Stop Beating a Dead Fox

The conservative news channel’s only real power is in riling up liberals, who by this point should know better.

Source: nymag.com

I missed this in January. I’m so glad I found it.

Thanks to the facts presented here, I’m going to be making a concerted effort to do what everyone but the 68-and-over-all-white crowd is doing – ignore Fox. This is a must-read for everyone not fitting the aforementioned group.

Everyone is, of course, welcome and encouraged to read it, but as Frank Rich puts it so perfectly…

“The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, naïve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion it’s a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailes’s talking points into becoming climate-change deniers. They arrive at the channel as proud, self-selected citizens of Fox Nation and are unlikely to defect from the channel or its politics until death do them part. (As Sherman writes, “Ailes’s audience seldom watches anything” on television but Fox News.)

“The Fox News membership is more than happy to be cocooned in an echo chamber where its own hopes and fears will be reinforced by other old white “people like us.”

“Rather than waste time bemoaning Fox’s bogus journalism, liberals should encourage it. The more that Fox News viewers are duped into believing that the misinformation they are fed by Ailes is fair and balanced, the more easily they can be ambushed by reality as they were on Election Night 2012.”

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Advertisements

#Fox Tells Only One Side on CA #Microstamping Law

This article, Gun flight: Smith & Wesson, Ruger quit California over stamping requirement, by Perry Chiaramonte is a classic example of the complete bias and total lack of journalistic integrity that is the hallmark and the brand of Fox News.

FILE: Undated: A model 1911 pistol is held in the hands of an assembler at the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, Mass. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/24/smith-wesson-to-stop-selling-some-pistols-in-california-due-to-gun-law/
FILE: Undated: A model 1911 pistol is held in the hands of an assembler at the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, Mass. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/24/smith-wesson-to-stop-selling-some-pistols-in-california-due-to-gun-law/

How can anyone consider this article to be journalism?

It seems like a reasonable question to ask if one reads the article with an eye toward word selection, tone, and the people are and who are not quoted in this article.

Here’s the opening sentence…

A new gun law proponents say helps law enforcement has driven Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger out of California, and affirmed the suspicions of firearms rights advocates that the measure is really about making handguns obsolete.

Let’s examine just that opening sentence more closely.

Proponents of a gun law (which we learn later passed in California in 2007 and that is only now being implemented) only “say” the new law helps law enforcement. Too bad Mr. Chiaramonte doesn’t tell us who any of them are, what they actually said, and what law enforcement officials said in response.

Meanwhile, gun makers are being “driven…out” of the California market because of this new law. What they are actually doing is making a conscious business decision. Personally, I think they’re bluffing. And if they’re not and they do stop selling handguns in California the downside is…….what exactly?

Still in the opening sentence and while all of that is going on, the “suspicions” of the “firearm rights advocates” are now “affirmed” that the law is meant to make handguns “obsolete.”

Firearms rights advocates? Sounds noble. Who are they? I wonder if Mr. Chiaramonte is referring to the gun manufacturers and their proxies whom he did choose to quote later in his piece?

“Affirmed suspicions” has a ring of certainty and dread, doesn’t it? Compare that to the unidentified proponents who are only “saying” that the law might help law enforcement – a position attacked and discredited by the only people Mr. Chiaramonte chose to quote; the aforementioned “firearms rights advocates.”

And, “affirmed suspicions” ties in neatly to the strawman that every gun-related bit of legislation is an immediate threat to the Second Amendment. As we all know, the Founders intended for every citizen to carry a handgun, and we cannot stand for any legislation which these “firearms rights advocates” tells us will make handguns “obsolete.”

All of that is in just the first sentence.  It’s hard not to see now how word choice and tone matter, isn’t it?

There’s more.

So outside of the gun makers themselves who don’t want to have to conform to this law and who claim (threaten?!?) to be “forced” out of California, with whom does Mr. Chiaramonte choose to quote? To whom will he turn to for a fair and balanced perspective on this law?

He turns to an attorney for the NRA, Chuck Michel, and an adjunct professor who is also an associate analyst with the Cato Institute, David Kopel.

