CAT | Media bias
I started out last Monday writing my weekly movie review when a report of terrorist activity in Montevideo, Minnesota landed on my desk.
The FBI press release had it that someone named Buford “Bucky” Rogers had been arrested in a raid on his parent’s trailer home on Friday. The FBI claimed they’d seized lots of guns, including a Romanian AKM assault rifle, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs.
It’s a bit outside of our coverage area but it seemed serious, so up I went and spent most of the day in the trailer park outside of town, talking to the Rogers family, a.k.a. “The Black Snake Militia” and their neighbors, and watching the TV news people from as far away as Minneapolis and Sioux Falls come and go.
Since then I’ve caught the news reports of the terrorist plot as it’s gone national. The FBI claims they’ve saved Lord knows how many lives.
It’s all bull$#!+ and a lot of so-called journalists should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!
The “terrorists” are father Jeff Rogers, a man four years younger than I am who looks 20 years older. He’s wheezy, out of shape, and had open heart surgery not long ago. His son Shawn is 17, though neighbors told me they guessed his age at 13-14, which should give you an idea how dangerous he looks. As it turns out Bucky doesn’t live there but with his girlfriend and their 10-month-old baby in town, which is actually where he was arrested.
These people aren’t terrorists. They’re dumb as stumps, nutty as fruitcakes – but probably harmless.
The talking heads pointed their cameras at the family, asked a few questions – and sat back and watched them rave about implanted microchips and their “militia.” Because everybody wants to be a movie star, and this was likely the most attention they’d gotten in their lives.
But they’ve got guns!
All of them legal and registered to Jeff. A sizable collection but no bigger than those of friends of mine who include teachers, county commissioners, farmers, and cops.
They wear camouflage!
For God’s sake, cammie is the right-wing equivalent of “Che” T-shirts and “Mao” paraphernalia. “Look at me! I’m wearing the battle dress of a military I don’t remotely qualify to join.”
Nobody gets upset when college students parade around campus wearing the faces of mass murderers on their shirts. Nobody cries “racist” that one was the greatest murderer of Hispanics in the 20th century.
Why the hell aren’t journalists asking intelligent questions?
If the FBI found bombs in the trailer home – why aren’t the Rogers family in custody? According to Jeff, they weren’t even mirandized.
Molotov cocktails? That’s an incendiary made by filling a bottle with gasoline and stuffing a rag in the neck for a fuse.
Nobody stores Molotov cocktails! They keep cans of gas, rags, and bottles around and assemble them as needed!
Shawn Rogers said the FBI carted off a box of scrap plumbing pipe. I believe him, The Rogers seem to eek out Jeff’s disability pension by collecting and selling scrap. I got Jeff Rogers to open the “bomb factory” shed – it’s a junk heap!
Some reports more cautiously said they had “bomb making materials” in their house.
That I believe. But then again, so do I – and so do you. Between your kitchen and your bathroom you have the ingredients for at least two high explosives which I won’t name, but they go off at a harsh look. Everybody is one chemistry lesson away from a bomb.
Bucky Rogers I haven’t met. Word from people in the school system is he was a trouble maker but not scary in school, but his little brother is rather liked by his teachers.
Bucky was on probation for burglary, but didn’t do time. He mouthed off a lot on Facebook in ways that could be seen as threats. The FBI said he admitted after a Miranda warning to firing his father’s AKM at a gun range.
Gotcha! Probation violation – which is what he’s been charged with so far. So why hasn’t he been charged with making terroristic threats?
Bucky’s parole officer might have taken him aside and told him to dial the nutty stuff down until he was off probation.
Instead the FBI swooped down on Montevideo, roped in several local law enforcement agencies, and when the FBI show up in your office you don’t say “No thanks.” They staged a major operation at considerable expense which I seriously doubt the local law will ever get reimbursed for.
Many readers I’ve talked to are quite sensibly skeptical about the sensationalist news reports. Good on you! The county sheriff has been admirably restrained and rather noncommittal in his public statements. The FBI is often disliked among local law enforcement agencies, but it is not wise to antagonize them.
But why all the commotion? Not to mention the expense.
If I were a right-wing conspiracy nut, I’d suspect that in the aftermath of the Boston bombing the PC Patrol is desperately searching for terrorists who aren’t Muslims. The Rogers are the people America has been taught to fear – white, redneck gun nuts.
But since I’m a cynic I have to wonder if the FBI affidavit didn’t give it away. The agent who signed it said he’d been at the Minneapolis office since he graduated from the academy in 1999. If I had to guess, I’d wonder if someone is tired of being stuck out in the boonies and sees a big score that’ll get him back to the bright lights in the big city.
Note: This is the self-syndicated column I submitted to my subscriber(s) for this week. I usually wait a while before posting on my blog to give the print-only outlets a head start. Currently this is re-posted on the websites of rural newspapers in a five-state area in the upper midwest.
I am expecting the compost to hit the thresher over this one. We’ll see, and stay tuned for part 2.
Note: I have a self-syndicated weekly column which I sometimes archive here. To be fair to my subscribers (plus I’m busy and lazy,) I post them a bit later than they appear, so as a consequence they’re not topical. From a few weeks ago.
Injecting opinions into news, here’s how
By Steve Browne
I entered journalism later in life than most when I started writing for the English-language press while I was living abroad. When I decided to make the jump to professional journalism, I headed back to my alma mater, Oklahoma University to get some formal training.
My features writing class was taught by Professor Ray Chavez, a seasoned pro with experience writing and editing for papers around the country. I’ll never forget what he taught me on the occasion I picked the topic of home schooling for an assignment.
I like the idea of home schooling, and it showed.
“This is an advocacy piece,” Ray told me after I handed it in.
I looked at it again. He was right. I had interviewed and quoted only home schoolers. I had not included opinions from anyone who thought it might not be a good idea, even though I knew there were some.
This was a revelation. I believed then and do now, that professional journalism is rife with bias and advocacy disguised as reporting, and there I was doing it too! Worse, I hadn’t even noticed until it was pointed out to me.
This goes on all the time, though somewhat more subtly, and I believe mostly unconsciously. It’s done by both sides, but it’s going to show up more on one side because journalists on the national level are 90-odd percent left of center.
Case in point: The Miami Herald, Sunday, June 24, Erica Bolstad, “Obama’s immigration maneuver could box in Romney, GOP.”
“WASHINGTON — In the week since President Barack Obama announced a plan that would allow some young undocumented immigrants to stay in this country, Republicans have struggled to embrace any version of immigration reform.”
Note “undocumented immigrants” sounds like someone who lost their drivers license, not someone who has broken the law. But choice of this phrase, rather than the formerly current “illegal alien” could be newspaper policy rather than a reporter pushing an agenda.
And Republicans have “struggled to embrace any version of immigration reform.” Note the implied air of desperation, and that it completely ignores the issue of the constitutionality of the president enacting this reform by executive fiat rather than working through congress. It’s entirely possible to approve of what the president did, while opposing the way it was done.
Bolstad goes on to say, “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has fumbled when asked how he would handle such undocumented youths if he were elected president. And Sen. Marco Rubio, who began talking about his own immigration plan for young people this spring but never had a bill in writing, peevishly told national news outlets that the president should have called him.”
Note Romney “fumbled” but no quotes or examples are given. And note, “undocumented youths” which glosses over the fact that the provisions of the presidents unilateral de facto amnesty covers people as old as 35.
And Rubio didn’t just “say” the president should have called him, he said it “peevishly.”
Well maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Point is that’s a pretty subjective judgment which wasn’t backed up by a video link or a direct quote that might have showed a peeve or two.
The rest of the article is very good reporting with direct quotes from the individuals cited, but from the first two paragraphs do you have any doubt which side the reporter favors?
Now the thing about this was, the reporter definitely leans a certain way, but probably isn’t aware it shows up in her reporting. It’s just the kind of thing that happens when journalists live in a bubble full of people who agree on most things.
One more thing is worth noting. Over the headline is the label, “Campaign 2012.” Expect a lot of this kind of thing, be aware of it, and whatever your opinion is, let it be yours not ours.
Note: As mentioned, my personal blog has been less active than formerly for a number of reasons both professional and personal. One is that I’ve launched a self-syndication venture. Here below is an example of one of my columns. You’ll note the style is different from my more rambling blog style. I’ll be posting my columns a decent interval after they go out to my subscribers so as not to give away what they pay me for. And I’ll be posting some of my previous submissions to get them out before potential customers (hint.)
I have a confession to make, I practice slanting news stories. In fact, sometimes I lie awake at nights thinking about how to do it.
However I sincerely hope this never shows up in what I actually write!
The reason I practice slanting news stories is that I study the practice and collect examples of it. Eventually I hope to write a book on the subject.
And gentle readers, there’s a lot of it going around – but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.
It’s done by both liberals and conservatives, and in fact each side has a think tank devoted to finding “gotcha!” examples of the other’s biased reporting. Not to be confused with Our Side’s fearless reporting of the truth with a capital “T.”
Nonetheless, anyone looking with an open mind is going to find more examples of liberal bias, but only because slightly more than 90 percent of national news reporters self-identify as “liberal.”
From MSN, Feb. 18. “In a rare display of openness, Sarah Palin took questions for an hour yesterday at an appearance on Long Island in New York. She’s still unsure of a presidential run:”
“Rare display of openness…” Not much doubt which side that writer is on. The comment is entered as a kind of toss-off, without support or examples of why this display of openness is “rare.”
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The point is, the statement is unsupported and the writer clearly expects you to take it on his/her say-so.
Notice something, this was probably unconscious. The writer may not be aware of writing a biased piece, and might be wounded should you suggest they did. They were just stating a self-evident fact that “everybody knows.”
That’s just the kind of thing that happens when you only hang around with people you agree with.
Another way to slant a story is to seize on a gaff, a clumsy misstatement, or a quote taken out of context, and hammer on it. If you’re a public figure who has to speak off the cuff into a battery of recorders often, there are bound to be some of those.
Conservatives are still getting a lot of mileage out of John Kerry’s, “I voted for the bill before I voted against it.” But… in the ordinary legislative process a bill may go through a whole series of rewrites, and amendments before it reaches its final form. Even the senator or representative who wrote it might not recognize it anymore.
It’s entirely possible to vote for a bill as introduced, and find yourself unable to vote for the finished product.
You can do this with photos too. Some people are naturally more photogenic than others, but if people are following you around snapping photos constantly, we’ll there’s going to be a fair number of unflattering ones in the bunch. Everybody yawns, grimaces, scratches themselves, etc from time to time. Snap a photo at just the right time…
Or better still, cull the archives for photos and take your pick.
As a journalist, I have a question about the ongoing media circus around the tragedy in Florida, where a neighborhood watchman fatally shot an African-American teenager.
Whatever the facts of the case may turn out to be in the long run, if they ever do emerge amid the agenda-driven coverage, I’d like to know two things.
One, is a five-year-old mugshot of George Zimmerman in an orange prison jumpsuit the only photo the media could find of him?
Well perhaps so, Zimmerman is not a public figure. But is a years-old photo of the victim
Trayvon Martin as a mere boy the only photo they could find? Surely a high school football player must have some yearbook photos around?
A whole book could be written about the subject, and someday I intend to. But in the meantime, this is an election year and you shouldn’t trust the media not to be advancing their own agenda through biased reporting.
Trust no one!
Except me of course.
Note: Originally published in the TV Guide of The Marshall Independent.
I suppose I’m dating myself, but I can remember when you could expect to run into The Three Stooges pretty much daily on your black and white TV.
The Stooges started as a vaudeville act in 1925, composed of two brothers of Lithuanian Jewish origin, Moses and Samuel Horwitz, a.k.a. Moe and Shemp Howard, and friend Louis Feinberg or “Larry Fine,” scion of a Russian Jewish family.
If you find that surprising, did you know Larry was an amateur boxer and a talented violinist?
Shemp later left to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by another brother Jerome, who wanted into the act so badly he shaved his long flowing locks to become “Curly.” After Curly suffered a stroke in 1946, Shemp rejoined the team until his own death in 1955.
Shemp was replaced by Curly look-alike Joe Besser, and later by Joe DeRita as “Curly Joe.”
Altogether the Stooges made 220 films, most of them shorts that played alongside feature films in movie theaters.
Their humor was noted for broad slapstick, violent and often cruel. But there was also an “us against the world” solidarity, and a lot of clever wordplay. Such as when you see the Stooges outside the law office of “Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.”
Now after 10 years in the making, mostly spent looking for the ideal cast, the new Three Stooges has arrived, featuring Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry, and Will Sasso as Curly.
Briefly, the trio are on a quest to save the orphanage they were raised in, to the ruin of the institution and the despair of the nuns that run it. They have a month to raise $830,000. They get involved in the machinations of would-be black widow Lydia (Sofia Vergara,) who wants them to murder her husband Teddy (Kirby Heyborne,) who turns out to be an fellow alumnus of the orphanage.
So how does it stack up to the original gang?
In a word – uncanny. These guys have got the Stooges down. The voices, the mannerisms, even Curly’s “nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-nyuk” and “woo-woo-woo-woo.”
The resemblance is so strong it sometimes makes one uncomfortable to see it’s not the original Three Stooges after all.
All of the trademark slapstick tropes are there. They only one they seem to have missed is the board-over-the-shoulder-and-abruptly-turning-around, but perhaps I blinked and missed it.
Of course my 10-year-old son laughed all the way through it.
So how is it different from the original Stooges?
Well as you might expect in this day and age, it’s bawdier and a little crude in spots.
Sofia Vergara displays a generous amount of cleavage, and uses it for comic effect. The original Stooges did the lobster-attaching-itself-to-the-face thing, but wouldn’t have stuffed it down someone’s pants.
Moe gets invited to join the cast of “Jersey Shore” to slap the cast around, and who wouldn’t like to see that?
And did I mention the fart joke?
All of that probably won’t raise many eyebrows, but there’s the Catholic thing.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented, “The Stooges are depicted seeking to raise money for their orphanage; it is run by habit-wearing, stereotypical nuns. One of the sisters is played by swimsuit model Kate Upton; she is shown wearing a “nun bikini” with a large rosary around her neck. Another nun, Sister Mary-Mengele, named after the Nazi war criminal, is played by Seinfeld creator Larry David.”
I’m not Catholic, but it irritates me to see Hollywood congratulating itself for its courage in fighting a battle that was won a long time ago. The Legion of Decency has been moribund for a long time folks, get over it.
And there’s a scene where Lydia is reading the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard in bed. Subtle – NOT.
There’s a nod to social responsibility at the end where the makers explain how the stunts are done and caution kids about the eye poke and hitting people on the head with hammers.
Oh come on! Was there ever a verifiable case where anybody was actually harmed imitating the Stooges? Give the kids’ intelligence a little credit guys.
Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, however I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent and the print-only TV Guide.
Michael Moore recently tried to deny the blindingly obvious on Piers Morgan’s TV talk show.
Moore said he is not one of the “1 percent” of “fat cats” the Occupy (blank) crowd are protesting in various venues across the country.
“I’m not,” Moore denied. “I am devoting my life to those who have less and who have been (bleeped) upon by the system.”
To begin with, that wasn’t the question. A rich person can spend his or her life helping the less fortunate, and many have. But I believe the question was about whether Moore was in the top 1 percent of individual net worth, and Moore’s $2 million home on Michigan’s toney Torch Lake and estimated net worth of around $50 million put him, if not in the top percentile then certainly within spitting distance of it.
I find Moore’s attitude irritating.
Moore is coming off like the kind of people we used to call “parlor pinks” or “limousine liberals,” i.e. well-off people who wear their concern for the poor on their sleeves. Who’d do anything for the working class – except join it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against wealthy philanthropists, and in fact have a great deal of admiration for many of them and their not inconsiderable contributions to society.
What irritates me is “poor mouthing.” That “I’m really one of you” posturing.
With $50 million in the bank, Moore is manifestly not one of me. Furthermore, all indications show that he came by his fortune honestly, by creating a product people were willing to pay for. Not one to my taste, but enough folks liked what he sells to make him rich, so more power to him. So obviously, “The System” has worked pretty well for him.
(OK, so he got the seed money to make “Roger and Me” by suing his former employer Mother Jones, which is not technically illegal but…)
Quite frankly, from seeing interviews with Moore, I don’t think he’s any smarter than I am. He certainly isn’t more handsome than me, and I’m obviously in lots better shape. I generally dress better for work too.
There is the question of talent of course. Whatever one thinks of the content of Moore’s documentaries, they are visually brilliant. I don’t know if that’s innate talent for camera work or something I could learn. I suspect I could, I take pretty good pictures and digital photography makes it easy and cheap.
Where the really irritating subtext of Moore’s message comes in, is the whole assumption behind his railing against The System that Poops on Us is that he could get rich through hard work and brains, but I couldn’t possibly. That calm assumption of superiority that just chaps my (bleep.)
Mr. Moore, I don’t mind that you’re rich, I’m not the least bit envious of your good fortune. Just hold the patronizing attitude if you please.
I’m kicking myself right not for not knowing how to do a screen capture, ’cause I just missed a doozy.
I saved the link http://www.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream4&hpt=T2
but unfortunately all I get now is a black screen and a voice commercial.
Somebody at CNN caught it I guess, because a search of the archives gets a correct story to go with the picture.
What was originally there was a short article on CNN’s website saying President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.
Well as it happens, my apartment is about five blocks from the Grob Nieznany Zolnierz in Plac Pilsudskiego. That’s to one side of Saski Park, which bordered the Warsaw ghetto and the great Tlomatski Synagogue before the ghetto uprising. My father-in-law was at one time the commander of the honor guard at the tomb. We used to go there to watch the changing of the guard sometimes.
The picture accompanying the article showed Obama at the ghetto memorial, not the Tomb. Not just a mis-identified picture, a whole ‘nuther event entirely. I don’t know if Obama did anything at the Tomb.
Long-time readers may remember my story of how CNN did this some years back when I was still living in Poland. They had a report on TV about some action taken by the Sejm (parliament) in Warsaw. They reported as a voiceover with video clip.
The clip showed a building with mountains in the background.
There are no mountains anywhere near Warsaw.
The sign on the building said, “Urjad Miasto Zakopanego,” or “City Hall of Zakopane.”
Zakopane is a ski resort town and artists colony in the mountains near the Slovakian border, known as the “winter capitol” of Poland. It is as far away from Warsaw as it’s possible to be and still be within the country.
Nice going CNN. I wonder how much of this goes on that I don’t catch?
I suppose it’s no secret I don’t have a very high opinion of national big-name journalism. In fact, I’m collecting examples for a book on the subject of how to do crummy writing and biased reporting.
There is a weird inversion of what you expect here. The best journalism is done at the community level, and it’s often very good indeed. The worst is done on the national newspaper/network level, and it’s often very bad.
One reason that has been pointed out is the ideological homogeneity of most big newsrooms. Most journalism is produced in environments which are further left-of-center than the national norm. The conservative counterbalance over at FOX news and conservative papers and magazines tends towards homogeneity as well, but it’s worthy of note that FOX actually does have self-identified liberals on staff.
(National Review Online also has an admirable diversity of views, and a list of links to stories expressing contrary views as well. For real diversity in opinion editorials you can go to Creators syndicate where they post editorials grouped under ‘liberal opinion’ and ‘conservative opinion.’ Treat yourself to some of each. I adore Lenore Skenazy.)
Another reason is, we’ve become Hypersensitive Nation. There are things we cannot say in public, without serious risk to our careers. Indeed there is a growing cottage industry of catching, recording, and publishing celebrities and politicians saying un-PC things in unguarded moments.
It was certainly bad in the Bad Old Days of kings and tyrants when you could step in it deep by saying things about the king or the church. But I have to wonder, is it any better now that there are a multitude of easily-offended “minority” groups who can hold you accountable, not for your actions but for your opinions – or even tentative speculations?
(I put “minority” in scare quotes, because it includes women, who were 51 percent of the population last I checked.)
The result is though we pride ourselves on being a free people with a free press, journalists lie a lot because they’re afraid.
Case in point, CNN broadcast journalist and opinion columnist Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Velez-Mitchell has an impassioned op-ed on the CNN website entitled, “11-year-old girl can’t be ‘willing’ in sex.”
It’s about an 11-year-old girl who last November was passed around like a bottle of liquor by possibly up to 28 young men between the ages of 14 to 28 – some of whom recorded the event on cell phone cameras.
If that isn’t bad enough, well here’s what she wrote in the lede.
“What’s more shocking than the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl? The fact that some people are actually blaming the little girl.”
The article goes on to report since there is video evidence that precludes a defense of “somebody else did it,” the defenders of the accused are falling back on “Plan B” – blame the victim.
As far as I can tell, every word of the article is true, and the speculations valid. And yet she lies.
There is NOT ONE WORD in the story that says the “divisions” in this town are black-brown! The victim is Hispanic, the accused are black.
Did Velez-Mitchell think these facts are irrelevant? Will she deign to notice them if that town explodes in a black-brown war? And yes, I know what saying this is going to get me called.
She sort of lets you in on this without actually saying it:
“First, an attorney for some of the suspects described the girl as someone who had a “desire to be a willing participant.” That was followed by the arrival in town of a Houston-based community activist named Quanell X who stood before a group of local parents and exclaimed, “It was not the young girl that yelled rape! Stop right there. Something is wrong brothers and sisters… Where was her mother? Where was her father? Where was her family?”"
That’s kind of a broad hint, “Quanell X” is not a typical Anglo-Saxon name, even in this age of trendy weirdness in names.
“Perhaps more disturbing than his words were the murmurs of approval from the crowd. How about asking, “Where were the parents of the 14-year-old boy who is now accused of raping the 11-year-old girl?”"
And that crowd was composed of…?
Here’s a hint for Ms Velez-Mitchell: if that 14-year-old boy and the other boys and young men were representative of their demographic, there is a 70 percent chance there was no father at home. So that’s “mother,” not “parents.” And to answer your question, she’s in the crowd blaming the young girl.
Velez-Mitchell asks what kind of example we as a society are setting young boys?
I’d like to ask, what kind of example are you setting me Jane? You’re a big-time journalist and I’m strictly small-town small-fry. Aren’t you supposed to be setting an example for those of us who’d like to believe fearless pursuit of the truth will take you far?
Can’t any of you big names squirrel away some of the big bucks you’re making for a stash of drop dead money*?
As you can see from the bio, Velez-Mitchell is the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and an Irish-American father. I think we can safely assume she uses her parents’ names hyphenated to get the minority career bump. Hell, over at FOX Julie Banderas, nee Julie Bidwell, does that. (The difference is, Banderas actually looks Hispanic. Velez-Mitchell looks less Hispanic than I do.)
She is also listed as “one of the few openly-gay journalists on television.” Oh puh-lease, that hasn’t been a career disability in years.
Velez-Mitchell is the author of the book, Secrets Can Be Murder: What America’s Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves.Wikipedia says the book “delves into the secrets unearthed in more than twenty of the most widely covered murder cases of recent times. The book’s premise is that, by studying the secrecy and deceit embedded in these tragic scenarios, we can learn to opt for honesty in our own lives and avoid similar outcomes.”
Oh yeah? I’d like to meet the courageous author of that book. You don’t by any chance know where I can find her do you?
Velez-Mitchell seems to think saying loudly that 11-year-old girls shouldn’t be raped and blamed for it, is an act of courage.
Don’t boast to me about your courage lady, this article shows you’re a coward, just like that ass US Attorney-General Holder said.
* “Drop dead money” is a phrase James Clavell used in his novel ‘Noble House.’ It means enough money, liquid and unencumbered to be able to tell anyone “drop dead” and walk away. I don’t have drop dead money, my security is a CDL – but I’d rather be a first-rate journalist than a mediocre truck driver.
Over at the Huffington Post there is a story by a lady with the delightful name of Pigeon O’Brian about her quirky friend Lisa Druck – better known after a name-and-lifestyle change as Rielle Hunter.
Rielle Hunter is of course, the baby mama of former vice-presidential candidate and presidential contender John Edward’s love child.
Ms O’Brian, described as a publicist and former magazine editor, eventually broke the story after much soul-searching. The story of how she she reached the decision to break the story is actually quite moving.
The story of the hoops she had to go through to break it is infuriating. After being brushed off by at least two major media outlets, it was the National Enquirer that followed up, and eventually cornered Edwards in the rest room of a hotel where mama and baby were staying.
The mental picture of Edwards frantically trying to pull the door shut against the reporters and photographers on the other side trying to pull it open is one I cherish.
Whether to reveal a presidential contender is a gold-plated phoney should be a no-brainer to any journalist with integrity. And incidentally, de morituris nihi nisi bonum est, but the late sainted Elizabeth Edwards comes off just as phoney and far more ruthless.
But O’Brian wasn’t covering the story herself, and it was a sort-of friend who was involved. A lot of journalists were on the campaign/Edwards beat and knew what was going on with Mr. Wonderful.
It took the Enquirer to break the story – and this wasn’t the first time they took on a story the “respectable” media was burying with a back hoe.
That’s it, no moral to this story I care to beat you over the head with. Read the HuffPo story.
Good news on the free speech front from Europe. Lars Hedegaard was acquited in Denmark of charges of saying true, but not nice things about Muslims resident in his country.
The hate-speech trial of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria is still ongoing though. Frau Sabaditsch-Wolff is facing similar charges stemming from… well it appears that in support of her xenophobic, racist, etc etc rants she (this is shocking but I have to say it) actually quoted the Koran
And in America a big-time Washington D.C. lawyer Paul Mirengoff, who happens to be a conservative blogger was made to grovel in public, take down a blog post, and shut up.
Mirengoff is a partner in the employment law group at the firm of Akin Gump, and one of the founders of Power Line blog.
The offending post was about the Tuscon tragedy. The specific offensive part concerned a prayer offered by a Yaqui Indian shaman. Luckily the post was preserved elsewhere – and now here. Take a half-minute and read the offending thing in its entirety..
In the post immediately below, I praised President Obama’s speech in Tucson this evening in honor of the victims of that horrific shooting spree. His speech was part of a larger ceremony which, on the whole, was rather a mixed bag.
The best thing about the evening, even better than Obama’s speech, was the news he delivered that Rep. Giffords today opened her eyes on her own for the first time since she was shot.
Other good spots: Daniel Hernandez, the intern who helped save Rep. Giffords life, gave a brief and impressive talk in which he insisted that he was not a hero. And Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano used their time at the podium not to deliever speeches but instead to simply reading from scripture. This may have been designed to keep things fresh for Obama’s speech, but it was appreciated nonetheless.
On the negative side of the ledger, I didn’t appreciate the president of the University of Arizona (and master of ceremonies) telling us how lucky we are to have Barack Obama as our president and Janet Napolitano as our homeland security chief. Nor did the frequent raucous cheering by the huge crowd seem appropriate at what was, at least in part, a memorial service.
As for the “ugly,” I’m afraid I must cite the opening “prayer” by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to “the creator” but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.
But it wasn’t just Gonzales’s prayer that was “ugly” under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-auto biography and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid 19th century. I’m not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.
In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales.
That’s it. The unforgivable offense was to suggest that prayers for Christian victims might appropriately be… Christian.
I myself cheerfully accept anybody’s prayers for my safety, salvation, or good luck with the lottery. The good wishes of a good person may or may not help, but they certainly can’t hurt.
Of course, that’s not the whole story as you find out when you follow the money.
But that was not good enough for one of Mirengoff’s law partners, James Meggesto, who issued a sanctimonious statement saying he was “shocked, appalled and embarrassed” by Mirengoff’s “insensitive” “web posting” (emphasis mine):
“As an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation; as an attorney who has dedicated his life and law practice to the representation of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and tribal interests; and as a partner in the American Indian law and policy practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, I was shocked, appalled and embarrassed by a recent Web posting by another Akin Gump partner, Paul Mirengoff, who posted on his personal blog an insensitive and wholly inappropriate criticism of the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the recent memorial service held in Tucson, Arizona. As soon as I and the firm became aware of this posting, the firm took immediate action to deal firmly with this unfortunate situation. Accordingly, Bruce McLean, chairman of the firm, issued the following statement: “We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, powerlineblog.com. Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog. We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values. Mr. Mirengoff regrets his poor choice of words and agreed to remove his post.” ”
Meggesto doesn’t say who dropped the dime on Mirengoff. How this even came to the firm’s attention is surprising. After all, the paragraph in question was pretty mild, part of a larger post and not really much different than a lot of others were saying. Perhaps some innocent concerned citizen just happened to read Power Line that night and call Akin Gump, but it’s equally likely the watchers were behind it, directly or indirectly.
The criticism by Meggesto and Akin Gump was disingenuous at best. There was nothing in Mirengoff’s post which was a “criticism of the use of the Yacqui prayer”; Mirengoff was making a point about the absence of a Christian prayer at a memorial service for religious Christian victims.
And just what are Akin Gump’s “values”? The primary value at stake here seems to be money to be generated from representing Indian tribes and financial interests. Nothing wrong with that, but Akin Gump should have just said what it really meant: “We are afraid that left-wing bloggers and others who hate Power Line will make a big deal about this and try to use it against the firm to disrupt our relationship with clients who pay us millions of dollars in legal fees each year.”
If Akin Gump had justified its actions based on its own financial interests, rather than hiding behind words like “insensitive,” I would have respected its decision (although still disagreed with it). A law firm has a legitimate interest in maintaining client relationships. Instead, Meggesto and Akin Gump chose to portray Mirengoff at best as insensitive and at worst as a bigot, which conclusions were not supported by the blog post in question.
Mirengoff obviously feared for his position at the firm, because he issued a confession/apology worthy of a political prisoner in (insert name of tyranny here):
OK, I have to say I support Mirengoff 100 percent – but I can’t help but think he’s kind of a wuss.
Dammit shyster, couldn’t you have taken the hit and sued the bastards? That’s what lawyers do!
Maybe I should be more charitable, and maybe I’m not in the mood because I’ve just come back from Belarus where a friend and comrade was forced to make public statements by threats on the lives of his partners.
