…the State Department hired a highly regarded Washington-based custom media company, TMG, which in turn hired me. Working with a squad of Arab-born Americans, including a smart, opinionated Libyan, a poetic Syrian, and a diligent Palestinian, I would craft America’s public face for the part of the world that hated us most, as translated via the cover and substance of a glossy magazine.
The magazine came to be known as “Hi!” – the thinking was that, even if the name was highly unoriginal, at least it was an English word that everyone seemed to know.
It sounded good so far. However…
…as the memory of 9/11 began to fade, so did the magazine’s utopian mission. Congressmen began complaining that rather than show young Arabs how Western society works, Hi! should tell them why American policies are right. The initiative’s leadership got incrementally political: The undersecretary for public diplomacy, a former advertising CEO named Charlotte Beers, was replaced by a veteran from the previous Bush administration, Margaret Tutwiler, and then, eventually, by President Bush’s top image-maker, Karen Hughes. A State Department panel of ham-fisted political appointees now began actively reviewing our content before we printed it, as the new war in Iraq turned increasingly unpopular.
One of my favorite sections loosely translated to “Window on America.” It was a simple conceit: a photo essay showing what America actually looks like, unfiltered. A bass fishing tournament, a breast-cancer walk, the Puerto Rican Day parade—these were exotic images to most Arabs, too often poisoned about the United States by their inflammatory local press. But during one review meeting, held before a star chamber of 10 high-level State Department officials, the co-leader specifically took offense to a photograph from a classic Western scene: campers and pack mules heading out on a rugged weekend expedition.
Our team always remained vigilant about cultural sensibilities, avoiding the bottoms of shoes, or bare arms, or other seemingly innocuous images that could backfire with the Arab audience. This official’s concerns, however, were more parochial. She held up the offending photo, as wholesome as a Norman Rockwell painting, and pointed to a pack mule that, by other names, might be known as a donkey. This has to go, she said. Too pro-Democrat. And out it went.
As we know from the dark Bushco days, politics trumped all else (as it did here, when Karen Hughes refused to answer some pretty “vanilla” questions from Sen. John Kerry about whether or not she had any knowledge concerning former CIA agent Valerie Plame, though Hughes was still confirmed for a top PR job with the State Department – by the way, on that subject, Plame’s husband Joe Wilson wrote the New York Times Op-Ed refuting the so-called “Niger letter” about Saddam Hussein supposedly receiving uranium from that country seven years ago today…how time flies).
Pro-lifers have long understood the issue of media bias. Years ago, the late, pro-choice David Shaw wrote a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times showing how biased his own newspaper was when reporting on abortion. Shaw showed that bias came through not just on stories about abortion. Shaw showed how even stories that related to surgery on unborn children were skewed or spiked to avoid anything that might have a pro-life message.
Now, we have National Public Radio (NPR) lining up to support the pro-abortion side in the ongoing struggle over this issue. Managing Editor David Sweeney recently issued a memorandum to staff ordering them to use only the politically correct designations for the contending sides in the debate: abortion rights advocates is the approved way of referring to those who favor liberalized abortion; abortion rights opponents is the only way NPR will refer, from now on, to pro-lifers.
This should not come as any great shock to us. NPR has long been hostile to conservatives and traditional values. The part I object to most strenuously, that I think we should all object to, is that NPR takes public tax money to spread its pro-abortion bias.
Sooo…Blackwell accuses NPR of bias over a matter of semantics (at least abortion rights opponents aren’t supposed to be referred to as “anti-choicers,” which may push more right-wing buttons, as it were, even though that is an entirely accurate description).
Well then, if NPR is supposed to be so hostile to the wingnuts, perhaps he can explain why Mara Liasson, an NPR correspondent, regularly appears on Fix Noise (here), even though, as Think Progress points out, “(while) NPR’s ethics guidelines allow journalists to appear on other media outlets, they clearly state that journalists should not ‘encourage punditry and speculation’.“
Or maybe Blackwell can explain why the supposedly “liberal” Liasson would lie about polling results here, claiming that the Dems were in trouble based on polling Repug-represented voting districts that supposedly voted for Obama, even though, as pointed out in the post, one of those districts in Minnesota represented by Moon Unit Bachmann voted for “Straight Talk” McCain and a certain moose-hunting former governor who quit halfway through her term.
Besides, the last I checked, NPR still provided a paycheck for the odious Matthew Continetti (here), which is all the proof I need to tell me the direction taken recently by that once-fine news organization.
This past week, the current NASA administrator revealed what our current president thinks about space. “When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things,” NASA head Charles Bolden told al-Jazeera. “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”
This quote is entirely believable. Mr. Bolden was not told that he must advance American interests in space, but instead to become part of the big Obama program of engagement with the “international community.” His achievements will be measured by whether he can “reach out” to make people “feel good,” and those people aren’t even Americans; no, his “perhaps foremost” job is to make Muslims around the world “feel good” about their past.
(By the way, I know that when Obama’s predecessor took up space in An Oval Office, that I rarely, if at all, referred to him as “President Bush.” Well, let it be known that conservatives are guilty of the same thing when it comes to Obama.)
Part of me honestly doesn’t wish to dignify Abrams’ idiocy here, but part of me also realizes that what he says is too stupid to be ignored.
This tells us (in a story from last April) that the goals in space as outlined by President Obama include a manned expedition to Mars by sometime after 2035; as the story also tells us…
Obama said he will scrap the Constellation moon program, and its Ares rockets, to develop new rockets, propulsion systems and a crew capsule that have yet to be designed. Constellation’s Orion space capsule will be used instead as a lifeboat for the Earth-orbiting space station.
Sometime after 2025, the rockets should be ready to go, and the first target for a landing by astronauts will be an asteroid. The moon will be bypassed, since “we’ve already been there,” Obama said.
By 2035, systems would be in place for journeys to Mars, with orbiting missions around the Red Planet preceding an attempted landing, Obama said.
And when Obama made this announcement, he did so in the company of former astronaut Buzz Aldrin (to deflect criticism from fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, among others).
But I suppose the thought of a president pursuing a goal of a manned mission to Mars is really pretty loopy as far as Abrams is concerned (and what exactly qualifies him to speak as an expert on space anyway?).
Sure it is (i.e., Obama’s predecessor wanted to go to Mars too – insert your snark here).
I am a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot and spent a year flying combat missions. Because of the constant exposure to the noise of the helicopter, a machine gun firing only feet from my ear, the enemy firing at us at every landing zone and explosions all around me, I lost a great deal of hearing. Of course, as a young man I was too proud to admit it. Now many years later I applied to the Veterans Administration hoping to get help with the cost of hearing aids.
My initial application was in November 2009 and during the ensuing seven months I received two letters from the VA titled “sorry for the delay.” Finally in frustration I called Congressman Murphy’s office. I was treated with utmost courtesy and respect and two days later a VA representative called me with two scheduled appointments for the following week. At those appointments I was finally given a hearing test, they had my military records which clearly showed a hearing loss when I left the service and I was assured that the hearing aids “wouldn’t be a problem.”
I have read many letters to the editor complaining that Congressman Murphy did not represent the interests of his constituents. My experience is the direct opposite: He absolutely represents my interests with actions in addition to words. He will have my vote for as long as the Eighth District is fortunate enough to have such an outstanding representative.
Lower Makefield, PA
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