02.25.2011 02:00 PM
McAdams On: When News Misses the Point
REGULATIONNARNIA, APPARENTLY: I happened to catch the “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” this week and was dumbfounded by one story that passed for legitimate national news. The piece involved a phone conversation between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and a man he assumed was a wealthy supporter.

The call came amid Walker’s bid to bust the public employee unions, which has raised protests in Madison and acrimony in the state assembly. Unions once represented recourse for the type of industrial abuses epitomized by Upton Sinclair’s exposé of the meat-packing industry in 1906. A modern-day workforce reliant on contributions from a largely overworked and underpaid tax base is bound to garner slightly less sympathy. And so it appears in Wisconsin.

I have for years considered charges of a “liberally biased” news media to be a manifestation of critical intolerance. There is certainly enough ranting on both sides to go around, it seems. With some exceptions, the larger news organizations still seem to aim for straight news.

So it surprised me first of all to read that Mr. Williams segued into the Wisconsin protest story with a comparison to the citizen uprising in Egypt. Maybe an intern is writing transitions at NBC, though someone should have caught that one. The
report about the phone conversation is less explicable. Walker received a call from a “journalist” impersonating David H. Koch, a Libertarian billionaire philanthropist industrialist. The guy leads Walker into a conversation about the unions in which the governor is heard saying, “this is our moment. This is our time to change the course of history.”

Not exactly evocative of a hand-wringing fat cat waving a cigarette smoker, that. It sounds a bit more like a man unsure to whom he’s speaking. The piece wraps with the impersonator, Ian Murphy of the zine “Buffalo Beast,” telling Walker he’ll “fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.” Walker, in a sort of polite but noncommittal tone simply says, “All right; that would be outstanding.”

The story is framed as if the exchange proves nefarious motives on Walker’s part. It makes no mention of a so-called “journalist” impersonating someone on a phone call being recorded unbeknownst to the called party. Recording a phone call without the consent of everyone on the call is illegal in several states and carries federal wire-tapping implications. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not one of them, and neither is New York, where the “Beast” is based.

Murphy’s tactic may have been within the law, but nowhere in the arena of journalistic integrity. That a seasoned journalist like Brian Williams refers to it as
  “prank” phone call is unbelievable. That NBC based a report on something so inappropriate and underhanded is truly amazing, if not downright irresponsible.

The American public deserves a lot better from the guy who sits at one of the biggest news anchor desks in the world, and from an organization with more resources at its disposal than Solomon. The piece was a nut-shell illustration of why the public is so utterly distrustful of the news media. Let’s hope it was an anomaly that provoked serious organizational self-examination at NBC News.

