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by spocko

Are Violent Racists Good Customers? Who Profits from the Trayvon Shooting?

4:01 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Following the Fox News story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, the comments section of Fox News exploded with racist and violent comments. Such as:
TreyvonshootingFoxNewsComments03192012

[...]Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

How long will it take to get all of those little blk curly nappys out of the White House bedding so that the next POTUS can sleep without that Creepy Crawly feeling .

[...]

They should have a hunting season in Florida for these drug crazed gang members.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs collected a bunch of them and notes the number of “likes” the comments get and says, “The right wing base is sick to its core.”

In Presidential politics it pays to court violent racists, they vote. But since I’m interested in the intersection of politics, business, technology and speech I wondered who else courts these people and why:

“Are violent racists good customers? Are they good for business? Which businesses? What do they buy?”

I don’t know the exact answers to all these questions, but I know a few.

Q: Are violent racists good customers?

A: Yes! I wonder what percentage of the people buying guns because of a 2008 rumor that President Obama was going to take them were also the same violent racists posting on Fox?

Q: Are they good for business?

A: Yes! Especially if you are in the weapons and ancillary businesses. Sales of guns spiked when Obama was elected, and are spiking on the fear of his re-election.

Q: Which businesses?

A: “Security” industries. If you are in the business of selling guns, your response to any shooting is — buy more guns! So instead of taking a tragedy like Trayvon Martin being shot by George Williams as an opportunity to suggest that the wording for ALEC Castle Doctrine Act model legislation law needs to be re-evaluated, you keep pushing the same “stand your ground” laws for years.

Q: What do they buy?

A: Guns, alarms and beyond. The defensive security industries also benefit from cranking up the fear. A report of a home invasion? Dispatch the alarm salesmen! But “passive” and defensive products are positioned by the gun lobby as for wimps. They suggest anything less than the ability to take immediate control of the situation is going to “let your family down.” Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Cato Stonex: Tell NewsCorp Beck Needs to Generate $$ or he’s Out

6:38 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

The media may want to bury the news that 296 advertisers don’t want their commercials shown on the Glenn Beck show, and the NewCorp management may pretend it’s no big deal, but as we are told over and over, "maximizing shareholder value" is the most important thing in the world.

So what should a concerned investor in a company do when the corporate managers keep employing someone who has gone from an asset to a liability? What actions should they demand management take? And if management doesn’t act, how should they respond?

Below I ask these questions to the largest institutional investor of NewsCorp, probably the only people on the planet with enough clout to demand real answers. I’ve asked these kind of questions to Rupert Murdock, the CEO of NewCorp and was brushed off.

Last Sunday I learned that I underestimated the number of advertisers who won’t touch the Glenn Beck show by 215!

Fennec Fox by tanakawho

Cato Stonex
Taube Hodson Stonex Partners Limited
London, UK

Dear Cato:

Are you pressuring NewsCorp to wring more money out of Glenn Beck? If not, why not?

Last Sunday, Mark Leibovich in the New York Times wrote, "as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck’s show (up from 26 in August 2009). The NY Times article talks about how Beck is using Fox/NewsCorp resources to make money for himself, which wouldn’t be problem if the show was returning more revenue for Fox. Right now a show with 1/8 the ratings of Beck which had actual advertisers would provide more revenue than Beck. Why is Fox allowing it and what are you going to do about it?.

If they say they can’t get more ad sales out of him, or give you some BS about how he has "plenty of advertisers" make them prove it, with numbers. You invest in companies that will make money for your fund. You can do this by being long on growth stocks or short on losers. Beck was an asset for NewsCorp, he is now a liability. What is NewsCorp going to do to fix that?

THS Partners is the largest institutional of NewsCorp. If you saw one of your other portfolio companies not maximizing their revenue potential what would you do? Sit around and let the CFO and Chairman lie to you? "It [The Glenn Beck show] has plenty of advertising," (In London you will notice zero ads on the Glenn Beck show, which isn’t exactly "plenty".) In the US Beck runs house ads for NewsCorp properties and Goldline ads. The fish (retail investors) say things like, "Murdock is making a ton of money off of Beck." because they don’t follow the business. You, I and the television executives selling ad space know what Beck’s "empty calories" mean. Lower revenue for Fox.

At what point does Beck’s inability to provide revenue become a material event for NewsCorp? If Beck died tomorrow that would be a material event, right? Beck’s ability to provide significant revenue for Fox died months ago.

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Act Now Before Beck Dies or Announces his Pending Death.

Speaking about Beck dying, you might have read about his mysterious medical ailments. By the time this letter gets to you he will announce his diagnosis. If the fish read he is going to die soon they will dump NewsCorp stock. They are stupid and think that Beck’s departure will hurt NewsCorp revenue. What will hurt is the stock from their panic selling. They don’t understand that Fox has been already been hiding Beck’s crappy revenue performance by taking money from other places inside Fox. You know how these things work. If Fox wants to keep their numbers up, and someone like Beck isn’t pulling his weight, someone else has to pay. A Fox executive doesn’t get his bonus or a program’s marketing budget gets cut. Ad salesmen get very unhappy when they who can’t convince any advertisers but Goldline to associate with the race-baiting and insanity of Glenn Beck. These people are mad at Glenn and are talking to the media. Someone who lost his commission, bonus or budget gave the New York Times the exact number of disgusted advertisers who won’t advertise on Beck’s show. 296.

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Alies Cares about Winning Elections for Republicans in The Fall. You Care about Making Money, Now.

Roger Alies is thumbing his nose at you because quarter after quarter he keeps a money-losing host in a prime network position. He may believe that Beck will help Republicans win elections in America and that it is worth stealing from internal budgets at Fox. Now this might be fine if your main goal is more Republican victories in the fall. But NewsCorp is supposed to make more money every quarter, and if Alies wants to get some candidates elected he should do what Chairman Murdock does and donate money directly to the groups promoting them. Instead, he is treating Fox like his own personal GOP promotion machine. Good for the GOP, not so good for NewsCorp shareholders in the short term.

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Beck’s Followers are Going to Kill People

When Beck’s followers kill people it’s not going to hurt his ratings. It will help ratings, however it will keep advertisers away and that should hurt the stock.

What may surprise you is that here in America people on both the left and right in the media will circle the wagons around Beck to declare that he can not be held legally responsible for "crazy people" who act as "lone wolves" and kill people. Expect someone from the ACLU to stand up for him. From NPR to MSNBC, the media will defend Beck. They will talk about the government’s duty not to interfere because of his First Amendment rights. Beck being the inspiration for an army of "lone wolves" with guns who attack his chalkboard featured players isn’t something that anyone in the government wants to address. The FCC has $500,000 fines for the f-word but will not touch anything to do with right wing incitement toward the left, Muslims, abortion providers and anyone associated with George Soros (in real life or in their imagination.)

Beck has been coached in the right way to incite violence, this is clear from reading the jailhouse interviews of Bryron Williams (who was inspired by listening to Beck to pick up guns to go assassinate leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation here in San Francisco).

Your question after future killings of course is simple, "How will Beck’s followers killing people impact the NewsCorp stock?" Again, the fish don’t know that the FCC has nothing to say about radio and TV hosts suggesting that someone needs to "do something" about George Soros or the Tides Foundation. They might think that NewsCorp will have to pay a fine or something. After the next round of killings inspired by Beck, a few more advertisers might leave, but at this point there aren’t many left.

There will be some talk about moral responsibility, but being morally irresponsible isn’t a firing offense at Fox (or most corporations for that matter). As long as Beck is bringing in revenue he can be as morally irresponsible as he wants. Right? Because it’s all about increasing revenue. However, you now have proof that Beck is NOT increasing revenue — if that isn’t a firing offense, what is?

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Inside Scoop from the People who Are Costing Fox News Millions in Revenue

I’ll let you in on some inside scoop. I know and have talked to both the people at Color of Change and StopBeck, the two groups that have successfully convinced 296 advertisers that Glenn Beck is bad for their brand. They aren’t quitting their efforts any time soon. Their work is dismissed by Murdock and Fox because they don’t want to admit how powerful it is. In the US the other media outlets also don’t want to talk about how powerful this action is because they are afraid they will be next. So they downplay it, mock it and pretend that people like Lou Dobbs was fired from CNN because of the sudden change of heart from CNN executives. BS. It was because groups like Presente and BustaDobbs convinced advertisers to leave his show. CNN wanted to stop losing advertisers. They didn’t want to act as the sugar daddy for Dobbs who should be making them revenue. Murdock has a long fuse when it comes to supporting money-losing entities, but at some point he needs to at least come clean to you and the other institutional investors and explain how long he will keep a liability that was an asset on the payroll.

