Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trolls for Radio and TV?

We have clearly had our share of trolls on BlogaBarbara. There have also been quite a few articles in the media which try to instill fear about the effect of blogs, but to many people blogs are new and are something they don't understand. And, we fear what we don't understand. I've been a proponent of the theory that blogs aren't much different than traditional media but for speed and if there is a lack of moderation -- content.

This article from Newsweek on the Don Imus scandal talks about a young man who taped Imus' show everyday to catch him saying something stupid -- which he clearly did. He was doing it on behalf of a liberal group called Media Matters for America. I'm sure this must happen with the other side of the aisle, too. Looks like a troll to me. As for Imus -- he wouldn't get away with saying what he said in the blogosphere either, don't you think?

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Anonymous syvjeff said...

In my opinion, in Imus' situation it was a coordinated attack. If you ever listened to his show, he took shots at everybody. Media Matters, Rainbow Coalition, PUSH, etc must have gotten together and were listening for any host to say anything stupid and/or racist lik that and just mount a full on attack.

4/18/2007 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

You (Sara DlG) need to clarify what you mean by "troll" in this context.

Is something wrong with monitoring the content of popular shows?

4/18/2007 9:52 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

syvjeff -- you are right and let's be clear that the Moral Majority-types do the same thing.

valerio -- Here's a list of definitions on -- my favorite is "Any one that lives below the Bridge".

Although it is not a perfect metaphor in that trolls on radio and especially TV cannot deliberately place provocative comments within the medium -- the concept of someone laying in wait is pretty close in that the response is deliberate and meant to provoke.

Nothing should excuse what Imus said -- but there is something worthy of discussion in the fact that politics in America has become this game of seeing who will f%$k up first and how fast you can respond and gain polling points from a "situation". Even being the good Democrat that I am -- this probably started with the Clinton "war room" which was really likely a response to the evangelical Christian movement's fast response on social issues through church networks.

Again, it is about speed. Our trolls on blogs respond on their own accord immediately. Trolls for TV tape and illicit reaction from their political group within hours and days. A web video of Anne Coulter, for instance, was even used by presidential candidates for fundraising. I'd say it was justified but I have to ask -- where does this get us as a body politic?

4/18/2007 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, Media Matters for America performs a valuable service, keeping the right wing honest, by calling it on its daily lies and half-truths. All the loose-lipped talking/shouting heads need police, frankly, because as much as the blogosphere evidences freedom, that freedom regularly gets abused; so providing a forum for more speech that checks that false free speech is necessary and helpful.

4/18/2007 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Sally said...

I'm with Valerio. That is not how I think of "troll". Monitoring these shows is important. People lie. The airwaves matter, alot of it influences masses. The public needs to know more about radio and broadcasting. Pioneers like Roy Masters might surprise you. I wonder why this business isn't investigated. Some of these people know how to work tax exempt church status, get ad money, sell books et al. It can get dirty.

Media Matters has dialogues from shows as well as commentary. Why isn't the public entitled to know what is actually said?

4/18/2007 11:13 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Isn't it just a mater of time before the same happens to a conservative group? I'm not arguing that Media Matters doesn't matter at all -- in the environment we are in, it is necessary.

The public is entitled to know what is said -- and my point is that there are similarities with the blogosphere here and that the same could be said from the other side of the aisle. Does this really work, however?

I guess it does as you and I don't have time to monitor every show and hear what anyone is saying with our busy lives....which is perhaps really what I am getting at.

Those of us that participate here are actually rare -- how many of your friends search for information to make an opinion or even go to a trusted group for them like Media Matters?

4/18/2007 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like to listen to the conservative media. I am more likely to read. I learned that Tammy Bruce is a liberal and a Democrat, because she says so. She only went to the Guiliani Montecito fundraiser because she's an old friend of Dr. Laura. Dr. Laura was the first test case for all this from 6 or 7 years ago. If you tune into Democrat Bruce, she'll explain.

Imus liked Liberman and he was nice to Harold Ford, Jr. If you call that liberal or left wing. "Trolls" call people out and nothing much happens. Some say black journalists and MSNBC employees influenced the MSNBC decision. Advertising pulled out. Had it been only women, he'd still be doing his show.

4/19/2007 12:15 AM  
Anonymous lower westie said...

There's nothing wrong with monitoring public airwaves or popular shows. What struck me was this. Media Matters is a "conservative" watchdog group broke a story about racism and sexism. Here's quote from Newsweek,

". . . It sent e-mails to journalists and civil-rights and women's groups.

The word, and the outrage, spread quickly. A week later, Imus was gone, banished from his multimillion-dollar television and radio show even before he had the chance to complete the all-too-familiar cycle of public penance that high-profile sinners are usually granted."

Now, what if. . .

What if all of this happened a week later. Would any of this even made the news? I believe the power of Media Matters got Imus fired. Not the slur itself.

4/19/2007 6:16 AM  
Anonymous syvjeff said...

My main concern about either Left or Right wing trollers that monitor blogs, TV, Radio and newspaper writers is that what they do is listen for anything that rubs their side the wrong way and then take it way too far into "that person is bad and we are all good" mode. In Imus' case this was clearly a coordinated attack with groups at the ready to attack any or all hosts that crossed a racial line.

Eventually when whatever side you believe in gets shafted then you are going to cry rights of free speech and artistic freedom.

I was telling somebody a story about an event that personally made and impression on me. When I was going to college in Boston in the late 80s, the lead singer of the group Snap beat up a manager at a gay bar. The group Act Up! was outside Tower Records wanting this group's music banned from the store.

Around the corner Roger Maplethorp at a small gallery had his work of various art forms including what some would call gay erotica pictures being presented. Yes a conservative Christian group was protesting this gallery along with (across the police drawn line) Act Up! with their signs of "Free Speech" and "Artistic Freedom". How ironic, less than 100 yards apart.

In this world that we live in, I prefer all points of view to be available and not have someone like Imus getting shut out by groups. I especially loved reading various blogs, hearing conservatives screaming get rid of that "liberal Imus" and the liberals screaming get rid of that "conservative Imus".

I really enjoyed this last weekend's commentary that Kinky Friedman's piece in the New York Post that described Imus as a free thinker that asked everybody the hard questions that nobody else was. He also equally beat up all sides of an issue.

In Imus' case, what he said and did was not an uncommon thing as part of the entertainment value of his show. He was a name caller of every group just to put humor into such serious issues. I personally will miss him.

4/19/2007 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why doesn't anyone call City Council on all their lies and/or half-truths?

4/19/2007 9:19 AM  
Blogger George said...

I think "trolling" implies a certain mean-spirited recklessness with no regard for the truth. A troll just wants to stir up trouble, and usually does so with insults that often have no basis in fact.

What Media Matters does is hold people with powerful soapboxes accountable. No blog, not even Daily Kos or Instapundit, has as much sway as someone on radio or TV.

And the Right does do this patrolling of the leftwing all the time. There's numerous anti-Olbermann blogs out there. Look at how much Rosie O'Donnell has been beaten up for things she's said. Not to mention what happened to Amanda and Melissa when they got hired by the Edwards campaign--somehow a bigoted fringe Catholic managed to get them fired. Notice he was on TV, not just the internets.

4/19/2007 10:00 AM  
Anonymous syvjeff said...

I might have clicked the wrong button, so I'm going to give this another try.

My major concern about any group of any particular make up monitoring and ganging up on what they perceive as an attack of their belief system will lead to two-way discussion coming to a complete stop.

On particular event that made a profound impression on me occured during my Boston college years. At this moment the group Act Up! was protesting the group Snap because their lead singer beat up a manager of a gay bar. Less than 100 yards away an art gallary was showing Roger Maplethorp's work which included to what some would call gay erotica. Act Up! was there protesting the conservative group with signs of "Artistic Freedom" and "Free Speech". How ironic.

I completely support discussions of all issues of a topic, but am concerned about those who only want to hang around those who believe one thing and shut out the rest.

Imus picked on everybody and was finally caught by a coordinated attack. Wait until some group goes after something you beleive in. That is not what America is all about.

4/19/2007 10:53 AM  
Anonymous harping said...

Sara, given that a blog troll is someone who leaves inflammatory comments designed to cause deterioration of a thread's topic/conversation, it's hard for me to see the connection between that & the Imus watchdog. Seems like too much of a stretch, but maybe I'm just out of it today. BTW, when you wrote "Trolls for TV tape and illicit reaction" I'm pretty sure you meant "elicit." ;-)

4/19/2007 12:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ha! More proof that I am not some fired journalist who has a grudge...or maybe I am :)

Maybe that was a stretch. I guess what I see is that similar processes get passed over when comparing blogging to other media like blogging is so much more harmful or something...TV and radio are what we are used to but can be a lot more dmaging considering its reach.

