Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hyman Continues to Seize Your Property: The Airwaves

I have to admit that I’m bored of dealing with Mark Hyman’s commentaries on the Kelo vs. New London case. It’s a topic he returns to again and again without saying anything new about it. If you like, you can see my previous responses to his previous “Points” on the topic here, here, and here.

As for
his latest return to the topic, I’ll only point out what I’ve touched on earlier in terms of his framing of the issue: the portrayal of government as something “out there” that is not a product of we the people.

In his editorial, Hyman refers to “greedy bureaucrats” who seize property “in pursuit of higher tax revenues.” The wording is meant to suggest that members of the government are motivated by personal profit, and that somehow tax revenue is something they gain directly from.

Of course, this is nonsense. Tax revenue is not like a company’s sales revenue, which is dispersed to members of the company in the form of salaries, wages, stock options, etc. Tax money is used to cover our collective expenses for things we do together through government. Certainly, politicians can profit from this process, through steering government money to their constituents, but that’s not what Hyman is saying. He’s suggesting government officials are somehow personally profiting from the use of eminent domain. But he doesn’t provide any evidence.

This dishonest way of framing the issue obscures the legitimate subject of debate, which is when do we privilege the rights of the individual over the rights of the community, and vice versa. This is a tricky tension to negotiate in a democracy, and eminent domain cases deal with this issue in a direct, concrete way.

But by invoking the tired conservative trope of government as some sort of evil “other” that exists independently of the people (a trope that is not only inaccurate but, I would argue, dangerous for a democracy), Hyman obscures the real issue with ideological claptrap.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.89

P.S. Speaking of seizing public property, you might have noticed that there’s been a significant rise in the length of Mark Hyman’s commentaries in the last couple of months. Previously, they tended to fall in the 140-180 word range. Lately, they’ve been weighing in consistently at around 240-260 words. I haven’t gotten the stopwatch out yet to determine what that translates into in terms of increased airtime, but just keep in mind that this expansion of “The Point” is the seizing of publicly owned airwaves for the sake of Sinclair Broadcasting and Mark Hyman’s personal political pontificating.


At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is alarming to hear of Hyman's greater windy-ness.

And of course, the fact that he and SBG gets away with one-sided pollution of our airwaves shows us all the sorry state that public discourse is in. Ick

Thanks for your continued documentation of Hyman's contribution to the Decline of Western Civilization.

At 1:04 AM, Anonymous hyman's turtle said...

i'll save you the time. hyman used to routinely run points that exceeded 1:30 and often 2 minutes. over the past year or so, they've rarely gone past 1:10. but in recent weeks, he's back into the 1:40 range.
now at 7 newscasts per week, that's about 10 minutes worth of hyman a week. but in some markets, he runs in multiple newscasts, so we're looking at 20, even 30 minutes of hyman in some cities every week. that's enough to make a sitcom.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger tomfirerescue said...

I would suggest that your organization try and sell advertising to "counter" Mr. Hyman...I noticed your blog entry was well over 140 words...He has a platform and I perceive you are concerned that others may be impacted by his comments...A "Counter" would be to argue his facts - not count his words...You appear as if you are a political strategist openly brainstorming how to deal with a person who has charisma; an audience; and irrefutable facts...Then again you always have the option of changing the channel...

At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Herbert Birdsfoot said...

Tom, I would read the blog more carefully before commenting. Ted's column is countering the "facts" that Hyman presents. The word count only appeared as a post script.

As far as changing the channel goes, well, that isn't really the point. As you said yourself, "others may be impacted by his comments" I'm glad that Ted has taken it upon himself to pick a source of misinformation and present the truth behind the spin.

Finally, if you think Hyman is presenting "irrefutable fact", why don't you defend some of these "facts" that Ted has challenged?

At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Firerescue (if that IS his real name) engages in a popular New Republican notion that citizens should gain access to the democratic process through money.

This is a beloved notion of the New Republicans as can be seen by the Abrahmoff scandal and the party's deep aversion to campaign finance reform.

Why do I say New Republican? Because old-guard Republicans were a bit more civic minded. Please read on...

The Fairness Doctrine of the FCC lasted from the 1930's (i.e., the inception of the commission) until 1987, when President Reagan vetoed Congress's effort to make the Doctrine not only and FCC rule, but Congress's law.

So, the Fairness Doctrine -- which stipulated that the stations that monopolize the public's airways have some responsibility to allow alternative opinions to be heard on the stations -- endured for decades. Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and the Elder Bush all abided by it. But Reagan Era got rid of it, along with limits on advertising (thus the hours-long commercials that the 2nd shifters get on THEIR TV hours).

The public is poorer for the lack of public back-and-forth, but stations can now be propaganda channels. Thus the several propaganda pieces that run on every Sinclair station (it's not just "The Point").

I fear for a country that abides by the notion that only the very rich are entitled to access to the public's airwaves. That's not democracy, its plutocracy.

I'm old enough to remember Richard Nixon's reign. I wasn't too impressed with his abuse of power. But at least he was a progressive Republican (guess who brought the speed limits down to 55mph -- until Reagan?).

We live in coarser times. The notion of Might Makes Right, whether its in okay-to-torture lawyers or a wink-wink FCC, is sad. We're heading more toward authoritarian rule and its ashame that the average American seems so disengaged.

So I am very grateful that Ted runs this blog. It serves as a historical document of the abuse of the public's airwaves.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...


The issue isn't the number of words; it's the fact that Hyman is using public airwaves and (increasing) airtime to deliver editorials that routinely:

* twist the facts
* tell lies
* engage in logical fallacies
* make personal attacks
* conceal relevant conflicts of interest
* use simplistic rhetoric and slogans rather than make arguments
* focus on issues not touching on the concerns of local audiences
* present strident, predictable, one-sided political positions without offering any chance for response

While I *do* offer rebuttals to many of Hyman's positions, my main purpose is to reveal the disengenuous way Hyman makes his arguments. To just offer a pro/con rebuttal to Hyman would imply that we are simply disagreeing on the issue at hand. But that's not my main problem with Hyman. It's the dishonest way he argues his points.

To make matters worse, he's doing so on publicly owned airwaves. I shouldn't *have* to buy airtime to rebut him. Back in the day, our local tv stations often offered up editorials, but they were done by local journalists on local issues (or local slants on broader issues)and viewers could respond.

In place of civic (and civil) discourse, Hyman gives us low-quality, talk-radio-esque rantings that burn up time that could be used for local news and opinion.

Why should we have to buy back our own airwaves from a corporation that abuses its access to a public resource?


At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one's desire is to promote civility, greater public involvement, and survival of democratic behaviors, it's hard to not to agree with Ted's words, above.


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