The televised Democratic presidential sound byte pageants will not be true debates by any realistic standard. They are reminiscent of the 2016 Republican primaries that started with 16 candidates preening on a platform and enduring “gotcha” questions by reporters/moderators trying to get themselves into the news story. Until the nominee field narrows, these shows are almost a parody of real debates in the Lincoln-Douglas or Oxford Union manner. That’s too bad. We need to bring back real debates in America, and not just among candidates. Name the issue (climate change, foreign interference in our elections, abortion, immigration, tariffs, privacy online, the future of artificial intelligence, the meaning of “free speech,” whatever): Americans are badly divided. Since media and politicians often …
Spend some time with old Time Magazines or Look circa 1950 and you’ll find ad after ad touting the doctors who smoke Camels or Lucky Strike. The PR agencies surveyed the doctors, sometimes counting hundreds of thousands of them, then advised readers that such and such brand was “not irritating on the throat”, was “soothing” and other euphemisms for scientific approval of what turned out to be a deadly product. Most doctors smoked in those days. There was a kind of consensus that smoking was okay, especially if you bought a particular brand, one with filters, perhaps. That the incidence of lung and throat cancer was rocketing up didn’t register fully on medical practitioners for a long while. The connection Read More ›
The new film Exodus: Gods and Kings is getting mixed reviews based on cinematic quality, but also on content. Among the somewhat skeptical are Raymond Arroyo of EWTN Catholic television network and conservative commentator Glen Beck. The high tech special effects spectacle is causing a number of people to go back to The Ten Commandments, the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille production on the same theme, starring Charlton Heston. A colleague who screened The Ten Commandments at home this week had this startling realization: it’s about freedom. “Essentially, the message of The Ten Commandments is that only when we follow God can we find freedom. And by ‘freedom,’ I mean many important dimensions of freedom: Freedom to worship. Freedom to think. Read More ›
Sensational allegations about a supposed rape culture at the University of Virginia that appeared in a Rolling Stone article unquestionably did great damage to the university. Now Rolling Stone is retracting the main theme, and more or less apologizing, as the facts about “Jackie”–a woman who said she was gang raped for three hours at a fraternity house–are dissolving. Students are not amused. They feel correctly that the student body has been slandered.
But that’s the students; what about the Administrators, especially UVA President Teresa Sullivan? So far, Dr. Sullivan says only that the story causes her to remain “more focused than ever” on the issue of rape on campus. Really? The school administration reacted with severity to the first story from Rolling Stone, suspending the fraternity in question and all others until January 9. There was no sense that it was interested in fair play or conventional justice. It apparently made no effort to ascertain the truth before it acted. Read More ›
I read The New Republic, the venerable liberal journal founded by Progressives a hundred years ago, and even under the new owner management of Chris Hughes, a Facebook billionaire, I find it stimulating. That doesn’t mean that I agree with it, but just that it is less predictable and knee-jerk left-wing than, say, the editorial page of The New York Times. Unfortunately, Chris Hughes, age 30, thinks print is on its way out and that the future of the magazine is digital.
On their way out as a consequence are the editor, Franklin Foer, and senior editorial writer, Leon Wieseltier. The latter has been an icon of TNR for ages. Read More ›
There is a difference between news and hyped-news. The murder charge against a white policeman in Ferguson, MO, like the O.J. trial, the Rodney King arrest and the Travon Martin case in Florida,is an examples of media-induced hysteria. They are the racial equivalent of the death of Princess Diana that for a while transfixed much of the world or the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jet. It’s of interest, but the total absorption of the media is owing to ratings, not significance. There are so many truly consequential developments in the world, including the world of American blacks–starting with stunted income and opportunity in a stagnating economy–that it is hard to credit the exaggerated emphasis on one highly equivocal death.
Serious faith is not talked about on mainstream television very often, so when the parents of James Foley, who was beheaded by ISIS, held a press conference in Rochester, N.H., faith was not a theme the media emphasized. There was however coverage of the parents’ statement that the many prayers for James’ safety were appreciated, as he had noted himself when in a tight situation earlier in Libya. That led me to wonder what else was said. Read More ›