Soundbite: Touré Blasts Niall Ferguson’s “Child’s Understanding of Race”

toure niall ferg“Niall Ferguson has many things: a position teaching at Harvard, a column in the Financial Times — and a child’s understanding of race.”

Touré on MSNBC, in response to Niall Ferguson’s FT column where he likened Barack Obama to Felix the Cat because they were both “black and lucky.”

Touré went on to make his case to Morning Meeting host Dylan Ratigan, which I found highly quotable:

Touré: I and many others find it intellectually immature and offensive to link the optical blackness of a cat, or a shoe, to the cultural blackness of a person. And I can’t believe the Financial Times saw fit to publish that. Are there no editors over there?

Ratigan: He’s just making a comment — he’s just he’s just he’s just he’s – it’s poetic license.

Touré: It’s not poetic license. There’s no there there.

and

Ratigan: He’s adding his own flair, his own flavor, his own je ne said quoi.

Touré: Yeah. Would you say George Wallace was adding his own flavor?

The whole exchange was a great example of cable news getting it right: Engaging discussion with a knowledgable guest and a host who provides just enough of a foil to make it interesting, plus great chemistry between the two. Video below:


The best takeaway from this:

Ratigan: People don’t know what to do with a black president. Some people do not know what to do with a black president.

Touré: Criticize him without it being around race.

There you go. Simple enough for even a cat to understand.

Related:
NYT’s Krugman Gets In (Felix) Cat Fight! [Mediaite]
Niall Ferguson: Why My Comparing Obama to Felix the Cat Is Not Racist [HuffPo]
Niall Ferguson Plays The Racist Card [Ta-Nehisi Coates]

Health Care and Godwin’s Law: Evoking Nazis is for Losers

obamahitlerA corollary to Godwin’s Law states that “as an Internet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler increases, and whomever makes that comparison has automatically ‘lost’ whatever debate was in progress.” Extending this axiom to the current public discourse of health care reform begs the question: should critics of the Obama Administration who evoke Hitler and Nazis be considered losers? Absolutely.

This came to mind last night as Barney Frank responded to a Town Hall participant who asked “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” Frank’s response was not only refreshingly quick and concise, it was the model reply to this line of questioning.

Frank said, “You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis. My answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this sort of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

But the individual asking Frank about the Nazi policy is not an exception to the rule – she’s part of a growing trend. As Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar points out earlier today, there are plenty of examples of portraying Obama and his reform agenda as somehow being akin to Nazi Germany:

  • HotAirPundit points out that “LaRouche PAC had a table outside the event” where Obama-with-Hitler-mustache posters were being handed out.

Need more examples? Simply do Google News search using the terms “Obama” and “Nazi” — you come up with over 3,000 articles in the last week alone that includes both terms.

Some commentators might point out that it is a simple hyperbole, but the suppressed rage in the voices of Town Hall protesters belies any metaphorical mention of Nazism.

At what point do we stop finding this to be a curious socio-anthropological development, instead calling it what it actually is: cause for alarm.

 

Who’s Behind The Obama-As-Hitler Posters?

larouche posterYesterday, Rep. Barney Frank got in a heated exchange with a questioner at a Massachusetts Town Hall, who held up a poster of President Barack Obama overlaid prominently with a Hitler mustache. “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” she demanded. His response: “On what planet do you spend most of your time?”

Great sound bite, but actually, it’s this one — and she shares it with LarouchePac, the political action committee run by Lyndon LaRouche. Which just happens to be mass-manufacturing those Obama-as-Hitler posters.

The protester opened her question to Frank by comparing the widely-rumored (and widely-debunked) so-called “Death Panels” to the Nazi’s T-4 program of exterminating people will illnesses, deformities or otherwise deemed “unworthy of life.” The fourth result for “Nazis T-4 Policy” is “Nazi T4 Genocide Model Openly Touted By Obama Administration” from LarouchePac.com. HotAirPundit points out that “LaRouche PAC had a table outside the event” at which it was giving out Obama-with-Hitler-mustache posters, and says that LaRouche can be traced to most of the Hitler noise: “99% of the Town Hall Protesters denounce the Hitler pictures.”

As HotAirPundit notes, Newsbusters previously pointed out the LaRouchePac connection to the Hitler signs — and criticizing mainstream media sites for conflating them with Conservative rhetoric against Health Care Reform position.

