James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Conservative quackery and Santa Claus

Posted by James McPherson on December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope your appreciation of the season hasn’t been dampened by recent controversy involving those wildly popular but oft-misunderstood bearded guys.

No, I’m not talking about “Daddy Duck” Phil Robertson and the other guys of “reality” television’s “Duck Dynastyclan, as I see no need to join the discussion over whether clan leader Phil Robertson is a homophobic racist or just a committed Christian (other than to point out that those who claim that Robertson’s free speech rights are being violated are clueless about the First Amendment).

I’m more interested in the controversy involving those other bearded guys — Santa Claus and Jesus — whom a defensive and “very, very blonde” professional spokesmodel Megyn Kelly brought into Fox News’ annual weird, wacky, hypocritical and ultimately pointless (except to fire up viewers and drive up ratings) “war on the war on Christmas” by insisting that both were white guys.

Not surprisingly, Kelly was wrong about both Jesus and the inspiration for Santa. (Incidentally, Bill O’Reilly has now declared the war over, making himself the commanding general in a Christian victory, and the “war on Christmas” is just a subset of the equally ludicrous (at least in this country) “Christians are persecuted” meme, anyway.)

The “white Santa/white Jesus” discussion continued over several days (not much real news before the holidays, apparently), and I actually heard someone on television question whether we even know Santa’s gender. I’m not making that up, though I wasn’t in front of the TV and so don’t know who said it.

Thinking more about it though, it occurred to me that since I am all for gender equality, I should examine the evidence. I then posted my findings on Facebook, but thought I’d share them here, too:

  1. Santa is beloved, despite his obvious weight problem — in fact, people leave Claus milk and cookies, rather than leaving an obnoxious note saying, “Lose some weight, fatso!”
  2. Santa spends a lot of time in a “workshop,” and apparently has a thing for toys.
  3. Santa needs a Rudolph Guidance System to make it through the fog and finds every house — despite no record of having ever asked anyone for directions.
  4. Mommy was spotted kissing Santa Claus.
  5. Santa stays out all night on the night before a holiday.
  6. Claus apparently hasn’t had a wardrobe update for decades.
  7. Santa has been accused of being a “peeping Tom,” spying on people while they’re sleeping.
  8. Santa prefers to do things the hard way — i.e., going down the chimney rather than simply using the spare key hidden near the door.
  9. Santa postpones delivery of gifts until the last possible moment — and then frequently gives you something that someone who really knew you would never give.
  10. Many people write to Santa, but he never writes back.

I report; you decide.

Posted in History, Journalism, Legal issues, Personal, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Riding, writing and resting

Posted by James McPherson on November 25, 2013

For the past six months, politics has been relatively low on my list of concerns. Call it burnout, or simple disgust with almost everyone in politics (including those in the media who cover it), but after my sabbatical began at the end of May I probably watched and read less about contemporary politics (especially from cable news) for the next several months than during any similar period in perhaps a decade. I have to admit that I didn’t miss it.

Nor have I missed most things about my “real job” as a professor. Someone asked me a while back the most important thing I’d learned during my sabbatical. My answer: “That I probably won’t have any trouble adjusting to retirement in 12 to 15 years.” I love being in the classroom and interacting with students, but certainly haven’t missed grading, course prep or meetings.

During my sabbatical I added a regular Wednesday “guys’ breakfast” and a regular Thursday golf game to my Tuesday and Friday morning basketball games. I’ve read more — and more for fun — than usual. I worked in the yard and garden. I spent time with parents, siblings, kids and a grandchild.

Most importantly, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my wife of almost 33 years, especially during a 25-day 5,700-mile drive that included visits to various family members and the cities of Boise, Tucson, Santa Fe, New Orleans and Natchez — the lovely Mississippi city (with the troubling history) in which my wife was born. The cities of Las Vegas, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Salt Lake City we passed through quickly, but not too quickly to be reminded of the sprawling corporate sameness that scars the Great American Landscape (though perhaps not for much longer, if my brother and other “doomers” are correct about the fate of the world).

More directly related to my profession, while in New Orleans I attended the annual convention of the American Journalism Historians Association. The convention was held in the beautiful historic Hotel Monteleone, where, despite a steep discount, the nightly rate was more than I paid for my first car, and where it cost more to park my pickup each night than I’ve paid for a room in some motels.

Back home, I attended a breakfast at which I chatted with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and then (at her request) sent her a copy a book I wrote. (Unlike a similar event with George Will a year earlier, I didn’t notice any errors worthy of correction here.) Later that month I helped out with a high school journalism workshop.

In terms of writing, I have revised a book chapter, chipped away at a novel, compiled notes and done research for a new academic book, and written more than 90 posts for an ongoing blog project. Today I even started our annual Christmas letter, having put up and decorated the tree a couple of days ago. And naturally I’ve been writing on the most pervasive medium in America today: Facebook.

Yes, I’ve devoted too much time to one form of anti-social media, though I’ve managed to forego Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest and Alltherest. I don’t tweet, or even text, and I definitely don’t twerk, Thanks to modern media, sometimes I twitch.

What I’ve written on Facebook  was typically far less important than what I “shared” from elsewhere (the same sorts of things that have no doubt prompted some “friends” to hide me from their feeds). And in retrospect, at least some of what I took the time to share via Facebook also seems worth sharing here. Some examples follow, though for space reasons I obviously can’t include oh-s0-witty-and/or-insightful comments I offered with each post.

The eclectic mix includes: an 1812 test for eighth-graders that few of us today could pass; a professional football coach (who knocked me out in practice when we were on the same college team);  the discovery of a new dinosaur; police brutality in New Mexico; empathetic high school football players; a revised “U.S. map” based on watersheds; Boeing’s anti-union efforts; Richard Cohen’s racism and sexism; how some of Apple’s overseas employees end up as virtual slaves; “15 Ways The United States Is The Best (At Being The Worst)”; the highest-paid employees in each state; a lesson on being quick to judge; some bragging about my workplace; and “the incredible story of Marion Stokes,” an obsessive librarian who taped — on VHS videocassettes — 35 years of television news.

Related to media, I posted items about the dangers of texting while driving and  sexist cyber-bullying by football fans. I explained why my local newspaper screwed up, placing a beautiful photo of a Native American mother and child next to an unrelated headline stating, “Child porn cases result in prison.” I pointed out that a widely quoted ESPN piece about NFL hazing used faulty math and therefore probably drew erroneous conclusions. I made fun of a local television station for misusing a word during a hostage crisis. And I shared a funny piece about a newspaper that retracted its criticism of the Gettysburg Address as “silly remarks” worthy of “a veil of oblivion.”

As a feminist who sometimes teaches a class on women and media (while serving on the board for a local nonprofit devoted to media literacy), I shared various items related to women’s issues: a story about “how we teach our kids that women are liars“;  a piece about sexist treatment of Janet Yellen; how women like working for women; and one about the Bechtel test for movies. I also addressed males, sharing “Five Things Every Self-Respecting Man Over 30 Needs.”

I shared some items about religion, including mega-churches and the fact that the region of the country most opposed to government health care is the Bible Belt. Naturally I couldn’t avoid mention of the Affordable Care Act. Posts compared: Al Jazeera America’s coverage of Typhoon Haiyan and Obamacare with the coverage by CNN, Fox News and MSNBC; how journalists were fact-checking other journalists; Sean Hannity’s lies;

I didn’t managed to ignore other politics entirely, either, discussing such issues as Barack Obama’s judicial nominations; Senate filibusters and the “nuclear option”; nutjobs who advocate killing Obama; National Security Agency wiretapping; Texas textbooks and evolution (a subject of this blog in 2009 and 2010); George W. Bush addressing the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute; some loony Sarah Palin fiscal hypocrisy; Chris Christie’s flip-flop on immigration; and Rand Paul’s plagiarism. What, you expected me to go six months without criticizing a few conservatives?

Most of those Facebook comments came during the past month and a half, suggesting that I’m being sucked back into caring more about politics than may be healthy. Too bad; I’ll have to keep working on that for the couple of months that remain on my sabbatical. Perhaps I’ll report back after that.

Posted in Education, History, Journalism, Legal issues, Media literacy, Personal, Politics, Religion, Women, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »

Lost in America–or at least in two cities

Posted by James McPherson on January 30, 2013

Though at least one major political party seem to be wandering aimlessly, I wasn’t ever actually completely “lost” during a just-completed 18-day trip to New York and Washington, D.C., with a dozen students (see the class blog here). But do I lack a great sense of direction and don’t use a smart phone, and so rely heavily (if not always well) on maps–as some of my students humorously chronicled in the video below.

I will note that we visited approximately 20 media-related sites in the two cities, and found our way to each meeting with time to spare. On the other  hand, I guess the video may provide some support for the common but nutty claim that liberal professors are leading students astray.

