Right to Know: Vote Yes on Prop 37 to Label GMO

An excerpt from my GMO post back in December:

A lot of the time, when I speak to people about organic foods and GMOs they look at me like I’m nuts. Even as the awareness of genetically modified foods is steadily increasing, most folks still don’t have a clue what GMO is and they definitely don’t realize they are eating it every day. GMOs were introduced into our food supply in the mid-90′s without any required labeling or proper independent safety testing. They are in almost 90% of the foods at the supermarket without the informed consent of you, the consumer.

Support Prop 37 and vote YES to label GMO!

Bullied? Jennifer Livingston Fights Back

Jennifer Livingston, a morning news anchor for a CBS affiliate out of Wisconsin, took to the airwaves this week to call out a negative email she received about her weight. She referred to the email as an act of “bullying” and used four minutes of local airtime to respond to it. The full email, sent directly to Livingston by local lawyer Kenneth W. Krause is below. The subject line read: “Community Responsibility” –

“Hi Jennifer,

It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

While I absolutely think this email is rude and insensitive, would I call it bullying? I’m not quite sure.

Livingston’s response:

The truth is I am overweight. You can call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. To the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? Your cruel words are pointing out something I don’t see? You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside–and I am much more than a number on a scale….

To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now. Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience, that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”

Was Livingston, a prominent local personality, a victim of bullying? Was this the proper piece of “hate mail” to address the issue of bullying and children? Locally, nationally?

My problem with using the term ‘bullying’ to describe this email comes down to this– I agree with Jennifer on the fact that bullying is a serious matter. We have seen some terrible consequences of bullying in this country. It hits close to home for all of us, too close to home for some. But once that term ‘bully’ is out there, it can’t be retracted. As a mother to two small children who just recently started school, I feel particularly uneasy about this issue. While I agree with the majority of her comments, I am unsure whether this was the right platform to construe them.

Help me out moms!

Should Livingston have trashed the email and gone on with her day or was her response appropriate?

Please comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Mass Media: An Unreliable Source?

A new Gallup Poll out last week reported that 60% of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.

I have been a skeptic of mainstream news for quite some time now and I was hoping to see the percentage even higher than 60%. More in the range of 80-90%! And here’s why:

Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations owned the vast majority of all news media in the United States.

(Graph courtesy of Media Reform Information)

Presently, mainstream news media including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio has been concentrated in the hands of just six powerful media corporations. Yes, SIX corporations. Six corporations control most of what we watch, read, and hear every single day. Scary, huh? These billion dollar companies own not just our television networks and magazines, but movie studios, publishing houses, music labels, and internet websites.

In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium and the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal. … [I]n 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … [I]n 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty-three. … [I]n 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten and involved the $19 billion Disney-ABC deal, at the time the biggest media merger ever. … [In 2000] AOL Time Warner’s $350 billion merged corporation [was] more than 1,000 times larger [than the biggest deal of 1983].

–Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. xx—xxi

The six media giants: Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, CBS Corporation, and NBC Universal (Comcast 51%, GE 49%). Their objective? To make money. Not to report truth to the American public. They are not going to threaten their relationships with their big money advertisers such as the pharmaceutical companies who ironically spend more on advertising (BILLIONS) than on research and development. Seriously! Similarly, they are not going to compromise their own political views (think FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC) or their love for war (GE is ranked a top military contractor) and fear-mongering. Oh Brian Williams, you talking head you. 

Fortunately, more and more people are realizing that mainstream news is bought and paid for. I for one, couldn’t be happier. The original title of this post was called, “Mass Media is Full of Shit.”

Further Reading:

The Military-Industrial-Media Complex
Why war is covered from the warriors’ perspective
By Norman Solomon