Clarice's Pieces: Fox and Hens (A Terrible Week for the Media)

As we draw nearer to the midterm elections and what still promises to be a crushing defeat for the Democrats, the Democrats themselves refuse to campaign on the issues, preferring to rely on every bit of manufactured slime they can use. Their media allies are trying their best to help, but the effort is failing, leaving more of them with egg on their faces and the foxy challengers laughing. Foxiest of all is still Sarah Palin, who said that after the election, we can "party like it's 1773."

"History Bowl Final: World's Stupidest Wingnut 1773, you" twittered lefty blogger Markos Moulitsas (kos). Gwen Ifill, the PBS anchor who parked not only her thumb but also her entire ample self on the scales when she "moderated" the Palin/Biden debate, doing her best to protect the Delaware dingbat from his countless misstatements, joined in: "Ummm.what? Sarah Palin: party like its 1773."

Perhaps these two media bright lights might have been forgiven for forgetting the date of the Boston Tea Party, but Palin did make the remark in front of dozens of signs referencing -- ummm -- Tea Parties.

The Markos/Gwen clueless attack on Sarah was like catnip to Iowahawk, who twittered back a series of Kos History Quizzes. Here are some of my favorites:

  • #KosHistoryQuiz Boston Tea Party was a protest against (a) taxes (b) tuition increases (c) insensitivity against the Founding Muslims
  • #KosHistoryQuiz "1773" is (a) teabagger racist code (b) Chicago area code (c) L33t H4x0r code
  • #KosHistoryQuiz how many lefty bloggers does it take to screw up a Palin-is-Stupid meme? (a) 1 (b) 1773 (c) how many do you got?
  • #KosHistoryQuiz 1773 is (a) year (b) street address of Palin Derangement Clinic (c) Kos' new nickname forever and ever.

The media hotshots then turned their attention to their second-favorite election distraction, Christine O'Donnell, and the Constitution, which in their hands is such a living, breathing document that it often just takes separate vacations from them.

In a debate with her opponent, Chris Coons, an Amherst and Yale law grad, for Biden's old Senate seat, O'Donnell bested him, but the rude law students at Widener law school and the media which covered the debate believed -- because they, as ill-informed as Coons about the important First Amendment -- thought she was wrong. She wasn't. Moreover, Coons, graduate of what is ranked as the top law school in the country, misquoted the Amendment's provisions on establishment of religion and was unable to identify the freedoms the Amendment enumerates.

It took days and the criticisms of people like Cornell law professor William Jacobson and Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse before the media provided some clarification.

O'Donnell unquestionably did not agree with the popular liberal conception that the First Amendment by its written terms requires a "separation of church and state," but she was not wrong.

And what an embarrassment to Widener Law School that as soon as O'Donnell questioned whether "separation of church and state" was in the First Amendment, the crowd erupted with gasps of disbelief and mocking laughter. 

And if O'Donnell's imperfect -- or perhaps nuanced? -- understanding of the First Amendment were so outrageous, how about the inability of Chris Coons, a Yale Law School graduate, to identify the other freedoms protected by the First Amendment, and his misquoting the text of the First Amendment in his challenge to O'Donnell:

"Government shall make no establishment of religion," Coons responded, reciting from memory the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Coons was off slightly: The first amendment actually reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.")

Ann Althouse has more on how Coons simply was wrong in his quotation of the First Amendment which led to O'Donnell's supposed major gaffe about the Establishment Clause, and how the press has taken O'Donnell's comments out of context:

O'Donnell reacts: "That's in the First Amendment?" And, in fact, it's not. The First Amendment doesn't say "government." It says "Congress." And since the discussion is about what local school boards can do, the difference is highly significant.

Also, it isn't "shall make no establishment of religion." It's "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There's a lot one could say about the difference between those 2 phrases, and I won't belabor it here. Suffice it to say that it was not stupid for O'Donnell to say "That's in the First Amendment?" - because it's not. Coons was presenting a version of what's in the cases interpreting the text, not the text itself.

A literal reading of O'Donnell's comments reflects that she was correct, but of course, the press and the blogosphere don't want a literal reading, they want a living, breathing reading which comports with their preconceived notions.

Tellingly, the AP account of the debate was so demonstrably biased and false that without notifying the readers, the agency simply entirely rewrote it -- a bit of professionally unethical conduct captured by Patterico's screen grabs.

Both of these incidents illustrate yet again what Noemie Emery so cogently described in her article "They're not elites: they're just wrong."

In it, she notes how Anne Applebaum and others confuse credentialed morons with a meritocracy.

[T]he real reason this "elite" is resented [is] because it is so often wrong.

Saying the Berlin Wall fell when the world "stood as one" is naive and delusional. Thinking a man will be a great leader because of one speech, two books, and the crease in his pants is a sign of poor judgment.

Ignoring mass protests, plunging polls, and three huge shocks at the polls is willful stupidity. Thinking one can pass a bill that impacts everyone against the will of most of country without courting a backlash is nothing short of inane.

When this backlash occurs, it is dense beyond words to claim that this stems from a fear of "the other" (meaning non-whites and immigrants) while these rebels strive to elect blacks to the House in South Carolina and Florida, Hispanics to the Senate in Florida, Hispanics to the governors' mansions in New Mexico and Nevada, and to elect the daughter of Indian immigrants to the state house in South Carolina, home of secession and massive resistance, where the far right gave twice as many votes to black conservative Tim Scott as to one of Strom Thurmond's sons.

There are words to describe this, but "bright" is not one of them. This meritocracy has created an "elite" without merit. In everyone's eyes but its own.

Every hour provides more evidence validating her point of view.

For example, in the same paper, the Washington Examiner, Byron York notes that in Chicago, the stimulus weatherization money resulted in shoddy work and widespread fraud.

The legislation which provided this money for Chicago was written on the Hill by "bright" men and women from the best schools, and certainly the stimulus funds were distributed from Washington to Chicago  according to procedures and under regulations written by the same sort of folks, and the program was supported and promoted by our Columbia University- and Harvard law school-educated president. But I'm certain that if you put this question to your electrician, plumber, handyman, and neighbor -- What would happen if you gave a lot of money to big-city community organizers to hire ex-felons and other unemployables to weatherize homes? -- they'd have told you it would result in lousy work and a massive ripoff.

The week ended with Juan Williams being fired from National Public Radio for a statement on Fox News where he expressed some apprehension about Muslim travelers on airplanes, though no one who knew him believed he was advocating or would advocate discriminatory treatment. He was in a sense stating what Jesse Jackson, Jr. had said early on about his own fear of black men when he was walking alone at night, and his comments were far more temperate than NPR's Nina Totenberg's when she expressed on television her wish that Jesse Helms or his descendants would die of AIDs. Nor was it more offensive than Bill Moyers' references on NPR's sister channel, PBS, comparing conservatives to the Taliban.

The NPR explanations for this disparate treatment were not credible, leading to several variations: NPR's top brass hates Fox and wants to dissuade its people from appearing on there; NPR really is angry at Juan for his views on race, where he is a far more rational and fair-minded analyst than most of the NPR stable of "spokespersons"; CAIR put NPR up to this; Soros, who had just given NPR a ton of money to hire one hundred "reporters" for its stations in all fifty states, forced this move.

I find it impossible to ascertain the reason behind such an irrational and unpopular action -- a move that has drawn criticism from even Whoopi Goldberg. But fear not: Roger Ailes stepped in and signed Juan up to a three-year, $2-million contract, and a move is afoot to cut off the public funding NPR receives. In the meantime, listeners will have to comfort themselves with the fact-free drones of the likes of Diane Rehm and Gwen Ifill. If I were the CEO of NPR, I'd start to worry about Mara Liasson (and whatever bright stars they may have in their otherwise undistinguished lineup) saying what they really think on Fox. I mean, $2 million is nothing to sneeze at.