February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Week Three – CNN

As soon as I switched over from Fox to CNN last week the first thing I saw was a giant countdown clock to the next government shutdown. End times over at CNN apparently. Of course we all know by now that a national emergency was announced by Trump and that’s the end of that shutdown nightmare fuel for CNN. SOMEHOW they found more to report on and the front page moved from U.S. political story to U.S. political story all week long.

Here were the top stories over the week at CNN:

  • There was some election fraud in North Carolina from Republicans
  • Republicans ‘paid the price’ for Trump’s wall with the national emergency
  • Trump made a speech that made him look stupid and dared the courts to stop him from building his walls
  • 16 states have filed lawsuits to stop declaration aimed at funneling funds meant for other uses to build a wall
  • McCabe is a God apparently and anything he says (to sell his book) is news now on CNN. The biggest headline was “McCabe: ‘It’s possible’ Trump is a Russian Asset – former acting FBI director tells CNN the president is undermining U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies”, which honestly coming from someone who isn’t in the FBI anymore and is also trying to make money is NOT news IMO
  • Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation
  • The justice department is preparing for the Mueller report early next week.
  • Roger Stone is in court for some Instagram posts where he put the judge overseeing his case in the crosshairs of a gun drawn behind her head
  • And the biggest news on the last day of CNN was that Jussie Smollett was arrested for fabricating his attack (what a complete asshole)

Trump’s name showed up eighty-two times on the front page throughout the week and AOC wasn’t mentioned once. Dramatic different from Fox.

There is no comments section at the end of each article on CNN like there is on Fox. They started phasing out comments section in 2014. This is probably a good thing and Fox should really consider following suit since their comment section has become a place to breed hate and misinformation.

Overall, nothing unexpected happened on my week over at CNN. I knew the kinds of headlines I was going to get because I usually hop onto CNN a few times a week in my daily life. It was fascinating though to see it from a perspective of just coming off of Fox News. In Fox world, everything is fine in America and the only problem we have is the liberal socialist agenda, illegal immigrants and terrorists. On CNN, the only problem we have is Trump and his racist, homophobic, sexist followers. Both of them get it so wrong it’s not even funny. It’s just plain sad, and the real truth out there is that it’s all click bait. What do conservatives want to read and what do liberals want to read? How do we get them to come back to our site? How to we continue to fuel the outrage that gets people to read the news? And how to do continue this on and on in order to get more views, more clicks and ultimately more money.

According to CNN Trump has been on his way out of the white house via impeachment ‘any day now’ for the past two years. I’m bored with this narrative. It’s just not going to happen.

Here are the layouts of the sites for CNN and Fox side by side:

CNN has more categories on the surface. Fox has a radio tab, a method of news they dominate in and a ‘Fox Nation’ tab, which is a subscription based service if for some reason you feel you aren’t getting ENOUGH Fox in your life. The lifestyle tab on Fox is really just a celebrity, travel, feel good, viral video dump, but to be fair, CNN’s style, entertainment and health categories offer the same.

Image result for outrage inc

I read an interesting book for this week’s challenge. It was called Outrage, Inc. by Derek Hunter. I knew going in that this was a right leaning book and there was quite a few things in it I did not agree with (particularly his views on gender, college students, and ‘snowflake’ children), but I came away with questions and a desire to do my own research on a few subjects.

For instance, have you ever quoted to someone who doesn’t believe in human caused climate change that ‘98% of scientists agree it’s happening’? I definitely have. Well have you ever looked into where the study came from? Who funded it? What scientists did they poll the information from? Just something to consider. We spout information so fast these days like we’re all experts on whatever subject, but are we even really looking into it that hard? Maybe we should.

The book didn’t resonate with me a whole lot but if I took away anything from it, it was these few lines in Hunter’s book:

“Media bias is more than just how a story is reported, it’s which stories are reported. The power to ignore, to pick and choose, is the most pernicious power journalists have, and the exercise it regularly. Outrage fuels page views, and page views equal money.”

“Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently. In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.”

“Question assumptions, questions absolutes, question yourself; everything. Just when you think you’ve got it is when you’re most likely to lose your grip. The American people have ever been more misinformed by the media, but they’ve also never had access to more information. “

If there’s anything I’ve learned so far this month that I want to instill in everyone is to QUESTION EVERYTHING. Everything you read, everything you hear, everything you see. How is it being curated to you? Is it being portrayed in a way that makes you want to click, to share? Who funded this study? Who wrote it? Why? And finally, let’s try to be more open to listening to the other side. We cannot live in a feedback loop that constantly reaffirms our believes. Go beyond the headline. See that there’s more to a person than who they voted for. People are complicated and they aren’t all just one thing.

