Facts are stubborn things

The Reaction’s take on the Eliot Spitzer business, Hypocrisy and moralism: The fall of Eliot Spitzer and the rise of the double standard

Is Spitzer a hypocrite? Yes. That much is clear. But, as I wrote in a comment to my post linked above, what bothers me is that he is being treated differently than Republicans (and conservatives generally) who find themselves in similar situations. What they do is deny, then un-deny, then find God and repent (sincerely or not), and express contrition (genuine or not), then blitz the media seeking forgiveness, looking and sounding pathetic and forlorn, then go on with their careers, all forgiven, all forgotten. And what about someone like Gingrich? While Bill Clinton was being persecuted by Republicans, Gingrich among them, he was engaging in rather inappropriate behaviour, at least from the perspective of the moralists. And did Gingrich suffer for it? Hardly. And he is not alone.

The Rightie blogs and pundits can babble to their black heart’s content that just gives everyone the opportunity to bring up the laughable self-righteous hypocrisy of the party of Mark Foley(R-FL) and his penchant for teenage boys, Brian J. Doyle (deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) and his cravings for teenage girls or Conservative minister Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and his prostitution and drug problems. The list literally goes on and go. Should someone of Spitzer’s stature and marital status be running around with prostitutes. Probably not a good idea. Unlike Republicans such as Newt Gingrich as the Reaction pointed out, Spitzer’s political career is probably over. Firedoglake among others suggests that its fishy that the Feds should have gotten involved in a simple prostitution case. Jane raises some very good questions. Still at the end of the day Spitzer is an adult and very experienced public official who made a decision to engage in certain activities knowing full well the personal and political consequences. Like most Americans he knows we’re capable of being a nation of puritanical hypocrites, better that he was brought down now then when he was running for the Senate or up for a presidential appointment. If their were dirty tricks involved the dirty tricksters inadvertently did Democrats a favor by getting rid of some dead weight.

Republican wannabe journalist Michelle Malkin demotrates her poor reading comprehension and math skills. Michelle also has a message for the troops: if you get sick from the nasty water supplied by KBR, suck it up. Oh and as usual she loves you more then the Democrats.

Speaking of journalists,

Thomas Ricks, the military reporter for The Washington Post (and author of a fine book about the war, aptly titled “Fiasco”), spoke volumes when he explained his paper’s failures in the ramp-up to the war in 2003 by saying, “There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all the contrary stuff?” His colleague Karen DeYoung put it in even more appalling terms: “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” Walter Isaacson, who headed CNN when the war began, later informed Bill Moyers that “big people in corporations were calling up” when the network showed civilian casualties, declaring, “You’re being anti-American here.” Bob Simon, the CBS correspondent, told Moyers that covering the marketing of the war was so “explosive” that he felt he should “keep it, in a way, almost light — if that doesn’t seem ridiculous.”

While most of the reporters in Iraq recovered from their early rah-rah “we are taking Baghdad” coverage to produce years of tough-minded and valuable work (to the extent that it was possible amid the horrid violence), their counterparts on the home front often fell down on the job.

As long as most people get their news from TV – the corporate media at its newstainment best, where they are more like celebrities with multi-million dollar contracts we’ll continue to get news that is run through the filter of how it affects the ratings. Which in turn affects network revenue which the so-called journalist depend on to continue their plush lifestyles. Its possible to make a good salary and still do hard hitting journalism, but as the numerous examples laid out in this article show it does seem that many have compromised their integrity for money and ratings ( or circulation). The Bob Simon antidote reflects another influence, the network fear of right-wing hate mail. That’s part of the job. If networks do not want to pursue stories and present the facts for fear they piss off some wing-nut maybe they should drop the pretense of doing news at all.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence” ~ John Adams


John Singer Sargent: Madame X, A Man Seated by a Stream, Boat with The Golden Sail, Robert Louis Stevenson

Madame X (1884) by John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925)

The original portrait which is currently in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is an imposing seven feet tall. Difficult to imagine today, but when this painting was first exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1884 it was considered somewhat scandalous. The pose and the plunging neckline combined with the sensuality projected by the model were thought shocking. It was Singer’s personal favorite and probably his most well known work.

A Man Seated by a Stream, Val d’Aosta, Purtud (1907?) One of Sargent’s watercolors.

Boat with The Golden Sail, San Vigilio (1913) Oil on canvas. Sargent was born in Florence, Italy of American parents. While he made extended trips to the U.S. he was an avid traveler.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1885?) Sargent painted several portraits of Stevenson ( the author of Treasure Island). The one that included Stevenson’s wife is probably the most well known. Stevenson was thought of as a little eccentric, he was tall and angular, kept his hair a little longer then was thought appropriate for a gentleman of the time and usually had a cigarette in his hand. Since Stevenson’s books were and are considered so accessible the portrait made for an interesting contrast with the public’s perception of what they thought Stevenson was like.