What would Mark Williams have to do to get CNN to stop covering his nonsensical, inflammatory diatribes? Because here they go again:
Former Tea Party Express spokesperson Mark Williams on Monday night defended his latest blog posting in which he called New York City Michael Bloomberg a "Judenrat" and said that one of the journalists who wrote about it "has never read a book" and has "an appalling ignorance" of the Holocaust.
In the blog entry, Williams wrote: "Politically correct Judenrats like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and (Manhattan Borough President) Scott Stringer and domestic enemies who are supporting the mosque - with open ties to Islamic Terrorist organizations and supporting states are doing nothing more than erecting a giant middle finger to be thrust at the victims of 911."
In response to TPMMuckraker's Evan McMorris-Santoro story about the post, Williams appended his posting to say that Judenrat "is a derogatory term for the Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. Judenrats were Jews who turned in people like Anne Frank."
This kind of bigoted commentary is exactly what forced the National Tea Party Federation to suspend Williams and the Tea Party Express he was associated with after he wrote a fictional letter about "We Coloreds" in opposition to the NAACP. That was just the latest bigoted eruption from Williams, who previously called the NAACP "race-baiters," described Allah as a "monkey god," called President Obama the "racist in chief" and on and on. As of mid-July, this didn't stop CNN from hosting Williams on-air 10 times over the past year.
Clearly, this also hasn't prevented CNN's Political Ticker blog from tapping the Williams well, even after his comments went over the line for even Tea Party activists. At this point, CNN is just giving a platform to a crank with a blog. What journalistic purpose does that serve?
You would think that in a discussion about racial insensitivity and the use of the n-word by a prominent conservative media figure, you might want to avoid a loaded word like "shackled" or "shackles." And yet, Sarah Palin goes there in her latest Facebook missive:
I can understand how she could feel "shackled" by those who would parse a single word out of decades of on-air commentary. I understand what she meant when she declared that she was "taking back my First Amendment rights" by turning to a new venue that will not allow others the ability to silence her by going after her stations, sponsors, and supporters.
Lets begin with the idea that anybody has shackled Palin or Schlessinger. They are both well-off media figures in the 21st century. Unlike slaves who were actually shackled and in shackles, neither Palin or Schlessinger are anyone's property, and they both have the freedom to speak, marry, vote, and engage in all the other privileges of being a citizen of the United States. In other words, they aren't shackled at all. Here is Palin in her home, free to go as she pleases, and here is the very un-shackled Dr. Laura in what looks like a nice home. By comparison, here is a drawing of a person that was in shackles. Just so we're clear.
As to the substance, such as it is, of Palin's complaint -- nobody is parsing "a single word" out of Schlessinger's rant. What is at issue here is her repetition of the n-word eleven times in the middle of an argument that because African-American comics on HBO use the word, she should be able to use it with abandon. In addition, Schlessinger argued that her African-American caller "had a chip on [her] shoulder" because she supposedly had "hypersensitivity" about racial language which has been "bred by black activists." Schlessinger also argued that "We've got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever," and that if you are "that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race."
In the eyes of Palin, this is all apparently "one word."
Despite her and Schlessinger's complaint about purported denial of First Amendment rights, there is no constitutional right to a radio program. The first amendment clearly discusses the freedom of speech and religion and assembly, but it does not prohibit criticism and commentary of a radio broadcast which is what Media Matters and others have done here. Palin and Schlessinger are free to say what they wish, without fear of government-sanctioned censorship, but at the same time their commentary isn't immune from speech and actions which may run in a contrary direction.
The Associated Press has published a fact check about some of the misleading claims promoted by conservative media about the proposed Islamic community center in Manhattan. The AP identifies all three of the claims they debunk as being promoted by Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich.
On the claim that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has links to radical Islam:
No one has established a link between the cleric and radicals. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said: "We've identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque."
