MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2003
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 filmremembering, 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, well 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 producedand a thousand times more consequential. But Glass was expendable; Kelly wasnt. More on these topics next week.
PLEASANTVILLE: Bernie Goldberg is very upset by the way liberals do all that name-calling. And no, hes 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 wont stop saying homophobia:
GOLDBERG (page 176): In Richs work, the vicious accusation homophobic, homophobia, or homophobe turns up so often (forty times as of this writing!) its 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. [Bernies 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 Bernies slick; he doesnt 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 didnt want you to know it.
But lets 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 dont we do so right now?
Does Frank Rich engage in rabid attacks? As weve seen, Bernie is troubled by Richs use of the specific term homophobic lyrics. But according to Nexis, Rich has used the term just onceto refer to some of Eminems 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 Richs rank liberal bias. Meanwhile, in fairness to Bernie, well 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 evenings dramatic thread becomes the boys efforts to become a man even as his parents split up, his mother remarries and his father moves in with his friend, Whizzer. Jasons journey from his hilarious, innocently homophobic solo, My Fathers a Homo, early in Act I to his heroic Act II decision to celebrate his manhood by having his bar mitzvah in the dying Whizzers hospital room gives the show its most inspiring burst of hope.When Rich discussed My Fathers a Homo, was he engaged in poisonous vitriol? Surely, we dont 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 onceto say that a major conservative, consultant Ralph Reed, doesnt 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 60s 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 Shepards 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. McKinneys defense argument that Mr. Shepard invited his own slaughter by allegedly making sexual advances to his assailants. Gay panic is a hateful courtroom strategylast seen famously in the Jenny Jones murder trialbut its 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 Falwellbut 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 lets 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 doesand Bernie doesnt. 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 thats 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, yesBernie Goldberg doubts it! Why else would he trash Frank Rich for making such an obvious statement? Lets say it: In Bernie Goldbergs fake, phony world, homophobia never existed. Therefore, theres 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 doesnt believe this cant; hes simply engaged in fooling the rubes. Bernie wants to get them ginned upso 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: Richs 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 Bernies shorts in a tangle:
RICH (8/22/83): The ostensibly tart backstage wisecracks of Zazas fellow transvestites are so tame and tired that they make the equivalent jokes of, say, Victor/ Victoria or Mr. Fiersteins 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 Hollywoods Guess Whos 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 themand thereby escape the reach of the shows plea for tolerance.Surely, all can see whats wrong with this passage. Since theres no such thing as homophobia, there werent any homophobes in the audience. And the shows plea for tolerance made no sense either. Any critic would have pointed this outexcept 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 dojust click here. (To review our own incomparable treatment, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/20/03.)
BERNIE GET YOUR GUN: Please dont miss our Saturday post, in which we limned Bernies 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 Bowmans Day Two story:
BOWMAN (1/18/02): One of the students who subdued Odighizuwa was Tracy Bridges, a 25-year-old sheriffs deputy from Buncombe County, N.C., who is studying to become a lawyer.Did the rescuers guns play a role in the rescue? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply cant say. As we noted on Saturday, Bridges didnt 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.