Blaring Bannon coverage begs question: What’s happened to journalism?


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BANNON TOPS HEADLINES BUT WHY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take a look at a story that developed last week, but I want to look at it in a little different way today. The story has to do with a book entitled “Fire and Fury” written by Michael Wolff. If you remember, last Wednesday, there were excerpts released from this book in The Guardian, which pitted Steve Bannon against Donald Trump, Jr. against the president, himself.

The way I want to take a look at this story, Harry, is the fact that, last Wednesday, suddenly, tabloid journalism seemed to supersede the actual news of the day.  

DR. REEDER: I’m not really interested in getting into the internal squabbles between the fired Steve Bannon and the Trump administration and Bannon’s assertions and Trump’s responses because I think that’s part of the problem – how the news went to this, not as an item story, but as the blaring headlines. Entire cable news companies – these were cable news companies that had dismissed Steve Bannon as a right-wing bigot and now, all of a sudden, he is their patron saint because of the stories that he’s providing.

FREEDOM OF PRESS IS CRUCIAL BUT SO IS RESPONSIBILITY

What I want to really get to is this: We are living in a country in which, in the ordering of our freedom with a Constitution, there was the establishment of a Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, with its six affirmations, were crucial. And the result of those six affirmations and the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights was the protection of and the encouragement of the free exercise of religion – and, therefore, the ministry of the church, in general – because they knew a nation governed by law required morality.

You can’t have morality and the value of law without the acknowledgment of a law-giver and the state said, “We are not the law-givers. The law-giver is God, Himself, so we want the free practice of religion to establish a morality in this nation that allows us to function.”

Secondly was the free practice of the press. The notion was that there would be responsible journalism. There was the desire that out there would be journalistic ethics and journalists who took their vocations seriously and that their desire was to get the news and an analysis of the news before the people.

Now, the ethic of journalism was that you report the news on one page and you do analysis on the other. Well, we are at a point now where the journalism that you would have seen as you checked out of the grocery store counter, which was the tabloid journalism of freakish news, has now become mainstream journalism and this becomes a specimen of that for examination.

WHAT ABOUT REAL STORIES?

Here, we are, a new year has just begun, a significant event is taking place, North and South Korea are actually having talks. Now, I don’t know what’s going to take place in the conversation, but that’s newsworthy. Also, this country just passed a sweeping tax reform bill and there is still a discussion: Is this helpful to everyone, is it not helpful, what is this going to do for our nation and for the working class of our nation? That kind of reporting needs to be done.

And, by the way, let’s go beyond that, Tom: There’s a gigantic story that’s taking place, even at the loss of life right now in Iran, where there are these Iranian protests for freedom that’s taking place very similar to what happened in 2008 and 2009. Will we respond in the same way in which we just kind of dismissed it and did not support this grass-roots movement looking for freedom and democracy?

And, by the way, I’m not talking about nation-building – I’m talking about just affirming. Will our country speak words of support as happened in Europe years ago under Ronald Reagan when these movements took place?

Tom, there are all kinds of stories that are out there: the need for a comprehensive infrastructure program, domestically – our roads, our bridges, our highways – all of those things need to be addressed. That’s what journalism ought to be doing in a responsible use of its protected freedom and, instead, we’ve got tabloid journalism. Again, I feel like I’m standing next to the counter checking out at the grocery store and over here is Variety with some grotesque story and that’s exactly what is taking place in the newspapers, in the blogosphere, and on cable news and absolutely dominating the broadcast news – or what’s called the “mainstream broadcast news” – in our country.

WHERE HAS JOURNALISM GONE?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, who’s winning the battle, though? We see, The New York Times, they’re losing so much money now, they’re actually having to lease out office space in The New York Times building.

DR. REEDER: What I would hope is that, newspaper-wise – and you would hope in terms of cable news and you would hope in terms of broadcast news – that someone would say, “You know what? We are not going to make the news. We don’t see ourselves as part of the news. We are actually going to report the news and here is another section that we are going to provide editorials from our news agency and op-ed opposition editorials to our news agency, but we’re going to separate those two and over here is reliable news reporting.”

The Jack Webb approach to journalism – just the facts, ma’am – if, somehow, we could have those who would just say, “Here is the news. We are going to report the news.”

Honestly, the closest thing I see to news reporting is one program on television right now and that’s The Special Report Program and, even that, I can’t say is really the prototype of what I believe ought to be present and what we desperately need in terms of journalism, journalistic ethics and some journalistic endeavor in print, digital and broadcast to say, “Here is the news. Yes, we have an editorial department, but here is the news.”

