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September 2016
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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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Pockets Of Real Journalism In The Media

Lawrence O’Donnell and David Farenthold (5 minutes)

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, corporations have had a goal of owning and controlling the disseminators of the news media in this country. To this end, they have purchased TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. They have used lobbying and huge campaign donations to elect congresses that were sympathetic to their cause which the sold under the guise of market economy.

There is only one job that is enshrined in the constitution and that is journalism. It was so important to the founders that the right for observers to be able to speak and disseminate their opinions unfettered by government that both speech and and press were enshrined in the very first amendment.

Unfortunately having the right to speak or write opinions without interference and exercising those rights are two different things. The lure of power and riches has always led folks to cash in their rights for an easier life. What we have seen in America over the past few decades and especially since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is an almost complete capitulation to the monied interests in this country.

The range of news coverage and analysis in this country these days are about as broad as it was in the old USSR with Tass and Izvestia.

Television is America’s main source of news. With six companies owning most of the television media in this country divergence of news coverage and analysis is almost nil. In the middle of a presidential campaign, few news outlets are doing stories on the real issues such as climate change, social security, rights of citizens or the true character of the candidates.

There have been three bright lights in this year where our own media has done all it can to shut off any light. Thanks to these men, their editors and the fact that we still have one media that is not under control of corporations and that is of course the internet.

The first is David Farenthold of the Washington Post. While much of the media has acted as stenographers for the Trump campaign, Farenthold and the Post have dug deeply into the dealings of Trump and his charity and reported the truth. For Trump and his various organizations, the truth ain’t pretty. But reporting like this is what the first amendment is all about. Here is a site that has many of Farenthold’s stories of this election. If you are not familiar with Farenthold’s work this year, be prepared to be astounded.

A side story to the Washington Post reporting of David Farenthold is that the editor of the Post these days is the highly regarded Martin Baron. You may not recognize the name, but if you saw the movie “Spotlight” you will remember Baron as the editor who identified the Catholic Church clergy sex abuse scandal as a story to pursue. Here is a profile of Baron in Esquire that gives us an idea of why the Post pursues stories that others don’t.

The other two bright lights of this campaign work for online publications. Internet companies are not as stodgy as brick and mortar media companies, which no doubt contributes to many online sites investigating Trump the difference with Farenthold, and the next two reporters are that their stories actually broke through the corporate barriers to get at least some time on corporate television.

Many of you are already familiar with Kurt Eichenwald’s work at Newsweek. His story “How The Trump Organization’s Business Ties Could Upend US National Security” was a breakthrough story that explored the consequences of what we have not been told may have on our national security.

The last stellar member of this reporting group is a man whose name is familiar and who has been reporting for decades on the screwing that our political class has been giving the citizen while giving the store away to the wealthy and well connected. David Cay Johnston needs little introduction. His new book “The Making Of Donald Trump” helps to lay bare the real Donald Trump. The real Donald Trump is not fit to be president plain and simple and Johnston gives plenty of reasons why.

Johnston’s book and subsequent articles just continue what he has done all his life. Yet in this day and age reporting like this is being suppressed. Note that the media blitz for this Johnston book was mostly on what left wing media that exists on the fringes that the corporates haven’t gobbled up or run out of business. Stops included shows like the Thom Hartmann Show, and Democracy Now!

Here is an 8 minute or so clip from Democracy Now! that discusses Donald Trump’s taxes:

Perception Beating Reality Hands Down


Controlling the media really helps.

“He who controls the past controls the future.
He who controls the present controls the past.”
George Orwell, 1984.

Back in 1970 Lewis Powell wrote the infamous Powell Memo. In that memo the future Supreme Court justice asserted that the business community must flex its muscle, especially in their media image. Over the years the interpretation of what that meant shifted from better media relations to simply owning the media.

So media news evolved or maybe actually revolted from a model of being a third party observer and reporter of news to an active participant and shaper of propaganda. As corporate media has moved from one side of the spectrum to the other, they have taken on various projects both short term and long. In the short term category are ridiculous crap like changing the name of french fries to freedom fries. In the long term category is the canonization of Ronald Reagan as the saint of free marketry with a strange removal of all sins such as steep tax raises and major blunders in the Middle East.

