Tag Archives: Media

CHECK OUT THESE EUROPEANS

I think it is healthy to take a break from all of the depressing anti-teacher ed reform babble to share in something (sort of) positive.

Last year I encouraged everyone to watch Ross Kemp’s documentaries. He has ventured into some of the most dangerous and grittiest places in the world. Even though he has come face-to-face with some unsavory people, he never judges and his documentaries always come off as fair and sympathetic. Here is one he did about street gangs in St. Louis:

In a similar vein, British journalist Louis Theroux covers the dangerous, strange and bizarre. Like Ross Kemp, he suspends his judgments and tries to portray the people he meets in a sympathetic light. He also has an innocent manner of questioning that gets to the bottom of things for his viewers.

Here is my favorite Louis Theroux documentary about a Miami jail. Most of the men in this jail have not been convicted of a crime (after all, it is jail, not prison), yet many have been languishing behind bars for years. Both parts really bring home the horrendous conditions in our penal system and how it does nothing but steep people even further in criminal culture:

Also, check out his San Quentin piece which is on Youtube divided into several parts.

On a totally different note, Danish filmmaker Mads Brugger is in the tradition of Gonzo journalism (a la Hunter Thompson). He tells a story while playing a part in the story. Both of his films can be found on Netflix.

His first film was called The Red Chapel. Mads creates a fake comedy troupe called The Red Chapel. He is the fictional leader of the troupe, which consists of two Danish-Korean performers: Simon and Jacob. Jacob is a paraplegic and self-described “spastic”. Their mission is nothing less than to perform a totally unfunny stage variety show in North Korea.

When they first get to the DPRK, Simon and Jacob rehearse their awful sketch in front of their government minders. These minders then censor and edit every last bit of the performance to make it “suitable” for a DPRK audience. Their ultimate performance, shown towards the end of the movie, is not nearly as important as their journey getting there.

It has long been rumored that handicapped people in the DPRK are sent off to prison camps. The government is keen on using Jacob for propaganda purposes as a way to show the world these rumors are false. Ms. Park, their official guide, smothers Jacob with a scary amount of affection. This has led some critics to accuse Mads Brugger of allowing an evil government to play him and Jacob, so to speak. While these criticisms are understandable, Mads and the crew are able to get away with some very subversive things, things that no other sanitized DPRK documentary has ever shown.

The most powerful scene is during the “peace day” celebrations which is, ironically, the anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Jacob and Mads are in Pyongyang around thousands upon thousands of participants all chanting in unison. The only person not chanting is Jacob. While Mads goes along with the celebration, Jacob staunchly refuses to participate, even speaking against it when the crowd went silent so that EVERYONE in the area could hear it. This is not as dangerous as it sounds since, according to Brugger, the Koreans cannot understand Danish, especially “spastic Danish”, as Brugger says.

They are then forced to march with the crowd. When Mads is not pushing Jacob in his wheelchair fast enough, one of their government minders literally push them into the crowd forcing them to keep up so they can get on camera. Who is playing who in this movie? See if you can find all of the instances where Mads, Jacob and Simon poke fun at one of the most monstrous dictatorships that ever existed right to its face. Warning: an attention span might be required.

Brugger’s next documentary is even more bizarre, if that can be believed. It is called The Ambassador. This time he travels to the Central African Republic in search of blood diamonds. In order to do this he needs access to the highest levels of the CAR’s government. For Brugger, this means getting himself appointed a diplomat. He purchases phony diplomatic credentials in Europe that certify him as a consul in CAR representing Liberia. Yes, this very white and very European man was able to finagle fake documentation that made him a member of the Liberian diplomatic corps in Africa.

