Friday, June 11, 2010


By Ivan G. Goldman

Brave journalists in Mexico and Russia are getting murdered for trying to print real news. But here in the U.S., journalists safe from such atrocities write about who's going to win American Idol and speculate on why Al and Tipper broke up.
Or they behave like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, the supposedly liberal antidote to right-wing Fox.

Olbermann is a clumsy, would-be clown who mimics Fox and other far-right personalities in a silly voice that has about as much entertainment value as taking out the garbage. Then there’s his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow who’s supposed to be a cut above the rest because she reads the news with a smirk.

These and other media gatekeepers are searching frantically for something to take the place of the BP-sponsored disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which is depressing and devoid of sex appeal. They might consider checking out why we're stuck in two wars and being barbecued by huge global banks, oil and drug corporations, and anyone else who knows how to channel legal bribes to political weasels.

This dereliction of duty by the media adds to American confusion on what constitutes news and what constitutes gossip and helps explain why Tiger Woods had to apologize to everybody for screwing waitresses but no one has to explain why they pursue crazy wars or, like Obama’s chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers, slither back and forth between government and Wall Street leaving a slime trail of betrayal.

The giant banking corporations have siphoned off so much of the economy under our klept-o-cratic government that their share now threatens to exceed Limbaugh’s weight. The top four banks have assets equal to 52 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. They didn’t siphon off all this wealth by natural selection or free enterprise. They paid off people in government to put the fix in, fashioning legislation that made it inevitable. These banks need to be taken apart, the same way we took apart AT&T almost thirty years ago.

The AT&T suit was initiated by the Justice Department in 1974 under a Republican administration. In those days Republican leaders were conservative, not crazy.

But the financial reform bills moving around committees in the Senate and House won’t break up the big banks or even re-establish a separation between broker-financiers and plain-vanilla banks that served us well from the FDR years until “moderate” Bill Clinton gave Wall Street free rein in 1999 when he killed the Glass-Steagall Law. His Treasury Secretary (Guess who?) Lawrence Summers was fanatically in favor of the crazy decision to fix a banking system that wasn’t broken.

In his new position Summers is still “fixing” things. And he’ll get away with it too because the global corporations that own U.S. news media spend their resources on clowns like Olbermann and Maddow instead of crusading Mexican journalists like Valentín Valdés, a crime reporter for Zócalo de Saltillo. He was grabbed off the street January 8, thrown into an SUV, tortured, and shot to death. Valdés was 29 years old.

Olbermann gets $7 million a year plus perks. Valdés did a lot more for a lot less.
My recent novel Exit Blue (Black Heron; 2010) is available at Amazon and elsewhere.


tnlib said...

I'm in total agreement about Olbermann. His "drama" takes away from his message.

I think people are turned off with Maddow's delivery and I'm sure there are some who won't watch her because she's gay. But she's one smart lady with an enviable background academically. And as a former news librarian, I think she and her staff are the best researchers in the business.

The media has gone to hell in a hand basket. Sloppy, lazy and superficial. I'm glad you posted this becauses it expresses my thoughts exactly. Only better, but then you are a better writer.

Ivan G. Goldman said...

Agreed that Maddow is quite intelligent and possibly the best-educated newsperson in TV. I expect she could provide us with astute coverage, but she's obliged to snicker and smirk and do a little E-Channel sort of business with that revolting redheaded guy, and it detracts from anything of value. You can't stick worthy discourse in the middle of a pile of low-level crap because there's no more credibility. And I very much share your impatience with it.