Hey there, OptersOut.
Another doozy of a week! There's a lot to cover today. This edition of Weekend Picks will update you on corporate media consolidation, welcome Defector of the OptOut family, dissect the horse dewormer craze, and round up 100% independent media content about Covid-19, Afghanistan, and other topics of the week.
Corporate media consolidation
Sigh. The corporate media continues to consolidate.
Politico sold for $1 billion to Axel Springer, the largest digital media publisher in Europe. The Hill sold for $130 million to Nexstar, the largest local TV company in the U.S.
We've never needed independent media more than we do now. By joining forces under one roof, the independent news network of OptOut will stand a chance against the corporate behemoths.
Since last summer, the nonprofit OptOut Media Foundation has been able to recruit 110 independent media outlets, develop a news app (coming very soon!), send you dozens of newsletters, submit a number of grant applications, and a lot more for two reasons: we're almost entirely volunteer, and you've supported our mission with over $10,000 in donations.
As the co-founder and executive director of the OptOut Media Foundation, I can't thank you enough for your support, all of it coming before the app is even out! Now I'm asking everyone else who enjoys this free newsletter and is looking forward to our app: Please help us launch the first news aggregation app for exclusively independent media by making a tax-deductible donation today.
We've worked to create this news network and develop an app as volunteers because we're passionate about providing you with a corporate narrative-free news experience. We know that the corporate media so often manufactures consent and leaves out marginalized voices, and if we can get enough people using this app, we can make a difference.
Going forward, OptOut will need a lot more money for things like paying staff, creating issue-based newsletters, advertising, fundraising, graphic design, and continuing to develop and add features to the app. We need your help to make OptOut a sustainable app and nonprofit organization.
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The first sports-focused news outlet to join the OptOut family is Defector, an employee-owned sports and culture website brought to you by the former staffers of Deadspin (which a private equity firm bought and swiftly ruined).
We’re a subscription-based business. Our goal is to create a financially stable and independent publication that exists for reasons beyond squeezing out profits for some people in a boardroom, or fattening itself up for an acquisition.
Right on, Defector. We're really glad to have this indy outlet in our network. In addition to being worker-owned, the outlet has fantastic freelancer policies, which it developed with the Freelance Solidarity Project of the National Writers' Union.
Defector covers sports and culture, as well as media, labor, politics and science. Here's a new piece about Manchester United's decision to bring back Ronaldo, who was accused of rape.
Also check out Defector's podcast, The Distraction.
Horse Meds Mania!
It's been a big week for horse meds. 🤦
The Majority Report discusses a bizarre phenomenon that has unfolded: Because of misinformation on social and rightwing media, a lot of Americans have been going to their local feed stores to purchase horse paste (ivermectin, a dewormer medication that treats diseases caused by parasites—not viruses—in animals) and are taking it without medical supervision, thinking it will treat or prevent Covid-19. Certain pundits, shock jocks, and Free Speech Defenders have egged on these poor souls.
Let's be clear about what's going on: There is a version of ivermectin meant for humans, and it's not available over the counter; medical professionals have administered it to some people in hospitals with very severe cases of Covid. Very recent studies do not conclude that the drug is effective against Covid, and the CDC, FDA, WHO, European Medicines Agency, and even the company that manufactures it, Merck, are begging people not to ingest the horse version.
"The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses," the agency says in its warning. "Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.
"You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death."
"Mississippi health officials said Aug. 20 that 70% of recent calls to its poison control center were from people ingesting ivermectin meant for livestock," reported Time.
Pundits of the far right like Dennis Prager and far right-friendly shock jocks like Jimmy Dore are promoting horse paste, apparently trusting compromised research such as a highly flawed preprint of a non-peer reviewed study that was retracted for "ethical concerns" (possible plagiarism and data manipulation) on July 14.
Folks, this is rightwing, anti-vax misinformation, and its helping the lunatics at America's Frontline Doctors, a pro-Trump propaganda group, execute a massive grift. I actually reported on the origins of this group of maniacs for Exposed by CMD: the Council for National Policy.
