MH370: Three weeks of speculation but where is the news?



(Video contains clips including © Comedy Central and © Channel 4/ITN )

For three weeks in the aftermath of the disappearance of flight MH370 we were on the receiving end of saturation coverage of the tragedy often at the expense of equally important national and international stories that deserved to be reported.

The demands of the twenty four hour news cycle means that the missing plane and its passengers have been the subject of endless, often moronic and insensitive, speculation on the various international news networks. This would be reasonable if the known facts of the event went beyond “a plane with over 200 passengers and crew has disappeared” – but they don’t.

Five weeks later, the search for the plane and the unfortunate lost souls it carried continues but the various international governments and agencies involved have found no new evidence that could explain what happened. So what exactly is it that the news media has reported during this period of unrelenting activity? The answer is nothing. There have been no discoveries of plane wreckage or human remains – the supply of pertinent factual information dried up within a few days at best.

Supply and demand in cable news

Instead, news organisations have filled the airwaves and print media with seemingly endless lazy speculation masquerading as news including, in the case of Fox News, some baseless and inflammatory anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

There is a difference between idle speculation and news but when speculation is reported as if it were news there are many of us that, sometimes wilfully, believe the speculation is what actually happened. For example, Fox News used the fact that MH370 was carrying mostly Muslim passengers and an entirely Muslim crew to imply that an act of Islamic terrorism is a likely explanation for its mysterious disappearance and there will be many who believe that to be true.

This ‘explanation’ fits with Fox’s fear based and Islamophobic agenda and will have been accepted as ‘fact’ by much of its audience who have been primed by years of Fox’s Islamic terror hyperbole. That is probably why they did not mention in their report that Malaysia is a Muslim country and that hundreds of planes containing thousands of mostly Muslim passengers and crew fly without incident every single day.

Whilst Fox News has taken the art of speculation to a ridiculous level.  Driven on by a spike in its viewer ratings in a key advertising demographic, CNN has outstripped all other purveyors of news with the both quantity and (lack of ) quality with its own speculative bubble which included ‘experts’ addressing possible explanations including a Bermuda triangle scenario, a mini black hole, the value of psychic assistance and the possibility that life has imitated art with the TV show ‘Lost’ as the main artistic reference.

CNN Psychic tweet No News Bearers MH370 Combo

Any news organisation worthy of the title inevitably carries a great burden of responsibility for reporting events in a factual and objective way because effective public discourse requires an informed citizenry.  Irresponsible media speculation and disguised opinion pieces can be (and often are) consumed by the public as if they were news. Ethical and responsible reporting of news can only be achieved on the basis of properly sourced and checked evidence.

News is not, and should never be seen as, entertainment; nor should its quality be judged simply on the basis of readership or viewer ratings.

Without new facts there is no news to report.  In this situation a good journalist will endeavour to find new facts to support a news story a bad journalist will choose an easier path.

In news as in life, facts matter.

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Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on the 60 minutes gaff



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(Video © Comedy Central)

Post first published 14 November 2013

On Sunday Lara Logan apologized on air for the mistakes that CBS News’ 60 Minutes had made in their report on Benghazi at the end of October.

As you may be aware, CBS had to retract the portion of the Oct. 27 story featuring an “exclusive” interview with one “Morgan Jones” who said he had arrived at the U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, in the middle of the Sept. 11, 2012, firefight that left four U.S. envoys dead. He said the attack was led by Al Qaeda, and his comments appeared in direct opposition to the Obama administration’s — thus fanning the flames of the ongoing “cover-up” conspiracy theories that have swirled in its wake.

But Jones — real name Dylan Davies — fabricated the account, and CBS retracted Sunday night. (The report put “60″ squarely in the midst of an ongoing battle between left and right, with right initially citing Davies’ account as proof of cover-up; plus there was also the implication that if Davies could fight his way into the compound, where was the significant U.S. response?

Newsday 13 November 2013

When the original show aired Fox News were quick to highlight the fact that the 60 Minutes expose confirmed what they had claimed all along – that President Obama and Hillary Clinton had, among other things, failed in their duty to provide adequate protection to the embassy staff and that they knew that it had been a terrorist attack even as they claimed that the situation was unclear.  Talk about acting in haste….

Fox News Check With Someone Else

Meanwhile the GOP which had moved precipitously, as it transpires, to announce that they would block President Obama’s appointments until there was a full investigation of the incident decided that despite the 60 Minutes piece turning out to have been based on fabricated ‘evidence’ they would continue with their blocking tactics .

