Media Matters: Storming Camelot: Sen. Kennedy's Death Brings Out Worst From The Right
To those who in their writings cannot suppress the sociopathic need to use the word “unforgiveable”; go from my site/sight and never again use the word “Christian” to describe yourself lest I be forced to condemn you as a mentally ill, mentally challenged hypocrite and the worst of what our society has to offer.
Biden: Kennedy's Legacy Is How We Look At One Another
Vice President Joe Biden called the late Ted Kennedy a "historic" and "heroic" figure at his memorial service Friday night, and paid particular tribute to ...
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Ted Kennedy's Funeral Begins In Boston
... the graves of his brothers, John and Robert. To offer condolences, go to bostonherald.com to sign our Edward M. Kennedy Guest Book or go to tedkennedy.org. See all stories on this topic
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Caroline Kennedy was the last speaker at the memorial for her uncle Ted Kennedy, held in Boston at the presidential library of her father John F. Kennedy. ...
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Following Wednesday's early-morning news that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had lost his battle with brain cancer, Media Matters posted the following statement from president Eric Burns at 3:51 a.m. ET on the County Fair blog:
"Ted Kennedy was a true American statesman. The values that he so eloquently and tirelessly championed represent the best of our American ideals. He reached across the aisle to get hard work done but never sacrificed principle. Though he is gone, the dream will forever live on. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Vicki Kennedy, the Senator's family, his loyal staff and the millions of lives he touched throughout his historic life and career."
Far from letting Kennedy rest in peace, many media conservatives savagely attacked the Senate's last liberal lion. Leading the charge was radio host Rush Limbaugh, who began his broadcast Wednesday morning eulogizing Kennedy by calling him "the lion of the Senate" before noting that "we were his prey." Hardly finished, El Rushbo would go on tosay that "Kennedy screwed up everything he touched." He said Kennedy's opposition to Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination was "the beginning of the dawn of the age of the current hate." He claimed Kennedy "used the government to take money from people that work to give it to people that don't work" and that "most of Senator Kennedy's plans ended up damaging the people he seeks to help." Finally, Limbaugh marveled at the fact that "the Constitution is still there, even after Ted Kennedy in the Senate for 52 [sic] years." All that and more led MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Politico's Patrick Gavin to agree that "Limbaugh showed great restraint" in discussing Kennedy's death. Can you imagine what Rush would have said had it not been for such "restraint?"
Limbaugh was hardly alone in his disgusting attacks on Kennedy. Radio host and Fox News political analyst Tammy Bruce kept it classy, claiming on Twitter that Fox News Sunday's Chris "Wallace noted the last great act of Kennedy's career was to endorse [President] Obama. I agree: he left a woman to drown and now he's left us to drown."
Eric Sanger, a director at Premiere Radio Networks, ABC Radio/Citadel Media and The Sean Hannity Show, said on Facebook (emphasis added), "The irony is that the media is already positioning Ted as a champion for the little man against wealth and privilege. This piece of garbage was the poster child for wealth and privilege. Hopefully, this event will mark the end of this repugnant family and all the endless crap, entitlement, personal indulgences and collateral damage (Kopechne, Bessette, Bowman, Moxely, etc.)."
Wesley Pruden, a Washington Times columnist, wrote that Kennedy's death was "a good career move" and that Democrats "are smiling through their tears," while Andrew Breitbart, a fellow Times columnist, called Kennedy a "villain," a "duplicitous bastard," and a "prick" on Twitter, as noted by Politico. Riehl World View, a right-wing blog, came to Breitbart's defense, claiming that liberals criticizing him were "hypocrites" because when Dick Cheney dies, they're going to do the exact same thing. That's right, liberals today are hypocrites because of what they might do in the future. Now that's some crazy fortune-telling.
Fox News host Sean Hannity told his audience that "out of respect for his family," he had decided not to "bring up Mary Jo Kopechne" or Kennedy's "radical socialism." Seriously.
When they weren't busy attacking Kennedy's legacy, media conservatives -- like Fox News'Laura Ingraham -- were attacking Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation, repeatedly calling this supposed tactic the "death card." In a true episode of pot meets kettle, conservative media figures -- like health care serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey -- have used Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, some even baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- as Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or that their treatments will be "rationed." Limbaugh said that "Ted Kennedy didn't have to read a death book," while Tom Marr, guest-hosting Lou Dobbs' radio show, said under a public option, a "bureaucrat" would have told Kennedy, "77, brain tumor, bye-bye."
On top of the relentless smears from media conservatives, several mainstream press outlets repeated without question the GOP claim that Kennedy's absence from the health care debate prevented lawmakers from reaching a bipartisan compromise and that had Kennedy been present, agreement on health care reform would have been more likely. Several progressive commentators have identified this talking point as GOP spin intended to disguise Republicans' obstructionism, with Salon.com's Joan Walsh, for example, stating that "absolutely no evidence supports that point of view" and washingtonpost.comblogger Ezra Klein noting that Kennedy's committee has already reported out a bill -- a progressive one, at that.
In another example of, shall we say, interesting reporting, ABC's Jonathan Karl claimed on August 27 that if "last night's town hall meeting in Phoenix is any indication" of whether Kennedy's death will "inspire newfound unity on health care reform," "the answer seems to be no." But the video Karl aired to support his claim was from an August 25 event that occurred before Kennedy's death, not from "last night."
Perhaps worst of all, conservative media figures -- like Fox News' Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, Limbaugh, and National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez, to name a few -- have returned to the tired smear that the memorial service for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) became "a political rally" to suggest that progressives will excessively politicize Kennedy's death. But as now-Sen. Al Franken documented at length, the claim that Wellstone's memorial was politicized is a myth based on distortions propagated by the conservative media.
Which leads me to think this is becoming a case of déjà vu all over again.
Other major stories this week
Death becomes them
An increasingly morbid culture is dominating conservative attacks against health care reform. Not content to accuse Democrats of merely seeking the deaths of seniors and the disabled with supposed "death panels," conservatives have now accused them of seeking to turn the Veterans Affairs Department into a euthanasia organization -- for veterans. Yes, it was the week of the "death book." The book in question was "Your Life, Your Choices," or YLYC, originally published in 1997 and designed to help vets consider end-of-life issues. According to the right, though not according to fact, the Bush administration had temporarily put the book out of use, but Obama's VA has brought it back, among other similar works.
As an aside, it's worth noting that in 2005, the Republican-controlled Senate proposed calling on Medicare to cover voluntary advanced planning consultations -- end-of-life counseling, as it were. Fox News, of course, ignored the story. But consistency isn't their bag -- hypocrisy is.
And so, after an August 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed argued that YLYC contained an unmistakable "hurry-up-and-die message," Fox News' Chris Wallace repeatedly croppedquotes from the new Veterans Health Administration (VHA) document mentioning the book in order to falsely suggest the Obama administration was requiring veterans to read it. When his guest, assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth rebutted his accusation, he said she was lying.
The conservative noise machine swung into action. The baseless assault was soon repeated by multiple Fox News guests. A Washington Times editorial raised rationing fears and claimed that "the book fosters dark thoughts about a difficult life somehow being less of a life." Sean Hannity said the administration was doing something "unimaginable." Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted on her Facebook page that the book "encourages veterans to forego care as they make end-of-life decisions." National Review's Jonah Goldberg saidthat the VA was telling "veterans that maybe they should be euthanized." Fox News' Karl Rove said that vets were being pushed toward "assisted suicide." Even Sen. John McCainagreed that the book was like a "death panel." (Sadly, CNN entertained the smear, too.)
When The New York Times reported on the story, it neglected to note a fact that just might get to the heart of the story. The author of the original Journal op-ed, H. James Towey, runs a nonprofit group that has published its own booklet on end-of-life issues, a book by Towey himself. It shouldn't surprise us, then, that Towey has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get the VA to adopt his literature instead of YLYC.
How do veterans feel? The Vietnam Veterans of America weighed in on Wednesday, saying that "it is outrageous for some partisans to politicize the debate by targeting veterans with blatant scare tactics." But don't look for them to get much airtime on Fox. That's not what the conservative media mean when they talk about "supporting the troops." VoteVets.org blogger Richard Smith criticized Towey's assertion that YLYC presents "end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions," noting "if the document was really trying to get veterans to pull the plug on themselves, then first suggesting to them that their life should be prolonged at all costs is a pretty stupid way to do it" [emphasis in original].
