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Media oversight

reportersThat’s the conclusion to which you might jump, when you start reading this. But the reality is more nuanced.
 

Trust is lowest of all among the state’s Republicans. Only 22 percent said they trusted the media to do what was right all or most of the time, compared to 61 percent of Democrats, and 41 percent of independents.
(MPR)

 
The question is pretty broad. I certainly believe that most reporters and researchers and so on are trying to “do what’s right.” But they’re hamstrung by the insistence from their bosses that false equivalence be always paramount. (It’s telling that much of this article from “liberal” MPR is devoted to passing along complaints from conservative Republicans.) False equivalence, though, is not the same thing as outright propaganda favoring one side over the other. What’s really going on, is that conservatives in particular don’t like it when corporate media isn’t putting out what they want to see, hear, and/or read, to bolster their own motivated reasoning.

 
Only about a quarter of adults nationally self-identify as Republicans, so that should be kept in mind when evaluating the poll results, as well.

 
The last thing I’m trying to do here is mount an impassioned defense of corporate media. Among many, many other things, its behavior last year played a key role in making “Pr*sident Trump” the horrific reality that it is. But too much that’s out there on this topic acts as if perpetually embittered, whining right-wingers speak for everyone.
 

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Strib pimps its beloved Tea-Paw for governor

by Dan Burns on October 15, 2017 · 0 comments

AMES, IA - AUGUST 11:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty take the stage for a debate in the Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University August 11, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. This is the first Republican presidential debate in the state ahead of Saturday's all important Iowa Straw Poll.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sunday morning, in an openly, shamelessly fawning front-page article. The Strib has always loved TBag with great, powerful love.
 

Like a singer trying so very hard to persuade an adoring crowd that there are no more encores, the former governor’s efforts to hush all the talk about a return to politics seems a little less than completely sincere to both fans and foes. While perhaps genuinely undecided, Pawlenty has had private discussions about the prospect with donors and political supporters.
 
Meanwhile, talk of another run by the two-term Republican has preoccupied the state’s political insiders for months.
(Star Tribune)

That second paragraph is gross exaggeration. But, whatever.
 
Here is the reality of what went on in Minnesota when Tim Pawlenty was governor. The full report, accessible from the linked page, is conclusive and damning. The worst governor in the state’s history, hands down.
 

– Minnesota’s performance relative to the national average in terms of unemployment rates and employment growth (since 2001) has deteriorated.
 
– Somewhat smaller-but still significant-deterioration was observed on the three income and pay measures.
 
– On all three education indicators-pupil-teacher ratio, students at or above “basic” level in math and reading, and per capita state and local spending on education-Minnesota’s performance declined relative to other states.
 
– Minnesota’s position in terms of road miles in poor or mediocre condition fell sharply relative to the rest of the nation; the miles of roads in poor or mediocre condition in Minnesota more than doubled from 2002 to 2007.
 
– On the other four factors examined in this report (homeownership rates, health insurance coverage, bridge deficiency percentage, and poverty rates) there was no evidence of a statistically significant decline in Minnesota’s performance relative to other states. Nor was there evidence of improvement.
(MN 2020)

Actually, the one interesting thing in the Strib article, and I don’t know how it got past the editors, is the all-but-open admission that Minnesota’s existing crop of declared GOP gubernatorial candidates is a feeble, even miserable, bunch. It’s about a third of the way down.
 
If you’re late to the game here, Pawlenty, the worst kind of self-serving political hack, sometimes tried to act like some sort of conciliating “moderate” during part of his governorship. But when the Tea Party came along he sucked up to it with the worst of them. That’s where the nicknames used above come from.
 
Pawlenty has a gargantuan ego, one that outweighs his very mediocre intellect and abilities by an even greater ratio than is the norm for right-wing politicians. Undoubtedly he’s never gotten over the humiliating end to his presidential effort, when he got his tail kicked by Michele Bachmann – yes, Crazy Michele Bachmann – in the Iowa straw poll in 2011, which made him a national laughingstock. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he tries to erase the memory of that, next year, with a winning gubernatorial run.
 

Donald Trump is in the White House. Politically, any awful thing is possible, these days, no matter how unlikely it might seem out of the gate. It’s important to accept the reality of that, and deal with it accordingly. Don’t let claims that this a**hole was anything other than an atrociously wretched, failed governor go unchallenged, anywhere, if you want any advice from me.
 

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ryanCorporate media, which has supposedly begun “holding Trump accountable” after its dismal performance before the election, certainly hasn’t had much to say about this that I’ve seen.
 

Senate Republicans may have moved on from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they’re still trying to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, according to a new report prepared by the Senate Budget Committee minority staff led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
 
The budget would cut $1 trillion from Medicaid and $473 billion from Medicare over the next decade, HuffPost reporter Jennifer Bendery tweeted Tuesday, which she said she confirmed with Democratic leadership. Politico published the report from budget committee minority staff Wednesday morning.
(Think Progress)

I don’t know how even the most avid Trump diehards, dwindling gaggle of the truly delusional though they are, can deny the reality of this:
 

 

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66758002As you’ve undoubtedly noted, with the horrific results of the last election the zealots are more fanatical than ever.
 