Sen. Lindsey Graham had berated President Obama’s administration for having “a bad habit of telling stories that are not true that are politically beneficial” in relation to the original 60 Minutes report but it seems neither he nor Fox News will ever let go of this – even when they know that all the evidence shows that they are wrong.

If you don’t like gays, don’t run a bed and breakfast


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If the Vimeo clip is not available you can also view it on Videobam here
(Video © Comedy Central)

Original post first published 8 December 2014

Jon Stewart‘s Gaywatch takes a sideways look at the UK’s supreme court ruling against B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull who refused to allow a gay couple to sleep in a double room and asks how the Catholic church could possibly be “out-marketed” on LGBT issues when it is supposed to have God on its side!

No wonder Jon Stewart advised against looking-up 'English Breakfast' on the Urban Dictionary!

No wonder Jon Stewart advised against looking-up ‘English Breakfast’ on the Urban Dictionary!

Gay ban guest house OAPs ‘saddened’ after losing fight against paying damages 27 Nov 2013


…not when it is being used as a bed and breakfast.

Five judges ruled they had broken the law by refusing to let Martyn Hall and civil partner Steven Preddy sleep in a double room

 The elderly Christian owners of a guest house who turned away a gay couple have lost their fight against having to pay damages for sex discrimination.

Peter Bull, 74, and his wife Hazelmary, 69, who believe sex outside marriage is a sin, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn county court and Appeal Court decisions against them.

But the five judges today ruled they had broken the law by refusing to let Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy sleep together in a double room at their guest house in Marazion, Cornwall.

Mrs Bull said after the hearing: “We are deeply disappointed and saddened. We’re just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Britain ought to be a country of freedom and tolerance, but it seems religious beliefs must play second fiddle to the new orthodoxy of political correctness.

“We appealed to the Supreme Court to introduce a bit more balance when dealing with competing rights of sexual orientation and religious liberty.

Jon stewarts Gaywatch

“Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society.

“The judges sidestepped that big issue and reinforced the notion that gay rights must trump everything else.”

In 2011 a judge at Bristol County Court concluded that the Bulls acted unlawfully and ordered them to pay a total of £3,600 damages. In 2012 the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the Bulls following a hearing in London.

Hazelmary added: “It’s our home. All we have ever tried to do is live according to our own values, under our own roof.”

Mrs Bull said she and her husband bore no “ill-will to Steven and Martyn”.

Source: Daily Mirror

Regulation is why the Canadian banking system has had no financial crises in 150 years


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If the Vimeo clip is not available you can watch The Daily Show on Canadian bank regulation here
(Video © Comedy Central)

I promised in a recent post (If Robert Peston thinks that it’s time to stop bashing the bankers he’s wrong) to show you that an innovative, stable and fully functional financial system is possible.  The United States (and consequently most of the industrialised world) has suffered 16 major financial meltdowns in the last 150 years but the Canadian banking system has avoided all of them. Yes no banking crises in 150 years!

Nonetheless, the banks have managed to water down banking reforms in the US and (with the connivance of the Conservative party in the UK) the EU.

Bend Over It's Investment Banking Time!
Bend Over It’s Investment Banking Time!

To add further insult to the hard-working taxpayers who have paid figuratively and literally to save the banks, various billionaire owned media groups and especially the disingenuous Fox News lie machine are now attempting a rewriting of the history of the banking crisis among their many inaccurate free market PR outpourings as you can see in this clip compiled by LiberalViewer.

Original post published 8 January 2014

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The facts don’t fit your prejudices? No problem. Be like Fox News and invent your own!


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This week both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert highlighted the fantasy facts  used by Fox News regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s recent report about ObamaCare.

Fox News OReilly ObamaCare Facts

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Jon Stewart called out Fox News Thursday night for its reporting on the Congressional Budget Office’s latest report about Obamacare.

The CBO issued a report Tuesday detailing that as many as 2 million people could leave their jobs due to the Affordable Care Act for reasons like employees choosing not to work now that they are without previously provided benefits. Many media outlets, however, seemed to overlook the latter part and simply reported that Obamacare is cutting 2 million jobs.

Stewart ran clips of Fox News anchors making that claim.

“The CBO is projecting that this debacle will cost nearly 2 million jobs,” Hannity said.

“Is Obamacare killing the American Dream?” another Fox News anchor asked.

