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Author Topic: Best & Worst of Journalism?
drewmie
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To me, good journalism takes serious effort to find. Those who truly value it are not interested in hearing their own ideology, nor hearing antagonistic rants and uninformed editorializing and pontificating. They truly want to learn more about their world and the people in it. They assume implicitly that they don't know everything, even that they know very little of it. And they assume that their opinion will change on a regular basis as they get more information.

Here's my personal list of favorite real, objective, intelligent TV and radio journalism:

- The Newshour with Jim Lehrer
- Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria
- Morning Edition and All Things Considered on NPR (National Public Radio)
- Frontline
- Fox News Watch
- 60 Minutes (though unfortunately, they're increasingly doing stupid "human interest" pieces, and celebrity biography interviews).

And here's my list of pontificating ideological TV rants by hacks who won't actually inform you. But they are great for people more interested in ideological masturbation. (Note: I only include those who pretend they are real news, in no particular order):
- O'Reilly Factor (and Bill O'Reilly's radio show)
- Hannity & Colmes (and Sean Hannity's radio show)
- Heartland with John Kasich (is he always peaved?)
- Scarborough Country (Joe Scarborough)
- Nancy Grace (as frightening a crusading idiot as I've ever seen)
- Glenn Beck
- Rivera Live (who keeps hiring this guy?)
- Air America (thank goodness they're bankrupt)

Now don't misunderstand me. Intelligent people who value real information can disagree on ideal sources. But some sources are just so pathetic that they don't have anything to do with real journalism. They parasitically comb through real journalists' stories and offer nothing more than criticism, rage, and self-righteousness.

Good journalism is NOT subjective. I am so tired of the popular trend of sharing viewer opinions and meaningless unscientific polls. I DON'T CARE what the average shmoe thinks. I want good information. I want elitist journalists who refuse to report on fluff, and insist on digging deep into the important stories, even when it will take much longer and cost much more than another piece on Anna Nicole or American Idol.

What are your best and worst journalism lists?

P.S.- I intentionally left off print media, because I personally find it far too limiting, even though there are good and bad examples there too.

[ October 17, 2006, 09:55 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Gaoics79
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Lou Dobbs pisses me off. Can he string together a single sentence without mentioning illegal immigration?
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LoverOfJoy
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One that isn't exactly "good journalism" but that I enjoy watching nonetheless is Hardball with Chris Matthews.

He's not always objective and there's some fluff mixed in sometimes but he can occasionally get something close to candid out of important people. As close as you can get to someone who agrees to go on national television knowing there will likely be a counterpoint interviewee to nearly anything you say. Even when it does turn to more fluff it can be entertaining (a la Zell Miller's duel). My only complaint would be his love-fest he seemed to have with John McCain and Jesse Ventura around election times.

I haven't watched it in a while so it may not still be as good as it once was. It was an example to me, however, of how a faux-journalistic show can still have some quality.

I agree with you on the hacks you listed although there's a couple I'm not very familiar with.

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Redskullvw
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Worst editorial journalism I have ever read, including Soviet Pravda and Nazi Germany's various Volkish broadsheets, Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Years ago she was the editor of the Constitution, starting out as the junior editor. When the Journal ceased publication and was folded into the Constitution she shomehow became head editor.

Here logic, bias, agenda, and frankly shear rascism is nothing short of toxic. I really mean that too, and it is apparently a growing oppinion with the rest of Atlanta because their circulation is growing through the floor.

About once a month I still get the "Subscribe to the AJC" phone call. When I say that I don't read the AJC anymore because of Cynthia Tucker, they used to try and extoll the paper's other virtues. Recently they now say "I understand" and hang up.

Still watch 60 Minutes, BBC, Fox and CNN. Avoid the NYT and Washington Post simply because their shared AP sourcing can be gotten anywhere, and if I go elsewhere to read A sourced articles, I don't have to put up with NYT and Washington Post institutional bias.

Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly both have huge noise to signal ratios, but they both pretty much cater to the Mid West audiences. I think it would be a hoot to have both on the same show.

