If you’re not living under a rock, you may have noticed just a slight media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although, in all seriousness, you may not have noticed it, since the biased media doesn’t tend to report on its own bias.
You don’t actually have to be a Sanders supporter to acknowledge the media bias. I would argue, in all seriousness, that Clinton supporters who admit that there is negative coverage of Sanders make much better spokespeople for their candidate because they have credibility, or at the very least, the air of credibility.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be fun and funny. Back to how you can laugh instead of cry, or, say, fall asleep.
Through their live tour and Web/TV Series, comedic geniuses James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik have been holding Trump vs Bernie debates since the fall, long before The Donald agreed to, and then chickened out on, debating The Bernie. Last week, I posted one of their videos to give people a sense of what the debate could look like. The video below offers not only Trump on Sanders hilarity, but takes on the media bias found at MSNBC. Adomian’s Chris Matthews impersonation is as impeccable as his Bernie Sanders one and Atamanuik is dead-on as Trump and as Rachel Maddow.
I know, what you’re doing. Because I did it too. I thought that the peaceful protests and the riots in Baltimore were in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray, police brutality, the culture of police impunity, and systemic racism. It turns out, we’re off. Way off. Here’s what’s really to blame (besides Obama, but we already knew that): gay marriage, single parenting, low self-esteem, entitlements and personal behavior, whatever that means.
At his Baltimore show Friday night, it took just 15 minutes before a protester shouted at Cosby about his many, many alleged crimes, the Baltimore City Paper reported. They posted a video of the encounter, showing a guy later identified as Michael Crook hollering “38 women called you a rapist!” and “Tell the one about how to get away with rape.”
What neither Sachs nor Hathaway does is vilify the audience member who is angry that Cosby is selling out shows despite having been accused of rape and sexual assault by 38 women. Both headlines emphasize what the heckler is doing to Cosby, or what is being done to Cosby. They do not emphasize Cosby’s response. Because that’s not what the story is about.
And yet, not all media outlets are taking that perspective. For many, the story is about Bill Cosby’s words and actions, not about the words and actions of the heckler. Let’s review the different ways Cosby is being portrayed.
Bill Cosby responds when he is interrupted by a really rude guy! Who’s the real victim?
The Grio writes “Bill Cosby responds to concert heckler who shouts ’38 women called you a rapist.” At least it includes the allegation. But the subtitle of the piece reads, “Comedian Bill Cosby was rudely interrupted by a heckler during his Baltimore concert Friday night.” I’m not sure the issue here is rudeness and decorum.
Bill Cosby, the Upworthy Hero
Then there’s this Upworthy-like headline from The Independent which reads, “This is how Bill Cosby responded when a heckler brought up rape allegations.” The only thing that’s missing is an, “And you won’t believe it!” tagged on to the end of the header.
Bill Cosby: Defiant and unstoppable!
The Black Atlanta Star had this heroic description of the comedian who “answers his hecklers and continues to perform his comedy show.”
Bill Cosby: Fired up and firing back and also kinda the peace-maker at the same time!
The Wrap headline reads: “Bill Cosby Fires Back at Heckler who shouts ‘tell the one about how to get away with rape’.” The subtitle says, “TV legend tries to calm tensions at the Baltimore show by telling fans ‘We are here to enjoy my gift’.”
Bill Cosby: Let the man speak! Before we kick him out!
Let these headlines be an example of how not to cover a story.
Every time an extremist who is Muslim commits an act of terrorism, people ask where the moderate Muslim voices condemning violence are. (Interestingly, as a Jew, I don’t usually get asked to condemn extremism when it is perpetuated by Jewish fundamentalists like Baruch Goldstein, who shot 29 praying Muslims do death, and injured 125, at the Cave of the Patriarchs, or Yigal Amir, who killed Israeli Prime MinisterYitzhak Rabin.) And the same thing is happening following this week’s deplorable, pathetic, and tragic killing of 12 people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Not surprisingly, much of the “where is the Muslim outrage” outrage is coming from… Fox News, as Media Matters notes. Fox’s own Monica Crowley, for example, said that Muslims “should be condemning” the attack and that she hadn’t “heard any condemnation… from any groups.” Fox News’ America’s Newsroom guest Steve Emerson complained, “you don’t see denunciations of radical Islam, by name, by mainstream Islamic groups.” Bob Beckel, a host of Fox News’ The Five host said Muslims were “being quiet” about the shooting and accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of keeping “their mouth shut when things happen.”
