Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In Defense of Dylan Ratigan ... Would You Believe It?!

This blog's readers, whether fan or foe, will know that MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan is not among my favorite political pundit-TV hosts. In fact, I find Dylan unwatchable given his parade of reactionary Republican guests and screwed-up (as I see it) politics, which are all over the map and best described as neurotic. My words. Not that Dylan himself is. But his politics are. Just the other day Dylan hilariously described his personal politics as "up-down" instead of "lefty-righty." I can see it now: Dylan Ratigan, working class hero. Yeah, right. That's like saying Chris Matthews is an anarcho-syndicalist.

So given the fact that Dylan loves Ron Paul and Tom Coburn, both reactionary Republicans, both proponents of Big Government when it comes to interfering in a woman's constitutional rights over her reproductive decisions, and both slash-and-burn extreme anti-government wingnuts, exactly what kind of "liberal" does that make him, hmm ... POLITICO? Dylan loves Stephen Colbert who — sorry, brain-addled liberals, don't you know the joke's on you? — is a fellow traveler. And he'll throw in socialist independent Bernie Sanders, for good measure, just to muddy the waters.

So what does all this add up to? The weird political neurotic known as a "libertarian." There are two basic kinds of libertarians: The conservative, small government Ron Paul types, who are essentially Republicans who abhor religious zealotry and most civil liberties infringements — except when it comes to women, where they tend to be sexist, hang out with the 'lovelies' (Dylan's trophy 'power panel'... Jimmy, the ugly "Dem" is the control), and look the other way on abortion. The second type of "libertarian" is the Ayn Rand cultist, like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul (maybe Ron, too) in the political sphere. These elements are downright psychotic politicos. They have plans, budgets, and proposals to prove it. POLITICO, the political "news" outlet of record for the Idiot Punditocracy or, if you prefer, the Beltway Media, takes them very seriously.

People chuckle quite a bit at my incessant claims of inordinate POLITICO influence on the Idiot Punditocracy, to the point that it drives the false conservative narrative of the Idiot Punditocracy/Beltway Media; a narrative that is more in line with Fox propaganda than with MSNBC's presumed news and commentary mission. For all of their combined experience, it's astonishing to me that Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews just don't get it. Or maybe they do; they're both millionaires. I always get a kick out of Andrea hosting Rachel Maddow to explain the strange ways and views of liberals and progressives. Chris is easily influenced as well.

MSNBC politicos think my POLITICO descriptor is so much trash talking silliness. At least Rachel gets it. But she happens to be a Rhodes Scholar and has more brain matter than all of them combined. No mystery there. Just this evening, while Chris hosted POLITICO's Editor-in-Chief John Harris, I read another of many POLITICO hit pieces — most are aimed at liberals and progressives — this time targeting Dylan Ratigan and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Matt Taibbi, a known progressive, unlike Dylan, was essentially their "control" to smear Ratigan with false political branding by association.

In a story entitled "New target for OWS critics: Media" POLITICO reports above the side-by-side photos of hate radio host Rush Limbaugh and wingnut hack Andrew Breitbart that "conservatives looking to delegitimize the Occupy Wall Street protests have a new tactic — targeting journalists." Labeling Limbaugh and Breitbart "conservatives" is like, well, calling Dylan Ratigan a "liberal." The story written by Harris flunky Keach Hagey goes on to say "the criticisms are a kind of conservative twofer, allowing them to hit old targets like NPR and The New York Times by raising questions about their objectivity, while at the same time undermining the grass-roots claims of the new protest movement by suggesting it has professional help — or at least professional cheerleaders."

It's all bullshit. The NPR OWS connection was of a person hosting a radio opera show. Please. Essentially it comes down to this: NPR and the New York Times are legitimate news organizations with strict standards and codes of ethics. The wingnut attack dogs, who have no standards at all, and who lie, cheat, and smear at will, take advantage of this. And by the way, POLITICO, where's the faux outrage when Fox was acting as the pro bono media advertising arm of the corporatist TEA PARTY, funded by the Koch brothers, and your corporate bankrollers. It seems, if not for Rachel and Big Eddie, the sound of crickets wafted from the Beltway Media bastions.