As was the case last week, there were good examples of media coverage to be celebrated. MSNBC's Contessa Brewer noted that Betsey McCaughey, who is normally treated by the media with a sort of reverence, was forced to resign from a medical company's board over "conflict of interest" concerns. NBC News' David Gregory corrected Sen. Orrin Hatch's false claim that "tens of millions" of Americans will switch to a public option if it is offered. MSNBC's David Shuster debunked claims about the "death book" and rebutted the idea that Democrats will provide health care to undocumented immigrants, while his colleague Keith Olbermann also took the "death book" smear to task, as did Alison Stewart, guest-hosting for Rachel Maddow. While interviewing McCain, ABC's George Stephanopoulos pushed back repeatedly against the baseless conservative spin. CNN's Howard Kurtz discussed a poll finding that 75 percent of Fox News viewers believe the false "death panel" claims -- which turned Fox News' Shepard Smith into an outlier when he forced Carl Cameron to note that there are no "death panels" in Democratic health care legislation. Look for him to face renewed criticism from conservatives for daring to set things straight.
Conspiracy theorist Beck loses 46th advertiser
Did Glenn Beck forget that he called Obama a "racist"? And does the fact that nearly 50 advertisers to date have abandoned his program in response to a grassroots campaign have anything to do with Beck's sudden bout of monumental amnesia?
Why do we ask? Because when Beck visited Bill O'Reilly's show this week to bemoan attempts by nasty liberal "loons" to shut Beck up, to snatch away his freedom of speech, there wasn't a single mention of what exactly Beck had done to attract such scorn from progressives. At Fox News, that smear seems to have been flushed down the memory hole, and all that's left is playing the victim.
We're used to Beck being "out there," but Thursday's show was special. Beck's hour (the second day in a row in which he didn't say a thing about Kennedy's death) was all about the supposed secret army being built by Obama. In fact, Obama's comments about the necessity of a "civilian national security force" came from a July 2, 2008, speech on service, and they referred to expanding the foreign service, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps.
This secret army idea -- not supported by any facts, though possibly written in invisible ink that Beck can interpret -- is a pet cause of fringe radio host Alex Jones, who is something of a leader in the underground 9-11 "truth" movement, which believes that the attacks were an inside job and that all the governments of the world are controlled by a cabal of the uber-rich who want to kill two-thirds of the world's population. Jones has repeatedly alluded to the existence of a secret army being built by Obama, a charge similar to the one leveled by Beck on his show. The difference, of course, is that Jones mostly transmits over the Internet and shortwave radio. Beck has a show on a cable "news" network. Beck's previous flirtation with the idea that FEMA was building detention camps for conservatives is also an article of faithwith Jones and his followers.
When Beck wasn't occupied with scrawling wild conspiracy theories on a chalk board (by the way, it became apparent this week that Beck could use some spelling lessons), he wasbegging his audience to "call a friend and tell them to watch the show this week." Surely, this had nothing to do with the legions of advertisers fleeing his show. By the way, Palin was happy to oblige, inviting her Facebook fans to tune in.
Sean Hannity for president, Hahahaha ...
Here's a good laugh to close out the week. On Monday, the right-wing Fox News website TheFoxNation.com linked under the headline "President Hannity?" to a WorldNetDaily article that claimed the Fox host "would make a formidable candidate, with the likability of Reagan, good looks and strong convictions." Adding more fuel to the hilarious fire in an "exclusive commentary," Joseph Farah, a birther and founder/editor/CEO of WorldNetDaily, weighed in: "I could get excited about a Sean Hannity candidacy. I could get excited about a Sean Hannity presidency. I even hear he has a birth certificate." For his part, Hannity said Thursday: "I would run for office at some point in my life." Could America be so lucky? Try not to swoon.
This week's media columns
This week's media columns from the Media Matters senior fellows: Eric Boehlert looks at how to media, angry right-wingers are important, while angry libs are annoying, and Jamison Foser discusses the media's health care filibuster.
Greg Lewis brings us "'Rush Limbaugh showed great restraint'? Please ..." in The Friday Rush, a review of Limbaugh's radio shows over the past week.
In Boston, Mourners Show the Diversity of Those Touched by Kennedy
"I can't think of a better way to spend the day than to come out and honor Ted Kennedy and all that he did" for health care. He added, "Thank God for Ted ...
Kennedy's Road to Redemption
Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki, and other family members greet mourners at the John F.Kennedy Presidential Library. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post) By ...
