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The Sniveling Apologizers at MSNBC Don’t Represent Progressives

12:22 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

First, let me be clear that this is not intended for the hosts on MSNBC. It’s management that’s the issue. The way Phil Griffin has his hosts trot out for one apology after another is revolting. At least, he included himself in the genuflecting to the right-wing last time around. The whole display is pathetic.

Let’s also be clear about another thing. Phil Griffin, who happens to be the head of MSNBC, is not a liberal or progressive. I worked at MSNBC, I talked to Phil Griffin many times, I know Phil Griffin. He is not remotely progressive. All he cares about is success in his own career. He even basically admitted in this recent interview that he would head a conservative network if it made more money. The idea that he represents progressives as he keeps groveling to conservatives is absurd and sickening.

First of all, the last two apologies were not at all necessary. Melissa Harris Perry called Mitt Romney’s black grandson gorgeous (go back and check the tape). Yes, it would have been nice if someone on the set said, “God bless their hearts for being open minded in adopting someone outside of their race.” This is about as minor an infraction as I could imagine. Instead we got a tearful apology that was hard to watch and hard to stomach.

Now, there was a tweet sent out about how some right-wingers might not like a biracial ad by Cheerios. Gee, I wonder why they might think that. Maybe it’s because some right-wingers already had hateful things to say about that ad (yes, they don’t represent all conservatives, but once again, this is the most minor infraction in television history). The MSNBC employee didn’t make up that reaction — it already existed online. How many times has Bill O’Reilly characterized all liberals as saying something based on what some readers in the Daily Kos or The Huffington Post comments section said? Only about a million times.

Maybe that person at MSNBC who sent the tweet got the idea from a recent ad that caused outrage on Fox News because it included a Muslim woman and her husband who is in the U.S. military. They said this ad was only blocks from the site of 9/11! That is 100 percent bigoted response from the right-wing to an ad that involves two people from different backgrounds. Bingo.

Maybe they would have gotten the idea that Republicans don’t like biracial couples because ofa poll in the Republican primaries in the South where 21 percent of GOP primary voters in Alabama and 29 percent of the Mississippi GOP primary voters said that interracial marriage should be illegal.

Can anyone in America say with a straight face it is unclear which party in America is more racist? One of the parties had this thing called the Southern Strategy, where they decided being racist toward blacks would get more white voters in the South. Care to guess which party that was? If you’re still unclear on that or completely ignorant, maybe thelast two RNC chairs could help you because they both apologized for their party’s blatantly racist strategy.

Hey, anyone know whether Roger Ailes has ever apologized for running a station that argues we should take away voter rights in a way that disproportionately affects minorities? That’s happening right now and only a million times more important than any tweet. You can turn on Fox News almost any day and see some fictional story about voter fraud, the whole purpose of which is to limit voting by the poor, the elderly, college students and minorities. Any apologies about that?

How about an apology for the fear mongering and race baiting about the New Black Panther Party? How about an apology for white Santa? And white Jesus? How about an apology for a guest on Fox Business talking about executing his political opponents? Oh, maybe he was joking. What do you think would happen if Ed Schultz joked about executing some Christian fundamentalists? They would fire everyone at 30 Rock and schedule an implosion of the building by lunchtime.

And oh yeah, anyone remember who worked for Richard Nixon when they came up with the Southern Strategy? That’s right, Roger frickin’ Ailes. Has he ever apologized for that?

MSNBC doesn’t get it. Fox News and the right-wing are using this to set up a false equivalency. Yes, the Republicans race bait. Yes, Karl Rove did a push poll in South Carolina in 2000 asking if people would change their vote if they knew John McCain had an illegitimate black daughter (he doesn’t). Wait, who does Karl Rove work for again? Yes, Bill O’Reilly isamazed when he goes into a black restaurant and they act like regular human beings. Yes, the Republican Party got 2% of the black vote in the last election because of their obviously hostile stance against African-Americans. But wait someone at MSNBC tweeted something mildly inappropriate.

If MSNBC cared about not presenting liberals as sniveling cowards, they would never go through these debasing apologies one after another. But they don’t care about that because the guy who runs the network doesn’t give a damn about how progressives look, because he isn’t one of them.

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WHCD: A Salute to the Centurions

7:17 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

I was at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight. And I loved 85% of it. This makes me somewhat of a hypocrite because I often criticize a lot of the people in that room, and I especially single out the chuminess of the press with the government.

Now, I justify my participation in this bacchanal event by saying two things. I am a spy for our audience — it’s important to know how these things work at a minimum. And it’s important to have conversations with folks in DC because you never know what you might get out of it and what you might learn. I promise you that these are 100% true. But nonetheless, it doesn’t justify me enjoying it so much.

But by the end of tonight I was feeling uneasy. I came home and tried to figure out why. My unease was first triggered by seeing Gen. David Petraeus there. He was in full uniform, but it wasn’t the standard green one you see on TV, it was a reddish formal one. He reminded me of the Roman centurions. But it wasn’t just that.

Then I saw Gen. Odierno in the same centurion outfit. There was a circle of admirers waiting to shake his hand. Then I remembered that Gen. Petraeus is now the head of the CIA. Does that mean he is no longer in the Armed Forces? Or is he a general and the head of a civilian branch of the government at the same time? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

I guess it was one thing to see the politicians mingling with the press. I can get beyond that, if it was for just one night. But it churned my stomach to see the press so chummy with the guys who run the war machine. That’s not some liberal, anti-military spiel. We need a military, obviously. But shouldn’t the press be the most vigilant in their watchdog duties with these guys?

I guess Washington finds that concern weirdly out of place and I seemed to be the only one in the building worried about it (of course we don’t know if that’s the case, but people seemed to be thrilled to be talking to them).

Then the president spoke at the dinner itself. He was brilliant. It was genuinely funny. It was better than any stand up I have seen in awhile. At every joke and smile, he seemed like the most likeable guy in the world. Here’s the problem — I kept thinking about the drone strikes. I know, I am the world’s biggest downer (and hypocrite to boot for laughing at the jokes and generally enjoying the night).

I kept thinking how could that nice guy be the one who just ordered “signature” drone strikes where we bomb people without even knowing who they are. If you don’t know about this program, I know that it seems unbelievable, but it’s absolutely true. In Yemen and Pakistan, we can order drone strikes without having any idea who the target is or who the people we are firing at are. The kinds of strikes where we know who we’re bombing are now called “personality” strikes. Isn’t it amazing that they have a word for that?

We are now allowed to execute U.S. citizens abroad without a trial. Attorney General Holder calls this “due process without judicial process.” That chills me to my bones. Yet the marching band played on. And the centurions were warmly greeted.

When I got home, I put it all together and realized what was bothering me. It’s one thing to have this event be the aberration and be the one time of the year where the watchdogs let down their guard and have civil, polite and even friendly conversations with the people they cover. Again, I would really enjoy that. But the over-chumminess of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is not the exception, it’s now the rule.

We smile at the generals. We laugh at the president’s jokes. And the war machine hums on. I know some Americans have gotten really numb to it, some even enjoy and celebrate it. But people do actually die in far away countries like Yemen. Does the fact that they are just from Yemen make them any less human? Did the civilians killed in those strikes have it coming? Did they think our jokes were really funny tonight?

Let me be the asshole downer one more time. Imagine if we magically transported one of those Yemeni families whose kids were killed in a “signature” strike to the event tonight. Imagine how shocked or saddened they would be at our vast, vast indifference. It was such a nice party and everyone had such a good time, without a second thought.

Now, you can pick any injustice in the world and make a big stink out of it on a night like this to ruin everyone’s fun. And in some way that doesn’t seem fair. But I guess I was looking for some indication of a recognition that this was a one time exception and that tomorrow morning we would go back to the hard questions about Yemen and dead civilians. But how many of you think that’s going to happen?

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How We Can Change the Media

8:42 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

A quote you see everywhere is Gandhi’s line about being the change you want to see in the world. Since I’m a corny guy, I took that to heart. Here are some of the main problems with the establishment media that I want to help change:

1. They are the establishment. They don’t challenge the politicians, the government or the system. They are perfectly content to help maintain the status quo.

2. They trade access for positive coverage. In order to get political officials on their shows, they treat them with kid gloves. The single largest factor in making political decisions is campaign donations, yet they almost never ask them about that or talk about it on any of their shows.

