Wednesday, June 25, 2008

in the beginning...

Hello out there in the far reaches of the blogosphere. This is my first effort in what I hope will be a series of weekly (more frequent whenever necessary) postings relating to the state of our nation's media meanderings and the glaring lack of media literacy on the part of most Americans.

I will attempt to dissect news reports, campaign spots, talk show rants, etc from the point of view of a seasoned (60-something) award-winning (Emmys, etc) journalist, writer and producer. I seek to provide a factual, reasoned, "mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" approach to breathing life into the body politic while lowering my BP. (on the recommendation of my wife who keeps saying- "stop yelling at the tv and do your blog!"
I'll use words and video to do this work.

I'll get my profile together soon, but here's the short version:
Grew up in Wilmette, Ill. BA in Philosophy from Dartmouth, MA in film from S.F. State University. Served in Viet Nam as a Naval Officer, and have been producing documentaries and writing for the past 40 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.

OK, here goes..
My blog is called MediaXmachina, inspired by...
"A deus ex machina (Latin IPA: [ˈdeːus eks ˈmaːkʰina] (literally "god out of a machine") is an improbable contrivance in a story. The phrase describes an artificial, or improbable, character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot (such as an angel suddenly appearing to solve problems, or the entire story having been just a dream one of the characters was having)."

I would submit that 9/11 was this country's most noxious example of media ex machina: the Bush admin/PNAC's media-enabled opera(tion) that turned a floundering president into a heroic fictional leader, fighting a faux war, with all too real consequences. If you don't know what I'm referring to, you can catch up by viewing the documentary 9/11 Press for Truth (, on which I was a Co-Executive Producer.

But I digress..
Here's what I saw and heard on the CBS Nightly News the other day (6/20/08):
"Katie Couric is off tonight". That should have been the tip-off. Russ Mitchell, the weekend kid was filling in. I didn't pay attention to much until not one, but 2 slick ads for the wonders of "clean coal" rolled by. And then, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SECOND AD for "CLEAN COAL", the eager anchorkid, Russ intros a story on the energy crisis (you remember- the same one Jimmy Carter was dealing with before Reagan ripped the solar panels off the White House roof). Russ M: next a story about "the energy crunch that is making it necessary to drill in sensitive areas..." Huh? SEZ you CBS/Russ? Really, I thought that point might be open to discussion. The piece proceeded to extol the potential wonders guessed it...Clean Coal!
And when the feeble objection was raised about the problem of sequestering carbon, the reporter came to the rescue with: "but scientists say there is a solution"! Really!? Perhaps not not the scientists who work for the NRDC or NASA, or even the EPA.
The piece concluded with a reference to the problem of winning over the hearts and minds of the ignorant masses, saying "that's why the industry needs an ad campaign". And they proceeded to play a 20 second clip from...I'm not making this up...YET ANOTHER AD FOR... CLEAN COAL!

If anyone still wonders if our mass media -even the once noble CBS-has been completely corrupted by big energy, et. al., get a tape of this show and wonder no more.

If anyone from CBS would like to offer a different set of facts or an opinion about this shameful broadcast, I'm all eyes. If anyone else is as mad as hell as I am about this sad state- blog on.
thanks for thinking.

PS- Remember, Russ, Nature Bats Last.