Monday, November 3, 2008

Personal Aside: On the Decadence of Chicago Journalism—Crossing One’s Fingers and Conflict of Interest…Part II of the Liberal Malady that Began With the Misnamed Enlightenment.


Pro-Obama Hacks and Flacks.

Joel Weisman’s trained seals program aka “Chicago Week in Review” had an interesting turnabout Friday. Weisman felt comfortable enough of the presidential election to ask serious follow-up questions of Barack Obama fawner Mike Flannery (CBS2). He began with the usual: how is Obama doing? Flannery responded with the usual predigested pap—Obama’s doing wonderfully, insofar as prediction can be made he’ll win etc. etc. Then Weisman asked what could possibly derail the effort. Flannery stuttered and said “I don’t want to go there.” Of course he doesn’t but he managed to say events could intervene…or Obama could say something stupid. Weisman persisted: what could he say? Flannery offered the thought “I’ve got my fingers crossed.” Got my fingers crossed that Obama would not goof up. My-my, that’s real objective journalism from someone who has been hired to cover the candidates, isn’t it? Talk about conflict of interest. In Chicago journalism, enthusiasm for Obama with reporters is brushed off as good old hometown spirit. Like supporting the Cubs or White Sox. Pathetic indeed.

Pathetic because it is so unashamedly decadent. Flannery and most of the others can be partisans because they know their bosses are …marketing the pro-Obama brand, don’t you know. Flannery had written an article confessing his gushing admiration (rather sophomoric like Chris Matthews’ unmanly statement that when he sees Obama he feels a tingle go up his leg). We don’t know if Flannery feels the same tingle but he is definitely in awe of Obama as he explained in a paid advertising supplement to “The Sunday New York Times.” In it, Flannery reported he asked if he could have a photo taken along with his kids with Obama when he becomes president…or, failing that, if he could have an ornament from the White House Christmas tree. This fawning before elected liberal Democratic officialdom is what passes for television journalism here, ladies and gentlemen. For this servility David Axelrod may well offer a third-tier job to Flannery in the Obama press office. On the other hand, why the hell SHOULD Axelrod when Obama gets continuing lascivious massages from Flannery for nothing?

Also on the panel flapping her fins and barking for a tossed fish from Weisman so she could boost Obama was Marion Brooks, NBC 5 anchor at 4:30. Her legendary prior extraordinary conflict of interest…the severest violation of ethics barring an absolute payoff—bedding down with a source while pretending to be objective… as a TV reporter and anchor in Atlanta…which should have gotten her bounced from journalism permanently. She was the mistress of Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, a married man, while purportedly covering City Hall and so was required to testify when he, as ex-mayor, was indicted after a five year federal investigation into corruption. The sexual relationship went on for four straight years with the newsroom knowing all about it. She accompanied him on so-called Atlanta trade trips to Paris, Jamaica, Mexico and San Francisco. If her TV bosses thought she would get exclusives from that relationship they were disappointed. As the mayor’s lover, she kept his confidence…not much different than what goes on here in news circles for Obama which are flacking for Obama but without the sex. Maybe it’s subliminal as per the tingle that goes up one’s leg.

Far from seeing her career ruined by the scandal, she was hired by Channel 5 here and is front and center as an anchor. In contemporary journalism’s politically correct “ethics,” you’re not supposed to bring it up because that would be (a) racist and (b) is her own personal business (see “privacy—right of”) , even though in another line of work…in a corporation where she fraternized sexually with a boss or influential supplier… she would have been bounced permanently for unprofessional conduct. She wasn’t and covers the news…at least reading from a teleprompter…here. By the way, Campbell was just released from federal prison in Florida last week. While fighting the indictment, he used the usual dodge…that the feds were racist, that they also bugged Martin Luther King, Jr. et al. It didn’t work.

Brooks’ career is on the rise while the very same Channel 5 bounced Amy Jacobson in July, 2007 after Channel 2 ran a story featuring her in a swimsuit—skimpy—with her kids at the home of Craig Stebic. Stebic’s estranged wife, Lisa, vanished in April, 2007. No likelihood that Jacobson bestowed sexual favors but she certainly exhibited bad judgment (she says she was just covering the story). She says she went to the Stebic home at the invitation of Stebic’s sister and wound up family swimming with the Stebic children. Rival Channel 2 took films of her at Stebic’s house. In her lawsuit against Channel 2, Jacobson claims the station “wanted the public to believe that Plaintiff Jacobson had a sexual liaison with Craig Stebic.”

What’s the difference between Brooks who was embroiled in a massive conflict of interest with a sitting mayor but who was hired for a big paying job by Channel 5 after the Atlanta scandal and Jacobson who still can’t get a TV job? If you have to ask, forget it.

Also on the panel was R. Bruce Dold, editorial page editor of the “Tribune”…the pro-abort Catholic and corporate toady… who wrote the editorial endorsing Obama who offered his biased journalistic assessment on how great Obama is doing. The “Tribune” company owns the “Los Angeles Times” which is sitting on a video taken of Obama praising a Palestinian leader…and the “Times” says it can’t release it because of a promise its reporter made to his source. Of course the newspaper could release a transcript but doesn’t, stalling until the clock runs out and its hoped-for Obama election. Needless to say, Dold wasn’t asked about this by the ever smiling cross-eyed (so Democratic he can’t see straight) Weisman. Eric Zorn says we don’t understand the sanctity between a reporter and his source.

Not a word about printing the transcript from Zorn. Not pertinent, you see.

His paper is meticulous about privacy concerning Obama. Not so when it pried open the sealed divorce records of Blair Hull and Jack Ryan—a gross violation of privacy-- which indubitably helped Obama. Not a hint of a question about these inconsistencies. Not a hint of a question in this city’s news media about Obama’s advocacy of share-the-wealth, nor the sliding scale of upping the tax rates on first $250,000…then $200,000, then $150,000. Not a hint about facing up to the obvious incompetence of Joe Biden’s declaration that FDR appeared on television right after the 1929 stock market crash and steadied public resolve. If Sarah Palin had said this, what would have been the reaction? Corporate lackey Dold would have been instructed to write a scathing editorial and he would have leaped to the task.

Thus, ask not why public trust of the mainstream news business is in the cellar. I come from a long vantage-point of watching news media go bonkers over liberal politicians and liberal prescriptions…from the entire Washington media lowering their cameras while paraplegic FDR was hoisted on derricks aboard planes and ships… so the people wouldn’t learn of the extent of his paralysis…to Ben Bradlee’s participating in sexual romps with JFK and keeping still about them…to Walter Cronkite’s pronouncement while ensconced at his anchor desk in New York that the Vietnam war was unwinnable when in fact Tet had been won by us…to Dan Rather’s conspiracy with a forged document that falsely impugned the military service of George W. Bush. But the current Obama craze and the abdication of news media responsibility for its mission anent Obama is unprecedented. The hypocrisy is attendant in the fiction that the big newspapers are “objective.”

At least in the old days when Thomas Jefferson had his own newspaper, subsidized by grants from his State Department that the Virginian ran…and Alexander Hamilton had HIS financed by his wealthy supporters…the “news” was subjective and honestly biased…honestly subjective as it was with Robert R. McCormick and William Randolph Hearst and Dorothy Schiff’s then ultra-liberal “New York Post.” Unlike the hypocrisy of today where news organs…TV channels and newspapers like the “Tribune”… pretend to be objective and are tools of partisanship with hacks and flacks like Flannery, Brooks and Dold in love with a politician. In Flannery and Brooks’ case it’s true love; in Dold’s it’s opportune.

Then there is the anomaly of “The Economist,” the Brit magazine that has a reputation for solid economics but which has been veering crazily leftward contradictorily to its economic standards for a number of years. There is definitely something in the water over there and has been causing bubbles in the UK brain for years. When our culture turned erratic, the UK went even more so: witness our love affair with rock music which the UK worsened with a craze for an imbecile named Screaming Lord Sutch. We toyed with embryonic stem cells until science discovered exploitation was unneeded: their scientists announce joyfully they’re splicing half human, half animal cells. Likewise, “Economist” articles have been as pro-abort and pro-gay rights (even pro-gay marriage) as our “Time” and “Newsweek” for years but I ignored it to get to the economic meaty articles. This week the paper tossed economic circumspection aside and ran a front page of Obama striding toward destiny as in an insurance ad with the headline “It’s Time!” Inside, a review of the latest bio of FDR went giddy, refusing to mention an acknowledged fact that Roosevelt’s terms didn’t solve the depression and unemployment…which it took World War II to overcome…and pacified Joe Stalin in ways that led to the Cold War.

