Friday, September 27, 2013
Only Propaganda Is 'Good Journalism'?
Why are liberals in so much denial about liberal bias in the news? Why do they think they're bending over backward to be "objective" doing that which Republicans see as partisan activism?
Daniel Froomkin of the Huffington Post — formerly of The Washington Post — suggests an answer. He is exactly the kind of liberal agitator in the newsroom who wants every news story to be a blazing editorial. Every reporter must divide the world clearly between Liberal Sense and Conservative Nonsense. His latest article is titled, "Writing a Neutral Story About Something So Heartless As the Food Stamp Vote Is Not Good Journalism."
On Sept. 19, The New York Times reported, "The Republican-led House yesterday voted to make deep cuts to the food stamps program that has kept millions of American families from going hungry since the recession hit, saying its response to growing need was instead a sign of bloat and abuse."
In short, Democrats keep families from starving. Republicans reject "growing need" as "bloat."
Froomkin argued that attempting objectivity, like quoting awful Republicans, creates horrendous "triangulating mush" that fails to educate voters. The Republican food-stamp vote was for him "a blatantly absurd and cruel move (that) struck me as a good test of whether the Washington press corps could ever bring itself to call things as they so obviously are — or whether they would check their very good brains at the door and just write triangulating mush that leaves readers to fend for themselves."
Republicans should complain that while the Times story contained spending numbers and quoted both Democrats and Republicans, it contained the usual liberal media bias — indeed, editorial slant — in favor of social programs growing by leaps and bounds, forever and ever. But Froomkin was livid at the Times. "Like those at essentially every other mainstream news organization, they wrote it straight. They focused on procedure. They quoted both sides. And they called it a day."
Froomkin characterized Republicans quoted in the Times as either "fabulously disingenuous" or "shockingly dishonest." Froomkin would prefer these fools to be banned entirely from the news pages, unless they were tarred and feathered in print as unhinged extremists. Only that socialist view is the "truth."
Rep. Marlin Stutzman was "fabulously disingenuous" to insist that anti-poverty programs be measured by lifting people out of poverty, not just increasing spending in an era of trillion-dollar deficits. Somehow, he's the irrational one.
But when Republicans talk of dramatic spending increases in a news story, Froomkin faults reporters. He claimed it contrasts "a nonsensical non-argument with a fact and makes it sound like two equal sides." The Democratic "fact" was that the dramatic increase showed "the program was doing its job."
Froomkin is such a censorious Pravda-style writer that he even faulted his own colleagues at The Huffington Post for allowing "a long and utterly disingenuous quote from [Eric] Cantor, left unrebutted."
These are the facts Froomkin thinks are "disingenuous." Since taking office, the Obama administration has more than doubled spending on food stamps. Spending rose from $39 billion in 2008 to a projected $85 billion in 2012. House Republicans just voted to cut $40 billion from food stamps over a 10-year span, which, in federal-budget terms, is a tiny blip, not a "deep cut." The Times story admitted that even with these "cuts," the food stamp program "would cost more than $700 billion over the next 10 years."
The Times also noted that Senate Democrats insisted there would be no "cuts."
President Obama is responsible for a record number of food stamp recipients (47.7 million in June 2013). That's 6 million more Americans than when Obama's "recovery summer" began in June 2010.
Froomkin thought the newspaper accounts should agree with his view that the House vote was "not only an undeniable act of heartlessness, it was also perhaps the ultimate example of how today's increasingly radical and unhinged GOP leadership picks on the poor, coddles the rich, makes thinly veiled appeals to racism and plays time-wasting political games instead of governing."
Froomkin saw some merit in The Washington Post vote on this story, since it suggested conservative racism in pointing out the Census Bureau reports that almost half the food-stamp recipients are black or Hispanic.
"People at the Post are smart enough to realize that the primary political benefit to the GOP of attacking food stamps — and blaming Obama for the increase in their use — is that it serves as a dog-whistle, affirming to the base that Republican leaders are against letting shiftless minorities keep taking money out of your (white) pockets. People at the Post are not brave enough to say so, however."
After listening to their Froomkin-esque friends, liberal reporters think they've been painfully objective and dreadfully tolerant of Republican viewpoints. That's one reason the waterfall of liberal bias never stops flowing.
It's not the Pope's culture war
by Jeff Jacoby
INTRIGUED BY news coverage of Pope Francis's interview with the world's leading Jesuit journals, I wanted to read the whole thing for myself. The full English text, downloaded from the website of the New York-based America magazine, was 19 pages long. The part that generated all the excited headlines — "Pope Says Church Is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control" was how The New York Times announced it on page 1 — amounted to only about five paragraphs. Maybe the Catholic Church isn't the institution that's obsessed.
