On Memorial Day, it would have been nice if the top-rated show was PBS’s concert paying patriotic tribute to our brave fighting men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Instead, this Memorial Day had a different, much less laudable spectacle top the ratings.
The cable channel TLC beat every broadcast network with a new season debut of "Jon and Kate Plus 8," a "reality" program chronicling the eventful life of parents of a set of twins and a set of sextuplets.
The show itself was not some offensive parade of sex or gore. The spectacle here is the collapsing marriage of the "reality" show stars, Jon and Kate Gosselin, prodded along for weeks by all the tabloids and celebrity magazines. First, there were charges that Jon cheated on Kate with a teacher, and then came counter-charges that Kate cheated on Jon with their bodyguard.
The question that didn’t dominate: with a marriage on the rocks and eight young children in the balance, why not cancel the show and concentrate on real life?
Dick Cheney clearly drives the liberal media nuts. As much as they’d like to bask in the glow of the new and glorious Obama Era, they simply cannot achieve that requisite state of Nirvana with Cheney around. They spent eight long years packaging Cheney as some evil and deadly combination of Darth Vader and the Ebola virus. Now they can add to the descriptors a new title: Count Dracula. The man refuses to die.
That’s why every speech he makes draws a ferocious chorus of media boos of outrage at the idea he would dare to think he has freedom to speak in the first place. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was so flustered over Cheney’s latest speech at the American Enterprise Institute that he asked Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth: "If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?"
It isn’t easy to shock the jaded audiences at the Cannes Film Festival, but Danish director Lars von Trier achieved that with his new movie "Antichrist." It wasn’t really the title. It wasn’t the weird scenes with a talking fox. It was the graphically portrayed sexual mutilation.
Let’s dispense with the plot. A couple is mourning the loss of a child. They go to an isolated cabin, the mother loses her mind and goes postal on her husband, and herself. Pressed by journalists about his film, von Trier claimed his movies choose him, not the other way around. "I never have a choice," he said. "It's the hand of God, I'm afraid." He added, "I am the best film director in the world."
Journalists don’t agree. "I thought I had my head down a lavatory, frankly," said Baz Bamigboye of London's Daily Mail, one writer who demanded that von Trier attempt to justify his sick movie. The Hollywood Reporter called it "torture porn."
President Obama came to the campus of Notre Dame armed with all his usual arrogance. Despite his radical abortion record – which includes championing a policy in Illinois wherein aborted babies who manage to survive are tossed aside, to die – he posed as the national moderator of "common ground." And he did it by plugging a yellowed old tale from his campaign memoir "The Audacity of Hope." All he left out were the words "Order now on Amazon.com. Just $16.50 in hardcover."
Obama is loaded with nothing more than audacity. His speech no doubt pleased liberals, who love to pretend they’re for all the mushy inclusiveness Obama pretended to favor – "Open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words." This, from the politician who spent twenty years listening to the rantings and ravings of Jeremiah Wright? This, from the politician who unleashed more than 100,000 negative ads on John McCain?
Not unexpectedly, the networks embraced Obama’s pose as the pragmatic pacifier of the "culture wars."
In these hard times, Americans are trying hard to relax and take refuge in entertainment. But The Washington Post is insisting that country music fans are not really sympathetic figures. They are prone to self-congratulation and "closing ranks" behind the thought that they live in the "real America."
The Post music critic going by the name Josh Freedom du Lac – that just can’t be his name – doesn’t really seem to like patriotic music, despite the patriotic byline. He worries that songs like Jason Aldean’s "Hicktown" or the Zac Brown Band’s "Chicken Fried" do something wrong: They are "narrowcasting to a specific community: the core country audience, whose roots aren't exactly in America's urban centers."
The raucous sound of applause for President Obama when he spoke at the White House Correspondents Dinner underlined what could be the news media’s motto: "You had us at Hello." They shamelessly cheered and screamed even louder when he only half-joked "I am Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me."
The public should wonder: Are the media too personally infatuated with this president? A recent video even showed the White House press corps standing up in homage when President Obama entered the briefing room – a definite, emotional break with the normal, disinterested stay-seated routine for that room. Any sense of detachment is utterly missing, even in their body language.
In the media’s own mythology, they are the constant, unbending defenders of democracy who "speak truth to power" and refuse to act as a "stenographer" for the power elite. In the unfolding reality, our national press has become one giant....poodle to this president.
When the late Playboy centerfold and tabloid-media celebrity Anna Nicole Smith graced the white marble steps of the Supreme Court in 2006, the network news operations couldn’t get enough of the story. The blonde floozy had married a fabulously wealthy Texas oilman who happened to be 62 years her senior, and now she wanted to collect his estate. It was a serious legal challenge, and a salacious gossip story, and the networks covered it religiously.