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Matteo522
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I'll agree with all the above hacks except Bill O'Reilly for two reasons:

First, he does state fairly often (maybe once a week?) that his show is not a news show but an opinion / news analysis show. He doesn't objectively present the news because that's not what his show is about -- it's about presenting opposing (usually) opinions and duking it out. Of course Bill's opinion is going to be the one that gets out most -- he's the one that's on every segment and he's also not exactly shy. I don't always agree with his opinion (often I do, which makes stomaching the show much easier), but I do appreciate how he'll have multiple sides of the argument present. Can you find an opinion column or blog where both sides of a hot topic can (fairly) equally present their ideas on the same page?

Second, I do like his crusade against those who'd harm kids. While I'm staunchly opposed to injecting "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" into any political argument, he is very aggressive against sexual predators, judges/prosecutors giving lean sentences to them, and politicians who support them. I'm not really much of a childrens-advocate, but I think it fits Bill well and it's a good cause to take up.

If you can get past his arrogance, the irony of the "no spin zone", his shouting, and the often hilarious "I'll give you the last word, but I'm going to just discount what you say with a brief statement as soon as you're done", it's really not a bad show. Either way, though, I don't believe it should be on either list because it's not a news or journalism show but an opinion show. For those who want to critically think and don't just take Bill's word as gospel, it's a fairly good source for getting digest versions of opposing opinions.

Matteo

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Kent
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Matteo, I hope you stick around. I like your style of posting.
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Jesse
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Well, Matteo, I'll admit that used to watch him occasionaly, and that his show didn't use to be nearly as bad as it is now.

He's gotten a lot more arrogant, he flies off the handle more frequently and more extremely, and to claim that he's really providing the "other sides" opinion by having himself and a guest who agrees with him face off against someone who, more often than not, has little television experience, is a bit...erm...wierd.

If you subtracted Fox News Watch, and added the BBC World News and Meet The Press, my list pretty much matches drewmies.

Fareed Rocks by the way. The guy doesn't get nearly the attention he deserves.

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cperry
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What alarms me most are shows that claim to be news shows but are no longer news but opinion, and I include in that list most of the prime time newscasts. The latest radio advert for one of the former big 3, with Bryan somebody -- see how much I watch them anymore -- is so frightening: all about "this should make anyone disgusted and closer to their religious feelings," etc., followed by, "News with Bryan Lastname."

O'Reilly doesn't claim to be giving us news. Neither do Hannity and Colmes (even tho I can't bear to watch them). It's news that's no longer news that terrifies me, because I know that much of the audience comes looking for news and doesn't pay enough attention to recognize they ain't getting it.

I used to teach journalism and newspaper to high school students. My favorite part was getting them to be able to see the editorializing presented as news. What a high -- to see kids so aware of this kind of subjectivity.

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KnightEnder
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Bill O'Reilly (Politics)
Dan Patrick (Sports)
Jim Rome (Sports)
John Stewart (Politics, Left) [Wink]
Steven Colbert (Politics, Right) [Wink]

KE

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Colin JM0397
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Not exactly news, but I always enjoy Charlie Rose's interviews when I actually get around to watching one - which isn't very often.

While I do watch a bit of TV on occasion, I never watch news. I manage to catch a few minutes of the Daily show a few times a month - good stuff.

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Matteo522
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Kent, thanks. [Smile] I like this forum -- I heard about it on Slashdot a few weeks ago (someone posted that this is where you can find civil debates from multiple sides) and lurked here for a bit. I like that there's enough people to keep conversation moving but not so many that everybody is anonymous.
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cperry
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Do you really think Steven Colbert is right? I have always thought he was parodying the right, although he does tend to stick it to right and left on his pseudo-interviews, which are hilarious.
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KnightEnder
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Matteo,

I totally agree. I'm a liberal and I Tivo Bill O'Reilly every day. (I listen to Rush for five minutes then put my fist throught the windshield.)

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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"If you can get past his arrogance, the irony of the "no spin zone", his shouting, and the often hilarious "I'll give you the last word, but I'm going to just discount what you say with a brief statement as soon as you're done"

for me that's a lot to get past... too much, even.

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drewmie
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Matteo, I can understand what you mean. I think I feel that way about "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." His recent criticism of Bush and Congress in defense of the Constitution are somewhat like Lou Dobbs with immigration and O'Reilly with kids. Olbermann doesn't have many crusades, O'Reilly seems to always have one but change his regularly, and Dobbs is a one-trick crusader who seems to think the world revolves around one issue.

Personally, I think Dobbs is ignorant and tiring, O'Reilly is arrogant and partisan, and Olbermann is entertaining with a dash of indignation. So naturally, I like Olbermann. I agree with his outrage at the death of Habeus Corpus, and I agreed with his previous outrage against the crappy architecture chosen for the new World Trade Center. So I've watched him for him for entertainment, and agree with the few causes he's pushed. Like many here have said, they aren't journalists in any traditional sense.

But if they aren't journalists, what are they? By what name should we call them? And what name do they call themselves? CNN, Headline News, MSNBC, and Fox News are all NEWS CHANNELS. Isn't it reasonable to expect them to be dedicated to some form of real journalism? Should we really judge them by some different standard because the hosts don't claim to be newspeople, even though they are reporting news stories, talking about the news, and criticizing journalists?

Some of you seem to believe that they should be judged using standards different from journalism. But I think if we're honest, we'd admit that THEY judge themselves and others by their "journalistic" standards!

For example, Jon Stewart not only uses different standards for judging The Daily Show, he's explicitly talks about how his show is NOT about journalism, but rather news-like comedy and news satire. He makes no claim to be any different than E!'s "The Soup" which plays clips and makes fun of talk shows and reality shows. And yet people like Joe Scarborough and Bill O'Reilly even criticize The Daily Show for its journalistic quality! Are we really expected to judge by different standards than THEY expect of themselves and other shows? Even shows that are farther from journalism than theirs?

In short, I choose not to give these shows a pass when it comes to journalism, including Countdown which I enjoy. They should either make the same kind of disclaimers made by Jon Stewart and encourage people to get "real" news from good journalistic sources, OR they should start reporting as real journalists report.

I'm sick of the opinions and rants. I want editorializing that is about looking at issues rationally and without demonizing anyone. When is the last time ANY of these hacks argued against the opposition's BEST argument? It doesn't happen, because they and their viewers prefer Straw Men to make them feel better about themselves. Such is for the weak-minded.

I'm sick of so-called "fair and balanced." I want important, relevant, factual, contextual, and objective. Anything less is for ideologues who don't like thinking of issues with any level of complexity, preferring black/white, liberal/conservative, and good/evil points of view.

I'm sick of bad, sound-bite excuses for news. I want more Newshour, Frontline, and BBC World News. I want less of all the rest, including those like Keith Olbermann who I agree with and find entertaining. Even if he's absolutely right, even if he is far better than most, he does a disservice to journalism by giving power to the extreme voices and less to the reasonable people who actually believe in treating others "fairly," and actually want a "balanced," prioritized, and full perspective... even if that means less certainty.

In journalism, quality is never the same as simplicity, loyalty, or popularity. And as long as they keep judging themselves by journalistic standards (only when it suites them), we should do the same (but consistently). We should withdraw our support, and rip on them every chance we get, just like Jon Stewart did to Crossfire, regardless of the specific ideology, issue, or perspective they present.

[ October 19, 2006, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Matteo522
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To answer your first question, I'd call them News Analysts. I expect a reporter to be the person who simply asks the questions, records the events, and writes them up. I want them to be perfectly objective. They are the viewport to the event and nothing more. The analysts are then the ones who dissect what it MEANS (hopefully with the assistance of expert guests). Because any form of analysis is always open to interpretation, that would naturally lead to those of different opinions and ideologies viewing it in different ways.

Personally, that's what I'm looking for in the evening when I want to catch some "news". I've already caught all the AP newsfeeds and Google headlines all day at work. I've seen that Dow hit X and that someone said Y and a person Z was indicted. Now I want to hear what others with more experience in the area (and hopefully opposing views) are saying about it. I get bored when the radio has their news clips on the 15s because I've already heard the generic, objective news throughout the day (I'm fortunate enough to be able to catch headlines while compiling). Now I want to talk and listen ABOUT it.

Sure, many people are getting fed their opinion at that time, but that's because they're using it wrong. You can't really fault the analysts for the stupid people who won't think for themselves, though.

As for Jon Stewart, I put him in a different light because, at least from what I've heard from him, he does take his show seriously (in a comedic way). He believes he's reaching young people and giving them "at least some news" that they normally wouldn't be getting otherwise. The problem is that these are exactly the most influential people and exactly the people who can't see through Stewart's facade. Plus, it's hard to call it nothing but a fluff show when he has very serious guests on, such as senators and generals and others. And during the news portion of it in the beginning, he's doing nothing more than reporting the news... and making a funny face after some senator says something stupid (and out of context, usually).

