Chocolate Blues

November 21, 2008

As a person of color I refused to watch “Chocolate News” on Comedy Central although I have a passion for satire.

I love the Daily Show. Enjoy The Colbert Report. Never missed a live episode of Saturday Night Live or the Weekend up Date editions which aired on NBC Thursdays at 9 PM for three consecutive weeks prior the general election.  I was disappointed when The Chappell Show came to an abrupt end and I take Chris Rock before all of the aforementioned. But the television promo for Chocolate News sent the wrong message.  I decoded it as buffoonery.  It promoted the type of image on television, that creative, talented and intelligent people of color fought against .

I watched a couple of clips of Chocolate News at because my professor gave an assignment on “news satire shows”. Having used the Daily Show in previous writings, I decided to give ” a brother” a play.  Maybe I should not have gone beyond the promos on Comedy Central.

Is this the best Comedy Central can do to present a Black perspective on News from a satirical point of view ?  Really ? No Black comedians with the intelligence, wit and finesse of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert or the Saturday Night team ?  Maybe what we are seeing programmed reflects the lack of diversity in the programming department at the executive level.  To assume that the stereotypical trash in Chocolate News is what Black people, with disposable income (to please advertisers) would want to watch, demonstrates that those executives have no understanding of the progressive Black community, the ones television executives claim they must reach in order for a Black show to stay on air.

I am not asking for another Cosby show.  I am not a prude. The F bomb in context is fine. David Alan Grier, the host of the show, uses or implies the F bomb without reason or rhyme.  He acts and speaks in a manner  to reinforce the views held about Blacks by uninformed people outside the Black community.  On the Chocolate News website Mr. Grier says he “makes no apologies”. And, ” The point-of-view is decidedly from an African-American perspective”.

My question to Mr. Grier and the suits at Comedy Central is which African-American perspective ? The  Barack Obama, Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Queen Latifah, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell African- American perspective ? I did not think so ? It’s a matter of time before before Chocolate News becomes another failed so-called Black show.


What Change ?

November 21, 2008

Daily Show for Hard News

November 10, 2008

The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart probably gives more objective, hard news than the program’s promotions department is willing to admit. The show’s website site has a declaration- “One Anchor, Five Correspondents and Zero credibility”. After watching a segment entitled “Sarah Palin Gender Card” posted on Wednesday September 3rd 2008, one would have to wonder if the Main Stream Media (MSM) has become a victim of a chilling effect due to harsh criticism about liberal bias in the media from conservative political pundits and talk show hosts.

There was no evidence of a chilling effect on “The Daily Show” as it used video clips, to create an expose’ of hypocrisy from Karl Rove, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Dick Morris. There they all were, in motion and sound, for the world to see, taking what seemed like principled positions on political issues. Then, there they were again, seconds later, with an opposite view when the same facts became political liabilities for Governor Palin, after she was selected as vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party. That video exposé broadcast on “The Daily Show” undermined the credibility of each and every one of them, period.

The segment showed Karl Rove, a Republican political mastermind, making an argument some weeks earlier, that Governor Tim Kane of Virginia would have been a horrible vice presidential pick for Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Rove argued that Governor Kane had only been governor for three years, and mayor of Richmond, Virginia, a small town (population of 200,000 pointed out Mr. Stewart). Mr. Rove argued that if Senator Obama had picked Governor Kane, it would have been a political decision and not a decision about “if this person is capable of being President of the United States“. After that sound bite we saw the same Karl Rove, a month later, looking straight into the camera defending the selection of Governor Palin, saying it was a good selection because among other things she is Governor of Alaska (he did not mention for less than two years) and she was mayor of the second largest town in Alaska (population 9,000 pointed out Mr. Stewart). Using excellent comic timing the producers showed two faces of Mr. Rove while Mr. Stewart wondered if Mr. Rove was “bitterly divided on the experience issue”.

Then there was Bill O’Reilly, whom I have always agreed with on his crusade against the culture of poor moral values and parental accountability. The video shows Mr. O’Reilly doing a commentary to defend Governor Palin’s pregnant teenage daughter. His main point being, teenage pregnancy is a personal matter once taxpayers do not have to support the family. The video then segued into a previous segment on Mr. O’Reilly’s show where he was demeaning the parents of Britney Spears, when Britney’s teenage sister announced she was pregnant. He even referred to their parents as “pinheads”. The chances of the Britney Spears’ teenage sister (who had her own television show at the time) depending on taxpayers for assistance is highly unlikely. So there is no defense for Mr. O’Reilly’s two positions on identical issues.