I’m fortunate to work in a university that values off-campus study, and have been lucky enough to coordinate two of my last three every-other-year study programs with presidential inaugurations. To be sure, there were a lot fewer people in Washington this year than four years ago–but it was interesting to see the shift in crowds from the Obama supporters there for the Inauguration at the beginning of the week to the people who came for the annual “March for Life” at the end of the week.

Demonstrating that political views are not black and white in America, at least one of my students attended both the inauguration and the march. I avoided both, and though I may disagree with the student’s politics, as a fan of peaceful political activism I commend her decision. Though students sometimes disappoint me, they far more often make me proud to be associated with them.

This year’s group had the added benefit of sharing a hostel with Wiley Drake, a somewhat pitiful “pastor” who earned some degree of notoriety a few years ago by praying for President Obama’s death. A birther who claims Osama bin Laden died in 2007 and who ran for president himself last year, Wiley has an Internet radio/TV show that he broadcasts (poorly) from wherever he happens to be–including from the hostel dining room.

Frankly, my students would do a better job of broadcasting than Drake does, and would generally make more sense. Even if they keep making the mistake of thinking I know where we are going.

Posted in Education, History, Journalism, Personal, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Sandy, Bloomberg & Christie should help Obama win re-election

Posted by James McPherson on November 1, 2012

Barack Obama made this election a lot closer than it should have been by sleepwalking through his first debate with Mitt Romney and, in my view, by failing to run enough of an optimistic campaign that emphasized his many noteworthy accomplishments. Those include an improving economy, the expansion of gay rights, the auto bailout, increased access to medical care for young adults and people with pre-existing conditions, and improved student loan policies.

For many individuals, he has been a very good president, and who knows what might have been accomplished without the worst, craziest, and most obstructionist Congress in history, a Congress dedicated from the outset to try to make Obama fail even if it meant reversing their own positions?

Since most American voters seem to have the attention spans of gnats, flip-flopping on one’s supposed values too rarely hurts politicians–even in the case of pathological Etch a Sketch liar Mitt Romney, who has actually improved his standing with voters by avoiding answering any questions from the news (including even GOP house organ Fox News) for the past three weeks. His latest campaign strategy has included a phony “hurricane relief” rally and repeatedly lying about the auto industry–to the degree that even company executives declared that Romney (who once joked about his father closing American auto plants) is lying to scare voters. One can only wonder what highers-up in the Mormon church think about such dishonesty.

So now the election is relatively close, as predicted and desired by media folks and talking heads that I’ve previously ridiculed. Some polls have Romney leading, and some people (including Michael Graham of the Boston Herald and conservatives Michael Novak, Karl Rove, Frank Donatelli, Steven Hayward and Boris Epshteyn) predict a GOP win. Former Bill Clinton aide Dick Morris, who has managed the nearly impossible trick of looking even sleazier than Clinton and a few others (see here, here, here and here, ) have gone so far as to predict a Romney landslide.

I hate the reliance of the news media on polls over substance, so I actually appreciate the fact that this year’s polls seem to be contradictory and confusing. Still, barring some GOP to steal the election through rigged voting machines or even more voter suppression than expected, however, I have strong doubts about the chances of a Romney victory. In fact, as I’ve been doing consistently since last spring, I predict an Obama win with at least 290 electoral votes (270 are needed to win). I also expect Democrats to hold the Senate while Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives.

The facts that Obama has been endorsed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, largely endorsed by GOP favorite Chris Christie, and that Hurricane Sandy has allowed Obama to look presidential while Romney avoided and then struggled with questions about whether he would fund FEMA, makes me more confident in my prediction. Based on information released today about a jump in consumer confidence and a jobs report by the ADP Research Institute, I suspect that tomorrow’s Labor Department jobs report will fail to give Romney a boost and may help the president.

Whether Obama deserves to win (or whether either either of these two guys should be elected) is another question, but most of the people who use a statistical approach expect the same electoral result. In that camp are Nate Silver (who has drawn considerable attention both positive and negative for his influence), Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium, Drew Linzer’s Votomatic, polltrack.com, the New Republic‘s Nate Cohn, Andrew Tanenbaum’s electoral-vote.com, Josh Putnam’s Frontloading HQ, Thomas Holbrook’s Politics by the Numbers, Scott Elliott’s ElectionProjection.com, (Several of those I’ve mentioned previously, but some I learned about just today from Asawin Suebsaeng of Mother Jones.)

The conservative Rasmussen Reports, Real Clear Politics, the Washington Times, CNN, PBS, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Intrade, the Huffington Post, 270towin.com, all have Obama leading the electoral vote, though all their maps have “toss-ups” that include Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and/or Florida.

