Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman Get Their Butts Kicked

A couple of months ago a woman, who had been a regular reader of the LA Progressive told me that she’d stopped reading our magazine because she felt we had become too negative.

Oprah Kicks Amy Goodman's Butt

(l-r) Amy Goodman, Rachel Maddow, Senator Barbara Boxer (D) California

I know her to be a reasonable person and didn’t take offense. Instead, I told her that we would put effort into making some changes. And we are. We’ve started to carry some pieces on lighter matters and we’re giving coverage to progressive films and plays as part of a possible foray into progressive culture.

But for this piece, I make no apology for being negative. I know no other way to deliver this message.

We are in a battle that we are losing because we are overly entertained, we’re not paying attention, and we continue to buy stuff and information that is not good for us.

I happened to turn on daytime television this week. Two shows grabbed my attention. The first, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now aired on Link TV – a network funded entirely by viewer donations. The second was Oprah. I don’t need to say how Oprah is funded.

Both shows aired in the same time slot. Everyone in the country and more than half of the world knows Oprah. A  fraction of progressives know Amy Goodman.

Oprah’s show that day was a re-broadcast of Oprah and her best friend Gail’s visit to the Dallas Texas County Fair. The entire show was broadcast from the fair with lots of shots of farm animals and cooking contests. Oprah and Gail got into the act by conducting their own competition of the best foods at the fair. They personally tasted a half dozen entries describing, for the viewing audience, the mouth-watering deliciousness of “fried butter” and “fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches”.

In contrast, Amy Goodman’s show, which was co-hosted by Anjali Kamat, began with Anjali asking, “Lead in lipstick? Coal Tar in shampoos? Do you know what’s in your personal care products?”

Kamat tells the viewing audience that there are over 12,000 chemicals in our personal care products. Thousands of products like lotion, deodorant, lipstick, mascara, and even baby shampoo contain toxic chemicals that the average consumer has no way of knowing about but the $50 billion a year cosmetics industry is well aware of.  Congressional Representative  Jan Schakowsky has introduced a bill that will reduce exposure to harmful chemicals in cosmetics. HR 5786 would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to ensure that personal care products are free from harmful ingredients.

I flipped back and forth between the two shows and realized that what I was watching symbolizes what is happening to this country.

We keep buying cr*p that’s not good for us. Some of us don’t know any better and some of us don’t want to know any better. Many of the corporations that pour millions into commercials to sell stuff to Oprah’s audience are the same corporations that would not want us to watch Amy Goodman and Anjali Kamat’s report on toxins in our personal care products. What’s so disturbing, frustrating, and sometimes infuriating is that we oblige them. We, as a nation, cooperate and partner with them by buying the products, staying uninformed, not discussing this kind of information with friends, not writing to our representatives — and the list goes on.

I don’t pretend that the comparison between Oprah and Amy is an apples to apples comparison. I know these are two very different genres. Amy Goodman is a serious journalist and Oprah is an entertainment mogul. I don’t dislike Oprah or her show. I understand its appeal. What I am comparing is the gravity of the messages compared to the amount of exposure these messages get.

Here’s an 8-minute video that gives more info on toxins in our personal care products. Annie Leonard, the producer did a great job with the video. You can watch this video now or come back to it after reading the rest of this article. There are more links at the end of this article on this topic.

Here’s another TV tidbit that made my head explode this week. Rachel Maddow was attacked by Bill O’Reilly for critiquing Fox New’s journalistic standards, specifically with regard to Fox’s handling of the Shirley Sherrod story. Of course, based on O’Reilly’s history of being less than forthright, I don’t watch his show. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority. The top of my head nearly came off when Rachel disclosed the ratings of The O’Reilly Factor compared to the ratings of the Rachel Maddow Show. O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin etc. – this cadre of characters has the masses in their hands. They sell it and it’s swallowed up. Take a look and please keep reading —

Finally, last night Dick and I attended a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer in Hollywood, organized by Generation for Change LA. Mostly, the audience was attractive, well-dressed young Westsiders — and us. Outside of the venue stood a small band of raggedy Tea Baggers holding homemade signs saying “Veterans for Carly”  and waving Arizona flags.

LA City Council president Eric Garcetti sat down with Senator Boxer on a stage in front of this mostly young audience and talked about the issues. Senator Boxer stressed how difficult it is to get anything accomplished with the Republicans use of the filibuster.

More than once, Senator Boxer talked about the positions taken by her opponent Carly Fiorina, who is running a formidable campaign. Fiorina — who headed up Hewlitt Packard, oversaw the layoff of thousands of workers, sent jobs overseas, and garnered big bonuses and perks for herself — is claiming to be better suited for the job than Boxer because she – Fiorina – is from the “real world” and knows how to create jobs, balance budgets, and get things done. Again, we have a message that a lot of people are buying lock, stock, and barrel. What “real world” is Fiorina talking about? In her real world, you  lay off thousands and get rewarded with a $21 million dollar severance package. I doubt this is the world of her supporters, several of whom were standing outside in ragged jeans and faded baseball caps, holding their handmade signs.

sharon kyleI began this piece disheartened that Amy Goodman and Rachel Maddow are losing, in a very big way, in the ratings game. Ratings, similar to polls, give us insight into what America is buying into. Big money, often big corporate money, has a hand in shaping what America buys be it products, services or information. Whether it’s in our best interest or not, we tend to go along. Let’s hope the story will be different with the Senate race in California. Come this November, we have got to continue to push for change.

Sharon Kyle
Publisher, LA Progressive

For more information on what you can do about toxins in personal care products, go to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.


  1. Donna says

    Sharon, nice piece. One thought….how many smart progressives actually watch tv?

    Me- daytime, none! Evening, one & 1/2 hour…whatever’s on at 9 (CST), usually Food Network or PBS and then Jon Stewart. Seriously, gauge how many progressive Dems, Indies, and even Repubs have smartphones, iPad, or laptop and spend a good chunk of time tapping an app or saved favorite link to read/watch CNN, NYT, AP, HuffPost, NPR News, etc. I am not entertained by mostly empty TV.

    In my daily interactions, I find it’s a conservative or non contributing consumer who watches the most TV. I find it telling that Fox airs the most reality tv and shows with the most trash-revealing, empty subject matter. Then, the “news” is what it is. Gauge that audience.

    You have valid concerns, but I think we must remember who’s watching and who’s reading instead!

    PS-I love Rachel Maddow but just don’t have the time to watch.

    • says


      Thanks for the comment. I understand the point you’re making and don’t disagree. The issue for me is that regular TV watchers still outnumber the percentage of Americans being informed by CNN, NPR, PBS, Link TV, Freespeech TV, and the blogosphere combined. When you factor in the misinformation dished out by Fox and radio hate speech you end up with a majority that is uninformed and ill equipped to handle the complex decisions that democracy demands. It wouldn’t be so bad except that their lack of knowledge impacts us all. The only thing I can offer is this website. I wish I had more. Please pass on these postings far and wide.

      • in_awe says

        Well, there you go again. “Those da*n conservatives are just plain stupid and ignorant”. I dare say that the demographics and education levels of people actively engaging in political discourse left or right are about the same. Can’t people on the left just agree to disagree without the invective of ad hominem attacks?

        Unfortunately ignorance and stupidity is a shared human attribute across all lines. Can we stay focused on relevant issues and stop the petty name calling?

        The comment about programs running on Fox illustrates the widespread repetition of talking points by people who never watch the scorned Fox News Channel – an entirely different entity than the Fox Entertainment network. Same for attacks on individual commentators such as beck and Limbaugh. Whenever I am faced with someone spouting the latest talking point about them I ask that person when they last watched the unholy commentator and invariably they say they never have and never will. As for lies and misinformation, disinformation and half-truths – you can catalog at least as much being promulgated by CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, and ABC.

  2. Nancy, Ojai says

    I believe the reason MSNBC has such poor Nielsen ratings is because their demographic gets its news from the Internet. I think ratings would be substantially higher if all sources of news were on a level playing field.

  3. says

    Thank you for discussing the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.
    This is actually something very positive for the consumers–yes, business owners are crying foul–but there must be accountability and oversight when it comes to consumer safety. Since our body absorbs over 60% of what we use on our skin, this regulation is imperative, and it is long overdue.

    Not all business owners oppose this act.

    We fully support this act:


  4. lurch394 says

    What is sadder than O’Reilly’s ratings being higher than Maddow’s is that both are beaten soundly by reruns of NCIS. We are indeed entertained to death.

