January 12, 2004

Jon Stewart Hits! He Scores! The Crowd Goes Wild!

Seems people don't get their news from so-called "establishment media" news sources anymore. One third of the people polled in a recent survey about media bias by the Pew Research Center got their news from the Internet. The article didn't come right out and say "blogs," but I know we are part of that one third.

The poll also found that one in five got their campaign news from Jon Stewart! Twice as many as four years ago!! Take that Faux News!!!

Equally striking is a fundamental shift in which more Americans are turning away from the establishment media and getting their campaign information from newer outlets. One-third say they regularly or sometimes get political news from the Internet, a jump of nine percentage points in four years. Among people younger than 30, one in five reports regularly learning about the campaign from such comedy programs as Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live" -- double the level of four years ago.

Television news programs, trying to court this audience, routinely run clips of Jay Leno, David Letterman and Stewart, who was recently featured on Newsweek's cover.

That's right. TV news programs aren't running clips of Chris Matthews and Bill "Shut up! Shut up!" O'Reilly. They're running the cool guys.

Plus Stewart made Newsweek's cover. See the photo to the right. It includes a link.

Cable news networks are "regularly consulted" 38 percent of the time (up from 34 percent). I'd love to see the breakdown; who "consulted" which cable news shows. We've seen similar breakdowns in the past. In all of them, Jon Stewart's "fake" news beats out "faux" news every time. Not only does "The Daily Show" catch the brass ring, its rise in viewership has grown in much greater proportion than the same for all cable news shows.

Another point: "Fox viewers are much more likely to see a great deal of bias in media coverage than viewers of CNN, network news or local TV news."

Well, duh!!!

Posted on January 12, 2004 at 04:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 07, 2004

Repugnicans, MoveOn, and Nazis - Godwin's Law At Work.

Speedkill, Steve Gilliard, and Maru the Crankpot each had their say about the latest Repugnant Hissy Fit -- accusing MoveOn of pandering to hate by posting films likening Bush to Hitler.

First, Hitler was nothing like Bush. Hitler was elected.

Second, as everyone has repeated ad nauseum by now, the films were two of many 30-second ads submitted in a contest sponsored by MoveOn. Those two particular films rated very low, showing how much MoveOn participants had rejected them. The self-righteous indignation on the Repugnicans part (and that of Bush bullhorn The Moonie Times in particular) is not only a scorching case of pot.kettle.black, Steve Gilliard rightly says it's idiotic:

Now, if RNC Chair Ed Gillespie wants to waste time critizing Move On, that's his right, but he should know they lose nothing if they target him back.

It's obviously idiotic to compare Bush to Hitler, much less in political advertising. I'd say he's closer to Stalin myself, but either one is way over the top. However, how politically effective is it to make a stink about a well-funded but small group of people who are not a part of the Democratic Party or it's organs? If they can get a rise from ads, they are going to drive the RNC nuts this year.

And the campaigns and the party can just say, "we don't control them and we don't agree with that statement. Complain to them."

Third, it is the height of hypocrisy for The Moonie Times and the Repugnants to squeal a blue streak about what MoveOn didn't do while at the same time ignore Ralph Peters's New York Post article likening Howard Dean and his supporters to Hitler's brownshirts and to Josef Goebbels. Maru dredged up that one along with previous slurs likening "Tom 'Isadora' Daschle, of all people, to Saddam Hussein, compared the estate tax to the Holocaust, [and] Bill Clinton to Der Fuhrer."

Why reduce it a guy thing? Don't forget about Hitlery Clinton.

Finally, Godwin's Law applies to all of these backhanded Repugnican slaps: whoever introduces Hitler or Nazis first in a debate loses the debate.

The Repugnants must be on a roll.

Posted on January 7, 2004 at 04:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

January 04, 2004

Where's Capt. Jack Sparrow When You Need Him?


It seems the Justice Department has sunk to a new low in squelching anti-war protest and shackling left-leaning non-profit groups. In Miami, a federal prosecutor has dusted off a 19th century anti-piracy "sailor mongering" law to file charges against Greenpeace. The law was originally designed to prevent bar owners from luring sailors ashore with booze and prostitutes.

Two activists illegally boarded a Brazilian container ship in April, 2002, to try to hang an anti-Bush banner. They pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and were sentenced to time served.

It's not unusual for activists to be charged and sentences in this manner. The difference here is that next, the feds went after their "boss," Greenpeace. What is especially problematic is that if convicted, Greenpeace may be required to allow federal probation officers to oversee part of its operation. That means the right-leaning government will have access to Greenpeace's decision-making, memberships, and activities. It's a serious threat to liberal and progressive expression. It's another threat to First Amendment rights. It's way over and above the usual fine and probation.

The last time the "sailor mongering" law was used was in 1890.

While some fear how this new tactic will silence protest, I doubt it will be used to silence street harassment by groups like Operation Rescue.

Posted on January 4, 2004 at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 30, 2003

MONEY Cites Stepford As "Best Place To Live"

Matt Yglesias was more clinical in describing the "best places to live" selected by MONEY as soulless exurban sprawl zones. I think "Stepford" hits the mark much better.

Remember that X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully posed as "The Petries" (pronounced "pee-tree")? They took up residence in a sterile planned community where residents who dirtied up their pristine lawns with plastic pink flamingos and Shabby Chic windmills mysteriously vanished? The dreaded Community Association was akin to The Skull and Bones?

It's for real. I used to live in one of the cities on the A List.

What were the defining characteristics of MONEY's selections? Good schools? Low crime rates? Exciting local culture? Fun things to do locally that didn't cost a mint? Not a chance. The main characteristic was "those towns with demographics that closely mirrored that of the typical MONEY reader: college educated, working professional, well-above average median income."