Few of their projects have been as long term as the demonization and dehumanizing of one person – Hillary Clinton. Now after some 25 or more years in the making we are about to see if corporate media’s relentless and concentrated vilification of that one person can bear them fruit for their effort. That fruit would be the election of the worst prepared and worst suited candidate for any office anywhere at any time in this country.

A simple side by side comparison of the two candidates on preparedness and personal traits shows Hillary Clinton both very well prepared and very well suited to the rigors and decision making of the off of the leader of the most powerful office on earth. In such a comparison, Donald Trump comes up woefully short on both measures.

Whereas Clinton’s life has been quite public and easily examined, Donald Trump’s actual dealings is mostly cloaked in mystery with little to examine. Nor is he at all forthcoming with any documents that may help fill in the holes in his biography. He and his team have made many bogus claims of why he will not release documents that would give us a picture of his story. The corporate media with a few exceptions have done nothing to even pursue this issue. What few glimpses we have gotten show a selfish. petulant, rich man child prone to outbursts of rage.

Yet the corporate media has given us a perception of Donald Trump as a mover and shaker of a business person. This despite the hundreds of lawsuits, his history of screwing employees and small businesses on payments and current fraud cases against several of his businesses.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand has been accused of everything from murder to fraud to pretty much whatever you can make up. Republicans in Congress have spent over $200 million investigating her on various charges. So far they have only served to clear her of any charges.

As long as the corporate media continues to fan the flames of false accusations against Clinton while suppressing the truth about Trump the corporate media can create and manipulate the presidential horse race they so desire.

Perception is that both candidates are extremely flawed. Reality is that one candidate is well prepared and suited to the job while the other would not be suited to be dog catcher. Perception is kicking the hell out of reality.

Recent investigations into charities associated with the candidates have shown Clinton’s charity to be clean and well run while Trump’s appears to be a money laundering operation. Yet the corporate media still spins the Clinton Foundation with an innuendo of graft which has been proven false. Once again perception kicks reality’s butt.

In one of the most egregious acts by the corporate media, recent history is being rewritten to make it seem as if the recent Republican recession was caused by Barack Obama (with an assist from Hillary Clinton) with little mention of the worst president in history.

Just to remind folks, the most recent Republican administration drove the country deeply in debt with huge tax cuts for the wealthy; started two wars of choice overseas with no exit plans nor funding to pay for them; created a huge drug program for seniors without negotiating lower drug prices and once again without funding; stood by and did nothing as the country was plunged into a panic as the subprime mortgage scandal exploded; oversaw the loss of millions of jobs while assuring the country that all was well. In short it was a horror show of an administration. Much more here.

In this head to head matchup of perception as driven by the corporate media versus the reality that is suppressed by corporate media, perception is winning by a wide margin. Corporate media’s quarter century or more of creating a cartoonish caricature of Hillary Clinton may result in the election of the worst president ever. That would be quite an accomplishment considering what the George W. Bush administration did to this country.

Want to see perception in action? Check out this video from the Daily Show from the other night:

Yet all is not quite so bleak. Next post is a hats off to some heroes of the media.

Autumn Begins With An Iowa Flood

Cedar Rapids 2008 Flood

Cedar Rapids 2008 Flood

There was a lot to make one cranky as summer ended yesterday, including the weather.

Extremely heavy rains are flooding parts of Iowa and the impact will soon be felt downstream.

The Cedar River is expected to crest at 24.1 feet next week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the highest level after the record 31.12 foot crest on June 13, 2008.

“We have four days to get ready, and now is the time to start,” Mayor Ron Corbett said Thursday.

We’ve had a lot more time than that to get ready.

During Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training, conducted in Cedar Rapids in May 2015, Mayor Corbett made a presentation about the 2008 Cedar River flooding, how it impacted Cedar Rapids, and what actions were taken and being considered to mitigate damage from potential future floods. The next week will determine whether the plans and discussions were enough to prevent serious damage.

Senator Joni Ernst has been pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite completion of the Cedar Rapids Flood Control Project, recently in the Water Resources Development Act.

“This legislation includes my work to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of the Cedar Rapids flood control project,” Ernst wrote in a Sept. 15 press release. “The provision emphasizes to the Army Corps of Engineers that Congress wants this project to remain a priority. I will continue working to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers understands the great need for this long-standing project to be completed in a timely and efficient manner.”

These efforts seem well intentioned, but too little, too late.

The connection between this flood and global warming is clear. When the atmosphere is warmer, its capacity to store water vapor increases. When it does rain, it can do so in heavy precipitation events in which a large amount of rain falls in a brief amount of time. The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events has increased since World War II and that appears to be what happened in northeastern Iowa over the last few days.

Here’s an excerpt from a WHO-TV news article about flash flooding in Butler County. It tells the story:

BUTLER COUNTY, Iowa — Storms in northern and northeastern Iowa overnight caused some damage as they spawned tornadoes and dropped heavy rain – up to 10 inches – in some areas.

“We expect the crest this evening what we’re being told around 7 p.m. probably water levels similar to 2008 or more so,” said Jason Johnson, Butler County Sheriff.

Flooding from the Shell Rock River has cancelled classes in the North Butler School District for Thursday and many students gathered at the high school to help fill sandbags. Highway 14 on the way to Charles City is impassable because of water over the road.

Butler County Sheriff Johnson says there isn’t a widespread evacuation in Greene but some residents are moving to higher ground.

In Floyd County, 7.55” of rain was reported and Charles City saw 6.35”. The Little Cedar River is at moderate flood stage at Nashua and near Ionia. The rainfall total reported for Ionia is 6.24″.

Work will remedy the crankiness of summer’s end. One didn’t expect it to be sand bagging levies, homes and businesses to prevent damage from what is projected to be the second worst flood in Cedar Rapids history. It will get us through the weekend.

The newest flood begs the question of what’s next to mitigate damage from future flooding? Government involvement in a solution is necessary but it must be implemented faster than it has been. We also have to connect the dots between our personal actions, global warming and climate change more than we have.

For now, we’ll just have to deal with the existential reality of the flood, something I recall doing since the 1960s. It’s a way of sustaining our lives in a turbulent world, but we can do better.

Iowa GOP Climate Change Deniers Taken To Task By Democrat


Important information from Democratic Senator Joe Bolkcom for Iowans in Senate District 28.

NE Iowa Senator Mike Breitbach denies climate change is real

I attended a legislative forum on Tuesday in Decorah hosted by the Winneshiek Energy District. Republican incumbent State Senator Mike Breitbach and Democratic challenger Jan Heikes participated. The discussion and questions focused on renewable energy and climate change.

Both were asked about their views on climate change. Jan Heikes said climate change is real and we needed to address it now. Mike Breitbach said that our climate has always been changing. In follow-up questions he fumbled around and basically said climate change is not an issue to be concerned with. He then had to leave the forum early.

At ground zero for energy and climate leadership in Iowa, your state senator, Mike Breitbach has not introduced a single piece of legislation in four years to advance energy efficiency or renewable energy or address soil conservation and water quality.

NE Iowa deserves much better. We need elected officials that put science ahead of phony political talking points.

Please share with your friends in Senate District 28. Send Jan Heikes to Des Moines to represent you on November 8!

Fact Check: Liz Mathis Supports Tuition Freezes

Sen. Mathis chairs committee holding hearings on Medicaid privatization

Sen. Mathis chairs committee holding hearings on Medicaid privatization

Her Republican opponent is doing the only thing Republicans are really good at, making stuff up about others in order to benefit themselves.

IDP Clips:

Gary Shea, Robins, The Gazette

Sen. Liz Mathis, who is up for re-election in Senate District 34, has a Republican opponent who is not telling the truth about Mathis’ positive votes on tuition freezes. It’s public record that Mathis voted in 2013 (HF604), 2014 (SF2347) and 2015 (HF658) to provide adequate funding to ensure tuition freezes for Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa. She was correct in not voting for a restrictive GOP amendment that would have prevented the Regents from doing their appointed job. Now her opponent is trying to mislead voters about her record. We are fortunate in Senate District 34 to have a senator who is as smart, hard working, respected and effective as Mathis. Don’t be misled. If you support education and keeping tuition low at our state universities, join me and vote for Mathis.

“We Want To Stop This From Happening”

BakkenPledge_v2_600pxThis video shows the sheriff making an assumption that the vehicles with out-of-state plates belonged to the protestors, but apparently they belonged to the pipeline employees. If you would like to help stop the Bakken oil pipeline, click on the links.

