Friday, March 04, 2011

Hillary Has An Attack of Progressivism ... Criticizing U.S. Media

The Secretary of State echoed one of the themes of this blog lately: (a) that the U.S. media (mostly MSM, i.e. corporate) sucks and (b) you should watch more Al Jazeera if you want to know what's really going on here and in the world around us. It's funny how these things happen. I was aware of Al Jazeera (the "terrorist network" right wing smear which was patent nonsense) and watched it infrequently. Then the Egyptian crisis hit, following Tunisia and Yemen, and the Huffington Post began streaming Al Jazeera's live video feed from Tahrir Square in Cairo. It was a revelation.

The only similarity Al Jazeera seems to share with the U.S. corporate MSM is that its foreign correspondents speak with a British accent — a vestige of Britain's imperial colonialism that is actually not such a bad a thing. After the MSM cut its news divisions to the bone in favor of reality-infotainment, Jersey Shore/Snooki et al, it contracted with a number of "foreign" foreign correspondents, guys and gals with amusing British, Aussie/New Zealand, and South African accents.

Aussies like Michael Ware are just plain crazy. Bravery, recklessness and the rush of war notwithstanding, there's no substitute for the cool and thoughtful reporting of Richard Engel, who knows the culture about which he reports and takes no unnecessary risks. NBC lucked out with Richard, but as good as he is, he can't carry their entire foreign correspondents desk, aka Richard's desk. Which is where Al Jazeera comes in. Here's Secretary Clinton:

Media critic Jeff Jarvis put it more bluntly contrasting our "celebrity-obsessed" MSM with Al Jazeera:
"Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one — not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media-can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can."
Case in point. The MSM has barely scratched the surface of two of the most important issues that go to the very heart of our survival as a species and manifest in ever-increasing social and political convulsions: Climate science and looming world food shortages.

Even as the wingnuts in Rightwingville treat climate change as a liberal conspiracy because (a) Al Gore is associated with it, and (b) Big Oil owns them, the scientific community has ever more urgently sounded the alarm that we need to begin addressing this issue in a serious policy way. Common sense tells those of us who haven't been sleepwalking for the past 20 years that climate change is real. Despite wingnuts parroting the polluters' propaganda, new studies just released by the authoritative scientific publication Nature confirmed what many of us surmised from observation alone: that extreme weather events are caused by (repeat after me, wingnuts at the Daily Caller:) global warming that "cannot be explained by natural, internal fluctuations of the climate system alone;" increased moisture in the atmosphere leading to heavier precipitation.
The research directly links rising greenhouse-gas levels with the growing intensity of rain and snow in the Northern Hemisphere, and the increased risk of flooding in the United Kingdom.
You wouldn't know it from watching Fox or reading the wingnut blogs. All you need to know about this climate change denial hit job, with the usual quotes lifted out of context from very detailed scientific analyses, is the name of chief global warming denier, Lord Christopher Monckton, cited as an authority on the science. Monckton is neither a scientist nor does he have any background in science whatsoever: "He shows up at events to make his global warming-denying case at the behest of groups funded by dirty energy interests such as Friends of America and The Heartland Institute." Naturally, this makes Monckton a favorite witness of  Republican/Teabaggers, witch doctors & alchemists like James Inhofe and those who don't care at all because the Rapture is coming to take them away.

A related and vastly under-reported story in this country is the looming worldwide food shortage leading to widespread hunger and political instability in many parts of the world. The uprising in Egypt and other countries of the Middle East was triggered in part by the rising cost of food. The region imports most of its food. Some staples, like wheat, were in short supply owing to climate change disruptions of the crop. And it's only going to get worse.

This is how Al Jazeera covered the question of global food shortages in a recent program. It's serious, comprehensive, and informative. The kind of thorough reporting that the MSM reserves in this country for the Charlie Sheen novella:

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