Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bobble Siegel's Profound Humanity

After Rachel Martin's pumped up assessment of Plans A & B on Monday's ATC [see previous post], we were treated to further explanations of the Global War on Terror from Robert Siegel - a reporter of "intellectual heft and profound humanity." Robert Siegel's sympathetic attitudes toward criminal secrecy, the slaughter of civilians, and the erasure of history are breathtaking.

Siegel opens the interview stating, "
I'm joined by Ben Venzke, CEO of IntelCenter. It's a counterterrorism contractor. And we're going to hear about other fronts in the war against al-Qaeda and its allies."
We are already in a propaganda minefield here. The first problem is the non-information provided about Ben Venzke. He runs IntelCenter that distributes "terrorism" videos of questionable sourcing, and he worked with iDefense before starting his company. At iDefense, Venzke worked closely with military intelligence operative, Jim Melnick, a Rumsfeld propaganda operative. Given his background, he is an untrustworthy "expert" at best. The second issue in this brief opening is Siegel's description of "other fronts in the war against al-Qaeda." The media's use of the language of conventional war (e.g. "other fronts") to describe US operations against a minuscule number of al-Qaeda operatives has to be one of the great propaganda triumphs of the US security/permanent-war state.

If this were the only problem with Siegel's interview, I'd chalk it up to typical NPR laziness, and would not have bothered working on this post. But after its lackluster opening, it becomes truly pathological. Siegel asks a direct question about US involvement in Yemen, and Venzke says, "Well, I can't comment because of our involvement with the government...." To which, Siegel follows up with
"According to one of the biggest disclosures in the WikiLeaks cables, one of the biggest contributions of Yemen's president is not bombing al-Qaeda targets, but saying he is and letting the U.S. bomb al-Qaeda targets. Is there a vigorous local counterterrorism effort in Yemen? Or is it more simply permitting the United States to do what it has to do there?"
To do what it has to do there? One has to assume that Siegel is talking about slaughtering 55 human beings - including 14 women and 21 children; after all, that is what the WikiLeak cable is about. To this question Venzke again hides behind secrecy, "That's not something that I could comment on." And Siegel's response? He laughs. I'm not kidding; here's the transcript from NPR:
Siegel: "Can't comment on that. (Soundbite of laughter)"
In the finale of this bloodsport of an interview Siegel directs his line of questioning to Somalia. After Venzke explains the supposed terrorism threats posed to the US by Somalia's al-Shabab, Siegel asks,
"And is there any countervailing authority in Somalia that's doing anything there? Or do they really have a dysfunctional state and have the run of the place?"
Of course the direct US role [involving a grotesque level of indiscriminate slaughter] in creating this "dysfunctional state" (by pressuring and then assisting a reluctant nation to invade Somalia when it was beginning to stabilize) is never mentioned. And why would it be? - on NPR it was never covered in the first place.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

i thought Blobby should have asked about the "good whiskey".

edk

gDog said...

It must be all just a game of Risk to this bobble-head: "Ha-yuk uck cluck!" says Milton to his Pentagon minder, "You're really good at this!" How convenient that this brand of "journalism" has also made Siegheil a millionaire.

Porter Melmoth said...

The process of 'intellectualizing' propaganda stems directly from Goebbels, who refined the cruder methods of Wm Randolph Hearst, all with astounding success.

Hearst had the Spanish-American War, Goebbels had you-know-what, and you can bet that Siegel wants in on the Next Biog Thing: The S-Y-S Triangle (you heard it here first!). That is, Somalia-Yemen-Sudan. Sudan - soon to be busted up. That's got to be a Neocon dream. To break off the 'Christian' south from the 'Muslim' north, and then go for the oily spoils.

As a loyal soldier in the Neocon cause, I'll bet you that the Blob has enjoyed some gourmet lunches with the likes of R. Perle, R. Armitage, and maybe even P. Wolfowitz with latest g.f. in tow. Good food, good spirits, good publicity, bright future...

Remember all of them? Pretty quiet these days, aren't they? It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. It was almost old home week, what with Armitage resurfacing like a squeezed pustule again.

(I still say Armitage does the worst Rod Steiger impression imaginable.)

Patrick Lynch said...

Sir, you are a braver man than I for enduring that crime against journalism. The moment I hear Siegel's narcissistic voice I'm reaching over rapidly to either turn off the radio or to stop myself from ripping it from the dashboard and flinging out my window on the commute home.

Speaking of voices, is it just me or does anytime any of these nitwits think they're asking a particularly probing question they get a tone in their voice that says "look at me! I'm asking a really important question because I'm a genius journalist!" One of the ME Dimmer Twins this morning used that tone of voice and to keep from blowing a mental gasket at the breakfast table I immediately stopped listening because everytime I hear that tone of voice I know a spectacularly stupid question is being asked.

