Monday, February 21, 2005

Members reactions to the Simpsons coverage in the main section of the paper

Tracee, Lloyd and Joan all e-mailed this morning asking that a story in the main section be noted, Sharon Waxman's " 'Simpsons' Animates Gay Nuptials, and a Debate" (that's the online title, the print title is: "The Simpsons' Small Town Grapples With Gay Marriage").

Tracee: I'm a big fan of So What Else Is News and I love Marty Kaplan!

Kaplan hosts So What Else Is News weekends on Air America. (I think this is his second time being quoted in the paper since he started hosting his show; however, I belive the last time, the paper credited him only for his college work.)

From the article:

"It's saying to those who demonize homosexuality, or what they call the homosexual agenda, anything from 'Lighten up" to 'Get out of town,'" said Marty Kaplan, associate dean of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication and host of a media show on the talk radio network Air America. "It sounds as though they're saying that what the religious right calls 'the homosexualist agenda,' as if it was creeping Satanism, is: these people are your neighbors in the Springfield that is America."

Glad to highlight Marty Kaplan (and thrilled he got quoted/recognized in the Times).

Lloyd: Marty Kaplan is, in my judgement, the funniest person on Air America.

Joan: Why is Brent Bozell allowed to comment on The Simpsons' episode in this morning's paper? He admits he didn't see the show. He also says he'd "rather them not do it all" them being the show, it meaning an episode that includes gay marriage. This is a 'news' story so I'm failing to see why he was included. They don't usually, for instance, do a front page story on Iraq and then quote someone who prefaces his/her remarks, "Now I haven't been following the news, but . . ." I'm sure there's some conservative they could have found who saw the show to provide their beloved "balance." But providing a spokesperson who knows nothing about what happened seems pointless to this reader.
I want to make sure everyone knows that I don't think there's anything wrong with refusing to watch something, listen to something or read something. For some reason, I'm on some NRA mailing list. I toss that junk mail into the trash without reading it. And if anyone asks me why, I have no problem explaining. But this isn't about Brent's personal reaction to same-sex marriage, this story is about the portrayal of same-sex marriage on The Simpsons' last night and it's presented as a news story, so I'm confused as to why the choice was made to include the criticism of someone who's not seen the episode? Again, they include Phyliss or any of the usual gang and, provided they'd seen the episode, no problem because I know the Times loves their balance. But to include someone who has not seen the episode in a discussion of the episode seems more than pointless, it seems like bad journalism.
I realize that having worked her way through her rolodex rounding up the usual suspects, Waxman may have found herself in a difficult situation: quote or don't quote Bozell. Don't quote him and he screams bias: "I spoke to the Times about this and they refused to run my comments!" But, and this is where an editor should have made a call, he hasn't seen the episode so he has nothing to contribute to the discussion. To fall back on Iraq, this would be like Generic Person being quoted on the insurgency in Iraq: "Oh, I haven't been following the news coverage of Iraq but let me go on to give you paragraphs of observations you can print in your news story on what's going on in Baghdad." It shouldn't have made the paper.