Cato, please tell NewsCorp that Beck needs to generate more revenue or he’ll be pushed off of Fox. They will listen to you.

by spocko

What to do When Beck’s Followers Attack

1:36 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Today over at Media Matters John Hamiliton has a piece titled, Progressive Hunter about how "Glenn Beck’s chalkboard drove Byron Williams to plot assassination."

It’s rather chilling. My friend David Neiwert of Crooks and Liars gives some more context to the violence of Beck follower Byron Williams in this post.

One of the commenters, Dr. Dick, asked this question that a lot of people ask.

"How to hold inciters of violence accountable. How to do that without violating free speech protections?"

I think the key is to move the issue away from the "free speech" issue, especially the First Amendment. Why? Because there are a lot of people on the left who get their backs up at any hint of limiting anyone’s speech.

How many times have you heard, "I don’t like what he has to say, but I’ll defend to the death his right to say it!"

That makes them feel good. Many are proud of their, "Let the Nazis march in Skokie" values. They can be a radical defender of the First Amendment. Good for them. You then ask them for a solution they will say stuff like, "The answer to speech you don’t like is more speech." Yet another platitude.

I often ask them if they are familiar with the observation of one possible limit to speech, the "don’t falsely yell fire in a crowded theater" view. "Well, I guess it’s okay to limit that." but even then, some of them don’t like to think about limiting anyone saying anything. It’s because they put themselves in the position of the person being limited and they worry that they will be next. In some cases they are correct. When the government wants to get someone for ‘incitement to riot" they go after the left and attempt to tie them to terrorists.

If you object to Beck’s violent rhetoric and think it is dangerous you need to act. Think about what matters in our world today. Money. Think about what companies care about. Making money and building their brand.

You want to have an impact on Beck, Fox and their violent rhetoric? You look at ways to make it unprofitable.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

What’s News Corp’s ROI When Someone is Shot at a Tea Party?

12:57 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

News Corporation will release its 1st Quarter Fiscal 2010 today. (webcast link) I wrote a few financial analysts and asked them "What is the ROI to News Corp if some politician is shot at a Tea Party Fox organized? Some people say that Glenn Beck losing 80 advertisers had no impact because of the "great PR". Has this resulted in actual greater revenue on other shows?

Certainly Murdock can lose money on Beck for as long as he likes. But is the money coming out of his own pockets or out of the pockets of News Corp shareholders? Shareholders, as we all know, insist in maximizing shareholder value Quarterly! Show us the money!

Knowing how the world works, none of these questions will get asked. They will be dismissed as beneath the notice of the financial wizards of Wall Street. However, I just wanted to get them "out there" so that in the future when the "Nobody could have anticipated" event happens you and the plaintiff attorneys can point to this and say, "You were warned News Corp, you ignored the signs, just like the Entercom radio station did. Now you need to pay the price."

Here was my letter (slightly edited for posting here)
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Jason Bazinet,Citigroup

Jason: I know you have your own questions for News Corp’s earnings call today, but could you do me a favor and ask a few of the following questions during the Q&A session?

What steps has Fox parent News Corporation taken to protect their assets in the event of a shooting at a Fox sponsored tea party event?

Last week a jury ruled that Entercom Communications Corp (ETM:NYSE) subsidiary has to pay 16.6 million to the family of a Sacramento woman who died in a radio station water-drinking contest.. (Link) Although she signed a waiver and the station claimed they were not responsible for her actions, the jury still ruled that the subsidiary was negligent in the wrongful death case.

News Corp subsidiary Fox News has been actively organizing and promoting "Tea parties". Angry Fox viewers have brought weapons to these events to intimidated the President and other politicians. If someone is shot Fox will of course claim that they are not responsible for the actions of individuals just like Entercom did. But as we have now seen in the Entercom case that defense does not hold up in court. especially when the station is the driving force for getting people to participate.

It appears that Fox is not only ignoring the danger signs, it is actively calling for action that they have no way of controlling in an effort to boost ratings.

.

What steps have you taken to protect your assets in the event of a shooting at a Fox sponsored tea party event? Have Fox News competitors taken steps to protect themselves from shooting deaths at tea parties that they organize and support?
Has Fox taken out more insurance? Has News Corp? Can you name the insurers? Have the insurers taken into account the Entercom ruling yet for your premiums?