Before I move on I want to announce that I finally found out about Venezuela this week. It’s something I heard just a bit on before doing my week long black out, then Fox didn’t have anything for me on the subject so it’s been driving me crazy. It made the front page of CNN two days into my CNN week. The headline was just that Venezuela closed key maritime and air borders with its neighbors amid growing aid crisis. In this piece I finally learned that the biggest issue is President Maduro won reelection and a lot of countries including the U.S. see it as a fraudulent election and are supporting self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido. We are apparently working with Brazil at the moment to determine logistics in providing food and medicine to the people to Venezuela. This is kind of a big deal and still no one is talking about it around me at all. Sounds about right.

In the United States, it seems the only news is United States news. I’m really excited to get to next week and start looking into some world news.

February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Week Two – Fox News

It’s been a long week here in the Fox News world. I went from no news at all to only Fox News and I feel like I’m in an alternate reality.

In order to get into the right mindset, I started this week by reading a biography on Roger Ailes, the man who created the empire that is today Fox News. The book is called “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News-and Divided a Country” by Gabriel Sherman. What I found most fascinating about the entire thing was how Fox News developed. When it came on the air in 1996, its original purpose was just to defeat CNN and ABC in ratings when it premiered.

Then Bill Clinton happened. Ratings went through the roof with the Lewinsky scandal, but once that was over they were left with a hole to fill and a drop in ratings that only 9/11 could fill.

You know that constant crawl that runs at the bottom of the news screen? Roger Ailes invented that on 9/11 and it only took three weeks for all the other networks to follow suit. To say Fox News isn’t innovative and a genius media machine would be a lie. It’s a masterpiece. It took Fox a half hour after the second tower got hit to throw up a massive banner on screen that read “TERRORISM HITS AMERICA.” They found their angle for the next seven years until Bush was ousted.

When the wars in the middle east started to go nowhere, ratings fell again. During the Obama vs McCain election of 2008, Ailes and producers were PRAYING Obama would win. It was ratings GOLD. The Tea Party wouldn’t even have become that big of a thing without Fox News giving it coverage. Bill Sammon, a Fox News managing editor and vice president, said during a speech at a private event, that in the closing days of 2008 election he pushed screen time claiming Obama was a socialist. During the speech he admitted it was a notion he privately found ‘far-fetched’. But what did it matter if it was true or not? People ATE IT UP. They’re doing this now with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).

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Human Garbage #1, Sean Hannity

The most despicable thing Fox News did though was hire Sean Hannity. In 1998 before he worked at Fox he was working in small time radio in southern California and invited the virulent anti-gay activist Gene Antonio on the air to promote his already widely discredited book “ The AIDS cover up? The Real and alarming facts about AIDS”. Antonio was a Lutheran minister without scientific training who peddled paranoid fictions about the epidemic. He wrote that the virus could be transmitted by sneezes and mosquito bites. WTF. Hannity said on air, “I’m sick and tired of the media and the homosexual community preventing us from getting the true accurate information about AIDS.” Hannity had this dude on and the station fired him (as they should have) and he just went straight over to Atlanta to work in radio again. His bio on the Atlanta station’s site said he was the guy who made a proud name for himself by insulting lesbians. Then Fox HIRED HIM. If that doesn’t tell you what sort of morals were being peddled around I don’t know what does. Hannity has since apologized, but really….fuck him.

Then there’s the other personalities that have been on Fox. Bill O’Reilly and Glen Beck (believe it or not the most upstanding of these three, not that it’s saying much) were the two other big names. O’Reilly (since forced out for his own sexual harassment claims) understood TV was nothing more than a show. “Bill is one of the greatest bullshitters in the world, Ailes’ brother Robert has said. “He can talk about any subject and he can get the best out of his guest by taking the opposite point of view even if he doesn’t believe it.”

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Human Garbage #2, Roger Ailes

All of this information still doesn’t include the disgusting culture of harassment towards women that includes the now deceased Roger Ailes himself. Ailes got fired from Fox (FINALLY) after lawsuit after lawsuit became too much for the company to save face. He was once quoted as saying, “Tell Karen (Fox News anchor) I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.” Yep.

For many Americans who aren’t Obama fans, the Obama they know, the one they are raging against still, is the one Ailes has played a large role in creating. Through Fox, Ailes helped polarize the American electorate drawing sharp ‘with-us or against-us’ lines, demonizing foes, preaching against compromise. Fox News normalized viciousness and conspiracy theories so much so that Fox is now mainstream. And now we are in the Trump era.

And I just read Fox News for a week. So there you have it.

Last week I said I was going to do a count of the number of times Fox New’s favorite people to hate were mentioned on the front page. Here is the result:

  • AOC – 14
  • Elizabeth Warren – 7
  • Nancy Pelosi – 4
  • Hillary Clinton – 2
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According to Fox, AOC is the new Obama and Hillary combined. She is here to kill us all and destroy our way of life. She is radical, naive and wants to disrupt all our lives. Fox stated last week that essentially AOC has come up with a ‘Green Plan’ that is going to kill us all and any representative that supports it is trying to ruing your life.