4/19/2007 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that Imus is gone, the bigots will have to get their entertainment elsewhere... We need to free the airwaves of insults.

4/19/2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Sally said...

After reading -- definitions on -- I could better understand what you were saying, Sara. Aren't the gotchas as old as politics? I'm not concerned about conservatives, they are organized and already doing damage control. Tammy Bruce honored Andy Granatelli, she can afford the Rudy Giuliani fundraiser?

4/19/2007 6:06 PM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

Sara -

You have to understand what's behind Media Matters. It's name was derived from the fact that David Brock knows first hand that anything and everything the "media" does, in fact, matter.

David Brock was one of the main writers behind the smears of the Clinton administration and Anita Hill. He was a NeoCon and counted among his friends, Anne Coulter. He "saw the light" and the errors of his lying ways and has made a crusade against biases (hidden or not) and outright lies that are flung about the airwaves. He started Media Matters in part to show anyone who wants to know what is being said on TV, Radio or media that they may have missed but millions did not. It is NOT monitoring for the sake of "gotcha" is shining the light in the dark corners of some seriously Democracy and society damaging thoughts, beliefs and propaganda. It is to counter the "disinformation" spread via the Media.

I highly recommend everyone check out Media Matters daily. I highly recommend reading David Brock's book "Blinded by the Right" or his article in Esquire, "I Was a Conservative Hit Man" and his most recent book in which he addresses the right-wing "machine", The Republican Noise Machine. He details an alleged interconnected, concerted effort to raise the profile of conservative opinions in the press through false accusations of liberal media bias, dishonest and highly-partisan columnists, partisan news organizations and academic studies, and other methods.

Media Matters is no troll organization. It's required reading.

4/19/2007 6:54 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks Jill -- perhaps this wasn't the best example for my point and you can see how I've capitulated a bit above. Gotcha, though, and shining the light -- may be a product of perception and who is at the end of it no? Mainly, I'm concerned that it's hard for anyone to be in the middle these days when we have to identify with one side or the other to make sense of the issues,,,

4/19/2007 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Troll is such a common word in the blogosphere. The accusation "you are a troll" is deadly.

Bravo for the definition: "a troll lives under the bridge." I like that.

Just sitting there under the bridge, waiting for the traffic to go by, and then zap a trollstrike hoping to create zizanie.

It's like your at a party and everyone's doing ball room dancing and in comes a "raver" who tries to steal the show.

Blogs should have the good manners of a fine 18th century salon where the "bon mot" and wit dominate the action. It's the pleasure of language and conversation around a well-defined subject.

Don't fisherman troll?

4/19/2007 9:10 PM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

We shouldn't have to side and that is where the Media has sorely let us down.

Facts are facts. Take for instance, a DC entourage's trip to Syria. If you watched almost all of the "mainstream" media's "reporting", they basically said that Nancy Pelosi was traveling to Syria. They didn't mention the three Republicans who were there with her at the time nor the other Republicans who made the same trip earlier. And, you didn't hear the Republicans on the trip defend trip, including Nancy Pelosi being over there. Then, of course, there is the reporting that Nancy Pelosi was caving into the Muslim demands by "demeaning" herself by wearing a scarf over her head. Little, if no reporting on the fact that Condi Rice and Mrs. Bush, when over in the Middle East, also wear scarves over their hair. It's called observing the codes of a different culture.

That's the sort of bias that Media Matters is fighting. It is one of only a handful of sites that try to get the facts as facts out.

In order to make sense of the issues, we need to have all the facts.

4/19/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Ed Padgett said...

I enjoy the name you have given company representatives, trolls. We also have our share of trolls, leaving anonymous comments, every time I mention something the pressmen will ask for when our union is certified next month. Yet, not a word is said when the Tribune executives reward themselves millions of shares of stock (Feb. 2007), or write a golden parachute of $269,000,000 when our company is sold.

Blogging is nothing new to many of us, before the Internet, we called it bulletin board systems. I have written the good and the bad regarding the Los Angeles Times for many years, and I’m still employed at the newspaper. Our writers and editors just completed Internet 101, and I was under the impression all of our editorial staff were well versed in navigating blogs and the Internet.

I am a printer, not a writer, but I have followed the Santa Barbara events closely and occasionally post a few comments regarding the situation to our north.