  5. says

    Thanks for bringing attention to the fact that our archaic cosmetic regulations need reform. There are far too many toxins and hazardous chemicals being used in products that our babies and families are using, and I believe they have a cummulative effect– small amounts may not be harmful, but when each of your 12(women) or 6 (men) everyday products contain them, the health hazards multiply. While I appreciate that HR 5786 is being discussed, the regulations suggested are far overreaching. The FDA already has a hard time enforcing the regulations that DO exist. How will they handle the influx of duties this new law could create? Natural products, especially innovative ones being developed by “Green” companies require constant experimentation. This bill would require changes to be documented and reported each time they are made. It will require documents to be filed each time a home-based natural soap crafter changes suppliers to get better pricing on raw ingredients. This will cause small businesses to close, at a time when our nation’s people desperately need work. Reform is needed, but in order for this bill to be useful, it needs to be re-written to not penalize Green Businesses who are already using safe, natural oils (olive, coconut) and other natural ingredients in their products. Lumping us into the same boat as the corporate, hazardous chemical using behemoths is not the answer.

  6. Candice Williams says

    I read your postings and appreciate your positions. I would consider myself a traditional democrat if that helps you understand my position. Unfortunately, this is the last article I’m reading from you. I may have missed it before if you said this, but I was disgusted by your name calling of Tea party members as ‘Tea Baggers’. Although we may not agree with their politics, we do not have the right to call them degrading names. As a Black female, I wouldn’t appreciate someone referring to the NAACP or other association that helps change society with racist or sexist remarks. Would you call anyone from the gay community as a sodomizer? Would you call a black person a cotton picker? I think not. You and anyone else that disrespects any political group by calling them disparaging names is not worth having a civil conversation with. You disappoint me.

    • in_awe says

      Thank you for your comment.

      For a journal that admonishes its commenters to be civil, it is interesting the the co-publisher herself uses degrading and profane descriptions of people whose political stances she opposes. Yet, until you commented on it there was no hesitancy on the part of others commenting about that term.

      It is distressing to me as a conservative that I face this heavily used invective on every liberal and progressive blog. It certainly makes it hard to try to hold a civil exchange of ideas.

  7. Jerry Lobdill says

    I have a different take on the problem. I agree with your statement of facts, but I’m not comfortable with your prescription for the ailment.

    Do you folks really think that Obama is progressive? He has surrounded himself with economic advisors who are right wingers and corporate stooges. He has continued the unconstitutional policies begun during the Bush administration. To me he is a great disappointment. He has all the leadership talent needed to stop this insane endless war, restore our constitutional rights, and stop our relentless march toward the cliff over which all empires have met their doom. But he has not used this talent.

    I don’t see a candidate on the scene now who is what we really needed after Bush, and I’m not sure that we have not already crossed the Rubicon beyond which recovery is not possible anyway.

    Just my $0.02

    • concerned in portland says

      Maybe President Obama has not lead us out of war because he is a much better campaigner then leader. It seems that is all he can do.

      As for the right wing people that surround him, I think you should take anouther look. Van Jones, Geitner & Emanuel are definately big government progressives who want to cont as many aspects of our lives as possible.

  8. concerned in portland says

    Maybe people are not listening because they don’t like what you are selling. Big government and it’s regulations are a lot of the problem and reason companies have shipped jobs overseas. Some of those jobs are comming back because of quality control issues.

    As faw as the media being controlled by the right, I think you may have bumped your head. The network media refuses to cover many of the underhanded dealings of congress and this administration.

    And oh, by the way, congress does not need any Republicans to pass any bill they draft. It is Dems who are refusing to toe the political line and oppose some of the big government policies being proposed.

    Have a happy day today. The majority of the nation will be smiling on Nov 3rd after many of your progressive friends will start looking for a new job in January.

  9. says

    You can’t bring about change by voting. Only corporate oligarchs and corporate puppets have any chance of winning elections. In Presidential elections we’re not even allowed to vote (the names are on the ballot fraudulently and in violation of the Constitutional ban on citizens voting for Pres. & Veep–the vote is actually for their party’s slate of Electors) so they never bother to finish counting the popular vote before swearing in the new President. In free, fair, democratic elections, ALL votes are counted before the candidate can be sworn into office, and the votes, not super-delegates, Electors, the media, elections officials, voting machines, Congress, a winning candidate conceding, or Supreme Court intervention, decides the results of the election.

