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Sunday, June 22, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Polimom notes the followng:

…and Polimom agrees just as fully with the third [paragraph in this post by John Cole on the media's treatment of Obama's decision to opt out of public financing].

[L]iberal media bias may be the biggest fraud the right-wing has ever gotten away with. It is absurd.

If you disagree with John Cole’s post after reading it, then I hope you can help me understand why the media is beside themselves with rage at Obama on public financing, but there’s been nary a mention of McCain’s shenanigans?

I will give it a go.

But first, for context’s sake, I should note that “McCain’s shenanigans” have to do with his own change of course on partial public financing in the primary phase of the campaign and the fact that he secured a loan that helped him stay in the race, a loan that was predicated on matching funds (i.e., public monies) being used as a means of repayment. From the NYT:

Mr. McCain drew criticism of his own earlier this year when he backed away from public financing for the primary elections. He initially sought those public matching funds, which come with limits of their own, after his
campaign nearly ran out of money, but decided to bypass them after donations started coming in.

In other words, McCain hasn’t exactly been Mr. Consistent on the question of the campaign finance system. Indeed, like Obama, is willing to change his mind in public if it suits him politically. (A real shocker, I know).

In regards to the charge of media bias leveled by both John and Polimom: I think that this is all a case more of normal laziness than any case of bias. It is easier to say “Obama made a pledge and changed his mind” than it is to try and explain McCain’s pledge, the loan and his reversal. Further, the general election campaign issue is quite straightforward: take the ~$84 million or don’t, while the process during the primary has to do with matching funds that are given only when contributions are of a certain size are obtained and then there’s the whole spending cap issue (not to mention the per state caps) and so forth. Further, since Obama is campaigning on the idea that “words matter” and all that “change” business, it is hardly surprising that the media, in general, have latched onto the story.

And, in all honesty, I haven’t seen any “rage” over the issue, but I have seen a lot of Republicans guests and pundits trying to make hay out of the whole situation.

At any rate, I never assume bias with laziness can explain the situation.

One thing I will whole-heartedly agree with John and Polimom about: the reaction by conservatives over Obama’s refusal to take public funds in lieu of private ones is ironic at best. In short: he is saving the taxpayer $84 million, which isn’t exactly chump change. It is a move that one would think that any fiscal conservative would applaud, and yet it has resulted instead in scorn. Of course, c’est la politique.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via CNN: Brokaw to ‘Meet the Press’ through election « - Blogs from

Veteran news anchor Tom Brokaw will moderate NBC’s “Meet the Press” through the November election in the place of the late Tim Russert, the network announced Sunday.

Brokaw is scheduled to start on June 29.

This move makes sense, and will help maintain MTP’s gravitas during the election season. Still, I was intrigued by the suggestion that has been all over the ‘Sphere of a Chuck Todd takeover. I will admit, however, that it was unclear to me that Todd necessarily had the skills beyond election analysis for the job.

Regardless, what happens after November remains to be seen:

David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews had been talked about as potential candidates for the full-time job as moderator. If Brokaw weren’t interested in continuing, his tenure would allow NBC more time to study a potential selection and have that person debut during a less intense news period.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Here’s a follow-up to my post on the Obama’s fist pound and the discussion of which my E.D. Hill on Fox’s American Pulse in which the phrase “a terrorist fist pump?” was deployed.

From the LAT’s Top of the Ticket (No high-fives over 3 words of Fox News’ chat on the Obamas’ fist bump):

The phrase apparently came from a simple reader comment posted on an article on the conservative website Human Events that accused Michelle Obama of being un-American and employing “’Hezbollah’ style fist-jabbing.” (The comment has since been removed.)


On Tuesday, Hill apologized, saying the words were not her characterization:

“I want to start the show by clarifying something I said on the show last Friday about an upcoming body language segment. Now I mentioned various ways the Obamas’ fist-bump in St. Paul had been characterized in the media.

“I apologize because unfortunately some thought I, personally, had characterized it inappropriately. I regret that. It was not my intention. I certainly didn’t mean to associate the word terrorist in any way with Sen. Obama and his wife.”

Here’s the video:

The thing is, one has to wonder how in the world anyone could see the line “a terrorist fist jab” in the copy to be loaded onto the teleprompter and not think “whoa! that might be problematic!” it certainly makes one wonder what in the world they were thinking (and the options aren’t too impressive).

It makes me think of the following line from J.S. Mill’s On Liberty:

Judgment is given to men that they may use it.

Clearly, Hill and her producers failed to use their judgment/they used it quite poorly.

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Thursday, May 22, 2024
El Espectador Reborn
By Dr. Steven Taylor

While this will only be of interest only to Colombians, Colombianists and perhaps those interested in the evolution of newspapers, The Economist notes An icon reborn

ITS fearless crusade against Pablo Escobar, a notorious drug baron, turned El Espectador, a Colombian newspaper, into a journalistic icon but cost it dearly. Its editor was murdered, its offices bombed and its distributors threatened. A recession then forced the battered paper into turning weekly under new owners in 2024. This month, bucking the global decline of newspapers, El Espectador relaunched as a daily.

Their website is here.

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Thursday, May 1, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The 24/7/365 news cycle strikes again: click.

Seriously, it would be nice if CNN/MSNBC/Fox News and the like figured out that that is a whole wide world out there to report upon if they are really desperate to fill air time.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Or, at least, who gets the attention.

Strange Maps has an intriguing map that shows which areas of the country were covered the most from 1994-1998. Amongst the more interesting findings is that where news organizations are located matters-especially Georgia…

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Thursday, April 3, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

In my morning perusal of the news, I happened to notice the following Reuters photo of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, which is pretty amusing, regardless of who is in the photo:

I almost blogged it, but it just seemed not worth the effort.

However, via the Poligazette I see that it has caused a least some stir in the Venezuelan press (if not the government).

Via we get a report about a statement made on Radio Mundial, which (according to the banner on the web page) is part of the Venezuelan Ministry of Communication and Information) La foto de Mickey-Chávez provoca la polémica en Venezuela

La foto, tomada en Brasil por el fotógrafo Lula Marques durante la visita de Chávez a su colega Lula da Silva la semana pasada, es considera en el citado comunicado como ‘terrorismo mediático’. “Reuters tiene la obvia intención de burlarse del líder latinoamericano asociándolo con el ratón Mickey”, dice Radio Mundial.


“Photo of Mickey-Chávez Provokes Polemic in Velenzuela”: The photo, taken in Brazil by photographer Lula Marques during a visit by Chávez to his colleague, Lula da Silva last week, is considered in the cited communique to be “media terrorism.” “Reuters has the obvious intension to make fun of the Latin American leader by associating him with Mickey Mouse.”

Indeed, there was an event that is a banner headline on the Radio Mundial hompage called “Encuentro Latinamericano contra el Terrorismo Mediático” which has its own page (here) and is currently citing the Mickey Chávez story as an example of ongoing disrespect of Latin American leaders by Reuters.

Indeed, in regards to the Mickey pic, they accuse the Reuters photog with having Pentagon connections:

La intencionalidad de Reuters es obvia. La agencia ha sido acusada en el pasado por conocidos investigadores, como el periodista francés Thierry Meyssan, director de la Red Voltaire, quien asegura que un periodista de la agencia Reuters asiste diariamente a reuniones en el Pentágono, desde donde se diseña la agenda informativa mundial.1

I guess it goes to show that no matter who you are, where you are, or what your ideological predilections might be, it isn’t difficult to use the press as a scapegoat. This situation is especially amusing, as many on the American rights often rail against Reuters as having an anti-US bias, and now Chávez’s government is accusing them of an anti-Latin American bias.

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  1. Emphasis in the original. []
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Tuesday, February 5, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I was listening to my Sirius satellite radio driving home, trolling about for election returns and I settled, for a moment, on CNN Headline News, which had Glenn Beck’s program. In speaking of the West Virgina Republican convention, he noted that the McCain delegates had cast their lot with Huckabee, so as to deny Romney the win. To this Beck exclaimed: “talk about rigging an election!”

Well, no.

The rules of the convention, as is typical for such processes, required an absolute majority of the vote to award the state’s RNC delegates. One the first ballot, Romney had a plurality, but not an absolute majority. So, the McCain group cast in with the Huckabee group (who was in second place), to dent Romney a win, a move that ultimately helps McCain. This is perfectly legitimate under such circumstances and in no way constitutes vote rigging. Indeed, what the WV situation represents was a mini-version of the much talked-about “brokered convention” scenario.

I am ultimately reminded by this brief encounter with Beck as to why I do not watch his program…

Update: Apparently, Beck isn’t the only one who doesn’t understand conventions.

Update 2: Even better, the Romney people don’t seem to understand either (or, really, are just feigning outrage).

Update 3: Well, thanfkully someone understands how these things work.

Update 4: Yet someone else who understands (as well he should).

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Wednesday, October 10, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

A few months ago, the pastor of a local (Montgomery, AL) Baptist church was found dead in his home:

Lt. Mark Drinkard, a police spokesman, said the Reverend Gary M- Aldridge was found about 10 a-m by a member of his church who became concerned after he failed to show up for church services.


Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, in a newspaper interview, hinted that the minister may have been the victim of foul play.

Other reporting at the time indicated that Aldridge had been strangled and that the crime scene had odd elements to it, but few details were released. Some suggestions were made that there was a killer on the loose, but others indicated that there had been no forced entry. At the time the few details that leaked out in the press were suggestive either a bizarre murder or, I speculated at the time, a sexual encounter gone bad.

Much of this was of specific interest to me given that the church in question is less than ten minutes from my home and the neighborhood in which Aldridge lived is even closer. As such, the notion of a gruesome murder nearby was somewhat disconcerting.

However, it ends up that the sexual hypothesis was more on target, although instead of it being an encounter gone awry, the Smoking Gun now has documents to suggest that the event was of the, well, solo variety.

Indeed, the Montgomery Advertiser reported yesterday: Police: No foul play in Aldridge’s death

Police have closed their investigation into the death of the Rev. Gary Aldridge.

Detectives determined that no foul play existed in the case and therefore no crime had been committed, according to a news release from the Montgomery Police Department.


Forensic results indicate Aldridge was alone at the time of his death, the police release states. A report by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences states the final pathological diagnoses for Aldridge’s death as “accidental mechanical asphyxia,” according to the release.

I note this story for three reasons:

First, despite one’s politics or religion, it really is unseemly to make fun of the story, despite the absurd (if not comedic on some levels) elements of the situation. However, the fact that event ended in a needless death should drain the humor out of the story. Nonetheless, some have been unable to resist (for example).

Second (and this was the original reason I started the post): the reportage of this story was, in my opinion, somewhat irresponsible. The initial suggestions were that some very terrible thing may have happened and that a very violent criminal might, therefore, be on the loose. Even if foul play was suspected, the evidence at the scene, as detailed in the autopsy report, clearly would indicate that death was likely the result of a sexual encounter/event, not a violent crime that would potentially threaten others in the community. While it wasn’t necessarily the case that reporters needed to provide every sordid detail, the stories could have been written in such a way as to give a better picture of what might have happened. Either local reporters were blinded by the fact that the victim was a pastor, or they sought to protect his reputation because he had been a pastor. Either way, I would argue that it was poor journalism.

Third, this is yet another example (which leads to the ridicule noted in point one) of a pastor who clearly was not as wholesome as he presented himself to be to his congregation. Yes, this behavior in question is certainly better than visiting a prostitute or engaging in an affair or any number of other actions that clergy have been found guilty of in recent years. Still, this is yet another example of the disjuncture between the power of God to transform man that is preached weekly in Baptist and other evangelical churches and the apparent lack of transformation of the men preaching those messages. I cannot say for sure what Aldridge had preached from his pulpit, but having spent most of my life in Baptist and like churches, I have a pretty good idea. At a minimum, it is no wonder that so many find the Christian faith to be unappealing, as there are so many examples like this. I don’t know what the appropriate fix is, if there is one. Certainly, part of the issue here is the simple fact that human being are imperfect, and remain such regardless of their religious predilections. And, of course, the issue isn’t just sexual. There was the report earlier this week about money and likely corruption at Oral Robert University and probably most church goes have experienced pastors who became overly fond of their positions, letting themselves become the focal point of the church.

I don’t really know what my central point is here, per se, aside from the following: a) each of these stories is rather disappointing, b) it is no wonder that many find religion in general problematic, and c) it raises question about key issues within the church including central theological tenets (how can pastors preach the power of God to change lives, if the pastors themselves have their own dark secrets that are never changed) as well as the structure of churches wherein pastors are in positions of power for long period of time with all the focus an adulation being on them.

Update: I didn’t notice this earlier, from today’s Advertiser:

The medical examiner who conducted Aldridge’s autopsy said Friday the long wait for the autopsy findings was not unusual.

“These things happen,” Boudreau said. “We see probably two of these a year. If you’re not used to seeing that sort of thing, it’s probably unusual.”

Egads-and that’s in little Montgomery, AL. One can only imagine what MEs in large metropolitan areas deal with…

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Friday, October 5, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Speaking of Obama’s decision not to wear a flag lapel pin, here’s a screencap of Fox News’ web page as of 11:45 central:


Ok, this is rather silly. It implies that by taking the flag off his lapel that he has opened up space for some other symbol or allegiance. That is ridiculous.

Further, it demeans news coverage by making it actual news that a candidate isn’t wearing a flag pin. Egads.

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