Sunday, December 10, 2017

Slave-scarf symbol of the steppes

Some days the right-wing press just drives you to the Liebling archive before the coffee is even made. Take it away, veteran National Post columnist Robert Fulford:

In a burst of bogus feminism and commercial ambition, Mattel Inc., the global doll-maker, has announced that in 2018 it will market a Barbie doll wearing a hijab. Barbie dolls rarely impinge on political and social issues but this one is so unsettling that it evokes a wide range of responses.

Tell us a little more about how rare it is for Barbie to reflect social issues!

... After all, Barbies aren’t just princesses and wonder women. You can buy Barbies wearing practical clothing for offices, “chic summer suits” and camel-hair coats. This is Mattel’s bow to feminists who believe little girls should be discouraged from dwelling on fantasies of the future: they should learn, as soon as possible, the truth about what they are likely to become.

For girls with higher aspirations, you can get Barbies clothed in a cocktail dress, a classic black dress, or an Oscar de la Renta ball gown. One Barbie has a Hudson’s Bay jacket and another displays an Andy Warhol painting on the front of her dress.

So much for the camel-hair coat vs. Hudson's Bay controversy, though you'd think the fencing uniform -- the new addition is modeled after the Olympic medalist  Ibtihaj Muhammad -- might suggest at least some aspiration. But back to the issue at hand: 

Attached to the news about the hijab Barbie is a line from Mattel about “Continuing to inspire girls to be anything.” Girls are to become whatever their desires and talents can make them.

... But Mattel doesn’t explain the crucial facts about places where hijab is required apparel.

See if you can guess what's coming next. Or return with us to the glory days of Chicago Tribune columnist Jimmy Savage's campaign against the other headscarf:

"We propose a citywide burning of the babushkas!" Savage wrote one morning, not too long ago. "These regimenting rags, which convert pretty, young Chicago faces into moon-round parodies of peasants, have made the teen scene resemble potato digging time on a Soviet collective. Watching those farm-fresh, 4-H club visitors to the livestock show, we noted that not one of them wore that sloppy substitute for headgear. ... Those youngsters were American farmers, too proud of their heritage to wear the slave-scarf symbol of European field hands. Are our Chicago kids less smart, less proud? To the torch, then, and the burning of the babushkas!"
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Saturday, December 09, 2017


Another installment in the occasional series of Perfect Fox Front Pages. Collect them all!

In the first and second spots, we have two cases of Massster calling "fake news" on the librul media.

At No. 3, ghastly foreigners foiled! (Third paragraph, first sentence: "President Trump went to Brentwood in July and vowed to crush MS-13, while pledging a tougher approach on immigration.")

At No. 4, black people behaving badly! (Second graf, first sentence: "Brittany Covington, 19, entered her plea in a case that received national attention because it involved an 18-year-old disabled white man and four blacks who taunted him with profanities against white people and President Trump.")

The lese-majeste triumph, though, is the causal implication of the No. 5 story:
Skiing star Lindsey Vonn suffered a back injury during a World Cup super-G race in Switzerland Saturday, two days after she criticized President Donald Trump in an interview about next year's Winter Olympics..*

Let's skip to the ninth graf:

... The two-time Olympic medalist told CNN in an interview that aired Thursday that she would "absolutely not" visit the White House if the United States Olympic team gets a traditional post-games invitation.

You can check out the reader comments yourself, if you're wondering what one buys into as a Fox reader.

* (sic), if you're scoring along at home

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Winter wonderland

So if you clicked through from the Fair 'n' Balanced home page to the story that moved into the lead position* around 9 a.m. Saturday and thought the view looked familiar,** you might be wondering what the illustration has to do with much of anything:

Storms that yielded recording-breaking snowfall in the South during the week were expected to hit the Northeast on Friday evening and continue causing problems throughout the weekend.

Once you get past "recording-breaking" and stop wondering why no one's updated "were expected to hit the Northeast on Friday," you're still left with a big question: What's a photo of a Detroit freeway in January 2014 doing on top of a story about something that either has happened or might happen to the Northeast in December 2017?

Winter Storm Benji was moving up the East Coast, with heavy snow predicted for a 2,000-mile stretch from the Deep South to New England. Some spots could see as much as 10 to 15 inches of snow, forecasters said. 

The link to the Weather Channel story (updated at 10:15 a.m. Saturday) suggests where some of the raw material might have originated:

Winter Storm Benji is now spreading snow to much of the Northeast Seaboard, after blanketing a swath of the South with record-setting snowfall.

By the time Benji departs the Northeast, it will have laid down a blanket of snow 2,000 miles long from Texas to New England.

Facts, like Legos, just sort of sit there until someone builds a story out of them. There is a "2,000-mile stretch," and "heavy snow" is predicted for some parts of it, and no doubt there's been some blanketing. But the current winter advisories (per the Weather Channel map) start just southwest of Asheville, which -- being in the mountains near ski resorts and all -- has actually seen snow before. You might be forgiven, at this point, for wondering what sort of story is being built for you. Back to Fox:
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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The enemy of the people

Q: How does the Washington Times revive the flagging spirits of the faithful after a potentially trying weekend?
A: With a picture of Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People George Soros in the centerpiece!

 Plagued by sagging ratings, player protests and fan outrage, the NFL has thrown a political Hail Mary by reportedly agreeing to dole out millions of dollars to two social justice groups connected to Democratic billionaire George Soros.

Under an agreement with the Players Coalition, NFL owners plan to funnel tens of millions of dollars to the Dream Corps, a leftist advocacy group led by former Obama adviser Van Jones and linked to Mr. Soros, which has called for saving the Clean Power Plan, cutting the prison population by half and providing “sanctuary for all.”

The $89 million, seven-year deal also carves out millions of dollars for the Players Coalition, according to ESPN, which has been advised by Soros-funded groups such as the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth and the Center for American Progress, a leader of the anti-Trump “resistance.”

Could it get worse?

... Mr. Soros’ fingerprints can also be found on the Dream Corps, which merged in 2014 with Green for All, an environmental group founded by Mr. Jones in 2007 whose funders included Open Society as well as former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, according to Discover the Networks.

Mr. Jones resigned as President Obama’s “green jobs czar” in 2009 amid reports of his earlier Marxist activism, including his oft-quoted declaration that he became a communist after the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers who beat up Rodney King.

Any further questions about which side the Washington Times would have been on in the 1930s?

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Boundary violations

The fun thing about watching Fox isn't waiting someone at Fox to break the "rules"; it's trying to figure out what Fox's rules are from how Fox breaks other people's rules. So what are the circumstances under which Sunday morning's top story becomes "Trump will take care of it"? Apparently not the lede:

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says neither the American people nor U.S. allies should question the stability of the Trump administration amid his predecessor Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and rumors Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is stepping down.

 “No, I don't think our allies need any reassurance,” McMaster told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “In fact, what we're doing is continuing to work with them on all the key challenges we face today -- from North Korea, to the defeat of ISIS across the Greater Middle East -- the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, too.” 

So ... there must be a lot to talk about.

... Wallace also asked McMaster about the president’s recent retweets of online posts linked to “Britain First,” a far-right group in the United Kingdom.

... “General, why did President Trump send out those videos?” Wallace asked.

“Well, President Trump is the best judge of why he did that,” McMaster said. “I know it was his intention to highlight the importance of creating safe and secure environments for our citizens -- to make sure that we have the right laws in place, enforcement mechanisms in place.”

370 words in, we get to the point(ish):

McMaster also addressed North Korea.

Last week, North Korea launched its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile – a provocation to which President Trump replied, “I will only tell you that we will take care of it.” 

How exactly would the president “take care of it” given China and Russia’s complicity in propping up the regime, Wallace asked.

“Well, the president's going to take care of it by, if we have to, doing more ourselves,” McMaster said. “But what we want to do is convince others it is in their interest to do more. 

Under the standard rules of hed writing, we could at best get a week-old "Trump says 'we will take care of' North Korea." It'd be a stretch to draw "McMaster says Trump will take care of North Korea," because McMaster only vaguely says that.* And since the first few paragraphs (and the point of the interview) seem to point to concerns about whether the president is actually deranged or just acting like it, one wonders why North Korea was the headline at all.

It's a challenge keeping up with Fox and its masters these days; even if you manage to skip from one international nightmare to another, there's something new on the domestic scene. But if you want to climb the Fox ladder quickly, it's hard to go wrong with "Massster will fix it! Massster has everything under control!"

* Nor does he seem to be the one who said “I will only tell you that we will take care of it.” 

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Law is hard. Let's go shopping!

Thursday morning's top two stories may be about sexual harassment (well, about sexual harassment at the competition), but let it not be said that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is overlooking the Mueller investigation. Take it away, Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett!

A direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia is a daily threat.

This is unheard of! We've never been at risk of conflict with Eurasia!

Two months ago, the Pentagon accused Russia of dropping bombs dangerously close to American special operations forces in eastern Syria. The U.S. issued a stern warning. In response, Russia threatened to retaliate if its troops came under fire by the U.S.

The two nations use a “de-confliction” hotline every day to share information about their operations in Syria, as military officers seek to avoid a mistake or miscalculation that could ignite a full-scale war between them.

Surely no one would get in the way of that important work! Or would they?

Such a conflict is something neither side may want, but its two leaders may be powerless to prevent it. Why? Because of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gordie Howe hat trick

When three of the day's corrections are from stories about Canada, you're entitled to wonder if the Nation's Newspaper of Record gets anything right at all about our neighbor to the south:

The Inside The Times article on Friday about the close attention paid to indigenous people and their culture in Canadian media relative to media in the United States misstated the province in which indigenous groups account for nearly 17 percent of the population. It is Manitoba, not British Columbia.