What steps has Fox News taken to recoup the revenue lost from 80 advertisers leaving the Glenn Beck show? (link to list of lost advertisers)

If the Beck show has high ratings but low revenue how long does the network plan to keep losing money on the show? Is there a path to profitability?

If the "high ratings" of the show is supposed to result in greater revenue for other parts of the company, is there any documented figures to make this connection? Third party audited figures? (The myth of Fox News ratings bump)

Which departmental budgets are subsidizing the Glenn Beck salaries and production costs?

If internal Fox budgets are not subsidizing the Glenn Beck show, is the funding coming from Chairman Murdock?

If Fox News is not subsidizing the Glenn Beck show and Chairman Murdock is not personally funding it, then funding is coming out of a News Corp budget. What form does the company expect the return on investment to take? Better relationships with the current government? A better Federal regulatory environment?

The Wall Street Journal is still an advertiser on the Glenn Beck show, does this mean that the marketing budgets for News Corp in-house properties have been told to subsidize the Beck show by News Corp management?

Thanks,
LLAP
Spocko

P.S. See Spocko v. talk radio hosts in the New York Times for a bit about me

by spocko

Real Questions to ask Rush Limbaugh

1:28 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Here are my questions for Rush this Sunday on Fox.

When you came back from the Dominican Republic in July 2006 you were caught with a prescription bottle of Viagra with one pill missing. You said it was yours but filled under the name of Steven Strumwasser, your drug treatment doctor, to protect your privacy. Smoking Gun Link

  • While in the DR did you have oral, vaginal or anal sex with one or more people?
  • What were the ages and genders of these people?
  • Did you pay the people or did someone pay these people for you?
  • Did you use some sort of barrier protection during your sex act(s)?

  • Do you remember the names of the people you were involved with?

  • Have you been in contact with any of these people since that time?

Photo by telethon
Please answer the above questions as if you are under oath. I say this because I know the answers to all the above questions and I will expect you to answer them honestly. Because, as you know, in American we don’t care about the sex we care about the lying.

The reason that I ask these questions is that as one of the leaders of the conservative movement your behavior is important. When people listen to you and agree with your views they have a right to know what kind of person you really are.
Just as we have moved on regarding Michael Vick, since he has great talents, I believe that the people will move on when they find out what you did in the DR and with whom you did it. Your sex life is important to the American public. We don’t care about it on the left, but the people on the right have shown time and time again that the sex life of entertainers and politicians is important and worthy of coverage.

  • Were you aware that your activities in the DR were videotaped by a private detective?

  • Do you know who hired the private detective?

The reason you would know that these activities were taped is that it is my understanding that you have been given a copy of this tape so that when necessary the people who have it can use it to control your opinion on certain matters.

  • Would you please tell the American people what acts are you being blackmailed for and who is blackmailing you?

It was good for the public to know about Letterman, don’t you think it would be good for the public to know about your encounters in the DR? Letterman brought in the police for his case, isn’t it time you did the same?
Remember, I do know who hired this detective and if you claim/blame that it was someone other than who it really was, I can prove in a court of law who it actually was.
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QUESTIONS ON DRUG USE DURING AND AFTER PROBATION

Rush, you were arrested and convicted for a felony commonly known as "doctor shopping". As part of your plea negotiations you agreed to submit to random drug testing. We all know that addiction is hard to overcome and many people are not successful in their first attempt to get clean.

  • Did you pass your random drug tests during the three years you were on probation?

Remember, I can check with your probation officer. As you know, in American we don’t care about taking certain drugs. we care about the lying about taking certain drugs. In professional sports many athletes are in the position of taking random drug tests while they are working. Although the parallels are not exact:

  • Since the time you have been arrested have you been free of drugs?
  • Have you been high while performing your radio show in the last 3 years?
  • Could you have passed a random drug test during the time you have been off probation for your felony?

Smoking Gun link to Rush’s Drug plea negotiations. "Doctor Shopping" felony statute
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FINANCIAL QUESTIONS FOR A MULTIMILLIONAIRE

Rush, you have said on the air that you are being audited by the IRS. We know that the IRS is not supposed to be used by politicians for political revenge. That said, under which President did this audit start
  
Remember, I do know the exact timeline for when the audit in question was ordered, please consider that before you answer the question.

