The launch of the English-language version of Al-Jazeera Television in the United States was met with glee by America ’s corporate-controlled media. At first this reaction seemed curious, particularly since another English-language news channel would also mean another option for viewers in the highly competitive “information” industry.
But soon the source of this glee became evident: No cable or satellite television service in the United States is carrying Al-Jazeera. Although America’s corporate-controlled media attribute this to the reluctance of Americans to view what many believe is propaganda disguised as news, these same media have adroitly concealed the fact that the so-called “news” Americans are bombarded with on a daily basis is little more than propaganda as well. So I present to PRAVDA.Ru readers THE VILEST PEOPLE OR ENTITIES IN AMERICA’S CORPORATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA.
Although limiting this list was extremely difficult, given the surfeit of slime currently masquerading as “journalists” and “pundits,” the need for brevity ultimately won the day.
9. Judge Greg Mathis
The beginning of the Judge Mathis Show tells the compelling story of a young African-American “street thug” named Greg Mathis promising his dying mother he would change his life for the better. In keeping with this promise, Mathis went to law school and ultimately became a judge.
Unfortunately, as his “court” television program illustrates, Mathis apparently went to the “Law School of Stereotyping,” and therefore does not extend the ability to transform one’s life to the litigants who appear before him. All African-American men are automatically considered to be drug dealers or gang members, all single men or women are “players,” all married men or women are cheaters. Perhaps, for the sake of judicial economy and the preservation of valuable television time, Mathis should simply analyze the race, gender and/or nationality of those scheduled to appear before him, since his so-called “rulings” are invariably based upon his biased preconceptions.
8. The Cult of Sensationalism and Superficiality
Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant noted in a recent article that “entertainment news” does not appear on the English-language version of Al-Jazeera. Sadly the same cannot be said for the corrupt, corporate-controlled media in the United States. Most of the owners of major “news” outlets also own television and movie studios, and thus exploit news broadcasts to promote their products. Television shows like Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Access Hollywood and others of their ilk have contributed extensively to the “dumbing down of America.” By classifying their celebrity-oriented garbage as “news,” these shows delude people into believing they are being informed when they are simply being manipulated by blatant marketing ploys.
The prevalence of this practice has resulted in a culture where Americans, particularly America’s youth, can readily identify the names and faces of “celebrity” couples or “celebrity” babies while remaining largely oblivious to basic facts about history, geography, government or politics. In fact, even after the Bush dictatorship launched its illegal invasion of Iraq, many Americans still remain incapable of locating that besieged nation on a map of the world.
Naturally defenders of these shows remark they are simply “giving the public what they want.” But, as I’ve stated in previous articles, just because children may want cake and ice cream for dinner doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Even in a pseudo-democracy like the United States, political leaders are often reflections of the people they represent. Without these shows “dumbing down America” it is doubtful that someone as ignorant, as ill-informed, as mendacious, and as superficial as George W. Bush would have ever ascended to the highest political office in the land.
7. The NEO-FASCIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION (a.k.a. NBC)
The late folk singer Phil Ochs once observed that cowardice is often confused with courage in America, and the corporate-controlled media have transformed this confusion into an art form. In their lust for ratings and profit at the beginning of the Iraqi war, these media silenced all voices of dissent: Anti-war celebrities and activists were blacklisted, their television programs were canceled, and their words and music banned from radio stations. The ultimate result was the egregious irony that two draft dodgers, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, were lauded as “heroes,” while combat veterans like John Kerry were condemned.
Undoubtedly this is because the plethora of entertainers, pundits, news broadcasters, and journalists who have exploited the Iraqi war for self-aggrandizement and profit have also avoided military service themselves. Therefore it was no surprise when NBC recently announced that it would not air commercials for a documentary entitled “Shut Up and Sing,” which examines the vilification of, and threats endured by, the country music trio The Dixie Chicks for their criticism of George W. Bush,
Yet this same network had no compunction about disseminating Pentagon propaganda, in the form of a “made-for-television” movie, about the “rescue” of former prisoner-of-war Jessica Lynch, which conspicuously aired during the zenith of the mindless jingoism that greeted the invasion of Iraq.
6. COURT TV
By focusing almost exclusively on salacious cases, Cable Television’s Court TV incessantly, and gutlessly, ignores cases of true injustice. For example, when John Mark Carr recently launched a media feeding frenzy by “confessing” to the murder of pre-teen “beauty queen” JonBenet Ramsey, panels of “experts” were swiftly assembled to discuss the Ramsey case. When one such panelist, an attorney from the highly regarded Innocence Project, mentioned that Court TV’s time might be better served examining cases where wrongful convictions may have occurred, his remarks were summarily ignored.
Tragically these cases are many. In previous PRAVDA.Ru articles I discussed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during the 1960s and early 70s, used its covert COINTELPRO operation to frame, wrongfully imprison and even murder political activists. Yet when two architects of COINTELPRO were subsequently convicted of violating the civil rights of some of these activists, then-president Ronald Reagan pardoned them before they ever served a day in prison.
Unfortunately many of the activists victimized by COINTELPRO were not so lucky: they either remain in prison to this day or their families live with the knowledge that the murderers of their loved ones continue to go unpunished. Pedro and Jeanette Bissonette were just two of more than sixty victims slain by FBI-backed “GOON” squads during their war against the American Indian Movement (AIM) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970s. AIM activist Leonard Peltier remains in prison, despite evidence that a perjured affidavit was used to extradite him, and an overtly biased trial was used to convict him.
Such bias was also evident in the trials that convicted, and continue to imprison, former Black Panthers like Marshall “Eddie” Conway in Maryland, and Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox in Louisiana. Wallace and Woodfox have also been subjected to a form of torture routinely used on political prisoners in the United States—being locked up in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours a day. Meanwhile, in Nebraska, the “Omaha Two,” Edward Poindexter and David Rice, also remain in prison despite the parole board’s recommendation that they be released, and a former governor’s statement that the two were convicted “for their rhetoric and radical politics, not for any crime they committed.”
One could argue, with much veracity, that Court TV’s failure to examine these cases emanates from an unwritten rule of the corporate-controlled media: To be a crime victim, or a victim of injustice, one normally has to be white, young, female and physically attractive.
5. Judge Judy
An egomaniacal, self-serving judge, Judith Sheindlin has parlayed the abuse of others into a lucrative television career. Plaintiffs and Defendants appear before her without attorneys, thus making them even more vulnerable to her verbal abuse. Sheindlin often makes up her mind about a case in advance, and therefore refers to a party’s complaint as “nonsense” before even hearing a word of testimony.
But what makes her particularly vile is her blatant hypocrisy. Sheindlin often condemns people for not paying their bills, and incessantly suggests that they work more than one job to meet their obligations. Yet apparently she hasn’t had to work a day in her life at any job she didn’t desire, since she frequently refers to the fact that her parents put her through law school. Perhaps if Sheindlin had not been born into a family capable of paying her law school tuition, she too might have to suffer the indignity of being on the receiving end of some arrogant judge’s bards. Her egomania demonstrates that the “haves” in American society, who comprise the bulk of the power structure in the legal system, are ill equipped to commiserate with, or sit in judgment of, the “have-nots.”
4. Barbara Walters
While there are numerous reasons to include Walters on this list, the most egregious is her duplicitous double standard.
A few months ago, on her fetid television show The View, Walters sanctimoniously pandered to her predominantly white, middle-class audience by proclaiming she would never interview former football star O.J. Simpson, an African-American man who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and a family friend over a decade ago.
Walters’ pandering, however, was probably not inspired by the belief that Simpson got away with murder. After all, in America people often get away with murder; The cops who murdered Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in his sleep during a raid on his Chicago apartment in December of 1969 were never brought to trial; the American South is still dotted with people who committed racially motivated murders during the civil-rights era; FBI informants were often permitted to murder with impunity, while FBI agents covered their crimes by allowing innocent men, like Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone, to go to prison in the informants’ place.
Walters’ pandering was most likely based on the media rule previously discussed above, since one of the victims in the Simpson case was a young, white, physically attractive woman. Those who doubt this need only look at how Walters exhibited no reluctance about sycophantically interviewing Robert Blake, a white actor who was also acquitted of murdering his wife. The corporate-controlled media had portrayed her as a middle-aged, unattractive, manipulative schemer; consequently, in media eyes, she was undeserving of “victim” status.
3. Rush Limbaugh
Many historians have argued that the late Alabama governor George Wallace was not really a rabid segregationist, but simply an opportunist who successfully exploited the racism and upheavals in the American South during the 1960s for his own political aggrandizement.
Nevertheless, some of these historians also concede that Wallace’s words and deeds may have inspired great social harms, from the June 1963 assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four little African-American girls in September of that same year.
The same could be said of Rush Limbaugh. Although one could argue that his ignorant rants and inane observations are a parody, far too many people take him seriously.
In addition to this, Limbaugh is a shameless hypocrite. He once was quoted as saying, “Never, ever trust a draft dodger”—sentiments that, at least in his world, apparently don’t apply to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or to him.
Limbaugh, like many so-called conservatives, is pro-war. Also, like many so-called conservatives, Limbaugh never served in the military himself, having evaded the draft during the Vietnam era because of an “ingrown hair follicle” on his posterior.
