Warner Todd Huston
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Orlando Sentinel movie reviewer Roger Moore was excited to report on the efforts of some Harry Potter fans that want to "change the world" based on their interpretation of Potter character Dumbledore's philosophy of life. He was happy, you see, because the group is all about "global transformation" and spreading global warming fears, gay marriage and the Employee Free Choice Act.
Moore writes abut a group called the Harry Potter Alliance whose website is a sort of Potter fan message board where fans write about what they are doing with their ideas on Potter philosophy. But, it goes "beyond the personal," Moore approvingly says.
It seems that on July fourth, The New York Times saw fit to smirk at both American patriotism and Christianity. A recent Times article about the erection of a giant, though strategically altered, replica of the Statue of Liberty by a showman of a Memphis pastor presented a perfect example of the ridicule and disdain with which the Times views Christianity and American patriotism, both. In Memphis, Tennessee, writer Shalia Dewan could barely hide her sarcasm and distaste for the patriotism and the muscular Christianity espoused by Pastor Alton R. Williams in her coverage of the unveiling of the 72-foot-tall statue.
Tellingly, the entire top third of Dewan's piece is filled with mockery, mischacterization, inapt comparison and quote after quote from Pastor Williams' detractors. It isn't until the initial ridicule is over that writer Dewan finally gives the pastor room to explain what his purpose and principle is in creating the odd pean to Lady Liberty.
For the Associated Press, Tim Klass shows that taking liberties with facts by enveloping them in wild hyperbole can sex up a boring story into something much more alarming. Unfortunately, what one ends up with is not a presentation of news, but a promulgation of a narrative that befits a particular political agenda. And this time writer Klass uses his hyperbolic style to advance the guns-are-evil story line.
The headline startles the reader by screaming out "Powerful weapons found in Northwest drug raids." One immediately imagines an image of dozens of high powered and dangerous guns, those above and beyond the norm, in the hands of these felonious drug dealers. One imagines enough guns to arm an army with the police sorely out numbered. But, when the story is read in its entirety, it becomes obvious that "powerful weapons" turns into one high powered pistol, the rest being your average, everyday firearms seen all over the place.
Meghan Daum of the L.A. Times has had an epiphany. The story of adulterous South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is still in the news, she's decided, because America's men see themselves reflected in him. Yes, Daum apparently feels that all men are adulterers, so they sympathize with him causing the story to keep bumping along.
Daum spies some "gasp--empathy" for the governor in various corners of the Old Media and this, she has decided, must mean that there is a "tiny bit of Mark Sanford" in men across the country. One wonders if Daum spied this same lecherous "sympathy" abounding among Democrats when a certain president was wagging his finger in our faces and saying he "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica"?
Betcha she didn't. As a matter of fact, I'll bet no such thing crossed her mind as the Clinton's Monica-gate raged on and on.
If you listen to the blabbers and gossipers, the Huffington Post is the talk of the town. It is claimed that Arianna Huffington's "success" is the "new journalism," the future of the news. TechNewsWorld proclaimed it "appropriate" that Huffington appeared in the YouTube series on journalism apparently because she personifies it. The New York Times celebrated HuffPo as "hybrid journalism" for its Iran coverage. Jeff Jarvis of The Guardian claims that Arianna is "saving journalism." She was even just awarded the Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award in journalism from Syracuse University. She even testified before a Congressional committee on journalism. And the list of accolades goes on.
But, what sort of "journalism" does Huffington Post represent? Is it the well researched sort with multiple links, named sources, or other such common journalistic practices? Most often no. In fact, those that write for Huffington Post rarely even bother with the normal journalistic practices of research, attribution, or the habit of having more than one source. Sadly, the largest bulk of what Huffington writers do is merely opine whether they have sourced information or not. And more often than not they do so from the extreme left-wing perspective.
Huffington Post is not "journalism." It's really just that simple.
Over at TVBytheNumbers.com, we see that CNN has come in third to FoxNews and MSNBC respectively for weekday primetime ratings during the second quarter of this year. This is the first time that MSNBC has come out ahead of CNN ever.
Unfortunately for those of us wishing for a well informed public, it is the Keith Olbermann show that is driving MSNBC's ratings gain over CNN. Apparently Americans are desperately in need of comedy since last January.
The San Francisco Chronicle is proving the old bromide true. That's the one that goes: "a lie can be half way 'round the world before the truth can pull its boots on" (often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain). Then there is another one Twain didn't originate but aptly fits here, "there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics." The subject of this scoffing is that factoid the Old Media has been promulgating like gospel where "90% of Mexico's confiscated guns are from the U.S."
The problem with this "90%" refrain is that it just isn't true. There is no truth in the claim that 90% of the guns Mexican officials confiscate from drug dealers in Mexico are from the U.S.A. But, true or not, the Old Media use this line as if it were received truth. Suspicions are easily raised that they do so because it fits their ideological matrix perfectly and the truth of the matter does not fit the approved story line.
Apparently, YouTube doesn't think that a conservative journalist has anything to say to help all you budding citizen journalists out there. A glance at the denizens of the Old Media offered up as journalism experts on the Internet video giant will show a long list of well known lefties with not a single center or center right professional in the mix.
On April 30, YouTube set up a channel dedicated to a sort of how-to instruction manual or an online media 101 class that folks interested in becoming citizen journalists can watch to help them learn some of the tricks of the Media trade. Ostensibly, this will help the average, every day blogger present his work in a more professional way. This is a great idea, by the way. Many blogs could use some tips on better writing and presentation, interview skills, and video presentation if not an occasional editor -- and I should know on that last one!
For Time Magazine, Kevin O'Leary has decided that he's figured out why California is in such a budget mess. Is it because the state indulges over generous social programs, or always has some of the highest taxes in the nation, or because the denizens of its capitol in Sacramento are paragons of waste, fraud and theft? Nope. It's because California has Proposition 13, a measure that prevents state government from too easily raising taxes. Yep, O'Leary thinks California is in a mess because it doesn't have high enough taxes. And it's all Reagan's fault.
With some of the highest taxes in America, California is a hard place to make a living. According to the Tax Foundation, on average it takes a citizen 110 working days to earn enough money to pay his yearly tax bill. That is the fourth worst in the country. California consistently ranks in or near the top 10 worst states for its tax burdens from property taxes, to corporate taxes, to individual taxes and fees of all sorts. So, how can O'Leary imagine that taxes aren't high enough in California?
Sorry I didn't get to this until two days later, but I figured someone else would have written about this by now. Since no one did, for those of you that are curious, Obama's super special, ultra spectacular healthcare infomercial was a dud in the ratings last Wednesday night.
ABC's Barackspactacular Healthcare Extravaganza (I think that was the official name of the show, wasn't it?) went up against the NBC premiere of "The Philanthropist," widely panned as disappointing, and a repeat of "CSI: NY" on CBS, widely seen as already once widely seen. Unfortunately for ABC, its prop"O"ganda special got a dismal 1.2 rating to the 2.0 and 1.8 ratings respectively for the entertainment competition.
Apparently the TV show where he's president but plays a doctor on TV didn't go over well. The "Super-dooper, Obamalicious, Doctor Spock medicine woman show" was only able to cajole 4.703 million viewers into watching while NBC picked up 7.414 and CBS got 7.393 in the ten O'Clock hour. Remembering that we have 300 million citizens and healthcare is supposed to be the biggest emergency in history, well, that is a paltry number of viewers that Doc Barack got.
I am wondering when the euthanasia folks are going to start touting this one? I mean, it sure seemed to me as if the most caring, most civil, most intelligent president evah just said that healthcare could be cheaper if we don't give old folks and the infirm the full measure of care they now get. It appeared that Obama said we should just let them die or suffer because they aren't worth the effort. Imagine if Bush had said something like this? The left wouldn't have hesitated to call him any manner of names. Oddly, though, the Old Media have not had so much as a raised eyebrow over his statements on Wednesday.
Obama said during the ABC Special on Wednesday night that a way to save healthcare costs is to abandon the sort of care that "evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve" the patient's health. He went on to say that he had personal familiarity with such a situation when his grandmother broke her hip after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Obama offered a question on the efficacy of further care for his grandmother saying, "and the question was, does she get hip replacement surgery, even though she was fragile enough they were not sure how long she would last?"
But who is it that will present the "evidence" that will "show" that further care is futile? Are we to believe that Obama expects individual doctors will make that decision in his bold new government controlled healthcare future? If he is trying to make that claim it is a flat out untruth and he knows it.
With the very first question of its prime time special, Questions for the President: Prescription for America, ABC set the tone that essentially confirmed for viewers that the president was right in his desire to radically remake America's healthcare system. As the infomercial began, "moderator" Charles Gibson asked a seminal question of the doctors and other participants that were about to hear the president speak: "How many of you agree with the president that we need to change our healthcare system?" Naturally they all raised their hands.
Imagine that? This handpicked crowd all agreed with ABC and Obama that "change" was paramount. Surprised? Hardly.
So, as the viewer is introduced to the infomercial, they start off with the unanimous affirmation that the president is right, radical changes have to be made. The premise is set and even the sharp questions to the president later in the show are blunted by the assumption that some major change is needed. And since the president is the only person allowed to offer any plan during this ABC special, the further assumption promulgated is that he is the one that must affect that change.
For viewers of this healthcare infomercial, Obama wins thanks to an assist by ABC. The viewer is deftly led to the desired conclusion.
Froma Harrop may have once been called Heartland Institute's "favorite lefty" journalist, but lefty she is and her use of a lopsided New York Times poll to urge President Obama to "act fast" on a government healthcare policy is a perfect example of that.
With her June 23 article, Harrop was frustrated that Obama was not "stepping on the gas" to institute publicly funded healthcare and she wondered why he is dragging his feet when "85 percent of Americans want 'fundamental changes' in American healthcare." This factoid she gleans from a very flawed NYT poll that is so badly skewed to the left that it is amazing anyone takes it seriously.
