Monday, November 22, 2010

Who Are These People?


The Nexus Of Olbermann, Scarborough And Politico

-by Noah

What was with the whole Olbermann suspension thing? It was a short-lived story. He gave some money to three politicians, not in a K Street lobbyist “expecting something in return” kind of way. He was merely contributing to the campaigns of some politicians he believed should be elected. Who they were is not the point. He just gave the money and it violated some internal rule at NBC that he says he didn’t even know about. That’s completely logical. I mean: Who would even expect or dream that such an Orwellian rule would even exist outside of Hussein’s Iraq or Stalin’s Russia or something like that? Last I heard; NBC is based in America. I happen to think it is because I frequently walk by what purports to be their world headquarters here in NYC. Hell, in college, I even met David Brinkley a few times: very nice man. There were rumors that he smoked pot, but he’s dead now and I deny all knowledge of such things, or, I just can’t remember (“I don’t recall”). I do remember being in NBC’s Washington studios, though. There were no overt signs of totalitarianism. In those days, you had to go downtown for that sort of thing, down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue-- Nixon’s White House.

So, what gives? Now that the story is over, it comes out that the rule wasn’t always enforced anyway. The rule says that it’s “OK” to contribute money to politicians. How nice of them! BUT, you have to get it approved first. Approved by whom, and why? That has never been explained. Is there an internal Mind Police committee at NBC? Are there brainwashing helmets that Olbermann refused to put on? Do they want to see your ballot, too?
In my more conspiratorial moments, aka most of the time, I have to focus, like the vast majority of supposedly good journalists didn’t, on the source of the story-- Politico. It was Politico who brought this all to light. Why? Why Olbermann and not the contributions of, say, Bill O’Reilly or Wolf Blitzer. How about equally elaborate coverage about Sean Hannity’s contributions to Michele Bachmann’s campaign, or are we supposed to believe that that was just for her treatment for premature dementia? Why push news of Olbermann’s contributions to the top? Why make a mountain out of an anthill, if you don’t have an agenda? More importantly, why keep similar information about Joe Scarborough, one of MSNBC’s in-house rightwingers under wraps and then release it only as afterthought, more than two weeks later.

Did the fact that Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, who has a weekly column in Politico play a role in Politico sitting on the information? My guess is that the Scarborough story was about to break elsewhere, if only because Scarborough had just been suspended. It’s logical to assume that Politico would have never come forward had the suspension not been imminent. Am I supposed to believe they couldn’t have outed both men at, more or less, the same time? You decide.
Politico does admit, however, that they found two contributions in Scarborough’s name right after the Olbermann suspension. They also say that they “accepted his explanation.” They could have reported all of that at the time anyway but chose not to: a case of “All The News That Fits (The Agenda)?" There’s another difference in the two cases. Olbermann fessed up to his bosses when the story came to light. Scarborough took the time-honored approach of politicians of all stripes. He said he “did not recall” the contributions. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I wrote out 8 checks for $500 each, and more before that, I think I would remember, don’t you? Once a politician, always a politician (read-- lying snake).

Politico is an incessantly quoted source for all things having to do with the Washington Capitol Hill scene. Birthed in 2007, it is headquartered in Arlington, VA and is financed by Robert Allbritton of Allbritton Communications, which is affiliated with Disney’s ABC network through television stations that it owns and operates in the Washington, DC area. The CEO is Frederick J. Ryan, former Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Just as Daddy Bush once endorsed the far right, Moonie-owned Washington Times, his son, Dubya publicly endorsed Politico from the get-go. That should have tipped off everybody right then and there.
One day Politico wasn’t there, then, the next day it was, and it was immediately being quoted freely by seemingly every journalist and every pundit in America. It is a supplier of content to TV, the Internet, radio and print media. How did Politico gain such instant, unquestioned credibility? Politico does not have the scurrilous image of the Drudge Report, which feeds fraud and fantasy alike to far right kooks like the twisted menagerie offered up by FOX who eagerly lap it up like lab monkeys with non-stop access to the cocaine bar. No, Politico feeds to everyone, and, it is accepted as verdad by those who are just too damn lazy to look behind the curtain or look below the surface. In a world where other news operations are downsizing staff, Politico is growing its number of staffers. The end result is that Politico often gets to the story first and determines what people in Washington and therefore the rest of the media are talking about. They frame the issues and how they are presented and perceived in Washington. Politico picks the buzz words and buzz phrases that become mantras whether they represent accuracy or not. Just as FOX gave life to the teabaggers, Politico’s agenda becomes framing and enabling a desired perception. As I said, they often offer the first version of a story and we all know that it is first impressions that usually stick.
Our so-called representatives grow to see issues in the light that Politico sheds on those issues because it is also the loudest speaker in Washington. That’s powerful stuff. The ability to represent yourself as a reputable, bias-free news organization, if and when you are not, is the ability to create a false world for our representatives in the House and Senate, and, in fact, our entire government, to live in; influencing and providing cover for their decisions and votes that shape the country we live in. It increases the ever-growing and metastasizing divide in the perception of our country and how life is that exists between those who reside within the Beltway and the rest of us, regardless of our political affiliation or leanings. With Politico managing the issues and stories of the day, is it any wonder that the vast majority our politicians sound like they are from another planet?

Republicans and their Conservadem brothers and sisters alike are all now living and operating in a Washington world of illusion manufactured by Politico. Like FOX has, Politico is creating an alternate universe. It is a universe people in Washington have grown to think actually exists. The only real difference is that Politico is far more subtle. Think of Politico as a kinder, gentler, slightly less overt FOX and a definitely less loony or less nasty Drudge Report, an operation that just happens to supply both with plenty of ideas. As FOX loses more and more credibility with otherwise sane people, Politico will be there to take its place as the number one framer of issues and number one talking point dispenser, and, they will do it with a very thin air of honesty and legitimacy. It is already doing it. It sprays the narco-mist that our politicians easily and eagerly inhale, and it’s a foggy mist that originates in the corporate boardrooms of America, the same corporate boardrooms that see Progressivism and its leading media voices, such as Keith Olbermann, as a threat. Politico exists to promote The Big Fairy Tale. Its job is to protect the established powers and agenda setters and do it more thoroughly than the New York Times or the Washington Post ever did. There won’t ever be any Woodward, Bernstein, and Deep Throat at Politico; no Pentagon Papers, either. Nope, it will be all Judith Miller fairy tales all the time, manipulating public opinion right into more disastrous wars, less regulation, more tax breaks for corporations, more outsourcing, etc. Politico is already the epitome of “press release reporting” and they are doing it bigger, better and faster. Don’t expect any meaningful analysis that runs counter to what the corporatists and banksters desire.
Yes. I see Politico as the next stage in corporate opinion purveyance and thought manipulation. They have spread their myths and theories quickly by partnering with existing news operations and will, no doubt, expand on that method. Think of them as a packaged news service that will continue to grow as a supplier to older news outlets that no longer have the staffs to go out and get the news themselves. Who will offer a counter-balance? One of their first moves was a deal with CBS to share coverage. That gave it instant infiltration into a long established media force and served to give Politico a patina of legitimacy to the mainstream public. One telling example of this can be seen at this link from last January. Note the origin of the story.

If you look at the link, you will see that, like FOX, Politico has no problem getting its news from Drudge, but, because Politico is slicker than FOX, it in turn can spread stories to operations such as CBS News. This is the template for both legitimate news distribution and agenda mongering in our time. Somehow, I don’t feel comfortable with the Drudge Report setting the tones in our society, but, once you see that they can and do it and do do it, the rightward bent of most of our news reporting, and, therefore things like the results of the recent midterm elections and the dumbass debates on things like the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are easier to understand. There’s no reason to wonder why we are even thinking of continuing the tax cuts for the wealthy when it is being framed in the media as a point of view that is worthy of serious consideration even when it will add $700 Billion to the deficit. In addition, don’t expect Drudge’s news pushers to tell the American public that that $700 Billion will really end up being north of $900 Billion after the interest on the money we will borrow from China to cover the loses in tax revenue is figured in. Think of that next time some news bozo tells you that the Bernie Madoff scandal was the “scam of the century." That swine wishes he could have swindled us all for that kind of money, and done it with the backing of an entire major political party right out in the open! He was small time compared to those who want to keep the tax cut looting of the treasury going.
Upon its launch in January 2007, Politico’s own Marty Tolchin was interviewed by the Washingtonian which questioned him on how the then new venture could hope to make money and survive. The Washingtonian asked him if there was advertising money, the life blood of any for profit corporation, still on the table for Politico in a market that already had Roll Call, The Hill (Tolchin’s previous employer), the National Journal, and the Washington Post.
“No question,” Tolchin says. “This is a very cost-effective way to send a message to Congress. A full page ad for us can cost $10,000. It would cost ten times that in the Post or New York Times.”