Do not give yourself horse dewormer meds! I can't believe I had to write that sentence.
Maybe also don't go on Fox News to claim that private companies adhering to their terms of service by taking down posts with medical misinformation is an authoritarian nightmare.
Means Morning News, which launched at a new time (Sunday 9am ET) and with a new set, had a great segment on the horse paste craze today. (Stay tuned for a promotion we're doing with Means TV!)
Regarding far right-friendly pundits, The Real News published an important article this week on the topic.
More on Covid
While unhinged pundits are surely swelling their subscription numbers by braying about horse meds and censorship, no one has profited more from the Covid crisis than billionaire business executives. We should "tax the hell out of them," writes Miles Kampf-Lassin for In These Times.
U.S. billionaires became 62 percent richer during the pandemic, growing their wealth by a cool $1.8 trillion. As their fortunes skyrocketed by nearly two thirds, it’s estimated that 25 of the top billionaires paid, on average, just 3.4 percent of their wealth-growth in federal income taxes, far lower than the rate paid by most Americans.
The Ring of Fire breaks down how blue states have higher vaccination rates and these rates correlate with better economic recoveries.
In Connecticut, nursing homes are racing to get their staffs vaccinated before a state-imposed deadline next month, reports The CT Mirror.
More Corporate Narrative-Free News From the OptOut Network
The Insurgents spoke with Arash Azzizada of Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, a progressive Afghan diaspora activist group, to discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal, what Afghans need from Americans and especially the Biden administration, and what AFABT has been doing to support evacuation efforts.
Jacobin Weekends analyzes the corporate and legacy media's enthusiasm for never-ending war.
And here is Eric Alterman's take on the war-hungry media in The American Prospect.
FAIR's Julie Hollar writes about the corporate media's recent rediscovery of Afghan women's plight after 20 years of largely ignoring while the U.S. carried out its agenda in the country.
In Other News
Prism outlines one result of the right's anti-critical race theory hysteria: teachers are at risk.
For teachers of color who are committed to fighting education that promotes a whitewashed history and codifies systemic inequality, they’re finding themselves increasingly caught within a tangle of competing concerns: dedication to their students, health concerns while teaching in a pandemic, their ethics as educators, professional consequences for “violating” anti-CRT bills, and concerns for their own personal safety.
Kate Aronoff talks with Jacobin about her recent book, Overheated: How Capitalism Broke the Planet and How We Fight Back.
But whether we deal with climate change or not can’t be held hostage to executives’ ability to turn a profit. To handle this crisis, capitalism will have to be replaced as society’s operating system, setting out goals other than the boundless accumulation of private wealth.
In Canada, climate change activist Avi Lewis, who wants a Green New Deal in his country (and is married to Naomi Klein), is running for office on the NDP ticket. The Rational National interviewed him this week.
Welp. Biden decided to reward one of the Democratic Party's most hated members, Rahm Emanuel, with an ambassadorship to Japan. David Sirota writes about why Emanuel got his new gig in The Daily Poster.
The answers suggest his nomination is a payoff for helping Democratic financiers cement business relationships with Japanese officials — and for helping to kill Medicare for All in a way that boosted both Biden’s election chances and Emanuel’s own bank account.
Knock LA has a piece about OnlyFans' upcoming ban on sexually explicit content, and how this kind of censorship is nothing new for sex workers.
The This Machine Kills podcast addressed data ownership this week.
We’re joined by two of the sharpest minds on the politics of AI and data governance—Meredith Whittaker and Salomé Viljoen—to chat about the relationship between corporate gatekeepers and academic research, the construction and infrastructure of data, AI as a universal hammer for all nails, how the state enforces Silicon Valley’s power, and what it would take to seize the data pipeline from private capital for the public good.
That's it for this week. Thanks as always for keeping up with the OptOut network! Oh, and in case you forgot, it's a really bad idea treat yourself with medication intended for large livestock. Be safe out there.