Harrop makes no bones about the fact that she wants a nationalized healthcare policy to be forced on the nation and she also doesn't think that anyone needs to listen to Republicans, effectively disenfranchising the roughly half of the American electorate that votes that way. Amazingly, Harrop is supposed to be a "financial reporter," yet she still wants this disastrously expensive, jobs killing, cost spiraling sort of plan anyway. This doesn't say much about her grasp of economics.
The reader might be warned that reading this San Francisco Chronicle Father's Day piece serves as a most perfect emetic. In fact, it's a wonder that writer Jennifer Weiss could type with all those stars in her eyes. Her Father's Day adulation of Obama is so over-the-top that Obama suddenly becomes the "father of our country," and is determined to have "super-dad status."
The most offensive part of this piece is, of course, the aforementioned assigning to Obama of the role of "father of our country." There is only one father of our country and that is George Washington, war hero and first president. No other president is the father of our country, nor can they be so even rhetorically. Yet, in its zeal to be an effusive Obamaton, here is the SFChron reassigning the role from the true father of our country to Obama.
Some attention has been paid to the fact that the microblogging service Twitter had decided to push off its scheduled maintenance Tuesday morning as the situation in Iran became steadily more embroiled in conflict. As it happened, Twitter was a major source of information coming out of that repressed society as news was happening. Twitter had, though, scheduled a few hours down time just when Iran was at a peak of activity. So, in order to keep the flow of communication to the outside world flowing, Twitter announced it would not turn off its service until Iran calmed down.
This is pretty interesting news, that a mere social networking site was so deeply involved in momentous news of the day and that it became so relied upon by people hungry for news and interested in discussing a major democratic movement is definitely a new thing. It is especially interesting because the U.S. media so badly fell down on its job of reporting activities in Iran making Twitter a vital tool for communication. But what was even more interesting was that Obama's State Department tried to claim credit for Twitter's decision to stay in operation during the day. Worse, the Old Media seemed to swallow the State Department's claims whole.
Mia Farrow's brother, artist Patrick Farrow, committed suicide Tuesday, June 16. As expected, on the following day the Associated Press released a wire story about the incident. But, the odd thing about the short recount of the Farrows's lives and the account of the discovery of Patrick's lifeless body is that that the AP found some reason to slip in an attack on George W. Bush into the story. Worse, the AP used the fact of a U.S. soldier's death in Iraq as a vehicle to slam the past president. What did BDS have to do with the Farrows, Patrick's death, and a report on the same?
The customary information about Patrick Farrow's death was duly reported, of course. We were informed of the laundry list of facts. We got Farow's relation to actress Mia Farrow; a bit about her life; some on Patrick's life's work in sculpture and art; and some of the initial findings surrounding his death also appear. All good and proper reporting, of course. But then, at the very end, we get to the anomaly of the story, a lapsing into Bush Derangement Syndrome that is completely out of place with the rest of the tale.
So, not only is ABC not planning to include opposing voices to President Obama's health care proposals during its special presentation next week -- though ABC does claim "those in the audience" will ask questions of the president -- it is refusing to even allow groups that oppose Obamacare to purchase paid-for advertisements to air during the healthcare special.
Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights, contacted ABC and inquired about purchasing some ad time during the Obama infomercial, but was refused the sale. Scott wanted to air his 60-second ad before the healthcare show started. Though it was refused by the national network, apparently it is still possible for Scott the buy time on local affiliates should he desire it.
ABC has made the unprecedented move of giving prime-time programing air time to President Barack Obama for a health care reform special to be aired next week. Perhaps it is not too surprising that Obama has landed himself some prime viewing time on ABC. After all, former ABC News correspondent Linda Douglass is now the Director of Communications for the Obama White House Office of Health Reform. Coincidence? One would be excused to suspect it.
And now another episode of Name That Party where the news customer reads a story and tries his darndest to discern from what party a scandal plagued politician hails. We have many times said that one of the main rules of the Name That Party parlor game is that if the Old Media is talking about a troubled Democrat, often times the pol's party is either not mentioned at all or is buried way down in the story. On the other hand, if it is a troubled Republican, why the party affiliation often leads the story if it isn't right in the headline itself. Today we have a pair of stories that proves this axiom well.
First up is the mysterious case of Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers (wife of Representative John Conyers) who the Associated Press reports is "snarled in bribes probe." All the sordid details about the tale are laid out for us... except one. It seems the AP somehow forgot to mention that Monica Conyers is a Democrat.
Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull... no ratings. TVNewser at MediaBistro.com is reporting that Brown has seen a new low in her ratings. Last week she racked up... or down as the case may be... a stat of just 69,000 viewers for Friday, June 12, which was also "the lowest demo viewership for CNN at 8pmET since Christmas Day 2007."
According to TVNewser, the previous low was heaped on Roland Martin who got a dismal 115,000 viewers on May 20. Maybe Roland Martin could have used some help from Rowan and Martin? (There I go dating myself again)