New on NewsReal – Katie Couric: A Muslim "Cosby Show" Could Help Cure America’s Bigotry

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Sometimes outside-the-box thinking proves invaluable in solving the controversies that plague us, but sometimes it turns out to be a minefield of useless self-embarrassment. CBS anchor Katie Couric’s novel approach to combating alleged Islamophobia falls firmly in the latter camp. During a panel review of 2010’s biggest stories, Couric lamented the American people’s clueless intolerance:

“The bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface,” Couris said. “Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn’t enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong — and so disappointing.”

One wonders how Couric is measuring this “seething hatred.” By what Americans say? Doubtful—Newsweek’s latest poll on the subject found that 67% of Americans believe that “only some” or “very few” American Muslims “support the goals of Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalists,” and 62% believe “most” or “many” are “peaceable and do not condone violence.”

Is she judging by what Americans do? Equally dubious—according to the FBI’s most recent statistics, Muslims were the victims of 7.7% of all religiously-motivated “hate crimes in 2008,” as opposed to Jews, who were the victims of 65.7%.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

The Other McCain on Why "The Cosby Show" Rocked

Robert Stacy McCain uses an astonishingly-stupid remark by Katie Couric as a springboard for some great remarks on the value of Bill Cosby’s hit sitcom:

As a professional comedian and actor, of course, Cosby’s first consideration was to produce successful entertainment. Insofar as Cosby had any notion of racial consciousness-raising, however, I’m pretty sure his primary idea was to exemplify a model of bourgeois decency for the black community.

Here was a top-quality program by black people, about black people, for black people — an weekly show that held out to black Americans the same kind of corny old-fashioned middle-class family ideal once emboided by shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.

The Huxtables weren’t living in the projects and they weren’t speaking ghetto-inflected jive-talk. In fact, although this is sometimes forgotten, many liberals at the time criticized The Cosby Show as inauthentic and insufficiently relevant in addressing Serious Social Problems.

Yet the Huxtable family were about something very different than the kind of didactic issues-based “relevance” beloved by intellectuals. The Huxtables were reflecting the basic American values that Cosby cherishes, values that he dearly wants other black people to embrace, so as to get their own share of the American dream.

The fact that the show instantly became a mass-market success is, first and foremost, a tribute to Bill Cosby’s genius. But that success in itself undermines the idea that white people’s attitudes toward black people were, in 1984, the principle hindrance to black success. If white people were so ignorant and bigoted, why were they tuning in by the millions each week to watch Cosby?

Beyond the comedic brilliance of Cosby himself, some of the best parts of The Cosby Show were his periodic struggles — especially with son Theo — to get his kids to stay on the right path, and not to be lured into the “street” culture by peer pressure or trying to be “cool.”

This was, and remains, a particular problem that black parents have to deal with. Even though all parents have to deal with rebellious teens getting into trouble, the white suburban middle-class parent does not live in a world where the “troubled teen” routinely goes to prison or ends up shot dead. But these possibilities are a serious worry for many black parents. (To quote a black friend, concerned about gang activity in small-town schools: “We got out of the ghetto and we’re not going back. We sure as hell don’t want the ghetto coming here to get us.”)

Leftist Lie of the Day

From Ramesh Ponnuru, here’s a takedown of the new study going around that claims to show that Fox News viewers are especially misinformed:
Tom Maguire and Aaron Worthing have already pointed out that the study counts as “misinformation” beliefs that are really matters of opinion or arguably true claims.
For example, the study says the “correct” view is that most economists estimate the stimulus to have created several million jobs; but the study’s own proffered sources for this claim, which are not impressive, suggest that it is exaggerated. In the absence of an actual survey of American economists–and I am not aware of any–how would we know which belief is correct? If we take most respondents to be offering their views on the effects of the stimulus rather than their views on the results of polls of economists, the “incorrect” view is even more defensible.
But leave this problem aside. The other defect of the study is that it tested for false (or supposedly false) views that conservatives were more likely to have than liberals. It tested for only one false view that anyone could have said in advance would be disproportionately held by liberals (the view that it had been proven that the Chamber of Commerce used foreign money to finance political ads). Meanwhile it tested for several myths with distinctive appeal to conservatives.
A more balanced look at widespread myths would have yielded different results. What if the survey had asked whether air pollution had gotten worse over the last three decades? Or whether Americans’ life expectancies are worse than other peoples’ when differences in lifestyle and crime rates are taken into account? Or whether education spending had gone down during the Bush administration? It would be very easy to construct a survey in which MSNBC viewers turned out to be less informed than Fox News viewers. And just as pointless.