Follow Bold Iowa on Facebook.

Follow @Bold_Iowa on Twitter.

Follow Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon (@fallonforum) on Twitter.

Make a donation to support Bold Iowa’s work.


“BATs” Block Pipeline Construction

Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, (515) 238-6404 or

“BATs” Block Pipeline Construction
Bold Iowa launches “Bold Action Teams”

Christine, Ed and Cyndy approach construction equipment.

Christine, Ed and Cyndy approach construction equipment removing topsoil in Webster County.

Des Moines, IA — Yesterday, Bold Iowa launched a new initiative called BATs (Bold Action Teams), aiming to stop construction along the entire length of the Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa. The first team of Christine Sheeler, Cyndy Coppola, Lisa Homann, Ed Fallon and Christine’s dog Arlo blocked construction in Webster County for over an hour Tuesday morning.  When law enforcement arrived and asked the team to leave, they did — and traveled to Boone County where they interrupted construction for another 20 minutes.

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment.

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment.

“BATs are small teams of pipeline fighters who mobilize across the state to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline whenever and wherever they find it,” explained Ed Fallon, the director of Bold Iowa. “Yesterday marked our initial foray into this escalation of Bold Iowa’s commitment to working with our allies to take a peaceful, nonviolent stand against this assault on our soil, water, climate and property rights.”

While adhering to the firm code of nonviolence central to Bold’s philosophy, BATs are decentralized and autonomous by design. Teams deploy whenever and wherever they are inclined. When they find pipeline construction or vehicles heading to or from a worksite, they physically and cautiously block those vehicles and equipment. When law enforcement officials arrive, team members have the discretion to continue to block construction or to leave, possibly moving to another site.

Christine, Ed, Arlo and Lisa.

Christine, Ed, Arlo and Lisa.

“Swarms of BATs covering the state could effectively shut down construction in a meaningful, significant way,” said Fallon. “If dozens and dozens of BATs step forward, we could halt construction the way Iowa farmers shut down farm auctions during the 1980s Farm Crisis, standing with their neighbors and preventing the auctions from going forward.”

Earlier this summer, Bold Iowa and Iowa CCI launched the Pledge of Resistance. Over 2,400 people have signed the Pledge, committing to help stop the Dakota Access pipeline through risking arrest and/or supporting those risking arrest. CREDO Action and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future have also helped promote the Pledge.

Ed and Cyndy approach bulldozer in Boone County.

Ed and Cyndy approach bulldozer in Boone County.

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.


Listen to the Fallon Forum:

– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)


Ed Fallon

In Defense of Donald Trump

media reformEveryone has something that they are “so sick of,” in this election cycle. Here’s mine:  The endless rants about Donald Trump. The social media conversations going on and on, outraged over his latest egregious comment, the clever, biting anti-Trump memes.  Not that he’s not a despicable, deplorable human being. But it is not his fault that we are a nation of idiots who ask for nothing more from life than a good reality TV show. And that is exactly what we are getting.

Mika Brzezinski finally got sick of pretending and on Morning Joe recently called it “circles of nothing.”  So true, but the media decides what is important and up to now, they’ve been perfectly comfortable with non-stop coverage of nothing.  So in my view, Donald Trump is no more to blame for our current electoral nightmare than an over-paid professional athlete is to blame for our national sports obsession, or a super-model is personally responsible for the disproportionate value our culture places on youth and beauty.

Donald Trump is obviously not a nice person, but he has merely taken advantage of America’s selfishness, ignorance, addictive tendencies, gullibility, all exacerbated by the corporate media and in the almost total absence of responsible journalism which, if it existed, would have prevented this.

Back in the day when TV first took its place in the nation’s living rooms, there was a public interest standard the networks were required to uphold.  No longer. The latest corporate takeover, Comcast buying NBC Universal, resulted in the disappearing of Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s biggest ratings earner and truth-teller. This was the beginning of the end of the last lifeline to any kind of responsible reporting on television about things that matter.

