized. We still trust that those we turn to for input are the replacements to the trustworthy news anchors of the past. We can’t accept that at least in the entertainment world of cable TV, what we hear is driven by strong views and competition for ratings. The sound-bytes validate our own attitudes and before we are even aware of it, we absorb the opinions as the TRUTH. And most of us are not even aware that all the truths being told are not in sync with each other. Amazing.