Martin Kaplan

Climate Change Will Be the Number One Issue in the 2034 Midterm Elections

On the day after the Sept. 23 UN Climate Change Summit in New York, sunset will bring the High Holidays to Jews around the world.

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Giving It Away for Free

Ever wonder where Brave New Films fits in the big picture of new media?  You’re here, so you already know what BNF is about (justice), what it makes (online movies), and how it works (video activism: the Web version of grassroots campaigns).   But have you ever tried to wrap your mind around the idea that BNF is part of the same new media ecology as Flickr, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Twitter and the open source computer operating system GNU/Linux?

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An Inconvenient Resurrection

Stalin was dead. He lay on a table, face ashen, eyes closed. The Kremlin inner circle was summoned and surrounded his body. At first, there was silence. Then, one after another, his top people began saying things impossible to imagine being expressed during his life. "He was a tyrant." "He betrayed the Soviet people." "A terrible time has finally ended." There were some demurrals: "He was a great man." "I loved him." "No one can fill his shoes." Then, again, silence.

And then Stalin opened his eyes. He had faked his own death in order to test the loyalty of his lieutenants.

I don't know if this story is true or apocryphal, but I'm pretty sure I read it, something like 35 years ago, in a book by Harrison Salisbury, the New York Times' longtime correspondent in Moscow.

No matter what you think about Hillary Clinton, no matter how this campaign turns out, there is undeniable satisfaction in watching the pundit class being forced to eat the words of its premature obituaries. The strategists who were called morons are suddenly geniuses again. The candidate and her husband, who were the subject of such undisguised journalistic venom just 24 hours ago, are suddenly worthy of awe again. The donors who dissed her are wondering whether they can retract with impunity. The White House staffers-in-waiting who danced on her grave are hoping they said nothing incriminating on the record.

In the Stalin story, the Kremlin firing squad was busy all night long.

In the Clinton story, if there were any justice, a number of chattering-class reputations would now be irrecuperable.

But even in an age of Google and YouTube, don't count on it. Some of the very media wizards who declared Hillary dumb and dead are already chiding savants, pundits and gurus for getting it so wrong -- as though they themselves were not the subjects and objects of their own amnesiac scorn.

To switch the metaphor, I wonder whether this humiliating turnabout, played out in real time over a very short period right in front of the American people, could be the MSM's Katrina. Political media, you've done a heckuva job.

Will CNN Censor Questions About Homophobia for the GOP YouTube Debate?

This post, written by Marty Kaplan, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Over 4,000 Americans have submitted video questions for the candidates who have been humiliated into participating this week in the entertainment marketing scam known officially as The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate. It's bad enough that presidential aspirants of both parties are so cowed by the networks that they have ceded their dignity, not to mention our democracy, to these degrading gongshows, complete with breathless postgame analyses by the same preening interlocutors who posed as neutral referees just moments before. But the faux populism of the YouTube format is an Orwellian leap even for CNN, where anchors are already required to i.d. correspondents as "part of the best political team on television." (Every time Wolf says that, an angel is lethally injected.)

Have you looked at the questions submitted on YouTube? An astonishing number of them are heartfelt inquiries about gayness in America. Billy Bean asks whether the GOP candidates will "stop embracing religion-based bigotry against gays and lesbians." If you flip through the posted videos, it seems as though every twenty questions there's the face of a teenager talking about being born gay, a twenty-something talking about being Christian and gay, a plea about LGBT hate crimes, about the Godliness of all human love, about the depression and suicide fostered by fundamentalist preachers and their political fellow-travelers.

You could fill the entire two hours of the CNN/YouTube debate with those questions. But if the New York Times' account of how the seven-person CNN team will select the winning questions is accurate, actually you won't see a single one of them during the televised debate. David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief and executive producer of the debate, told the Times' blog The Caucus that posts "asking the candidates to defend their opposition to gay marriage" are "'lobbying grenades' [that] would be disqualified by the CNN selection team... There are quite a few things you might describe as Democratic 'gotchas,' and we are weeding those out'... CNN wants to ensure that next Wednesday's Republican event is 'a debate of their party.'"

Not only is this stunningly disrespectful to the many Log Cabin and other self-described gay Republicans who submitted YouTube questions; it's also a telling reminder of the game that CNN is really playing. Sure, their Web site says "YOU ask the questions of the candidates" ("Be original... Be personal"). But if YOU don't fit the CNN profiling division's definition of a Republican, then no matter how personal your sexual orientation may be, no matter how original you are in the way you ask it, the CNN team will yank you from the questioner pool like cyber-crabgrass.
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