New adventures in the culture wars

04.15.2013, 10:48 AM

The Alabama State Senate seems poised to pass a bill that would drastically restrict the ability of local sheriffs to deny anyone in the state who is not an already-convicted felon the right to carry a concealed weapon.  Every sheriff in the state opposes the bill, for reasons that, for most of us, are quite obvious.  But the bill is likely to pass anyway. 

 Next door in my home state of Mississippi, a similar thing just happened.  Outraged by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s attempt to limit the serving sizes of sugary drinks, the state legislature recently passed a law saying that nowhere, anywhere, under any circumstances in the sovereign state of Mississippi can anyone for any reason restrict the serving size of a sugary drink. 

 What shall we call this phenomenon?  No one has ever imagined, until now, that the right to own a gun was somehow under threat in Alabama.  And no one has ever imagined, until now, that the right to consume huge containers of sugary drinks was somehow under threat in Mississippi.  But in each state, lawmakers apparently feel the need to act preemptively, as it were – in one case, it seems, to strike a blow against something being done by a northern mayor who probably has never set foot in Mississippi and never will, and in the other case to strike a blow against the very idea that anyone, anywhere, for any reason would ever limit the right of anyone to carry around a concealed weapon. 

 The culture wars are a funny thing.  They seem to fill people up with aggression that needs an outlet, and if there is nothing practically that can be done at the local level – if there is no locally available evil to take action against – then the thing to do, apparently, is to strike symbolic blows against evils that appear to be or might be occurring in far-distant climes, or evils that, in theory, might one day – who knows? – actually show up here at home. The culture wars are a funny thing.


50 Responses to “New adventures in the culture wars”

  1. Rhonda says:

    That was the purpose of DOMA, to strike a symbolic blow against gays maybe marrying. Unfortunately, these “culture wars” laws will take SCOTUS or lots of incredibly brave politicians (that’s an oxymoron) to get rid of them.

  2. Mont D. Law says:

    You will never solve a problem you’re unwilling to name. Until you can write that post and include the word Republican you’re making word salad not change.

  3. Kevin says:

    If this is what conservatives have to do, to feel empowered, then so be it. It seems childish to me, but if making rebellious and/or silly “statement” laws provides some sense of accomplishment, then go for it!

    It does reveal a mentality of frustration in dealing with a changing world. That must be an incredible burden to bear, since the world is constantly changing and you can’t really fight it. The very concept of conservatism seems to embody a lost cause, at least on some level(s).

    Conservative media have so perfected the propaganda that Democrats/liberals/the government/foreigners/etc. are going to “take what’s yours/make you do stuff you don’t want to do/take away your rights” that less able-minded conservatives have been rendered essentially paranoid and victimized. I think that must be a hard way to go through life.

  4. Teresa says:

    Just to provide a bit of balance on the “it’s all the conservatives going awry” what happened with the liberal press and the media blackout on the Kermit Gosnell case?

    I’m not derailing this thread into a pro-life/pro-choice discussion. However, this horror story is beyond what we could have possibly imagined … and, that for years. Now, because they’re being called out on their reticence/silence, it’s let’s make excuses why we didn’t show up in Court.

    There’s plenty of red meat to throw around on both sides of the aisle.

    David, about Mississippi, when did it come back into the Union? :)

  5. Rhonda says:

    Teresa,
    I have been reading about the Gosnell trial on *gasp* Huffington Post, the far left liberal blog, for many weeks. The man is horrible, but I wouldn’t pin pro-life arguments on it, because what he was doing was illegal late term abortions, in an unsanitary, clinic that lack any medical credentialing, to low-income minority women. A pro-choicer could scream that if women were allowed safe abortions in licensed clinics, things like this might not occur, but will continue to occur if you outlaw abortion altogether.

  6. Teresa says:

    Rhonda,

    Thank you for your response. I’m happy to hear that HuffPo was reporting on this. However, it can’t be denied that MSM was fairly absent on this story.

    I’m not pinning pro-life arguments on this story. I think you understand that my point was it’s not all a one-sided story.

    I acknowledge the reporter that called out the MSM (Including FOX) on their silence or no-show in Court was a liberal reporter, Kirsten Powers.

  7. Mont D. Law says:

    (what happened with the liberal press and the media blackout on the Kermit Gosnell case?)

    This is a conservative talking point that is untrue from start to finish. There was no media black out.

    (However, it can’t be denied that MSM was fairly absent on this story.)

    Yes it can. And has been repeatedly.

  8. annajcook says:

    Just to support folks who are calling the Gosnell “blackout” the myth that it is, here is reproductive rights reporter Irin Carmon on how feminist and reproductive rights folks covered the Gosnell story right from the beginning.

