"[I]t’s important to remember that [Pete] Seeger, once an avowed Stalinist, was a political singer devoted to a sinister political system--a position he held long after the Soviet experiment drenched itself in blood and collapsed in ignominy."
With lines like that, the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan might find himself crossed off a few Christmas card lists and curiously uninvited to some cocktail parties. And yet, things like that must be said. Kudos to Moynihan for recounting these inconvenient truths in "The Death of 'Stalin's Songbird'":
It’s hard to imagine, but for many years, conservatives and Republicans were rather common in Hollywood. Exploring that history is worth doing not just because it is informative but also because it illustrates that there is no good reason that people on the Right could not have a bigger presence in that industry today.
Arizona State University professor Donald Critchlow has done an important service in this regard with his new book When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. I had the pleasure recently of speaking with him about his work, the transcript of which follows this introduction.
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a "war on poverty." Today, with roughly the same number of people below the poverty level as in 1964 and with many addicted to government "benefits," robbing them of a work ethic, it is clear that the poor have mostly lost the war.
In 1964, the poverty rate was about 19 percent. Census data from 2010 indicates that 15.1 percent are in poverty within a much larger population.
Slate published an enlightening piece on Wednesday in which journalist and author David Skinner revealed the true origin of the term “redskin,” which many liberal journalists have been crusading for NFL owner Dan Snyder to disavow.
According to Skinner, the word originated with Native Americans as a self-descriptive term. He explained:
On the “Free For All” page in Saturday’s Washington Post devoted to letters to the editor, three locals smacked the Post for failing to note the 72nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7.
None of the letters as printed made the point that the Post has “flooded the zone” with lots of coverage and special sections this year for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and then the JFK assassination. So what about the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 2011? What did that draw?
On Friday's edition of The Diane Rehm Show that's broadcast on many NPR stations from Washington, the host mangled her presidential history, but her guests and producers all humored her, like you might humor a nice lady who's 77. No one suggested a gold watch and an open space for a younger NPR liberal behind the mic.
As Rehm and a crew of reporters aerobically compared Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela, Rehm claimed Reagan was president in 1979 when she first took the microphone at WAMU-FM in Washington and he didn't want the U.S. involved in any anti-apartheid activities (video below):
At the Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan attempted to overcome the tendency of journalists and celebrities to make Nelson Mandela a secular saint. Moynihan recalled that when Margaret Thatcher died, these same people denounced her for here "indulgence" of right-wing dictators like Agosto Pinochet in Chile, who allowed his country to become a democracy.
ABC called her reign an “elective dictatorship.” NBC reported several times that “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” became a popular iTune after she passed away, and CBS predicted the funeral would be a "tense and controversial affair." It's safe to guess these networks wouldn't dream of recalling Mandela’s associations with despots like Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi, as Moynihan insisted they should:
With the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday, it was a metaphysical certainty that the media would draw parallels between the legendary South African leader and Barack Obama. So it was not a surprise when it happened during a tribute package at the beginning of Friday’s Morning Joe.
As triumphant footage of Mandela rolled on the screen, co-host Mika Brzezinski read a scripted narrative: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago by a Communist sympathizer, yet Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC ran a package that emphasized right-wing hate in Dallas while failing to mention Lee Harvey Oswald or his ideological leanings. The package, narrated by Brian Shactman, focused on the “unspoken speech” that President Kennedy was planning to give on the day he was shot.
Shactman just couldn’t help but mention those hateful right-wingers: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On the front of Tuesday's Style section of The Washington Post is an article titled "Hallowed ground, restored to its roots." The Post assigned gardening writer Adrian Higgins, who wrote of an "elaborate celebration of the 150th anniversary of the president's original remarks" at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. But nowhere in the 25-paragraph story about clearing the landscape is there any notion that Barack Obama, who has routinely compared himself to Lincoln, refused to attend.
George Condon of National Journal was the latest to report on the snub: "Instead of going to Gettysburg, he will go to the Four Seasons Hotel to address The Wall Street Journal CEO Council's annual meeting and talk about the economy. In his place, he has dispatched little-known Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to the ceremonies." Spokesman Jay Carney offered nothing to reporters:
It’s good to see the left finally upset about treasonous threats to the United States. Never really able to get worked up about communist spies, domestic terrorists or radical mosques, lefties – at least the ones at MSNBC – are sounding the alarm over … The Confederacy.
