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Headline Nation: Making Sense Of The News

Navigating the news. We live in a torrent of headlines. We’ll get a philosopher’s guide to sorting it all out.

A stack of newspapers. (Flickr / Jon S)

A stack of newspapers. (Flickr / Jon S)

The news is everywhere.  The news is too much.  The news is not serious enough, not factual enough, not contextual enough.  Everybody has an opinion about the news.  Fox News, celebrity news, “lame-stream media.” Alain de Botton has written about sex and travel and Proust and philosophy.  Now he’s writing about news.  A kind of philosopher’s take on what we’re getting and not getting.  How we’re overwhelmed and under-nourished by the news.  How the news can power a democracy, or cut it down.  This hour On Point:  We’re thinking through, getting meta, on the news.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Alain de Botton, philosopher, essayist and documentary producer. Author of “The News: A User’s Manual.” Also author of “Art As Therapy,” “How To Think More About Sex,” “Religion For Atheists” and “A Week At the Airport.” (@alaindebotton)

Lisa Tozzi, news director for BuzzFeed. Former deputy editor for the New York Times. (@lisatozzi)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Huffington Post: The Difficulties Of Consuming News — “Much of what we now take for granted as news has its origins in the information needed by people making major decisions or at the center of national affairs. We still hear the echoes in the way news is reported; timing is assumed to be critical, as it really would be if we were active agents. If you don’t have the latest update, you might make a terrible blunder or miss a wonderful opportunity.”

The Observer: “The News: A User’s Manual” by Alain de Botton – review – “De Botton can be infuriating as well as stimulating. He pronounces from a philosopher’s lofty chair. He does nothing you could call probing research. He merely analyses what he sees – and that can be naively obvious. He wants fewer bare facts in The News and more context and explanation. Fairness and balance? They only make sense as part of an overarching narrative (which can also be called bias). Put aside the twists and turns of economic reporting. Seek economic understanding instead. Don’t make politics boring. And, while you’re struggling to do better, rediscover an abiding interest in foreign affairs. De Botton wonders plangently why Uganda is so sparsely covered.”

The Daily Beast: What is the News? Whatever Alain de Botton Thinks It Is – “If we are to believe de Botton, though, this decision isn’t ours to make. The average reader, he declares, is but an unwitting receptacle for media narratives. The news possesses ‘the power to dictate what our idea of ‘other people’ will be like.’ That’s right: dictate. ‘If we are regularly told that many of our countrymen are crazed and violent, we will be filled with fear and distrust every time we go outside. If we receive subtle messages that money and status matter above all, we will feel humiliated by an ordinary life.’ No, of course. ”

Read An Excerpt Of “The News” By Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton On The “Point” Of The News

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  • northeaster17

    Here is a headline that needs to be seen and dicussed….The National Academy of Science and the British Royal Society have determined it is clear that humans are causing climate change.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-worlds-top-scientists-take-action-now-on-climate-change-2014-2

    • Ray in VT

      Come on now. Are you really going to believe what some top scientific organizations are saying? ;)

      • HonestDebate1

        You should, you’d feel better. They say the models were wrong.

        • Ray in VT

          Sure. Some things were not well accounted for, and revisions are being made. However, we may be only buying ourselves time, and they back the scientific consensus, based upon the published research, that we are largely driving this.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “However, we may be only buying ourselves time”
            I don’t think you really meant that. We didn’t buy anything. The cake is baked.

            The big problem with this report is they bury the uncertainty in the science in the bowels of the report and overstate the certainty in the summary and Q&A.

            They would be better served if they were honest and upfront about the uncertainty in the science. The public can take it.

          • Ray in VT

            Correct. I really meant that we may only have more time than we once thought. Considering where the scientific community stands on this, and not the fringe of “skeptics”, I think that they likely stated things in line with the best assessment of the body of research available.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Take a gander at the Judith Curry link and see if you disagree. She is trying to get science community to honestly communicate the state of the science. Note she points to some positives. The APS is revisiting their statement given the reality of the latest science.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that the scientific community is honestly communicating the state of the science.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Who is honestly communicating?

            I think you are suffering a bit from confirmation bias. Dr. Curry is no kook skeptic. She is on a crusade to get the communication right because she believes it will help the scientific community in the long run. If you have an open mind I suggest you check out her blog.

          • Ray in VT

            The scientific community as a whole. The “skeptics” I do not include in that. I have looked at some of the things that she has said. I remain unconvinced as to your characterization of her position. I have my doubts.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            OK. I just hope you aren’t like don_b1 and relying on sks as your filter. Independent of her research I think her attitude on science is A+

            . btw – her blog is open. There are plenty of haters there. sks censors comments.

          • Ray in VT

            I have far more faith in Skeptical Science to accurately characterize the views of the “skeptics” as they relate to the current state of the science than I do the “skeptics” themselves.

            Maybe Skeptical Science has seen how belligerent the trolls can get and want to keep things both civil and accurate.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “belligerent the trolls can get and want to keep things both civil and accurate.”

            Wow. If you can’t debate the science you censor? WUWT allows warmists to spout their view of the science. They might be attacked but they won’t be censored unless it is clear they are hijacking. Dr. Curry has asked folks to be civil but it doesn’t look there is any censorship. sks has reputation for flat out censorship. Censorship is antithetical to science.

            Again, Dr. Curry’s site is approachable and very readable. Judge for yourself without the filter of sks.

          • Don_B1

            … unless it is clear they are hijacking.

            Not to mention that that is what you are trying to do here, just slightly less grotesquely than those censored on Skeptical Science.

            Where do you think that “reputation” comes from, because skeptics do post there when they are civil and do not keep repeating the same calumnies, like you do here. It is from complaints of posters who, if they are not just making their complaints up, like a lot of ideologues do, have made repeated posts making the same calumnies and why should they get the opportunity to litter a discussion forum with irrelevant and proven false ideas?

            But that is what you have been able to do here just about every day.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “Not to mention that that is what you are trying to do here”

            I thought I was having a conversation with Ray.

            And now that I know you’ve anointed yourself arbiter of everything appropriate and correct on this board I feel much better now.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Did I ever thank you for pointing me to the ScienceFriday discussing
            Hurricanes and ClimateScience? If not I want to thank you now. It was a
            microcosm of exactly the problem I have with alarmists and activists in
            the media and in science. Kevin Trenberth and Ira were continually baiting the Princeton scientist into taking the alarmist position. He would have none of it. He stuck what the science says and doesn’t say. I say Bravo!!!!

          • Don_B1

            Right, read some of Judith Curry’s work and if you have any understanding of climate science, you will start laughing. If you do not understand climate science, then go to a website like:

            http://www.skepticalscience.com/

            where you can put “Judith Curry” in the search box and find well over 10 posts totally eviscerating her work on climate issues.

        • Don_B1

          Who, other than you and the other trolls on this website, say “the models were wrong”?

          A computer model is never going to be accurate to the last decimal point, but as I pointed out on a previous post in another discussion, many of the predictions of the climate models are too conservative; e.g., they do not predict how big the impact of global warming and climate change will be:

          http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-scientists-esld.html

          For a discussion of what climate models actually do, see:

          http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/dec/19/climate-change-economic-models?CMP=twt_gu

          But this response is totally wasted on you, for you have no intention of learning anything here except possibly how to better confuse those with little real understanding of science and how it works.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Funny, my econometric expert friend said climate models are nothing like economic models. He felt that any comparison would be a sleight to his fine work.

          • Don_B1

            Econometric models are different, as should have been clear from the link, the difference being that econometric models make gross unrealistic assumptions to get around the difficulty in modeling human behavior, such as assuming perfect knowledge of what is happening in the economy.

            That is not a problem in climate science models, which are getting more and more accurate as new studies illuminate the more subtle effects of smaller climate forcings and feedbacks.

      • northeaster17

        With this crowd they sound like a bunch of flunkies.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Figgers. They ain’t even Americans!

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Nothing new. When they stick to the science they are good but when they divert to propaganda — not so much.

      There is more analysis at Dr. Judith Curry’s site.
      Part of her summary:
      “However, the stated goal was to make clear what is well established, where consensus is growing, and where there is still uncertainty. In this, they failed . The ‘more certain the ever’ is belied by the IPCC AR5 itself, as summarized in my recent Senate testimony. And their strategy of making overconfident answers to nearly all of the questions, then discussing the ‘uncertainty issue’ in a superficial way at the end of the report is flat out misleading, and will reinforce the public distrust of ‘establishment’ assessments of climate science.

      This report is an unfortunate step backwards relative to the IPCC AR5 itself, and the previous RS report Climate change: a summary of the science which I thought was pretty good.”

      http://judithcurry.com/2014/02/27/nasrs-report-on-climate-change-evidence-and-causes/#more-14804

      ” “Ultimately, [it is] rather ho-hum, and pretty redundant to everything else that is out there,” Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst and professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told NBC News in an email.”

      • Don_B1

        Judith Curry is one of the more discredited “scientists” working on climate science. See for just one example:

        https://www.skepticalscience.com/curry-ohc-corrections.html

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Discredited?

          What ever happened to bowing at the altar of peer review since she has published dozens of peer reviewed papers just in the last decade.

          You really have no shame.

          • Don_B1

            And what journals did her papers get published in?

            Not in journals that publish the real climate science story.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Complete BS.

            You really don’t understand what makes a healthy scientific method and process. You would much rather stifle research that doesn’t confirm your preconceived beliefs.

            Science is about finding the truth — not a preconceived outcome.

          • Don_B1

            I understand it a lot better than you do.

            You do understand it well enough to twist the scientific process to your advantage as you bore down into what every scientist will agree to, there there is never absolute certainty but ignore that that there is enough certainty in climate science to start doing what is necessary to mitigate the effects of burning fossil fuels and put the world on a strong path toward ending that way of generating energy.

    • OnPointComments

      Excerpt from the statement of ecologist Patrick Moore, Ph.D. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight – February 25, 2014

      “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.

      “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” “Extremely likely” is not a scientific term but rather a judgment, as in a court of law. The IPCC defines “extremely likely” as a “95-100% probability”. But upon further examination it is clear that these numbers are not the result of any mathematical calculation or statistical analysis. They have been “invented” as a construct within the IPCC report to express “expert judgment”, as determined by the IPCC contributors.

      “We do not know whether the present pause in temperature will remain for some time, or whether it will go up or down at some time in the near future. What we do know with “extreme certainty” is that the climate is always changing, between pauses, and that we are not capable, with our limited knowledge, of predicting which way it will go next.”

      • Don_B1

        Patrick Moore will say just about anything in his false campaign against burning fossil fuels for energy. See:

        https://www.skepticalscience.com/moore-2012.html

        If you believe him, I have 15 bridges over the East River that you also can buy, at a real bargain.

  • Bluejay2fly

    “Infotainment” that is what the news media has become and that is in its best light. Some organizations like Fox or MSNBC are just propaganda machines.

    • Don_B1

      And Fox News is bullying the rest of the media into following it. Which is not all that difficult, as the big media are all the time misusing their great power, groupthink, to take the whole discussion down the wrong path, as nicely shown in a Politico Magazine story:

      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/nick-kristof-academics-rebuttal-103786_full.html#.Uw9Y_fRdXpV

      Read and weep for the country!

      • Bluejay2fly

        I gave up on America when “Three’s Company” beat out “MASH” for best comedy. I consider most if not all the news useless gossip anyway. We have had “The News” for 200 yrs now and society is just as screwed up as it was before the news. Obviously, a big failure.

    • Ray in VT

      I think that they’re looking to draw in eyeballs and ad dollars. I think that much of the media have a bias towards the sensational, among possible other biases.

    • Keepinitreal50

      Infotainment is an apt description. Media is big business that happens to include “news” formats. Its core mission is to ensure revenues exceed expenses.

      • Don_B1

        The beginning of the end of good evening news was when CBS, ABC and NBC made their news organizations into “profit centers.”

        In the days of Edward R. Murrow, the broadcasters paid what was necessary to collect all the important news and recouped what advertisers would pay, and seldom did that cover the costs. it was considered part of the service that the broadcasters would provide for the use of the airwaves.

    • jpolock

      Big difference between those two. The former makes up things and reports falsehoods, while the latter points out those issues. But, true, both are corporate which is why you won’t find a lot of original and/or hard hitting news. And one must differentiate between the opinion shows and the news reportage.

  • Markus6

    I’ll try to listen to the program today, but after reading the excerpt, think I’ll be yelling at the radio for Mr. de Botton to get to the &*$! point for about ten minutes then drop off. He’s not a tenured professor? … now that is surprising. So, after reading the excerpt and the quotes on the reading list, I really don’t know what this is about, but am curious, so I’ll take a shot for a few minutes.

    • Bluejay2fly

      I have been so disgusted with Tom I find the message board a more genuine debate.

  • Shag_Wevera

    The pressure to sell and score ratings multiplied by the ignorance of so many Americans makes transmission of useful, unbiased news impossible.

    • Ray in VT

      A rather pessimistic view, I think, but one which has an ample amount of supporting evidence.

      • brettearle

        Do you appreciate “the NewsHour” and “BBC World News”?

        • Ray in VT

          I don’t watch the NewsHour, as I watch very little news on TV, but I do listen to the BBC sometimes. I like the BBC, and I find the outsiders view of America to be interesting.

          • brettearle

            Radio News, I think, if broadcast with integrity, can be more effective.

            It forces one to concentrate on ideas, in a more more focused manner, than when the visuals provide for stimulating, but distracting, `background.’

            Of course, “A picture is worth a…. “

          • Ray in VT

            I think that one of the drawbacks to TV news can be the reliance upon video and images, which can be distracting in some regards, although useful in others. Especially, it seems, in cable news there is the tendency to show the same footage over and over, whether or not it is really informing viewers on the matter.

            One could make a very similar argument with baseball on TV versus radio. I have heard baseball described as the only sport that one can see on the radio. Radio broadcasters have to describe what is going on, while on TV the broadcasters can let the pictures to the talking, and they sometimes drift off and talk about this and that. Sometimes it can be entertaining, but it does shift some focus away from the action of the game.

          • geraldfnord

            Sorry to jump on an hobby-horse, but I maintain that the image bypasses rational thought better than any other communications mode—on the Serengeti, there was little up-side and huge down-side to questioning what you saw, particularly if it were dangerous.

          • brettearle

            Good comments.

            Seems to me that BBC World News can sometimes have excellent field reports and reporters on location.

            Koppel’s “Nightline” surely did. I rue the day that the program was pulled.

            The “NewsHour” will take the same feeds, sometimes, that BBC does.

            Sometime, for my money, if you want to become steeped in what great TV broadcast journalism can be (although, of course, if you’re not a couch potato now, we don’t want you to become one), you can watch and listen to Margaret Warner, from “The News Hour”, when she’s roaming the world, for that program….

            Basketball Radio, with the right broadcaster, can also be compelling and vivid.

            Johnny Most was the soul of the Celtics.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — in addition, TV newsfotainment programs use color and graphics as manipulative devices.

        • Don_B1

          I do watch “The News Hour” (and occasionally BBC World News) and find it quite useful for understanding the thinking that goes on in Washington, D.C., but it occasionally, and too often on important science issues, does not step up to the plate on getting the real truth out.

          Paul Solomon often does a great job in explaining economics, but even he does not go far enough some times.

          • brettearle

            I like Solomon.

            But it seems to me that an appreciation of Economics is best understood with Print.

            And while Solomon’s diagrams and graphs can be instructive, I think that “The Economist” or NYT are better sources–in terms of digestion and comprehension.

            Because the Economy can be so complex, if not daunting, Print, I think, lends itself to greater facility, with this major topic.

          • Don_B1

            I don’t go to TV news for economics unless I want to grimace as they bolux it all up.

            The New York Times is a reasonable source for economic news, Economix being a worthy source for most of its contributors, but watch out for Mr. Mulligan, who needs to take a mulligan on most of his posts. It must be that good conservative economists are impossible to find, as Mr. Mulligan still thinks that 12 million workers just woke up on various days in late 2008 and early 2009 and decided to quit their jobs, but could get a job in a few hours if they wanted to.

            As for The Economist, it has been all too supportive of “austerity” for Europe and the U.S.

            But reading is definitely the best way to learn economics, because it really is hard! Once you get the concept, it doesn’t seem so hard, but there is a real threshold to get over, starting with the precept that when a big recession hits, individuals can legitimately decide to cut back on their spending because, if they have not already lost their job, they may be next, and so if the recession is big enough, a lot of businesses will also cut back on hiring, cut hours worked, delay the capital spending they were planning, etc. All this creates a lack of aggregate demand in the country’s economy.

            But a government is not a business or an individual, it can act for all when individually it is not in their individual interest to act, which means that government can restore the missing aggregate demand until the individuals feel that they can resume spending which will then carry the economy without government contributing anymore than normal before the recession.

            It all comes down to the statement that in an economy “My spending is your income and your spending is my income; if we both stop spending how do we increase our incomes?”

            And for that insight, you cannot do better than read Paul Krugman’s columns and blog at The New York Times, as well as Brad DeLong and jared Bernstein, both of whom write readable expositions on economics. Also Mike Konczal at the Next New Deal (Rortybomb), plus others I do not have time to include right now. I will try again later to give a longer list.

          • brettearle

            Well-envisioned.

            But I don’t know `Economix’.

            One thing, on the “NewsHour”, that I do not like, are the “NewsMaker” Interviews.

            They are precisely the opposite.

          • Don_B1

            The link to “Economix”:

            http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/

          • brettearle

            Thanx much.

        • HonestDebate1

          They talk funny on BBC.

          • brettearle

            You didn’t steal that from Stewart or Colbert, did you?

            [Just teasin']

    • John Cedar

      Do you have a list that ranks countries by ignorance, which rates Americans as exceptionally ignorant?

  • brettearle

    In a perfect world, I would like to see the BBC conduct a compulsory symposium, for all news operations, anywhere–so as to show the rest, how it can be done.

    Ratings be damned.

    If I had my druthers, I’d also call for BBC World News, on the Tube, to expand to 2 hours.

    As well as the same length, for any news topic, on the, “On Point” program.

    [And PBS/NewsHour Weekend, needs to expand to the same length, as its bigger brother–if not even longer broadcasts for both.

    But that, of course, calls for a major overhaul–and it is, therefore, asking for a lot.

    • jefe68

      Ask anyone in Scotland if they think the BBC is not biased and spreading misinformation about their upcoming referendum on independence. The answer you’ll get might surprise you.

      The news, like history can sometimes be skewed to favor one sides views. We Americans are sometimes taken in by that “Beeb” accent, which does sound so official.

      • brettearle

        So, do you think that the BBC’s integrity is as bad or worse, than anyone else’s?

        I do know–firsthand, for example–that broadcasters, from other news operations, respect the BBC.

        Is there any electronic venue that you respect, above all?

        • jefe68

          I’m saying that the BBC toes the line of English establishment.

          The BBC is a good new organization.

          I like the Guardian for online news.

          Bill Moyers has the best show on topics that I’m interested in and I watch it every week.

      • geraldfnord

        The BBC gave up R.P. over a decade back;most of the accents on it are demotic.

    • John Cedar

      A “perfect world” would not involve “compulsory” anything.

      The majority of Americans get their news from comedy shows, Oprah, Jenny McCarthy…because that content meshes well with their 13 years of public school indoctrination.

      • Ray in VT

        Considering the recent illustration of how a comedy show can easily get the facts on something as monumental as Abraham Lincoln right, and a “news” network can totally fudge it, one can easily see how those comedians and the “indoctrinated” audience has quite an edge some of the contributors, and likely many of the viewers, of a certain “news” network.

        It seems that some take great pride in holding and standing by views not supported by basic facts, while, at the same time, often ridiculing better informed people as “sheep” or being the victims of indoctrination.

      • nick_nick359

        I get my news from The Daily Show, or rather a pretty good idea of what is being promoted instead of dissected (Republicantalk). I don’t get it from NRP anchor news. Haven’t for a long time. When NPR achors began saying “Some say,” I said, “Oh lord.”

      • brettearle

        I may not have been clear enough:

        ‘Compulsory’ was used as subtle satire.

  • georgepotts

    In the words of someone I went to school with from China.

    “You don’t know what kind of people were at Tienanmen Square on June 4, 1989.”

    • Floyd Blandston

      Unless he was actually there, he knows as little about as anyone who followed the media reports in countries with open media- less if his knowledge came from local media.

  • georgepotts

    The FCC will be coming to news rooms to review their operations to understand how they deliver “Critical Information Needs.”

    Oops, they will not be knocking the doors of news rooms to ask reporters if they have been blocked from doing a story that supports the Obama administration’s “Critical Information Needs”

    Before the FCC cancelled it, I would believe that NPR passed their tests.

    http://www.fcc.gov/blog/review-literature-regarding-critical-information-needs-american-public

  • georgepotts

    Why is no one reporting on the Scopes trial of our times, Mann v. Steyn?

    • Don_B1

      That is a good question, but similar ones often should get asked about a lot of stories that Fox News does not report.

  • georgepotts

    How true are the stats that there are 10 times more people who are in Public Relations than there are reporters?

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Please comment on the corruption of the fourth estate. Propaganda organizations pose as news conduits. News organization don’t hold politicians accountable for actions and lies. The concentration of wealth and deregulation of news markets has allowed wealthy individuals to control media markets. With sensationalism have we become so desensitized that there is no shame in politicians even when the light is shined upon there hypocrisy, lies and betrayal of the public trust.

    • Don_B1

      Certainly reporters interviewing a politician even when they ask an initial hard question, they read the face of the interviewee and refrain from followups because they want an interview with that politician or another member of that party in the future.

      Reporters who ask hard questions often don’t get the next interview. Check out how many politicians go on The Rachel Maddow Show (I mean Republicans) after Rand Paul had his problems answering questions. There are the masochistic Republican campaign gurus who offer their minds for dissection, but not many others.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Did any of big 3 news networks report that Lois Lerner has asked for immunity from prosecution for her actions at the IRS?

    • georgepotts

      Lois Lerner has done nothing wrong. That is why she is taking the 5th until she gets immunity from what she did that was illegal, which she didn’t.

  • skelly74

    I get my news and current affairs from Family Guy, Tosh.O , and of course, NPR. This is all you need to find the truth between the lines…too serious?

  • Yar

    Today in 24/7 all channel fire hose of information, the most valuable member of the media is an editor. We have a shortage of good editors. Separating the noise from real information, we have to put our earplugs in so we can hear better.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      You make a good point. However, over-editing can (and does) lead to bias.

      • Yar

        Bias is part of each of us, accept our bias and even learn from it. Communication requires a point of view.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Very true!

          • Yar

            I get frustrated when the bias is tilted toward business. I have never seen a report of the lottery telling how many tickets were sold, the winner makes news, when the big story is the losers.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I’ve noticed that every big lottery jackpot story is now accompanied by a warning about the astronomical odds (like you are way more likely to be dating a super model than winning the lottery or the likelihood of being struck by lightening is also popular analogy). Thank God they are now disclosing the odds.

            On the flip side, I’ve heard the lottery described as a tax on the stupid. When you tax something you are supposed to get less of it. Right? Sadly, I’m not sure if it works in this case.

  • georgepotts

    I wish that American reporters would ask questions of politicians like the BBC. They do not ask things like, “Did you get yourself a hearty breakfast?”

    I heard Tom have some of that fire yesterday with the “three parent children” guests. He had not made up his mind and did a good job exploring the issue.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    We need more Justin Bieber stories. We are starved out here.

  • Rhett Cooper

    Proust is fine, but YOU have had among the greatest impacts on how I look at the world, Mr. Ashbrook!

  • georgepotts

    People think that if they walk to work, they will stop the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    They also think that the increase of carbon dioxide will cause world wide floods in the next 10 years.

    Al Gore got the Nobel Peace Prize for lying about global warming (now called climate change).

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      I sort of get the Nobel Peace prize thingy. After all, they gave Obama the Peace Prize before he did anything.

      However, please explain why the oil sheiks gave algore $500M.

      • georgepotts

        Al Gore only got $100 million from Current TV.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Shucks. I’ll cry a tear for him.

  • Coastghost

    News: the first draft of (not history but) myth.

    • Ray in VT

      Like the myth that southern secessionists weren’t motivated by wanting to preserve slavery?

      • Coastghost

        News is the first draft of myth because journalism is pleased to operate according to the premises of narration and story-telling, and these operating premises generally are ahistorical in thrust and formally discount historical contextualization.

        • Ray in VT

          So, history doesn’t involve storytelling? It seems to me that good history is often very good storytelling in the sense of telling the story of what happened, not of spinning a yarn that is without grounding.

          One can turn anything into a myth if one chooses, even facts if one so chooses.

          • Coastghost

            History does not entail mere storytelling nearly as much as its practice demands judicious editing.
            Journalism, by contrast, seems utterly immune to both editing and judiciousness, pleased as its practitioners are to let their preconceived narrative positions guide their newsgathering efforts and the details of their reporting. (“Facts” for journalists are obliged to conform to the narrative theories they operate with, “facts” are chosen and elucidated to conform with narrative perspective.)

          • Ray in VT

            Sure. It lacks editing and is merely a collection of preconceived notions based upon the biases of the reporters. Sure.

          • Coastghost

            Well . . . I did work for three years in a television newsroom as an associate producer and “news editor”. (NOT Fox, not CNN, not ABC, not CBS, and not PBS . . . .)

          • Ray in VT

            I grew up, and still work on, on a dairy farm. It doesn’t make me an expert on ag. policy. Maybe you just worked in a crummy newsroom if that is how the handled the news.

