Sunday, July 26, 2015

That Which Is Lost With the Ed Show

Distressing Developments Dept. - The Ed Show on MSNBC is being cancelled. I don't really like Ed Schultz--he carried over far too many bad habits from his years in right-wing talk radio for my liking--but his show was indispensable when it came to an extremely important issue, the Trans Pacific Partnership.

As I've noted in the past, the corporate press has almost entirely ignored this, a massive trade deal developed first by the Bush Jr. then by the Obama administration. In 2012, a draft portion of the negotiation leaked. Writing in the Nation, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen characterized it as
"a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny. Indeed, only two of the twenty-six chapters of this corporate Trojan horse cover traditional trade matters. The rest embody the most florid dreams of the 1 percent — grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation. They include new investor safeguards to ease job offshoring and assert control over natural resources, and severely limit the regulation of financial services, land use, food safety, natural resources, energy, tobacco, healthcare and more."
The corporate press has largely buried not only the details of the TPP but its mere existence. On MRC Watch back in May, I wrote:
Liberal publications and orgs have been trying to draw attention to this matter for years now, while the big dogs of the corporate press — those big dogs the MRC insists are so slavishly devoted to heathen liberalism — have almost entirely buried it.
For years, liberal press critic Project Censored has assembled a list of important stories that received little or no coverage in the previous year; in 2013, the Trans-Pacific Partnership finished at #3. In March 2014, Steve Rendall of liberal media critic Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) noted that
“TPP would seem to be a major story with significant real-world impact. But despite its apparent newsworthiness—and two major leaks, providing grist for reporting and debate—there were no stories about TPP on the three major network news shows in the year following Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union mention of the agreement. The same goes for cable channels CNN and Fox News.
“The only thing preventing a total blackout of TPP on national commercial TV was MSNBC, where the Ed Show practically made TPP a feature of the program, offering critical coverage and commentary in 25 segments. TPP was also discussed once on Melissa Harris-Perry (12/14/13), when it was briefly criticized by The Nation’s John Nichols.”
Shortly after, FAIR launched a petition demanding that the major networks stop their blackout of this story; others have done the same.
It didn’t seem to help. In February, liberal press critic Media Matters undertook a study of tv news coverage of the TPP.
“A Media Matters transcript search of the CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, and NBC’s Nightly News from August 1, 2013, through January 31, 2015, found no mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. By contrast, PBS NewsHour mentioned the TPP on during eight broadcasts, most of which were substantive discussions of the trade agreement.”
Among the cable news operations, “CNN and Fox News each mentioned the TPP during two broadcasts,” while MSNBC was the only outlet to give the matter any real attention — it was covered in 71 broadcasts, mostly the Ed Show.
On Monday — three days ago — Media Matters followed up. From 1 February to 10 May, the network evening newscasts had continued their complete blackout — not a single mention from any of them. The PBS Newshour had done 6 additional segments on the subject. Among the cable outlets, CNN hadn’t offered a single new mention while there had been 10 on Fox News. Again, only MSNBC devoted any notable attention to the matter, covering it in 53 segments.[2]
Print coverage has been pathetic as well. In April 2014, FAIR examined the attention given the TPP by two of the largest papers in the U.S.:
“In the year between Barack Obama’s 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses (2/12/13– 1/28/14), the New York Times and Washington Post had a combined total of 18 news reports discussing TPP, featuring 48 sources.
“TPP received a small fraction of the attention the papers devoted to stories of much less import, such as the Benghazi and IRS stories portrayed as scandals by the right—without much of anything scandalous behind them (FAIR Blog, 5/17/13, 6/25/13). Benghazi was mentioned in 618 stories in both papers. Using the search terms ‘IRS’ and ‘conservative’—according to the IRS scandal storyline, the agency singled out conservative groups for harassment—turned up 444 stories.
“In the two papers combined, sources favoring TPP (31) outnumbered those opposing (14) by more than 2-to-1. Three sources were expressly noncommittal. The Post presented an almost 3-to-1 ratio of supporters to opponents (16–6) with one noncommittal source, while the Times featured a nearly 2-to-1 imbalance (15–8) with two noncommittal sources.”
While barely covering the story, print outlets have managed to circulate all manner of nonsense about the deal and its critics.

And now, while Obama, in continuing to negotiate the deal, operates under fast-track authority just granted him by congress, the only major national news outlet to devote any real coverage to this subject is about to become extinct.


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