Just as a follow up to the post below, here's an example of how the "serious" press is treating the manufactured "outrage" over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the sound bites of a couple of his sermons.
This is an excerpt from the Tim Russert show aired yesterday with guests Howard Fineman, editor of Newsweek Magazine, and Mike Allen of the political blog "Politico"
Fineman discusses his new book about the 13 ideas that shaped America and mentions one of them, the explicit desire to separate church and state, and that there be no state religion, etc. This was to get away from the top down power structure where the church and/or royalty ruled absolutely. Fineman noted that our country has always enjoyed a, "wonderful, colorful marketplace of faiths, a free market of faiths" and goes on directly,
FINEMAN: The challenge to politicians is to show their sensitivity to, if not their devotion to, their sensitivity to faith, without seeming to be intolerant of other people's faiths.
That's the line you have to walk. And the problem with somebody like Jeremiah Wright, however much good the Trinity United Church of Christ has done on the south side of Chicago, you play these videos of him and he can sound intolerant, it's not a message of tolerance, and therefore it runs counter to everything Obama is claiming to stand for in the campaign and it's that contrast that's caused problems for Obama and I think will pose problems down the road.
OK, let's take a look. First of all, can anyone tell me where or how anything Wright said from the pulpit, even the out of context sound bites, suggested ANY sort of religious "intolerance"? Can anyone point out for us just where he said or expressed anything which remotely suggests an intolerance of other religions?
So where is Fineman getting this idea from? Who knows? But he's just implanted in millions of voters minds that Rev. Wright preaches religious intolerance. Neat trick, eh?
I'd note that the pastor whose endorsement and support John McCain actively sought and still appreciates HAS made statements repeatedly which express BLATANT intolerance for other faiths, up to and including describing the Catholic church as, The Great Whore".
Yet Fineman and the rest apparently don't have a problem there, and it's not even discussed.
Fineman also gives a nod to reality but then casually brushes it aside, saying that it doesn't matter how much good Wright and his church have done for decades in helping those in prison and the poor and giving people work training and endless good works. That doesn't matter.
What does matter? "..you play those videos of him and he can sound intolerant..."
From sound bites of a few seconds, he can "sound" intolerant, according to Fineman, so that's all that matters. Does Fineman do anything to clarify the situation or suggest that it's dishonest and unfair to use such clips to characterize the guy? Hell no. He simply explains how the tactic is going to be played.
Next Russert asked,
RUSSERT: It is interesting, stories about Wright have been in print for some time, but it was that video, Mike Allen, that captured the attention of the media, but also the public.
He admits that rational stories, stories that didn't hyperventilate and inflate the story nor make the fantastic leap of trying to insinuate that Obama must think exactly the same as Wright, have been in print for quite a while, but it was only the little snippets of a few sermons that finally got the press to go along with the right wing smear campaign. He admits it clearly.
So true! And to some degree we were caught napping on the Wright story because everybody knew about this crazy pastor, people knew about the problems, every time Wright would give a speech somewhere, the RNC would try and get us to link to a story about whatever latest crazy thing he'd said. But the videos made the difference, and Tim you're talking about faith being interwoven, faith is very much a proxy for how we feel about these candidates.
I know a lot of people, including evangelicals, home-schoolers, who said we should probably give him a chance. "Obamacans" [Republicans who support Obama] are very real, or were very real, but as soon as they have these questions about Rev. Wright, they said no, we're not gonna take a chance, and that was why these comments from San Francisco, including one that was taken as being, ahhh, disparaging of people of faith was so damaging. Because the very people who were antagonized by Wright, and then were maybe ready to give him the benefit of the doubt after the "race speech" said we don't trust him on this issue.
What a slice Allen's remarks are. Lot's of truth hidden in there.
First of all it's the utterance of a supposed reporter who's just been completely sucked into supporting and trying to legitimize Republican spin. He's practically reading off one of their scripts.
Here's the evidence: First, he comes up with the idea that the press was "caught napping" on this.
No, they weren't. As is noted, there were plenty of stories about Wright out there by responsible reporters. It was a small issue, because it was being treated rationally without right wing spin. The guy may have said some things people would consider controversial, but it wasn't that big a deal, after all, it was Obama's pastor, not Obama himself, and it would be dishonest to try to suggest that Obama must therefore support and believe exactly as Wright does on every word he utters.
So the story stayed in it's proper context, it's rational and sane proportion.
But then they issued the sound bites, the press went nuts because they don't care about reporting, but something you can SHOW on TV they absolutely love. (they won't bother reporting on a fire or wreck, etc. if there's no video.) So the clips were just what was needed to get the press to essentially run them on an endless loop for a week straight, guaranteeing that every rube with a tee-vee saw and heard the out of context and inflammatory remarks.
Gee, these top reporters say now, we missed the boat. How come we didn't realize just how inflammatory this story was? Well, because it WASN'T inflammatory, and still shouldn't be, were it not for selectively chosen snippets selected ONLY for the fact that they'd inflame people.
After non stop airing of these clips, now these knuckle-heads marvel that people are so upset about it and intone about what a problem it is for Obama. Do they acknowledge that any time you take clips out of context and broadcast them around the clock that it might tend to inflate the story? Nah... they don't notice that fact.
Then the truth comes out: Allen tells us all just what happened and why they're now "on the boat". It's because the Republican National Committee was harassing the hell out of them trying to get them to push the story of Wright as madman by getting them to link to stories that they'd planted themselves to distort and play on people's racial fears.
Allen describes Rev. Wright as a "crazy pastor" without blinking an eye, and refers to, "whatever the latest crazy thing he said" without the slightest attention to what "crazy thing" Wright said, much less what exactly made it "crazy". He just goes along with the RNC spin knowing that he'll never be called on it, certainly not other pundits.
Then to be more helpful to those from whom he's feeling so much heat, he offers his spin suggesting that those who were drawn to Obama are now turning away because ... well, just because the clips were played so often I guess.
Why would this be true? The clips themselves would certainly cause people to wonder. But I'm not sure the clips alone were enough.
That's why when they emerged, there was wall-to-wall right wingers out there to TELL these people what they should take it as, and to TELL them exactly what scary things Rev. Wright believes and stands for. Based on the absolute thinnest of evidence, they said that these clips showed a guy who was a radical black crazy person who thundered that blacks are superior to whites and ominously said he preached "black liberation theology", which to the ignorant obviously suggested that the blacks might somehow revolt, the deepest fear of all ignorant whites.
So now these lazy "journalists" sit on tv getting paid millions, and don't spend a second's time explaining any of this so that people might have a truer idea of what's being discussed. Nope. Not a second. Rather they sit there as if they themselves have fallen for it all and opine about just how much damage it's going to do to Obama.
Of course, if they'd do their jobs and provide more actual information and background about Wright and his statements, then people could actually base their opinions on FACT and reality rather than right wing spin.
But they're not about to do that, evidently. Too complicated, too much work. And besides, this keeps the pot boiling and provides the conflict they thrive on. Never mind that they're directly helping to ensure that the most important decision citizens make is going to be largely based on trivial non-sense and distorted appeals to people's irrational fears.