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS An Editorial Opinion
In the wake of the recent death of Mass. Senator Edward Kennedy, I am struck by the great number of people who recognize some of the late Senator’s signal achievements promoting health care, civil rights, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, education, and other areas which many feel are critical to the making of a more Perfect Union.
In recognizing Senator Kennedy’s achievements, these people have recognized the greatness that was intermingled with Senator Kennedy’s many human frailties. They have also recognized the fact that while few of us are blessed with the trait of greatness, all are heir to the human traits of frailty and imperfection. By this measure, Senator Kennedy, who successfully fused the greatness given to him with the human frailty given to all, deserves our acknowledgement and our deepest respect.
At the same time, however, I am also struck by the number of people who hearken back only to the miserable failings of the Senator at Chappaquiddick more than four decades ago and who use this tragic incident which claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne as a total summation of and basis of judgment for the Senator’s life and achievement. Many of the more thoughtless even go so far as to express satisfaction at the Senator’s death, to predict and hope that he is burning in hell for his sins, and to otherwise discredit every moment of Senator Kennedy’s 77 years of life. These people certainly have a right to express their opinions, but they should not forget what William Shakespeare called “the quality of mercy” which “blesseth him that gives and him that takes”.
In failing to practice mercy, these members of what poet Robert Frost in “Choose Something Like a Star” would have called “the Mob” is “swayed to carry . . . blame too far” by taking upon themselves the judgmental role that in the Christian world, belongs rightly to God, alone who said “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” I wonder what these people would have said had they been around at the death of biblical King David, a man who deliberately sent a man (Uriah) to death because of his lust for that man’s wife (Bathsheba), yet, also, inexplicably, a man acknowledged to be “a man after God’s own heart?” It appears that in matters like these, the judgment of Heaven is frequently different from the judgment of Earth, being based, as it is, not on “outward appearance” but on “the heart.”
We should not be surprised that man, by nature, is an imperfect creature. We can confirm this daily through an examination of our own large – or small – and imperfect lives. Nor should we be surprised that rich people generally have more opportunities than others. Down through history, the rich have always enjoyed certain advantages. The Kennedy’s certainly had and continue to have wealth and the power which attends it, but have they not paid in so many tragic ways for any illusions that their wealth might have given them? In addressing the “problem” of wealth, Jesus noted that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Difficult? Yes! Impossible? No!
Even those who think that Senator Edward Kennedy was a great man, should not be guilty of what Robert Frost again would have called “the Mob” which is “swayed to carry praise. . . too far.” They should realize that even if Chappaquiddick had never happened, Senator Kennedy, like the rest of us, would still have been a man, a man impossibly flawed and far from perfect. What we should ask is this: Although we have the opportunity, do we have the right in this time of his passing, to pass judgment? As Jesus said, “Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone.”
As we listen to the tolling of the bells of historic Faneuil Hall at the passing of the motorcade for Senator Kennedy’s funeral, we must remember that as poet John Donne so wisely noted in Meditation XVII “No man is an island entire unto himself.” We are all inextricably part of the family of man, and the tolling of the bell for Senator Kennedy is for us as well.
My grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something good (about someone), say nothing at all.” In the face of the entry of a fellow human being to what William Shakespeare called “The undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns,” I still follow that advice and suggest to those who are so anxious to condemn: Be silent and recognize that in the words of the late minister and songwriter, Charles Tinsley, there is now “nothing between” Senator Kennedy and his Savior.
Ulysses H. Chambers
Kennedy: Redemption By Good Works?
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Twitter Opens Up Kennedy Circle
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Liam Neeson Remembers Ted Kennedy
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Ted Kennedy, Sanctified With Sins And All
By Alli Joseph When I heard the news that Senator Edward Kennedy had died earlier this week, I figured I'd wait a few days to see how the chatter on the ...
Ted Kennedy: Remembering A Dedicated Senator
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Kennedy's Closest Confidante, In Politics And Life
New York Times
But 1991, as it turned out, was also one of the best years of Ted Kennedy's life. That was the year he fell in love with Victoria Reggie, the canny, ...
Ted Kennedy, Hero and Lightning Rod
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Schedule of Events
Afterward, Mr. Kennedy’s body will be flown to Washington and then taken to Arlington National Cemetery, where a burial ceremony is to take place at 5:30 p.m. (The Mass and burial are closed to the public.)
For the sharing of memories, the Kennedy family has asked that people use tedkennedy.org.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to educational programming at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
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