NewsBusters’ main point is that LaRouche is actually on the left — he’s run for President as a Democrat before, after all — but I think it’s safe to say that LaRouche has never been an accepted, promoted, or viable candidate for the Democratic party. His views have been variously described, according to SourceWatch, as Fascist, Communist, Bonapartist and Right-Wing Populist, and marked by conspiracy theories. So it’s pretty clear why both sides would want to distance themselves from him and his antics.

That said, NewsBusters shouldn’t be the only ones distancing — Rush Limbaugh talking about Obama “sending out his Brownshirts” is a pretty clear reference to Hitler (in fact, that’s the raison d’etre for this NewsBusters post — complaining that various news programs linked the Hitler posters to Limbaugh in their coverage of the various invocations of Hitler that included Limbaugh’s reference to Hitler. Quibble!). Limbaugh’s message is hard to miss.

Nor is there any indication that this woman carrying a homemade Obama Swastika sign, or the person holding up other homemade SS sign or whoever put this homemade Swastika sign on a baby stroller were affiliated with LaRouche.

Nor is there any reference to LaRouche in this account from Blue Mass Group:

I just had a surreal conversation with a guy handing out pamphlets:

guy: Do you know Hitler endorsed Obama’s healthplan?
me: Hitler?
guy: Yes, in 1939.
me: Really? That’s interesting. Who’re you working for?
guy: I’m just a concerned citizen.
me: You have pamphlets….
guy: I’m a volunteer.
me: Who for?
guy: The Mass. GOP.

The pamphlet was your basic FUD, no mention of Hitler.

“FUD” stands for “Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt” — used for the purposes of being, er, persuasive. So — I wouldn’t exactly call this particular meme isolated.

But it definitely is worth noting that there are organizations out there working on an institutional, mass level to stoke the anger of crowds, flood them with propaganda and arm them with the kind of paraphernalia which is designed exactly to get and hold the media’s attention. LaRouchePac is one, and one that is getting a lot of play — so it’s important to call that out, and make sure that agenda is clear and, like NewsBusters suggests, not ascribed to opponents of Health Care Reform as a whole.

But part of calling that out includes calling out all the lies. Because there is a clear link between this woman invoking Nazi T-4 policy in talk of “death panels” and Chuck Grassley talking about “pulling the plug on Grandma.” They may not pass out the same posters, but make no mistake of it, those messages are linked. What Grassley — and all Conservatives or opponents of Health Care of any stripe should do — is confront each crazy, trumped-up, demonstrably false rumor with the kind of blunt, no-argument response that Frank delivered last night.

Related:
NBC, CNN and MSNBC All Assign Communist LaRouche’s Obama-Hitler Poster to Conservatives, Limbaugh [NewsBusters]
Who is the real Nazi, President Obama or Lyndon LaRouche? [The Examiner]
LaRouche PAC Behind Nazi Comparisons [Blue Mass Group]
Nazi Astroturf [Blue Mass Group]

Previously:
Who’s To Blame For The “Death Panel” Rumors? Betsy McCaughey, Again
[Mediaite]
Barney Frank Pwns Crazy Town Hall Questioner [Mediaite]

The Daily Show Rips CNN’s Sophomoric Segments…Just Sayin’

dailyshow_8-19Often when The Daily Show goes after cable news, it looks at each of the big three – Fox News, CNN and MSNBC – and highlights a common theme to ridicule. That wasn’t the case last night, when Jon Stewart looked at why CNN might currently be “getting their asses handed to them by Fox News,” and now being edged by MSNBC in prime time.

Stewart’s conclusion – “slangtastic” new segments that don’t really work.

At the center of Stewart’s ire was a Friday segment on American Morning from Carol Costello called Just Sayin’. Costello talks about actual issues – like town halls, feminism and more – and ends the bit with a “Just Sayin’” comment. “They report the news like I talk…ed when I was a 12-year-old girl,” said Stewart.

But that was just the beginning.

It’s as bit disingenuous to pop up CNN’s prime time ratings and then spent the entire segment poking fun at CNN for recurring segments that run during morning and afternoon hours. But it does highlight a problem CNN needs to address – how to keep viewers around when there aren’t big news events, which the network still regularly owns. These segments, just like the huge emphasis on connecting with viewers through Twitter and other means with on-air talent, don’t seem to be the way to go long term.