“Is this the American way?” “Fox & Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said. “I’m not sure.”

This is how Fox News covered the CBO’s report, Stewart said, adding, “There’s only one small problem with the apocalyptic predictions from the CBO, in that the report did not in any way say any of those things.”

Source: Huffington Post (7 February 2014)

Of course, it is not news (fake or otherwise) that Fox News has spent the best part of the last 8 years dissembling about and unfairly railing against change and criticising Obama as President and even as a presidential candidate.  Such vituperous criticism is invariably without merit and  often expressed in the most hypocritical terms.  As Jon Stewart says:

“Fox News is a spite driven anger machine rooted in a fear that any change in the status quo will inevitably erode our nation’s traditional power structure leading to internment camps for ‘real’ Americans”

As time has passed, Fox News has completely lost the plot.  Here is Jon Stewart’s take-down of Fox’s inventiveness with the facts and it’s consistently gimlet eyed approach to Obama in and out of office.

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Originally published 8 February 2014

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Wealth Inequality by Country Sorted By Level of Inequality (Ascending CIA Gini %): *US & UK HIGHLIGHTED IN RED

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

Country

UN R/P 10%[3]

UN R/P 20%[4]

World Bank Gini (%)[5]

WB Gini (year)

CIA R/P 10%[6]

Year

CIA Gini (%)[7]

CIA Gini (year)

