Getting Desperate, Are We?

There are a few days during the year where journalists in all areas salivate over potential article fodder. If they are the first to break the news, or to start a controversy, it could potentially mean a raise and it’s great advertisement, since the story will usually be attributed with the person who first covered it.

Politicians getting busted for whatever it is they get busted for these days (appears to be child molestation) is one such event. The paparazzi goes nuts whenever a celebrity exposes even a sliver of a private part (usually for females; I’ve yet to read coverage of a Brad Pitt “nip-slip” though I’m patiently waiting). Sports journalists get on their knees and thank whatever supernatural being they may or may not believe in when athletes say or do stupid and/or controversial stuff because, you know, athletes aren’t allowed to have opinions.

Remember when Carlos Delgado wouldn’t come out when “God Bless America” was played? He was booed by the fans but more importantly was skewered by the media, as if he was some evil person for having developed an opinion on a political issue and practicing his beliefs.

For whatever reason, the media and fans have cognitive dissonance with athletes. They say they enjoy the energetic, outspoken ones but only if they tow a party line. We want the guy who stands up in the clubhouse and rallies the troops when the team is in the skids… as long as he doesn’t read the newspaper. Imagine how fast Derek Jeter’s popularity would sink if he started expressing opinions instead of playing the politically correct game of “no comment” and neutrality.

The reason why I’m ranting about this is because Dallas Maverick Josh Howard is in a bit of hot water for being caught on a cell phone camera saying, “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is going on right now. I don’t even celebrate that (expletive). I’m black.”

What a tragedy. Howard is either politically apathetic (and has no reason to honor the national anthem) or has some strong opinions on current political issues and is practicing them.

From a P.R. standpoint from the Mavericks’ perspective, it’s a comment they wish he hadn’t made, no doubt about that. In fact, they might feel enough pressure from whiny journalists and conservatives (especially those whose purse strings are tied to the Mavs) to punish — fine or suspend — Howard.

Was there anything wrong with what he said? The first part — “I don’t even celebrate that (expletive)” — is fine, unless your gentle ears were shattered by that expletive (in which case I suggest you wear a helmet before going outside to go to work or school). It is his American right to stand up or sit down for the national anthem.

I’m an anthem-sitter, so I unequivocally support Howard in this regard. When I go to Phillies games, I do not remove my cap nor do I make any special effort to recognize the anthem or “God Bless America.” Sports venues, in my opinion, are not the place to be making political statements and only serve to be divisive. In fact, if any of you Crashburn Alley readers ever want to find me at a Phillies game, just look for the guy that’s sitting down during the anthem.

It’s a stupid ritual. You are not a patriot because you take your hat off, put your hand over your heart, and mouth the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as they’re sung by a chorus of boys and girls from an inner city school behind home plate. These meaningless shows of patriotism are cop-outs: it’s an easy way to get other people to believe you’re patriotic without actually doing anything. It’s a shame that we’ve been socialized to believe that patriotism is a virtue, as it’s a completely worthless ism.

I still do not understand how the second part of Howard’s statement — “I’m black.” — correlates with the first part. Is there some inherent attribute of being black that makes you predisposed to not participate in patriotic group events?

Either way, it’s a non-issue that only serves to prove how parasitic the media has become. Is it a wonder why blogs are so popular these days? Great transition!

In another depressing news issue, a Denver US attorney named Troy Eid criticized bloggers for holding him accountable for what he said about the alleged assassination attempts on Barack Obama. Media Bloodhound has the details of the assassination plans:

One of the men arrested, Nathan Johnson said the other two men, Tharin Gartrell and Shawn Robert Adolph, “had planned to kill Barack Obama…on Thursday…,” which was why they were in Denver, and that “Adolph was going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a 22-250 rifle which had been sighted at 750 yards.” According to the FBI, “Johnson was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama and he responded in the affirmative.” The Denver police found in their possession two high-powered rifles with scopes, 85 rounds of ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, walkie-talkies, wigs, fake I.D.s, hotel reservations near the convention and 4.4 grams of methamphetamine, an amount, however, too small to be charged with more than simple possession.