The latest tactic to advance this argument is the so-called abortion reversal – an unproven treatment that supposedly counters the effect of mifepristone, the first pill used in the two-drug regimen of medication abortion. “Reversal” advocates claim this therapy can give patients a “second chance” to keep their baby.
(The Guardian)

A so-called abortion reversal procedure lacks sound scientific support, but that hasn’t stopped anti-abortion groups from promoting it to inaccurately suggest patients inherently regret their decision to have an abortion. As anti-choice groups increasingly lobby for the elimination of abortion access, media often treat anti-choice pseudo-science, like abortion reversal, as the “other side” of the issue. But five media outlets recently provided comprehensive debunks that show how their counterparts should be reporting on abortion reversal and the junk science behind the procedure.
(Media Matters)

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StrasWebPr*sident Donald Trump has nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras for a seat on a federal appeals court. This is part of his first step in packing the federal courts with right-wingers. There is nothing to stop him from doing so, and it will remain one of the worst aspects of the Trump legacy probably for decades.
 

Corporate news outlets have been going out of their way to try to portray Stras, a former clerk for SCOTUS Associate Justice “Corrupt Clarence” Thomas, as really just a pretty harmless moderate. That seems to be based mostly on comments from retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page to the effect that they agreed more often than one might think. I’m presenting a couple of reality checks, that should be clicked on and perused in their entirety if you want to actually be legitimately informed about this.
 

Mr. Justice Carpet Bagger (The Cucking Stool)

 
With Stras’ Appointment the Minnesota Supreme Court Lurches Right (MN Progressive Project, and note the oracular foresight displayed in the final paragraph.)

 
Yeah, Governor Mark Dayton will get to pick Stras’s successor, and that’s some consolation for those of us who live here in Minnesota. But rulings from federal appeals court justices potentially affect all Americans – decidedly for the worse, if those rulings are made by the likes of Stras.
 

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trump6(In Part 1 I blogged about the Great American Stupid. In Part 2, about voting numbers and trends.)
 

There is no question that corporate media (CM) horrifically failed the American people in the 2016 election cycle. By treating Hillary’s email server as the very scandal of the millennium, while Donald Trump’s virtually endless litany of failings as a candidate for the highest office and as a human being were presented as just more tidbits in the here-today-gone-tomorrow news cycle (in which actual policy issues went virtually unmentioned, in any meaningful way), CM unquestionably played a key role in the disastrous outcome.
 

I’ve never seen anything like CM’s open, flagrant bias in this one, and my paying attention to presidential campaigns goes back to 1972. (Yeah, I was all of 11 at the time, but intellectually precocious. And a fervent Nixon Republican. But that’s another matter.) But the thing is, I don’t know that much of CM really wanted Pr*sident Trump to actually win; I don’t think they actually believed that he really could, any more than, for example, I did. Trump was seen more as ultimately harmless entertainment (and, of course, ratings-bait) than as a real threat. The intent was to create a close election, and blunt Democratic downballot gains. And as far as the fallout now coming down on corporate media, because of it all…well, everything about “President Trump” is too serious, and disturbing, a matter for any gleeful schadenfreude, on my part.
 
As always, sweeping statements like those in the first paragraph above, while possessed of ample truth, require a measure of qualification, here in the messy, uncertain world of…reality. How much influence does corporate media really have? Let’s consider some numbers.
 
…READ MORE

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minnesota_state_capitolAt least, that seems the readily apparent interpretation, to me.
 

Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner Myron Frans held a state Capitol news conference Wednesday to say the budget proposal Dayton released in January and updated last month is fiscally responsible, while the House and Senate GOP plans are not.
 
“The Legislature’s math just does not add up,” Frans said.
 
Frans accused Republican leaders of using “fuzzy math,” as well as “phony savings” and delayed payments to pay for a large tax cut bill. He suggested many of the bills could be headed for vetoes if not altered.
 
Frans highlighted several examples in the finance bills for Health and Human Services and State Government.
 
“The legislative budget bills we have seen are not serious attempts to govern Minnesota,” Frans said. The bills are designed to be talking points to start negotiations with the governor from an imaginary position, a made up starting point if you will.”
(MPR)

And here’s an example of that “starting point.” Legislators in the Party of Trump actually have the gall to call it the “Minnesota Way.” They should be saying the “ALEC Way.”
 

The Minnesota budget blueprint produced (March 20) by majority House Republicans seeks hefty tax cuts and aims to pare down expected costs in publicly subsidized health and welfare programs.
 
GOP leaders said their framework would deliver long-overdue tax relief given a sizable state budget surplus. The plan would make $1.35 billion in tax cuts the next two years with the details to come later.
(MPR)

 
…READ MORE

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I’m posting this – with appropriate credit and a hyperlink, as always – and readers can make up their own minds, again as always. I will note that I took the trouble to “unlike” some pages, after reading this.
 

