NBCNews.com followed the lead of Politico
on Wednesday in hyping left-leaning attacks of Senator Ted Cruz for
reading Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" during his marathon floor speech
against ObamaCare. Kasie Hunt and Carrie Dann spotlighted the critiques
of Cruz from overt liberals, including former Obama campaign adviser
David Plouffe; and Senators Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill.
The two writers also turned to Kansas State University's Phil Nel, whom they identified as a "Seuss biographer". However, they omitted that Nel donated thousands of dollars to Obama's 2008 and 2012, as well as to pro-abortion group Emily's List and to MoveOn.org.
Hunt and Dann led their online article, "Cruz critics call 'Green Eggs' reading rotten", with a Seuss-like summary of the liberals' attack on the Texas senator, and did something that Politico's Lucy McCalmont failed to – providing the context of why Cruz read the children's book:
Sen. Ted Cruz does not like Obamacare, he does not like it anywhere – but would the senator mind it, if only he could try it? That's what some Democrats are wondering after Cruz chose to read Dr. Seuss's 'Green Eggs and Ham' to his two young daughters from the Senate floor around their 8 p.m. bedtime on Tuesday...The story, after all, is a parable about how a stubborn, Grinch-like character insists that he hates green eggs and ham – until he is finally convinced to try them.
The NBC News journalists continued by quoting Plouffe's "mocking
political poetry" targeting Cruz. Before citing Senators Schumer and
McCaskill, they asserted that there was "there was a broader critique...Like everyone else in the country, Cruz hasn't had a chance to try out health care under the new law. The state-based exchanges that will be used to buy insurance open next Tuesday."
Later, Hunt and Dann did point out that "Cruz on Wednesday said there was no larger ideological point to reading the story". But the followed this with Professor Nel's ideologically-tinged critique of the Texas Republican:
...[S]cholars of Dr. Seuss also found Cruz's
choice confusing, noting that ideas of compromise and mutual
understanding run throughout Dr. Seuss’s body of work, especially "Green Eggs and Ham."
"The moral message of 'Green Eggs and Ham' – to the extent that it has one – is completely at odds with what Cruz was trying to achieve," says Seuss biographer Phil Nel, a professor at Kansas State University.
Written in 1960 as a response to a challenge by his editor to write a book using fewer than 50 words, "Green Eggs and Ham" didn't have an explicitly political message, says Nel. But many of Seuss's other works did.
"The Butter Battle Book" was an allegory for Reagan's escalation of the nuclear arms race, and the story "The Sneetches" – about a community of yellow creatures divided by prejudice over a meaningless physical characteristic – was inspired by Seuss's disgust with anti-Semitism....
The journalists also spotlighted how "Seuss didn't hesitate to speak up
when he thought his message had been misappropriated. In the 1980s, he
threatened to sue an anti-abortion group that used the line – 'A
person's a person, no matter how small' – from the pro-tolerance book
'Horton Hears a Who.'"
Near the end of their write-up, Hunt and Dann emphasized that "the Seuss world appears united in saying that Cruz – and Congress as a whole – could learn something from the lessons of 'Green Eggs and Ham.' 'I think Dr. Seuss would find the Senate and the Congress much in need of reading and understanding his entire corpus of children’s books,' said Donald Pease, a professor of English at Dartmouth University and the author of a biography of Geisel. 'Because they're behaving like Sneetches."
However, the NBC News journalists didn't point out that Pease is also a left-leaning academic. In an April 2012 article, Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times noted that "Pease, author of the 2009 book 'The New American Exceptionalism,' said he believes fealty to the notion [of American exceptionalism] echoes Cold War-era anti-communism loyalty oaths. Pease said he views [Newt] Gingrich's comments in particular as an attempt to identify Obama as un-American. 'I do think there's a kind of coding going on there,' said Pease, a Dartmouth professor."