Monday, June 02, 2014

Heroes and Frauds

Tina Turner called it, "We Don't Need Another Hero."  Oh, but how some want one.

And it leads to a lot of stupidity.

If I drown your cat, I did a very bad thing.

If I come forward and tell you I drowned your cat, I'm not a hero.

I may be consumed with guilt.  I may want to hurt you a little more.  I may be bragging.

There are any number of reasons that I would confess.

But confessing to my crimes would not make me a hero.

Wouldn't bring your cat back either.

For most of the 90s, David Brock was a cheap  liar filled with self-loathing.  He made his name, such as it is, for his attacks on Anita Hill.  For those too young to remember, President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to serve on the Supreme Court.  His EEOC record meant he shouldn't have served on the Court and his nomination should have been shot down.

That's true of his entire record but you could focus just on the gender discrimination charges against Sears and the EEOC reaction.

Some in the Senate opposed to Thomas' nomination (as I recall it, that was only Democrats raising objections) couldn't take on Thomas for something this basic.  Nor could the press -- which spent much of their time noting that Thomas appeared unable to be forthcoming on the issue of abortion.

Anita Hill and other women had been harassed by Thomas in the workplace.

Anita bravely stepped forward and told her story.

David Brock demonized her and tried to destroy her.  (His most famous 'report' on her included "a little nutty and a little slutty.")  He lied about her, he covered up truths about Thomas.

That's why Thomas is on the Court today.

Following Hill-Thomas, Brock then spent years attacking Bill Clinton and was involved in the Paula Jones nonsense and other pseudo 'scandals.'

Finally, even gutter trash like Brock realized he'd gone too far.  He'd also realized that the conservative movement was not going to embrace an openly gay man at that time.  He'd also alienated his former supporters.

Facing obscurity, Brock 'flipped.'

He was a little rat who ratted out his friends to extend his own career.

He dropped a dime.

This wasn't whistle-blowing.

It was 'snitching.'  And he did it to have a career.

On the right, he used smears and attacks and lies to distract from real issues -- like harassment.  On the left, he started Media Matters which does the same thing he did from the right.

He's done so much damage to the left as he's spread the same trashy methods he used on the right to the left.

But there are people who have hailed him as a hero.

At one point, psychotic Naomi Wolf was hailing him as that.

Heroes don't destroy Anita Hill with lies.

Getting honest about your lies is not heroic.

And it certainly doesn't remove Clarence Thomas from the bench.

Dan Rather is not a hero.  He's currently doing speaking gigs and trying to pretend he is.

Some on the left have been celebrating Dan in the last months and there's no reason for that.

They tend to point to his Bully Boy Bush AWOL from the National Guard story. He and Mary Mapes are responsible for that story.

My opinion?  The story was accurate on its basic charges.

The right-wing successfully destroyed the report.

CBS launched an investigation.

Dan Rather foolishly went along.

CNN had already attempted to destroy April Oliver and CBS was now going to destroy Mapes and Rather.  Check the archives here and at Third, long before the judgment was issued, I was stating Rather needed to be fighting and out front on this story under investigation.

Instead, he was an idiot like he always is.

CNN changed the standard.  It was no longer did a report meet reporting standards.  CBS went with that change.  Mapes and Rather were going to be buried.

And still Rather stayed silent.

He lost his job.

Now days, he's made into a hero.

There's nothing heroic about what he did.

First off, his and Mapes' report?

It probably got Bully Boy Bush a number of votes in the 2004 election.

Even had the right not destroyed the CBS reporting, it was true that this issue was a non-starter in so many ways.

For the story to matter, it needed to influence voters.

Bully Boy Bush most likely avoided service in Vietnam by luck, loopholes and dishonesty.

So what?

Was he the only one to do so?


And on the left, where I am, we didn't see that as a bad thing.  The war on Vietnam?  Bad on the part of the US government sending people to die there and killing off the native population and destroying the country physically.

There was some outrage -- during the war and since -- over the fact that certain people were able to ensure that their own sons didn't serve in Vietnam.

As someone who opposed that war, I didn't want any US troops over there.  If Bully Boy Bush managed to avoid it, good for him.  Seriously.  Good for those who resisted and went to Canada, England, Mexico, underground, whatever.