Mr. Mirengoff I’m sure you have a family to support, but that redskin lawyer (yes I’m being deliberately offensive, sue me) isn’t going to scalp your wife and children. “Attorney” is a portable skill you can take damn near anywhere. And if you have sons, wouldn’t you rather they saw their father as a man who stands up for himself, than a provider of new BMWs for graduation?
I’m living a lot closer to the margin of poverty than you are – and I’ll say whatever I damn well please on my blog PRECISELY BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE TELLING ME I CAN’T.
* Hmmmm, I set out to write a different post here. Fortunately I like to go to the primary source.
The NAACP passed a resolution about the Tea Party I’ve been reading about.
I invite readers to check out the link. See in particular:
“The proposed resolution had generated controversy on conservative blogs, where in some cases the language has been misconstrued to imply that the NAACP was condemning the entire Tea Party movement itself as racist.”
They are quite correct. That is exactly what I’ve been reading, when in fact the resolution merely asks the movement to condemn “racist elements within the Tea Party.” The NAACP is often hypersensitive to “racism,” seeing it where it isn’t intended, but no they didn’t say the whole Tea Party was racist and certain conservative bloggers and columnists should be more careful.
The NAACP statement however does say, “In March, respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a Washington, DC health care protest…”
I believe that’s been pretty well debunked. There was a plethora of recording equipment in the crowd, and not one racial epithet has been found in any recording.
And you can be damn sure if it had been it would be all over the airwaves!
* A courageous whistle blower at Obama’s Justice Department has however revealed a pervasive pattern of racism by DOJ officials.
J. Christian Adams, a career attorney in the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Division until he resigned to go public, testified under oath July 6 before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in the matter of two armed and uniformed members of the New Black Panther Party intimidating voters at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Street precinct on Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008.
You may recall that Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed the case against King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, after it had already been won by a default judgement when the defendants didn’t bother to show up at their hearing.
Just this once I’m going to pull a Michael Moore and start a sentence with, “I wonder if…” (As we say in Oklahoma, I know it’s wrong – but I’m weak.)
I wonder if they didn’t bother to show up because they knew they had nothing to worry about?
Adams also testified Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes last November instructed prosecutors not to enforce the law which requires local officials remove from the rolls voters who are ineligible because they have moved, are convicted felons, or just plain dead.
According to Adams, Fernandez said, “We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.”
“I was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on the benefit of white victims,” Adams said.
* Over the past several years I’ve observed things which I think add up to a pattern. Bear with me for a moment, then call me crazy if you like.
Election manipulation: In addition to the above-cited example, consider the ACORN follies, the Franken election looking more and more like it was stolen after the discovery of a few thousand ineligible felons on the Minnesota rolls (Franken won after a suspicious recount put him ahead by around 300 votes,) legal challenges to laws requiring voter ID. Not to mention pushing union card check with all the potential for intimidation that entails.
Name calling: The efforts to paint the TEA Party and the Right in general as dangerous extremists, when the history of political violence in this country over the past two generations is overwhelmingly on the Left. This of course includes attempts to dehumanize the opposition by attaching hateful labels such as “racist.”
(See “name calling” under propaganda techniques.”)
Outright violence: SEIU goons beat an African-American man demonstrating at a St. Louis townhall meeting. A man and woman were beaten in New Orleans after leaving the Southern Republican Leadership Conference dinner at Brennan’s Restaurant.
(Michelle Malkin says evidence for a political motive is murky in this case – though robbery was pretty obviously not the motive since there was no attempt to rob the victims. She does offer a list of confirmed cases of politically motivated violence.)
I think it adds up to an interview.
The Hard Left (and no I don’t mean generic “liberals,” I mean the totalitarian Left that sometimes sails under that flag) cannot come to power without hiding their true intentions (by pretending to be merely liberal for example) and certainly cannot stay in power in honest elections when their true intentions become manifest. Their program for a controlled economy and social engineering to produce the “right kind” of people just doesn’t fly with most Americans.
But in a democratic system, any group which is willing to use violence has a weighted vote – if they can get away with it. You could call it “the Sinn Fein/IRA lesson.”
It looks to me like we’re in the early stages of an “escalating interview” on a national scale.
“Escalating – Unlike a hot interview, which starts out immediately hostile, an escalating interview starts out normally but it rapidly turns hostile. The person or people test(s) your boundaries by escalating outrageous behavior. Every time he is not slapped down (i.e., he is successful), his behavior becomes more and more extreme until finally he attacks.”