Sunday, January 05, 2014


Jim: It's e-mail roundtable time.  Topics were raised by readers in a series of e-mails last week. Remember our new e-mail address is Please note that is a change.  Participating our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Okay, readers Marvin e-mailed Noel Sheppard's "Melissa Harris-Perry Cries During On-Air Apology to Romney Family" from NewsBusters and Marvin wanted Ava and C.I.'s reaction?

Ava: Melissa and her guests examined 'news' photos.  How a family Christmas card photo qualified was always beyond me.  But Mitt and Ann Romney's card of them with their children and their over 20 grandchildren made Melissa's cut.  Her guests pounced on a small baby -- an African-American child -- moking the baby and the baby's family.  An 'actress' was especially insulting but so was the guy who writes for The Daily Beast.  That's all I'm saying on it.  I'll let C.I. comment on something else about it.

Jim: C.I., you wrote about it last week.

C.I.: I did.  There was no excuse for it to have happened.  It was rude and insulting. And that goes to Melissa in that she hosts the program and that requires stepping in which she did not do.  I also noted that the photo could easily have been of Melissa at a family reunion on her mother's side, that she has a White mother.  I pointed out the Melissa did not make fun of the child in terms of race and that she looked very uncomfortable while her guests were making sport of the baby.  If NewsBusters has the full statement from Melissa, let's put it in.

Jim: Okay.  Here it is.

Good morning. I'm Melissa Harris-Perry. We have a lot of news and politics to discuss this morning. Before we get to that, I'm going to start with an apology.
Last Sunday, we invited a panel of comedians for a year in review program. It's what we call our look back in laughter. But in one of the segments, we looked at a number of photos that caught our attention over the course of the year. In that segment, I asked my guests to provide kind of off the cuff ideas for captions of the photos that we were seeing. Among the images we aired was one of the Romney family that showed Governor Mitt Romney's grandchildren, including his adopted grandson, who's African-American.
Now given my own family history, I identify with that picture and I intended to say positive and celebratory things about it, but whatever the intent was, the reality is that the segment proceeded in a way that was offensive. And showing the photo in that context, that segment, was poor judgment.
So without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family. Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy. But their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground rule that families are off-limits, and for that I am sorry.
Also, allow me to apologize to other families formed through transracial adoption, because I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule. On this program we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. It is one of our core principles, and I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect.
We're generally appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday's program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.

C.I.:   Everyone needs to decide for themselves how to respond to the above.  Speaking only for me, I accept her remarks as sincere and the story is over on this for me unless future actions mean we have to return to it.  As I wrote last week, to me, she looked clearly uncomfortable with the segment.  I don't believe she thought it would go the way it did.  Due to her own background, I especially don't believe she intended it to go that way.  For me, she's taken accountability and it's no longer an issue.  I'm not speaking for anyone else, just me.

Jim: So it's a non-issue now?

C.I.: In terms of Melissa, for me, it is.  But the guests?  No. They know what to do and how to act to get invited on MSNBC.  They were signing from the MSNBC hymnals and they've yet to make serious apologies.  I think this incident goes to the lack of character and the desire to divide and hate that is entwined in the DNA of MSNBC.

Ava:  I think it's time for MSNBC to pack it in.  It degrades NBC News and it's tone is unlike any other channel.  Even Fox News is not as bad as MSNBC.  You can sum up Fox News' attacks on Democrats as, "These people are stupid!"  MSNBC's attacks on Republicans is, "These people are liars and crooks and . . ."  At the heart of the Fox noise is this idea that the channel can educate and reform.  At the heart of the MSNBC noise is that these people must be eliminated and eradicated.

C.I.: Which is why, on Fox, they'll bring on Democrats and, on MSNBC, they won't 'soil' themselves by bringing on the Republican guests.

Kat: If I can jump in, I'd say Ava and C.I. have a good point here.  MSNBC is doing so much damage to the left.  It fails to bring on the true left, it's a channel for the Democratic Party and it spews such hatred.  I actually believe we were better off, on the left, without MSNBC.  Then Fox was the only one frothing at the mouth on TV.  So they looked extreme.  Now we have our 'attack dogs' and what we quickly notice is that all their barking is b.s. and they don't care about anything.  If the White House does 180 on something, so does MSNBC.  So they're loud and they're frauds.   And this helps the left how?  I'd argue it doesn't and that it's actually creating -- re-creating -- a climate similar to the late 70s -- only more so -- which helped bring about Republican domination -- three presidential elections in a row.  I'd say they also are trying to do things on TV that will not work on TV.  We can talk about that another time.

Jim: Alright.  Marcia's "Melissa Harris-Perry's latest disgrace" also covered Lie Face.  Marcia, your take?

Marcia: When you deny your own mother, you create these problems.  In the week that Juanita Moore died, this flared up.  Moore starred in the Lana Turner version of Imitation of Life.  She was the house keeper. In the movie, her daughter could pass for White and did.  Diana Ross and the Supremes' "I'm Living In Shame" is based on that plot.  Melissa had a White mother but wanted to be Black so she denied her mother.  That's what created this moment.  Maybe she learned from it?  I don't know.  I'll wait and see what comes next.

Jim:  Another thing making waves last week, as readers Marcus, Zach and Brady noted,  was Green Bay Packer quarter back Aaron Rodgers who was the subject of rumors that he was gay and who responded he "really, really like[s] women."  Mike wrote ""Gay cutie Aaron Rodgers"" about the whole issue.  Elaine, sum up Mike's post.

Elaine:  Being gay isn't a bad thing.  Rodgers is preparing for some major games and also has major money tied up in the perception that he's straight.  In addition to the monetary loss, trash talk could be difficult to deal with.  If Aaron Rodgers is straight, no great harm is done by the rumors -- as an athlete, he's used to using the boos from the opposition in a game -- but if he is gay Mike's point is that it's okay and it's even understandable that, ahead of the Superbowl play offs, Rodgers would lie if he was gay.

Jim: Dave Zirin of Hairy Back Press has a rant at The Nation where he insisits:

He said with gusto that he “really, really likes women,” as if they were his favorite cut of beef at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. He did not even throw down with a token “not that there is anything wrong with that.” (Straight men: the only three acceptable answers to “Are you gay?” are, “That’s my business,” “Not at the moment”, or “I fear I don’t have that privilege.”)

Jim (Con't): Actually, Zirin, he said "I really, really like women" -- not "likes."  Guess all that time spent popping zits on his ass blew out a few of Zirin's brain cells.  Mike?

Mike:  I don't like the idea that the hairy backed Zirin gets to tell anyone what they can or cannot say.  If Rogers is straight, he can say so however he wants.  His response did not insult gay people or preach homophobia.  It was not a 'butt holes are only for exists' or some such crap.  For Zirin to be offended?  He's needs to stop finger-banging himself when he's on the computer writing supposed professional columns.

Jim: Larger issues here?

Rebecca:  First off, if you were to bet, the winning bet would most likely be that Aaron Rodgers is gay.  Mike's piece was in response to what Dave Zirin ignored -- and Dave published four days after Mike.  It wasn't the "I really, really like women" that was offensive.  Mike had no problem with it and outside of Zirin's sex dungeon, no one did.  The problem was the homophobia that greeted Aaron's remarks.  That's why Mike wrote his piece.  Everyone -- including NBC Sports -- was sighing with relief and running their pieces that (a) made clear the press wants hims straight -- or at least straight to the outside world and (b) they would preach homophobia to enforce the straight line.

Ty: Exactly.  Dave Zirin is calling out Aaron Rodgers when he should be calling out the press.  Mike called out the press, he had the guts to.  The sports world ignored the rumors and only covered them when Aaron denied them and then covered them in an insulting manner.  We don't want a gay Aaron!  That's what the press made clear.  And they'd toss in insults like, it doesn't matter.  Of course it matters or you wouldn't be writing about it.

Marcia: But, sorry to jump in Ty, they didn't write about it.  As Ty points out, the rumors were all over the net.  Aaraon Is Gay, they screamed.  And the sports writers ignored it until they could trumpet: "He's not gay!"  And then they said it didn't matter.  But clearly it did matter because they were silent prior to his announcement.

Rebecca: Ty and Marcia are correct.  And Kevin Lanflisi needs to be addressed.  Outsports has done a piece on 'poor Aaron' attacking Lanflisi and that bulls**t has to be called out.

Mike: Kevin Lanflisi lived with Aaron Rodgers for over five years, I think it began in 2008.  To the public, Kevin was Aaron's friend and assistant.  They went out publicly very often.  Kevin no longer lives with Aaron and made a series of Tweets in November -- many that have since been deleted -- which could be read as, "Aaron and I have broken up because he promised he would come out and he did not."

Rebecca: And Outsports is the worst in the world, the most homophobic site int he world.  They want to drool over straight players -- even if they know they're gay -- and when any boyfriend outs an ex, they have a stomping fit.

Ty: I agree.  I just pulled up what Rebecca's talking about.  Cyd Zeigler is a little bitch.  A stupid little bitch.  First off, he's not writing Mike didn't cover at the start of last week.  How hard this could be for Aaron?  Mike already pointed that out.  Mike didn't attack Kevin, though.   Little bitch Cyd is a fan boy jerking off, not a journalist.  He calls this "an attempted outing" and says it serves no good and then attacks another man who may have been a boyfriend who 'outed' a player.  Here's reality, if I'm involved with Aaron Rodgers and we break up, I can say whatever the hell I want and if I was promised by Aaron that he would come out and then he didn't, I can talk about that too.  Because it was 'our' life.  Cyd doesn't get that because he's a stupid ass fan boy who just identifies with players.

Jim: Rebecca?

Rebecca: Kevin's the reason I think it's likely true.  And the way the press has treated Kevin.  Basic journalism is to contact Kevin for a response.  If you can't get ahold of him or get a response from him, basic journalism is noting that in the article.  Instead, they're disappearing Kevin.  Which would indicate Kevin told the truth in his Tweets.  Or inferred the truth since he never came out and said, "Aaron and I were sexually involved."

Jim: Gay or straight, did Aaron Rodgers make a mistake speaking about this?

Rebecca: Yes.  It was an issue on gossip sites so people interested in gossip were following it.  But his statement meant that it became an issue on sports sites and the homophobic nature of so many of the writers for sports' sites meant that it became, for many readers, a case of 'where there's smoke, there's fire.'

Jim: Another big issue last week was faded celebrity Ani DiFranco who wanted to hold a songwriting retreat on a plantation.  Taylor, Seth, Joanne and Amanda wrote in about this topic.  Ani acknowledged that, before the uproar, she learned this had been a slave plantation.  It was more than that.  It's a place that preaches today that slavery was good.  A huge outcry ensued and Ani finally cancelled her event and announced it in a wordy post which lashed out at others while claiming she wanted to listen.  This was followed, on Thursday, with a better statement which at least seemed sincere.  Betty covered the scandal in "Ani DiFranco is the new Paula Deen," Kat in "Ani DiFranco?," Ann in "The Good Whitey" and Cedric and Wally with "Ani DiFranco regroups and rebooks" and "THIS JUST IN! ANI'S RETREAT GOES ON!"  Betty?

Betty: I wish I'd been called last.  I think Kat had a great point -- like Ann points out and underscores.  A sub-set of White people attacking Ani were attacking her to make themselves look better. Certainly, the Nathan Goodman who Ann calls out had nothing to add to the conversation and quickly wrote a post just so he could play The Good Whitey.

Ann: Nathan, a White man, had nothing to say.  He just repeated what had happened, made a historical remark or two and that was it.  He's quoting Jezebel when he should be quoting African-Americans.  If he'd written a "I was a big Ani fan and this upset me" post, it would have made some sense.  Instead, he's beating her up to make himself look good.  Which was the other interesting thing because, as Kat had pointed out, that really describes what Ani's been doing for the last five years.  So they flipped the script and used it on her.

Jim: Cedric and Wally?

Cedric: It was rife for humor, the whole embarrassing incident.  We avoided it and probably would have continued to do so were it not for Kat's post.  But she was so dead on in that we decided to do a humor post.

Wally:  We send up her communiques with her fans.  How very sad, by the way, that Ani now communicates with her fans via press releases.  The formalization of that communication just goes the wide gap between Ani and her fans today which probably explains how her booking a plantation started and the problems began.

Cedric: Absolutely.

Jim: Ruth, Trina, Stan and Isaiah, you get to respond to Fred's question: "What's going to make 2014 different than last year?"

Trina: The bloom is off the rose.  I think it will be much more difficult for Barack to trick people -- even his devoted followers at The Nation and elsewhere.

Ruth: I think Trina is on to something.  I think we have awakened to not only President Barack Obama but also to his enablers like Amy Goodman.  They will still try to trick us, but I think they will have to work harder to succeed.

Isaiah: I don't.  I think we're still willing to stomach the stupidity of Bob Somerby which argues the pres was wonderful and perfect until they said mean things about his college roommate Al Gore.  We do realize, don't we, that Bob Somerby's refused to cover the illegal spying or anything that matters.  Yet the prattling fool is still applauded by some.

Stan: That's a good point.  Bob Somerby is a worthless whore and he attacked Ambassador Joseph Wilson, called him a "liar" and worse and got away with it and got away with hiding that he was friends with 'journalist' Matt Cooper who was part of the leaking of the fact that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was CIA.  So, yeah, he's right up there with Judith Miller but he's still considered semi-reputable.

Jim: Okay and we'll end the roundtable on that note.  This is a rush transcript.

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