The Day That TV News Died

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This post originally appeared on Truthdig.


Phil Donahue produced the documentary Body of War. (Credit: Ellen Spiro)

Phil Donahue produced the documentary Body of War with Ellen Spiro. (Credit: Ellen Spiro)

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual — a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Chris Hedges (Credit: Dale Robbins)

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft — MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war — were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system — to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid of self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their “patriotic” roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews — who makes an estimated $5 million a year — did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.

It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability — known in television and advertising as the Q score — not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

President Bush, center, pauses during remarks about the Middle East at the State Department on Monday, Aug. 14, 2006 in Washington.  From left is Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Bush, center, pauses during remarks about the Middle East at the State Department on Aug. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power. They do not speak about Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision that allows the government to use the military to hold U.S. citizens and strip them of due process. They do not decry the trashing of our most basic civil liberties, allowing acts such as warrantless wiretapping and executive orders for the assassination of U.S. citizens. They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation’s most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return. Television news looks as if it was lifted from Rudyard Kipling’s portrait of the Bandar-log monkeys in “The Jungle Book.” The Bandar-log, considered insane by the other animals in the jungle because of their complete self-absorption, lack of discipline and outsized vanity, chant in unison: “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true.”

When I reached him by phone recently in New York, Donahue said of the pressure the network put on him near the end, “It evolved into an absurdity.” He continued: “We were told we had to have two conservatives for every liberal on the show. I was considered a liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone but not Dennis Kucinich. You felt the tremendous fear corporate media had for being on an unpopular side during the ramp-up for a war. And let’s not forget that General Electric’s biggest customer at the time was Donald Rumsfeld [then the secretary of defense]. Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard.”

Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary “Body of War” with fellow director/producer Ellen Spiro, about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. The film, which Donahue funded himself, began when he accompanied Nader to visit Young in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“Here is this kid lying there whacked on morphine,” Donahue said. “His mother, as we are standing by the bed looking down, explained his injuries. ‘He is a T-4. The bullet came through the collarbone and exited between the shoulder blades. He is paralyzed from the nipples down.’ He was emaciated. His cheekbones were sticking out. He was as white as the sheets he was lying on. He was 24 years old. … I thought, ‘People should see this. This is awful.’ ”

Former TV talk show host Phil Donahue poses for a photograph in downtown Los Angeles on Wed. April 23,2008. Donahue co-director and executive producer behind a new documentary "Body of War"  the story of a young veteran, Thomas Young, 25, who was shot and paralyzed from the chest down after serving in Iraq for less than a week. The story about his coming home and dealing with his disability. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Former TV talk show host Phil Donahue poses for a photograph in downtown Los Angeles on Wed. April 23,2008. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. “Nobody sees the pain,” he said. “The war is sanitized.”

“I said, ‘Tomas, I want to make a movie that shows the pain, I want to make a movie that shows up close what war really means, but I can’t do it without your permission,’ ” Donahue remembered. “Tomas said, ‘I do too.’ ”

But once again Donahue ran into the corporate monolith: Commercial distributors proved reluctant to pick up the film. Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting. Distributors asked him who would go to see a film about someone in a wheelchair. Donahue managed to get openings in Chicago, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York, Washington and Boston, but the runs were painfully brief.

“I didn’t have the money to run full-page ads,” he said. “Hollywood often spends more on promotion than it does on the movie. And so we died. What happens now is that peace groups are showing it. We opened the Veterans for Peace convention in Miami. Failure is not unfamiliar to me. And yet, I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute.”

Read Chris Hedges’ interview with Tomas Young on Truthdig.

Watch Bill Moyers’s 2008 interview with Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro about Body of War.

Watch Bill Moyers’s 2012 interview with Chris Hedges about his new book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt a collaboration with comics artist and journalist Joe Sacco.

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  • Mikey44

    I always liked Phil Donahue, but when he started to support Ralph Nader I lost my faith in his decisions. Yes…Nader had great ideas for this country and yes…he has always been for the working guy. But, as with Ron Paul…it’s a wasted vote…and if the morons who voted for Nader didn’t do that and went back to their Democratic positions “W” would have never been president. I’ll go further: The Clinton Administration which included Al Gore were very aware of Bin Laden’s plans to attack us which they passed on to Bush, who basically said thanks for the info and ignored it. With that in mind…I believe that we never would have been attacked on 9/11 and we definitely would not have invaded Iraq and there would be no war in Afghanistan. And consequently to all of that, our economy wouldn’t be broke. Thanks a lot Phil for your great decision to support and promote someone who had “0″ chance of winning. A GOP dream.

  • HueLong123

    I love that Bill Moyers is now supporting Hedges and Wolff. Moyers finally realizes the system is so corrupt that radical voices are the only sources of rational thought remaining. I wish you could have a reasonable discourse in the mainstream, but it’s gotten to the point where America is utterly rotted hollow. Sad times we live in.

  • sirrajj

    I am a long term follower of Donahue POV and Politics. Stay the course grey haired one. You’ve been correct too long and too often. You’re a light path in the mist….

  • RolloMartins

    Ridiculous. I’m so sick of people trying out the “wasted vote” malarkey. The wasted vote is for the corporatists: the Dems and the GOP. The real quest is to get the people who do not vote, those who have given up hope, to realize that they could have the real power. If all those who had not voted had gone for Nader (or for the Green Party in 2012) then there would be change. There is hope, but not as long as people are deceived by the “wasted vote” stupidity.

  • Wm. Sweeney

    Like my contemporaries, my belief in the essential goodness of our “land of the free and the home of the brave” was instilled during my formative years. Like many, if not most, these beliefs served as an anchor in viewing the political debates and various misadventures in foreign affairs over the past five decades. It has only been in the past decade that my belief in the fundamental goodness of our democracy has almost eroded entirely away. This erosion predicated by the invasion of Iraq, accelerated by a growing awareness of income/wealth hoarding by the few, and nearly finalized by seeing the inability of a ‘liberal’ administration to pursue fundamental economic change.

    Conditions promoting this erosion were created to a large extent by public policy changes which allowed, among other things, the concentration of media control in the hands of a few, the weakening of organized labor’s bargaining position, and an unprecedented rise in the influence of money in politics.

    It is no surprise that independent voices such as Donahue have been stifled. The unpleasant fact is that voices such as his will be heard less and less in the future.

  • Susan Rittman

    Ummm…didn’t you read the article?

    “The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid of self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil.”

    The whole point is that, regardless of *which* of these two parties you vote for, you end up with essentially the same result. A coproratocracy where We The People are cogs in the machine of these companies and the government they have purchased.

    Chris Hedges believes (and many others, including myself) that we are given a false choice between the Democrats and the Republicans. He believes that we have the Republicrats. I think he is right. So voting for Gore would be the same as voting for Bush. Don’t forget that Gore’s running mate was the odious Joe Lieberman. Don’t forget that it was Bill Clinton who signed Graham-Leach-Bliley into law to repeal the Glass-Steagall and allow these banks to become what they have. It was Rubin – Clinton’s Finance guru (and political fundraiser) – that stopped Brooksley Born from regulating derivatives. And don’t forget that it has been President Obama that has continued the incredible militarism that has been the hallmark of our country for 70 years.

    Change you can believe in? My ass…I also voted for Nader, and voted for neither of these 2 political parties in this election. I wouldn’t be surprised if I never vote for a Democrat or a Republican again (at least for President or Congress). Both parties are 100% morally bankrupt and not worth consideration.

  • Anonymous

    The corporatist project of projecting media unTruth is both a symptom, and of the essence, of our moral sickness. Once the Truth of “Where We Are Now” can be purchased, doesn’t life become much more meaningless? Here we see the death of American exceptionalism – of human exceptionalism. And yet, perhaps Biblical in its power, a dying soldier’s dignity and suffering reveals the moral insanity of our leaders, leaders who never went to any war but drenched in narcissism and delusion, will still cry havoc for profit. How can this be endured? If this does not serve as a catalyst to wake the soul, nothing can? Mr. Hedges, I also followed your writing and your own banishment from the NYTimes, a sentence and exile for being a truthful human being, for being a journalist, for being awake to the sensation of moral outrage. Thank you, and to Bill Moyers and Phil Donahue, thank you all for your lonely struggles, tending to the flickering light of consciousness in a time of gilded deceit. As Oscar Wilde discovered long ago, the pursuit of Truth must become our new, collective secular religion, if we are to survive ourselves and our power, to reach our best potential. I do continue to hope that from this vantage point, in the cold light of a gray day some ten years later, with all the facts available, that this awful senseless war and the methods used to enable that debacle will be seen for what they were and are. From such consciousness, history shows healing, reformation and renewal become possible. Tomas, love and light to you from New York City on a cold, gray day.

  • Anonymous
  • http://www.facebook.com/julian.baum Julian Baum

    Wasted vote or not, it WOULD have made a difference of the candidate who was elected by a majority of voters in 2000 had become president. A huge difference. Sure, the two parties are enthralled to corporate money, but Bush was incompetent and manipulated by others. Gore could have saved us from numerous bad decisions, the worst of which was ignoring the warnings on bin Laden and invading a country that never threatened us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Socal515 Calvin Pipher

    i was one of the few and i took a lot of garbage for the stand, too. phil is a really good guy and its too bad that right wing supporting corporations have taken control. cbs is a joke nowadays with bob scheiffer, oswald acted alone and scott pelley. viacom loves them. just unbelievable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Socal515 Calvin Pipher

    its true that bush knew. they thought the attack would kill a few hundred not thousands. all the wanted were those oil contracts and after wasting all those lives and all that money they went to china. why isn’t that man being tried as a traitor because its over for us as a free country and has been since bush packed the supreme court with people who have no right to be a judge of anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Socal515 Calvin Pipher

    you didn’t vote?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B5I2GJFNGFQQA36WQ6YMQJMVXM Anthony

    You are so right Rollo, like it wasnt a waste of a vote to vote for anyone from the Democratic or Republican Party over the last 20 years. Time for a new party, these two crooked parties need to go.. Not like I have seen anything crooked first-hand living in Chicago….

    To you MIkey, Ask Billy Boy about his repealing of the GLASS-STEAGALL Act which effectively made the banks casino’s with our money. Yeah Im sure glad he was around for that…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B5I2GJFNGFQQA36WQ6YMQJMVXM Anthony

    Right now I think it is extremely important to elect a candidate based on their humor factor. I mean if you are gonna have them around for 4 whole years, you need something good to come out of it, right?

    Clinton was great for bawdy humor and what better to
    play off of then his fantastic penultimate act, deregulating sex. It opened the
    door like a pacifist Andrew Dice Clay, or maybe more like an evening with Red
    Foxx. It’s not for me but the comedic greats or great historians to write his
    history. Too bad Hictchens passed before writing his comedic epitaph, I know he
    had a special place in his heart for him.

    GW was great for belly laughs in a sort of Stan
    Laurel & Oliver Hardy way, sometimes being both at once, with that duality
    of pain ala Hardy, and confusion ala Stan, in his eyes after each and every
    gaffe or miscue. Ah, but the subtle slapstick of shoe dodging or even the
    mindful malapropos, could flummox even the best comedic talent of recent
    memory. He was no Groucho, Chico, Harpor, not even a Zeppo. He was a classic
    stooge and truly a genius!

    Obama is odd in that it was either a quick snicker
    or a long and torturous, Julie Taymor jeremiad that you thought was going
    somewhere but ended up more out of date then Mark Russell or Lewis Black and more
    akin to beating yourself in the head with a hammer full of saccharine from
    NPR’s “Wait Wait Dont Tell Me”. He is a much better straight man in
    my opinion, actually a really good straight man and Biden the true modern day
    Costello. But I am just talking presidents and not the men behind the men.

    So I hope now you can appreciate why in my book, he
    was the least successful of the last 20 years. Romney had laughs, big laughs,
    huge laughs, he had the meter pegged, you have to admit that! But alas 2012 has
    passed, though sooner than we think, 2016 will be here and our quadrennial
    sojourn will be over and we will all salute and hail our new clowned prince

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B5I2GJFNGFQQA36WQ6YMQJMVXM Anthony

    Aint it the truth… police

  • http://www.facebook.com/LauraLeeAustinTx Laura Lee

    i think we are missing a point here: As Rachel Maddow pointed out last week, our elected representatives often speak their mind, and then a memo follows the interview stating that he didn’t really mean what he said. Now if the media switches its story to fit the memo, that’s complicity. But when they call it for what it is, then the problem rests squarely on the shoulders of the elected official who is kowtowing to some unforeseen puppeteer. My question: Who is pulling the string? These memos are said to come from the elected official’s “office,” but that means someone back in his office is telling him what to think, do, and say, and that he is not free to act or speak his own conscience. To be fair, I think this is far more troubling than media complicity. These people we put into congress, the senate, and so on, are speaking the words of someone whose existence we are not even aware of. Why would they do such a thing? What are they receiving in return for their compliance with their invisible master(s)?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1025475856 Tony Gattis

    We’re living the Chinese Curse>

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Manchik/701693075 Joe Manchik

    ̿ ̿ ̿|̿ ̿ HANK YOU !
    You, Bill Moyers, are a GREAT American hero for exposing the awful state of affairs that The United States of America is in today. I am truly ashamed of the job that the the mainstream news media is doing in the United States today. They have become nothing more than a megaphone for the military industrial complex in America and for the greedy CEOs, like the Koch brothers, who funnel bribery money to our elected officials through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in order to purchased what was previously our government. ALEC has quite effectively turned the government of the United States into a Plutocracy ruled by the controlling 1% providing this bribery money. Today, the National Defense Authorization Act has rendered We The People powerless and incapable of taking any action to stop these ugly wars that ALEC has bribed our elected officials to start because it defines We The People as terrorists if we complain about it or if we peacefully protest these wars. We The People of the United States no longer have any voice in our government. Today, the vast majority of our elected officials are taking money from ALEC and the Koch brothers, and I fully support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders when he said that we need to wage a moral and political war against ALEC. I can not thank you enough, Bill Moyers, for doing what you do today because these are the reasons why I display the flag of the United States of America upside down.

  • Susan Rittman

    I said I didn’t vote for either of the main parties. I voted 3rd party because that was the candidate that who’s views I most agreed with. I refuse to propagate the ‘lesser of two evils’ nonsense. That is the BS they feed you to keep you voting for them despite their diminishing representation.

  • Susan Rittman

    How do you know? I think that may not be true. As I mentioned Joe Lieberman was the VP candidate. Not exactly a glowing endorsement as he is basically an agent for a foreign government.