  9. Rhonda says:

    THINK PROGRESS states

    Though Powers didn’t speculate as to why papers and networks failed to sufficiently cover Gosnell, the furor that emerged in conservative publications after her column left little to the imagination. “All pro-lifers have received is yet another example of the media’s circling the wagons for their allies in the abortion industry,” wrote Michael J. New in a representative blog post for National Review. The massive conservative shaming campaign has already led some outlets to backtrack.
    But the “media blackout” conservatives allege was a fiction. The New York Times ran five pieces on the Gosnell trial before the controversy erupted. The Washington Post ran eight related items before or roughly concurrent to Powers’ column. Dan Amira at New York Magazine finds a similar level of Gosnell coverage on major television news networks.
    The case was also extensively covered in pro-choice media outlets (including this one) and local Pennsylvania publications.

    With rare exceptions, conservative media also ignored the case until recently. As Paul Farhi at The Washington Post pointed out yesterday, the Weekly Standard “hadn’t published anything on the trial, according to a search of the Nexis database.” Neither did Ross Douthat. Or the Wall Street Journal right-wing editorial page. from The Nation

    I think that everyone was looking, initially, at this as a crime not a “culture war”. Also, Kirsten Powers works for FOX and is not a liberal reporter.

  10. Teresa says:

    Rhonda, I believe Kirsten Powers is considered a liberal working on FOX News.

    Following is a quote from Religion News Service:

    Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers lives up to the tagline of the television network that platforms her: “fair and balanced.” Viewers familiar with her opinions know that while she is an unashamed liberal, she doesn’t shy away from criticizing the President and other Democrats or defending conservatives when she feels it is appropriate.

    or this from Bernard Goldberg:

    Now, I’m sure that even though Kirsten Powers is an unapologetic liberal and dishes plenty of criticism against the conservative media as well, she probably takes a tremendous amount of heat from her fellow lefties for merely being employed by Fox News. And I’m guessing that whenever she speaks out against liberal media bias, her email inbox fills up with angry rants from the angry left, accusing her of being a shill for Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes.

    Those people, however, would be wrong. Powers has shown that she comes from an extremely rare breed of modern day liberals in the media that carries a deep pride in the media profession. She realizes how truly vital that profession is in our society, and she’s rightly offended by her peers who do not take their responsibility seriously. Whether or not they share her political views is irrelevant to the job at hand.

    This is how all journalists should be viewing their profession. So when one of them not only demonstrates that they get it, but also demands that their peers get it as well, they deserve some praise.

    Kirsten Powers, an Evangelical Liberal seems not to fit precisely into any of our tidy boxes. Rhonda, we’ll probably have to agree to disagree on Gosnell and Kirsten Powers.

  11. Rhonda says:

    Teresa,
    I will agree to that. :)

  12. mythago says:

    I think you understand that my point was it’s not all a one-sided story.

    I actually don’t understand your point. You made a completely incorrect argument that the “liberal press” purposely ignored the story, and you raised it as you-do-it-too to criticism of conservatives. If your point was that liberals are not all shining examples of intellectual honesty and fairness, well, I kind of hope nobody is *that* silly, but you picked an extremely foolish example.

  13. fannie says:

    I agree that Teresa chose a poor example to “provide a bit of balance” with.

    As Jill Filipovic recently noted, feminist and pro-choice writers in major left-leaning publications covered the Gosnell case extensively in 2010 and 2011, all of which condemned him. Filipovic also notes, “The mainstream media also covered the case. CNN, Time, the New York Times, NPR, CBS, the Washington Post and dozens of other outlets all featured the charges against Gosnell in early 2011.”

    Maybe conservatives just don’t remember all of this?

    Maybe some people are more invested in writing a narrative about alleged “media blackouts” than they are in accuracy?

    Yes, the culture wars a…. “funny thing” indeed. And, you know, I actually wouldn’t use the word funny, myself. Nothing about this inaccuracy, nor the passage of asinine laws to deal with invented “threats” is funny.

    It’s sad, infuriating, divisive, and frustrating.

  14. Rhonda says:

    I agree. It is not funny. It is infuriating, annoying, and a wee bit on the scary side WRT how fast they get the laws passed.

  15. Teresa says:

    I believe there’s more going on than “Teresa was wrong” in bringing forth this story as an example of the culture wars. And, how I neglected with the supposed idea of ‘malice of forethought’ to bring all my biases into play. Biases which I own, and which with conscious effort, I try to set aside as best I can. That I failed in part on this thread, perhaps. I think not, overall.

    There is a media brouhaha now going on over this very issue. The issue that now the trial is going on, and where was the MSM in court, which includes where was FOX News. This is now 2013, not 2010, not 2011. The trial is now going on.

    The media are now falling all over themselves to explain their absence. Am I making this up? Hardly.

    Is the Atlantic liberal or conservative. I have no idea. But here’s a link that may help all of us get a bit more balance on this.

    14 Theories for Why Kermit Gosnell’s Case Didn’t Get More Attention

  16. Susan says:

    Fannie’s and annajcook’s posts on Gosnell are very much mistaken. The Gosnell story deserved better coverage than it received from the MSM. Has there been a total “blackout?” Well, no. I’m not sure that’s possible in the internet age, but the MSM has certainly shown its bias.

    Ladies, please go check out http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/ to see why your analyses are incorrect.

    Teresa, keep up the good work. I’m an agnostic on the rightness of abortion, but I’m not an agnostic about media bias on the subject. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

  17. Kevin says:

    “It’s sad, infuriating, divisive, and frustrating.”

