The New Rules

Remember when there was an unstated rule, when following news coverage of a crime in the Metro – if they didn’t mention the offender’s ethnicity or show a photo, it actually answered the question?

New addition to the rule: if the story pertains to criminal justice’s response to last year’s riots, and the offender’s ideology – “Boogaloo”, “proud boy”, whatever – isn’t mentioned, you know by omission whose “side” they were on.

Case in point.

Prove me wrong.

The Great Shun

There was a time when news outlets in the Twin Cities would, on occasion and when it was germane to the story, reach out to people on the political right. It even got to the point, in the last aughts, when lowly lil’ ol’ me was getting occasional calls from Channel 4, MPR and WCCO Radio for a grassroots conservative perspective on stories. This hit a peak during the Tea Party years…

…and then, abruptly, stopped.

We’ll come back to that.

The “point/counterpoint” feature was, if not a staple, at least a fairly normal part of American media life not all that long ago. Before “Crossfire” – which, I’m surprised and pained to see, has been gone for over 15 years – there were others; the earliest I can remember was a weekly bit on “Sixty Minutes”, “Point/Counterpoint”, with liberal Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick – two articulate spokespeople for two diametrically opposed viewpoints.

Of course, CNN’s Crossfire was the biggest of them all. The original cast – Pat Buchanan and Tom Leyden – was the best, and sometimes created some fantastic TV – and I say this as someone who was pretty much a Democrat back then, although I hadn’t really thought that much about it (which makes me amply qualified to be a Democrat today). The most memorable bit, in those days when “white supremacist” groups operated in the open and were at least an order of magnitude larger than they are today, was an interview with a uniformed American Nazi. And Leyden, the show’s liberal and a World War 2 veteran, opened the segment by saying “My biggest regret in life was that I didn’t kill more of you back during the war” as the normally un-out-irascible Buchanan looked on, his jaw momentarily agape.

It’s a scene you wouldn’t get today – partly because any notion of patriotism and objective good and evil is gone from the left…

…and partly because Crossfire is long gone.

Now, according to Ben Domenech at Federalist, it was killed by Jon Stewart, who during a fabled appearance in 2004 completely trashed the premise of the show:

Readers will recall this was the infamous “hurting America” clip, where Stewart crapped all over the very concept of a debate show that paired left and right as co-equals in a running debate over the direction of America.

Stewart, who’s a fan of uninformed hubristic rants generally but will put the clown nose back on the minute you call him on it, went on a jeremiad against hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala as representing the worst aspects of American politics. But looking back on the ramifications of his comments — “Crossfire” was canceled months later — what do we see? There is today essentially no program on all of cable television that pairs left and right perspectives on camera as co-equal hosts, allowed to engage in free and open debate about the topics of the day.

Domenech’s premise – that event was the beginning of the end of actual debate in the media:

So we should ask: Is that a good thing? Is the media landscape Stewart helped create better for it, where Brian Williams regularly engages in Stewart-like snark (he called Ron Johnson a Russian asset the other day for reading a Federalist article into the record) and Tucker Carlson is the biggest name as a solo act in cable news?

In a context in which so much ink is dedicated to the concept of silos and the elimination of common space between right and left — and I mean the real right and left, not David Brooks and Maureen Dowd — do we honestly want a world where there is no space where these warring sides meet to do rhetorical battle?

The answer is: of course not. It’s much, much worse. The inability to have a space where such debates play out, and the inability of existing entities to provide such a space, has led directly to a degradation of our political conversation and a lack of familiarity with even the most basic version of the other side’s perspective on the world.

Domenech may have a point – the event was certainly the beginning of the end on cable.

But the stifling of actual co-equal debate began much earlier. I recall the woman who edited the “Letters to the Editor” page at the Strib, back before the internet made everyone an LTE editor, and then before social media made us all stupid, describing on a talk show how she made sure she picked only the dumb voices on some subjects, like gun control and abortion. You know which side she favored.

But it’s become absolutely airtight. As I noted way up above, local media made a point of at least acknowledging some sort of opposing opinion. During the run-up to the Republican National Convenion in 2007, I got invited on an MPR program on the planned protests, to discuss planned counterprotests. Because there was a counterpoint, and there was another side.

A few years later, when I spent some time fact-checking NPR’s fact-check column, both here and via email – correctly – one of MPR’s news execs inadvertently cc’ed me on an email to RIchert, telling her not to bother engaging. And that was the last I’ve heard from NPR, on any level, for any reason.

And it’s not just me. Far from it – even “tame” liberal Republican voices like David Brooks are getting rarer.

It was almost like a switch flipped, along about 2011. LIke the media saw what a motivated, decentralized, idealistic conservative-libertarian throng like the Tea Party could so (and did, in 2010), and figured they needed to starve it of that most precious political commodity ,air time.

I strongly suspect that the “outing” of “JournoList” didn’t end the collusion around the progressive narrative in the media – indeed, I suspect that, like an evil, adenoidal Gandalf, it just came back, bigger and stronger and more secret still.

And the nation is much worse off for it.

On “Hockey Night In Vermont”, Soon.

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “Gascoigne checks O’Reilly into the boards…”

COLOR GUY: “Oh, wow. Cheap hit, there…”

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “Aaaaand off come the gloves. We’ve got a donnybrook going here”

COLOR GUY: “Hockey used to be such an artistic game. How far hockey has fallen, since it’s first ever fight, last January 7”.

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “RIght you are, Guy”.

Somewhere In Highland Park, Probably

GUY A: “Who was that woman who got arrested here in Highland a few years back for being a terrorist?”

GAL B: “Sarah Jane Olson. She was arrested for being involved in January 6″.

GUY A: “I thought it was from in the Symbionese Liberation Army, back in the seventies?”

GAL B: “Couldn’t be. There was no political violence before January 6”

GUY A: “Doh. My bad”.

One Day, Driving Through The Eastern Ukraine

TOUR GUIDE: “Welcome to Volgograd – formerly Stalingrad”.

TOURIST:”Excuse me – will we see any monuments to the Battle of Stalingrad?”

TOUR GUIDE: “What?”

TOURIST: “The epic battle between the Nazis and Soviets, in 1942-43?”

TOUR GUIDE: “I don’t understand. There was no war or violence of any kind before January 6”.

KOMMISSAR (yelling from off-camera left (where else?)): “Or since!”

In A Blue-City School, Somewhere, Probably

TEACHER: OK, Chad, what do the Gulf War, World War 2, World War 1, the Civil War, the War of the Roses, and the French Revolution have in common?

CHAD: Um…

TEACHER: Besides being called wars.

CHAD: Um…I don’t know?

TEACHER: None of them existed. Because there was no violence of any kind before January 6.

Public Health Theater Of The Absurd

When “Karen” tells me “I follow science”, I’ve taken to silently appending, often (but by no means always) in my mind, “you absorbed a CDC announcement a little over a year ago”.

The people maniacally scrubbing surfaces? As re Covid, it’s largely a wasted effort.

Via the Atlantic, which nearly along among periodicals has done a good job of actual journalism as re public health:

Whenever I’ve written about hygiene theater, some people have responded with the same objection: “Hey, what’s the matter with washing our hands?” That’s an easy one: Absolutely nothing. “Pandemic or no pandemic, you should wash your hands, especially after you prepare food, go to the bathroom,” or touch something yucky, Goldman said.

But hygiene theater carries with it an immense opportunity cost. Too many institutions spend scarce funds or sacrifice scarce resources to do microbial battle against fomites that don’t pose a real threat. This is especially true of cash-strapped urban-transit authorities and school districts that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on soap technology rather than their central task of transporting and teaching people.

Hygiene theater also muddles the public-health message. If you tell people, “This disease is on surfaces, on your clothes, on your hands, on your face, and also in the air,” they will react in a scattered and scared way. But if you tell people the truth—this virus doesn’t do very well on surfaces, so you should focus on ventilation—they can protect themselves against what matters.

Of course, if you read this blog (and, to be fair, this blog’s citing of writers in The Atlantic), you had a solid hunch about this nearly a year ago.

Incomplete

The press “reports” on Maxine Waters’ weekend trip to Brooklyn Center:

Did they cover everything?

Miss anything?

Like…the incitement to violence?

From the party (and media) that seems to think that there was no political violence in this country before (or apparently after) January 6?

UPDATE/BUMP: Oh, yeah – like Lisa Bender and Philippe Cunningham, Waters wanted special treatment while she incite her violence.

This Is What Screwed Looks Like

Governor Walz yesterday morning, as he got ready to head into the studio for his ritual toenail-painting with Esme Murphy:

Ever notice how the press never cares about civil rights being trashed until its their civil rights being trashed?

He’s wrong, of course. A press that holds power accountable is “foundational to democracy”. So we’re screwed.

By the way – not holding “emergency power” long after the emergency has passed is also “foundational to democracy”.

Hackery Most Foul

John Hinderaker asks a question many of us have been mulling for nearly two decades: why does 60 Minutes still exist?

It’s a holdover from a time when American media held some general (and often ill-deserved) respect for fairness and, if not “objectivity” (that’s a myth) at least detachment.

But between Rathergate, 17 years ago, and last week’s revelations that the show presented an “expose” of Ron DeSantis edited so far out of context as to be an absolute lie, it bids the critical thinker to ask: why is the show still on the air at all, if not to serve as a Democrat PR production?

Hinderaker has the original, and edtied-out, text. It is beyond damning. You be the judge.

My only regret is, having not watched the show in nearly 20 years, I have nothing to boycott.

Lies

I’m told sex trafficking is a huge problem, particularly during sporting events.  The Star Tribune says pipeline workers in Duluth engage in sex trafficking, which is grounds to shut down the pipeline that the Indians don’t like. And now we have a conviction for sex trafficking a minor during the NCAA Final Four, State v. Abdulazeez, see attached.

Except . . . there was no sex, no minor child, nobody trafficked, in either incident.  They’re both undercover police sting operations aimed at ordinary prostitution Johns.  The cops neither liberated a trafficked person nor jailed a trafficker. Which tells me that sex trafficking MAY be a problem, but the official statistics cannot be used to support that claim. They are as unreliable as Covid statistics and good only for one thing: demanding more funding.

It’s like the guy in the Target parking lot who wants to panhandle five bucks because he’s out of gas and his girlfriend is pregnant and they’re trying to get home to St. Louis to see his ailing mother before she dies of cancer and . . . lies, they’re all lies to get money out of me.  However many cops are involved in fighting imaginary crime in chat rooms – go ahead, defund them all.  Won’t stop a single crime in the real world and it will free up resources to man the barricades when People Whose Lives Matter show up with bricks and Molotov cocktails.

Worse, the media missed the most obvious conclusion of all.  If sports events create sex predators then sporting events are bad so why are we not only condoning them, but actively subsidizing them?  Subsidized stadia = subsidized sports events = trafficked children for sexual predators.    Why does the State of Minnesota and the City of Murderapolis promote trafficking children for sex?  Why do they hate children and want them to die?

Joe Doakes

If the people of Minnesota ever start thinking about what their media and government do, it’ll get ugly.

A Few Issues

Like a decent but shrinking share of National Public Radio (NPR) programming, “The Hidden Brain” has some redeeming value – in this case, some fascinating looks into the frontiers of cognitive psychology, at least among the episodes I’ve heard. A repurposed podcast, like an awful lot of NPR programming, it is one of the shows that’s filling the spot “Prairie Home Companion” and “Live from Here” used to fill – and is actually pretty interesting, even with the occasional challenge it provides.

But it’s NPR – National “Progressive” Radio. The network exists largely to affirm the left’s prejudices about itself and society. An NPR bumper sticker or tote bag was an Urban Progressive Privilege virtue-signal long before those became a cultural obsession.

And so when fact peters out, narrative sets in. And there is just no way that narrative gets challenged by anyone on the program. It might be off-topic – you’d be surprised how easy it is to fill an hour of radio – but it seems more and more obvious that NPR isn’t in the “challeninging Big Left’s tropes” business.

And so with last weekend’s episode, on “Honor Societies” – which, the hypothesis goes, include much of the American South and West.

You can argue the premise. You can argue the findings. And by all means, do.

But around forty minutes in, the host and guest swerved into a deeply counterfactual “discussion of ‘Stand your Ground’ laws”. I put it in scare quotes because it was no such thing; it was an unchallenged recitation of Big Left’s narrative about self-defense reform.

I wrote then an email, attached below.

I’m Mitch Berg, from Saint Paul, MN. My day job involves a lot of applied cognitive psychology, so I’ve become a bit of a fan of HIdden Brain [1]. I listen most Saturdays on KNOW in Saint Paul.

And I very much enjoyed your 3/29 episode, about “Honor Societies” – until about 40 minutes into it, where it swerved, hard, into misinformation.

Your host and guest spent a few moments discussing so-called “Stand your Ground” laws. Whether through ignorance or intent, that part of the show was highly legally erroneous at best, and misinformation at worst.