An article on Monday about communities in Northern Canada affected by receding sea ice gave the incorrect age for Derrick Pottle when he moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay from Rigolet as a child. He was 11 years old, not 9.*

... An article on Monday about a New York Times Twitter account being accidentally locked referred incorrectly to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a single province, not two separate provinces.

There is also, of course, the usual confusion about proper names:

Because of an editing error, a subheading in the Scoreboard column on Saturday about a fine for an Arizona Cardinals receiver misstated his surname. As the article correctly noted, he is Larry Fitzgerald, not Fitzpatrick.

A film review on Friday about the documentary “Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars” misidentified one of the musicians who inspired Eric Clapton. It was Little Walter, not Little Milton.

Yes, all those people whose first name is Larry look alike. Yes, all those blues players whose first name is Little look alike. On the bright side, at least the Times no longer seems to think they're all blind.**

* And thanks to Fish for the meta-correction here.
** Would a "because of a reporting error" on the last one there be too much to ask?

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fox weirds verbing

Was the morning's lead story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network -- "Trump lower booms on GOP Senate" -- just a glitch? After all, it was fixed ("Trump lowers boom") within half an hour or so. But before jumping to conclusions, consider this:
"Man open fires" was from the early stages of the Texas church massacre, and it too was replaced before long. But with two of them in three weeks, you have to wonder if something's gotten into the water cooler at Fox. Are we going to regularize all these idiomatic verb phrases by moving the inflection to the noun? Can we bring back Tribune spelling, too?

We can't let this one go without a look at the level of booms-lowering in the tax story (which might help explain why it's fallen completely off the homepage as of this writing; hate it when that happens to a lead story). The inside hed (and the link) are fall-off-the-bone milquetoast: "Trump to visit GOP Senate in push to deliver tax 'Christmas present' to Americans." But it appropriately reflects the high drama of the lede:

President Trump is meeting next week with Republican senators in a push to get a congressional tax reform bill on his desk by Christmas, with a final vote purportedly coming as early as Thursday.

Surely there's some Trumpian elbow-throwing, though?

Trump is eager to pass major tax reform -- the first in nearly three decades -- to get his first major legislative victory.

"We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas,” Trump said last week. “Hopefully, that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present."

Hardly what you'd expect from ... how's that, Oxford English Dictionary?

Amer. slang. to lower the boom on: to inflict severe damage or harsh punishment on; to treat severely; (also) to put a stop to (an activity). Also to lower the boom: to deal a decisive or destructive blow.

No doubt Massster appreciated the effort.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017


No doubt you've all been waiting for the latest from renowned world-affairs analyst Piers Morgan on America's newfound return to international respectability:

... Trump also praised China for out-smarting America in business.
They don’t hear that very often, and certainly not from US presidents.
But it’s true, they have, and Trump’s made it clear he’s not going to make it so easy for them going forward.
Knowing the Chinese mentality a bit from filming a documentary in Shanghai a few years ago, I’d say this a very good strategy.
They respond well to a respectful carrot-and-stick approach, as indeed does Trump.
Let's zoom in for a moment on the cutline, though:
In Vietnam, Trump offered to mediate in the South China Sea dispute, and made encouraging noises about ‘fair and reciprocal’ two-way trade deal, both vitally important issues. Here is* Trump and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in front of a statue of Ho Chi Mihn. The President managed to not criticize his hosts
My, my, my. Uncle Ho doesn't usually get off so lightly when American heads of state are involved. Indeed, the whole business of casually posing within camera range of icons of communist mass mayhem seems -- how's that, The Fox Nation?
As the Weekly Standard notes, "the Obama-Che photo was even worse than it looked":

President Obama boasted on his trip that he wasn't going to tell Cubans to "tear something down," a reference to President Reagan's famous exhortation to tear down the Berlin wall. Of course, there's no wall - only ocean - separating Cuba from the rest of the world to tear down. But Obama could have at least told Castro to tear down the monument to repression that he was happily photographed in front of.

Because that's what real presidents do! Right, Piers Morgan?

Throughout his tour, Trump avoided publicly criticizing any of his hosts.
For a man who delights in criticizing absolutely everyone, this must have taken quite extraordinary self-control.
But it paid off. The press coverage from this trip, both in the countries concerned and in the US, is the best Trump’s enjoyed since becoming President.
That must have been a relief. Just consider what happened when ...
Say it ain't so, The Washington Times! Did the Kenyan usurper indulge in another selfie?
For a President who wants to stand on the “right side of history” – posing in front of a mural of an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary during his trip to Cuba probably wasn’t the best choice.

In a photo-op Monday, President Barack Obama and his delegation stood near a massive mural of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a faithful follower of Karl Marx, and solider** feared by many for his brutality. Mr. Guevara personally oversaw the butchering of Cuba’s Catholics.
So he "snapped" the photo by either -- posing or standing, take your pick.
It's probably true that we overreacted to the vermin press a little bit in 1942. A more appropriate remedy is public ridicule. Please, consider it your constitutional duty to go forth and make fun of these folks. Justice Brandeis wants you to!
* They is?
** [sic], if you're scoring along at home

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