December 1, 2005

Richard Posner Claims CNN Has Moved to the Left

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 2, 2005 @ 1:45 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, TV

CNN used to be owned by Ted Turner.

Now it’s owned by Time Warner.

Writing in the New York Times, Richard Posner claims CNN has gotten more liberal.

Yeah, right, sure it has.


No Webcasts For Most TV Channels

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 2, 2005 @ 12:32 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, TV

People should be able to watch more TV channels online for free.

Showing the same advertisements as on TV could theoretically pay for it.

Jeff Jarvis writes:

I don’t get it. From the start, I would have thought that Current.TV would have been built to be seen by anyone anywhere. Why shouldn’t I be able to watch the stream online?

A visitor to his blog, BuzzMachine, Kevin Werbach answers:

Jeff, there’s a simple answer for this. Current TV’s contracts with DirecTV and Time Warner Cable, which provide their carriage, effectively prohibit them from streaming the full TV content over the Internet. This is standard operating procedure in the cable business. It’s going to be a big legal issue for the FCC as IPTV takes off, comparable to some of the network neutrality issues we’ve been fighting over in the VOIP world.

But yes, given Current TV’s vision and positioning, one would expect them to look for creative ways around these limitations.

They Should Try a Different Model

Right now, cable content providers like Current have two revenue streams: being paid by providers like Comcast, and being paid by advertisers.

It would be a bold move for channel to try a different model: offer the content to providers for free (or at a discount), webcast, and hope for greater advertising revenue with greater exposure.

I hope a channel tries this.

It would give people who aren’t cable subscribers the ability to view more content.

It would also give people who are cable subscribers the ability to view content not available from their cable provider.

The only tv channel I know of which presently has 24 hour webcasts is C-Span, which is non-commercial.

However, it is common for radio stations to webcast, including commercial radio stations and non-commercial radio stations.


Parent, Heal Thyself

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 2, 2005 @ 11:09 am
Filed under: Video Games

Adam Prestridge, publisher of the Atmore (AL) Advance, says it’s time to hold parents accountable — not video game makers — for the side effects of too much gaming.

Here’s a breath of fresh air:

Experts first criticized video games because they kept children inside their homes, in front of the television and away from outside activities.

Those same experts came to the conclusion later that the same video games, which were now more advanced, were one of the main causes of obesity in children and teenagers.

Now experts are blaming the graphic violence and gratuitous sexual acts portrayed in some games for the actions of children and teenagers today.

In a way this is true, but as with anything a child does, some of the blame needs to be placed on the parents. The software companies that develop these video games don’t purchase them for these children or give them away. The children’s parents buy them with utter disregard to the parental advisory printed on the package or allow their children to play them with no care.

There’s nothing wrong with a company trying to make money, even if it is on smut; it’s a free country. The company has that right and we as citizens have the right not to purchase their products.

There’s more in the Atmore Advance.

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Proposed Porn Tax Bumps in to First Amendment

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 2, 2005 @ 10:50 am
Filed under: Government

Attempting to save the children, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D–Arkansas) has proposed a tax on web porn. Her bill would levy a whopping 25% tax on the revenue of “adult-themed” websites.

From ZDNet:

“Many adult-oriented Web sites in today’s online world are not only failing to keep products unsuitable for children from view, but are also pushing those products in children’s faces,” Lincoln said. “And it’s time that we stand up and say, ‘enough is enough.’”

But legal scholars who specialize in the First Amendment say courts have rejected similar taxes in the past — and are likely to do so again, if Lincoln’s proposal becomes law.

“The general principle is that if you can’t ban a certain category of expression, then you cannot selectively impose a tax on it,” said Jamin Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University. “So if the speech that the senator is targeting is protected by the First Amendment, it may not be selectively taxed.”

“The bottom line is, if it were constitutional to tax a disfavored category of speaker, then there would be 99 percent taxes on pornography and hate speakers and Howard Stern and so on,” Raskin said. “But the courts understand that the power to tax ultimately is the power to destroy. …”

“You can’t use the taxation power as a weapon of censorship,” Barron said.

No, you can’t. But that doesn’t stop them from trying.

And another thing — the second time I’ve said this in as many days — what the hell ever happened to parental responsibility?


Reading, ‘Riting, Revelation

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 2, 2005 @ 10:34 am
Filed under: Schools

Odessa, TX, is a town famous both for its black-gold wealth and for being the real-life setting of football book (and movie) “Friday Night Lights.” It may soon be just as famous for being the town that teaches the Bible in its public, football-mad high schools.

The Odessa school board recently voted to offer a new elective to high school students: A class on the Bible. Out on the caprock, it’s a matter of course that Sunday (the second-holiest day of the week, after Friday) is for church-going, so there wasn’t much controversy when the board made its decision.