Right or wrong, obviously I have plenty of company. Either way, a lot of people who make considerable money off of their predictions (I make none from mine) are going to be wrong. And those folks probably all will be back, making equally bad predictions, four years from now.

So with that in mind, I’ll go ahead and offer my first prediction for 2016: Seeing how well bizarre flip-flops worked for Romney, and trying to up his credibility with both Hispanic voters and conservative Christians in a 2016 bid for the White House, Christie will legally change his first name to “Jesus” and drop the last two letters of his last name from campaign literature distributed in solidly conservative states. And at least 23 percent of voters in Texas will fall for it.

Posted in History, Journalism, Personal, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments »

Republican platform: gallows for GOP suicide?

Posted by James McPherson on August 25, 2012

It has seemed for some time as if the Republican Party is suicidal, and determined to make sure that Barack Obama wins re-election. Maybe Republicans just want to prove that a couple of professors who forecast a Mitt Romney win aren’t so smart. Because the schedule proposed platform for next week’s GOP national convention provide new evidence that Republicans either cluelessly think that they will win easily–perhaps by voter suppression in key states–or have simply decided that they can’t win and so might as well be entertaining as they go down in flames.

A positive sign for Romney is the fact that various media are now helping him do what he and his campaign have generally been unable to do–look more human. Though he was unfairly bashed for a ride on a personal watercraft, yesterday two major media sources–the New York Times and MSNBC–have produced largely flattering portrayals of the GOP nominee. OK, it may be stretching it to call MSNBC a major media source, but it is a generally liberal-leaning cable network that could help portray Romney as more moderate than his campaign has been. Both stories include what Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg calls a “crisis” narrative, details about Ann Romney’s multiple sclerosis and Mitt Romney’s auto accident in France (a head-on collision apparently caused by a priest who may have been drunk, killing a passenger in Romney’s car).

There also are signs that Romney is ready to reveal more about his faith (even if he won’t say the “M-word”), as demonstrated by a laudatory Bloomberg piece on Thursday, a Tuesday Seattle Times story picked up via the Associated Press by newspapers around the country, and the fact that the invocation for one night of the GOP convention will be given by a fellow Mormon. MSNBC has also taken advantage of Romney’s religion to do a “Rock Center” program about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Thursday. Not that the religious aspects may matter much. As I’ve mentioned previously (demonstrating the decreasing influence of the Religious Right) it seems a bit ironic that if the Christian Right gets its way in November, for the first time ever there won’t be a single Protestant among the president, vice president and entire Supreme Court. But anyone on the far right will be voting against Obama, even if not for Romney–or, as some fruitcakes might phrase it, will favor the Mormon over the Muslim.

Bigger problems than religion come from the fact that Romney has run to the right to represent a party that is already “akin‘,” with controversies about”legitimate rape” (more evidence of the need for better science education) and a judge who suggests that Obama’s re-election could lead to “civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war” (considering that he’s a Texan, though, his stupidity may not be particularly surprising). Still, it might be moderately surprising that Republicans will apparently repeat their Sharron Angle/Christine O’Donnell/Joe Miller/Ken Buck Tea Party debacle of two years ago with a new round of questionable candidates–Todd Akin, Ted Cruz, Richard Mourdock, Deb Fischer and  Josh Mandel–who (along with repeat loser Linda McMahon) will likely keep them from gaining control of the Senate.

Still, it would be nice if voters would cast ballots based on the actual positions of the candidates. So while party platforms rarely matter much, I would recommend that everyone check out this year’s GOP draft version (thanks Politico)–just to affirm how thoroughly the party has given up on attracting the number of women, gays and people of color that it needs to win the presidential election in November. Some of the key points of the platform would:

Admittedly, all we have so far is a draft document. But it is a draft that the New York Times accurately depicts as “more aggressive in its opposition to women’s reproductive rights and to gay rights than any in memory.” Not a good sign, for a party scrambling to come from behind. A blogger for the Guardian compares it to a useless body part: “Like party platforms, the appendix’s role is a mystery to most people: it may be a useful harbour for bacteria but can also rupture, causing pain and misery.”

Speaking of misery, in fact, Republicans may want to start praying that Hurricane Isaac will reduce Americans’ exposure to official GOP ideas, just as Hurricane Gustov disrupted the GOP convention four years ago. If that does happen, perhaps Pat Robertson and other loonies will point out that Republicans must have offended God in some way (maybe, considering the male names of the hurricanes, with the party’s official anti-gay stance). On the other hand, if this election does drive off enough Americans to lead to the death of the Republican Party–or at least to generate a future GOP “crisis narrative”–perhaps Romney can baptize it after its demise.

P.S.: Just after I posted this, the GOP announced that Isaac will indeed cancel the first day of the convention.

Posted in History, Journalism, Legal issues, Politics, Religion, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments »

Romney boards Con Ryan Express in desperate bid to get campaign back on track

Posted by James McPherson on August 11, 2012

So, it’s Con Ryan’s Express. For the second consecutive presidential election, Republicans will have a vice presidential candidate who is more dynamic and interesting than the guy at the head of their ticket. No wonder that in his introduction Romney called Paul Ryan “the next president of the United States.”

Unfortunately for Romney this Paul is no saint; the choice offers obvious strengths and weaknesses, along with the Palinesque risk that the presidential race will be more about the GOP’s vice presidential nominee than about anything else.

Like most people, I got it wrong, thinking Romney would likely go with Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty. I did mention Ryan almost as an afterthought, saying “Maybe Paul Ryan if he still thinks he needs to go right.” Apparently Romney is still more concerned with being viewed as a Massachusetts liberal healthcare pimp than as someone who has spent the campaign trying to hack off his left arm with his right.

The New Republic offers a quick look a quick look at what the party now officially stands for–ending Medicare and Medicaid we know them, privatization of Social Security, killing any semblance of government that works, and the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to rich in U.S. history. With Ryan, you can add climate change denial and “personhood” legislation.

Faced with the likelihood of defeat, Romney’s choice–like McCain’s choice of Palin–smacks of desperation. Ryan obviously is a lot smarter than Palin (OK, so Romney’s dancing horse is smarter than Palin), but could turn out to be equally polarizing. After all, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, John McCain and probably the Koch brothers all like the choice. But so do Democrats. One of the most notable things about the selection is that for perhaps the first time Romney has managed to please both liberals and conservatives at the same time, rather than having to flip-flop to do so.

In fact, as many did with Palin, conservatives might rue the choice more than liberals do. Ryan wasn’t Grover Norquist’s pick, for example, so perhaps this is another example that Norquist is losing some of his influence with Republicans. And that might be the best thing to happen in this election season, and the most positive long-term development for the GOP.

One might wonder, if Romney is enthused about his choice, why he would make the announcement early (6 a.m. where I live) on a summer Saturday. That’s a time when politicians typically are more likely to roll out bad news than good; Friday afternoon has long been recognized as best for avoiding media attention, because most of the front-line news media won’t be back until Monday, by when news can be a bit stale. That’s why I wrote last month that Romney “should release a deluge of his tax returns on a summer Friday, perhaps during the Olympics, definitely no later than the Friday before Labor Day.”

I suspect that desperation to change the conversation from his own taxes, the fact that even sources such as Fox News and the conservative-leaning Rasmussen poll had Obama leading, and perhaps a desire to make the announcement as low-key as possible (which is Romney’s style, if not Ryan’s) all combined to lead to the decision to make the announcement when he did.

Yes, a 24-hour news cycle tempers the “dead zone” timing a bit, and yes, the selection will now be the focus of the Sunday morning news shows. But the fact is, almost no one except true political junkies–virtually all of whom probably already know whom they’ll vote for in November–watches those Sunday shows. And Romney, of all people, should know that if Americans are turning on their TVs on this summer weekend it will be to watch the Olympics. On Sunday night and Monday morning more people will be talking the closing ceremonies with Adele and the Spice Girls than about Romney and Ryan. In fact, the few Americans who know anything about Ryan may outnumber those who know he has been chosen by Romney at this point.

Like most Hail-Mary passes in football or last-second half-courts shots in basketball, the effort probably will fail to deliver a victory in November, but will give the media and serious viewers a reason to hold their breath for a bit, just in case. There’s no doubt that the race just became more interesting–within the GOP, as well as over all.

Perhaps we’ll even start having a serious media conversation about what policy might look like in a Ryan/Romney–oh, sorry, Romney/Ryan–administration, if only during the vice-presidential debate. Perhaps. But I doubt it. After all, Ryan has a pretty wife and cute kids. And he’s a Catholic engaged in a “smackdown” with nuns. And now “Saturday Night Live” will have to figure out who to portray Ryan pushing granny off a cliff. I’ll bet Tina Fey could pull if off, with the right haircut.

P.S.: If you’re too young to get the reference to “Von Ryan’s Express,” it’s a film from 1965, before Paul Ryan was born.