He's not saying, "Today X person said Y. Sitting on my right is a pissed-off angry redneck. Sitting on my left is an aging hippy liberal douche. Have fun.*" There's a difference in format that I think is very significant.

But that may just be my bias as I see how effective he is at turning my peers into mindless Bush-haters. [Razz]

Matteo

*South Park reference for those who didn't get it. [Smile]

[ October 20, 2006, 01:08 AM: Message edited by: Matteo522 ]

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LetterRip
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Matteo522,

quote:
someone posted that this is where you can find civil debates from multiple side
Glad someone reads my posts at slashdot [Smile]

I sort of have an idealized version of ornery in my mind whenever I mention it elsewhere, but it is still pretty good.

LetterRip

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drewmie
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quote:
Matteo522 wrote: As for Jon Stewart, I put him in a different light because, at least from what I've heard from him, he does take his show seriously (in a comedic way). He believes he's reaching young people and giving them "at least some news" that they normally wouldn't be getting otherwise.
Given what the talking heads (e.g. O'Reilly, Scarborough) say about The Daily Show, I can understand why you would have that impression. There's only one problem: it isn't remotely true. Jon Stewart has adamantly and consistently stated that his show is a comedy show, not a news show, and that people who don't already know the news won't get the jokes. In fact, he gets annoyed when he gets cheers instead of laughs. He wants to do comedy.
quote:
Matteo522 wrote: The problem is that these are exactly the most influential people and exactly the people who can't see through Stewart's facade.... But that may just be my bias as I see how effective he is at turning my peers into mindless Bush-haters.
Again, this is what O'Reilly and others would like you to believe. But again, it just isn't true. O'Reilly called Daily Show viewers "stoned slackers," and derided them for being lazy-minded, Bush-hating "stoned slackers." In response, Comedy Central did some research:
quote:
Viewers of Jon Stewart’s show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch "The O’Reilly Factor," according to Nielsen Media Research.

O’Reilly’s teasing came when Stewart appeared on his show [September 2004].

"You know what’s really frightening?" O’Reilly said. "You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true. You’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote."

Comedy Central executives realized, and O’Reilly acknowledged, that he was poking fun. But they said they didn’t want a misconception to persist.

"If the head of General Motors was watching O’Reilly’s show, that could be very important to us," said Doug Herzog, Comedy Central president.

"If you listen to O’Reilly, you get the sense that it was crazy longhairs behind the show," he said. "And it’s not. It’s great, smart television that attracts a well-compensated audience, most of whom are voting age."

When Jon Stewart abandons comedy for a pulpit (like Bill Maher eventually did on the initially helarious Politically Incorrect), I'll be very disappointed. And in my opinion, if someone thinks Jon Stewart's guests and questions seem more like news commentary than comedy, it means their standards for news commentary and analysis have sunk pathetically low.

I like news analysis too, and even debate. But I want it without the partisan hacks and idiots. I want objective analysts who don't have a stake in the perception. Otherwise, you're merely getting two conflicting spins on the story, rather than an actual analysis of it. As Jon Stewart said on Crossfire:
quote:
See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns. You're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan hacks.

If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to. If that's your goal, I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for "Seinfeld." That's a very good show. It's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit -- the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellas.

I would love to see a debate show. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition. But you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate,
which would be great. It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?

You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. I watch your show every day. And it kills me. It's so painful to watch, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to a actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

I think they believe President Bush would do a better job. And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means.

As long as The Daily Show continues to be dedicated to news comedy, it will continue for a long time. Not because of anybody's politics, but because of the media. In the end, The Daily Show works because they rip on the absurdity of our pathetic excuses for news, the political spin doctors, and the public who are more interested in ideological masturbation and theater than anything resembling journalistic integrity.

