Welcome to Left Out, reality-based independent radio on WRCT 88.3FM, and on the worldwide web at leftout.info. Left Out discusses the news from a perspective left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Matt Hornyak. Listeners are invited to call the program at (412) 268-WRCT (9728), or to send email to email@example.com
The WRCT spring semester schedule is up. In it we find:
Democracy Now! weekdays at 8am.
Free Speech Radio News weekdays at 5:30pm.
Fight'n Lefty Review Wednesdays at 6pm.
After The Bell right after Left Out.
The Lid Off alternating weeks with Left Out.
Rust Belt Radio Mondays 6pm.
Listen to the broadcast (requires MP3 player). (Streaming, Download, Podcast)
Chalmers Johnson is a political scientist who taught for many years at the universities in Berkeley and Lajolla. In 1994 he co-founded the Japan Policy Research Institute.
Chalmers Johnson is the author of more than a dozen books, including Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and (most recently) The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
Johnson was interviewed for the movie Why We Fight. And you can read this recent interview from TomDispatch.com.
Topics to discuss:
Thoughts on the missing "peace dividend" we were supposed to get when the cold war ended.
The case for Goliath is a recent book by Michael Mandelbaum, which explains why it's so great for the world that the US is the world's policeman. We'd be interested in hearing Johnson's comments on this book.
Johnson's books --- those mentioned above, as well as his forthcoming Nemesis.
His analysis of the "big picture" of why we are at war in Iraq, and,
more generally, the geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa.
Here on Left Out, we've frequently highlighted the punishment meted out to mainstream reporters who dare to stray outside the allowed range of discourse. Two prominent examples we've discussed are Gary Webb (who wrote "Dark Alliance" exposing the CIA's involvement with drug trafficking) and Mary Mapes (who was fired from CBS news in the fallout from a 60-minutes story about how Bush got into the Texas National Guard).
Now there's another example. The AP fired a prominent and greatly respected reporter named Christoper Graff. His offense was to put on the AP wire the article below by Patrick Leahy in defense of the Freedom of Information Act, and the public's right to know. This story was covered in detail in last week's Counterspin
Public's right to know is under siege by Patrick Leahy
Protest Grows Over Chris Graff's Firing by Peter Fryne
Why the AP Fired Christopher Graff by Peter Fryne
The concept of false balance is where "journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence actually supports". (A more complete definition can be found in this link into WikiPedia.)
The evolution/creationism "debate" is one great example. Another one is global warming. Although it's well established that human activity is causing climate change, this fact has still not made it beyond where journalists must "balance" it with nonsense. Here's a great example from an article last week in the LA Times:
As levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere worldwide rise to levels not seen for a million years, the ice sheets of Antarctica -- the world's largest reservoir of fresh water -- are shrinking faster than new snow can fall.
But no one knows whether the heat-trapping effects of atmospheric pollution or nature's own enigmatic cycles of change are the cause.
Here's an exchange I had on this with my friend Neil Donahue, who is a climate expert at CMU:
My first thought was that this is an eggregious example of "false balance", where they use the term "no one knows" to describe a situation where 999 out of 1000 atmospheric scientists agree that human activitiy is the cause, but there's one guy who doesn't.
I think your instincts are right. There is essentially no debate
about the rapid warming at the poles being part of a pattern of
global change that is certainly induced by human activity. One of
the reasons we are more sure than ever of this is that the
predictions of climate models are that global warming should be more
pronounced at the poles. The equatorial atmosphere has a huge heat
capacity and lots of water, both of which reduce the effect of
increased CO2. The increased CO2, however, permits more equator-to- pole heat transport, which is exactly what is going on.