3. They do non-stop talking points, yet no one ever says anything. It’s just people talking past each other in a very boring, scripted movie we’ve seen before.

4. They confuse neutrality with objectivity. If the Cowboys and Steelers play and the Steelers win 21-0, and you say the Cowboys and Steelers both played equally well – you have lied to your audience. You are neutral, but nowhere near objective.

So, we set out to do a political talk show where we break all of those rules. This is the beginning. We hope you join us somewhere down this road. Together, let’s be the change we want to see in the media.

You Can Participate in the Show (Current, 7PM ET) By Clicking Here

Glenn Beck’s Horrific Lie

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

As much as I disagree with the hosts on Fox News, I have never called for any of them to be fired. I defended Don Imus when he got in trouble with his incendiary comments. That’s because I believe a talk show host should have wide berth, even to offend. They are the conversation starters and at the heart of our political discourse.

Of course, as a talk show host I’m very biased on this issue, but I think it helps the national conversation to hear everyone out. That’s even if what they’re saying is outrageous or not even remotely true. Let there be a battlefield of ideas and I think the truth will win out in the long run (though it loses many battles in the short run).

Now that you know how strongly I feel about that — I think Glenn Beck should be fired. He has told a lie so grotesque that it goes beyond the pale of even dirty politics. Just when I thought he couldn’t shock my conscience anymore, he has done it. Let me explain.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Ban Glenn Beck from Ground Zero

10:03 am in Culture, Media, Politics, Republican Party by Cenk Uygur

The logic, if there is any, of the conservative critics of the Park51 Project is that a mosque anywhere near Ground Zero would be terribly offensive to the 9/11 victims’ families. Well, you know who is a lot more offensive to the families of 9/11 victims — Glenn Beck.

Beck has said in the past that he "hates" the 9/11 families. He said on his program in 2005 that he is "so sick of them." That they should just "shut up" because they are "always complaining."

That seems so harsh that it literally seems unbelievable. Well, listen for yourself:

MSNBC: Glenn Beck Ground Zero Ban

So, if we’re banning things from near Ground Zero, then banning Glenn Beck makes more sense than anything else. The Park51 Project is actually trying to heal wounds, spread a moderate form of Islam and reach out to everyone in the community. And they certainly have never said anything nearly as offensive about the 9/11 victims or their families as Beck has.

Plus, Beck works for the man who apparently funded the Park51 Project, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. So, if the same man who is funding the mosque is funding Beck (as the second largest shareholder in Fox News, Prince Alwaleed is in essence signing Beck’s paychecks). And if Beck thinks that the mosque should be banned from the area because of its questionable funding, shouldn’t Beck also be banned under the same logic?

So, for all of these reasons, it makes all the sense in the world to start a movement now to Ban Glenn Beck from Ground Zero. I hope you’ll join me. So, if you see him anywhere around there, tell him to "Get! Get!"

Sign our Twitter Petition to show your support: http://act.ly/2c0

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“The List” of Journolist Participants is Fake

2:58 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

There is now a list going around in conservative websites purporting to be "The List" of media participants in Journolist. It’s fake. How do I know? I’m on The List. And I was never on Journolist.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have been on Journolist. It sounds fun. I’d like being on The List even more. That sounds bad ass. Someone I know was on Nixon’s Enemies List – I’ve always thought that was the single coolest distinction anyone could have. This is as close as I got. As much as I would have loved it, I shouldn’t be on The List.

Why do I make this painful admission? Is it because I don’t want to be associated with those no good libs secretly controlling the media? Hell no. Would have loved that, too. It’s because you should know that people that are on that so-called "confirmed" list were not necessarily on Journolist. As usual, the conservative media seems to have completely made this up. Seen this movie before?

I guess I should consider it a compliment that I was on the made up list. In other words, someone thought if there is going to be a liberal media conspiracy I was probably involved. That’s pretty cool. But I have a more important question about this purported scandal.

The conservative critics claim this proves the media is all a liberal conspiracy. And as part of the proof, they show e-mails from Journolist trying to sway the media to cover things with a liberal slant. But if the media is already liberal why do the liberals have to convince them?

Some of the e-mails seem to show people strategizing over how to swing the narrative in the press. Well, if it’s a conspiracy, why don’t they just call up the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, etc. and just get them to run their liberal buddies’ ideas as facts? Why do they have to try so hard to figure out a way to influence them through their own articles?

Wouldn’t this prove the opposite – that the mainstream media is not liberal? They hardly ever listen to these self-avowed liberal journalists. The people on this mailer seem to be on the outside looking in, trying to figure out how the influence the conversation (presumably the same exact thing conservative journalists and advocates are doing).

In fact, in one of the first stories that The Daily Caller ran, they share e-mails from the list about anger toward George Stephanopoulos for asking about Rev. Wright during the 2008 debates. Well, if they run the media, why didn’t the liberals just get George not to ask that question? Why did the so-called liberal media ask such a conservative question in the first place? If it’s a conspiracy why won’t Stephanopoulos listen to them?

In other words, why won’t the liberal media listen to the liberal media?

Now, for the extra irony – one of the other questions Stephanopoulos asked in that same debate was planted by … Sean Hannity. Stephanopoulos was on Hannity’s show when pressed about Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers and decided that he would ask it in the debate. So, is there then a conservative media conspiracy?

Of course, the reality is that the media has many forms. There are straight news reporters and there are advocate journalists, like some people on Journolist and almost everyone at Fox News (I had to say "almost" because of Shep Smith, damn him for making things complicated).

Of course, many of the people on Journolist freely admit that they write for liberal publications like The Nation, whereas Fox News claims to do fair and balanced reporting. So, they’re both advocates, just one side is lying about it (I’m always amused by this lie; how can anyone say with a straight face that Fox News doesn’t have a conservative perspective?).

Finally, let me ask you one more question. If the liberal media is so strong how come all of the liberals in the country don’t have as much influence as just Glenn Beck? That’s really painful to write, but clearly true.

Here’s my proof. Every progressive organization, leader, advocate, journalist, congressmen, etc. have said that Elizabeth Warren should be nominated as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Yet, they still can’t get the job done. It is at best a 50-50 proposition right now. Yet, just the thought that Shirley Sherrod might be on Glenn Beck’s show on one night is enough to get her fired.

The mere threat of Beck swings the Obama administration immediately. That’s power. That’s influence. All of the progressives and liberals in the country put together can barely move the president on Warren. And this is supposed to be a liberal president with a liberal media? What an unbelievable joke.

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Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?

9:33 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We’ve seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn’t pretty.

Van Jones, ACORN, Dawn Johnsen, Shirley Sherrod. First sign of trouble, throw someone overboard. When they fired Van Jones, I said they were only encouraging Fox. But that wasn’t some genius prediction; it was only the most obvious thing in the world. Do you think the bully won’t take your lunch money tomorrow if you give it to him today?

Since this seems so obvious, why can’t the supposedly brilliant guys in the Obama administration figure it out? Why can’t they see it’s such a bad idea to keep giving in to Fox and bowing their heads? It’s so bad now, they’re bragging about their efficiency in genuflecting. Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff, congratulated everyone the day after Sherrod was fired about the speed and agility with which they serviced Fox News. So, what’s the strategy behind what appears to be pathetic cowardice to the rest of us?

The idea is that Fox News is more important than any progressive leader or commentator (or even the majority opinion of progressives throughout the country, as evidenced by polls) because liberals have nowhere to go. So, that’s why you can abuse them, ignore them and even treat them with disdain — and they’ll still vote for you. What are they going to do — vote for Republicans?

That’s why Rahm Emanuel can call them "fucking retarded" and derisively dismiss them on almost every issue. They think there’s no price to pay. Whereas, if they cross Fox, all of Washington will be talking about it. And they’re obsessed with the Washington chatter. And they are under the grossly mistaken impression that the country gives a shit about what Fox says.

In Washington, Fox News is very important and you get judged by how quickly you handle the media maelstroms they create. That’s viewed as a barometer of how well you handle "bad news cycles." So, the rest of the Washington press corps judges you by how quickly you drop to your knees to end the "bad news cycle." Congratulations Obama administration, you’re now professionals!