  • Which areas of your personal finance or corporation finance are under investigation?
  • Will the results of this audit be made public?

Thank you Mr. Limbaugh. Now a word from our sponsor.

SPOCKO GETS META: or
 "What’s the point? Isn’t it All Okay If You Are A Republican?"

Allow me to get meta here for a minute. Someone asked me about my first series of questions and wondered why, if such video evidence existed, did I not bring it forward. I explained my thought process here.

I do not expect any journalist to ask the questions above for a couple of reasons. They might ask a pale version of the above questions but, based on recent puff pieces on folks like Rush, Savage and Beck, they will not ask any tough questions. Rush gets entertainer questions. Yet he is a huge economic and political force in this country. Why is he treated as if he is Jennifer Lopez in a profile in US Weekly? Rush, like Lopez has control over who interviews her, the types of questions and even approves the photos in the photo shoot. Rush is the key man for a multibillion dollar industry that relies on his revenue; the infrastructure he supports is massive. If you read the SEC documents from these companies you’ll see that if anything happened to Rush it would be a massive material event and crash the stock. Is Rush "too big to fail?" They don’t want to find out, so they will keep propping him up.

The questions I asked above are stylistically more like a criminal investigation or a deposition than a celebrity interview –and rightly so, since Rush may be guilty of some new felonies.  I would expect that the authorities would ask questions like the above if he was caught in flagrante delicto (which I believe is Latin for flavored dyslectics.) I would also expect that there are "cleaners" who keep Rush’s messes quiet.

I am not a law enforcement officer. I am not a lawyer. I’m not a journalist, I’m not even human, but I know the importance of good questions and it’s time that he be asked these questions. The only thing that can bring Rush down is Rush and he is working very hard to make that happen while his plate spinners and financial beneficiaries attempt to save him. At some point, like the water that broke the poorly constructed federal levees in New Orleans, the flood will come.

Now is the time for some real journalists to get in there because Rush wants something, he wants sympathy, he wants to be the victim and in the process of his whining for sympathy it gives people an opening to ask some real questions. Questions about other laws he may have broken and some repugnant acts he may have committed.

If you are interested in posting some questions for Chris Wallace to ask Rush, go here Link to Wallace’s Blog
And, since there are bunch of Rush fans who want to know why the NFL is picking on poor Rush YOU can answer their questions or question their premises.

LLAP
Spocko

by spocko

Turning the Financial Bullies Loose on the Media Bullies: The Spocko Way

4:03 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

First I want to bust a couple of cliche’s.

1) When you stand up to a bully they back down.
No they don’t. Often they kick your ass for presuming to defy them.

And if you DO get them to back down because you planned ahead and used your skills and your friend’s skills to defeat them they go into victim mode and whine “I’m getting picked on!” Then they slip away and wait for a time to destroy your family, your friends or your finances. (Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.)

It would be pathetically hilarious if it wasn’t so damaging.

They are bullies. That is who they are and what they do. I don’t really care WHY they are bullies unless it would help me stop them.

They often don’t stop, should we stop confronting them? No. But what we can do is set one group of bullies against another. I think it’s time to set the financial bullies up against the media bullies.

You know who is sick? People who employee bullies. Sadly it appears there are never enough disincentives for companies to stop employing bullies.

  • What if the bully costs the company millions of dollars in revenue? How do you justify that?
  • “He serves a “higher purpose!”
    Do the shareholders know and approve of this money losing “higher purpose?”

    “He gets big ratings!”
    Have these great ratings lead to more revenue? The “we got great ratings but no revenue” gambit only works for so long before investors say,


    “Hey, we aren’t the Washington Times here! We want to make money. If you want to lose money let it come out of YOUR pocket–Rupert.”

    –Institutional investors of News Corp

    That is what the shareholders and institutional investors of News Corporation should be asking of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch on November 4th when News Corporation will be holding their conference call on 1st Quarter Fiscal 2010 results.
    null

    You know it’s not like institutional investors haven’t been pissed at New Corp before, they’ve even sued them (Link)

    Whenever I bring up suggestions to start questioning things like this I’m told by Very Serious People (the ones who told me not to worry my pretty little Vulcan head about over leveraging of Credit Default Swaps) that I don’t understand how the world works and the financial systems are too complex for my tiny Vulcan mind. They explain how Murdoch can lose billions if he wants and nobody cares. Wrong. People care. And the people who are losing the money need to justify the loss or explain why this loss is “good for business” or how they will “convert the ratings to money next quarter so trust us and please give us more time.”

