All The News That’s Fit To Gin Up From Pretty Much Nothing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Star Tribune breathlessly reports that “questions” have been raised, front page, above the fold.  Why did 98% of the new state subsidies for rural bus routes go to Mn/DOT Commissioner Zelle’s former employer?  Conflict of interest?  Shenanigans?  What’s going on here?

“Jefferson Lines and Land to Air Express were two of three firms who applied for the state funding that year. The third, Rainbow Rider Transit, received less than $8,000 in state subsidies.”

Three firms applied.  Rainbow Rider is the short bus for handicapped people in a few counties in Western Minnesota, counties you never heard of, like Grant and Pope.  They got a few bucks.  The other companies provide bus service and airport shuttle.  They got the rest because Nobody Else Applied.  Which isn’t surprising – how many bus companies can you name besides Greyhound and they run long-haul between cities, not back lanes to Clodhopper, Minnesota.  There’s no conflict, there isn’t even a question, it’s perfectly clear and obviously the whole thing is completely above-board.

So why the headline?  The headline leads low-information voters to think the Commissioner’s a crook when the story itself completely exonerates him.  What a pathetic excuse for a newspaper.

Joe Doakes

They’re just asking questions:

“But why don’t you subscribe to the Strib, Mitch?”

Death Spiral

Pacifica Radio – the nation’s “oldest leftwing radio network” – has entered a death spiral:

Founded in 1946 by conscientious objectors from the second world war, the network was an influential outlet for Beat poets, Bob Dylan and Vietnam war protesters but has in recent times suffered from dwindling ratings, in-fighting and financial hemorrhage.

The network’s biggest star – Amy Goodman, host of the independently produced Democracy Now! – is also its biggest creditor. She is owed an estimated $2.1m in unpaid broadcast fees.

Observers trace the travails to 2001 when a group of rebellious listeners and broadcasters took control and instituted an elaborate governance structure of multiple boards, sub-committees and painstaking elections.

The result, according to Matthew Lasar, author of the 2005 book Uneasy Listening: Pacifica Radio’s Civil War, was continuous feuding between rival factions. In a Nation article earlier this year, he compared the network to the “late Ottoman Empire of public broadcasting” and urged progressive outsiders to step in and save it before it was too late.

Of course, it’s not just Pacifica; all of the institutional broadcasting industry as we’ve known it since the 1930’s is undergoing a radical realignment in how it does business.  The broadcast industry one step behind newspapers; its audience gutted by the internet’s explosion of free material and advertisters’ splitting their money in many different directions (what’s left of it, anyway, in the Obama economy), even the better commercial broadcast operations are having to become very lean, and very creative when it comes to sales.

And Pacifica?  Not only is it entirely dependent on handouts from non-profits and governments, but it is “creative” in all the wrong ways:

Ian Masters and Sonali Kolhatkar, hosts of the Los Angeles-based KPFK, said its parent network Pacifica Radio, the country’s oldest public radio network, was putting pressure on staff to reduce their hours and pay, leave or work for free, alienating listeners and approaching a point of no return.

“This is the end. They’re running out of road,” Masters told the Guardian. He accused managers and board members of promoting conspiracy theories – including those related to the “truth” about 9/11 and claims about cancer and HIV. “They’ve run this place into the ground.”

Today it’s Pacifica.

Of course, it’s been happening in commercial radio for a long time; commercial radio stations have been slashing costs for a solid decade now (most music radio is “voice-tracked”; the “disc jockey” actually bangs out all the spoken elements for a show in one sitting, and the computers that run the shows slip the spoken bits in to the right spots, usually), finding creative ways to make money (or not so creative ways; 40% of the revenue at many talk stations comes from weekend infomercials) or avoid it (the NARN was a decade ahead of the trend of people doing talk radio as a hobby, barring the occasional talent fee).

So how long can public radio – especially Minnesota Public Radio, with its union-level pay scales and lavish facilities and gargantuan, padded staffs – survive?

To Be Fair, Most Of Us Had Forgotten Brian Lambert Was Still Being Published, Too

Someone pointed it out in the comment section; Brian Lambert interviewed Jason Lewis in the MinnPost earlier today:


MP:​ But even The Patriot [AM 1280] is now all syndication. They used to have local bloggers with shows ripping the feckless liberals and all the usual stuff. Now, it’s all mailed in.

JL:​ ​It’s the only thing they can afford. They don’t have the budget for anything else. The economics of the industry requires a massive paradigm shift. And, as I say, it’s due to mismanagement, technology and debt, the over­buying of radio stations.