 Sweden 6.2 4.0 25.0 2000 6.2 2000 23.0 2005
 Slovenia 5.9 3.9 31.2 2004 5.9 1998 23.8 2011
 Montenegro 30.0 2008 24.3 2010
 Hungary 5.5 3.8 31.2 2007 5.6 2002 24.7 2009
 Denmark 8.1 4.3 24.0 2005 12.0 2000 est. 24.8 2011 est.
 Norway 6.1 3.9 25.8 2000 6.0 2000 25.0 2008
 Austria 6.9 4.4 26.0 2007 6.8 2004 26.0 2007
 Luxembourg 30.8 2000 6.8 2000 26.0 2005
 Slovakia 6.7 4.0 26.0 2009 6.7 1996 26.0 2005
 Finland 5.6 3.8 26.9 2000 5.7 2000 26.8 2008
 Germany 6.9 4.3 28.3 2000 6.9 2000 27.0 2006
 Belarus 6.9 4.5 27.2 2008 6.9 2002 27.2 2008
 Malta 27.4 2011
 Belgium 8.2 4.9 33.0 2000 8.3 2000 28.0 2005
 Iceland 28.0 2006
 Serbia 27.8 2009 28.2 2008
 Ukraine 5.9 4.1 26.4 2009 7.6 2006 28.2 2009
 Kazakhstan 8.5 5.6 29.0 2009 8.0 2004 est. 28.9 2011
 Cyprus 29.0 2005
 Afghanistan 27.8 2008 29.4 2008
  Switzerland 9.0 5.5 33.7 2000 8.9 2000 29.6 2010
 Ethiopia 6.6 4.3 29.8 2005 6.5 2000 30.0 2000
 Australia 12.5 7.0 30.5 2006 12.7 1994 30.3 2008
 European Union 30.4 2009 est.
 Pakistan 6.5 4.3 30.0 2008 6.6 2002 30.6 2007–2008
 Armenia 8.0 5.0 30.9 2008 25.8 2004 30.9 2008
 Netherlands 9.2 5.1 30.9 2007 9.2 1999 30.9 2007
 Czech Republic 5.2 3.5 26.0 2005 5.2 1996 31.0 2009
 Estonia 10.8 6.4 36.0 2004 11.0 2003 31.3 2010
 Italy 11.6 6.5 36.0 2000 11.7 2000 31.9 2011
 Timor-Leste 31.9 2007 31.9 2007 est.
 Croatia 7.3 4.8 33.7 2008 7.2 2003 est. 32 2010
 Spain 10.3 6.0 34.7 2000 10.2 2000 32.0 2005
 Canada 9.4 5.5 32.6 2000 9.5 2000 32.1 2005
 Tajikistan 7.8 5.2 30.8 2009 7.8 2003 32.6 2006
 France 9.1 5.6 32.7 2008 8.3 2004 32.7 2008
   Nepal 15.8 9.1 32.8 2010 15.6 2004 32.8 2010
 Greece 10.2 6.2 34.3 2000 10.4 2000 est. 33.0 2005
 Bangladesh 7.5 4.9 32.1 2010 7.5 2000 est. 33.2 2005
 Romania 7.5 4.9 30.0 2009 7.4 2003 33.2 2011
 Kyrgyzstan 6.4 4.4 36.2 2009 6.4 2003 33.4 2007
 Azerbaijan 9.7 6.0 33.7 2008 9.5 2001 33.7 2008
 Ireland 9.4 5.6 34.3 2000 9.4 2000 33.9 2010
 Niger 46.0 20.7 34.6 2008 44.3 1995 34.0 2007
 Poland 8.8 5.6 34.1 2009 8.7 2002 34.1 2009
 Taiwan 6.1 2002 est. 34.2 2011
 Egypt 8.0 5.1 30.8 2008 8.0 2000 34.4 2001
 Albania 7.2 4.8 34.5 2008 7.2 2004 34.5 2008
 Latvia 11.6 6.8 36.6 2008 11.6 2003 35.2 2010
 Algeria 9.6 6.1 35.3 1995 9.6 1995 35.3 1995
 Lithuania 10.4 6.3 37.6 2008 10.3 2003 35.5 2009
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.4 3.8 36.2 2007 5.5 2001 36.2 2007
 New Zealand 12.4 6.8 36.2 1997 36.2 1997
 Benin 9.4 6.0 38.6 2003 9.4 2003 36.5 2003
 Mongolia 8.2 5.4 36.5 2008 8.2 2002 36.5 2008
 Laos 8.3 5.4 36.7 2008 8.4 2002 36.7 2008
 India 8.6 5.6 33.4 2005 8.6 2004 36.8 2004
 Indonesia 7.8 5.2 34.0 2005 7.9 2002 36.8 2009
 Uzbekistan 10.6 6.2 36.7 2003 10.6 2003 36.8 2003
 Japan 4.5 3.4 38.1 2002 4.5 1993 37.6 2008
 Tanzania 9.2 5.8 37.6 2007 9.3 2000 37.6 2007
 Vietnam 6.9 4.9 35.6 2008 10.0 2004 37.6 2008
 Yemen 8.6 5.6 37.7 2005 8.6 2003 37.7 2005
 Cambodia 12.2 7.3 37.9 2008 12.0 2004 37.9 2008 est.
 Moldova 8.2 5.3 33.0 2010 8.3 2003 38.0 2008
 Liberia 12.8 38.2 2007 38.2 2007
 Portugal 15.0 8.0 38.5 2007 9.2 1995 est. 38.5 2007
 Malawi 10.9 6.7 39.0 2004 11.0 2004 39.0 2004
 Mauritania 12.0 7.4 40.5 2008 11.8 2000 39.0 2000
 Mauritius 39.0 2006 est.
 Venezuela 18.8 16.0 44.8 2006 50.3 2003 39.0 2011
 World 12.0 2002 est. 39 2007
 Israel 13.4 7.9 39.2 2001 11.8 2005 39.2 2008
