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In this follow up News Brief to our Christmas-themed episode on Hallmark, we discuss an angle we glossed over in our episode: the anti-labor business model of Hallmark films and how they portend a trend in the film industry more broadly. After our episode was published, a screenwriter with experience working with Hallmark and Hallmark-adjacent prod…
 
A blast from the past teaches a town to embrace tradition and believe in miracles we simply can’t explain. A cynical urban professional finds kindness and purpose while traveling through the heartland. Two old flames living in the fast lane discover, amid the magic of Christmas, that they were meant for each other all along. These loglines describe…
 
"Deregulation will make the economy more efficient and stimulate GDP growth," insist think tanks like the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute. "Fiscal hawks," claiming to be worried about the deficit, demand austerity measures to reign in government spending. When it comes to "entitlement programs," we hear that "there are alway…
 
“Supply and demand.” “It’s just Econ 101.” “Most economists agree...” “There’s always trade offs.” Over and over, media and policymakers spew the same tired recitations meant to convey the seemingly natural, immutable laws of economics. "The economy," we’re told, is thriving when business owners and job creators are making record profits, and faili…
 
A character played by an actor in a fat suit shovels food in his face, unable to restrain himself in a fit of rage. Another falls, too lazy and out-of-shape to get up without the aid of others. And yet another loses weight and avenges the anti-fat bullying she faced growing up, finally earning respect as a thin person. We see all of these tropes ad…
 
“The elites are out to get you and your hard-earned pay.” “We’re spending too much on protecting foreign nations and not enough defending our own borders against immigrant invaders.” “China is taking your job and will soon take over your phone.” We are consistently fed this type of “rightwing populism” –– sticking up for the working man against an …
 
“It’s not about right vs left, but the people vs the elites,” “Wall Street and the media are leaching off hard working Americans like you and me who play by the rules.” “Our elite have sold us out to China.” American media consumers are routinely fed, a particular, and often confusing brand of so-called “rightwing populism” –– nominally taking on “…
 
In this News Brief, we recapped how, in the face of a once in a generation opportunity to relieve poverty and address curb climate change, US media largely gave us personality, Horse Race coverage, and defensive snark–– aiding conservatives efforts to winnow down the bill to a fraction of its original size.…
 
"Feed the world." "We are the world." "Be a light to the world." Every few years, it seems, a new celebrity benefit appears. Chock full of A-listers and inspirational tag lines, it promises to tackle any number of the world’s large-scale problems, whether poverty, climate change, or disease prevention and eradication. From Live Aid in the 1980s to …
 
In this News Brief, we recap the recap of Powell's life, from the handwringing over his Iraq War UN speech to the erasure of his role in covering up My Lai massacre to training rightwing death squads in Central America and the central importance of "Good Intentions" when venerating our beloved, bipartisan war-makers.…
 
In this recording of a Live Interview for Patrons from 9/22, we speak with The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin about his new book, The Kaepernick Effect, and how a series of protests in youth sports, namely among black youth, set off firestorms and backlash in dozens of small towns throughout the country. And what the "leave politics out of sports"…
 
“The eviction moratorium is killing small landlords” CNBC cautions. "Some small landlords struggle under eviction moratoriums,” declares The Washington Post. “Economic Pressures Are Rising On Mom And Pop Rental Owners,” laments NPR. ”[Landlords] can’t hold on much longer,” cries an LA Times headline. Throughout the course of the pandemic, we’ve see…
 
“Write from experience.” “Show, don’t tell.” Self-knowledge. Self-discipline. Well-known conventions like these, whether delivered in classrooms, writing seminars or simply from one writer to another, often anchor traditional writing advice for literary authors and journalists alike in the United States. While they may seem benign and often useful,…
 
In June 2020, founders of the ride-request app Lyft announced that they had launched “allyship dialogues“ and were committed to fighting “systemic racism” which they said is “deeply rooted in our society.” The same month, an Uber marketing campaign proudly recommended to “racists” that they should “delete Uber,” as they were unwelcome customers. At…
 
"Concerns rising inside White House over surge in violent crime," CNN tells us. "America's Crime Surge: Why Violence Is Rising, And Solutions To Fix It," proclaims NPR. "Officials worry the rise in violent crime portends a bloody summer," reports The Washington Post. Over and over this summer we have heard – and will no doubt continue to hear – the…
 
In this recording of a Live Interview for Patrons from 7/22, we discuss the scheduled shock doctrine of global sporting events like FIFA and the Olympics and how they use the PR spectacle of sports––and the emotional blackmail of "supporting athletes"–– to enhance security states, displaced the poor, loosen environmental and labor restrictions, and…
 
"America's 50 best cities to live in," reveals USA Today. "These rising U.S. cities could become the top places to live and work from home," reports CNBC. "The best U.S. cities to raise a family," lists MarketWatch. Over and over again in American media we hear stories centered around ranking, judging and analyzing the rather vague concept of a cit…
 
"Beef. It’s what’s for dinner," the baritone voices of actors Robert Mitchum and Sam Elliott told us in the 1990s. "We’re not gonna let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America’s meat!" cried Mike Pence during a speech in Iowa last year. "To meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat," lamented D…
 
"Oligarch". "Hardliner". "Regime". All common terms seen in Anglo-American media when describing politicians and power structures in official villain states; yet - mysteriously absent when talking about ourselves or our allies. This Part II of our Citations Needed countdown of the Top 10 "Enemy Epithets," derisive descriptors that are deployed to s…
 
"Hand-picked successor", "firebrand", "proxy" — In Anglo-American media, there are certain Enemy Epithets that are reserved only for Official Enemy States of United States and their leaders, which are rarely, if ever, used to refer to the United States itself or its allies, despite these countries featuring many of the same qualities being describe…
 
In this public News Brief, we take a critical look at a recent wave of sensationalist "organized crime" "shoplifting epidemic" stories in national and Bay Area media and how they fit into a resurgent "Tough on Crime" narrative. We are joined by Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, Director of Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.…
 
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