Monday, February 19, 2007

Hearing is Believing

From Media Magazine, by Tom Siebert, February 2007 issue

It's one thing to read KSFO host Melanie Morgan complaining that the San Francisco Chronicle is trying to influence a California congressional race by altering a photo of Rep. Richard Pombo so he appears "furtive and dark," but it's another thing entirely to actually listen to the sound bite and hear the way she spits out the word "black" in her comment: "It is shaded to where it looks like he's a black man. ... I think it's just shameful."

The way she says the word, she makes it sound like being black would be the worst thing in the world - because to Melanie Morgan, it probably would be. And it's far more shocking than reading it on the page.

As you listen to the KSFO segments, the hatred in the hosts' voices comes through so much stronger than reading it. There is a truly chilling moment listening to morning talk host Lee Rodgers ruminate: "The day will come when unpleasant things are going to happen to a bunch of stupid liberals. ... It's going to be very amusing to watch."

Read the whole article here.


Here is the audio clip Mr. Siebert was referring to in his article. Audio Link

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Tears

I wrote the following post on Saturday, September 25, 2004, the title was,

War photography is essentially antiwar
. What made me want to repost? Watertiger (btw, happy blogoversary!) did a post based on the following award winning photo. Now I'm going to let you click on the link but be advised, although it's not graphic in the blood and guts sense, it's a gut punch non-the-less. (Link)

Here was my post from 2 years ago. (I added a preposition, verb and fixed a typo, still no George Soros money for editors, sorry NewsBusters!)

If people see photos of the horrific human destruction in this war they'll be angry.

Solution? Simple, don't show too many harsh war photographs.

A rigid system of image control was imposed in Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf war. Though the Pentagon's experiment with embedding loosened some of those controls, there were still limits. No soldiers bleeding in the sand, please. No body bags. No coffins.

The Pentagon image-mongers had learned from Vietnam that all great war photography is essentially antiwar photography. Too often their goals are assisted by squeamish editors, with generally honorable intentions, far from the killing fields.

Pete Hamill, NY Times

Editors don't want to be seen hiding the truth; they give lots of other rationales for why they don't show the photos. Privacy. Not supportive of the troops. Bad taste. Possible desensitizing. The children might see. Embolden the enemy. Bad for morale. All good reasons, but also all dancing around the truth. If we were exposed to the images of the limbs ripped off children, soldiers with brains spilling down their worthless body armor, a lot more people would say, "Enough! This must stop!" The press understands the simple act of showing an image is antiwar, so in any attempt to be "fair and balanced" about the war they must NOT show real horrific images.

This administration is selling a product that no sane person would continue to buy if they knew the horrible truth about it. They might tolerate it for awhile if they can hold in their heads either fear for their own safety or good, noble reasons to kill humans and bomb children. But if the fear doesn't really exist and the noble reasons are shown to be a sham, a steady diet of gruesome images will quickly weaken any residual resolve.

Bush and Cheney keep the focus on abstract "truths" like freedom and independence. The media will use numbers, bar charts, and still photos of people in uniform to symbolize the dead. But you will never see the image of their faces contorted from a violent painful death.

Can an image change your mind about how you feel about something and then how you act? Yes. That is deepest reason real war photos are not printed in the mainstream press.

posted by spocko at 10:21 PM

Monday, February 12, 2007

Comedy Break: Spocko Laughs WITH Wil Weaton

I just read a hilarious review of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The title was, The Battle. It's was the one with Picard getting the Stargazer back from the Ferengi as a trick.

Wil Weaton wrote the piece and it is laugh-out-loud funny. I've been a fan of Wil's writing (both serious and funny stuff) for years. With this piece he approaches Dave Barry territory. (I'm not making this up!) Here are a couple of 'graphs from the review, but read the whole thing. It really is fun. Oh and warning he uses a DIRTY word here so I hope the Catholic League doesn't bust him.(link)

Back on the Bridge, Riker takes possession of the Stargazer from the Ferengi, and Picard continues to complain about his headache. He gives control of the Bridge to Riker and leaves. Riker looks at Troi and very seriously asks what's wrong with his captain. Oh! Cool! We're finally going to get to see Troi use her Betazoid abilities to tell us something more intriguing than "Pain! Pain!" This will be the moment when Troi transitions from useless one dimensional plot device into a real character! What's she going to say?!

The camera dramatically pushes in on her, as she looks at Riker and quietly says . . . "I wish I could say."

