Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Heroes and Villains

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Heroes and Villains

We start this time with a feature we call Heroes and Villains.

Our hero here is CNN.

Back in March, AP released the newest version of its style book, a reference used by a good number of media outlets. One significant change was to say that if something is racist, call it racist. Don't call it "racially charged" or "racially motivated" or "racially tinged," if it's racist, call it racist.

CNN apparently took this to heart because in the first mainstream media example I saw, an article about Tweetie-pie's attack Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib - aka “The Squad” - started with "In a series of racist tweets."

Usually, media would only use the word in a direct quote and even then would often prefer to say that "so-and-so objected to Trump's racially-infused language" rather than call it what it was. So it may not seem like much, but for any of the mainstream mass media to skip the euphemisms amounts to a breakthrough too long in coming. For being the first example I saw, CNN is our hero.

Our villain, on the other hand, is CNN.

In the same article, CNN noted a false accusation against Ilhan Omar that she had praised al-Qaeda when in fact she was describing the body language used by a college instructor in talking about the group. She was discussing the idea that terms like al-Qaeda are not translated into English - al-Qaeda means "The Base" or "The Foundation" - because that gives them "a bigger meaning," makes them seem more ominous. She said "You don't say 'America' with an intensity, you don't say 'England' with an intensity, you don't say 'the army' with an intensity. But you say these names because you want that word" - that is, al-Qaeda - " to carry weight."

CNN then said, quoting
It is possible to argue that Omar was making light of al Qaeda's crimes in suggesting that its name itself is what makes people recoil, or that she was implying that there is an equivalence between al Qaeda and the US army.
No, it's not possible! Not in the real world. Leaving aside the fact that I'm not at all sure that you can't draw some equivalence between al-Qaeda and the US army, there is no way a rational person could argue that she was "making light" of terrorist crimes.

CNN made a stab at defending Omar against the racist attacks, but it remains lost in the very same swamp of the phony “balance” of the very sort that made it impossible for so long to call racism by its proper name, and so couldn’t do it without giving the bigots and liars a script for another false attack against her.

And that makes the network a villain.

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