It's a safe assumption that newspapers receive letters to the editor on a daily basis from people who disagree with government policies. There's also no doubt that some are incendiary, hurtful, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc, because, well, some people have those beliefs and aren't afraid to say so in a public forum.
But newspapers have differing standards for which letters actually make it into the paper. So, let's take a stab at guessing The Washington Times' standard. Here are snippets of letters that The Washington Times published, discussing the possible repeal of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.
From today's online paper, in which a reader argued that "homosexual orientation is contrary to human nature":
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates; and other so-called leaders are working to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Even psychiatrist-commentator Charles Krauthammer is saying that the law forbidding homosexuals to serve in the military should be changed because social mores have changed. That is false.
Homosexual propaganda has prevailed, but the natural law has not changed. The homosexual orientation is contrary to human nature, just as blindness and deafness are distortions of the anatomy/physiology of mankind. Just because some women have children out of wedlock does not mean society gives up on marriage. When will our political and moral leaders bow to the moral law and use it to guide human nature?
And another from yesterday, in which a reader compared military officials who oppose "allow[ing] avowed homosexuals to become Marines" to German soldiers who opposed Hitler:
A small group of German officers opposed the loyalty oath to Hitler despite great political pressure. They courageously honored and respected the moral and institutional values they represented and knew to be right. We who are Marines are proud to see that our commandant has shown similar courage in the face of political pressure to allow avowed homosexuals to become Marines.
A cold chill shivers down the spines of men when they contemplate the physical acts of homosexual behavior. It is important the American people know that their Marines, and our commandant, have spine enough to notice and oppose this folly. I hope they will honor the many generations of Marines who sacrificed for American freedom and will remember to vote for and support those who will work to "keep our honor clean."
Now, to be fair, some newspaper editors do opt to print objectionable letters because they either want to err on the side of inclusion, or they think it's necessary to show that some extreme views exist in the public discourse. For example, John Taylor, former president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, told The Poynter Institute in 2003 that his paper elects to print some offensive letters because a "viewpoint that many find objectionable is a real viewpoint and it exists in the community. And we ought not to be asleep to that, because if you're asleep to those kinds of views, that's how they prosper." But, he added, the opinion pages are "about presenting divergent points of view, a spectrum of views."
Not so for the Times. Its letters fit right in with the homophobic rants that the Times' purportedly professional columnists like editor emeritus Wes Pruden and Frank Gaffney have published on the opinion pages since the first murmurs of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," emerged. Media Matters has extensively documented the paper's history of anti-gay rhetoric, and since at least the beginning of this year, Times readers have been treated to nothing but opposition to the repeal of DADT on the Times opinion pages. If their readers want divergent beliefs on DADT, the opinion pages certainly aren't the place to see them.
Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid has emerged as perhaps the most full-throated defender of Uganda's proposed anti-gay law, which adds Draconian penalties -- including death -- for alleged crimes related to homosexuality. Most recently, Kincaid has been portraying the views of a pair of anti-gay activists in Uganda as representative of all 30.9 million Ugandans, though without offering any evidence that this is the case.
In a February 3 column headlined "Uganda Confronts 'Loud-mouthed Homosexual Lobby,'" Kincaid claims that a "leading pro-family activist in Uganda says that Christians in that East African country need help resisting the schemes of the international homosexual lobby." This person is the only one he quotes. This was followed by a February 5 column headlined "Uganda Rejects Obama's Pro-Homosexual 'Change,'" in which, again, only one person is quoted, "Ugandan Christian minister Martin Ssempa." Kincaid doesn't mention that Ssempa has been screening images of gay pornography in Uganda to whip up support for the bill.
In the February 5 column, Kincaid writes: "Accuracy in Media's review of coverage of the so-called 'Kill the Gays' bill in Uganda finds that it has been completely one-sided, inaccurate, and distorted beyond belief. Contrary to press accounts, the legislation is not designed to kill homosexuals but discourage and punish homosexual practices which spread disease and death. Christians in Uganda are trying to build a culture of life and avoid the sexual perversions which have devastated families in the U.S."
In fact, one of the offenses of "aggravated homosexuality" that would warrant a death penalty in the bill is being a "serial offender," which the bill defines as "a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences." In other words, if you were convicted of previous homosexual behavior -- or even one of the "related offences" such as "failure to disclose" homosexual acts or "conspiracy to engage in homosexuality" -- and were convicted of it again, you could be put to death.
While there has been much discussion of amending the bill, it has not yet been amended. So as the bill currently stands, despite Kincaid's insistence, mere homosexual behavior is a capital offense under the bill, meaning that it will, in fact, "kill the gays."
There are other things Kincaid doesn't mention -- for instance, the fact that the bill applies to Ugandans not living in the country. He's also quiet about another inconvenient fact: In Uganda, HIV has historically been spread mostly through heterosexual or mother-to-child contact.
