Me­dia wreck: Pro­pa­ganda, moral sewer

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The un­abated moral con­fu­sion flow­ing through the me­dia is stun­ning. It’s so bad, you can’t look away. But we should try. With a few ex­cep­tions, the ma­jor TV net­works are a tor­ren­tial sewer of left-wing pro­pa­ganda and smutty sit­coms. Print and on­line me­dia are more di­ver­si­fied, but the New York Times has so many cer­ti­fi­ables writ­ing for it that I can’t even de­cide which one to quote. Else­where, colum­nists like the Mi­ami Her­ald’s Leonard Pitts Jr. spin out nuggets like, “Racial an­i­mus is an el­e­ment of tea party ide­ol­ogy, but not its en­tirety.” Why, thanks for that caveat, Mr. Pitts.

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Court­land Mil­loy, af­ter watch­ing the Iowa cau­cuses on TV in Jan­uary, com­plained bit­terly that “nearly ev­ery­body was white.” Imag­ine that shoe on the other foot.

Be­cause I live and work in the Wash­ing­ton area, I’ll nar­row this litany of lu­nacy down to The Wash­ing­ton Post, which rarely dis­ap­points.

Some of the weirdest stuff is on the opin­ion page, such as the May 26 ed­i­to­rial “Make us pay more: A higher gaso­line tax would be good for the coun­try.” Don’t make me have to ex­plain why that’s not a good idea.

E. J. Dionne Jr.’s June 11 col­umn,”Govern­ment is the so­lu­tion,” turns “Ron­ald Rea­gan’s dec­la­ra­tion on its head,” and blames “con­ser­va­tives” for block­ing more fed­eral spend­ing that could “heal the econ­omy.” Can some­one please send Mr. Dionne to Greece for a few days?

Then there are the “5 Myths About” col­umns on Sun­days. At their best, they cor­rect com­mon mis­con­cep­tions, but they also serve up howlers.

On May 27, in Stephanie Coontz’s “5 Myths about Mar­riage,” No. 3 was: “Di­vorce is harm­ful for women and chil­dren.” Pay no at­ten­tion to the so­cial wreck­age around you, folks. Myth No. 5 was “Mar­ried cou­ples are the build­ing blocks of com­mu­nity life.” Per­haps Ms. Coontz might stroll around some ur­ban hell­holes where mar­riage has dis­ap­peared. If she sur­vives, she could re­port on how well ev­ery­one is far­ing.

In “5 Myths about breast­feed­ing,” on June 3, No. 1 is, “Breast feed­ing is nat­u­ral.” Orit Avishai be­gins the piece in Clin­tonesque fash­ion: “It de­pends on how you de­fine ‘nat­u­ral.’ ”

Over in Style, colum­nist Anna Holmes re­counted her joy when a friend con­fessed to hav­ing a “tor­rid af­fair with a male col­league for years. . . . While I tsk-tsked au­di­bly and threw her a dis­ap­prov­ing look, inside I cheered. . . . I felt a per­verse sort of tri­umph in her be­trayal, a celebration that [she] was boldly as­sert­ing con­trol over her sex­ual and emo­tional de­sires.”

The rich­est source of lu­nacy, hands down, is Satur­day’s “On Faith” page, edited by former Style colum­nist and fa­mous per­son Sally Quinn. The page’s reg­u­lar colum­nist is Lisa Miller, a foun­tain­head of New Age mus­ings wrapped in Christian garb. Here are a few:

“A very wise Trap­pist monk once told me that un­less ev­ery­one gets to heaven, no one will.” Sounds more like a wiseguy dis­pens­ing cheap grace.

“As I pointed out in a 2008 Newsweek ar­ti­cle, ‘The Re­li­gious Case for Gay Mar­riage,’ the Bi­ble of­fers no ex­am­ples of what might be called ‘the tra­di­tional fam­ily.’ “As the cow­ardly lion might say, “Not Noah, Not No­body!”

“Pow­er­ful, vo­cal Ro­man Catholics have been much in the news of late, mostly for their hard-line po­si­tions on abor­tion and birth con­trol, and their self-serv­ing rhetoric on the sub­ject of re­li­gious rights in the health-care de­bate.” How self­ish of the church to want the govern­ment’s boot off its neck.

“In her book ‘The Ori­gin of Satan,’ Elaine Pagels shows how from the very be­gin­ning, Chris­tians have used the devil to de­mo­nize peo­ple who were un­like them — ‘first Jews,’ she writes, ‘then pa­gans, and later dis­si­dent Chris­tians called heretics.’ To ex­trap­o­late from Pagels, gays can be seen as moder­nity’s Jews and heretics.” Guess it’s not too late to round up the Chris­tians and rev up the lions.

“Is the Right Rev. Mar­i­ann Budde the woman to save the Epis­co­pal Church? On meet­ing her, you’d hope so. . . . She is un­apolo­get­i­cally lib­eral, and the way she an­swers hot-but­ton ques­tions — ‘I’m in fa­vor of gay mar­riage, al­ways have been. At this point it’s a no-brainer’ — is brac­ing . . . .” Well, she’s at least half right.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery week, the “On Faith” page is a train wreck. Writ­ing last New Year’s Eve about the Egyp­tian police’s ex­po­sure of a fe­male demon­stra­tor’s blue bra, Ms. Quinn pro­claimed, “That blue bra, to me, was the ul­ti­mate sym­bol of women’s power, the one thing that threat­ens men above all.” She told all women to get one.

My first thought was that Ms. Quinn’s hus­band, former Post Ex­ec­u­tive Edi­tor Ben Bradlee, had bet­ter get her one for her birthday if he knows what’s good for him. In the same col­umn, she plugged a book that “ar­gues that Mary Mag­da­lene may well have been Je­sus Christ’s lover, life com­pan­ion, ‘soul­mate,’ and first among the apos­tles . . . If only Mary Mag­da­lene had had the blue bra.”

The next week, Ms. Quinn con­tin­ued her rhap­sody in blue: “The blue bra, for me, has be­come al­most like a tal­is­man or amulet. It keeps away bad feel­ings.” It makes me feel lucky and pro­tected.”

Re­mem­ber, this is the same per­son whose “On Faith” page reg­u­larly por­trays bib­li­cal Chris­tian­ity as ret­ro­grade su­per­sti­tion.

On March 3, Ms. Quinn splashed across the top of the page Lisa Miller’s tirade against GOP can­di­dates. Not­ing that Mitt Rom­ney, Rick San­to­rum, Michele Bach­mann and Ron Paul have large fam­i­lies, Ms. Miller wrote, “[T]he smug fe­cun­dity of the Repub­li­can field this pri­mary sea­son has me wor­ried. . . . [T]he ro­man­tic ide­al­iza­tion of bi­b­li­cally abun­dant fam­i­lies is a ret­ro­grade dream.”

A small-fam­ily mother her­self, she pulled back at the end: “I am the first per­son to say chil­dren are a mir­a­cle, a bless­ing, a gift from God.”

Right. So, which of th­ese can­di­dates’ chil­dren is a curse? In­quir­ing read­ers want to know.

Robert Knight is se­nior fel­low for the Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union and a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Sally Quinn

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