Thursday, November 03, 2011

TV update

In addition to taping a short interview with CNN's Situation Room show regarding the Citizens for Tax Justice report on corporate tax dodgers, I also ended up going to the Al Jazeera English studio in midtown to do a short TV interview with them on the same subject. (Each will apparently be used, probably a short snippet only, in a feature story on the CTJ report.)

Extra bonus, while leaving the Al Jazeera studio I met the German film director Werner Herzog, who introduced himself to me while we were both waiting for the elevator. I told him that I am very eager to see his 3-D film on the Lascaux cave paintings, and he noted that it is still playing in Greenwich Village.

The CNN and Al-Jazeera interviews followed somewhat different paths. For CNN, the main question was, is the bottom line of the CTJ report (showing massive though varying levels of U.S. tax avoidance by U.S, companies) accurate and credible? I said yes, and that the CTJ findings are no surprise to knowledgeable people, although no doubt there would be plenty to quibble regarding how they did the measure and in particular cases. On Al Jazeera, same bottom line reason for interviewing me (seeking independent expert assessment of the main CTJ findings), but more interest in questions such as, how does this pattern relate to the concerns of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I haven't been able to determine what ran on English Al-Jazeera. But I've seen the CNN story by Mary Snow (which ran tonight at 5:36 pm EST). I only made it on-screen for a very short soundbite saying that the politics of the 1986 Act can't be replicated today because compromises between the parties are dead. But the producers may also have viewed me as validating that the CTJ study is intellectually respectable (although they ran a he-said she-said on CTJ vs. GE, the latter of which used counter-argument rather than denial).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the CNN coverage was how Occupy Wall Street has changed the narrative frame that a major network uses in approaching a story like this. I view this as evidence that OWS is having a significant (whether or not lasting) impact on the framing of public debate, of a sort that companies such as GE are unlikely to welcome.

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