You wouldn't know it from the media's compulsive focus on the controversial social issues, but the long conversation with the new pope was far more interesting and wide-ranging than a mere skull session on culture-war politics. The pope discussed everything from his favorite paintings to his daily prayers, from how he taught literature to high school boys to how he learned to avoid being authoritarian as he rose in the church hierarchy. He explained why leaving "room for doubt" is so important in any honest person's search for God, and why he distrusts any religious figure who claims to have "the answers to all the questions."
Neither Francis nor his interviewer dwelt at any length on the hot-button subjects that so fascinate the news media. They came up only once. The pope was asked how pastors could best reach "Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or … that represent open wounds." He answered, in effect: Meet them where they are, and work from there.
Just as God accompanies people in life, the pope said, so "we must accompany them, starting from their situation." That doesn't mean the church should drop its opposition to abortion or gay marriage: "The teaching of the church … is clear and I am a son of the church." But if the church's goal is to win over hearts and minds — especially in the midst of an aggressive secular culture that celebrates abortion rights and gay marriage — "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." Don't lose sight of the big picture, the pope advises. He analogized the church to a field hospital, and reminded Catholics of the importance of triage when assisting a seriously injured person. You don't start by hectoring him about cholesterol. First things first. "You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."
From the first moments of his papacy it has been evident that Francis is a "people" person, with a gentle common touch and a gift for pastoral outreach. In the church as in any other organization, leadership comes in very different styles. This pope's style is a warm, encouraging one. With more than 40 years of experience in the priesthood, he knows what has worked for him and has had plenty of time to judge the success of other approaches. It would be surprising indeed if he didn't use the immensely extended influence that comes with being supreme pontiff to adjust or renew the church's course.
On the other hand, nothing is surprising about the eagerness with which so many on the cultural left have seized on a few lines in an extended interview and hailed it as a game-changer. One abortion-rights lobby took to Facebook to post — of all things! — a giant "Thank You" card to the pope. A prominent gay-marriage advocate exulted over what he sees as "The Rebirth of Catholicism."
But the pope isn't throwing out the Catechism. He isn't changing church doctrine. He isn't telling priests and bishops to "move on" from the politics swirling about abortion or same-sex marriage. Far from it. He is simply reminding them that a good teacher needs a good attitude, and that a shepherd seeking to bring lost lambs back to the fold may sometimes need to hike a great distance, and draw on reservoirs of great patience, before the strays are willing to return. "The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials," the pope says.
We live in an era when so much of our public culture really is "obsessed" with sexual issues, and full of anger and contempt for those who maintain the guard rails of tradition and morality. Francis doesn't propose to let those guard rails rust. But his intuition and experience tell him they can be kept in better trim with less acrimony. I'm not a Catholic, but I pray for his success.
UK: Christian doctor sacked for emailing a prayer to colleagues to cheer them up loses appeal against dismissal
A Christian doctor who was sacked because he emailed a prayer to his colleagues has claimed hospital managers targeted him as an NHS whistleblower after he lost an appeal against his dismissal.
Consultant paediatrician Dr David Drew, 65, sent a 16th-century prayer by St Ignatius Loyola around his department in April 2009, hoping it would be motivational.
Dr Drew, who had an unblemished 37-year career in the NHS, was told to ‘keep his religious beliefs to himself’ by a review panel, which was called to investigate his conduct in March 2010.
After refusing to accept their findings, he was sacked from Walsall Manor Hospital, where he worked as a clinical director.
Today the father-of-four, who lives in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, with his wife Janet, 63, said the email had been used as a smokescreen to push him out of his post. He said: 'My case was never about the religion, it was about the fact the hospital wouldn’t listen to its most senior paediatrician telling them they were cutting costs to the bone and putting patient safety at risk.
'It’s all about whistleblowing. We’ve now got people like Robert Francis [Robert Francis QC, who chaired the public inquiry into the Stafford hospital deaths] telling us doctors and nurses are too scared to raise concerns because it’s considered a career-ending move.
'There were five gags put on my case so we’ve never been able to interrogate the process used in the review which led to my dismissal. 'My case is the exact opposite of the transparency that’s being called for in the NHS today.
'We have to give doctors and nurses freedom to safely report when they see things going wrong and putting patients at risk. It’s a scandal.'
The doctor was branded as having committed ‘gross misconduct and insubordination’ in December 2010.
An employment tribunal in April last year rejected his claims of unfair dismissal, religious discrimination and victimisation against Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust.
And on Monday this week a judge upheld the decision of the lower court after he deemed its findings were based on available evidence.
Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said the original panel had not made any error in law and rejected claims from Dr Drew’s legal team that their conclusions were ‘perverse’.
Dr Drew prefaced the prayer that he sent around the department, called ‘To give and not to count the cost’, with the words: 'I find this a personal inspiration in my frail imperfect efforts to serve my patients, their families and our department.'
Managers declared he had created a ‘toxic work environment’ with what were inappropriate religious communications.
Dr Drew said today: 'It was the management that raised a complaint against me after they found an email I’d sent to my colleagues with this traditional, literary prayer in it.
'They gave me instructions I was to keep my religion out of the workplace.
'We were a very very happy department with people of different faiths and even some atheists who were quite outspoken.
'But we were senior, intelligent, well-educated people who were not extreme in our beliefs in any way. We co-existed quite happily.'
Dr Drew was suspended in the same month after a senior nurse claimed he had undermined her, but the allegation was later proved unfounded.
Dr Drew was meeting with his legal team yesterday to discuss the case. He plans to release a book about his case in November.
A spokesperson from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said that the issues that Dr Drew raised today had been addressed through several stringent formal processes on-going since 2009.
The spokesperson said the Trust was satisfied with the outcome of the case and that Dr Drew's claims had been dismissed, but added: 'We would like to reiterate that this case did not question Dr Drew’s skills as a Paediatric Consultant and on behalf of the Trust would like to say that we regret that the situation had to get to the Tribunal stage.
'As a Trust we actively encourage and support our staff to raise an issue if they are concerned about patient care.'
France's Interior Minister calls for Roma gypsies 'to return' to Romania or Bulgaria because they can't integrate
A French minister has called for Roma gipsies to ‘return to Romania or Bulgaria’ because they don’t integrate well in France.
There have also been demands from other politicians for the two impoverished countries to be ‘locked out’ of European agreements which allow freedom of movement.
Interior minister Manuel Valls’s explosive words yesterday started a wide-ranging debate about the abject failure of EU ‘open border’ immigration policies.
The European Commission immediately threatened sanctions against France for its policy towards the Roma community. A spokesman insisted everyone from Bulgaria and Rumania was a citizen of the EU and therefore had a right to travel anywhere.
Three years ago the Commission’s vice president, Viviane Reding, sent a similar threat to former president Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that Roma expulsions had to stop.
The row will be of huge interest in the UK, as next year restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians looking for work are being swept away.
In an interview on the France Inter radio station, Mr Valls said: ‘The Roma should return to Romania or Bulgaria.’ The Socialist Party member added: ‘Yes, we must tell the truth to the French – these populations have a way of life that is extremely different to ours, and they are obviously in confrontation with local populations.’
Illegal Roma camps have sprung up on the edges of major cities such as Paris and Marseille. All have become associated with widespread crime and major health hazards.
Mr Valls, who was born in Barcelona, said: ‘It is unrealistic to think we will solve the problem of Roma populations only through integration.’ He said there is ‘no alternative but to dismantle these camps and gradually move them across the border’.
And last night he remained defiant in the face of criticism, insisting: ‘The majority [of Roma] should be delivered back to the borders. We are not here to welcome these people.
‘I’d remind you of [former Socialist premier] Michel Rocard’s statement “it’s not France’s job to deal with the misery of the whole world”.’ One of Mr Valls’s own cabinet colleagues, Arnaud Montebourg, also pointed to the fact the minister’s family were migrants from Spain.
Mr Montebourg said: ‘A theory that such and such a person or such and such a people will never, ever be able to integrate just doesn’t stand up. ‘Decreeing in advance that it is impossible seems to me excessive and is worthy of being corrected.’
But Mr Valls said: ‘I’ve got nothing to correct. My remarks only shock those who don’t know the subject.’
Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of the opposition UMP party, meanwhile told France Info radio station that Roma criminals regularly ‘harassed Parisians’.
Referring to the Schengen agreement which allows people to move across Europe without passport checks, Mr Cope said both Romania and Bulgaria should be excluded.
‘We close our eyes to the French government to what is happening in our country – the constant violence’, he said. ‘This is extremely serious and…it is out of the question that Bulgaria and Romania enter the Schengen area until the problem is resolved at the European level.’
There are an estimated 15,000 Roma gipsies in France. Two years ago the then interior minister, Claude Gueant, claimed the vast majority of street robberies in Paris were carried out by Romanian immigrants.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.