Monday, June 19, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 6-19-06: Coulter, Beck and The Death of The News

Hard Rain Journal is one of four components of the Words of Power blog. It is posted daily, and provides updates and insights on developing stories. Words of Power, which delivers in-depth commentary, and GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, which provides global risk-related news, are posted on an alternating, bi-weekly basis. GS(3) Thunderbolts are posted as appropriate to deliver timely news on developing stories that require urgent attention.

Hard Rain Journal 6-19-06: Coulter, Beck and The Death of The News

By Richard Power

In recent weeks, the savagery of right-wing news media commentators Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck has reached a troubling, new intensity, and yet their corporate overlords have yet to take any action against them.

Coulter was allowed to appear on NBC’s Tonight Show, after making disgusting remarks about four 911 widows turned activists, on the network’s Today Show: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much." (Crooks and Liars, 6-6-06)

Coulter followed up her ugly remarks on the 911 widows with a bizarre comment on decorated war veteran and a former US Marine Corp Colonel, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA.), which could easily be interpreted as an exhortation to murder: “In an email interview with John Hawkins at the Right Wing News web site, Coulter was asked, among other things, to offer short comments on several individuals….she said of Rep. John Murtha, the hawkish ex-Marine and now antiwar congressman: ‘The reason soldiers invented 'fragging.'' Fragging, which became a well-known expression -- and occasional occurence -- during the Vietnam war, means soldiers attempting to kill their own officers for one reason or another.” (Editor and Publisher, 6-15-06)

According to Editor and Publisher, Coulter has “not lost one of the 100+ newspaper clients or the support of her syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate.”

Glenn Beck of CNN Headline News recently equated former Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to raise awareness about the threat of global warming with Adolph Hitler’s campaign against the Jews of Europe: When you take a little bit of truth and then you mix it with untruth, or your theory, that's where you get people to believe. ... It's like Hitler. Hitler said a little bit of truth, and then he mixed in 'and it's the Jews' fault.' (Media Matters, 6-8-06)

A few days later, he followed this outrage up with mocking remarks about the danger of Shanghai, and its population of 80 million people, being submerged by the rising sea level: “Does anybody really care? I mean, come on. Shanghai is under water. Oh, no! Who's gonna make those little umbrellas for those tropical drinks?" (Media Matters, 6-15-06)

Despite these disgusting (and ignorant) comments, Beck still has his own show on CNN Headline News and has not even been forced to issue an apology.

Do you wonder why? Do you wonder why Coulter, Beck and others are being empowered to dehumanize dissenters and brutalize the public debate? Do you ever ask yourself why individuals like Coulter and Beck, who proffer only hate and lies, are allowed constant and unfiltered access to the public air waves when great minds like Dr. Cornel West, and great journalists like Robert Fisk are marginalized and denied the network and cable news microphones? Have you ever wondered what the temperature of our body politic would be if the US mainstream news media, in particular radio and TV, offered even rough parity in the unfiltered air time allotted to the Coulters and the Becks versus oh let's say Air America's Randi Rhodes or Mike Malloy?

Writing in The Nation, Mark Crispin Miller articulates the central issue:

"Ten years ago, when we first focused national attention on the dangers of the US media cartel, the situation was already grim, although in retrospect it may seem better than it really was. In the spring of 1996 Fox News was only a conspiracy (which broke a few months later). CNN belonged to Turner Broadcasting, which hadn't yet been gobbled by Time Warner (although it would be just a few months later); Viacom had not yet bought CBS News (although it would in 1999, before they later parted ways); and, as the Telecommunications Act had been passed only months earlier, local radio had not yet largely disappeared from the United States (although it was obviously vanishing)...Contrary to the counterclaims in 1996, there was, as The Nation noted then, copious hard evidence of corporate meddling with the news, and also, even more important, lots of subtler evidence of reportorial self-censorship throughout the media cartel. And yet what stood out as egregious back then seems pretty tame today, now that the press consistently tunes out or plays down the biggest news, while hyping trivialities, or, if it covers a disaster, does so only fleetingly and without 'pointing fingers.' (New Orleans is now forgotten.)...In short, our very lives and liberty are at unprecedented risk because our press has long since disappeared into 'the media'--a mammoth antidemocratic oligopoly that is far more responsive to its owners, big shareholders and good buddies in the government than it is to the rest of us, the people of this country."(Mark Crispin Miller, The Death of The News, The Nation, 7-3-06)

Those who prattle on about immigration, health care, the minimum wage, social security, education, etc. are living in a fantasy world. There is no more important issue than media reform in the US today. “It’s the Media, stupid.”

NOTE: Look for a Words of Power Interview with Mark Crispin Miller that will appear later this week.

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Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to