But when a Supreme Court decision affects the networks directly, and adversely, there’s no coverage.
The Supreme Court ruled on the case of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox all suing the federal government for the right to drop F-bombs and S-bombs on young children. The Second Circuit had agreed with the networks that regulation of "fleeting" expletives was "arbitrary and capricious." There was great interest then. Both ABC and CBS put on full stories to discuss the issues. But last week, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court. I bet you didn’t know that, and if you didn’t, it’s because the networks didn’t report it.
When Sen. Arlen Specter ran in a contentious primary against conservative congressman Pat Toomey in 2004, his slogan was "Courage, Clout, Conviction." The other day, when Specter’s pollster apparently told him he was going to lose to Toomey in a rematch, he promptly chucked that blather about his courage and conviction and narrowed his thinking to clout. In desperation, he switched to the Democratic Party.
Specter will say (and now do) anything to remain in power. So he tried to spin his way out of this shameless act of political self-preservation by attacking conservatives.
And the left-wing "news" media were there to help.
When the conglomerates behind the viciously anti-Catholic book "The DaVinci Code" were looking for a director, Newsweek reported Ron Howard had a secret weapon: his aw-shucks child-star Opie Taylor likeability. "Ron is not a polarizer," said one. "We all knew the book was quite controversial, and we were ready for that. But we didn’t want to add to it."
In that same article in 2006, it became clear that Howard wasn’t going to make the film less vicious (or less filled with historical lies and distortions) than the book. There would be "no placating. It would be ludicrous to take on this subject and try to take the edges off. We’re doing this movie because we like the book." (Emphasis his.)
This is where the aw-shucks routine goes out the window. It’s one thing to say you like a good mystery with historical overtones. It’s another thing to say you like a fiction book that paints the Catholic Church as an evil nest of lying murderers conspiring to protect the lie that Jesus Christ is God.
There’s something very curious – even laughable – about watching the media assemble to offer President Obama a grade after the first 100 days. They weren’t exactly a team of dispassionate scientists in a lab. They continue to be what they’ve been all along -- a rolling gaggle of Obama cheerleaders -- only before it was a campaign and now it’s an administration. So now they’re assessing whether their awe-inspiring historic candidate still glows with the luster of victory. Hmm...let’s see. They applied the luster, they boasted of the luster, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll continue doing both.
Remember Chris Matthews, and apply his pre-inauguration pledge across the media: "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work."
Nobody tunes into a beauty pageant and expects a public-policy discussion that could be mistaken for C-SPAN. The long-standing perception about the question-and-answer section at the end is that the aspiring beauty queens will uniformly voice their strong support for world peace, an end to hunger, and free lipstick and mascara for the homeless.
The latest Miss USA pageant on NBC illustrated that beauty pageants are becoming a dangerous culture-war mine field. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your answers sound. All that matters is that you provide the politically correct answer, or your dreams will be blown to smithereens.
Carrie Prejean, Miss California, put her high-heeled shoe on a mine when she was asked a gay-marriage question by the gay-activist judge using the wacky pseudonym "Perez Hilton." If you don’t know who this man is, it only means you don’t care very much about whether Britney Spears wore underwear on her latest outing for the paparazzi. His celebrity-hounding blog is popular enough in Hollywood that movie studios advertise on it.
Of all the bizarre fictions that the media have spread about Barack Obama, the strangest is that’s he non-ideological. The supreme purveyor of this fantasy is Obama himself. During his trip to Tobago to meet with Latin American leaders, the president claimed "we can make progress when we're willing to break free from some of the stale debates and old ideologies." That’s a pretty funny sentence when your foreign policy reeks of Jimmy Carter, fermented since 1977.
In a room stuffed with Marxist crackpots like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Obama came not to lecture, but to charm. America’s just one country among many, and he was "inclined to listen and not just talk." There were no "junior partners" in the Americas, just partners. He came not to defend America, but to calmly hear it trashed, and win people over with his charisma. Obama believes in his charisma far more than he believes in America.
Ever since he left real radio in favor of the satellite kind, Howard Stern and his faded Dirty Old Man strip-club radio act have been invisible. But now, some people are apparently trying to match him on the struggling Sirius/XM radio system. Actor Jamie Foxx has a weekend show called "The Foxxhole." It, too, was virtually invisible – until he unleashed a vicious attack on 16-year-old Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus.
Don Imus was publicly and noisily removed from MSNBC two years ago for his dismissal of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." If you think that was bad, compare it to what Foxx said about Cyrus: He demanded this young girl become a "ho," develop a drug habit and a sexually transmitted disease.
Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: "The End of Christian America." Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. Okay, then let’s compare. How much has Newsweek’s circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state "The End of Newsweek."
At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its "base rate" (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.
Our cosmopolitan elites have embraced the smutty Fox cartoon "Family Guy." A month ago, oh-so-sophisticated National Public Radio used their parody song "Everybody Poops" to report on Julius Genachowski, the incoming chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Perhaps it was NPR’s way of welcoming in an Obama appointee who everyone expects will "lighten up" at the FCC and let Hollywood go wild with its "poetic license."
Now it’s ABC’s "Nightline" paying homage to "Family Guy," and in the process, telling us a lot more about "Nightline" than about this stupid show. They presented the show’s lame-brained "mastermind" Seth MacFarlane as a man of incredible talent, even a genius. At the top of their April 6 show, anchor Martin Bashir cooed: "Funny Guy. No topic is too taboo, no subject off limits for this critically acclaimed cartoonist."
Imagine being Laura Bush and turning on the television and watching the absolute deluge of sticky-sweet syrup being poured all over Michelle Obama during her European debut as First Lady. It is as if every TV reporter was handed a pamphlet of talking points, and ordered to compare Mrs. Obama to Jackie Kennedy. NBC’s Dawna Friesen gushed: "Though Harvard-educated Michelle Obama has substance, not just style, and that’s what sets her apart."
Apart from....whom? Unspoken, but unmistakeable, NBC’s saying Michelle has more substance than Laura and more style than Hillary. Everyone expects the press to be polite and gentle with the First Lady, but this is ridiculous. The official "news" media line now is that Michelle is the most smashing and fashionable and intelligent First Lady in recent history, maybe ever.
Friesen’s embarrassing report set the tone early; it began with five seconds of the Frankie Valli song "Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You," as in "You’re just too good to be true." That would describe the press, in love and going way beyond the truth. Apparently, Michelle’s just like Heaven to touch. The media want to hold her so much.
When MTV creates hazardous waste on television, there is no Superfund cleanup program. Worse still, sometimes their toxic programs end up getting recycled by desperate executives eager for a sleazy splash. Fox is the latest network to ooze desperation by trying to take Its hottest program, "American Idol," a huge hit with families, and follow it with "Osbournes Reloaded," a show so vile and lacking in redeeming social value that even Fox affiliates (reaching up to 11 percent of the nation’s viewers) have delayed or refused to air it.
After seeing the promos for the program and looking at the six-minute "sizzle reel" the network sent their way, at least 16 Fox TV stations refused to air the rocker-shockers’ truncated 35-minute "variety" special. An additional 10 Fox stations moved it into late night, as late as 1:35 in the morning. Fox was so concerned it screened the whole special for the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, which sadly decided to stick with sewage in prime time on its 19 affiliates.
It has become almost amusing, watching how the so-called "news" media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Barack Obama’s European trip with the headline "Blame For Downturn Not Fixed on Obama." Of course, what was "fixed" was the poll itself.
They did the usual tricks for a more liberal sample of "public opinion" – they polled on the weekend and oversampled Democrats (36 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican). By themselves, these things are shameless – but expected. And still that wasn’t enough of a slant. Check out the way this question was asked by the Post pollsters.
"How much of the blame do you think [fill in the blank] deserves for the country’s economic situation?" The choices were corporations, banks, consumers, the Bush team, and the Obama administration. There’s a built-in pro-Obama bias in there already: assigning blame to Obama for the current economy when he’s been in office for nine weeks just seems harsh to most people. But just because they (correctly) don’t blame him as the primary cause for our current woes, this doesn’t mean for a second that the public endorses his "solutions," as the Post suggests.
Can a child be accused of child pornography? Could a child then be formally charged and convicted of it? These are the questions raised by the disturbing new trend called "sexting," teenagers sending nude or semi-nude pictures around on their cell phones. In some jurisdictions, prosecutors are playing hardball, threatening that students caught with naughty pictures could face jail time and being registered as sex offenders. At a minimum, prosecutors are demanding a 10-hour rehab program.
Does this offense seem too casual to justify throwing the legal book at children? Consider that it’s undeniable that if Johnny was a day or two over 18 and was sending around these images, he’d be treated as a sicko – with prison time a real possibility.
There’s a huge hole in all of the public discussion about the reimposition of a "Fairness Doctrine" or a return to "localism" on the talk-radio format: What about National Public Radio? Liberals would like to "crush Rush" and his conservative compatriots by demanding each station balance its lineup ideologically. But since when has NPR ever felt any pressure to be balanced, even when a majority of taxpayers being forced to subsidize it are center-right?