    Those who really want change should join the 50% of us who won’t vote until and unless we have free, fair, democratic elections with equal ballot access, public funding, equal media coverage, a real choice (not just the lesser of two evils), and full public oversight of all election processes–meaning no voting machines and central tabulators that hide the vote count from the public and often manage to “lose” tens of thousands of votes due to “glitches.”

    Nobody fought and died so that we could cast an uncounted vote in an election where the results (war, bailouts, corporate rule, etc.) are predetermined. People fought and died so that we could have a real voice in government, not a sham vote. We should be fighting so that we have real choices in elections and a guarantee that every vote is counted. As long as we’re willing to continue to vote in sham elections, there’s no reason to allow us to have free, fair, democratic elections. An election boycott is our only leverage–if we’re willing to delegate our power, grant our authority, and give our consent of the governed to candidates we cannot hold accountable during their terms of office, which is the ONLY time they’re supposed to represent us, we’ll never have a voice in government.

    A few years back I asked voters if they’d still vote if the only federally approved voting mechanism was a flush toilet, and half said that they would. How stupid are we? The right to have your vote go uncounted isn’t a precious right. Think about it.

  10. says

    Following is my response to one of Annie Leonard’s blogposts slamming the response from the larger personal care products industry group PCPC. I hope that you will take a look at our indie biz position. You will see that those of us in the emerging sustainable, eco-friendly, fair trade personal care products industry do not think too highly of her shockumentary. Thank you
    Hi Annie,
    I own and operate a small botanical import company, and we manufacture a limited amount of personal care products. We have been at the forefront of the revolution to improve ecological awareness and sustainability in the personal care products industry and promote the uses of essential oils and natural plant derivatives to replace synthetic chemicals. I do business and network with other like-minded entrepreneurs leading the way for a true green revolution. My colleagues and I are very concerned by the CFSC agenda that is pushing the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. The latest coordinated campaign, of which you are a centerpiece, is yet another distraction from doing our good work. Many of us were early signers with the CFSC and enthusiastic to be a part of their movement. Until, that is, we found in 2008 that they were taking a turn (without consulting their company signers, who are more expert than they in the relative issues). We realized they were pursuing an unreasonable agenda based on flawed science and uneccessary fear that could possibly result in legislation that would put many of us out of business. We have attempted to communicate with Stacy Malkan and meet to work on issues that are (most certainly) of mutual concern. Stacy and the CFSC have turned a deaf ear to our concerns and have now created an adversarial relationship with many of the small companies they depended on to justify their mission. Most of us have removed our companies as signers, although CFSC has not complied with all of our requests to date. Please take the time to read my latest blogpost here: http://bit.ly/c32gZW
    And another ethical manufacturer’s here:
    And this one:
    And the reasoned thoughts here:
    You will see that perhaps the issues are not as simple as you thought.
    I know that you are a thoughtful, caring and reasonable person. I know that you also do not have expert knowledge regarding chemistry, biochemistry, ecology and sustainability, as well as the proper peer reviewed scientific processes that assess and determine product risks.
    I hope that you will take time to educate yourself to the concerns of we who have been working to improve the safety (and efficacy)of personal care products. While none of us will argue that there are serious environmental chemical hazards, to frivolously replace the word “risk” with “hazard” does a great dis-service to the dedicated professionals working in the personal care products industry, an industry that is still one of the safest, by the way.
    People have now been bombarded with unsubstantiated rhetoric across the blogosphere, shouts of “millions are suffering health hazards and disease from shampoo” with absolutely no substantiation. Let’s be reasonable. As I say in my blog, you folks are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    Thanks for listening.

  11. says

    Thanks. As Pogo said long ago, “We have met the Enemy, and He is Us”. Our whole culture is in a pathetic, trashed state. I read The New Yorker, see lots of good tutorial information, bleak and depressed black humor in the cartoons, and ads that make me want to puke. We really are in desperate straits. And the worst of it is, if the US does not make it, the rest of the world will likely either follow us into ruin, fall into a totalitarian dark age, or both.

