Archive for the ‘cnn’ tag
In December 2006, Christopher Hitchens wrote a column with the above headline in quotes, which included a sub-headline reading, “The pernicious effects of banning words.” He went on to describe a short-lived interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, in which he explained the evolution of the word “stupid” as it relates to politics, noting that John Stuart Mill once referred to the Tories as “generally stupid.” I couldn’t locate a reference to a quote from Mill that actually used these three words in this sequence — ”the stupid party” — so I’m not sure if Hitchens was paraphrasing or referring to an actual quote in some dusty volume.
In any case, the moniker apparently stuck, since eventually, the Tories actually began referring to their party in this way. The late Hitchens has proven himself prophetic beyond his years in this regard since in November 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal challenged the prevailing anti-intellectualism that had run amok in his own party:
“… Stop being the stupid party. … It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that. It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.
Near the end of his explanation on MSNBC, Hitchens sucked the air right out of the room when he dared suggest that the word “stupid” may have taken a similar evolutionary journey as other words like “nigger” and “queer,” “and I might have added faggot,” Hitchens informs us in parenthesis. For this insult to the sensibilities of the MSNBC staff, he was quickly hurried off camera and told that the interview was “extremely over.” Taking the case of the former word, he said that while white people have not been afforded the ability to use the word, “nigger,” in any context whatever, however benign, and must always defer to the cowardly N-word, black folks have turned the discriminatory and racist undertones of the word on its head:
If white people call black people niggers, they are doing their very best to hurt and insult them, as well as to remind them that their ancestors used to be property. If black people use the word, they are either uttering an obscenity or trying to detoxify a word and rob it of its power to wound them. Not quite the same thing.
Note the distinction that Hitchens makes in this essay between white people calling blacks derogatory names with the intent to harm versus using “nigger,” “queer” or “faggot” in an explanatory or historical context that I am doing right now.
This brings me to more recent news in which the Associated Press has announced that it will no longer use the words “illegal immigrant” to describe — clears throat — illegal immigrants, and it has for years advised journalists to avoid the borderline derogatory labels “illegals” and “aliens.” This step by the AP is one of numerous ways that it suggests people shy away from labels and focus more on behavior. Presumably, we must now refer to undocumented immigrants by the laborious “people who are living in a country illegally.”
Howard Kurtz today on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” called the change “a bit too politically correct.” I have to agree. While I have and do avoid “illegals” or “aliens” because of their derogatory connotations, banning “illegal immigrant” seems like splitting hairs to me, and while words that journalists use to describe immigrants carry nowhere near the malignant baggage of “spik,” “gook, or “nigger” or any other words racists have embraced to disparage our fellow human beings, AP’s change represents the latest example — add censorship on radio and TV to the mix — of language’s power over us rather than the other way around.
Crooks and Liars has an article up about CNN’s recent coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial that concluded earlier today. If you haven’t followed the case, two teens, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were found guilt in the rape of a 16-year-old girl stemming from a party that took place back in August. One of the kids will face a minimum of two years in a juvenile facility, while the other will serve at least one year.
The Crooks and Liars article suggested that CNN anchor Candy Crowley was slanting the coverage almost in favor of the two teens who were convicted of rape:
Crowley was filled with sadness for two young men who took advantage of a drunk and possibly drugged young girl because the judge actually held them accountable for what they did. Instead of wondering aloud why they weren’t tried as adults, she was instead very concerned that now they would have to register for the rest of their lives as sex offenders.
They are sex offenders. And now they’re convicted sex offenders.
I watched a lot of the coverage from earlier today because CNN would “break into” a couple shows that I try to catch every week, Fareed Zakaria‘ “GPS” and “Reliable Sources,” with the latest from Steubenville. While I doubt that CNN’s intention was to appear to be a apologetic toward the guilty parties, this is certainly how it came off during news coverage and interviews.
During one segment, a CNN reporter in Steubenville even talked with Richmond’s father about how today was the first time he had ever told his son that he loved him and that he was never a big influence in his life. Sob story number one. The father even went on the defensive at one point to suggest that his son might be innocent, although Richmond and his father all but admitted straight out that the teen was guilty when they apologized to the family. CNN also had an attorney come on the air and talk about how the two teens could be damaged for life because their names would now be on the sex offender list, and they would probably have trouble finding work or even a place to live after they got out of jail.
Sure, CNN talked to the plaintiff’s attorney, and the reporter asked how the family was holding up, etc., but after watching CNN for more than two hours today, I can attest that the focus was largely on the two teens. I certainly didn’t hear any experts talking about what residual effects the rape might have on the girl. And I was particularly troubled by a video clip of Richmond breaking down and telling the victim’s family that he didn’t mean for it to happen. Sob story number two. So, a 16-year-old football star, who apparently is capable of memorizing a large playbook and executing those plays on the field, somehow accidentally has a few drinks, inadvertently drops his pants and inadvertently forces his johnson into another human being? That’s believable.