I’ll explain briefly [2]:

  1. Self-defense laws vary by state – but in every case I’m aware of require that one meet the following criteria:
    One must reasonably fear being killed, violently, then and there (where “reasonable” means “would convince a jury”).
  2. You can only use the force needed to end the threat in #1 above. When an attacker turns to run away, or falls over too injured to hurt you, the threat is over – you can’t hunt them down and finish them off.
  3. One must not be the aggressor; one can’t start a bar-room brawl (or an “honor” incident, for that matter) and pull a gun when someone breaks a beer bottle.
  4. One must make a reasonable effort to retreat (same definition of “reasonable” as above). In a “Castle Doctrine” state, this doesn’t apply in the home and, in some states, one’s business. In a so-called “Stand your Ground” state, it doesn’t apply outside the home, anyplace one has a legal right to be, while doing anything one has the legal right to do, provided you meet the three criteria above.

Your guest repeated the “misconception” – in many cases, it’s a propagandistic chanting point, but I’ll presume good motive, here – that “Stand your Ground” means, closely paraphrasing your guest, that “thinking you’re in danger gives you the right to kill someone, and call it self-defense”. In fact, even in situations where “Castle” or “Stand your Ground” laws apply, one must meet the other three criteria, subject to the details of state statute, to the satisfaction of the investigators, the prosecutors, and if worse comes to worst a jury.”Stand your ground” is not a legal grounds to claim the dog ate one’s moral homework to get away with murder.Beyond that? Your guest noted that “Stand your Ground” laws are most common in “Honor States” – implying “Honor”-based attitudes drive “Stand your Ground” laws.

But facts show that the correlation is far from accurate. 29 states, as diverse as Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, have “stand your ground” statutes, and eight more – including Washington State, Oregon and Illinois – have it in case law. (And New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota are all “Castle” states, via statute or case law). So, rather than “Honor Society”, the valid correlation appears to be states with meaningfully strong and effective libertarian/conservative legislative majorities or minorities have such laws.

Fascinating as much of the episode was (I wound up driving around the city for an extra 40 minutes to hear the whole thing), this part of the episode veered sharply from fact into legal misinformation. And given this is a public radio production, even one I generally enjoy a lot, I’m given to suspect at least a tinge of classist narrative. The show was much the worse off for it.


While I realize the odds of this email being acknowledged, much less broadcast, are about as likely as my getting a hot third date with Anna Kendrick, I grant permission to use this response on the air, and will edit and put it in audio form if you prefer.

I’ll also point out that as part of my “side hustle” (see [1], below), I’ll be discussing this episode, and my attempt to contact your program about it, on my show, podcast and blog, in the coming week or two, including reaching out (likely pro forms and in the interest of fairness and clarity) to your show’s guest.

Mitch Berg
651 xxx xxxx

[1] I mentioned my “day job” – now I should tell you about my side hustle. I’m a talk show host and podcaster at a Twin Cities radio station, as well as a modestly prominent regional blogger. That follows a career in radio and journalism, including at least some time doing news at a publicly-supported station.

[2] My bona fides: For over two decades, I’ve been an activist and volunteer for the groups that wrote much of MInnesota’s current body of firearms law, which have passed with strong bipartisan majorities and been signed by governors of both parties. I produce the podcast for this group. As a MInnesota carry permit holder, I have had to repeatedly demonstrate knowledge of the law as part of statutory permit training. I’m not a lawyer, but I get most of my information from lawyers who specialize in this area, both in criminal defense and legislative terms. You want cites, I got cites. If there is a person anywhere in American alternative media who’s paid more dues on this issue, I say with all due humility I have yet to be introduced to them.

Public radio – NPR, as always, and increasingly MPR – rarely deigns to acknowledge the proles. Suffice to say, this post (and my next NARN show) will likely be this topic’s only sojourn outside the memory hole.

As Long As We’re Challenging People

The Strib tweeted this over the weekend:

I mean, I’ve done it before. I used to give up cursing for Lent. It was a fascinating exercise, even though I’ve never been among the more foul-mouthed people I know.

But I’ve got a better idea:

Let’s do a “Detached Journalism Challenge”. Let’s try to not be stenographers for Big Left for a whole month.

I think I got this

How about you, Star/Tribune?

Our Ad

Ads don’t appear by accident.

Least of all television ads, with their high production costs and long lead-times. If you see something in a television ad, especially an “agency” spot (produced by an ad agency, as opposed to something shot at a store or TV station for a local merchant, you may be assured someone thought about the message it was portraying.

A lot.

As we’ve discussed recently, the high numbers of African-Americans in TV commercials challenge the idea that Americans are innately racist. If an add offends someone on some visceral level, it’s just not going to work.

