Bob Franken


July 2, 2007
No Refunds, No Returns (Bob Franken)
@ 11:18 am

What if you were asked to buy a television set, but you know that this brand didn’t work as advertised? The picture was terrible; so was the audio. It broke down all the time. It just didn’t deliver on any of its promises. And by the way, its electrical wiring, designed by corporations that put profits over safety, would set your house on fire. Call me crazy, but you wouldn’t buy it, now would you?

Moving right along: Let’s talk about a government that doesn’t work. Its services are routinely mishandled, badly. Its powers abused. The people in charge are grossly incompetent. Its policies, military and otherwise, cause severe loss of life for no good reason. The only ones who really seem to prosper are the already-prosperous. Why buy that one either?

To some degree, we have no choice. The law requires that we all pay taxes, although not everyone must shell out a fair share. That’s for sure. But still, no one in his right mind refuses.

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June 29, 2007
As The Jim Crow Flies (Bob Franken)
@ 12:40 pm

Now for a quote: “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

That of course is the key finding in the 1954 landmark Brown decision, written by the chief justice, Earl Warren.

Now another definition from Webster’s — actually three synonyms — for chutzpah: Nerve, temerity, gall.

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June 28, 2007
Media Hustles (Bob Franken)
@ 10:22 am

Am I wrong or do you agree that Paris Hilton would be a terrific TV anchorwoman? I mean, she has what it takes: She’s blond. And she clearly has the intellect for it.

Yes, I know. That was a cheap shot. But cheap shots seem to be all around us. Take the New York Times and its series on Rupert Murdoch.

Far be it for me to defend his media. But the charges that they pander more than report are old news. And so are the accusations that Murdoch compromises them in the name of his business interests.

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June 27, 2007
Secrecy: Lessons Unlearned (Bob Franken)
@ 10:20 am

Big deal: In the name of openness, the CIA is releasing records of the abuses we already knew about in the 1970s. Well, if you really want openness, how about honesty about the abuses of the 21st century?

How about an honest accounting of the torture, secret prisons, domestic spying, eavesdropping, wiretapping and other invasions of privacy that have become routine business by our national intelligence community? They have only become public to the extent that they have been leaked.

Naive? I’m sure many will say so. After all, these folks will argue, the nation’s vicious enemies do not play by such rules and the United States can only protect the way of life we hold so precious by matching brutality with brutality.

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June 26, 2007
Distorting Light (Bob Franken)
@ 10:23 am

Vice President Cheney is not the only one. In fact, rare is the official, particularly the elected one, who embraces unfettered media access to the way he or she conducts the public’s business. Not so rare is the official who holds the media and its reporters in contempt.

It’s not hard to understand. Having one’s foot held to the fire by brilliant reporting like the current Washington Post series on Cheney or the Walter Reed exposés is an altogether unpleasant experience, and the knee-jerk reaction to such stories is to blame the messengers, meaning the media, for such exceptional journalism.

But the bigger problem is that it IS exceptional. More often than not, many, if not most, outlets favor the ratings/circulation-boosting stories over the ones that would truly shed light on important issues. We gloss over essential substance, presenting sound bites as meaningful debate. Worse, many of us are downright careless with facts, to say nothing of context. It’s frequently hard to find the story that doesn’t distort reality to one degree or another.

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