Latest from Colleen Raezler
Liberal political pundits frequently remind Americans that words matter, which makes broadcast network reporters' coverage of Arizona's new crack down on illegal immigrants so appalling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law on April 23 that would make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to not carry documentation proving they are in the country legally. The bill gave state law enforcement the power to determine the immigration status of any person during "any lawful contact." Amid allegations that this law would lead to "racial profiling," Brewer later amended it to allow law enforcement to only check the immigration status of those involved in a "lawful stop, detention or arrest."
Reporters on ABC, NBC and CBS misled the American people about the law by calling it "anti-immigration" twice as often as correctly identifying the law as "anti-illegal immigration" and reporting, as ABC's Bill Weir did on the April 24 "Good Morning America, "Police [in Arizona] now have the power to stop anyone and make them prove they are legal."
Given the contentious debate over the proper role of religion in American public life, you'd think an important Supreme Court ruling on the issue would be a big story to the network news. But the Court's April 28 finding regarding a cross on a World War I memorial in the Mojave Desert elicited a yawn from CBS's "Evening News," a 78-word report from NBC's "Nightly News," and a one-sided segment from ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer" that fretted if the Court "move[d] the bar on the separation of church and state."
The cross in question is part of a memorial built in 1934 in the federal-owned Mojave National Preserve to honor fallen WWI veterans. Lower courts ruled the cross unconstitutional and had it covered with a box, despite efforts taken in recent years by Congress to avoid constitutional questions over it by transferring that portion of the Preserve to private owners.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled this was not a clear-cut violation of the separation of church and state.
"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. Kennedy noted specifically about this cross that it "evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten."
Usually a man bemoaning the lack of positive role models for girls would receive feminist plaudits, but not from Bonnie Erbe and certainly not when he talks about the need of role models for young women who want a family and a career.
Daily Beast's Peter Beinart ticked off Erbe, a contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report, when he urged President Barack Obama in his recent column to nominate a mother to the Supreme Court because he thought that it would provide a good role model for women.
Nevermind the fact that Beinart argued his case partly because a woman nominee would help swing the Court further left or that the tenets of feminism teach that a woman can do anything she wants.
Nope, Beinart's opinion "annoys" Erbe and, according to her April 27 blog post, is "also dumb" and "offensive" because motherhood isn't a worthy option in her eyes.
The 2010 NFL draft showed that it's not enough to be a star football player anymore. Character counts now too.
Tim Tebow, and the Denver Bronco's drafting him as first-round pick, was the big story out of the NFL draft. Despite a phenomenal college career in which he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, led the Florida Gators to two national championships, and lived out his Christian beliefs, many expressed doubts over Tebow's ability to compete on the professional level.
For publicly stating his Christian beliefs, Tebow has been called a "religious fundamentalist, lightning-rod misfit," told he "has a long way to mature from a business perspective," and his family and friends were compared to "Nazis."
Time's Nancy Gibbs celebrated the birth control pill's 50th anniversary in her May 3 cover story by hailing the greater employment opportunities for women that resulted from its wide-spread use. But she failed to explore the downsides of it.
The Pill became widely available in 1960, first to married women who wanted to control their fertility and later, to single women. And though the 1960s led to the sexual revolution, Gibbs claimed that it wasn't the Pill itself that caused the "liberalization of attitudes" regarding sexuality. However, the anecdotes she included in the article discredited that argument.
"Margaret" told Gibbs her thoughts about sex with her boyfriend (who refused to wear a condom) before and after going on the Pill.
"I was too scared of getting pregnant to risk using nothing though he tried to convince me," explained Margaret. According to Gibbs taking the Pill "was a revelation" for Margaret. "The second I went on the Pill," she continued, "all the mess and worry and holding my breath every month to see if I got my period was completely lifted off my shoulders. I wish I had used it from the get-go. You forget how that anxiety can rule your life."
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Apparently HBO's advertising and marketing divisions don't know if Dr. Jack Kevorkian is a killer or not. Promos for the company's new movie, "You Don't Know Jack" feature actor Al Pacino as Kevorkian, along side the question, "Is this the face of a killer?" To HBO, the answer is no, he's not a killer, if the movie's synopsis and trailer are any indication.
"Provocative, obstinate and complex, Jack ultimately risks it all in his fervor to change the prevailing laws and challenge society's attitude towards the right to die," read the film's synopsis. The movie premieres April 24.
