NEW FEATURE!

Short Takes

mediarants_LAPD-badgeBY Tony Palmeri

For October let’s have a few short takes on a bunch of important media action that didn’t seem to get much play in the northeast Wisconsin press.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board Comes to Life: If you read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, you know that their editorials can usually be placed somewhere between hollow and horrific on the awfulness scale. That’s why it was such a shocking and pleasant surprise to see the editorialists call out Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ (R-Rochester) attempt to gut the open records law in the strongest possible terms: “This brazen, cynical move had nothing to do with protecting constituents and everything to do with protecting ambitious career politicians — and the lobbyists, donors and special interests they make deals with behind the scenes.” The paper even called on the Assembly to elect a new Speaker, and for the voters in Vos’ district to begin the search for “a more trustworthy representative.”

LAPD gets a cartoonist fired: Ted Rall is one of the edgiest, provocative editorial cartoonists working today. In May of this year Rall, who since 2009 had been a paid freelancer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a blog post in which he recounted an event in which he had personally been roughed up by the LAPD in 2001. After the blog appeared, the LAPD actually sent the Times an audio of the 14 year old encounter between Rall and the police, along with Rall’s complaint at the time. Even though any reasonable person could conclude that Rall’s version of events was plausible, the paper fired him. That Rall has a long history of producing cartoons critical of the LAPD, meaning that the cops-in-charge would take advantage of any opportunity to get him removed from his editorial position, does not seem to matter to the management of the Times. As I noted in a previous Media Rants column, cartoonists over here don’t suffer the same fate as the late Charlie Hebdo satirists. Instead, we “kill” our cartoonists in softer ways; like caving in to pressure from a police department that doesn’t like criticism.

Why We Should Fear University, Inc.: There have been lots of good books released over the years about the corporate takeover of academia. Larry Soley’s Leasing the Ivory Tower and Jennifer Washburn’s University, Inc. are my two favorites in the genre. In September an opinion piece appeared in the New York Times that I hope author Fredrik deBoer turns into a full length book. His “Why We Should Fear University, Inc.” should be read by anyone concerned with the way the modern university is managed; a kind of Stalinist-lite nightmare that often puts idealistic campus activists in the position of thinking that university administrators obsessed with the public image of the campus can somehow be allies in a quest for social justice. As noted by deBoer:

“I wish that committed student activists would recognize that the administrators who run their universities, no matter how convenient a recipient of their appeals, are not their friends. I want these bright, passionate students to remember that the best legacy of student activism lies in shaking up administrators, not in making appeals to them. At its worst, this tendency results in something like collusion between activists and administrators.”

The Democrats’ “Exclusivity” Clause: Spokespeople for the Democratic National Committee get extremely defensive whenever a suggestion is made that they have rigged the Party nomination process to ensure Hillary Clinton gets the nod. You would think that the best way to defy that suggestion would be to have many debates, right? Wrong. The Party will sanction only six debates, an absurdly low number when considering the fact that only one candidate (i.e. Clinton) has anything close to universal name recognition. Worse and bizarre for a Party that calls itself “Democratic,” the DNC created an “exclusivity clause” saying that “The candidates will be uninvited from subsequent debates if they accept an invitation to anything outside of the six sanctioned debates.”  So that would mean, for example, that if Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley this month accepted an invitation to debate the Green Party’s Jill Stein, they would not be invited to participate in the DNC’s “official” debates. And the Democratic Party wonders why it has been abandoned by so many progressives?

God Save Jeremy Corbyn . . . from the Corporate Media: Britain’s Labour Party recently elected a full-fledged Socialist to lead them, a stunning rebuke of the moderate “New Labour” platform of George W. Bush’s poodle and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Turns out that Britain’s mainstream media is every bit as hostile to the genuine Left as the USA’s. Corbyn’s election generated hysterical reactions from some quarters about what could happen to the United Kingdom if Corbyn becomes Prime Minister, and even the major British newspapers spent days covering the “issue” of whether or not Corbyn sang “God Save the Queen” at a WW II commemorative event.
Why the Media Love Trump: Is it not ridiculous that the lone billionaire running for President gets the most free media advertising? What more evidence do we need to prove that the American media bias is not liberal or conservative as much as it is corporate? As long as Trump drives ratings, he’ll continue to get the free coverage. That’s pathetic.

Tony Palmeri (palmeri.tony@gmail.com) is a professor of communication studies at UW Oshkosh.

Tony Palmeri (palmeri.tony@gmail.com) is a professor of communication studies at UW Oshkosh.

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