The Most Obvious Co-opting of #BringBackOurGirls I’ve Seen Yet

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Yes, I am counting this as a Merry Month of May post – hey one of the suggested topics is to write about something currently happening in the news! Anyway, since I do want folks to be educated about the quality, or lack thereof, in media – here you go. What gets me is that this isn’t even political in nature – which is when you would think a reporter might have a bias. No, this is simply laziness and wanting to publish some click bait on the most rapidly trending story.

Take this as a lesson in being highly skeptical of even the most mainstream of news sources. One would hope – no, one *should* be able to TRUST that an outlet like ABC News would spend a mere 5 minutes fact checking this claim. Kudos to Vent for sniffing this out. Please read what he found.

Cultured State

Ramaa Mosley is attempting to co-opt the #BringBackOurGirls movement, and I am not here for any of this.

Yesterday, ABC News (of the United States) made up a profile on the newsmagazine Nightline of Ramaa Mosley, and essentially credited her with creating the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag—for those wondering, it refers to the 234 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigera weeks ago, that haven’t been found as of yet. And I have a problem: the claim just isn’t true.

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Cancer is not a game, and neither is sports anymore

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This has been eviction week #2 which meant outpatient surgery to remove two perfectly round 2cm sized fibroids that were benign but excruciatingly annoying as hell for the last few months. While it was a very easy procedure, it does mean that I am spending a lot of time just lounging around and reading a lot.

As a result, I’m sharing some of the articles that I found the most compelling. One stands alone and then others all follow a theme.

Just call me Arianna Jr as I curate my way to a decent post for the week!

The first is by a lady who I recently started following on twitter and who has already enlightened me so so much about what it means to be living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She is @AdamsLisa on twitter and her post is:

Breast cancer is not a Facebook status game

Here’s an excerpt:

Anyone who has breast cancer and uses your FB status update as an indicator of whether you support their cause is not very enlightened. When I rank “how to help those of us with cancer,” sharing one of these paragraphs as a status update is the lowest possible method of showing support. There are endless ways to do that. I think it actually is the opposite; sharing these status updates makes people feel they are doing something real for breast cancer causes when they aren’t.

Those status updates have ALWAYS rubbed me the wrong way but there was a part of me that pulled away from criticizing them because I didn’t want to seem callous or to offend anyone who might actually have cancer who appreciated those sentiments. Finding out that someone with cancer viewed these status games the same way I do means that I will be saving this link to post in those comment threads should they show up in my timeline again.

And now – on to sports! Which is supposed to be a game, but also isn’t so much anymore. In all of these stories, the themes are this (In My Humble Opinion anyway)

1) The media – with the exception of the people writing these articles – is AS MUCH to blame for the spreading of lies as the person actually telling them. Sports writers are interconnected with the leagues and teams they cover to the detriment of actual journalism. They don’t double check anything that might shed a less than heroic light on the players/coaches/programs/teams/leagues that essentially pay their salaries. Fans want feel good stories, owners want the same and so on and so on.

2) Heroes should be people you know, not people you know of.

First a story from last week – the Baseball Hall of Fame non-vote – this will be the first of a few from David Zirin (@EdgeofSports on twitter) who has been speaking my exact opinion on many sports topics recently.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Epic Fail

My favorite lines:

The Hall of Fame voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America have made what’s being called “a powerful statement.” That statement was, “we are a collection of sanctimonious, hypocritical muttonheads.”

..while Mike Piazza’s only connection to steroids seems to be that he suffers from back acne. If only he had a better dermatologist, he might be celebrating today.

So yeah, obviously my deep Piazza love means I was outraged that he was passed up when by all accounts he should be a first ballot hall of famer. But, the larger point to Zirin’s post is pretty much mine – the same baseball writers who ignored every sign of steroid use and who wrote of the glorious exploits of these players during the 90’s are now sitting there judging these same players and declaring them not worthy of the Hall due to cheating that THEY refused to investigate!!

Then there is the Manti Te’o tale of an invisible dead girlfriend that again – was aided and abetted by the traditional sports media and was finally exposed in a brilliant investigative report by Timothy Burke & Jack Dickey of the Deadspin blog:

Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax

Lennay Kekua’s death resonated across the college football landscape—especially at Notre Dame, where the community immediately embraced her as a fallen sister. Charity funds were started, and donations poured into foundations dedicated to leukemia research. More than $3,000 has been pledged in one IndieGogo campaign raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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Te’o’s story moved beyond the world of sports. On the day of the BCS championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, CBS This Morning ran a three-minute story that featured a direct quote from Lennay Kekua:

Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you’ll stay there and you’ll play and you’ll honor me through the way you play.

Of course, the bottom line is that there never was a Lennay Kekau. She was fake. It’s a long, well documented post that is worth following to see just how deep the hoax goes – and to see just how easily these Deadspin writers were able to unravel it. All those other “news” outlets – the South Bend Times, CBS, etc – they ALL just took the story at face value and never checked anything out.

Worse still, as we go back to David Zirin – is that there has been a deeper tale of problems at Notre Dame that no local media is writing about:

Crying for Manti Te’o

(Athletic Director Jack) Swarbrick revealed that a private outside firm had been hired to investigate just who had perpetrated this “cruel game.” The athletic director even cried. His behavior only raises more important questions than anything Te’o will face tomorrow. Why hasn’t there been any kind of privately funded, outside investigation into the alleged sexual assaults committed by members of the football team? Why was there no private, outside investigation into Coach Brian Kelly’s role in the death of team videographer Declan Sullivan? It says so much that Te’o’s bizarre soap opera has moved Swarbrick to openly weeping but he hasn’t spared one tear, let alone held one press conference, for Lizzy Seeberg, the young woman who took her own life after coming forward with allegations that a member of the team sexually assaulted her.

Oh yay – a college football program (and local media surrounding it) that is all OVER this FAKE dead girl, but couldn’t lift a finger to properly document two REAL deaths connected to the team. Lovely.

Finally – how could I ignore the biggest liar of all? Lance Armstrong – who, at this point, may be sending some money to Manti to thank him for taking away some of the heat from HIS story this week!

For this, I turn to another sports writer who I have often enjoyed, but who has also often been accused of being duped too frequently by the people he covers (yet he was brutal on Barry Bonds)…Rick Reilly:

It’s all about the lies

It’s partially my fault. I let myself admire him. Let myself admire what he’d done with his life, admire the way he’d not only beaten his own cancer but was trying to help others beat it. When my sister was diagnosed, she read his book and got inspired. And I felt some pride in that. I let it get personal. And now I know he was living a lie and I was helping him live it.

Yup – as I stated from the beginning – point #1 – the media has a huge role in all of these stories. While their purpose is to BE journalists like the Deadspin reporters, they unfortunately end up nearly always becoming part of the story as they let things get too personal, get too financially wrapped up or just love to bask in the same glory of the superstars they are covering.

Which again takes me back to my last point:

Heroes should be people you know, not people you know of.

Election Result follow up

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The day after an election is often spent by both sides reflecting on what they did correctly or incorrectly. Winners and losers assess what happened. Unfortunately, what has been observed over the last couple of Presidential election cycles is that one side isn’t quite getting that the electorate is changing. Demographically, and socially, voters are just more progressive. Plus, they like to rely on the facts they observe around them, vs just listening blindly to one media source. I was going to write up something about that. And then, this was posted:

Evolution Is A Thing – courtesy of the opening segment of Rachel Maddow’s show last night. A beautiful list of FACTS and TRUTH and REALITY that even two days after the election, many in the GOP (specifically it’s pundits on TV) just do not seem to grasp. The script then goes on to explain why this is bad, and why it happens:

In other words, I don’t need to write anything – it was all laid out perfectly by the writers at TRMS and delivered perfectly by Rachel.

I’m sure the folks like the guy who wrote that facebook comment in my last post wishing that he had a POTUS who saluted the flag are living inside their own bubble.

I’m sure my friend – who broke my heart when she stated that she believes that Obama’s second term will result in foreign enemies attacking us and war right here on our own soil – is living in some sort of dark feedback loop bubble.

I wonder sometimes if fear is not the force behind all this. Is there some part of people’s minds that gets so awash in fear that it becomes irrational, that dominates your ability to reason and observe reality?

I know I saw that on the left during the Bush years. Folks who just went off the deep end and lapped up any tidbit of nonsensical information fed to them as long as it supported their narrative of Bush as a manically evil dictator.

The difference is that those fearful lefties had to go digging for that feedback loop in dark corners of the internet. There were no radio shows. No TV stations that they could plug into and wallow in 24/7. They were pushed aside by folks like me and anyone serious minded and actually involved in Democratic politics. To this day there are some on the left who I blocked, unfriended, and stopped reading their blog posts because they have lost touch with reality when it comes to politics.

It’s a LOT easier to find sources of blood flow for conservative fear junkies. And it seems like many of what I would label “fringe” opinions are given larger platforms and even embraced by the party as a whole.

I really hope that Rachel is right and that this second Presidential defeat for the GOP results in a crack in their conservative media vacuum. I really do. Because the country IS stronger when both parties are strong.

And that requires relying on facts. And science. And math.

And letting go of irrational fears. Because living in fear is not living.

Dear Liza

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How’s your weekend starting out?

Mine is fabulous. Why? Well because I love my new Saturday mornings.

I know, I should be sad about 15 no longer playing spring sports – specifically baseball. After all, that’s the sport he’s played the longest. 9 months out of the year essentially since he was 5. And as a sports fan, baseball is my first love and his. We had all those years of season tickets to Padres games that are some of my most treasured memories of time spent with him. BUT…..

Dayum it’s nice to be able to sleep in and lounge around on Sat morning! There’s great tv on for me. I just LOVE MSNBC on the weekend. Starting with Up with the smartest man on tv – Chris Hayes. Then followed by Melissa Harris Perry and Nerdland. Both hosts are quite liberal of course which appeals to me, but they also both gather panels of mixed political leanings and give them the time and luxury to have respectful discussions. No talking over each other. No screaming. Just fabulous, in depth conversations on hard topics. While I get the time to just rest my body in bed, my brain gets totally filled to overflowing with these brilliant shows. I watch them on the DVR so I can pause and get breakfast and have breakfast in bed every Sat.

Since the rest of the day is open I can lounge without guilt. And I know 15 loves sleeping in!! As all teens do of course. If I see him before noon I wonder if he’s sick!!
And the cats? Yeah, lounging in bed with me is heaven for them.
Oh yeah! Yesterday! The run was great. Would have been home in an hour if not for the damn red lights that stopped me at every intersection. Definitely easier to run home. I’ll end this note with some snapshots I took on the early, scenic, downhill part or my run commute. Have a great weekend, rainy or not 😉

Sage flowers blooming at top of Torrey Pines Hill looking east towards home.

A peak of the ocean and stormy skies looking west from Torrey Pines Hill

Sun peaking through stormy skies at Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines beach with storm clouds looming

Spare me the mommy wars – please!

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Ugh! Again with the Mommy Wars in the media? Ok, I suppose first we should blame whoever conducted this “controversial study”. I mean really,what’s the damn point? No, I wont look it up to link to it and give it more eyeballs. I find the premise of it insulting enough. Apparently the gist of THIS one is that WOHM moms are more satisfied overall and happier? Anderson Cooper decided to do a whole panel on his new daytime show on the topic inluding featuring a working mom who calls SAHM’s lazy. ((eyeroll))

May I just drop my opinion here that there is NO REDEEMING VALUE TO THIS TOPIC?

Why in bloody hell do people NEED to pigeonhole entire segments of society for no reason other than to make themselves feel better?

GROW UP!!

Here’s the real answer: You know who is happiest? The men and women who are living their lives to THEIR fullest potentials however THEY define that!!

For the sake of this argument let’s focus just on mom’s – but the same answer applies. I know some truly HAPPY and truly MISERABLE women who Stay at Home, Work from Home, and Work outside the Home. What makes them happy or miserable in their roles as moms is all about how happy or miserable they are as INDIVIDUALS on an everyday basis.

Because that is what this is at it’s core – an INDIVIDUAL PREFERENCE.

Let’s say that ALL THINGS ARE EQUAL. That every mom has the financial situation to choose. Every mom has a co-parent (let’s just all let out a huge groan right now about how this whole thing IMPLIES a HUSBAND vs a WIFE as a partner – how limiting!) who would support whichever choice she makes. Her kid(s) have no special health needs and schools and childcare  in the area are FABULOUS!