Obviously, Johnson and his crew had a very detailed plan and the means to carry out that plan. This wasn’t just an idea they were kicking around, brainstorming ideas over some sandwiches and chips; they were essentially in post-production of the plan, to use a term from the entertainment industry.

Eid, however, dismissed Johnson and his buddies as “a bunch of meth heads, talking life.”

“A bunch of meth heads, talking life” do not have plans this detailed, nor do they have the exact means to carry out those plans. It’s disturbing that a person in such a high position is trying to hide behind scientific objectivity — “there’s not enough evidence” — but there is, in fact, no science behind it. There is written intent, what does that count for these days?

After being justifiably roasted by bloggers, Eid felt the need to write an op-ed piece for the Denver Post.

By law and as required by ethics rules, federal prosecutors may never file criminal charges against anyone unless there’s a “reasonable likelihood” we can prove them at trial with credible, admissible evidence. That’s a high standard, and understandably so. Such was the case here. The oath we take as prosecutors is not to rack up convictions, but to ensure that the entire justice system is served.

That’s great, and it’s why our justice system is still among the best in the world. However, there’s a difference between being scientifically prudent (holding out for more evidence) and simply looking the other way. Eid’s threshold for what passes at evidence is inexplicably high.

It gets worse.

The “political” thing to have done in this case, of course, would have been to charge all three defendants with making a threat against Obama and then quietly drop those charges later – expedient, Machiavellian and self-serving, but also illegal, unethical and immoral.

Mouth agape in shock. Indeed, Eid just said that the “political” thing would have been to have the charges dropped. Yeah, just let ’em go — people who have been plotting to kill one of two potential Presidents of the United States in 2008. While he’s not supporting it — at least, it appears that way — it’s accusatory of other US attorneys with, aha, no evidence.

Now it gets funny.

Blog-driven “news” is tragically becoming the rule, not the exception. Much of it is misinformation, where some person or interest group “spins” some angle for an unknown purpose. You can tell this when calls and e-mails start flooding the office, reading from the identical script, accusing you of the moral equivalent of crimes against humanity.

I am going to take this sentence-by-sentence.

Blog-driven “news” is tragically becoming the rule, not the exception.

This is because people are tired of the one-way street of the mainstream media. Limited access, limited perspective. The mainstream media is a souring industry because bloggers are actually better, in general, than most mainstream journalists. They have no party line to tow; they’re not subjecting what they say to the fact that they need a paycheck at the end of the week, or two weeks.

Much of it is misinformation, where some person or interest group “spins” some angle for an unknown purpose.

This is not unique to bloggers. Readers just have to be alert and discretionary about what they read and what to believe as fact. The White House, in fact, hires people specifically for this purpose, to spin some angle. The late Tony Snow was brilliant at it.

You can tell this when calls and e-mails start flooding the office, reading from the identical script, accusing you of the moral equivalent of crimes against humanity.

Translated: People held me accountable for my irresponsible words and I didn’t like it.

There’s nothing in this diatribe that proves how or why what the bloggers did was wrong, nor how any of what was said was misinformation (other than that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the wannabe Obama-killers).

U.S. politicians and the mainstream media: successfully failing the U.S. public.

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1 comment

  1. ShooterB

    September 18, 2008 02:47 PM

    The Josh Howard story is very much a non-issue, like you said. Though if he does have a serious political opinion he would like to express, I’d imagine there are a lot of better ways to do it. That’s what bumper stickers are for.

    I wish more people would buy into the concept of readers being responsible for what they believe as fact. Yes, there’s a lot of inaccurate garbage out there. But as you referenced, blogs can be better than mainstream media because bloggers don’t share the same limitations (politics, greed, etc). It’s hilarious that someone from the US Attorney’s office can accuse bloggers of “spin”.

    It’s like being called a douchebag by Bill O’Reilly.

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