I don't see how anyone with critical thinking skills can bear to listen to NPR on a daily basis after comparing their "reportage" to Glenzilla, Firedoglake, NPR Check and other sources on the same topics. It seems like that most though not all of NPR's most devoted listeners that I personally know are not getting their news anywhere else except for a little BBC.

"Intellectualising propaganda" works surprisingly well on people normally too intelligent to fall for that kind of crap. Sometimes, I'm not sure I'm smart enough to avoid it either but I am trying to keep my eyes and ears open...

Porter Melmoth said...

Patrick,

I agree completely with your responses. If I may be so bold, I share your burden of being a turbo-critical listener to NPR's innuendo-bloated 'style'.

It's also an honor to repeat that Noam Chomsky is 'one of us', as well, e.g. his famous incident of getting a speeding ticket because he was so mad at what he was hearing on NPR. Good company.

In the comments section of the previous post, I just had to explain why I'm really backing off of NPR - yet again. It has to do with the accelerated ditziness that NPR is trying out in order to make their propaganda more palatable to younger, more ADD-oriented audiences. I think they're VERY serious about this.

As well as the sheer propaganda pedaled by NPR, to my mind, their slimy-smug-superior style is just as culpable in snaring, then 'converting' listeners as much as the more subtle effects of substantive persuasion.

I've always freely admitted that I get horribly hung up on their style, but I trust in more perceptive interpreters (Mytwords, Glenzilla, et al) to help me with the substance.

Patrick Lynch said...

Porter,

Well said about the reaction to style. The style is part of what makes me so crazy listening to them but it's also how they use that style to slide through some really insidious crap.

I went back and read through your comments in the previous post and find that is exactly how I feel about NPR. I've gone through several just completely walk away from the radio phases over the last seven years. I'm mostly but not completely in another such phase right now. I'm working on some mix CDs for the car because even my low standards for commercial radio there is only so much of that I can take. In the house, my fiancee has the radio on while she works in the kitchen. She's torn about NPR but hasn't completely given up on them. She knows I have.

I used to think, well okay, I'll ignore their news and listen to the arts coverage. That has not worked either as I've complained here in the recent past, their arts coverage is as bad or worse than their "hard" news. I find it's worse on the weekends. Excruciating.

Today, I did listen to a interview with William Shatner on On Point. God bless Shatner, he knows how to deal with idiot interviewers without humiliating them as Tom Ashbrook alternated between being a fan-boi and a complete dolt. Shatner was engaging and articulate, Ashbrook was in that stupid voice mode when he thinks he's asking probing questions like the ME/ATC/WE jerks are prone to. If I wasn't such a huge Shatner fan I would have turned it off.

As you said, it's clear that NPR is trying to find some perverse balance between keeping us older listeners around while trying to pull in the snark loving hipsters. For that alone, Planet Money has earned my permanent wrath.

Sometimes I think I should "keep an eye" on the propagandists so I know what they're saying compared to my other sources of information but then given how upset and angry I get from listening to them decided it's not worth it.

Until recently, the prospect of locally broadcast classical music kept me from turning NPR off but now that they have all but replaced music with talk, I have plenty of sources for music and don't even need them for that. Classical music after 10 pm only. I don't fall asleep anymore to that for fear of having the first voice I hear in the morning be either Inskreep or MonFeign.

The word verification is: painwo. For Nauseating Perpetual Retching is quite appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Other people's lives are simply a joke to people like Siegel.

...and Obama

Porter Melmoth said...

Bravo, Patrick.

Instead of touching that NPR dial, think I'll take in a bit of Berlioz. 'Les Troyens', I should think...

Benoit Balz said...

Wha?

Wednesday, I thought my ears were failing me:

Is Eco-Conscious Fur An Oxymoron?
by ELIZABETH SHOGREN

The title of the story's not a question. The spin: Killing and wearing Nutria IS eco-friendly!

Who paid for, and who approved this puff-piece?

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/29/132214288/is-eco-conscious-fur-an-oxymoron

gDog said...

Porter and Patrick, et al,

If I want to wake up to non-commercial FM radio in SoCal my options are NPR on KCRW and NPR on KPCC (KUSC plays classical music, which is nice, but doesn't wake me up.) KPFK (Free speech radio) doesn't reach into the Coachella Valley. I listen to KPFA (Berkeley) on the internets, and I'm grateful for their meager offerings of free speech radio.

