Category Archives: News Media

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

A More Perfect Union

Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 2005: Situation...

Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 2005: Situation in South Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana near Empire, Buras and Boothville, United States of America (2005-08-29, 7:10 EDT). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago hurricane Katrina left us wondering how such a tragedy could happen in America; not the winds, the rain, or the storm surge, not even the broken levees.  The failure and frustrations related to relief efforts are what prompted us to ask how such a thing could happen here.  This time it’s the fiasco in the wake of hurricane Sandy.  People are without power, water, shelter, and hope.  Despite the best efforts of many, and despite the generosity of millions, there is simply not enough being done fast enough to keep children warm and safe at night across New Jersey and New York.  New York!  Rudy Giuliani, America’s Mayor (so dubbed after 9/11), is blaming the federal government, FEMA, and by extension President Obama.  Others are pointing the finger at the state governments of New York and New Jersey, local governments included, for not having plans in place for such an event and for not having the resources required to respond effectively to such a disaster.

But, let us be fair.  People are standing on line across the Northeast waiting for gasoline.  Gasoline is a commodity that is privately produced and distributed by the private sector—the same oil companies that have been posting record profits throughout the nation’s greatest recession.  Government has virtually nothing to do with local gasoline supplies or pricing.  In the same light, non-governmental charitable organizations are providing what they can, but it’s obviously not enough.  Organizations like the Red Cross are responding admirably—as always.  There are web sites, hash tags, text messages and celebrity, all-star, concerts raising tens of millions of dollars for the relief effort.  But almost two weeks after the storm there are still families without generators or shelter.  Why are we not blaming Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Target, and every other retailer of basic goods for NOT rolling out the truck convoys with emergency supplies for storm victims?  Why are hotels and motels across the region refusing to accommodate storm victims unless they can pay up front (they are not willing to wait for FEMA reimbursement)?  Take notice people.

We live in a nation that depends on the combined capacity of government, the private sector, and non-governmental, not-for-profit, organizations to produce and allocate all of the things we need to live the lives we live.  We are just coming out of a long campaign year and we know who the President will be for the next four years.  We know which party will control the House of Representatives.  And we know we will be subjected to politics-as-usual—both sides arguing about the proper role and size of government.  My suggestion:  Force President Obama and Speaker of the House, John Boehner, to meet and talk about recovery in the wreckage of a family home somewhere in Staten Island, New York.  Surround them with families and small business owners that have been wiped out by the storm (have Mitt Romney sit there and listen just for good measure).  And, finally, don’t let them leave until they strike a deal that last longer than the photo-op.

We the People, of the United States of America, in order to
form a more perfect union . . .

–DENNIS FALCON

The Irrelevancy of Facts

English: Barack Obama at the Fort Worth Conven...

English: Barack Obama at the Fort Worth Convention Center during his presidential campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Dave Delay)

In politics, a campaign strategy is a strategy to communicate a candidate’s platform in order to win an elected position. In a perfect world, candidates running for public office would merely explain to the electorate why they, the candidate, deserve their votes. The campaign strategy would simply be on the merits and the electorate would be well informed on the issues thanks, in part, to an objective and competent news media.

However, it is not a perfect world and the electorate is not well informed. As such, political campaigns heavily rely on the spinning of facts and the spreading of misinformation to win elections. Negative ads and spin doctors (i.e. campaign surrogates) now make up the core of the successful political campaign. Facts are now increasingly irrelevant to both the political campaign as well as the news media.

The result is a campaign agenda to depict Pres. Barrack Obama as a secret Muslim communist-socialist-fascist who not only hates America, but has secret plan to destroy her. Equally, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is portrayed as a heartless non-Christian über capitalist who not only hates workers, but has Machiavellian plans to destroy the American middle-class.

Whom do you blame for the seemingly irrelevancy of facts that has saturated political campaign strategy?

–TERRANCE MULLINS

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Condescent of a Woman

Samantha Bee confirms that women dislike it when people argue on television and suggests measures to make the debates more palatable to female voters.

Anti-Social Media, Freedom and Responsibility

The horrendous murder of American diplomats in Libya and the continuing protests and criminal actions aimed at America embassies and consulates in Yemen and Egypt provide yet one more opportunity to examine the emerging importance of social media.  In just the last year we have seen how pro-democracy movements in the Arab world were aided by the social media like Facebook and Twitter.  The instantaneous ability to communicate with people at a global level helped fuel and organize the forces that eventually brought two Arab strongmen to their end.  In a previous blog I commented on the significance of social media in the pro-democracy revolution in Egypt.

Unfortunately, like most swords, this one has two edges.  The same social media that once aided in the spread of hope is being used to spread hate.  An independently produced video on YouTube has thrown gasoline on a flame best left an ember—anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, cultural clashes based on history, religion, and politics.  There is enough blame and fault to go around.  In the days, indeed, the hours ahead, can the same social media be employed to dampen the flames?  The anger is misdirected; the violence is unacceptable; and any politicization of the tragedy is shameful.  The power and potential of emerging social media should come with equal measures of freedom and responsibility.  Who can make this happen?

–DENNIS FALCON

Politicos are Running or Ruining the Show

Politicos are the political animals that both eat and serve up the real red meat of politics.  They are the insiders inside “The Beltway,” they are the government and party faithful that play the game of politics day-in and day-out, 365 days out of the year.  Many textbooks use the term primarily in reference to theories of representation (i.e., “trustees” are legislators who act in what they believe are the best interests of their constituents while “delegates” are those who act in accordance with their constituents’ expressed wishes).  In this usage politicos are the wheelers and dealers in and out of government who best epitomize the expression that “politics is the art of the possible.”  Details related to right and wrong, and questions related to what is in the best interest of the nation, are not central considerations to the politico.  It’s not what they do.

A politicomay not be a type of person, maybe its best described as a trait that all political actors possess to some degree or another.  Maybe it’s the part that prompts an elected official to be coy when answering—or not answering a question posed by a reporter.  Maybe it’s the purposeful pivot that a

Capital Beltway

Capital Beltway (Photo credit: JohnRiv)

Congressperson makes when debating an opponent and the need to change the subject arises to avoid an embarrassing moment.  In any event, ‘tis the season of the politico; when every statement, every speech, every step, every stop, every chance to score a point against the opponent is seized like the last piece of meat on the platter.  For the rest of us it would be smart to remember another well-known expression: never get between a dog and its bone.  What do you think about the current political climate of the nation?  Do you believe the people in charge of the action are presenting us with the amount and kind of information people need to make good choices?

–DENNIS FALCON

Get Ready for Several Weeks of Useless Analysis

Inside CNN

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to render its ruling on the constitutionality of Obama Care. However, the media coverage of the ruling and the resulting political fallout will be the same. Regardless of the ruling, both republicans and democrats will try to spin the Supreme Court’s ruling in a way that benefits their side. Meanwhile, the news media will overflow with coverage concerning the political impact of the ruling, but will ultimately fail to explain the ruling divorced from the typical horse-race coverage.  Horse race refers to the news media’s focus on which candidate is up or down in the latest public opinion polls. My prediction is that the news media, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obama Care, will bombard its audience with poll numbers for the next several days along with a bloviated analysis of said poll numbers with a pretentious and misguided sense of accomplishment for delivering what they consider to be the news. Get ready for several weeks of useless analysis and blatant political spin.

–TERRANCE MULLINS