BTS 8/18/08: Russia-Georgia Conflict; Political Economy of the Media; Plunder

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We begin tonight with an update and a trenchant analysis on the Russia-Georgia conflict (or the way it has been brought to you by our media) by Gary Brecher a.k.a. the War Nerd. His writing on the conflict is like no other – Brecher titled his piece “Georgia Tries out the Bush War Doctrine, Loses Badly.” We’ll ask him to elaborate.

Then we talk to the Media King of analysis, Robert McChesney. He has a new mega book out from Monthly Review Press, called (appropriately) The Political Economy of Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas. We talk to McChesney about the deeper reasons the media trivializes, ignores or distorts the issues we all face. What’s wrong with the coverage of the elections, the candidates, the economy, the world and more. Danny Schechter, who also joins us, says about McChesney’s book: “As Chomsky is to linguistics, Ben & Jerry’s to ice cream and Elvis to shaking one’s hips, McChesney is to media analysis. He is the King: there is no one more definitive.”

And finally on tonight’s Beneath The Surface, Danny Schechter, News Dissector has a new book project – it’s called Plunder. He says, “A plummeting economy, failing banks, rising unemployment, rocketing inflation just does not seem to engage the way the partisan wars do. We live in a sports crazed country, and a celebrity obsessed culture. We want to debate personalities, not problems. We like red carpets and balance sheets in the red. Anything else is a bummer, man. Tips on how to make millions sell; arguments on how we are all losing don't.” Well we don’t shy away from the economic analysis on BTS so we’ve asked Danny back to give us the news.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Gary Brecher is a self-described slob and data-entry drone from Fresno, CA. Brecher is P.J. O'Rourke on Red Bull, writing with passion and profanity on the nature of warfare and the ongoing wars--those on the front page and others--that are being fought every day around the world. His book, published by Soft Skull Press is The War Nerd. Brecher has been writing for the irreverent and terrific ex-pat weekly the eXile, recently shut down and banned in Putin’s (I mean Medvedev’s) managed Democracy. You can still read the eXile online at

2. Robert McChesney is the author of several books on media and politics, including The Problem Of The Media and most recently, The Political Economy of Media. He is the Gutsell endowed professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, host of the weekly talk show, Media Matters, on WILL-AM radio, and cofounder of the media reform organization Free Press. McChesney also writes widely for both academic and non-academic publications. He gives talks frequently on issues related to media and politics in the United States and world today.

3. Danny Schechter, “The News Dissector," has produced and directed many TV specials and documentary films, including the internationally distributed and award-winning WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception), an expose of the media's role in the Iraq War. The Emmy-winning former ABC News and CNN producer's new hard-hitting documentary investigates why so many Americans are being strangled by debt: In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts.