Monday, July 31, 2006

Commercial Appeal - The Bully Pulpit of Bigotry

Pesky Fly beat me to the punch on this one and put up a remarkable post. As far as I’m concerned, the word “Fucktard” is now the sole property of the bloggers at The Flypaper Theory. I’ve edited it out of the few posts where I’ve used it, replacing it with “asshead”. I’m content with that. Anyway, check out the preeminent, primo Pesky and then join me back here, because as you might have guessed, I’ve got a thing or two to say about this too.

Just before I left for work this morning, a good friend hit the Freedonian mailbag and gave me a head’s up about an article in the CA. It’s long been my second favorite local publication; I like actual reporters, and you can’t beat the Memphis Flyer for reporting. The Commercial Appeal has devolved into a stenography pool and Wendi Thomas.

But never did I expect them to become a dictation forum for panderers to the lowest denominator.

From this morning’s cover story:

Over the last weeks, several African-American groups and candidates have roundly criticized Cohen for joking that his voting record makes him seem like a "black woman" and for his statement that he would ask to join the Congressional Black Caucus if elected.
"He thinks he's going to go in there and trick the CBC," said Julian Bolton, who has questioned if, as a Jew, Cohen can best represent a largely Christian district. "He thinks they'd be honored to have him. The only reason he wants to join is that he wants to get money for Israel."

Let’s flip the roles here for a moment. Imagine, for a moment, that Steve Cohen has said “Don’t elect Julian Bolton. He only wants to send money to Africa.”

There’s no way the Commercial Appeal would have run that without running some quote afterwards from a leader in the black community talking about how absolutely retarded that statement was. Nor should they. It would be absurd on its face. Julian Bolton is almost certainly of African descent, but he has no deep connection to Africa. He’s an American, a Tennessean, and a Memphian. Steve Cohen is Jewish, but he’s not Israeli. He’s an American, a Tennessean, and a Memphian.

Bolton went from pathetic to Pat Buchanan today, and the Commercial Appeal gave him a bully pulpit.

Of course, Julian Bolton was not the only candidate in this race to get in some free shots without getting called out on it.

Also from this morning’s cover story:

"I deserve an apology from Steve for calling me anti-Semitic," Stanton said. "Steve wants to set up the Christian vs. Jew, Black vs. White dynamic. It's desperate."

Okay, anyone that has described Ed Stanton as anything but a moron deserves to be lambasted for an appalling lack of integrity.

Helloooooo? Memphians were not hallucinating those push poll calls from your staff, you assclown. And I dare you to call them liars.

But the Commercial Appeal let that go unchallenged. You would think that they have all these people that they call “reporters” on staff, and someone could look into it and say “Stanton’s lying”. Instead, they let it go. Apparently, you’re allowed to bash Jews in the Commercial Appeal. Something that Jewish business owners should think about when it comes to spending advertising dollars.

The Cohen campaign has not been picking fights, as this ridiculous smear piece made it sound. The Cohen campaign has been on the receiving end of racial smears that no one would tolerate if it was someone of any other race. And you know what? They haven’t launched any kind of counteroffensive. They not only haven’t been picking fights, but they’ve not allowed themselves to be sucked into this sheer stupidity.

Part of me wants to believe that the article was written in an attempt to show what assheads these two truly are. But the fact is, it doesn’t read that way.

It is an absolute disgrace that Memphis politics have come down to this. But it’s an even bigger disgrace that the Commercial Appeal has allowed itself to become the mouthpiece of intolerance.

12 comments:

Sarge said...

I had the same thought about Bolton's comment re: Africa. The whole article made my blood boil. The bad part is this article was published so close to election day - leaving Cohen little time to respond. That, and it will be fresh on the minds of voters...

Wintermute said...

I'm told this Halimah woman is a (black) Muslim, assigned to cover a white Jew. Maybe this is a sign of thinning staff on the CA; but it could be seen as a loaded assignment, and it sure makes me miss Terry Keeter's lifetime of experience covering the Memphis political scene.

But don't forget Wendi's magnificent column about Steve not long ago.

Bloggy said...

Hi. I’ve been a long time reader of your blog and several other local progressive blogs. Last week I saw an ad for the Memphis Flyer's Best of Memphis and this week I saw the WTL's 9th District poll. The two things gave me an idea. The local progressive bloggers work hard, and it would be nice for them to get recognized for their work. So I decided to invent the "Bloggy" award to give to them. Check http://bloggyawards.blogspot.com/ for some proposed categories and nominees. If you don’t think this is a stupid idea, I’d appreciate it if you posted it on your blog and stopped by and suggested some good nominees. After a week or so, if I have any response I will post the nominees on a poll.

Anonymous said...

NINTH DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL SEAT FOR SALE?

NIKKI TINKER BIDS $500,000


Nikki Tinker, the Ninth District outsider has joined forces with the left wing lobbyist group EMILY’s list in an attempt to capture the coveted Ninth District Congressional seat. Praised by some for her fundraising prowess, a closer look at Tinker’s money reveals just how shallow her roots are in Memphis. Recently it was the Commercial Appeal, whose editorial department assigned Memphis transplant Halimah Abdullah, Tinker’s longtime friend and fellow member of Tinker’s University of Alabama sorority chapter, that grossly distorted the reporting on the source of Tinker’s campaign donations. Despite Abdullah’s claims that retired ladies from right here in Memphis are overflowing Tinker’s coffers, records clearly show that over 70% of Tinkers’ funds come from donors outside the Ninth District. Moreover, out of all total donations, less than 2% of Tinker’s funds come from retired individuals and the majority of Tinker donations come from lawyers and lobbyist. Of those donors designating themselves “retirees” only one donor resides in the Ninth District. The lion’s share of retired donors are women who gave to Tinker after being solicited by the pro-abortion lobby EMILY’s list, who has been raising money on-line for Tinker for many months.

These numbers are not all that surprising since Tinker is a recent Memphis transplant, having only lived in the District for three years. Given the fact that Tinker’s registered her vehicle and bought a home in the District only weeks before announcing her run for Congress, it’s not surprising Tinker had to turn to lobbyists and out of State donors to raise the money necessary to compete. Due to her lack of community roots, it was necessary for Alabama native Tinker to raise considerably more money than other candidates in the race. For this she turned to the radical pro-abortion rights lobby, EMILY’s list. In doing so, Tinker insured she would be provided their prolific fundraising machine, but in return had to promise to support controversial initiatives such as partial birth abortion. In essence, Emily’s list requires candidates to oppose “any and all limitations on abortion” and support full federal taxation for abortions. After taking the pro-abortion pledge, Emily’s list then helps candidates raise money from donors all over the country who support their pro-abortion agenda. In fact, EMILY’s List requires such hard-line support for abortion that it has withdrawn its support from women who vote against even the most extreme abortion positions. This has required Tinker to walk a fine line between her “family values” message and her deal with EMILY’s list to support all of their pro-abortion legislation.

Despite the double speak, Tinker pal, Halimah Abdullah, further contends that Nikki is making good use of her Emily’s list PAC money to put her message on the airwaves and t.v. The Alabama duo maintain that the pro-abortion group is still raising funds for Tinker - to the point other candidates can’t keep up. However, again media records for some of the other Ninth District candidates reveal that they are close if not out spending Tinker’s media time.

With voter fatigue over recent scandals involving elected officials, it remains to be seen whether the Ninth District will fill this seat with an out-of-towner who has her big time lobbyist friends buy her a seat at the Congressional table - or whether they turn to home grown leadership that knows the people, respects the history and has the heart of this community in mind.

Like the old saying goes, he who pays the piper, names the tune.

Freedonian said...

Sarge,

leaving Cohen little time to respond.

Cohen is most likely not going to respond anyway. This is the great thing--- By resorting to this race-baiting BS, Bolton, Stanton, and Redwing insult the voters. Not only are they banking on Memphians' willingness to buy into bigoted rhetoric, but they think the voters won't notice that they stand for nothing. Cohen stands for something and has a good record--- He's banking on Memphians making a smart decision tomorrow.

Freedonian said...

Wintermute,

I think the CA is acutely aware of that. My reference to her by name was cut out of the letter to the editor from me that they ran today.

Freedonian said...

Bloggy,

I checked your site, and I'm grateful for the number of times we're on there. I'll be posting about that soon.

Thank you.

Freedonian said...

Given the fact that Tinker’s registered her vehicle and bought a home in the District only weeks before announcing her run for Congress, it’s not surprising Tinker had to turn to lobbyists and out of State donors to raise the money necessary to compete. Due to her lack of community roots, it was necessary for Alabama native Tinker to raise considerably more money than other candidates in the race.

She had to hit up the people she knew, didn't she? ;)

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

"I'm told this Halimah woman is a (black) Muslim, assigned to cover a white Jew. Maybe this is a sign of thinning staff on the CA; but it could be seen as a loaded assignment, and it sure makes me miss Terry Keeter's lifetime of experience covering the Memphis political scene.
-wintermute

Okay, Here's my thing. First of all, if you're pissed off about the racist statements of the candidates, how about being a little less racist yourself? The assumption that someone can't do their job because of their race, religion or gender (like a black Muslim woman writing about a white Jewish man)is no better than Bolton's moronic statement. It's the defintion of racist.

Secondly, you guys have missed the point. No, the CA reporter can't say "You're lying" to Stanton or "You're racist" to Bolton. It's not their job to draw our conclusions for us. It's their job to tell us what happened. Would you rather the candidates said this shit and you DIDN'T know about it?
THE FREEDONIAN apparently senses the truth ("Part of me wants to believe that the article was written in an attempt to show what assclowns these two truly are") but allowed itself to get swept onto the Flyer's bandwagon - whose crack reporting, by the way, couldn't say for sure if Abdullah was male or female at the start of the blog.

The CA article gives the people of Memphis more credit than you seem to. We don't need a respected Black leader to point out "By the way, that statement was fucked up". Abdullah trusted that the readers could figure that out for themselves. I like the Flyer, but they're barking up the wrong tree on this one. For whatever reason, they've largely let the candidates off the hook for their statements and have instead chosen to shoot the messenger.

Freedonian said...

No, the CA reporter can't say "You're lying" to Stanton or "You're racist" to Bolton.

No one is asking for either of those things. But if they're going to give Stanton a platform to deny the push poll, the least they could do (Since they do have a team of reporters who presumably have the capability to do such things) is to find a few people that got the calls in that push poll. It's called "presenting both sides of the story". The article made it sound like Cohen was running out and picking fights with these people, when realistically, all he did was become the subject of verbal attacks because he was the frontrunner.

"We don't need a respected Black leader to point out "By the way, that statement was fucked up". Abdullah trusted that the readers could figure that out for themselves."

That's hardly the point. If it had been a white candidate saying that about a black candidate, I wouldn't have needed anyone to tell me it was fucked up. But the fact is, it would have been there anyway. Most publications, if the subject of an interview says something blatantly racist, will provide a counterweight to the other side. Think about the Mel Gibson coverage. Has there been a story about him that didn't have someone else pointing out that the statements were fucked up? The journalists can't say it themselves since it's their job to keep themselves out of the story--- So they find someone else to say it for them.

I like the Flyer, but they're barking up the wrong tree on this one. For whatever reason, they've largely let the candidates off the hook for their statements and have instead chosen to shoot the messenger.

Okay, let's assume for the sake of conversation that the purpose of including the Bolton statement was to demonstrate how grossly unfit he is to hold office.

Then what was the purpose of alllowing Bolton to tee off on Steve Cohen's head over the push poll? Cohen took the high road in that, chalked it up to Stanton's inexperience as a candidate, and said "Let's move on". The CA not only let Stanton say that Cohen owed HIM an apology, but gave him a platform to deny the push poll without ever checking into it.

Know who the only candidate was that came off smelling like a rose in that article? Nikki Tinker. Abdullah gave her a platform to deny knowing anything about the Emily's List mailer (Which I can only compare to "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment" from "Casablanca"). She put in a quote from Cohen disagreeing with it, but she had already made him sound argumentative in the opening of the article.

Can an African-American Muslim woman fairly cover a white Jewish-American man? Absolutely. But for whatever reason, Halimah Abdullah did not.

And for the record, the only reason I knew Halimah (A fairly uncommon name around these parts) was a woman was because I had already been hearing the sorority sister story.

Anonymous said...

"I am a Democrat. Unless or until there is reason to do otherwise, I will be supporting the Democrat nominee which is Sen. Cohen."

Doesn't that sound a little like - I'm supporting Cohen, unless someone wants to buy me off?

Freedonian said...

Gee... One almost has to wonder why you posted a reaction to a current message on an older post... Unless you wanted it uncountered.

Lucky for you, I happen to have all responses sent to an email account with a link to their location.

There are all kinds of reasons a Democrat might not support a Democratic candidate that have absolutely nothing to do with payoffs.

For example: The Democrats of Shelby County chose to make someone with a criminal record their nominee for sheriff. Me, I thought that was a piss poor idea. I did not support the Democratic candidate. I didn't support anyone else either, but I would sooner have cut off my pinky toe with a cheese grater than back Reginald French.

I live in County Commission District 2. The Democratic nominee was someone who had already made statements to the effect that she was running for the job because it was a pay raise from her job as a state rep. Her Republican opponent was someone that I trusted to be more progressive than the Democratic candidate and a better leader as well. So I am proud to have cast a vote for the Republican nominee in that race.

No money ever changed hands.

Steve Cohen has no such problems. His record is precisely what one should look for in a Democratic candidate.

So I reject that silliness on its face.