Saturday, May 20, 2017

CONTROVERSIAL BROADCASTER DIES -- FOX NEWS

Roger Ailes died Thursday, April 18th reportedly following a coma due to bleeding in the brain after bumping his head when he fell.    Some people admire how he built Fox TV into a successful broadcast network.   Others have less regard for his doing so because of the methods and tactics he used -- especially the manner in which news quality was compromised -- often injected with tabloidism journalism with which Fox TV network owner Rupert Murdoch had long been associated. 

Roger Ailes began his broadcasting career during the late 1950s, early ‘60s when numerous TV stations were producing live audience participation talk shows.  The Central Ohio station where I was employed was developing their own network stations’ talk shows in several Midwest states.     One station’s host was Phil Donahue.  In a  nearby Great Lakes city another corporation decided to also launch a talk show.  They pursued hiring our show’s host, but he declined their offers.    Mike Douglas became their host with Roger Ailes producing.

Later some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered corporate broadcasting changes occurred causing the Douglas show and Ailes to relocate to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a long successful program run.     Ailes continued to hone his producing, broadcasting skills.   Association with candidate/then President Richard Nixon figured in his history as did the first George Bush who became President with Ailes help. 

Eventually, when Ailes came to Fox TV some have reported he began gradually infusing a political perspective into news in ways that were less impartial – fostering a news department often viewed as being  politically biased -- contrary to their slogan claiming “fair and balanced” that many viewers may have naively believed, apparently without independently verifying.  
   
A little history ..... 
Several years ago I became concerned about Rupert Murdoch’s controversial actions in Great Britain’s media, so I followed what proved to be disturbing events there.  Years later I rued the day Murdoch was able to gain access to our United States media market, especially given his efforts to gain control of so much media in Great Britain and then here.  

Murdoch was an Australian publisher whose early publishing career focused on “…sensationalist journalism…” as described in his Britannica biography and multiple other sources.   This lesser quality entertainment approach to news infused his publishing in GB’s media which was less than welcomed by people there who valued higher quality straight forward factual news accounts minus those sometimes allegedly questionable warpings.        
Then, the Murdoch organization reputation became even more tarnished due to a phone hacking scandal and political involvements associated with some of his highest level closest employees in his growing media empire.    This affair thwarted his making more media acquisitions in Great Britain for many years. 

Most recently Murdoch and his sons’  21st Century Fox corporation have resumed pursuit of  acquiring control of Sky, theBritish satellite television giant, The Guardian reports.

Britain’s regulatory review is delaying a decision on approving Murdoch’s Sky acquisition until early June elections.  Fox News sexual harassment scandal involving Ailes and more recently their star host, Bill O’Reilly who had to resign, has cast a shadow over the British review theNew York Times reports April 21, 2017.

Since I’ve been following the activities of Rupert Murdoch beginning when his type of journalism first aroused concern in Great Britain….. then when he later came to the United States…..  made media acquisitions here -- I soon encountered the name, Roger Ailes.

Viewing Murdoch’s Fox News TV network programming had long since revealed to me that much news reporting there hardly measured up to valued high quality broadcasting standards.    Learning more about Roger Ailes politicizing approach to news I expect also the senior Murdoch’s sensationalism orientation is reflected.    Their apparent support and slant for Trump as a candidate and now President is not surprising either.    At least one opinion on CNN suggests Ailes gave us Donald Trump.

I long intended to write about Roger Ailes but have increasingly wanted to do so given some of the issues of his association and friendship with Donald J. Trump.  

Several years ago seeking more information about Ailes I read a biography with content documented sources.  The book is entitled “The Loudest Voice in the Room” by Gabriel Sherman – “How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – And Divided A Country.”  

Insight into Fox News Department operations and news formulations is interestingly presented in this Ailes biography.   That same approach to Fox news may well continue though Ailes resigned his position last July due to sexual harassment accusations with law cases still pending, but Rupert Murdoch still owns Fox TV.  (He owns other U.S. media including the Wall Street Journal which initially had some concerned about his possible editorial influence.)

TV viewers might well appreciate reading this Ailes biography for considerations when assessing production quality and influences related to Fox’s “fair and balanced” news as well as  that of all other news media.

Television viewer ratings will continue to impact all broadcasters.   Rupert Murdoch’s son’s are expected to assume more control of the Fox TV operations, so it will be interesting to see if that results in any news quality changes differing from what their father found acceptable and what Ailes influences remain.





Thursday, May 11, 2017

AGEISM -- SHARKS -- FREE PRESS

Where has the time gone?    Mid-April after my last post here I simply focused on completing my federal and state income taxes to submit before the due date.    Then I became engrossed with other life activities and I see weeks have flown by.  Here are a few matters that have currently caught my interest. 

SWIMMING FUN?                                           
Local Los Angeles TV news accounts and videos at some of our Southern California area beaches report unusual numbers of sharks, including the Great Whites, in the waters – as many as fifteen adults and young ones at Long Beach today – only 50 yards from the shore.     Mostly they’ve not been aggressive but a vicious attack on a young woman last week at San Onofre beach has increased concern.  

Aggressive shark behaviors that bring swimmers out of the water and prompt beach closings occur when they bump a surfer’s board, or more seriously as reported today, one shark was circling the surfer.   We’re told it’s best to swim where there are lots of people since sharks presence in the waters are of greater concern at more remote beaches.  

CLIMATE WARMING?
We actually had snow down to 4000 ft level in the mountains a few days ago – highly unusual – but this couldn’t possibly be indicative of any climate changes or warming as some our illustrious federal government leaders and other luddite-type skeptics tell us.

AGEISM?
An enjoyable evening comes to mind which I shared with a number of younger adults aged thirties or forties to sixties.     In conversation I had revealed my age when describing a birthday celebration with my children.   Not long after I was startled to be asked by a middle-aged member of the group, "Are you still driving?"  I responded "Yes".    This was unrelated to anything under discussion and the conversation moved on to other topics.  

Later after I returned home that question came to mind and I thought, why wouldn’t I still be driving?   I have my mind, vision, hearing and physical abilities.   I wish I had thought quickly enough to say, “Yes” – adding – “Are you?”    I think the individual revealed a stereotypical bias based on age – an expectation that anyone my age couldn’t, or shouldn’t, drive.  

Driving ability, like so many other matters, is a highly individual skill.  What age each of us reach when we cease being safe competent drivers can vary widely.   I would rue the day when an age would arbitrarily be selected to define when a person had to cease driving. 

MORE BETRAYALS OF ORDINARY PEOPLE
Our present U.S. Administration continues actions that are counter to the best interests of ordinary citizens and much more in favor of the wealthy few.   Those of you paying attention can likely identify some of those acts, too.  More are slated to come.  One of the most egregious is the Trump Health Care bill the House of Representatives passed.  Will those affected remember when voting in 2018 and 2020?  

Our President continues to figuratively thumb his nose at the American people by refusing to reveal his income tax information to clearly establish he has no conflicts of interest.  

Absence of transparency with the legitimate American Press often continues to be a hallmark of our leader -- partly because the mainstream Press also report truth which is frequently contrary to our leader’s characteristic promotion of obvious flagrant alternate facts.  

Did you see our President laughing with the Russians when they met which only Russian press was allowed to cover -- insultingly excluding any U.S. Media in further efforts to discredit any outlet that has reported facts rather than Trump alternate truths -- a classic tactic associated with dictator wanna-bes, just as occurs in Russia, Turkey, other such nations.

Should we just ignore the continuing flagrant promotion of our leader’s family members businesses -- violating ethical behavior with these adults offering the equivalent of, “Gee, I didn’t know….” it wouldn’t be ethical to promote a connection to our nation’s leader – also saying you get special access to the U.S.?

DEMOCRATIC  REPUBLIC  AT RISK?
Our Democratic Republic continues to require persistent resistance against forces that would alter our form of government by solidifying power in the executive branch as other branches are gradually compromised, legitimate news media discounted.  

Israel’s leader (click link) seems to have chosen to address news dissension in his nation much as dictators do – by suppressing other points of view, even actual facts.    Our U.S. leader’s actions suggest he also aspires to allowing only his alternate facts in our news, also – his taking control of information distribution.   

There’s much to be concerned about in light of the recent firing of the FBI Director.  Our government systems checks and balances are being systematically whittled away.   Hopefully the Senate and other investigations will be able to either complete their work as needed, or an independent special prosecutor will be appointed to determine the facts about any Russia and Trump campaign relationships,  plus wherever else that might lead. 

We may need government whistleblowers now as we’ve never needed them before.  

Most recently we see how fragile democracy can be as Turkey’s leader has consolidated the once promise of democracy under his centralized power – much like Russia’s dictator Putin who calls himself, President.   
  
French voters have refreshingly survived the onslaught of populism and nationalism in Europe.   Now, the young politically inexperienced just-elected leader without a political party must meet his citizens expectations.    He will likely have to turn to Germany for support since our U.S. leader is not one to emulate if the new French leader seeks the values which have been those of our nation and which most of our populace still embrace.   

* * *
MOTHER’S DAY THOUGHTS on the link -- scroll down to Sun., May 11.