Monday, June 19, 2006

Disgraceful

The following is an open letter to Mark Hyman that has been sent to him regarding his recent “Short Takes” segment in which he cites the writing of “investigative journalist” Thomas Lipscomb as he attacks Cindy Sheehan, calling her “nutty” and insinuating that she only “professed” to love her son, offering as evidence the delay between his death and the placement of a permanent marker at his grave.

In my opinion, this is among the absolute worst of Hyman’s editorials. It goes beyond the typical ad hominem attack to the level of character assassination of the most unforgivable and despicable sort. I encourage you to go to the Newscentral.tv website and post a call for Hyman to make a public apology to Ms. Sheehan.


Mr. Hyman,

You’re wrong in your comments in your latest “Short Takes” segment.

You’re wrong about Casey Sheehan’s grave. It does have a headstone. If you kept up to date and checked your sources, you’d know that.

You’re wrong to use Thomas Lipscomb as a source for a commentary. He’s lied about his journalistic credentials, claiming to have been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his “coverage” of John Kerry in the 2004 election. He received no nomination.

You’re wrong to imply that someone who doesn’t immediately place a stone marker on a grave of a loved one doesn’t care for them. I grew up with a public cemetery just beyond my backyard. When I was a kid, I saw any number of graves which had simple placards for lengthy times before a permanent marker was installed. It’s not unusual. There are any number of reasons (economic, emotional, familial, etc.) why tombstones are often not put in place for a long time after a loved one has died.

You’re wrong to insinuate Cindy Sheehan doesn’t love her son because she’s ignored his grave. She hasn’t. By all reports, she has spent hour after hour, day after day, at his grave. She has said that she couldn’t think about putting up a monument with his name and day of his death inscribed in granite because, for a long time, this act would make his death seem painfully final. If you have ever lost a loved one before their time, you should know this.

You’re wrong to attack Cindy Sheehan personally. If you disagree with her politics, fine. Iit would be easy enough to say, “Ms. Sheehan has suffered a horrific loss, but that doesn’t mean she’s right about Iraq, and here’s why . . .” Attacking her as a person insults her and makes you look weak and cowardly. The fact that you are reduced to attacking a mother of a soldier killed in action tells your audience that you have no legitimate argument to make.

You’re wrong to juxtapose your attack on a dead soldier’s mom with your complaint on airport security officers who scanned and patted down Marines in an airport as they were returning the remains of a fallen comrade. How can one argue that it’s insensitive for a security officer to do his or her job in applying standard safety policy to these marines, but in literally the next breath attack the mother of a fallen soldier personally because you don’t agree with her politics?

You’re wrong when you claim that you respect the troops in Iraq, veterans, the military in general, and the families of soldiers. You don’t. You only respect them when it suits your purposes. If honoring, or even acknowledging, their service gets in the way of making a partisan political point, you don’t hesitate to ignore what they’ve done for the country. You did this time and time again with John Kerry, attacking the established record of a decorated combat veteran rather than debate him on the issues. And you’re doing it with Cindy Sheehan, a woman who has suffered the most painful loss imaginable—the loss of a child. Rather than debate her position, you mock her loss for no reason other than the fact that you disagree with her politics. Your respect for the military and military families is conditional: it comes a distant second to your love of your own political ideology.

You’re wrong if you think that saying Sheehan has opened herself up for such criticism absolves you of your immorality. You, and some of your political fellow travelers (most notably Ann Coulter), seem to think that simply speaking out publicly on an issue makes any attack, no matter how disgusting or cowardly, legitimate. No one says Sheehan (or the Jersey Girls, or Jack Murtha, or Max Cleland, or John McCain) can’t be criticized vigorously on the substance of their positions. What common sense and decency *do* suggest, however, is that their characters shouldn’t be attacked, particularly those aspects of their service or losses that most deserve our respect. If you want to denigrate Cindy Sheehan, at least have the basic decency to do so without insulting her and her son by suggesting she didn’t really love him.

