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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

My Apologies - I Need A Media And Viewer Rant

Category: Media
Posted: 06/25/16 23:38, Edited: 06/27/16 01:47

by Dave Mindeman

The election analysis this year is horribly frustrating. The amount of opinions based on meager and anecdotal information has risen to new heights. Probably because there is just too much airtime to fill on competing 24 hour news channels (and one fabrication channel - spelled F-O-X).

Seriously, how can you possibly examine Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton..or for that matter, Bernie Sanders in any kind of fact oriented way, if your priority is to look for the punch line or insult or outrageous fact that can swing a few extra viewers your way...in an important demographic.

Now I do not lump the entire media into this circus. There are very good news organizations out there that do an excellent job of digging for the basics using real facts. Washington Post - New York Times - NPR come to mind. Generally, I trust the print media more than television cable....because it is a given that they have to take more time to research things because print media is not as susceptible at getting caught up in the need for "breaking news".

Let's take a couple of examples....

Regarding Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Yes, it is a serious issue but to report every single release as if THIS is the story that finally reveals some huge truth is ridiculous. The latest "discovery" of an e-mail buried in the state department files that referenced an e-mail Hillary sent to Huma Abedin about how best to handle an internal process for protecting her privacy had all sorts of sinister threads read into it. If she was "hiding" this one, how many more are out there? Or anything sent from Sec. Clinton to her personal aide must automatically be State Department property. And, of course, this would be the final straw in the FBI case.

No, it isn't. I am not saying that something serious won't come from this investigation, but the vast majority of what is currently "breaking news" on this issue is pure drivel. No matter how much her opponents within the Party and without, want this to be BIG....it simply isn't.

And then there is Donald Trump. Scads of commentators linked the Brexit vote to some kind of boost for the Trump campaign. How would that be? Yes, maybe some of the same type of disgruntled voters are exerting some kind of frustration at the ballot box, but realistically as a benefit to Donald Trump, it's a stretch. And I say that because any reasonable person can look at Trump's reactions and statements about Brexit - and can come to only one conclusion. This guy has no idea what it is about. His only factual comment about it was to talk about how the British pound going down would increase overseas business for his new Scottish golf club. His press conference was more like a Home Shopping Network pitch for becomine a Turnberry member.

Let's just say it bluntly. Trump is an idiot. And if I were a Republican I would be embarrassed to have him as a Presidential nominee.

He knows nothing about economics - only about how to sell...and not only in the honest ways of selling. I have seen better pitches from some pretty low life, dishonest used car salesman. (Not to disparage good used car salesman by comparing them with Trump).

He knows nothing about the military, the weaponry, or what he would look for in asking for expertise. It is all about his allusions of being strong. And if people would just pay attention, he has yet to tell us anything specific about why he believes the military is weak. His facts are only based on his "big brain".

And the media is fearful of calling him on this horse puckey (I'm trying to be nice). They are so busy chasing after people to get reactions to every stupid idea and word out of his mouth that they seem to be incapable of assessing the fact that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

And then there is Bernie. It is obvious that Bernie wants to discuss and talk about policy. Yet, every interview begins and ends with..."why won't you support Hillary"...or "why are you taking so long to drop out"... or "is what you just said a concession speech?"... it's nuts. Has the media become so bored with policy or so determined to get a "breaking news quip" that they gloss over any policy idea as inconsequential? Where is the news outlet that thinks about minimum wage or trade policy or military interventions or the rising poverty rate or infrastructure decline? Can they tear themselves away from "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" long enough to examine a true American issue?

We are stuck with news as infotainment. We are. The profit motive has overwhelmed the news media. There was a time when news networks would take a stand about corporate sponsorships...they would not allow ad funding taint a news cycle or threaten their editors. Now, some news stories look like corporate ads. Or they fear offending their main sponsors. Or are so afraid of getting left behind on a story that they will take any kind of rumor and sell it as fact.

Donald Trump is a media candidate for a media age. This is what has happened to us. I fear we are stuck with it. Like I said, there are some media outlets that I can still respect, but they are getting fewer and fewer. And what is more important, the electorate is supporting the sensational more than the factual. So it is not all the media's fault.

If a candidate like Trump can win an election, then this country is in deep, deep trouble.

And the only real solution to that is us. We need to demand factual information. To separate news from opinion. To recognize a slant in a story...and filter it appropiately. And do our own research so we can recognize real truth.

After Brexit, the British people's most prominent Google search was for the European Union. Hard to believe you can make an informed vote on an issue you know nothing about.