On Breitbart's site, one wingnut insinuated that a New York Times freelance reporter, Natasha Lennard, was actually part of the movement and had "concealed her own apparent role in the Occupy protests, implying that her arrest was an abuse of press freedom."
Lennard, who has also written for Politico and Salon, is identified in the video by the panel’s moderator as a freelancer for the Times, and also as the Times reporter who was arrested along with seven hundred activists on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1. When Lennard reported on her arrest at the time, she appears to have concealed her own apparent role in the Occupy protests, implying that her arrest was an abuse of press freedom. She used her affiliation with the Times to win her early release.
Really? This is Ms. Lennard's account in the New York Times excerpted below (emphasis all mine):
As a reporter covering the march, conducted by the Occupy Wall Street protesters, I was in position to get a close view of some events on the bridge as the arrests began. But as one of those arrested, I was also well-positioned to describe what happened next, at least for a number of those detained. [...]

One by one, people were systematically turned around, handcuffed and lined up along the bridge behind police lines as the drizzle in the air turned into cold rain. I was herded onto a New York City bus with those arrested at the same time.

Among our group — predominantly comprised of twenty-somethings — were college students from Wesleyan, travelers from California who had been camping in Zuccotti Park, unemployed young people and some who sat silently and kept their back stories to themselves. [...]

Handcuffed and complaining of needing the bathroom, a number of people on my bus sang songs (a few too many Beatles songs) to pass the time and keep up spirits. We were kept on the bus for approximately three hours before being taken in to the Midtown North precinct at 54th Street and Ninth Avenue.

As a freelancer, I did not have an official police press pass. I was, however, fortunate enough to be the first to be processed from my bus, with only a disorderly conduct violation summons, in no small measure because of my editors’ contacting Police Headquarters to ensure my swift release.
What we have here, folks, are back-to-back examples of (a) right wing propaganda, above, and (b) Lennard's reporting (both excerpted) to which you can link to read the full account. It's an excellent, first-person report of events as they went down. Can anyone spot the "abuse of press freedom" — perhaps it was the reporter's self-explanatory tweet below? And using one's "affiliation" with the media organization is what reporters do as a matter of course when, e.g., they're arrested!

But there's more. The Breitbart site ominously accuses Lennard of participating as "featured speaker" in a discussion "among anarchists, communists, and other radicals as they examine the theory, strategy and tactics of the Occupy protests." If you watch the video (Google it, please — certain sites I do not link to) there are a bunch of peeps crowded into a tiny bookstore, exchanging views about OWS. How this wingnut divined that the people were "anarchists, communists, and other radicals" is an example of when wingnuts profile in which conclusions about a person's political ideology can be drawn simply by looking at them or listening to a few disjointed questions. Liberals and progressives, who live in a world where the truth and the facts rule, will indict wingnuts with their own words and actions. We have a higher standard, that sets us apart — and a higher intellect, to boot.