Lambert exhibits the attention to detail he always showed when he was the Pioneer Press’ “broadcasting reporter”.

AM1280 was always syndicated.  The Northern Alliance started three years after the station went on the air – almost two years before AM1130 went all talk, before Jason Lewis left the Twin Cities for Charlotte much less before he came back and bumped Lambert’s show from the 1130’s lineup.

And unlike both of them, we’re still here.  Different group of us, to be sure – but we’re still alive and kicking.

And I’d love to invite Lambert on the show to prove it.  But I have no idea where to find him, or for that matter, whether he still really exists or not.

If you know where he’s at, please forward my invite.

Another Fearless Prediction

Lars Walker, author and longtime friend of this blog, has a prediction (from Facebook):

Here is my prediction. Within a day or two, we will begin to see character attacks in the media against the 3 American service men who prevented the terrorist murders in France. Our culture cannot bear the sight of heroes.

I wouldn’t take that bet at 10:1.  The mainstream media, dedicated as it is to the narrative that America is a corrupt, awful place that is the source of this world’s problems, will have these guys on Joe the Plumber watch before you can say “sacre bleu”.  


Minnesota Public Radio announced what amounts to a fairly sweeping set of layoffs in the newsroom yesterday:

The identities of the laid off staff members have not been confirmed, but a series of tweets by MPR Newscut blogger Bob Collins Thursday night suggest that they are:

Newscaster Beth Kidd; higher ed reporter Alex Friedrich; politics reporter Catharine Richert; arts reporter Chris Roberts; producer Emily Kaiser; photographers Jeffrey Thompson and Jennifer Simonson; reporter/producer Nikki Tundel; and editor/reporter David Cazares. (List compiled by the Business Journal).

Waxing purely editorially here – it appears that the House that Keillor Built is running into the same buzz saw  the rest of the radio industry ran into 6–7 years ago, and that the old Big Three broadcast operations have been wrestling with for a decade; the fact that the audience is splintering, drawn to other media spawned by new technology.

The amazing factoid? I’ve always known that Minnesota Public Radio news was a massive operation, certainly in scale with the rest of the be behemoth that is MPR, filling out the huge building on 7th and Cedar in downtown St. Paul like it does. Even I had had no idea how huge the newsroom was; the nine layoffs amounted to 13% of the newsroom; that meant MPR’s newsroom alone was somewhere north of 70 people.

It’s disappointing – and a telling – to see among the nine above a number of a good, solid journalists losing their jobs, while Keri Miller just keeps prattling away.

PS: On the other hand, assuming “producer Emily Kaiser” is the same one who used to “write” at the City Pages

…well, it’s bad karma to kibitz about people who just got whacked.  I’ve been there way too many times myself.

Best of luck, everyone.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some of us right-wing kooks think the media has jumped on the Dentist Killed National Treasure Cecil the Lion story as a way to distract Americans from the baby-butcher videos.  As proof, I offer . . .

Imagine if instead of Planned Parenthood it was some puppy mill and the workers were joking over the puppy parts, talking about using them for something and how much money they can make for kidneys or something.  Those workers would be in jail facing major prison time.
Joe Doakes

I have a hunch puppy mills are going to become a big story again, in about 3…2…1…


“Ombudsman” Is The New Green

A longtime friend of this blog writes:

In their usual holier-than-thou fashion, NPR ticked me off this morning.  I sent the following complaint to the NPR ombudsman.
“On the morning broadcast of  Friday, August 7, 2015, I heard the fact checkers make a very snide comment…that was at least 50% wrong.  Scott Horsley and Steve Inskeep fact checked the GOP presidential debate of the previous evening.  While discussing the responses of former Gov. Huckabee and Ben Carson the fact checkers made a very uncalled for remark that was factually incorrect..  The snide remark made by Scott Horsley was “One might remember Mitt Romney made similar claims in 2012, only to have President Obama poke fun at such anachronistic measurements, saying the military is using a lot fewer horses and bayonets than it used to.”  While the statement is correct about horses it is absolutely incorrect about bayonets.  The military has more bayonets in use today than it did in 1917 and President Obama was flat out wrong when he spoke it in 2012.  NPR listeners were subjected to a snide remark for which Mr. Horsley’s facts were incorrect.  We deserve better as listeners.

Your friend,

I’ve noted in the past the deep regard Public Broadcasting has for being corrected by the peasants.  With that in mind, and because you all have a right to know, I found a picture of NPR’s “ombudsman”:

Makes perfect sense now.