    There is plenty of blame to go around, let’s not heap abuse on the usual suspects (nor the mentally incompetent), but let’s do point out in a calm, friendly, but very firm manner, how we all have to get in and dig for our lives to get out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into. Our situation is like that of England in June 1940. Time for blood, sweat, toil and tears. We have to fight, because there are real enemies, but we must also cling to our humanity and remind ourselves again and again of our true and meaningful goals.

    Take heart! I think Obama is by far the best hope we have, the best we have had in many long dreary years, let’s not shoot at him. People are actually very smart, and most have good hearts. And, we are very many if we just can find our voices.

  12. says

    Please forgive this bit of sexism; but sometimes I think the world would be a better place if it were run as much by women as it is now, so often disastrously (financially, militarily, etc.), by men.

    Then I get a load of what Meg and Carly are peddling and I come back down to reality: Although there are more progressive women than men in the world (if polls are to be believed), the “genes” for stupidity and greed do not reside solely on the Y chromosome!

    Keep up the great work, Sharon … and that goes for my fellow progressive male, Dick!

    • says

      Thanks for commenting Doug — we’re on the same page. I’d love to understand what drives Whitman and Fiorina. I think I expect different behavior from women. I don’t know if having different expectations for women than for men is, in and of itself, a sexist position — but I guess it could be.

  13. Clara says

    Thanks for your great article! I could not agree with you more. The corporate media has been projecting the image of the bubble-brained American teen since the late 50s. (It’s not funny anymore!) A relative who lived and worked in the UK reported on how surprised he was to find young people who not only kept up on current news and serious blogs, but had articulate opinions on them. This is our battle, to keep the things that need fixing in plain sight of the general public without overwhelming them! And we all know where the big money is… Good luck and keep up the great work!!

    • says

      Thanks Clara. I think you’re right about the need to keep the things that need fixing in plain sight without it being overwhelming — that’s a hard one but a challenge we’ve got to take on if we expect change. Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. We appreciate the input.

  14. David Brunk says

    I could not agree with you more.
    The takeover of the media by the extreme right, read Big Business Interests, has caused the dumbing down of our nation. This to the extent that the Republican Party can filibuster the Energy Bill,promoting energy independence, the START Two Treaty, stepping back from the madness of Nuclear War, and the Global Warming Bill, designed to save us from dire worldwide calamity. all at the same time, and to survive the next election.
    The nation has been lied to sleep by financial interests with short term goals and no long term vision for civilization.

  15. says

    Congratulations on this editorial piece. Yes it is disheartening where the bulk of the nation’s energy and money goes. Difficult to win in a battle for people’s hearts when you insist on telling the truth (Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman) and the other side is more than willing to lie. We must find a way to re-energize the millions who voted Obama into office. Perhaps by giving credit to all this administration HAS accomplished rather than grumbling among ourselves that it wasn’t perfect and announcing our discontent in newspapers and media outlets constantly. This President is being criticized by the right-wing and the left-wing on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t the citizenry lose faith in the man and the Democratic Congress’s agenda? Let’s fight back with some praise for both while we still have an opportunity save the best team we will ever have — rather than become sulking martyrs one more time in November.

    • says

      Barbara – thank you for the comment. Your recommendation is a good one. Through the LA Progressive, we provide a space for people to express their views. As long as they express those views with a civil tone, we do not filter expressions. Many writers and commenters have criticized the president but I think we need to counter that criticism by doing what you suggest. Here is an article written by Anthony Samad that acknowledges the accomplishments President Obama achieved in his first year.

  16. Lauren Steiner says

    Meanwhile, are you aware that right next to your article is a picture of Barbara Boxer’s face with the words “SICK OF BOXER’S ARROGANCE? WATCH THE VIDEO.” It is a Google ad for Carly Fiorina. The irony is staggering.

    Sharon, I know you guys need revenue. But I can only imagine how this ad happened to appear there? Google is so sophisticated, it must be able to search the site for articles on Boxer and then just plunk this ad down.

    Since you are complaining about what the media feeds us and you are the media, you might just have to unsubscribe from Google ads or else run the risk of giving a voice to the very candidate you have just reviled in your excellent piece.

    • says

      Lauren — no, I was not aware of this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. The Google ads are a nightmare. Well, actually, it is the unending barage of right wing advertising flooding the internet that is a nightmare. I’ve been seriously considering removing the ads but I’d have blank space. Sometimes I actually allow the blank space to be there but it’s not the best option.


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