My favorite fox news clip pulled from the videos portion of their site, outlining all the ways AOC is the worst….I don’t find any of the things on this list bad at all. It’s extremely confusing what point they’re trying to make here.

Here are some more Fox News headlines from last week:

  • Beto and Trump attended duel border wall rally’s and Trump’s rally ‘won’.
  • Representative Ilhan Omar said some Anti-Semitic things on twitter. I didn’t check what it was since it’s against my rules for the week, but it sounds like she was just retweeting something about lobbyists. Fox has been pretty vague about the specifics.
  • Trump got his annual check up and the news is that he’s fitter than any president ever.
  • AOC released her Green Deal and it includes helping those that are ‘unwilling to work’. She also apparently contradicts herself on the role of government in it, although it was not made clear in what way she does this. Union leaders also came out and said her deal will lead us all into poverty.
  • Kolbuchar announced her run for president and Trump made fun of her for standing the snow, proving that global warming is a hoax.
  • A top GOP representative demanded answers after Democrats hired an Anti-Trump investigator for a judiciary committee.
  • And finally, my favorite headline: Judge rules Manafort ‘Intentionally’ Lied to Mueller’s Team (I don’t understand why the word intentionally is in quotes here).

The real crime of Fox News though, is the comments section. Here a few that particularly irked me about Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and
Ilhan Omar that make my blood boil:

Fox News comments are the worst of all human garbage so don’t go read them unless you want to have a good long freak out about humanity.

There was some nice stuff of Fox though that never would get picked up by another news outlet in a million years. For instance, here is a nice story about Trump and Melania sending a get well letter to a woman with a brain tumor. Now obviously she is a Trump supporter and obviously: good publicity. But the fact remains that this woman is going through a terrible time and this letter made her feel better. Nothing wrong with that.

One thing about reading only Fox News for a week is that there is almost zero world news that hits the front page. Two weeks ago when I stopped reading the news for a week Venezula was in the middle of a crisis. I have not heard or read ANYTHING about that since. It felt like pretty big news though and I cannot imagine it’s a situation that has already resolved itself. According the Fox News, the only thing that’s happening outside of the US is terrorism. Their world news section is atrocious.

We’ll have to wait one more week for world news though. Next post will be all about CNN, which is where I’m headed to now. I’m sure I will read all about how Trump will be impeached any day now.

Oh, America. You silly creature.

February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Intro

Dry January is over for me and so it’s the perfect time to start drinking again and focus the month of February on the news media. I honestly can’t imagine doing this challenge completely sober so it’s great timing.

This challenge will change weekly and the goal will be to show that our knowledge of ‘what is happening’ in the world depends on what we are reading, who we are talking to and sometimes even where we live.

The first week will be spent with no news! That’s right. I’m taking January 31st-February 7th off from the news. I will be happily skipping the State of the Union this year. I will not seek the news on Reddit, Google, Facebook, BBC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, local news, you name it, I’m not having it.

Week one will be a chance to cleanse the pallet. The one exception is I will be able to ask people around me what’s going on in the news if I desire. I will also be able to pick up the news just from listening to people around me talk about it. I’m hoping to show what someone who doesn’t pay attention to the news picks up as news worthy.

Week two (here’s where the drinking comes in) I’ll be only reading Fox News. I don’t have cable so I won’t have to WATCH fox news (thank baby Jesus), but I will be only getting my news and headlines from them. Then I’ll report to you what the news for the week is when I only got my news from Fox.

Then I’ll be moving on to CNN for week three. If you don’t think CNN has a bias then clearly you’ve been reading too much CNN. It’ll be interesting to see the contrast here.

Why is this so important to see things from all sides? Although bias is impossible to get rid of completely (heck I’ve been pretty bias this entire post so far), it’s still important that we look for it and learn how to identify it. Here’s an example of a news story told three different ways:

Via All Sides

Now I realize this challenge focuses solely on AMERICAN news, which is why for the last week (which will bump a bit into March due to the weird way February works) I’ll be reading Al Jazeera, which I think is a fairly balanced world focused news site, although by no means perfect being owned by the government of Qatar. I’ll do an expose on a few different countries for week four via BBC News because they have an excellent search option to narrow down news by world region, and I’ll let you know what the top story is in those countries. News happens in other parts of the world too my American friends!

BBC’s awesome world news menu, which gives a nice overview of news going on in each region of the world.

I’ll also be reading three books this month, one on on the left, one in the middle and one on the right of U.S. politics. They are called Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, Republican Like Me by Ken Stern and other is called The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman. Thomas Frank and Ken Stern books are both written by current or former liberals. Frank spends his book so far examining where the left has failed the working class and Stern spends his book getting out of his blue bubble and experiencing some GOP love. Gabriel Sherman’s book gives a deep look into Roger Ailes life and legacy as founder of Fox News.

So that’s the February challenge. No news has already started for me and I’ll be honest, I wanted to check the news several times already today. Help I’m dying.