2. NBC: Seniors Forced to Live in Van as Golden Years 'Tarnished'
3. Excusing Wright: 'Latent Racism' Ruining an 'Incredible' Man
4. ABC's Shipman: Pope Not Actually a 'Hard-Line' 'Rottweiler?'
5. 'Top Ten Surprising Facts in Barbara Walters' New Autobiography'
Demonstrating how the mainstream media will view criticism of Barack Obama through the prism of past attacks on Democrats they consider illegitimate, Dean Reynolds concluded a Sunday night CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama by suggesting Democrats are well-justified in fearing Republicans will succeed in portraying Obama as "out of the mainstream,'" which Reynolds described as "code for 'unpatriotic'" in forwarding the red-herring, since it has worked "even against those who've received the purple heart." To make his reference clear, as he spoke viewers saw video from the 2004 campaign of John Kerry.
Reynolds had relayed how Obama has "been mocking suggestions that he's out of the mainstream." CBS then played a clip of Obama, in a stump speech, repeating the questions about him: "'We're not sure he shares our values.' 'We haven't seen him wear a flag pin lately.' 'His former pastor said some terrible things' and so, you know, 'can we really trust this guy?'"
Next, Reynolds ended his May 4 story from Indianapolis: "But 'out of the mainstream' is a charge Republicans habitually make against Democrats. It's code for 'unpatriotic.' And it worries Democrats that it's been so effective against their candidates in the past -- even against those who've received the purple heart."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Of course, the criticism against Kerry in 2004 was initiated by other Vietnam veterans who doubted he properly earned the purple heart his campaign touted as a qualification over George Bush. And accusing conservatives of charging that liberals are unpatriotic is a common method liberals and some journalists, like Reynolds, use to discredit conservative criticism of the policies espoused -- and values held -- by liberals.
Which legitimate, significant political figure on the right has accused Barack Obama of being unpatriotic?
Chris Jansing traveled to Northridge, California, just north of Los Angeles, where she found 82-year-old Betty Weinstein, stunned by a water bill, turning to a second reverse mortgage to stay in her home. But she at least still has a home. Jansing then highlighted an even sadder case: "Rising rents forced Scott and Kate Bishop to move out of this blue house and into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back."
But it got worse: "And now high food costs have meant, for first time in their lives, the Bishops have gone hungry." Jansing cited no source for her claims as she asserted: "Soup kitchens and food banks are seeing record numbers of seniors asking for help for the first time in their lives," but "now donations here are down as middle class donors struggle to feed their own families."
Topping off the story, Jansing featured this from Weinstein: "It's not the golden years anymore, it's the tarnished years."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A little reality check. Inflation in March, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 0.9 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For "Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA," the area which includes Northridge, it was at 1 percent. BLS home page: www.bls.gov
A Thursday Reuters dispatch about rising food prices actually revealed that, overall, food prices are hardly growing at an astronomical rate: "Consumer food prices normally rise by about 2.5 percent annually, but they increased by 4 percent in 2007, the biggest increase in 17 years. And forecasts for 2008 are pointing to a another rise of 4 percent to 5 percent as retailers pass higher energy and commodity costs to the public." See: news.yahoo.com
Let's exaggerate and put it at 10 percent already. That means your $100 trip to the grocery store in 2006 now costs $110. And so that puts you on a mattress in your van? Obviously, the Bishops are not typical.
The pathetic excuse for a news story on the Friday, May 2 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We have an interesting look tonight at the toll that rising prices, of things like gas and food, is taking on Americans living on fixed incomes. From Los Angeles, our report from NBC's Chris Jansing.
CHRIS JANSING: For 42 years now, Betty Weinstein has called this modest ranch house in Granada Hills, California, home.
When Washington Post writer Sally Quinn came on the Charlie Rose show Wednesday night to discuss the Reverend Wright controversy, the accusations against whites flew wildly. Obama's distancing from Wright was "so incredibly sad," and happened because "we are still a racist country," where "so many white Americans...have absolutely no idea what goes on inside black churches on a Sunday morning...and I think it brought out a lot of latent racism." She concluded the interview by insisting that whites "go to their white churches, and you wonder how they can call themselves Christians and still look at other people as though they are inferior."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sally Quinn came on with Rev. Floyd Flake, a former Congressman from New York, who also discussed this with Rose the first time Wright became controversial. Quinn tried to say that Obama's greater condemnation of Wright would help Obama, but it was tragic:
In an interesting way, I think it may have helped Obama, because I think that by [Wright] coming out the way he did, he allowed Obama to come out much more forcefully the way he did today. And he had to. He had absolutely no choice.
But Charlie, there is something so incredibly sad about what happened today, because after listening to all of those people in the church last night talk about Reverend Wright, who has the most distinguished career, 36 years of doing incredible work, lionized by some of the great white theologians in this country, to see his career completely destroyed by three 20-second sound bites, all of the work he has done, his entire legacy gone down the drain, has been absolutely devastating to me -- to him, sorry.
And he's gotten enormous numbers of death threats. His family's been threatened. It's been a horrible experience. So I think that played in to part of why he came out. He couldn't stand it another minute to say, this is what's going to be left of me, this is what's going to be remembered.
Then the racism talk kicked in:
So for Obama to have to be forced to distance himself in this way has got to be extremely painful for both of them. But I think because we are still a racist country, that there are so many white Americans who have absolutely no idea what goes on inside of black churches on Sunday morning. I think it was Obama who said, certainly Reverend Wright said, that the most segregated hour in this country every week is on Sunday morning, because that`s when blacks go to their churches and whites go to their churches. And I think that so many white people who had never been inside a black church were absolutely shocked by the tone and language that they heard, and it was so unfamiliar to them, it was like a different culture. And I think it brought out a lot of latent racism.
At the segment's end, Quinn really let loose on white church-goers:
And a message of black liberation theology is basically Confucius' message of do unto others as you would have others do unto you. We are our brother's keepers. Obama has said that many times. But you look at a lot of the white Christians, and we're 90 percent religious in this country. Most people in this country are Christians, and you look at the Christians and they go to their white churches. And you wonder how they can call themselves Christians and still look at other people as though they are inferior.
The problem with Quinn's theory is that most American churches are not "white churches," but churches that are not 98 percent black. They may have a majority of whites, but have a very diverse distribution of races.
Quinn even stooped to trying to explain away (even almost endorse) the AIDS conspiracy theory as a plausible (if not common) piece of black church rhetoric:
But, you know, as we've pointed out, there are 8,000 members of his church who go there every single Sunday. And these people are from all walks of life in Chicago. This is not apparently the kind of thing that he says every day. I mean, some of the things he said this time were off the wall.
And, you know, you can explain them, as he explained, for instance, the idea that the government in fact would infect blacks with AIDS, by saying, well, remember Tuskegee, when the government actually did infect blacks with syphilis. He does come from a different era, a different age. And so the way he presents himself is very different.
No! The government never "infected" blacks with syphilis. Even The Huffington Post (through former Washington Post writer David Mills) have corrected that canard. Quinn actually reported that Wright was hailed as a hero, a prophet, comparable to Martin Luther King or even Jesus after his National Press Club speech, something she found very touching:
I spent the entire day at Shiloh Baptist Church. I left the press club, went over there, where Reverend Wright and his family were. And it was an entire day of preaching and praying, affirmation for Reverend Wright that went on until after 10:00 last night.
One preacher after the other, one pastor of the other, essentially eulogizing him. But, I mean, affirming him, telling -- comparing him to Martin Luther King, talking about how he was one of the great prophets like he was a prophet in the Bible. Some even comparing him to Jesus in terms of being the kind of prophet that (inaudible), because this is prophetic kind of preaching, that prophets are always unpopular, particularly with the ruling classes.
Almost every person brought up slavery. This is where we come from. When we came over on the boat, the slave boats, we were below and we were praying to a different God from the God that the people on the decks were praying to.
It was about the oppressed. It was about trying to pull one's self up, to change one's life, to make oneself better. There was one very touching moment where one of the women preachers -- and by the way, they were unbelievable, these women liberation theologists. She said, "We are afraid of ourselves." This was in a prayer to God. "We're afraid of ourselves because we don't think we are as good as you think we are, God." And then she went on to say, "Deep inside some of us admire white people so much more and even despite the black people."
Quinn even hailed Wright's replacement Otis Moss as a "fabulous new pastor" who "has a whole different view of preaching. His view is much closer to that of Barack Obama's in terms of black liberation theology." That ought to be worth exploring.
Shipman even trotted out the media's favorite insulting epithet for the Pope. She derided: "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the pontiff used to be known, was considered a stern hard-liner, nicknamed 'God's rottweiler.'" After mentioning Benedict's visit to a U.S. synagogue, his meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests, the journalist marveled: "Could this Pope so many had written off as a tough guy be a teddy bear in disguise?" Wouldn't it be more honest to admit that the "many" and "most" Shipman kept referring to are actually members of the media? After all, most Catholics hadn't heard of Joseph Ratzinger when he was chosen to be pope in April of 2005. ABC reporters, on the other hand, quickly made their thoughts on the selection clear.
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On April 19 of that year, ABC News producer Christel Kucharz, during live coverage, complained: "There's widespread doubt here that he will be able to overcome his reputation as the intimidating enforcer, punishing liberal thinkers and keeping the Church in the Middle Ages." Reporter Cokie Roberts whined about the "controversial" choice and lamented the fact that Ratzinger was known for enforcing Catholic doctrine: "But he has been responsible for removing theologians from their positions in American institutions." For a round-up of media reaction to Benedict's selection, see the April 25, 2005 edition of Notable Quotables: www.mediaresearch.org
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:17am on Friday, May 2:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, our exclusive look at the mysteries of Rome, where we are unlocking the secrets of that city. We start at the Vatican with the man at the center of the Catholic Church, the Pope. After his recent visit here to the U.S., the pontiff helped to unlock some of the mysteries about himself. Claire Shipman, live in St. Peters Square, one of my favorite places in all the world. Morning, Claire.
This week's "Top Ten Contest" topic on the Late Show's Web site: "Top Ten Surprising Facts in Barbara Walters' New Autobiography."
Her autobiography will be released this week and ABC will air a prime time special about it on Wednesday night.
To submit your suggested lines (those picked will win a T-shirt), go to: www.cbs.com
The winning entries will be posted on Saturday.
-- Brent Baker