The media’s approach to Rand Paul’s filibuster: pretend it never happened *UPDATED*

Yesterday, Rand Paul embarked upon a nearly 12-hour-long standing filibuster.  The filibuster’s ostensible purpose and practical effect was to delay a vote on John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA.  It’s real purpose, though, was to force Attorney General Eric Holder to answer a straightforward question:  “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?”

Paul posed this question because, on Monday, in a letter responding to questions Paul had about the drone program on American soil, Eric Holder had written that the President could order a drone strike on American citizens in America, if there was a 9/11 situation.  Thus, Holder confined his answer to the President’s power in the event of actual combat on American soil.  Eric refused to respond to Paul’s follow-up question about a non-combat scenario.

So Paul filibustered, and filibustered, and filibustered.

During his epic speech, in the course of which he even quoted Alice in Wonderland, Paul came up with some liberty-oriented bon mots that will forever enter the conservative playbook:

“They shouldn’t just drop a Hellfire missile on your cafe experience.”

“If you give up your rights now, don’t expect to get them back.”

[A hypothetical question to President Obama:]  “So you can murder anyone you want, anywhere, any time?”

Paul not only managed to derail the scheduled vote for John Brennan, he forced Eric Holder to answer his question.  Today, Eric Holder issued what is probably the world’s shortest letter ever written by a lawyer:

Rand Paul won -- Holder gave him his answer

During his filibuster odyssey, Paul demonstrated that he is a lucid speaker, who still managed to make sense after almost twelve hours on his feet.  No wonder the Young Gun Republicans in the Senate soon rallied to his cause.  (And no wonder the Old Gun Republicans went off to enjoy an expensive dinner with Barack Obama.)

In one staggering feat, Rand Paul demonstrated he is contender material for the 2016 presidential election.  Those who have been paying attention know that he has been angling in that direction for some months now, both by speaking up for Tea Party interests and by trying to convince both conservative and Progressive Jews alike that he does not share the disdain his father, Ron Paul, seems to feel for Israel.

These plays, however, were inside baseball stuff, with only political junkies paying attention to Paul’s Tea Party and Jewish outreach.  The general public, including the conservative-leaning general public, was not paying much attention.

That all changed yesterday, with Paul’s filibuster.  He really did channel Jimmy Stewart, in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington:  He was boyish look, deeply committed to the cause of truth and liberty, and still making sense after hours of talking.  Moreover, unlike Stewart, who was merely acting, Paul was really doing this.  The conservative side of the internet went wild.  This was Paul’s moment.  This was when he catapulted himself into being a national player.  Now the world — or, if not the world, America — will know that there is someone with political substance aiming to challenge Hillary’s almost inevitable 2016 run.

Except that’s not what happened.

Instead, of reporting honestly about one man’s impressive performance in the United States Senate, the mainstream, drive-by media did what it does best:  it pretended Paul’s epic filibuster never happened.  In some of the nation’s main newspapers, his dramatic stand for individual liberty didn’t even make the front page or, if it did, it was buried within another story about Senate business or was the subject of an attack about his being a dangerous loose cannon.

I hereby give you exhibits A, B, C, and D.  The print is small in all of these front page captures, but it’s still large enough for you to see what’s missing — any mention, especially approving mention, of Paul’s epic stand:

New York Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
Washington Post buries Rand Paul filibuster
Los Angeles Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
San Francisco Chronicle buries Rand Paul filibuster

The above front pages from some of the dominant newspapers in America provide a textbook example of mainstream media control over political dialogue in America. The media’s playbook is simple: For Democrats, elevate good stories and bury bad ones. For Republicans, elevate bad stories and bury good ones.

Because the drive-by media is no longer interested in reporting news, but only cares about obtaining outcomes, it is up to us — the Citizen Information Army, a CIA we hope John Brennan will never control — to offset the media hegemony.  We do this by elevating good stories about the Republicans and reporting on bad stories about the Democrats. We have our orders now. Let’s march!

UPDATE:  Don Quixote, who’s more aware of television than I am, told me that the Today Show this morning did do a fairly superficial segment on the filibuster.  Let’s hope it was better than CNN’s coverage.  Ed Driscoll caught the fact that, while CNN did provide some reporting the filibuster, including commentary from Reason’s Mike Rig, it still let its bias shine through.  Check out the chyron CNN applied to the tape of Paul talking:

Media Bias

Although subtle, Ed notes that these things matter: “[T]he Chyron is likely the only thing the now-proverbial low-information voter will take from Paul’s historic filibuster.”

The way the media designates heroes and villains *UPDATED*

The Koch brothers are the Leftist media’s arch enemies.  Because they donate money to free market think tanks, media coverage routinely vilifies them.  If Satan got the kind of negative press the Koch brothers do, even Satanists would abandon him.

The media’s articles make it appear that the Koch brothers’ sin isn’t in holding their political views but, rather, in using their ill-gotten gains to fund those views.  How dare they use money acquired from capitalism to advocate for their personal causes?

It’s quite a different story, of course, when ill-gotten gains from rampant capitalism end up funding Leftist causes.  Today’s San Francisco Chronicle ran a hagiographic article about Tom Steyer and Kathryn Taylor (whose money comes from investment banking) and who now devote their time and fortune to fighting climate change — never mind that the climate will change with or without them, as it has always done.  What Steyer and Taylor are really doing is ensuring that nobody else gets the chance to be as rich as they are, since all climate change efforts are fundamentally directed at limiting wealth acquisition in the First World, while transferring some measure of wealth to the economic sinkhole that is currently the Third World

Incidentally, I am not saying that the Third World doesn’t have vast economic possibilities.  As much as anything, it’s a sinkhole because of a toxic combination of homegrown corrupt and/or totalitarian governments and religions, on the one hand, and NGOs and Leftist billionaires, on the other hand.  These two forces work together to keep Third World citizens mired in picturesque squalor.

This is insidious propaganda.  The media doesn’t overtly take a position — it simply vilifies those who stand for principles the media opposes, while swooning over those who invest money in the media’s favorite causes.  The low-information readership doesn’t realize that the article’s targets are ideologies.  They simply start having a Pavlovian response when an ideological position rolls around.

UPDATE: This post makes my point perfectly about the vitriol poured on the Kochs.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist warns city’s rational thinkers not to roll in the mud with one specific fringe group

Here’s the lede:

The great thing about living in San Francisco is that it is socially and culturally responsible. The bad thing is, a city that is so socially and culturally responsible can’t resist taking the bait when a fringe group tries to provoke a reaction.

In a non-Bizarro world, one might think that the columnist, C.W. Nevius, is advising San Franciscans to ignore the OWSers camped out along the Embarcadero.  What better way to avoid the drugs, feces and vomit?  Except that can’t be right take on that lede because even San Francisco, with its seemingly endless tolerance for all things Progressive, cleared out the OWS camp a couple of months ago because it was a public health hazard.

Or maybe Nevius is advising San Franciscans to avoid the antisemitic/anti-American hate fest that occurs whenever the Progressive crowd takes to the streets of San Francisco to oppose the wars the U.S. is fighting against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Nope.  Can’t be that.  Those protests ended when Obama took the White House, even though it took another three years for one war to wrap up and the other is still going strong.

Hmm.  Maybe Nevius is telling San Franciscans to stay away from the annual Up Your Alley Fair, an open air celebration of pretty much unlimited debauchery.  Or the annual Folsom Street Fair, which features less nudity, but more whips and chains.

I mean, frankly, when it comes to “fringe groups” that are trying “to provoke a reaction,” San Francisco certain has more than its fair share.

This being San Francisco, however, Nevius had something even more fringey in mind, something so horrifying that even San Francisco’s usual crew of protesters, the ones who will take off their clothes to protest anything, including their right to take off their clothes, are being warned away lest they get damaged by contact with this extremist organization.  What is this diabolical gathering, the one so out there that San Franciscans need to hide in their homes rather than validate it with confrontation?

The 8th Annual Walk For Life, which will be held on January 21, 2012, in San Francisco.  Last year, this “fringe” group managed to gather around 40,000 people, all of whom frightened ordinary San Franciscans by wearing normal clothes, walking peaceably, and carrying signs that support life.  (Zombie has an illustrative photo essay from the 2010 walk.)