WHAT?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Why doesn't she just say "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!" Can someone please tell me why the creators would give Troi the power to divine emotions and help guide people through situations exactly like this one, only to have her do nothing when the situation arises? Honestly. This is like signing a .380 pinch hitter, putting him into game 5 of the playoffs with the bases loaded, down by two, and refusing to let him swing the bat. (If you're keeping score in this episode, the Writers are 0-2, and the Actors are 3-3. I'd also like to point to this moment as an example of why Trekkies should have trained their phasers on the writing staff, and not on us actors.)

In his quarters, Picard grabs a little sack time and climbs Jacob's Ladder as he remembers the Battle of Maxia. Meanwhile, in the Ready Room, Data tells Riker that Picard's personal account of the battle differs greatly from the official version, and it doesn't look pretty for Picard: according to his personal logs, the ship he destroyed was flying a flag of truce, the fire on the Stargazer was an accident, there were no WMDs, new Coke was his idea, it was a load-bearing flask, they're going to need a new boat, Soylent Green is people, and the Frogurt was also cursed.

h/t to alert eviloverlord Nevin

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A Pervasive Branding Problem

-- posted by Interrobang

The "Hardlines" newsletter, a Canadian trade periodical aimed at insiders in the lumber and building industry and edited by Michael McLarney, reports today in their "Companies in the News" section that Lowe's (the large US hardware and home improvement store) is opening its first store in Brampton, Ontario, this year. It also reports that Lowe's has pulled its advertising from "The O'Reilly Factor" because of comments made by Bill O'Reilly:
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Lowe's has pulled its advertising from Fox TVs O'Reilly Factor after its host suggested that a 15-year-old boy enjoyed the experience of being kidnapped by pedophile Mike Devlin.

Radar Online gives more detail. They report that O'Reilly actually said, "[T]here was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances. ... The situation here, for this kid, looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his 'old' parents. He didn't have to go to school, he could run around and do whatever he wanted."

According to Radar Online, Fox received e-mails critical of O'Reilly's statements, and people contacted Lowe's to suggest that their brand not be associated with someone who envies Shawn Hornbeck, because being kidnapped and held for four years by a pedophile is 'fun'.

There are two lessons to be had here. The first is that writing the advertisers really does work. Although everyone to the left of the Moral Majority is pretty new at using this tactic, it seems we're becoming pretty effective at it. When enough advertisers find out the kinds of things these right-wing motormouths have to say on a distressingly regular basis (and they can deny all they like, but they keep getting caught on tape -- they're slow learners, I guess) and flee screaming into the night, these same right-wing motormouths will find out that ugly speech put out on broadcast media actually has genuine, real-world negative consequenses.

The second lesson is that more than just the screamers at KSFO have what the marketing folks might call an "optics problem." These bad optics go far beyond just a couple of local shock jocks at one little radio station. They go all the way up into the mainstreamiest of mainstream conservative on-air personalities. There's no "there" there, folks; they're all rotten to the core. And their words are making them look bad, especially in the eyes of advertisers who probably don't want to be associated with things like backhanded defenses of pedophilia, genital torture, concentration camps, and calling for the execution of the editor of the New York Times.

Most people get a little squicked by that kind of stuff, and people who want lots of money from lots of people try to avoid squicking their customer base. It's simple economics, really.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

On Civility and Blogging

In reading posts about me (because I really am that self obsessed) I came across David Allen at His writing and the writing of his colleagues such as Pamela Troy are very rich and thoughtful. Their analysis is typically deeper and more thought provoking (there's that word again!) than most and I highly recommend you check them out.

Most recently David took on the topic of Civility and Blogging, specifically regarding the bloggers hired to help on the John Edwards presidential campaign. Warning, the link to the article contains vulgar language (for those who are pearl clutchers or are legitimately or seriously offended by such language). I'm considering my own post on the topic, but here is part of his post first.

What did these women do that was so offensive? They spoke the truth about some of the most vile individuals on the Right. Then those very same individuals clutched their pearls and got the vapors because these women used "vulgar" language expressed and themselves in a blunt fashion that these self-anointed guardians of civility deemed "uncivil".

As my friend Lex said, "Civility is the last refuge for the bully whose victim has started to fight back."

Civility is fine if everyone is going to play by the rules. But the rules were tossed out years ago. And there is a word for politicians who insist on being civil while their opponent uses every filthy, scummy trick in the book to win; and that word is LOSER.

Since I've been tied to talk radio and blogging I want to point out the DIFFERENCE in the venues and the various rules that apply or don't apply. One of us is in a regulated medium with obscenity and indecency rules not only at the FCC level but at the company and sponsor level. Hint, it's not bloggers.

