The Daily Oklahoman Attacks AARP

A shameless editorial today (February 22, 2005) in The Daily Oklahoman attacks the American Association of Retired People for its logical opposition to George Bush’s plan to destroy the country’s Social Security system.

In one of those weird twists of logic unique to the newspaper’s editorialists, the editorial calls the AARP “hypocritical” because it offers deals on mutual funds for its members. Titled, “Hypocrisy? AARP straddles Social Security furor,” the editorial cites a right-wing columnist, James K. Glassman, who hands the immoral newspaper its GOP talking points for the day.

The editorial cites the columnist’s argument that “ . . . AARP is talking out of both sides of its mouth, because while the organization is busy trashing Bush's private accounts plan, it offers its members investment opportunities in 38 mutual funds from which it receives a financial cut from each sale.”

There is simply no logical disconnection between AARP trying to protect the country’s main retirement system and also encouraging a plurality of investments for its members. The AARP is not taking an anti-investment or anti-business position in the debate. It is not taking an anti-Bush stance. The organization simply wants to ensure the solvency of Social Security.

In addition, the person writing the editorial had to be aware of these two facts: (1) Glassman is connected to the conservative think tank, The American Enterprise Institute, and (2) a group connected to the mudslinging Swift Boat liars are planning a coordinated and highly funded campaign to attack the AARP. (Here's a recent ad that was pulled suddenly and picked up by a fellow blogger.) Undoubtedly, the editorial writer deliberately chose to omit these two crucial details because The Oklahoman will not argue its positions truthfully.

The editorial is part of an coordinated GOP attack on the AARP, but do not hold your breath waiting for The Oklahoman to acknowledge its rhetorical deceit and immoral position as it participates in the coming onslaught against the organization. There is no debate on the The Oklahoman’s editorial page, only a consistent cacophony of distortions, attacks, and right-wing propaganda that serve the money interests of the filthy rich Gaylord family and nothing more.

Oklahoma’s elderly need to be warned not to take their cue on the Social Security debate from the coming immoral hectoring on the pages of The Oklahoman, once dubbed “The Worst Newspaper in America.” Watch for local articles disguised as “objective journalism” that attack the AARP and more editorials that omit and distort information about the Social Security issue.

Please help me warn Oklahoma’s elderly about The Oklahoman’s insidious campaign to help George Bush destroy Social Security, which does not face an immediate funding crisis.


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.


Oklahoma Farmers Suffer Under Bush

The Republican Party’s continuing attack on Oklahoma farmers and the state’s rural communities are reflected in President George Bush’s proposed budget that would severely cut farm subsidies.

The cuts will hasten the slow death or steady decline many state’s rural communities now face because farm income will be lost and thus related jobs will be lost. More Oklahoma family farms are sure to go out of business. Local businesses in farm communities will close. The infrastructure of many small, state towns will continue to erode.

(Meanwhile, our country’s food supply will be endangered, but I will address that later.)

It is no coincidence that just as President Bush announces warfare against rural America the Oklahoma House Republicans have revived their intention to close schools in rural sections of the state, though one state legislative proposal—sponsored by the GOP—to do so has apparently been withdrawn for the moment. It is sure to come back without media scrutiny. (In other words, The Daily Oklahoman or The Tulsa World will not report it until after the fact.)

What has happened here is that Oklahoma rural voters have been duped once again by the Republicans. The GOP ideology is to redistribute wealth to the richest people in our culture. The conservatives could care less if a family farmer in Hydro or Elk City or Idabel goes out of business; in fact, attacking family farms has been an insidious part of the GOP agenda since the early 1900s.

Under Bush’s plan, all farm payments will be cut by five percent. In addition, payment ceilings will drop from $360,000 to $250,000. Other “loopholes” (that’s GOP language) will be closed that cut even more from Oklahoma farmers.

The president of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, Jeff Krehbiel, has come out against the cuts (The Daily Oklahoman, February 11, 2005), and surely other state farm organizations will follow.

The problem here is that Oklahoma voters and many other red-state voters supposedly handed George Bush and his party a mandate. You would think the president would reward his so-called “base”of voters, but Bush’s only real base is made up of rich elites with ties to huge multi-national corporations, not hard-working family farmers in Oklahoma or Kansas or Nebraska or Missouri.

Rich Oklahoma City oil executives, for example, are getting richer by the day. Look at the profit margins for oil companies under the Bush administration.

I have been arguing for years that Oklahoma voters now vote against their own basic interests. The farm subsidy cuts and the school consolidation issue—both GOP-inspired—prove my point once again. Oklahoma voters need to cut through the Republicans’ nationalistic propaganda and fear campaigns and start paying attention to the current assault on our state.

We are all better off in this state when we have strong, rural towns and thriving, profitable farms.

But there is even a larger issue here with the farm subsidies, and that is the overall protection and quality of our country’s food supply. It is crucial we ensure we have enough food to feed everyone in this country. It is paramount we ensure our food is safe to eat. Food is also a security issue. Without an abundance of quality food, this country is weaker, not stronger. This is not hyperbole. This is not political. This is just plain commonsense.

Free, global markets are important, true, but making sure we always have enough food in this country to feed our children is even more important. The tension between these two arguments—open world markets and “food insurance” for America—can be adjusted and mediated. But we should never adopt the GOP idea that farm subsidies should be eliminated or cut drastically like the current Bush proposal. That would be a national disaster.