 Ghana 14.1 8.4 42.8 2006 13.7 1999 39.4 2005–2006
 Guinea 10.5 6.6 39.4 2007 21.6 2006 39.4 2007
 Burkina Faso 11.6 6.9 39.8 2009 11.5 2003 39.5 2007
 Jordan 11.3 6.9 35.4 2010 11.3 2003 39.7 2007
 Tunisia 13.4 7.9 41.4 2005 13.7 2000 40.0 2005 est.
 United Kingdom 13.8 7.2 34.0 2005 13.6 1999 40 2008-2009
 Mali 12.5 7.6 33.0 2010 12.6 2001 40.1 2001
 Turkey 6.6 4.6 39.0 2008 17.1 2003 40.2 2010
 Nicaragua 31.0 8.8 40.5 2005 15.4 2001 40.5 2010
 Turkmenistan 12.3 7.7 40.8 1998 12.2 1998 40.8 1998
 Morocco 11.7 7.2 40.9 2007 11.9 1999 40.9 2007 est.
 Senegal 12.3 7.4 39.2 2005 12.4 2001 41.3 2001
 Côte d’Ivoire 16.6 9.7 41.5 2008 17.0 2002 41.5 2008
 Russia 12.7 7.6 40.1 2009 12.8 2002 41.7 2011
 South Korea 7.8 4.7 31.3 2007 8.6 2005 est. 41.9 2011
 Burundi 19.3 9.5 33.3 2006 19.3 1998 42.4 1998
 Kenya 13.6 8.2 47.7 2005 18.6 2000 42.5 2008 est.
 Macedonia 12.5 7.5 43.2 2009 12.3 2003 43.2 2009
 Nigeria 17.8 9.7 48.8 2010 17.5 2003 43.7 2003
 Uganda 16.6 9.2 44.3 2009 16.4 2002 44.3 2009
 Iran 17.2 9.7 38.3 2005 16.9 1998 44.5 2006
 Cameroon 15.7 9.1 38.9 2007 15.4 2001 44.6 2001
 Guyana 44.5 1998 26.0 1999 44.6 2007
 Philippines 15.5 9.3 43.0 2009 15.5 2003 44.8 2009
 United States 15.9 8.4 45 2007 15.0 2007 est. 45.0 2007
 Bulgaria 7.0 4.4 28.2 2007 8.8 2005 45.3 2007
 Uruguay 20.1 10.2 45.3 2010 17.9 2003 45.3 2010
 Jamaica 17.3 9.8 45.5 2004 17.0 2004 45.5 2004
 Mozambique 18.8 9.9 45.7 2008 18.8 2002 45.6 2008
 Argentina 31.6 17.8 36.4 2012 35.0 2007 Jan.-Mar. 45.8 2009
 Georgia 15.4 8.3 41.3 2008 15.2 2003 46 2011
 Peru 26.1 15.2 48.1 2010 31.5 2003 46.0 2010
 Malaysia 22.1 12.4 46.2 2009 28.0 2003 est. 46.2 2009
 Rwanda 18.6 9.9 50.8 2011 18.2 2000 46.8 2000
 El Salvador 38.6 20.9 48.3 2009 55.4 2002 46.9 2007
 Dominican Republic 25.3 14.3 47.2 2010 29.4 2005 47.2 2010 est.
 China, People’s Republic of 21.6 12.2 47.0 2007 21.8 2004 47.4 2012
 Madagascar 19.2 11.0 44.1 2010 19.3 2001 47.5 2001
 Ecuador 35.2 17.3 49.3 2010 17.5 2006 Oct.[10] 47.7 2012 Dec.[11]
 Singapore 17.7 9.7 48.1 2008 17.3 1998 47.8 2012
 Sri Lanka 11.1 6.9 40.3 2007 36.1 2003/04 fiscal year 49.0 2010
 Zimbabwe 50.1 1995 50.1 2006
 The Gambia 20.2 11.2 47.3 2003 20.6 1998 50.2 1998
 Costa Rica 23.4 15.6 50.7 2009 37.4 2003 50.3 2009
 Swaziland 25.1 13.0 51.5 2010 25.4 2001 50.4 2001
 Brazil 40.6 21.8 54.7 2009 37.1 2007 50.8 2012
 Zambia 54.6 2006 50.8 2004
 Papua New Guinea 23.8 12.6 50.9 1996 23.8 1996 50.9 1996
 Mexico 21.6 12.8 48.3 2008 24.6 2004 51.7 2008
 Panama 49.9 23.9 51.9 2010 61.4 2003 51.9 2010 est.
 Chile 26.2 15.7 52.1 2009 32.1 2003 52.1 2009
 Bolivia 93.9 42.3 56.3 2008 157.3 2002 53 2010
 Paraguay 38.8 25.7 52.4 2010 65.9 2003 53.2 2009
 Thailand 12.6 7.7 40.0 2009 12.4 2002 53.6 2009
 Hong Kong 17.8 9.7 53.3 2007 53.7 2011
 Guatemala 33.9 20.3 55.9 2006 48.2 2002 55.1 2007
 Honduras 59.4 17.2 57.0 2009 35.2 2003 57.7 2007
 Colombia 60.4 25.3 55.9 2010 56.3 2008 58.5 2011
 Haiti 54.4 26.6 59.2 2001 68.1 2001 59.2 2001
 Namibia 12.8 56.1 63.9 2004 129.0 2003 59.7 2010
 Central African Republic 69.2 32.7 56.3 2008 68.1 1993 61.3 1993
 Sierra Leone 87.2 57.6 42.5 2003 87.2 1989 62.9 1989
 Botswana 43.0 20.4 61.0 1994 63 1993
 Lesotho 10.5 44.2 52.5 2003 48.2 2002 est. 63.2 1995
 South Africa 33.1 17.9 63.1 2009 31.9 2000 65.0 2005