Oklahoma Media Watch

San Francisco Journalist Visits OKC

On Saturday, I met Rose Aguilar, a San Francisco journalist now in Oklahoma writing stories about our state and its people. You need to read her insightful pieces on the site Stories in America for a different and much-needed perspective about Oklahoma and its political scene. Her writing is as respectful as it is illuminating.

Aguilar is on a tremendous red-state tour, leaving what she calls her “liberal bubble” to talk to people in the places that voted overwhelming for President George Bush last election. She has or plans to also visit Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Montana, Utah, and other red states.

Here in Oklahoma, she has written about the legendary Clara Luper (this is a great piece), state churches, progressive protesters she encountered on the street one day, and Vietnamese American Baptists.

She has also interviewed members of at least one local Republican organization, and she was on her way to Muskogee Saturday afternoon.

Aguilar interviewed me and Green Party leader and local progressive activist James Branum at the Back Door Coffeehouse in Oklahoma City on Saturday morning. Aguilar is a wonderful interviewer and a committed, independent journalist who is trying to understand the political dynamics of red states like Oklahoma.

Her project is admirable and fascinating. It breaks stereotypes even as it builds bridges between diverse communities in the places she visits.

Many of the questions Aguilar asked me dealt with Oklahoma’s political scene and how religion plays a major role in shaping the state’s political reality. She also ask me about my stance as a liberal or, dare I utter the forbidden phrase, “a secular humanist,” (no gasping, please!) in a state known for his fundamentalist religious views.

I do not know if any of my comments will make it into her project, but I want to assure regular Okie Funk readers I told her Oklahoma was home to thousands of pro-choice liberals who think U.S. Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe are right-wing freaks who consistently embarrass the state. I even jokingly suggested progressive Oklahomans and other progressive red-staters should start a new “Sorry Everybody” campaign for coastal liberals.

On a more serious note, I also argued that coastal progressives need to continue to validate and help all of us who are working in the trenches here to stop the conservative juggernaut. Aguilar’s project is a perfect example of this

Branum and I talked about cultural stereotyping faced by Oklahomans when they travel to larger urban areas in the country because of our regional dialect, and we debated how much influence the cultural wedges issues such as abortion and gay marriage have on the Oklahoma politic scene.

Branum, a tireless champion for the Green Party and progressive issues in the state, and I talked about bringing together both religion leftists and secular leftists to protest the Iraq war and to work on other moral and value issues.

It is well worth it to check out Aguilar’s work.

Old American Century Poster

In a somewhat related issue, the Democratic National Committee, under the leadership of Howard Dean, recently created some new staff positions for the Oklahoma Democratic Party. These positions, all filled by Oklahomans, will be completed funded by the national Democrats

Let us hope Aguilar’s visit and the national Democrats interest in our state are the start of a trend in which progressives start dealing with the conservative juggernaut here in the middle of the country.

Aguilar’s writing can help reconfigure cultural stereotypes about this region of the country as it shows the diverse philosophical and political views of people who live here. And Dean is a doctor, of course, so he should know as well as anyone that to remove a cancerous tumor you need to cut and scrape it out from its center. The new staff positions will help perform this “operation.”

We need to continue to show Oklahoman conservatives how progressive moral values reflect their own values and will secure a decent future for their children.


Oklahoma Media Watch Debuts

The purpose of this new blog is to monitor and report on the conservative slant of the media in the Oklahoma City area. Today, I am launching a new blog, OK Media, which will be part of the Okie Funk: Notes From The Outback group. The purpose of this new blog is to monitor and report on the conservative slant of the media in the Oklahoma City area. It aims to hold publications such as The Daily Oklahoman or television news programs such as Oklahoma City’s Fox affiliate accountable to facts and fairness. This blog is created in the tradition of Media Matters, which monitors the press on a national level.

I also envision OK Media as a place for liberals and progressives to discuss strategies to counter and fight against the conservative bias in our local media.

Over the last two decades, the press has become increasingly conservative as the so- called mainstream media (MSM) has found itself competing with and sometimes imitating the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly. There is a logical fallacy within media discourse today that readers, viewers, and listeners want their news with a conservative slant. That is simply not true. People want fairness. What the conservatives do is distort facts or cherry-pick facts as they present themselves as fair. In fact, publications such as The Oklahoman always present news from a slanted position.

Conservative news is inexpensive to produce because it is one-sided. Reporters or commentators do not have to research material or present different sides to an issue. That would take more people and money.

In our market, The Oklahoman, for example, continues as an example of right-wing extremism. The local news program on Oklahoma City’s Fox affiliate, owned by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, has come under repeated attack for its conservative bias. Local talk radio primarily caters to the right-wing.

So I need your help in two ways. (1) Please post your critiques on this blog about particular local news media outlets or “personalities” that I write about, and (2) help me expose the extreme conservative bias in the local media by giving me suggestions and ideas for blogs. I will post new OK Media blogs on a sporadic basis, so please check back often. My main blog, Okie Funk, will be published on a more regular basis.

So OK Media’s launches its inaugural blog by featuring Mike McCarville, who hosts a 4 to 6 p.m. show on local KTOK radio.

McCarville is an right-winger in the tradition of Rush Limbaugh. He blends hucksterism (he transitions from commentary to selling products and service) with clichéd, Republican talking points. He often talks to the stations news reporters during his show. All of them engage in liberal bashing that takes on an almost surreal quality as McCarville hawks his products during extended interludes that blur the line between his show’s content and advertising. His show is very boring, of course, and it would be laughable, except for the fact that some people apparently listen to his mediocre drivel.

Here is how inane and boring and sanctimonious it gets. In a recent show, McCarville noted how it was great that the two Super Bowl teams had patriotic names, the Eagles and the Patriots. Essentially, he argued, you could not go wrong rooting for either team because they somehow symbolized America because of their names. How ridiculous, boring, absurd, and asinine, but it is this type of seemingly harmless banter that creates a conservative “ambience” for McCarville’s entire show.

In addition, here is how McCarville describes himself on the KTOK website:

“I pledged almost nine years ago we'd engage in civil discourse, respect each other, and I'd treat you like I expect to be treated: Put your feet under my table, have a cup of coffee, and let's talk. It's what I call the Rush Limbaugh Model. Rush honed such conversations to a fine point during his learning years, and he has excelled because of that. He is, truly, the man who saved AM radio and who is its major star today. Another fine example of civil discourse is Fox News' Sean Hannity, an engaging guy who has had an incredible ride in television and talk radio. . . .”

Right. Rush Limbaugh, a bigot, a former drug addict, the man who called the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal “good ol’ American porn,” engages in civil discourse? Give me a break. That, my Funko Heads, is an glaring example of how McCarville is married ideologically to the extreme right in this country.

McCarville is a humorless simpleton, a Limbaugh/Hannity wannabe. He regurgitates the conservative mantra in goose step style as he sells his products and slants the news with KTOK’s itsy bitsy news staff. People visiting our city who come upon his show by accident must be appalled. His show tells them that Oklahoma City is not a place for thinking people.