Well, they certainly represent one side of this issue. Where are the other sides? There are none represented.

Mr. Chiaramonte also employs those dubious and suspicious, “Critics say….” and “Many believe…” statements that have become so common these days. Why doesn’t he tell us their names, what they actually said, and when and where they said it?

Most damning and conspicuous, though, is Mr. Chiaramonte’s complete lack of information about who the supporters are and what they have to say. There are no legislators, gun law proponents, or law enforcement officials named or quoted in the article.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Perry Chiaramonte spent a lot of his career at the New York Post before joining Fox. This may not come as a surprise to anyone who understands the similarities these two organizations share when it comes to their definitions and treatment of the news. For those who need a quick understanding of the caliber of journalism practiced by the New York Post, I suggest you click here to see some of their more infamous headlines and covers.

I’m willing to bet that Mr. Chiaramonte knows that his article is not news. I’m willing to bet that in his heart of hearts he knows it to be a quintessential example of yellow journalism. He must, for it matches perfectly and precisely with how the Free Dictionary defines that term: “Journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers.”

In his defense, Mr. Chiaramonte must also know and agree that that is what Fox does. It is all that Fox News does. It exploits. It distorts. It exaggerates in order to create sensations and attract readers and viewers. It is how it makes its money.

Mr. Chiaramonte, however, cannot be exonerated for presenting one side and only one side – the opposition – in his article. He is being anything but fair and balanced in this report, and I cannot believe that he isn’t doing that intentionally.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Fox News seems to be getting progressively more lazy and more lackadaisical than was even imaginable. Even worse, it seems perfectly clear that they believe their audience won’t notice.

That said, it’s actually more likely that Fox is simply pandering to an audience who consciously selects them and embraces them precisely for their incredibly biased and yellow journalism; the same type of journalism so obviously on display in Mr. Chiaramonte’s article.

As for this California law itself, I learned very little about it from this article. I shall have to go to other more reliable sources. I do like the sounds of it. It seems like a step in a very positive direction.

For more on my thoughts about gun laws, I invite you to read Taking Responsibility for Your Guns and Why Not Registration and Licensing of Guns?

Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly’s white Christmas war at Fox News – IrishCentral

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly’s white Christmas war at Fox News IrishCentral Accurately sensing a threat to their 16-year-old news channel, Fox pulled Brigadier General of the War on Christmas Bill O’Reilly out this week, who gallantly sprang to…

See on www.irishcentral.com

Forgiving #Megyn

Look. We all mistakes. Maybe we should ease up on Megyn Kelly. She made a mistake. Perhaps she simply failed to apply her intellect before speaking. Maybe she inadvertently revealed a degree of racism she ordinarily keeps buried. Maybe she said the things she did about the skin tone of Santa and Jesus for the ratings, knowing full well that her core audience would respond with approval and support.

Maybe it was something altogether different, and maybe we should forgive her.

In my opinion, the discussion on all of the important issues in America and in the world would improve dramatically if we simply ignored her and her employer.

Which brings me to this question.

Why would a self-proclaimed and so-called news network and one of their more popular hosts even,
1) bother with picking up the story that got her so provoked that,
2) she and her producers would then be compelled to bring on a panel of 3 more white people to discuss Santa’s skin color and then,
3) bring Jesus’s skin color into a conversation about Santa and his skin color?

What was the point of this segment? What was she hoping to accomplish?

She did explain herself, saying, ““In kicking off the lighthearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa, who I joked is a real person … is white,” she told her viewers Friday night. “That’s part of why we covered the story in the first place — humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that’s lost on the humorless.”

She goes on to defend herself and her comments about Jesus being white by saying, “As I’ve learned in the past two days, that <the question of Jesus’s skin color> is far from settled.”

True enough, perhaps. We are likely to never know with absolute certainty what color an Iron Age rabbi’s skin was; however, what we can be absolutely certain about is that the depiction of Jesus in the Western World has no basis in science.

Check out this very interesting article from Popular Mechanics, “The Real Face of Jesus,” for  an informative description on the application of forensic science used to get to this far more likely rendition.changing-face-of-jesus-08-0312-lgn

As for Megyn, and as is so often the case with Fox News personalities, she goes on to lament that, “Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people.”

