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April 24, 2003
From the Guardian:
Of course, what he means, I think, is that they won't be doing clumsy, ineffective propaganda. But I can't imagine our government is putting up $66 million just to create additional syndication opportunities for American news channels. Clearly, we want to influence opinion in the Arab world with this project.
So how best to do that? If you were creating a 24-hour TV channel to make the Middle East like us more, or at least hate us less, what programming would you offer? And, perhaps most importantly, is there a way to involve Ahmet Zappa? For example, wouldn't it be great if the Bush Administration decided to bring back Happy Hour?
One other question: I read that only about 10% of Iraqis have TVs, but haven't been able to find much out about what kind of programming was available to them during the Saddam era. If you have any info to share about this, please do.
Posted by Greg Beato at 01:26 PM
April 23, 2003
The Streak Continues
On tonight's episode of Scarborough Country, MSNBC's Great Right Hope highlighted another Congressional boondoggle: this time, it was a grant of $90,000 to the National Cowgirl Museum in Hereford, Texas.
Once again, Joe Scarborough failed to mention that the funding was requested by a Republican - Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Texas.
I didn't see anyone who looked like Granger in any of the segment's accompanying video imagery, but the segment did open with a shot of a woman who I'm pretty sure was Ann Richards, former governer of Texas, and of course, a prominent Democrat.
Posted by Greg Beato at 08:16 PM
April 22, 2003
Nuttin' But Lies
Joe "I Can't Believe It's Not O'Reilly" Scarborough, MSNBC's latest Great Right Hope, does a segment on his show each night called Capitol Offense, wherein he highlights instances of government pork.
In tonight's segment, Scarborough explained how Congress recently granted $202,500 to the National Peanut Festival in Dothan, Alabama. As he ridiculed such wasteful expenditures, a visual medley of various peanut-celebration scenes played. Then, as Scarborough neared his money line, there was a sudden segue from peanut festival fun to an inexplicable shot of a red, white, and blue Jimmy Carter sign. "How much are taxpayers paying for [the Peanut Festival]?" Scarborough asked, as this shot dissolved into one of Jimmy Carter waving happily to presumed peanut-lovers. "Over $200,000!"
Why use imagery of a Democrat from Georgia to illustrate the dubious deeds of a Republican from Alabama? I guess the maps in "Scarborough Country" are drawn a little differently than in places where people still value the truth.
Posted by Greg Beato at 08:26 PM
April 21, 2003
Pundit, Heal Thyself
On April 9th, the day that coalition forces were turning Baghdad into a Saddam-free zone and jubilant Iraqis (or at least one jubilant Iraqi) were kissing soldiers, some professors at Yale held a teach-in. According to the Yale Daily News, "five anti-war faculty members criticized American war policy and alleged bias in the media" at the teach-in, which was sponsored by the Yale Coalition for Peace and other student organizations.
Along with the Yale Daily News piece, the teach-in inspired at least one other article. It appeared in FrontPage Magazine and was written by Yale students Eliana Johnson and Jamie Kirchick.
Their article was extremely critical of the teach-in; here's how it began:
Eventually, another Yale lecturer named Jim Sleeper published an op-ed in the Yale Daily News decrying the lack of civility in campus debate about the war. At one point in his piece, Sleeper cited Johnson's and Kirchick's FrontPage article and referred to the "freshmen" who wrote it, without actually mentioning the two by name.
Sleeper's piece attracted the attention of talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt, who subsequently wrote a condemnation of Sleeper for the Weekly Standard. That piece began in the following fashion:
Eliana Johnson and Jamie Kirchick are freshmen at Yale. They are members of Yale Students for Democracy...
But that's just one of many nice touches Hewitt includes in the piece. For example, Hewitt maintains that "specifically, Sleeper brands the two freshmen and another group, Campus Watch, as neo-Stalinists and, even more incredibly, the 'Fedayeen Uncle Sams.'"
But here's what Sleeper actually wrote:
Earlier in his essay, Sleeper did note that pro-war advocates at Yale had been "barging into people's rooms, spitting on them, or defacing property." For whatever reasons, Hewitt makes no mention of such incidents, like the one where "several male students brandishing a wooden plank" reportedly entered a female Yale student's dorm suite after midnight and wrote "inflammatory messages" on her whiteboard. My guess is that the people who committed these acts were the ones Sleeper was labeling "Fedayeen Uncle Sams."
The real Fedayeens were vicious murderers, so one might call it moral equivalence to apply the "Fedayeen Uncle Sams" label to a gang of plank-brandishing whiteboard scribblers. Me, I'd say it's just the sort of rhetorical tactic that is the coin of the realm of punditry.
Take, for example, this passage from the article that Eliana Johnson and Jamie Kirchick wrote:
In the wake of such statements, Gilmore posted the text of her speech at History News Network.
Read it and ask yourself where the "conspiracy theories" and the "vicious prevarication" are.
Here's the most provocative statement that Gilmore makes in her speech:
In its "About" page, Campus Watch carefully explains that it "fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds."
But Campus Watch also makes it clear that its mandate goes beyond mere commentary. Instead, its purpose is to:
In a New York Post editorial published last fall, Daniel Pipes wrote the following:
Was the specific right-wing response to Gilmore's op-ed coordinated in advance, with memos passed out to all the players in the chain of command? That's highly doubtful, of course, but Gilmore never makes any such claims. Instead, she simply says that she walked into "a preplanned campaign aimed at antiwar university professors..." And if Campus Watch, with its mission statements, mailing lists, and mandate to "monitor Middle East studies on campus" is not a "pre-planned campaign," what exactly is it then? Ultimately, Gilmore's speech was not "vicious prevarication" or a "conspiracy theory," but rather an accurate assessment of institutions and tactics that do exist.
Alas, Hugh Hewitt has said nothing about the rhetorical excess of Eliana Johnson's and Jamie Kirchick's article, nor has he counseled them to choose their words carefully. Why not? Apparently when you're playing for the same team as Hewitt, you get a pass.
UPDATE: Jim Sleeper has more to say in another Yale Daily News piece.
Posted by Greg Beato at 02:27 PM
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