    To say the least. But what are we to do about it? We have entered an era where a sizeable part of the population relies on editorial talk radio for its information and opinions. We have citizens inhabiting the same turf but living in essentially parallel universes, in terms of basic understanding of what a fact is, and what the facts of a specific situation are.

    I’m not sure what the “culture wars” are, or what rates as a culture war issue, but it sure seems like some folks have nurtured a reflex of opposition to anything that threatens their personal vision of what they’ve been told is how things ought to be. I actually think the Rush Limbaughs and Bill O’Reillys of the media are playing a game: see how much they can incite an audience to rebellion, no matter what the facts are. Examples of this are ObamaCare, climate change, gun control.

    The biggest problem I see is the proud refusal to acknowledge facts, what used to be the building blocks of intelligent decision-making and sound public policy. You can bombard a climate change skeptic with all kinds of facts supporting the reality of climate change, but they wave those facts off as the product of a vast conspiracy. Well, I guess that’s better than just saying, “I reject those facts as irrelevant.” That’s probably what’s coming, though.

    Closely related is the lazy substitution of media outlet messaging for analytical thinking: it’s easier to adopt Rush Limbaugh’s opinion than gather the facts yourself, through various sources, and reach your own conclusion. There are people actually cutting valuable media sources out of their lives so as not to be subjected to messages that vary from Fox News.

  18. Anna Cook says:

    The Gosnell story deserved better coverage than it received from the MSM.

    If you had actually read the Irin Carmon story I linked to, Susan, or even just skimmed it, you would see that Carmon herself is arguing that the major news networks should and could cover these reproductive health issues more deeply. But the fact that they have not is not due to “liberal” bias (the right-leaning news outlets failed to cover the story as well, something they are not fessing up to). The story was under-covered because poor women’s access to reproductive healthcare is a story that is ignored by the mainstream media.

    If news reporters had bothered to follow feminist and reproductive health journalists’ work, this story would never have had to be “discovered” so long after Gosnell was arrested. This is not a liberal-bias problem. This is a misogyny problem.

  19. Kevin says:

    “The Gosnell story deserved better coverage than it received from the MSM.”

    Says who? People who think it’s useful for making legal abortion look bad or evil? Who gets to decide how much coverage is enough? Too much? What yardstick do we use?

  20. Diane M says:

    What hits me about the issue isn’t that there is bias in the media. There is, and it goes different ways on different issues.

    What hits me is that people feel so alienated from each other. Passing a law about sugary drinks is mostly silly, unless you are a lobbyist for soda pop. But in the context of a Presidential candidate who said he didn’t like Massachusetts and North Carolina legislators talking about how states are sovereign and can make any laws they want – it worries me. Perhaps others can offer examples of northern politicians insulting the rest of the country or encouraging secession.

    This seems to me to be a symptom of a bigger problem of people feeling that we are so different we are at war with each other.

  21. Kevin says:

    “This seems to me to be a symptom of a bigger problem of people feeling that we are so different we are at war with each other.”

    I think the bigger problem is that one can no longer trust people with differing opinions to think or behave rationally or reasonably. That creates enormous uncertainty and undermines good-faith political or social interaction, or at least discussion of controversial issues.

    The soft drink size issue, and Mississippi’s response to it, represents malice and revenge, not some belief in protecting important civil liberties. It’s a small-minded petty attempt to retain superiority and control.

  22. fannie says:

    Susan,

    “Fannie’s and annajcook’s posts on Gosnell are very much mistaken.”

    Nope.

    And I will note that multiple people (Mont, Rhonda, mythago, Anna, and myself) have noted that Teresa’s claim isn’t supported by facts. Why you believe only Anna and I are “very much mistaken” is truly entertaining to me. No big deal, I guess, just something I noticed.

    But, most importantly, when you encourage Teresa to “keep up the good work,” I really want to re-emphasize that her claim was mistaken. You even acknowledge this somewhat, by conceding that a full media blackout on the topic isn’t even possible in the Internet age.

    Specifically, Teresa, asked:

    “…what happened with the liberal press and the media blackout on the Kermit Gosnell case?”

    In response to her rhetorical-looking question, I linked to an article which provides links to even more actual articles that many liberal feminist and pro-choice writers, as well as the left-leaning media, wrote on the Gosnell story way back in 2010 and 2011, thus directly answering Teresa’s question and showing how there wasn’t, actually, a “media blackout” on the Gosnell case.

    So, Teresa, if you want to continue clinging to your favored narrative, that’s your choice. But, when you say:

    “This is now 2013, not 2010, not 2011. The trial is now going on.”

    Well, yes. But:

    “Then in April [2011], the court issued a gag order, barring attorneys in the case from speaking to the media – a fairly common practice, especially in high-profile criminal trials. The trial commenced a few weeks ago, and, as is standard practice, local news outlets have covered the play-by-play. Once a verdict is handed down, there is little doubt that mainstream publications will again dedicate stories and segments to the case. But until then, without access to the players in the case and having already detailed the allegations and evidence, there simply isn’t much to report.”