    We will never know if that was the case, but let’s take Obama as an example: he was touted as a great liberal (largely because that is the platform that he campaigned on) and how has he turned out? He is basically a liberal Republican circa 1994. Hardly a progressive and most certainly 1) a corporatist, based on his policy towards the banks, oil companies, and defense contractors and 2) as much an institutionalist as every other President we have had in the White House in the last 50 years. In other words THE SAME as the last guy who, in case you forgot, SUCKED as a president. Obama is arguably worse on many core policies than Bush, opting to demonstrate ‘liberalism’ in a few token social issues. The core, however, is exactly the same and, as such, a reinforcement of what Chris Hedges said in this article.

  • maitreyananda ananda

    911 was a constructed lie. lets not base our plans for our future upon known mis-information.

  • the new generation

    must be a baby boomer….the ‘metards’…burp.

  • http://twitter.com/B9Tumor Another Josh

    This discussion is not complete without the following two words: Amy Goodman.

  • Coy

    Love this. I doubt I agree with most of your politics but it is great to see a reasoned arguement and not just someone else’s recycled crap. It drives me crazy to see both sides in a continuous argument over who’s sides liars are more dishonest.

  • zef

    It hurts to be reminded in this recap how we turned into intellectual zombies. No matter how much you might argue sense, we are too dead to know what to do next

  • StawnyK

    I cant stand Donahue, Watch his interview with jared taylor on immigration. Despite Jared giving hard facts from multiple sources Donahue constantly cuts him off, dodges his questions and talks to him like a baby to try and get the crowd on his side. It really is incredibly unprofessional. Just because the statistics are hard to hear, doesnt mean they’re not true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.moore.79274 David Moore

    don’t forget Aaron Brown

  • jack frost

    Who’s left to be taken off the air for opposing Obama?

  • Kyle Powderly

    I don’t know when tee-vee news died, but the cause of death was strangulation by the corporations that own broadcast outlets—be they stations or networks. The first choke-hold came in the last 1980s when station owners and the networks saw the success of the tabloid news format and realized that news didn’t have to be a money-losing public service but could turn a profit as well. And Edward R. Murrow started spinning in his grave at 3,000 RPMs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    Mikey, i voted for Nadar 3 times in a row. It wasn’t a wasted vote. If the democrats had anyone that was worth a darn – they wouldn’t have needed the 1% vote.

    But i want to inform you of one other thing that you are in the dark about Mikey. I would not have voted for Clinton or Gore or supported them anyways. Clinton deregulated the Telecommunications industry and the banking industry. His forign policy in Haiti was egrecious. He was, a terrible president, who used reformed minded propoganda for self-aggrandizement.

    I think someday many people will understand JUST how bad Clinton was. One other thing —– he is now touting his support for DOMA —- and the reason he gives is that he wasn’t aware it would be used to harm others. He was a lawyer and he didn’t know it was a civil rights violation???????????? WTF…….And now his wife is declaring how she supports gay marriage in commercials why??????? because polls have shown that supporting gay marriage is popular.. what a bunch of self-serving hypocrites.

    I was for permitting gays to have similar freedoms over 40yrs ago and i have never run for office —– i just knew it was the right thing to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    Bingo…..Joe Lieberman was the VP for Gore….maybe the most indigestible of polilticians and the most conservative. Certainly he was loyal to his country – Israel.

  • http://twitter.com/jr32 Junior Portillo2

    it’s reasons like these why I love to watch CURRENT TV

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=556570018 Matthew Anthony Virasami

    the problem is when you try to change the system, its the system that ends up changing you – conformist

  • Guest

    The people have lost their voice.

  • CBS Shame

    Uhh… Lowell Bergman? nice reporting.

  • Joe Dead Horse

    MSM (cough cough) “news” (cough)? Who even bothers with it anymore? It’s totally worthless. Everything on TV had become so worthless, I don’t even have a TV now. Twiddling my thumbs or watching paint dry are far more satisfying ways to completely waste time.

    The only real news agencies now are the ‘alternative’ ones found on the internet. It’s due to them that we can get some idea of what’s really going on in the world. And a major big time thanks to them and their desire to Report The News. Genuine reporters have always gotten my appreciative respect. How could civilization exist and survive without them?

  • Anonymous

    As much as the looney tune left wing liberals yammer and complain about G.W. Bush and the rush to war in Iraq; said looney tune left wingers did nothing, absolutely nothing to stop him; including and especially the democrat politicians in Washington, D.C. Hypocrites all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Edward-Kendrick/1012462908 John Edward Kendrick

    Who control mass media and dominate Hollywood to promote their narratives? Who control the Congress and the currency creation process over most of the allegedly ‘free’ world? Who cast themselves as victims as they put a boot on the face of humanity? What is the name of Big Brother’s (1984) arch enemy who represented free speech and freedom of thought?

    Goldstein.

    What a joke…NOT!

  • john barbour

    The firing of Phil Donahue may have been the final nail in the coffin, but the coffin opened afew days after Nov 22nd., 1963 ,when CBS street reporter told the world that the Zapruder film shows the fatal shot shows Pres. Kennedy thrusting FORWARD, and CBS began a documentary supporting The Warren Report before the report was released!

  • john barbour

    PS: The street reporter mentioned below was Dan Rather!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tommy.carrig Tommy Carrig

    Watched “The World According to Dick Cheney” on Showtime and the Reagan years part 3 on PBS. Cheney comes across to me as the leader of the Empire (Star Wars) and Gorbachev comes across as the voice of reason in Reagan years. The truth is getting play in 10 years vs. the mandatory 25 yrs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    i concur Calvin. He is not being tried for torture/treason because he belongs to the same club as Obama……that is what i think..

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    You know, i agree. Those democrats in Washington did nothing. They didn’t even have the cohones to stand up and filibuster full throated like Rand Paul. They ceded to what they felt the public desired. But those democrats like Max Baucas, Harry Reid, etc are not liberals. They are politicians. That is what i think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.culross.9 Tom Culross

    The article is only off by about 20 years. The day that news actually died was the day that the Fairness Doctrine was repealed. Using the absurd false equivalency that the free market will assure the greatest range of ideas, the result has been a dearth of actual reporting, coinciding with a dramatic increase in manufactured outrage. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and all the rest of the corporate media mavens became dominant after that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joyce.b.wilson Joyce Brand Wilson

    always loved and watched phil donahue and really enjoy listeno bill moyers too….voices of reason…..miss that..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1670070306 Suzanne Longo

    I don’t have any family that has served in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I am beginning to feel that returning Veterans will be treated the same way Viet Nam vets were treated. There will be no ticker tape parades, no jobs because they “might be damaged” and they return to an America that simply wants to forget these two wars. Are we thankful for what they did? Absolutely. Do we realize how much they gave when they were ordered to deployment time after time? No.Do we even act like we care anymore? Not really.. The media could do a much better job reporting about these “invisible” men and women coming home to an indifferent country at best, and to a Veterans Department ill equipped to handle the number of Veterans who need help. If Dick Cheney can manage to get a heart transplant at his age, then we can do much, much better helping out vets. The media can move mountains if they want to, but they seem to have more important things to do these days, like keeping a count of Obama’s vacation days and who walks the dog.. All of that seems so petty compared to a solider coming home with no legs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    What a thoughtful, intelligent observation Suzanne. I agree. Via DEMOCRACY NOW and other internet networks it seems that the veterans have had to fight for their health care. Its a story, largely, underobserved, by the worthless MSM.

  • MBrecker

    What’s one big difference between Donahue and other TV names such as Amy Goodman and Tavis Smiley? While all three know that media is a business, Goodman and Smiley fall into line just like the MSM do. They’re terrified of losing access. If the corporate MSM is so bad, why is Goodman showing up on CNN and MSNBC? Why does Smiley talk about Obama’s support for gay marriage on his book tour, but refuses to specifically say that? What he said. What he said. Are you a journalist, or just pushing a book?
    Donahue IMO has made money AND put himself on the line. Now, what if he had one-tenth the Emmys, money, fame and all the rest of it, and protested. Would anybody give him the time of day? Possibly not. This is an environment where people like Chris Hedges have to beg for time on RT and Alex Jones when they can’t get on Moyers and Co. Corporate MSM is terrified of Noam Chomsky. Innocent people are dying in hunger strikes at Guantanemo. Instead, what’s more important? Who’s trending on Twitter? If you’re not trending, you’re not happening. Next story.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vagnsorensen Vagn sorensen

    If its not fun what good is it!

    America is run by teenage mentality for the teen age mentality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    Amy Goodman has been faithfully contributing to the publics knowledge of news for many years on both radio and the internet. You must not watch her show as she doesn’t fall into line as MSM does. She has fought tooth and nail for decades to give honest journalism to the public. It is unfair what you say about her, I believe. Additionally, Chomsky and Hedges recieve a lot of air time on Goodman’s show. She also travels the country lecturing to inform the public on alternate news.

    As for Tavis — i don’t watch t.v. But when i did watch T.V. i thought he was an honest broker as well. Just my opinion. He, as well, as Cornell West are on Goodmans shows and both reveal non-MSM opinions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Al-Davis/100000495384015 Al Davis

    I actually thought that CNN was somewhat middle of the road and free of corporate strings. Then I read on Zero Hedge about their reporter Amber Lyon and learned about her hiding behind a vehicle with her cameraman while Aneheim police fired into the croud, They were pinnied behind the vehicle, bullets hitting the vehicle and CNN would not report allow her to run the report for fear of :D HS pressure.
    We now know the Occupy movement paralized the TPTB with fear that it could grow into a out of their control movement.
    CBS seems to be the late hope for any real objective news, but appears they are also under the thumb of corporate money also,.

  • http://twitter.com/zinzinzor Sylvia Scarletti

    I agree. If Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had not broken the Bush V Gore tie Gore would have been president and 911 would have been prevented. And Although I agree that we really have one party, the Republicrats, Gore would have been much less toxic than Bush. Gore would not have allowed New Orleans to be destroyed, by the way.

  • http://twitter.com/zinzinzor Sylvia Scarletti

    As is PBS. PBS sucks and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because I trusted them long after it was pretty clear that they were obeying their corporate masters. Al Jazeera America is good. So is RT. Democracy Now is reliable. They were recently added to my corporate public TV station which now has many Wall St. programs and little else. PBS always seems to be trying to raise money nowadays. I suspect I’m not the only one who ceased to support them. “The News Hour” is a perfect example of beltway propaganda. Never watch it. David Brooks makes me throw up.

  • http://twitter.com/zinzinzor Sylvia Scarletti

    Can’t watch Current. Don’t have cable and won’t until cable stops pushing expensive packages on consumers.

  • http://twitter.com/zinzinzor Sylvia Scarletti

    Amy Goodman doesn’t fall into line. Have you ever watched “Democracy Now”?

  • Anonymous

    Was wondering why no one mentioned her, or Juan Gonzalez.

  • http://www.facebook.com/artnotartist Gene Lattanzi

    I agree with you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/artnotartist Gene Lattanzi

    Interesting times indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1198781307 JungleBoi Tee

    I think that’s lost on most – they probably think he means Chinese debt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002973113708 Jimmi Shrode

    It died longer ago than that when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Now it is a garbage heap of manufactured content that means nothing at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Gwinner/1473552609 Alan Gwinner

    good point

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608496344 Scott Larsen

    “I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute,” says Donahue. I’m not. The old adage about Americans – and I am one btw – are satisfied beyond anything else is when they can use a credit card, buy a new car every few years and think sports is more important than anything else. Remain ignorant like sheep about the ‘free’ press and government…

  • fitch

    how sad

  • Stacy Turner

    We could just start over. People do it all the time. It looks very inconvienient. We will probably take it. We have grown soft.

  • JOV8

    Thank You !

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.kessler.965 David Kessler

    Our country has been wittled down to only two places to get reasonable new nuggets. That is Bill Moyer and John Stewart. How sad is this. But both My. Moyer and Mr. Stewart are the breath of Freas Air that is now available today.
    Unfortunately We the People are left with the S_itty end of the stick again.
    I thank you Bill Moyer for standing up for what’s left of real Journalism in our society on public media. I pary that you continue to Try and keep us informaned .
    Thank you .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1199838534 Katie Webb

    TV news died the day it became subject to ratings and had to be able to pay for itself. That was in the 80s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmie.vontungeln Jimmie VonTungeln

    I remember the dark days leading up to an entering the Iraq War when I had to rely on blogs and foreign newspapers to get an inkling of what was going on. It was the darkest political period of my life since receiving orders for Vietnam.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daxiewalker Ruth McVeigh

    I really admired and enjoyed Donahue but somehow I missed why he vanished. Today is the first I knew why he was fired. This kind of thing is now happening in Canada with our Members of Parliament not allowed to speak freely for their constituents.

  • Anonymous

    Truth was just one more casualty of the Bush administration. It is unfortunate that even though I supported Obama over the horrible alternatives, he has done nothing to change many of the policies that led to this.

  • http://twitter.com/shawn_barnett Shawn Barnett

    I remember being glued to my T.V. and watching Mr. Donahue…He is one American I will personally never forget and his brilliant wife Marlo…Mr Moyers makes it a trifecta~

  • http://www.facebook.com/RickAlanShepherd Rick A. Shepherd

    While I agree with the main premise of this article, I have to say I think lumping Faux News Channel and MSNBC together like they’re opposite sides of the same coin is a disservice to the reader who may not watch the channels very often. Rachel Maddow doesn’t ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. She’s put a harsh spotlight on things like the XL Pipeline, drilling in Alaskan waters, the gulf oil disaster, the DC/Wall Street revolving door, the too-big-to-jail bank CEOs getting away, and the human and financial costs of the 2 wars including a recent 1-hour documentary during her time slot on the selling of the Iraq War to American citizens. Ed Schultz was also doing a great job in prime-time before being moved to weekends. He gives a voice to the working class and unions with segments that took corporations to task for selling-out the American worker. His move to weekends probably bolsters Hedges’ argument, though, that corporate-owned media likes to make money off liberal viewers, but has it’s limits. Still, you can’t compare MSNBC, which remains fact-based, to Faux News which is so bad at journalism that a recent piece of non-partisan research found it’s viewers knew less about current events than people who watched no TV news at all. I think MSNBC has it’s corporate moments when executive decisions do remind us who’s really in charge of the network. The channel has lost several good voices since Donahue as well. Also, despite all it’s faults for allowing not-so-real journalists to make a name for themselves, fortunately our society’s newest & biggest medium – the internet – does allow some real journalists to continue exposing the truth directly to the people without corporate intervention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lennyhaglund Len Haglund
  • http://www.facebook.com/lennyhaglund Len Haglund

    Opium Trade ballance of payments?

  • Cheryl

    You mean Dan Rather? Still crying out in the wilderness, reporting truth, God bless him!

