August 4, 2007

‘Big Search’: The Same Old Biased News Coverage for the Digital World?

The high-tech giants of search are attempting to position themselves as successors (or is it heirs?) to Old Media.

Hold the pompoms.

Given the political proclivities and selective indifference to human rights on the part of many of those who run the search giants, it behooves bias-watchers to pay close attention to what these companies are up to, and how they play the news they carry. It appears that The Who’s 1970s warning (“Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss”) about the results of most “revolutions” applies.

You doubt? Take a look at the disgraceful treatment blogger and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin received at the hands of Google News in a supposedly “objective, informative” early 2006 report. The sneering condescension is palpable.

Not content to be mere observers, Google’s preparation for the 2008 elections has apparently included building an out-of-balance management team in its news division (link requires free registration):

The most aggressive pursuer of the political audience, Google has assembled a team of ex-presidential campaign staffers and Washington insiders, including a few who previously worked for Al Gore, a Google senior adviser. They meet regularly to pitch new ideas, help campaigns understand advertising tools, and set up video interviews.

It may not be your father’s media world, but there are many at work trying to ensure that we end up inheriting its media bias.

….. and maybe worse. The search behemoths have shown that their moral blinders are often firmly in place when business considerations and human rights concerns compete.

This story relating to the behavior of Yahoo! in China is just one example:

Congressional investigators plan to look into whether Yahoo officials misrepresented the Internet company’s role in the arrest of a Chinese journalist sentenced to a decade in jail.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos ordered the investigation after a human rights group released a document that it said raised questions about what Yahoo knew when it shared information with authorities about Shi Tao. Beijing officials had sought Shi for sending an e-mail about Chinese media restrictions.

“For a firm engaged in the information industry, Yahoo sure has a lot of secrecy to answer for,” said Lantos, D-Calif. “We expect to learn the truth and to hold the company to account.”

Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan told lawmakers at a hearing last year that his company had no information about the nature of the investigation when it provided details about Shi to Chinese officials, Lantos said.

But the Dui Hua Foundation has released a document that it says shows the Beijing State Security Bureau had written Yahoo saying it wanted e-mail content about Shi for an investigation into suspected “illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities.”

Old Media’s worst actors on their worst days didn’t openly and routinely co-operate with tyrannical regimes as a matter of policy coming down from the very top.

Even as the Evening News, print, and other Old Media dinosaurs appear hellbent on causing their own extinction, the need for vigilance over those attempting to liberally manage and spin the news in the cyberworld is becoming increasingly obvious.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

BHOO: But He Did Stay at a Holiday Inn Express Last Night (UPDATE: Now He’s BOOHOO)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:59 am

I don’t think I need to elaborate (beyond the post title) on this gem from BHOO (Barack Hussein “Obambi” Obama), as reported in Newsweak’s August 6 issue (bolds are mine):

Obama stresses life experience. At a private meeting with journalists and executives in Manhattan last week, he claimed he had better judgment than “any other candidate.” “And I don’t base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq,” he said, according to a transcript provided by campaign staff. “But if you look at how I approached that problem, what I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders. The notion that somehow from Washington you get this vast foreign-policy experience is illusory.”

That may be well phrased. But in reality, Obama lived “overseas in Indonesia” for just four years as a kid. And voters may not warm to a candidate whose judgments are shaped by overseas relatives.

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UPDATE: I just knew that BHOO would come through and say/do enough things to justify my changing his acronym to BOOHOO. The above quote and this cartoon do the trick:

payn070813_cmyk

The name is now Barack O-bomb-a Overseas Hussein Obambi Obama — BOOHOO.

Positivity: Neurosurgeon donates $20 million to his native Indian village

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:55 am

From Buffalo, NY:

Updated: 07/30/07 7:26 AM

He was born into the “untouchable” caste in India, so poor that he didn’t wear his first pair of shoes until he went to medical school.
Then he came to America, where he made millions as a Buffalo neurosurgeon and lived a lavish life, once owning a Rolls-Royce, five Mercedes-Benzes and an airplane.

But he felt empty, almost soulless. So he donated his personal fortune — some $20 million — to establish a neurosurgery hospital, a health clinic and a spa resort in his native Indian village, Chemmanakary.

Now, at 81, Dr. Kumar Bahuleyan has come full circle: from dire poverty in India, to the lifestyles of the rich in America and back to his native village, where he’s traded his Mercedes for a bicycle.

“I was born with nothing; I was educated by the people of that village, and this is what I owe to them,” Bahuleyan said recently in Buffalo.

“I’m in a state of nirvana, eternal nirvana,” he said. “I have nothing else to achieve in life. This was my goal, to help my people. I can die any time, as a happy man.”

The Bahuleyan story seems almost too good to be true, a rags-toriches story that has taken him back to his impoverished roots.

Go here for the rest of the story.