I listened to Guns and Butter - "Banks, Bailouts and Manufactured Market Crashes" with Max Keiser. today, for instance. Keiser had this to say about KBAI:


Bonnie Faulkner: Do you think the control of the media is just or even more important than military control of society?
Max Keiser: Yes, well, certainly in the U.S., the media is extremely narrow and it controls the agenda. It's not for nothing that my shows appear on RT, which is Russian, PressTV, which is Iranian, France 24 and a UK radio station, Resonance 104.4 and I don't do any U.S. media. For instance, I'll give you a good example, on your network, WBAI, in new york. Five years ago I came to them with a story about why the dollar was at risk and laid out to them the entire story about the banking system as it's now become to be understood. I laid it out for them and they said this is much too inflammatory for our listeners. You can't say that about the banking system. This from WBAI in NY. So, therefore, that information, which ended up on Al Jazeera, English, in a series of documentary films, was understood by a very wide audience outside of the United States, because even the left, liberal media in the US refuses to tackle banking because they fear the banks, and this is a concrete example of exactly that.


Even Pacifica is under attack from the veal pen Dems.

gDog said...

Porter and Patrick, et al,

If I want to wake up to non-commercial FM radio in SoCal my options are NPR on KCRW and NPR on KPCC (KUSC plays classical music, which is nice, but doesn't wake me up.) KPFK (Free speech radio) doesn't reach into the Coachella Valley. I listen to KPFA (Berkeley) on the internets, and I'm grateful for their meager offerings of free speech radio.

I listened to Guns and Butter - "Banks, Bailouts and Manufactured Market Crashes" with Max Keiser. today, for instance. Keiser had this to say about KBAI:

gDog said...


Bonnie Faulkner: Do you think the control of the media is just or even more important than military control of society?
Max Keiser: Yes, well, certainly in the U.S., the media is extremely narrow and it controls the agenda. It's not for nothing that my shows appear on RT, which is Russian, PressTV, which is Iranian, France 24 and a UK radio station, Resonance 104.4 and I don't do any U.S. media. For instance, I'll give you a good example, on your network, WBAI, in new york. Five years ago I came to them with a story about why the dollar was at risk and laid out to them the entire story about the banking system as it's now become to be understood. I laid it out for them and they said this is much too inflammatory for our listeners. You can't say that about the banking system. This from WBAI in NY. So, therefore, that information, which ended up on Al Jazeera, English, in a series of documentary films, was understood by a very wide audience outside of the United States, because even the left, liberal media in the US refuses to tackle banking because they fear the banks, and this is a concrete example of exactly that.


Even Pacifica is under attack from the veal pen Dems.

Porter Melmoth said...

Indeed, g-Dog, I've complained before about the stranglehold NPR has on the 'convenience' factor. We reach over when we're half asleep and there it is - instantly. That's their ace in the hole: that they rely on the audience's couch-potatoness to entrap listeners on an ongoing basis. An old game, but more effective than ever.

The Corporates know all about this strategy. It's very calculated, and the stakes are big. Your average NPR listener probably has no idea just how big sexed-up media stakes are. All the honest listeners want is a quick avenue into what's happening. That's where the insidiousness of propaganda comes in, and the NPR team have been nothing but cooperative. And, baited by competitive pay, they can be downright enthusiastic. Hardly anyone, once they've tasted the glory and riches of the sexed-up media, wants to go back to the doop-de-do Bawlb Edwards 'greyhaired ponytail' days.

I've also noticed that NPR, in the midst of its new DitzyWorld campaign (to bring ditziness to the thinking masses) is tapping into a bunch of local NPR affiliate reporters - names apart from the NPR Lifer/Superstar lineup. I have a hunch they've got a crafty little scheme. 1) To prove that NPR Central Control is utilizing their 'little people' more, so send more money to help these lil' hardworking guys 'n gals out, won't you? 2) To simply get time filler for a lot cheaper.

I have a feeling that, behind the scenes, behind all the ho-ho-ho camaraderie of the on-air bozos, management is constantly near freaking out, looking to slash expenses anywhere they can, and desperately seeking new ways to prostitute themselves for corporate welfare.

Sorry g-Dog, for your (and everybody's) subjection to NPR tyranny as far as alternative accessibility is concerned. Personally, I'm just trying to realign myself to different procedures in getting to good news sources. I'm finding that convenience really isn't an issue. It's a quality thing. Plus, I'm sick of days made sour by National Public Rage.

PS: I am greatly comforted by the greatness of Berlioz. NPR-ism fades instantly.

Porter Melmoth said...

I should add that it isn't just 'couch-potatoness' that's why listeners in bed simply reach over to the radio and turn NPR on. It's also because some are exhausted from no sleep, either from concern at the situations of today, or else sheer exhaustion from slaving away at paying for two wars and other horrorshow agendas too numerous to mention.