As Kevin Drum pointed out, MONEY selected places most similar to its own circulation demographics.

I guess MONEY readers also have higher rates of depression and weigh more. Not long ago, the American Public Health Association released a report citing a link between urban sprawl and depression and obesity - but only for whites. The layout of these Stepford clones discourages walking because everything is too far away. You need a car. Some of these towns do not know the meaning of the word "sidewalk." Large cities are much more contained. Then again, large cities have higher crime rates and more pollution.

The town I live in now didn't even register on MONEY's "Best Towns" search engine. I guess no one who lives here is a subscriber.

Posted on December 30, 2003 at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

November 12, 2003

That AWOL "Mom" In The News Is The STEP-Mom

Update: I have been contacted by Debbi Piland, Vaughn Holcomb's ex-wife and the mother of the two children in question here. Her side of the story is quite interesting and it hasn't been covered in the press except for one article. I wrote about her in this new post. I've received a great deal of information from her. My post includes only some of it. As I obtain more and verify the information I have been given I will post more.


Have you read that story about the AWOL military mom who remained behind to care for her seven children, despite being ordered by the Army to return to Iraq? A judge told her that either she or her husband would lose custody of two of the kids if one of them did not remain behind. The Army told her if she doesn't return she could be imprisoned.

You know which story I'm talking about, don't you?

She was recently given a "compassionate reassignment" so that she would not lose her kids.

You recognize that story, right? It's been all over the news. Lots of sympathy has poured out for this woman torn between duty and family.

The problem is that the news has glossed over a few details. Before you shed crocodile tears for this woman and her husband, please take note of the following important facts.

Did you notice in any reports that this woman is the two children's step-mother, not their biological mother?

Did you know that these seven children are all between the ages of 4 and 12? (So what were the Holcombs doing in Iraq?)

Did you know that when Simone Holcomb met her now-husband that he did not have custody of his children? The two of them spent three years battling his children's natural mother for custody -- and they won.

During the time they battled the natural mother in court, they married. Simone and Vaughn Holcomb have been married for only three years. At least 10 months of those 36 months, they were not even living in the home with those children, let alone residing in the U. S.

Did you know that the children's biological mother had filed for sole custody and child support, and that the judge had given her and the paternal grandmother temporary joint custody?

Did you know that Vaughn Holcomb's mother had moved all the way out from Ohio to Colorado to care for all of the children while Vaughn and Simone were deployed, but their natural mother was not given her own two children?

Did you know that Simone Holcomb did not have custody of one of her own children when the paternal grandmother came out from Ohio? That child was living with bio-dad at the time.

Did you know that the children are doing poorly? You shouldn't be surprised. Two of them (three if you count Simone's child who lives with the father) have lost their mothers. They have lost their father/step-father to deployment. They have lost their mother/stepmother to deployment. They were being cared for by the paternal grandmother who in September up and left. Simone said that her mother and her mother-in-law "can’t take care of our children for any serious length of time. And you can’t just ask a day-care provider to take your children for nine months." Yet mother-in-law somehow gets joint custody with the biological mother of two of the children. Of course the children are (to use Simone's words) "acting out." One of them threw temper tantrums at school. The older son was getting poor grades in school. They wrote letters saying "Please don't die". They are having nightmares and they are wetting the bed. Did you know that the 11 year old told a teacher that "my family is falling apart?" Considering the custody battle Simone and Vaughn put his two children from the previous marriage through, I'm sure these problems started long before deployment.

At this point and in the midst of this collossal mess, the natural mother tries to get her children back. That's understandable.

Not one of the articles has given the natural mother's name, nor has she been interviewed. However, all the articles tout the "mom of seven children" who had been forced to made such a big sacrifice, and quote the dad's mother's concerns about the sacrifices her son and daughter-in-law have made to "serve their country."

Media spin like this makes me sick to my stomach.

Posted on November 12, 2003 at 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

November 04, 2003

"The Daily Show" Squashes "Fair And Balanced" -- Again

About a week ago, I had written that ratings for "The Daily Show" trounced those for the barking heads on prime time cable news shows. Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" walk home with awards. Atrios has linked to the declining ratings of those particular news shows. Well, this week's TV Guide drove my point home again.

TV Guide. November 8-14. The Robin's Report. On page 34. (emphasis mine)

"The Max Fact

More young American s get their news from Jon Stewart than anywhere else. Well, sort of. What can't be denied is that Comedy Centrals' "The Daily Show" (11 pm/ET), Stewart's nightly send-up of the news, draws an average 640,000 views among 18-to-49-year olds. That beats Fox News Channel's 527,000, CNN's 286,000, MSNCB's 162,000 and CNBC's 72,000."

It's okay to gloat. :)

Update: Thanks to a link to this post from Atrios, my stats have soared into the stratosphere again, just in time to catch a glimpse of the latest solar storms heading towards earth. Maybe this time I'll see Aurora Borealis.

Posted on November 4, 2003 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

October 29, 2003

"Fake" News Beats "Fair And Balanced" Every Time

Ratings for the barking heads have been steadily falling for some time now. Atrios had posted a list showing the latest declining ratings:


What I found beautiful about this list is the absence of one show in particular, because it isn't "real" news: "The Daily Show." Not only have Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Steve Correl, Samantha Bee, Lewis Black, Mo Rocca, and Ed Helms beaten the snot out of their competition, "The Daily Show" was nominated for a Television Critics Association Award for "Outstanding Achievement in News and Information." The winner was "Frontline" -- also not listed above. None of the above shows was even nominated.

"The Daily Show" and Stewart himself won Emmys for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy. They deserved them. For a show that isn't "real" news, it is head and shoulders above the "fair and balanced" crowd.

Posted on October 29, 2003 at 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)