On Monday's Campbell Brown program, CNN's Soledad O'Brien presented a one-sided report about a lesbian teenager in Mississippi whose senior portrait was left out of her school's yearbook because she chose to have it taken in a tux, defying the school's rules. O'Brien commiserated with the teen, asking her at one point, "I want people to understand because other people will say- oh, for God's sake, it's just a picture. So explain to us, what does it feel like to not be where you're supposed to be?"
Anchor John Roberts introduced the special correspondent's near the end of the 8 pm Eastern hour by trying to make a tenuous connection between the report and the continuing major news of the Gulf oil leak: "All eyes are on Gulfport, Mississippi this morning as the President arrived for the first leg of his three-state tour, but about 150 miles north of the Gulf, in a small town called Wesson, the big news this season was all about the high school yearbook. It was here that a teenager's senior picture triggered an unexpected backlash, and sparked outrage throughout the state."
O'Brien sympathized with Ceara Sturgis, the teen from Wesson, Mississippi, from the start of her report: "For 18-year-old senior Ceara Sturgis, her high school yearbook is more than a collection of memories. It's about her struggle to be who she is in tiny Wesson, Mississippi, population about 2,000." After asking the lesbian to describe herself ("18 years old and I'm gay. I don't like people to push me around, especially when I have the right, and I don't give up."), the correspondent continued that "what she didn't give up on was her fight to get this picture in her yearbook, a picture she took wearing a tuxedo instead of the traditional dress, called a drape."
A speaker leads students in a creepy chant of "I am an Obama Scholar!" at Lincoln Bassett Middle School in New Haven, Connecticut. The chant is part of an educational program called the "Obama Initiative."
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is "missing the target when it comes to whose interests he's really looking out for" but "then again, that's nothing new for us, is it," MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan complained in the "Busted" segment of today's program.
Ratigan lamented that McDonnell stripped out the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) as an alternative organization that Old Dominion educators could select for gun safety instruction for elementary school students. As it stands now, the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle" program is the only option public school teachers have under state law.
Perhaps Ratigan is unaware that the Eddie Eagle program "neither offers nor asks for any value judgment concerning firearms," it merely instructs children in four simple steps about what to do should they come across a gun: "Stop. Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult."
By contrast, the NCPC has ideologically-colored aims in some of its gun safety materials for grade schoolers. Take this lesson plan for fourth and fifth graders, for example (emphasis mine), which uses the assassinations of Lincoln, Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. as tokens to advance a loathing of guns themselves:
In Wednesday's "Bill Puts Scrutiny on Detainees' Lawyers," New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage sank his teeth into a Republican proposal that would crack down on lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees suspected of taking actions to harm the military.
A provision tucked into a defense bill before Congress would direct the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate any suspected misconduct by lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees, opening a new chapter in a recurrent political controversy over legal ethics and the representation of terrorism suspects. .... The provision would require the Pentagon inspector general to investigate instances in which there was "reasonable suspicion" that lawyers for detainees violated a Pentagon policy, generated "any material risk" to a member of the armed forces, violated a law under the inspector general's exclusive jurisdiction, or otherwise "interfered with the operations" of the military prison at Guantánamo. .... In introducing the proposal last week, Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida, focused on the John Adams Project, a joint enterprise of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It provides research and legal assistance to the uniformed lawyers defending detainees who are facing prosecution before a military commission.
Mr. Miller characterized the John Adams Project as a "treacherous enterprise," referring to accusations that its researchers took pictures of interrogators and gave them to military defense lawyers, who in turn showed them to detainees.
The lawyers have defended the legality and propriety of their efforts. They contend that the detainees were illegally tortured in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency, and they want to raise that issue at trial. To do so, they need to identify potential witnesses to the interrogation sessions.
So far unobjectionable, though we could have learned more about those photographs: Were researchers trying to make targets out of interrogators?
But Savage went off the rails in the last two paragraphs:
On Tuesday’s Joy Behar Show, HLN host Behar again suggested that an activity by the state of Arizona could be compared to Nazi Germany, as she discussed plans by the state’s education department to stiffen English-speaking requirements for teachers. Introducing the subject with comedians Mo Rocca and Colin Quinn, after taking a shot at former President Bush’s speaking skills, she asked does the requirement "remind you of any country, 1940ish?" Behar:
The Arizona Department of Education is cracking down on teachers with thick accents or who make grammatical errors when speaking. Well, there goes Snooki`s shot at teaching Algebra in Phoenix. Okay, and what about George Bush and his grammatical errors all those years? They are getting rid of teachers because they have accents in Arizona. Remind you of any country, 1940ish?
Over the past several weeks, during debates over Arizona’s attempt to enforce laws similar to federal immigration laws, Behar has repeatedly made direct and indirect references to Nazi Germany both on the Joy Behar Show and on ABC’s The View to disparage the Arizona law.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, May 25, Joy Behar Show on HLN:
MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday attacked new standards being adopted for history textbooks in Texas as "odd" and mocked that the state would now be teaching "education by Wikipedia." Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune appeared as a guest and fretted that the school board includes "a conservative, arch conservative bloc."
Todd recounted the changes being made to the curriculum, including "the idea that our Founding Fathers may not have intended a separation of church and state...how government taxation and regulation can serve as restrictions to private enterprise."
Todd derided the story, saying, "...The more you look into it, the odder it gets." He noted that the rise of the conservatism in the '80s would be highlighted and later marveled, "So, is this, essentially, education by Wikipedia? I mean, because, Wikipedia is...when a majority, it seems, accept what the version of a story that might have happened?" [Audio available here.]
CNN did its part to perpetuate the liberal talking point about Arizona's supposedly racist campaign against illegal immigrants by airing a report three times on Monday that spun the state's standards for English teachers as an "accent ban" or "crackdown." Anchor Kyra Phillips even opined that it was "just wrong to judge a teacher by his or her accent as to judge on their hair or skin color."
The network's American Morning program first aired correspondent Thelma Gutierrez's report 27 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour. Three minutes earlier, anchor John Roberts previewed the upcoming segment by noting that "some schools in Arizona [are] cracking down on English teachers who have accents." Roberts then introduced Gutierrez's report, stating that "state education officials want immigrant teachers with heavy accents removed from classes for students who are still learning English. They say they're simply following federal guidelines that were set up by the Bush administration back in 2002. But critics are calling it an ethnic witch hunt."
The "guidelines...set up by the Bush administration" line by Roberts was actually a reference to the No Child Left Behind law which passed with bipartisan support in Congress in 2001, and signed into law by then-President Bush in January 2002. Gutierrez mentioned this during her report as she introduced the Arizona state education official defending his state's guidelines: "State School Superintendent Tom Horne says, as part of No Child Left Behind, he's been monitoring ELL teachers for bad grammar and mispronounced words for the past eight years." But instead of mentioning this detail, the CNN anchor labeled it as being from the Bush administration.
Probably no more than Janet Napolitano or Eric Holder has read the new Arizona SB1070. Ann Althouse has described the Washington Post's dereliction of duty in its description of the Texas curriculum. The AP articles are no better.
In twoarticles over the last two weeks, the AP has written the following (sometimes more than once) about the new Texas curriculum:
A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education gained a giant step forward Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade. (Emphasis added. Nothing like setting the tone up front.)
Teachers in Texas will probably be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers — but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.
Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than as "democratic."
The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards that minimize the separation of church and state and say that America is not a democracy but a "constitutional republic."
Really? The second point is ludicrous to describe as "controversial." The U.S. system of government is not direct democracy but a representative republic regulated by a constitution, hence a "constitutional republic." As to the first allegation in Birnbaum's lead paragraph, this writer did some homework and found the actual text of the newly-approved standard in question, which applies to government courses:
Examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed its free exercise by saying that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and compare and contrast this to the phrase “separation of church and state.”
The notion that that standard "minimize[s]" the notion of "separation of church and state" must be read into the text of the actual newly-approved standard, it certainly isn't logically concluded from it.
Later in the article, Birnbaum insisted that "the new standards... draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis's and Abraham Lincoln's inaugural addresses." Here's the actual language of the newly devised standard:
ABC and NBC rushed to get stories onto the air Friday night delivering left-wing talking points against the new social studies curriculum guidelines passed by the Texas State Board of Education, as both portrayed conservative Christians as the enemies of accurate history. Reality wasn’t good enough for ABC, which framed its lead story around “Rewriting History?” and saw no liberals in the “big controversy,” yet also tried to discredit the conservatives by highlighting “some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to do.”