But even more importantly, there is this insane belief that Fox News can swing centrists, which are the critical voters who decide elections. There is not a shred of evidence to that. In fact, the evidence shows that there is no audience in the country that is more deeply conservative and politically immovable.

Plus, the average age of Bill O’Reilly’s audience is 71 years old. The guy is doing a show out of a senior citizen’s center and Obama thinks he rules the world.

The only real damage that Fox can do is if they spread their poison to other news stations. That is why it’s so imperative to label them what they are — a conservative propaganda station (not that there’s anything wrong with that). They’re just not news. And they couldn’t have proved it any better than they did in this case. And what did the Obama administration do with this golden opportunity? They turned it into a massive loss. Who is fucking retarded now?

But the more important miscalculation is that liberals have nowhere to go. They do have somewhere to go — home. They can sit on their couch on election day, which according to the polling is exactly what they’re going to do. When a Bloomberg poll (pdf, Page 7) asked all voters which party they favored, it was a tie. When they asked likely voters, Republicans were up by eight points. Who’s fucking retarded now?

It’s high time that we stop giving the Obama administration credit for being some sort of genius tacticians. Maybe it was all David Plouffe. But one thing is for sure, they seem to have no idea what they’re doing politically and Fox News is handing them their ass on a daily basis. Glenn Beck came on after the Sherrod story became fully known and said that Obama shouldn’t have fired her. Don’t you get it, you feckless clowns, they’re going to criticize you no matter what you do? You cannot appease them. You must isolate and delegitimize them.

I understand the Obama team is playing the old Washington games and think they’re very clever at it. But those games don’t work anymore. Bad news cycles are not created by genuine mistakes anymore, they’re artificially created by Fox News channel. You can’t make them go away by giving into them. You’re just feeding the beast. And more importantly, you’re starving your own side.

It isn’t about fighting Fox News to make yourself feel better. It’s about ignoring their silly attacks so you can actually bring us the progressive change you promised. Otherwise, we would be retarded to come and vote for you again.

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Insider: Palin’s Show Is “a New All Time Low for Discovery”

9:52 am in Uncategorized by Cenk Uygur

Last night on The Young Turks we broke the story of reaction to Sarah Palin’s new show inside Discovery. We have an inside source at Discovery Communications and we’ve been leaked information on Sarah Palin’s show for The Learning Channel.

Last night on The Young Turks we broke the story of reaction to Sarah Palin’s new show inside Discovery. We have an inside source at Discovery Communications and we’ve been leaked information on Sarah Palin’s show for The Learning Channel.

Last week Discovery had its annual sales conference for ad buyers for all of its 13 networks. The presentation showcases all of their new shows across the different networks. That night the presentation was on Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

Our source says "the whole thing [was] comical." Apparently the ad buyers were not impressed. This Discovery insider said, "When the promo was over, people (employees and buyers) were rolling their eyes, snickering, and even laughing. People were laughing and it’s not even a comedy. No one took it seriously."

This person was concerned that given the lack of interest from ad buyers that Discovery would have to dump the show to "a crappy time slot" to cut its losses. They added, "Bottom line everyone thought it was a new all time low for Discovery. My guess is the show is going to tank big time."

Remember Discovery is paying Sarah Palin $250,000 an episode for this series. There are eight episodes, so she will be clearing $2 million for this possible disaster (TLC will be spending between $800,000 to $1.2 million per episode for the whole production). The ratings for her new show on Fox News Channel were already low (she couldn’t even hold on to Greta Van Susteren’s audience). Imagine how much worse she’ll do on The Learning Channel where the audience presumably wants to learn something, i.e. the exact opposite of what Sarah Palin is known for. What’s next for The Learning Channel, George Bush’s Ranch?

When are people going to finally realize that just attaching a "big name" to a project doesn’t mean it’s going to work? The person hosting the show has to have some credibility in the field. I’m not sure Sarah Palin has credibility in any field.

Many people would argue that Palin did great ecological damage to Alaska and would like to do more by drilling all over it. So, getting her to host a show about the natural beauty of Alaska is a bit like getting Jeffrey Dahmer to host a cooking show for the Food Network. Yes, there’s a big name attached, but is that the name you really want associated with your brand?

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