[ October 20, 2006, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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drewmie
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I found a very interesting report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, from June 2004 called
News Audiences Increasingly Politicized
Online News Audience Larger, More Diverse


Here's an excerpt from section IV. Attitudes Toward the News:
quote:
There are a handful of news outlets that attract a disproportionate share of the in-depth audience. Fully 63% of regular NewsHour viewers say they want the news provided with in-depth analysis from experts, far above both the national average and the audiences for all other television news programs. The Internet, particularly the websites of major national newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, also draws significant interest from those who desire in-depth coverage.
After skimming through this article, I must admit that I think I should be reading more of the newspaper websites, and less of the television news websites (along with watching less television news channels). So I may need to repent for my "P.S." in the first post. As I mentioned earlier, I think there are a lot of ways I can change my news habits to get much better journalism. Articles like this are very helpful to me when deciding what changes I might make.

And while some of the article's data confirmed by assumptions and perspective, some contradicted them, or at least made me question them. (I'll be more specific when I get more time.) And I REALLY like information that can do that. Do any of you see things in the article that do that for you?

P.S.- I found it interesting that O'Reilly Factor attracts an audience that really wants in-depth news, but also wants the news to share their perspective. That seems contradictory to me, but maybe I need to read the article more carefully. Can someone here explain the contradiction?

[ October 20, 2006, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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KnightEnder
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quote:
Viewers of Jon Stewart’s show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch "The O’Reilly Factor," according to Nielsen Media Research.

Wow.

As opposed to those illiterate Bible thumping rednecks that watch O'Reilly.

But seriously I love his stance on protecting children [Smile] [Smile] [Smile] [Cool] and his honesty about being tilted to the right. He said he is so: "In order to balance out the mainstream Liberal media". Which IMO has some merit. The point is he is honest about his pov and if you can get past the pomposity he is entertaining and informative.

If nothing else I THINK that everybody should try to find someone on the OTHER side that they can bear to watch to know what the other side is saying. Thus hopefully bring us closer together, or combat that which we cannot find common ground on.

Say what you will; O'Reily is not just spewing evil like Rush and Hannity.

I watch (and Tivo) both Stewart and O'Reilly so there has to be something wrong with me. Either I'm well rounded or real messed up. [Smile]

KE

[ October 20, 2006, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Matteo522
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Honestly, the news I read online is all from Google News. I let them decide which is the most popular article for a given story. If it's something I'm particularly interested in or something prone to political spin, I'll then click the "Show All Related" and pick a few opposing sources. I'll regularly read articles from Xinhua, Al Jazeera, etc. just to see what their view of an issue is. At first, I'll admit that I was surprised at just how similar the stories were -- I would've expected much greater spin and much more Anti-American coverage.

As for Jon, I'm mixed on how I feel about him. I know that I've read articles in magazines in the past talking about how he does view his show as being important -- I'm not getting that info from O'Reilly. I know O'Reilly hates Stewart, so I wouldn't trust anything he has to say about himt. Maybe the articles I've read were old or maybe he's changed his stance or maybe I'm just not remembering correctly -- but I could've sworn he views his show as important. Not necessarily legitimate news... and definitely comedy... but still important. Maybe he means important as in it's important to laugh at yourself?

What I really want to see is how he would cover something like if the Democrats take over this election or if we had a Democratic president next. I want to see how much of his poking fun at the current administration is due to his disagreements with them and how much is just because they're the ones on top and that's what you do -- make fun of the ones on top. My bias makes me believe that he's being more cruel to Bush than he was with Clinton... but that doesn't mean it's true.

As for your last PS there, I don't see it as much of a contradiction. You can want in-depth news and still want news to share your perspective. It doesn't mean you get it, but who doesn't want to hear news that you like? The Factor is really smart about bringing on powerful people from opposing sides to debate. You'll get the head of the ACLU vs. the head of the Boy Scouts of America arguing. You'll get a high-ranking Democratic strategist vs. a high-ranking Republican strategist. And that way, no matter which side of the issue you fall on.. you'll hear what you want to hear. Hopefully you'll also hear the other side... but you'll definitely hear the points you want to hear.

Matteo

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KnightEnder
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In early October 2006, during a sex scandal involving Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley, The O'Reilly Factor incorrectly labeled Foley as a Democrat in on-screen captions beneath video clips of Foley.[
See if we Dems didn't watch the Reps at Fox could get away with things like the above.

And I wish Bill would define exactly what he means by "secular progressives". He uses it to mean a variety of different things. Basically anything a lefty does that he thinks is bad for the nation. What he does say is they all hate America. So I must not be one.

Wikipedia has no definition for "secular progressive" other than a phrase used by Fox News pundits and conservatives.

KE

[ October 20, 2006, 12:33 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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This kind of behavior is becoming an epidemic and the reasons are clear to me. We have taken God and morality out of the public discourse. Our children are told there is no such thing as God or good and evil.--Some jerk off blogger.
As if God and good and evil are the same thing, and you can't teach one without the other.

Then he connects it to Secular Progressives.
quote:
Wake up America, the Left wing Secular Progresssives are destroying our country. We have got to get back to our traditional Judeo-Christian values before it is too late.


ALL this hoo-haa was over a kid (maybe they don't know who did it) shooting other kids with a pellet gun.

Yes, kids didn't pull pranks back in the good old 50's. Damn us godless heathens. Wonder how this jerkoff feels about gun control?

KE

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Matteo522
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Well... as for labeling Foley as a Democrat, I'm willing to accept it was simply a typo... call me naive or forgiving if you will. There was no question when the news broke which party he was from. I'd be curious to see what the words were that came out of Bill's mouth while describing the story and how that compares to what was written on the screen. If they didn't match up, clearly someone made a simple mistake. I'm not really willing to bet that there was some kind of conspiratorial plan to fool people into thinking this guy was a Democrat. Occam's Razor anybody?

As for secular progressive, I believe he defines that term in his latest book. I haven't read it, but it's all about the 'Culture War' he's currently crusading. From what I understand from context on his show, a secular progressive is somebody who believes that the country needs to be completely void of all religious (read: Judeo-Christian) symbology. They want to remove In God We Trust. They want to remove One Nation Under God. They want to make sure there are no Christmas Trees in school. No prayer groups. No nativity scenes on public property. No Merry Christmas from store clerks. No debate on evolution.

I think he makes it seem more widespread than it really is, but I don't think it's fair to say it doesn't exist at all. I remember when Christmas Break changed its name to Winter Recess in school. I remember when we received the memo in middle school saying that the Christmas Door Decorating contest was a Holiday Door Decorating contest and we couldn't have any Christmas symbols... only winter symbols like snowflakes and generic signs of joy and peace. I think there's a few wackjobs out there making everyone else look bad, and our wonderfully litigious society has scared those in public positions into compliance.

So that's what he means when he uses the term secular-progressive. Sure, he uses it as a bad word... but only in the same way 'fundamentalist Christian' is a bad word.

Matt

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KnightEnder
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I don't know if he says SP's "hate" America, but he does say we want to "change" America like that is blasphemy. Or should we have kept slavery cause that was the way the founding fathers wanted it? One of the great things about America is our ability to change. Especially when the things we are changing are contrary to the spirit or law of the USA.

KE

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Jesse
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Matteo-

Meaning no offense...

Christmas trees and Door Decorations are pagan rituals adopted by some Christians, by no means all. Most Americans didn't do these things at the time we declared Independence (except a minority of Germans).

It's precisely the Pagan and Secular elements of the modern Christmas celebration that The Artist Formerly Known As Secular Humanists are against. Why would this be a problem for a Christian?

More on topic... [Smile]

Stewart still takes plenty of shots at Democrats, he mostly supports claims about his shows importance by showing how it highlights the failings of Newsish content providers, and he still hasn't quit making Clinton (both the B and the H variety) jokes.

Daily Shows love affair with McCain is mostly the result of McCain honestly having a great sense of humor. He was the first serious politician of major importance to play along with them, he delivers terrific laugh lines, and he boosts their ratings every time they have him on. As an individual, I think Stewart digs him because he truly gets the joke.

If you think Stewart is horribly anti-bush or anti-Republican, I'd highly recommend hitting up your local library for a copy of America the Book : Democracy Inaction. His main targets are media conglomeration, apathetic voters, and what he sees as a lack of real effort by anyone to truly inform the electorate.

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Matteo522
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Eh, I don't think Stewart is horribly anti-Bush. I just think he has that effect on people who don't know any better. [Razz]

As for the SP topic, I only brought up the symbols I brought up because baby Jesus, nativity, the cross, Mary, wise men, and Star of Bethlehem were banned way before I got there.