    When I suggest challenging a media corporation they bring out another cliché.

    .
    2) “Never piss off people who buy ink by the barrelful”. Why the hell not?

    First off it’s not ink anymore, it’s pixels on a screen, let’s try and keep our metaphors fresh people. Which means, WE buy our pixels by the barrelful too. You know we can create a story that gets just as much attention and just as many viewers as Fox News. The newspapers bitch and moan about Google destroying their business because if I create a story that is good enough, more people can read my story than the entire circulation of a major metro paper. No barrelfuls of ink needed. This isn’t the age of stone knives and bearskin rugs people. The internet has been around for awhile now but the metaphors haven’t caught up.

    Financial bullies can be counted on to care about one thing. Demanding that they make more money. And these people can be influenced, suggest to them that they follow their instincts and demand that Fox News changes the behavior that is costing them money. They can also demand News Corporation explain how this money losing strategy is going to make them money. If Rupert doesn’t have an answer ask him to eat the costs himself so it doesn’t drag down the revenue of the entire company.

    What have you done for me THIS quarter — Rupert?
    —-Institutional investors of News Corp to Mr. Murdock.

    I’ve got a few other questions shareholders and institutional investors can ask.

  • “Have you prepared for the lawsuits that will be filed when someone is killed at the Tea Parties you are promoting?
  • Have your insurance rates gone up because you are gathering mobs of gun toting people to political events?

  • Are your insurance carriers even aware they are underwriting the potential riots you are starting?
  • Are you in danger of losing your broadcast license when a host’s call to action results in people being killed?”
  • –Shareholder questions for the COO of News Corp

    (By the way these are all questions I posed to the people at Citadel Broadcasting regarding the hosts at KSFO sponsoring of Tea parties)

    What if a bully gets people killed? He’s costing the company money, he’s getting people killed and the company still encourages him? We know what is wrong with the bully, but what is wrong with the people employing him?

    Right now I’m watching right-wing media bullies target and pick off progressives one after another. Since Halloween is coming up we can call it a witch hunt and since one of my favorite people IS a witch I’m especially pissed off by witch hunts.

    The abuse of power of these people is really stunning and what is just as stunning is the other people who simply report on the abuse of power as just another story. I understand “how the world works”. I’m not a kid. There was a reason I devised the methods, messages and strategy to go after the bullies at KSFO. I knew what the corporations cared about. Their brands and money. When I pointed out to advertisers that KSFO host’s comments were tainting their brands they say, “Yes. These people are sick and we don’t want to associate with them anymore.”

    .
    What Can We Do? or “Finally I can write someone other than my Stupid Senator!”

    People will use the skills they have to fight bullies. Robert Greenwald is using his film making skills to point out that Fox is picking off progressives. I’m a brain in a box, I write letters. You can too.

    Now is the time to write a couple of News Corp Institutional Investors and ask them if they are fine with Rupert’s strategy of losing money on Glenn Beck and setting up the network for possible loss of broadcast licenses because of their incitement of violence.

    Tap into the financial interests of the investors and set them up against Fox. Fox can no longer claim that employing crazy people is a money making strategy. They will point to ratings, we can point to loses. They can point to future money making, we can point to future massive lawsuits.

    There are lots of ways to fight bullies. For now I’m suggesting we fight bullies with bullies.

    LLAP,
    Spocko

    P.S. Here is your Super easy Action item!

    My Google foo is weak today. I couldn’t find a good list of News Corp institutional investors to write. Help me. All we need is a few hedge fund managers and a couple of names of big investors we can write and suggest the questions above. Big investors listen to the coded language of finance and read the entrails of the conference call script. They are very intelligent and hate to be fooled. They hate when information is hidden from them. Sometimes they are just looking for a good question to unravel a number that is puzzling them. Give them some suggestions. They might dismiss ALL your questions, but it might trigger a REAL question they want to ask that will do more damage than any I can think of with my half human half Vulcan mind.

    I don’t have investors info, but I DO have a list of analysts to write courtesy of News Corp! Analysts ask questions too, but they don’t have the same incentives to push News Corp and demand answers. But whispering a few questions in their ear couldn’t hurt.Spocko Money

    by spocko

    Where are the defamation lawsuits for Hannity and Limbaugh?

    8:51 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

    Possible Future Headline: Kevin Jennings Sues Hannity and Limbaugh for Defamation

    Say you read tomorrow that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings has filed a defamation lawsuit against Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. What are your first thoughts? Second thoughts? Thoughts about success? Thoughts about how this might change things?

    For those of you who aren’t following this story are some of the some clips from Media Matters that list some of the smears and how factually incorrect they are about Jennings (link)

    One thing about politics that both fascinated and horrified me is the way the smear machine works and how the media not only play along, but are a major market for the dirt. And after the damage is done there is no method for the person smeared to bring the people who started the smears to account, let alone the media who repeated the smears.

    I’m sure the lawyers here can give me dozens of reasons why defamation lawsuits are a bad idea, a waste of time and not worth the trouble. In fact, I’ve already been told many of those reasons myself and I agree with most of them. ExpertLaw gives lots of the reasons not to start one, and the one I can all relate to is this:

    Another big issue is that defamation cases tend to be difficult to win, and damage awards tend to be small. As a result, it is unusual for attorneys to be willing to take defamation cases on a contingent fee basis, and the fees expended in litigating even a successful defamation action can exceed the total recovery.
    – Law talking guy Aaron Larson at ExpertLaw

    And when you are going up against big time media lawyers who have multiple millions to spend it is even more daunting. But I want to start getting the concept out there that we should start looking for the opportunity to support someone in a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing media.

    As you know, I believe that there are multiple ways to weaken the right-wing media and in today’s world I think making their lies, violent rhetoric and character assassination financially less profitable is one of the best.

    I think the time has come for the right wing media to pay the financial price for their slander. It would send a message, and financial messages are the only ones the right-wing media hear. We can say it’s not about the money, it’s the principle, but it’s really about the money.

    They have been profiting on their lies and slander for decades and if we can’t stop it, we can at least ensure it’s not a huge money making activity for them. Do you think Fox is happy about the 100 advertisers that have left Glenn Beck? They have to subsidize him now.

    What is Our Role in This?

    Here is my prediction: When there is a defamation lawsuit there will be concerned posts on our side about, “the chilling effect to free speech” and “ooh, we better be careful, what if they do it to us?”

    Before the lawsuit pixels are even dried on the screen we will see discussions about how the name calling and accusations are “just politics” and to be expected. There will be false comparisons between Sean Hannity’s deliberate repeating of incorrect information after it has been debunked and comments from some blogger who said something bad about George W. Bush. They love their false equivalencies. The right will scream, “Bush was called worse things, he didn’t sue anyone!” (He just had his critics rounded up and put in free speech zones, but I digress.)

    How can we help if Jennings or someone else targeted by Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh does file a suit?

    “We got your back, defamation suit filer!” (in a rhetorically sense that is)

    How do we support someone in a defamation lawsuit? First we need to know the facts. Then we educate ourselves on the concept and carry our understanding to arguments with wingnuts AND discussions with our own friends. We spread out and challenge the accepted way of thinking by the media and our side if necessary.

    I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL) Nor do I Play One the Internets

    It looks pretty clear to me that when someone repeats incorrect information after they have been corrected it falls into the “actual malice” territory. These people aren’t journalists, however they will be treated as journalists if a defamation case comes up. They have all the protection of journalists and none of the responsibilities. Since IANAL I’ve started reading up on libel and slander and defamation, maybe some of you should too.

    The lawyers among us can focus on how the case may or may not succeed but the rest of us have to keep our eyes focused on the big picture. Character assassination in the right wing needs to cost them financially, nothing changes unless there are rewards or consequences. Right now it’s all rewards and no consequences..

    Spocko’s Fun Fact! Did you know that during the run up to elections right wing radio stations are designiated “press entites”? They get a “press exemption” for giving infomercials to their canidiates and causes so that their parent corporation don’t have to list all that free air time as a donation. Isn’t that HILARIOUS!?

    When KSFO/ABC/Disney had my blog shut down using a cease and desist letter to my ISP claiming a copyright violation I knew that they didn’t have a leg to stand on. This is because I educated myself on fair use and spoke to folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The fair use of audio clips was a story the media could talk about so they had more than just a he said she lied story. They could talk to experts! But the experts weren’t the ones going around in the blogosphere supporting me, it was bloggers and commenters just like you.

    I made it clear to everyone that this wasn’t a boycott, we weren’t threatening the advertisers. We wanted the advertisers to hear for themselves just how extreme this speech was and then suggested they follow their own internal guidelines.

    But I had to educate people on what I was doing and what this was about because often when I spoke to people about what I was doing some got up tight. They would launch into, “I don’t like what they have to say but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it!” before I had a chance to explain I was simply alerting the advertisers and letting them decide.
    This is something that we can do after a lawsuit is filed, educate people about defamation and remind the people out there that destroying someone’s reputation by repeating statements they know to be false is wrong.

    Creating a Liberal FAQ

    For me it helps to discuss this issue using what I like to call the “Liberal FAQ”. This is a document that I create for myself so that I can answer the Devil’s Advocate questions. I’ve found that these questions are often based on ingrained right wing views. I also use it as an opportunity to hone my own arguments.

    How Will the Media Respond?

    Let’s think about how the media might respond and our response.

    1. I think they will circle the wagons around Hannity and Limbaugh. In my experience no matter how loathsome the mainstream media sees the comments from Hannity or Limbaugh they are holding in their head this thought, “Ohhh, this could be me getting sued, I better tread lightly.”

    2. They will bring in all sorts of serious experts. They will opine on slander, libel, free speech, private vs. public figures blah, blah, blah. The experts will guess that the suit will fail will out weight the experts who believe he will win because a win would have huge implications and they know Fox will fight this as hard as they fought the Bono swearing case, which they took all the way to the Supreme Court — where they lost.
    3. They will talk about the smear merchants who never got punished but got rewarded becase they admire their savvieness. We have seen three glowing stories on Limbaugh, Savage and Beck in the media lately. Their actual offensive words are scrubbed out. They admire people like Karl Rove and Lee Attwater. (Rove and David Gregory are dance partners!)

      They will bring up John McCain and how someone did a push poll that cost him the nomination in 2000 but it will be McCain’s problem for not pushing back.For balance they will bring up name calling from Randi Rhodes, MoveOn.org and a blogger who created a website attacking Glenn Beck. “You see? Both sides do it. It’s just politics, it goes all the way back to Jefferson!” They won’t talk about the media’s role in the libel and slander of Al Gore and John Kerry. They won’t see how they are the main audience for Swift Boaters and how they failed in that story but they will blame people like Kerry for not responding correctly.

    We need to start saying to the people profiting from character assassins that intentional character assassination can also be a liability and we aren’t going to sit around and let you smear our people.

    The mainstream media will report the story because it is news. When they cover the story that will be our chance to write about it. It will be the soccer ball kicked into the air for us to focus on for one news cycle.

    Why Bother with Someone Else’s Reputation? Or to quote Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

    Somewhere I read a story about a guy who spread a lie that destroyed a kid’s reputation. The kid’s tells the dad who says, “In my time your name and reputation were important, they meant something. You need to stand up for yourself, get back your good name”.

    The son then proceeds to force the bad guy to admit he set the kid up and a plucky journalist who was duped with the wrong story runs a big front page retraction. I’m pretty sure that I’ve even a version of this fictional story as an episode of Smallville, or maybe it was a movie staring Gidget, but the point is it’s a great story set up. It’s got conflict, ethics, emotion, a successful resolution, maybe even some romantic entanglements between the plucky journalist and our hero. In 43 minutes the journalists have corrected their mistake and his reputation is reclaimed.

    I LOVE those kinds of stories. Sadly, in real life most plucky journalists have been laid off. People who have been through lawsuits tell me that even if you win you lose. I spoke to Sidney Blumenthal about his case against Drudge and AOL. The media need Drudge and they defended him so vigorously that Blumenthal was forced to drop the suit because he could afford to keep it going. You can imagine what someone would be up against if they to take on Fox.

    I’m so Glad We Had This Post Together

    My Vulcan side can point out the strategy and tactics to effect change. But it is my human side that gets angry and says, “Stop destroying these people’s lives! Stop lying!”

    When Carol Burnette successfully sued the National Enquirer in 1981it sent a shock wave through the tabloids. They needed to be more careful with their allegations or other cases would be filed. A serious successful case of this kind could do the same for talk radio and cable tv.

    Live Long and Prosper
    Spocko