Doctors Make New Inroads in Fight Against HIV; Media’s Prognosis Still Hopeless

The Huffington Post reports that a stem-cell treatment is thought to have not only treated, but actually cured a man’s HIV infection – obviously a major development.

However, HuffPo being HuffPo, they neglect to mention one tiny detail: the stem cells came from bone marrow. No destruction of human life required.

The stem-cell battle has been fading away in recent years, thanks in part to it becoming increasingly clear that human embryos aren’t needed. This story should continue that trend, but it’ll be interesting to see if any other media outlets choose instead to follow HuffPo’s lead.

New on NewsReal – Media Matters Incites a Word War with Fox News Over Term "Public Option"

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Language is a powerful tool. Those who define what words mean (or are at least believed to mean) can drastically influence our government and culture. According to the Left’s lexicon, killing is “choice,” racial discrimination is “affirmative action,” thought control is “sensitivity training,” and property confiscation is “economic justice.” But does the Right play similar propaganda games?

At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz seems to think so. Today he reports on a “new” Media Matters attack on Fox News.

As the health-care debate was heating up in the summer of 2009, Republican pollster Frank Luntz offered Sean Hannity some advice. 

Luntz, who counseled the GOP on how to sell the 1994 Contract With America, told the Fox News host to stop using President Obama’s preferred term for a key provision.

“If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” he explained. “If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.”

“A great point,” Hannity declared. “And from now on, I’m going to call it the government option, because that’s what it is.”  

On Oct. 27, the day after Senate Democrats introduced a bill with a public insurance option from which states could opt out, Bill Sammon, a Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor, sent the staff a memo. Sammon is a former Washington Times reporter. 

“Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible,” the memo said.





The possibility that Sammon’s motives were partisan and that he was trying to influence Fox’s viewers against ObamaCare can’t be completely dismissed—“government option” polls the way Republicans want it to, and as Kurtz points out, Sammon is a right-leaning commentator who wrote several conservative books. Accordingly, I have scant patience for Sammon objecting, “Have I said things where I take a conservative view? Give me specifics.”

That said, there’s an obvious flip side that Kurtz and Media Matters ignore.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Journolist Leak Confirms What Everybody Already Knew

In a sense, today’s revelation that numerous American journalists conspired to spike serious coverage of Barack Obama’s long friendship with America-hating bigot Jeremiah Wright isn’t really remarkable – this has been standard operating procedure for the mainstream media for ages. It is, however, rare to have these hacks admitting it in their own words, and catching them dead to rights is obviously helpful in convincing those still on the fence that the MSM isn’t trustworthy.

NewsReal’s Michael Van Der Gailen:

Leftists clearly believe that politics is war. They call conservatives racists, not because they are, but because it harms their reputation beyond repair, after which it’s fairly easy to beat them in elections. Conservatives have to be destroyed – no matter how.

NRB’s Paul Cooper:

Tomasky has often written for the hard Left and even once spoke at a Socialist conference, but as editor of Guardian America shouldn’t he be someone who isn’t pushing for silencing other journalists? (Ironically in 2003 Tomasky wrote a heralded piece attempting to prove that the liberal press wrote articles far more “civil” and “non-partisan” than conservative leaning press.)

On “Hannity,” Tucker Carlson just said the Daily Caller’s gonna break more news on the story tomorrow. Let the games begin…

Helen Thomas is Helen Thomas. Film at Eleven.