Matt

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Jesse
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Would you be cool with your kid being the only Christian in a mostly Lakota School, if the teacher had them making tabacco offerings to the Tonkashalas?

Now, personally, I have no problem with a public square being used to put up a nativity scene for a couple weeks, at other than tax payers expense. Common land should not be denied for use in religous expression so long as the owners (town, city, state, county, whatever) are ok with it and it's not discriminatory (no matter what the voters say, no having the nativity and then denying a Chinese New Year celebration on the same turf).

As far as business greetings and decorations, I have no more respect for the nuts trying to get Santa off the window than for the nuts protesting the evil conspiracy to promote the Satanic Ritual of Halloween. I do, however, respect the rights of both to do all the letter writing or boycotting they want.

I do have a problem with classtime being used to create Icons. I pay that teacher, and I don't want my cash being wasted on that. Enjoy some family bonding time doing that stuff at home. There are plenty of other ways to teach the essential life-skills of cutting and pasting [Big Grin]

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Matteo522
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See, classtime is still being wasted on a stupid project... now they're just told they need to waste time on snowflakes and bells and they aren't allowed to have a Christmas tree or Santa. You're right though... it's an utter waste of time regardless.

And I'm completely with you on the whole Halloween thing.

As for the Lakota school... nobody said we *had* to make Christmas trees. There were kids who made menorahs and Stars of David. But they, too, were banned along with the Christmas icons. That's what is meant by secural progressive -- make it seem fair by saying that all religious icons are banned so that everybody is equal and nobody is left out. The only problem with that is that the non-religious are then the only ones truly represented. It's very much like how all religious clothing and jewelry is banned in French schools. No crucifix necklaces. No muslim veils. No yamulkes. You're only allowed to show no religion.

That, to me, is a crime. I want everyone to proudly show their religion or proudly show no religion... so long as it's not breaking any other laws (i.e. the Church of Child pr0n is probably over the line).

Matt

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KnightEnder
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No, we "had" to make Christamas trees, when I was a kid. And we "had" to sing Christmas songs in the Christmas play that we "had" to be in. I don't know what Jew friendly school you went to but it wasn't in Texas.

You are joking, right? You can't show "no" religion.

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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We had to sing and dance Hava Nagilh at my school. THat was cool. Everyone dug it. I think the Jew kids had their own little subsection of our Xmas pageant where they sang The Dreidle Song.

We Xtian kids envied the Jewish kids because they got their presents early (Hannukah begins December 15th).

We had one Injun boy -- Steven House -- who was, I believe, a Menominee Indian. I think they chopped down a cherry tree on Xmas Eve or something? (JUst kidding...)

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Everard
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"We Xtian kids envied the Jewish kids because they got their presents early (Hannukah begins December 15th)."

No, it begins Kislev 25th, which is anywhere from thanksgiving time to the end of december.

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Jesse
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This is what I don't understand...

The vast majority of us are more than willing to comprimise on this stuff. I don't think more than 1-5% of folks have any problem at all with a teacher, sometime before the break, handing out construction paper and paste and saying "Make things that remind you of this season".

If kids decide to make Christmas decorations, hey, good for them.

When my wife worked for Longs Drugs part time while she was in school, their Brentwood and Santa Monica stores had minoras and lots Hannukah stuff set up. Their stores in areas with virtually no Jewish population didn't have that stuff. All the stores had some christams decoration. In Koreatown, they set up displays for the Korean New Year.

This makes sense to me! It's plain good marketing. But instead of focusing on working together as a community, we let the overeactive "Cultural Warriors" on both sides, tiny minorities, define the discussion.

When I was a kid, we were told to make Christmas Trees, told to draw Santas Sleigh. We had to be in the pagent, singing "Joy to the world". We weren't provided with options.

Irving Berlin, by the way, wrote some great secular christmas tunes [Wink]

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LoverOfJoy
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I have no problem with banning teachers from requiring the kids to sing religious songs (although dreidle and santa claus seem pretty innocuous to me).

As for making crafts, options are great. For the kindergartners, though, they need a bit more guidance and so the options tend to be a bit more limited. I'm sure there are teachers that let the kid choose between a snowflake and a christmas tree but the teacher may find that a star of david is too difficult or time consuming to cut (I don't know if it is or not, I am just making up an example). I imagine for many teachers no options are given for simplicity's sake. She has enough time to model how to make one. Maybe it'd be nice to make a star of david the day after the christmas tree craft but it may not be possible to teach the kids both in one day and give them a choice.