P.P.S: Ironically, if the Christian Right gets its way in November, for the first time ever there won’t be a Protestant president, vice president, or member of the Supreme Court.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Religion, Science, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Corsi & WND find new ways to fleece flock

Posted by James McPherson on March 29, 2011

Jerome Corsi and WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah obviously make a perfect ethical match. Both use wacky conspiracy theories to make a living off of the gullible.

Their latest effort will probably further demonstrate the old adage about the 60-second birthrate of suckers, though it’s tough to believe that either Corsi or Farah–let alone the two in tandam–has much credibility left.

But Corsi, who actually sued his former publisher for distorting the New York Times bestseller list to pimp his previous book is now working with the “Christian” publisher in an effort to raise money from “readers” to do exactly the same thing.

The most telling lines of the WND piece (which actually promotes commercials for the book rather than the book itself): “WND needs to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to air these commercials on television networks and stations throughout the country. …  Farah also urges everyone concerned about the cover-up to make a donation in any amount – from $5 to $5,000. (Bigger donations can be accepted by special arrangement by emailing Farah personally jfarah@wnd.com.)”

It is interesting that conservative writers who bash the New York Times in their books then apparently think readers should trust the Times’ bestseller list above all others when they’re marketing those books. 

We’re left to wonder when Donald Trump will produce a book published by WND–assuming he’s not already in negotiations to buy the whole operation.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Religion, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Birthers, civil war, damnation and lynching

Posted by James McPherson on August 23, 2010

In recent weeks I’ve discussed the craziness of “journalists” such as WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah, Floyd Brown and Michael Webster, and have previously talked about the sign-carrying racists and blogging “electronic Klansmen” cowards who make up some (not all) of their followers.

I’ve also discussed the hazards of commenting on other blogs, which often brings a flurry of profane slurs. Usually I don’t mind, figuring the more those nuts post, the more they weaken the arguments of those who agree with them on other issues.

Today was the first time I ever had people suggest that I might burn in hell and should be lynched, however, under a post (from two supposedly Christian authors) that was all-too-predictably titled, “Is Obama a Muslim?” That post suggests that Obama is a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Muslim Marxist.

Aside from the fact that many progressives are unhappy because of Obama’s lack of support for gay marriage, I pointed out that the essay makes no sense on its face, asking, “How would being a Muslim correspond with “Marxism,” “abortion on demand,” or “gay marriage”?

One person expressed concerns about my soul, another about my life.

“James, I just hope that you are not among those giving each other presents, when the Two-Witnesses written about in the Book of Revelation(11:3-14) are killed by the Anti-Messiah, which a Marxist is by definition!” one wrote.

Another less courageous sort, calling himself/herself simply “Guest,” offered this: “Hey James, With your mind set, you better not go outside at night, or walk down any dark alleys. There are people out there looking for Idiots like you to hang from the tallest tree in town.”

Here’s my response, in full:

You’re really threatening me with lynching, Guest? Of course, coming from someone who hides behind a fake name makes it tough to take your comments seriously, even though they do come from someone who obviously would only do anything as part of a mob at night in a dark alley.

But thanks for the comment–the more of these sorts of comments there are here, the better the picture people get of what birthers truly stand for. Quite the Christian group you’ve got here.

The same post, by the way, has someone titled “Mary” suggesting a “Civil War,” a not-uncommon call on these conspiracy sites. As I have in the past, I asked: “With who fighting whom? Are you volunteering to take up arms? How far are you personally willing to go?”

As usual, I’ve had no response to that, just as when the various nuts proclaim that it’s time to “take back America.”

Posted in History, Journalism, Personal, Politics, Religion, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

WorldNetDaily ‘journalism’ and ‘Christian’ racism

Posted by James McPherson on August 12, 2010

I have to admit that when I see the url for WorldNetDaily, wnd.com, I automatically start coming up with appropriate alternative meanings for the abbreviation: Phrases such as WackjobNewsDelivery, or WhyNotDeceive, or WildNewDistortions, or WhiteNutjobDelusions, or WhoNeedsDetails, or WeNeedDrugs.

But I read something the other day referring to WorldNetDaily as a leading “Christian website.” If that’s true (and despite the supposed Christian faith of its founder/editor and its promoting of some Christian books, I’m not sure I’d agree), it’s no wonder that Christianity has such a bad reputation with so many people.