Yep, Helen Thomas has been saying ugly things about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I’m with Johan Goldberg:

But beyond that, can we do away with all of the shock and dismay at Thomas’ statement? Spare me Lanny Davis’s wounded outrage. Everyone knows she is a nasty piece of work and has been a nasty piece of work for decades.

And when I say a nasty piece of work, I don’t simply mean her opinions on Israel. She’s been full-spectrum awful. I’ve known a few people who knew her 40 years ago, and she was slimy then too. One small example can be found in James Rosen’s excellent book on John Mitchell, The Strong Man. Mitchell’s wife Martha was a mentally unstable alcoholic who would call reporters to vent sad, paranoid, fact-free theories and diatribes. At first, many reporters were eager to hear her out, but over time it became obvious that Martha Mitchell was not well and it was cruel to exploit her. Obvious, that is, to nearly everyone butHelen Thomas who continued to milk Martha Mitchell for damning quotes and nonsense

[…]

All of these condemnations, equivocations, repudiations, and protestations are all fundamentally silly because they are part of a D.C. Kabuki that treats the last straw as if it was wholly different than the million other straws everyone was happy to carry.

Yawn.

Bias & Censorship at the Fond du Lac Reporter

Groups and websites like NewsReal and the Media Research Center do great work holding the big dogs of the mainstream media—the New York Times, CNN, the networks, NPR, etc.—accountable for lies and sleaze, but there is another manifestation of media bias that gets far too little attention: local media.  My mother, Peg Freiburger, recently wrote an editorial to our local paper, the Fond du Lac Reporter, about legislation giving Planned Parenthood greater influence in Wisconsin public schools.  The letter’s path to publication raises serious questions about the objectivity of America’s most influential newspapers.

It responds to a February 12 news report, yet wasn’t published until April 2.  That’s because Mom originally submitted it on Feb. 14 (the original version of the letter appears below the fold).  She waited until March 1 for it to be published or for reaction from the Reporter, which she never received, then emailed an inquiry about the letter’s status to Managing Editor Michael Mentzer.  No response.  She waited some more, then sent a second email to Mentzer on March 10.

Mentzer finally responded a couple days later via phone.  Incredibly, he claimed the editorial staff felt “uncomfortable” printing the allegations in her latest editorial, that she needed to provide more evidence, and that the line, “It is pathetic that in Fond du Lac we have a county health officer and a county board…” cut too close to slander and libel.

At Mentzer’s request, Mom resubmitted the letter on March 16, this time with a link for her every claim.  She did not hear back for the next several days, and resubmitted it on March 22.  On March 23, Mentzer responded, stating he hoped to run it in the next several days, though election letters had priority.  On April 2, it finally appeared—under the title, “Planned Parenthood makes money on birth control,” a name that conveniently downplays the letter’s main objections to Planned Parenthood, and the organization’s connection to Wisconsin public schools.

This is perhaps unsurprising, given that Mentzer has in the past advocated greater government power to punish those who “distort information” in public.  But since when do local newspapers in general, and the Fond du Lac Reporter in particular, vet or take responsibility for the content of independent opinions?

Answer: they don’t.  Personal attacks on private citizens, slanderous mischaracterizations of opponents’ beliefs and actions, and factual claims that range from demonstrably false to at least debatable have always run rampant in the Reporter.  This is to be expected—the very point of an opinion page is to represent all the points of view in a community, to let the readers duke it out amongst themselves.

Click here for many examples of what the Reporter has traditionally published; here are some of the most blatant rhetoric that goes far beyond the content of Mom’s letter, which the powers that be initially thought too objectionable to print:

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Call the opinions of local officials “pathetic,” and the editor gets cold feet.  But calling your fellow citizens bigots?  Accusing them of factual inaccuracies you don’t even list?  Comparing them to terrorists?  No problemo!

