Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report: Naylor on Hyde; election commission

Ruth: My granddaughter Tracey said I needed to spice it up a little in these things but there was a story by Brian Naylor on Morning Edition this morning that should have provided plenty of spice but the reporter, Brian Naylor, was too quick to cloak his subject with respectability:

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) announces that after 32 years in Congress, he will not seek re-election next year. The 81-year-old Hyde, who is in poor health, is known for his opposition to abortion and for leading impeachment efforts against President Bill Clinton.

Naylor tells us of Hyde:
"impressive figure"
"known & liked on both sides of the aisle."
"droll wit"
"sharp mind"
"appreciates a good joke and a fine cigar"

As my graddaughter Tracey would say, "Grab your hat, Granny, they're taking us on a ride."

Naylor gives Hyde a ride, a free one.

He quotes Hyde on abortion and allows Hyde's charges that abortion is an attempt to "refine the breed -- if you read the literature, that's what's said and that's what's done."

Though it wasn't true then and it's not true now, the Hyde free ride keeps moving. Now we're into Bill Clinton's impeachment and listening to Hyde speaking then about how consensual sex between two adults is "an awful lot to dismiss with a brush off, to ignore with a mere 'so what?'"

Immediately, Naylor quickly tells us that Hyde "paid a price for his involvement in the impeachment" when a past affair by Hyde "some 30 years earlier what, Hyde called a youthful indescretion" came out.

Hyde was of course married, with four children, forty-one years old and the 'youthful indescretion' reportedly lasted four years. Naylor doesn't tell the listener that. He doesn't point out that the woman involved was the mother of three. Or that during the affair, Hyde would be elected to office."

Naylor tells the listener nothing of that. Instead, he interviews David Dryer who explains that the personal scandal wasn't that important (Dryer would think that) and that Hyde didn't let anyone down.

A shmegegge can't be transformed into a mensh. (That's for Tracey.)

Hyde announces he will not run for re-election and Naylor hosts an uncritical tribute.

Morning Edition also reported on the Baker-Carter election commission:

April 19, 2005 · After two straight presidential elections marked by disputes over the voting process, a bipartisan commission examining the issue hears testimony about continuing voter suspicion and limited funds. Former President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State James Baker III head the panel.

Pam Fessler reported on this and to hear the report is to know Representative John Conyers got it right when he gave his impressions:

The first meeting of the Baker-Carter election commission was disappointing and, at times, outrageous and tainted with racially-charged innuendo. Let me make absolutely clear that I greatly admire former President Jimmy Carter and believe he was insightful and on-target throughout the hearing. However, given the incredible lack of balance and profound lack of good faith demonstrated by some of Carter’s fellow commissioners and many of the witnesses at this hearing, at times he seemed to be a very lonely voice of sanity.
The remarks of Mr. James Baker, III, which were echoed by a number of right wing political operatives called as witnesses, seemed to have a singular purpose of spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories about ineligible Democratic voters being allowed to cast votes. The remedy was cleverly repeated like a broken record, "photo ID, photo ID, photo ID." Right wing pundit John Fund was called as an "expert" witness by the hearing and offered racially charged proposals with racially charged rhetoric.

Representatives Conyers' impressions were verified in Fessler's report which treated the committee as a joke and was happy to provide the punch lines. (John Fund was quoted.)

It was not a good day for Morning Edition, not a good day at all.

[Morning Edition airs on NPR.]