ABC’s Dan Harris fretted “the new standards require that textbooks mention pillars of the conservative movement, like the Moral Majority the National Rifle Association, and the Contract with America with no liberal counter balance.” Harris, acting as more of a prosecutor than a journalist, then ran archived clips of him demanding from board chairman Don McLeroy:
- What do you say to people who say that you are, in essence, imposing your political and religious views on school children?
- If the Founding Fathers really wanted this to be a Christian nation, why is there no mention of Christianity or Jesus in the Constitution?
Instead of citing any other examples of awful new guidelines, Harris went to ones not added: “Here are some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to do: Have the President called by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which some called an attempt to raise questions about his faith, and even rename the slave trade as the Atlantic Triangular Trade.”
It would not surprise me if the Associated Press's April Castro has spent the last 10 weeks gritting her teeth non-stop.
In March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), she was clearly peeved at the Texas State Board of Education. In a supposedly objective news story entitled "Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences," she decried a "faction" (actually a nearly two-thirds majority) of Board members for "injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons."
I will take that as an admission that such ideals have previously been absent or barely present.
Friday, non-appreciative April was tasked with covering the Board's final adoption vote that ratified proposed curriculum changes. If we are to believe her (I know, that's dangerous), improvements (my word, certainly not hers) in the meantime appear to have been strengthened the reality basis, if you will, of the curriculum.
Here are the first five paragraphs of Ms. Castro's report (link is dynamic and subject to change). There are lots of errors in those paragraphs alone; readers are invited to see if they can catch the big cahuna:
In Missouri, a high school student was assigned Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko" to analyze for 50% of her grade in her senior Literature and Composition class. Perhaps more shocking is that the teacher who assigned the movie also denounced the same student in front of the class as a "teabagger".
A California middle school and state university both apparently find extreme environmentalist indoctrination to be worthy of expending taxpayer dollars. Jehue Middle School and California State University at San Bernardio were both involved in the making and promotion of a video called "Environmental Police Agency" which features middle schoolers going around tackling and arresting "non-environmentalists" for crimes like having a refrigerator, leaving computer screens on, and throwing away a soda can. At the end they caution that drastic times call for drastic measures so we should institute this kind of green police state to save the world.
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN's Kyra Phillips hinted that racists only come in a shade of white when she highlighted how "there's still racism in this country- KKK members, white supremacists, and less radical racists." Phillips, commenting on the controversy over a recent blacks-only field trip at a Michigan school, later expressed her approval that the segregated field trip program was being suspended.
The CNN anchor gave a commentary on the controversy after playing a report from the network's Michigan affiliate on the issue 52 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour. Phillips emphasized that "white kids need black role models, too. Why? Because, let's face it, there's still racism in this country- KKK members, white supremacists, and less radical racists raising kids, and the Internet with all kinds of racist poison out there. Kids might believe that stuff unless they're challenged not to- see it debunked right before their eyes." She continued that "role models come in all colors, all genders- all professions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. So I'm glad to hear that now that the school program in Michigan is being suspended, so school officials can tweak it and make it more inclusive. Good thing, because the segregated field trip might have violated Michigan law."
Just a week after the last time a California school told its students that the American flag was somehow racist, another California school repeated the lesson. This time a middle school student was taught that drawing an American flag was wrong. However, drawing a picture of President Obama was apparently praise worthy:
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
A recent article from CBS Healthwatch contributor Kelli Stacy revealed new findings from a study done by University of Kentucky researchers indicating that less than 20 percent of young adults believe "Oral contract with partner's genitals" constitutes "sex."
In 1991 a similar survey found that approximately 40 percent of young adults considered oral sex as "sex," Stacy noted. Researchers attribute the shift in sex-conceptualization to the Monica Lewinsky affair.
"Researchers point to former President Clinton's infamous statement, ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman,' as the pivotal turning point in society's changing views about oral sex," Stacy said. "The attitude shift has been dubbed the ‘Clinton-Lewinsky' effect."
Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, has moved on from the health care debate and found a new oppressed, downtrodden minority: student loan recipients. And naturally, the Huffington Post was happy to afford "the Reverend" a platform for his activism.