Mentzer’s “concerns” about this letter’s conduct seem like cheap excuses not to publish a strong conservative opinion about a serious local controversy, not a real, consistently-applied quality control policy.  Does he really mean to suggest that the Reporter fact-checks every single opinion piece it prints?  If this was the norm, very little would ever be published on newspaper opinion pages across the country!

It’s safe to say that many people who don’t read the New York Times, USA Today, or the Washington Post do read their local papers.  And who keeps an eye on them?  How often does bull like this go on nationwide?  If Mom hadn’t pestered Mentzer with follow-up emails, would her letter ever have seen the light of day?  How many conservative views are snuffed out because their authors are less persistent, or because newspaper editors are more bold in their censorship?

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Likewise, the apathy of the people is the Left’s best friend.  Media bias, educational indoctrination, corruption in local government, or leaders who disregard the interests and values of their community—it all happens and continues because inattentive, unconcerned populaces let the powerful get away with it.  And if all politics is local, then we can’t expect real, lasting change at the national level if we don’t open our eyes and demand standards in our own communities.

Continue reading

Flashback: The FdL Reporter’s Double Standards

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see what evidently doesn’t violate the Fond du Lac Reporter editorial board’s sensibilities:

Kristopher Purzycki, 6/2/06—“The law has no place for ‘logic’ that promotes the removal of freedom from the private lives of citizens!”

David E. Beaster, 6/6/06“I suspect that Mrs. [Anita] Anderegg would have all of us to believe that we would be better off under a feudal system where the concentration of power would be in the hands of a group of elitists.” [In response to a proposal to reduce the size of the Fond du Lac County Board from 36 members to 18.]

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Maria Kohlman, 7/13/06“I felt the Reporter did a wonderful job with the story, then someone like you had to come along and rip it apart with your racist comments.” [In response to the same letter.  The Reporter reprinted this letter on 7/18/06.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

A.G. Keberlein, 8/14/06“This march to war was orchestrated by an inept Republican administration that lied to all of America about the need for such a war.”

John P. Stoltenberg, 8/21/06“The definition of fascism in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is as follows: Fascism, a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism…The Bush Administration perfectly fits the definition of fascism.”

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Jan Starks, 10/4/06“Yet it is groups such as this that seek to dishonor the memory of the fallen for a political advantage.” [Objecting to local pro-lifers who held a pro-life rally at Veterans Park.]

Ryan Long, 10/17/06“There is no logical reason for this ban [on same-sex marriage]. Its supporters will come to the polls simply because gay people make them sick.”

Steve Fero, 10/30/06“I’ll vote ‘no’ on the gay marriage ban amendment. It seems to me improper to use the Constitution to codify petty bigotries.”

Joseph E. Malson, 11/14/06“By voting ‘yes’ [on Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment], you are saying it’s OK to discriminate against someone because you don’t like who they are. Plain and simple. That’s who you are as a people.”

On 11/26/06, the Reporter published a letter by Adam Kempf, arguing that not recognizing same-sex marriage is equivalent to banning interracial marriage. The letter was heavily plagiarized from a 2/12/05 Washington Post editorial by Colbert I. King.

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Kenneth Bounds, 11/28/06“Nazis didn’t allow the Germans to read books, either. Way to go, Fond du Lac!”

Samuel McIntosh, 3/8/07“It seems to me the only reason we are in Iraq is the oil, and to take out a puppet leader gone awry, but that’s only because he has oil.”

Ted & Hedy Eischeid, 4/1/07“Mrs. [Linda] Clifford has an outstanding legal record, one of integrity and intelligence. Unfortunately, her opponent, Annette Ziegler, has clearly violated the Judicial Code of Conduct multiple times.”

Harold Gudex, 4/9/07“Seventy percent of us want out of this illegal war. It is based on lies.”

Brent Schmitz, 12/14/07“Mr. Freiburger seems to devalue debate and disagreement within the American political sphere. Evidently, only conservative teachers are worthy of community support and funding, as per the veiled threat he makes at the end of the letter.” [In response to my editorial here; my rebuttal is here.]