Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new "Think Again" column here , called "Radio Marti: "Hecka of a Job, Kenny."

With the recent closing of Abu Ghraib prison, many of its prisoners were shifted to a just-completed $60 million "state of the art" American detention facility, Camp Cropper, at the huge U.S. military base near Baghdad International Airport. Camp Cropper itself turns out to be an interesting story, Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch writes, but one with a problem:

While the emptying of Abu Ghraib made the news everywhere, the filling of Camp Cropper made no news at all. ... The upgrade of Camp Cropper, on the drawing boards since 2004, was just completed and hardly a word has been written about it. We really have no idea what it consists of or what it looks like, even though it's in one of the few places in Iraq that an American reporter could safely visit, being on a vast American military base constructed, like the prison, with taxpayer dollars.

Get lives, people.

And hey, congrats to the Yankees for clinching the AL East just a few days after the Mets and to coming up to have an equal win/loss record. And hey, with a 2006 payroll of only $194,464,656, it only cost you $93.5 million more than the Mets to win the same number of games.

(What kind of New Yorker not only roots for a team that forces its players to shave their beards, but to add insult to injury, actually pays retail?)

I was touched when I came across this, so I'm linking to it. Thanks, bub.

Quote of the day: "The only people qualified to speak on this matter, it would seem, are those who got it wrong initially. Such insouciance in spite of -- indeed because of -- your past misjudgments recalls a remark by the French ex-Stalinist Pierre Courtade to Edgar Morin, a dissenting Communist vindicated by events: 'You and your kind were wrong to be right; we were right to be wrong.' " -- Tony Judt

A debate on the Israel Lobby, here, at the Cooper Union.

Interesting essay on graduate school and the making of public intellectuals, here.

From the Benton Foundation:

VOTE TO SPARE TOMLINSON SHAMEFUL

[SOURCE: San Antonio Express-News, 9/19, AUTHOR: Editorial Staff] [Commentary]

The Broadcasting Board of Governors split 3-3 on a vote to strip Ken Tomlinson of his position as chairman. The vote, divided along party lines, is as shameful as the moonlighting practices that inspired it. He logged 400 phone calls and 1,200 e-mails running his side business, operating a stable of thoroughbreds, according to a State Department investigation. Tomlinson has been in trouble before. He came under fire in an ethics scandal when he served as chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Accused of packing the corporation with patronage appointments, all of them Republicans, he was stripped of his post. This time, he was spared. Maybe it was because of his work ethic. It was certainly not because of his ethics.

DEMS DEMAND PROBE OF 'SUPPRESSED' STUDIES

[SOURCE: TVNewsday]

Thirty-four House Democrats called on FCC Inspector General Kent R. Nilsson to investigate whether the FCC had suppressed two studies that seem to undermine the agency efforts over the past several years to relax restrictions on broadcast ownership. Led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman David Price (D-NC), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the House Democrats asked for IG Nilsson to recommend possible disciplinary action against agency officials if he finds that they purposefully withheld the studies from the public. "If one or both of these reports were suppressed because they did not support official FCC policy, such actions could not only constitute fraud, but could also run counter to the FCC's stated goals of transparency and public involvement in its media ownership proceedings," the Democrats said in a letter they sent to IG Nilsson. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who was first to suggest the FCC had suppressed studies contrary to its ownership goals, asked for an IG investigation last week.

* House Members Call On FCC Inspector General To Investigate Hidden Studies On Media Consolidation

CREATIVE VOICES: FCC INDECENCY CRACKDOWN HARMS CHILDREN

[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]

The Center for Creative Voices in Media, which includes TV and film executives among its advisers, has weighed in at the FCC on indecency with a report of how the FCC's indecency crackdown has affected Hollywood and the nation by "stifling free expression, threatening quality television, and harming America's children." The report was submitted as comments in the FCC's review of four profanity rulings it made back in March without allowing for public comment. Calling the FCC's decisions "inconsistent and confusing," the center took issue with profanity findings that were issued, including against the Martin Scorcese documentary on blues musicians and an NYPD Blue episode. The irony, says the Center, is that Blue and Blues are just the type of quality shows that "in their public speeches, many FCC commissioners urge broadcasters to create and air as trustees of publicly owned airwaves." The Center concludes that the FCC's enforcement policy has made Newton Minow's "vast wasteland even vaster," and harms, not serves, the public interest.

* Big Chill: How the FCC's Indecency Decisions Stifle Free Expression, Threaten Quality Television, and Harm America's Children [SOURCE: Center for Creative Voices in Media]

TV WATCH: PARENTS ARE THE BEST REGULATORS

[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]

TV Watch, the broadcasting industry-backed effort to push parental over governmental control of content, asked the FCC to throw out its "constitutionally suspect approach to indecency enforcement." It said that government should not be controlling TV programming and that "parents, not special interest organizations or the government, should decide what is okay for their families to watch."

CDT CAUTIONS AGAINST DRAMATIC EXPANSION OF INDECENCY RULES

[SOURCE: Center for Democracy and Technology]

CDT today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to allow a small but vocal minority that is offended by certain content to limit the ability of adults to view material that is perfectly lawful and worthwhile. In comments submitted Thursday, CDT pointed out that the same types of voluntary parental control tools that help to protect kids from inappropriate material online are increasingly available to parents in the broadcast context.

CDT's Comments to FCC

THE CASE FOR CITIZEN OWNERSHIP OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

[SOURCE: MediaShift, AUTHOR: Mark Glaser] [Commentary]

Corporate ownership of daily newspapers is reaching the breaking point, especially now at the Los Angeles Times , which is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Company media conglomerate. The newspaper is facing the same problem that hundreds of other newspapers are facing: Owners and stockholders who want profit growth each year, who want to cut back on editorial staff, and who could care less about the communities and people who actually read and gain insight from the newspaper. And there's that massive problem of people reading dead-tree edition newspapers less and reading electronic online versions more -- leading to smaller profits at the moment. So if the corporate owners of the Los Angeles Times are growing impatient with stagnating profits, why not let the readers take charge of the destiny of the paper, not just as citizen journalists but as citizen owners? The NFL has its "Personal Seat Licenses" for various stadiums, and the Green Bay Packers have issued stock four times so their fans can buy a piece of the team. Local public broadcasting and even Salon.com have survived for years with the support of membership drives and pledges from the community. So why not newspapers?

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Ron Robertson
Hometown: Petaluma, CA

Dear Eric,

I like your new location! It always sorta galled me to have to go to an MSNBC site, since they're really part of the problems of the US, not the solution, but you were always worth it. Much better here, though.

Anyway, I loved "the barking lunacy of Camille Paglia" comment you made. For years I've found her extremely tiresome, and was glad when Salon no longer had her on their website (though apparently they'd happily have her back) regularly. One of my friends perfectly described her as a "professional offensivist," with her penchant for writing strictly to offend, not illuminate.

Thanks for all the writing you do, I've enjoyed your books and look forward to more in the future.

Name: Larry
Hometown: Minneapolis

Doc E.

I saw The Who with Zak on drums in the mid 90's playing Quadrophenia and I thought he was great, definitely more adept than Kenny Jones. The band was tighter and Townshend strapped an electric guitar on for a few numbers (he had been playing primarily acoustic since '89). Now Pete's back to playing the electric full time. I saw them again on the tour following Enwistle's death and while the Ox was missed the music was still powerful, and the encore was that powerful "Live at Leeds" style, overdriven Tommy medley, ooooh yeah!

A little backstory on Zak; he got his first professional grade drum kit as a gift from Keith Moon when he was a kid. It was one of those huge, white double bass sets Keith was playing in the mid 70's. Keith probably wanted to needle his friend Ringo.

Also on your move to Media Matters, I've now read the MM home page 4 times this week and the MSNBC page only 2. Its MSNBC's loss, I've only got so much time so I look for the content I like, and I've been reading your page for a long time. Thanks!

Name: Susie Madrak
Hometown: Suburban Guerrilla

I'm the blogger who wrote the original post that had Brendan so lathered, and since he was ranting for Duncan Black to justify the content, I thought he might be interested in hearing from me via his comments.

Silly me. He kept right on ranting and ignored my comments, so I posted them again. Same thing - still ranting for Duncan to come out and defend what I wrote.

His little tantrum had nothing to do with the facts. This was a classic case of a lesser-known blogger picking a fight with a bigger name to drive traffic. Worked like a charm, didn't it?

Name: Stephen Carver
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

It's in the news today that the three Republican senators who were blocking Bush's torture policy have come to an agreement with Bush that he (Bush) wants the Congress to approve before they go home and get their electoral butts handed to them on a plate.

Wanna bet that after he signs the bill into law, he also writes a "signing statement" dismissing the legislation as un-Constitutional and is therefore unapplicable to his administration? He did it once to McCain, and I'm positive he'll do it again ... and the media won't report it.

Name: Josh Silver
Hometown: www.freepress.net

Hi Eric,

During the last two weeks, we've seen two whistleblowers come forward from within the FCC with media ownership reports that were buried by the administration of then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell. Both reports from 2004, support our case against media consolidation: one citing over 20% more local news on locally owned TV stations, and the other detailing the 35% decrease in independent radio station owners since passage of the 1996 Telecom Act. Powell buried them because they contradicted his efforts to let Big Media get bigger. AP's latest story is here. We are monitoring the situation closely.

Yesterday, Free Press released a major report on minority and women media ownership in a press conference with FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, civil rights leaders, and the report's primary author, Free Press Research Director Derek Turner. It shows that less than 5% of TV stations are owned by women despite comprising 51% of the US population. 3% of stations are owned by minorities which comprise 33% of the population. These numbers are extremely low, and form one of the foundational arguments why FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's current proposal to further loosen media ownership caps is bad for our democracy. The report is here, and our summary press release is here.

On Sept. 12, we launched another report detailing the nation's rapid decline from 4th to 16th in broadband penetration globally, and shines a light on the FCC's incorrect data that is sugar coating the problem as the digital divide widens. Some highlights: US consumers pay nearly twice as much as the Japanese for connections that are 20 times as slow. Cable and phone companies enjoy monopoly or duopoly control of broadband in 98% of US markets. The presser is here, and the executive summary can be seen here.

On the Hill, we are now confident that the net neutrality campaign has killed any hope of the Telecom Act moving through Congress this session, but we're very wary about the Nov/Dec lame duck session when there will be massive amounts of back room deal making. We are working closely with our industry and public interest allies, and preparing to launch high profile campaigns to avoid a middle-of-the-night sleight of hand. Senator McCain talked about the lame duck scenario this week at a trade association meeting, here.

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