James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Jones’

A weird, sad week in journalism

Posted by James McPherson on February 12, 2015

Journalism has taken a lot of hits in recent years, but this week has been weirder and sadder than most. Respected television journalist Bob Simon died Wednesday– not in one of the many wars he covered, but in that most mundane American way, a car crash. Two days earlier, even more popular (though less talented) journalist Brian Williams shot down his own career with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Frankly, though I liked Williams as an entertainer on “Saturday Night Live” and while “slow jamming the news,” I haven’t considered most television “news” people to be journalists since they began parading through “Murphy Brown” more than two decades ago. Identifying “real journalism vs. fake journalism” has become increasingly difficult.

This week we must also face the loss of two people who in recent years have done far more than most to keep journalists honest. On Monday, Jon Stewart (not a journalist, but for many of us a source for more news than Williams ever was), announced that he would leave Comedy Central’s most important program, “The Daily Show.” And tonight the New York Times’ David Carr, probably the best media critic in the business, died in the newsroom shortly after moderating a discussion involving Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

Though I thought Carr was sometimes overly crabby in his public persona, I admired his work and liked him for more than his writing. Several years ago, he interviewed me for more than a half hour — then apologized after the story ran without my quotes because an editor apparently decided “one historian was enough.” I thanked him, and, as a recovering alcoholic, congratulated him on his successful fight with drug addiction. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve always suspected that he had a hand in my later being interviewed by another Times reporter for a story about Andrew Breitbart.

Interestingly, part of my quote about Breitbart in that story might apply to Brian Williams: “I think his actions show that if he’s not willing to distort, he is at least careless with the facts. … But there are no standards of fact anymore for some people.”

One of the few positive notes this week somewhat related to journalism is that WorldNutsDaily managed to tie Barack Obama’s birth certificate to the Williams story. That piece quotes Alan Jones, apparently no relation to the Jones whom I have previously called “perhaps the most bat-shit crazy conspiracy theorist in America.”

But for those of us who care about journalism, a dose of birther lunacy can’t come close to making up for how much the rest of the week sucked. A world without Jon Stewart, Bob Simon and David Carr is a meaner, dumber world.

Posted in Journalism, Media literacy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

My gift to anti-Obama conspiracy freaks

Posted by James McPherson on August 7, 2012

I confess. I’ve finally removed my blinders and have been won over by the conspiracy theorists. Admittedly, in the past I’ve made fun of birthers, truthers, gun nuts, Islamophobes, homophobes, Rush Limbaugh, the Texas Board of EducationPUMAs, lying Catholics, David Horowitz, flag fetishists, Pat Robertson, “Christmas warriors,” Michelle Malkin, “border warriors,” and other batcrap-crazy conspiracy nuts. But suddenly, with the mass killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the depth of the Obama world-domination plan has all become clear to me. Clearer to me, apparently, than to anyone else. But after I explain it, I’m sure it will be plain to everyone. I’ll use lots of exclamation points and capital letters to help you understand. If only I had Glenn Beck’s chalkboard.

We now know that the racist lunatic who killed six people in Wisconsin was part of a vast Democratic/Socialist/Communist/Muslim conspiracy! The killer was born on Veterans Day 1971, meaning he was destined to become an American patriot. By then, 10-year-old Barack Obama was well on his way to becoming president of the United States. (You may laugh, but remember, someone had the foresight to plant birth announcements in Hawaii newspapers a decade earlier.)

Not surprisingly, the Wisconsin killer eventually joined the military.  He did so in 1992–the SAME YEAR that Barack Obama took his wife to Kenya, probably to wipe out any record of his birth there, and when he was starting a period as a “lecturer” teaching the methods of Saul Alinsky at the University of Chicago Law School! Furthermore, in that exact SAME YEAR of 1992–and I’m quoting word for word from Wikipedia here–“Obama directed Illinois’s Project Vote, a voter registration campaign with ten staffers and seven hundred volunteer registrars; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain’s Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of ’40 under Forty’ powers to be.” Even more unbelievably, the husband of Obama’s future Secretary of State would win the presidency in that SAME YEAR, paving the way for America’s SECOND (the number is important, as I’m about to show) black president!

The Wisconsin nutjob apparently washed out of the military in 1998, the year Obama won his SECOND Illinois state Senate term, and the SAME YEAR in which eldest Obama daughter Malia was born on the FOURTH OF JULY! Gaining confidence in his power, he later gave his SECOND daughter, Natasha, a COMMUNIST name!

By the way, “they” want you to think the killer washed out of the military. Keep in mind that he had been working in psychological operations, making him the perfect patsy to turn into a Manchurian candidate time bomb waiting to go off. So who can really be surprised that he went off a mere 14 years later, as Obama was campaigning for his second presidential election?

No, it’s obvious. The attack couldn’t be on white people, because that had just happened. And it couldn’t be against Muslims, because that might generate sympathy for Islamists–and besides, Obama wouldn’t order an attack on his own religion, right? So Sikhs, who kinda look Muslim to lots of white folk anyway, were the ideal targets of this sinister plan.

And who better to take the blame, while supporting the Obama agenda, than a veteran “constitutionalist”? That’s the question prompted by Jone’s InfoWars (“because there is a war on for your mind and Jones has lost his”).

“The US government is not only coming after the 2nd Amendment, but now framing US Army veterans in a false flag operation where extremists are the new threat,” writes someone going by the name “Susanne Posel.” That name that just happens to be an anagram for “So Sensual Pen” or “Sees No US Plan” or “No US Paleness” or “Open Anus Less” or “Lone US Ass Pen.” Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

Posted in History, Media literacy, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Batcrap craziness

Posted by James McPherson on July 20, 2012

Batman: “No guns.” (In keeping with the superhero’s longtime no-gun rule.”)

Catwoman: “What fun is that?”

I guess we could ask the folks who attended the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, huh?

As I’ve written in what became my most-read post, I generally avoid using profanity. But one reason I generally oppose it it because its overuse has made appropriate use almost meaningless. Almost. And today is one of the exceptions, because there has perhaps never been a more appropriate day or week for the term “batshit crazy.”

This week gave us Rush Limbaugh suggesting that the name of a movie character (a name that originated in a 1993 comic book) was a liberal plot against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Then, of course, Rush lied about it the next day.

Next we had John McCain–the McCain we used to remember before he sold his soul to try to win the last presidential election–chastize Michele Bachmann for her latest Muslim plot nonsense. But we know that Bachmann is as batty as Limbaugh.

And though we all know that the blogosphere has become a nutty and nasty place, it was surprising that a negative review of the latest Batman movie would inspire batshit-crazy fans of a comic book character to make death threats against “Rotten Tomatoes” reviewers.

But all of that pales in comparison to today’s news about a costumed gunman killing at least a dozen people at a midnight opening of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” It didn’t take long for ABC to commit the first stupid reporting error, and of course the shooting has dominated the cable news networks all day. (It’s probably not such big news in Syria, where having a dozen killed by violence would be considered a good day.)

And so now we’ll have another few days of liberals pointing out the obvious, that easy access to guns in America makes these events far too common here and that conservative talking heads such as “shoot-them-in-the-head” Glenn Beck (however well he may cry about it afterward) and Rush Limbaugh, along with batshit-crazy extremist groups promote violence. Some conservatives will blame mass murder on gay marriage. If all else fails, blame it on violent movies or video games. It’s all so predictable, and too few will acknowledge that many factors are involved.

Perhaps less predictably, truly batshit-crazy NRA types, which Colorado has, may suggest that the carnage would have been reduced if other people in the theater were armed. Oh, wait–batshit-crazy Malkin  and batshit-crazy Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert have already done that. Gohmert also blamed the attacks on “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs”–as did the American Family Association, despite the fact that the killer reportedly was a “brilliant student” from a “church-going family.” Shades of Pat Robertson; life is just too scary when we realize what our demons have in common with the rest of us, I guess.

So, how long until someone (other than a batshit-crazy blogger or two) suggests that the killer is an Obama operative trying to help the president push through gun control, even though we know that it’s now easier to buy a gun and you can carry it in more places than before Obama was elected? Besides, we Americans love our guns. We really love our guns. If the shooting of a Congresswoman and the killing a a cute white girl or the slaughter of college students won’t spur a serious debate about American gun laws, this certainly won’t.

In fact, perhaps part of the “The Dark Knight Rises” should be rewritten.

Batman: “No guns.”

Catwoman: “In America? That’s batshit crazy!”

Next-day addendum: Above I asked how long it would take someone to suggest that the shootings were a government plot to help promote control. Not long at all, as it turned out, thanks to 9/11 “truther” Alex Jones, perhaps the most bat-shit crazy conspiracy theorist in America.

Sunday addendum: Batshit-crazy Truth in Action Ministries spokesman Jerry Newcombe chose today to go on the radio and “remind” listeners that some of the dead shooting victims were bound for hell. Say hello when you get there, Jerry.

Also, a question for any who care to answer: Why do so many conservatives apparently think it should be easier to carry a gun than to cast a ballot?

Tuesday addendum: Batshit-crazy Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, has also suggested that the Aurora killings are part of a gun-control plot, bringing familiar bogeyman, the United Nations, into it.

Posted in History, Legal issues, Media literacy, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments »