Sunday, September 07, 2008
A statement is not a smear if it is true.
Joseph, "Good for the goose . . ." (Cannonfire) [Palin's speech can be read here.]
-- Chris Floyd, "Surge Protectors: Obama Embraces Bush-McCain Spin on Iraq" (Baltimore Chronicle)
I don't know a thing about the woman. Except she's a "former beauty queen." I see that over and over in the press. And people, reporters, saying she’s not qualified because she's only a 2nd year governor. And then saying "beauty queen" one more time.
She's a Republican and I'm sure we do not agree on abortion or LGBT issues. I have no plans to vote for her.
I will not, however, stand by while another woman is trashed.
And let’s get really damn honest here, she's being trashed by Barack's campaign. The lack of experience line is coming from Barack's campaign and quoted online by The Los Angeles Times and many others. WMC can't make that obvious point ever. That's why I am only a lukewarm supporter. That and the fact that as a LESBIAN
I will not support a man who puts homophobes on stage.
Thank you to my sisters at WMC who refused to call out Barack's use of homophobia. Wave to me when it's my stop. It's a long, long walk from the back of the bus.
-- Heather posting to "Katie Couric & Sexism in the Media" (WMC).
Another Sunday. We managed somehow.
Along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.
And let's move to what we came up with:
Truest statement of the week -- We had two possibilities from Joseph (and we had about 16 nominees for the truest). We went with this one because Palin was eliminated as truest herself. If we included one truest from her speech, some felt it would be argued that we were saying the entire speech was true (and that e-mails would pour in on that). The other reason is that only one politician has ever gotten truest and we'd like to keep it that way. The one who got truest really had to speak truth to power. (It was Bill Clinton.) So we went with this one from Joseph of Cannonfire instead of another one by him.
Truest statement of the Week II -- Chris Floyd, daring to go where other 'alternative' 'journalists' fear to tread. He stands in good company of journalists telling the truth re: Saint Barack The Christ-Child. He joins John Pilger, Bruce Dixon, Glen Ford, and a limited number of others. The small, the brave, the real reporters.
Editorial: The Sour Grape Girls -- Somewhere around Tuesday, C.I. came up with the "sour grape girls" and began talking about it with Elaine. (Who flies in tomorrow by the way. We're very happy about that.) She began talking about it with Rebecca and who passed it on to Ruth, who passed it on to Marcia, who mentioned it to Mike and before you knew it, I (Jim) was hearing about it. "That's an editorial!" I exclaimed. And then complained that others might have already written about it at their site. Fortunately, they all expected it would be an editorial so they just walked it to the line without crossing it. This may be my favorite editorial we've done this year. In part because it's completely unexpected from us and in part because I really love it when I read it.
TV: More sexism, more self-promotion -- Ava and C.I. turn in another blockbuster. We weren't sure how good it would be and knew that the edition probably hinged on it. (Gutter Trash, et al has made us very non-enthusiastic of late.) We had the editorial topic and Mike was bringing over Kwame Kilpatrick (he covered it at his site throughout last week) and that was all we had.
Reading it out loud to everyone, we began to realize we had the spine of our edition. With Ava and C.I.'s permission we snipped two sentences which became two other pieces. This is a very strong commentary from them and obviously nothing is going to stop them from continuing these.
The Palin effect -- This is one of the things we snipped. We participated in phone calls but thought it was just to drive home the point that, yes, there are Republican feminists. We assumed that, at best, a quote or two from them would pop up in Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary. Grabbing a sentence from their commentary allowed us to write this. As we were writing it, Ty checks the e-mail and a reader (Dee Dee) had e-mailed a highlight. And I'm being told we have a third truest. Okay, well anyway, this was a strong piece and I think we're all proud of it.
Truest statement of the week III -- We just put that up. Longterm reader Robyn e-mailed that and she also wondered if that was community member Heather? We don't think so because she didn't mention it and those aren't sites she visits (Los Angeles Times and The Daily Toilet Scrubber) that we're aware of. If we though it was community member Heather we would have put "Daily Toilet Scrubber" in place of that offensive site. But it's a powerful comment and we agree with Robyn, it's one worth making a truest.
Ty's Corner -- Dona wanted short pieces but no one could think of any. Ty was looking at various visuals we have but have never used and saw Beanie Babies in a box with "Ty" on it. (Ty jokes he is the black Beanie Baby on the right and the one on the left is his boyfriend -- that joke due to skin color, not due to political positions -- Ty is on the left there). He was advocating for a "Mailbag" piece this week which Dona shot down because it would turn into a roundtable and there were topics C.I., Kat and Ava asked us to table this week. (Want to guess which ones?) If we went into mailbag, we'd go into roundtable and, at some point, one of those topics would be blurted out. Ty agreed with Dona's points. But he wanted to note some e-mails. Seeing the visual, he proposed that while we tried to figure out short features, he write a quick column. We were all on board with that. A comment I need to make about this planned regular feature right now: This is Ty's feature. No one else's. No one else would try to horn in . . . except me. In 2005 or 2006, we tried to do a continuing online novel. It started great. And it was Ty's idea and largely written by him and Jess. I had to break off a piece of that, just had to. And I took it in a direction that worked for the next chapter but didn't work for what they were doing. That was the last chapter and the planned series was dropped. My ideas soured them both on the piece. I suggested they do a chapter where they made mine a dream (nightmare?) or just ignored that second chapter. But they were soured on the idea. So I'm stating right now that this is Ty's feature and I will not be horning in on it. I will not suggest themes, I will not do anything other than read it. (And help type and/or edit if Ty asks.)
Whose Media Center? -- This came about via another sentence we raided from Ava and C.I.'s commentary. We love this. We generally put the editorial top as our writing, then go to Ava and C.I. (the most popular every week) and then go through the rest in order of what we think are either the most important topic or the least important. (Highlights has always been the last topic -- even before Mike and company were writing it. It being last is not a reflection on our opinion of it, just where it has always existed -- long before anyone else started helping out here other than the core six.) Ty wanted his piece further down and Ava and C.I. insisted it had to go higher up because (a) it's a way to note a solo piece of writing and (b) Ty responds to the bulk of the e-mails and readers know him so this will be popular with our regular readers. We really weren't sure of the order this week and that's probably a good thing.
Kwame -- Mike has been covering this at his site. We thought about moving it higher up and thought about placing it after Ava and C.I. but Mike asked that it run low.
The vain woodman -- This was the only "short piece!" we came up with. Jess thought we should do something and remembered an illustration of Woodward we did back in 2006. Dona made a case for this being higher up (to break up the set piece feel) and that would have worked. With Mike wanting the piece he led on to be lower in the mix, we didn't want to move this higher.
Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Elaine, Ruth, Marcia and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it. We also thank them for including this:
A note Jim's asked us to add. Readers have complained whenever Jim didn't include "A note to our readers" due to time constraints. He says they now have another reason to complain about that. The archives got screwed up when the template was switched in 2007. But reader Jody e-mailed to say that you can go through "almost any" week's edition via Google. For those that have "A note to our readers," simply type in "the third estate sunday review," select "search this site" type in "A note to our readers" and then the date (such as "September 7, 2008") and it will pull up that week's note and allow you to find what features were offered that week.
Thank you to Jody for passing on that tip. Obviously, we really did a note each week. It would make each week's edition searchable. I did blow it off several weeks because we were just too tired. With what's Jody's passed on, we will now always include the "note" (although I think we have for about two years now.)
So that's what we came up with. We would have liked to have done some coverage of Ralph but there wasn't time. I will note here what we tried to keep out of all articles mentioning Palin: We are not voting for John McCain. We are not voting for Barack Obama. Except for Ava and C.I. we are all on record as voting for Ralph Nader. (Ava and C.I. have not revealed who they are voting for and don't plan to.) Covering Palin does not require an endorsement of her. At various points last week, Ava and C.I. (in their joint-entry) and Rebecca and someone else (Marcia? Ruth?) wrote that they would say it one more time, they weren't voting for McCain. We're all tired of saying it. We don't think it needs said again. Ava and C.I. also pointed out that there are readers of our site that are supporting John McCain and every time we include that, it feels like a stab and like "Why do they keep saying that? We know that. No one asked, they just keep bringing it up." None of us had thought about it that way and we tried to make sure it wasn't in any of the articles. I'm covering it in the note and this is the last time you'll read it here unless we're answering a question. If you're a reader and you're supporting McCain, that's your business and we don't think any less of you. We don't think you're stupid or uninformed. We know you made the decision that feels right to you and we don't want to pester anyone about their vote. Our McCain supporters who have continued reading are as welcome here as any other reader.
Last point, Ty went on a vacation this summer. When he did, his name wasn't included in the "note," obviously. He didn't work on that edition. When he came back, for several weeks (as reader Bill pointed out last week) his name wasn't included. That's because we grab the sign off line from past notes (and we do the same with 'here's who helped'). No one noticed, until two or three weeks ago, that Ty's name wasn't in it. (No one participating in the note.) When we did, we made sure to add him to it. Except for one week this summer, he has worked on every edition. Bill pointed out, "It says Ty in your comments but Ty's not at the end, so I'm sure it's just an oversight." It was an oversight and a big one.
See you next weekend.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
***Ty adding that on Monday (September 8th), I posted "CounterSpin's wrong, Ava and C.I. are correct".
They booed and hissed Sarah Palin.
They declared John McCain was "pandering" to get women voters by choosing the governor as his running mate.
Considering that the Democratic Party has offered nothing for women (unless you consider Barack cozying up to anti-choice evangelicals and dismissing women who get abortions as "feeling blue") it's amazing that the sour grape girls would accuse the Republican Party of "pandering."
To quote Betty's oldest sister, "What's really happening?"
Hillary didn't get the Democratic nomination. Take it up with the 'rules' committee. She didn't get asked to be Barack's running mate. Take it up with Barack.
There is no excuse for Hillary not being on the ticket -- either at the top or as the running mate.
That's a decision the Democratic Party made.
Now along comes John McCain doing what the Democrats refused to do (see a woman as competent to run) and you've got the sour grape girls booing and hissing.
You're booing and hissing at the wrong people.
Take that frustration and anger and aim it at the Democratic Party.
We should all be thrilled that John McCain did what Barack wouldn't.
Doesn't mean we have to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket.
But it's extremely short-sighted to boo and hiss the fact that a woman made the presidential ticket of one of the two main parties in this country.
Some are trying to argue, "But she's not the right kind of woman!"
It's a Republican ticket.
That's as foolish as P-Diddy's idiotic video where he takes John McCain to task for choosing Palin (and also flaunts his ignorance on the Alaska population demographics). McCain was never supposed to choose someone as a running mate that would please Barack supporter P-Diddy. Why would he even bother to try?
The Republican Party is not the Democratic Party. Are people unaware of that?
Of course Palin is going to represent the values the Republicans cherish.
That's why she's on the ticket.
The sour grape girls took the announcement of a Republican running mate and, despite being Democrats, wanted to pout and whine that it wasn't the right choice.
It's exactly the right choice for the Republican Party.
Hate to break it to everyone, but the Republican Party does not try to find a liberal or even moderate running mate. They are the right-wing party.
All the 'leaders' who wanted to act like they're disappointed in McCain's choice? We're disappointed if they were truly foolish enough to ever believe that McCain's choice of a running mate would please them. We're not talking about fresh out of high school graduates. We're talking about learned women who know a thing or two.
The sour grape girls appear frightened that some women might decide to vote for the McCain - Palin ticket. Guess what? Some may. And attacking Palin will only drive those numbers up.
If Palin goes through anything like what Hillary did, you better believe that a number of women (we have no idea how many) will begin considering voting McCain - Palin because the attacks on Hillary were attacks on all women.
If your goal is to steer voters from Palin, you won't achieve it by attacking her. What shaped up last week was indeed a cat fight. It was one-sided because Palin ignored it. Feminism wins nothing in a cat fight and when feminists are seen as initiating a cat fight, it hurts the cause.
Repeating, McCain's choice should never have delighted you. None of you are Republicans. You made it about a woman. You never would have written those embarrassing pieces if Palin had been a man.
What's most likely behind those pieces is very real anger over what was done to Hillary by the Democratic Party. Your anger is misdirected when aimed at McCain or Palin. Sad thing is, you're all smart enough to know that without us pointing it out.
Let's start with the convention itself which we watched like anthropologists studying another culture. Hysterically, some Democrats wanted to offer that the Republican Party didn't talk about "plans." That claim went a long way towards revealing that Thomas Frank isn't the only crackpot 'helping' the 'left' these days.
The 'fear card' was not played at the RNC convention. Let's dispel that myth right from the start. The fear card was played at the Democratic Party convention in Denver -- over and over, as they attempted to say that John McCain was exactly like the Bully Boy. You heard it over and over in speech after speech -- even if some, like Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden -- blew the line by stepping on the laugh.
The biggest surprise for us was the lack of the fear card. Some wrongly insist it was played and that's because they're so hopeless and stunted they can never see beyond their own limited view. There are very sharp differences between the base of each party. One of the differences is over security. While Democrats can rightly point out that Bully Boy has done nothing to make the world (or the country) more secure and can point to his repeated efforts to utilize fear as a campaign tool, they err when they insist the fear card was played last week.
9-11 is not just a 'hot button' issue to the Republican base, it is an indication of what they see as the differences offered in leadership from the two parties. That's a very important point and one that those killing trees with all their useless 'how to win!' books better start grasping. After nearly seven years, you'd think they'd have figured out something but their bad (and banal) writing demonstrates no knowledge learned or even that basic facts have been grasped.
The difference in leadership was supposed to be accentuated by a speech on the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building and we've seen or heard no commentary that grasped what was being set up there. The first 9-11 was what was being sold. While that is ahistorical, you have to grasp what was being set up to grasp the points of the convention and, yes, the GOP was on message all week.
Oklahoma was spoken of in terms of people pulling together. Left out of the summary (intentionally) was what was done? How did Bill Clinton pursue 'wrong doers'? That was the unstated question which was supposed to hang in the air and it did. They played that very well. We have always opposed the illegal war on Afghanistan. That's not the issue. We're not Republicans. And until you can strip away your own point of view, you're never going to grasp what they managed to pull off in Minneapolis.
The Clinton administration approached the terrorist attack from a legal framework. Unless you can grasp that Republicans do not see that as a good thing, you'll never get how each speech was making the point that, whatever else he did, Bully Boy took action. It was there in Governor Sarah Palin's speech, in one of her least understood remarks where she stated the Obama-Biden ticket was more concerned with the rights of terrorists. It was there throughout.
9-11, for the right, was not just a tragedy, it was a tragedy that couldn't have been predicted, that was totally unexpected, and that came after all that 'we' did for so many in trouble throughout the world. Bully Boy and the right used 9-11 to ratchet anger and hatred. That was then. The message points are instilled in the rank and file in the GOP and the convention was about massaging those points. Bully Boy gave a yawn-fest speech (he was the worst speaker at the convention -- though 'at' was via satellite for him). But even he stayed on message.
The message the convention was sending can be boiled down as: "We do take action." For their base, Democrats are wishy-washy and don't stand up. For their base, Democrats are splitting hairs when decisive action needs to be taken. Many studies (some genuine, some crackpot) have underscored the differences between Democrats and Republicans finding the members of the Republican Party are more distrustful of the world around them. The convention last week acknowledged that distrust over and over. It played to it. It did not advance it.
Why didn't it advance it? Because the point they were attempting to make was that "Republicans take action." Belabor it and you can lose some portion of the base which will rightly note (yes, even Republicans can note this) that the action wasn't effective.
The perceptions of the two parties were played with throughout. It was done very effectively and very skillfully.
Those wrongly insisting the Republican convention offered nothing are begging to lose every election because they refuse to see what really went down. 9-11: The Tragedy That We Took Action On! was played over and over. The fear card wasn't used because the selling point (to avoid tying McCain to the Bully Boy) was action -- not exploring the action, just noting it.
Minor perceptions were utilized as well. One example would be the wrongful stereotype that Democrats don't give a damn about the country. John McCain's military service was stressed, Palin's son and nephew being in the service was stressed, the men and women serving was stressed. "We stand up in time of need!" was the call.
Utilizing perception management, the convention played to why people identify as Republicans to begin with. Palin would give a crowd pleasing speech (and an amazing speech) on Wednesday night but the convention all week was about solidifying the base behind the ticket.
That's what the Democrats didn't grasp. That's why their convention flopped. They didn't manage perception. They insisted upon making the entire convention about Barack. (Only Hillary and Bill Clinton spoke of why people were Democrats -- going to the core issues.) Reality is that the Republicans were no more solidified behind McCain in the primaries than Democrats were behind Barack. Had the Republicans utilized the same primary system, McCain would not have been able to declare (presumed) victory in March and Mike Huckabee could have stayed in the race. Republicans used a winner-take-all strategy for awarding delegates from each state and they did so because that's how it works in the general election for the electoral college. Had such a system been utilized by the Democratic Party, Hillary would be the nominee. They're not interested in soothing egos, they're interested in winning. They aren't interested in a primary system that allows stragglers to stay in the race, they're interested in finding out who is the strongest candidate.
The Democratic 'leadership' seemed truly confused that the unfair system could backfire on them. You heard that in June, July and in August leading up to the convention. They couldn't understand how anyone could disagree with their crooked system. (One example of the crooked system will suffice. More people voted for Hillary in Texas than Barack. She won the vote. Due to caucus rigging, Barack ended up being awarded more delegates in a state he lost than the winner received.) They thought they could run their crooked and rigged system and appoint a leader who was not popular with the base. As it dawned on them (due to polling) they decided they could 'heal' the wounds by selling Barack throughout the convention. It was an embarrassment and it wasn't effective.
By contrast, the Republicans didn't worry about doing a sell on McCain. They noted their candidate repeatedly -- as every political convention does. But they grasped their mission as getting the base together for the party, not for an individual. So they touched on the themes that resonate with their base over and over.
If Barack loses (no one knows the outcome until the votes are cast and counted -- and we see whether the Supreme Court decides to sit the election out or not), the Democratic convention will be one of the many factors pointed to by historians. It will be noted, in higher toned language, that speech after speech informing people how 'groovy' Barack was really wasn't the way to drive Democrats to the polls. It will be noted that the gauzy sop tossed out over and over about Barack was issue-free and, as it repeatedly stressed how 'groovy' Barack was, only made the point he must not be so 'groovy' if everyone can't shut up about it and get to the issues that matter.
On every level, the Republican convention was a success. Democrats had hoped it would be thrown off message on the first night due to a hurricane. Instead, they opened on a low-key note that was effective. Laura Bush and Cindy McCain walked out on stage together Monday night -- a First Lady and the woman who would like to be the next First Lady. Laura got right to the point immediately, "But as we all know, events in the gulf coast region have changed the focus of our attention." It was one of those effective speeches that Laura can carry off and she handled it very well. Cindy opened with, "I am so proud to standing next to Mrs. Bush as we work together to extend our support to relief efforts in the gulf. As each of the gulf coast governors just expressed to us, their challenges will continue in the days ahead. I would ask that each one of us commit to join together to aid those in need as quickly as possible. As John has been saying for the last several days, this is a time when we take off our republican hats and put on our American hats." Cindy noted Cause Greater, a website where people could help with the relief efforts by making donations. Laura mentioned her husband twice and John McCain once. Cindy mentioned her husband once. It was a very effective start when transposed with the last speech of the Democratic convention, Barack in that stadium looking far from presidential and very much like a celebrity.
The women managed to send the message (true or false) that the Republicans were about the American people and after Barack's latest bit of vanity, it was a highly effective moment. Democrats closed asking America to worship one man. Republicans opened asking Americans to pull together.
Again, should Barack lose in November, the two conventions will be examined by historians at length and the Democratic Party convention will be seen as one reason the party lost.
We open with that overview because neither The NewsHour nor Democracy Now! provided it.
What did they provide?
If your most pressing concern about the upcoming elections is Amy Goodman's arrest than possibly you were well served and 'informed' by Democracy Now! and its ten hours of coverage last week. Tuesday's two hour broadcast noted the arrest in headlines and went to straight to it for the first segment. It was referred to in the second and fourth segment. It was the third segment on Wednesday's show. Thursday it was referred to in the second segment and was the topic for the fifth segment. And Amy Goodman was going to the well on it again Friday for the fifth segment. Has one arrest ever gotten so much attention?
You can't visit the website for Democracy Now! without being aware that Amy was arrested. Before anything else, across the top of the screen you see, "Drop the Charges Against Amy Goodman and DN! Producers." Mumia doesn't get this kind of attention and he's on death row. Doubt us? Monday evening it was time for an action alert proclaiming that Amy Goodman had been "unlawfully arrested" and that her arm had been "yanked" ("DN! Urgent Action Alert: Amy Goodman Unlawfully Arrest At RNC," 6KB). Four hours and one minute later, it was time to issue another press release (also called an "action alert) only now, instead of "yanked," Goody was "violently manhandled by law enforcement," to inform people exclusive video would be broadcast on Tuesday's show and that "Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press" ("DN!: Action Alert: Update on Arrest of Amy Goodman and DN! Producers," 7KB). Wednesday afternoon it was time for "DN! Action Alert -- Drop the Charges Against DN! Journalists!" (6KB) asking that people flood the county and city attorneys' offices with phone calls and e-mails. And on Friday, because Panhandle Media is nothing but begging, it was time to use the arrests to beg for donations to the program ("DN!: After RNC arrests, we need your support more than ever," 6KB) which bragged the "YouTube video of Amy's arrest has been viewed more than 750,000 times" -- as if all viewing were sympathetic to Goody. And noting various publications that covered "journalists arrests" -- as if all articles even mentioned Goody. Now the arrest was never not mentioned in last week's "daily digests." What we're noting above is the special e-mails sent out on top of the "daily digest."
Not surprisingly, all that self-focus didn't leave a lot of time to actually cover the convention. Tuesday's first segment broadcast the video of Amy's arrest and, as usual, she couldn't tell the truth. She declared, "Shortly after, I arrived and was arrested while questioning the officers about Sharif and Nicole’s arrest." The video was then shown. Amy Goodman arrived on the scene as people were being arrested. Denis Moynihan (a true idiot) is with Goody and antagonizing the police. (Yelling "Release the accredited journalists!" is neither press-like behavior nor is it likely to calm a chaotic situation.) Goodman was advised "get back on the sidewalk." Denis continued yelling like a crazed banshee and Goody refused to go to the sidewalk even after again being directed to do so ("Sidewalk now!") at which point she was arrested. It was not a surprise, it was not a great tragedy though didn't some try to paint it as such.
Including Goody. She described it on air Tuesday, "Finally, I made it to the police line, where the police in riot gear were lined up. I asked to speak to a commanding officer. They immediately grabbed me. I said, 'Sir, I just want to speak to a commanding officer. My reporters are inside.' They've got their ID. I mean, we've done this in New York, as well, when there is confusion about a reporter. They immediately grabbed me, handcuffed me--and as you haven't quite talked about, those plastic handcuffs cut right into your wrist, and they make those tight --pushed me to the ground." She was arrested and she deserved to be arrested. There had been riots and, in fact, the building her program was housed in had a window broken. She was asked to step to the sidewalk and, had she done so, she could have then made any request to the police from there. However, she refused to comply immediately making her suspect (before you even factor in Denis' non-stop crazed screaming) and she got arrested.
Goody needs to lose the sense of entitlement. It's there in her words. She told the audience that she ran down the street and told a police officer "Get me to that site. Our reporters have been arrested." Golly, Goody, we don't think it even works that way in NYC. The police are not your taxi service. We spoke with network correspondents to ask if they would ever make such a request and were informed that they wouldn't. Goody said of that officer, "he didn't comply." Didn't comply is what she did and why she got arrested. She did not follow the order to move to the sidewalk and she had lunatic Denis yelling like a psycho at the police officers. She got arrested. It wasn't the end of the world though she has played it like it was.
David Brancaccio interviewed her for a segment that aired with Friday's NOW on PBS. Brancaccio maintained the journalistic skepticism and Amy was selling hard about the unfairness of it all. She was likening the security at the two conventions which only drives home the fact that while in Denver, check Democracy Now!'s archives, when asked by anyone (including private security officers) to step somewhere, Goody immediately did. She didn't last week. She refused to comply and she got arrested. Possibly had Denis not acted so nutso, the move to arrest her would not have come so quickly but, sorry to have to be the ones to break the news to you, her arrest was a valid arrest. They may put her on trial or they may not. But there was cause to arrest her.
And, to repeat, a security officer only had to ask her to get her moving in Denver. A police officer orders her twice to the sidewalk in the middle of a chaotic scene and she refuses to comply while Denis adds to the chaos by screaming his little head off. Amy got what she deserved and she's tried to turn it into the equivalent of Chicago 1968.
Which is the other thing they don't tell you about. Denver was floated as Recreate 68 with such 'notables' as Tom Hayden promising a blood bath riot (as late as April) if Barack didn't get the nomination. What happened in Denver was everyone walked on egg shells so as not to make things look bad for Barack. A private security guard tells you to go to the sidewalk and they all did (bloggers and Goody). They wanted headlines (and bad press) for the GOP convention so they didn't worry about rules. They didn't worry that police felt they had a riot on their hands and no officer has time to be out in the middle of that and give an interview. Would Goody have tried to stop rescue workers en route to the Twin Towers on 9-11? No.
So everyone needs to grasp that while some journalists were wrongly arrested, Amy Goodman was not one of them and this is more attention-seeking behavior from her. The National Lawyers Guild's Heidi Boghosian (also a co-host of Law and Disorder) explained the basics better in one segment of the half-hour CounterSpin on Friday than Goody did all week despite repeatedly returning to the topic. The difference may have been that Heidi addressed the law and the threats to civil liberties while Goody played drama queen.
Threats? David Guy McKay and Bradley Neil Crowder were arrested and have a court appearance on Tuesday for possession of Molotov cocktails and for "shields" that would have caused harm (due to the screws and devices on the outside) that were apparently to be used to start a riot outside the convention hall. They are innocent unless proven guilty but the FBI is leaking to the press that McKay is recorded stating, "It's worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed." That's in addition to the eight arrested the Saturday before the convention began that Alan Gomez (USA Today) reported who "are members of a group called the 'RNC Welcoming Committee' . . . and [are] charged with conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism. A warrant filed in their case stated they discussed kidnapping delegates." Those are not the only arrests and the bulk weren't mentioned on Democracy Now! last week. She carried a press conference by the eight on Friday and neither she nor the participants mentioned kidnapping delegates. Something's are never addressed by Pravda On the Hudson. But sometimes, the police are to be believed without question . . . when Goody likes the crimes and the leaks. Which is why the week prior, not only did Amy Goodman run with the police version of events on arrest (allegedly men were plotting to kill Barack), she dropped all qualifiers after headlines when she repeatedly brought up the arrest. So sometimes we believe the police and sometimes we don't, judging by whether we like what they feed the press apparently.
Nicole Salazar is among the press members who have valid complaints about police brutality and wrongful arrest. Amy Goodman is not among that group. She brought it on herself by refusing to tell Denis to shut up and by refusing to comply with an order to go to the sidewalk. It wasn't the great walk to China. It would have required only a few steps on her part.
All of her self-created drama left little time to fill two hours each day with coverage. (It should be noted that WBAI didn't play two hours of Democracy Now! last week or the week prior. They stuck with Goody's one hour on the schedule. All the other Pacifica stations dropped their programming to give the show two hours each day. WBAI, which knows Goody better than anyone and remember her past false cries of 'assault,' wasn't eager to turn their station over to her and that says a great deal.)
The biggest speech of the two conventions was Sarah Palin's. This was the first time she would be speaking (to the press or to the people) since the announcement was made that she was John McCain's running mate. So it's interesting to compare what Goody offered over the last two weeks. Palin's speech was reduced to 523 words. While her Democratic counter-part Joe Biden was only broadcast for 332 words by Goody, it's equally true that America well knows Biden who has been in the Senate forever, run for president more than once and chairs high profile committees. There was no excitement over Biden's speech. Palin's speech saw record ratings and was only a half-million short of Barack's ratings for the number of people watching at home. Equally true is that Goody didn't interject during Biden's speech but was happy to do so during Palin's. Barack? He got 888 words broadcast on Democracy Now! for his convention speech segment. (If you want to include headlines, the Dems get even more time.) John McCain? The party's presidential nominee saw his acceptance speech reduced to 332 words when Goody broadcast it. After the segment of Barack's speech, Goody chose to air a feel-good segment she dubbed "reactions" to Barack's speech. Last Friday, she offered no such segment for McCain. She didn't bother to speak to delegates to find out what they thought of McCain's speech. [All of that is in the first hour of each broadcast. On Friday's second hour, she played more of McCain's speech. The second hour is the one least carried by TV and radio stations, as Goody well knows.]
Let's go to what else Pravda on the Hudson did with regards to Palin speech, an attempted 'fact check'. (Goody provided no fact check for Barack and wisely chose not to air his comments on "universal health care" because even her devoted audience isn't so stupid to swallow that garbage.) First up, Goody repeatedly mispronounced Palin's last name throughout the Thursday broadcast (the day after Palin spoke -- when any journalist should have known how to pronounce her not so difficult last name). Goody brought on Pacifica wanna be/reject Shannyn Moore for the alleged fact check which only reminded us that when Goody goes north, facts fly out the window.
Moore got in this unsubstantiated smear, "Certainly, I can tell you that in small-town Alaska, rumors abound. And this isn't any other case from that. And I know people in the media in Alaska who have known of Bristol Palin's pregnancy for, you know, over a month and didn't bring it into the press, because they didn't think it was any of their business. And certainly there have been rumors abounding regarding Trig and his--whether it was a decision or avoidance of some sort of 'how to get out of trouble' card. You know, I don't have anything to verify that, but that's certainly the small-town rumor that's gone about." 'Trig' Palin, the governor's son who has signed up for military service, certainly doesn't deserve to be smeared by Moore or anyone else. If Moore thinks she has information, she might try producing it. Smearing someone who's joined the military with rumors? Not classy and not journalism. And it may remind some of how, when Barack was exposed by AP as having had his campaign tell Canada not to take his words on NAFTA seriously, The Nation's John Nichols showed up (from Canada!) to tell Goody that he was on the hot trail of a big scoop about how it was Hillary who was really talking to Canada. The big scoop went poop because there was never anything there. But when Goody goes north, she loves to air false rumors and try to pass it off as 'reporting' and 'fact.'
For the record, Trig Palin? A newborn infant (born this year). For the record, Track Palin is the son who is in the military. A huge mistake and one an 'expert' on the topic shouldn't make; however, for the record, Moore isn't a journalist, she's Alaska's version of Randi Rhodes -- and don't we all know how that story ends?
Moore was one of the few women to appear last week but Goody did have time to put on the pig twice busted for seeking sexual encounters with underage girls online. Again, the woman published in Larry F**nt's H**lter magazine which tells you all you need to know about Goody.
When not talking about her arrest endlessly on air, she managed to interview Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, provide an update on Sami Al-Arian, chat with Jon Stewart (Stewart wasn't funny, few are when accosted in an airport), offer a report on Hurricane Gustava via disgraced Jordan Flaherty (LeftTurn turned nuts -- and those who have e-mailed to complain about the 'independent' publication becoming a Democratic Party organ get added to the publication's junk mail list -- they've forwarded the e-mails the publication sends out). If you mistook the bulk of what Goody offered for 'news,' you're probably also seeking out Access Hollywood for investigative journalism.
Then there was The NewsHour and, as with last week, we aren't speaking of the hourly newscast proper, but of the special that provided live election coverage each night after the newscast finished airing. Like Goody, they weren't interested in women. It was so bad, we wondered if Margaret Warner had been detained in Denver. Judy Woodruff was there doing what she does so very well -- interviews. She does other things very well but PBS isn't interested because she's 'just' a woman.
That point was driven home best on Thursday when the boys decided to again explore women. It was interesting to see so many speaking about women and notice that not one person speaking was, in fact, a woman. You had the three male 'historians' (will get back to them), you had Jim Lehrer, David Brooks and Mark Shields as 'analysts' and you had a man from PEW research plus Ray Suarez. Eight voices discussing women -- eight voices and all of the male. Don't count on the increasingly inept watchdogs to call it out. They didn't do a damn thing when women were sidelined by PBS in Denver and they're not going to do a damn thing now.
But it was really something to witness, really something ugly.
First up, 'historian' Peniel Joseph. He continued making multiple errors when speaking of the historical record. We'd asked about that last week (asked PBS Friends) and been told they'd look into it. When he distorted 1992, we called to ask what was going on? Seems there's a big mistake PBS made. They put him on air. The others are billed as "presidential historians." We hadn't noticed that until PBS Friends pointed it out. Peniel's not. Because he's not a "presidential historian." He is an "African-American historian." Not a historian who is African-American, he's a historian who specializes in African-American history. In other words, there's no reason for him to be on air as PBS Friends informed us. That's why the others are billed as "presidential historians" and he's billed as a professor (he's actually an associate professor, Brandeis notes "Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies" and when Tavis Smiley brings Peniel on his program he notes him as "a leading scholar of African American history") at Brandeis University. Telling PBS viewers the truth might lead to complaints. It should lead to complaints. He rarely knew a damn thing he was talking about and the reason for that is it's not his area of expertise.
No female presidential historian (Doris Kearns Goodwin is only one of many female presidential historians) was booked as an expert for either convention but a historian specializing in African-American history was?
He had nothing to offer but multiple mistakes and the reason for that is he didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Raising an issue we hadn't even thought of, PBS Friend 1 explained, "This wasn't an affirmative-action thing. He was recommended by ___." Actually, who he was recommended by goes to that it was an affirmative-action hire. And we're not opposed to that or to affirmative-action. We think there needs to be more diversity on air. But we're also aware that the African-American community includes many presidential historians such as Roger Wilkins. Bringing them or any other African-American presidential historian (male or female) on backs up the need for affirmative-action, makes the case. Elevating someone completely unqualified like Peniel only fuels the attacks on affirmative-action. PBS should have to explain why they made the decision to include someone whose field is African-American studies in a presidential historian roundtable for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
His multitude of mistakes go to not having studied the topic he's brought on to discuss and being too young to have lived through most of it. As a general rule, 'historians' under forty don't garner a great deal of respect -- regardless of race or gender. And on the subject of race and ethnicity, it takes a lot of damn nerve to misrepresent Latinas which Peniel did. Like everything else he gas bagged on, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
We didn't raise the affirmative-action issue, it was raised to us (to be denied) and we were told if we wrote about it, we'd fuel critiques. That's not really our problem. We weren't the ones who decided to present presidential historians on broadcast TV and invited someone unqualified to take part. PBS has to answer for that, not us. We wouldn't have even gone there on our own because we know how PBS works (multiple favors) and would have just assumed Peniel was someone's nephew, college buddy or lover.
Listening to Peniel and the other boys slam women as "bitches" (being PBS, they went out of their way to avoid using that word) was really something to witness. "Even Nancy Reagan," gushed Jim, demonstrating that, in their minds, regardless of political party, every First Lady had been a 'ball buster.' Rosalyn Carter, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Pat Nixon . . . all 'ball busters.' It was an informative segment . . . only not in the way PBS might have hoped. What it informed was just how any woman with power (perceived or real) was a threat to these delicate male egos. It was unbelievable and hard to watch.
While Amy Goodman couldn't pronounce Sarah Palin's last name, Jim had his own problems. Carly Fiorina's last name was beyond his grasp even with David Brooks trying to help him. Most things (what some would call facts) were beyond's Jim grasp all week. Such as when he declared a speaker was talking about the Supreme Court being liberal and "that's the Supreme Court under Sam Roberts." Under who, Jim? Samuel Alito is a justice on the Court. John Roberts is the Chief Justice. Then there was this choice bit, "That narration was done by John Thompson. Fred Thompson! You recognize his name." You might, but Jim didn't.
PBS Friends said that our comment last week about Michelle Obama speaking at the DNC convention (and how we could only remember Marilyn Quayle speaking at the RNC) would be addressed. Was it? No. They offered women introducing men. That's not what Michelle Obama (or Marilyn Quayle) did. They offered on air that Pat Nixon introduced a film about Richard Nixon at the 1972 GOP convention. They offered that Hillary introduced Bill at the 1992 DNC convention. That wasn't the issue we raised last week. We raised the issue of spouses doing an address to the convention. Not as FDR's widow, mind you, but as the wives of men running for office. Women with no elected history of their own. During their brief discussion, they couldn't remember whether Barbara Bush addressed a convention. While it's true that Big Babs' run in with Shannen Doherty in Houston was much more memorable than anything offered onstage that year (1992), it's also true that journalists and historians should know the basics.
Judy Woodruff offered reporting from the floor and was, yet again, the only thing PBS could point to with pride. She was allowed to report from the floor as the convention came to a close and summed up quickly and factually. None of Gwen's royal 'we' or any other nonsense. As the youth craze set in at CNN, Woodruff wisely decided to leave (after being assigned insulting segments that played like In The Kitchen With Judy!). On PBS, she's practically a millennial. She's also one of the increasingly few reasons to follow the news. It's never about Judy, it's about what's happening in the news.
At least PBS can claim Woodruff as a positive. All About Amy was all Democracy Now! offered last week. Viewers (and listeners and readers) are forgiven for thinking it was the Amy Goodman convention. On Friday's NOW, she was spinning like crazy and still making herself the martyr for her refusal to follow a police order to get on the sidewalk. "I ran up to them and I stopped and I said I want to talk to your commanding officer," she declared and then quickly moved to, "I mean it wasn't seconds before they grabbed me." No, that is not what happened as her own broadcast demonstrated but that's Pravda on the Hudson for you. They'd never survive a cross because they embellish everything with each telling. She went on to insist that "when I came up I was the only one." Apparently she forgot the whack-job Denis is caught on tape approaching with her. Brancaccio asked her if she was "not just sort of swept up in the bigger process?" She answered in the negative but any honest telling of Goody's career includes one self-dramatizing pose after another.
And when she does that (as with the WBAI problems at the start of this decade) it makes it very difficult for the people with real complaints who are real victims to be believed. She's already poisoned the well. It's shameless self-promotion and there she was, on PBS, doing it again saying that her coverage was "from the suites to the streets to the convention floor, we've got to cover all aspects" and, sadly, David Brancaccio failed to ask her what she observed at the Green Party convention in July. She refused to cover that political party's four-day convention. She consistently refuses to cover it. But you can count on her expanding her hourly daily program to two hours for the Democrats and the Republicans -- while insisting that she does something different and that she goes to where the silences are.
Cynthia McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente spoke at the Nader Super Rally in Denver and, last week, at the Super Rally in Minneapolis. Goodman didn't air either speech. She didn't even acknowledge that the Minneapolis Super Rally took place Thursday in Friday's two-hour show. Democracy Now! broadcast twenty hours over the last two weeks and here's what 'alternative' translated as: one segment with Ralph Nader, one segment with Bob Barr. Otherwise the entire show was turned over to the two major parties (with hisses for McCain and kisses for Barack). That's not an alternative. It is propaganda, the sort you can hear on Air America Radio (which is praying they can make it through the November election). When people outside the two political parties are left to beg for scraps from 'alternative' media, it's time to face the reality that there is no alternative broadcast media in the US. That's the message Goodman made clear last week, PBS just demonstrated that the network built as an alternative to the enshrined order has allowed sexism to be as institutionalized there as anywhere else.
It was Friday evening and a number of us were around the phone (Jim, Jess, Dona, Ty, Kat and Ava) as C.I. spoke to a 74-year-old woman about Sarah Palin being the GOP vice presidential nomination.
["Please credit usage to the 2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography, unless otherwise noted."]
The woman is not a PUMA. She is not a disheartened Hillary supporter. She didn't support Hillary Clinton because she never votes Democratic. The woman is a lifelong Republican and, guess what, she's also a feminist.
She explained she had her awakening in the 1950s when she went to work for the federal government and, despite several degrees, could only get a job as a secretary. She was a secretary for the FBI for many years before she realized that no amount of hard work was ever going to let her rise in that agency. Once she transferred to another agency, the promotions seemed to come faster "but that was as the women's liberation movement was picking up steam." She's semi-retired today (she does some consulting work part-time) and explains that she has "seen it all."
"Betty Ford," she remembers, "could be a very strong and vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Even when her husband was running in 1976. ERA and the Republican Party had a long history. With Reagan, women began taking a back seat in the party and by 1988 it was becoming very difficult to be a Republican woman. My parents were Republicans, I am a Republican. I tried to argue for the rights of women in my party and though there was some success state-wide even after the Reagan revolution, nationwide, the party continued to be hostile to women."
That 74-year-old woman is not the only Republican feminist in existance. She is far from alone.
Which is why Sarah Palin being nominated is big news and a cause for celebration for many women.
Friday's NOW on PBS featured an interview with self-defined moderate Republican Christy Todd Whitman and host David Brancaccio billed it as if Todd Whitman was going to tear Palin a new one. That is not what happened. Todd Whitman noted that she and Palin probably had many points of agreement.
It's My Party Too was Whitman's book where she argued (our summary) that the Republican Party had moved too far to the right and was alienating those who considered themselves moderates as well as creating gridlock that made it impossible for Republicans to work with others.
If you're a Democrat or Green, we can't imagine that you're voting for Palin (though some, no doubt, will). But not voting for is one thing, refusing to note what she represents is another.
Sarah Palin represents a huge shift for the Republican Party that will have after effects for years to come. Much more so than Geraldine Ferraro.
That's nothing against Ferraro, that is noting that the Democratic Party (until John Kerry) had a tendency to eat their own and disown all candidates who did not make it into the White House. When Mondale - Ferraro lost the 1984 election, some of Ferraro's effects diminished.
Republicans don't tend to do that. They love Robert Dole and Dan Quayle to this day.
Palin being on the ticket of a conservative party that has been anti-woman (to put it mildly) is a huge thing. First, it means that a number of Republicans are going to be rooting for a woman and, for some, it will be the first time.
What was all the hoopla over Mia Hamm? That she ripped off her shirt? We kind of thought that it was over the fact that a female athlete was being followed and cheered on by a large number of people (men and women).
Republicans want to win this election. That means rooting for Palin. You can't underestimate the impact that has, the way it reshapes thinking for some.
You also can't deny its impact for Republican women who have felt (not all have felt this way) that their own party has turned against them. We spoke to several Republican feminists and the consensus was that Sarah Palin opens the door and that who knows what follows her. "Maybe," said one former elected official, "a pro-choice presidential candidate? Maybe one who calls for equality?"
There is very real excitement in Republican feminist circles (as well as in non-feminist circles) over Palin's nomination. That it's being greeted with cat calls and insults from Democratic feminists is not going unnoticed.
Said the elected official, "I remember ____ lecturing me that Ferraro's nomination was a good thing and even if I wasn't going to vote for her, I should take pride in the fact that a woman was on the ticket. I read her article and thought, 'Hmm, that's not the way you framed Ferraro's nomination'."
And it's not the way Ferraro's nomination was framed. Over and over, women were told this was a great moment. They were told it was a great moment for all women and that it didn't matter whether you agreed with her positions are not, it was still a great moment.
Twenty-four years later, the second woman nominated by one of the two major parties is not to be treated as a great moment, according to Democratic feminists. It's all a bunch of booing and hissing and, truthfully, sour grapes.
You can't have it both ways. And you can't fail to grasp that women have been pushed to the margins in the Republican Party over and over. Now that's changed a little.
In 1984, the Democratic Party nominated a woman for vice president. They've never done that since.
Democrats should grasp that Palin's nomination puts pressure on the Democratic Party to be a little more diverse.
Democrats should grasp that if Palin becomes the vice president, a world opens for women.
Some hiss, "Purely symoblic."
Uh, aren't most "firsts" more important as symbols than anything else?
What did Gail Collins accomplish for women when she was the first female editor of The New York Times op-ed pages? She came on with the paper having one women columnist. She had two spots to fill (Bill Keller who was promoted to editor of the paper and William Safire who retired). She filled both spots with men. With White men.
You think her bad writing added up to anything to be proud of? Her writing didn't and her decisions didn't. Her only power is symbolic.
If Palin becomes vice president and offers nothing other than her gender, so what?
So millions of little girls grow up knowing that it's possible to run on the presidential ticket?
That's not powerful?
That doesn't matter?
Actions last week insisted that was case.
Actions last week also made life very difficult for Republican feminists.
"I kept waiting," said the 74-year-old woman, "for some article from a feminist to argue the good of Palin's nomination. I didn't expect to read an endorsement of her run, I did expect to read someone talking about what a step it was for women. I never read that and it reminded me all over again that though I'm welcome at the marches, I'm not really considered part of the movement due to my being a Republican."
Is that the message feminists intended to send last week?
Did they really intend to insult their Republican counter-parts? (By counter-parts we mean Republican feminists, not all Republican women.)
That's the message they sent.
In 1992, there was a real effort to recruit Republican women into the Democratic Party. That year's convention had been a very vocal attack on women and, like most effective attacks, it included women attacking women. Marilyn Quayle was the most vocal with her 'the nature of women' remarks (which she later tried to back off and claim that her remarks were similar to arguments laid out in In A Different Voice) but she was far from alone. By 1996, a number of women had left.
One who didn't is a radio host (regional) and we spoke to her about Palin's nomination. The woman has served in the military, been a single mother for most of her life and is strongly pro-choice. She is among the Republican feminists who see Palin's nomination not just as a good thing for all women but as a stepping stone for women in the Republican Party.
"The thing is," she explained, "it doesn't stop with her. It doesn't work that way. We're not flying a vomit comit [the huge up to get into the area and then the plane dips]. This is more like a train and we're laying tracks. This is so huge and it's something McCain did that other nominees not only wouldn't consider, they wouldn't dare. The way it works on my show is, if you're not Condoleezza Rice, the bulk of the callers have no use for you. 99% of the callers are male, maybe more than that. I go whole weeks without one woman calling in. Thursday [the day after Palin's speech], I got five callers who were women and that's my all time record. I also got men speaking of her in laudable terms. Don't tell me she hasn't had an impact. I'm not just in what people consider a Red state, I'm in a redneck area. This was pretty big."
And it was unacknowledged by women stepping foward to boo and hiss at Palin.
Ellen Goodman has only survived for one reason: common sense. It was nowhere to be found in her column last week as she called Palin "Clara Thomas" (because a woman has to be a copy of a man?) and it only got worse:
Immediately, the "family values" folks who have fashioned a political wedge out of moral judgments began insisting that anyone who remarked on this baby bump was an insensitive invader of privacy.What did James Dobson of Focus on the Family say? This teen pregnancy showed that "she and her family are human." Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council praised Bristol for “choosing life in the midst of a difficult situation.” A spokeswoman for the Campaign for Family Values called the Palins "an American family out there living out their values."
We went back and forth over whether to include that or not. We don't want to comment on the pregnancy. If Sarah Palin or Bristol Palin goes on TV and comments, Ava and C.I. will note it in some form in a TV commentary. But it's really difficult not to note it above because Goodman's showing extreme stupidity.
First off, Ellen Goodman shows no grasp of the right-wing she's writing about. They are not anti-pregnancy. For a number of reasons. They are anti-abortion and anti-choice. It is not out of bounds for them to applaud a young girl who decides not to terminate her preganancy. That is what the right-wing preaches.
Secondly, Goodman leaves out the gutter rumors. Long before it was learned that her daughter was pregnant, scandal mongers were spreading the rumor that Sarah Palin's youngest child was actually her grandchild and that Palin had conocted a false pregnancy (someone's watched too many episodes of All My Children) -- with padding! -- in order to cover it up.
Goodman then 'tackles' the issue of that youngest child by noting Palin had a prenatal test. We've never read anyone say that Palin was against prenatal tests. Prenatal tests do not have to have anything to do with abortion. And if Goodman can't grasp that, she's led a very sheltered life.
If Goodman truly thinks comparing Sarah Palin -- a married woman in middle age -- to the underage Jamie Lynn Spears is an appropriate comparison, she's not only lost her common sense, she's lost her sanity. Palin is 44-years-old, she's married, she is not pregnant (as far as anyone knows) and she is an elected governor. Jamie Lynn Spears is 17-years-old, unmarried and a child performer.
Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton were viciously attacked by many when their fathers decided to run for president (and the attacks continued after their fathers were elected). They were not adults and the attacks were rightly called out. Bristol Palin is not an adult. Add in the fact that no woman going through her first pregnancy (unless she's aiming for a Vainty Fair cover) wants the entire world staring at her. She is a private citizen, a child of a public official. She should be off limits. That Ellen Goodman -- of all people -- can't grasp that demonstrates just how cracked the world has become.
Goodman ends by calling Sarah Palin "a bridge to nowhere." How very non-sisterhood like. Goodman can support whomever she wants in the 2008 election, she cannot rip apart another woman (and the woman's under-age daughter) and continue to pass herself as a feminist. Change Palin's party to Democrat and the piece could have been written by Cal Thomas -- and that's really saying something.
As Ava and C.I. noted Thursday:
Sarah Palin walked across the Xcel Energy Center stage last night and into history.
If you didn't grasp it, Rudy G had to argue a feminist point last night.
"How dare they question whether Palin will have enough time to spend with her children while vice president?" asked Rudy. "When do they ever ask a man that question?"
That's a feminist movement success. Did Giuliani mean it? Who the hell cares?
Did you hear the roar when he said it?
Democratic feminists spend a lot of time trying to make a success out of failure. They did so following the 1976 Democratic convention as a number of them rushed to claim a success that never happened. (After silencing women in the only forum they were allowed to speak in -- as one participant said at the time, "Could a woman who is not a name be allowed to speak?")
Currently, they are trying to make a candidate -- who is, at best, luke warm on abortion rights and at worst, anti-abortion -- appear to be Sarah Weddington. That candidate is Barack Obama And the Democratic feminists have refused to call him out as he courts right-wing, anti-choice evangicals the same way they refused to call him out when he put homophobes onstage at a South Carolina campaign event.
It's really amazing how hard they'll work to spit-polish Barack Obama's lackluster image and it's really frightening that they seem to think they can get away with making anti-women, sexist statements.
Sarah Palin on the ticket already has led to the GOP convention cheering Rudy on when he called out sexism. That is huge. It is only sixteen years since Marilyn Quayle and others attacked the feminist movement at a GOP convention.
Robin Morgan argued for Hillary Clinton's presidency in a very powerful and amazing column. It's a shame that no feminist last week ever thought that Sarah Palin's nomination might be very important to Republican feminists and might have great meaning for them.
The women's liberation movement is supposed to be about the advancement of women. A woman is now on the ticket of one of the two major parties and there was no time to even celebrate that. Why? Because Barack's unqualified and in dead-heat with McCain in most polls. What the hell does that have to do with feminism? Not a damn thing.
Throughout 2008, we saw endless celebrations of race as Barack was billed as "Black" (he's bi-racial) and there was no time to celebrate women. There was plenty of time to attack women. Women were called the most vile names and their intelligence was insulted by many. Mark Karlin (
She went on to list -- with links -- websites, blogs, newspapers and more that have quoted from Ava and C.I.'s writing. My advice to Susannah is don't let Jim see your e-mail, he'll hit the roof. (I'm joking, but a large number of the things linked to by newspapers are pieces Ava and C.I. wrote jointly for The Common Ills. Jim sees that list and tries to embargo all future Ava and C.I. pieces for this site only.)
Ava and C.I. have always been tremendously popular with readers and the bulk of e-mails every week are about their writing. This may be our last year online so I'm planning to pull some themes from the e-mails from time to time and write about them.
Due to their popularity, Ava and C.I. were the obvious choice to start with.
Ava considers herself the Stevie Nicks of the group. Nicks often says she wonders if she was only invited into Fleetwood Mac because they wanted a guitarist (her then boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham). Ava notes that Jim wanted Dona to work on the edition and Ava was her roommate. Ava truly was wanted all along. Jim, Jess and I were roommates back then and we often discussed starting a site. Sometimes we discussed it with Dona but more often it was one of those things we discussed watching TV late at night or any other time we wanted to avoid studying for classes. Ava's name was always mentioned.
This site was up for two years before C.I. would take billing as more than 'special guest star.' The first edition we published took place because Jim went to a campus event and the speaker was C.I. We were all reading The Common Ills and something in the way she spoke told Jim this was C.I. After the speech he waited in line to talk to her and, when it was his turn, his first question was, "You're C.I. of The Common Ills, aren't you?" C.I. had no response because she'd never encountered the question and didn't expect to. Jim insisted the secret identity was safe but please, pretty please, could you come back to the apartment because a group of us wanted to start a website and this would be the thing that would push us to do so?
C.I. agreed and Jim was calling me asking me to round up Jess, Dona and, yes, Ava.
Our first weekend set a number of patterns. First up, they are always all night editions that never, ever seem to end. Second of all, Jim pushes for whatever he wants. Thirdly, Dona is the practical one who will argue what's possible and will argue (loudly) with Jim. Fourth, Ava and C.I. were kind of left out.
That's not a joke. C.I. saw it as a one time thing and wasn't looking to put any imprint on this site. Ava was already doubtful that she was truly wanted and found Jim overbearing. (Ava and Jim get along just fine these days.) As the edition was done a hallmark event happened.
"How can we publish this without a TV article?" asked Jim who went on to insist that he didn't know a single college student who, regardless of what they said, didn't watch TV.
Dona argued the practicalities against the feature ("not enough time"). Ava and C.I. argued that the last thing needed was a TV piece. Jim won on both points.
As we wrote that first TV piece, we were all shouting out things. Ava's observations were not being included. As the thing was typed up, it was a disaster. C.I. took a look at it and suggested a refrain be added which instantly improved the piece. C.I. then repeated Ava's remarks and said they needed to go in there. Ava pointed out C.I.'s remarks and said they needed to go in there.
Much later, the two would realize C.I. had long known (and been friends with) Ava's aunt.
At that point though, they were bonded over the fact that each other's observations had been dismissed.
Everyone had been so focused on getting the thing written quickly that none of us (not just Jim) noticed that everything Ava and C.I. had contributed was stripped from the article. Even the stuff that had prompted us to laugh at out loud.
It was put back in.
It was a stronger piece but not the strongest piece in the first week's edition. However, it was what everyone responded to. Jim saw that as proof that he was right about TV needing to be covered. He was correct on that. But as e-mails continued to come in on that and on the following week's TV piece, it was very obvious that the sentences being highlighted by readers were the ones Ava and C.I. had contributed (solo or together).
By the third week, there was no denying what was taking place. We'd included even more of Ava and C.I.'s contributions that week (C.I. was by now participating over the phone) partly as a test (Dona and I devised that). We got the strongest response. We took that to Jim, identifying the lines that were being quoted back to us in e-mails and identifying them to Jim as the ones Ava and C.I. wrote.
Jim wisely suggested (before we could) that the feature needed to be turned over to Ava and C.I. They didn't want it. They never wanted TV to be covered in the first place. They agreed at the last minute only after we agreed not to put a byline in. As far as anyone would know, the pieces were still written by all.
The volume of e-mails leaped the minute their first piece went up and continued to.
Offline, Jim, Dona, Jess and I were getting compliments from friends and family and, while we were happy to give Ava and C.I. credit, we hated that the things our own family and friends were praising always required us saying, "Yeah, that is great . . . but that's Ava and C.I.'s writing."
As a result, Ava and C.I. agreed to allow us to note that they were writing the pieces and only them. This prompted the first shift in e-mails. Suddenly, with two women writing them, the e-mails that disagreed (and some had always disagreed with their observations) got very violent. That really is important to note because when it was assumed that men and women were writing, people disagreed. Sometimes respectfully, sometimes not. But there were never any threats of physical violence. By the time Ava and C.I. were tackling John Stamos, Nick Lachey and Tom Welling, death threats were a common theme in a number of e-mails.
Jim has written about how he didn't get what Ava and C.I. were doing. What they were doing (and are doing) was important to the reaction from readers. Ava and C.I. wrote about TV as if women were worthy subjects. They did at a time when the characters like Phoebe, Rachel and Monica were disappearing and being replaced with non-stop home makers who didn't work outside of the home. They did it when the whole nation was on a Bully Boy kick. And they questioned that each week. They called out the sexism.
They took a feminist view point (they always say "a" and not "the") and that is the thread that connects every TV commentary they've written. They raised consciences among all of us here and they did so with our readers. Older women would write in to say how Ava and C.I.'s writing reminded them of when the feminist movement had real steam. Men of all ages would write the, "Okay, now I get it." (That's the most common comment to this day from men about Ava and C.I.'s writing.)
Readers would share how the writing made them think or, in many cases, made them take some action. I read the bulk of the e-mails that come in to this site and there are some amazing ones from their loyal readers. There are young girls (some may now be women) who saw in Ava and C.I.'s writing a reason to stand up for themselves at school or at home. But that was never limited to young girls or even to just females.
Jim once tried to celebrate their writing by noting his favorite pieces by them. He did that while guest-blogging at a community site and we never got so many complaints here. He'd picked his ten favorite and readers took huge offense that their own favorites didn't make his top ten. So I won't make the same mistake and risk angering readers. But I will note that each week, when they finish writing their latest and Jim reads it out loud to us, I never fail to be impressed.
They are the only two who have never had a weekend off. They have been here for every edition. They have written countless TV pieces. One week, we asked them to cover a movie and they did. Readers enjoyed it but wanted to know where the TV article was? So the following week featured two TV articles by them.
The writers strike was interesting for a number of reasons. First, having spoken to writers before the strike, they were going to continue covering entertainment shows. They did that and then got a different reaction (probably because the strike moved from hypothetical to real). When they had time to speak to the ones objecting (and they credit one show runner especially with convincing them to not cover entertainment programming during the strike), they made the call over Jim's objection that they wouldn't cover entertainment again until the strike was over.
Over Jim's objection? No one has pressed them more about what to cover than Jim. Since the start, he has begged them to cover 'news' and public affairs show. They largely resisted. So you might think it was a dream come true for Jim that they were dropping entertainment programming for an unspecified length of time. Jim's concern was over the fact that their commentaries are the calling card for this site. People come by for that. Some stick around for other features, some don't.
As Ava explained to Jim (paraphrase), "Don't worry. We're not going to write stuffy pieces. We'll do it the way we do entertainment." He still worried. For four weeks he worried before he got that the strike was important to our readers and they were willing to wait it out with Ava and C.I.
I won't say what they did during that period was their finest writing because that would lead to multiple e-mails accusing me of forgetting something they did in 2005 or 2006 or pre-strike in 2007. I will note that by having them cover the 'news' program, Third was a leader in calling out the sexism in the Democratic primaries.
There are many people who have still not been called out anywhere else online for their sexism. Bill Moyers clearly tailored his coverage to Barack Obama and he clearly took shots at Hillary. "Moisty" for the New Hampshire moment. Saying he didn't know if it was real or fake. Saying that viewers should judge for themselves as he pretended to set up a clip only instead of playing that Hillary moment, he replayed Jesse Jackson Jr.'s MSNBC attack on Hillary. How were viewers supposed to decide from that whether Hillary had faked or not? Who else called that out? Moyers is the left (and 'left') sacred cow. No one calls him out. No one ever comments on how very few women are ever booked by his show. No one else pointed out that it was a weekly discussion on race (with male guests always) and yet Moyers never devoted a segment to gender.
That's only one example but it's the one that always comes to my mind because, while Moyers does much that is good (as Ava and C.I. point out regularly), the program was a launching pad for attacks on Hillary as it rushed to promote Barack non-stop.
They did a piece during that which had a number of journalists trembling in e-mails. They noted that Frontline would have never gotten on the air without Jessica Savitch as an anchorwoman and how many had dined out on trashing Savitch, even after she was dead. It's not uncommon for journalists to write in about Ava and C.I.'s commentaries -- some pleased, some displeased -- but that really struck a nerve as various ones rushed to weigh in that the topic wasn't needed or that it wasn't needed and they never did that!
But, of course, many did. And when Ava and C.I. named someone who did, they went with someone who had laughed it up in public and on the public record. Circle the wagons elsewhere, Ava and C.I. aren't interested.
They were the first to point out that Katie Couric was being attacked for being a woman. It wasn't for her anchoring because it was months before she even moved behind The CBS Evening News desk. They were the first to tell you -- even before the news broke in the press -- that Elizabeth Vargas was about to be forced out of her co-anchor chair because ABC wasn't pleased she was pregnant. (And they may have been the only ones to point out -- before and after it was made public -- that this was against the law.)
And while I love those strong pieces, I also love the creative pieces where they either write as if they're characters on a show or as if they've been cast in a show. "How do they make that decision?" wondered JBL in an e-mail last week? They usually have far too much to say and figure it will be easier to write it that way and make the points that way. The first time they went fictional, it was our sixties edition. We had a theme that week. We didn't carry it far enough in our pieces but Ava and C.I. did. So much so that the review still gets e-mails and the most asked question is, "Were they really stoned?" No. They were pretending they were children in the sixties. Isolated, people assume that (the same way some assume they really filmed an episode of 7th Heaven and got fired for ad-libbing).