It seems that, when it comes to his own writing, Kincaid doesn't believe in fulfilling the promise of his employer's name.
Patterico attacks me today and clams I got the facts wrong with regards to the sad tale of conservative blogger Jim Treacher getting hit by a car last week. I've been writing about it to highlight how conservative bloggers made false accusations against the Secret Service without having the facts about the alleged "hit-and-run." And how Greg Pollowitz at National Review now refuses to admit his mistake.
Anyway, Patterico now claims that in my "screed," I falsely reported that Treacher claimed he'd been hit by a Secret Service SUV. "No, Eric Boehlert, that's actually not true. It's actually quite false," scolds Patterico, who then quotes Treacher rebutting me: "I did not claim Secret Service hit me. I said I was I was told Secret Service hit me by people who would know."
So according to Patterico, I owe Treacher a correction because he never, ever claimed he'd been hit by the Secret Service.
Except that, of course, he did.
Here are some of Treacher's tweets from the night of the accident; tweets that conservative bloggers used as the basis of their erroneous 'reporting' [emphasis added]:
Guess what? I just got hit by a car while crossing the street. At a crosswalk. With the right of way. By the Secret Service. Not joking
My knee's broken. I'm staying at my boss Neil's house. I want to know why the Secret Service hit me, crossing w/ the Walk sign, & drove off.
I know the Secret Service hit me because the cops said so. Oh, and so did the Secret Service. No apology, though. Yet.
So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable suggesting that on the night of the accident Treacher claimed he'd been hit by the Secret Service.
UPDATED: BTW, my original critique was not of Treacher and what he wrote about his accident. (I'm not in the habit of going after people who've just been hit by a car.) Instead, I criticized the National Review for its sloppy work. So it's worth noting that Patterico makes no effort to defend's NR's plainly false report about the so-called "hit-and-run."
UPDATED: Here are the actual tweets
UPDATED: In his attack on my reporting, Patterico claims he "will cheerfully issue a correction when shown I'm wrong." Well, prove it. You just insisted Treacher never claimed he'd been hit by the Secret Service. But I just showed, using Treacher's own writings, that he did.
Now, please issue a correction. Cheerfully.
UPDATED: Patterico responds, kinda. (It's a mess.)
To recap, Patterico claimed Treacher never accused the Secret Service of hitting him. But Treacher did exactly that. Note to Patterico: stop digging!
Washington Post reporter Ben Pershing during today's online Q&A:
Obama and other Democrats have made a point recently of arguing that some of the GOP's ideas are already incorporated into the Democrats' bills -- that the existing bills already represent compromises, so it makes no sense to scrap them. Ezra Klein wrote a good post on this yesterday.
Washington Post reporter Ben Pershing, a few questions later:
It's hard to say which side is putting preconditions on the health-care summit. Is it Obama, who says he won't throw out the existing bills (that passed both chambers already)? Or is it Republicans, since the Boehner-Cantor letter contained several specific preconditions for the meeting? Seems that both sides are digging in their heels. It's almost as though neither party really wants to compromise ...
Impressive how Pershing so quickly goes from noting that the existing bill already contains Republican ideas and constitutes a compromise to suggesting that "both sides are digging in their heels" and "neither party really wants to compromise," isn't it?
Here's the background:
House Republican Leader John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor sent White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel a letter about the summit in which they asked the White House to take "off the table" the prospect of passing health care legislation through the reconciliation process and to "agree to start over," "scrapping the House and Senate health care bills." Their letter included not a single word expressing openness to progressive health care proposals, or a willingness to make concessions.
In response, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying "The President looks forward to reviewing Republican proposals that meet the goals he laid out at the beginning of this process, and as recently as the State of the Union Address. He's open to including any good ideas that stand up to objective scrutiny."
And yet Ben Pershing thinks it's "hard to say which side is putting preconditions on the health-care summit."
I suppose "we'll only negotiate if you scrap your proposals entirely" and "no, everything should be on the table" are both technically "preconditions." But there's a vast difference between the two, and Pershing does not serve Washington Post readers, or the truth, by pretending there isn't.
(The Boehner/Cantor letter and the Gibbs response are both conveniently available on the Washington Post's web page.)
This morning, NBC's Chuck Todd went on Morning Joe to continue his upbraiding of Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, who said on Fox News Sunday this past weekend that the mainstream media "hate" Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties. Todd expanded his critique of Sammon to Fox News in general, implying that the network has an "agenda" to "undermine the 90% of journalists who are just simply trying to cover stories out there," adding: "It is a business for some media organizations to undermine the quote-unquote mainstream media because it's good for their business."
Well, NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein was none too pleased with Todd's remarks, and seemed incredulous that Fox News would ever pursue a business agenda that sought to undermine their competition with accusations of bias:
Fox News has a business strategy of seeking to "undermine" the MSM by alleging that it has a liberal bias. That was the allegation that Chuck Todd made on Morning Joe today.
Todd didn't indicate which media on the left are trying to undermine the MSM, but in the context it was clear that in speaking of media organizations on the right, he was accusing Fox News of trying to "undermine" the MSM for business purposes.
You know what? Finkelstein is right. Where in the world would Chuck Todd get the idea that Fox News uses accusations of left-wing bias to undermine their mainstream media competitors?
For their part, NewsBusters lauded Fox News for the above advertisement, writing that it "point[s] a huge and unmistakably accusatory finger at its liberal competitors."
In her ridiculous defense of Rush Limbaugh's use of the word "retards" -- and her criticism of Rahm Emanuel for using the same word -- Sarah Palin also repeatedly called for an end to "name-calling." Palin said that "name-calling, using language that is insensitive, by anyone, male, female, Republican, Democrat, is unnecessary. It's inappropriate." She added: "Let's all just grow up."
However, Palin obviously would make another exception for Limbaugh. After all, name-calling and use of insensitive language are Limbaugh's favorite tricks.
Consider these recent examples, just since the new year:
Uh-oh, turns out Greg Pollowitz, the media blogger at National Review Online who criticizes the 'liberal' news media for a living, does not appreciate the fact that I've been highlighting his reckless and erroneous claim from last week that the Secret Service was involved in a "hit-and-run" when one of its agents allegedly hit a conservative blogger as he crossed a street in Washington, D.C..
In truth, the Secret Service was not involved in the incident, and there was no hit-and-run. But other than that, Pollowitz's blog post was dead-on.
I highlighted his blunder as a way to show that "conservative journalists" don't really play by the same rules as actual journalists. They rarely take responsibility for their factual errors, and often gravitate toward anti-government conspiracy theories. And yes, Pollowitz has helped proven my case.
Because here was Pollowitz's Monday response [emphasis added]:
Memo to Eric Boehlert: There will be no correction as there is nothing to correct. Rather than continuing your ridiculous commentary on my blogging about Jim Treacher's car accident, simply scroll down to see everything I've written on the matter.
Honestly. George Soros needs to ask for his money back if this is considered a top issue for Media Matters to cover.
Let me re-print what Pollowitz, without independently confirming a single fact or citing any news source, first wrote about the incident [emphasis added]:
Jim Treacher, a very funny blogger for Tucker Carlson's new Daily Caller website, was involved in a hit-and-run car accident yesterday -- involving the Secret Service.
Pollowitz now claims there is nothing to correct even though (I'll type this part slowly for him) the Secret Service was not involved in the accident and there was no "hit-and-run." But hey, at least Pollowitz got the name of Treacher's employer correct. (BTW, not even the Daily Caller claims that the Secret Service was involved in a Treacher "hit-and-run.")
Of course, Pollowitz's continued refusal to correct his plainly erroneous post only highlights my original point about "conservative journalism," and specifically the state of today's National Review. So for that, I thank him, although I doubt that members of the Secret Service, who are charged with protecting the President of the United States and who Pollowitz casually slandered when it fit his partisan interest, feel the same way.
From RedState.com contributing editor and American Spectator contributor Caleb Howe's Twitter:
Gee, nothing loaded in this one, right?
Obama's health care summit: Just for show?
Honestly, can GOP talking points appear more transparently in the form of an AP headline?
Keep in mind there is no reporting within the article to substantiate the sneering premise; that the White House has invited Republicans to a health care summit simply for theatrics, and that the White House has absolutely no intention of trying to accomplish anything.
Make no mistake, that is the GOP spin about the summit, but should the AP really be in the business of treating spin as fact?
Meanwhile, get a load of the this piece of priceless AP analysis [emphasis added]:
Still, there are a couple of issues on which Obama could try to nudge both sides.
He could officially bury the government insurance plan sought by liberals. A major obstacle for Republicans, the public option never had the votes to pass in the Senate. Yet Obama has hesitated to declare it dead.
The president could also follow through with curbs on medical malpractice litigation. Although he agrees with Republicans that fear of lawsuits leads doctors to practice defensive medicine and drives up costs, Obama has not insisted that limits on litigation be in the bill.
Any step toward limits — fiercely opposed by the nation's trial lawyers — is certain to draw solid Democratic resistance in a midtern election year. It's unclear how much such a gesture by Obama would help at this point.
Is this a joke? The AP sets out to explain ways that Obama could nudge "both sides" towards a health compromise. But then the AP only mentions initiatives that Republicans favor.
Or maybe that's the Beltway's media's new definition of bipartisanship -- doing whatever Republcians want.
UPDATED: Behold the Obama bipartisan trap. For a year, the Beltway press has been blaming Democrats (and Dems only) for the fact that Republicans oppose virtually every White House initiative. Now, when Obama overtly reaches out to the other side for a bipartisan summit, the AP suggests it's "just for show."