Ros-Lehtinen and King were referring to the State Department's plan, predating the mosque debate, to send Rauf on another religious outreach trip to the Middle East as part of his "long-term relationship" with U.S. officials in the Bush and Obama administrations. The State Department said Wednesday it will pay him $3,000 for a trip costing the government $16,000.
Rauf counts former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from the Clinton administration as a friend and appeared at events overseas or meetings in Washington with former President George W. Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush adviser Karen Hughes.
On the notion that the center is at ground zero:
No mosque is going up at ground zero. The center would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal Lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearest of the two destroyed in the attacks.
The center's location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam's former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds.
Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site.
The article also discusses the idea that Islam seeks to undermine America:
Bush himself, while criticized at the time for stirring suspicions about American Muslims, traveled to a Washington mosque less than a week after the attacks to declare that terrorism is "not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace."
In any event, the U.S. armed forces field Muslim troops and make accommodations for them. The Pentagon opened an interfaith chapel in November 2002 close to the area where hijacked American Airlines flight 77 slammed into the building, killing 184 people.
Read the whole thing.
Bill O'Reilly isn't often the one making sense during a back and forth on his show, but that was the case tonight in this exchange he had with Bernard Goldberg:
In the segment, Goldberg rehashes the conservative argument that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's comments about 9/11 are somehow extreme and symptomatic of something sinister. As O'Reilly explained, Rauf's comments that "I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened," are similar to the views of many (including the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission) on the role U.S. foreign policy had with regard to the attacks.
As Media Matters has pointed out, Fox News' own Glenn Beck has said "When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9-11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators and abandoned our values and principles? Yes. That causes problems."
To O'Reilly's credit, he explained to Goldberg that the imam's comments weren't the extremist statement Goldberg made them out to be. But Goldberg wanted no part of it. He told O'Reilly he was "tired" of hearing such arguments about U.S. foreign policy, and that if a Christian minister made similar comments "the media wouldn't call him a moderate."
On Fox News today, Glenn Beck decided that the entire religion of Islam would be a good target of mockery.
Conservative media figures have repeatedly claimed or suggested that it would be unprecedented and "corrupt" for Democrats to address "controversial" issues during Congress' lame duck session following the 2010 elections. But in 1998, Republicans impeached President Clinton during such a post-election congressional session.
Glenn Beck informed his viewers today that President Obama recently played basketball with NBA star LeBron James, a sure sign that the president is out of touch, right?
Fox Nation says "Speaker Pelosi Jumps the Shark" and repeats the claim on their home page:
The problem with this assertion is that the story they've linked to doesn't actually contain those words or that sentiment. The story Fox Nation links to, from Politico, shows Speaker Pelosi describing what she feels the Republican party's role is in the most recent unemployment report. The story says nothing about sharks or any sort of jumping. That element is purely the invention of the editors or whoever cranks out the headlines at Fox Nation. The story doesn't even mention the Fonz.
If you thought Rush Limbaugh would simply be content to just echo his fellow conservatives in a misguided and counterfactual attack on Michelle Obama by comparing her to and calling her "Marie Antoinette" you would be very wrong. Today, he added to that smear the racially charged rhetoric that he's employed for years.
Of course, neither side of the media divide gets it right 100% of the time, and Hall specifically cites the already infamous Shirley Sherrod case, in which conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart edited video to imply that Sherrod, an African-American former USDA official, had withheld aid from a white farmer.
Sherrod was asked to resign, and now plans to sue Breitbart. "[The media] should be ashamed of ourselves at what happened. Even though it was a certain blogger that started an irresponsible journey, we didn't stop it," Hall confesses. "But I think that's part of the learning curve, the 'teachable moment.' It was a real kick in the gut for credible journalists."
Of course, before the entire Sherrod episode, it was clear that Andrew Breitbart's work wasn't to be trusted. Whether it was attacking ACORN, smearing Kevin Jennings, or even Maoist Christmas tree ornaments, Breitbart's m.o. was clear before he targeted Sherrod. The media should never have carried his water. Hopefully they won't do so in the future, but it's not the best track record.