Thursday, August 27, 2009

Finding the strength to go on. Or: Drowning in Kennedy coverage?

I've been mulling exactly what to post about the death of Ted Kennedy. And then this morning I saw all the headlines and I knew what must be written. Because apparently the most deeply principled human being who ever lived has left us.

Understand that I have no particular gripe against Teddy Kennedy, though I do think it rather remarkable, the way the clan as a whole has been able to maintain its hold on the American psyche despite the massive hypocrisy and, indeed, the shady tactics via which the Kennedys accrued and solidified their power. But...well, let's look at a few of those headlines.

This, from my local paper, the Morning Call: "Defender of a Dream."

From the Chicago Sun-Times: "Kennedy's Dream is Our Inspiration."

From the Detroit Free Press: "May the Noble Hopes Live On."


From the Washington Post: "Kennedy Did His Life's Work Until the End."

From the New York Daily News: "Sen. Ted Kennedy's Achievements Far Exceeded Expectations"* and
"Health Care Reform Was Sen. Ted Kennedy's Unfinished Life's Work."

From ABC News: "How Kennedy's Legislation Helped You."

From our friends up north at the Chronicle Herald (who must have been channeling the editors at my local paper, above): "Defender of the American Dream."

And this, from AP: "Fame Didn't Separate Kennedy from the Little Guy."

In fact, the watery, hyper-lyrical tenor of the coverage was nicely captured by Hot Air in an item under the heading I chose for this post.

Why is it that the only "dreams" that seem to enjoy any standing with the media are those that emanate from the Left? Rush Limbaugh has a dream, too, an abiding vision of America, and I submit that whether you agree or not, his vision is as legitimate in its own Right as Ted Kennedy's. Rush happens to believe that people of Kennedy's ilk, for all their good intentions, are actually dismantling the traditional American Dream, which is writ in small government and individual initiative. Even if you want to argue that Rush himself doesn't really "believe" a damned thing
i.e. that he's just pandering to his audience of Angry White Malessurely people like Newt and Reagan and Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater believed it.

When Rush passes, do you think the headline will be "Defender of a Dream"? Or will it be more like "Controversial, Polarizing Figure Dies"?

I know, I know: As the AP tells us, Teddy was a "man of the people."

Seriously?

How did Ted, or any of the Kennedys, get away with that? How did they cultivate and sustain such a proletariat image while living in the lap of luxury as the closest thing we've ever ever had to American royalty? Folks, Cesar Chavez was a man of the people. Not Teddy Kennedy. I dare say even Jimmy Hoffa, the corrupt union leader, was more a man-of-the-people than any Kennedy, including Ted's brother Bobby, who waged a long-term war against Hoffa and his pals in organized crime (which, some theorize, may have been responsible for the death of older brother Jack).

For a more balanced/nuanced take I invite you to read this, from Time, or this, by Chris Hitchens; the latter is on the mordant side, like everything Hitchens writes (or even says). But it may be just what the doctor ordered if right about now you're OD'ing on poesy.

* And whose expectations would those be, exactly? Everyone's? Or just Kennedy's liberal supporters and media admirers?

31 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

"I dare say even Jimmy Hoffa, the corrupt union leader, was more a man-of-the-people than any Kennedy"

While I'd agree that the Kennedy lifestyle is one of inherent privilege, I think this comparison is quite a stretch, Steve. For all his warts (and they were legion, and well-documented), Kennedy was an effective legislator who managed to achieve things that did greatly improve the lives of many who were far removed from the largess he enjoyed.

Hoffa, on the other hand, was a racketeer whose efforts benefited him and those close to him far more than they did the "common man." And while Kennedy was able to accomplish things through consensus - and sometimes, political arm-twisting - Hoffa was more of a break your kneecaps kind of guy.

It's inevitable that the media would fawn over Kennedy, but the reports I've seen on TV have also included detailed descriptions of his failings - especially Chappaquiddick. Obits, especially for a public figure, tend to be kind. As to Rush, can you name anything that he has actually accomplished, other than doing his best to polarize the voting public?

Wealth and privilege notwithstanding, Kennedy had a far greater positive impact on the lives of Americans than Hoffa or Rush during his nearly 50 years in the Senate. I do think he deserves acknowledgment for that.

Of course, there are those who damn him simply because he held to a different political ideology, and who react to his death with "good riddance." Thankfully, most people have a more well-balanced view of life than that, and are capable of acknowledging that someone with whom they disagree is capable of doing something good.

Anonymous said...

The Hitchens piece is not mordant - have you ever read his stuff on Mother Teresa of Calcutta? His Kennedy piece is tame in comparison.

However, Hitchens gets it wrong when he states "Almost his final act, last weekend, was to petition the Governor of Massachusetts to appoint a pro tem Senator to take his place at the moment of his death, so as not to leave the voters of the state unrepresented in Washington until an election could be held."
Kennedy is a partisan politician to the very end He wants 60 democrats in the senate, that's why he wants the Democratic governor to appoint a successor. But a few years back, when Kennedy thought that Sen. Kerry would become V.P. and the republican governor would appoint a republican to replace Kerry, he had the appointment law changed to a law specifying that an election must be held. Kennedy wanted his own law changed - again - to benefit his party.

Also, it should be noted that Sen. Kennedy did not write the current proposed health care reform bill. He did author the SCHIP health care bill which became law in February, 2009.

roger o'keefe said...

Let me say it plainly, Ted Kennedy was a blowhard drunken womanizer who enjoyed all the fruits of privelege while bullying his way through his senate career and play acting at being the common man. I share your amazement that he was able to get away with this charade, Steve. He knew where his bread was buttered. If Rush is courting the angry white man then Ted Kennedy was just as surely courting the angry black man or blue collar worker. He was as much the demagogue in his own prissy New England way as Sharpton. Give him his eulogy, bury the man and get on with it.

RevRon's Rants said...

Here we are again... caught between canonizatiopn and demonization, when we'd be better off trying to make sense.

That Kennedy was a staunch Democrat who used his power to promote the party should come as no surprise. Given the increasingly acrimonious attitudes on both sides of the aisle, it is inevitable that each side would utilize any advantage that presents itself.

Ludicrousness aside, comparisons of Kennedy to Rush or Sharpton are, at the very least, predictable in the current atmosphere. However, an astute chronicler of history would make note that the achievements of the three bear no similarity whatsoever. Where Kennedy actually worked to craft and pass legislation that was consistent with his own ideology, Rush and Sharpton do nothing more than posture before a microphone or camera in efforts to sustain a national dialog tainted with toxic divisiveness.

Kennedy had flaws. yes, he was an alcoholic, and his personal behavior was sometimes repugnant, though he did quit drinking a few years back. Rush - who railed against any kind of leniency for drug abusers - was himself a drug abuser, who sought a leniency for himself that he loudly denied others.

Sharpton is nothing but an opportunist who never misses an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. Accomplishments? Still waiting.

Kennedy was at least willing to listen to and compromise with those who held a different political ideology. It was that willingness that endeared him to legislators - both Democrat and Republican - who were motivated toward progress and good government. Perhaps we'll one day move beyond the need to paint everyone with whom we disagree as being evil. Just imagine... a populace that actually outgrows the playground!

Sarsabu said...

"Ted Kennedy was a blowhard drunken womanizer who enjoyed all the fruits of privelege while bullying his way through his senate career and play acting at being the common man"

Yep and you will never get people with such a fantastic resume to serve again! Same over here now - only boring people can get elected - deffo not as much fun.

Steve Salerno said...

How quickly we forget the likes of Clinton and John ("that's not my love child!") Edwards...

RevRon's Rants said...

Or "I am not a crook" Nixon. Everyone knows that a truly "virtuous" politician will simply refuse to answer questions about his own "indiscretions." And those who are so inclined will continue to believe in him. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think what's coming out here is that Ted Kennedy was human. He had his strong points and his faults and both were on display on more of a national stage than most of us have to deal with. You can't take away the fact that the man did a lot of good, whatever his motivations or his wealth.

Anonymous said...

