The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, January 07, 2005

IN FAIRNESS, LET'S GRADE THE MMFA LIST

Since I just graded Right Wing News' "40 Most Obnoxious Quotes of 2004" and found the list spotty at best, I think it's only fair that I take a look at Media Matters' list of the Top Ten Most Outrageous Statements of 2004 (Link pops up), and see if the same problems persist there. So let's check it out, shall we?

They don't number them, and there's only ten of them, so I will reprint the quotes here.
* Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?"
At best, Rush is keeping an open mind, offering a counterhypothesis as to why our men and women were doing that to Iraqi detainees. But even without saying something to him like "come ON!" (definitely worth saying), the obvious problem is that he sees no problem (and worse, refuses to see a problem) with what went on at Abu Ghraib. I could go on -- promoting the idea that otherwise disciplined soldiers would so quickly degenerate into such madness... while at the same time arguing that things are going great in Iraq -- but you get the idea.
TFM Grade: A-

(NOTE: This quote is very different from Michael Moore's. Consider the following two sentences. 1: "If you occupy a country, of course there's going to be resistance!" 2: "If you occupy a country, of course you're going to systematically abuse and torture Iraqis, many of whom aren't guilty of anything!")
* Ann Coulter: "[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry."
Frankly, I've heard worse from her. This just sounds like her normal rhetoric to me, something she'd say to Chris Matthews. It's an artful, if over-the-top way of saying "If Kerry is elected we'll have more terrorist attacks and dead Americans." You could have agreed or disagreed with that statement of course (I disagreed), but from Coulter, this is no McVeigh-NYT quote.
TFM Grade: C
* Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."
This is just low and dumb, along the lines of the "shoot Rummy" thing on the other list. The irony, of course, is that the quote comes from Blankley, an employee of the Washington Times, and thus of shady messianic financier Sung Myung Moon. Anything Blankley, Pruden, Gertz and their ilk say about Soros is merely projection.
TFM Grade: A
* Michael Savage: "When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son."
But...but... Diana Kerry is concerned about Australia! By the way, don't bother checking the ellipsis, it hides nothing that changes the context of the quote. Time for some indignance: Such characterizations have no place in serious discourse, and are immoral.
TFM Grade: A
* Oliver North: "Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States."
Is that what Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph and Buford Furrow would've hoped? Perhaps observing a campaign so closely leaves one desensitized; everyone knew Bush would make a centerpiece of his campaign be "Kerry is soft on terrorism", so when people like North say such things, I'm simply not surprised by them. It's not clear exactly what Ronnie's Fall Guy is basing his statement on, of course. One problem with this quote is that it's the Democrats who could've taken this dimension of the argument off the table if they were a bit more aggressive in going after Bush on terrorism.
TFM Grade: B-
* Pat Robertson on gays and lesbians: "[S]elf-absorbed hedonists ... that want to impose their particular sexuality on the rest of America."
When Dubya pats his wife on the butt, he is imposing his sexuality on the rest of America. Pat Robertson is terrified of the idea that people consensually unite penises and anuses. That's it. So are millions of his minions. They will say and do anything to keep people of other sexual orientations from gaining acceptance. The sickening irony of their opposition to gay marriage is that they'd rather homosexuals were barred from the opportunity to legitimize their committed relationships, thus allowing the 700Club types to keep branding them as promiscuous and "self-absorbed hedonists". Their hideous myth dies with the extension of equal rights to all Americans.
TFM Grade: A-
* Pat Buchanan: "[H]omosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism."
Oh god, not this again. He said this in the aftermath of the Mary Cheney situation. Many right-wingers, to their own intellectual detriment, put forth hypotheticals regarding other personal traits, and wound up equating homosexuality to abortion, adultery, alcoholism, and even obesity. You can read my original coverage of that whole situation here.
TFM Grade: A-
* Bill O'Reilly to Jewish caller: "[I]f you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel."
This came from the "Christmas UNDER SIEGE!!!" non-issue that the righties were pushing in the run-up to Xmas. This is too silly to be "outrageous". I don't get these conservative pundits: if they think that Christianity is so great, why are they so darn worried about it having a little competition in America? Marketplace of ideas, guys! But this is what they do: manufacture crises to keep people afraid, and in line. Ironically, these are the same people who accuse anybody who criticizes neoconservatives of being anti-Semitic.
TFM Grade: B
* Bill Cunningham (Clear Channel radio host who appeared as a guest on The Sean Hannity Show): The election is over because "Elizabeth Edwards has now sung."
Pointless, mean-spirited ad hominem. Good for MMFA for pointing it out. An irony about obesity: Elizabeth Edwards is, I'd estimate, about as overweight as Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert are, yet she's the only one who gets called fat. What gives?
TFM Grade: A-
* Jerry Falwell: "And we're going to invite PETA [to "wild game night"] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups."
Obviously this is red meat for his audience at Thomas Road Baptist Church. TFM is of the opinion that Witches get a bad rap, like, say, sharks, snakes and Roma (known to non-PC types as gypsies). Furthermore, I'm surprised and impressed by Falwell's grasp of the alphabet. The initial part of the quote reveals that wonderful staple of Falwellian Christianity, you know, "taking pleasure in watching people suffer". Still, wordplay and taunting of interest groups doesn't quite break the outrageous barrier for me. Surely there were better Falwell quotes from 2004 than this one, starting with "Blow them all away in the name of the Lord".
TFM Grade: C-

MMFA Cumulative GPA: 3.22 Much better than Hawkins, but still needs improvement.

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