Nevius, who sometimes distinguishes himself by being amongst the more sensible columnists by San Francisco Chronicle standards, embraces San Francisco’s amorality, however, when he says that the City, en masse, should ignore this pro-Life plague:

The best approach, of course, would be to let them [the pro-Life walkers] have their moment, ignore them, and then go back to real life in San Francisco. That’s the approach that will be taken by the local chapter of Planned Parenthood.

[snip]

Naturally, not everyone feels that way, and we can just about count on clashes between the two groups. There will be disagreements about the size of the crowds – protesters claim that the walk organizers overestimate the size of the march, and members of the walk claim that the number of protesters decreases every year.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a classic example of sound and fury signifying nothing. When the walk concludes Saturday, you can bet that no one will have changed his or her position, although everyone will be congratulating himself or herself for standing up for the cause.

I’ve done enough abortion posts for you guys to know that I’m conflicted on this subject.  I grew up totally pro-Choice, focused entirely on the woman’s needs and convenience.  As I’ve aged — and had children — I’ve no longer been able to deny that there is another life involved.  I want to deny it.  If, God forbid, my daughter shows up pregnant at 15, I want to say “Oh, never mind, darling!  I’ll just take you to the doctor and that’ll be that,” but I don’t think I can anymore.  It’s not a woman’s convenience versus a cell’s existence.  It’s a life versus a life.

So when C.W. Nevius says “[w]hen the walk concludes Saturday, you can bet that no one will have changed his or her position,” he’s plain wrong.  The walk may be the last link in the chain for someone who is struggling, as I struggle, with making a u-turn in a profound belief system, one that forces us to confront who we are and what value we place upon ourselves.

Totalitarian revolutions always end up eating their own *UPDATED*

One of the hallmarks of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Nazi Revolution (because, although the ballot was used in 1932, it was a revolution), the Hussein Iraq takeover (which was also a form of revolution), and other totalitarian takeovers is that the paranoid leadership style inherent in totalitarianism invariably means that the revolution starts to eat its own.  At a certain point, the person or cabal that scrabbles to power starts fearing the people who created that leadership position, and sets out to destroy them.

Sadie alerted me to the fact that the Obama Administration, which has worked a sea change in government, is beginning to turn against the journalists that put it there.  The story I’m thinking of today is that of Carla Marinucci, a San Francisco Chronicle political reporter.  Both she and the newspaper have been in Obama’s corner from the beginning, and are consistently hostile to (and often, at least through omission) dishonest about Obama’s opponents, both at high political levels and at the grass roots level.

Mere sycophancy, however, isn’t good enough for the new regime.  Keeping in mind the dictum that “I made you and I can break you,” the regime is doing a bit of purging:

The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.

White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci – who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times – pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.

She was part of a “print pool” – a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard colleagues – which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as “pen and pad” reporting.

But that’s a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist’s tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn’t leak through your pocket.

[snip]

The President and his staffers deftly used social media like Twitter and Facebook in his election campaign and continue to extol the virtues and value. Except, apparently, when it comes to the press.

So what’s up with the White House? We can’t say because neither Press Secretary Jay Carney nor anyone from his staff would speak on the record.

Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was “informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter.” Which shouldn’t be a secret in any case because it’s a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.

What’s worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla’s spanking became public. Really? That’s a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.

The folks at the Chronicle are very surprised.  I’m not.  I saw this coming a long time ago and suspect (although I’m too lazy to check right now) that I blogged on precisely this same point at some time in the past.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  Check out Ed Driscoll’s much more complete post on the subject.

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

To the media, not all protests are equal

Yesterday, at a swim meet, I chanced upon a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle which is, of course, the major regional paper here in the Bay Area.  On the front page was a close-up picture of some angry protesters, and this caption:  Health care activists lament single-payer snub.  Beyond mumbling to myself that I wished that the protesters had as much in the way of brains as they do in fervor, I ignored the article.  I should have read it.

I received today an email from a conservative friend pointing out something I’d missed about the Chron’s coverage.  This lone “single-payer” protest managed to muster about 200 people and made the front page.  It stands in stark contract to the Chron’s coverage of the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protest in San Francisco.

By the Chron’s own admission, the Tea Party protest gathering was at least 2.5 times bigger than the single-payer protest (“about 500″ showed up at the Tea Party, and more honest reporters estimated between 700 and 1000 showed up).  Further, unlike the single-payer protest, the tax protest wasn’t even a stand alone event.  Instead, as the Chron admitted, it was one of a chain of “Anti-tax, anti-bailout ‘Tea Party’ rallies held around the nation Wednesday.”  (And no wonder, as AJ Strata explains.)  Page one stuff, right?  Wrong.

According to the Chron’s own records, it put its report on the  Tea Party on page A12.  The Chron is not a big paper.  Page 12 is the equivalent of buried.  (The only other nod the Chron gave to this nationwide event was a snarky cartoon showing Romney and Rush delighting in the way they’d made stupid Americans dance to their rich white men’s tune.)

Apparently in Chronicle-land, not all protests are created equal.  A small, isolated protest on a subject near and dear to the editors’ liberal hearts lands on page one.  A large protest that is linked to similar protests all over the nation, but that just doesn’t resonate with the editors, gets buried.

All of this ties in with a thought I had after reading Leo Rennert’s prediction that Obama, like Reagan, will have to pay a price for making a rather crude political visit to a Nazi concentration camp.  I don’t think he’ll have to pay the price, and the difference is the media.

In the 1980s, the media did everything it could to destroy Reagan, including putting on page 1 every fuss any group had with Reagan.  That gave stories legs.  It’s different now.  To the extent people find offensive Obama’s coldly-calculating trip to Buchenwald, the American media is burying the story.  Even if they report on it, it will be buried so deeply within the paper’s pages, or at its website, that only those looking for it will find it.  End of story.

It’s not a surprise to any of us that he who writes the story gets to designate the villians and the good guys.  We also sometimes enjoy seeing a little revisionism that turns things on their heads.  Witness the huge success of Gergory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. That book paints the pretty Glinda as the evil, totalitarian dictator, and the green Wicked Witch of the West as the misunderstood freedom fighter.

What people forget too often is that what makes for good art often makes for lousy reality.  It’s an awfully bad idea when our press takes upon itself the role of casting director, assigning preferred parties preferential treatment in the papers, thereby perverting the facts on the ground, and wrongly shaping people’s perceptions of those facts.

Last gasp of the old media *UPDATED*

Do you think it’s coincidence that the Sunday before Prop. 8 formally goes before California voters, the SF Chron runs an article about a lesbian couple’s wedding that would be perfectly suitable for a saccharine Barbara Cartland romance?  I probably wouldn’t have noticed or cared about this little subliminal push for its readers to vote with the liberal agenda if I hadn’t read this on the same day I learned that the Chron suppressed information about Obama’s boast that he was going to bankrupt the American coal industry.

I’m glad those two women found happiness together, and I have no problem with giving them civil recognition as a couple, with all the legal benefits and burdens that entails.  However, let’s just not pretend that this civil recognition is marriage, a pretense that will have two horrible side effects:  (a) it will insert the government into religion, which is precisely what the Founders most feared and (b) it is a slippery slope that inevitably (no brakes) opens the door for Muslim polygamy, not to mention some less savory practices such as polyandry and bestiality (or, if you’re in Japan, marriage to cartoon characters).

UPDATE:  Thanks to Rockdalian for bringing to my attention the story that the Chronicle isn’t telling in the days leading up to a vote on Prop. 8:  namely, the fact that the California school system is sitting on its hands in the face of a teacher who gave kindergartners a form to fill out supporting Gay and Lesbian rights.

An article about Islam most amazing for what it doesn’t say

I already knew that UC Berkeley was going to host a “scholarly” conference aimed at reconstructing Islamophobia. The promotional material, complete with the names of radical Islamist speakers, made it pretty clear that the conference’s focus would be on whitewashing Islam, as opposed to addressing a canker in one of the world’s major religions. Well, what can one expect of UC Bezerkeley, a school that used to be described as Kremlin West?

However, I did expect a little more of the San Francisco Chronicle, not because it’s anything but a liberal newspaper, but because I thought its own journalistic pride would demand at least a bow to the realities of terrorism in today’s world. How silly of me. The paper manages to report on the conference with one inverted allusion to 9/11 (you’ll see what I mean below) but otherwise without mentioning anything about the world-wide acts of terror perpetrated daily in Islam’s name.

I’m not going to fisk the whole piece, but let me give you a preview into what the article contains. It opens with some eye-catching puffery about Obama’s middle name and whether women with headscarfs should be searched at airports. From there, it explains that these questions and others are being addressed by world renowned scholars at a Berkeley conference, at which

the professors aim to study and understand how a religious identity of 1.2 billion people around the world has become fused with a monolithic set of beliefs and racial category. Under this dynamic, the beliefs of a Muslim engineer in Silicon Valley are rendered the same as those of a shopkeeper in Baghdad or a Hamas politician.

Perhaps the public is justifiably confused because, too often, the engineer in Silicon valley keeps his mouth shut about the distasteful beliefs of that Hamas “politician” — don’t they mean terrorist? — or because “man in the street” polls of Muslims show that their views are in remarkable harmony with their more activist brethren.

The article does the obligatory comparison to other groups that have been considered dangerous, including Jews. It makes no reference to the fact that Jews, for example, were considered dangerous only by taking the absence of evidence as proof positive that they were weaving dangerous behind the scenes conspiracies. Antisemities were wedded to the notion that, when it came to the horrors that Jews were planning on visiting on the world, the absence of evidence definitely wasn’t evidence of absence.

In that same vein, neither the conference nor the article give any consideration to the difference between an amorphous conspiracy theory unsupported by any concrete evidence whatsoever and this:

I guess that kind of more subtle analysis was a bit beyond the academics gathered in Berkeley.

The panelists spent a lot of time focusing on how unfair it is for people to attack Obama’s middle name and Muslim past. I actually think it’s stupid, too, but that’s because I don’t believe Obama has any religious affinity for Islam. I think that, more significantly, he has a Leftist affinity for those who champion radical Islam, and that this attitude is much more dangerous than any lingering longing he might have for a prayer session in the mosque.

The panelists apparently did mention 9/11, but only to put it in context: It started up attacks on Muslims that were comparable to the Spanish Inquisition:

Panelists at the conference traced the roots of Islamophobia well before Sept. 11, 2001: They include slavery, colonialism and the Spanish Inquisition against Jews and Muslims beginning in 1492.
Cultural phenomenon

Marquette University Professor Louise Cainkar presented a paper about hate crimes against those of Arab origin, a category that includes Christians but is often conflated with Muslims in post-Sept. 11 pop culture. In analyzing patterns in the Chicago area, she found that hate crimes were fewest in African American neighborhoods in the South Side, despite the high prevalence of Arab shopkeepers. But anti-Arab hate crimes were highest in “white flight” suburbs. A mosque in a southwestern suburb of Chicago came under a “three-day siege” by neighbors after the Sept. 11 attacks and had to be protected by more than 100 police officers in riot gear, Cainkar said.

As for me, I hold no truck with the Spanish Inquisition, since my ancestors too suffered from its effects, which is how they ended up in Hungary, rather than staying in Spain all those hundreds of years ago. Be that as it may, a little historical context is useful. The Spanish Inquisition’s primary focus was heretical Christians, not Muslims or Jews. Those who raise the Spanish Inquisition as an indictment against the West for its treatment of Muslims are confusing it with the fact that, at about the same time, in the 15th Century, Spanish Nationalism developed and took shape in the persons of Ferdinand and Isabella. They spearheaded the movement to drive out of Southern Spain the Muslim conquerers who had installed themselves there centuries before. In other words, the Muslims were kicked out because the indigenous people rose up against their Imperialist oppressors, something that should leave Leftists rejoicing. And as always when there was upheaval, everyone went after the Jews.

What’s very clear from the news report is that neither the conference participants, nor the reporter, have any interest in the much more compelling question of radical versus non-radical Islam, and whether anything can be done to make the latter less passive and more vocal. The obvious purpose of the conference is to whitewash Islam, and the Chron happily, and without any shame, went along with that approach. As I said at the start, the Berkeley would host this academic travesty is unsurprising, but I naively expected that the Chron would at least pay lip service to the facts on the ground (almost 11,000 acts of terrorist since 9/11 in the name of Islam), without joining in the Berkeley whitewash.

UPDATE:  Welcome LGF readers!