Editor Strangelove

The Star Tribune observed the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima by playing a little morbid”what if” with a Hiroshima bomb in downtown Minneapolis:

The above map shows a range of effects that would result from the blast if a “Little Boy”-type bomb were dropped on the Star Tribune newsroom in downtown Minneapolis.

For starters, the DFL will have to hire a new PR firm.


Bend Over Citizen: Part II – The NYTimes Demands A Police State

This morning, I beat up the Strib’s editorial board for babbling platitudes about gun control that I’m pretty sure none of them really understands.

But there are times that sit back and thank all that is holy that the “brain trust” behind the editorial coverage at Minnesota’s pre-eminent media outlet is merely dotty, smug, and genially ignorant.

As opposed to the toxic, malevolent, dangerous ignorance of the New York Times.   

Last week, columnist Timothy Egan wrote “Guns and the Two Americas“.

Now, I don’t know much about Timothy Egan; I’ve never written about him.  But he appears to be equal parts Dwight Schrute, rote stenographer and closet authoritarian.

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica:  While Egan appears to be the kind of New Yorker that’d soil himself if he walked into the pistol range at Gander Mountain, he is, nonethless, an expert on tactics:

Just after the tragedy in a Louisiana theater a week ago — a shooting by a hate-filled man who was able to legally obtain a gun despite a history of mental illness — Rick Perry called gun-free zones a bad idea.

In his view, echoing that of the fanatics who own the Republican Party by intimidation, everyone should be armed, everywhere. [Aaaaand  there’s the inevitable strawman – Ed.] Once a shooting starts, the bad guy with the gun will be killed by the good guy with the gun, somehow able to get a draw on the shooter in a darkened theater, or behind a pew in church.

This scenario almost never happens. The logic is nonsense, the odds of a perfectly timed counter-killer getting the drop on the evil killer unlikely. And even when such a situation does happen, as in the Tucson shooting of 2011, the armed citizen who jumps into the melee can pose a mortal threat to others. In Tucson, an innocent person came within seconds of getting shot by an armed bystander who wasn’t sure whom to shoot.

There’s nothing “unlikely” about it; readers of this blog can quote the debunkment chapter and verse; even the Feds note that mass shootings where someone – with our without a badge – intervenes with a gun, the death toll is around 2; without intervention, into two digits.  Jabbering about “timing” is ignorant nit-picking by someone who’d seem to have watched too many ninja movies.

And the episode in Tucson in 2011, where a citizen responded to Jared Laughner’s shooting spree that killed six and wounded Representative Gabby Giffords, ready to return fire?  Egan uses as evidence against shooters an example of a shooter who, under pressure that would make Timothy Egan soil himself with fright, did the exact right thing, checking fire at a time when all too many police would have blazed away?

All The News That’s Given To Me And Stamped “Fit To Print”:   Egan is as ignorant and unquestioning about sociology as he is about tactics:

Nationwide, if you want to lessen your chances of getting shot, stay out of the South. The South is the most violent region in the United States, and also the place with the highest rate of gun ownership. More guns, easily obtained by the mentally ill, religious fanatics and anti-government extremists, mean more gun deaths.

But how do you feel about profiling, Timothy Egan?

Leave aside the patriarchal New Yorker references to phantom religious fanatics and militiamen; it’s entirely possible one of them actually will blow a fuse, someday.

Anything can happen.

Egan’s right, to an extent; the South is violent.  Indeed, as readers of this blog know better than anyone who gets their news from the NYTimes, the rural deep south is, per capita, the most violent place in the US.    And it was the same 100 years ago, when it voted solidy Democrat.  And it was 200 years ago, before the Civil War.  And it was 250 years ago, before most rural southerners had guns.

Because the violence in the rural South is not about hardware; it was an offshoot of Scots-Irish culture, which is and has always been more violent than the national average; southern Scots-Irish were dueling for keeps long after the rest of the country took their feuds to court; honor killings aren’t unknown.  And the violence in the South has exactly the same relationship to guns as does the violence in Chicago and Detroit or rural Afghanistan for that matter; the people were violent long before guns and, if you shut down every gun store in Dixie, it wouldn’t change.

Egan is also no better at picking his sources than the dumbest Minnesota liberal blogger:

Better to go to a city or state with gun restrictions, at least if you’re playing the odds. Most of the states with tighter gun laws have fewer gun deaths.

In which he uncritically points to a “study” in the Atlantic that was BS for all the same reasons Eric Ostermeier’s work at the U of M was wrong.

But Timothy Egan is ignorant.  So what?

