Last Sunday, Frank Rich filed his last column for the Week in Review, “Confessions of a Recovering Op-Ed Columnist.” Rich is joining his friend and former Times Magazine editor Adam Ross at New York magazine.
Rich’s farewell is typically self-indulgent:
"My own idiosyncratic bent as a writer, no doubt a legacy of my years spent in the theater, is to look for a narrative in the many competing dramas unfolding on the national stage. I do have strong political views, but opinions are cheap. Anyone could be a critic of the Bush administration. The challenge as a writer was to try to figure out why it governed the way it did -- and how it got away with it for so long -- and, dare I say it, to have fun chronicling each new outrage."
He did admit the column-writing routine “can push you to have stronger opinions than you actually have, or contrived opinions about subjects you may not care deeply about, or to run roughshod over nuance to reach an unambiguous conclusion. Believe it or not, an opinion writer can sometimes get sick of his own voice.”
I must have missed the nuanced period of Rich’s column writing. Here’s just a smattering of Rich’s lowlights, both nonsensical and nasty, since the Times Watch project was launched in early 2003:
As NewsBusters reported in February, vulgarian comedienne Kathy Griffin was cast to do a guest stint on the hit series "Glee" portraying a Palinesque Tea Partier.
The advanced billing turned out better than the reality, for on Tuesday's show, Griffin mocked Palin and Christine O'Donnell while depicting Tea Party members as homophobic birthers (video follows with transcript and commentary):
63-year-old aging rock star Elton John wants to be a guest star on the hit TV series "Glee" with the storyline that he's the lover of the overbearing coach of the cheerleaders, but he ends up in bed with the show's 16-year-old gay virgin.
This was revealed by the Emmy Award-winning co-star of the program Jane Lynch on Monday's "Tonight Show" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Lisa Ling, a self-admitted "severe gay rights activist," was much tougher on Christians who hold fast to the traditional teachings against homosexual behavior on the Tuesday episode of her series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, "Our America." Ling wondered if ministering to homosexuals with this belief system "cause more harm than good." By contrast, she was sympathetic of a camp for teenage homosexuals where "they can feel accepted as both gay and Christian."
At the very beginning of her hour-long program, Ling featured the annual conference of Exodus International, an interdenominational ministry that preaches "freedom from homosexuality" for people who have same-sex attraction. As she headed into the conference, she stated that "I just want to go into this with the intention of trying to understand why people believe what they believe, and that's it." The journalist gave a similar line during a February 22, 2011 online interview, but then made the following admission:
Presenting the same-sex marriage debate in Maryland's state legislature as one about "marriage equality," openly gay MSNBC host Thomas Roberts discussed the matter with Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, who is also openly gay.
The segment, entitled "Cold Feet In Maryland?" aired today at 11:17 a.m. EST.
"Supporters of Marriage Equality Wavering on Bill" the lower-thirds caption read as Capehart described how supporters of same-sex marriage are a few votes shy of passing the bill in Maryland's House of Delegates. A similar bill has already passed the Democrat-dominated Maryland Senate and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has pledged his signature should the bill reach his desk.
Today's Supreme Court ruling in Snyder v. Phelps is proving to be yet another occasion for the media to falsely describe the homosexuality-fixated Westboro Baptist Church as a "fundamentalist" congregation.
The Associated Press, MSNBC and NPR.org have been among the news outlets using that tag for the Topeka, Kansas, organization that protests funerals of soliders, celebrating their deaths by claiming God killed them because he hates "fags."
But the AP's own style manual strongly cautions against the use of the term "fundamentalist," noting that the term "fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians."
"In general," the AP manual adds, "do not use [the term] fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."
At time of publication, Westboro's website was unavailable, but a cached version of its FAQ page on Google yielded no description of WBC as "fundamentalist." Here's how the church describes itself:
The secular mainstream media often do a shoddy job of accurately reporting on religious news, but this takes the cake.
Writing about how the Rev. James St. George was terminated earlier this month from his post as part-time professor at Chestnut Hill College, the Associated Press insisted the openly gay man "belong[s] to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues."
The church where St. George is a pastor is "affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians," the Associated Press reported.
The Associated Press reported that a Polish gay activist group called Rainbow Stand (or Teczowa Tribuna) wanted separate seating for gay and lesbian soccer fans to protect them from harassment and violence. William Donohue of the Catholic League took exception to this outburst of anti-religious bias:
Polish soccer matches are often the scene of violent attacks and fights involving hooligans.
Homophobia also remains deeply embedded in Poland because of the legacy of communism — which treated homosexuality as a taboo — and the teachings of the church in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
"Indefensible Marriage Act" blares the cover page headline for the Feb. 24 Express tabloid, a free publication of the Washington Post available around the D.C. metro area.
"In a major victory for gay rights, President Obama says the U.S. will no longer defend the federal law banning same-sex marriages," notes the caption for the photo depicting a hand holding both a miniature American flag and a miniature gay rights rainbow flag. On page 13 a subheading approvingly labels the move a "landmark call" by the Obama administration.
[see cover page image below page break]
Neil Katz at CBSNews.com has a new question: "Transgender surgery: should your company pay for it?" Those who would say "No" and resist the latest PC push at major corporations are nowhere to be found by CBS or the AP:
While millions of Americans are grappling with employer-provided health insurance that covers less and costs more, one surprising group is benefiting as of late - transgendered people.
That's according to an Associated Press report [by Lisa Leff] which found that big name companies like Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney [!] have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers.
The Washington Post Style section mounted its latest favorite hobby horse again this morning with yet another article devoted to the controversial "Hide/Seek" Smithsonian exhibit, which is closing this Sunday.
NewsBusters sister organization CNSNews.com broke the story in late November that sparked the controversy. You can read that story here.
Shortly after Penny Starr's story, the Gallery removed an offensive video entitled "Fire In My Belly," which featured among other things a depiction of ants crawling on a crucifix. The decision to remove the video was decried as censorship by liberal critics, a criticism magnified by the Post's Style section coverage of the row.
It's apparently all the rage this week among mainstream media religion features to hype the unorthodox views of Boston University's Jennifer Wright Knust.
On Monday, Newsweek's Lisa Miller uncritically presented her readers with a summary of arguments from the professor's new book. The next day "On Faith," -- a joint Newsweek/Washington Post online religion news/comment feature -- published the first of a multi-part series of guest columns by Knust.
Yesterday, CNN's Belief Blog joined in, granting Knust a "My Take" blog post focused on attacking Scripture's teachings on homosexuality.