    As Kevin says, above:

    “The biggest problem I see is the proud refusal to acknowledge facts.”

    Indeed.

    Teresa, this conversation isn’t some “Teresa was wrong” personal vendetta. My primary concern here is accuracy. I’d correct anyone else who just as irrelevantly and inaccurately opened the door this conversation as you did. Nothing personal.

  23. Susan says:

    Anna, I read the Salon piece when it first came out, so you can stop with the passive aggressiveness. If you had actually read Get Religion blog, you would have read this:

    “Both the Standard and National Review have exponentially more on-line readers than print readers. And online, at least, even the most casual reader of National Review knows how very much they’ve covered this story. It appears that Farhi lifted his idea on this point from a liberal blogger’s soundly debunked claim from late last week. That claim was laughed at by various NRO writers over the weekend as they linked to their coverage over the years. You can review that running commentary here. Or here’s Hot Air, a popular conservative site, showing their coverage of this case.” Links here:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/345575/conservative-media-ignored-gosnell-long-you-dont-search-too-hard

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner

    http://hotair.com/archives/2013/04/15/did-conservative-media-miss-the-gosnell-story-too/

    Fannie, your hanging your hat on the word “blackout”? Okay. But I don’t think you understand what regular people mean when they say “media blackout.”

    You linked to a couple of stories. Big deal. Compare the number of stories filed by the msm on Rush Limbaugh being a jerk to Sandra Fluke compared to the number filed on Gosnell. Again that comparison can be found on the Get Religion blog if you’re interested. Also, there’s a difference between the msm (nytimes, CNN, Washington post, etc.) and the left wing and right wing media. People have a beef with the MSM, not Mother Jones.

    As Kevin said, “the biggest problem I see is the proud refusal to acknowledge facts.”

    Indeed. ;)

  24. Kevin says:

    I just read a story, quickly and admittedly not very thoroughly, at Slate that implied that it is a useful tactic to complain about a lack of media coverage for stories that might make legal abortion look bad. I’m not sure what it accomplishes, other than perhaps keeping the converted riled up.

    For those of you complaining about the lack of media coverage, is that what you’re doing? This post isn’t even about abortion or murder or how the mainstream media doesn’t act enough like the rightwing media in stirring up advocacy passions. Are you hijackers?

  25. Rhonda says:

    What good are facts if they don’t fit your belief!?!?!? {And by facts, I mean verifiable, multiple, consistent outcomes if you use studies, not a biased outlier or two.} The “culture wars” have devolved into childish game of one-upmanship by some (okay, many) and they feed the paranoia of their base. I don’t think there is a way to fix this short-term, but I do think it will right itself eventually. It’s just going to be a long, scary, bumpy ride.

  26. Diane M says:

    @Kevin “I think the bigger problem is that one can no longer trust people with differing opinions to think or behave rationally or reasonably.”

    I agree, but I think we can always see the way the other side is being unreasonable more easily than our own craziness.

  27. Teresa says:

    Susan wrote:

    Also, there’s a difference between the msm (nytimes, CNN, Washington post, etc.) and the left wing and right wing media. People have a beef with the MSM, not Mother Jones.

    This is a really important statement. However, I will not back away from my original statement of where was “the liberal press and the media blackout on the Kermit Gosnell case”.

    I don’t have to apologize for anything in my statement, one need only look at the “liberal press and the media” doing their current two-step in making justification for their absence in Court or reporting on trial testimony. They’re making my case for me.

    Fannie, as I said before, this is not 2010, 2011 … it is right now 2013 and the trial is going on right now with no gag order.

    The very nature of the testimony, as being revealed in Court testimony, makes this story ‘a top story’ for any journalist. That Kirsten Powers, considered a liberal (working for FOX News) did a call-out on her fellow journalists gives one pause, or should, as to what is going on.

  28. Diane M says:

    @Rhonda “The “culture wars” have devolved into childish game of one-upmanship by some (okay, many) and they feed the paranoia of their base. I don’t think there is a way to fix this short-term, but I do think it will right itself eventually.”

    I am not sure we can just ride it out and wait for it to correct itself. We are all able to just read what fits our previous beliefs now.

    I have no idea how to fix the problem, but I think it will take some kind of work or effort.

  29. Anna Cook says:

    Susan,

    I wasn’t being passive aggressive. At least, last I checked it’s not “the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way” to point out that the article I linked to was not making the argument that you implied it was making.

    I actually agreed with you that the mainstream media coverage of reproductive rights issues is lacking; you and I simply disagree about the cause.

    I’m not exactly sure where your own hostility toward fannie and I on this matter is coming from. I think we can all three of us agree that coverage of women’s health is lacking in the mainstream media and that it would be great if major news outlets actually paid attention to the journalists who do cover these issues from a variety of socio-political angles.

  30. Susan says:

    “If you had actually read the Irin Carmon story I linked to, Susan, or even just skimmed it…” reads pretty passive aggressive to me. And presumptuous.

    I appreciate how you subsume the abortion issue into reproductive rights. Hard to argue with rights, you know?