The cast of characters in this film is too long to describe here. Perhaps the most bizarre character of all is Mads himself, who plays his role as an intrigue-seeking diplomat to the hilt. His character is so over-the-top that it is a wonder that he is able to get away with so much in such a dangerous place. Yes, as some of the critics have pointed out, Brugger sometimes gives himself over to stereotypes about   Africans being “childlike”, “corrupt” and/or “dishonest”. However, it is not at all clear that he was not doing it totally on purpose as part of his gaudy character.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this movie, not the least of which is the legacy of European imperialism in Africa. One of the more fascinating characters is a Frenchman named Guy-Jean Le Foll Yamande, the head of state security in the CAR. According to Yamande, he had his French citizenship revoked due to “mercenary activities”. In his conversation with Mads, he describes many of the ways the French continue to ransack the resources of the CAR while keeping the country mired in poverty. As Yamande put it, when you want to stop someone from running, you put a “stone in their shoe”. France is the “stone in the shoe” of the CAR. Did his privileged knowledge and position lead to his murder, which is mentioned towards the end of the movie?

Does Mads ever get his hands on the blood diamonds? Watch this movie and find out. It is really a fascinating, bizarre and sad look into the problems faced by many  central African nations today. If you do not have Netflix, I believe the movie is also split into parts on Youtube.

Both of Brugger’s movies obviously put himself and the people around him in serious danger. The threat of a brutal death or some other horrible fate hangs over both documentaries like a pall. He has an admirable amount of guts, if you want to call putting yourself in constant danger in a foreign country “guts”.

Happy viewing. I hope some of you are able to find the time to watch these great filmmakers. You will not be disappointed.

P.S. – here is Brugger’s Danish television miniseries/documentary called Danes for Bush, a comical look at some of George W. Bush’s most ardent supporters in the U.S. It is not as refined as his two movies but it does have its value. Do not be put off by the Danish speaking in the first part, most of the series is in English:

http://www.dr.dk/Bonanza/serie/Unge_og_satire/Danes_for_bush.htm

 

 

WHAT DO MOTHER THERESA AND MICHELLE RHEE HAVE IN COMMON?

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A recent study out of Canada casts doubt on the saintly reputation of Mother Theresa. Their essential thesis is that, despite the fact she took in millions of dollars in donations, the dying people for whom she cared in Calcutta were subjected to horrible conditions. Part of this, they contend, is because Mother Theresa saw beauty in suffering.

The study is really not saying anything Christopher Hitchens did not say many years ago in his documentary Hell’s Angel:

Out of the many convincing arguments Hitchens makes the one that sticks out is that, while primitive and unsanitary conditions were good enough for the people in Calcutta, Mother Theresa herself took advantage of the best medical care the western world had to offer when she got sick. That right there is enough for me to be skeptical of her motives.

To be clear, I do not mean this to be an attack on the Catholic Church. The media hyped her up way before the church did, even though the church did nothing to dispel the hype. If anything, the church saw Mother Theresa as a useful public relations tool to help prop up dreadful church attendance around the world. The blame for Mother Theresa’s undeserved reputation for purity and virtue rest with the media and the woman herself.

Mother Theresa was comfortable hobnobbing with the world’s political and financial elite. She sung Ronald Reagan’s praises, even as he was funding illegal wars in Central America that killed many members of the Catholic Church, including clergy. Her organization pulled in millions of dollars from banksters with questionable ethics, including those associated with the infamous Keating Five. All of her photo-ops provided moral cover to people who killed, swindled and oppressed millions.

What I say here is unpopular and will most likely offend many true believers. It really is no different from the way the education debate goes in this country. The media seizes upon people associated with the elite, like Michelle Rhee for example. They attribute to her selfless motives in trying to “help” some of the most downtrodden people in society. Meanwhile, what she provides to those downtrodden people is of questionable value. The question arises: what happened with all of those millions if it is obviously not going to help people?

Yet, even suggesting such a question will elicit a fair share of vitriol. How dare we question people who have made it their life’s mission to help people? We must have our own selfish motivations. Either we are anti-religious bigots of union hacks who fear accountability.

The fact that so many believe the hype about something is the biggest reason why we should be skeptical. Instead of falling into line because it is the popular thing to do, we need to be the voice in the wilderness that brings people back down to earth. Otherwise, we run the risk of group-think, tyranny of the majority and out-and-out mob rule.

Both Mother Theresa and the education reformers want for other, usually poor, people things of which they do not avail themselves. If that does not raise a red flag then nothing will.

THE SHILL GAME: E4E

Our favorite shills are still here ready to feast on your brains.

Our favorite shills are still here ready to feast on your brains.

The misleadingly named Educators 4 Excellence is running a spot tonight on television that will encourage Governor Cuomo to impose an evaluation scheme on the city.

It’s strange that a small (very small) group of NYC teachers has the money to get air time on television. Either they have superior accounting practices or they are being funded by outside interests that wish to destroy public education. Which do you think it is?

As a NYC teacher, I don’t know what gives Evan Stone and his ilk the right to speak for me. They haven’t done anything to earn a position of leadership within my union. They haven’t done anything to even earn the name “Educators 4 Excellence.”

Of course they haven’t earned a thing. They are a front group for the reformy forces in NYC. What they lack with a popular mandate among teachers they more than make up for with dollars.

Here is a question: if they care so much about educating NYC children, why don’t they take the millions they have garnered from reformy groups and put it into the schools? Evan Stone and Sydney Morris hardly need another million dollars being the trust fund brats they are.

And speaking of the union, I’m sure Mulgrew and company find it very comforting that they support the same exact position on these teacher evaluations as groups like E4E. Mulgrew has already signaled his willingness to accept a state-imposed scheme. The Unity folks are out in force telling all of us that a state-imposed scheme will be nothing more than binding arbitration.

It doesn’t matter what they call it. Our union should be very uncomfortable with being on the same side of any issue as E4E.

E4E represents everything wrong with education in NYC. Their fresh, young and white faces represent exactly the type of teaching force the reformers want. You think E4E would get any reformy money if they had older black faces?

Thank you E4E for reminding us the lengths to which the 1% will go to destroy public education. They are like the plants sent by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate and divide the organizations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. They are like the provocateurs who infiltrated the Occupy Wall Street protests. The only difference is, everyone knows who E4E is and everyone sees through them.

Does the fact that they’ve been around for years without gaining any traction among the rank-and-file teachers count for anything? I suppose it doesn’t when you have millions of dollars propping you up.

E4E: a zombie organization with zombie ideas. Tune in tonight to see them in action. Just don’t let them eat your brains.

 

The Daily News: A Case Study in Yellow Journalism

This headline should be the Daily News' new title.

Rachel Monahan, Erin Durkin and Ben Chapman put their names on a recent Daily News article regarding teacher Eric Chasanoff aka Chaz of Chaz’s School Daze. Since then, the New York City teacher blogosphere has rose eloquently to Chaz’s defense, especially Chaz himself (here and here). See Ednotes, ICEUFT, Perdido Street School, South Bronx School and The DOEnuts blog (here and here).

The piece printed up by the Daily News demonstrates the sad state of American journalism. Like Chaz, I would like to dissect the hatchet job done on his reputation, if only to show the subtle manner in which papers like the Daily News manipulate public opinion.

The article starts:

One of the 16 teachers that the city wants to fire but can’t insists he’s no perv — and bashed officials for trying to can him for an awkward but innocent remark.

The poor city, they are unable to fire Chaz. No doubt, this is due to all of those union protections that Bloomberg said would get an axe murderer a slap on the wrist. Is it a coincidence that this article was released right around when Bloomberg made those remarks on the radio?

Of course, Chaz insists that he is no “perv” (way to raise the level of discourse). He does not prove, assert or posit that idea. He insists on it, like a child who broke the expensive vase insists he is innocent. On top of that, he has the nerve to “bash” officials. He does not criticize or respond to them. He bashes them like a Klansman does to minority groups. What a hateful person this Chaz is.

“The DOE should be ashamed of themselves for trashing and trying to humiliate the 16 teachers who Independent Arbitrators found ‘no sexual misconduct,’ ” Chasanoff wrote in a lengthy blog post. “In my case, they had a weak and bogus case to begin with and lost.”

How are we supposed to verify that Chaz actually wrote this on his blog? There is no web address or blog title. It is just proper etiquette to cite your sources. I suppose they do not want the public to hunt down the website so they can get a more balanced account of what took place. Now I do not feel so bad for not linking back to the Daily News.

 A student in Chasanoff’s class at Jamaica High School in 2006 told investigators that when the teacher handed back a test she had passed, he said, “I’m so proud of you. If it wouldn’t get me in trouble, I would kiss you.”

The problem is, that is not what Chaz actually said. You see what the Daily News is doing here? They are technically stating a fact, since that is what the student claimed Chaz said at one point.

An actual investigative reporter would have, you know, investigated. If they had done so, they might have found what Chaz actually said as per the independent arbitrator. Sure, the DOE only released the report issued by the Special Commissioner of Investigations to the Daily News. That is where they get the student’s claim from. But that claim changed during the hearing, and probably many more times between the investigation and the hearing, so why only print the SCI report?

The short answer: because it was easy. Reporters have deadlines and space limits. They cannot possibly be bothered with presenting the full scope of a story. If only Woodward and Bernstein had exclusively quoted Nixon’s press releases to paint a picture of the Watergate scandal, the country would have never known their president was involved in heinous cover-up.

The long answer: because the Daily News knows that stories of perv teachers kissing and grabbing teenage girls sells papers. The DOE knows this as well. They also know that papers like the News cannot be bothered with writing a balanced account of what happened. People in the big city, as well as the small city, want their news on the go. They do not want to be bothered with too many words or perspectives. Keep it short and simple. So the DOE exploits the Daily News’ constant quest for simple, juicy stories compiled in a rush by releasing incomplete information. It is a win-win. The Daily News gets their scoop and the DOE gets a major media outlet to make their case for destroying teacher protections.

Yup, it is a win-win scenario. The only losers are the students who stand to lose their most experienced teachers.

 She said he had previously put his hands on her shoulders to calm her down before the test, grabbed her elbow on the way into the classroom the day it was handed back, and appeared to be looking down her shirt when he made the kiss remark.

She did say this, did she not? Again, this story changed once she got in front of the arbitrator. In fact, the arbitrator found that this did not happen at all. The flighty words of a teenager are print worthy things in this day and age I suppose. Maybe teenagers can write all of the articles for the Daily News.

When I was a kid, I told people that I was going to play third base for the New York Yankees. Can we run a juicy headline about Alex Rodriguez having some competition? Maybe we can get his thoughts from his blog that we refuse to actually cite. And the fact that, as it turned out, I do not play for the Yankees? Irrelevant.

But Chasanoff, a 15-year veteran who makes $80,987 a year, had been warned before. He was reprimanded in 2002 for putting his arms around a student’s waist, an incident he doesn’t mention in his post.

This is the part of the article for which the Daily News has since issued a retraction:

Ed. Note:   This story refers to a letter of reprimand received by Eric Chesanoff for a 2002 incident in which he allegedly put his arms around a student’s waist. Although the Department of Education recently supplied that letter to the Daily News, we have since learned that an arbitrator ruled in 2004 that the allegation was false and ordered the Department to remove the reprimand from Chasanoff’s file.

It is pretty obvious why Chaz did not mention this on his blog at first, is it not? If not for the work of Chaz, along with the other NYC teacher bloggers, this little tidbit would have never made it on to the Daily News website. After all, it is not like they are going to do any investigating for themselves.

The problem is, this is not the only part of the article in need of retraction, as we have seen.

 Chasanoff is a vocal critic of the Bloomberg administration on his blog, which is full of rants against the Department of Education. He says his “goal is to outlast Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Walcott in their ‘children last’ program.”

Ah, the famous “rants” comment. Chaz is a ranting, bashing lunatic! And look, he wants to outlast Bloomberg and Walcott in their “children last” program. That is impossible. Does he not know that Bloomberg is mayor for life? When the term limits expire, he just pays for more. Is Chaz saying he wants to outlive Bloomberg? That’s impossible too. We all know that Bloomberg does not smoke or eat any trans-fats. He does not have to put up with those pesky things that give other politicians heart attacks, like democratic processes. When the democratic process becomes too cumbersome, he just waves some money at it and it goes away. Bloomberg is immortal.

And the DOE’s motto is Children’s First, Chaz. This is just another example of Chaz “bashing” and “ranting” against Lord Bloomberg. We all know he puts children first, always. That is why he released the teacher data reports. The parents have a right to know if their children’s teachers are crummy. It does not matter if the margins of error on those reports are so large that they render the numbers utterly useless. Bloomberg is all about transparency, except when it comes to releasing information on the mess the 911 system has become.

The article ends:

 Mayor Bloomberg blasted the arbitrators Friday. “Maybe if you were a serial ax murderer you might get a slap on the wrist,” he said.

Notice how Bloomberg does not “bash” or “rant”. This despite the fact that what Bloomberg said is more out there than anything Chaz was quoted as saying in this article. He blasted the arbitrators just like a superhero with a ray gun.

There are no excuses for this type of reporting. It is shoddy, shallow and biased. Ben Chapman has been making his rounds on the blogosphere giving a whole bunch of excuses as to why certain details of Chaz’s case were left out: space constraints, editors’ decisions, incomplete information, the list goes on. One wonders why he would put his name on something over which he had so little control and into which he put so little effort.

This is the sad state of reporting in the United States. While teachers are held to a ridiculous standard of accountability, like getting fired for comments they make on Facebook and getting their names in the papers for their students’ test scores, reporters get a free pass. They can be biased, half-report stories and put their names on things over which they had little influence.

Speaking of which, the Daily News was right there to publish teacher data reports, despite the criticisms of teachers who said that their teaching is not the only factor in their students’ test scores. It did not matter to publications like the Daily News. They were there to shame us like the rest of the media.

The biased rants of the Daily News against human beings who dare to make a career out of teaching is shameful. If this is the Fourth Estate, no wonder why we live under a Reign of Terror.

 

The New York Post’s Old Racism (And Micah Lasher, Not-So-Closet Racist)

New York City has always had a nasty racist streak.

The NYC Draft Riots during the Civil War were conducted by mostly working class Irish immigrants who did not want to be part of a struggle to free slaves. Freed blacks would make their way up north and compete with them for jobs, the thinking went. Blacks were under siege across the city, including the black orphanage that had to protect their charges by sending them out into the middle of the Hudson River in boats until the violence subsided.

William F. Buckley used the city’s rising crime rate as a way to pander to racist sentiment in his losing 1965 mayoral bid. He accused liberals of coddling criminals by using poverty as an excuse. Even though he did not win, he used his race-baiting tactics later to block the establishment of a civilian review board of the New York City Police Department. It was a foreshadowing of the coded racism that would define Reagan’s “welfare queens” and George Bush Sr.’s Willie Horton ads.

Mark Green, who used to be a perennial candidate for NYC mayor, came under fire in 2001 when people associated with his campaign released flyers of Fernando Ferrer kissing a certain part of Al Sharpton’s anatomy. They were released in the mostly white areas of South Brooklyn. Although Green was cleared of any wrongdoing, it hurt his image within the city’s minority community.

And who was responsible for this racist campaign flyer? None other than Micah Lasher, former chief DOE lobbyist and current head of the Michelle Rhee corporate shill group StudentsFirstNY.

From a 2003 Observer article:

Occasionally, though, he’ll let loose with a bean ball-as in the 2001 Democratic Mayoral primary, during which Mr. Lasher worked for Mark Green’s campaign. Mr. Lasher was one of the staffers behind a campaign flyer which reprinted a New York Post cartoon showing Mr. Green’s opponent, Fernando Ferrer, bussing the formidable butt of Al Sharpton. The flyer somehow made its way into largely white neighborhoods. It became a cause célèbre in a bitter campaign, and Mr. Lasher had to deal with volleys of criticism.

And there is the direct link between corporate education reform and the racist agenda that supports it.

His connection with Andrew Cuomo also has deep roots:

In 2002, Mr. Lasher joined Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign team as the state field director. Mr. Cuomo withdrew days before the scheduled primary contest with Carl McCall, but Mr. Lasher developed more contacts-particularly with Josh Isay, Mr. Cuomo’s campaign manager. The two formed a political consultancy firm afterward, Isay/Lasher Communications, now called KnickerbockerSKD.

The Billionaire Boys’ Club has a tight, racist circle: Bloomberg, Rhee, Cuomo, The Post and Micah Lasher. The common thread among them all is a disdain for minority communities.

This is the type of NYC-style, dog whistle racism in which the New York Post continuously gets involved. Back in 2009, they ran this cartoon of police officers shooting a chimpanzee. It was located on a page that directly followed a picture of President Obama signing his stimulus bill.

The Post eventually had to apologize for the cartoon.

That did not stop the Post from exploiting the tensions surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting. Who can forget this horrendous front page?

Despite the fact that there were also white lawmakers in Albany who had worn hoods in support of Trayvon Martin, the Post chose to run this cover that depicted the black leaders involved as “race hustlers”.

This is the real race card in our day and age.

It is also why the Post has been a cheerleader of the Education Deform movement. Much like William F. Buckley refused to excuse criminal behavior with the structural reailties of poverty, the Post toes the “no excuses” line for public schooling. It is why they celebrate the harsh discipline of mostly minority students in charter schools. It is also why they celebrate the bashing of teachers.

After all, if teachers are not allowed to use the “excuse” of poverty to explain why their students do not necessarily do well on bubble-in exams, then these failures must be due to the teachers.

The ghouls at the Post even stooped so low as to do a story on the “worst teacher in the city”, Pascale Mauclai. Despite the fact that Ms. Mauclai has an unblemished record and her principal adores her as a dedicated educator, Post reporters showed up at her house with telescopic lenses in their quest to publicly shame her. One can only hope that Ms. Mauclai sues the Post for defamation.

Did the fact that Pascale Mauclai is a black woman play a role in their vitriol?

Let’s put it this way, I doubt there would be as much venom behind the Post’s attack if the “worst teacher in the city” were a young, white Teach for America alum.

The Post is a regular cheerleader of Bloomberg’s whitening policy for New York City. His bike-lane-drawing, public-school-closing, stop-and-frisking regime has met with approbation from Murdoch’s wire-tapping media empire. There has not been any mention of the declining black population or the disappearing black educator in the Post’s or any other major media outlet’s pages.

There are no more excuses for the New York Post. They appeal to the basest elements in New York City. NYC schools currently get free delivery of the NY Post. Is this the type of publication to which we want to expose our students, especially considering that so many of our students are minorities?

If the Post refuses to respect the bounds of human decency, then perhaps the union that the Post hates so much should push to have the NY Post banned from NYC schools.

The Mediaopoly

The evil Mickey Mouse and the rest of the brainwashing squad.

I have been mostly television free for around two years. The other day (I won’t get into specifics) I was forced into watching Jersey Shore. It is a show where a bunch of people do nothing but argue and have sex for an hour. There is no other purpose to it than to parade these young people in front of a camera so that their jackassery becomes a for-profit public spectacle.

One of the reasons I gave up on the tube is the fact that the entire media is controlled by six megacorporations. This is a brief overview of the media landscape:

Time Warner

Home Box Office (HBO)
Time Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
TMZ
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
Cinemax
Cartoon Network
TBS
TNT
America Online
MapQuest
Moviefone
Castle Rock
Sports Illustrated
Fortune
Marie Claire
People Magazine

Walt Disney

ABC Television Network
Disney Publishing
ESPN Inc.
Disney Channel
SOAPnet
A&E
Lifetime
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Hyperion Books

Viacom

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Comedy Central
Country Music Television (CMT)
Logo
MTV
MTV Canada
MTV2
Nick Magazine
Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon
Noggin
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land
VH1

News Corporation

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Beliefnet
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
FX
My Network TV
MySpace
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
Sky PerfecTV
Speed Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
STAR World
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
BSkyB
DIRECTV
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
FOXTEL
HarperCollins Publishers
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Radio Veronica
ReganBooks
Sky Italia
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
STAR
Zondervan

CBS Corporation

CBS News
CBS Sports
CBS Television Network
CNET
Showtime
TV.com
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CBS Outdoor
CW Network (50% ownership)
Infinity Broadcasting
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network

NBC Universal

Bravo
CNBC
NBC News
MSNBC
NBC Sports
NBC Television Network
Oxygen
SciFi Magazine
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
Telemundo
USA Network
Weather Channel
Focus Features
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Trio
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Pictures
Universal Studio Home Video

I believe NBC belongs to General Electric.

