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August 01, 2009

Manufacturing consent: Execs called off Olbermann/O'Reilly feud

The high-profile feud between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was great for the shows' respective ratings.

So, the suits were happy to let the feud continue. That is, until O'Reilly started assailing MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, for doing business with Iran.

The O'Reilly crusade against GE had real-world consequences. A GE shareholders meeting was reportedly overrun with Iran critics and an O'Reilly producer.

General Electric was not amused. So, a sitdown was arranged to bring the feud to an end, even though it was making money for both MSNBC and Fox News:

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal. [NYT]

Executives told the New York Times that the feud was called off specifically because it threatened the business interests of GE and the News Corporation.

Olbermann denies that he's a party to any deal, but the verbal barbs have tapered off.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, it's ironic that Charlie Rose, who brokered the deal, has publicly dismissed the idea that parent corporations slant TV coverage for the benefit of the larger enterprise.


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Iran is stagnant as well; the lack of an economy apart from oil is one of the main grievances that led the urban middle class to support reformists. And it has elections, but the conservatives have stolen them twice in a row. It's every bit as authoritarian as China and Saudi Arabia, complete with cadres of maladjusted young men beating dissidents.

Posted by: Alon Levy | August 02, 2009 at 04:30 AM

Iran is not stagnant. Their growth is too slow to absorb the post war population boom. Maybe it's semantic, but compared to Syria, Iran has structural ability to grow much faster. (well, not after this last regime change stuff)

see chart here.

>> "As for the argument that Chinese authoritarianism is fine because it grows the economy, that might appeal to people in Shanghai and Beijing, but Tibetans and Uighurs would dispute the idea that their lives are improving."

There are 1.2Billion people in China. 6 or 60 million people getting loud is not even statistically significant. You can't improve people's life without stability and economic growth. Only after that genuine "democracy" can enter.

Rioting? start shooting.

do you really think one can get away rioting like that in the US?

forget to tag. This is Iran population growth, they double their population from 1990 to 2010 (after the war) 80% of current Iran voter is too young to remember the war.

What Iran has is generational gap. A little like baby boomer in the 60's (post war baby boom.)

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar I 2

Squashed, population growth is not an excuse for anything. In the 19th century, the US had both the world's fastest population growth and its fastest per capita economic growth. Today, Cambodia has both high population growth (1.74% a year, higher than Iran's 1.35%) and the 7th highest per capita economic growth rate since 1999, trailing only China and a few ex-Soviet oil states. That post-revolutionary Iran has been unable to even match the economic growth of the US, let alone industrializing countries like Cambodia, speaks volumes about its economic system's viability.

By the way, the link you give with the graphs about GDP indexed to 1980 levels is misleading, because it fails to separate economic from population growth. This is crucial in the case of Israel, which has had plenty of population growth in the last 30 years, but little economic growth - in fact, its per capita economic growth rate in the last 15 years ranks 23rd among 29 developed countries, tied with Portugal and ahead of only a few no-growth countries like Japan and Italy, and far behind similar newly industrialized countries like Ireland, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

Of course it's an excuse. The Iran-Iraq war killed 1 million people. It has the biggest post WWII casualty.

War that size bound to change the make up of society. Who is in charge, who get killed, who left behind. Who gain the reward, etc. Not to mention the rebuilding the damaged nation under US sanction.

casualty of 1 million represent some 20% of productive age working men. Try taking away 300K productive age men out of Israel economy.

Cambodia was utterly decimated thanks to khmer rouge genocide. There is no economy whatsoever for 30 years. There is no adult left!

Their GDP percapita right now is $1800 or so. It was unmeasurable when the revolution ends. (They go from unable to feed themselves to very very poor. Hey, going from $0 to $100 represent 100,000% growth.)

Iran at the beginning and end of revolution was a relatively advance country with above $10K GDP per cap.

The post revolution Iran is under great economic isolation and constant threat of war and destabilization. So, they have pretty good excuse having a bad day. (compare this to south Korea or Japan that can have access to capital and technology)

Which gotta say, what they achieve is notable. Not the greatest, but most country wouldn't be able to pull it off.

I couldn't found GDP/cap chart. I was just showing, there is growth in Iran but obviously it is not enough to absorb 20% population growth/year in the 90's.

No country grow 20%. 10% is overheating.

actually make that infinite growth for cambodia...haa haa. bad math.

(actually this is pretty interesting, since it's the very essence of manufacturing consent. what can/cannot be published by big media. the economic number and interpretation)

... CNN is marketing the fact that it doesn't have partisan screamers like O'Reilly and Olbermann on its network.

What fact, Alon Levy?

Cambodia's GDP per capita wasn't unmeasurable. It was very low, on a par with other very poor countries like Haiti and China and India. By 1999, it had risen somewhat, but still more slowly than in most other countries in the region. Then Pol Pot died and GDP per capita took off.

Iran doesn't have 10%/year population growth. It has 1.35% growth. People think that Middle Eastern equals fecund, but Iran has low birth rates by third world standards and lower population growth than other Middle Eastern countries. And while it was decimated by war, Vietnam and Korea were even more decimated, and recovered. What Cambodia went through was far worse, and even it recovered once Pol Pot died.

South Korea and Japan had access to capital, but still most of their capital was generated internally. They had government policies that encouraged personal savings: South Korea went from a personal savings rate of 8% in 1960 to 35% sometime in the 1980s. This created the capital to fuel growth. China and Vietnam are doing the same right now.

As for Lou Dobbs: he's a general-purpose racist, rather than a partisan. And it's not like CNN has an entire lineup of anti-immigrant people the way Fox has O'Reilly and Hannity and Beck, and the way MSNBC has Olbermann and Maddow.

Iran doesn't have 10%/year population growth. It has 1.35% growth.
Posted by: Alon Levy | August 06, 2009 at 05:50 PM

yeah right now. I was talking about the 80's, after war. Its 4%+ population growth. Look at the total population chart.

All those post war baby boom are now in the 20's. And all needs job. The economy simply can't keep up and create so many new employement. (at least they have oil to fall back on.)

In November 1986, the government reported that the preliminary count in the fourth national census, which had been conducted during October, showed a total population of 48,181,463. According to the government, this total included about 2.6 million refugees who had come from Afghanistan and Iraq since 1980. The population of Iranian nationals, approximately 45.6 million, represented an increase of about 12 million over the 33.7 million enumerated in the 1976 census. This indicated that the Iranian population had grown at an annual rate of 3.6 percent between 1976 and 1986. A population increase in excess of 3.3 percent per year puts Iran's population growth rate among the higher rates in the world.

The preliminary report on the 1986 census showed that Iran's population had been growing at a faster rate since 1976 than during earlier periods. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, estimates and scattered population surveys indicated that the average population growth rate was less than 2 percent annually. After World War II, however, the population growth rate began to rise. Between the first national census in 1956, when Iran's population numbered 19 million, and the second national census in 1966, when the population count was 25.3 million, the annual growth rate averaged 2.9 percent. The results of the 1976 national census, however, indicated a slight decrease in the average annual growth rate to 2.7 percent.

Post revolution cambodia.

It's my little morbid fascination. But don't have enough data.

Cambodia was a great empire in the 16th century. They were serious regional power. And thing can implode spectacularly like that. All I know they literally kill everybody and destroy any semblance of modern economy during the 80's.

The part about falling back on oil is exactly the problem. If your economy is based on resource extraction, then population growth means that the same amount of money has to be shared among more people. This is why so many Middle Eastern oil fiefdoms averaged zero or negative growth in the last 30 years - their oil revenues never kept up with their populations. Agricultural societies can sometimes fall into a similar predicament if they run out of more arable land to expand to. However, industrial countries don't have this problem, since extra people are extra consumers, workers, and innovators. That's why you have Israel and Southeast Asia succeeding amidst extreme population growth rates, and why the Northeastern US did the same in the 1800s.

The curse of oil.

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