  • tdelo1

    Comparing Fox to MSNBC is a gross false equivalency. MSNBC, along with Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and Bill Maher, has excellent journalists/pundits such as Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris Perry, Ed Schultz, Alex Wagner, Martin Bashir, and others (not the Morning Joe show) who do a great job of pointing out the lies being told by the right wing media and carving out the truth for interested viewers. Fox, Rush, Clear Channel, et al are the real enemy of our country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arihalli Bernie Karpf

    TDELO1……i used to think that as well… but now i don’t. Chris Hayes – unimaginably brilliant – claims that the DEBT is not a big problem. That is amazing. The rest of the MSNBC crew you point out DO CRITICIZE Obama somewhat but support him.
    I have never voted for a Republican. But for decades now i have given up on the democratic party. Pres. Obama is the pits….he is wasting 8yrs while the country is mired in debt, dithers with our MOST IMPORTANT problem which is climate change, wastes our armed and fiscal resources in stupid overseas wars that only benefit arms manufacturers, sabotages any gun controls internationally while making a pretense at something domestically, has done, for the most part, NOTHING to reform the health care, financial or energy sectors of the country. A big waste of time for 8yrs.
    And the reason i bring this up is because the MSNBC rooting section consistenly supports the president who is worthless as a pecker on a pope.
    Why the heck isn’t Noam Chomsky on MSNBC? Chris Hedges could give some fair review of how corporate America is being supported by both democrats and republicans and is undermining our democracy.
    I have given up on T.V. and only obtain news from the internet. Once last thing —- our president is to decide the TAR SANDS soon. So far, he has SUPPORTED oil, gas and nuclear reactors — all dangerous to our environment. He hasn’t appeared at any climate control conferences. Left Copenhagen after blaming the Chinese, prematurely on a jet plane. And hasn’t signed the KYOTO protocol.
    Why haven’t these MSNBC news reporters relinquished ANY support for this layabout president?

  • Anonymous

    I lump Bill Moyers and Phil Donahue right in there with the rest of them. Moyers would fit right into MSNBC in my opinion. I don’t see an honest face on the media horizon.They’re all pushing an agenda… left, right, corporate, personal, secular, religious. By skewering facts, omitting details, false declarations of majority approval or disapproval they attempt to sway public opinion rather than report the facts as they are. Is any of it about truthful reporting anymore? There is too much at stake to report the news truthfully. We might actually come to a conclusion for ourselves. They couldn’t have that.
    When our media is for sale there is no way to keep our government honest. When we lost the media we lost our government that was made up by the people for the people. Phil Donahue was the first to report according to personal beliefs and opinions.
    Moyers is just another cookie cutter liberal talking head. He just seems classier because he’s on PBS. He’s no different from Phil Donahue. Donahue is no different than Maddow. Maddow is no different from Limbaugh who is no different from Hannity ….on and on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.rayburn.3 Bill Rayburn

    From the utter capitulation of our politicos to corporate ideology, to the disappearance of serious journalism, to the plunging off the cliff of the ‘American Dream” for most of the working class, to attacks on organized labor, I have felt for a decade now that I am seeing the transformation of America into a Fascist state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1198781307 JungleBoi Tee

    Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe3l1rk Joe Clark

    We need a new constitution.

  • A.O.W.M.

    Well-written, well-considered. We need Mr. Hedges here and everywhere possible. Not to slight Mr. Moyers in any way, but Chris Hedges is our Cicero. ‘How long, O Catilina, ‘ indeed. Thanks to Mr. Moyers for giving Mr. Hedges houseroom.

  • tired

    Rotted Hollow…perfect description. Murrow hasn’t just turned in his grave, he’s on a friggin’ rotisserie.

  • Haudenosaun

    “Why haven’t these MSNBC news reporters relinquished ANY support for this layabout president?”

    Because they’re paid for and owned by the same people. And those same people like what Obama is doing for them. Which answers your question as to why we will never see Noam Chomsky or Chris Hedges on these “fantasy” news shows.

    I stopped watching TV in 2007. There are a lot of good alternative news sites on the internet minus the moronic talking heads.

  • ccaffrey

    Actually, the death of tv news started much earlier. It used to be that the news department budgets were subsidized by the other network programming. News programs, although monitored in the ratings, weren’t expected to turn a profit. And the budgets were considerable, because most of them had considerable budgets for overseas offices and embedded reporters.

    I remember that when Walter Cronkite decided he had to speak out about the Vietnam war, he wouldn’t do it in the framework of the “news” programming. He requested CBS for a separate program to do that, as he didn’t want to confuse news with editorial. That distinction was still important.
    That all changed when 60 Minutes became a blockbuster and made CBS a LOT of money and viewership. I’m not saying it wasn’t a great show when it started out. But it began the era of personality-driven news too. AND reporting shows were then expected to start contributing to the network profit.
    But there ARE distinctions even within personality news. I think Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris Perry try much harder than most to engage people of varying perspectives, are willing to look at multi-dimensional issues, and will self-correct when they’ve reported something wrong. Whether you like her presentation style or not, Rachel Maddow, a Rhodes Scholar,with degrees from Stanford and a doctorate from Oxford, does some really exceptional connect-the-dots reporting. And, unlike Fox, which continues to list itself as Fox NEWS, they have the honesty to list the show under their own names. And they also regularly disclose sponsors.
    Please watch, if you haven’t seen it, the hourlong interview Bill Moyers did with Chris Hedges in 2012. He admits himself in length that all reporters “editorialize” to some extent in their writing and reporting. Out of the myriad perspectives and thousands of “facts” surrounding an issue, they make decisions all the time on which to report and how to present them.
    I’m a little disappointed that Mr. Hedges would do such a flat smackdown of all network news/editorial shows. He would do much better using his considerable skills to shore up those who are trying to get more indepth underreported information out to a large audience in the constraints of the network format, than to do an across the board broadbrush accusation that they are all corporate shills. I think Chris Hedges is one of the great truthtellers of our time, But with the enormous danger we are in, we need to use all the resources available to draw people into the fight.