Marty Keegan ran a clean union campaign at the Los Angeles Times, but the company is attempting to convince the NLRB to void the election with silly charges of a pro-union employee winking at another pro-union worker before the election.

4/20/2007 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I don't want to comment on Pelosi or the meaning of various incidents that describe the phenomenon you are talking about.

However, I think of it as "gotcha" journalism, and if there is always someone standing around waiting to record an error, certainly anyone, whether from the right or the left, is NOT going to come out smelling like roses. It is a new form of peril in the public discourse. Few, very few, can survive this kind of scrutiny.

This makes for a lot of non issues becoming hot issues. Just one wrong word or gesture and your cooked. You can takes the case of Pelosi, or McCain singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran," or this whole fiasco of the justice lawyer firings, or Don Imus. I think Rush Limbaugh refers to this as the "drive by" media with all the connotations implicit therein. All our public interest and discourse is becoming so sleazy and detail oriented. Will reporters be waiting outside bedroom windows waiting for the curtains possibly reveal something?

4/20/2007 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Rush Limbaugh refers to this as the "drive by" media with all the connotations implicit therein. All our public interest and discourse is becoming so sleazy and detail oriented. Will reporters be waiting outside bedroom windows waiting for the curtains possibly reveal something?

Isn't that what the entire purpose of this blog is towards Wendy and Travis?

4/20/2007 9:57 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Case and point.

Ironic that you bring it up in a post where they haven't been mentioned.

4/20/2007 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Since anonymous brings up Wendy and Travis and the "drive by" media, I would say Travis has definitely done his share of "drive by" hits. Often his entire point of view is troll like--an interloper who might for example on a council issue, jump up from under a bridge, and go at the question full bore, but often completely misunderstands the political context of the issues ( in other words, he didn't do his journalistic homework!) and blasts away--despite the wounds-- with accusations and innuendos. Do any readers ever actually feel when they read him that he speaks for them? I think not. Travis is definitely a "drive by" hit man. No doubt about it. And judging from his output, he is not a very interesting troll.

On the other hand, my perception of Wendy is that she remains relatively invisible but mysteriously pompous which is no easy feat. There is a talent there somewhere. About all we can discern for sure is that she has a quick draw when it comes to using the lawyer weapon. I aso perceive she has a mild interest in the society page and men who write about it. Additionally, I can tell she has some strong feelings about beach access. But I am off topic.

Do you suppose we could entice Dr. Laura to do a Wendy interview? I'd like to learn more.

4/20/2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous harping said...

Sara, I'd like to suggest a new topic for discussion: pros's & cons of the "baseball park" proposed for Pershing Park. Barney wrote about it last week & it might be interesting to find out what others think of it:

4/20/2007 9:21 PM  
Anonymous SC said...

Santa Barbara seriousily needs our own Media Matters. I'm fine with both sides doing it. T.A. with Media Matter monitoring would be repetitious but it would give us a count. Media Matters doesn't bother much with Laura, she's low on food chain. They do the higher ups like Bill O'Reilly and Bennett, who Laura obviously mimics. Laura doing Wendy, why feed the fantasies? If you insist, Dick Mineards is more appropriate for a queen. I'd like to know how Wendy blacked out her pre-McCaw life. Where are the cute childhood photos for her unofficial bio?

4/21/2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Wow. Two 'drive-bys' in the Newssuppress today: Travis takes on the evil empire of the Audobon Society and an article on Ex-editor Roberts who gets hammered in an article about huge amounts of child pornography on his computer! I find these two stories quite exemplary of an angry troll on the loose.

4/22/2007 5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Case and point.

Ironic that you bring it up in a post where they haven't been mentioned.

Not ironic, but pertinent. The very thing that you are bothered by when it doesn't suit you is exactly what you engage in when it suits you.

4/22/2007 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I believe it is "case in point"
2. The "internets" and broadcast TV and radio are vastly different models. The former still offers some opportunity for the unwashed to express themselves. The latter is big entertainment business, conducted via an auctioned public resource generally not available in unfiltered form to the unwashed.
3. I don't get the analogy. Don Imus himself was a troll on the airwaves who often engaged in demeaning "drive by" cracks and commentary. He was entertaining to some and offensive to others. When his entertainment to offense ratio got out of whack, and it bothered sponsors, he was dropped.
4. What the hell does any of this have to do with the News Press situation?

4/22/2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill O'Reilly chimed in on the Media Matters issue and called them an "assasination website".

4/22/2007 11:12 PM  

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