You’re wrong on all of these issues. Wrong on the facts and wrong morally. Take a step back and look at what you’ve done. You’ve insulted and trivialized two of the things we hold most sacred in our culture: the death of a young person in service to his country, and the love of a mother for her child. And for what? To take an easy way out of actually engaging in a debate on the merits of an issue. Is this the sort of person you want to be? Is this a road you honestly wish to travel down?

It’s not too late. You can offer an on-air apology to Sheehan and your audience for your attack on her. You could explain that while you strongly disagree with her politics and think that she’s getting unwarranted attention because of her status as a grieving mother, mocking a mother’s grief for her son who died for his country is improper and unnecessary. You could admit that you made a mistake, and in so doing, come across as a much more reasonable (and hence, more persuasive) person than you have so far.

You’re wrong, but it’s not too late to do the right thing.

Regards,


Ted Remington

10 Comments:

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Humiliated" is how three Marines described their treatment by Transportation Security Administration officials at Philadelphia airport last month. Although they were escorting the body of Sergeant Lea Mills to Mississippi for burial, TSA screeners made the Marines strip off their dress blues, shoes, and belts and were then scanned and patted down. The folded American flag and official military orders meant nothing to the TSA screeners.

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Remington,

Do you think your obsession with Hyman is a healthy one? I mean, if Hyman were alcohol, you'd be an alcoholic. If Hyman were a cigarette, you would be a chain smoker. If Hyman were cocaine, you'd be an addict.

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Mike--

You visited my blog three times in the space of an hour and left two comments. Who's obsessed?

tjr

 
At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's kind of a cheesy, scapegoat of a non-answer isn't it?

 
At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great letter Ted. But, Hyman will never do the right thing, that's the one thing you can be sure of.
And, you're also right about SOS, he is a junkie, and he needs people like Hyman and the others to give him his fix of right-wing, feel-good rhetoric.
You threaten his source, by persistently pointing out Hyman's lies and spin, and he starts to comprehend that one day he may have to wake up sober and face the reality that he has been so busy trying to bury and deny.
Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman, after all, perseverance will eventually produce results.
Mike B. in SC

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Bradley said...

Ted--

As Mike B. says, your letter was fantastic. And it's telling that the guy whose appointed himself your debating opponent on this blog apparently can't find any flaw in your argument, and is thus reduced to making rather silly comparisons to addiction and misusing the words "cheesy" and "scapegoat."

Anyway. I've just sent my letter, and thought I would post it here.

Dear Mark Hyman,

If you're really interested in "disgraceful" behavior, I would suggest you think hard about what you've chosen to do for a living.

I've been reading your commentaries online for about a year now, and I usually find them to be vapid, partisan rants filled with distortions and deceptions that irresponsibly lead people away from knowledge even while creating the illusion of providing insight and information. That's pretty terrible, if you ask me; I know I'd be ashamed of myself if I were you.

With your recent "short take" commentary on Cindy Sheehan, though, you've really outdone yourself. You've gone beyond irresponsible partisan dirty tricks and entered the realm of the thoroughly reprehensible. Her son is dead, Mr. Hyman-- died in service to his (and our) country. Now I realize that the sacrifices our troops make are of very little concern to you—on more than one occasion, the powers that be at Sinclair Broadcasting have demonstrated at best indifference and at worst outright hostility to our men and women in uniform. However, the rest of us still believe that our troops and their families deserve our respect and support, beyond the vague and insincere congratulations and “heartfelt wishes” you occasionally express in your insipid commentaries.

You disagree with Cindy Sheehan’s politics. That’s fine; I disagree with yours. But I would never in a million years suggest that our political differences mean that you do not love your family. I would never presume to tell the world that you’re the type of person who exploits his own children in the pursuit of fame and influence. And I damn well would never suggest that—should the unthinkable happen—you’re the type of person who would secretly be pleased to profit from the death of one of your children, as you did when you knowingly sniffed, “Sheehan was the beneficiary of her son's $250,000 government insurance policy.”