Sure, we still have newspapers and they do better, but they tend to be corporate owned now too.   TV matters because propaganda has to be delivered on a mass scale to an unthinking audience.  They can and do pump Trump’s image  to the masses on TVs in bars, restaurants, waiting rooms, athletic clubs, public places. Even with the sound off, you can’t escape it. Reading a newspaper engages our thinking brains in a way that watching images on the TV does not.  There is also right wing talk radio, saturating the broadcast airwaves, blanketing the nation in lies and hate, creating an alternate reality for those that want one.

Donald Trump is our creation. We went to sleep. We did not guard our Democracy with vigilance.  We have elected Republican after Republican, whose party has become more and more extreme over time. We don’t vote in local elections, so we have given up our power to control our schools, our land, our water, all of these precious necessities that are right in our own back yard, in our communities and in our state.

We let the corporate media tell us not only what to think, but what to think about. We watch in a collective trance, while the media pastes Donald Trump’s image on the TV as its permanent wallpaper. But worse than that, we robotically repeat everything the propagandistic corporate media says – in Facebook posts, blogs, internet conversations, at work, with friends – even while we claim to oppose it.

Millions have been brainwashed by years of the right-wing propaganda machine, and now the mainstream mass media is also so distorted, it has completely disabled any politician who would like to tell the truth, but can’t say anything real without being misquoted or taken out of context and attacked in the so-called press.

So let’s stop passing around the one zillionth idiot thing the Donald or one of his surrogates says that is of no value whatsoever to anyone. We already know what he is all about.  Trump’s constant gibberish is not news anymore and promoting it even for the purpose of being critical of it, at this point serves only to distract us, numb our thinking, and paralyze us with fear.

Instead, let’s get to work on things that matter. Here in Iowa, this means getting involved in campaigns for our local state house and senate candidates, some of whom are in the fight of their lives to retain seats. Let’s send some more Democrats to congress so Dave Loebsack isn’t the only Iowa Democrat in DC. Let’s help and support those brave, dedicated Iowans who are fighting like hell on behalf of all of us to stop the Bakken pipeline.  Let’s un-elect Iowa Republicans who are mindlessly marching in lockstep in support of our corrupt governor’s horrific policies.

Donald Trump is now relevant only to the extent that we need to make sure we do not elect him. There is no need to waste time and energy dwelling on a different version of the same endless drivel put out there by Trump and dutifully delivered by the zombie media, day in and day out.

So let’s snap out of our zombie Trump trance. Stop posting Trumpisms.

Here are the most effective things you can do at this time:

– Donate to the state and local Democrat(s) of your choice.

– Volunteer for your local GOTV effort.

– Help collect absentee ballots

– Write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting your local Democratic candidate for senate or house or calling attention to an issue.

– Vote early. It is helpful to the campaigns to have fewer votes to chase as the election draws near.

– Join or support a progressive group – DFA, CCI, Bold Iowa, PACG to name a few. They are working hard every day on things that matter.


Did You Hear About Clinton’s Mental Health Agenda?

thom hartmannOur media is not serving our democracy.  Far from it.

Thom Hartmann nails it in this brief clip from his show that you can catch daily.  He is the nation’s #1 progressive talk radio host.  Click here to find a station, listen live online or on demand.

“This is incredibly important…a good, comprehensive proposal – did you hear about it on CNN?”


Bakken Pipeline Fight Is Still On

BakkenPledge_v2_600pxThis week’s action alert from Bold Iowa and CCI:

After Tuesday’s #NoDAPL Solidarity Nationwide Day of Action saw thousands turn out in over 100 cities to support Pipeline Fighters and Water Protectors, we’re seeing the movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline spread like a prairie fire.

On Thursday and Friday, the 47 brave citizens who have already been arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the pipeline in Iowa had their respective days in court, and we were there to stand with them in support and solidarity.

The more than 2,400 signers of the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance are now called to join us again on Thursday, Sept. 22 for a Midwest Mobilization at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Our Bakken Pledge co-organizers at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) are spearheading this day of action that will include speakers, a nonviolence training, a simultaneous Just Transition teach-in, a session featuring landowners’ perspective on the pipeline, and cap off with a nonviolent direct action to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

We’ll be sending an email update next week with additional details about Midwest Mobilization on Sept. 22.


Thanks for standing with us. 

Ed Fallon and the Bold Iowa team

P.S. Chip in $8, $20 or whatever you can to support the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance.

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