WND claims to be a news site, but makes no effort to hide its clearly biased perspective (or its sales pitches to the gullible). For example, the third “story” right now is about a conference to “take America back” (back from whom, as usual, is unclear). The story quotes WND founder and editor Joseph Farah, while promising:

Speakers at the conference, which is followed by a weeklong Royal Caribbean cruise called “The Tea Party at Sea,” includes such stalwarts as Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, Jerome Corsi, Aaron Klein and David Kupelian. Farah – who’s also speaking – is now offering a peek at the conference’s still-developing program. With “this slate of speakers, topics and discussions,” he ensures, “the event will more than live up to its name.”

Not surprisingly, the conference will generate cash for Farah’s organization while also promoting his own book, which has the same title as the conference he is organizing.

The WND “daily poll” from yesterday asked the question, “What part of the Obama-eligibility saga has made you most doubt his legitimacy?” That’s about as unbiased as me asking, “Which WND conspiracy theory do you find to be the craziest?” The difference is, I don’t pretend to be “an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice.”

Besides Farah’s writings, WND regularly features the writing of such “journalists” as Coulter, Corsi and Michael Savage (and Pat Buchanan, but he apparently works for every media organization, including msnbc). But as with most websites, even scarier that the identifiable writers (well, maybe except for Savage) are the anonymous lunatics who post comments.

Here are a few examples, taken from almost 3,000 “questions” the commenters think the media should ask Barack Obama ((I’ve copied and pasted, so the goofy misspellings, random capitalization, and grammar and punctuation issues were in the original; all comments are from different people):

Wouldn’t you won’t you oh pretty please stop asking the Schutzstaffel SS (aka Secret Service) funnel you the white magic dust powder and charging it to me? This cracker works two jobs to just get by and can’t afford to pay for your drug habit. Are you leaving a disgusting white film all over the White House that will have to be ServiceMastered the day you are impeached and executed for treason or imprisoned for life for all of your felonies? Also, on that day, could you and Michelle refrain from stealing any of the objet d’art left over from the great Clinton burglary in the White House as they were packing up? Thank YOU Soetoro.

Yes, you have fooled the people, but you will be found out. God help you, because, Mr. Obama, I can assure your Muslim religion will not.

Hussein Obama is the biggest, most constant LIAR of all the Liars in D.C., and THAT is saying something. He took us decent folks by surprise, as we have never seen, or expected, a usurper for Pres, let alone such a LIAR and low-down Red Communist filth pig, make it into the Oval Office. … I am pleased at your miserable predicament – LIAR, spiller of innocent blood, Communist, the Holy One has a perfect count of how many babies you have conspired to murder. They cry for justice to th Holy One of Israel. You can believe this – He listens and soon justice, the thing you hate and fear, will be served to you because of your rebellion and evil. Do you think you can LIE your way out of God’s justice?

Dear usurping, racebaiting, America hating, teleprompting, mongrel in chief…

If you look nto obama’s back ground He has never been around anyone but comunist ,his white tras mother was a communist both his father and step father were America hating communist ,his grand parents were communist…

I hear Hillary Clinton may challenge you for the 2012 Democratic nomination.[?] Maybe you should prepare for “CRONE WARS”. :o)

Why do you direspect our flag, our rights to our official days of prayer, and brainwash our children into singing praises to you in official school class rooms where they’re not allowed to speak the name of Jesus Christ but they can worship Obama? Please explain why these things are happening in our country that was founded on the moral structure of the Word of Almgihty God, not Alah or Mohammed.

You bowing down to those countries who are against America,and telling them we aren’t a Christian nation, where did you get that? Do you really think we Christian Americans are that dumb to fall for your crap?

Your consistent twisting of the US Constitution’s wording of “Freedom of Religion” with your own devious “freedom of worship” makes me wonder if this is not Taqiyya under the guise of progressive ideology.  If “Religion” is used, an argument could be made that Islam is an “Ideology”, not a “Religion”. In substituting “Worship”, blanket protection is given to those who idolize Mohammed through the “Theocracy” that is Islam. This is an obvious chess board move.

WND editor Farah has become one of the leading proponents of the “birther” movement. Birther conspiracy also is the primary focus of the organization he founded–devoting much of its early effort to the wacky Vince Foster suicide conspiracy theory–before moving on to WND.

That organization, the Western Journalism Center, now is led by Floyd Brown, who also has his own website but is perhaps most noteworthy as the producer of perhaps the most infamous racist political ad in history, the “Willie Horton” ad used against Michael Dukakis in 1988.

The website of the Western Journalism Center (“journalism” apparently being used ironically in this case) also draws a smaller but perhaps even nuttier and scarier following of racist conspiracy loons, who keep asking questions along the lines of “When can we get this Muslim usurper out of the White House?” Samples from one post alone (about Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain) include comments such as the following (again, all from different commenters):

[Michelle Obama] cared less about the annoited ones birthday(maybe) and when she gets home she going on another vacation with her half black half and both piglets.

