Friday, October 27, 2006

A Massive Disappointment and Other Things

A week ago today I wrote:
So. The Cardinals are on their way to Detroit. All the pundits are calling the series for Detroit, and most are saying this will be a short, very short series. Those predictions give me cause for worry (Hey! This is DETROIT—home of the inexplicable post-season collapse), but, yeah, I gotta agree. On paper, and on the field for both the Division series and the ALCS, the Tigers are and were impressive.
My fears have come to pass. While this isn’t an “inexplicable post-season collapse” such as those demonstrated by the Red Wings (i.e., repeated first-round exits in the play offs), it’s damned hard to explain all the errors the Tigers have committed and their dearth of hitting (until last evening). It’s hard, if not impossible, to see the Tigers as World Series champions after last night’s debacle. Detroit’s hitters finally showed up, but once again, sloppy play in the form of another fielding error by a pitcher sealed the Tigers’ fate. So, the Tigers are down 3-1. Like I said, it don’t look good for the Tigers. But. Remember 1968? It can be done! Lightning just has to strike the same place twice.
More on The Beeb’s bias, or lack of same (?)… This past Tuesday, Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News, published a rebuttal to that Daily Mail editorial I linked concerning BBC bias. Not surprisingly, Ms. Boaden refuted the claims made by the Daily Mail.
The main thing is, however, they were both giving their personal opinions. That is entirely their right and what they had been asked to do in the interests of discussion. I disagree with them. I found their claim of liberal bias unconvincing – based on anecdote and attitude rather than evidence.
The BBC employs more than 20,000 people across the UK. It is not a chattering class club of the kind depicted by the papers. It is a hugely varied organisation with many different cultures and a huge variety of opinions on every single issue among its staff. What does unite BBC staff however, is a deep commitment to BBC values and at the heart of those values is a commitment to impartiality.
Sorry, Ms. Boaden, but I don’t believe you…not for a moment. You and your colleagues can express your “deep commitment to BBC values” all you want, but the output and product of the BBC belies your commitment, each and every day. And it’s not just bias in your news reporting…no, it’s worse than that:
The bandwagon is gathering momentum. Yesterday it emerged that a BBC executive, Ann Davies, has questioned whether the corporation should "help break the constraints of the PC police" after audience research found it was out of step with much of mainstream public opinion. Another BBC boss, Richard Klein, commissioning editor for documentaries, told staff it was "pathetic" for the BBC to pride itself on being "of the people".
They're all spot on. It's high time the debate moved on from narrow notions of political bias. Far harder for the BBC to gainsay is that it has a liberal cultural bias, one that envelops pretty much all programmes, not just news and current affairs. If you want to find the most solid evidence of partiality, look at the BBC's entertainment output – its dramas, comedies and arts programmes. This is where its guard is down, where the BBC editorial police are not watching out for "balance" weak points. And it's also where, arguably, the partiality is far more subversive.
The author, Mr. Tom Leonard, has a valid point and goes on to provide more “anecdotal” evidence of Auntie’s cultural bias. I agree with Mr. Leonard. Bias in news reporting is fairly easy to discern, assuming one is relatively well-informed and obtains one’s news from multiple sources. But cultural bias is quite another can o’ worms in that it affects and influences people, old and young, that the news programs may or may not reach. If you think cultural bias isn’t all that important, then you’re missing the Big Picture. Values, and all that. Who wears the white hat, and who doesn’t. It matters immensely, as our own illustrious Hollywood stars, directors, and producers are so very aware. Birds of a feather, so to speak.
The culture war continues.
Preachin’ to the choir… Rich Lowry, in today’s National Review on-line (Lovin’ Nancy…The Pelosi honeymoon begins. But it’s not too late to call off the marriage!):
Let the Nancy Pelosi honeymoon begin. Sure, the current House Democratic minority leader hasn’t won a House majority yet, and it is traditional for honeymoons to follow, rather than anticipate, the blessed event. But the media can’t help themselves, not when they are tingling with anticipation over the prospect of a Democratic victory.
Say what you will about Pelosi, but it is a matter of record that she’s far left of the center of American politics — her rating from the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action is routinely a 100 percent; that she enforces party loyalty — her Democrats voted along party lines 88 percent of the time last year, a record for the past 50 years; that she has primarily occupied herself with blocking legislation in the House — she has tried to kill practically every Republican initiative, no matter how small; that she uses tough rhetoric — Republicans are, according to Pelosi, “corrupt,” “incompetent” and running a “criminal enterprise.”

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. Politicians should have deep convictions, and they should work to organize their party around them and to defeat the opposition. Nor is there anything wrong with sharp rhetorical elbows. But the press usually professes to like none of these qualities, and typically dubs someone exhibiting them as “radical,” “partisan,” “obstructionist,” and “mean-spirited.”
Instead, in a typical media treatment, the Washington Post finds Pelosi a “tough-minded tactician.” She has “kept the fractious House Democrats in line.” She has “thwarted many GOP initiatives” by getting the Democrats to “hang together.” Yes, Republicans accuse her of being an obstructionist, but that’s just the sort of name-calling Republicans always engage in, now isn’t it?

She’s definitely not “casually reckless” in attacking her enemies. Not “ruthless.” Not “authoritarian.” Not a “bomb-thrower.” Not given to “slash and burn, knife and smear” tactics. And, of course, not “mad as hell” or riding “a surge of voter anger.”

All those descriptions were applied to Newt Gingrich when he won the speakership in 1994.
Of course there’s more, and the choir should read it!
And finally, Mort Kondracke had an excellent op-ed yesterday in his magazine, Roll Call. The lead grafs:
The political cartoon on my office wall shows Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a frazzled father trying to drive the car while kids in the front and back seats yell, "Is it Vietnam yet?"
Daryl Cagle's cartoon was delightful back in March 2003, lampooning critics of the war in Afghanistan. Now it's a mordant commentary on Iraq.
The tragic fact is that Iraq has become Vietnam -- a noble cause that has lost the support of the American people and Congress and is on the verge of ending in disaster. But this time, the consequences will be much worse.
The choir is hereby encouraged to read this, too. Hell, read it even if (and especially if) you’re NOT a member of the choir, because actions have consequences, ya know. And you should know.
Today’s Pic: “Soft Fan,” a soft sculpture at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. April, 2000. As always, click the pic for the larger version.


  1. I watched that travesty last night. I am not as talented as that Detroit pitcher who botched the throw to first, but I think I could have taken my time and did the throw right.

    Pudge was awesome, and can come through when he needs to, but it wasn't enough. I went to bed bottom of the 8th, since it was 2345 at the "Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge". Time for people with J.O.B.'s to get some sleep.

    I hope that Detroit can pull this one out of their behinds, since my Spousal Unit pulls for them.

    That harmonious house thing.

    Now join me in rooting for Navy, who will try for the umpteenth time to upset those good football folks at that Indiana Private School!

  2. Now join me in rooting for Navy, who will try for the umpteenth time to upset those good football folks at that Indiana Private School!

    Nice try, dc, but seeing as how I root for ND when they play Air Force, you stand not the proverbial snow ball's chance of getting me to cheer for The Boat School! As for "umpteenth time," I think today will be your 42nd consecutive loss, no?

    Tell the wife I sympathize...we shall mourn together, yet separately.

  3. Oops, my bad. Today's your 43rd consecutive loss!



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