One People, One Nation, One Times:  Because the Times has given a big megaphone to a guy who believes that the answer to “gun violence” is a smothering police state:

You want protection in a country that allows a deranged man to get an assault weapon to hunt down innocent people in a public space? Go to the airport — that bubble of gun-free security. Or go to a major-league baseball game, or a stadium in the National Football League.

Our big league venues may be engaging only in security theater, as critics assert, but their owners don’t think so. They now mandate metal detectors to snag weapons, and most of them even ban off-duty cops from bringing guns to the games.


“Gun Free” zones are dangerous not because they only affect the law-abiding, but because…

Most gun-free zones, like the theater in Lafayette, La., are not gun-free at all. They have no metal detectors or screening — that would cost too much, the theater owners claim. Gun-free is a suggestion, and therefore a misnomer. Eventually, the more prosperous theaters in better communities will pay for metal detectors, further setting apart the two Americas in our age of mass shootings.

…they’re not intrusive enough?

In other words, the answer is “smothering, patriarchal government surveillance?”   Allowing the state to poke and prod and scan us all will keep us safe?

Not just the state, but its private agents – like our own Mall of America?

The Mall of America — more than 500 stores in four miles of retail space, drawing 40 million annual visitors to a climate-controlled part of Minnesota — is trying to be a gun-free zone. “Guns are banned on these premises” is the mall’s official policy…The mall has a security force of more than a hundred people. Yeah — I hear the joke about the feckless mall cops. But the Mall of America trusts them more than well-armed shoppers to protect people, as they should.

No mass shootings have happened at the MOA.  God willing, they never will.   But hey, the signs at the doors must be working!

Of course, Crosswinds Mall in suburban Omaha had signs, and mall cops, when a nutcase killed seven back in 2009.

So, for that matter, did the Clackamas Mall in Portland Oregon, on December 11, 2012 – three days before the Newtown massacre.  When a man with hundreds of rounds of ammunition came into the mall, opened fire and killed two…

…and looked down the barrel of Nick Meli’s Glock.   Meli – like dozens of other armed citizens too mundane for Egan to note – did what Egan believes impossible, or superhuman (unless you have a mall cop badge); he pointed his gun at the killer.  Who, like most spree killers when faced with armed resistance, deflated; he turned, walked into The Gap, and shot himself.

Will the Mall of America’s signs (which are legally not binding, although it’ll take an expensive test case to prove it) and cops and dogs do a better job of protecting the customers?  Well, here’s hoping.

So Timothy Egan’s message is clear; the police state will set you free.  Well, not “Free” in the “life liberty happiness” sense of the term, but free from being killed off by deranged madmen.


Well, wrong.

Very, wrong.

So wrong, light leaving right won’t reach us until we’re long dead.

Bend Over, Citizen: Part I – Our Ignorant Priests Of Knowledge

Having been one level of activist on the Second Amendment or another for thirty years now, and having seen how far the issue has moved since the mid-eighties – when the Second Amendment seems to be on the ropes – it’s almost tempting to fall into a bit of complacent triumphalism.  This past twenty years has been one of the most impressive grass roots political campaigns in American history.  It’s also given us the class war that the left has always been predicting – in inverted form; the gun grabbers are overwhelmingly drawn from society’s lotus-eating NPR-listening Subaru-driving patricians; the bulk of the Human Rights camp is mainstreet, blue-collar and middle-class Real America.

But the temptation can’t be indulged too long; the bad guys are still out there, and they still have the media for their mouthpiece.   There were two notable calls for more gun control in the big media last week, ranging from the historically ignorant to the hysterically demented.

Continue reading

Doakes Sunday: Accessories

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Story makes the point the woman in the car who survived because she was wearing her seatbelt (politically correct), whereas the motorcycle riders who died were not wearing helmets (politically incorrect).


Completely missed the point that she had a stop sign, stopped for it, then pulled out in front of the motorcycle.  She caused the accident.  She killed those men, not their helmets or lack thereof.


Joe Doakes

Narratives gotta get narrated, dammit.

Austered The Wrong Way

To: National Public Radio News

From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant

Re: Terminology

Dear NPR:

Over the weekend, while listening to one of your news programs, I caught a story about skilled workers emigrating from Portugal. 

Your story announced that the Portuguese economy was “recovering from austerity”

Austerity was not the problem. Or, rather, austerity was, at most, a symptom; The disease was unsustainable government spending, that sapped the vitality of the private sector economy.  

Unrestrained spending on things like lavish pensions, cradle to grave welfare, a government workforce that displaces private enterprise, and yes, public broadcasting, committed governments to endless, crippling spending that, when the economy goes south, cannot be sustained.  