Referring to then recent ethics law changes governing the way corporate lobbyists can pass money to politicians, Tolchin went on to say “What are they going to do with all that money,” adding that money will drive Politico and that “it definitely will succeed, simply because these people will spare no expense” (The emphasis is mine.) If you peruse Politico today, you will find an over-abundance or, if you will, a cornucopia of advertising from the likes of Exxon, Bank of America, Boeing, Big Pharma, etc. The percentage of which seems to greatly exceed what one normally sees in other publications. These people know who is on their side and vice-versa. The mission is mutual. Frame the discussion and thought patterns of Washington. Politico is a sophisticated influence peddler.
These methods of subversion help answer my earlier question about how they get quoted and how their bias gets picked up by more reputable news organizations. I’ve noticed for years how FOX is always on in Hudson News outlets in airports and train stations. How better to influence passing business folks and unaware, unsuspecting, or non-discerning citizens? By the same token, how better to speak to our government officials than do it with full page ads and related articles every day? It’s “Drink Me,” a marvelous and insidious melding of Lewis Carroll and George Orwell. Alice In Wonderland in 1984. Even the name is perfect. It strives to define the political scene so that we need no other interpretations. You want the news? You want Politico. Simple as that. Politico might one day soon match PRAVDA in the irony of its name. In Russian, the word pravda means truth.
Leave it to Rachel Maddow, last Thursday, to throw a punch back at Politico for how they work and what the agenda they pursue.

As I pointed out in another recent post, NBC, owned by a mega defense contractor in GE/Westinghouse has taken a flyer with Olbermann who begat Maddow who begat Ed Schultz. Even Chris Matthews stuck his finger in the air and moved left. Now, there’s Lawrence O’Donnell. The ratings and therefore the ad revenues have grown and grown, but what happens when NBC merges or gets bought out by some entity like COMCAST (as is being discussed) and politics trumps even money? Will these fine jounalists I’ve mentioned find themselves suddenly working for The Clampdown? Will there be more rules? Should we expect the “there won’t be any changes” statement from some professional jive-ass PR suit; followed up by a “new, improved and innovative” ad campaign three months later when all of the people we love on MSNBC have moved on and been replaced by the blandest, most sanitized hand puppets they can find or manufacture. Hmmm, maybe they’ll just outsource it all to India and Keith, Rachel, Ed, and Lawrence O’Donnell will be replaced by Indian call service folks who call themselves Tad, Britney, Jarrod, and Josh. They can even premier it on their stupid, insulting Outsourced “sitcom”, offering it as “synergistic programming” and thus further blurring the lines between truth and utter fiction in the news.

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At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From day one Politico has been nothing but a bunch of hacks pretending to be investigative journalists.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Noah said...

Hi Anon,
'Hacks' is a good word to use, but when thinking of POLITICO, I prefer to call them 'agents' since that is really their role in the service of the Lords of our society. Thank you for your comment.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Taylor Wray said...

Sweet post - I'm linking to it on my blog. As someone who lived in D.C. for the past six years, I wondered where in the hell Politico came from.

I remember it sort of popped up on newsstands one day and then became "indispensable" for Beltway insiders. It doesn't surprise me that it's a key component of the illusory world federal politicians now inhabit.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah, That is one of the best things I've read this year. Your in Matt Taibbi country with it. Really great job!

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Retired Patriot said...

Great post. One thing is certain about Versailles-on-Potomac, the illusion will be maintained.

Politico = Pravda? I love it!



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