Everywhere the hosts and guests of MSNBC look they see gray and butternut – secessionists and white supremacists, wild-eyed states’ rights absolutists and grim Confederate holdouts plotting to dissolve the Union. Driven by racism and distrust of Washington, they form a “confederacy of hate.”
Lee Harvey Oswald was far-left defector to the Soviet Union, but you’d never know that from Sunday’s ABC This Week which focused on Dallas as a cauldron of segregationist hate for President Kennedy without any mention of the political orientation of the actual assassin.
Using Dan Rather as his expert, ex-CBS and current ABC reporter Byron Pitts perpetuated the myth that right-wing hate was somehow responsible for what occurred in Dallas: “Nowhere in Texas did the jagged edge of segregation cut deeper, anti-Kennedy sentiment spew any stronger. This flyer [“Wanted for Treason”] greeted the President when he arrived.”
Corrected from earlier (see below) | Three famous men died on Nov. 22, 1963. The one getting the most attention, understandably, is John F. Kennedy. Less so the other two: Aldous Huxley, author of the futuristic novel "Brave New World," and Clive Staples Lewis.
Of the three, it was Lewis who not only was the most influential of his time, but whose reach extends to these times and likely beyond. His many books continue to sell and the number of people whose lives have been changed by his writing expands each year.
CBS wouldn’t invite Dan Rather to remember the JFK assassination for its 2013 anniversary coverage. “No loss,” said former CBS producer Michael Rosenblum in a guest column at The Hollywood Reporter. Rosenblum was Robert Pierpoint’s producer at “Sunday Morning.”
“As Rather was not invited to participate in the 50th anniversary, Bob Pierpoint was not invited to participate in the 25th anniversary,” despite being at the center of the story that dark day in Dallas for CBS. Someone sitting in the anchor chair in 1988 was an egotistical jerk, brushing his colleague out of CBS history's frame.
Washington Post Magazine humorist Gene Weingarten is a fairly routine basher of conservatives, but when he brings in his feminist friend Gina Barreca, he can end up looking like some kind of Giuliani moderate. Last year, Weingarten brought in Barreca to trash Mitt Romney after the election as a woman-hater, a "terrible, terrible date."
At the start of his "Chatological Humor" webchat last week, Weingarten brought in Barreca to trash an article by Emily Yoffe on Slate.com that suggested women should avoid getting drunk at frat parties The jaw drops at how this somehow brought Barreca to declare that frat parties are somehow the segregationist drugstore lunch-counters of the modern age. What? Yes (Emphasis mine):
Craig Shirley, author of several large tomes on Ronald Reagan's political history, is merciless on Real Clear Politics toward MSNBC star Chris Matthews and his new book on "Tip and the Gipper."
This isn't a book about Reagan or Tip O'Neill, he writes. "It is the history of Chris Matthews before he became the Chris Matthews we see on cable television today. It falls into the category of micro personal history, but is so elfin as to be inconsequential." You can't find Matthews even mentioned in the index of Tip O'Neill's memoir, he reports.
Chris Matthews was deeply satisfied by the New York Times publishing an op-ed Wednesday they titled "The Cry of the True Republican" by John G. Taft, a descendent of our fattest president, William Howard Taft. "The body blows to the Republican Party just keep on coming," Matthews announced on Wednesday night's "Hardball."
This "stalwart Republican" suddenly sounds like a Xerox copier of the half-witticisms of Chris Matthews, as if Matthews was quoting himself on the air: "There is more than a passing similarity between Joseph McCarthy and Ted Cruz, between McCarthyism and the Tea Party movement." This is not the same John G. Taft as the guy who wrote for Forbes just last December that our spending addiction needed fixing:
George Will’s column on Thursday recounted the end of liberalism in how The New York Times began blaming John F. Kennedy’s assassination on the “far right,” in complete denial that Oswald was a communist. James Reston wrote in a front-page story that Kennedy was a victim of a “streak of violence in the American character,” noting especially “the violence of the extremists on the right.”
That attempt to deny reality is still happening. On Wednesday night’s All Things Considered, NPR put on Bush-bashing author Bill Minutaglio, who strenuously tries in a new book to blame the “far right” in Dallas for somehow manipulating Lee Harvey Oswald’s crime:
“After the President vetoed several spending bills, not one story blamed him for the shutdown, but nearly two dozen declared the GOP culpable. Furloughed workers and other ‘victims’ were featured in half the stories.” Sound familiar? That’s from a 1996 Media Research Center study on the battle between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Yes, the current shutdown showdown is deja vu all over again in who gets blamed.
To help illustrate the very familiar media tone and approach, I’ve put three clips together out of the MRC archive, starting with Bob Schieffer anchoring the Saturday, December 16, 1995 CBS Evening News: “Well, they’ve done it again. Nine days from Christmas, Republicans have forced another partial shutdown of the government because they cannot come to an agreement with the White House on how to balance the budget.”
TV Newser reported NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is the 2013 recipient of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. “From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Arab Spring and the West Bank, Richard Engel’s courage and integrity inform his reporting,” said Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School and a former editor of The Washington Post.
This is almost poetic: Engel routinely bad-mouthed U.S. wars in the Bush years, and as an NBC commentator after during the first Gulf War, Chancellor infamously announced in 1992 that it was “embarrassing” that more Americans didn’t die from Iraqi fire:
On Monday’s edition of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, fake conservative Stephen Colbert mocked the “fan-fiction foreign policy” of Reagan admirers. He ran clips of Bill O’Reilly telling James Carville that Reagan would have gone to war in Syria, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen saying Reagan "would stand up to this...he would say chemical use was unacceptable."
Then Colbert claimed Reagan “looked the other way when Saddam gassed his own Kurdish citizens.” Wrong. Get out the Pinocchios. It's true Reagan didn’t go to war in Iraq -- if you want to call that "looking the other way" -- but Reagan did denounce the gassing of the Kurds in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1988. Colbert doesn't care about accuracy. He just wants to mock his "fellow" conservatives:
AMSTERDAM -- On the day I visit the Anne Frank House, which is actually the family's hiding place atop Anne's father's business, the wait to get in is as long as three hours. Such is the attraction of this historic site, 53 years after it was opened to the public.
Anne and her family were among an estimated 107,000 Jews deported to concentration camps from The Netherlands during the German occupation in World War II.
Being about a week away from Independence Day, I was doing a little reflecting upon the history surrounding the Declaration of Independence. And I thought it would be of equal interest to many of my readers to look at some often-overlooked aspects of the declaration's production and legacy.
Several historical websites hold some fascinating facts about this national treasure — including the National Archives and Records Administration's site, at http://www.archives.gov. In addition, on History's website, the article "9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence," by Elizabeth Harrison, has some intriguing notes. Let me elaborate on some of those and convey a few others I've discovered.
The overwhelming dominance that liberal statists have over the media today is one of the biggest obstacles faced by advocates of smaller government. Invariably whenever people try to make reforms to existing systems or eliminate waste, their intentions get distorted and lied about and the reformers’ motives get impugned.
Things were not always this way, however. It was not so long ago, in fact, that many large newspapers in this country were owned and operated by right-leaning individuals. Even many of the self-described “progressives” actually also believed in balanced budgets.
PBS has announced its new fall schedule, and it unfolds like a reinforced liberal stereotype. It includes a "landmark" six-hour series on Latino-American history narrated by Benjamin Bratt, and a six-hour series on African-American history narrated by Henry Louis “Beer Summit” Gates, from America's colonial period "up to the present day — when America has a black president yet remains a nation divided by race."
The liberal network will air a “Great Performances” special titled “Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn,” and, of course, to mark the 50th anniversary of the dark day in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot and killed, PBS is planning hours and hours of JFK specials:
The Arts section of Sunday’s Washington Post was dominated by articles analyzing the cultural importance of the Ballet Russes and its role in European modernism. For Post dance critic Sarah Kaufman, it represented “The ascent of men, the haven for gays.”
This ballet troupe was a “tremendous force in modern art and modern mores” all the way back in the 1920s, as the focus on male dancers and the ballet's sexual sensibility could represent “one big orgy” or “a living wet dream”:
In 1787, when delegates at the Constitutional Convention were divided and at an impasse regarding how to build our government and frame the U.S. Constitution, 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin appealed to the other delegates to pray for divine intervention to help them out of their darkness:
The legendary British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died, and the national media tried to pay their respects, not only for breaking Britain’s “glass ceiling” with a “bruising” political style, but for transforming Britain and helping wind down the Cold War.
Still, Thatcher was a conservative and one of Ronald Reagan’s staunchest friends in the world, so you can be sure these journalists were Thatcher-bashers when she was in power. Some of them were American anchors and reporters.