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CONTEMPT (PART 5)! Bernie got his shorts in a wad when Frank Rich used the term “homophobia:”


GLASS HOUSES: When we saw Shattered Glass this weekend, we were quite surprised by how strong the film is. Yes, there are a few massive flaws, flaws we plan to discuss next week. But we strongly suggest that you see this film—remembering, of course, that Bernie Goldberg is every bit as big a dissembler as Stephen Glass ever was. Why did Glass get canned while Goldberg gets puffed? Good question! Next week, we’ll discuss it. By the way: Ten months after Glass got fired, his former editor, Michael Kelly, wrote “Farmer Al” for the Washington Post. It was as big as any fraud Glass produced—and a thousand times more consequential. But Glass was expendable; Kelly wasn’t. More on these topics next week.

PLEASANTVILLE: Bernie Goldberg is very upset by the way liberals do all that name-calling. And no, he’s not afraid to say so— for example, in his chapter on the way the press covers gay issues. “Somewhere along the line too many otherwise smart liberals became entirely too illiberal,” he notes. “On gay issues, for example, they now revert to name-calling at the drop of a hat.”

And who is the Mother of All Gay Issue Name-Callers? That, of course, would be Frank Rich, liberal columnist at the cosmopolitan and demonic New York Times. According to Bernie, Rich “attacks just about anyone who raises questions about any aspect of the gay agenda even more rabidly than he does other ideological foes.” What kind of attack does Bernie have in mind? Frank Rich won’t stop saying “homophobia:”

GOLDBERG (page 176): In Rich’s work, the vicious accusation “homophobic,” “homophobia,” or “homophobe” turns up so often (forty times as of this writing!) it’s almost laughable. He refers to the “homophobic Traditional Values Coalition” and “the homophobic right,” to “a homophobic, Dobson-endorsed candidate” and “homophobic jurors,” to “homophobic rhetoric” and “homophobic lyrics.” [Bernie’s italics]
“[F]ew can match Rich for sheer poisonous vitriol,” Bernie sadly says. He offers no other examples.

Predictably, Bernie has worked himself into a lather. Also predictably, he omits some basic facts which undercut his own nasty charges. For example, because “homophobia” is so vicious a charge, Bernie is shocked to see that Rich has used the word some forty times. But Bernie’s slick; he doesn’t mention how many years are taken in by his troubling word-count. In fact, according to Nexis archives, Rich has used some form of the word “homophobia” forty-two times in the past twenty years! Does Rich “revert to name-calling at the drop of a hat?” According to Bernie, Rich has used this vicious term twice a year for the past twenty years! Bernie knows that, of course, since he did the search. He just didn’t want you to know it.

But let’s work back to the basic issue: Is there something wrong with the word “homophobia?” Presumably, that depends on how you use it. Bernie fleshes out no examples. So why don’t we do so right now?

Does Frank Rich engage in “rabid attacks?” As we’ve seen, Bernie is troubled by Rich’s use of the specific term “homophobic lyrics.” But according to Nexis, Rich has used the term just once—to refer to some of Eminem’s lyrics! To most folks, Rich would just be stating the obvious, but Bernie wanted to fool the rubes, so he listed the phrase as “poisonous vitriol” revealing Rich’s rank liberal bias. Meanwhile, in fairness to Bernie, we’ll note that Rich staged another attack on another set of lyrics, a little more than twelve years ago. Rich reviewed a Broadway musical, Falsettoland. As usual, he got in the gutter:

RICH (10/15/91): The evening’s dramatic thread becomes the boy’s efforts to become a man even as his parents split up, his mother remarries and his father moves in with his friend, Whizzer. Jason’s journey from his hilarious, innocently homophobic solo, “My Father’s a Homo,” early in Act I to his heroic Act II decision to celebrate his manhood by having his bar mitzvah in the dying Whizzer’s hospital room gives the show its most inspiring burst of hope.
When Rich discussed “My Father’s a Homo,” was he engaged in “poisonous vitriol?” Surely, we don’t have to ask. But this is the kind of screaming nonsense Bernie likes selling in Rubeland.

But now, it really starts getting good. Bernie, of course, is also upset because Rich has referred to “homophobic rhetoric.” Was Frank Rich showing his rank liberal bias? According to Nexis, Rich has used the phrase just once—to say that a major conservative, consultant Ralph Reed, doesn’t engage in such discourse:

RICH (4/27/97): Mr. Reed avoids homophobic rhetoric; his fledgling efforts to reach out to poor black Americans, however politically opportune, seem motivated by a sincere desire to atone for conservative hostility to the 60’s civil-rights movement.
Can you see why Bernie used the term “rabid?” And Rich showed more lib bias in 1995, when he engaged in “sheer vitriol” once again:
RICH (10/21/95): Bob Dole, it must be recalled, is no homophobe. As recently as this year, he was on record as an unambiguous opponent of anti-gay discrimination.
Is no one safe when liberals attack? By the way, in his single reference to “homophobic jurors,” Rich also displayed his liberal bias, applauding the Rev. Jerry Falwell for rejecting homophobia. Falwell had called Matthew Shepard’s murder an “horrific crime” deserving “the severest of punishments.” He had also said, “I could never accept ‘gay panic’ or any other excuse as grounds for what [the killer] did.” Rich got out the poison:
RICH (11/6/99): With this statement, [Falwell] sided with the gay activists who had reviled Mr. McKinney’s defense argument that Mr. Shepard invited his own slaughter by allegedly making sexual advances to his assailants. “Gay panic” is a hateful courtroom strategy—last seen famously in the “Jenny Jones” murder trial—but it’s trotted out nonetheless by lawyers hoping to sway a homophobic juror or two. And Mr. Falwell, like the judge in Laramie, would have none of it.
Rich praised Falwell—but you know Bernie! The corrupt little man hoped to stir up the rubes, so he listed this passage as “poisonous vitriol.” By praising Falwell, Frank Rich had showcased his rank liberal bias once again.

So Rich had shown his liberal bias by heaping praise on Reed, Dole and Falwell. But let’s get down to the basic issue: Is it wrong to use the term “homophobia?” That probably depends on whether you think it exists. Frank Rich does—and Bernie doesn’t. How else to explain his deep concern about this vicious passage:

RICH (6/22/03): [H]owever skewed the Tony show is as a representative slice of pop culture, it is still consistent with a juggernaut that’s been building in tandem with the modern gay civil-rights movement. It was 34 years ago this month that the movement took off…Since then, entertainment has often been in the vanguard of familiarizing America with gay people, much as it was in spreading homophobia for decades before that.
Does anyone doubt that the entertainment business once spread homophobia? That it did so over the course of decades? Clearly, yes—Bernie Goldberg doubts it! Why else would he trash Frank Rich for making such an obvious statement? Let’s say it: In Bernie Goldberg’s fake, phony world, homophobia never existed. Therefore, there’s no such thing as “homophobic rhetoric,” and there can be no “homophobic lyrics.” There never can be a “homophobic candidate.” Nor could James Dobson endorse one.

Of course, Goldberg doesn’t believe this cant; he’s simply engaged in fooling the rubes. Bernie wants to get them ginned up—so he fakes a quote from Howell Raines, and he fakes those “rabid attacks” from Frank Rich. In the process, he shows his own nasty ways. And he shows his contempt for your discourse.

TOMORROW: Disappearing Clinton and Gore

WEDNESDAY: Why does Tim Russert love Bernie?

WRONG FROM THE START: Rich’s first example of vicious hate speech is surely quite instructive. Back in 1983, Rich was serving as New York Times theater critic. As such, he reviewed La Cage Aux Folles, “the first Broadway musical ever to give center stage to a homosexual love affair.” What follows is one of the forty-two statements (over twenty years!) which have Bernie’s shorts in a tangle:

RICH (8/22/83): The ostensibly tart backstage wisecracks of Zaza’s fellow transvestites are so tame and tired that they make the equivalent jokes of, say, “Victor/ Victoria” or Mr. Fierstein’s own “Torch Song Trilogy” sound like hardcore porn…In the book scenes, unlike the songs, Georges and Albin are so relentlessly square that they become homogenized homosexuals in the manner of the scrupulously genteel black people of Hollywood’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” era. The lovers’ turncoat son (John Weiner) is too wanly characterized for us to understand his casual callousness; the parents of the bride are such caricatured villains that even the more zealous homophobes in the audience can feel morally superior to them—and thereby escape the reach of the show’s plea for tolerance.
Surely, all can see what’s wrong with this passage. Since there’s no such thing as homophobia, there weren’t any “homophobes in the audience.” And the show’s “plea for tolerance” made no sense either. Any critic would have pointed this out—except for the rabid Frank Rich.

LET THEM USE VELCRO: Update! The Media Research Center now “regrets the confusion” about that “shoelaces” quote. You know what to do—just click here. (To review our own incomparable treatment, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/20/03.)

BERNIE GET YOUR GUN: Please don’t miss our Saturday post, in which we limned Bernie’s chapter on guns (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/22/03). Meanwhile, Tim Lambert writes to clarify a factual issue; Appalachian student Tracy Bridges was first quoted saying he pointed his gun at Peter Odighizuwa in the January 18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Here is the passage in question, from Rex Bowman’s Day Two story:

BOWMAN (1/18/02): One of the students who subdued Odighizuwa was Tracy Bridges, a 25-year-old sheriff’s deputy from Buncombe County, N.C., who is studying to become a lawyer.

“We went to get to class after 1 o’clock, and [student] Ted Besen and other students and I were in the classroom when we heard the first three shots,” Bridges said yesterday. “It sounded kind of muffled, and a few seconds later we heard the next round of shots, and a scream.

“Me and Ted and [student] Rob Sievers went out to look. A professor ran up the stairs and said, ‘Peter [Odighizuwa] has got a gun and he’s shooting.’ I ran back and told the class to get out. They went out the back way,” Bridges said.

“We went down, too, and Peter was in the front yard. I stopped at my vehicle and got a handgun, a revolver. Ted went toward Peter, and I aimed my gun at him, and Peter tossed his gun down.

“Ted approached Peter, and Peter hit Ted in the jaw. Ted pushed him back and we all jumped on,” Bridges said.

Did the rescuers’ guns play a role in the rescue? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply can’t say. As we noted on Saturday, Bridges didn’t claim that he pointed his gun when he made several January 17 TV appearances. Later that day, he did make the claim in his interview with Bowman, and it appeared in the Times-Dispatch the next day. (Besen and the State Police still disputed this account two months later.) The Times-Dispatch, of course, covered the Appalachian School shootings as a “local” story; as such, it gave the shootings week-long coverage. Around the country, most papers had ceased to cover the shootings by the time this account first appeared.