The piece that first got over 2,000 e-mails in one week. It was Moronic Mars, a very bad show and they pulled no punches from the first paragraph:
Feel for Kristen Bell. Really feel for her. She's twenty-five and stuck playing a headstrong and plucky high schooler. On TV -- which means her character, Veronica Mars, is a real drip. As if a 25 year-old trying to portray Shirley Temple sans curls isn't difficult enough, it gets worse, oh does it get worse. Sexual tensions flies all around Veronica, but none of it is aimed at her. She's like a straight woman hoping for a hook up at a Cher concert.
As many have noted, Cher is probably the most cited person in any of their articles. If they could, they would work her into every piece they write. But they returned to the program knowing that they'd already offended a number of people (about 300 devoted Veronica Mars fans, as I remember) and they still didn't pull punches and addressed the sorry 'representation' of minorities on the program as well. That led to some of the most clueless e-mails the site has ever received (which led to my writing my first solo piece).
And what was really sad about that was grasping these weren't young teenagers writing but grown adults. Fortunately, the majority of the e-mails are more than worth reading. However, a note on that. After Gutter Trash's little stunt, no one is e-mailing replies anymore. If you're a regular reader or a TCI community member, I will continue to reply to you briefly (briefly due to the volume of the e-mails). All others? You're on your own. I will press for "Mailbag" features where we respond to e-mails (questions, comments) and I will try to have those included in "Roundtable" features. But after that stunt, we're not e-mailing private e-mails to strangers regardless of what 'organization' they may be with.
Jim's always said we shouldn't and always argued that we're judged by what goes up here not how many e-mails we answered. Dona and I (we read the bulk of the e-mails) have argued against that; however, in light of Gutter Trash, we're no longer interested in arguing the point. So note the policy change.
In recent weeks, a number of you have suggested that maybe we could do a compilation piece -- a best of Ava and C.I. You argue that they could have the week off and, we all know, they deserve it. However, we have talked of such a piece for some time. In a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, I explained the basics of how that would work using my own example from their reviews. We would list the title of the show, in this case Supernatural, and one or two sentences from the review that we felt captured it and was also funny. (My choice: "We're not sure what to make of this show. On the one hand, it's like really bad gay porn where the leads forget to take their clothes off. On the other, it's as though someone had a secret fondness for The American Girls.") That was in 2006 and the reaction from people participating in that roundtable was, "How could you go with that and not . . ." So that remains a possibility in case they ever are not able to write a commentary one week but we're all aware that selecting even thirty quotes from thirty different reviews would still leave many upset.
Susannah wanted their reviews of Jericho and Medium noted as well as their piece on Roseanna Arquette. I finished her e-mail and moved over to one from longterm reader Bob who argued they have never gotten credit for calling Studio 60 a bomb from the start and for picking Heroes as the must-watch show of that season. He asked that I "work that in somehow as soon as you can." So I'll work it in here. And note that the next e-mail I read was from Annie (writing for herself and her husband -- and they have been reading this site since the first week we went up) who noted this commentary on cartoons and advised that CW starts their new cartoons next Saturday "and I hope Ava and C.I. will be tackling that." In just those three e-mails, you see the range of favorites differ for three different readers. (And they do know that CW starts their new cartoon line up. That's a possibility for next week as is the new 90210 which features Shannen Doherty *Tuesday*. They're not sure what they're going to cover yet.)
Lewis (who is also a TCI community member) wrote that they need credit for calling out CBS' disowning of The New Adventures of Old Christine. He didn't provide a link and I know that they've covered that at least three times. But Lewis notes it's being buried on Wednesday nights this fall. Those were among the many e-mails that came in last week on older pieces by Ava and C.I. Ronald e-mailed to note several of their pieces and then wondered, "Do you ever get tired of e-mails about Ava and C.I.?" No, because as much as I love them, I love their writing.
And that's a good note to wrap on. (I'm sorry I couldn't mention more e-mails and, obviously, I couldn't mention all. I will note Dana, Melissa and Brent's e-mails were on my list to work in if I could.) So the plan is every now and then, I'll be grabbing some theme that's in the e-mails and addressing it here. Since we're no longer replying to e-mails from people we do not know, this will be one more place where they can be noted. By going with themes, I'll hopefully be able to have a topic and not just offering "___ writes and the response is ___."
Ironically, they brag about their "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It" campaign which insists that sexism is "pervasive" (we agree) and that it "isn't a partisan issue." But haven't they made it a partisan issue by refusing to take on the non-stop sexism aimed at Palin? Not only have they contributed to it, they've refused to call it out.
Palin follows Geraldine Ferraro as a woman nominated by one of the country's two major parties to be vice president (no major party has yet to nominate a woman at the top of the ticket). Ferraro was nominated in 1984 and has been surprisingly non-judgmental of Palin -- if you accept WMC as the norm.
Gloria Steinem declares Sarah Palin "unqualified" but fails to make the case for that judgment (doesn't attempt it and fail, just refuses to even try). Palin's a governor. That's the end of the argument. She is the highest representative of Alaska. Not their senators, not their one House Rep. It's Palin. And she is among the many women governors in the US. Declaring a female governor unqualified hurts all the women. The governors hurt by that nonsense include (but are not limited to) Ruth Ann Minner, Jennifer Granholm, Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius, Kathleen Blanco and Christine Gregoire. Life goes far beyond 2008, forget the fear tactics, and another woman will run for president on the Democratic ticket. No woman identifying as a feminist has a right to make that candidate's job harder; however, insisting that a sitting governor isn't 'qualified' does just that.
WMC claims, "Every day when women turn on the news, open the paper, or log on to the Internet, they see a world that, as shaped by the media, is missing something. What's missing are the women: women reporters, women's voices, and women stories. From the reporter's desk to the executive suite, men are overwhelmingly the ones making the decision about what we see in the media." We don't dispute that claim. We do know that their actions regarding Sarah Palin do not attest to their own belief in that claim.
Sarah Palin is a woman. She has identified as a feminist.
Palin does not support abortion -- under any circumstances. We have argued here many times that maybe feminism needs to stop be so encompassing and have postulated that a woman who does not support the right for women to make their own choices shouldn't be considered a feminist. (Or a man, for that matter.) But we've been alone in that. WMC hasn't ever floated that. Having failed to do so, they have no right to question or ignore Palin's self-identification as a feminist.
You can't make the rules up as you go along.
WMC also asserts, "When we see a problem, we speak up -- behind the scenes, through our contacts within the industry, or through campaigns that hold the media publicly accountable." Are they blind? While trashing Palin, they said nothing about PBS' sorry coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions. Three men were allowed to be commentators (Mark Shield, David Brooks and Jim Lehren) and three men were allowed to be 'presidential historians'. Where were the women? And where was the WMC?
If holding the media accountable is a goal, it's not just the MSM that's failing. It was, after all, The Nation magazine that published 491 male bylines in 2007 and only 149. WMC either stands up for women or it doesn't.
Last week, they felt the need to link to the news of Amy Goodman's arrest. While Palin should be covered, the only reason Goodman should be would be to call her out. She chose to publish in H**stler magazine this decade. She chose to turn an hour of programming over to Larry F**nt. There is nothing feminist about Amy Goodman and she should be on her own. (It also bears noting that following the 2006 mid-term elections, she brought on a variety of guests to discuss various voting segments but ignored the largest segment of all -- women voters. Women are repeatedly ignored on her program. There's no need to promote her.)
There is much for anyone on the left to disagree with in Palin's record. Sexist attacks, attacks that harm all women, are not doing anyone any good. And while we would gladly support a dialogue on narrowing the definition of feminism to disallow those who do not support abortion for others (regardless of their opinion of what they themselves would do), WMC hasn't advanced or even addressed that topic. Having failed to do so, they can't after-the-fact start drawing that line in the sand to call out Palin.
Women's Media Center is something we support in terms of its mission statement; however, there is no denying that the mission statement failed in execution last week.
Another failure they might want to consider is their total black-out on Cynthia McKinney. She is a presidential candidate and her running mate (Rosa Clemente) is a woman. For some strange reason, WMC can't cover their run.
It's not only puzzling, it reenforces the false stereotype that feminists are all White and only interested in White women. That destructive stereotype did not come along this year. It's been around forever and WMC can count it as a real failure that they have added fuel to the fire by refusing to cover McKinney's campaign.
When McKinney was in Congress, Feminist Majority Foundation's Feminist Wire could note her (she's had nine items counting the last one in July noting she was the presidential nominee). They don't rush to cover her now. Neither does the WMC.
Does the WMC exist as a Democratic Party organ? If so, they need to change their name to Democratic Women's Media Center. If not, they need to lose the 'tude with regards to Palin and they need to start covering Cynthia McKinney's run.
By refusing to do either, they are alienating many women and, allegedly, WMC wants a large women base of readers. You'll have a hard time building such a base by ignoring women to root for one man. You'll have an even harder time of doing so if you're seen as an outlet that disrespects women by refusing to enlarge the discussion out of fear that it might hurt Barack's campaign. When you're seen as a gatekeeper, you lose readers.