TV News and Reporting from Egypt

Dear Media,

Please stop marveling at how anything is happening in Egypt even though the internet is shut down and people can’t get on Twitter or Facebook.  You do realize that there were popular revolts before social media, don’t you?  In the latter half of the 20th century we had the Prague Spring in 1968, the Soweto uprising in 1976, the Paris riots in 1968, and even Tiananmen Square in 89. How do you think people coordinated the labor demonstrations of the 30s, the anti-colonial revolts of the developing world in the decades following World War II.  What about the French Revolution in 1789?  OMG?  How did they get anything done.  They didn’t even have land lines!

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Fox News Chairman says NPR Executives are Nazis, “of Course”

Fox News, a News Corp subsidiary

Honestly, I am think that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and most at that network live in a reality that is different than mine.

I was just pointed to an interview with Howard Kurtz in which he said that President Obama “has a different belief system than most Americans” and that on his recent travels he “told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with.”  I don’t know if Ailes believes this or if it is part of the continuing campaign of the right to paint the President as so radically different from us that he is somehow threatening, but the statements are not simply wrong, they are absurd.

President Obama is a capitalist and he believes in our system of representative, Constitutional democracy.  He has given no indication otherwise.  He would not have risen in the party system were that not the case and he certainly would not have got elected to the highest office in the land, either.  The Presidents differences with the the opposition are differences of degree, not belief systems.

As for France and Germany telling him that his socialism is to far left, well that is ridiculous.  Germany, France and the United States do have differences on approaches necessary to stimulate their economies because in a global economy what is done in one country impacts the others, but the questions concern the means and scale of intervention and have nothing to do with ideology.  France and Germany are also democratic, capitalist states, but both are fundamentally more socialist in character then the US.  Both have and have had for some time, state funded systems of education, government owned rail systems, universal health care, strong labor movements, etc.

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Journalism and Online Discourse

However, while blogs have created hundreds of prominent new voices in the national media, social networking sites like twitter have only reinforced the position of people and institutions who were already prominent in other media.  Not a single person has risen to become a prominent national media figure just through their tweeting.  However, popular TV shows, musicians, and politicians have gained two million followers or more through the medium.

Given this, it is a legitimate worry that the decline of blogging, and the rise of social networking, will mean that the media status quo that was once threatened by the Internet will now be reinforced by it.  Rather than new media functioning as a democratizing force, it  could become yet another tool of the status quo.  Maybe once in a while it will be used by street demonstrators against a totalitarian regime, as it was in Iran, but most of the time it will just make the already famous and the already dominant even more so.

–via “Social networking sites reinforce the status quo

Those are the conclusions that Chris Bowers  draws from a report by the Pew Internet Centers on Social Media and Young Adults that finds that blogging is on the decline among teenage users of the Internet. Teens are also commenting less on blogs. Use among older Americans, on the other hand, remains the same.

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A Television Viewing Guide: Lost, The State of the Union, and The Wanda Sykes Show

I’m a big fan of Wanda Sykes.  This is a quotation from her show last week.  Well put!

The good news, the White House has confirmed that the State of the Union will not be on the same night as the season premier of Lost.  The bad news, Americans are more interested in a made up island than their own bleep-ed up country.

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Justin Timberlake to Play Social Networking Entrepeneur

There have been a lot of reports about a new movie about the beginning of Facebook, most of which have focused on the film’s star. I’m more intrigued by the writer. Sports Night, The West Wing, even the ill-fated Studio 60, Sorkin has given us a lot of good entertainment.

BBC News reports:

Film trade paper Variety said the singer would play Sean Parker, who became Facebook’s founding president.

David Fincher is directing The Social Network, which was scripted by The West Wing‘s Aaron Sorkin.

Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield have also been lined up to star in the project, which starts filming next month in Boston.

The movie will focus on the overnight success of Facebook, which was created in 2004 on the campus of Harvard University.

Sean Parker

Sean Parker

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake



Opening sequence from the first episode of the first season of Studio 60 Live from the Sunset Strip. Small wonder the show didn’t last on network tv.

China Launches Arabic TV Channel

BBC News reports that

China is launching an Arabic-language TV channel to show the Middle East and North Africa the “real” China.

China Central Television’s station will broadcast news, entertainment and cultural programmes 24 hours a day.

It is widely recognized that the United States is the world’s remaining superpower, but for all those right wingers who criticize the President for his effort to court public opinion overseas, saying the US does not need to apologize to anyone, it is worth noting that China, a rising economic and military power, is making its case in the court of global public opinion.

via BBC News