But I understand the underlying point of all the pearl clutching. They are using it because it works, that they are hypocrites about it doesn't faze them. That they can drive the conversation in the media to where they want it is the goal. Instead of talking about two America's and the tremendous economic insecurity in the middle class and future impact of a massive deficit, we spent four days talking about "civility". Score one for the pearl clutchers.

We need to understand that there are multiple layers and players in this game, and that one of their goals is derailing the important painful topics with ginned up "controversy".

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jamison Foser Explains it All to You

An EXCELLENT recap and analysis of this week's news stories by Jamison Foser of Media Matters. The whole article is excellent, but I especially liked the second section: The media's blogger double standard. Did I say how excellent it is? No? Well it really is excellent.

I'm also waiting for Eric Boehlert's analysis next week on the radio, blog and main stream media's assault on Nancy Pelosi under the Clinton rules of journalmalism.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Were You Unfairly Caught in Viacom's YouTube Take Down Dragnet?

Since being hit with a legally baseless take down complaint from a media giant, I know how some of these people who got a take down notice from Viacom must feel. Read about the story here at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

I read about this first at, which is one of my favorite sites. This story is from Cory Doctrow, whom I've never met but have read his books. BTW, his book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom just was translated into Brazilian Portuguese. Since I know that I have 2 readers in Brazil, be sure to check it out!

Here is the YouTube video the EFF made for people who want to watch.

Once again, here is the EFF link for people who want to read.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Success! Allstate: [We are] "pulling our advertising"

> From: "XXXX, XXXXX" <>
To: xxxxx@xxxxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 10:54:39 AM
Subject: RE: E-Mail routed via EchoMail (Ticket#

Hello and thank you for your recent message.

We appreciate the feedback you provided. We are not always able to know the programming where our advertising will run in advance. We were unaware that our commercials were running during this show and are pulling our advertising from it.

Thanks again.

About this email:

This was Allstate's first specific, non-form letter response. First we got the form letter, then Allstate checked out the show, then we got this email. Then, after a few months, they started up again and moved the ads to another time near the news, (clearly to avoid the association factor with some of the outrageous things they say on KSFO). But as we saw earlier, that isn't much distance. For example, immediately after the 6:00 AM ABC Network News on 10/27/2006, Rodgers and Morgan talked about hog-tying and burning an alleged arsonist alive and stomping a protester to death).

Also, based on my email with advertisers, sometimes a new ad or media buying team comes on and doesn't know WHY the previous ads were pulled so they put them back up. So we need to contact them again. Sometimes we find it was simply a mistake, and they didn't intend to advertise again on the show.

Other times they are offered great 'deals' to get them back. For all I know they are giving them ads for free or bundling them with ads on Hannity, Rush or other programs. Of course it will look like a huge bargain at the time, and the sponsors might think "Hey this Gift Horse looks GREAT" so they advertise. But what kind of deal is it when the hosts cross the line yet again to taint their brand?

Of course the sales people will say, "Oh that's an old clip", or "they apologized for THAT". Would they really tell advertisers that they have no control over the hosts? So I just point out the NEW offensive things that they said and the things they have NOT apologized for (and believe me, I got LOTS of new things I never had time to post).

Advertisers: You can listen to Lee Rodgers NOT apologize for what he has said on 1/12/2007 at the KSFO website.

And regarding context? Well the fine folks at Online Blogtegrity have a few thoughts on that and Zombie facts.

I don't know what the good people at Allstate plan for future advertising. They may feel that they have to blast out ads all over the place no matter what the show's reputation is, but for awhile Allstate was paying attention to their own internal guidelines about NOT supporting violent rhetoric directed toward people of different races and religions. That was a good sign.

Wow, It just occurred to me, I certainly hope they didn't return after leaving because they were threatened by Lee Rodgers! That's not a very nice way to treat the people who (paid? pay? might pay?) the bills.

From MediaNewsDaily: Free Registration required

He [Rodgers] also seemed to threaten former advertisers. Responding to an email question, Rodgers declined to name advertisers that have withdrawn their support, but added: "People who want to play that boycott game seem to forget this is a sword that cuts both ways. We have plenty of people that listen to this radio station that say 'hell, if somebody is trying to shut up the people on my favorite radio station, I don't think I want to give them any money,' so it could work two ways."