I join Ted Remington—author of THE COUNTERPOINT blog—in demanding a public apology for this tasteless and mean display of hostility towards the families of those who have served and died in the War on Terror. Your viewers and your readers deserve a more honest and ethical look at the day’s events, and our troops deserve more respect and appreciation than they have received at your hands.

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Very well said, Bradley! That's a great letter. I'm skeptical about Hyman acknowledging any of this, but he claims to read all the emails that come to The Point, and maybe this feedback will wear away a tiny fraction of the seemingly impermeable shell that separates Hyman from rationality and decency.

As always it's nice to hear from you, Mike B.! Thanks for the kind words.

As for our other Mike, I had thought my response was pretty clear. I simply pointed out that it would be difficult to argue that I'm obsessed with Hyman and *not* grant at the same time that you're obsessed with me. I'm assuming that you would deny being obsessed with me. If that's the case, even you would have to grant that I'm not obsessed with Hyman.

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough for you. For the record. I'm not obsessed with Hyman. I *am* obsessed with the level of civility and rationality in public discourse (and/or the lack thereof). Hyman is an obvious place to start for someone who's interested in such issues.

I would say I would be *obsessed* if A) Hyman wasn't a prominent and worthwhile target of critique, and B) I didn't have anything to show for my efforts. To me, that combination would be the definition of obsession.

As I just mentioned, Hyman has become one of the most visible and high profile members of the rightwing prattle-sphere on television. The company he works for is one of the largest media companies in the nation. I'm not exactly breaking a butterfly upon a wheel by going after him.

As for results, I hardly claim to have changed the world by my little blog, but I have had some successes. This blog was partly responsible for the formation of Iowans for Better Local Television, an organization that's done a great deal of lobbying for higher standards for local tv. I've been interviewed on national radio. I've spoken with one of the executives at Sinclair. My blog is read by various people in the upper managment of Sinclair, including the CEO. I've goaded Mr. Hyman into attacking me publicly and having to issue a public retraction (the only time he's been forced to do so, to my knowledge). I've been written up by Media Matters for America and had select entries from this blog posted on their daughter site Sinclair Action. And I've had around 35,000 hits on my site in a little over a year and a half.

Changing the world? Not by a long shot. But I'm happy about the little bit this blog has accomplished thus far.

So to answer your question in no uncertain terms, no, I'm not obsessed with Hyman. I'm obsessed with the things his presence on the air diminishes: rationality, thoughtfulness, basic decency, telling the truth . . . stuff like that.

If Hyman were just some individual little blogger reaching hundreds rather than millions of people, or if I were just yammering at him continually without any discernable results, I would be obsessed . . . as would anyone who behaved similarly.

I hope that answers your question.

tjr

 
At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted,

Ol Mikey boy spends an incredible amt of time surfing left-leaning blogs. Predictably, he projects. He´s the guy with the real obsessive behavior problem.

on the other hand, i appreciate your continued efforts to counter the propapganda of Sinclair Broadcasting. Unlike your humble blog, sinclair pollutes the publics airwaves daily.

P.S: mike thayer, please see a psychiatrist.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Remington,

You create a blog for the purpose of attacking Hyman, you write about him on a near daily basis, and that's not an obsession?

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Mike

Spending 30 minutes a day rebutting a media figure who has risen to prominence and has a large audience doesn't seem like an obsession to me, particularly given the fact that, as I pointed out above, I've had at least some success in terms of tangible results.

What *does* seem like an obsession is going on blogs and issuing ad hominem attacks, doing cut-and-paste comments that don't engage in the debate, and going on other blogs and writing up idiotic comments under a pseudonym pretending to be me and linking to my blog.

Your use of sleazy tactics that you yourself have derided is noted, and I concur with with the anonymous poster above who suggests you might be projecting a bit.

I'll take your use of such tactics as a sign of your surrender. For now, I'll allow you to keep your sword (your ability to post to this blog), but if you continue to use such ruses, I'll have to relieve you of it.

tjr

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.