Casting Light on the Dark Side of Politics

How to Create Doubt

greenhouse-gasTonight marks the final formal debate between the two presidential candidates and I’m asking my students to consider the question: How do we create doubt?

When you listen to the debate and hear arguments about “truths,” how are the truths created?

Some filmmakers examine the question in Merchants of Doubt, a 2014 documentary that peels away the layers of truth-construction between scientists and politicians.

The film artfully shows how truths are manufactured.

I’ve dusted off my blog from last October to revisit the film because truth-construction will crystallize in tonight’s debates.

 The  documentary Merchants of Doubt knocks down lies one by one.

And then the film knocks down assumptions, one by one.

But it’s hard to know what’s worse: the lies we tell each other, or the lies we tell ourselves?

Merchants of Doubt shatters the first lie by exploring the scientific, peer-reviewed studies about global warming.

Wide-spread rumors that scientists disagree is actually false. Continue reading

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What is your American dream?

Our local public broadcasting service is asking folks to share their vision of the American Dream.

They ask: What is your American Dream?

How have your experiences shaped and changed your concept of the American Dream?

How, if it all, do you see your version of the American dream changing under our next president?

This is a terrific topic: good for a conversation with your friends, family, classes, social media…and blogs.

I tackle such questions by breaking down the terms: what do we mean by American? What do we mean by dream?

America and American can be loaded, depending on the context.

Continue reading

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Havoc, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Dogs of War

The violent confrontations splashed across the media in the last few days recall not just another Avatar-esque confrontation between militarized resource-exploiting corporations and local indigenou…

Source: Havoc, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Dogs of War

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The Power of Place

Well written and thoughtful

Dreaming the World

Down EastThe past few weeks have witness a massive gathering of Native people from many tribes, and their allies, to stop construction of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The gathering, which mainstream media have labeled “a protest,” is an attempt to protect both sacred lands and the planet. It is the latest example of a clash of cultures and worldviews that constitutes an immense divide between worlds. One one side are Indigenous people, and their allies, who understand the land to be alive and attentive; on the other side are governments and industries who deny the land has any consciousness, and who place short term economic gain above the value of treaties or the welfare of the planet.

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High gloss won’t restore the sheen on the warty toad


Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller and the planet


(Earlier this week I wrote that the comb-over candidate’s spinmeisters are redoubling their efforts to curb the candidate’s runaway tongue by having him stick to a carefully scripted playbook. Today’s New York Times confirms the prediction. The first headline you see announces the candidate is trying a new tactic: “Sticking to the Script.”)

Until now, we’ve seen an unvarnished toad running for office: warts and all.

But judging from this week’s headlines, the candidate’s revamped strategy is aimed at burnishing an image of a boorish braggart into a facsimile of a sentient being.

Press agents and publicists can be masterful at creating images that turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Consider the case of John Davison Rockefeller. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, John D Rockefeller, Ludlow Massacre, news bias, politics, propaganda, public relations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


Lipstick on a pig? A toad?


 (My last blog, Stuck on the Tar Baby, takes a look at what it means in the worlds of journalism and public-relations to frame $2 billion in “free” press coverage in today’s presidential campaign. Today I muse about recent PR efforts to harness the comb-over candidate’s tongue).

 Bluster & blunder

With voting deadlines bearing down on all comers, journalists observe that the comb-over candidate’s handlers are attempting a new approach: curbing the Republican front-runner’s erratic blunder-busters.

Until now, the candidate stated publicly that “what you see is what you get.”

The mass-mediated projection of his character is…well…accurate.

And that’s a good thing.

That means readers and viewers—you and I—see an authentic portrayal in the news.

Each time he opens his pie-hole we hear the real, uncensored candidate. Continue reading

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Stuck on the Tar Baby

(Today’s blog is the first of three that looks at the presidential election from a perspective that shares evidence from researchers who study mass media. But first, I must have my morning tea)

My mornings follow a routine.

My sweetheart rises first, darts upstairs to snap on his espresso-maker and boil water for my tea.

I listen to a recording of birds that begins at oh-five-hundred: a symphony of trills and warbles that wakes me from my slumber.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t linger under the covers.

I grab my iPad, march flat-footed up the stairs, and begin the tea ritual, which includes extracting from the shelf a silver teapot from London’s Portobello Road, two teabags of an Assam-Yunnan admixture, a cup and saucer painted with yellow sunflowers, a small sugar bowl, a creamer filled with milk, and two spoons: one for the sugar and one for the tea.

While the water boils I greet my husband and my dog–in that order–and pour my first cup of tea, ladling in a quarter-teaspoon of sugar.

I sip my tea and he slurps his coffee (my husband, not my dog) and we both gaze out the window and discuss the weather.

Will it be a good day for biking? Will it rain? Do we leave the windows open or closed?

The second cup of tea gives me permission to read the electronic version of The New York Times.

I begin with page one–at least–page one of my e-version of the news.

My heart sinks.

Continue reading

Posted in american indian, communication, ethics, framing, journalism, native press, Native Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments