El Paso and Dayton: Case studies in media bias and propaganda

Gwen Hope examines propaganda and media bias surrounding the El Paso and Dayton shootings as case studies that illuminate a common trend. -promoted by Laura Belin

Nearly a month has passed since the country and world was yet again shaken by news of mass shootings in the United States. The shootings were so chronologically close to each other that our survival instincts want to forever link them in our memories.

Yet the two incidents are much more different than our evolutionary psychology would have us believe. While the wounds have hardly begun healing, these recent tragedies, now twins in our social consciousness, provide perfect case studies into propaganda and the social reaction to these events.

Continue Reading...

Three resources for parents to teach their teens about consent

Last week, a District Court judge ordered a new trial for a former University of Iowa honors student who was convicted of rape in 2012, Ryan Foley reported for the Associated Press. Evan Pfeifer had sex with another student on the Pentacrest lawn in Iowa City in 2010. She later accused him of rape, while he claimed the encounter was consensual. Judge Douglas Russell vacated Pfeifer’s conviction because “a prosecutor asked witnesses improper questions to shore up the alleged victim’s credibility, and his defense lawyer gave him ineffective counsel.”

I can’t speak to what happened on that night in 2010, but many similar tragedies could be avoided if teenagers understood consent properly before entering the world of dating and sexual exploration. Young men who rape may see themselves as opportunists rather than predators, like the frat boy who calmly described his method of forcing sex on an unwilling target, seemingly unaware he was outing himself as a violent criminal. Or they may genuinely believe that a woman incapacitated by heavy drinking consented to sex with them, only to be blindsided later by a rape accusation.

Training girls to protect themselves against sexual assault is worthwhile, but changing the culture requires teaching boys and girls what consent looks like. Three of the best resources I’ve found are linked below.

Continue Reading...

Weekend open thread: Media ethics edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Washington Post’s media critic Eric Wemple caught syndicated columnist George Will red-handed in a flagrant conflict of interest.

This case highlights Will’s intersecting lines of influence. He’s a director of the Bradley Foundation, an entity with more than $800 million in assets and 2013 grants totaling nearly $34 million to organizations in Wisconsin and across the country, including big-time Beltway entities like the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society. His column is syndicated to about 450 newspapers. Keeping those two worlds separate is quite a job, as the Nov. 19 column demonstrates: Here, Will touted an outlet funded generously by a group he helps to lead. And thanks to the columnist’s kind words, WILL may have an easier time finding funders outside of the Bradley Foundation. All very cozy, synergistic and, as media critics might say, an out-and-out conflict of interest – an offense of which Will has been accused before.

Click through to read the whole column, including Will’s response. The columnist is unrepentant: “I do not see how disclosure of my connection to Bradley, and Bradley’s connection to WILL, and WILL’s connection to the school choice program, would be important to readers.” That suggests he will not hesitate to pull the same stunt again. Newspapers including the Des Moines Register should drop Will’s column if they don’t share his views on what constitutes full disclosure.

Speaking of the Register, Lynn Hicks (up to now the newspaper’s executive business editor) is taking over this month as editorial page editor as Randy Evans retires from that position. Evans will be missed. Seven people will serve on the Register’s editorial board going forward: President and Publisher Rick Green, Executive Editor Amalie Nash, Lynn Hicks, Rox Laird, Andie Dominick, Clark Kauffman, and Brian Smith. Laird has been writing editorials at the Register for about 30 years, Dominick since 2001. Kauffman is a longtime investigative reporter who just joined the editorial board in September of this year. Smith “is taking on a new engagement editor role that emphasizes reaching new audiences and connecting with the community”; up to now he has been an associate digital editor for the Register.

It’s probably too much to hope for the Register to make the politics and opinion sections of the website easier to navigate. Every newspaper owned by Gannett seems to operate with the same horrible template now. So I’ll settle for hoping that in the future, the Register will disclose any family connections between subjects of guest columns and members of the editorial board.

Rolling Stone magazine is backing off from a widely publicized story about an alleged rape at a University of Virginia fraternity. There were red flags in the original story, and some other journalists have questioned why no one from Rolling Stone interviewed the alleged perpetrators of the gang rape. I agree 100 percent with Olga Khazan: “this whole episode is terrible news for survivors of rape on college campuses and elsewhere.” Whatever did or did not happen to “Jackie” (the subject of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article), the collapse of this story undermines advocates working to get colleges and universities to address the real problem of sexual assault on campus.  

Continue Reading...

McChicken Sandwich

(This has been bothering me too. The woman's nose was broken, but some media accounts are playing for laughs with comments like "Definitely not a happy meal." - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I read that a guy in Des Moines was arrested for hitting his wife with a McChicken sandwich. Which is hilarious because it involved a McChicken sandwich.
And then you read the rest of the story and realize that he battered his pregnant wife because he didn't like what she brought him for lunch. He smacked her around with the sandwich and smashed it into her face until her nose was broken. Plus he knocked the phone from her hands when she tried calling the police for help.
But the media is treating it like a joke because it involved a McChicken sandwich.

Continue Reading...

Memorial Day open thread

What’s on your mind this Memorial Day, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I’ve posted Memorial Day-related links in past years at this site, but I learned only last year that Memorial Day became an official federal holiday only recently, in 1971. That’s surprising, given that the tradition of remembering American war dead on a special day in May goes back to the 1860s. The Iowa National Guard’s website includes brief histories of Iowa soldiers’ involvement in U.S. wars since the mid-19th century and a stunning photo of thousands of men standing in the shape of the Statue of Liberty.

The horrendous shooting rampage in Santa Barbara on Friday night has prompted a wave of new commentaries about mental health, violence against women, and gun violence generally. It’s so upsetting to know that the authorities couldn’t do a thing to disarm the perpetrator, even though his family had been trying to get him help and warned police weeks ago that he was posting YouTube videos about his murderous and misogynistic fantasies.

For many people, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, so I’m re-posting a link to a piece that’s worth re-reading every year: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.  

Continue Reading...
View More...