We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.
We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law.
When we study Islam, we see clearly that the Quran condemns this kind of violence categorically. That Prophet Muhammad said that a Muslim is one from whom all others are safe…. This is not about religion. This is about political power, this is about uneducated, ignorant youth who are being manipulated by clerics and extremists. And this is why it’s all the more important for us, as the moderates, regardless of faith, to stay united and combat this.
A week after her death, Joan Rivers remains in the headlines. The exact cause of her death is still being debated. And reports of her star-studded theatrical funeral continue to emerge. Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Hugh Jackman sang and people like Sarah Jessica Parker, Carolina Herrera, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Kelly Osbourne, Andy Cohen, Donald Trump, and Diane Sawyer paid their respects.
Rivers deserves the attention she is getting. She was hilarious, brave, and an undeniable trailblazer. And the funeral was a perfect fit. But I can’t help but wonder how different the event would have been if a Muslim comedian had said about Jews what Joan Rivers recently had said about Palestinians.
In August, when a TMZ reporter approached Rivers at an airport and asked her what she thought of the casualties in Gaza, the comedian responded,
Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that. You can’t get rid of Hamas, you have to say you do not recognize them, they are terrorists … They were re-elected by a lot of very stupid people who don’t even own a pencil… They were told to get out and if you don’t get out you’re an idiot. And at least the ones who were killed were the ones with low IQs.
Rivers issued a statement that was more damage control than apology. But, the truth is, it’s not Joan Rivers’ statements, per se, that I find so horrifying. It’s the response, or lack thereof, from Rivers’ peers and the double standard and pervasive dehumanization of Muslims that it reveals. Let’s imagine that there was a very famous Muslim-American comedian, of Joan Rivers proportions. Then let’s imagine this comedian had been asked to share his thoughts on an attack which killed over 2,000 Israelis, the majority of whom were civilians. Imagine that the response was,
Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that. You can’t get rid of Israel, you have to say you do not recognize them, they are terrorists …
Now, imagine that a month after these statements are made, the comedian dies. Can you imagine the stars mentioned above attending the funeral? Or if attending, not at the very least clarifying that they disagreed with the anti-Jewish statements? Wouldn’t the ADL launch a campaign?
There was, indeed, a very strong response to what Rivers said on social media. One friend of Rivers claims that the comedian received death threats and hired a body guard, though Rivers’ publicist has said she was not aware of this. Yes, among the social media comment were those that were clearly vitriolic, misogynistic, and/or anti-Semitic, as is often the case in online comments. In contrast, no respected leaders, no celebrities, no organizations, no parts of any establishment have felt the need to at all dissociate themselves from the hateful comments made by Rivers.
For some reason, most people, even people who are usually intelligent, become incredibly dense when comedy is being discussed or analyzed. So, allow me to clarify a few things. This is not a debate about free speech. Nobody is debating whether Joan Rivers has the legal right to say what she said. This also isn’t an issue of outrageous humor. Comedians trade in transgression, at least the great ones like Rivers. But Joan Rivers was clearly not joking when she made her comments that the civilians in Gaza “deserve to be dead.” Perhaps she was being slightly hyperbolic. But she was not being sarcastic or ironic. She was being genuine. Her comments were offensive, but for what? They were shocking in their cruelty. But did they challenge anyone’s ideas or prejudices or go against the status quo? No. They confirmed and perpetuated them.
I am sad that Joan Rivers is dead. I don’t speak ill of the stupendous woman and comedian. It’s the the U.S. media and entertainment establishment’s blind spots about its own prejudice and callousness that shocks me in the aftermath of Joan River’s death.
Watch Heather Gold and me debate the Joan Rivers controversy on this week’s Morning Jew.