Citizenfour

citizenfour_posterWe ain’t the good guys anymore. That was my take-away from Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ documentary on Edward Snowden. This is far and away the best documentary I’ve ever seen and it was damning. As for who’s a good guy and who isn’t, well, maybe there aren’t any good guys anymore. I’ll tell you who is not a good guy… Barack Obama. Yep, the guy I voted for, twice. Even made some donations to the first campaign. I’d say I fucked up but come on… Sarah Palin?!

As it became clear President Obama was a very different cat than Candidate Obama, I told myself he’s better than George Bush and Dick Cheney. But you know, that doesn’t make you a good guy. It just makes you not those bad guys.

Same goes for the USA. Yeah, there are some countries with really shitty governments. But that’s a pretty low bar. Turns out our shit does stink and it’s time we took a good whip.

At some point in the film I found myself thinking, “Fuck it. I hope the Republicans take the Senate. And the House. A whole bunch of Democrats have been complicit in what the NSA and the rest of the intelligence “community” have been up to and they get no more support or votes for me.

I’ll calm down but I won’t be the same. It’s that strong a film. I’ve turned off comments here but would be happy to discuss privately, one-to-one. With anyone who has seen the film.

Senator McCaskill honors Bob Priddy

“He’s a journalist and I’m a politician and if you’re a journalist then you don’t make friends with politicians. You keep your distance because you have to be objective and you have to be willing to ask questions that you know is going to irritate them.”

Apart from the tribute video (and Bob), there was only one speaker at Bob Priddy’s retirement dinner this past Monday. U. S. Senator Claire McCaskill. She was very good.

For those who know Bob and couldn’t be at the event, you can watch it here.

Bob Priddy

In December (2014) Bob Priddy will retire from his job as news director of The Missourinet. The network’s first and only news director. In this interview Bob talks about how the network began; interesting people and big stories; politics and history. I was privileged to work with Bob for almost 30 years and he’s one of the most talented and interesting people I’ve met. The interview runs just under half an hour. Hardly enough time to reflect on his amazing career.

Secrets of the Vatican

This Frontline documentary was… damning. I’m sure “defenders of the faith” have ready responses to every charge although I’m not sure what one would say to 8-year-old Monica Barret who was raped by her priest (“If You Tell Anybody, Your Parents Will Burn in Hell”). A middle aged woman now, Ms. Barret’s dry-eyed account of that event was chilling and heart breaking.

I suppose you argue that the producers and Frontline and the media (and all non-Catholics?) are out to ‘get’ the Catholic Church. Fuck if I know. Has anyone said, “I don’t want to be part of this. I’ll find another place worship. Call me if you get your shit together.”

Sounds like the new Pope might be trying to make some changes but the corruption runs deep and high and any real house cleaning is gonna be ugly.

The Loudest Voice in the Room

loudest-voiceThe Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News–and Divided a Country (Amazon)

I rarely read biographies. And I never watch Fox News. But the excerpts from this book really hooked me and the book did not disappoint. I literally had trouble putting the book down. It read like a novel.

The image I had of Roger Ailes — before reading this book — was very superficial. Pretty much the right wing boogyman lurking in the wings of Fox News. Author Gabriel Sherman shows us a complex, talented man who is deeply flawed.

Ailes is only seven years older than I so I witnessed some of the history he helped make, starting with The Mike Douglas Show (he produced); helping Richard Nixon and two Bush’s get elected; the creation of Fox News and its evolution as the propaganda arm of the modern Republican Party.

I won’t look at TV news or politics in quite the same way after readying the book. The author lifted the edge of the tent just enough to see what rubes we are.

It’s difficult to imagine the world won’t be/become a different place after Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes leave the playing field. Has anybody in the last 20 years had a greater impact on the news business (and, by extension, the world) than these guys?

The TV news business that Roger Ailes helped change seems to be changing again. Will the great instincts about television carry over to the world of Netflix and YouTube? Ailes is old and sick and will — hopefully — be on the sidelines.

The Roger Ailes we see in this book is not a happy guy. Rich, powerful, talented, influential… without a doubt. But not happy. I’d give a hundred dollars to know if Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch read this book.

Afghanistan: Drawdown

“Removing the Taliban and wiping out Al Qaeda, emancipating women, education for all, and eradicating the poppy and heroin trade. These were some of the lofty ideals that were espoused earlier in the war. Now they lie abandoned on the Afghan battlefield and getting home is the only clear mission.”

Boy, I hope nobody who lost a loved one in Afghanistan sees this documentary by John D. McHugh. Because it will be damned hard to say it was in a worthy cause. If I lost a family member — or important parts of my body — in this effort, I’d have to find a way to convince myself it was for a good cause or I’d go mad.

If you can’t do the full 25 minutes, just watch a few minutes of our guys trying to train and motivate the locals.

News is bad for you

broadcaster2

“News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.”

“News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic.”

Full article in The Guardian

“There is no news industry”

“If the public can speak directly to one another in large groups and with high visibility, then the self-definition of a journalist as a privileged translator takes a big hit. If you think of yourself as a member of the only class allowed to find and explain information, you find yourself in a very uncomfortable position.

“The easiest way to get people in institutions to do interesting new things is for that institution to go bankrupt and for those people to change jobs.”

Anything in the news business that can be commodified will be commodified. The people who cling to the idea that humans are required to rewrite wire service copy are spending money that no longer needs to be spent.”

From an interview with Clay Shirky by The Europlean Magazine