I don't care if the teachers are banned from requiring the kids to make christmas trees but it does seem a bit silly. It seems especially silly if the kids are allowed to decorate a door with anything they want...as long as it doesn't have any religious connotations. Would they have been upset if a kid drew a picture of a gravestone with a cross on it for memorial day?

While I think it's a shame that people feel so strongly that they get offended by such things, I really don't care that much if such things get banned from school. It's not like the kids are missing out on some religious education. I probably wouldn't have learned about the historical background behind some jewish holidays as a kid if I grew up today and some jewish kids might not have learned about some christian holidays but it would hardly be a huge loss.

It just makes me sad because it seems increasingly improper for religious people to share things important to them with others and yet we are increasingly taught "cultural awareness" about things important to others. A lack of knowledge and awareness of what others value and believe seems to breed prejudice and intolerance. We are making great strides in combatting bigotry in other areas, but I fear that religious intolerance is on the rise. Not just areligious people against religious people but the reverse as well.

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Matteo522
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quote:
... but it would hardly be a huge loss.
But a lot of people disagree with that and feel that it would be a huge loss because it's a huge part of their family, values, and culture, thus the battle. When someone threatens to bring a school to court and the school caves in, that's seen as a major victory for the anti-religious from the religious side. And in many ways it is -- they were fighting against the religious people who wanted to keep the status quo.

KE:

I grew up in New Jersey. I imagine if people grew up on the Bible belt, they'd see it differently because I imagine Christianity is much more forced down there. But in New Jersey, we had maybe 1/4 population Jewish in my school (we even had all the Jewish holidays off and learned what they were beforehand... is that not common elsewhere?)...

Every single year we sang Jingle Bells and the Dreidle song. Clearly at home I was singing Jingle Bells and not the Dreidle Song. By banning both, my younger siblings are not even being exposed to the Dreidle song anymore. That will breed greater religious hostility as LoJ pointed out above... or at least greater religious ignorance.

If we've been able to mandate absolutely no religious influence, why couldn't we mandate an attempt at having equal opportunity for religions? Seems "more equal" to me than just favoring the alreligious.

Matt

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KnightEnder
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They could have comparative religion classes.

I'm all for education and knowledge. As long as one religion (or any) isn't taught as fact. I mean we learned about the Greek and Norse gods when I was in school. And I've got no problem with my children being taught the basics of other peoples beliefs. Especially ones that are more relevant today than the Egyptian Sun God Rah. (If no more real.)

But what we are talking about is not education. It's indoctrination. Nobody is told to make a Christmas tree and then taught how the early Christians co-opted the Winter Solstice as Jesus's birthday etc. Hell, most Christians don't even know why a magic bunny comes to their house and hides the eggs they colored the night before. Much less what that has to do with Jesus rising from the grave.

And no, in Texas children don't know anymore about Jews than they do Buddhists, Muslims, or Wickas(sp?). Which is to say; nothing. Nothing, except everybody that isn't a Christian is going to Hell.

KE

[ October 21, 2006, 02:38 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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For the record; I love Christmas. I love the lights, the giving, the way it brings out the best in people. I even say "Merry Christmas" to people on the street. (of course I talk to people in the check out line in grocery stores which drives my wife, Stacy, crazy) I just don't think Christmas needs to be given tacit state approval in school or as the only religious holiday celebrated by the government.

And since you're new; I also love a lot of the things Jesus taught. I don't believe he was the son of God, nor that God exists, but I wouldn't ever tell people what they can or can't believe, celebrate, or worship. I will however tell them what they can teach my children.

KE

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Matteo522
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Yeah, I don't want Christmas to have special treatment, either. But I don't want it to be specially removed, either. And removing ALL religion is just as good as ONLY promoting atheism.

That is what the whole culture war is about that O'Reilly is talking about (bringing us back to our first divergent topic).

Matt

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Jesse
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LoJ

If the kids want to make some religious symbol, on their own initiative, great. No problem at all. Let them have at.

Matteo, you ever read anything by David Brin?

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Matteo522
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No, but I found his website, and he looks pretty interesting. I'll have to read through his articles and maybe pick up a book.
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