Not to be outdone were Sean Hannity and Dick Morris who in one clip were complaining about the “tougher and harder questions asked by a biased news media …deep sexism” in regards to Governor Palin. Oops, some months earlier, there they were, trashing Senator Hillary Clinton with their views that a woman who is running for president should not be making complaints based on gender; that it shows she is not strong enough; and asking what was going to happen when the boys from other countries start picking on her; and even adding that whenever Hillary gets under pressure she retreats under the apron strings. One wonders who is being more sexist.

The segment goes on to show John McCain’s Senior Policy Advisor in a similar light. Is it just politics? Or have the MSM become so timid by the constant accusations of having a liberal bias, that they allow conservatives to have free unchecked rein? Why are the double standards by people with access to millions of eye balls not being challenged by mainstream journalists? How come people who watch political satire like ‘The Daily Show” are getting more “Fair and Balanced” political coverage? According the Pew Research Center published on April 15, 2007, viewers of The Daily Show were more informed than audiences of mainstream news sources. After watching the September 3rd 2008 show (link below), I am not surprised.

Sarah! Sarah!

November 7, 2008

The media has a double standard. It’s sexist and unfair. It treats women differently from men.  Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has displayed a level of incompetence which the media would not have accepted from a male candidate.

In a recorded interview, Katie Couric of CBS Evening News asked Ms. Palin what she reads. Ms. Palin responded everything which comes in front of her. Pressed by Ms. Couric to identify any magazine or newspaper, Ms. Palin was stomped. She could not name one newspaper or magazine. She became defensive and argued that Alaska is not some remote place where people don’t have access.  One could only wonder how the media would have reacted if Joe Biden could not name anything he reads, especially when given more than four opportunities to do so.

In the Vice Presidential debate, moderator Gwen Ifill asked Ms. Palin about a bankruptcy bill before the senate. Ms. Palin’s main point was, “I want to go back to the energy plan, because this is… this is an in ’05” and went on to discuss what she wanted to, instead of answering the question.  When the moderator moved on to discuss deregulation, an important issue with the current economic crisis. Ms. Palin responded, “I would like to respond about tax increases”.  At one point Senator Joe Biden reminded the moderator that Governor Palin was not answering the questions. The Governor responded to her next question by making it clear that she was not answering the questions and that she intended to speak directly to the American people. After the debate there were rave reviews about Ms. Palin’s “performance” and how she connected with viewers, but nothing about her lack of substance.

Since Ms. Palin was selected as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, she has not held a press conference. She did three interviews. Two with respected news broadcasters: Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. Both went badly. They exposed her lack of intellect. The third interview was with Sean Hannity of Fox News, who openly roots for her and he asked her mostly leading questions.

So, yes, the media is biased, sexist, and unfair. The bias favors women.

Barack Obama is Black ?

November 4, 2008

On election day it seems like CNN and MSNBC found out that Barack Obama is Black. From the morning program to afternoon shows there were segments discussing Barack’s Blackness or African American heritage. race1

At 3:20 PM, Rick Sanchez (for fair disclosure Rick is not one of my favorite cable newscasters) of CNN had the artist of, who created the above photo shop image to discuss the role of race in the election. To every question about the issue of race, the artist told Mr. Sanchez that race was not that important, there were bigger issues. Mr. Sanchez’s response was, “The reason you did it is because of race, not so ?”.  Clearly, Rick Sanchez was not analyzing the art  because the very point of the art is to illustrate that race should not be the issue.

Rick Sanchez went on to state that a number of people were complaining about his decision to focus on the race story on election day. However, he defended his decision by proclaiming many e-mails were coming in with comments, which he proceeded to read on air.

I turned to MSNBC at 3:38 PM trying to escape the discussion of race on CNN, but to my dismay, Nora O’Donnell was discussing ‘the possibility of the first Black President’ with Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post Newspaper. Mr. Robinson talked about the historic importance of  Barack, as possibly the first Black person winning the Presidency.

The Morning Joe program on MSNBC spent most of their time discussing the historic significance  if Barack was to win the Presidency. What’s important to note, is that everyone of the commentators, journalist, and talk show hosts were playing into the old stereotype of “even a drop of black blood makes a person Black”. The last time I checked, Barack’s mother and his entire maternal family are White. Therefore, Mr. Obama is a person of mix heritage. After all, he was cultivated by his maternal family. So, for once, can we give credit to both races ? 

