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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

  When most parents sign their sons and daughters up to play Little League sports, they want their kids to have fun, but they would also like them to learn a few things along the way. Things like being part of a team, being a good winner and a good loser, playing fair and by the rules. Sometimes the lessons are imparted and learned, sometimes delivered and ignored, and sometimes neither one seems to take place.
  Much attention has been placed recently on the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago. Last summer, the all African-American team won the National Little League Championship. However, evidence has come to light that the team may have broken some rules, and they were stripped of their title. The team is charged with recruiting players from outside the district where the team is allowed to recruit players.
  As some might expect, allegations of racism have been quick to follow, and since Al Sharpton is no doubt exhausted from stirring up racial tension in Ferguson Missouri and tax evasion, he has handed this one off to Jesse Jackson. Jackson, as he has done to so many other entities, is using the threat of legal action against Little League International if they do not comply with his own racist and bullying demands.
  A lot can be said about what the parents and coaches may or may not have done. Darold Butler, the team's Manager has been suspended, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position. But the most important question has to be, what does this teach the kids?
  There is no doubt it is the kids who are hurt the most. They will go to school and suffer taunting and humiliation that only other kids can dish out, and it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. But what are they being taught about dealing with the consequences of one's actions? Are they being taught that you take your consequences, in this case, like men? Or are they being taught that the ends justifies the means, that cheating, if it in fact did happen, is only bad if you get caught, that if do cheat, get caught, and yell "racism", everyone will get scared and back off?
  What are the kids being taught about being perpetual victims? If you have to trot Jesse Jackson in to save the day, does that in itself say to the kids that whatever they do in life will not be seen as good enough unless some so-called black "leader" swoops in to see to it that it is deemed up to par?
  While Jesse Jackson huffs and puffs about racism and the lawyers pick apart every aspect of the rule book that, by all accounts, is very clear and strictly enforced, another question lingers. Should the boys have to endure the punishment having their championship vacated because of the stupidity of the adults around them? They appear to be the only ones doing the right thing in all of this, just working hard and playing their hearts out to win a championship. They have learned that lesson on their own.
  The obvious answer is no, they should not. But it may be one more cruel lesson they learn from this experience. If that should be the case, the best we can hope for is that they grow up to emulate the class, dignity, and integrity, of the man for whom their team is named.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brian Williams and all the news that's fit to fake

  Until Rush Limbaugh came along in 1988, and Fox News in 1996, news came from basically three sources, CBS, ABC, and NBC. Those organizations could bend and twist the news and what they believed the opinion and view of any given story should be into whatever they wanted. Not anymore. Rush and Fox News have ushered in a whole new branch of media, conservative media. There are a variety of reasons why new conservative media has become wildly successful. One of those reasons is that the American people have grown tired of being told what to think, and of mainstream media itself becoming the stories they report on.
  The latest walking mainstream media headline is NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams. Williams was recently caught in a liberal-sized whopper when it was revealed that the story of the news crew that he was a part of covering the war in Iraq in 2003 was shot down in the helicopter they were riding in by an RPG. Well, just one problem, it didn't happen. Williams and crew were in another chopper that was behind the ones taking fire. He landed roughly 30 minutes behind the targeted helicopters.
  The situation has gone from bad to worse for Williams, and he has announced that he will take a leave of absence from the Nightly News Anchor desk. The first question could be, why would you do such a thing, which included
a humiliating apology on national TV the following night, but the important question is what does this do to an institution whose credibility is already in question?
  Everyone remembers right before the 2004 presidential election, 60 Minutes ran a story, gleefully told by Dan Rather, of a young George W. Bush shirking his National Guard duties, all because he was a privileged rich kid and could get away with it. Turned out the story was proven untrue at every turn, and several 60 Minutes producers were fired over it. But Dan Rather dug his heels in, and to this day still believes it is true. He was eventually forced to resign and ruined a career that prior to this incident had been a pretty stellar one.
  Williams reporting of bodies floating past him in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina also brings into question his credibility. Not only did the Quarter receive minimal damage, it is at one of the highest sea levels in New Orleans. It is not likely such a thing would have occurred.
  Brian Williams is just the latest example, and a symptom of the crumbling of the mainstream media that we are watching before our eyes. They no longer control the daily narrative of any given story, and they don't know what to do with it. They are breaking one of the first rules of journalism; do not insert yourself into the story. They no longer get to pick and choose what they think the American people need to know. All of these things add up to a media that feels the need to prop themselves up by making themselves the story. Brian Williams did not just "misspeak", liberal for "lying"; he retold the story several times. That means he knew exactly what he was doing. And how many people, from top level suits to camera, sound, and other support people knew what he had done and said nothing?
    While Brian Williams is on his self-imposed hiatus, his fellow media cronies will all try to help resurrect Williams so that it will appear that he is triumphantly returning to the Anchor desk. Is the reason for that not just because media types will always stick together and have each other's backs, but that they all know that it might one day be their own careers on the chopping block?
  Next time, Brian Williams might want to make an effort to get his story, whatever version he tells, right.