Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE BRIAN WILLIAMS DRAMA SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT SORRY STATE OF JOURNALISM IN AMERICA


By Ronald T. Fox

NOTE:  This  post is a modified version of my previous commentary on the Brian Williams affair (Hypocrisy Reigns Supreme in the Brian Williams Drama).  I wrote it for my son's blog, Busch League Sports, for which I write a column as "The Professor." This version was not intended as a response to Charles Snow's earlier post.  I'm re-submitting it because I think this version provides greater clarity to the points I was trying to make.  In addition, the pictures my son added to the otherwise somber piece give it a refreshing humorous touch.  The new title better conveys my thesis.

 brian williams moon


There’s been widespread criticism of Brian Williams for his lie about a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a helicopter in which he was riding while covering the Iraq War in 2003, for which he has received a six-month suspension. (He told this story for years, but it only recently exploded into scandal.) Williams certainly deserves punishment for his falsehood, but there’s a bigger picture critique that should be part of the national discourse on the sordid affair. It runs to the very heart of the today’s mass media system. What I find more disgraceful than the Williams lie is his habit of injecting himself into the center of his story telling, a habit that has become all too common among celebrity journalists. I’m also disturbed by the hypocritical attacks he’s received from other mainstream journalists whose own records for truth leave much to be desired.

Friday, February 20, 2015

HYPOCRISY REIGNS SUPREME IN THE BRIAN WILLIAMS DRAMA

By Ronald T. Fox
   
Brian Williams Embellishes Katrina Coverage

NOTE: this commentary if being posted in response to my blogmate Charles Snow’s earlier post criticizing Brian Williams for making a false claim and NBC Nightly News for how it handled the scandal. (See What Would Walter Cronkite Say About Brian Williams and NBC?).  The current version is a revision of the original.

While I share Charles’ outrage about Brian Williams’ compromises with truth and how NBC Nightly News handled the affair, I think he’s missing the bigger picture. The issue is not just about Williams and the integrity of NBC Nightly News; it runs to the very heart of the mass media system. Truth and integrity, which guided the dissemination of news in the Walter Cronkite era, are no longer as highly valued as they once were. The driving preoccupation of our corporatized mass media today is to boost profits. This end justifies a multitude of means that years ago would have been unthinkable. Brian Williams, ironically an admirer of Cronkite, was skilled at creating drama by putting himself, at times seemingly in harm's way, at the scene of the event he was covering.  For this he won high praise from NBC’s corporate management, many of his colleagues, and, most importantly, his viewers. This meant high rating and hence more revenue for the network’s corporate owners.

What I find more disgraceful than the Williams lie is his habit of injecting himself into the center of the story he is telling, a habit that has become all to common among celebrity journalists.  I'm also disturbed by the hypocritical attacks he's received from other mainstream journalists whose own records for truth leave much to be desired.
 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

WHAT WOULD WALTER CRONKITE SAY ABOUT BRIAN WILIAMS AND NBC?

By Charles Snow  


Now the news is dominating the news! The absurd behavior of Brian Williams, and the way NBC Nightly News dealt with it, must have Walter Cronkite, the best TV news anchor of all time, rolling over in his grave. Obviously I can’t speak for Walter Cronkite, but I can use the lens of his self-assurance and integrity to analyze the Brian Williams situation.

Friday, February 13, 2015

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PATRIOTIC IN AMERICA?

By Ronald T. Fox   


One of the more serious, but as yet rarely discussed questions emerging from the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center is about the nature of patriotism.  Nearly all Americans believe they are patriotic, but there are vastly different interpretations as to what constitutes patriotism.   At its core, most would agree, patriotism involves love and devotion to the country, but there is wide disagreement as to what love and devotion means and what it requires of citizens. In America, there are two leading schools of thought on the meaning of patriotism:  one sees it as meaning unquestioned loyalty to the United States, the other as loyalty to our democratic principles and ideals. Let me say up front that I subscribe to the later interpretation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

PARENTS BEWARE: EVIDENCE FOUND OF POSSIBLE LASTING COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT FROM HEAD COLLISIONS IN YOUTH FOOTBALL

By Ronald T. Fox 


In my last post on the issue of head injuries in football (Changing the Culture of Football), I wrote about a class-action lawsuit filed by parents of an Illinois high school football player whose son still suffers from frequent migraines and memory loss after multiple concussions received while playing football. The suit cites the State of Illinois for deficient concussion protocols. In asking the Illinois State High School Association to strengthen rules regarding head injuries, it also strives to warn parents about letting their children play football at a young age. 

Noting that similar lawsuits targeting high school associations are pending, I predicted that “It’s probably just a matter of time before lawsuits emerge for youth leagues.” There now appears some evidence to support this possibility.

Monday, February 9, 2015

HEAD INJURIES IN FOOTBALL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

nfl domestic violence

by Ronald Fox


(This is Part III on head injuries in football)


Is there a connection between the brutality of football, and particularly head injuries, and the prevalence of player’s committing violence against women? At this point, we can only speculate. One thing is certain, however, the NFL has a vested interest in avoiding the subject. Given its shameful and probably criminal denial that concussions could leave permanent brain damage, and its tardy, insensitive, inconsistent and patronizing response to the issue of player domestic violence, it is extremely doubtful the league will launch a serious investigation of a possible connection between head injuries and acts of partner violence—at least as long as the revenue-driven, denial artist Roger Goodell remains commissioner.
 

CHANGING THE CULTURE OF FOOTBALL

By Ronald Fox  

NOTE:  Consider this Part IV of my series on head injuries in football.  The other three parts were: Head Injuries in Football: The NFL Fumbles, Head Injuries in Football: The NFL Finally Responds, and Head Injuries in Football and Domestic Violence.


In previous posts I wrote about lawsuits filed by pro and college football players against their leagues and associations for brain injuries incurred as a result of head collisions. The reach has now been extended to the high school level. A former high school quarterback is suing the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for not doing enough to protect players from concussions. This is the first case where legal action has been taken for former high school players as a whole against a group responsible for prep sports in a state. As injuries and lawsuits mount, perhaps football associations and leagues will finally get serious about changing the one thing likely to make the game safer: the way tackles are made.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

JANUARY 2015 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Tom Cotton (R-Ark). Cotton heavily played the fear-of-foreigners card in his recent election to the US Senate. Cotton warned of a murderous mass invasion by Islamic bogeymen often cited by the far right:

“Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.”

Here you have it. Mid-eastern jihadists are drooling about taking over Hot Springs. The sad thing is many of his fellow right-wing senators actually hope to respond to this phony danger by enacting anti-immigrant, anti-Latino legislation. They believe the 2014 election gave them a mandate to do so. And these people are senators?