I know every reporter has a world and life view and a bent, but the ability to exercise discipline and say, “Here is what happened. Here’s who did it. Here’s what happened. Here’s what you need to think through. And, by the way, we have an editorial on this that’s coming up in the next program but here is what actually happened.” I don’t know of anyone doing it.

To answer your question, Tom, I do believe there’s a market for it. I believe that people would respond to it – that kind of clear communication – if it could be done.

TOMORROW’S THOUGHTS ON CHARITY DONATIONS

TOM LAMPRECT: Harry, we are out of time for today. Tomorrow, I want to look at a story out of The Free Beacon. The National Endowment for the Humanities has handed out, just last month, nearly $13 million for 253 different projects.

DR. REEDER: Now, Tom, this is going to be an interesting story that we’re going to do. Like today’s story, we may come at it differently than everybody else tomorrow and, let me say it this way, I am going to make a proposal tomorrow that my mother would be very proud of me. You will find out what that is and why I would say that tomorrow.

DON’T FORGET THE GOOD NEWS

Tom, may I end up by saying can I tell you one of the great privileges I have as a pastor is I get to report the news – it’s called “The Good News.” It’s called the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I can get up on a mountain and proclaim good news.

We who are in our sin helpless and hopeless, there is a God who loves us, who sent His Son and, even though His wrath is declared against those who would contradict Him in sin, His love has been displayed to save sinners through his son, Jesus Christ.

And you can come to Him no longer helpless – the Holy Spirit can give you the power to come to Christ and serve Him. No longer hopeless, the righteousness of Christ can surround you and the blood of Jesus can wash away your sins and I want to report that news today.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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11 hours ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

12 hours ago

Grand jury considers Alabama woman’s stabbing of husband with sword

A grand jury in Alabama will hear the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband with a sword.

Authorities say 50-year-old Jeannette Hale stabbed her husband, Mark, in the chest while he played a guitar in their home on April 2.

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Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell tells AL.com that responding deputies found Mark Hale bleeding on their front porch. The sword was in the yard.

Mitchell says the husband later died at a hospital. An autopsy released Wednesday said the cause was complications of being stabbed.

The sheriff says Jeanette Hale was arrested on charges involving domestic violence and drugs.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

13 hours ago

Poly Sci 101: Gov. Ivey’s monument ad is a prime case of political framing

“Special interests” and “politically correct nonsense” are responsible for efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces, Gov. Kay Ivey says in a recent campaign ad.

At a campaign appearance earlier this week in Foley, Ivey made similar statements on the issue.

“We must learn from our history. And we don’t need folks in Washington or out of state liberals telling us what to do in Alabama,” she said, according to Fox 10 News. “I believe it’s more important that if we want to get where we want to go, we’ve got to understand where we’ve been. And I believe that the people of Alabama agree with that decision and support protecting all of our historical monuments.”

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The conversation about Confederate monuments raises some intellectually and morally stimulating questions: What is their function? Do they function as objects of praise or as objects of historical memory? Who ought to determine whether they stay or go?

I’ll leave those questions aside for now because I want to address how Gov. Ivey has articulated the monuments issue.

George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist who has done a lot of research examining how politics and language intersect, particularly how language is used by individuals and groups to present their opponents in ways that welcome easy refutation. Usually, this means the misrepresentation of those ideas or opponents or, at the very least, a simplistic representation of them.

Lakoff refers to this as the act of “framing,” calling “frames” the arguments or scenarios set up by framing.

Here are a few assumptions that Ivey’s frame makes: Monuments are not only a way to learn from our history, but they are central to learning from our history; non-Alabamians and political enemies are trying to tell us what to do in advocating for monuments’ removal; monuments are a way to ensure that Alabama gets “where it wants to go,” politically, socially, culturally; that Alabamians are opposed to monument removal.

There are obvious political benefits to framing the issue this way. Knowing our history is clearly important. Who could argue that? Alabama is a sovereign state. Nobody wants outsiders tampering with decision-making.

What the frame excludes is an argument demonstrating why monuments are central to learning from our history, and how their removal would prevent us from learning from our history. It also excludes names of individuals or groups who have come from afar to tell us what to do.

It’s undeniable that folks from all around the country want Confederate monuments removed all around the country, and some may even be funding that effort from afar, but the major weakness of Ivey’s frame is a failure to acknowledge the Alabamians who are arguing for monument removal.

Birmingham City officials have advocated their removal.

Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said the city has considered the removal of a Confederate soldier monument in the middle of town.

A Tuskegee graduate wrote a petition last year to the have the same monument removed. The petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

City officials in Selma have shown a similar resolve over the years, if not to have a monument removed then to cease the city’s contribution to its maintenance.  

Obviously, Ivey doesn’t have time in a 30-second ad to deconstruct the monument debate’s complexity, and I understand that, but her frame doesn’t accurately articulate who is representing the monument removal view in Alabama.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

13 hours ago

Alabama legislators should follow Iowa’s lead in protecting the unborn

“If we conservatives truly believe abortion is what we say it is — the butchering of an unborn person — then ending the practice must be our top priority.”

Those were the words of Yellowhammer’s very own J. Pepper Bryars last week in an article he wrote after Congress failed, once again, to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars.

Bryars couldn’t have been more accurate in his criticism, but I believe his words are also an indictment of the entire pro-life movement. For far too long we have played defense on the issue of abortion, attempting to hold the status quo while never really producing any substantial legislation on the issue. Not since Casey in June of 1992 have we attempted to make any real challenge to Roe v. Wade.

It’s for that reason that Alabama should follow in the footsteps of the lawmakers from our sister state of Iowa, who last month passed one of the strongest pro-life bills we have seen in decades.

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Iowa Senate bill 2281 (the text of which can be found here), known as the Heartbeat Billwould legally prevent all abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat has been discovered, except in the very rare case of a medical emergency.

In other words, only when it is concluded by medical personnel that the life of the mother is in danger can an abortion be performed. Not only does it not make the exception for rape and incest as pro-choice legislators like to commonly reference, but it would also charge any doctor that performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected with a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Why this matters: The earliest fetal heartbeats can be detected is 5-6 weeks after conception, which is right about the time most women are initially discovering they are pregnant. However, new research from the University of Oxford suggests that a fetal heartbeat may be detected as early as 16 days after conception. With the risk of women dying during childbirth decreasing significantly since the 1970s and the recent trends in fetal research, it is clear that a bill such as this could effectively end 99% of abortions statewide.

Also, by creating legislation that defines life as beginning the moment the first detectable heartbeat is discovered we will be using the same red line that is already in use by most professionals in the medical community.

If I were driving home from work one night and had a terrible car accident, medical personnel after arriving on scene and finding me unconscious would immediately check for a pulse indicating whether I had a detectable heartbeat. If a detectable heartbeat is found, I would be considered a living person. If a heartbeat can be used by the medical community as a means of declaring when a person is living after birth, then it makes no sense why we wouldn’t use the same scientifically backed means of declaring life prior to birth.

For far too long the pro-life movement has focused on arguments surrounding fetal viability and gestational timelines, allowing our opponents on the issue the opportunity to define the terms of the debate for us.

Finally, simply passing a bill such as Iowa’s heartbeat bill would only be the beginning of the fight. There is no doubt that the ACLU, SPLC, and every pro-choice organization in the country would descend upon our state capital like locust filing every legal challenge to the bill imaginable. They would organize large protests where people in hats resembling female genitalia will gnash their teeth, but the resulting legal challenge would finally give us the opportunity to eventually stand before the Supreme Court and reargue the merits of the worst decision it has produced since Plessy v. Ferguson.

So, it is incumbent upon our legislators to truly reflect on the very pointed philosophical question Bryars raised regarding what we truly believe as conservatives on the issue of protecting unborn life.

Do you, Governor Kay Ivey, believe as you so eloquently stated that “fighting for our freedoms means fighting for the unborn”?

Do the members of our State Legislature and the pro-life community believe this as well?

If so, then the time has long since passed for us to stand by our words and attack Roe at its very core.

@dannybritton256 is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and lives in Athens.

13 hours ago

Alabama forward Braxton Key says he will transfer

Alabama sophomore forward Braxton Key is leaving the team and plans to transfer.

Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson said Friday Key has been granted his release. He says Key “certainly has a bright future, but he has to do what’s best for him.”

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Key started 17 games last season after missing the first 10 with a knee injury. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

He led the Tide in scoring his first season and was named to the Southeastern Conference’s all-freshman team. Key averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman while ranking second on the team in assists.

He says it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

The Tide is also expected to lose point guard Collin Sexton, who declared for the draft.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)