More Vindictiveness at "The Point"
Apologies for the hiatus in posts. I was out of town for a conference and then deluged with the usual midsem flood of papers and exams to grade. Things have returned to something like normality, and thus the return of the Counterpoint.
In some ways, it’s been a good week or two to have had off. Mark Hyman has had a string of rather trivial commentaries. We had the two part plea for more money for dialysis patients—a repeat of a topic Hyman took up earlier this year as well. Hyman’s preoccupation with this specific topic suggests he has a loved-one or friend facing kidney illness, and that’s unfortunate. In fact, I agree that treatment for kidney ailments should be more widely available and more affordable. The problem I have is that Hyman is so selective in his pleas for medical care. He suggests it’s a moral imperative to help those with kidney disease, but the idea that the government should provide more comprehensive medical support for people generally is anathema to him. Yes, Mark, let’s help those facing astronomical dialysis bills, but let’s also work for those people needing expensive treatments for heart ailments, cancer, spinal cord damage, AIDS, etc.
We have another round of blaming Louisiana for Katrina, without a mention of the fact that the president placed an incompetent with no discernable job experience at the top of FEMA. We also get a rousing birthday tribute to the navy and its traditions (which, as Winston Churchill reminded us, consist of rum, sodomy, and the lash).
We’re also told that a government agency that gives out a paltry $150 million in corporate research grants to companies is a source of government waste and corporate welfare, while Hyman says nothing about the billions upon billions corporations rack up in government welfare via undeserved tax breaks. Could this have anything to do with the fact that most of the companies that receive the small pittance of government research grants happen to be located In the blue (and research-intensive) states such as California, New York, and Massachusetts? I’m just wondering.
But one Point commentary deserves a dishonorable mention for its dishonesty. In one of his recent editorials, Hyman attacks John Kerry because one of Kerry’s spokesmen used the term “serial liars” in referring to a group of Vietnam Veterans, a group that includes Medal of Honor winners and former POWs Bud Day and Leo Thorsness. Hyman characterizes this as an unprovoked attack on wizened American heroes by a bitter and vindictive loser:
This is the latest attack in a battle that has continued since last year. A
lawsuit has been filed against Day's Vietnam veterans group. Swept up into this
are people such as Mary Jane McManus, a tireless advocate for POWs, whose own
husband was held as prisoner for nearly six years.
Just how vindictive is
John Kerry in blaming 70- and 80-year old POWs who suffered so tragically 35
years ago for his election defeat? Or is he trying to silence them for another
Yes, that old vindictive John Kerry is just going after these poor old American heroes out of spite and bitterness, right?
Well, no. In fact, Hyman has (as usual) turned everything upside down. The “serial liars” statement was referring not to Day and Thorness specifically, but to a larger group they belong to—the right-wing conservatives behind the propaganda piece “Stolen Honor.”
Okay, but that’s still pretty vindictive. I mean, that all happened over a year ago. It’s pretty sad for Kerry’s folks to be dragging that out again at such a late date.
Except it’s not Kerry or any of his staff that brought it up. The “serial liars” comment was made in response to a lawsuit filed by Carlton Sherwood, the filmmaker behind “Stolen Honor” against John Kerry. Wherefore the lawsuit? Because Sherwood says that Kerry and his staff “defamed” him by referring to him as “an extreme right-wing activist.” (The problem with suing somebody for defamation is that you have to prove that what they said was false, which will be pretty tough for Sherwood, given his partisan background.)
That’s right—it’s the “Stolen Honor” crowd that are still bitter and vindictive about what happened over a year ago. Hyman intentionally leaves out this important fact because this lie of omission makes it seem as if Kerry is suddenly lashing out without being provoked. Why let the truth get in the way of a good ad hominem attack?
But Sherwood is not alone in his suit. He is being helped out by a recently formed group called Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, a group that includes (guess who) Day and Thorsness as well as Mary Jane McManus, the woman whom Hyman refers to as being “swept into all this.” In fact, McManus has been speaking out publicly in support of her group’s lawsuit against Kerry. Hyman wants you to see her as simply a loyal wife of a veteran, caught up in the maelstrom of controversy unleashed by the bitter John Kerry, but she’s an active participant in the events Hyman says she’s been “swept up in.”
Which is fine, but it should also be noted that VVLF is hardly an apolitical group supporting all veterans. It’s a front for a legal defense fund that is made up of die-hard right wingers (including Day) to fund Sherwood’s legal shenanigans.
This is all bad enough, but Hyman fails to mention the connection of his own company to the “Stolen Honor” fiasco. The precipitating event in all of this was “Sinclairgate,” the decision by Sinclair to air “Stolen Honor” as a news segment days before the election.
As is all too typical, Hyman fails one of the most basic ethical tests of a commentator or journalist by not mentioning his own company’s role in the events he’s discussing. In fact, Hyman himself was on national television in October of 2004 denying that the group behind “Stolen Honor” was the same group as the discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth [sic] when the two groups had officially announced their merger a month earlier.
Yet another bit of hypocrisy is the fact that Sinclair is championing Sherwood’s suit, given the amount of time Hyman spends attacking “trial lawyers.” But as we know, conservatives are only against trial lawyers when they represent customers or employees of large conglomerates. They have no qualms about turning around and using the legal system to file frivolous lawsuits to harass those who speak their minds.
Not only is this the case with the Sherwood lawsuit, but Sinclair’s own attempts to intimidate and punish their former star reporter, Jon Lieberman, who had the temerity to object to his company’s airing of propaganda as news and got fired for his efforts. Not content to merely fire Lieberman, the head honchos at Sinclair are piling on a year after the fact with a lawsuit against Lieberman.
Remind us again, Mark: who’s being vindictive?
And that’s The Counterpoint.
Hyman Index: 6.08 (Wow! That’s many times the Recommended Daily Allowance of propaganda in just one editorial!)