If certain people used connections to protect their sons?  It's unfortunate that they weren't willing to use connections to try to stop all the sons of America from being sent over there.  That said, I helped out every war resister that I could, I called in any favors that I had.  I was opposed to the war, George H.W. Bush wasn't.  We both apparently did anything we could to keep people out of that war.  For me, that was many people, for Bush it was apparently just his son.

We have different motives and different approaches but, in the end, no one should have been there and if we're having an honest conversation about this, we, on the left, should be able to admit that Poppy Bush may have done Vietnam a favor.  We've seen how Bully Boy Bush destroyed Iraq, imagine what he might have done to Vietnam since destruction seems to naturally follow in his wake.

On the most basic level, no Americans should have been sent to fight in Vietnam.

So this is a complicated issue -- as is the war on Vietnam -- that's still, all these years later, being sorted out.  There was no 'win' in this story even if CBS News had nailed it down.

And that was the other problem, they didn't nail it down.

They had what they needed to go on air.

But the big question should have been: Why air this?

It was too close to the election.

I do agree that the contact with the Kerry campaign (John Kerry was running against Bully Boy Bush for the presidency in 2004) was inappropriate.  I'm glad the Kerry campaign agreed with that as well and put up barriers after CBS News was attempting to put the campaign in touch with CBS News' sole source.

That contact should never have happened.  It was inappropriate and Mapes and Rather are very lucky that it wasn't known when their report was being savaged in the weeks before the 2004 election.

I think the charges in the report are true, my opinion, I think the report met journalistic standards.  That said, I will not now or ever defend CBS News contacting the Kerry campaign.  Again, John Kerry's campaign had ethics and realized they couldn't be in touch with CBS News.

Grasp, by the way, that the stunt CBS News -- Mapes and Rather -- pulled ensured the Kerry campaign, if they had wanted to, could not run with the report, could not amplify the charges because they'd been contacted by Mapes and company about the report.  It was not just unethical, it was stupid to the extreme.

Rather played the good boy during the investigation in the hopes that he'd get his anchor job back.  He really couldn't believe CBS News would dump him.  Partly, that was because his lousy ratings and the non-stop negative critique of his work from Walter Cronkite and others had not gotten him dumped.  So he thought he'd play along, get a slap on the wrist and then be back on air.

To go present day, Lara Logan's making the same mistake.  I've defended Lara but you don't catch me doing that now.  My time is too valuable to me to be wasted defending people who won't even defend themselves.  Lara's 60 Minute report was flawed because one aspect was apparently made up.  That wasn't the part Lara nailed down.

The part she's nailed down in the report stood.  CBS News, like other outlets was reluctant to cover Benghazi.  That changed a tiny bit.  Not because they intended a series on it.  But because the conglomerate that CBS is a part of was publishing a book on Benghazi.

That's why they needed a story to have the 'synergy' of promoting the book.

The book was supposed to be nailed down by another division, the publishing division.

The book and its author should have been vetted in house by the publishing division.

They didn't do their job.  To presume that Lara Logan should vet a book published by the company she works for is rather strange and no one's vetted a book, no news outlet, except maybe the Marilyn Monroe book where liar Roone Arlidge had it repeatedly vetted in an attempt to kill the story of Monroe sleeping with the Kennedy brothers. At newspapers, the editors are supposed to be the fact checking guard, magazines have largely lost their fact checkers.  But non-fiction books are still supposed to be fact checked by the publishing house.

Lara should have been making those points.  She should have been arguing that her independent work stood -- and it does -- from the report and that where the report fails is in the author of the book and that she had no say in that, the conglomerate wanted the author on for 'synergy' purposes to sell the book.  She should also point out that she was told the book had been vetted -- told by her bosses at CBS News.

No offense to her, but she's making the same mistakes others have before.  The outlets don't stand by you, the outlets protect themselves and create a standard that is akin to what is needed to successfully prosecute in a court of law and that is not the standard for journalism (as Floyd Abrams, one of the idiots whose pushed this nonsense, damn well knows).

But I can't pull someone out of the ocean when they're so damn determined to drown.

After Rather was dunked and drowned, much after, he decided to sue CBS News.  He had no real standing and his case was tossed.

None of the above is a heroic action on the part of Rather.

He aired a report that shouldn't have aired.  It was too controversial and too close to an election.  Was it going to peel right-wing voters away?  No.  They would assume it was lies from CBS News.  So you were left with the center where you have the swing voters.