Why did I run this quote again?
First, to remind advertisers that I'm not the one threatening them.
Second, I never called for a boycott.
Third, I know that the advertisers might not know the whole story and they want context.
Finally, the advertisers can always listen to the show on-line and make the decision themselves.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Comedy Break: Spocko needs a Bumper Sticker

Today reader Eric asked, "Where are the bumper stickers?" Good question.

My 15 minutes came and went without me providing any merchandising. Damn. What was I thinking?

Of course I told El Gato Negro, Ripley and the other fine folks at Online Blogintegrity that they could TOTALLY have the hat concession, but since reader Eric suggested I offer bumper stickers, let's start there.

I've got a few ideas, but since my green blood is still a bit copper deficient today, any suggestions?

Chicago's Daily Southtown columnist and blogger Allison Hantschel ended one of her columns with a line that might look good next to a pointy Vulcan ear.

Other ideas? Oh and please be polite in your suggestions. Funny is always good too.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Still no word from ABC about the EFF letter

Maybe they are checking with Disney. My 15 minutes ran out while we were waiting. Hmmm, maybe that was intentional. BTW, I'm still not feeling well. My illness is sparing you the five long-winded, poorly spelled posts I've been having fever dreams about.

In the meantime I've posted the entire EFF letter to ABC. Since some might not have access to PDF technology I've posted it in jpg form. Also, each page goes to the full letter in PDF form. If you feel that Adobe Acrobat is too slow, try Foxit Reader 2.0. basic is free and fast.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Success! In-N-Out Burger: "We are pulling our Advertising from this Station"

To: xxxxx
Subject: FW: KSFO radio
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 08:12:47 -0800



Thank you for taking the time to call us today to let us know about the negative statements you heard on KSFO Radio in San Francisco.

I just learned that my Supervisor cancelled this station last week, but apparently her request was not yet implemented. We are pulling our advertising from this station and will remind our Agency to follow up immediatley.

We appreciated your feedback, and sincerely aplogize for this incident.

Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.

Kind regards,

In-N-Out Burger
Marketing Department

A big thank you to the Spocko's Brain Irregular member who sent this to me. Just a reminder folks, be sure to ask the advertiser to let you know their decision after they have had a chance to check out the situation.

I do hope the agency follows up. A quick note to them:

Dear In-N-Out Burger agency people:

Please note what Melaine Morgan said about you and your clients on their VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM on January 12, 2007. First, A Fresh Insult. Second, for complete context you can listen for yourself! They have helpfully put the audio stream on their site. But here is what Morgan says about you:

If there are sponsors who listen to these idiots, and I'm not sure there are, despite what they say," asserted Morgan, "but if that's the case, I know who it would be. It would be some craven little time buyers at an advertising agency someplace who have no guts whatsoever."

Now I don't know if she "apologized" or not for this comment. I suspect she will say that she wasn't talking about YOU, just all the OTHER Craven Little Time Buyers. She is very clever that way.

Oh and In-N-Out Burger people, PLEASE tell me if Lee Rodgers incites his listeners to boycott you. You will note that I and my readers suggested no such boycott of your products.

From MediaNewsDaily: Free Registation required

He [Rodgers] also seemed to threaten former advertisers. Responding to an email question, Rodgers declined to name advertisers that have withdrawn their support, but added: "People who want to play that boycott game seem to forget this is a sword that cuts both ways. We have plenty of people that listen to this radio station that say 'hell, if somebody is trying to shut up the people on my favorite radio station, I don't think I want to give them any money,' so it could work two ways."

That was Rodgers’ suggested response to how KSFO listeners should deal with an advertiser who made a business decision and decided to discontinue their support. Kind of scary that he would use the power of his position on commerically supported broadcast radio to go after former advertisers. It makes me wonder if the current advertisers are staying to avoid Rodgers unleashing his listeners against them. Isn't there a word for that?

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There Is Not Much Else To Talk About

-- Posted by Interrobang

Since this is a media blog, first and foremost, I feel utterly justified in commandeering Spocko's blog to say this:

Goodbye, Molly Ivins.

Molly Ivins, the irreverent nationally syndicated columnist from Texas who rankled conservatives and delighted liberals, died Wednesday after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

I'm sure Molly Ivins herself would appreciate the irony of an entire cohort of talented writers, particularly feminist bloggers, being stripped of all our considerable reserves of eloquence (one comment at Pandagon consisted, in its entirety, of "Crap. Crap crap crap.") at the news of her death.

So long, Molly. Sorry you couldn't stay to see us finishing the job of t'rowing the bums out (as our friend Spocko here is helping to do).