        • geraldfnord

          I think that this is so because the audience don’t want context, not having been taught to demand it—parents and teachers generally want the young just to accept what they’re told, often just because they’re pressed for time and energy.

  • SpeakTruth2

    Can your guest speak to the failure of the press when it comes to
    forming American opinion about the Iraq war? Now the Iran issues?
    What kind of information process is needed to give us truthful information?

    • georgepotts

      What about no one asking Obama where he was when the Benghazi attack?

      Also, did anyone ask Callie Crossley if she got information from the Obama camp knowing that the question of Benghazi and the cause being the YouTube video, but she had information that Obama used the word terrorism in the Rose Garden on Sept. 12th?

      • Ray in VT

        Still going to keep on beating the herd of dead horses that are the Benghazi conspiracies and “controversies”?

        • HonestDebate1

          We still don’t know where the President was that night. We still don’t know who was responsible for the talking points. No one has been fired for lying to the President about the video. Hillary was knee deep in it as head of State and she’s has Presidential aspirations. these things matter.

          But the real scandal is in convincing ideologues it was a phony scandal.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, just keep on pushing the phony scandals that Fox and the others have dreamed up. Don’t be bothered by the facts that your ideological blinders have so craftily deflected.

          • HonestDebate1

            Harry Reid says all the scandal are untrue.

          • Ray in VT

            The Faux and Rush pushed ones are. Its too bad that the real issues get passed over by those who want to smear the President with partisan lies.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Why aren’t the Dems embarrassed to have Reid as a leader? He is despicable.

            Biden is embarrassing but in a loveable sort of way. Reid is just nasty.

          • HonestDebate1

            I couldn’t agree more.

          • J__o__h__n

            He was at the IRS personally denying tax exempt status to right wing benevolence groups.

          • HonestDebate1

            Maybe, good point. I think he was passed out drunk. No one has asked. Is it too much to ask someone to ask? Maybe the answer would prevent some of these vicious rumors.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I think he was shooting hoops to blow some steam. After all he had a long flight to Las Vegas for a fund raiser the next morning. Check the WH logs for Arne Duncan and you’ll have your proof.

          • Don_B1

            Talk about false rumor promotion! You are a cornucopia of false rumors!

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s what happens when administrations clam up and are not transparent.

          • Don_B1

            And where did President Obama’s release of his birth certificate get him?

            There are those out there, apparently you among them, who just will not accept any level of detail if it does not accede to your ideology.

          • HonestDebate1

            I’m not a birther.

          • Ray in VT

            Is that one of the few right wing conspiracies in which you do not believe?

          • jefe68

            Indeed. That’s his m.o.

          • Don_B1

            Who do they want to be “benevolent” to?

          • Don_B1

            Most of the talking points that Republicans are complaining about came from General Petraeus who headed the C.I.A. at the time.

            Read the report.

          • HonestDebate1

            Petraeus said it was a terrorist attack. That part was removed. Why? It was the truth.

          • Ray in VT

            Patraeus also criticized not including the “Cairo warning”. The facts were unknown at that point, as most of Ambassador Rice’s comments reflected.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Does it bother you that the so called ‘independent’ investigation never interviewed one of the major players — the Sec. of State?

          It should if you use that as the case closer.

          Something stinks in Denmark

          • Ray in VT

            Given how the failures and decisions regarding security and such were well down the ladder from the Secretary of State, then it does not really bother me.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            And I bet it doesn’t bother you that Susan Rice was sent out as a spokes person? She was not a player. Where was Hillary? This was her 3am call to answer to the American people.

          • Ray in VT

            Not really. What Rice said was almost entirely in line with the then current assessments coming out of the CIA.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            That is debatable. Mike Morrel made the edits and we still don’t know why. He’ll be back to testify.

            Why was she chosen? She was at the UN. Why not someone from State? Someone from the WH? Someone from the CIA? All better choices but Hillary was the clear choice.

          • HonestDebate1

            Oh Please, we now know that is not true.

          • Ray in VT

            You are free to believe whatever lies you choose to believe. Being intentionally misinformed is perfectly legal.

            “Now, I want to get specific, because so many people have said, ‘So
            then why did Susan Rice go out and talk about protests? Why did she
            mention a video?’ But the CIA talking points, the very first draft that
            went out and was circulated, that Susan Rice ultimately was provided,
            that top officials ultimately saw, talked about a protest. They did. The
            CIA actually came out, I want to look at it here, and said this is a
            draft from September 14th, 11:15 am, ‘We believe based on currently
            available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously
            inspired by the protests at the embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
            direct assault.’ So, tell me, does that — does it or does it not answer
            the question about how our officials started to come out and talk about
            protests and the video?” – Megan Kelly.

          • HonestDebate1

            First of all, make up your mind about Fox. And then look at the questions. There was a reason for Rice to talk about protest because there were protest… IN CAIRO!
            And who cares if she mentioned the video? My problem is with her blaiming the video for Stevens death with certainty.

          • Ray in VT

            Hey, someone over there has to get it sometimes. Sure. Nothing suggested that the events in Cairo and the video had anything to do with the events in Benghazi, and certainly nothing out of the CIA suggested a link. It is funny how much focus is put on one of many comments that she made that day. Most of her comments certainly allowed for the leeway that should have been given. Interesting that you choose to ignore the bulk of her comments and harp on one. I also find it interesting that faulty intelligence spoken by a Democrat is a lie, but it isn’t when it is spoken by a Republican. DishonestDebate1 at its finest.

        • Floyd Blandston

          He’s just trying to ‘fair and balanced’. :D

  • ccbard

    This NPR station reported yesterday that “someone” pointed a laser at an aircraft. Why is this even reported? To incite fear? Or, anger at a child misusing a cat toy? How is this relevant?

    • ccbard

      “This station” meaning WBUR, Boston

      • Floyd Blandston

        No, it made National. Irrelevant, I agree. When reporters write the script for news, they work off the wire; if you’ve got an extra 15 seconds, you add ‘all the news that fits’.

    • geraldfnord

      I doubt any laser weak enough to be a safe cat toy would be strong enough to be noticed by or on an aircraft…there’s a reason S.D.I. as popularly imagined would still be a tough nut to crack.

      • ccbard

        Depends on altitude. Why is this reported is my point…

  • Bonnie Samuel

    “News” in America today is reflective of corporate mind shaping of a society, completely dumbing down. some good shows, such as yours, Tom, Democracy Now, Yes!Magazine, Another World is Possible and more. For at least better coverage of real news-things that really affect life- are out there, such as Al Jazeera, BBC, and many others from outside our borders. Until people turn off the noise, speak up loudly, well maybe it’s too late!

  • Ray in VT

    One must be careful when consuming news. For instance, many people believe that crime is much worse at present, when crime has fallen pretty significantly in America, pretty much across the board, over the past 20 years. I wonder if part of this perception is due to media consumption, given how the media often covers crime.

  • geraldfnord

    A fundamental distortion is induced by the ‘…bleeds/…leads’ incentive in the context of a nation of over three hundred millions and a world of about twenty times that—in statistical universes that large, you can find outliers corresponding to just about any horrorshow you think will get you an audience.

  • J__o__h__n

    The BBC shouldn’t have been dismissed. It is the best news. It is clear and concise. Even their entertainment interviews are skeptical and ask follow up questions. Almost all of the voices are clear except for occasional person who can’t pronounce Rs.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Good, certainly. I actually enjoy RT from time to time as well.

  • Yar

    We have to know if the DOW changed .001%? No we don’t!

    • adks12020

      That frustrates me beyond belief. Everyone that knows anything about the markets knows the daily fluctuations mean virtually nothing the average person. I’ve even heard that point acknowledged over and over on shows like MarketPlace, yet they still report it daily.

      • Floyd Blandston

        Marketplace is one of the certain signs IMO that NPR is no longer a fully credible and legitimate source for ‘news’.

    • Crozet_barista

      The worst part of the hourly NPR news blobs by this woman with the difficult name, repeating DOW numbers ad nauseum 3 times avery hour. Arrhgh

  • Crozet_barista

    Tom Ashbrook, you are being very annoying interrupting and countering the guest. Trying to be Bill O’Reilly?

    • Floyd Blandston

      Butthurt…

  • Greg Perkins

    Before the vast multitude of specialty TV channels on cable and satellite the FCC regulations required ALL stations to have news reports and public service programming. Now specialty channels do not need to have any news or public service programming. So many viewers watch specialty channels and never get ANY news and besides they usually do not read newspapers either. And of those who do watch news most of these viewers watch news channels that only mirror their point of view. And some news channels are actually only entertainment or celebrity news rather than serious or important topics.

  • georgepotts

    What really annoys me about financial reporting is when they say, “The market tumbled 100 points today because sellers were heading for the door.”

    But the context could be the market was up 500 point over the last week, or the market was down 1,000 points yesterday. After a 1,000 point fall, 100 point drop would not be a tumble.

    • hennorama

      georgepotts — do you mean this sort of context?:

      On Sunday, Jason Collins became the first openly gay player in the NBA.

      On Monday, the DJIA was up more than 1 percent by noon Eastern Time.

    • Floyd Blandston

      George, if you knew how irrelevant a figure the Dow actually is, you wouldn’t even pay attention to it. Try this; anytime you hear someone credit the Dow, NASDAQ, or other indices as significant on an immediate basis, consider that you’re listening to either an economic ‘idiot’ or a charlatan.

  • Davis

    In addition to evaluating the news is an issue of repetition. I believe it is destructive to be exposed repetitively all day with the same news snippets. I listen to WBUR on the radio and online. I wish BUR or others would provide a second, alternative online stream without the repetitive hourly news. Then I could listen to the interesting shows when I want and to news when I want. And not be exposed to news I’ve already heard. This would give a radio option for what others go to blogs, tw’s, etc., to get.

  • nick_nick359

    Tom, seriously? This man is pointing what I’ve recognized for over a decade. NPR anchor news shows do exactly what he is stating. They overpower us with useless news and unreport what is really imporant. I notice the lack of reporting of the environmental damage in different states, among so many other issues. Politics unslanted, forget it. It’s headline news. It’s gossip and cutesy reporting. It’s ‘some say’ but where are the other voices. It’s Fox lite. Ashbrook sounds apologetic. The news we need to rely on to be balanced and iinformative is infotainment and filled with wayyy too many corporate commercials and marketplace franchised programs aimed at a youth market. At least for one of my local stations. I get nurturing news from BBC and now Al Jezerra America. Rarely from NPR anchor news. Ashbrook is defending bad news reporting. I wish he would stop. NPR is no longer the definitive place to find news. Too bad. So sad.

    • Crozet_barista

      Totally agree with this sentiment! I tuned out NPR morning and afternoon news several years ago.

      • Erik Brunar

        I don’t know, this sounds a lot like what I heard from people in the ’70s about how Le Monde then wasn’t what it used to be, and then in the ’80s when I started reading it, people 10 years older saying, oh but in the ’70s it was so much better, and then the same thing started happening to me in the ’90s.

        But it’s absurd: can it all be on a constantly downward slope? We have a tendency when assessing the present to be blind to the positive changes that have happened.

        I bet exactly this discussion happened in Berlin in the 1920s or in Philadelphia in the 1790s and Athens of the 370s BC. We’ve got it so good, things are probably better than they’ve ever been for the freedom of expressing oneself, but as a slightly older guy I sometimes have trouble keeping up with where today’s efflorescence of expressivity and relevance is happening.

        Media organizations go through cycles, just as their listeners have their own evolutions through life. NPR is less relevant to you now, you don’t like their focus any more? You probably haven’t been hurting for alternatives. But you still care enough to bring your point of view to a discussion of these matters. Thanks for that!

    • Floyd Blandston

      It’s true. NPR bit the golden apple; lots more listeners, relatively less depth.

    • homebuilding

      Well stated, nick.

      Don’t leave out that so many news outlets “go coastal” completely leaving out anything west of Phildelphia or east of the California desert.

      And, of course, the role of sycophant for government/bidness hot shots–never anything that might be confrontational, as that might just mean missing a front row seat at some press conference or not getting an invitation to some DC or NY gala

  • hellokitty0580

    You know, bias news isn’t the problem. Education is the problem. If Americans were better educated, they’d be able to better analyze the media that’s coming at them and make their own decisions about what they’re hearing. But overall Americans are fat and anesthetized on their electronic stuff consuming as much as they can so they can’t properly consider deep concepts.

    Personally, I want facts. But I also want opinion. Only I want opinion that is thoroughly researched and well-founded and well-written even if I disagree with the fundamental theme. We have a lack of thoughtful analysis and that’s because we’re all in a rush for the next big thing. But in the rush for the next big thing we’re losing our ability to focus, consider, and grasp the nuance.

    • georgepotts

      Americans will become better educated when we figure out how to spend less money on special education while still serving kids with special needs.

      Also, use school choice to make better educated kids in High School. More exam schools for everyone.