Listeners! Boycott NPR!

bgpnkfzybny (Horsely phonetics) said...

Well gang, this lupine's still purty much on the wagon - been waking up to a "slightly less" annoying public station (but only so many incessent repetitions of Miles' 'All Blues' I can tolerate) with top-o'-the-hour S40 headlines only. But alas, even that negligible allowance is becoming oh so unbearable - ugh, this Coulter newsreader that's on evenings now?! - boyoboy, talk about the sensationalist up-and-down-the-clefs score for a frustrated cable-news anchor!

Luvvvv the Blobble-head - Myt's gotta work on animating it though, maybe even with a midi loop of that trademark Seigheiliean guffaw.

Duly noted on the Hector, Port. In turn I recommend my newly discovered Lauridsen's 'Les Chansons des Roses' as a sublime antidote to all the primate chatter.

Patrick Lynch said...

With regards to dubious sources promoting Pentagon agendas, you would be amazed or not at the number of people who are surprised that all of the mainstream media "consultants" on military matters were still in active employ by the Pentagon. I feel like I've wasted no end of breath about it. People don't want to hear that their favourite newscasters are in cahoots with the people lying about what really goes on in our name. People like Siegel know exactly what they're doing. If the CIA can totally co-opt Abstract Expressionism as an art movement in the 50's and 60's, hijacking the media should be a piece of cake. Just consider Siegel to be another "asset".

Patrick Lynch said...

Re:wake up to radio. I use an alarm clock's annoying chime to wake up but I used to leave my radio on all night and fall asleep to that. Occasionally, I'd drift in and out to some really lovely music Berlioz included. When I did this, I tended to wake up about 30-45 minutes before the alarm went off. During the Bob Edwards era this didn't bother me too much but when the voice is Inskreep's or MonFeign's I consider it a bad start to the day.

Porter Melmoth said...

Great input all, from Blobble to de Kooning.

Coupla points, based on accidentally turning on the radio in half-slumber:

Super-sophisticated Linda Weisenheimer ('Man, you are SUAVE!', to quote Frank Booth) dipped her silver tongue into da booze early this morn, along with some 'beverage historian'. (That's what I wanna be when I grow up, a beverage historian! - And then hawk my book on NPR!)

Anyway, they were dipping into a punchbowl and all that. My point being, no mention whatsoever that 'punch' as we know it comes from the Hindi 'panch', meaning 'five'; five ingredients, that is. There's even a Persian connection (and thus, an Antichrist Ahmadinejad association), as 'panj' links up with the beverage as well. As our Linda would put it, it was British sailors who invented it. How about: British sailors were EXPOSED to it, meaning that it already existed in Asia, and that they merely brought it back with them. See 'Hobson-Jobson' (dictionary of Anglo-Indian words), pp.737-8, with citations going back to c.210 AD.

But with Linda's breezy approach to the news, why worry about such details? It's so much more fun to indulge in Neocon-linked NeoImperialism, in which you-know-who always comes out on top. When you're the Nation's Storyteller, you've got a big responsibility in adding to the narrative (as MeeShill would say).

But hey, I'm sure our beverage historian might mention all of that gobbledygook in his $36.95 book, if you purchase it. Available on Kindle, no doubt.

Getting a toehold into Big Media has no doubt been a lifesaver for Neo-opportunist Public Radio. And with A-Team personalities like always-sly-smiling Linda W., how could you go wrong?

Oh, speaking of the Antichrist, ME wanted us to know that Ahmadinejad is continuing to do his badass lifestyle stuff in 'always turbulent' (that's what they branded it!!) Iran. Mikey Shoots-er said that Mahmoud is even plotting inroads on the clergy!

Meanwhile, back in the 'always turbulent' USA, everybody's mad at Mikey Bloomberg for mucking up the snow.

Storytelling for a Nation is a most edifying duty.

Patrick Lynch said...

I heard the beverage historian crap this morning at the breakfast table and for a moment I thought I was listening to the Today show. I'm not surprised it is full of factual errors. I can already hear the cocktail party conversation now...

First Responder said...

After reading this, I again ask "WHICH PUBLIC IS THE GLOSSY SIDE OF PUBLIC RADIO SERVING?"

And some still refer to NPR as "Socialist".

As someone who has followed events in Angola, after seeing the place during the waning days of Portuguese colonialism -- while in the Navy on a "goodwill cruise", I have very low confidence about the role NPR might play in lifting the "unofficial" news blackout over the affairs of Angola. Imagine what Dear Robert would do with THAT subject.