Media Follies
Blue Dog Press July 5 2001

By Michael I. Niman


Frat Boy in Euroland

 By now you should have heard about George W. Bush’s Europe trip.  You know, the one where he had to be told gingerly that the U.S. is not a part of the European Union.  The one where he lamented the trouble the people in the “nation” of Africa have.  The one where he suggested that more nations be admitted to Europe.  Hell-oh!  Dude.  You are the Prez-E-Dent of the United States of America.  Europe is a continent.  You can’t drag nations over to it and stick ‘em on like Velcro.  Africa is also a continent, not a southern Middle Eastern country.  And the U.S.?  Well, we’re part of North America.  Got it?  Good.  Because the Europeans aren’t laughing.  They’re kind of alarmed.

  They’re also alarmed that Bush’s proposal to dust off and start building Daddy Bush’s star wars missile system will ignite a new arms race with Europe back on the front lines.  And the scrapping of the Kyoto accords on global warming, watered down as they were by the Clinton Gore team, ain’t going over too well either.  So much for America’s word. Georgie Boy says we need more studies to see if global warming actually exists.  Forget the fact that we just lived through the warmest decade on record.  The Europeans, especially the Dutch, whose country, according to scientists, will be obliterated by rising ocean levels, are concerned.

 Texas is Bankrupt

 Y’all hear that the state of Texas is tethering on Bankruptcy?  It seems the former Governor’s (Dubya in Texas talk) series of “tax cuts” has so depleted the state’s coffers that the legislature is talking of instituting a first-ever Texas state income tax.  With the former Gub’ner now safely out of Texas, Texans are beginning to pick up the pieces from his five-year reign of ill thought out failed rhetoric driven policies.  And with him in the White House, it’s now the whole nation’s turn to suffer.  D’uh, since it all failed in Texas, let’s try it in America.

 For many, “D’uh” seems to be the operative phrase coming out of the White House.  With his blank chimp like stare, thump-da-thumpy 2-4 speech cadence, and track record for incredibly stupid Reganesque bloopers (“I don’t speak Mexican”) every time he steps away from a teleprompter, many critics have simply written the President off as a moron.  At this point in our history, the concept of a moron elected to an executive office is easy enough for us to accept, especially here in Buffalo.  The idiot’s rekindling the cold war, trashing what little energy policy we had, and calling for the abolition of most non-uniformed government services.  Hell, he even wants to resume building nuke plants, with the government taking responsibility for waste disposal  (as in 250,000 years of corporate welfare).   D’uh.

 But don’t be fooled.  As with Reagan’s reign of stupidity, there’s a diabolical brilliance behind this façade of absurdity.  As I reported two weeks ago, Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, the man who signs our money, wants to eliminate corporate taxes (while presumably retaining corporate welfare), and raise individual taxes and eliminate social security and Medicare to make up the revenue shortfall.  This new vision of government as a feudal empire, with taxpayers as serfs to be used and discarded, is untenable in any political environment.  If the president’s “stupid” policies, however, bankrupt the federal government, such “budget cuts” could be sold as “hard medicine,” probably by a corporate-friendly Democratic administration that inherits the whole mess.

 Does this sound like a paranoid conspiracy rant?  It’s not.  It’s just a recoup of recent history. Reagan’s 1981 “tax cuts” added two trillion dollars to the national debt while setting in motion a radical income redistribution and ever-widening gap between the rich and poor.  The media christened “Reagan Boom” for the upper-middle class was quickly followed by the ka-boom of the Reagan recession for the rest of us.  Clinton and Gore carried on the Reagan Bush tradition of random cuts to health, welfare and education programs while failing to repair or rebuild gutted social programs.  And we called Reagan an idiot.

  Pimping the Casino

 The Buffalo News’ tainted coverage of the casino issue is now running at full steam. Their shameless cheerleading began on June 21 with a 72pt. banner headline reading, “Casinos promised.”   An equally biased headline with an alternative view could have read, “Casinos threatened.”   It gets worse.  Consider this line: “The dream of developing downtown Niagara Falls into a core of family-oriented entertainment, shopping and cultural attractions worthy of a worldwide tourist destination could become a reality if a proposed casino is built there…”  Rather than being a clip from an editorial, this is the caption for The News’ above the fold page one photo on Sunday June 24th.  Pretty cheesy.  It ran above an otherwise balanced article by Andrew Galarneau and Patrick LaKamp.  LaKamp’s work has been spotty in the past, but Galarneau’s tends to be bulletproof.  Kudos to the both of them for bucking the trend and providing us with some balanced coverage.  Too bad their editors can’t put their pom-poms down for a moment and let their well-researched story run unadulterated.

 Packaging Giambra

 The cheering squad at The News is equally shameless when it comes to County Executive Joel Giambra.  The News’ coverage of Giambra has continued to decline from a free ride, to a puff, to an endless series of genuflections.  The paper’s recent “leadership survey,” an unscientific News poll, primarily of white men in business suits, is emerging as their main tool for ratifying their Giambra worship.  Joe Illuzzi of The Illuzziletter ( charges,  “The fact is, this survey was an ad nauseam attempt by The News to further add credibility to its superfluous support of Joel Giambra.”  Whether this was their intent or not, News stalwarts such as Bob McCarthy regularly cite the survey’s results as some sort of psuedo-scientific proof of Giambra’s popularity, and, in turn, News target, Democratic Chair Steve Pigeon’s, fall from grace.

 Happy Birthday.

 Today marks the 136th birthday of the magazine, The Nation.  More relevant than ever, it is emerging as one of the main antidotes to corporate media.  Visit them on-line at



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