Americans lost the debate

September 30, 2008

After the first Presidential debate, the cable news channels were primarily focused on trivial matters like body language of the debaters, and who ultimately won the debate. The truth is, the American people became the losers.

The first debate between Presidential candidates Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Barack Obama took place last Friday. Although the focus of the debate was intended to be on Foreign Affairs, they spent the first forty-five minutes talking about the economy. Then they moved onto issues like Iraq, Iran and the war on terror. On most issues, both candidates were philosophically opposed to each other. The Republican John McCain wants to continue the war in Iraq until we win, favors a $5,000 tax credit for health insurance, and prefers to see Iran disband it’s nuclear weapon ambitions before America opens talks with Iran.  The Democrat Barack Obama thinks we should be talking to Iran in order to get them to stop the nuclear program, prefers accessible health insurance to all and wants the US military to leave Iraq. At the end of the debates, the political pundits on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News spent most of their time talking about, “John McCain did not make eye contact with Barack Obama”, “Barack Obama looked Presidential”, “John McCain won the foreign policy part of the debate”, “Barack Obama won the economic part of the debate”. The following day the New York Daily News had a headline, “John McCain on points”, although on the next page they were reporting that the majority of Americans who saw the debate thought Obama had won. The New York Post’s front page on that same Saturday was, “First Strike … McCain, Obama come out swinging”.

The American public would have  been much better served by a discussion or educated analysis of the two senators’ positions and what each would mean for tax payers. It would have been informative to hear  economists discuss the pros and cons of the two economic policies. The American people would have been able to make a more informed decision if we had heard from neutral foreign policy experts discussing the potential effects of each candidate’s position on world affairs.

Every four years we are told this election is the most important in our nation’s history, yet it seems like every four years, during the presidential election cycle, the media thrives on small issues. Whether John McCain makes eye contact or not with Barack Obama in the debate does not make our lives any better.  It’s time the media lead by example. and make our elections about big issues.

We have shifted our economic philosophy from a free market economy to socialism. The US government has injected billions of taxpayers’ dollars to support large corporations. And, the American main stream media and their European counterparts are seeing it through different lenses.

Euro News reported the United States “nationalized” some of America’s biggest financial companies. America’s main stream media continue to refer to the government’s “investment” as a “bailout”.  I wonder which assessment is true.

We are in a financial crisis! “Washington lawmakers hashed out the details of the biggest government bailout in history” reported The New York Times on Monday September 22, 2008. Other main stream media houses, both broadcast and print, continue to use the term, “bailout”. Maybe it is the politically correct term to use in an economy and country seen as the beacon of the free market system. However, The Times article went on to state, “current legislation would provide sweeping powers to the Treasury Department to buy up bad assets from financial firms in exchange for greater regulatory oversight.” Hard core supporters of the free market system, the same business people who are accepting the handouts,  had always demanded that government stayed out of the business market place. They had always preferred very little or no regulation. So, this “bailout” or  as some would argue, corporate welfare, is to assist the free market.

In contrast, the Euro News Channel reported last Friday night “The American government nationalized some of America’s top investment bankers and AIG, a top insurance firm”. On “Meet the Press” the following Sunday, Ms.  Erin Burnett of the business channel CNBC indicated the government involvement “is an experiment–some people say “socialism”.  Steven Liesman, also of CNBC, joked about a friend who now refers to Wall Street, the mecca of the laissez fair economic system as, “the People’s Republic of Wall Street.” Whereas the European news media took the US government response to the financial crisis as a possible change in the American economic module, American media refused to confront that possibility. When discussed, socialism was dealt with in joking terms, as illustrated above.

“If a liberal Democratic administration had put hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money at risk by bailing out Bear Stearns and nationalizing American International Group (AIG), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, wouldn’t conservatives accuse Democrats of ‘socialism’?”, writes Lanny J. Davis, in a Wall Street Journal Newspaper opinion piece dated Monday September 22, 2008. Mr. Davis, a Democrat, was framing the argument from a political partisan perspective. What we are waiting to see is if the main stream media will allow serious discussion about our economic system. When such economic meltdowns occur in countries like the old Soviet Union, East Germany or North Korea, the main stream media have proclaimed that the socialist or communist economic module has failed the people of those countries. Well, the American Main Street investors and tax payers have good reason to believe that Wall Street has failed them too.