. . . Shouldn’t you guys have @StevePickett11 and a crew at her house trying to gin up a shame storm? Maybe try to run her out of business? Go all Memories Pizza Indiana on her? Provoke a bomb threat or two?Confused? Allow me to explain.
A troubling line was crossed here in Dallas-Fort Worth—in a lame and ridiculous sort of way—this week. The news department of the local CBS affiliate dispatched a reporter to a local woman’s business to ask her about something she posted on her Facebook page.
No, it wasn’t a bomb threat. Nor did she post the formula for a cancer cure. This woman is not a politician or an entertainer.
Dallas business owner Cheryl Rios found a camera in her face for sharing . . . wait for it . . . her strong lack of enthusiasm for the prospect of a female president.
That’s right. Cheryl prefers that her presidents come with a Y chromosome, an Adam’s apple, and a five-o’clock shadow. And she said so brazenly right there on her personal Facebook page (to her friends, relatives and former high school classmates).
(Now stay with me here. I’m not making this up.) Somewhere in the bowels of the CBS11 Newsroom—a real, honest-to-goodness news department in a major American city—someone thought this was newsworthy. Seriously.
Thus “Emmy-winning journalist” Steve Pickett sallied forth to see what this monstrous freak of nature had to say for herself. And we got this . . .
Now Cheryl obviously agreed to this interview. She could have declined to talk to these nincompoops and she would have been doing them a tremendous favor if she had—because they embarrassed themselves. But they did more than that.
They crossed a line.
You see, the moment news organizations start getting comfortable with making the off-the-cuff social media comments of private citizens fair game for news coverage—coverage which can get national traction on social media and prompt a vicious hate storm, as happened with Memories Pizza in Indiana a couple of weeks ago—then freedom of expression for conservatives and Christians is as good as dead in this country.
That’s why we really can’t allow these media enforcers of political correctness to get away with this kind of thing. If we don’t push back here it will only get worse.
Along these same lines, NationalReview.com’s Ian Tuttle took note and posted this: The Shaming of Cheryl Rios. I recommend it.
Here’s the email address for Channel 11’s news department. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to head over to my Facebook page and post something wildly reactionary and out-of-step with the spirit of this age.
And hey, CBS11, I’m in the book if you want to chat. I have plenty to say.
This 1,000-word blog post of mine summed up in fewer than 120 characters:
My previous post addressed the endemic and dismaying tendency of many to uncritically accept any piece of information—no matter how ridiculous—if it validates their existing biases. To put it in the Postmodern vernacular . . . Anything that fits your preferred narrative is clearly true and obviously important.
As I’ve already noted, no one is immune, but younger, politically liberal Americans seem to have a terminal case of this disease. Shocking, I know. Who would have ever thought that a generation of badly educated people with little life experience, no historical perspective, and a inflated sense of their own ethical righteousness could be so easily fooled?
This week’s face-palm triggering example comes by way of a couple of fake news articles on the liberal fake news web site. The Daily Currant is sort of like The Onion but without the intelligence, wit or subtlety. The editors clearly hate conservatives but hold an especially intense loathing for Sarah Palin. So this week the DC posted two fake stories designed to give Palin haters a comforting hot oil foot massage:
Soon the social media channels exploded with mockery. Thousands of eye-rolling liberals linked to the articles—clearly believing these were real news stories—and offered their own comments about how stupid Sarah Palin is:
This is just a small sampling of the tens of thousands of social media comments earnestly tapped out this week calling Sarah Palin an imbecile and accompanied by links to a fabricated news story on a fake news website. Just marinate in the irony of that for a moment.
As I said in the previous post, the easiest lie to fall for is the one that you need to be true. The Bible calls this deception. And deception is the only option when you’ve been blinded by your own pet narrative.
WARNING: Long, meandering, stream-of-consciousness blog post ahead!!! Those choosing to proceed risk exposure to half-baked thoughts about fallen human nature, race, psychology, epistemology, Postmodernism and a possible Kierkegaard quote.
(Escape Pod: Here’s a YouTube video of Kittens Being Cute.)
(No? Well. here’s a 1940s-era hygiene film called “Joan Avoids a Cold.” It’s a timely, neglected gem.)
Still with me? Wow. Okay then . . .
One evening on our recent trip to Egypt, our wonderful hostess related a story that fascinated me.
Earlier in the day she had gone to her favorite Cairo hair salon. Her hairdresser, a young Muslim woman, was chatting about the latest celebrity gossip and the news of the day. (Some things are universal.) The big headline of the day was a surprise attack by a terrorist group affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai desert. Thirty-one Egyptian soldiers had been killed.
Why would Hamas massacre Egyptian soldiers? Well, it was widely known—if not officially admitted—that Egypt had been sharing intelligence with Israel in its struggle with Hamas during the wave of rocket attacks out of Gaza. Hamas is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. And the secular, military-backed government of Egypt has been actively working to squash the Brotherhood like a bug ever since they took the reins of power away from them back in July of 2013. (A big majority non-radical Egyptians view this as a good thing, by the way.)
In other words, the Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood terrorist partnership has lots of reasons to despise the current government of Egypt. And the feeling is oh, so mutual.
The hairdresser brought up the massacre of the Egyptian soldiers, mentioning how sad and awful it was. Then she added, “I read on Facebook that the Israelis helped Hamas do this terrible thing.”
Of course, in the history of ludicrous conspiracy theories, this one is worthy of a leg-lamp “major award” for nonsensicality. This assertion was just bat-guano crazy. So my friend called her on it.
“Hold on just a second,” She interjected. “Do you seriously think that the Israelis, who just spent the last month bombing the daylights out of Hamas . . . the same Hamas that just spent the last month shooting missiles into Israel–suddenly decided to work together to kill some Egyptian soldiers? Seriously? Think about what you’re saying.”
The hairdresser looked stunned for a moment, having expected nothing but a nod of agreement about those sneaky Israelis. Then she shrugged and said, “I guess I see what you mean.”
As it turned out, this utterly ridiculous, completely irrational conspiracy theory was, at that moment, being embraced and repeated all over Egypt. But it wasn’t the only one.
We also heard another popular theory circulating in the Islamic world—namely that ISIS—the Islamist terrorist group raping, massacring and beheading its way across Iraq and Syria—was actually a creation of the Israeli Mossad (with assistance from the United States, of course).
It’s hard to know which of these two widely held beliefs is more bizarrely at odds with the facts, reason and common sense. Yet both are circulated widely as articles of faith in Egypt and throughout the Islamic world.
It illustrates an important truism concerning human nature:
The easiest lie to believe is one that validates your existing biases.
So, if it helps to blame the failures of your country or culture or tribe on some insidious and powerful “other,” you’ll seize upon any and every assertion that seems to validate that narrative—no matter how absurd the claim or tenuous the evidence.
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard
None of us are immune to this tendency. Not me. Not you. The lie you fall for is the one you want or need to be true. Con men throughout history have exploited this fact with astonishingly consistent success.
This phenomenon is not new. There are, however, a couple of fancy new names to identify it. The first of these is “confirmation bias”—our tendency to take note of evidence that supports our beliefs and be blind to evidence that challenges them. Any contradictory evidence that can’t easily be ignored is dismissed, devalued or twisted.
The second is like unto it. I’m referring to postmodern culture’s slavery to preferred “narratives.” We’re all susceptible to this but it seems people under 50 are particularly prone—at least that’s my admittedly subjective and anecdotal observation. (I, of course, am immune to confirmation bias.)
Once a group adopts a preferred narrative—whether it be “the Jews control the media”; “men are pigs”; “Christians are stupid”‘ or “conservatives are racist”—no amount of contradictory evidence can pry them away from it. Indeed, due to confirmation bias, most won’t even see any contradictory evidence. But they’ll find validation of their views all around them.
This brings us to the Current Events portion of today’s broadcast . . .
Knees Will Jerk
The moment news reports emerged that an 18-year-old unarmed black man named Michael Brown had been shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the dormant Trayvon Martin outrage machine sparked, sputtered and clattered to life.
The above details were all many people needed to instantly form an opinion about the event. Like a Rorschach ink blot, most saw in the news report whatever their preferred narratives dictated.
The bigger, neglected question is, “Why was this particular shooting national news, when police-related shootings occur on a near-daily basis?” And sadly, shooting deaths of young black men are a near epidemic in some cities.
For example, 107 days elapsed between the night Michael Brown was killed and the day the grand jury announced that officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in the shooting. In that span of time, 244 teenagers were shot in Chicago alone.
In Chicago alone.
Ten of those shootings of teens were by Chicago police officers. None of these made national headlines. Nor did any of the scores of other inner city shooting deaths that have occurred in recent months. Why? Are these deaths less tragic? Are these boys’ mothers less grief-stricken?
Of course, not Those deaths aren’t newsworthy because they don’t fit the preferred narrative of the dominant culture. Namely, what Jonathan Tobin of Commentary magazine recently called “A False Narrative of Oppression.” Confirmation bias renders these tragic deaths invisible.
Let me hasten to add that it wasn’t just card carrying members of the Civil Rights Grievance Industrial Complex who uncritically seized upon the narrative of a helpless, compliant teenager gunned down in cold blood by a trigger happy cop.
Lots of white conservative and libertarian knees jerked at the news as well. For some time now, I’ve been watching conservatives and libertarians growing increasingly critical and suspicious of police power and nervous about the lack of police accountability. I certainly understand those concerns.
The militarization of the local police forces was a huge topic of discussion and alarm across the conservato-libertarian blogosphere in the months preceding the Michael Brown incident. As was police resistance to being videoed or photographed while performing duties.
Thus, when the early and factually flawed accounts of the shooting emerged, many of these pundits were quick to point to it and say, “See. This is what we’re saying.”
By the time the world learned that those early “eyewitness” reports of Michael Brown being gunned down with his hands in the air were inflammatory fabrications, the truth no longer mattered. The narrative was set in stone. And the easiest lie to believe is the one that validates your most cherished biases.*
*(Exhibit B: Feminists re: Rolling Stone Fabricated Rape Expose at UVa)
I owe my vast and demanding readership a follow-up to my previous post about the long-term legacy of the Obama presidency. You’ll find the Part 1, “The Weaponizing of the Federal Bureaucracy” here.
Prior to the 1970s, Journalism students in America’s colleges and universities were taught a code of ethics that demanded objectivity in their reporting. It was understood that reporters and writers would have viewpoints and biases, but that they had a professional responsibility to keep their opinions out of their writing and to set their biases aside when reporting the news. No, this was never perfectly achieved but it was the ideal to which professionals aspired and the standard to which they were held.
Students were also taught that journalists played a vital role in American democracy–namely, keeping the government accountable and keeping the citizenry informed about what their government was up to. They inherited a tradition from Enlightenment Europe that viewed the press as a “Fourth Estate”–and therefore a pillar of civilized societies.
Americans understood that one of the key traits distinguishing the great Western democracies from totalitarian states and banana republics was a press that was free, able and willing to challenge the government.
Sure, guys like Walter Cronkite were ideological liberals. But the point is, Cronkite and his generation cared about being perceived as objective. He didn’t allow the mask to slip until late in his career and life.
All of that began to change when the maoist hippie protesters and campus sit-in organizers of the sixties became the adjunct professors of the seventies and the tenured professors or deans of the eighties.
Once these “Progressives” were solidly in control of of the nation’s “J Schools” (and the rest of Liberal Arts departments for that matter) they began turning out a new kind of journalist with a new sense of mission.
These new reporters no longer saw their mission to be informing the public of the facts (whatever those facts might be) and holding government officials accountable (no matter which party might be in power.) This new generation of journalists very consciously viewed themselves as a force for societal transformation.
As the battle lines of the”culture wars” formed (especially after 1973’s Roe v. Wade), this new breed of journalists picked a side.
This made advancing a set of agendas the primary mission of reporters, rather than objectively reporting events. And advancing agendas required actively helping one political party’s candidates and hindering the other’s. It also meant moving the electorate to the left.
All of this was accomplished subtly but powerfully through the reporter’s and editor’s power to decide what is “news” and what isn’t. To choose which questions to ask and which to leave unasked. And to choose who is questioned and who is left alone.
This wave of reporters were already well up the ranks of the nation’s news organizations by the time Ronald Reagan took the oath of office in 1981. Some older reporters sensed the shift and threw themselves into the agenda-driving fray.
As long as Republicans were the party in power, reporters and editors could continue to plausably claim they were continuing to fulfill their independent and objective watchdog role. But with the election of Bill Clinton, that claim became harder to square with reality .
Such claims became laughable when Barack Obama got his party’s nomination and the Republican nominee, the moderate John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. The news media’s advocacy became an powerful asset for the Obama cause–and an unsurmountable obstacle for Team McCain.
After the election, the country’s most incompetent and corrupt administration since Warren G. Harding’s benefited from a news media and liberal blogosphere that saw its sole job as running interference for President and his allies in Congress.
In the early days, the agenda-mongering in the press was uncoordinated and non-orchestrated. It succeeded organically because of a shared world view — everyone pretty much agreed with everyone else. But that all changed with Mr. Obama’s candidacy and presidency.
In 2007, liberal blogger Ezra Klein quietly formed a GoogleGroups message board called “Journolist” and began inviting other influential liberal reporters, writers, bloggers, and academics to join. Ultimately the list grew to more than 400 of the nation’s key journalists working at most of the elite media outlets. The secret network allowed leftist journalists to coordinate messaging and strategy.
Journolist offered the Obama administration a power to dispense preferred talking points and suppress unflattering news narratives that must have made Vladimir Putin envious . Of course, Team Obama happily accepted.
The existence of this group explains why, to the this day, Mr. Obama looks like he’s been slapped in the face with a wet mackerel on those rare occasions a reporter dares to ask him a hard or embarrassing question.
When the existence of Journolist leaked out, it was hastily shut down, but it has almost certainly been reconstructed in a stealthier way. In a broader sense, journalists now view themselves as righteous soldiers in the culture wars, fighting with the tools at their disposal to shape public opinion and make sure the “right” people get elected.
Sure there are a few exceptions — throwbacks to the earlier breed of objective journalist. ABC’s Jake Tapper comes to mind. But these are rarities. Real journalists generally don’t get promoted, or, if one slips through the system, don’t stay employed.
The most recent example is CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who tended to ask tough questions about the Obama administration’s Solyndra boondoggle, the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal, and Benghazi. Her pursuit of the Benghazi story was the last straw for her colleagues at CBS. She was instructed to play ball. She refused and resigned.
No, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t cause the death of journalism. But it finally exposed the truth that the corpse was cold.
I’ve been following politics and studying elections most of my adult life. I’m also an avid student of history. And if there has ever been an uglier, more vicious, more dishonest media campaign for political office than that of Wendy Davis for Texas governor, I’m not aware of it.
Even the left-leaning Washington Post is now recoiling in horror. (“Wendy Davis is Running One of the Nastiest Ad Campaigns You Will Ever See“) A writer for hyper-liberal Mother Jones magazine called her latest ad, “offensive and nasty.”
The fact is, those adjectives accurately describe the entire campaign–which has received massive out-of-state funding, particularly from liberal coastal elites who fell in love with Wendy the state legislator when she conducted an 11-hour filibuster on the floor of the Texas House against a bill that restricted late-term abortions. When Davis’ filibuster–which was accompanied by pro-abortion supporters hoping to pelt Republican legislators with tampons, condoms, bricks and jars of urine and feces–became a widely covered national story, she became the darling of the Left and Big Abortion.
Thus out-of-staters have poured millions into the Davis campaign. And those dollars have funded a relentlessly negative, misleading and ubiquitous television ad campaign. Her campaign has been carpet bombing the local airwaves for weeks.
Meanwhile, the Greg Abbott campaign has barely bothered to respond to the stream of ugly accusations in the Davis ads. In fact, he’s hardly bothered to advertise at all–which tells you everything you need to know about what Abbott’s internal polls are saying about the election.
And explains why the Davis campaign is plumbing new depths of sliminess as election day approaches. May that day come quickly.
Forgot to mention that the campaign media company that created Davis’ latest ad is the same one that crafted the attack ad against Mitt Romney that falsely suggested a woman died of cancer because of him. So . . . lie down with dogs . . . fleas . . . and all that.