But if this isn’t enough to elevate Limbaugh to the VILEST LIST, his rants against actor Michael J. Fox are. Fox, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was viciously ridiculed by Limbaugh after appearing on a television campaign ad supporting stem cell research. Yet, although the sufferer does not cause Parkinson’s disease, the same cannot be said about Limbaugh’s “affliction.” This hypocrite, who once argued for harsher penalties for drug users, was a drug addict himself. And, predictably, when his addiction came to light, Limbaugh whined about “persecution” and the violation of his rights.
2. Bill O’Reilly
Perhaps the most repugnant hypocrite to ever disgrace the television screen, O’Reilly has made a career out of playing the angry “everyman.” The target of many of his tirades was former president Bill Clinton, whom many conservatives chastised for allegedly “dodging the draft” during the Vietnam War.
Yet at the same Clinton was allegedly “dodging the draft” by attending college, so was O’Reilly. And, like Limbaugh, O’Reilly predictably found his “courage” after his time to serve in the military had passed.
What places O’Reilly higher on the VILEST LIST than Limbaugh is an interview he had with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. During this interview, Moore asked O’Reilly if he would be willing to sacrifice his children for the defense of Fallujah (Iraq). O’Reilly predictably evaded the question by replying, “I’d sacrifice myself.” Moore repeated the question, and received the same answer.
O’Reilly’s disingenuous response cogently illustrates the depth of his cowardice and hypocrisy. With no military draft in place, young people do not risk being forcibly conscripted into military service. But even if a draft is reinstated, O’Reilly knows that, because of his age, his chances of being conscripted are virtually nonexistent; therefore it required no act of bravery for O’Reilly to express his “willingness” to “sacrifice” himself.
In his hypocrisy, O’Reilly personifies the motto of many pro-war conservatives: “Always be willing to sacrifice lives in wars, regardless of the reason, as long as the lives being sacrificed are not yours or your loved ones.”
Prior to the recent elections, when the Bush dictatorship had firm control of all branches of government, O’Reilly opined in a speech at a Michigan college that he liked the way things were in America. What a shock! A wealthy, middle-aged white man who makes his living spouting sophomoric sophisms is happy with the way things are in America. I guess that means the millions living in poverty, the thousands wrongfully imprisoned, and the tens of millions living without health insurance should be “happy” as well.
1. Nancy Grace
Although it was difficult to find a person or entity more contemptible than Bill O’Reilly, Cable News Network (CNN) made it possible. In its quest to improve ratings, CNN decided it needed to spew out more hatred and hypocrisy than its rival Faux (Fox) “News” Channel.
It viewed as its salvation a seemingly psychotic, tunnel-visioned, ex-prosecutor named Nancy Grace. Grace had already parlayed her role of professional victim into a stint on the previously mentioned Court TV when CNN offered her a program on its Headline News channel. Although lauded as a prosecutor who never lost a case, columnist Rebecca Dana shattered the myth of Grace’s legal “prowess” in an article for the New York Observer:
“[I]n 2005, the 11th Circuit Court in Georgia declared that Ms. Grace had ‘played fast and loose’ with facts in her 1990 triple-murder prosecution of Herbert Connell Stephens. In 1997, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned an arson-murder verdict, finding Ms. Grace had withheld evidence from the defense; in 1994, the same court had overturned her conviction of a heroin trafficker, finding problems with her closing argument.”
Recently Grace, at least morally and ethically, graduated from professional victim to murderess with the death of Melinda Duckett. According to an attorney for the Duckett family, Grace lured Duckett onto her show with promises that Duckett could use it as a forum to raise public awareness about the disappearance of her two-year-old son, Trenton. But when Duckett appeared on the show, Grace instead blindsided her with accusatory questions.
Duckett committed suicide the day her “interview” with Grace aired. But even that did not dissuade Grace from embarking on what conservative commentator Joe Scarborough described as a “personal jihad” against Duckett.
Apparently, in Grace’s world, displays of remorse are anathema. Yet I wonder how many times Grace argued in the courtroom that criminals should receive longer sentences because they displayed a “lack of remorse.” By topping the VILEST LIST, Grace personifies conservative motto Number Two: “Never practice what you preach.”
Tragically this list could go on ad infinitum, but I think readers get the idea. Al-Jazeera’s absence from American television will not eliminate propaganda, but, ironically, Al-Jazeera’s presence might actually reduce it, by providing counter-viewpoints that could compel America’s corporate-controlled media to cover issues of substance, instead of “worrying” about which celebrity has flatulence on any given day. Maybe then the VILEST LIST will become a faded memory, pseudo-journalism and journalists (and their plethora of so-called “experts”) will be replaced by substantive journalism and journalists, and integrity will prevail over hypocrisy.
Clearly America’s corporate-controlled media cannot serve two masters: profit and the public interest. So they have sacrificed the latter in pursuit of the former.
Thus the dumbing down continues . . .
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of PRAVDA.Ru