Clouding the Issues By Timothy V. Gatto

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By Timothy V. Gatto
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
January 6, 2010

Listening to the commentators and political analysts on the lamesream media can quickly become infuriating. I’m not talking about Glenn “Crybaby” Beck or Sean  Hannity or even Bill O’Reilly, I’m talking about  Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann  and others that are supposed to represent the “Progressive” side of television journalism.

It’s not that I don’t detest the crew on FOX, I do, but I just know what they are all about and therefore their rhetoric doesn’t surprise me. In fact, I sometimes tune in to FOX just to be entertained by the outrageous. I probably would be disappointed if they didn’t deliver, and ninety-nine percent of the time, they live up to my expectations. On the other hand, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow truly infuriate me. It’s not because of their views; it’s because of what they choose to talk about.

It seems that Olbermann and Maddow expend a great deal of effort to illustrate how and why the conservative pundits operate. In fact, I have watched many of their shows that concentrate on rebuttals to the poisonous rhetoric that emanates from the asylum at FOX. The trouble with taking an approach that concentrates primarily of criticizing these bottom-feeders is that this tactic leaves very little time to analyze and discuss the actual issues and the events that spur debate in the first place.

A good example is the situation in Gaza and Hamas. We are reminded on a consistent basis of the rocket attacks on Israel. When describing Hamas, the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize the State of Israel more often than not, comes into the story. We are also reminded fairly regularly that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that the PLO in the south, are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.

While this is all true to a certain extent, the reasons behind the issues are almost never brought up. If there were more Americans that understood why Hamas behaves as it does, support for Israel in the U.S. may be contingent upon making reparations to the Palestinian people, and Americans would probably be more sympathetic towards Hamas.

Just to clarify some points I’ll briefly stray from the primary subject matter and talk about Hamas. The main reason that Hamas will not recognize Israel is that to do so and establish relations with the Jewish State requires them to give up reparations for the property and businesses taken from them in 1947. The Palestinian people also must give up their right of return. This is what recognizing Israel will cost the Palestinians. This is just an example of how the complete story is hidden from the view of the public in many cases.

When issues are raised on Olbermann’s show “Countdown”, many issues that he raises are not the issues that make the news, they are illustrations of the way Republicans react to Democrats or in the things that they say or do.  Rachel Maddow exemplifies this even more that Olbermann,  and in fact I have seen entire shows in which she berates the Republicans or FOX News, and barely touches on actual news stories.

This seems to be a deliberate attempt by the media to obfuscate issues by concentrating on differing opinions on subjects rather that the subjects themselves. Instead of criticizing the Obama Administration, Olbermann and Maddow along with others on the “progressive” side, concentrate on differences with other media personalities. The conservatives do the same thing.

It is bad enough that the mainstream media reports on hardly anything of real consequence anymore. They report heavily on news about celebrities and oddities and hardly ever concentrate on real news, especially foreign news outside of American war zones. Even news about Afghanistan is very sketchy and since the focus of war has been shifted to that country news and footage about Iraq is hard to come by. The last things the people of this country need to do are fixate upon are rivalries and differing political ideologies between “media pundits”, so that  actual news reporting takes a back seat.

It may seem that reporting differences of opinion and pointing out ridiculous political beliefs is important. Some feel that pundits like Beck and others should be taken to task for things they have said. Maybe it is a good idea to call them out occasionally and illustrate just how skewed their opinions are, but the operative word here is “occasionally”. It is really not practical for Olbermann or Maddow to base entire shows on lampooning the right-wingers. Most of the people that watch their shows are already aware of the views held by so many on the right. To bring it up over and over may make for spicy and heated material for their half hour slots, but by doing this, the rest of the story is ignored.

It’s amazing how much news is produced every day, from Yemen to Iran, from Russia to Venezuela. The climate summit, meetings of the ASEAN nations, the political situation in Latin America and so much more is taking place every day.  From the killing of indigenous people in Central India (The World’s Largest Democracy”) in order to dig for bauxite, to the killing of people with opposing points of view as is taking place in Burma and so many other places is far more important than what Bill O’Reilly said on his show last night.

It’s bad enough that many of our High School graduates can’t even read, it’s even worse when they can’t pick out the United States on a globe. If Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and others don’t believe they can fill their time slots with news of importance, than they just aren’t paying attention.  Responding to the radical right makes it seem that they are important enough to warrant the attention.

To me, these personality wars between the talking heads on the right and the left just mean that real issues like America seeking global hegemony and  fighting for a petroleum pipeline through Afghanistan  will never see the light of day nor will we see a debate about the true cost of these endeavors. The operative word here is obfuscation. Whether it is intentional or not matters very little.

This country has problems that need to be addressed. Unless those problems are presented to the people in the United States, unless  we can demonstrate how important it is to address things such as overpopulation, finite resources, pollution and genocides, all we will do is to simply react to what presents itself. That is not good enough; we should be developing a strategy to deal with these catastrophic events. We won’t survive unless the people become aware. There‘s not a lot of time left.


Read Tim Gatto’s new book Complicity to Contempt.


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