I actually love the headline about Ted Kennedy "exceeding expectations." For someone who began his public life cheating on an exam at Harvard and went on to flee the scene after drowning Mary Jo Kopechne, whether inadvertently or deliberately, expectations might understandably have been very low indeed. That he actually and doggedly continued to try to do good in the world with that particular unfading scarlet letter on his chest does deserve acknowledgment and respect, however little the same could be said of his private character. But Steve, how could you compare Ted Kennedy to Rush Limbaugh? Rush Limbaugh is a vitriolic hate-monger who has made a career and a fortune on the hatred he continuously stirs up. However great Kennedy's personal failings, no one could say that about him. One of his most enduring legacies was his willingness to engage in bipartisan endeavors, about as far from the politics of hatred as one could get. In that at least, Ted Kennedy proved himself a gentleman, while Limbaugh is nothing but a scoundrel. Perhaps comparing him to a staunch but reasonable Republican like Arnold Schwarzenegger would be more in order.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 2:02: First of all, what a nicely written comment. My compliments to the chef.

Here's the thing about Limbaugh. Whatever we may think of him now, people tend to forget that he wasn't always Rush Limbaugh, if you get my drift. Here is a man who, in the late 1980s, changed the face of radio; starting out as a voice in the wilderness, as it were, he enunciated a lens on politics and life that, like it or not, spoke to (and for) millions upon millions of decent, hard-working Americans who felt frustrated and disenfranchised--all the more so as we moved through the Clinton years (or "America held hostage," as Limbaugh liked to put it). And if you listened to him then--as I did, first discovering him while I was in Houston, of all places, researching a book--you realize that today, in many respects, he's really just doing a outre parody of the Rush Limbaugh that he was in his early, unspoiled years. He's playing himself, in caricature.

But back then, I really do believe that the conservative mindset and agenda meant something to him, and that his passion for the cause is what lifted him to greatness, at least in the eyes of the 14+ million Americans who listen religiously (and that may indeed be the proper word) to his show. And for my money, I don't see how you could put johnny-come-latelies like Ah-nold in the same category. You have to give Rush his due. He was an authentic pioneer, and he sells a vision of this nation that would still resonate with the majority--I'm convinced--if Dubya hadn't done such an astonishing top-to-bottom job of screwing things up.

Elizabeth said...

Amen to Anon 2:02. (Sounds biblical, no?)

Ay, not to venture into these waters again, but, really, Steve, whom has Rush Limbaugh helped, ever? Can you name even one person (other than CEOs of corporations and right-wing pundits) whose life became genuinely better as a result of anything that Rush has done?

And, to be sure, by "better" I don't mean finding a (misguided) venue for one's hatred and prejudice.

For contrast, see this.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: See, this is what gets me about partisan politics--this viewpoint that only "our" side is legitimate, and somehow if you don't believe what we believe, then you're evil, venal, fascistic, whatever. And remember: I say all this as a man who voted Obama, and staunchly supported him on the blog almost daily during the last presidential season. However, I never make the mistake of confusing with own beliefs, no matter how heartfelt, with objective "truth."

What kills me about the Left is that they'll say they're all for openness and free speech and fair play and the like...but then when you bring up someone like Rush, the argument becomes, "Yes, we're for free speech--but not for the kind of trash Limbaugh spews!" I'm reminded of the so-called "hate speech" codes that proliferated in academia during the 1990s and basically held unopposed sway on most large campuses by the time I arrived in 1997. (Thankfully, they have fallen out of favor since.) If you agreed with the overall campus ideology, which of course was overwhelmingly liberal, you could say anything you wanted; if you opposed such programs as affirmative action or a woman's right to choose, that was suddenly "hate speech." Because, after all, what reasonable person could deprive a woman of the right to kill her unborn baby?

How easy it is to demonize the thoroughly legitimate views that we reject for ourselves. Can I name even one person whose life has been made better by the views Rush espouses? Hmmm. How 'bout for starters those white firefighters in Connecticut, victims of affirmative action, who never would've gotten their case heard were it not for the daily on-air activism of someone like Rush? He almost single-handedly made it permissible for everyday Americans to throw PC-based cautions to the wind and come out in open opposition to policies like affirmative action. He made it possible to be anti-welfare without (automatically) being dismissed as a racist.

And if you're going to tell me that all people who oppose gov't giveaway programs are, by definition, racist, then maybe I need to tell you more about my own Dad, who refused unemployment when he was eligible because he felt it was undignified, and improper for any American to be on the public dole. Many men of my father's generation felt that way, and they walked the walk.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve - I certainly don't believe that Rush should be silenced. Only that he be recognized for what he is: a hate-monger who willingly disseminates lies about anyone and anything that doesn't fall within the scope of his own political ideology. While I have no doubt that he speaks for a segment of the populace, he's not the first person to espouse toxic views that a segment of the population shares. History is rife with influential people whose influence was ultimately destructive to their societies.

I have deep respect for any number of true conservatives, even as I might disagree with them on what might be the best solutions for the problems we face. The loudmouth types who strive to incite divisiveness don't belong in that group, and are, IMO, not deserving of our respect. Let them bray all they want... just don't be too quick to elevate them to an undeserved status. Too many have *earned* that respect, and had no need to demand it.

Cosmic Connie said...

I neither canonize nor demonize Ted Kennedy, although like many Americans, I have at times bought into the sheer romance of the larger-than-life dynasty of which he was a member. Romance aside, however, I agree that despite his private foibles he did an enormous amount of good. I also think that it is indeed possible to be extraordinarily wealthy and still have genuine compassion for those who are not. (I think of one of our late local (Texas) heroes, Marvin Zindler, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth as well, but never forgot that "It's hell to be poor." And he never stopped working on behalf of the downtrodden.)

Yet as I sit here looking at a rather worn copy of the August 1, 1969 issue of Time Magazine -- the one whose cover features Teddy, still in a neck brace, just after Mary Jo Kopechne's funeral -- I wonder what Mary Jo's family is thinking now, hearing all of the accolades about the Lion of the Senate. I wonder if they feel that Teddy's decades of good works in any way atoned for what happened that night in Chappaquiddick.

There really is no simple way of looking at all of this.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:02 (gads, what a label) checking back in. Steve, it's not Rush Limbaugh's positions that I object to so much as his expression of those positions. I refuse to pigeonhole myself as liberal, conservative, Libertarian, or anything else, since I value some views held by all of them. But when I see the politics of hate in action, rather than the politics of respectful difference of opinion, I think of Hitler or, for a less powerful but still terribly damaging example, Joseph McCarthy. I'll take your word that Rush Limbaugh was once a more temperate man; would to God that he still were. I can't for the life of me think of one good thing hatred has ever accomplished. Too bad more people don't have your father's moral fiber. And, well, to descend into the gutter for just a moment, wouldn't you have loved to be an English-reading fly on the wall when the Pope opened Ted Kennedy's letter?

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: True dat, as my son would say. And thank you for the wistful imagery you provide in that little scene with the old magazine cover. People who don't write for a living often fail to appreciate the way in which the introduction of a single potent visual can elevate the hundreds of words of well-reasoned argument that surround it. (Sometimes people who do write for a living forget that, too. I know, because I'm one of 'em.)

Anon 3:43: "An English-reading fly on the wall"? I love it!

(Indeed, what a day today has been, in the overall. It's humbling to be out-written on your own blog, but I guess that's why I've never up and quit. I'm too much of a fan of good writing.)

Anonymous said...

What is your story, Steve? You make such a fuss last year over Barack the Great, but now you seem to have no use for Ted Kennedy who shares the same ideology! And this entire thread you're dumping all over "liberals" and their faults. What do you think you just helped put into the White House if not a liberal?

I don't think you have any idea what you really think. You just make it up all along because you like to hear yourself talk.

David said...

Hey, if Michael Jackson can be lionized upon death, than this guy can, too. (Although I don't know any of the facts about the Chapaquidick event, so maybe he's actually in Jacko's abyssal levels.)

Rush Limbaugh has one "dream": to keep popping his Viagra so that he can front as a tough guy who's out to protect his old-lady audience from the eeee-vil Arabs who are running across the Atlantic to murder us all.

Unless somebody is (a) impotent, (b) a demonstrative liar, (c) a dodger of the Vietnam War, they should never have the indignity of being compared with Limp-baugh.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 8:39: I like to hear myself talk? Did you even read my comment immediately above? You really ought to.

As for my approach to this blog, I also invite you to read "a few explanatory thoughts" in the sidebar. Maybe you'll have a better understanding of what this is all about. At least from my POV, as the moderator.

Anonymous said...

I just got it, DROWNING in coverage, haha!
-Carl

renee said...

From Ron (and others in spirit): "Only that [Rush] be recognized for what he is: a hate-monger who willingly disseminates lies about anyone and anything that doesn't fall within the scope of his own political ideology."

The only thing that bothers me about this view is that the left side of the aisle - and the press - does EXACTLY the same thing. Why is that never "recognized?"

I have a first person story to share here. Several years ago, I attended an industry luncheon that featured a panel of speakers, among them Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly. They predictably jabbed at each other and the largely Democratic crowd supported Franken all the way.

At the end of the event, members of the audience approached the stage and gathered around both Franken and O'Reilly to shake hands, snap a photo or get an autograph. I know this because I waited for a colleague to return from her handshake with Bill O'Reilly. (I approached neither man.)

Fine. Except when I read the coverage of this event a day or two later in the press, this is how the post-luncheon scene was described (I'm summarizing): Al Franken met with dozens of fans following the presentation; Bill O'Reilly departed the room immediately and met with no one.

Absolutely incorrect. That is not what happened. They both met with people and both of them departed within a minute of each other.

My point: who willingly desseminated lies about O'Reilly and his interaction with the crowd that day because he didn't fall within the scope of a political ideaology? Could it be the press? Who wanted to present O'Reilly as a standoffish snob and Franken as an approachable, friendly guy?

What impression do you think people reading this story took away from it? Yeah, me too.

The best part: At the time, I wrote a column about it - and explained what I saw, what really happened - and my editor turned it down. "Old news, not of general interest." (My weekly column appeared in the same newspaper that printed the inaccurate recap of the event by the way.)

There are other examples of this, of course. (The "What Really Happened in Montana" story floating around the web springs to mind.) I choose not to use them here because I wasn't a witness to them. But I was there for this. And when I read about the interpretation the press gave it, I knew. Among the press and the people who run it, I witnessed an example of the ideology that is sanctified and elevated, and the one that is not.

Everything I've read ever since has been colored by that lens.

RevRon's Rants said...

renee, I guess I must have missed the examples of top-tier liberals using Rush's tactics. Guess I live too sheltered a life, because I've yet to see the Rush/Coulter/Palin kind of vitriol (and outright lies that have been repeatedly disproved) coming from the most influential individuals on the left.

Sure, you get the comedians like Maher, but they don't purport to represent the party. Big difference, IMO.

Can you honestly state that Rush has made any kind of effort to do anything other than widen the divide between the Republicans and the Democrats? How about Coulter? Palin? Or Gingrich, for that matter?

The media does seem to favor the liberals over the conservatives nowadays, though they do seem to be holding Obama's feet to the fire. Perhaps the far right's abandonment of true conservative principles might have something to do with the preferential treatment. And just maybe the op-ed reporters are just reporting on the obvious. Remember... When Clinton was in office, the "liberal media" would broadcast even the most absurd allegations against him, and didn't bother waiting for confirmation.

Bottom line is that the media isn't "liberal" or "conservative." They're collectively opportunistic, and will publish or broadcast whatever they believe their audience wants to see. If it plays well for their audience, it pays for them to run with it. The only ideology that drives them is economic.

So blame the audience.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: I think there's a critical point here, to which Renee alludes, that we're glossing over. It may be true that the Left has no counterpart to the screamed vitriol of the likes of Hannity (who I think is far worse than Rush, because he's dumber) and Coulter (who I think is far less smart than she thinks she is. Snarkiness is not the same as intellect). But the Left does something even more insidious, perhaps: It shades the news itself. It undercuts the GOP position by simply editing out news and information that might tend to favor a less liberal-Democratic line of reasoning. And it's been doing that for years and years, despite a recent trend toward greater self-examination on the MSM's part.

I think that's the real takeaway from Renee's comment, which I find very much on-point in this discussion.

renee said...

Further to Steve's point, I don't there's much call for examples of top tier liberals using Rush's tactics ("outright lies," exactly like the one I illustrated) when you have one pretty powerful one in your corner already that reaches worldwide news outlets: the AP.

Interesting discussion.

RevRon's Rants said...

Perhaps my perspective is skewed somewhat by my own choice of news sources. I tend to seek out the fiscally conservative feeds along with the socially liberal (Second Amendment issues notwithstanding).

I see the MSM parroting and distributing the vitriol offered up by the Coulter/Hannity/Rush faction with far greater frequency and zeal that they devote to its refutation. I saw the Clintons continually reviled, yet when the allegations against them proved to be untrue, very little air time or column space was devoted to it.

I still say that the media is only motivated by ratings, and if they deem that their ratings will improve by favoring one party over the other, they will do so, with little regard for the notion of bringing a balanced (much less, fair and balanced) perspective to their offerings. And after 8 years of W, the majority of the demographic the MSM is trying to reach is of a left-leaning centrist bent.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Renee reported an actual eyewitness event rather than succumbing to the general tendency to rant about the "liberal media" or the "rabid right." I'd like to put forward another view, however, for the consideration of SHAMblog readers. It's contained in an op-ed piece in the LA Times by Neal Gabler called "'Truth' vs. 'facts' from America's media." (You can read the entire piece at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-gabler23-2009aug23,0,4834705.story, if you can bear to wade through that supremely cumbersome url.) I'm not familiar with Mr. Gabler or his work, but I felt that several paragraphs in his article rang true:

"...journalists would no doubt say that it isn't really their job to ferret out the 'truth'. It is their job to report 'facts'. If Palin says that Obama intends to euthanize her child, they report it. If Limbaugh says that Obama's healthcare plan smacks of Nazism, they report it. And if riled citizens begin shouting down their representatives, they report it, and report it, and report it. The more noise and the bigger the controversy, the greater the coverage. This creates a situation in which not only is the truth subordinate to lies, but one in which shameless lies are actually privileged over reasoned debate.

"Don't think the militants don't know this and take full advantage of it. They know that the media--especially the so-called liberal mainstream media--which are hardly liberal if assessed honestly--refrain from attempting to referee arguments for fear that they will be accused by the right of taking sides.... They marshal facts, but they don't seek truth. They behave as if every argument must be heard and has equal merit, when some are simply specious. That is how global warming, WMD and 'end of life' counseling have become part of silly reportorial ping-pong at best and badly misleading information at worst.

"...But finally, we may not have a journalism of truth because we haven't demanded one. Many of us are invested in one side of the story; we are for Obama or against him, for healthcare reform or against it. These are a priori positions. Truth won't change them.

"...What it comes down to is that sometimes the media have to tell the truth not because anyone really wants them to but because it is the right thing to do--the essential thing to do--for the sake of our democracy."

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 3:15: Thank you for weighing in (and again here, I want to reiterate my fervent wish that people who come the fore as you have--especially with meaningful content--would do so under their true names, or at least under something more personal/recognizable than "anonymous." That way we can improve the continuity of the thread as it develops, all the more so if you choose to comment again later).

The problem I have with a high-minded analysis like Gabler's is really pretty simple: Once we stray from the reporting of "facts" and resolve to organize those facts into a higher level of Truth...then who decides what that Truth should be, or what the criteria are for determining whether something is a Fact or a Truth? Whenever media types claim for themselves the right to "interpret" or "contextualize" facts, that's when we run into problems with bias and agenda. To keep it short (on another very busy day), I think the Gabler piece, even as compelling as it is, may be focusing on a moot point.

How do we change the system without making it worse?

RevRon's Rants said...

"They marshal facts, but they don't seek truth."

Seems like I remember a set of cardinal rules taught in my college journalism classes: Vet your sources & corroborate "facts." If someone claims that politician X has a history of molesting underage goats, a responsible journalist would endeavor to find either supporting documentation or refutation of the claim, and include his or her findings in the report/article.

To accept something blindly as being factual - and subsequently make the claim public - simply because someone says it isn't journalism. It's gossip. And verifying the facts and offering the results of that verification doesn't constitute taking a side. On the contrary, passing along an unsubstantiated allegation - especially one that has the potential to ruin someone's reputation and/or career - constitutes biased reporting in its worst form, simply because it appears so benign on the surface. "I was only reporting the facts."

And we all know that retractions lack the impact of the original stories, especially since they're generally buried in some inconspicuous location, subservient to the outrageous "fact" of the day.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: Maybe I'm misinterpreting Gabler (and the anon who "sponsored" him), but I don't think the gripe in this case is with journalists who poorly vet their stories (though that is surely a problem, too). I think Gabler/anon are arguing that not all facts are entitled to receive coverage in the media, simply by virtue of being facts. The argument appears to be that some facts are misleading--they evoke a bogus version of Truth--and therefore should be edited out by scrupulous journalists. I see that approach, if formally adopted, as being very, very dangerous. Indeed, it would institutionalize the situation we face (all too often) today, where journalists take sides not so much by injecting purposeful agenda into what they do report, but merely by choosing what not to report.

RevRon's Rants said...

I agree with you here, Steve. I merely feel that the "journalists" owe it to the public to present a full picture of the "facts," rather than merely repeating what the get from a single source.

If reporters & anchors had added to every one of the "birther" allegations that Obama's birth had been officially certified as having occurred in Hawaii, the story - and the disproved allegations - would have dissipated much more quickly. By merely repeating the allegations, they lent credibility to an outright lie.

If they want to report all the "facts" they encounter (and for which their voyeuristic readership apparently hungers), it is their professional duty IMO to offer the *whole* story, rather than a single interpretation.

Elizabeth said...

Going back to Ted Kennedy's legacy (because this is one of the threads here, after all), see this, from The Rude Pundit (should also check TRP's subsequent post, "There Went a Man," that gives a much needed, and too often lacking, perspective on the man's life).

It's long, but worth reading (IMO):

Do you like your state and not the federal government controlling the curriculum of your kids' schools? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you like being able to vote starting at age 18? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you think low-income people should get help with heating their homes in the winter? Thank the man.

Do you think the federal government should fund cancer research? Yep.

Do you believe that Meals on Wheels is a good thing? Ditto.

Does your daughter (or you, if you're female) like playing soccer or basketball or softball at school? That'd be because of Ted Kennedy.

Do you think that disabled people should be able to go to school? Have access to buildings? Not be discriminated against for housing and loads of other things? Kennedy, big time.

You like your cheap airfares? You know the answer.

You think people on welfare oughta get jobs? So did Kennedy.

You think mental institutions should treat people humanely? Yeah, so did your new friend, Ted Kennedy.

You believe that the Defense Department should provide child care for the kids of soldiers? Kennedy did.

You think a woman shouldn't lose her job if she gets pregnant? You think 100,000 more cops on the street's a good idea? You think poor kids should have health care? You think soldiers in Iraq should have the proper armor? Just tick those things off the list. Some of them would have been accomplished without him; many would not have been.

You agreed with Ted Kennedy far, far more than you want to think you did, dear conservatives. Still, go ahead and dance your mad jigs on his still-warm corpse. Why not? We on the left certainly did when Jerry Falwell, Strom Thurmond, and Jesse Helms kicked. Hell, one asshole blogger even celebrated the death of Ann Coulter's father. But know that you dance in ignorance. Ask Orrin Hatch.

But, of course, you want to address the far more pressing issue of whether or not Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne back at Chappaquiddick all those decades ago, no matter what the investigations said. There's only a couple of things to say about that: The glib response is, "Yeah, and Thomas Jefferson nailed his slaves. What's your point?" More directly, Kennedy asked the people of Massachusetts if they wanted him to quit. They did not. The rest of the nation may have not wanted him as president, but for Massachusetts, Chappaquiddick quickly became a settled issue and distant history. That's all that mattered to keep him in the Senate, just like Louisiana will have to judge whether or not a prostitute-lovin' David Vitter should go back. That's democracy, gang, like it or not.

And Ted Kennedy did more for real, actual democracy than almost anyone else in our entire history as a nation.