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The Morning Grumpy – December 13th

13 Dec

All the news and views fit to consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1.Do you want to know what’s wrong with local television news? Look no further than last night’s 11PM broadcast on WGRZ. It was a busy news day, what with thieving parking meter mechanics, a burned down Elks Lodge, federal funding announced for major improvements on Main Street in Buffalo, and several other stories. But, something caught my eye last night. In their “Holding People In Power Accountable” segment (served with a side of fancy graphics and booming noises), WGRZ dispatched concern troll Scott Brown to the press conference at which Erie County Executive Elect Mark Poloncarz announced Richard Tobe would be named as his Deputy County Executive. Click to watch.

In his 120 second story, Scott Brown literally inserted himself into the story with his choice of camera angle and then asked a leading and accusatory question, creating his angle of “raised eyebrows” and unspecified/unsourced “controversy”.

The “controversy” in question?  Due in part to his inability to deal with Deputy Mayor Steve Casey’s ego and paranoia, Tobe was dismissed from Mayor Byron Brown’s administration in 2008.  It might have been proper for Scott Brown to mention that he, Tobe, and Casey all worked for former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski, but Brown rarely seems concerned with that kind of transparency when reporting on former political friends or foils. You know what “raises eyebrows”? Reporters who use their broadcast privileges to run hit pieces on enemies…we’ll just leave it there.

The report lacked depth, was needlessly sensationalistic, and focused as much on the reporter as the subject. Pretty much like everything produced at Channel 2.

A few minutes later, WGRZ followed that story with a lengthy feature about a memorial service for a 2 year old police dog that recently died. (As of this writing, WGRZ had not yet updated their website with the broadcast version of the story, I’ll link it later.) They even felt the need to amplify the story with a live shot from their reporter standing outside the dark and empty high school gym where the event had ended hours earlier.

The effort and resources spent producing this story would have been better spent properly reporting the Tobe story. Instead, we got self-aggrandizing, shallow, hollow, borderline unethical coverage of a story that mattered and in-depth feature coverage on something completely inconsequential.

Buffalo TV News…information for the incurious and/or elderly.

2. Fantastic article about money in politics sent in by a reader.

In the 2008 election, JPMorgan employees gave $4.6 million to the candidates of their choice, coming in behind only Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on The Street. Now that, I would say, is actual electoral power. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that the voting that matters most takes place at those fundraisers, not in the booths where, billions of dollars in attack ads later, the usual hoi polloi pull the handles on electoral slot machines.

Americans seem to be coming around to the conclusion that corrupting money in our politics is THE problem of our generation. Until we demand that this problem is solved, we’ll never get the government we want, we’ll simply get the government we deserve.

3. As of late, fact checking news organizations like Politifact have been pointing out (with regularity) that the GOP Presidential candidates lie so frequently, they make Baron Münchhausen seem like an honest man. Of course, this isn’t evidence that they should, ya know, stop lying, it serves merely as an opportunity to discredit fact checking organizations. Nothing describes the modern conservative movement better than this column in The Weekly Standard.

They call themselves “fact checkers,” and with the name comes a veneer of objectivity doubling as a license to go after any remark by a public figure they find disagreeable for any reason.

Media fact checking endeavors have never been more popular and influential than they are now, largely thanks to the success of the St. Petersburg Times feature called “PolitiFact.” Launched in 2007, PolitiFact purports to judge the factual accuracy of statements from politicians and other prominent national figures.

In 2009 the St. Petersburg Times won a Pulitzer Prize for PolitiFact, endowing the innovation with a great deal of credibility. “According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact .  .  . ” has now become a kind of Beltway Tourette syndrome, a phrase sputtered by journalists and politicians alike in an attempt to buttress their arguments.

Classic stuff. Theypurport” to be “fact checkers“. This argument is laced with so much condescension that even Newt Gingrich thinks the writer is a jerk. When you can’t win, accuse and discredit; “Hey, conservative christian low information voters! Do not believe those liberal media scam artists with their ‘facts’ and ‘research’. They just hate freedom and puppies.”

We’re not entitled to our own version of the truth…which is why America is eating itself.

4. Still not sure what SOPA is and why you should be frantically calling your Representative and Senators and begging them to oppose it? Click here for the handiest, simplest to read infographic you’ll find on the issue.

5. Occupy some knowledge.

Consider the history of tax revenue in this country.  (Data from Congressional Research Service PDF-Link)

1952 corporate tax as a % of GDP = 32.1%
2010 corporate tax as a % of GDP = 1.3%
(A 95% drop)


1952 Payroll taxes (Social security) as a % of total federal revenue = 9.7%
2010 Payroll taxes (Social security) as a % of total federal revenue = 40.0%
(A 400% increase in the burden on workers)

Our political leaders are so deeply in bed with large corporate America that they have not even considered a very small and temporary corporate tax increase to fill an important bucket. Instead, they want to pass the cost onto those who desire to own a home.

For real.

Fact of The Day: On December 13th, 2000, Vice President Al Gore conceded the Presidential election to Gov. George W. Bush.

Quote Of The Day: “Of course, the popular vote was in my favor, and the outcome in the electoral college was not driven by an effort to count every vote that was cast, because the counting was truncated by a Supreme Court decision. In the American system, unfortunately there is no intermediate step between a Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.

Given those two remaining alternatives, I took the advice of Winston Churchill, who said that the American people generally do the right thing after first exhausting every available alternative. Choosing to live under the rule of law seemed to be the only alternative remaining, even though I strongly, strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court decision. Historians and scholars will put that decision in its own separate category. ” – Al Gore

Song Of The Day: “While You Wait For The Others” – Grizzly Bear

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

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