Here’s the clip:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN’s Just Sayin’
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

Who Needs a ‘Doctor’ for Relationship Advice When You Can Have Steve Harvey?

steve_harvey_prRadio host, bestselling author, and Original King of Comedy Steve Harvey began a stint as a family and relationship expert for Good Morning America today. You can see how he stacks up against other TV reporters on the Power Grid here. It’s a good, if somewhat cynical, move for both parties.

Steve Harvey’s turnaround from comedian to relationship expert has been a great, lucrative self-reinvention. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man has been at or near the top of the New York Times Bestseller List for 28 weeks now. And if you’re GMA, why hire a boring run-of-the-mill doctor or journalist to give relationship advice when you can hire a popular comedian? After all, when Katherine Heigl’s morning show producer hired bad boy Gerard Butler to give no-nonsense relationship advice in The Ugly Truth, ratings went through the roof! And The Ugly Truth was everybody’s favorite summer movie of ‘09.

Harvey’s relationship advice isn’t about bringing the laffs as much as it is about bringing the conservatism. His schtick is the Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus/The Ugly Truth/every-successful-romantic-comedy of-the-past-20-years party line that men are conniving jerks who just want sex without commitment and women must coldly thwart them to find love, matrimony, and free dinners. Which is to say, it was designed to enrage Jezebel readers.

Today’s Steve Harvey segment on GMA was straight out of that playbook. The topic was “Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?” The answer was no, duh. Here’s the rundown of his advice to four different couples:

  • Husband: you can’t be friends with that older woman who coached you in a speaking competition, because she is probably a “cougar” (I mean, she’s an older woman)
  • Girlfriend: you think men and women can be friends? How naive! “It’s almost virtually impossible for a man to be a woman’s friend.”
  • Newlywed husband who got a text message from another woman saying ’sweet dreams’ right before his wedding: “She’s certainly not saying have sweet dreams about your wife.”
  • Committed couple that’s been dating for 11 years, but doesn’t want to get married: (sputtering disbelief)



Barney Frank Pwns Crazy Town Hall Questioner

Frank Protest Hitler“On what planet do you spend most of your time?”

Maybe that’s how to handle crazy Town Hall protesters: Call them on their crazy. Barney Frank did just that last night, in a moment from last night’s Town Hall in Dartmouth, Massachusetts that is all but designed to go viral.

In a Town Hall that was already plenty feisty, a woman stood up and compared the widely-circulated-and-widely-debunked-at-least-by-serious-sources “Death Panels” to the Nazi’s T-4 program of exterminating people will illnesses, deformities or otherwise deemed “unworthy of life.” Said the woman to Frank: “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?”

Here was Frank’s response:

“When you ask me that question, I’m going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?”

“You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis. My answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this sort of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

“Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table — I have no interest in doing it.”

Here’s the video:


Not surprisingly, this video clip has spent the night and morning making the rounds on cable and online; “Barney Frank” is already a trending topic on Twitter. Perhaps also not surprisingly, the incident gets only a brief mention halfway down in an article on Fox News.

Funnily, a article in the Bostonist published yesterday before the Town Hall altercation begins thusly: “Barney Frank is fearless when it comes to giving his opinion.” Indeed!

larouche posterA note on these “picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler”: The fourth result for “Nazis T-4 Policy” is “Nazi T4 Genocide Model Openly Touted By Obama Administration” from LarouchePac.com. HotAirPundit points out that “LaRouche PAC had a table outside the event” at which it was giving out Obama-with-Hitler-mustache posters, and says that LaRouche can be traced to most of the Hitler noise: “99% of the Town Hall Protesters denounce the Hitler pictures.”

As HotAirPundit notes, Newsbusters previously pointed out the LaRouchePac connection to the Hitler signs — clarifying their source for various mainstream media sites which used it to illustrate the more general “extreme” rhetoric in the anti-Health Care Reform position. NewsBusters points out that LaRouche has actually run for President as a Democrat before; I think it’s safe to say that LaRouche has never been an accepted, promoted, or viable candidate for the Democratic party. His views have been variously described, according to SourceWatch, as Fascist, Communist, Bonapartists and Right-Wing Populist, and marked by conspiracy theories. So it’s pretty clear why both sides would want to distance themselves from him and his antics.

