How the CNN tulip craze resembles the sexism narrative: In the late 1950s, Lloyd Bridges—father of Jeff!—starred in a syndicated TV series called Sea Hunt.
One thinks of CNN’s ongoing tulip craze when one reads this synopsis from the world’s leading authority on the TV drama:
Synopsis of Sea Hunt (1958-61)In a somewhat similar way, CNN has been telling the world about all the junk that can be found in the ocean.
Mike Nelson (Bridges) is a free-lance scuba diver who has various adventures. Nelson, a former U.S. Navy frogman (having left the service about 4 years before the series began), is a well-known expert on diving who is often called on for difficult or dangerous projects. Traveling on his boat the Argonaut, Nelson outmaneuvers villains, salvages everything from a bicycle to a nuclear missile, rescues children trapped in a flooded cave, and even a dog. In the pilot episode, Mike rescues a downed Navy pilot from his sunken jet...
Last night, Jon Stewart did a funny segment on the astonishing downward spiral in which CNN is engaged. Disappointingly, he didn’t use the piece of tape in which Fredericka Whitfield reported that a search crew had found a dead jelly fish.
To read about Whitfield, just click this. To watch Stewart’s tape, click here.
Watching Stewart’s segment, we couldn’t help thinking of the narrative about the sexism in the Mastro report. This would be the connection:
CNN has been selling us rubes an exciting sea adventure. After three weeks of non-stop speculation and nonsense, we’re amazed to think that we the rubes are still tuning in. But we are!
Somewhat similarly, we the rubes have been buying the narrative about the “shocking sexism” found in the Mastro report. We’re quoting Salon’s Alex Pareene, direct from his fainting couch.
Don’t get us wrong! There’s plenty of sexism and misogyny in the world. We used to watch Matthews, then Olbermann, each night. We’re experts on the subject.
(Complaints from the liberal world at that time? Ice station zero!)
Today, we liberals are thrilling to a partisan tale about the Mastro report’s shocking sexism. (Also, its “slut-shaming.” We’re quoting the pitiful Maddow.) Just as CNN’s viewers are being sold an absurdly overdone sea hunt, we liberals are being sold a heavily overcooked tale.
Again, consider the way Kate Zernike started her report on this topic in the New York Times. Headline included, this was her first paragraph:
ZERNIKE (3/28/14): Irate Friends See Sexism in Report on Former Christie AideShocking! According to Zernike, the Mastro report said that Bridget Kelly “seemed emotional.” Everyone could surely see what that old dog whistle meant!
She “seemed emotional.” She was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor.” A boyfriend had ended a relationship.
Kelly “seemed emotional!” To Zernike, that was Exhibit A in the bill of attainder concerning the report’s sexism.
Does the Mastro report really say that Kelly “seemed emotional?” Yes it does, in exactly one place in its 340 pages. One witness says Kelly seemed that way at the December 13 meeting where Christie demands that staffers report any knowledge they might have about the Fort Lee lane closings.
To peruse the full report, click here. This is the damning passage Zernike craftily quoted:
Reference to Kelly being, acting or seeming “emotional”The writing there is rather vague. It isn’t clear what Orsen meant when he said that Kelly “seemed emotional” during that meeting.
page 99: Senior staff observed that the Governor wanted to know whether anyone in his Administration might have had involvement in the situation, and he wanted to confirm this one way or the other before the press conference. During the senior staff meeting, most attendees looked only at the Governor or down; they did not observe other attendees’ demeanor. Orsen was sitting directly next to Kelly in the back of the room, however, and observed that Kelly seemed emotional during the meeting.
Elsewhere in the report, other staffers are quoted saying that Kelly seemed upset or nervous during and after the meeting, at which Christie is said to have been insistent. The inference is clear. Because she was withholding information, Kelly was nervous, uneasy.
No one ever says that Kelly was “emotional” as a matter of course. Unless you’re truly a tool for the use, it’s hard to see how that one reference to “seeming emotional” at a tense moment could trigger a claim of sexism.
But that’s part of the story we’re being sold, just as viewers of CNN are being sold the news about dead jellyfish. And by the way—here are the references in the Mastro report to Governor Christie being, seeming or acting emotional:
Reference to Christie being, acting or seeming “emotional”Because of the structure of the report, there’s a quite a bit of repetition about Christie’s “emotional” sessions. That said, the report features six such passages concerning Christie, only one with Kelly.
page 10: That afternoon, on January 8, 2014, the Governor called together his top aides and advisors at Drumthwacket. It was an emotional session, in which the Governor, welling up with tears, expressed shock at the revelations, directed Kelly’s immediate firing for lying to him, and also decided to sever ties with Stepien.
page 11: When documents were then publicly released on January 8, 2014, confirming Kelly’s participation in the decision to close these lanes and Stepien’s apparent awareness, Governor Christie called together his top advisors that same day and, in an emotional session, expressed shock at the revelations, directed Kelly’s firing immediately for lying to him, and also decided to sever ties with Stepien.
page 103: Starting around mid-day on January 8, 2014, the Governor gathered at Drumthwacket with senior staff and other advisors (but not Kelly or Stepien). The Governor was emotional and, with tears in his eyes, he asked if any other of his senior staff had anything to do with the lane realignment; each reassured the Governor that they did not. T
page 131: During the December 13, 2013 senior staff meeting, as all who attended described, the Governor ordered his staff in a heartfelt, emotional and, at times, agitated manner to come forward with any information about the lane realignment.
page 131: On January 8, 2014, when documents were publicly released reflecting Kelly’s involvement in the lane realignment and Stepien’s apparent awareness, Governor Christie called together top aides and, in an emotional session, directed Kelly’s immediate firing for lying to him and decided to sever ties with Stepien.
page 132: Indeed, when he finally learned the truth, Governor Christie was genuinely shocked and disappointed—welling up with emotion—as numerous members of his senior staff have confirmed.
In two of these passages, Christie is shown welling up with tears.
This doesn’t mean that the report isn’t “sexist” in some way. But Zernike started her indictment by quoting the use of a certain damning word to refer to Kelly.
In our view, she was selling a dead jellyfish. But then, we think Zernike is one of the worst reporters we’ve ever covered.
A lot of us rubes are getting conned on CNN these days. It’s stunning to see how gullible and undiscerning we the rubes are willing to be.
We chuckled as Stewart tore his hair about the inanity of CNN’s work. We also thought of the dead jellyfish we liberals are being sold.