Monday, February 16, 2015

When The News Is the News....and then some.

I thought I would write about how the news has become the news even though it's not really the news anymore because most of it is really info-tainment and not news anyway. But then, just when I was trying to compose my thoughts and rein in my vitriol mostly directed at Brian Williams (who I trusted to be square on the tube)... Denmark happened. 

See, here's the thing. I take a dim view of news that is slanted, spun, and otherwise manipulated. The American public is already polarized...and I think the so-called news organs exacerbate that polarization. Whether it's FOX, CNN, NBC, ABC, or CBS...if the readers are just talking heads talking for the sake of ratings, then shut up. If what comes out of your mouth is determined by your advertisers or the narrowness of your audience, stop calling yourself "news" and title your programs in a way consistent with your goal: THE EVENING SPIN. You have a right, possibly even an obligation to your target audience, to give them what they want, but for pity's sake, do not market it as journalism. It is not. 

News is supposed to be reporters reporting facts, not innuendo. They are supposed to bring us an unvarnished story, not adventure tales. The expectation is that we are to deem the information trustworthy and reliable; we're not supposed to be betting on the percentage of truth in a story. 

I will readily admit I was a fan of Brian Williams. He had a gravitas and demeanor that matched what I thought were his journalistic credentials. Although he attended, he did not graduate from college. Still, he had an exceptional career (or so we thought.) He was awarded the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism (Arizona State University) in 2009, and even Walter himself liked him, and was quoted in ASU's announcement:
I am overjoyed that Brian Williams will accept the 2009 Cronkite Award from ASU. It’s no secret that I am one of his most ardent admirers. A fastidious newsman, Brian brings distinct credit to our profession, adding not only his brilliance but grace and elegance as well. He does me great honor by accepting this award. 
Well, he had ol' Walter fooled.  

Should these guys be held to a higher standard than the rest of us mere mortals? Yes. 

Brian Williams now has the gravitas of a used-car salesmen. He is toast. And yesterday's news. He is gone. 

Whether they have the degree or not, if the talking heads are reporting the news they should be telling the truth. No spin. No embellishment. No tempting teasers. Just do the frickin' news. And speaking of actually doing the news.....

Where has all the journalism gone? Long time passing......
Where has all the real news gone? Long time ago.....

There is an eerie similarity between Denmark and Paris: first there was an attack on journalists, followed by an attack on Jews. Although at this writing it has not been established that the murderer was affiliated with a particular group, it is hard not to view this as a lone-wolf attempt to replicate Paris. The events in Denmark, while smaller in scale, cannot be ignored, waved, or even spun away. 

The Jewish communities of Europe are right to be worried. Just about 80 years ago, Jews...and the rest of the world...were ignoring the warning signs in Germany. No one believed that the little Austrian paperhanger could take over an entire country, much less orchestrate the destruction of a thriving Jewish population. He didn't do it alone. And although every German will tell you how their family tried to help their Jewish neighbors, it's pretty clear no one really did. Kristallnacht, November 9th-10th, 1938, did not just fall out of the night sky. Inside Germany, Jews believed this would all just peter out and disappear. Outside Germany, most of the world didn't recognize this was a real threat to the Jews of Europe. It was. And it was ignored. 

But we survived..and our rallying cry became, "Never Again."

Now is not the time to stick our heads back in the sand. This is the time to recognize that Jewish communities are again in jeopardy. Over half the British Jewish community believes they are in danger. Jews of France, despite what the French president says, believe they are in harm's way. The BDS movement in this country grows increasingly bolder and targets not Israel and her policies, but Jews regardless of their stand on Israel. The United Nations continues to censor Israel for defending itself, but gives a free pass to Hamas who uses UN facilities as rocket launcher sites. But it's not just in Europe or in Israel; it's everywhere. 

The senior son just called. In the course of that conversation, he asked me if I heard what happened in Madison over the weekend. My answer was, "No."

Over the weekend, homes in Madison, Wisconsin, had been vandalized with antisemitic graffiti. 30 homes. Not just one or two....30. That's a big number. The story appeared in the local Madison newspaper and on one of the local stations, but not in the NY Times or the Washington Post or even USA Today. I did not see it on the national news on NBC or CBS. Meanwhile,the Madison police are trying to decide if this was a "prank" or a hate crime. Do they really have to think about this?

To give credit where credit is due, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story on February 15th about the increase of antisemitism in Wisconsin , but there is no mention of the Madison incident which was first reported the day before. The MJS first story appeared the next day, February 16th: Madison Police Investigate Antisemitism Spree 

While there is little in comparison between shooting up people and spray painting cars and garage doors, do we really have to have side-by-side comparisons of what antisemitism looks like?

Berlin, 1938
Not Paris Not Copenhagen Not Gaza...
Madison, Wisconsin, 2015

More's the pity that television news didn't think it was important enough to cover. It made most of the Israeli papers, but apparently  FUCK JEWS isn't newsworthy enough for coverage in the United States. 

I suppose if you want real news reporting on the telly, PBS is the last hold out. I've said that before and I'm saying it again. The rest of them are pretty much a bunch of hair-dos with empty heads. Yeah, there are some exceptions...and I think you'll find most of them on CBS these days, certainly not NBC or ABC, but that said, it won't be too long before CBS goes the way of info-tainment. The local affiliate, WCCO had a pretty good early morning show up until recently when the happy-talk started creeping in. 

Feh. I liked J. Fred Muggs better.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Not sure you believe what the hair-do said?
Google it. 


  1. Had not heard the Madison story -- thanks for pointing it out. Here's hoping CBS holds out. I like Scott Pelley a great deal.

  2. So much for Madison's #1 ranking on the "Top 100 Places to Live" in the US:

    I am really surprised this story wasn't picked up nationally.

  3. Other than the serious fact about Madison and Europe and the anti semetic events, it is Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Everyone should b e happy today andnot saying awful things about others