    Hypothesis: The reason why msm reporters didn’t sufficiently cover Gosnell’s crimes is because they, along with Planned Parenthood, support post-viability abortions, which is exactly the kind of abortions Gosnell was performing.

  31. Anna Cook says:

    Susan,

    Since there is a policy about not discussing abortion politics on this site I’m not going to get into a discussion about reproductive healthcare issues with you (particularly since that’s not the point of this thread).

    If you dislike my wording regarding Carmon’s piece and my assumption you had not read it, let me try again: Your response to my comment linking to Irin Carmon’s piece, Susan, reads like you either did not read or did not take in what she was saying. If you did read her piece and simply disagree with it, you are free to do so. But in your comment suggested that Carmon was arguing that the mainstream media covered the situation adequately. That was not her argument. Her argument, and the argument of many reproductive rights journalists, is that the mainstream media has not actually covered this story in much depth — but that if they had gone looking for coverage, they would have found it on in spades among those often seen as the most liberally biased of all — we dastardly pro-choice feminists.

    Since the specific claim being made by people at FOX and elsewhere is that these very same people (the pro-choice feminists) for some reason have a vested interest in covering up the story of Gosnell’s illegal clinic, it seems particularly pertinent to point out that these people were, in fact, covering said story at length and in depth from the beginning.

  32. Rhonda says:

    Diane M,
    I hope there is something we can do, but I do also believe that those dragging us off the path will fall off the cliff first, and we can swing back to center. Historically, that is how it has worked in the past, and I know the past is no indicator of future performance, but history does tend to repeat itself.
    We can read what we want to believe now, but I also think that some of us us our brain and are more open to ideas different from our own.

  33. Teresa says:

    Rhonda said:

    We can read what we want to believe now, but I also think that some of us use our brain and are more open to ideas different from our own.

    I’m of the opinion, Rhonda, you included me as one of the persons “that uses my brain and is more open to ideas different than my own”. ;)

    Kevin is concerned that this thread has been derailed.

    Kevin stated, 3rd comment on this thread:

    Conservative media have so perfected the propaganda that Democrats/liberals/the government/foreigners/etc. are going to “take what’s yours/make you do stuff you don’t want to do/take away your rights” that less able-minded conservatives have been rendered essentially paranoid and victimized. I think that must be a hard way to go through life.

    How’s that any different than my use of ‘Gosnell’ as a metaphor for the liberal media bias? Why is Kevin’s ‘Conservative media propaganda’ line given a pass by the supposedly unbiased, liberal commenters here? Are we to believe there isn’t ‘Liberal media propaganda’?

    Abortion advocates have as much reason to be alarmed by the lack of media coverage (MSM) on the Gosnell trial as anti-abortion folks do. If journalists can pick and choose what news they deem as acceptable now, they can do so on any other issue … and, then we may all be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

    That I chose to label the MSM media as liberal shows my bias. I’m part of the culture wars. I own that, and not happy about it, at times. How I choose to negotiate the troubled waters of the culture war is my main interest, and that does include trying to listen to others and learn from them. It does not have to mean, though, I’m going to change my mind on what I consider non-negotiables. I understand the same is true for those that don’t believe as I do.

  34. Rhonda says:

    Teresa,

    I’m of the opinion, Rhonda, you included me as one of the persons “that uses my brain and is more open to ideas different than my own”.

    :P I am not including you in that, I know from what I have seen on here, that you are open to ideas. You may not change your beliefs,( ;D ) but you do consider other takes.

    Along the spectrum of left/right political philosophy, it is very rare to be dead center. We fall all along the spectrum and it can be very difficult to not show your bias. While we all agree that MSM is biased, we see the bias differently. To some it is liberal, to others it is misogynistic, to even others, it is in on the conspiracy.

  35. fannie says:

    Susan,

    “Anna, I read the Salon piece when it first came out, so you can stop with the passive aggressiveness.”

    Try assuming good faith before outright assuming that someone is acting passive-aggressively. We’ve had a commenter in the past here who has been particularly fond of rendering that accusation, and I think he ended up eventually finding that making that charge right of the gate at someone was not embiggening to the discourse.

    Furthermore, I agree with Anna that your previous comment does not evidence a thorough reading or understanding of the Salon piece. To suggest that is not being “passive aggressive.”

    As for your comment to me:

    “You linked to a couple of stories. Big deal.”

    LOL, okay. But, just so you know, that comment in no way addresses the merits of my argument.

    I linked to a story that directly linked to many stories of people in the “liberal media” discussing the Gosnell case, which I offered as evidence to counter Teresa’s claim about the “liberal media.”

  36. Diane M says:

    I think bias can be something less than a conspiracy or a bull-headed refusal to listen to reason.

    It could come from not reading certain journalists, or not taking them seriously.

    It could come from not having reporters assigned to report on certain issues – a likely problem in an era with fewer reporters on salary.

    It could come from other weird issues of the media. Stories tend to be about what people are interested in. Give something a controversial title or a sympathetic hero and it is big.

