Chavez, Chomsky and talking-heads TV
At the U.N. last week, Hugo Chavez branded Bush “el diablo” and plugged Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival, which has shot up to Number One at amazon.com — a remarkable feat for a book that's three years old AND already had one stint as a big seller. I recommend it, too.
It’s nice to see Chomsky getting some positive publicity in the mainstream media, where he’s usually ignored or slandered by commentators who take a line or two out of context to make him look foolish or even despicable. A reasonable person who gets to see the full context of the quoted passage or interview might (or might not) take issue with Chomsky. But that person would be unlikely to consider him beyond the pale.
Six years ago I penned a piece on how to provide ideological balance to talking-heads TV, where far too often timid centrists (Michael Kinsley), roadkill moderate liberals (Allan Colmes), or even everyday reporters who quite properly aren't permitted by their boss to express opinions on the issues of the day (e.g., NPR's Mara Liasson, who moonlights as an implied liberal on Fox) are matched against articulate, fire-breathing rightists. Jeff Cohen (see Aug. 6 entry below), FAIR, myself, Eric Alterman and others have for many years documented this con; recently, newcomer mediamatters.org has taken up the same cause.
Here’s my Feb. 2000 essay “"This Week" With Noam and Cokie: A modest proposal to untilt talking-head TV.