Media Howlers

Expanded from the 8-28-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

"Just have to look good, I don't have to be clear."
— Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry," the national anthem of TV news

Our media only reflect us and we are busy, busy, busy — absorbed with ourselves, as well we should be. The individual is increasingly threatened in a world of disposable jobs and disposable people.

With life getting more and more complex, details don't really matter, do they? Today's newspaper is gone tomorrow. Radio and TV programs evaporate the moment they air. Why sweat a few inaccuracies? Anything your computer's spell-checker can't catch ain't worth correction. As with labor reporters, newspapers don't hire proofreaders anymore. Television hasn't bothered in decades. Some of us are still alive who remember a time when spelling errors NEVER went out over network television. Today, they are commonplace.

A sports anchor at KOLO TV-8 in Reno was fired a few years back for typing the most obscene of vulgarities into the system when a technical failure wiped out the satellite feed of a story he needed. Alas, the dirtiest word in the English language later ended up on his sportscast and he quickly ended up on the street.

The oft-trashed Internet can actually become the most accurate dispenser of information because its programs never end, its paper is never printed. On the web, you can always correct a mistake by pressing a few keys – if some other idiot hasn’t already picked up your error and distributed it as fact. Which brings me to the latest from the frontlines of non-partisan war protest.

The following is reproduced just as it arrived via e-mail: "I'm coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong. I came here two and a half weeks ago for one reason, to try and see the president and get an answer to a very simple question: What is the noble cause that he says my son died for?"Cindy Crawford

I didn't know supermodel Cindy Crawford had children old enough to serve in combat. I guess I need to go with the flow of the public in abandoning the nation's newsmagazines in favor of the celebrity sleeparound rags.

I find a screwup from some volunteer peace blogger much easier to forgive than some recent howlers from the legit media.

Last week's co-winners both have serious Nevada hooks. Regular CNN viewers may know Jack Cafferty as the bald-headed guy cracking semi-wise on the network's weekday morning show. Lately, he's been staying into the afternoon to read e-mails on boring Wolf Blitzer's newly redesigned magenta fest called "The Situation Room." (If you tune in, wear sunglasses and carry Tums.)

In commenting on bogus Christian Pat Robertson's call for the U.S. to assassinate the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Cafferty termed the South American leader "César Chávez." Oops. César is the late United Farmworkers Union leader who died in 1993. The prez of Venez is named Hugo.

Cafferty grew up in Reno, the son of Cactus Tom Cafferty, a tall drink o'water cowboy with a cigarette voice who used to spin country records on the old KBET Radio when it was housed in the murdered Mapes Hotel. Cactus Tom was such a straight shooter that he refused listener requests for the semi-dirty country hit "Shaving Cream."

Cactus Jack's blooper is only slightly less forgivable than that of two MSNBC airheads commenting on the source of recent criticisms of seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong.

As Bimbo One concluded her report, she noted that the French are in reality just ticked off about an American winning their premiere sporting event and would prefer a one of their own to return to glory. Someone like Greg LeMond, cutely replied Ms. Anchor Bimbette.

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond grew up and began racing right here in the streets River City.

Another street rumor has attained international urban legend status. On MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, an "expert" commentator named Franco last week recalled Saddam Hussein's attempt to assassinate former President Bush. Never happened. Bush the First visited Kuwait after being bounced from office. The newsmedia ballyhooed the purported foiling of an assassination attempt. A few weeks later came a correction: no plot by Saddam ever happened, a fact which Dubya has conveniently chosen to ignore in perpetuating this falsehood. (1, 2, 3) The supposedly astute Matthews sat shiva.

SAM SHAD'S SOIREE AND SLUGFEST. Tomorrow, the enterprising Mr. Shad interviews Nevada's Newt Gingrich — bombastic, bomb-throwing Robert T. Beers, news director for Reno's KCBN rock 'n' roll radio in his college days. Nowadays, Bob Beers is a Gomorrah South state senator and Republican candidate for governor.

While Beers has grown more conservative with every hair abandoning his head, KCBN has come full circle. Now known as KJFK-1230am, it hosts the struggling Air America Radio Network.

My old buddy Bob recently said that controlling state spending is the biggest problem the state faces. (To hell with stressed schools and starving babies?) He's pushing a disastrous constitutional amendment that has proven so bad in Colorado that chicken-livered Coorsland lawmakers are pushing the voters for a (gulp) temporary hiatus.

While bashing Gov. Dudley Do-Right as a tax-and-spend liberal, Robert T. has refused to say where he'd cut stingy Nevada's supposedly bloated budget. Mr. Shad has occasionally shown flashes of the interviewing skill of Johnny Carson in bringing forth the unexpected. Perhaps he can coax Bobby Newt into some straight answers.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that the tax plan Gov. Guinn pushed in 2003 was written by the casino industry. Had the Guinn-Gambler hustle passed, it would have hiked taxes on thee and me while basically letting the state's largest industry off with pocket change – a mere $6 million a year after federal taxes for the gambling industry statewide.

After Sen. Beers' perpetration of bloviation, I'll hold forth on the program's pundit panel. Mr. Shad and I will be joined by Carson City School Board member Bob Crowell and the guv's deputy chief of staff, Lisa Foster.

Sam Shad's "Nevada Newsmakers" originates Monday through Thursday on KRNV TV-4 (NBC) at 12:30 p.m. Those afflicted with "we need more deregulation" Charter cable can view a same-day rerun at roughly 9:28 p.m. on channel 12 in Washoe-Carson-Douglas. The statewide TV/radio/web rebroadcast schedule may be found with the expanded edition of this column.

Turn on, tune in and tell a friend.

Be well. Raise hell.


     1. Hersh, Seymour; "A Case Not Closed"; The New Yorker; 9-27-2002. "None of the Clinton Administration officials I interviewed over a ten-week period this summer claimed that there was any empirical evidence— a 'smoking gun' — directly linking Saddam or any of his senior advisers to the alleged assassination attempt. The case against Iraq was, and remains, circumstantial."

     2. Lobe, Jim; "So, did Saddam really try to kill Bush's dad?"; Asia Times; 10-21-2004; "In October 1993, however, New Yorker investigative journalist Seymour Hersh assailed the US government's case as 'seriously flawed', noting among other problems that seven bomb experts had told him that the devices were mass-produced and probably not even manufactured in Iraq."

     3. EDITOR'S NOTE: The above references represent two of 10,700 returns from a web search on this issue. The comments in these two articles are much more reserved than news reports in 1993 which totally debunked the much ballyhooed Saddam plot. Lobe's article really calls into question whether there actually was a plot or merely confessions beaten out of those unfortunate enough to have been caught in the Kuwaiti dragnet. It appears from Hersh's article that Clinton's advisors pushed him to retaliate because it was Washington dogma that Saddam just had to be involved. Sound familiar?

All other information is welcome.

...and more ammo

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

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      BARBWIRE: Patriot Games, 8-21-2005

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Copyright © 2005 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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