With that in mind, I direct your attention to the latest round of commercials for “Hy Vee”, the national grocery chain, and what HyVee thinks it says about their customers. Both spots are done to the tune of the ’80s song Our House, by the British ska group “Madness”.

Here’s the first one, which came out over the winter:

Note the imagery (amid all the HyVee products):

  • Mom is the executive rushing off to the high-power job.
  • Dad is not only getting the kids ready for school. Not only is he kind of a bumbler, like most TV ad dads, but he looks like a buffoon.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dads taking care of kids. I spent 20 years doing it, 11 of ’em mostly by myself, several more covering the day shift and working nights to save daycare. Fathers pulling their weight is nothing new.

But it’s not an unreasonable assumption that, in the typical family – whether two-parent or not – a woman is still making a lot of the shopping decisions. And HyVee, one of the major retailers, believes that not only is the image of the woman being the high-speed executive bread-winner one that appeals to those consumers, but showing hubby as a hapless buffoon who’d be lost without her appeals as well.

It’s hardly a novel observation.

HyVee has a new “Our House” spot out – it’s not out on Youtube just yet, so I can’t post it here just yet. And when I first saw it – with its improbably pretty mom cleaning the house to a fine sheen with her array of HyVee products, and a pronounced “Father Knows Best” vibe, I briefly thought “Ooofda – how did this get greenlit? The feministasi are going to have a cow.”.

Then I mentally caught myself. “There’s going to be a whammy”.

And sure enough – Dad finally came home. And he reminded me of Rip Taylor, if Rip Taylor were playing a Gestapo agent (sans long black trench coat – this agent was dressed like, well, Rip Taylor in a HyVee commercial) – simultaneously petulant and way below Mom’s league.

So apparently HyVee’s marketing department believes that an ad Dad who is a mass of caricatures, coming across as a spoiled, petulant martinet to his improbably gorgeous, clearly put-upon spouse, is not only not going to turn their audience off, but will in fact bring them out to the stores?

What does this say about…

…well, not “society”, per se, but the advertising industry’s view of society?

From The Archives

Seems like forever ago that Michael Mann published his hockey-stick
graph, Mary Steyn made fun of it in a column for National Review, and
Mann sued for defamation.  The case has lingered for eight years in the
courts, only now entering the ‘discovery’ phase after National Review
was dismissed as a defendant.

Mark Steyn was deposed by Michael Mann’s lawyer.  Steyn uploaded the
transcript here: https://www.steynonline.com/documents/11106.pdf

I suppose reading deposition transcripts isn’t everyone’s cup of tea,
but I found it entertaining.  Your mileage may vary.

Joe Doakes

I can’t imagine those lawyers knew what hit them.

None Dare Call It Slander

I mean, when even Bill Maher gets uncomfortable…

Former North Dakota Senator and current useless mouth Heidi Heitkamp calls Gina Carano a “Nazi”. Plain and simple, full stop.

I’ll chalk this up to the (utterly true) idea that any Democrat can parrot any narrative twaddle, no matter how moronic, without fear, knowing that their audience hasn’t the critical thinking skills to call them on it. Or anything.

But I won’t get mad. I’ll just get on the air. I sent this to her Facebook page.

Senator,

I’m Mitch Berg. I grew up in Jamestown. My mother, Jan Berg/Brooks, was a volunteer for any number of your campaigns at the state and federal level.

I fell a bit farther from the tree, politically, of course.

I’d like to make a media request – I’d love to interview y ou on my show (WWTC AM1280) in the Twin Cities regarding your assertion that Gina Carano is a “Nazi”.

I can either do it live on Saturday at 2PM, or record an interview at any time convenient to you.

Hope we can discuss this.

Thanks.

Why, sure – I expect a response! Why wouldn’t I?

Impunity

I’ve been thinking about impunity.  It’s why:

-Black Lives Matter and Antifa can burn down cities;

-Keith Ellison can orchestrate a lynching;

-Tim Walz can imprison the whole state for an entire year;

-someone in the Biden Administration can send troops to kick down doors
in Syria;

-China can humiliate our diplomats in Alaska;

-sex fiends and pedophiles can prey on victims for years;

-illegal immigrants can swarm our border.

When people know they can get away with bad behavior, they engage in
more of it.  Swift punishment deters bad behavior.  How can we restore
the deterrent necessary to end bad behavior?

Joe Doakes

A city without any political opposition, and a political system without any major media scrutiny, all lead to people acting with impunity.