You know what? Forget it. I’m not forgiving her.

There’s no rational explanation or justification in 2013 for her behavior and for such comments to be coming from anyone except from those who are completely ignorant, racist, or just pandering to an audience for the ratings.

Jonathan Merritt is absolutely correct in his Atlantic article, “Insisting Jesus Was White Is Bad History and Bad Theology”

If the Bible is silent on the matter of Jesus’ skin color, does it really matter that Megyn Kelly says Jesus is white?

Yes, actually.

As some historians and theologians have posited, the silence of the Scriptures on the issue of Jesus’ skin color is critical to Christianity’s broad appeal with people of various ethnicities. In a world where race often divides communities and even churches, the Biblical depictions of God’s son positions him as one who can bridge those divides.

Are you listening, Megyn? Do you even understand the fundamental concepts of Christianity and what the teachings of this person – real or imagined, physical or allegory – referred to as the Son of God has been telling you and the rest of humanity for 2,000 years?

Megyn Kelly, Fox News, and our fellow Americans – including our friends, our family, and our neighbors – who perpetuate what is the fundamental core of the Fox News strategy – divisiveness – must be held accountable for their words and their actions.

I’m not a holy man or a believer of any kind, so I can say this with a clear conscience: Forgiveness from me will come, but only when there’s sincere contrition first.

Guns and the Future of the GOP

Image found at Moveon.org and credited to source there

History is replete with milestones and turning points. We have arrived at another, for the country and for the GOP.

This one is centered on the Second Amendment. The debate rages about its meaning, intent, and relevancy in a modern world and, in the wake of yet another tragic shooting, what to do about gun violence. The burden and judgement of history, in my opinion, now rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, not the president.
 
Public consensus seems clear. When polled, Americans say they want more checks in place before guns can be purchased. We also are saying that we want fewer – not more – dangerous weapons in the hands of ordinary civilians.

Ignoring Reality
The leadership of the GOP seems to be ignoring reality yet again. They’ve done so at nearly every turn since the 2008 election cycle, the short-lived and fading Tea Party movement that disrupted the GOP and elections in 2010 notwithstanding.

On some level, it seems to be getting worse. A party willing to give any consideration at all to the likes of a Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum is already difficult to take seriously. Mitt Romney, by most accounts, was the least offensive choice they could present.

On the issue of gun violence, Republicans who now insist on adding public concerns and sentiments about guns to the growing list of realities and shifting societal norms and values they choose to ignore do so not only at their own peril, but they put their entire party at peril for the 21st century.

The reelection of President Obama seems not to have taught Republican leaders a thing except that the more extreme the position they take, the more airtime they’ll get with Fox. They truly seem intent on listening only to and parroting the most extreme voices. This time those voices belong to Wayne LaPierre and David Keene of the NRA. Republican leaders are choosing them over their rank-and-file members and even over those Republicans who self-identify as NRA members.

So how is it possible in the wake of so many gun-related tragedies that elected leaders from the Republican party are not uniform in their support for ANY proposals from the president to reduce gun violence?

Is there a turning point in the history of the GOP that helps to answer this question, and that helps to inform us about what the question about gun legislation reveals about the underlying beliefs that have guided the party’s thinking into the present day and possibly into its future?

First, What the Pubic Is Saying About Guns
As Juan Williams of Fox News pointed out on January 16th (1), polling shows very clear consensus about what Americans think we should do on issues such as background checks and high-capacity magazines.

   “A USA Today/Gallup poll taken last month found that 92 percent of Americans favor a background check for every gun purchase in the United States and only 7 percent opposed it. According to the same poll, 62 percent say the approved of a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 bullets while 35 percent disapprove.
  “A Pew poll from earlier this week found similar results.
  “According to Pew, 85% of Americans, a roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, favor universal background checks on gun buyers including at gun shows. The survey also found that preventing people with mental illness from buying guns is backed by 80% of Americans, including 86% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats.
  “In opposing these common-sense gun safety measures under consideration by President Obama, the NRA is not only at odds with the general public, it is also at odds with its own membership.
   “After the shooting in Aurora, Colorado this summer, Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted a nationwide survey of gun owners who are members of the NRA. Luntz found that 74 percent of NRA members and 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners support background checks on every gun sale. The poll also found that 79 percent of NRA members and 80 percent of non-NRA gun owners support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees.”

Given this data, how is it possible that Republicans aren’t putting petty partisan politics aside and embracing new regulations and laws to curb gun violence?

Why aren’t they distancing themselves from the NRA and their desire to arm even more citizens in more places and with ever more lethal firepower?

What legacy does the GOP want to have on the issue of gun violence?

Perhaps most importantly, what are NRA members and faithful Republicans across the board demanding from their elected officials and party leaders on the question about what to do to reduce gun violence in light of what they’re purported to be telling Gallup and Pew?

An Historical Turning Point for the GOP
How did the party of Lincoln turn into a party which, big money and influence aside for the moment (2), become so willing to knuckle under to extremists at the NRA, an organization which, I’m learning, has itself been severally radicalized in recent times (3)?

Is there a milestone in Republican party history that can shed more light on how the GOP has become a party seemingly entrenched in antiquated and unpopular views, and incapable of compromise on any level?

As part of my research, I found an article titled “The Dismal Future of the GOP” published by Forbes in 2009 (4). It’s author justifiably laments the lose of moderate voices in the Republican party and, hence, its loss of moderate voters.

It’s unreasonable, of course, to expect any single article to cover every single milestone and turning point of history. Still, I think the author, Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, a Treasury official under President George H. W. Bush, and the author of “Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action” and “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy” neglected to cover one of the most critically important factors in the transformation – and, hence, the decline  – of the GOP. That critically important factor was Barry Goldwater and his political calculus in the 1964 presidential campaign (5).

Southern Democrats, still feeling the sting 100 years on of Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the defeat in the Civil War were still using violence and intimidation to suppress minorities. This wing of the Democratic party was still insisting on seating all-white delegates at the Democratic National convention. Putting the KKK aside, Southern Democrats were responding favorably to and electing racists like Alabama’s Democratic governor and presidential hopeful, George Wallace, who was infamous for statements such as, “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Racists not only in the Southern wing of the Democratic party but throughout the country were targeted and pursued by Goldwater as part of his “white backlash” strategy in the 1964 campaign. Goldwater (who, according to accounts, is not thought to have been a racist himself) accomplished nothing except the migration of the South from Democratic to Republican control. This was a turning point for the Republican party, making it the party focused primarily on matters important mostly to whites.

1964, therefore, is a very clear and important milestone in the history of the Republican party and its relevance in American politics. White America, including and especially those in the South who had for the previous 100 years used violence and intimidation to keep minorities subjugated and away from primaries and elections, came to see the GOP as a party whose platform included, besides smaller government (which tends to hurt poor and minorities the most), a clear opposition to civil rights. (A quick search on YouTube reveals interviews of Goldwater talking about his opposition to civil rights legislation. It’s almost as easy as finding Ayn Rand videos railing against Christianity.)

For Mr. Bartlett to leave Goldwater and 1964 out of his review of the GOP’s history and the role that race still plays now and in the party’s future is, in my opinion, inconceivable and could only be deliberate. I guess he was willing to go only so far in his critique of his party.

Guns and the GOP’s Golden Opportunity
Which brings me back to the current issue of gun violence, gun control, and why the GOP seems intent on supporting the NRA instead of the general populace.

The undercurrent of racism – real or imagined – has been associated with the Republican party at least as far back as 1964.  One look at the demographics of the 2012 election results reinforces its disconnect outside of white America, and especially white Christian male America. If nothing else, it’s mathematically correct to say that the Republican party is the party of white Evangelical men. What ought to be obvious is that relying on that demographic is and will continue to be insufficient to win national elections, and may eventually be insufficient to win elections anywhere of any consequence.

This is why the GOP’s future is in peril. They seem intent on disenfranchsing everyone but white conservative Christian men. This seems to be true again on the issue of gun violence.

While I haven’t looked for or seen data that makes a definitive and precise connection between their reluctance to distance themselves from the NRA and their dwindling racial diversity, it certainly does raise questions for me about the true motivations behind anything the Republican party is doing these days.

After all, we shouldn’t forget that this is the party….
….who refused to distance themselves from the racist birther movement and those who questioned the president’s religion, patriotism, and what it meant to be American
 …who not only allowed our economy to be driven into the 2008 recession, but who continue to make unreasonable and unjustifiable demands for cuts to social programs that benefit the poor and aged (whose ranks, by the way, include more than just minorities) while defending and demanding tax breaks for the wealthy (and we all know who makes up the majority of that group)
….who has as their Senate leader a man who publicly stated the party’s number one goal was to deny the president any policy victory, thereby creating perhaps the most ineffective Congress in history and doing incalculable damage to our recovery and to the poor and middle class
…who is responsible for state legislation around the country intended solely to make voting more difficult for minorities.

Can there be any doubt, therefore, that race (and gender) play a part in GOP thinking when it comes to gun violence? Which party is it who wants to increase the Defense budget, defund Planned Parenthood, and nationalize “Stand Your Ground” laws?

The question now about what the GOP will do (or not do) about gun violence is one more in a long line of questions about their relevance to anyone outside of a shrinking and ever more extreme subset of white America.

Cowardice and the Crossroads
The answer so far seems to be that the GOP will side with extremists inside and outside the NRA. These people all talk as if the America of the 21st century is some Hollywood version of the Wild West where good guys – always white guys, by the way – with guns kill bad guys with guns. No one is ever caught in crossfire, mistakes are never made about a suspect’s guilt or innocence, and it never seems to take more than a single, well-placed, and calmly delivered shot in the most righteous of fairy tales to bring down the bad guy. (Which does beg the question about the need for extended clips, but then I remember it’s to repel invading foreign armies and/or a tyrannical domestic government. I suspect the now-popular zombie apocalypse is on that same list somewhere.)

And just below the surface, there’s a disturbing sort of “The Birth of a Nation” feeling to the GOP’s fear mongering about Obama. The GOP still refuses to refute birthers, those who talk of “others,” and those who question Obama’s religion or “understanding of what it means to be American.”

The cowardice of Republican leaders is tragic and on stark display. They refuse to face down the radical and extreme elements in their party and in the leadership of the NRA. In fact, they seem to relish in pandering to them. This strategy will, in my opinion, be the downfall of the Republican party in the coming decades; maybe sooner. This crisis over how to deal with the NRA will be one of the many milestones marking the end of the journey for a party whose appeal continues to slide further and further into right-wing extremist oblivion.

It’s happened before. Political parties who fell out of touch and out of favor have faded into history. The GOP doesn’t have to suffer this fate. They can turn it around. The challenges to the NRA on what to do about gun control would be the perfect pivot point for them. They have a golden opportunity to show Americans that they are capable not only of compromise when the health and safety of citizens is at issue, but also that they are capable of refusing to let any organization – even the NRA – bully them into taking positions that are harmful to Americans. (We can keep hoping that they’ll someday do the same with Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, but that’s for another post.)

The question now really is will the Republican party and their members take yet another “hard right” at this milestone and side with the NRA, or will calmer and more rational people within the Republican party prevail?

Any hope I cling to is with regular people and their courage to voice their opposition to the NRA and to vote GOP extremists out of office.

Sources:
(1) “What everybody needs to know about our Constitution and gun control”http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/16/what-everybody-needs-to-know-about-our-constitution-and-gun-control/

(2) “How the NRA exerts influence over Congress”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/nra-congress/

(3) “The NRA Once Supported Gun Control” http://www.salon.com/2013/01/14/the_nra_once_supported_gun_control/

(4) “The Dismal Future of the GOP”http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/30/specter-future-gop-opinions-columnists-bartlett.html

(5) “LBJ Fights the White Backlash; The Racial Politics of the 1964 Presidential Campaign”http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2001/spring/lbj-and-white-backlash-1.html)