But we don’t have to look at “The Economist” for erraticism. The little billionaire owner of the “Tribune,” who looks like Lucifer…with a fringe of red hair and beard and slit eyes (lacking only a forked tail)…who spews four letter words, crouches over his motorcycle handlebars, revving it up to prove his manhood… RRRRRMMMMMM!...views the Obama endorsement as a marketing device, turning out a revised and remolded product that is a cheap Xerox of “USA Today” with the exception that the “Trib’s” ink comes off on your fingers.

II: How the Economic Prospect Can Be Worsened.

Unmentioned in the late presidential campaign on both sides is that blunders with the economy has occurred through governmental, not capitalistic, means. Due to those governmental blunders, the global credit system has been temporarily paralyzed which has propelled the U. S. and Europe into recession and which threatens the Asian markets. If allowed to fester, the credit crisis beginning in mid-2007 would have suffocated the economies as surely as did the Great Depression. Thus while it was an agonizingly tough choice, governments of the West decided rightly that they must make direct and massive infusions of fresh equity into failing banks. The stand-pat argument that they should suffer the fate of the unregulated free market and fail sounds logical at first—but would surely have provided a total meltdown.

Despite the media which strikes fear into panicky hearts, the global economy survives with impressive strength. It is too easy to forget that between the 1980s and 2007 we had a bountiful era. More people advanced economically in a short span of time than in the last half century. Seventy-million people were joining the middle class a year. And the prosperity was due to the Reagan income tax cuts which burst into atoms the stagflation of the Jimmy Carter 1970s. In the period between 2002 and 2007 our growth TOPPED the entire size of the economy of China.

Now the economic world is bursting with cash but because of fear the cash is stymied. If conservative economic principles learned under Reagan were to be applied, global growth will resume next year. But looking at the liberal sickness, it’s a big IF. Barack Obama has shown us that he will tighten regulations that retard innovation and hike taxes that stymie capital formation. Indeed, his surrogates are already urging Washington to force tighter emissions curbs and compelling more costly health insurance coverage.

God knows we in this country have contributed with mindless governmental action to the economic chaos, with punitive and anti-productive legislation such as the benighted Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Obama may well proceed with the lamentable process of criminalizing business failure. We are on the way to repealing the doctrine of limited liability which enabled business leaders to be liable only for the investments they actually put into a corporation with the remainder of their assets safe. Limited liability spurred the country’s entrepreneurial strength. The prosecution of KPMG is an example of liberal aberration where the IRS dissatisfied with civil action turned to prosecutors who bludgeoned it. The record of Arthur Andersen, ruined by such mis-begotten practice, could not be resurrected back to life after the courts threw out the charges.

Yes, John McCain and Sarah Palin notwithstanding, the problems weren’t caused by private greed but government’s false creeds. The Fed in 2004 turned on a fire-hose of excessive liquidity and thus held interest rates unnaturally low…based on the misconception that the U.S. economy was weaker than it was. Thus it engineered a global commodities boom which sent the price of oil, copper and steel to the stratosphere. Then for nearly four years the dollar fell against the euro, yen and pound—sending the housing market spiraling. The Bush administration liked a weak dollar believing it would reverse our trade imbalance and cosmetically make exports cheaper. Treasury never cautioned the Fed to bolster the dollar. When the housing bubble popped in 2007, it would never have hit its extreme if we had a strong dollar policy. Banks and investors turned fearful. And the good old Fed again certified easy money which created the commodities bubble.

All the while, pushing oxygen into a looming housing bubble were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac angered at studies showing they had negligible influence on the housing market and real life accounting scandals that made their leaders ungodly rich. So they reacted…with help of Barney Frank and his male Fannie (Mae) lover (pun intended)…and leapt to the challenge of great p. r. by extolling “affordable housing for the poor.” Out came the bicycle pump and on came the strenuous inflating, guaranteeing $1 trillion under prime mortgages, retaining up to $100 billion of faux paper on their books. Only secondarily were the Wall Street “greed-sters” responsible since they saw immediately that Freddie and Fannie were on hand to buy the junk they churned up.

More later.

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