Monday, July 25, 2005

News for two track minds

Just a reminder that today is supposed to be the day that WSMB 1350 AM in New Orleans makes that radical shift to Air America programming.

I haven't been able to confirm yet, but this is the anticipated schedule:

5-8am Morning Sedition Mark Riley and Marc Maron, Live
8-11am Jerry Springer, Live
11am-2pm O'Franken Factor, Al Franken and Katherine Lanpher, Live
2pm-4pm Ed Schultz, Live
4pm-7pm Tom Fitzmorris, Live, Local
7pm-9pm Randi Rhodes
9pm-midnight Mike Malloy, Live
midnight-3am Majority Report, Janeane Garafalo and Sam Seder
3am-5am Mike Malloy

It's going to be important to encourage WSMB to stick with the format. They're sure to get angry calls from the right, so be sure to let them hear your support.

I wish that talk radio didn't have to be split into two angry camps. I wish there could be open dialog on issues of importance. But as long as people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh think it's okay to spit their venemous anger over the airwaves, and to poison citizens' minds with spin and lies, I'm glad that at least now there's an alternative.

Jon Stewart talked about this division into two camps recently on NPR's Fresh Air, saying that, no, it's not enough for broadcasters to present two differing perspectives on an issue. This assumes that there are only two approaches to a problem. He wishes there were a spectrum of ideas presented over the airwaves.

I support that sentiment, and again call attention to a bill that would restore the Fairness Doctrine, but that bill will go nowhere if it doesn't get public support. We need to ramp up attention on this vital issue, in the same way that public outcry forced FCC Chairman Michael Powell to back off from loosening restrictions on media ownership in 2003.

Finally, in War Talk, Arundhati Roy explained why ideas are so circumscribed by media:
Public opinion in "free market" democracies is manufactured just like any other mass market product - soap, switches, or sliced bread. We know that while, legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders. Neoliberal capitalism isn't just about the accumulation of capital (for some). It's also about the accumulation of power (for some), the accumulation of freedom (for some). Conversely, for the rest of the world, the people who are excluded from neoliberalism's governing body, it's about the erosion of capital, the erosion of power, the erosion of freedom. In the "free" market, free speech has become a commodity like everything else - justice, human rights, drinking water, clean air. It's available only to those who can afford it. And naturally, those who can afford it use free speech to manufacture the kind of product, confect the kind of public opinion, that best suits their purpose. (News they can use.) ...

[In] the United States in particular - media barons, powerful corporate lobbies, and government officials are imbricated in a more elaborate but less obvious manner. (George Bush, Jr.'s connections to the oil lobby, to the arms industry, and to Enron, and Enron's infiltration of U.S. government institutions and the mass media - all this is public knowledge now.) ...

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist strikes in New York and Washington, the mainstream media's blatant performance as the U.S. government's mouthpiece, its display of vengeful patriotism, its willingness to publish Pentagon press handouts as news, and its explicit censorship of dissenting opinion became the butt of some pretty black humor in the rest of the world. ...

There is, however, a brighter side to the amount of energy and money that the establishment pours into the business of "managing" public opinion. It suggests a very real fear of public opinion. It suggests a persistent and valid worry that if people were to discover (and fully comprehend) the real nature of the things that are done in their name, they might act upon that knowledge. Powerful people know that ordinary people are not always reflexively ruthless and selfish. (When ordinary people weigh costs and benefits, something like an uneasy conscience could easily tip the scales.) For this reason, they must be guarded against reality, reared in a controlled climate, in an altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen.

Those of us who have managed to escape this fate and are scratching about in the backyard, no longer believe everything we read in the papers and watch on TV. We put our ears to the ground and look for other ways of making sense of the world. We search for the untold story, the mentioned-in-passing military coup, the unreported genocide, the civil war in an African country written up in a one-column-inch story next to a full-page advertisement for lace underwear.


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