Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tough Love for TYT: UFO Report Deserves Rotten Tomatoes

I’m going to be critical of The Young Turks in this post because I love the show. 

No one paying attention to mainstream media right now can doubt the importance of alternative news programs such as Democracy Now! (featuring Amy Goodman) and TYT (featuring Cenk Uygur). 

These programs are labors of love requiring dedication and support from all sorts of people whose efforts I very much appreciate. 

TYT isn’t just informative; it’s genuinely fun to watch. And since TYT fans can tell a lot about each other simply by revealing which panelists they consider their favorites, I’ll confess that my favorite contributor isn’t Uygur or Ana Kasparian or John Iadarola. Everyone on the show does a great job, but my favorite is Jimmy Dore.

Maybe I’m giving Dore too much credit here, but I honestly think that if he had been on the show recorded Friday, April 8th, he would have prevented his co-panelists from delving so deeply into the Area 51 nonsense that the mainstream media bamboozled everyone (including the ordinarily astute Uygur) into embracing as the distraction du jour.[1]
As the editorial board of the New York Post observed back on March 25th, the Clintons have long used UFO speculation to distract attention from more substantive issues. When Hillary tossed out this chestnut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month, the editors of the Post suggested that she merely sought to chew up time with idle chatter—time that might otherwise have been spent on questions concerning the FBI investigation into her use of a private server as Secretary of State. 

A separate article released by Mother Jones that same day began by noting how tiresome this diversionary tactic of the Clintons has become: “Once again, Hillary Clinton has pledged that she will discover as much as possible about government involvement in UFO research and share the information with the American people.” It's disappointing for Uygur to fall for such gambits when they have become obvious enough to warrant commentary even within mainstream media circles.

To Uygur’s credit, he recognized the Panama Papers as the most important story of the week when it broke. While the mainstream media stayed virtually mum, TYT did a commendable job of contrasting Bernie Sanders’ opposition to the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement with Hillary Clinton’s support for it. Uygur’s takeaway point—that the agreement was about setting up tax havens, not improving economic relations—was courageously and compellingly articulated.

And yet when Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta gave an interview about his own interest (shared, of course, by Clinton) in revisiting the Area 51 files, Uygur lapped the story up just as uncritically as the mainstream media that he rightly excoriates for failing to do its job. 

Golly gee, Mr. Uygur, I wonder what Podesta’s motives could have been for giving that interview on Thursday? Do you think the timing may have had anything to do with the fact that the Podesta Group (co-founded by John and currently managed by his brother, Tony) handles public relations for Sberbank (the largest bank in Russia), which happens to be implicated in the Panama Papers scandal?

When politicians and their henchmen resort to such smoke-and-mirror ploys, we expect CNN to slobber all over the mirrors and FOX to choke itself on the smoke.

But we expect better from TYT. I love you guys, but I’ll love you even more if you refuse to allow yourselves to be drawn into these dead end tunnels in the future. We can get tunnel vision anywhere else. We rely on you for something different.

[1] Kasparian wasn’t on the show either, so her fans can argue that she would have kept Uygur and Iadarola from dropping the ball as clumsily as they did. I’m open to that argument.

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