  37. Kevin says:

    “Why is Kevin’s ‘Conservative media propaganda’ line given a pass by the supposedly unbiased, liberal commenters here? Are we to believe there isn’t ‘Liberal media propaganda’?”

    Teresa, just the fact that you’ve turned this post about the culture wars into a rant against the mainstream media tells me all I need to know.

    You started with an opinion and insist it is a fact: that there was not enough media coverage of a specific story. Some people might think there is too much coverage and that gory stories ought not get any coverage, because they’re so disturbing or depressing.

    Behind your accusation is a belief that if only the media would treat stories differently, more people would agree with you on things, isn’t that true? In this case, your presumed claim doesn’t even make any sense, that if more people knew about this story, they’d be opposed to legal abortion. Why would you think that?

    You know what story I think didn’t get enough coverage? How the hospital in Ireland refused to abort a fetus and in doing so ensured a woman’s death. What are your thoughts? Did that story get enough coverage here in the States? I think it would have helped explain exactly a very strong reason for why abortion is legal in this country: because there are circumstances where it is right to perform it.

  38. fannie says:

    Rhonda,

    “To some [the mainstream media] is liberal, to others it is misogynistic, to even others, it is in on the conspiracy.”

    Yes, and to others it is too conservative or right-leaning. For instance, to me, the thought that the mainstream media is too liberal (or “lamestream” as some like to say) is kind of a joke. To others here, it seems like it would be a joke to call it too conservative.

    In fact, much of this conversation illustrates a toxic aspect of the culture wars in which people buy into the “liberal” versus “conservative” (or “left” versus “right”) dichotomy in talking about social issues in the US. When that happens, I think people tend to dig in and defend the “side” they are identified as being on or for.

    For instance, pointing out that many progressive/liberal feminists and pro-choice writers have discussed the Gosnell case, to some here, isn’t sufficient evidence to show that liberals have, actually, discussed this case. Why? Because, these writers aren’t “big” enough, or “mainstream” enough, or truly representative of “the liberal media.” Or, because they did it back in 2011, before the gag order, so I guess it doesn’t count.

    The conversation then becomes a somewhat absurd, point-scoring version of a warped “No True Scotsman” game.

    And, it’s difficult not to be resentful of this “media blackout” narrative, when it seems like some (see what I did there?) conservatives are more interested in talking about how liberals aren’t talking about the case than they are in exploring the case in any depth or with any sort of nuance.

    For instance, this Mother Jones piece points out that the conservative-leaning Washington Times recently ran 1 piece on the Gosnell case itself, compared to running 7 pieces on the purported “media blackout” of the Gosnell case.

    Like, I think many people could actually agree that much of that case is horrific on many levels. But, what do this point-scoring game really accomplish, other than further polarizing the nation into this false left-right binary?

    So, when Teresa asks:

    “How’s that any different than my use of ‘Gosnell’ as a metaphor for the liberal media bias? Why is Kevin’s ‘Conservative media propaganda’ line given a pass by the supposedly unbiased, liberal commenters here? Are we to believe there isn’t ‘Liberal media propaganda’?”

    Well, Teresa, just so you know, I actually do think Kevin’s original statement could have been qualified to make it less of a generalization and, therefore, more accurate. That he makes a generalization, though, doesn’t make it “okay” for you to do the same.

  39. Susan says:

    First off, up till now I’ve been arguing with Anna and Fannie, not with Carmon. Notice that I’ve never referenced the substance of Carmon’s Salon piece, yet Anna says that I’ve “either not read or did not take in what she was saying.” Anna further says that my comment suggested “that Carmon was arguing that the mainstream media covered the situation adequately.” Uh, no… No, my comment did not suggest that whatsoever, and I’d like you to point out WHERE I suggested that. I’ll sit back and chuckle as you try to find that non-existent quote, since I never actually took issue with Carmon. Fannie, continuing in Anna’s humorous line of argumentation, says that my “previous comment does not evidence a thorough reading or understanding of the Salon piece.” I get what she’s hinting at here, but her words are technically correct. That’s because they evidence NOTHING, one way or the other, since I’ve never actually engaged the substance of Carmon’s piece.

    What I have been taking issue with is Anna’s and Fannie’s claim that there hasn’t been a MSM “blackout” because of media bias. There has been a “blackout” based on the common, not-ridiculously-strict meaning of the term. I granted there wasn’t a “total blackout” because, a) that’s not even possible these days, and b) no conservative-type has made that claim in a non-hyperbolic way. Conservatives argue that the MSM hasn’t been fair in their coverage of Gosnell. And I agree with them on this particular point. Seriously, look at the Get Religion blog and look at the numbers of articles on Sandra Fluke/Rush Limbaugh vs. Gosnell. Look at Trayvon Martin vs. Gosnell. Look at stupid Todd Akin statement vs. Gosnell. The amount of ink spilled and airtime given to each of those issues outweighs that which was given to Gosnell by more than 100 fold.

    I’ve also taken issue with Anna’s presumptuous phrasing, “If you had actually read Irin Carmon, blah, blah, blah…” I feel that wording is just so arrogant! And now Fannie tells me to assume good faith. Fannie, let me explain where I’m coming from: good faith is not assuming somebody has not read something. I hate it when conservatives say to liberals, “Well, if you had actually read the U.S. Constitution, blah, blah, blah…” I’ll tell you exactly what that is: Rudeness. It’s rude when conservatives do it, it’s rude when feminist do it. Maybe you think because I’m a feminists lesbian, like you, that you can “keep it real” with me and be more “straightforward” or whatever. Well, I’m sorry, that’s not how I’m feeling it right now.

    Secondly…
    Anna, your reading of Carmon is inaccurate at best. You say, “But your comment suggested that Carmon was arguing that the mainstream media covered the situation adequately. That was not her argument.”

    Carmon actually says:
    “Slate’s Dave Weigel congratulated the tweeters for getting his attention and then filed a piece sympathetic to the coverup claim, lecturing pro-choice people that “You really should read that grand jury report,” and concluding, “Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story.”

    No, they aren’t right about the Gosnell story. If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story [sarcasm alert!]. You know, the one that was written about here, here and here, to name some disparate sources.”

    Read that again: “If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media.” There’s been “copious coverage among… the big news organizations.” Carmon seems to be saying, in effect, that the “copious coverage” of Gosnell has been adequate, at least in terms of the number of stories.

    Anna, you say Carmon’s argument really is ”that the mainstream media has not actually covered this story in much depth.” This too is wrong. Carmon’s argument is SPECIFICALLY that the almost uniformly male reporters and commentators scrambling to break open a supposedly already told story are missing important facts/narratives based on her idiosyncratic view of what’s really important. That’s why she says this, “But since you’re here, guys — welcome. Here are some important things to know about the tragedies committed in Gosnell’s clinic, based on the sources you missed.”

    Carmon’s point, Anna, is that particular (male) reporters and commentators are misguided in how they are responding to conservative criticism, not that the MSM is doing an inadequate job of covering Gosnell. Carmon does argue that certain segments of the media fail to cover issues of inequality and marginalization very well, but she NEVER argues that the MSM failed to cover Gosnell. Never.

    Anna, I challenge you to find a quote from Carmon’s piece which supports your statement here: “But your comment suggested that Carmon was arguing that the mainstream media covered the situation adequately. That was not her argument.” Find me that quote, and I’ll eat my hat. ;)

  40. Rhonda says:

    Bias does not equal bullheadedness. I tend to lean left of center, so my thoughts and expression skew to the left. I see that I tend to dig in my heels when someone challenges a belief that is very important to me. I, personally, try to maintain the grey area, but when it touches close to my heart, I am purely black or white.
    For folks that don’t take change well, when times bring big changes, they seem to run the opposite way and try to barricade themselves as much as possible. An example of this is marriage equality. Ten years ago, the polls were against us, laws changed (Lawrence v Texas) and we get multiple State Constitutional bans on marriage and even civil unions. Things stopped changing so much, the bans stopped until 2008. Right now, the politics have swung rightward and is reaching its arc, about to swing leftward again, and we get “Don’t Say Gay” bills, or “Christian as a State Religion” bills. Our government is running on fear.

  41. Teresa says:

    Fannie stated:

    That he makes a generalization, though, doesn’t make it “okay” for you to do the same.

    Point taken, Fannie. You are absolutely correct. I should be more circumspect in my commenting, more aware that there’s media that I never read.

    However we argue this issue, the media (in all its variant forms) is a huge driver in the culture wars. Be that media, left or right. We cannot believe otherwise, in my opinion.

    I would like to give a shout-out to Susan. Whether we agree on other issues, Susan, it was comforting to find a comrade-in-arms in this spirited debate.

    BTW, I’m hoping you don’t have to eat your hat, Susan. :)

  42. Susan says:

    Teresa,

    I know we definitely disagree on many things, but I can tell you are kind and thoughtful person. Keep up the good work.

    Susan

  43. Teresa says:

    I will let the following quote from the Washington Post , dated 04/16/2013, speak for itself. Make of it what you will.

    Erik Wemple, from the Washington Post, states:

    In a HuffPost Live segment today on the issue, host Marc Lamont Hill made clear where his theoretical thinking lay:

    “For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.”

    Strong words from a host on a left-leaning outlet.

  44. fannie says:

    Susan,

    “Maybe you think because I’m a feminists lesbian, like you, that you can ‘keep it real’ with me and be more ‘straightforward’ or whatever. Well, I’m sorry, that’s not how I’m feeling it right now.”

    Don’t do that. Seriously. Because it’s not what I think, at all.

    I have no idea what your sexual orientation or political leanings are, and nothing about your approach suggested to me that you were someone I could “keep it real” with. Frankly, that you present yourself as being a “lesbian feminist” on the Internet is less meaningful to me than the arguments you present and the tone you take within a conversation.

    From my point of view, you’ve come out of the gate being unnecessarily hostile toward Anna and me (even though multiple other people were making similar arguments and conclusions as we were). And you’ve now done this in multiple separate conversations in this forum.

    So, what I’ve mostly learned is that I mostly want to steer away from engaging with you in the future.

  45. Anna Cook says:

    Susan,

    I, like fannie, feel you are acting with unwarranted hostility in this exchange. I’m also disinclined to respond to someone who writes about rather than to me, particularly when the about statements are accusations that I am not trying to discuss these issues in good faith. Rather than take up the comment thread on David B.’s post about the media with back-and-forth mudslinging, I’m going to bow out of this particular exchange.

    I hope that in future, you and I are able to engage in comment threads with less out-of-the-gate antagonism and perhaps discuss issues with an attitude of mutual respect despite the fact that we obviously differ quite markedly in our political positions.

    I think my track record here at the Family Scholars Blog, both as a commenter and a guest blogger, speak to the fact that when I am approached with respect and a willingness to engage on the issues, I respond with directness and in-kind respect.

    I look forward to more positive in future.

    ~Anna

  46. Kevin says:

    Teresa, why would coverage of this trial endanger abortion rights? Why would a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion be compromised by the behavior of an abortion doctor? Did women’s constitutional right to an abortion get stronger after that anti-abortionist murdered Dr. Tiller in Kansas? You’re trying to connect dots that can’t be connected, and blaming the media (a favorite conservative scapegoat) for what you perceive is some kind of lost opportunity for advantage for the anti-abortion crowd.

    This is an example of a physician allegedly engaging in criminal activity. That he happens to be an abortion doctor is irrelevant, except, evidently, for people opposed to legal and safe abortions. This doctor could have been a plastic surgeon, or a pediatrician, or a brain surgeon. It’s doesn’t taint the profession, that a practitioner engages in illegal activity. Botched plastic surgeries is almost a cliché, and yet I don’t hear anything approaching a call for outlawing breast implants, surely the most unnecessary medical procedure on the planet. One of the reasons to legalize abortion across the country was to ensure that abortions are performed by qualified medical personnel, and to allow the government to regulate the procedure. The system appears to be working.

    You want the media to play advocate, and perhaps that’s what you’re accustomed to seeing from conservative media. Mainstream media are less self-indulgent. In addition, there was a reporting embargo on this story, and that makes reporting facts somewhat difficult. Again, mainstream media are generally fact-driven.

    What’s newsworthy about this story? That this doctor was performing abortions? No, because that’s a legal medical procedure in all 50 states. What’s newsworthy is the blood and gore of this doctor’s medical practice and it doesn’t take long before reporting on it becomes something more associated with tabloid journalism rather than mainstream reporting. Ironically, if the media do, in fact, self-monitor for the impact of their reporting, it’s because people draw irrational conclusions.

  47. Susan says:

    Fannie,

    I responded to you and Anna because she called the blackout a myth, you know, like unicorns, and because you said in response to Teresa, “Maybe some people are more invested in writing a narrative about alleged ‘media blackouts’ than they are in accuracy?”

    I love that question. I love it because it’s so unclear. Are you asking if (or hinting that) Teresa is more invested in writing a narrative about alleged ‘media blackouts’ than accuracy? Or are you asking if there are at least 2 people on this whole planet that are more invested in writing narratives on ‘media blackouts’ than accuracy? If you are asking the latter, then the answer is obvious: Uh, yep. But then, why even ask such a ‘no duh’ question? Everybody already knows the answer. It’d be like asking, “Maybe triangles have three sides?”

    Could it be that perhaps you were *really* asking the former question without really asking it? You would have plausible deniability that way.

    I could very well be mistaken, of course. Wouldn’t be the first time! ;) There are other options…

    Maybe some people just choose their words poorly?

    Maybe some people are more invested in accusing conservative-types of dishonesty than they are in accuracy?

    Maybe?

    Hey, I’m just asking.

    Anna,

    I look forward to more positive discussion as well. In the future, I think it would help everyone out if you please don’t make presumptuous comments about my or anybody else’s reading habits. I respect people who don’t just make assumptions about folks they don’t know.

  48. mythago says:

    Hey, I’m just asking.

    This is known as “concern trolling”, but I suspect you were aware of that.

    Teresa, you’ve grabbed on to a narrative you don’t want to let go of, and you’re scrabbling very hard for crumbs of evidence to support it – even though it makes no sense. If widespread reporting on Gosnell hurts pro-choicers, then why would strongly pro-choice blogs and news sources have been reporting on it? Those are precisely the groups you would expect to have the most interest in burying the Gosnell story. Why would mainstream media outlets (centrist or otherwise) have more motivation to avoid talking about Gosnell, if the cause really were “this makes abortion look bad”?

  49. Susan says:

    Mythago,

    Teresa’s narrative makes perfect sense. Many self-critical liberal journalists have, more or less, confirmed Teresa’s hypothesis. It is your rebuttal, in actuality, which can be quickly dispatched. See here for why: http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/kermit-gosnell-and-the-politics-of-abortion/

  50. Diane M says:

    Okay, could I suggest that one thing that is going on here and may be related to the current culture wars in general is -

    communicating online with posts sometimes makes people disagree.

    If we were talking face to face we might spend less time analyzing each other’s words and arguing about the meaning of passive-aggressive. We might be focused more on what people think and why.