"A plan to earn debt forgiveness retroactively must be instituted at once as an acknowledgment that an entire generation is mired in tens of thousands of dollars in student debt," Jackson wrote. "Not every one of them will be able to write a blockbuster memoir to pay off student loans."
Although the federal government's latest takeover in student loans by "cutting out the middleman" pleased Jackson, he called on the Obama administration to take more drastic steps in today's "Second Great Depression."
"Students need more than good intentions," Jackson said. "They need a guarantee that the savings realized by cutting out the banks and Sallie Mae go mostly to them. There are lots of hands out for the income that direct student lending will generate. Some of it will go to subsidize universal access to health care. But most of it should go to students themselves," Jackson opined.
Burdened under a mountain of student debt? CNN has the answer - dedicate ten or so of your prime years to social work. Better yet, join the AmeriCorps.
Doing her best to channel Obama's inspiring Notre Dame address about shunning immoral endeavors in the private sector for virtuous and selfless community endeavors, Stephanie Elam sounded more like a Public Works Czar than a CNN correspondent on April 6.
"This is really about helping those people out, getting them ready as far as the choice for best course of study for the financial future," Elam said on CNN "Newsroom." "So you may consider the possibility of enlisting in public service. Demand is really high right now for government jobs ... and any remaining debt on federal student loans will be forgiven after you work full-time in public service for ten years."
The student newspaper of Katie Couric's alma mater was silent today about an incident of vandalism Thursday night or early Friday morning against a local Republican Party office, even though the same paper devoted a front-page story on Friday to a severed propane line believed to have been an act of vandalism targeting the Democratic congressman who represents Charlottesville, Va.
April Castro and the headline writers at the supposedly "objective" Associated Press are obviously not pleased with changes the Texas State Board of Education made to the Lone Star State's social studies curriculum.
Castro's report (HT to an NB e-mailer) makes almost no attempt to hide her clear disdain. She includes references to a "far-right faction" (a "faction" that happened to constitute a two-thirds majority!) and "ultraconservatives," while uniformly describing leftists as mere Democrats, and generally comes across as a sore loser in solidarity with the poor, outvoted libs.
You'll also see in the excerpt that follows that the story's headline is disgracefully over the top:
New York Times reporter James McKinley Jr. was in Austin to cover a controversy over school curriculum in Texas, with conservatives on the state Board of Education trying to soften the liberal tone of the state's textbooks and include more records of conservative accomplishments. His Thursday story, "Texas Conservatives Seek Deeper Stamp on Texts," was positively sodden with "conservative" labels, yet he managed to ignore a radical leftist group featured in an accompanying photo.
The article included two photos accompanied by a caption (including the one above, by Jack Plunkett of Associated Press): "Diana Gomez, center, and Garrett Mize, right, and other University of Texas students rallied against conservatives at a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Austin, Tex. The board's chairman, Gail Lowe, left, is one of the conservatives."
Though McKinley was sufficiently attuned to get the names of Gomez and Mize, he didn't bother to identify the group they were involved with, even thought a close look at the sign Gomez was holding makes it obvious. In the bottom right corner was the phrase "MEChA." As in the "Chicano" nationalist movement MEChA, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, translates as the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.
"The Washington Post covers government agencies as closely as any daily newspaper. Yet an investor would have had to scroll through the Washington Post Co.'s (WPO) 10-K filing last week to see news of a Department of Education inquiry into its important education unit," Michael Santoli and Bill Alpert wrote for Barron's. "The Post's education business, anchored by the Kaplan for-profit college and test-prep businesses, contributed 58% of 2009's revenue and all of its $195 million of operating income."
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has caused students across the Old Dominion to "rise up for gay rights,"* reporters Daniel de Vise and Rosalind Helderman insisted on the March 9 Metro section front page of the Washington Post.
Helderman and de Vise failed to consider the liberal leanings of the protesters, tagging the demonstrators in the lead paragraph as mere "campus activists" who are steamed over the state AG's "letter advising public universities to retreat from their policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orienation." A few paragraphs later, Helderman and de Vise suggested that an "erosion in gay rights at state universities" would have detrimental effects on attracting and retaining students and faculty.
The problem is, Cuccinelli's legal opinion does not mandate a "retreat" from discrimination, he just noted that under Virginia law, any change in non-discrimination policy wording must be authorized by legislation.
Teachers at a failing Rhode Island high school refused to work another 25 minutes a day in order to turnaround the school’s 48% graduation rate. So the school board fired them all.
The teachers at Central Falls High School already earn over $70,000 a year, compared to a median home income of $22,000 a year for area residents, but their union balked at offers of $30 an hour for extra work, demanding $90 an hour.
You would think that this information might be relevant for an article about the situation, but instead of reporting the facts behind the union’s negotiations, the New York Times whitewashed key details and selectively quoted people sympathetic to the union.
"[T]here's more energy in the atmosphere and this is stirring things up," Nye said. "If you want to get serious about it, these guys claiming that the snow in Washington disproves climate change are almost unpatriotic. It's really, they're denying science. So they're very happy to have the weather forecast be accurate within a few hours, but they're displeased or un-enchanted by predictions of the world getting warmer. It's really, it shakes me up."
CNN's Jack Cafferty, during a commentary on Tuesday's Situation Room, fairly presented the results of recent "landmark" study which indicates abstinence-only sex education has better results than "safe sex" classes in preventing teenagers from having sex : "This just in: abstinence-only sex education might just work... [The] study...could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancy rates, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases."
Cafferty devoted his commentary 14 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour to the study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine on Monday. After noting the results, that only "33 percent of sixth and seventh graders who took an abstinence-only program began having sex within two years," compared to "52 percent who were taught only about safe sex...[and] 42 percent who learned about both safe sex and abstinence," the commentator disclosed the Obama administration's decision to roll back funding of such abstinence studies. He continued by reporting the reactions from both sides of the sex ed debate: "Some call the abstinence research ‘game-changing,’ that it comes after years of getting a bad rap. But critics though say the curriculum in this study isn’t a good example of abstinence-only programs. They say the class studied didn’t take a moral tone. It encouraged teens to wait to have sex until they’re ready, not until they’re married; and it didn’t disapprove of condom use."
On Saturday, NB's Noel Sheppard reported on this statement made by Education Secretary Arne Duncan: "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster. It took hurricane Katrina to wake up the community and say we have to do better."
CNN host T.J. Holmes read that quote aloud during a broadcast. "Of course I agree" with Duncan's statement, said one guest, CNN contributor Steve Perry. The host and correspondents went back and forth about how the hurricane may or may not have helped public schools, never once impugning Duncan's motives.
Contrast this media response with the response to former Republican Congressman from Louisiana Richard Baker's statement regarding Katrina: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." It sparked outrage among the liberal media (h/t NRO's John Miller).
Driving through Chick-fil-A to get a kid’s meal for my daughter today, the "toy" that came with the chicken nuggets was a CD-Rom from the public-TV kids’ show Between the Lions. The logos for Boston PBS superstation WGBH and Mississippi Public Broadcasting were right on the CD case.
This underlines how blurry the line is between public television and private-sector merchandising. On Thursday, Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes reported from Pasadena that "PBS President Paula Kerger opened her Q&A at Winter TV Press Tour 2010 by blasting commercial broadcasters" for failing to educate children.
DeMoraes was skeptical enough to include how the PBS boss actually faced challenging questions from a troublesome "critic" on the incessant merchandising of public-broadcasting kids’ shows like Sesame Street (once estimated by the Licensing Letter to offer 1,000 licensed products.) This is terrific:
There has been a substantial push lately by some of Hollywood's big names to reeducate Americans on world history. The leftist-dominated television and film industries have taken it upon themselves to promote histories of the United States and its role in the world that portrays it as an evil, occasionally colonial, always destructive force in global relations.
The latest such effort is being undertaken by director Oliver Stone, well known for his loving portrayal of Venezuela's Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez and derisive portrayal of our previous president in "W". Now Stone has set his sights on Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. He plans to "liberalize" America's thinking regarding two of the 20th century's most murderous dictators by putting them "in context", whatever that means (h/t Hot Air headlines).
"We can't judge people as only bad or good," Stone said at the Television Critics Association's press tour, referring to two dictators who--unless this writer's understanding of history is not sufficiently "liberalized"--are responsible, in Hitler's case, for the extermination of 6 million Jews and 3 million others in killing camps during World War II, and in Stalin's, for the murders of 20 million individuals in Russia and Soviet-occupied Europe.
It seems, Stone's claims notwithstanding, that one is historically justified in classifying these two particular dictators as "bad".