See that we don’t make this mistake again, shall we?

That is all.

The Mitch

To: the Gullible

From: Mitch Berg

Re:  Trump

I will close the borders, and make sure every American company that is illegally employing illegal aliens pays for it.

I will also get the economy humming so good, the minimum wage will be irrelevant. And I will do it all on my way to my third date with Jennifer Lawrence.

There. I’ve just done everything Donald Trump is doing; talked a bunch of big promises I’ll never have to deliver on, but that will get people to talk about me.

The only difference? I don’t have a mainstream media simultaneously obsessed with my celebrity and using me to wedge the party that they want to see out of power again.

I hope we’re clear on this, now.

That is all.

Gaps Plugged By CGI

It’s been 11 years, and Dan Rather is still living in a special little world all his own, where unicorns bring credibility down from the skies:

The film, which is set to open in October, tells the story of Rather’s infamous 2004 report on George W. Bush that alleged Bush’s father had pulled strings to keep his son in the National Guard in a bid to avoid service in Vietnam. Rather says the film pulls no punches:

“The nuanced, not preachy, script makes clear our report was true. Facts can’t be denied. But today it’s more about big corporations having big power than about truth. Bush was up for re-election. Sumner Redstone wanted him re-elected and would have his news division do what he wanted. What develops is the habit of pulling back, working from fear.”

In Hollywood, I’m sure Rather’s “evidence” is true enough.

The Only Real Question Is…

…what kind of pollyanna-ish rock have the other 30% been hiding under for the past fifty years?

The “First Amendment Center” – a media puff center – survey shows 70+% of America believes the media is biased:

The 2015 State of the First Amendment Survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center and USA Today [shows] that only 24 percent of American adults agree with the statement that “overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias,” while 70 percent disagree.

When the question was asked last year, 41 percent agreed, a 17-point difference.

“These are discouraging results for those of us who have spent our careers in journalism,” Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today on Thursday. “In 23 years in newsrooms, I saw consistent and concerted efforts to get stories right. Clearly, the public’s not convinced.”

Ken Paulson must think people are idiots.

One can get a story right, and still be intensely biased.

This blog gets the stories right (within the limits imposed by writing a blog that is not a full time job) – but there’s no mistaking my bias.  If you are a liberal reading this blog, you are confronted (if you’re not an idiot) by the fact that the facts have a conservative, free market, pro-liberty bias – and I’m going to make sure you read them.

Bias needn’t be a bad thing – when you read European newspapers, you know which side they’re on, and can judge them based on whether they get the facts straight.

American media are not only biased, but often get way too many facts wrong – or fail to present relevant facts – entirely on political grounds.

You can “get the facts straight”, and still only present the sliver of the story that makes sense for your agenda.  It’s basic rhetoric.

And CNN, CBS, the Strib and NPR all do it.

So what are that other 30% smoking?

A Tiny Jolt Of Humanity (UPDATE: Well, No)

While listening to the droning, self-important, sonorous, dolorous thrum of National Public Radio news the other day, a brief, almost strobe-light-like flash of levity, of playfulness, of fun leaked through, as refreshing as the first shoot of springtime flowers jutting out from beneath the thawing ground; one of NPR’s newscasters, one of their weekend female anchors, has apparently chosen the air name “Whizzer Johnston”.  Like some kind of starting pitcher for the Red Sox from the fifties.

I’m still smiling, thinking about it. What a wonderful choice!

The world is not such a bad place, after all.

UPDATE: I’m told her name is Windsor Johnston. Good Lord – we’ve gone from the best NPR name ever to the worst inside of two paragraphs.   Why not “Shoshonna Gaia-Cohen”, for crying out loud?

Oh, well. And so we trudge on.

Shot In The Dark: Banned By The Man!

Apparently I’m a one-person trigger warning!

A longtime friend of this blog emailed:


I thought you might find this interesting. For the mornings this week, I’m camped out on the second floor of the MacPhail Center for Music, while my kiddo attends a harp class. (I’m hoping she takes an interest in something much less expensive, such as ukulele, for which she has a class in July.)

After a while, kids’ music all sounds the same.

I digress:

Sometimes I’ve used my cell phone service for an Internet connection, sometimes I use the MacPhail Wi-fi. I just tried to go to SITD, and got this message instead: Redirecting you to Barracuda Web Filter.

I was able to get to National Review and Powerline, so it’s not an anti-conservative thing. I didn’t see any “bans guns on these premises” sign when I have entered, but perhaps “shot” is just too … violent, ya know?

[Name Redacted]

I suspect it’s mostly my music reviews.