Given all that….I don’t need science…I know myself and many of my close friends. And I can tell you with 100% conviction that we would all choose different paths! Some of us would choose to work no matter what because that keeps us sane & balanced. Some of us would choose to stay at home because THAT keeps us sane and balanced. Some would choose to do one or the other for just a few years and then switch. Some would work part time during school hours only. Some would work from home. I mean – possibilities are endless when all external drivers are controlled, right? Then it becomes about internal desires. And some of us were born with a yearning to be at home with our kids and some of us were born with a passion for a particular career.

How about we all CHEER EACH OTHER ON and try to do our best to make sure we all have the opportunity to make those decisions for ourselves?

WHY are we compelled to pass judgment? Why must we push one group down in order to prop ourselves up? If you have guilt over your choice or your situation that is YOUR PROBLEM and you don’t get to alleviate that guilt by trying to make out that MY situation is somehow WORSE than yours (and vice versa of course).

Why the fuck do we need some group doing some study on this? What intrinsic value does it provide other than to make one group feel superior? It’s bloody stupid and divisive and a waste of time and money.

I cheer for my friends who find their dream jobs.

I ache for my friend who desperately wants to stay home with her baby, but can’t afford it.

I ache for friends who cannot have children at all.

I cheer friends who decide they don’t want kids.

I cheer friends who are having their sixth child.

I cheer for my friends who always knew they wanted to be married and having babies and staying home with them and who find exactly that.

I cheer or ache for friends no matter what the scenario according to what is THEIR HEARTS DESIRE. Not mine. Not anyone else. THEIRS.

I don’t LIMIT anyone by forcing them into a theoretical BOX.

I would appreciate it if the media, researchers, and everyone else would please do the same.

Be careful what you share on Facebook. An illustrative guide on how lies and misconceptions are spread.

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Be careful what you share on Facebook. An illustrative guide on how lies and misconceptions are spread..

Fascinating look at how you really need to question what you read on the internet! People are so very easily misled. Since it’s technically about a political article, I posted it over on my Politics and Media site.

So why was this quote used?

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His friends still worry. “I think he’s getting close to a burnout kind of thing,” said Sam Smith, a former Chicago Tribune sports writer, basing this not on anything Mr. Axelrod told him. Mr. Smith added that he speaks only sporadically to his friend these days, mainly about sports, and that Mr. Axelrod has always driven himself exceedingly hard.

That paragraph comes from near the end of an article in the New York Times this morning by Mark Leibovich.The emphasis added is mine. This is why I rant so much about the media, sometimes here and quite frequently on my other site (which I haven’t forgotten, just been busy elsewhere :-)) It just seems to me that this quote was not even needed for the article. Yes, there was am obvious slant to the piece from the start – the author is making the case that David Axelrod is too loyal to the President and therefore not advising him as well as he did on the campaign and that the DC scene is overwhelming him. The case he lays out in the earlier portions also does not rely on much more than third party opinions from outsiders and the classic “some critics say” line. But, the overall theme of being frustrated with how the White House has communicated during their first year is very consistent and polling does back it up and shoot, my own observations back it up too (now there’s an educated source!!) Still, why throw in that burnout line? What’s the point? It’s not even remotely reliable – as is obvious from the disclaimers included with it – so why print it? It didn’t add to the story at all. Since when did it become OK to just use gossip as a source in the New York Times political section? I thought journalistic integrity meant 2 independent sources and direct quotes. Is that just not possible anymore?

I think this is on my mind because last week SportsBoy and I finished this book:

Change-up: Mystery at the World Series Change-up: Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wonderful story as always that kept SportsBoy and I riveted the entire way. A GREAT look at what journalistic standards are SUPPOSED to be and the ethical questions about WHY a story should be told – or not. I’m thinking there are a lot of current professional media types who should read this as a refresher course on those topics!

And yes, I do think that journalists should read this book! Feinstein’s series follows two young sports writers (both are 13) who end up covering stories at big events – this one is set at the World Series. In each book there has been discussion about what goes into the writing of their stories and what they can and cannot use. There are *standards* that the adults advising them follow and I find myself reading Real Life newspaper/magazine and online articles and wondering when those standards were lost? Because there is no way that Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson would have used that quote up there!