But then, we do have Trump. America can never claim any kind of high moral ground, because we have to explain the Trump phenomenon.

As the British would say, he's a tosser.
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MinnRoast 2016 Was Great - But Had A Serious Element As Well

Category: Media
Posted: 04/16/16 19:03

by Dave Mindeman

I attended MinnRoast 2016 last night. As usual, it was a great time with lots of political humor. But there were a couple of unscripted parts that are worthy of some attention.

During the Mayor Betsy Hodges segment (she read a True/False Pop Quiz which was very funny), she had a part which mentioned a protest that occurred by her home while she was at the office....and her husband let the protesters in and had a conversation with them. Now, Mayor Hodges did a little bit of a humorous take about that and her concern that her husband would just go ahead with doing that...but she was interrupted by a loud horn sound from the balcony. I was sitting in the balconey and saw a young black man stand up and start shouting at the Mayor about the Jamar Clark incident.

"A man is dead. It is not a joke."

A couple of other people joined in and held up a banner referring to Jamar Clark. They were angry and they yelled about the Mayor's response to the killing of Clark by Minneapolis police.

Now, to her credit, the Mayor calmly stood on stage and let them have their say. Some ushers came to the protesters location, trying to move them along. Since it was MinnRoast, the ushers didn't exactly have a game plan about how to diffuse the situation - but the protesters left on their own accord, shouting some additional words as they did.

Mayor Hodges said a few sentences in reference to what the protesters had said and tried to show that she cared about how they felt.

However, using a protest at her home as a background for part of a humorous monologue probably was not the wisest use of her time. The rest of her time was very funny and self-deprecating....and I am sure that the joke in question was meant in a self-deprecating way as well. But obviously, the protesters saw it differently.

Now the protesters were not just spontaneously reacting either. They had an air horn and a banner that they unfurled. Obviously, this was a planned protest (although I am not sure how they got it through the security check that MinnRoast had at the entrance) but they were going to protest regardless.

And they came back again as well.

When Rep. Keith Ellison did a parody song a little later, he, too, was the brunt of their displeasure. More air horn sounds and shouting - however, Keith chose to keep playing his guitar and made no reference to the disturbance.

Sen. Al Franken also received some of their condemnation...although Al tried to ease the tension by acknowledging how terrible this incident and similar incidents across the country have been and that they needed to be addressed.

The comedy skits and monologues continued. The tension was eased by continuing the show - but it is clear evidence that the anger and frustration with police and city hall is not over.

The evening had its great moments. A film by Dayton's sons was absolutely hilarious....and we learned quite quickly that Mayor Chris Coleman is not going to have any kind of singing career.

But it was also a night for sober reflection that this community has a lot more work to do.
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Is Twin Cities Media Losing Competitive Voices?

Category: Media
Posted: 05/06/15 11:58

by Dave Mindeman

An interesting media note. The Star Tribune has bought City Pages. At first blush, this is a headscratcher. Strib isn't exactly buying a direct competitor but City Pages is not a media giant either. But there are some interesting notes to make on this.

First of all, Glen Taylor (who owns the T-Wolves and Lynx) is the owner of the Star Tribune. Taylor is a former conservative Republican representative and a heavy Republican donor. It is hard to know his overall direction in regards to the Star Tribune...it has made some editorial right turns, but not in a hard core way. Jury is still out on that.

The announcement from City Pages seems to be indicating that they will have complete autonomy from the Strib. That the Star Tribune will have ownership in name only and not mess with what they have for content. How far they can take that is now in question because the Star Tribune is often a target of City Pages and they do tend to lean heavily left politically.

So, let's assume all of that is true. What this gives City Pages is deeper pockets and more resources. Maybe they will be able to expand their coverage and delve deeper into their edgier stories. Or maybe if they get too cute on a particular issue, Taylor will step in and stomp on it. Only time will tell.

I will be curious as to whether or not they will rein in Cory Zurowski, who has done exceptional work in putting Cong. John Kline's dirty work on full display. Taylor and Kline are friends and donor buddies, so it will be interesting to watch how far they let Zurowski go in his critique of Kline.

On the one hand, you wonder if they will rein him in....on the other hand, will the stronger financial structure of City Pages allow him more resources to go even deeper.

It is somewhat troubling that there is getting to be less and less competition in the print media in the Twin Cities. The Star Tribune has moved to the right and the Pioneer Press is, again, on the selling block.

Where does this all lead? I have no idea.
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