These Facebook pages and their affiliated websites pose as progressive champions, but their content is largely copied, if not plagiarized, from legitimate news and opinion outlets with real reporters and analysts, not rewrite teams. Their goal appears to be making money by attracting millions of readers as unknowing users click on links or share their memes—photos with slogans—because viewer traffic generates advertising revenues via Google ads.
 
Anyone who has a Facebook page and pays attention to politics—and shares with a circle of friends—has seen the vampires’ work. Even professionals in media, information technology and progressive politics often share posts and links to affiliated sites such as Occupy Democrats (5.9 million Facebook likes and 1.1 million monthly U.S. viewers on its website, according to Quantcast), The Other 98% (4.5 million Facebook likes; its related The Other 98 Percent Action Fund has 214,000 monthly U.S. viewers) and USUncut (1.5 million Facebook likes and 2.8 million monthly viewers). Indeed, there are hundreds of other pages and sites like these, such as Addicting Info, with 1.2 million Facebook likes, Liberal America with 754,000 Facebook likes, and a new six-week-old Facebook page, Resistance Report, with 144,000 Facebook likes.
 
Many subscribers and sharers of these Facebook pages don’t know about this content’s oft-pilfered origin nor its parasitic business model. They are unaware that these operations use software like Spike from Newswhip, which is akin to spyware, a big data analyzer that tracks viewership figures of any website to find hot stories. Especially useful is the software’s measure of “velocity,” or how quickly an article is taking off and getting thousands of viewers. Then, within an hour or less, these sites post their version on Facebook — often using the same photo and headline as the original, and linking to their quick rewrite with no credit given to the original article or its author. The rewrites steal the original’s traffic, usurping its popularity and rerouting ad revenue driven from people clicking on the copycats.
(AlterNet)

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66758002I got an email from the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund which alerted me to the following.
 

(Wednesday) afternoon, Minnesota House Republicans heard a health care reinsurance bill (HF1128) that relies on junk science and misinformation to reduce access to contraception by miscategorizing IUDs and Emergency Contraception as “abortifacients.” This couldn’t be further from reality.

 
Here’s the online front page for HF1128, which appears to be part of the Minnesota Party of Trump’s effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA/MNsure in the state. The noted language is on the bill text page, lines 8.26-8.31. The email includes this link, debunking the “abortifacients” claim.
 
On the same general topic, this is well worth clicking and reading.
 

The anti-choice myth that community health centers could easily fill in for Planned Parenthood if the reproductive health-care provider loses federal funding has become pervasive among conservatives hoping to justify defunding the organization. It’s a claim that has been repeated by anti-choice organizations and politicians alike—and when it goes unchecked, it stands to perpetuate a falsehood that could have harmful consequences. Should the federal government strip reproductive health-care clinics from its funding programs, it will be devastating for millions of people who rely on such providers, not always just for reproductive care.
(Rewire)

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Corporate media, anti-poverty programs, and race

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

mediaLast Friday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reprinted an article from the Washington Post titled “Whites benefit most from government safety nets.” Here’s the Strib link. In the print edition, it was at the top of page A2, and got blurbed above the fold under “Top News” on page A1. It’s based on a study called “Poverty Reduction Programs Help Adults Lacking College Degrees the Most.”
 

People of all races and ethnic groups who lack a bachelor’s degree receive significant help from the safety net, but on two significant metrics, the results for white working-age adults stand out. Among working-age adults without a college degree, 6.2 million whites are lifted above the poverty line by the safety net — more than any other racial or ethnic group. (See Figure 1.) In addition, the percentage of people who would otherwise be poor that safety net programs lift out of poverty is greater for white working-age adults without a college degree than for other adults without a college degree. Still, poverty rates among people without a college degree are substantially higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites — whether or not safety net assistance is considered.
 
These findings are particularly noteworthy because the election has brought increased attention to the economic difficulties that people without a college degree can face. Largely overlooked in the discussion of these issues to date, however, is the fact that the nation’s poverty reduction programs provide extensive support to adults lacking a college degree, including working-class whites, and that such people would be the principal losers under various proposals to cut these programs that may emerge in coming months.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

(As is often not the case with right-wing propaganda mills, the CBPP describes its methodology in detail. Of course, when you have facts, intelligence, and integrity on your side, you can be a lot more comfortable doing that. )
 
What I find interesting is that the CBPP article, from the title on down, is primarily about how differences in educational attainment affect use of, and benefits from, government aid for the poor. Corporate media is spinning it here to emphasize the racial differences, in a way that directly contradicts the African-American, inner-city “welfare queen” narrative that has been such a key part of right-wing propaganda going back to the Reagan era. And they’re doing this in the context of the openly racist Trump presidency.
 
For purposes of political hyperbole I sometimes characterize corporate media as all about just pandering and propagandizing to conservatives. It’s really more complicated than that. Among other things, they don’t want to lose paying customers whatever their political views, which can and often does lead to strange and erratic juxtapositions and so forth.
 
But maybe this is evidence (and it’s far from the only piece, since Trump’s “election”) of something of a shifting agenda here, what with Trump’s pitiful approval rating – historically low for a new presidency, which usually gets a “honeymoon” – and his own attacks on and threats against corporate media. We’ll see.
 

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