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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
Grit TV with Laura Flanders

A Glimmer of Light in Television Wasteland

by MIKE WHITNEY

It’s time to knock the cobwebs off the television and fish the remote from the trashcan. Believe it or not, there’s finally something worth watching on TV. GRIT TV with Laura Flanders is a fast-paced political talk show that leaves its mainstream competitors in the rear-view mirror. This is the real deal and Flanders is hands-down the best interviewer in the business. She’s bright, cheerful, well-informed and engaging. She also keeps the topic moving briskly from panelist to panelist, an art in itself. She even has a good handle on what’s going on in the financial markets which is typically a weak-spot for liberals.

This isn’t a half-hour free-for-all like the McLaughlin Group or another tedious spitting-match between a Loofah-wielding simian and his faux-liberal guest. GRIT TV is a forum for intelligent, articulate progressives to discuss the issues in depth without a script or an agenda. It’s what TV is supposed to be, a way to strengthen democracy by maintaining an informed public. It’s taken a while, but GRIT TV is headed in the right direction.

Political junkies don’t have to wait for Bill Moyers Journal on Friday nights anymore to get their fix of thought-provoking analysis. GRIT TV runs Monday through Thursdays on Free Speech TV with a new panel every night covering everything from the environment, elections, race, gender, energy, to the economy. There’s no lull in the action. The guests are the people who never get a shot at network TV; the activists and authors who are working for change but don’t have the right-wing bone fides to appear on Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer or the other corporate-friendly talk shows. GRIT TV provides them with a platform to give their perspective and Flanders, thankfully, lets them talk. She doesn’t sit like a coiled snake ready to pounce whenever someone challenges the conventional wisdom on the war or (heaven forbid) disparages a corporate sponsor. GRIT TV is not underwritten by big oil, Boeing or King Coal like so much of the crap on PBS. It’s all contributions from people who still believe that television can perform a public service.

Do you care whether your new "gas saving" Prius was made with sweatshop labor, or whether Obama’s platform really offers progressive change, or what Kevin Phillips had to say about the global financial crisis? GRIT TV is a good place to start. It’s all issues without the attitude.

Thursday night Flanders reviewed the recent Supreme Court rulings on the second amendment (gun rights) and habeas for Guantanamo detainees. That was followed by a 4 minute video which showed how African Americans were disproportionately victimized by the subprime meltdown. After that, Flanders led a lively discussion on "executive pay" and America’s ever-expanding "wealth gap." It was all first-rate coverage.

This is television at its best; broadcasting that does not assume that its viewers are nincompoops that need plunging necklines and endless car chases to keep them entertained. GRIT TV doesn’t provide bread or circuses, just hard-edged politics for people who really want to know what is going on. That’s Flander’s beat and she does it better than anyone in the business.

GRITtv airs Mon-Thurs,at 8pm & 1 am ET, on Free Speech TV (DISH Network ch. 9415) & at http://www.firedoglake.com. Laura Flanders is Alexander Cockburn’s niece.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com