Curmudgeon Notes 10.16.2013

I’ll be the odd man out for now. If I have to write about Manning, I’ll probably refer to him as Bradley and explain why he now calls himself Chelsea.

Oct 16, 2013 at 8:42 am

Anything anti-Obama is too good to check at Fox News. Host Anna Kooiman is the latest Fox apparatchik to repeat a phony partisan story. She complained on Fox and Friends recently that it “doesn’t seem fair” to close the World War II memorial on the National Mall during the federal lockout “especially” because “President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture” to remain open. 

Had Fox News inquired, it would have learned the story was a fabrication of National Report, a parody news site. National Report also said Obama told reporters the lockout was “a great time to learn about the faith of Islam.” 

Kooiman is distinguished from her blonde Fox sisterhood only by admitting error. She tweeted, “Just met w producer - I made a mistake yday after receiving flawed research abt a museum possibly closing. My apologies. Won’t happen again.” 

Wanna bet? Don’t producers do the research? Hosts don’t. You give hosts a script and they read it. Flawed research? How about “no research?” Any effort would have revealed non-existent “facts” that couldn’t be checked. Try “Museum of Muslim Culture” on Google. Doesn’t exist. So we have reporters who don’t report, research that didn’t happen, so-called facts that don’t exist and a fictitious museum. 

But then, this is Fox News and he’s President Obama.

• I hope business reporters will track the public notices of pay for insurance execs whose companies are selling health insurance on state or federal exchanges. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is designed to enrich insurers and Big Pharma. It would be a shame if those execs succeed in business without trying. 

• Maybe there is a papal pendulum that’s more than a news media need to assign character to world leaders. Ascetic Pius XII was followed by popular John XXIII, who was followed by stern Paul VI, who was followed first and briefly by smiling John Paul I and then popular John Paul II, who was followed by disciplinarian Benedict XVI, who is followed by today’s pope, Francis. Sounds like biblical begats in Genesis

The Catholic Church long has canonized men and women whose examples were needed in a particular time. Francis’ announcement that John XXIII and John Paul II would become saints before long suggests their examples are what Francis hopes will be emulated today. Question: What in their complex lives and papacies is to be emulated?

• Somewhere in the Italian state mint, a proofreader is looking into the maw of Hades, hoping that Lesus will save him. That’s how 6,200 recently cast Vatican medals spelled Jesus. Someone spotted it and the Vatican recalled the medals but any still out there must be collectors’ trophies. The medal celebrated the first year of Francis’ papacy. 

• Would it change public debate if we called Washington the “American regime” and referred to regimes we don’t like as “governments?” News media seem to prefer “regime” for nasties and “government” for people we like. It’s the Syrian regime but the British government.

• How should the news media deal with Bradley Manning’s new preference for the name Chelsea? Few subjects make editors skittish the way gender does today. For me, the issue arose years ago when an Ohio inmate sued because the state would not continue the medical sex change begun before he entered an all-male prison. The inmate’s attorney referred to his client with the pronouns “she” and “her.” The inmate’s name was protected by filing the suit as Jane Doe.  

This was my first court story involving an active but unfinished gender change. Not only had mainstream media not arrived at a consensus, but I don’t even remember a debate. Completed sex change stories usually adopted the new preference and explained the subject’s previous gender identity. 

I fell back on facts. Did he have a penis, I asked? Yes, but that was no longer the point to his client. Was his sex change otherwise complete? No. That was the point of the civil rights suit. In my mind, that meant he was male. However, the lawyer’s arguments moved me a little. So I copped out: Instead of female or male pronouns, I referred only to “the inmate.” 

Manning’s announcement that he identifies as a woman and will seek hormone therapy during his military imprisonment stirred this whole issue, and if there is a consensus among major news media today it’s to follow the preference of the person about whom they are reporting. 

I’ll be the odd man out for now. If I have to write about Manning, I’ll probably refer to him as Bradley and explain why he now calls himself Chelsea. Bradley Manning is how most readers, viewers and listeners came to know him in the years he was in the news for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables to which he had access as a soldier in Iraq.


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