Why no Fairness Doctrine attention to NPR? It is because those preaching "fairness" on the radio are hypocrites.
Conservatives argue that the media’s liberal bias drives people to talk radio for an opposing viewpoint. Limbaugh jokes: "I am the balance." But new numbers from NPR suggest its ratings may be nearly as imposing as Limbaugh’s: The cumulative audience for its daily news programs – "Morning Edition" and its evening counterpart, "All Things Considered" – has risen to 20.9 million per week.
Rock stars are rarely controversial for acting like rock stars. A decadent lifestyle of sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse are the expected menu. In our upside-down popular culture, rock stars create controversy only when they advocate an alternative lifestyle – when they wear purity rings and abstain from sex until marriage.
Some dream of being rock stars just for the selfish fantasy of organizing an assembly line of casual sex partners. In the minds of those with no moral brake on their sex drive, rock stars favoring abstinence are wasting a national resource, akin to monks pledging a vow of poverty while living inside a gold mine.
Last September, the Disney-boosted teen rockers known as the Jonas Brothers were a rich target for mockery at the MTV Video Music Awards for their purity rings. The emcee, a British comedian named Russell Brand, sneered that the Jonas Brothers were "a little bit ungrateful because they could have sex with any woman they want. That is like Superman deciding not to fly and go everywhere on a bus." Tee-hee, and all that.
Outrage burst forth from lawmakers in Washington when the story broke that insurance giant AIG still planned to dole out $165 million in bonuses to executives while it teeters near bankruptcy, kept afloat by taxpayers. But the outrage is mostly coming from hypocrites. Just days earlier, President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill with $12.8 billion in self-serving earmarks for legislators during the economic crisis. How can the president and Congress lecture AIG? Don’t the earmarking hogs look like hypocrites?
Liberals dismiss complaints about their drunken spending habits as just a conservative distraction. Why, it’s only a couple percentage points of the omnibus spending bill. So how much of the AIG bailout is for bonuses? The company has benefited from more than $170 billion in government bailout cash, or one dollar out of a thousand. If the earmarks are a tiny distraction, the AIG bonuses are less than insignificant.
But no one’s expecting the media to be consistent in their thinking. The same reporters who yawned past the excesses of the Democrats (and yes, the Republicans) stuffing their budget with pork – now they’re outraged, positively outraged at AIG.
On March 3, President Obama said something remarkably stupid, wrong and politically tone-deaf. Our Obama-loving media either ignored it – or actually quoted it without comment. He claimed "The stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day to day and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong."
The Dow has now fallen more than 50 percent from its peak. Last month, it saw its biggest one-month drop since 1933. Grandpa’s retirement savings just half-vanished over the last few months, and the president is telling him it’s just a meaningless blip. This is not a poll – it’s people’s economic future, or their present. The stock market is in its greatest free-fall since the Great Depression, and the President shrugs his shoulders.
How is it that no one on ABC, CBS, or NBC found it bizarre to compare the Dow Jones index to a mere tracking poll? The answer is that they do, of course – if it were uttered by a Republican. Stop and just think about how they’d have reacted if those words were spoken by Dubya.
***TWO UPDATES, including the response from AP's Ron Fournier, at the end of this post.***
Friday evening the Associated Press (AP) issued an un-bylined story which was nothing more than a stenographic reprint of the latest dishonest Democratic attack on talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.
The Friday story apparently reflected zero research into the charge levied by Brian Wolff, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The AP merely quoted Rush out of context - just as the DCCC had - and then served him up as a piñata for Wolff to pummel.
The AP cites Rush as having said that Congress's current push for socialist health care will "(b)efore it's all over ... be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill." This allowed the AP to serve up Wolff's whacks on Limbaugh; Wolff called Limbaugh's remark "outrageous and reprehensible."
Had the AP done ANY journalistic due diligence, they would have found this January 13 story from Fox News, quoting a spokeswoman for one of the architects of a national health care bill who said that any legislation that emerges would be named after Kennedy.
Lent is a season of sacrifice and repentance. Most commonly, the discussion of Lenten commitments revolves around our obesity problem, sounding like a recommitment to already dissolved New Year's resolutions about a better diet or more exercise. Sometimes, we can sound like we're more focused on Jenny Craig than Jesus Christ.
Christians are supposed to concentrate on denying themselves in some smaller way that resembles the sacrifice of the Savior's death on the cross. This is a part of religion that can easily caricatured by the cultural elite. The search for self-loathing and mortification easily transforms into the psychosis of Silas the albino monk/murderer of "The DaVinci Code."