That said, NewsBusters shouldn’t be the only ones distancing — Limbaugh talking about Obama “sending out his Brownshirts” is a pretty clear reference to Hitler, despite NewsBusters writer Seton Motley’s outrage that the LaRouche Hitler posters were used in conjunction with Limbaugh in describing extremism in the Health Care Reform opposition. Nor is there any indication that this woman carrying a homemade Obama Swastika sign, or the person holding up other homemade SS sign or whoever put this homemade Swastika sign on a baby stroller were affiliated with LaRouche.

So I wouldn’t exactly call it isolated. But it definitely is worth noting that there are organizations out there working on an institutional, mass level to stoke the anger or crowds, flood them with propaganda and arm them with the kind of paraphernalia which is designed exactly to get and hold the media’s attention. So when someone like Chuck Grassley talks about “pulling the plug on Grandma,” that doesn’t exactly make things clearer. What Grassley — and all Conservatives or opponents of Health Care of any stripe should do — is confront each crazy, trumped-up, demonstrably false rumor of “death panels” and the like with the kind of blunt, no-argument response that Frank delivered last night.

Sean McManus’ Big Day For CBS News and Sports: Tiger Woods And Vicktory

vick_8-1860 Minutes was the #1 program Sunday night and the #2 program of the week, averaging 12.03 million viewers. It saw a 34% bump from the summer average for the show. It was likely helped by a high profile James Brown interview of Michael Vick.

But it was also helped by an exciting PGA Championship, which saw Y.E. Yang edge Tiger Woods in a close battle. That final round was seen by 29 million viewers, up 87% from last year and was the biggest since 2002. As Sean McManus, who is President of both CBS News and Sports, tells Mediaite, Sunday was a success for both departments in conjunction – and was another example of the continued impact of one of the longest running news shows, 60 Minutes.

“It was a great day for us,” McManus tells Mediaite. “You always hope for great drama and you hope Tiger is in the hunt. We had both those things. Nobody expected the end result, and it almost made it that much more special and compelling to watch. To have that kind of lead in on a 60 Minutes piece on Michael Vick it turned out to be really good for CBS News and CBS Sports.”

McManus says the success is symptomatic of what is a regular occurrance at CBS: “On big events, whether it’s a big interview or a big sports telecast, the hope is that the team steps up at the highest profile time. [60 Executive Producer] Jeff Fager, [Producer] Michael Radutzky and JB [James Brown] really distinguished themselves in a situation that’s not as easy as you think…I was proud of the whole team yesterday.”

yang_8-19McManus said JB landed the big “get” with hard work, convincing Vick and his team to agree to the interview and even visiting the NFL star in prison. It is this way he was able to conduct the interview in the prime location of 60 Minutes – since he is a CBS Sports, but not CBS News, employee. “CBS News is very much a meritocracy. If you bring in the big story, you’re the person who is going to do that story. JB worked his tail off and got the story,” said McManus. “If you have a good enough story and reported it well enough, Jeff will figure out a way to get you on.”

McManus described the success of 60 Minutes in general: “Whether it’s Sully or Ben Bernanke or President Obama after the election, 60 Minutes has developed into the news magazine that people want to be on if they’re important newsmakers.”

He also took a bit of a shot at the competition:

60 Minutes hasn’t boosted ratings with one single gimmick. It doesn’t put on pregnant men and call girls. It has made its bones, and continues to make its bones, with really good hard news reporting. There’s obviously a blend of personality stories and human interest stories, but the foundation is really hard news, and that‘s what we’re proudest of.

Sports stories have shown up on the program in several high profile ways, whether with a Roger Clemens exclusive, A-Rod talking to Katie Couric and more. As McManus says, “those stories are much bigger than just sports.” And so was Vick.

But with the lead-in of more sports, and a sports moment sure to draw in fans, it is an example of the way the unique situation of McManus leading both departments can bring. “I don’t have much of a problem getting a lot of on air promotion in our sports broadcasts,” he joked. “Professionally, it’s very satisfying to be associated with two brands like CBS News and CBS Sports. I generally keep both separate, except when they’re connected like this weekend.”

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