On The Monitor this week:
- The confirmation of Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services – an interview with Carol Paris.
- Terrorism, Trump, and the media narrative – an interview with Beau Grosscup
More about this week’s guests:
Dr. Carol Paris is a recently retired psychiatrist who worked for more than 25 years in private practice, community mental health, prison psychiatry, and academia. She is president of Physicians for a National Health Program. In the course of her experience, much of which was in Maryland, she became an outspoken critic of the private-insurance-based U.S. health care system.
In May 2009, she and seven others stood up, one by one, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care reform chaired by Sen. Max Baucus to ask why there wasn’t a single advocate for single-payer health care on the 41-member panel. In an action that received national media attention, Baucus had all eight peaceful protesters, including Dr. Paris, arrested. (Charges were eventually reduced, requiring only community service.)
Quote in response to the Senate vote to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of health and human services: “The Senate’s confirmation of Tom Price as health secretary is a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans. According to this week’s Monmouth University poll, Americans’ biggest concern today is with their mounting health care costs, more so than their job security, taxes or other household bills. With Price at the helm of HHS, this concern is only going to escalate. Price’s vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection. He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program and safety-net hospitals. If Price’s policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like ‘universal access.’ The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result. Studies show that about 43,000 people will die each year if such policies are implemented. Congress urgently needs to reverse course and embrace the obvious solution: an improved Medicare for all.”
Beau Grosscup is author of several books on terrorism including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He recently retired from teaching (California State University).
On The Monitor this week:
- Is Wall Street in the Saddle? We discuss Hillary Clinton’s relationships with Wall Street and Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest with Nomi Prins
- What of the media’s role in understanding our elections? We talk about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner with Victor Pickard
More about this week’s guests:
Nomi Prins is author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power and just wrote the piece “Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America: Wall Street in the Saddle” for TomDispatch.com.
Quote: “At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: the choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire, who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag, and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo-op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent. … In this election, Hillary has crafted her talking points regarding the causes of the last financial crisis as weapons against Trump, but they hardly begin to tell the real story of what happened to the American economy. The meltdown of 2007-2008 was not mainly due to ‘tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy’ or a ‘failure to invest in the middle class,’ two subjects she has repeatedly highlighted to slam the Republicans and their candidate. It was a byproduct of the destruction of the regulations that opened the way for a too-big-to-fail framework to thrive. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era act that once separated people’s bank deposits and loans from any kind of risky bets or other similar actions in which banks might engage, was repealed under the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. In addition, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed, which allowed Wall Street to concoct devastating unregulated side bets on what became the subprime crisis. … One possible contender for treasury secretary in a new Clinton administration would be Bill Clinton’s Under Secretary of Domestic Finance and Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman, Gary Gensler (who was — I’m sure you won’t be shocked — a Goldman Sachs partner before entering public service). These, then, are typical inhabitants of the Clinton inner circle and of the political-financial corridors of power. … Among the emails sent to John Podesta that were posted by WikiLeaks is an article I wrote for TomDispatch on the Clintons’ relationships with bankers. ‘She will not point fingers at her friends,’ I said in that piece in May 2015. ‘She will not chastise the people who pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop to speak or the ones who have long shared the social circles in which she and her husband move.’ I also suggested that she wouldn’t call out any CEO by name. To this day she hasn’t.” Prins’ past pieces include “Madoff in the White House? How Trump’s Conflicts of Interest Could Become Ours.”
Victor Pickard is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of the book America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform. He also recently wrote the piece “Media and Politics in the Age of Trump.”
Quote: “AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner would create a media behemoth with dangerous concentrations of political and economic power. With one corporation controlling so much production and distribution of news and entertainment media, this vertical integration poses significant potential hazards for millions of consumers and could harm the health of our democratic discourse. AT&T is already one of the nation’s largest internet and phone providers, as well as the largest pay-TV operator with its recent acquisition of DirecTV. By acquiring Time Warner’s media empire, which includes CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros, AT&T can privilege its own programs over competitors’ and prevent other internet and cable companies from having access to them. Such a merger deserves close regulatory scrutiny from the Justice Department. It raises serious antitrust concerns, especially since the lack of competition resulting from such mega-mergers can lead to higher costs and fewer choices for consumers. Much of the American media system is already plagued by prohibitive costs and poor services and this merger would not make things better — indeed, it could make things considerably worse. It could also spur a new wave of mergers between other content and distribution companies, encouraging an already highly concentrated media system to become more consolidated. In the coming weeks and months, we will no doubt hear from industry representatives that such a merger would provide many public benefits. But historically this has rarely been the case. Moreover, there’s growing pressure from antitrust circles — as well as activists and leading politicians — to reverse the trend toward vertically-integrated oligopolies. This proposed deal may provide a crucial test case for whether the era of new media monopolies has begun to recede.”
Pickard is also co-editor, with Robert McChesney, of the book Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It.
This week’s show takes a closer look at the domestic presidential election through interview with two guests. First, we talk to Sam Husseini about The Anti-Democratic Structure of Two Party Elections, and second, we shift focus to California to talk to Greg Palast about Placebo Ballots.
More about this week’s guests:
Sam Husseini is the founder of the website VotePact.org. He is director of media and communications for the Institute for Public Accuracy and is based on the IPA media office at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. His articles on politics, foreign affairs, public policy, media, and pop culture have been published in the Washington Post, Newsday, the Nation, FAIR’s magazine Extra! and numerous other outlets. Prior to joining IPA, Husseini was media director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He has published articles for Counterpunch, some of the more recent of which include:
- The Anti-Democratic Structure of Two Party Elections: Chomsky, Bloomberg and and the VotePact Solution
- Could Voters Opposed to Both Clinton and Trump Team up Using VotePact?
- After Sanders — a Path to Electoral Revolution
- Trump is Right About Iraq, and That Should Stick to Clinton
Greg Palast is an investigative reporter, whose news-breaking stories appear on BBC Television, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone Magazine. You can read his reports at GregPalast.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic. He is best known in the US for uncovering Katherine Harris’ purge of black voters from Florida’s voter rolls in 2000. Greg Palast is currently finishing the final frames of his new film on the upcoming theft of the 2016 election: “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.” Greg is now posting a weekly podcast on itunes. Take a look at it here. You can also see some of his recent writings at GregPalast.com where recent examples include:
On The Monitor this week:
- Gareth Porter on How Putin’s leverage shaped the Syrian ceasefire
- Max Blumenthal on Israel, BDS, and U.S. media coverage of Israel and Palestine
There is an event on Tuesday the 29th of March that is probably of interest to our listeners: The Ervin Frederick Kalb Lecture in History at Rice University. The title is “America, Energy and War” and the speaker is Toby C. Jones. The event starts at 7:00PM. Get all the details here and come along, if you can. See you there!
More about this week’s guests:
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy. He writes regularly for Middle East Eye and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author several books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in 2005, and Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare in 2015. He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Follow him on Twitter
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He has written several books, including The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party (a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller). He also recently completed a short documentary with James Kleinfeld in which they speak to far right activists in Finland. Watch it here. Follow him on Twitter
On The Monitor this week:
- Presidential Debates, Cable News, and the Miseducation of the American Public – an interview with Jeff Cohen
- Assessing Putin and Obama in Syria and Ukraine – an interview with Joe Lauria
More about this week’s Guests:
Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.
From his recent article:
At the CNN-sponsored Republican Party debate last month at the Reagan presidential library, one of the three panelists CNN selected to question the candidates was conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, affiliated with the proudly right-wing Salem Radio Network. But at Tuesday’s upcoming Democratic Party debate, CNN is not planning to include a single progressive advocate among its panel of four questioners.
It’s clear that who gets to pose questions has impact on the tenor of the debate. For example, Hewitt used September’s Republican debate to declare that President Obama’s “knees buckled” over Syria and that every Republican candidate was “more qualified than” Hillary Clinton. Hewitt pressed Jeb Bush from the right over his comment about making sure guns are not in the hands of the mentally ill: “Where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?”
Along with Hewitt, the panel at CNN’s GOP debate was composed of two journalists CNN presents as neutral or objective: CNN anchor Jake Tapper and CNN correspondent Dana Bash. (Hewitt’s appearance was reportedly part of an agreement by which CNN and the right-wing Salem Media company are teaming up on three GOP presidential debates.)
At CNN’s upcoming Democratic debate, the panel is to be composed of four journalists CNN presents as neutral: CNN’s Bash and three CNN anchors (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol.) Glaringly missing from this proposed lineup is an unabashed progressive advocate.
There are many qualified journalists for this seat — from respected progressive media institutions that haven’t taken sides in the Democratic primaries (like The Nation or Mother Jones, to name just two).
Today, the online activism group RootsAction.org (which I cofounded) launched a one-sentence petition to CNN: “For the sake of basic fairness and balance, you should add to your panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.”
CNN’s Double-Standards on Debates (10/9/15)
26,000 Petition Bernie Sanders to Tackle US Militarism (8/31/15)
Bernie Trumped By Mainstream Media (8/18/15)
Memo to Media: Ask Trump If He’s a ‘Serial Racist’ (7/4/15)
Will Bernie Be the Beginning of a Revolution? (6/2/15)
Joe Lauria is an international affairs correspondent specializing in the United Nations, Lauria just wrote the piece “Obama’s Self-Deceit” for ConsortiumNews.com. Lauria writes: “There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a ‘return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.’ …
“He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. …
“At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.
“Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has ‘few economic interests’ in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.
“And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country? …
“On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. …
“Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. …
“‘The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,’ Putin told the Assembly. ‘It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.’ …”