Just as pizza sales must soar during football season, they probably plummet during Lent. That and sweets and soda - these are the regular Lenten sacrifices at the Bozell household.
But the Catholic bishops of Italy asked their flock for a more contemporary challenge: give up text messaging, social networking websites, and computer games in the weeks before Easter. They're asking believer to put down the iPhones and iPods and give up the hours on Facebook, at least on Fridays. In effect, bishops want believers to come out of their electronic caves and interact in a simpler, more direct way.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal began to offer a Republican response, it became apparent that he would be no match with Barack Obama in the soaring-oratory department. The Republicans really should have tried a gimmick instead. Perhaps Jindal could have simply walked on and said, "Today, the president held what he called a fiscal responsibility summit." He could afford a wide smile at that point, knowing his audience had erupted in laughter.
Honestly, now: Are we quite ready finally to declare the Era of Obama As Fiscally Conservative is over? Last year, Republicans warned that Barack Obama was ultraliberal – a socialist, in fact – but the media handlers typically presented this as a conservative smear. Instead, they painted Obama as an aspiring moderate-Republican deficit reducer. Take New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt last August: "Obama’s aides optimistically insist he will reduce it [the deficit], thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative."
Everyone who enjoys NFL football games knows they’re going to be sitting through an avalanche of those awkward ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs, and ads soaked in sex and violence selling new movies or prime-time TV shows. Despite this barrage, the NFL has managed to show some standards, believe it or not.
They refused a Super Bowl commercial from the website AshleyMadison.com because of its unusual product, a dating service for married people who want to commit adultery – or as they strangely describe it, they enable "married dating." Their slogan is "Life’s short. Have an affair."
But this Home Wreckers Incorporated found a way around the NFL, such as airing local ads during the Super Bowl on NBC-affiliated KPRC in Houston. CEO Noel Biderman boasted in a press release that he ran his new female-targeted commercial because "In Texas, men love their football and women love to cheat!" He also claimed Texas is his company’s fastest growing market with over 200,000 members signed up in the last two years.
We’ve endured two years of endless journalistic jawboning about Barack Obama, the great racial healer who would bind us together, the man who would get everyone singing on a sun-soaked hilltop with a bottle of Coke and a smile. So now that he’s in, what have he got? We have Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder telling us how Americans remain "voluntarily socially segregated," and that while we have the foolish pride to think of the United States as an ethnic melting pot, we have always been and continue to be a "nation of cowards."
Whether you support him politically or not, Obama’s election could not help but cause Americans to grow more positive about the state of American race relations. ABC News polls showed the number of Americans saying racism is a "big problem" dropped by more than half, from 54 percent in 1996 to 26 percent now. It was down sharply among blacks and whites alike. Not only that, 58 percent guessed Obama’s presidency would improve race relations. How does the Obama administration react? We are a "nation of cowards."
The dictionary defines prejudice as premature judgment: making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event. Some forms of prejudice are fading, racism being the primary and obvious example. The backlash against prejudice is so intense it has spurred its opposite, the call toward tolerance.
But for one sector, the prejudice remains intact. It is perfectly acceptable to spew intolerance against Christians in general and Catholics in particular. But the bonanza of prejudice is reserved for Catholic priests.
In our sex-drenched society, the idea of a single man taking an oath of lifelong celibacy sounds sacrificial to the point of freakish. The world says abstinence is impossible, and pledging abstinence is ridiculous. So when the crisis over child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church erupted, it didn’t matter that a tiny minority of unfaithful priests (and their supervisors) had betrayed the faithful. Hollywood and other champions of unbridled lust broke out the prejudice, smearing all Catholic priests as stunted at best, and predatory at worst.
As the Democrat-dominated House and Senate thoughtfully passed judgment on a 1,100-page "stimulus" bill that Sen. Frank Lautenberg admitted no one would read before the vote, the media elite were positively giddy. On the "NewsHour" on PBS, liberal analyst Mark Shields proclaimed "I think it’s a monstrous success" for President Obama. That’s correct, with an emphasis on the "monstrous."
Our news media have insisted on playing the White House soundtrack on this battle, to wit: the "stimulus" is vitally necessary, and by opposing it, Republicans are risking being flattened by the Great Obama Steamroller. A partisan victory is okay, but they’d much rather the vote for Obama’s plans be unanimous.
Why, as Newsweek’s cover proclaimed, "We’re All Socialists Now." Inside, Newsweek’s uber-elitist editor Jon Meacham scolded Sean Hannity and Rep. Mike Pence for stooping to call this Congressional pork-wagon "the European Socialist Act of 2009." Using the S-word in a negative context threatens to doom America to a "fractious and unedifying debate."