Throughout the trailer, viewers hear Pacino demanding, "When a law is deemed unmoral by you, you must disobey it. You must disobey it." Prior to that he stated, "What we're doing here today is groundbreaking" and "If a person's allowed to die, you do it quickly, painlessly, you don't let him whither away."
Viewers also hear actress Brenda Vaccaro, who plays Kevorkian's sister, defending him to protesters, "He's leading society to an age of enlightenment, you idiots!"
For years, pop culture hyped "hooking up" as fun, easy and largely without consequences. Teens and young adults bought into the hype, much to the chagrin of educators and parents, but some young women who experienced the consequences of these casual sexual encounters are now rejecting the "hook up" culture.
CNN took notice of the changing behavior among college women - and some pop stars like Lady Gaga - in an April 19 article and attributed the shift to "the emotional devastation of many college students, particularly girls whose hearts are broken by the hook up scene."
"Hooking up" refers to anything from kissing to sexual intercourse with a stranger, an acquaintance or a friend. No matter what the activities or with whom, a lack of commitment is the defining trademark of a hook up. Studies have shown that 75 percent of women have "hooked up" with another person while in college. As CNN noted, "the number is usually higher for men."
"Glee" marked its April 13 comeback with a grand tradition in entertainment: a gratuitous slam at Sarah Palin's intelligence.
Sue Sylvester, a conniving high school cheerleading coach played by actress Jane Lynch, told two cheerleaders, "You may be two of the stupidest teens I've ever encountered. And that's saying something. I once taught a cheerleading seminar to a young Sarah Palin."
If anyone at NBC News has a sense of irony, they hide it well. Ironic is about the best you can say about a supposedly reputable, unbiased news organization taking up with a magazine called The Advocate. But there was NBC last month, announcing with a straight face (pardon the pun) a new partnership with The Advocate, a gay-oriented magazine.
According to Media Bistro, "The magazine's online home, Advocate.com, will use NBC resources to produce daily news segments that will run online and on air via "The Advocate On-Air. NBC News, in turn, may use content and writers from The Advocate to report on issues relating to the LGBT community."
Painting conservatives as racists is a favorite pastime of the mainstream media and a recent move by Republican Virginia governor Bob McDonnell gave them more ammunition to do just that.
McDonnell issued a proclamation on April 2 stating April would be Confederate History Month, but failed to note the role slavery played in the U.S. Civil War that lasted from 1861-1865. Commentators and journalists seized upon McDonnell's omission as proof that conservatives are inherent racists, despite an apology and later inclusion in the proclamation of a strong statement condemning slavery.
In his apology, McDonnell called slavery an "abomination" and explained that the proclamation was "solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and recognize Virginia's unique role in the story of America."
These allegations of racism against conservatives have percolated in the media since Barack Obama's election in 2008. "Confederate" or "Confederacy" has been used 60 times in news reports on ABC, CBS and NBC since November 4, 2008, but it's this proclamation, coupled with the anger over the recently passed health care reform, that had some in the media wondering if conservatives were ready to wage Civil War Redux.
GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) issued a "Call to Action" on April 7 urging its members to "hold CNN accountable" for a segment that allowed someone other than a gay rights activist to talk about homosexuality.
CNN's Kyra Phillips spoke with California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and former homosexual Richard Cohen about the possible repeal of a California law that required the State Department of Mental Health to research the "causes" and "cures" of homosexuality during a April 6 "Newsroom" segment.
GLAAD claimed "the segment tried to give the appearance of ‘balance,'" but complained that the segment was "unacceptable" because of "the airtime afforded the disreputable Cohen to tout ‘healing' gay people, coupled with a lack of information about the harm caused by such practices."
GLAAD should realize that it can't win them all. The truth is that CNN has a history of airing unbalanced reports about homosexual issues - most of which favor proponents of gay rights. The organization even recently gave the network two separate awards for it's "excellence" and its "outstanding" segments regarding gay issues.
The broadcast networks couldn't ignore Holy Week, the pinnacle of the Christian calendar, so instead they used it this year to smear the Catholic Church as a harbor for abusive priests.
ABC, CBS and NBC featured 26 stories during Holy Week about Pope Benedict's perceived role in the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now facing. Only one story focused on the measures the church has adopted in recent years to prevent abuse. In 69 percent of the stories (18 out of 26) reporters used language that presumed the pope's guilt. Only one made specific mention of the recent drop in the incidence of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.