The Chuck Todd era on Meet The Press has officially begun. How did he do in the debut show? It really depends on who you ask.
First a little background. Meet The Press, a perennial Sunday morning ratings powerhouse with the late Tim Russert as its host, has fallen to third place. Deborah Turness, from ITV news in Great Britain, was brought in as the new president of NBC News. She fired David Gregory, replaced him with Chuck Todd and announced that she wanted the show to be “edgier.”
Conservatives, who consider the network political chief a liberal hack, immediately attacked the ascension of Chuck Todd on Twitter before he even got to sit in the chair:
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Lynching rose to prominence in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably in the Deep South during the dawn of Reconstruction. Lynching was extra-judicial, vigilante action used to intimidate African Americans — and sometimes sympathetic whites — to enforce racist Jim Crow law. Individuals who participated in lynch mobs were seldom convicted in a court of law, even if properly identified, meaning perpetrators were safe, generally anonymous, and rarely held accountable for their actions.
Perhaps more disgustingly, lynching was a public spectacle, often treated as a family-friendly community event. It was not uncommon for children to be brought to the sight of lynchings, as a victim’s body hung lifelessly from a tree. So agreeable were whites to the racial violence of lynching, many took photos gathered around the victim, united as one for the cause of a dead black man.
While lynching has occurred less frequently since the Civil Rights Movement, its legacy remains present in the modern era; the noose remains symbolic, and makes regular appearances at many universities. The mob mentality persists as well, now in the form of the digital campaign, where individual donors unite as one.
In the wake of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and allegations of first-degree rape and sexual battery of eight black women, lucrative crowdsourcing fundraisers were established for George Zimmerman, officer Darren Wilson and officer Daniel Holtzclaw, respectively.
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Predictably, this summer’s ice bucket challenge, which has raised millions for ALS research and clued a new generation (including my own children) into issues surrounding ALS, has created a backlash. Articles in Time and Philadelphia magazine, among many others, have criticized the challenge as either shallow, wasteful or even (despite all the money raised) counterproductive.
There have always been scolds and fogies, but the rise of the Internet and social media has turned reflexive naysaying into something of a sub-genre of media commentary. I’ve decided to call this dull contrarianism, because these arguments are rarely more interesting or clever than the parent at the Slip’N Slide party who starts talking about kids losing eyes.
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Have you noticed how angry everyone online is lately? Taking a confluence of factors into consideration, this might have been the most furious Internet week of 2014, and it’s not even over yet. But I’m not talking the myriad of real issues we as a people are facing. Below, let’s quickly look at three topics that seem to be pissing everyone off, when there seem to be much more important things toward which to focus our animosity.
What We’re Mad About: The Little League World Series
Why We’re Mad: Philly’s the type of city that could always use something or someone to root for, but it’s rare that we actually land legitimate options. Now, our very own Taney Dragons, led by breakout star/wunderkind/Sports Illustrated covergirl Mo’ne Davis, is one W away from playing for a national championship. Go Taney! Everyone loves to see awesome local kids have fun and succeed, right? NO OF COURSE NOT STOP BEING HAPPY.
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There have been two weeks of outrage over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The details of the shooting are still fuzzy, but the anger is crystal clear and exposes a still deep and ugly divide in America.
In sharp contrast, the beheading of James Foley by Islamic State extremists did not prompt the same outrage or protests. The details of the beheading are on video for anyone with the stomach to watch (WARNING: GRAPHIC). The international divide it exposes is equally ugly and far more dangerous. It should unite us as Americans, as the Islamic State on the other side of the divide wants to kill us all, regardless of color or class.
And yet the growing threat of the Islamic State is a secondary story to Ferguson. It speaks more to our national media than the greater population. Ferguson is easier and much less expensive to cover. The growing threat of ISIS — the greatest threat to America and the civilized world in recent history — is more dangerous and more expensive to cover.
And besides, stories that divide us rather than unite us make for better TV. Two sides yelling at each other is the formula for cable news success. The importance of a story and journalistic responsibility lost in the battle for ratings and revenue long ago.
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People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.
Since the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday, residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have taken to the streets to protest. Long before major media were on the ground, Twitter provided to-the-minute updates of events, and continues to be the most reliable reporting resource. Below is a list of 10 individuals you should follow on Twitter if you want to know what’s really happening on the streets of Ferguson, because the likes of CNN can’t be trusted to even report what’s happening outside of its own doors:
1. Antonio French (@AntonioFrench), St. Louis Alderman of the 21st Ward.
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I know this is going to devastate a bunch of whiny privileged white people and politicians who would just love to say that we’re “post-racial” because we have a mixed-race president, but here we go:
America has a serious problem with police. And, it’s not a problem with police and everyone else. It’s a problem specifically between police (or people who fetishize authority) and people of color.
On August 9th, 2014, the 18-year-old Michael Brown was stopped by authorities in Ferguson, Missouri. Whatever happened during that stop is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Brown, a young African American man with seemingly no weapon on his person, was shot to death by police.
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I wish I could have been in the room when someone came up with the utterly stupid idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein you dump a bucket of ice water on yourself (recording it for YouTube, of course) and challenge six others to do the same, or you donate $100 to the ALS Association, which combats Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Read more »
From 2006 to 2009, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, was the sole woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nominated in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, she now presides alongside Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Earlier this month, in speaking to a law school, Justice Ginsburg noted the court’s increasing embrace of gay rights.
This is not to say that gay and lesbians have secured equal protections in the eyes of the law. But comparatively, Justice Ginsburg said that the court still wrestles with “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.”
Though history is never made as linearly as we learn it in the classroom, it sometimes seems like social justice movements happen one at a time instead of concurrently. Despite this, each group’s push toward equality carries the same fundamental objective: To expand the idea of what it means to be “American.”
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Update: Smith has been suspended by ESPN for his comments.
Stephen A. Smith (or “Screamin’ A,” as one of my Twitter followers calls him) gave a corporate apology at the top of ESPN’s First Take yesterday for his ridiculous domestic violence victim-blaming in relation to Ray Rice’s controversial two-game suspension resulting from an ugly incident earlier this year at Revel. It was the type of apology that we’ve all come to expect during a dust-up when a public figure who gains prominence for vocalizing a controversial opinion wants to sweep the furor under the rug. In that way, it was entirely uneventful.
It took 72 hours (he should be thanking God for small favors in the form of the weekend news cycle drag), but with a smidge less heat surrounding him, Smith delivered his contrition with standard applications of feigned revelation and self-interest. There are debates about whether or not Smith should be allowed to keep his job; those debates are not without merit, though as of this writing Smith has announced (well-timed!) plans to leave the network and head over to more irreverent pastures at SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio.
That the same hand of mercy covers Smith and Ray Rice in equal measure.
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