Was it going to be effective with swing voters?


Vietnam is a complicated issue as we explained at the top.  Many would wonder why, all these years later, it was being brought up?  BBB wasn't being accused of War Crimes in Vietnam so why bring up what he did in his early 20s?

Some will argue the issue is historical.  I don't deny that.  I think biographers should explore it.  But the timing and Mapes and Rather's own efforts, et al, weren't about reporting.  They were about influencing an election.

They did.  There's no argument there.  They delivered votes for Bully Boy Bush by launching an attack on him in the final weeks of the election, an attack on him for what he did in his 20s.  An attack on him that really should have been an issue the first time he ran.

All they did was create sympathy for BBB.

That's not heroic.

But the thing about Dan Rather is he's always been a lousy journalist.  He's always had his tantrums -- he was a total jerk to Connie Chung -- he's walked off on air, he's a diva.

And, when he could have stood up for the report, he was a little whore instead.  He was silent to try to save his job.

Which brings us to his embarrassing David Letterman appearance after 9-11.  Kevin Fallow (Daily Beast) included the clip in a look back at Letterman moments.  That wasn't about journalism.  Again, Rather was whoring in an effort to save his own job.  That whoring is among the reasons he didn't push back against the rush to war on Iraq.  The whoring is among the reasons his JFK reporting is 'problematic.'  (Some have multiple criticisms with Rather's reporting on the assassination.  Myself, I am only slamming his reporting on the Zapruder film footage -- reporting that did not and does not hold up.)

Rather failed repeatedly as a reporter and an anchor.  He never did anything except attempt to protect his own highly paid job.  He only managed to speak out -- in a very limited manner -- against CBS News after he no longer had a job there.

His Bully Boy Bush AWOL reporting is not to be applauded.  On journalism grounds, it fails because of the attempts to involve the Kerry campaign.  (Again, the Kerry campaign was smart enough and ethical enough not to build a bridge on this.)  On political grounds, that report created sympathy for BBB and won him votes.

Last December, Ava and I noted in "TV: Feminism is telling painful truths:"

More importantly, what's with the need each year for a great feminist savior?

See, every portrayal of a woman is not a feminist statement.

They are open to feminist interpretations.  We can claim the characters or reject them based on our interpretations of feminism.

But why do we keep celebrating feminism as rally-round-and-worship-that-gal?

Lena Dunham created a White world for her White show about White girls -- not women.

'Feminism' exists for that show solely as a marketing strategy.

Time and again, we are confusing women who achieve a level of success with feminists.

As a general rule, until the revolution is over, feminists will never be applauded by the mainstream media.

Feminism is a threat to the patriarchy.

You should be suspicious when a tool of corporations writes a drippy book like Lean In and is hailed as a feminist.

What did Sheryl Sandberg ever do?

Did you see her at a march for reproductive rights in the 70s, 80s, 90s or since?

Us neither.

Did you read her fiery column calling for the media to treat violence against women seriously?

Us neither.

She's a successful Jewish woman so women and Jewish people (male and female) might identify with her.

But she's never done anything for feminism and, even now, she's not doing anything for feminism.

She is, however,  happy to use it to market her book.

If Lena Dunham didn't have faux feminism to hide behind, people might be asking real questions.  Such as how did a no-talent, unattractive woman with a failed film-fest movie end up on HBO to begin with?  They might find out about family connections, for example, and traded favors.

They'd see her for what she really is: Corporate America's response to The Occupy Movement.

She's been given a position (which she did not earn) so she can pretend to be (and have the media present her as)  The Voice of Young America.  Said voice will insist that all these meaningless bulls**t moments she tries to turn into drama are 'reflective' of Young America.  And Corporate America will endorse her because a stupid Young America will always be preferred to an active Young America.

Where in any of this is a strain of feminism?

It's just not there.

As we move into the new year, as feminists we really need to stop looking for someone to save us.

It's the feminist movement.

It's not the girls fan club.

Meaning, we are our own leaders, we are participants in a movement. 

A lot in there can be applied to our continued sick desire to label this or that person our 'hero' or 'savior.'

As a general rule, heroes aren't people who are getting rich.  The attacks on, for example, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden are what heroes have to face.

Dan Rather is no hero.

And you can see the above as a jump-start on a topic that'll be in tonight's snapshot.

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