But the school year nears. Odessa has yet to decide on which curriculum to use, although one stands out.

The leader in the Bible curriculum market is the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. In addition to writing the Bible textbook, the council also lobbies for such classes around the country. Their website ( boasts that the curriculum has been voted into 312 schools in 37 states. (Mind you — “boasts” is maybe too mild of a word. “Trumpets” is more like it. There is, after all, a musical fanfare involved.)

Put church and state issues aside for a second.

This is troublesome. Not because the Council’s curriculum deals with the Bible, but because it only deals with the Bible. It may come as a surprise to many Odessans, but there are other religious texts in the world.

It’s also problematic because the curriculum being sold to schools nationwide was created by a lone, politically motivated organization.

Are there any other current examples of public school curriculum written and sold by a organizations whose sole motivation is political or corporate/financial gain? Does Pfizer have a monopoly on health textbooks? Has cornered the market on American lit classes? Should they?

The New York Times delves deeper into the Odessa issue. One parent, a local English professor, has read the Council’s curriculum. He finds it too sectarian.

“Someone is being disingenuous; I’d like to know who,” said the parent, David Newman, an associate professor of English at Odessa College who has made a page-by-page analysis of the 270-page syllabus and sent e-mail messages to nearly all 1,034 school districts in Texas.


In the latest salvo, the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group for religious freedom, has called a news conference for Monday to release a study that finds the national council’s course to be “an error-riddled Bible curriculum that attempts to persuade students and teachers to adopt views that are held primarily within conservative Protestant circles.”


The Texas Freedom Network, which commissioned its study after the vote in Odessa, is sharp in its criticism. “As many as 52 Texas public school districts and 1,000 high schools across the country are using an aggressively marketed, blatantly sectarian Bible curriculum that interferes with the freedom of all families to pass on their own religious values to their children,” it said.

In one teaching unit, students are told, “Throughout most of the last 2,000 years, the majority of men living in the Western world have accepted the statements of the Scriptures as genuine.” The words are taken from the Web site of Grant R. Jeffrey Ministries’ Prophecy on Line.

The national council’s efforts are endorsed by the Center for Reclaiming America, Phyllis Schlafly’s group the Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council, among others.

There’s much more in the New York Times, and at Pandagon as well.


First John Kerry Says a Lesbian Is “a Lesbian,” Now This

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 2, 2005 @ 5:23 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

man with beard, no glasses, smiling slightly
Cliff Kincaid

From Media Matters for America:

Accuracy in Media (AIM) editor Cliff Kincaid blamed Media Matters for America and regular guest Rachel Maddow for the lagging ratings of MSNBC’s The Situation with Tucker Carlson. MSNBC has announced that Carlson’s show will lose its prime-time slot and move to 11 p.m. ET.

In his August 1 column posted on AIM’s website, Kincaid correctly noted that The Situation is averaging only 200,000 viewers per night, but suggested that the show’s unpopularity was not the fault of its host. Kincaid lamented, “The problem with the Carlson show is the format, which places too much emphasis on his guests, including a regular named Rachel Maddow,” an Air America Radio host whom he described as “a lesbian with hair so short that she looks like a man.” Kincaid went on to claim that Media Matters “dictated” the show’s format by writing a letter to MSNBC president Rick Kaplan encouraging the network “to allow some progressive voices to be heard” on Carlson’s show. “This is apparently how Maddow got to be a regular,” Kincaid wrote.

While Media Matters did send a letter on June 6 to Kaplan noting the heavily conservative slant of MSNBC’s prime-time lineup and asking for balance on Carlson’s show, the letter specifically pointed out that “a discussion between two conservatives and one progressive is not ‘balanced.’ ” Given that The Situation’s initial format was precisely the one that Media Matters recommended against — consisting of Carlson with Maddow and a second conservative, Jay Severin — it can hardly be said that we “dictated” the show’s format.

Though Severin has since left the show, The Situation has continued to pit Maddow against Carlson and another conservative on several occasions. During the week of July 25, conservatives Monica Crowley and G. Gordon Liddy were among the guests who appeared alongside Carlson for the majority of the program.

Despite the ongoing conservative tilt on The Situation, Kincaid insisted that the show “is so fast-paced and diluted by liberals that it does not allow for Carlson or anybody else to present a consistent conservative point of view” and that its “poor ratings should be seen as a verdict on the appeal of Maddow rather than Carlson.”

Besides the reasons Cliff Kincaid gives, another possible reason that Tucker Carlson is getting bad ratings is that conservatives don’t like seeing someone smirk on their TV screens. No wait, that can’t be it.


John Kerry did nothing wrong by describing Mary Cheney as a lesbian, and Cliff Kincaid did nothing wrong by describing Rachel Maddow as a lesbian.

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