That means that whatever gets on the television, movie screen and radio must be filtered through a corporate bureaucracy whose sole purpose is to turn a profit.

As recently as the 1990s, the actual airwaves that carried television broadcasts were owned by the federal government. At certain points, the government was able take hold of the airwaves to provide coverage of events like presidential debates and speeches. The thinking was that there were certain things that needed to be shown in the interests of having an informed democratic citizenry.

Thanks to the privatization wave of the 1990s, the rights to the airwaves were sold to corporate interests for a song. The media is now fully privatized and corporate-run. This means that everything that passes as news in the media gets filtered through a corporate bureaucracy first. There is never any bad press about Disney or General Electric because it would never make it on to the air.

There is no longer any pretense of the media helping cultivate an informed democratic citizenry.

In this clip, Bill Maher mentions something very telling about this media-opoly:

He says 2/3 of Americans cannot name the economic system under which we operate. That seems about right. And if you cannot name the system, how can you analyze it or fight against its injustices?

Media helps shape the boundaries of public discourse. There are very few places one can turn for serious discussion about our economic system. Sure, there are discussions about economic policy, but those policies might as well take place in a vacuum. Without an overall context for those policies, the media tacitly portrays the economic system under which we live as natural.

This is why Occupy Wall Street was evicted. It was drawing too much attention to the economic system as a whole, connecting too many dots and pointing out too many damning truths.

The history textbooks do the same thing as the media. This is why I don’t use them.

Here is a fun video about the media-opoly:

And this documentary, Orwell Rolls in his Grave, is well worth a few watches. It is a much more in-depth look at corporate media and its implications for our democracy. Watch for the cameos by Bernie Sanders:

New York City Teacher Performance Data To Be Released

Yup, it has finally happened. New York State’s highest court threw out the union’s lawsuit to prevent the release of performance scores of over 12,000 NYC teachers of elementary and middle school. The city plans to publicize the scores in the coming weeks.

Walcott doesn’t seem too keen on the idea, but his tune will change once the mayor for whom he is the sock puppet whispers a few choice words in his ear.

This was the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by several media outlets, including the New York Times and NY1. It will be up to those same media outlets if they want to publish the scores or not. We all know what they are going to do.

Despite the fact that the ratings give no other information aside from a number from 1 to 100, despite the fact that it is asinine to summarize a teacher’s skill in a simple number, despite the fact that “value added” has been shown time after time to be utterly useless, and despite the fact that the Los Angeles Times’ campaign to smear teachers with this data resulted in the suicide of dedicated teacher Rigoberto Ruelas in 2010, they will no doubt plaster these numbers far and wide.

Look forward to another spring of teacher-basing, culminating in a renewed attempt by Bloomberg to do away with Last In First Out. This will provide endless grist for the anti-teacher mill. I predict a full front page headline in the New York Post with the words DISGRACEFUL or EXPOSED on the day the scores are released. And if another teacher or two commits suicide (God forbid), that will be good for headlines as well.

Meanwhile, the video on NY1’s website features a frothing-at-the-mouth Michael Mulgrew of the UFT screaming about how the data is flawed. They could not have chosen a better clip to capture the whole “union thug” angle the media in NYC loves to go for.

My hat is off to NYC’s Fourth Estate. You valiantly filed a FOIA request in order to smear teachers. Where are those requests for the unending flood of corrupt OSI and SCI reports used by the DOE to destroy the livelihoods of countless dedicated educators? You know, those same reports that have found to be completely bogus in one court case after another?

First New York City, then New York State. As we speak, I am sure Arne down in D.C. is huddled around a giant marble table with Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein, devising a nationwide database of teacher performance scores to be published in USA Today and U.S. News and World Report.