  • kateslate

    I disagree. I believe there is not just stretching or omission from Hannity, Limbaugh et al on the far right. They just outright lie and nobody in their pool challenges them.

  • kateslate

    Well, since we are not a dictatorship, I think he has done his damnedest in that direction. I think many of us wish he would use his executive pen more often since those on the right outright declared they would stymy his efforts at every turn.

  • Anonymous

    And there are plenty who feel that way about MSNBC. They’re all liars.

  • Arm of Keaau

    The key word in your statement is “feel”. Those who feel are too ignorant to understand the loss they along with the rest of us have suffered from those being paid to lie to the citizens of this nation taking away our savings, jobs, truth, and constitutional rights. (_: FBI

  • Arm of Keaau

    Al are you deaf or just ignorant? CBS is pure corporate swill. There is no depth and little facts in their “reporting”/entertainment broadcast. You don’t see anything other than what is best for the corporate hog. Even “60 Minutes” that garnered respect is no more than a Barbara Walters entertainment interview with leading softball questions for “ah shucks!” reply’s. CBS News is only one step removed from FAUX News. (_: FBI

  • John Kessler

    “Chris Hayes – unimaginably brilliant – claims that the DEBT is not a big problem.”

    As do a number of decent economists. They not only make the claim but can explain why that is true.

    The actual claim isn’t that the debt isn’t a problem but that the time to tackle the debt is after the nation’s economy gets back on track. This is not the time to be fixing the debt. This is the time to be putting people to work and improving wages. Once things are running smoothly and more tax revenues start rolling in, the debt will actually reduce itself and we can then work on reducing it.

    Austerity measures at this time will only make the economy and the debt itself much worse.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly! There was a reason Romney wanted to stop PBS and it was not to stop Big Bird; more likely to stop Bill Moyers.
    Instead of thought provoking news, we get media events. Waste of my time. I do not give a damn about movie stars and sports heroes.
    When there is an issue, they tend to give just the conservative non-sense, nobody to counter with alternative ideas.
    And look at all the wars starting with Vietnam. 58,000 US soldiers killed. Robert McNamara said 50 years too late that they never really considered if we should even have been there!
    Since then Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, nearly Syria. Do they publish how much personal profit it brought to old fart politicians who send young bodies to die for their profit!
    We need a trust buster to bust up these news cartels.

  • Anonymous

    Like grounds for impeachment are “bribery, treason, and other high crimes against the state.” Instead corruption is simply the way things are done. Koch brothers spent 40 million dollars to get control of congress last election. Of course that did not dent their 10 billion a year profits.

  • Joan Harris

    I take MSNBC and Fox News with a grain of salt. While Phil Donahue was being taken off the air, PBS’ Frontline was exposing the reasons the Bush administration was trending towards war in Iraq. The CBS series Blue Bloods has shown a conservative bias by having their respected actor Tom Selleck being a critic of MSNBC and liberals, never mentioning Fox and the conservative agenda. I continue to watch the show in hopes it evolves with a balanced point of view politically, elevating it to a higher level.

  • Bernie Karpf

    John….i am not talking about austerity., There is NOTHING being done about the debt problem now. Zippo. The civilian labor force numbers show the unemployed is increasing. Food stamps are hitting the 50million mark. Unemployed and Underemployed are at least 20%.

    And manufacturing jobs are STILL being lost. John….the only jobs that are added are SERVICE jobs — we are talking McDonalds jobs. This is NOT an economic recovery. I wish you were right. But its not…. proof?

    Look at the interest rates — its STILL around zero percent. The Fed knows that if they adjust them upwards — the economy will tank. And look at the purchases by the Fed — still they purchase 75 billion per month to maintain a dead economy.

    What we need is to HALVE the Defense appropriations. Taking off the cap on Social Security. Changing the tax code BACK to what it was when the wealthy paid a great deal more in taxes. Ending subsidies to the corporations. Ending the practice of the wealthy sending their money overseas to escape taxes. I am talking a PROGRESSIVE agenda…. thanks for the answer above…

  • Anonymous

    Yes this is a good site. On Banter I wrote that I thought it was OK if a state used the 12th amendment and I have been called names and hounded. There are no conversations there so I don’t know if they agree or disagree or are just carrying torches and pitchforks.

  • Jesusisdemocrat

    AMEN!!!