Show Details for the week of October 12th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Presidential Debates, Cable News, and the Miseducation of the American Public – an interview with Jeff Cohen
  • Assessing Putin and Obama in Syria and Ukraine – an interview with Joe Lauria

More about this week’s Guests:

Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.

From his recent article:

At the CNN-sponsored Republican Party debate last month at the Reagan presidential library, one of the three panelists CNN selected to question the candidates was conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, affiliated with the proudly right-wing Salem Radio Network. But at Tuesday’s upcoming Democratic Party debate, CNN is not planning to include a single progressive advocate among its panel of four questioners.

It’s clear that who gets to pose questions has impact on the tenor of the debate. For example, Hewitt used September’s Republican debate to declare that President Obama’s “knees buckled” over Syria and that every Republican candidate was “more qualified than” Hillary Clinton. Hewitt pressed Jeb Bush from the right over his comment about making sure guns are not in the hands of the mentally ill: “Where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?”

Along with Hewitt, the panel at CNN’s GOP debate was composed of two journalists CNN presents as neutral or objective: CNN anchor Jake Tapper and CNN correspondent Dana Bash. (Hewitt’s appearance was reportedly part of an agreement by which CNN and the right-wing Salem Media company are teaming up on three GOP presidential debates.)

At CNN’s upcoming Democratic debate, the panel is to be composed of four journalists CNN presents as neutral: CNN’s Bash and three CNN anchors (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol.) Glaringly missing from this proposed lineup is an unabashed progressive advocate.

There are many qualified journalists for this seat — from respected progressive media institutions that haven’t taken sides in the Democratic primaries (like The Nation or Mother Jones, to name just two).

Today, the online activism group RootsAction.org (which I cofounded) launched a one-sentence petition to CNN: “For the sake of basic fairness and balance, you should add to your panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.”

Recent articles:

CNN’s Double-Standards on Debates (10/9/15)
26,000 Petition Bernie Sanders to Tackle US Militarism (8/31/15)
Bernie Trumped By Mainstream Media (8/18/15)
Memo to Media: Ask Trump If He’s a ‘Serial Racist’ (7/4/15)
Will Bernie Be the Beginning of a Revolution? (6/2/15)

Joe Lauria is an international affairs correspondent specializing in the United Nations, Lauria just wrote the piece “Obama’s Self-Deceit” for ConsortiumNews.com. Lauria writes: “There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a ‘return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.’ …

    “The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today. …

“Yet Obama on Monday was blaming Russia and China for the mess Washington has created, saying, ‘We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.’ Obama cited Russia’s ‘annexation’ of Crimea and ‘further aggression’ in Eastern Ukraine.

“He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. …

“At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.

“Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has ‘few economic interests’ in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.

“And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country? …

“On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. …

“Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. …

“‘The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,’ Putin told the Assembly. ‘It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.’ …”

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