Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Press freedom in Mexico: record number of murders, no coverage

June 21, 7:00 PM -- Listening to NPR there was a very short item that caught my attention: the month of May saw the highest number of homicides in Mexico of any month in 20 years.

So preparing material for tomorrow's edition of "Hablemos con Teodoro," the 2-hour news and commentary show that I produce and second-fiddle host on, I did a Google news search in Spanish.

I found one (count 'em: 1), just one story -- on the web site of El Heraldo from the city of Saltillo in northern México, which is at the center of a metro area of 800,000 people.

The story was from XINHUA, the official press service of the People's Republic of China.

I did the same search in English and found stories in at least a dozen web sites, some from Reuters, others from AP.

The English-language stories made clear that they said it was the bloodiest May in 20 years because earlier figures were not available.

I suspect that simply means that figures from the pre-Internet era are not online, and this may well be the bloodiest May ever or at least going back many decades.

This is what happens when you have six journalists murdered so far this year, and more than 100 in this century, and hundreds of other attacks on the media, in addition to the spying that the New York Times revealed on Monday. And a grand total of three of these crimes have been solved. Three.

By tomorrow morning I'm sure, a few more outlets, perhaps many, will cover the story. But first there will be panicked conversations in the offices of editors and publishers:

"We have to have it -- it's too important to ignore.
"Agreed, but let's not be among the first -- the nail that sticks out is the one that gets hammered
"Perhaps Televisa will have it tonight ...

Of course, it will be different in those areas where newspapers and TV stations have announced they simply will not cover crime news, because to do so is suicide.

Friday, June 9, 2017

CNN bans not 'respectful' dissent, just the contempt Trump deserves

First it was Kathy Griffin. Now it's Reza Aslan. Coincidence that it was a woman and now someone of Persian heritage? If you really believe that, I want some of whatever it is you've been smoking. The issue is Trump and "respect" for the office of the presidency. Trump is beneath contempt, and so is "the office of the president" with him in it. But you can't express that and be on CNN. You can't treat Trump as the vulgar, lying, misogynist, racist, and authoritarian piece of shit he is and be on CNN. Tens of millions of people in the United States look at Trump just that way, but don't look for that point of view on CNN, nor on any other TV network, nor in any daily newspaper, nor in any "serious" web site devoted to news or analysis of current affairs. You can't say this guy is a flaming asshole. Even if you use nicer words or a pun. CNN says it's not censorship. They're open to all points of view. You can say you disagree with Trump, even that you think he is totally bonkers. Just don't call him an asshole, or hold up a decapitated plastic replica of his head dripping with blood, even though that represents exactly what he is doing to civilians in Syria and elsewhere, even children. You can disagree, but not disrespect. But after roughly a half century thinking and writing about politics and protests, if there's one thing I've learned is that tone and attitude are usually way more important than your "position" or "program." Because politics at bottom is not about policies but about different social forces and the interaction, jostling and clashes between them. Your stance expresses that much better than a position paper. The group that *respectfully* disagrees with the "our" president's executive order may be against Trump's muslim ban like I am. But if that is their real attitude, of respectful disagreement with "our" president, then they are at most frenemies. Attitude is what you are not allowed to express on CNN, or even appear on CNN if you've expressed it in another venue. The funny thing is that CNN is still fighting hard to become America's Pravda. I don't think they'll ever wake up to the fact that Trump already has Breitbart and the Daily Stormer.