Does the word LYNCH ring a bell? We need to get the BIGGEST LYNCH PARTY together,and head for Washington, D. C.

I SAY US KICK THE MAKE BELIEVE MARIE ANTOINETTE AMAZONIAN BITCH OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE ALONG WITH HER HALF BREED OF A HUSBAND WHO PREFERS MEN.

Michelle is nothing more than a monkey bitch spending Americans tax money and she doesn’t give a rats a$$ about the rest of the Americans who are struggling financially. After all the monkey bitch and her magic negro husband were elected by the masses of liberals kool-aid drinkers and the whites who thought they could erase their collective guilt by electing Osama Obama the magic negro and his monkey bitch wife!!!

The idiots that voted for this muslim communist deserve him but We Americans that did not vote for that sleezy slime bag that came for the sewer have to be punished.

I was born in 1944, back before the blacks were allowed to set at the front of the bus, not in the back, and when they had to have their own fountains to drink from and their own public rest rooms. I will not use the N word, but what the Obamas are doing is what was called N_ _ _ _ r Rich back in those days. If they got a dollar for picking cotton, hey would go out and spend ten dollars. Looks like their intelligence level has remained the same over al these years. Guess you can take them out of the innercity, but you can’t take the innercity out of them.

Tea Party folks keep claiming they’re not racists. Maybe most of them aren’t. But a fair number of the “Christians” who hang out at wnd.com and the Western Journalism Center obviously are racists, along with being stupid in many other ways.

And though it may be impossible to keep up with the garbage spewing forth, it would be nice if more of those Christian readers and Tea Party fans of the two sites who aren’t racist jackasses would call out the ones who are.

Posted in Journalism, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Insurrection, conspiracy theories and truth snippets

Posted by James McPherson on July 7, 2010

Today offers more evidence of why media literacy is so important in this country–and, sadly, why many people who rely on one-sided blogs for information are so politically ignorant.

Some blogs that appeal to right-wingers and conspiracy theorists, such as this one (also here, here, here, here and here) now offer YouTube “evidence” that Barack Obama had admitting he was “born in Kenya.” Watch it quickly, the reader is warned, “before it’s pulled.” (By socialist/communist government agents who monitor the Internet from mosques and black helicopters, no doubt.)

But if you go to the original posted video–and are capable of reading–you see a description from the person who posted it that starts out: “The video starts out with some content from obamasnippets.com, which, of course is contrived. And yet, there seems to be a synthetic truth about what the president says.”

Aside from the question of what is “synthetic” (and therefore by definition, fake) “truth,” the words clearly state that Obama’s “admission” is a creation of whomever created the video. And who is that?  Someone who states that his/her site is “not ‘political,’” not anti- or pro-Obama, and  “just for fun.” One of those who has done most to promote the video, on the other hand, getting more than 200,000 hits on it, does have a clear agenda, listing his favorite “news sources” as “Hannity’s America, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity Radio Show, Roger Hedgecock, Michael Reagan, Gordon Liddy, Sec. Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove…”

Ironically, he also states on the same page, “May the Glory of God be revealed so Truth can prevail.” Perhaps God might have an easier time revealing truth if there weren’t so many supposed Christians working so hard to distort it.

Another conspiracy site unintentionally (I hope) further illustrates the silliness of the whole argument and the futility in trying to convince conspiracy theorists of anything when it states: “Was Obama born in Kenya or America? Kenya….But we will never know the truth!”

Go ahead, read that last quote again. Yep, that’s what it says: “We’ll never know the truth, but here’s the truth.”

One thing many of the conspiracy sites have in common is that they often warn against the “lies” of the mainstream media. One of those linked above also reminds us why there may be good reason to fear some of the Tea Party crowd–or at least there might be if they had the numbers, youth and courage to back up their inane words. One commenter writes:

Someday American’s will realize there are only two options left if the desire for a sane government is the objective.
Number one would be to de-legitimize DC and reform independent States, with State owned Banks, which negates the power of the federal Banksters, and provides a method of political segregation so we would not have people like [a previous commenter] for neighbors.
Number two is civil war! Take your pick.

Insurrection, anyone? Or instead, how about just doing a bit of reading from a history book, a copy of the Constitution, or Snopes.com?

Posted in History, Journalism, Media literacy, Politics, Religion, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , | 38 Comments »

 
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