The real problem with Brian Williams

It turns out that NBC news anchor Brian Williams has been embellishing his stories about his experiences covering the invasion of Iraq, putting himself more in the center of the action and acting as if he was in more danger than was the case. Since I long ago gave up on expecting the major news networks to give us any, you know, actual news, the fate of highly paid news celebrities like Williams and their sponsors does not affect me in the least. But this issue does illustrate some interesting points.
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We’re #49!

The organization Reporters Without Borders issues an annual ranking of nations on press freedoms and this year the US ranks 49th in the world out of 180. Five Scandinavian countries Finland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden take the top spots. El Salvador, the country once notorious for its death squads that abducted and murdered any critics, including journalists, of its dictatorship, now ranks above the US at #45.
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Blogging may have changed but I haven’t

The announcement by uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan in a long and rambling ‘note to my readers’ that he was giving it up soon has caused a lot of reflection by other bloggers as to the future of blogging. Alyssa Rosenberg says that blogging has changed since the early days when Sullivan started, and that the short form of it, an ongoing conversation mostly of links to other blogs with some connecting language, to is no longer viable.
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Le Petit Journal has more fun with Fox News

The claims by so-called ‘terrorism experts’ on Fox News that there were no-go zones for non-Muslims in Paris provoked both amusement and anger. Amusement took the form of a French satirical news show Le Petit Journal poking fun at Fox News while the anger took the form of the mayor of Paris threatening to sue the TV channel. I am not sure how serious she was. Such a suit would be unlikely to win in the US but I am not sure of French laws.
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The role of satire in politics

It is a source of increasing concern to the establishment media that younger people are tuning in to comedy shows like The Daily Show that skewer the supposedly serious news shows and not tuning in to them, causing the demographic of their viewers to steadily inch upwards and well into retirement ages. This has naturally discomfited the people who host those shows and caused some of them to argue that this satirical attitude is making younger people more cynical about the political system and the media.
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The US propaganda system on full display in Sony hack story

Glenn Greenwald looks at how rapidly the US media accepted and spread the US government’s story (confidently affirmed by president Obama) that North Korea was behind the Sony hack without any evidence being presented in support. Those of us who follow the news almost minimally know how the government has brazenly lied in the past and some may marvel that the media could have such short memories or be so obtuse as to accept these claims at face value. While there is a small possibility that North Korea was behind the attack, the fact that a week has gone by since the supposedly offending film The Interview was shown and the promised apocalypse still hasn’t occurred suggests that a non-state actor was behind the original hack and other players later exploited the situation and sowed confusion for who knows what reason.
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The US government vs. Barrett Brown

Many people may not have heard of Barrett Brown. He is a 33-year old journalist who has been hounded by the US government because he exposed its wrongdoings using documents that had been obtained by the hacktivist group Anonymous. He seemed to have informal links to Anonymous and was willing to publicly engage with reporters about what they were doing. As a result, he was sometimes referred to as their spokesperson though he and they denied it. In some ways, he was a precursor to Edward Snowden. Kevin M. Gallagher gives us the back story.
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