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Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sat, 02-26-2011 02:05 PM Report Comment
Looks like a lot of these comments miss the point as well. It's clear McAdams takes no political ken here, which only adds a level of irony to the title.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sun, 02-27-2011 03:23 PM Report Comment
I've been wondering when this "gotcha" piece would get it's conservative spin, and I guess this article is that spin. Mr McAddams can say that he's "shocked I tell you to find there is..." no news story here - but that has been the norm for decades. Why else are we bombarded on the nightly news with the doings of celebrities, as well as advertisements for products masquerading as news? The reporter did his job, and managed to pull some real nuggets out of Walker regarding his relationship with the Koch brothers. And Mr McAddams can describe these folks as "philanthropists" if he wishes - what billionaires are NOT philanthropists? how else to get major tax breaks on millions of dollars? But the Koch Brothers are much more than "philanthropists" or "industrialists" - their money has fueled the Conservative Movement for decades, mostly under the radar because few news organizations were willing to out them, and take on their very heavy hand. Thanks to "citizen journalists" the Kochs and a lot of other political donors, left and right, have been put on notice - you will be outed; and the politicians who shill for you will have the same fate.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sun, 02-27-2011 03:32 PM Report Comment
this is because Brian Wilson is just a pretty boy who does not need too many brain cells working, like most news and phoney news; consider the blonde bimbos on FOX News in general is CRAP; this is how a dead blonde bimbo dies and EVERY phoney news in American spends days, weeks, thousands of hours on CRAP
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sun, 02-27-2011 08:02 PM Report Comment
Brian Wilson is a Beach Boy.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 11:55 AM Report Comment
Nice Observation McAdams ! No Right or Left here.....that was poor judgement all around. Just report the news folks.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 12:39 PM Report Comment
I, like Ms McAdams used to think charges of bias were a bit overblown. But why did CNN make such a big deal out of the 'American-supplied' tear gas that Mubarek used in Egypt, but did not mention where the Libyan jets that are bombing civilians come from? They are likely Mirage jets from France. So to CNN it matters if the US supplies a thug with non-lethal means to manage protest, but it does not matter if Europe/Russia supply thugs with lethal things. The Egyptian tanks were Russkie methinks, as well, but that was not mentioned ... just that awful tear gas from Pennsylvania. So I am sad to admit that the worm has turned-journalists have become cheerleaders/thugs, and most are for the left. This is just an observation about why few actually watch CNN and other 'traditional' media these days. Bias can be smelled a mile away. The other classic example is Herman Caine (black successful business guy) showing up to rock-star receptions at Tea Party ralliesthey love him. Has this been covered on CNN, or not? I know it goes against the media narrative that the Tea Party is racist/bigot/thugs ... so coverage is minimal or non-existent. My perspective is someone who flips between Fox and MSNBC. Most Fox conservative opinion shows have the left represented as well; hard to say the same for Olberman when he was onit was him agreeing with Time/Newsweek guys or that Brit guy with big ears that stick out ... boring TV that gives 1 side. Maddow is too snarky for my taste ... and she makes no effort to show both sides. That's fine, just don't complain about Fox. Sometimes complaining about Fox is 25% of an MSNBC show ... nothing I want to watch. Fox does the same, just a lot less ...
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 03-01-2011 02:18 AM Report Comment
The name finally rang a bell. I was watching Nova tonight. Guess what, it's that supremely evil right wing anti-government extremist who bankrolls the best series PBS ever had: David H. Koch.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 01:37 PM Report Comment
This phony phone call play has been run several times now against various politicians. When will they get wise and devise some sort of authentication procedure so the bogus callers don't get the target on the line?
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 03:10 PM Report Comment
Um... But Mr. Koch's involvement in this was the same as that of the Japanese military in the Battle of Los Angeles, sixty-nine years ago tonight. It all happened without their participation, or even their knowledge. ;-)
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 03:40 PM Report Comment
The six o'clock "Jerry Spinger" show... it's on every network channel.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 05:26 PM Report Comment
"The call came amid Walker’s bid to bust the public employee unions, which has raised protests in Madison and acrimony in the state assembly." Bust the union? Is that fully accurate? What about the bias in this item?
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 05:32 PM Report Comment
The villain in Sinclair's meat-packing industry was private owners, but the voters/taxpayers are the fatcats being fought by public unions.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 07:40 PM Report Comment
While what you describe may cover the legality of RECORDING the call in NY and WI, there may be a catch when it comes to BROADCASTING such a phone call. I first heard some bits of the call on a CBS Radio Network feature broadcast over KCBS 740 AM, and it's simulcast on 106.9FM. You report that some clips were heard on an NBC News broadcast. What laws cover the broadcast of such a call as this, and what should US broadcast licensees—including those who carried the CBS Radio feature and NBC Nightly News anticipate should the Gov. of Wisconsin decide to press legal action?
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 07:47 PM Report Comment
OK Let's take Mr. Koch and Governor Walker out of this equation. Create a story story about two ducks walking and talking and having this exact same conversation. I'm sorry sir. I'm afraid you don't want to see the forest for the ducks.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 08:25 PM Report Comment
I agree that it's sad that Fox "News" has started us down this slippery slope.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 02-25-2011 08:28 PM Report Comment
If McAdams thinks that "with some exceptions, the larger news organizations still seem to aim for straight news", the Brian Williams piece must have been the first thing he's watched in decades.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sat, 02-26-2011 05:17 AM Report Comment
Hmm, well I can imagine that you wouldn't be all up in arms if this were exposing a "liberal" politician. I know you don't want to hear this, but if you count all the right-wing radio and TV stations, including the Rush Limbaughs and all the Christian stations, you have almost a total monopoly on reasons to elect Republicans. We're rapidly becoming a country that is like a dictatorship: Only one party can be elected, or the airwaves become volatile. Bring your guns to get rid of the bad liberals.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 02-28-2011 11:17 PM Report Comment
Actually, you missed the point. First of all, journalism has been dead for about two decades. As a former video-journalist [from the school of Cronkite for over twenty-eight years] the media is and has been more favorable to corporations for at least the past ten years. Facts don't matter; hell look at Fox! The fourth estate has let America down in more ways than this comment section will allow me to express. Today, the radio waves belong to ultra conservatives. They truly control what Americans get to hear on "traditional" media outlets. So stop pretending you're so "shocked" by the lack of journalism. To the person who thinks Fox is actually doing a better job balancing their panels and information than MSNBC you realy don't have a clue. I worked at Fox for approximately nine years [prior to their becoming the ultimate garbage dump that they are today] and I can tell you there isn't much truth coming from that propaganda machine [i.e. Beck, Hannity, good old Bill and the other usual suspects]. To the person commenting on the "one black guy" loved by the Tea Party. Big deal. Tokens have always existed in the elite sectors of America. They are used to the hilt, just like having "one black friend" soothes a bigot's conscience. Clarence Thomas is a perfect example of the "one black friend" syndrome. Why didn't he and Scalia recuse themselves from "Citizens United?" "The media" didn't come close to airing Thomas and Scalia's unconscionable act(s) to the extent the fake Acorn "sting" and a host of other alleged legitimate "stories" promoted by Fox. Relative to the "prank" call on Gov. Walker, he revealed a tiny part of the Republican playbook during his disgusting chat with the fake "wealthy supporter." I'm no fan of Brian Williams', but I'm glad someone in the so-called mainstream media picked up on what old Scotty is up to. We have a very

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