      It is better for smart, well behaved kids to be away from the disruptive kids. They are cheaper.

      • hellokitty0580

        You’re like a pebble in one’s online shoe.

        • jefe68

          Kind of like small troll…

  • brettearle

    Have to partially disagree with de Botton, with regard to observing natural and `mechanical’ disasters.

    We might be compelled to watch to recognize the fragility of Life.

    But, it also seems to me, that the more we are flooded with tragedy, the more, therefore, we are vulnerable to being inured to such tragedy–as if it’s so common that it is almost incidental:

    24/7 NewsCycle–repeated reports about the same thing, over and over again–can all make us jaded, cynical, and ambivalent.

    • hennorama

      brettearle — that’s a valid point, but when people are shielded from actual images of the dead, and are instead exposed to virtual images of violence and destruction over and over, via visual entertainment, they can also become desensitized rather than shocked.

      Remember how the coverage of the Vietnam War impacted public opinion?

      • brettearle

        The VietNam War Media Factor is an excellent point.

        Lots to say about it. It changed America.

        But, at this point, we are looking at things much too far in the opposite direction:

        We are flooded and inundated with so much information, that apart from the need for Triage, the 24/7 repetitive advertising distorts reality–in a tragic way….

        Your point of the excision of Media Reports of tragedy–resulting in being left with the factor of visual entertainment, when `contemplating’ violence, etc.–is a very good one.

      • jefe68

        In the decades of the 60′s and 70′s the network news were run by people who thought the news should just that, news. Not entertainment masquerading as news.

        • hennorama

          jefe68 — indeed. In addition, the network news divisions were not expected to be profit centers for publicly traded media conglomerates.

  • TFRX

    I was wondering if Jay Rosen’s Pressthink piece on the Cult of the Savvy has shown up yet.

    Philosphy is great, but at some point NPR has to decide if they want to cater to the very few people who are political junkies and ignore actual reportage.

    (Audio issues with my computer. Or I think it’s my compter–anyone else?)

  • bangkokmichael

    Without teaching our youth critical thinking skills, it all does not matter much whether the news is bias or not. Being able to dissect a news report is so important. What is selected occurs when people seek a breathe of news beyond the sensational.

  • jpolock

    The citizen is to a great deal at fault here. American’s are very uninformed and apathetic, and that only exacerbates the problem. The reason the founders protected the “Third Estate” in our constitution was they understood that an educated and informed citizenry is critical to the maintenance of a free and functioning Democracy. Watch any European news program, and you’ll immediately see the absolute pitiful state of American reportage.
    Corporate media will not hit hard on ANY issue, because it threatens their paylords.
    Information will NOT come to you, you must actively and aggressively seek out knowledge and truth, the real “news”! So, I recommend starting with foreign providers: TV5Monde, France24, BBC, RT, Al Jeezera, and then graduate to DemocracyNOW! here at home…NPR is not too bad either.
    Forget the MSM, watch them last for Sports and Entertainment “news”

    • georgepotts

      And Fox News.

      • jpolock

        MSM political shill company, but since we’ve sparred a few times on this site, I can see you are likely a great consumer of said co.

    • hennorama

      jpolock — thank you for adding to the list of Typos/Freudian Slips/Autocorrections That Make Me Smile:

      American’s are very uninformed… vs. Americans are …

      • jpolock

        Damn…you got me…will edit that now for posterity

        • hennorama

          jpolock — it wasn’t intended as [a] “gotcha,” but rather as both a shared smile and a gentle nudge.

    • Human2013

      You blaime the uninformed American, but what came first: the anti-intellectual movement or the capitalist driven news market? I say the latter – it’s why the former is in serious decline.

      • jpolock

        All true, however if we always maintained a well educated and CURIOUS population, neither of those things would’ve emerged problematically.
        We, collectively as a country that is, let it happen

        • Human2013

          I slightly agree, but who do you think inspires curious minds?

          • jpolock

            Solid liberal arts education which fosters a love and desire for a lifetime of self improvement, self education, and actively seeking of knowledge…the opposite of apathy and “know it all” dogmas etc

  • HonestDebate1

    These days people think they are informed if they watch Jon Stewart.

    • georgepotts

      People are more engaged by Jon Stewart. They use clips from his show on Morning Joe and NPR.

      • hellokitty0580

        Despite the fact that Jon Stewart is a lot of spoof and foolishness, he makes hard hitting points that are undeniable about very serious subjects. Jon Stewart never shies away from self-deprecation and the fact that he could always learn more, deliver more. And what’s more is his delivery is great. It’s engaging and I don’t see what’s wrong with that. I’m a news junkie and I think Jon Stewart is fabulous.

        • Bluejay2fly

          I also like Colbert he can blister people as well.

          • Ray in VT

            I really doubted whether or not his show would work. I expected it to last about six months. I am quite glad to have been proven wrong.

          • Bluejay2fly

            It is not super funny and at times he can be trying to watch but it beats Ice Swamp Road Loggers.

          • Ray in VT

            I pretty consistently like it, but to each his own I guess.

      • TFRX

        Morning Joke uses TDS clips?

        Talk about a chronic case of “Ya can’t choose your fans”!

    • Ray in VT

      A number of studies have shown Daily Show viewers to be better informed than viewers of other outlets.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Or Fox News…

      • HonestDebate1

        Gotta watch it all but I would suggest a news channel is better than a comedy channel.

        • Ray in VT

          Ha. Watch some of what got said about slavery and Lincoln recently on that “news” station and compare it to how it got covered on a comedy show. It is quite clear which station is providing facts on the matter and which one is providing the comedy. Fox dropped the ball on that one pretty hard.

          • HonestDebate1

            These days people think they are informed if they watch Jon Stewart.

          • Bluejay2fly

            He is funny because what he says is true on many occasions. My in laws watch Fox and I lost ALL respect for their political opinion.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You lost all respect because they watch a specific network?

            Which show(s) do they watch?
            The 6pm Special Report with Brett Baier is probably the best hard news show on TV.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Like many geriatrics it is on their house 24/7. Sort of like ambient noise if you will. It has made them panic stricken and fearful. You cannot speak rationally to someone who is that radicalized.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Maybe you need to work on your debating skills. Wait, you said in-laws? Perhaps marital harmony requires you to hone those skills elsewhere before you engage.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Delusional people do not respond to facts. I also try to be respectful and not agitate people in-laws or not.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            No, I get it. It was a poor attempt at lame humor.

          • hennorama

            WftC — without commenting on Mr. Baier, shouldn’t the show be called Today’s Daily “Special” Report, since its routine nature is in marked contrast with the word “Special”?

          • Ray in VT

            I certainly found Jon Stewart’s interview with physicist to be much more informing than Fox’s pro-discrimination segment featuring Tony Perkins.

        • Floyd Blandston

          I agree; Fox News cracks me up. It’s the ‘Reno 911′ of network news!

          • Ray in VT

            Who on Fox is Dangle?

          • Floyd Blandston

            Who isn’t?

      • jefe68

        Or Rush Limbaugh…

        • HonestDebate1

          Rush isn’t news show but I love him anyway. I listen to him as soon as I finish listening to Diane Rehm.

      • hennorama

        Floyd Blandston — at least those at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart openly say [it is] a fake news show.

        • Floyd Blandston

          That’s part of the comedic draw for me- it’s so meta- everyone except the target demographic knows what they’re really doing, so the actors have to play the character straight enough to be plausible- within an illusion of ‘cinema verite’- while maintaining the journalistic credibility to preserve their future prospects. It’s like a Romney candidacy, 24/7!

  • georgepotts

    The mention of Justina Pelletier on NPR yesterday just reported that she was going to be moved to a new facility on the North Shore.

    No report that the North Shore facility will not be taking her, nothing about the parents had done nothing wrong.

    DCF has had Justina for a year because Tufts and Children’s disagreed about a diagnosis. Because the parents wanted to listen to the Tufts doctors, Justina has been placed in Foster Care.

    #FreeJustina

    White House Petition link
    http://wh.gov/lUMRz

    • brettearle

      It is far from the first time that Children’s has done this.

    • hellokitty0580

      Morning Edition reported on Justina Pelletier this morning and that the facility that was going to take her is no longer going to.

  • Coastghost

    Media elites have absolutely no interest in and spend no time flattering the public, per Ms. Tozzi.

  • Yar

    All things Considered. Isn’t that the same type of statement?
    How did the first single cell organisms ever learn to build a community? They learned to share information, and it made them able to survive better. The news is how we build community, if we fail to learn from information we fall apart.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Tom, Tom, Tom do you own NYTimes stock? Does Carlos Slim have something on you? Pictures?

  • J__o__h__n

    I think this is the last time I’m going to bother to listen to Alain de Botton. He isn’t nearly as profound as he thinks he is. I read Proust too but didn’t feel the need to write a book about it.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Lightweight, for sure, but still sound. ‘Philosophy lite’; and an easy read for people who don’t want to do Searle, Popper, Derrida, et.al.

  • richard

    From the perspective of individual death denial we crave the news because most it concerns the demise of others. Unconsciously after listening to the news, we can then tell ourselves: better him than me.

    If we understand that we all live sandwiched between the illusions that we create as masks that hide our ultimate reality from us while we remain mortal, then the profusion of news that confronts us on a daily basis begins to make sense. It did to Ernest Becker.

    A remedy ? Understanding that we are all human first; whatever else we are is secondary and subordinate to that fact.

  • Agi M Sardi

    completely on point!!! right on Alain -

  • Markus6

    I take back what I said earlier – de Botton speaks clearly, gets to the point and is interesting – definitely not a tenured professor of philosophy.

    I agree with him that bias is not necessarily a problem. Haven’t watched them in years, but I’m fine with the biases of O’Reilly and Mathews, because they’re not pretending they don’t have one. I have problems with their style, but that’s a different issue. However, I’m disgusted with the ABC’s, CBS’s, most NPR programs and others who pretend they are unbiased.

    What’s more disappointing than the new bias is how many people feel they only need to hear their own side. On-point, Stewart, Moyers and MSNBC will give you one perspective. That so many don’t feel the need to watch Fox or read the WSJ or that ilk, because they know they’re already right, is myopic.

  • AliceOtter33

    Why hasn’t NPR (among many mainstream news programs) done any analysis or even basic reporting on the recent Woody Allen scandal ignited by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow’s open letter accusing him of raping her as a child and calling out Hollywood’s indifference surrounding the issue?

    I’m dismayed at the missed opportunity to look beyond the obvious sensationalism of the story to place it in context of the host of other stories it has reported on regarding sexual violence against women.

    • georgepotts

      Woody is a left wing communist who just happens to be extremely wealthy and a child molester.

      He is treated the same way as Roman Polanski, another rich pedophile.

      • AliceOtter33

        Perhaps or perhaps not. However, Allen’s story is different in that he was not formally charged and so has continued on to be regarded as a cultural treasure. Twitter and other social media have answered Dylan’s call to try him in the court of public opinion. This is news. This is a story.

    • brettearle

      From the way you are describing the scandal, it sounds as if you have already made up your mind, who is guilty and who is innocent.

      Although maybe I am jumping to conclusion, based on what you said.

  • J__o__h__n

    Brooke Gladstone would be a better guest on this topic.

    • HonestDebate1

      My vote would go to Brent Bozell.

      • Floyd Blandston

        Stylistically geared towards visual media…

    • Floyd Blandston

      A voice best suited to print media…

      • J__o__h__n

        I don’t have a problem with her voice. Louisa Lim, Carrie Johnson, Eleanor Beardsley, Bob Oakes (Boston NPR) and the new “This is NPR” robot have bad voices.

      • StilllHere

        And that print media would be best suited to the bottom of a bird cage…

        • HonestDebate1

          I’m actually writing a song about print media. It’s entitled “Fishwrap”.

          • Floyd Blandston

            I think we’ve discovered the ‘rosetta stone’ of your collective ignorance! You do realize that the transmission rate of information via print compared to radio or television is much higher, even for ‘average’ readers? That being given, your disparagement of ‘print’- even print which appeals to your biases- points towards the possibility that you are simply ‘low information’ responders…

          • HonestDebate1

            It’s a metaphor.

          • Floyd Blandston

            Actually, it’s not. :D

      • J__o__h__n

        Her last book is great and a quick read.

      • Coastghost

        Our media cadres are full of faces made for radio and voices made for silent film.

        • Floyd Blandston

          My local NPR plays her show on early Sunday AM; honestly, I just can’t do it. Before 10 I need Terry Gross or her soniferous equivalent.

          • Coastghost

            Zoe Chace has a voice made for print media, if anyone has.

          • Floyd Blandston

            Ha-ha.. yes, her too. AM broadcasts containing her and Jason Beaubien’s damned downward inflection often lead to ‘click’.

          • J__o__h__n

            I knew I had forgotten someone in my list of awful voices.

  • Floyd Blandston

    HEY TOM! LISTEN MORE, TALK LESS!!! This guy is trying to explain why even your relatively decent news program itself falls (at times) into a spiral of vacuous pontification to a self selected ‘elite’. The funny thing to this listener is the very obvious sense of ‘butthurt’ you’re suffering from hearing this. Listen- then get some purely impartial analysis according to his advice.

    Best Wishes

  • slbvt

    I agree with Alain—as with statistics, facts can “lie”—by selectivity, omission etc.

    • jpolock

      Exactly! If it’s not reported “it didn’t happen”
      Classic marginalization

  • Coastghost

    Do Tom Ashbrook or guests think that journalists dispatched from national- level news bureaus are even capable of telling a mundane local story in its own terms, incorporating the content that could tell the local story from the local perspective for a broad(er) audience?

  • Jim

    The only newspaper considered news worthy is the ny times. But even this newspaper has morphed into a mini version of itself. It is unfortunate. Back 14 years ago, I still recall the stories were so insightful, charismatic, and liberal. When I say liberal, I do not mean an ignorant and clueless person calling another person liberal ‘cos he does not agree with the other’s views. I mean liberal in a humane way. Then the craze and slew of inferior online news coming into the picture forcing the ny times to scale back on great local stories and staff. I will tell you today’s news and journalism with the exception of the ny Times is of absolutely low quality.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Agree with the slippage of the NYT. Very disturbing.

  • hellokitty0580

    Frankly, American news is indicative of the state of American intelligence. Rather than thoughtful analysis, American news outlets pander to Americans’ fleeting attention span which means one receives barely useful information that is sensationalized and fluffy. I think you can’t entirely blame news outlets. They’re trying to survive. This is indicative of the state of American society and culture. That’s where we really have to start looking for change if we want better information.

    • Bluejay2fly

      We have promoted a culture which does not think. There were many times when I argued with people and offered to look up the answer to settle the dispute only to have them get angry. Why would people get mad at seeking the truth? They do because they would rather believe the picture in their head than to come to some logical conclusion through critical thinking.

      • warryer

        Agreed. People would rather be blissfully ignorant inside their reality bubbles It feels much nicer to see the world through rose tinted glasses.

        It is because people would rather feel about things than use logic and reasoning.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Always remember that when you threaten to take their delusions away they will beat you to death with a rock. I am no longer in the business of trying to cure the leapers. Remember smart cannot talk to crazy. Lesson learned with my ex-wife.

  • Coastghost

    Has Alain de Botton any views he’d care to share on “advocacy journalism”?

  • HonestDebate1

    Why hasn’t Obama released Bill Clinton’s records? Where is the outrage?

    • Ray in VT

      What do I care about what LPs Clinton had?

      • Bluejay2fly

        Probably a lot of smooth jazz, anyway.

        • jefe68

          No doubt some Kenny G, not Kenny Garret.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Most transparent regime in history.

  • J__o__h__n

    Maybe page three of the philosophy book needs to be more interesting.

    • Floyd Blandston

      There’s a nip-slip of Socrates on the frontispiece.

  • BAS

    Rare book re media/ news rigorously self examining :

    British journalist Nick Davies – ‘Flat Earth News’ – is excellent. Let’s bring him on as a guest.
    review
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n05/john-lanchester/riots-terrorism-etc

  • georgepotts

    Isn’t Jon Stewart a philosopher doing the “news?”

    • Bluejay2fly

      Many comedians are great philosophers George Carlin was the best.

      • jefe68

        Indeed. So was Bill Hicks.

        And the best of them all, Richard Pryor.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Listen to George’s take on swearing on the bible in court. You do not get that much insight about our culture from anybody. My favorite line is “At what point does this all just fall apart and become some meaningless crap that somebody made up. It is make believe people”

    • TFRX

      If the press corps weren’t so crap at their jobs, Jon Stewart would be out of his.

      And remember, a few years ago Jon Stewart eviscerated Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala because they both were ruining America’s discourse. But for all the centralism he wanted to occupy Stewart has finally been largely dislodged from the BothSides Chorus.

      Hence his term, and needed, repeated, visits to “Bulls–t Mountain”. WHere is this? Hint: It’s not in the center, and it’s not something blamed on both sides as the same.

  • ThirdWayForward

    Certainly every kind of news report comes from a particular point of view.
    “Bias” is a bad term to use to describe this because there is the danger that having a point of view (selecting which facts are relevant from a particular perspective) is conflated with manipulative propaganda (willful distortion of facts in order to advance some particular agenda).

    For example, Fox News is an archetypal example of the willful distortion of facts — over and over again they are proved to be presenting false accounts, and they never correct themselves when shown to be wrong.

    On the other side of the political spectrum, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow definitely has a point of view and embodies particular values, but she is careful about the facts and does correct herself when there are errors.

    Both Fox and MSNBC are “biased”, but Fox distorts what it reports, whereas MSNBC tends to select rather than distort.

    We listen to NPR for basic, accurate reporting of events whose selection is generally not driven by a strong ideological agenda.

    Where almost all of the news sources are inadequate is in analyzing long-term structural issues (the stability of the world economy, the overwhelming role of big money in politics, the military-industrial complex, the biomedical-industrial complex, the petrochemical-industrial complex, etc. etc.).

    • OnPointComments

      Why don’t you provide us with a list of Fox distortions?

      • J__o__h__n

        The claim that Iraq was connected to 9/11.

      • Bluejay2fly

        How about when Obama’s trip to India was reported to cost hundreds of millions a number later revised to a fraction of that.

      • jefe68

        Oh boy, how to count the ways…

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Yes, and then we’ll put the up against the NYTimes, CBS, NBC, ABC and on and on.

          • jefe68

            Your response is very telling.

      • Human2013

        Santa is white, not caucasian, white. I though white was found on the grey scale…and the caucasion persuasion was pulled out of thin air after Santa’s mythical birth.
        This is the problem with the news…they traded competent newsman for pretty, anti-intellectual newswomen.

        • Human2013

          Then Megyn Kelly went on to tell us that “Fox News is the most powerful Empire in the world”… Who told her that terrible lie and why did she think it was ok to repeat that terrible misnomer!

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Ho! Ho! Ho!

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          “.they traded competent newsman w/pretty, anti-intellectual newswomen.”

          She replaced Hannity at 9pm. Didn’t know that you were such a Hannity fan.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          This is the “distortion” you pick.

          You might believe Ms. Kelley’s comment is based in ignorance but the open and frank discussion that ensued on cultural biases and stigmas was positive development. It was handled pretty well.

          • Ray in VT

            One could go with her assertion that Jesus was white.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            He has blue eyes too. 6’4″ He looked exactly like Max Von Sydow. Uncanny!

          • Ray in VT

            Of course. That’s why the cast Von Sydow for the movie.

          • Floyd Blandston

            That’s Lutheran Jesus. French and Italian R.C. each had a different one as well.

          • Ray in VT

            and Coptic as well one would imagine.

          • Floyd Blandston

            My absolute favorite is from the movie ‘Dogma’, where the ’13th Apostle, Rufus’ (Chris Rock), returns to earth to clear up the mistake- Jesus was black…

          • Ray in VT

            You mean the one that used to be Long Rufus?

          • Floyd Blandston

            Hey man, it was a little *cold* out!

          • Ray in VT

            That is such a great movie. I think, though, that the comedy that says the best things about religion must be Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

          • Floyd Blandston

            In aggregate(?), or via the final theme, ‘As long as the fish are happy’?

            I’d never be able to choose between favorite scenes; “Every Sperm Is Sacred”, or the cleaning women whose successful life is summed up as, ‘..at least I never had to work for Jews’. (…and don’t forget ‘Life of Brian’!)

          • Ray in VT

            Whoops. I meant The Life of Brian. My bad.

          • Human2013

            Of course there was an open and frank discussion that followed — everyone was scattering to set her right.

        • hennorama

          Human2013 — I have speculated that Ms. Kelly made those remarks as though she thought she was speaking only to her own children.

          I do give her big props however, for her question to Karl Rove on Election Night 2012:

          “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is it real?”

          • Ray in VT

            As people on Fox goes, I don’t think that she’s too bad. Of course, based upon some of her competition she could probably make twice as many gaffs, misstatements and such and still be better than most. It’s not like she’s on Fox & Friends.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            In my humble view, she is now the star of Fox. A much better interviewer than “Captain Obvious” O’Reilly. Also, she isn’t in love with her own voice like O’Reilly. She is much more likeable than O’Reilly and much better to look at.

          • Ray in VT

            I can’t speak to her comparative strengths as an interviewer, but O’Reilly can be abrasive. Not that it affects (in all likelihood) her ability to present the news, I would say that you are spot on in your assessment in your final sentence.

          • Floyd Blandston

            Did you pickup on any of the speculation that it was staged in order to capitalize on her chief qualities for visual media?

          • hennorama

            Floyd Blandston — No. However, it would hardly be surprising for Ms. Kelly or the producers to have anticipated the possibility that someone might go behind the scenes to consult with their in-house forecasters, nor would it be surprising had they factored in “her chief qualities for visual media.”

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    It isn’t just money. Look at how many journalists move in and out government.

  • Yar

    When Eliot Spitzer pays tens of thousands of dollars for a prostitute, it isn’t about the money.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Stupidity, Apathy, and Sloth: the law firm of New York City media outlets.

  • DaveEric

    The mainstream news does not provide enough context for their stories. News has become entertainment, and a few second soundbites. Climate change is an issue that exemplifies this and it will eventually be our undoing. Fox news spreads misinformation daily and is never called out. I feel there is a big problem within news organizations today, and that no one wants to challenge conservative politicians.

  • Alvin Case

    “News” is a consumable product. That’s why it’s called news.
    It’s not called facts, or event reportage. Alain’s perspective is terribly important!
    To be more useful, the news-stream needs to offer reporter’s work as an open stream, in real time, so that the reader can dig as deep as they want into a story/event. Let the editors and producers package as they already do, but confine their work to the ‘vehicle’, be it newsprint or television.
    By freeing up the work of reporter’s, news organizations would place more confidence in their readers and therefore build a more informed reader/viewership.

    • jpolock

      Not to mention the reaction of the entire country, which collectively screamed “why us, we’re the good guys, waah!” And then, quite ignorantly flew headlong into forever war and pre-crime security police state.
      Whereas anyone who was actually informed, was neither surprised nor fooled into the BS tom foolery that has driven this country into the ground ever since 9-11

  • Kimmy Pterodactyl

    We need more news about how our country is perceived in other parts of the world AND why we are perceived that way. Too often we are told that people hate Americans because they are jealous. John pilger is a great journalist who uncovers real truths about america’s involvement in wars.
    On another note: I don’t watch television and yet everytime there is a mass shooting in a public place in America, I know about it all day — all week — every facet of the media covers it. I agree wit all I these callers …. And John Pilger is my favorite journalist right now

  • homebuilding

    Great show, Tom

    I’d add a few things that are important to me, on this topic:

    –it does seem that much of the news selection process and particularly ‘on camera’ reporting/confabulating excludes age and experience. Simply stated, old folks have been around a bit and have a much greater sense for what’s important

    –even my favorites cannot cover all the things that I’d like to know about. As brief as they are, USAToday’s one sentence coverage from all 50 states, every single issue, is helpful; MSNBC does a brief local USA newspapers headline segment, daily–and the BBC coverage (from many NPR stations) is a very valuable window to non-North America items and thoughts about them.

    –the very topic (re what gets covered and how) is absolutely not covered in a readily available, coast-to-coast manner elsewhere (NPR service in doing stuff like this is absolutely an essential national treasure)

    –Weather forecasting is dramatically better than in the recent past, yet much of it is presented as “news/sensation” and sure enough, stirs some to panic–days ahead of a major storm which might materialize, yet is far from a sure thing. The recent panics, such as in Atlanta, speak of the perpetual problem of emotion over fact.

    Thanks, again Tom, guests, and NPR

  • John_Hamilton

    I see Tom Ashbrook is in full hyped-up-aggression today. He seems to have little respect for the guest, interrupting, browbeating. Maybe he’s just had too much coffee.

    I think there may be something else going on. Back when I used to listen to Stephanie Miller on the radio there was a guy who would call in every day whom they called “Right Wing Jerry.” He would blather a litany or “right wing” talking points rapid fire, almost hysterical. They had great fun with this on the show, but he would still call in every day.

    In Jerry’s case I think there was great insecurity, and his way of fending off challenge was to do all the talking, and his rapid-fire style eliminated pauses.

    In Tom Ashbrook’s case being aggressive, interrupting, and hyped-up is his way of covering his insecurity about the subject matter and his ability to challenge the guest in a competent manner. It’s annoying, and does a disservice to the audience. Tiresome too.

    I tune in because of the guests and the topics covered, not to hear Tom Ashbrook. As I’ve said before, he could take a lesson or two from Terry Gross, NPR’s best interviewer, and really the country’s best interviewer. It’s comical when she interviews people who have also appeared on OnPoint, the difference in tone, pace and respect for guests. It’s similar to when Jane Clayson substitutes on this show.

    • StilllHere

      Tom does this whenever his ox is being gored.

    • jefe68

      Or Bill Moyers.

      • John_Hamilton

        I like Bill Moyers, but he does softball interviews. He’s stuck in the left-right paradigm, and because of this the conversations tend to be redundant and predictable. In other words, boring. He does what Amy Goodman does on Democracy Now: additive outrage. If we can just report enough outrage, people will reach a tipping point, and the revolution begins. Good luck with that. All it does for me is induce outrage at the narrow focus.

        I believe in the same things “leftists” believe in, but I’m not chained to an ideological model. This is partly due to long experience with “leftists,” and partly due to the model of reality having severely limited usefulness, an in this time of economic collapse and global climate change, an impediment to understanding and resultant action.

        • jefe68

          Well you’re entitled to your opinion.
          I guess you like it when the guests are screaming at each other.

    • brettearle

      I’m likely one of Ashbrook’s biggest Apologists.

      Indeed, I think the guy is so good at what he does that I forgive his faults.

      What’s more, the exasperation of emotion that he can sometimes bring to a broadcast, in an ironic way, can, I think, bolster the importance.

      In fact, don’t forget that, here, we are followers of a TALK Show–and, whether we like it or not, a TALK show, regardless of its News Affairs, can be, foremost, personality-driven.

      Though she’s good, for my money, Clayson’s approach is too flat.

    • J__o__h__n

      Terry Gross is great. Jane Clayson is awful. She lacks a depth of understanding as evidenced by her lack of or poor follow up questions and her saying “mm mm” is annoying.

      • John_Hamilton

        I suppose my bias is partly because Jane Clayson isn’t Tom Ashbrook. I’ll have to pay closer attention next time she’s on. I’ll give Tom Ashbrook this – he does his homework. I’m not interested in a debate when I tune in. I have lived a life, so it’s not like I am going to be swayed from my own insights and intuitions based on my experience, education and sense of how the world works. I especially don’t need Tom Ashbrook to tell me how or what to think.

    • BLee921

      You couldn’t have said it better, John. I was surprised to hear how fired up Tom Ashbrook was in this interview and his word choice to passive-aggressivly insult the author. As Tom continued to defend the media, his words exposed his own sense of bias, which was never acknowledged as he proceed to cut off Mr. de Botton.

      Media consumption shall be consumed and digested with caution, especially with an interview that truly displayed Tom Ashbrook’s lense.

    • TFRX

      and his way of fending off challenge was to do all the talking, and his rapid-fire style eliminated pauses.

      Not having heard the person i nquestion, I wonder if you were there for the birth of Gish Galloping.

      • John_Hamilton

        I must have stopped listening to Stephanie Miller in about 2005 or 6. It got really tiresome, and her cruelty to anonymous people who called in was grating. I suppose that’s what comedians think they’re supposed to do, but I find it disrespectful.

        “Right wing Jerry” was a guy who called in from work in Chicago. I didn’t mind that she was so eviscerating with him, because he was so obnoxious. I think his boss eventually found out about the calls and fired him. This dose of reality might have ended his snarky calls. I stopped listening around then.

        I tune in to the show every few months to see what’s going on in the bottom-feed-o-sphere. I’m amazed that it has changed so little. She even uses the same recorded gag lines she did ten years ago, like “I hate you and I hate your ass face.” I can’t imagine anyone willing to listen to that for over ten years, and keep on listening.

        So, no, the name Gish Galloping isn’t familiar to me. Jim Ward is the real talent of the show, and his role got reduced around the time I quit listening.

  • Don_B1

    It would be nice, but the problem with that, which also occurs with cable news channels, is that a lot of people just tune in briefly at all different points of time in the day.

    So those who would watch all day get to hear repeats of the same information to what seems ad infinitum. I, and I am sure many others, just take the risk that I will miss something new and go to a different (non-news) channel.

    But there is where a PIP TV could come in handy if you can get two channels simultaneously from your cable box or your TV can receive all non-encrypted channels without going through the box.

  • Human2013

    We can’t really expect to live in a world based on the capitalist’s dream of 10% growth and get thoughtful news coverage – ain’t gonna happen!

  • OMA_OPINES

    I only caught the last 15 minutes of this but LOVED the discussion. Thank you, Tom Ashbrook, once again. Another book to read – wonderful!!

  • liminalx

    The master radio talkshow host Jerry Williams said it many years ago. It’s only about selling advertising. This includes the so called news and “public broadcasting.” There is no such thing as objectivity in the human experience, the news is part of the subjective world, This subjectivity in the news is profoundly influenced and distorted by the capitalist system in the USA and elsewhere.

    • brettearle

      Jerry was, I believe, referring to Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.

  • FamilyT

    Ashbrook was unremittingly ingracious, interrupting and contentious at the least and aggressively mocking and belligerent at the most with his guest. At the program’s onset, Ashbrook quickly abandoned his role as interviewer and made the topic personal by becoming a defensive, bloviating champion of the news business. Even as Ashbrook ruined what could have been an even more illuminating opportunity to hear such an enlightened, provocative, invaluable thinker
    as Alain, Botton remained ever the gentleman. I applaud Botton’s
    patience and tolerance of the self-important Ashbrook, as did the
    precious few callers who Ashbrook allowed to be heard on air, and there
    were few because Ashbrook took up so much air time time with his own
    contentiousness, personal life stories and constant domination of this show.

    • RolloMartins

      I was about to write about the same; you’ve caught the essence. Normally I like Tom’s approach; here he was insufferable.

    • Erik Brunar

      Count me in as disappointed in Tom Ashbrook this time. Once in a while when the subject hits too close to home he has a hard time hearing what his guest has to say.

      And “ever the gentleman” my foot: Botton can be annoying as hell at times, with his grand arks that supposedly explain everything and that he shamelessly contradicts a few minutes later.

      No, this was a bit of a missed opportunity. I would have liked to hear discussion of at least the following three topics.

      With more people reading reddit than any other newspaper site, I thought the latest developments in mass online curation deserved more of a mention, but Botton probably didn’t cover them in his book, so…

      The breath-taking experimentation going on in many places with deliberate, semi-overt smudging of the line(s) between commercial and editorial content has to be germane to this topic in some way, yet it wasn’t addressed either.

      What about all the new money going into news (Bezos, Omidyar)? What are their aims? Are the consequences predictable and run-of-the-mill, like oh yeah, they build up a powerful empire to themselves and their grand-children finish running it into the ground? Or can we hope for a new approach that really seeks to change society for the better? That’s what I want to know.

  • hennorama

    (Paraphasing) Alain de Botton said “The News is an anomaly — that’s why it’s The News.”

    He went on to discuss how one’s perspective can be heavily influenced by viewing anomaly after anomaly, and then extrapolating these anomalies into one’s views, as if they were normal and common.

    To me, that was his best point.

  • Coastghost

    Good: because by the interview’s end, he was indicating that it’s NOT all about money or big money, and he cited Chomsky’s views for specific dismissal.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      What’s it about, then?

      • Coastghost

        I took the antecedent of Mr. Whelan’s use of “it” toward the end of his post to be “the American journalistic enterprise”, which I take your use to mean as well (although I could be misconstruing, but if the antecedent you intend is Mr. Botton’s book, I can’t help you, since I haven’t read it).
        But the American journalistic enterprise is not simply “money-driven”, unless “money” stands in for you as a catch-all for all that money is said to be able to confer: power, celebrity/visibility/conspicuousness, degrees of personal freedom that permit the most varying kinds of experience one cares to investigate, acquisitiveness in other fields, domains, and endeavors. Et cetera. Merely accumulating money is no sure accomplishment for anyone lacking the discipline, the will, the intelligence, and/or the ruthlessness (or lack of embarrassment) to wield it.
        No small part of “getting money” or “having money” consists in knowing or learning how to hang on to it over the long term (bankers and financiers and highly-paid entertainers and athletes all possess and have acquired money: but only the former category of the moneyed crowd have taken pains to learn how to manage their wealth, while benefitting from it, in which case you could say that wealth management commonly requires a distinct level of intellectual and emotional maturity).
        I’m no philosospher, but I know I only begin to scratch the surface here.

        • The poster formerly known as t

          You wrote a whole lot of nothing. It’s really insulting to my intelligence to suggest that the financial institutions that pay a lot of money to advertise on news outlets don’t exert any influence over how their industry is portrayed. Yeah, and what you wrote about wealth management is pretty obvious. In order to hold onto wealth, one has to go into usury or hoarding. It’s quite evident that you’re a cheerleader for the financial elite. Take your astroturf elsewhere.

          • Coastghost

            Life’s easy for reductionists: fewer questions to have to ask. Don’t stumble over any oversimplifications, whatever doors you pass through. (You really think financial institutions wield power over the media because of advertising? More so than Hollywood itself? More so than the media companies themselves? More so than applied technology firms?)

          • The poster formerly known as t

            I’m don’t see myself as a reductionist, see myself as an efficient thinker and reader. I just realize when people are trying to obfuscate and misdirect people away from a problem by making it look more complicated than it is without the use of evidence. Here’s how you are attempting to misdirect and ofuscate “Oh, what about Hollywood? You are failing to note THEIR influence over the media”. I’m not sure if Hollywood has an economic agenda these days especially since they don’t control resource allocation the way capitalists do. On the other hand, I’ve read recently that a lot of non-tech companies are quite involved in finance these day–meaning that financial products are becoming more important for their bottom line. They benefit from low interest rates because it makes it easier for them to borrow money to buy out competitors and they buy and use things like derivatives. Low “usury rates” don’t mean that they can’t make any money off of lending. Official “usury rates” do not reflect what the typical financing costs the typical person, who is barely creditworthy, faces when making a capital expenses on things like cars or on privatized educational loans.
            As a reductionist, meaning someone who’s capable of thinking for myself, I keep seeing the evidence of finance’s importance to the U.S. economy and I keep seeing evidence of fictionalization of the economy. I’ll reveal my bias here, at this point. I think financial institutions is somewhat terrible at allocating capital to things that matter. They’re more interested in trying to re-inflate the housing market than helping the world transition to renewable energy sources. Why? There’s little profit to be made off renewable energy in comparison to a mortgage. You stereotyped all financiers and bankers as having enough restraint to manage their money–if that is the case, why do they invest in things that provide and immediate return? Why are they incapable of making long-term investments?

          • Coastghost

            First, let me thank you for being so forthcoming: you have to admit, until this post, you were holding your cards quite close to the vest.
            Second, and returning to the context of Alain de Botton’s critique of American journalistic practice: by your lights (assigning the profit motive generously) American journalism ought to be thriving with all the ad revenue that TV generates (believe you me, I’m with you when it comes to Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and WaPo: the internet behemoths have vastly benefitted by dodging taxation on internet commerce). But if your critique plugs into the outlet, why aren’t capitalists more actively scooping up tired print journalism outlets? I say they have an interest in doing so, insofar as leadership and/or management of public opinion is a valuable commodity in itself: you say it’s all about money, but money is worth a steaming pile of excrement if it doesn’t confer power and influence. (Or is it the case that capitalists are resigned to the outcomes of our public education system and concede that literacy is a dying competency? Would explain why TV remains a going concern.)
            Thirdly, I rate myself low in terms of philosophical sophistication: still, in my fashion, I generally aim in these “On Point” forums to provoke, to elicit. I’m a part-time satirist, that is, and even though my prose (when not consciously obfuscatory) fails to entertain others, I keep myself jolly.
            I conclude by applauding your intellectual rigor: I only think honestly you need to expand the base a bit. Your take on the housing market is considerably incomplete, from my perspective, mind you. I would direct your attention to the financial prowess of a firm like General Electric. The conversion to non-fossil fuels is not proceeding according to your wishes NOT ONLY because it makes poor economic sense when the planet remains awash in readily-extractable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas), but also because environmentalists continue to drive and fly to their conferences and demonstrations, just as hundreds of millions of people do every day all over the planet.
            For information and entertainment value in almost equal proportions, I can recommend Paul Feyerabend’s Tyranny of Science for you, too.

  • HonestDebate1

    This is sure to be front page news:

    “Germany should scrap its clean-energy subsidies because the system has driven up electricity costs for consumers and hasn’t spurred innovation or reduced greenhouse gases, a group of government advisers said.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-26/merkel-advisers-urge-germany-to-end-clean-energy-subsidy-program.html

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      What’s that I hear…..yup….crickets.

      Another inconvenient truth, solar at Germany’s latitude and with their climate is not cost effective. And shuttering perfectly good nuclear plants is just plain insane.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Journalism is dead.

    Here is a headline you are certain not to see (unless you go to drudge).

    “Ronan Farrow wins the Cronkite Award for journalism after just 3 days on the job”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/372039/farrow-after-three-days-air-receives-cronkite-award-andrew-johnson

    Is anyone reminded of the Obama Nobel Prize?

    • hennorama

      WftC — without comment as to your premise, the linked article demonstrates that proofreading may be dead.

      From the 4th graf:

      “Reporters attending the event have told not to ask Farrow any personal questions, including about controversy surrounding his family.”

      [been]

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        I always knew we could count on you. NRO might be hiring. Just saying.

        • hennorama

          WftC — thank you for your somewhat kind words.

    • Ray in VT

      Reach the World (an organization which I do not recall having heard of), and not the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has been given the award for “his transformational work in global humanitarian issues and his founding and direction of the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues in addition to his extensive work as a print journalist”. He has not been given this award for 3 days of a TV show.

      http://www.reachtheworld.org/immediate-release

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — your quixotic fact-revealing efforts are simultaneously appreciated and wasted.

        Still, Tilt away, Sir!

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Shucks. You burst my balloon.

        I thought it was just some ole BlueEyes nostalgia.

        • Ray in VT

          My wife is of the opinion that there is no way that he is Woody Allen’s biological son. He certainly bears a pretty striking resemblance to the Chairman.

    • anamaria23

      Why do you only tell half the story and misrepresent it at that? Farrow is quite accomplished, a college grad at 15 years and Yale law school grad at 21 with much impressive work since. The award is not for MSNBC work.

      • hennorama

        anamaria23 — your question contains its answer.

      • StilllHere

        Any of it in journalism? No.
        It’s more about what he’s going to do.
        Just like Obama’s Peace Prize, though he’s been doing a lot of killing.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    More on the missing headlines vis a vis Mann v. Steyn:
    Stock up on popcorn.

    “Mann Misrepresents NOAA OIG”

    “Like the four investigations considered previously, Mann’s claim that that the NOAA OIG (Department of Commerce) “investigated” and “exonerated” Mann himself was untrue. In addition, Mann’s pleadings contained further gross misrepresentations of the investigation through selective misquotation or misleading statements.”

    http://climateaudit.org/2014/02/27/mann-misrepresents-noaa-oig/

  • Floyd Blandston

    If I was to speculate as to the meaning behind the host’s behavior, I’d say that he takes the criticism as meaningful, but doesn’t ‘see a way out’. Our guest’s proclamations are an excellent example of why prophets and philosophers make such excellent martyrs.

  • RolloMartins

    Anyone who has watched local news or the national news has to agree with de Botton. A laughable selection of some silly stories or sloppy reporting of real stories.

  • tbphkm33

    The elephant in the room is the big question of, “how you can have an effective democracy without a robust fourth estate?”

    Whatever the causes of the demise of effective journalism in the United States, the big danger is the further erosion of democracy. Without effective oversight of the rich and the powerful, both within and outside government, we all know it is the person on Main Street that ultimately pays the price.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    And here is a headline you won’t see in the MSM:

    “At least Joe McCarthy wasn’t majority leader”

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/02/27/at-least-joe-mccarthy-wasnt-senate-majority-leader/

    • Ray in VT

      As well one shouldn’t. McCarthy’s name has rightly come down to in a negative light due to the lives that he ruined and the fear and paranoia that he spread.

    • hennorama

      WftC — without having read the linked article, I’ll phrase my observation as a question:

      Is the website a news site?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        From the ‘about’:
        “COMMENTARY is America’s premier monthly magazine of opinion and a pivotal voice in American intellectual life. Since its inception in 1945″

        • hennorama

          WftC — my apologies for having left the word “rhetorical” out of the lead-in to my question.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I hear Harry Reid was boxer when he was younger. Maybe his excuse is too many head shots. That doesn’t excuse the Democrats for electing him Senate leader.

          • hennorama

            WftC — again, my apologies for not having made my point more clear.

            The topic is “Headline Nation: Making Sense Of The News,” and you are citing OPINIONS, not News.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Another missing headline:

    Jonathan Turley:
    “We Are Now At A Constitutional Tipping Point In Our System”

    Hey Tom, you still defend the NYTimes? Say hi to Carlos.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/02/27/turley_we_are_now_at_a_constitutional_tipping_point_in_our_system.html

    • hennorama

      WftC — again, without having read the linked article, one cannot help but ask:

      Is that a news article?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        “missing headline”

        That is the point. You have prominent constitutional law professors (including liberals) indicate in congressional testimony that we are at the tipping point of a constitutional crisis and this isn’t covered as a major story?

        Let me ask question, if George Bush was President would the NYTimes be silent?

        • hennorama

          WftC — is it really news when someone expresses their opinion about a “Constitutional Tipping Point”? This is not exactly a new phenomenon, is it?

          Also, Professor Turley was interviewed today on Here & Now.

          See:
          http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/02/27/power-presidency-turley

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Hey, good for Here and Now.

            That doesn’t excuse the grey lady and the rest of the MSM.

          • hennorama

            WftC — part of Freedom Of The Press is freedom to cover topics as they see fit.

            In addition, whatever happened to “let the market decide” as it pertains to these commercial enterprises?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Freedom — yes. But all the news that is fit to print or the ‘paper of record’, not so much.

          • hennorama

            WftC — Professor Turley’s opinion is not new, so it is not news. The NYT mentioned his views two months ago:

            http://nytimes.com/2013/12/25/us/politics/white-house-again-stretches-health-care-sign-up-deadline.html

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            His testimony yesterday (and others) was new. AND the problem still exists. In fact, it has gotten worse not better.

            They should be writing about it until it gets fixed.

            Your attitude is sort of like Woodward and Bernstein giving up on Watergate because it was an ‘old story’.

            Give me a break.

          • hennorama

            WftC — the fact that Professor Turley testified is new, but his opinions are not.

            It is your opinion that this is significant, new, and deserving of coverage, and you want to impose your opinion onto commercial enterprises.

            The Press is free to cover topics as they see fit, and they are free to ignore others, as they see fit.

            As to Watergate, WaPo, and W & B — what nonsense. That is an example of a topic that they deemed to be worthy of coverage, and they presented FACTS, not opinions.

          • brettearle

            It’s important, as you have done, to draw distinction between a fact story and an opinion piece–in terms of news-worthy priority.

            Maybe I am not being accurate enough, but it is my observation that NYT rarely enters, on the Front Page, formal Congressional testimony, by a witness–unless it is germane to an ongoing report of a recent-breaking story, such as Fast and Furious or Benghazi.

          • hennorama

            brettearle — given that Congressional sessions involving public testimony are often political theater, with witnesses selected based on knowing in advance that their testimony will agree with a particular position of the Majority Party, their newsworthiness is often questionable.

            It seems that the differences between opinion and news are not discernible to some, even when the differences are pointed out. On top of that, citing an opinion piece that not only left out important factual information, but also contained a lapse in language, in support of the premise that “Journalism is dead”?

            Only one word comes to mind: Nonplussed.

          • brettearle

            `Nonplussed’ is red-lined by my software application–so I appreciate you resurrecting it for me.

            Do you believe that always `The Fix is In’, with regard to choice of witnesses, before Congressional committees?

            And, if so, do we see this phenomenon harshly criticized, by Media, somewhere?

          • hennorama

            brettearle — TYFYR, and you’re welcome.

            FYI — per Google’s ngram viewer, usage of “nonplussed” has increased by about 50 percent since 1970, to a whopping 0.00003%

            See:
            https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=nonplussed&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cnonplussed%3B%2Cc0

            I don’t think “the fix is always in” regarding Congressional testimony, but the prevalence of “the fix” certainly gets too little media attention.

            Thanks again for your response.

          • brettearle

            Interesting thing about word usage:

            As a wordsmith, it’s a heavy burden to come up with words that, before the Information Superhighway, a writer could `own’ more:

            `Plethora’ and `Palpable’ come to mind. And while they’re not yet cliches, really, a writer does have to wince, before using them.

            Of course, somehow, `plethora’ became popular as a word that the above average sector of the media audience decided to employ, as a yardstick measurement, to the rest of the world….that they `have it together’, as astute humans.

            But OF course, you and I KNOW about, `palpable’, now don’t we?

            Comes from the same author as (and, I know, I’m bastardizing the actual quote) the one who wrote, “All the Other Titles Thou Was’t Given, But THAT Thou Was’t Born With.”

          • notafeminista

            If the information is old, but unheard, is that news?
            Who left you in charge of the standards?

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — if the information or opinion is old, previously reported, and currently available, it is not news, except to those ignorant of the fact of it having been previously reported, and currently available.

            The premise of your second question has no basis in reality. I am not the person whose words imply that they wish to impose their opinions onto specific commercial enterprises, and who opine that “we should demand better from our press.”

            Therefore, your second question should be directed elsewhere.

          • notafeminista

            So. As long as the information has not been made available previously, it is news, yes?
            Based on your first paragraph, my question is correctly directed.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — no, yes?

            Even if something meets some parameters whereby it may be described as “news,” that does not in and of itself make it newsworthy.

            And even if something meets some parameters whereby it may be described as “newsworthy,” that does not in and of itself make it worthy of being published by a commercial enterprise.

            And even if one commercial enterprise deems something “worthy of being published,” another similar enterprise might make a different judgment.

            Yes, yes?

    • HonestDebate1

      I’ve always liked Mr.Turley. I think he’s interested in the truth. He is extremely knowledgeable. That doesn’t mean he has a lick of sense. While I do appreciate and endorse his testimony, I can’t help but feeling a bit frustrated and angry.

      He voted for Obama not once but twice. Ideology is strong. You have too look brutally and honestly deep to confront it within yourself. I can understand, sorta’ (not really), getting a little tipsy on it and sinning once. How can a man with such intellect, education and knowledge not see this coming after 4 years and do it again? He is unquestionably correct in his assessment but it’s a little late.

  • pwparsons

    I would love to hear NPR allow de Botton to provide a running critique/commentary on their “News”, as the BBC did, recently. Or perhaps to NPR’s picking up on Mike Lofgren’s DEEP STATE “analyses”, as Bill Moyers did. Or even Jon Stewart’s expose on how FOX News has “Terrorized” us into fearing that “religion” is “threatened”. Are we NOT the most dangerously “dumbed down”, “powerful and/or FEARED nation” on earth? BECAUSE OF OUR DISTORTED NEWS? Where is the Church Commission, when we NEED one?

  • marygrav

    Tom should take some lessons from Botton and the BCC so that he will learn the difference between news and fear mongering. Most of the time Tom’s knickers are in a twist over Syria when he should understand that the Neocons are trying once again to drag the US into an unwinnable war in the Middle East.
    Fearmongering and news casting have become one in the USA. Analysis is never present as bumper sticker stories are presented on NPR. At least the BBC will give you a full story. But at times, the BBC is a propaganda machine beating the drum for the US to go into Syria. This I attribute to the Henry Jackson Society, ie. the British version of neocons.
    I trust the BBC viersion of news more than I trust NPR because some stories presented on the BBC never reach NPR until weeks later.

  • Art Toegemann

    I don’t believe it. So much of my reading references Orwell; not this.

  • DDG

    Frankly, I’m extremely disappointed in how Tom is handling the discussion. It is extremely clear that he is not only in complete disagreement with the guest, but is resorting to outright ridicule.

    The guest pointed out, in retort to Tom’s assertion that the major news outlets are doing a fine job at covering the “important” news of the day, that a MAJOR financial collapse that effected the entire world economy began here…and there was no warning. Where were THOSE stories?

    “Well, I don’t know [other female guest on the line] you worked at the New York Times…hahaha….did you just screw up your job? lol”

    I’ve been an NPR listener for years and have always loved on point, but the vehemence of Tom’s debate struck me as both disrespectful and quite a bit petulant. I’m very disappointed in tonight’s broadcast.

    Furthermore, the notion that these news outlets (who ARE all homogenized and DO all take part in fear-mongering) are somehow covering the important stories is entirely subjective – which is the guest’s point! What he’s saying is that the consumer needs to understand that there is more out there than the small, distilled set of slanted stories we’re given and told with a pat on the head that this is what we need to be concerned with today.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      What the guest failed to mention is that large news outlets receive a lot of advertising money from large investment banks that have an interest not to draw attention to the problems in the financial system–because they make money off of ignorance and people who are positive-minded (not willing to look at things in a constructive and critical way). Journalism, like others parts of the media increasingly wants to attract passive and superficial viewers. You know, the go with the flow type. They don’t want assertive and sophisticated viewers who are deeply skeptical of the journalists themselves or the products and services that are advertised during commercial breaks.

      Like all industries, journalism is seeking the path of least resistance and is risk adverse like most actors in late stage capitalism.

      • brettearle

        So you feel that most journalists would disagree with you and are therefore in Denial?

        I would argue that, at any hour of the day or night, we could point to any story, in print or in broadcast, that is critical of major institutions–including government, business, and banking.

        Your claim about the relationship between journalistic integrity and advertising revenue is, i think, exaggerated.

        That, of course, doesn’t mean that reports and features couldn’t improve for accuracy, depth, and completeness.

        • The poster formerly known as t

          “Your claim about the relationship between journalistic integrity and advertising revenue is, I think, exaggerated.”
          judging by your response, I suppose you’d believe that any suggestion that there is a relationship between political donations from banking institutions and economic policy set by government is non-existent because the relationship between political integrity of politicians and political donations is exaggerated.

  • Matt Herr

    Tom, you blew this interview. I love your show but I turned the show off at 36 minutes into it. You should invite Alain back to the program try a new approach.

    • brettearle

      The guest got his points across.

      It seems to me that you expect a Talk Show Host to be a journalist.

      As good as Tom Ashbrook is–and I think that he is quite good at what he does–he isn’t filing a field report.

      • Matt Herr

        Lol, Tom said in the first 15 minutes that’s what he did. He said he has been in the news business for some number of years… but perhaps I wasn’t listening closely enough.

        I’m not exactly sure what the lady from Buzzfeed was trying to say but I’m very certain that Tom liked it. This was the most strange OnPoint I’ve listened to and not a subject I’m particularly passionate about.

        • brettearle

          If you were a psychiatrist for many years–and someone came along to do a `competency audit’ on your profession, you might take issue, with the assessment, too…..

          ….Especially if your own experience with patients, administrators, and colleagues–albeit subjective–told you otherwise.

          Ashbrook’s human–and thank God for it.

          I know few broadcasters who are as good as he is, at his job.

          In his job, he is NOT expected to be, officially, a Journalist.

  • jdh

    Wow! What a disappointment. This was Tom at his worst. I thought for a
    moment that I was listening to Bill O’Reilly responding to a guest who
    was suggesting that the United States is not the best country in the
    history of the universe. Tom was defensive, short, facile, and, well,
    annoying–revealing a side of himself that I’d not seen so clearly
    before. Let’s just hope that Tom was tired, hungry, distracted, and
    angry at something else — and not that he is incapable of casting a
    critical eye over an industry that he calls home.

    • brettearle

      I think that, after all, this is a TALK show–albeit one of the best.

      And, as a Talk Show Host, Ashbrook ought to be given leeway as to how visceral he can, sometimes, be.

      • jdh

        huh? I’m not sure what signifcance there is in the fact that this is an all-caps “TALK” show. Is your point that because it is a talk show, one cannot criticize what was said? Should art critics or museum goers not comment on quality of the art? Should movie goers silence their thumbs at the movie show?

        Yes, it’s his talk show, and, as its host, he can do what he wants. But if Ashbrook is claiming to foster a thoughtful discussion — one that is designed “to test, challenge, and probe” the conventional wisdom regarding “the country and the world we live in — about who we are, and where we’re going,” then he should do a better job than he did of allowing his guest to do just that, rather than dismissing, defending, covering, and apologizing for the current state of news coverage. Alain could barely finish a thought before Ashbrook interrupted and caricatured Alain’s remarks.

        • brettearle

          Huh? Huh?

          I think that you’re acting like a spoiled child.

          Ashbrook’s at the top of his profession.

          There are very few public affairs talk shows, that I know of, that come close to the quality of “On Point”.

          We’re all human–and that includes exceptionally competent Public Affairs Talk Show Hosts.

          The guest was arguing against Tom’s own profession.

          Of COURSE, he’s going to be protective.

          B…i….g D…e…a…l

          “Don’t it always seem to go,

          That you don’t know what you’ve got,

          `Til it’s gone.”

          • jdh

            Ok, given that you concede that Ashbrook was protective of his own profession and therefore not open to the insights of his guest, then we should just agree to agree.

          • brettearle

            You could argue that I’m belaboring the point and maybe I am….

            But I explained in my first comment, before you first responded to me, that he was human–by saying that he ought to be given leeway.

  • http://zeitvox.com/ XHerakleitos

    Only caught the last 15 minutes, but damned if I didn’t gather a trajectory of concern which chartered the character and complexion of zeitvox.com back in 2010.

    Still, “too much and not enough.”

  • notafeminista

    Isn’t this whole thing one person’s opinion about the news?

    • The poster formerly known as t

      Yes, but because of he has spent so much time philosophizing, he thinks his opinion his better than yours.

  • The poster formerly known as t

    “Content, objectivity and truth seem to have taken a back seat “Most people don’t value those things in their personal lives, never mind the news. Only nerds care about those things. The more emotional and extroverted the person, the more they’ll be likely to respond to highly biased news, inflammatory editorials, and fluff pieces–which is why FOX NEWS is doing so well.

  • orwelllutz

    In New Orleans, the 50,000 watt dominant talk radio station uses a phrase that I believe says it all:

    “We tell you how it is: you tell us what you think!”

    Those who appreciate the effectiveness of propaganda and media dominance know that “you don’t have to tell us what you think, because we have crafted reality in such a way that we have defined how you will think.”

    As I said earlier today in my remarks on air, we must make certain that all of our young people are educated in the lessons that Orwell can teach us about the tools of deception that form a false perception of reality; and thereby lead us to choices that are fundamentally against our own self-interest.

    They must also be taught that freedom of speech in the United States should be interpreted as license to lie.

    Just the preface of William Lutz’s Double-Speak, 1989 should be sufficient to reinforce the above claims.

    For those of you who hold “freedom” in religious awe, I suggest that there should be just a few things that we should not be free to do.
    One should be to devote the output of a 24-hour cable station to one
    political philosophy to the exclusion of all others. The second should be that programming that presents opposing views, but does not identify clearly deceptive / erroneous claim about cause & effect, should not be allowed, since it results in confusion and does not help to clarify the correct relationship of cause and effect.

    On or about 1900, it was proposed that the only organization large enough to protect the people from great wealth was government.
    Today, we need to revise the constitution and assure that law and
    economics that do not protect the autonomy of the country and do not represent initiatives that serve the welfare of citizens, in food, in housing, in education and in health care, are illegitimate and cannot be allowed.

    In closing, let me refer to February 10th article in Time magazine that quoted McKinsey as saying that within 10 years computers, AI, etc., will transform or eliminate 240 million more jobs. May I suggest that we may be reaching that point where not everyone has to work to produce what we need. And if that is so, will the Capitalists, under un-regulated free markets decide who eats and who doesn’t?

    • brettearle

      I don’t appreciate advocacy journalism either.

      But it seems to me that you’re asking to curtail Free Speech.

      The rapidly-changing culture and society that we live in–while hurting many in the process–may not necessarily be assuaged or fixed by a formal Constitutional Convention in the 21st Century.

      It is a monstrous task, it seems to me, to assess what to do and what to overhaul–when we are on the inside, looking out, at enormous global changes and near across-the-board institutional decline, in this country.

      We could, indeed, make things worse.

    • HonestDebate1

      I have more faith in my fellow man than that.

    • Kimmy Pterodactyl

      Wow, well said. Very important discussion. What concerns me is which stories get reported…. Are the most important stories at the forefront?
      There was a caller who said he was fed up with journalism after the AP kept rejecting his stories about U.S. involvement in atrocities overseas.
      Seems like there is a possibility of some hidden agendas within the curation of the news … Especially since a few organizations own so much of it.

  • orwelllutz

    The only way to put forth a meaningful constitution is for
    you and I to draft one out of our ideals. A constitutional convention
    made up of the political power structure will not possibly improve
    things. But if we drafted one; and iterated a few times, I bet that 80%
    of the things we think of will agree. Then, the only question is whether
    a peaceful march on Washington will get this considered, or will the Army’s intervention be needed.

    Can we agree that politicians & the Supreme Court have spent the last
    250 years subverting the intent of the constitution; and that we do not have a democracy today. We do not elect our representatives, we merely
    vote for those selected for us. We cannot know what Congress is
    doing because of their rules; and decisions such as Citizens United assure that we remain subject to the power of wealth.

    By the way, my solution for decline is to change our law and economic
    model to preclude global corporations from selling in our market; then form a trade cartel with western Europe and set about rebuilding our industries.

    I believe in free only so long as business is loyal to its nation and its
    people — which it clearly is not under American capitalism. A bit of
    tough love.

  • Don_B1

    I like your post and find only a slight quibble with the sentence “But natural systems …” in the first paragraph.

    From the time that the vast amounts of plant and animal remains were buried 100s of thousands to millions of years ago, that material has not been a part of the natural carbon cycle:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle

    Humans are messing with this cycle, speeding up the extraction of carbon stored in fossil deposits and using its decomposed compounds as fuels, and putting it in the atmosphere at a rate that far exceeds the natural rate it would otherwise have.

    Otherwise, your are correct that humans’ use of carbon, ingesting it in plants and animals and exhausting it after burning it with atmospheric oxygen where it joins the carbon cycle either as being taken in by plants to be eaten by plants or animals (humans) and then respired while some returned to the earth through soil carbon or ocean sedimentation.

    But the generation of energy from burning fossil fuels and detrimental water and land use practices, including the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (from fossil fuels) and destroying forests for farming, are the main ways humans distort the carbon cycle.

  • Broadnax

    I think this guy is just confused. Maybe he is a philosopher who is a little out of touch with what can and cannot be known. His example of the economic collapse is a good example. He thinks that it happened because of villains who did the wrong things. If he actually understood the situation, he would know it was a systemic failure, which is very easy to see in retrospect, but impossible in prospect.

    People like him like to think that they are smarter than others and that THEY could have known in advance. A little humility in the face of complexity is in order. His criticism is true in many ways, but childish.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      There were people ringing the alarm in advance, and even during the bubble but they were marginalized. There was a lot of extended and pretending going on and has been going since the 1980s, with the rise of the service economy. The elite and the wider population are perusing fantasies. Higher education for all, “privatizsed social security accounts, and other make-work programs.

  • notafeminista

    “Here and Now” of WBUR is listing this as one of their “top stories” …I’m having trouble deciding if it’s actually “news” or not…

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/02/28/holocaust-survivor-students

  • The poster formerly known as t

    There were people ringing the bell about something very specific–the real estate bubble. Just because someone is in a bubble does it mean they will make all the right moves. It’s quite possible that the smart investors, which are a minority, may not have invested ANYTHING in the housing bubble since they would be certain that any wealth generated by real estate wouldn’t last long. The people who had gotten rich over the real estate bubble, if they haven’t lost all their money by now, probably got involved twenty to thirty years prior to the bubble. They most likely bought property when property was dirt cheap watched the value appreciate over time.

    ” Simply saying there is a problem is not useful” It’s very useful if they had reasons to think there was a problem –which they did. It was up to the general public , er the niche cable audiences, to do something about it–and they chose herd behavior and magical thinking.

    • Broadnax

      If I could have foreseen this crash, I could have made piles of money, as could anybody who knew it would happen. If nothing else, you can sell short. And if you know the market will tank, you would sell at the top and just buy back more at the bottom.

      In the long run, we are all dead. But an investor who saw the changes could have made – and kept – big money on the real estate boom-crash of the late 1980s, the dot come boom-crash of the late 1990 and the boom-crash of the late 2000s. If they did not, it indicated either lack of competence or – more likely – lack of that knowledge that they claim.

      I know lots of people who think they predict things, but curiously it doesn’t seem to do them any good. They fool themselves.

      These is lots of signal and noise. Indeed, it is out there, but people don’t see it. AFTER the event, they look back and clearly see – and convince themselves that they SAW – the signs.

      I recall when the Soviet Empire collapsed. I was in a conference in Vienna the Day the Berlin wall fell. The experts explained that communism was stable. A few months later, I heard some of these guys on TV. They started their talk with something like, “as I predicted …”

      • Guest

        Are you done trolling?

        • Broadnax

          If you are talking to me, I suggest you think again. If you are talking to the other good posters, perhaps you should also think again.

  • Sandstone3

    Read ‘The Big Short’ as but one example of people who were taking advantage based on knowledge. Also, my boss (technology guy in small investment mgt firm) came to me in Feb 2007 after attending a conference and said ‘This WHOLE thing is a house of cards waiting to fall’. The ‘whole thing’ was the derivatives, swaps, etc.

    • Broadnax

      Sand – People say stuff like that. They say it all the time and eventually they are right. Everything will end. The trick is knowing when. AND doing something about it.

      The system is statistical. Some people make the right choices, but sometimes for the wrong reason. I am not saying that nobody could see problems. I am saying that it was not clear and that this lack of clarity is the characteristic of the complex system. Those things that are simple, we just do.

      I don’t believe people who claim to be able to predict and I believe even less those who claim to have predicted. They sometimes fool themselves but they should not fool us.

      And anybody who “predicted” finances and is not fantastically rich can be dismissed out of hand.

      • Sandstone3

        Read ‘The Big Short’. It is obnoxious how much these people knew what they were doing.

  • Ray

    Wow I’ve never heard Tom Ashbrook so aggressive and mocking of a guest. I guess Alain’s criticisms hit home.

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Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

 
Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

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Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

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