Here, the Breitbart flunky smears the audience and Lennard by insinuating they're "anarchists and communists" and Lennard's "answer suggests that she identifies with the anarchist faction holed up at Zuccotti Park–and that she identifies with efforts by Occupy activists to conceal their true beliefs and goals."
For example, at roughly 1:15:15, an audience member asks a question about how to manage the growing ideological divisions among anarchists and communists as they form “a new society” through the Occupy movement. Lennard’s answer suggests that she identifies with the anarchist faction holed up at Zuccotti Park–and that she identifies with efforts by Occupy activists to conceal their true beliefs and goals.
Well, I listened to the entire segment and watched the Breitbart excerpt. Notice that the Breitbart flunky infers the question directly references "ideological divisions among anarchists and communists" as if those terms were part of the audience member's question. But they weren't. She never mentioned "anarchists and communists" in her question, which asked, simply, how to go about forming a "new society." If I recall my history correctly, that's basically what our Founding Fathers aimed to do. Lennard's reply is objectively true, perhaps too frank for our post-9/11 semi-authoritarian, semi-police state. Hello, are the wingnuts familiar with Ghandi and Martin Luther King's peaceful civil disobedience protests (rhetorical question):
"The state of the square now…[people] would not speak at the park. Because being an outright anti-authoritarian or an anarchist is not really something that people like to be live streamed around the world with a fucking police pen around you. So there is a silencing that’s sort of gone on without much addressing, because to address it would be to out oneself. So if you’re talking — and this also addresses the question of escalation; it’s like — yes, there are a lot of people talking about many different ideas. Do they all want all of those ideas live streamed to the entire world on the assumption that everything is permitted and legal, when it quite clearly isn’t? So there is already a tendency in the park that means backing away from anti-authoritarian tendencies that don’t fall into pre-existing permitted institutional structures, or that can’t be coded by them. So I think there’s a problem with the way the park operates now that doesn’t allow for this kind of coming together."
Of course, one of the other "featured guests" said this, by way of a retort: "The idea that representative democracy is somehow authoritarian ... Authoritarian would be if the cops came in and arrested all of us for having this meeting. This is not an authoritarian system we live under." It was never mentioned on Breitbart's "Big (read that, "Fascist") Government." As the video went viral on the wingnut blogosphere, Lennard explained:
“I spoke at the panel independently. It was not an 'organizing meeting'. I have no contract or anything of the sort with the Times. If anything, the misnomer was the moderator describing me as a New York Times freelancer as if there were an ongoing agreement or contract. I had done some freelance work for them in previous weeks -- namely stringing and one firsthand report of Brooklyn Bridge experience.”
So much for the wingnut smears. Here's Natasha firing back on Twitter at the wingnut ratbastards. For the record:
POLITICO, I will say again and reiterate because, Andrea and Chris, I actually read their conservative, corporatist bias every day — over and above the political rumor-mill that you guys consider "hard news" — here's one more example of their collaborationism. It's insidious and almost as bad as when Chris parrots Bill O'Reilly's "far left" and "hard left" nonsense. Keach Hagey writes: "The cases of Ratigan and Taibbi, two outspoken liberals, are even harder to pin down when it comes to journalistic ethics." Excuse me? Two "outspoken liberals" as in "conservatives" like Limbaugh and Breitbart? Tell you what, Hagey you fucking tool, why don't you borrow some of my adjectives, eh. Got plenty of 'em.

Somehow, I don't think Dylan would object much at all when I correct the record to say he is most definitely not a liberal. Dylan, whose good intentions led him to address the OWS protesters at Zuccotti Park, and who I believe was punked by a bearded individual claiming to be a Teabagger from Texas — c'mon, and you call yourself a Manhattanite, Dylan, with such pathetic "street smarts"? — put his two cents into a couple of e-mails offering innocuous advice to the protesters and to take their concerns to the attention of Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Good idea. Hey, it's a free country and last I checked freedom of speech hadn't yet been abridged. Dylan could never influence the movement, no matter how hard he tries. So if it helps his own political development leading, say, to a watchable program, I say it's all good.

Here's more of the Harris flunky: "Taibbi’s leaked email shows, in essence, a boiled down version of his article, “My Advice to the Wall Street Protesters.” Linking Taibbi with Ratigan simply because they share an e-mail listserv — which is classic wingnut peeping tom-ism, hacking into people's private e-mails — along with other "radicals" like Noam Chomsky (interestingly, only three or so "controversial" names appear in the blacked-out wingnut screenshot with many names, possibly conservatives too), is how these wingnut scumbags roll. I'm sure Dylan wouldn't have a problem being associated with the awesome Matt Taibbi, but it's this sick obsession that wingnuts have of trying to smear one person's politics with another's simply because they have a listserv in common that is utterly contemptible. They aren't out to disclose some bigger truth; they're all about trying to ruin people's careers, to get their pound of flesh.

According to the Harris flunky, MSNBC's "embrace" of OWS "echoes the way Fox "News" embraced the early Tea Party protests." Not even close, assholes, and you know it. This video calls the ratbastards out — are you paying attention, Chris and Andrea?

MSNBC has embraced Occupy Wall Street in a way that echoes the way Fox News embraced the early tea party protests, with everyone from Tamron Hall to Ed Schultz anchoring from Zuccotti Park as the protests gained steam. But considering that MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann for his equally un-shocking donations to Democratic candidates, because of NBC News’s one-size-fits-all ethics policy, it does raise questions about where MSNBC draws the line between opinionated journalist and activist. An MSNBC spokesman could not be reached for comment Monday night.=

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You think Rachel Maddow "gets it" and Dylan Ratigan doesn't? You are blind.