Rape is so serious a charge that, unlike some other crimes, people can’t just serve their time and the go about their business after jail. No, it’s so serious that it haunts them most likely for the rest of their lives. And whether the news channel meant to or not, CNN came off as actually sympathetic to these two guys, and why? Because they just happen to be two years too young to be tried as adults? Bullocks.
Just how out of touch is John Boehner anyway?
Last year, he nearly caused the United States to default on its debt, and this year, he’s whistling the same tune, refusing to raise the debt ceiling and calling for spending cuts.
We shouldn’t dread the debt limit. As a matter of fact, I think we should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction.
A town “infamous for inaction?” Doesn’t he means a party infamous for inaction?
The GOP unanimously said “no” to the health care reform bill. “No” to the $787 billion stimulus package, which, by the way, is responsible for many job-creating infrastructural improvements across the nation, and “no” to nearly everything else Obama has put on the table.
The GOP has languished in Washington the last four years and has been little more than dead weight, unceasingly complaining about Obama, yet accomplishing next to nothing, unless pushing the party even further to the right, “symbolically” passing votes and “symbolically” reading the Constitution counts for accomplishing something.
And at a time when we can clearly witness austerity cuts in Europe failing miserably, Boehner is calling for — wait for it — more austerity cuts. Lucid as ever, Fareed Zakaria identifies the problem with spending cuts in already sagging economy:
The problem is that as these governments cut spending in very depressed economies, it has caused growth to slow even further — you see government workers who have been fired tend to buy fewer goods and services, for example — and all this means falling tax receipts and thus even bigger deficits.
Spending cuts don’t just affect government workers. That’s just one obvious example. If the government starts hacking away at services that improve people’s lives, their quality of life diminishes, thus, not only are they less happy, more apathetic and more likely to hoard what little savings they do have, but they are less likely to turn around and invigorate the economy with new consumer-side spending.
I’m reminded of two memorable lines from Tony Benn, who was interviewed for the 2007 movie, “Sicko:”
Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic – see I think there are two ways in which people are controlled — first of all frighten people and secondly demoralize them.
An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.
So, let’s look at the other side. What about people that make more than $250,000 per year? When government hands them tax breaks, do they help stimulate the economy? Not so much. Sure, they spend some, but I would wager that rich people are not primarily concerned with consumer spending, but with saving and investing. After all, there is a reason some people are able to accumulate mass amounts of wealth. They happen to be good with managing money and have some smart investment sense. Good for them. But that doesn’t help the national economy or the American public.
Republicans bickering among themselves is always entertaining but even more so when they complain about who FOX News has favored the most in this election. The winner? Apparently not Gingrich.
He says that CNN has been more fair to him in its election coverage than FOX, claiming that Rupert Murdoch must be a fan of Romney. He seems to be wrong, of course, because Murdoch has already come out as a Santorum supporter. As for FOX’s fairness toward all candidates, I don’t think Murdoch cares much about the day-to-day “stance” that FOX takes on the election as long as the network continues making him money. Roger Ailes may very well be a Romney supporter, but the article above doesn’t have Gingrich making any claims about Ailes, oddly enough, since Gingrich must know that Ailes is really the one behind FOX’s particular brand of non-journalism.
If, like me, you couldn’t muster the internal fortitude to watch the entire GOP presidential debate on Monday, one of the most divisive issues coming out of it was Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order mandating that 11- and 12-year-old girls get an HPV vaccine that is supposed to stave off an STD that causes cervical cancer.
This, at least on the surface, appears to have been a noble cause. But when one learns that Merck, the maker of the vaccine, contributed $5,000 to Perry’s campaign and that its political action committee would go on to give $30,000 (and that Merck gave $377,000 to the Republican Governors Association, of which Perry was the chairman), one suspects other motives. And it’s no wonder that Merck is so enthusiastic about giving to the GOP since the party shamelessly kowtows to the pharmaceutical industry.
Below is the video of HBO talk show host Bill Maher appearing on last night’s episode of Anderson Cooper 360, in which Maher and Cooper explore the connections between conservative rhetoric and cases like the recent Tucson shooting. Maher pointed to the June 12, 2010 newspaper ad purchased by the Jesse Kelly, who was at the time running against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, of course, was shot in the head recently by alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner. The ad reads:
Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly
Maher in response:
This kind of stuff is not what goes on on the left. You can not point to any sort of equivalency here. And as always, the media gets that wrong. They try to make it like they’re being fair because they’re making everything 50-50. Well, if you’re not being truthful, and that’s not truthful, then you’re not being fair.
Maher also speaks on how conservatives often “float” words such as tyranny and secession, words that denote war and revolution, while discussing political topics:
You know, when you float terms like “tyranny” as they do or “treason” — remember in the health care debate, Republican congressmen were hoisting that banner that said “Don’t Tread On Me,” which really had only applied to enemies of America, not political opponents.
You create an atmosphere. Yes, you do. Governor Perry in — in Texas threatening secession over — over the tax hike that Obama wanted, over a 3 percent tax hike on the richest 1 percent? That’s reason to throw down the S-card? These people are hysterical. Hysterical is really the only word I can think of for it.
You know, these conservatives, they want to be known as tough guys. They’re girls — school girls who get hysterical about things. Health care made them hysterical. Government takeover. It wasn’t a government takeover. I know what a government takeover would have looked like. That’s called a single-payer system. We didn’t get that. We didn’t even try for that. We didn’t even get a public option.
So when you create an atmosphere of hysteria, yes, of course the nuts are going to hear it and some of them are going to do things like this guy did.
Here’s the video and the transcript:
I don’t think you’ll find New York Times columnists complimenting CNN’s reporting very often, but one exception came yesterday with Thomas Friedman’s piece, titled “Too Good To Check,” in which Friedman lauds Anderson Cooper’s recent efforts in unveiling a patent untruth circulating in conservative circles about the alleged cost of President Obama’s recent trip to India and elsewhere overseas. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, radio host Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others (I’m sure there are others. Although I have not listened to Mark Levin lately [Can't tolerate his nasally snarl], he surely hopped on the bandwagon like his like-minded-bash-the-Obama-administration-at-any-cost brethren) all claimed that the administration was spending some $200 million per day on the trip.
Here is Friedman quoting Bachman, who appeared on Cooper’s show:
I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.
Here is the Anderson Cooper video, in which he asks Bachmann what specifically she would like to cut in federal spending now that her party controls the House.
In the absence of any answers, she proceeds to immediately and ludicrously lampoon Obama’s “over the top” spending. The only sparse answer she gives as to how the Republicans would account for some $700 billion in lost revenue if the Bush tax cuts were extended is to suggest that Medicare eligibility levels may be too high. Cooper asked for three; he got one … half answer. Here is one exchange:
COOPER: But extending the Bush tax cuts will mean, in order to offset the costs of extending the Bush tax cuts, you have to come up with $700 billion dollars just in spending cuts alone just to offset that cost. If you acknowledge that that is true, what are three things you would cut immediately to help offset those costs?
BACHMANN: Well, it’s always considered a cost when people are allowed to keep their own money. I don’t think that it’s a cost when people get to keep their own money. Right now, the current tax policy is, in my mind, it’s actually too high. The taxes right now. If we don’t extend these tax cuts, for instance, in my district in Minnesota, we’ll see 1.6 … 1.2 billion dollars taken out of the pockets of my constituents and taken out of my local community, where it will be spent, instead, 1.2 additional dollars will be sent to Washington D.C. sucked into that hole.
Here, of course, Bachmann missed the point and dodged the question altogether. The federal government has to have money to continue to offer such services as Social Security and Medicare. The “cost” to which Cooper was referring was the cost the federal government incurs in continuing to offer services, not the cost to locals, and Bachmann failed miserably, and predictably, from the Palin mode.
But back to Friedman, who picks up Obama’s trip to India in his column:
The next night, Cooper explained that he felt compelled to trace that story back to its source, since someone had used his show to circulate it. His research, he said, found that it had originated from a quote by “an alleged Indian provincial official,” from the Indian state of Maharashtra, “reported by India’s Press Trust, their equivalent of our A.P. or Reuters. I say ‘alleged,’ provincial official,” Cooper added, “because we have no idea who this person is, no name was given.”
It is hard to get any more flimsy than a senior unnamed Indian official from Maharashtra talking about the cost of an Asian trip by the American president.
“It was an anonymous quote,” said Cooper. “Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it. No proof was given; no follow-up reporting was done. Now you’d think if a member of Congress was going to use this figure as a fact, she would want to be pretty darn sure it was accurate, right? But there hasn’t been any follow-up reporting on this Indian story. The Indian article was picked up by The Drudge Report and other sites online, and it quickly made its way into conservative talk radio.”
Later, Friedman notes:
Cooper then added: “Again, no one really seemed to care to check the facts. For security reasons, the White House doesn’t comment on logistics of presidential trips, but they have made an exception this time. He then quoted Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, as saying, “I am not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president, [but this trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.” Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said: “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd, this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy and some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia. That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”
The fringe right’s tactic here, as Bachmann, Savage and others use without fail, is to dodge substantive talk on specific reform with dodgy figures from even dodgier sources to blast Obama at all costs, never mind fact-checking any of their claims. Savage has even made analogies between Obama and the Red Army Faction, saying that while the RAF was a violent, left-wing movement, Obama was seeking to induce a nonviolent socialist revolution in America. For however untrue that may be, that kind of talk makes Savage and the gang look like raving lunatics. Some on the right, as Friedman notes, even called Obama’s trip a “vacation.” All the while, they proceed to make sweeping suggestions on how we must cut spending and rein in the government but offer barely anything in the way of substantive solutions. As I have said before, in the absence of intelligent ideas in political discourse, nothing is left but desperate and emotionally-charged ranting.
Friedman concludes by noting that
When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together.
While I agree with him wholeheartedly, we can’t forget how these people became “widely followed” public figures: the public put them there, which is an unfortunate truth that seems to say less about the figures themselves (They just ride the wave to the bank) and more about the people, who, by and large, don’t know what is best for them or how to think critically about important issues. The best we can hope for, as he says, is that more people will learn not to swallow everything they hear on radio and television without doing their own fact-checking. But given that most people only watch or listen to commentators that reinforce, rather than challenge, their own views, I can’t be sure such a noble exercise will gain widespread popularity.
I’m deeply saddened by this news, but Chrisopher Htichens, a writer and thinker whom I deeply admire for both his literary mastery and intellectual thought, has announced in a characteristic brilliantly-written column that he has esophageal cancer, a form of the disease that most folks don’t come back from. He was diagnosed two months ago.
Here is the entire interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
And here is Hitchens himself on the Topic of Cancer.
The Associated Press this weekend released a good enterprise piece on BP’s tendency to consistently misrepresent or downplay the full effects of its oil rig debacle, which as of now has put somewhere between 18 million to 40 million gallons of crude in the ocean. Obviously, lowballing the estimates would behoove BP, since they face penalties based on how much oil actually leaks. According to the article:
On almost every issue — the amount of gushing oil, the environmental impact, even how to stop the leak — BP’s statements have proven wrong. The erosion of the company’s credibility may prove as difficult to stop as the oil spewing from the sea floor.
“They keep making one mistake after another. That gives the impression that they’re hiding things,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has been critical of BP’s reluctance to publicly release videos of the underwater gusher. “These guys either do not have any sense of accountability to the public or they are Neanderthals when it comes to public relations.”
And later in the story, responding a question about why BP had presented wrong numbers on numerous fronts regarding the impact, BP spokesman David Nicholas said,
This event is unprecedented; no company, no one, has ever had to attempt to deal with a situation such as this at depths such as this before. BP, the Unified Command, the federal authorities and the hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals engaged on this effort, are doing everything we can to bring it under control and make it good.
as if “unprecedented” is a good enough excuse to not have a solution in case the worse happens. So too, BP Managing Director Robert Dudley clambered for excuses when quizzed on the company’s inept, or nonexistent, disaster policies on the Sunday edition of CNN’s State of the Union.
Here’s the video:
The reactionary behavior continued this week over passage of the most sweeping piece of legislation in decades, as lawmakers are getting incendiary and offensive messages and voicemails from their angry, to the point of irrational (or, perhaps, some protesters were irrational to begin with), constituents. Rep. Bart Stupak, for instance, an anti-abortion Democratic lawmaker who was key in getting the bill passed, received a voicemail with these comments:
Think about this. There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill, and all of those negative thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that is not very good for you.
Is the caller really talking about Karma here or some sort of mystical conjoining of the minds against a mutually hated individual? If so, that tells us all we need to know about the caller.
Here is content from two other calls from CNN’s story:
“Stupak, you are a lowlife, baby-murdering scumbag, pile of steaming crap. You’re a cowardly punk, Stupak, that’s what you are. You and your family are scum,” an unidentified caller said. “That’s what you are, Stupak. You are a piece of crap.”
“Go to hell, you piece of [expletive deleted]” another caller said.
In a recent interview with CNN’s John King, Sen. John McCain, while not villifying Sarah Palin’s recent graphic that placed crosshairs over 20 House Democrats that “we” (McCain/Palin) carried in 2008 who voted for the health care reform bill, McCain did speak against over-the-top, and frankly, offensive and childish gestures by Steve King in front of health care protesters at the Capitol. Encouragingly, before John King even got a question out about Steve King’s action, McCain said,
Uncalled for, of course that’s uncalled for. Of course that’s uncalled for, John. And we see, from the person who yelled, ‘baby killer.’ But I think that we’ve gotta urge everybody to be respectful.
While I don’t necessary agree with most of McCain’s political stances, he has always proven to me that he has a rational and independent-thinking mind.
Here’s the interview: