Sexual Assault Coverage by Media Shows Double Standard, Paternalism, and Sexism

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

            Lara Logan, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent, was beaten and sexually assaulted, Feb. 11, while on assignment in Cairo to report on the revolution that concluded that day with Hosni Mubarak resigning as president.

            Logan, according to an official CBS announcement, was attacked by a group of about 200 Egyptians and "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." The mob, probably pro-Mubarak supporters, but never identified by CBS—had separated Logan from her camera crew.

            About a week earlier, Mubarak's army detained, handcuffed, blindfolded, interrogated, and then released Logan and some of her crew after several hours. The government ordered her expelled from the country, probably for her on-air comments about the government intimidating and harassing foreign journalists. Logan returned to Cairo shortly before Mubarak resigned. She returned to the United States the day after the assault, and spent the next four days recovering in a hospital.

            The Mubarak administration at the beginning of the protests had expelled the al-Jazeera news network, and began a random campaign against all journalists, the result of the government believing that the media inflamed the call for revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak. There were about 140 cases of assault and harassment of journalists during the 18-day protest, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Ahmad Mohamad Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed by sniper fire, probably by pro-Mubarak supporters.  Among American reporters physically assaulted were CNN's Anderson Cooper and photojournalist Dana Smillie, who was seriously wounded by what appeared to be a dozen BB-size pellets. Journalists displayed "admirable levels of courage as they—initially as individuals and small groups, and eventually in droves—made statements and took actions that exposed them to immense personal and professional risk," according to the CPJ.

            There can be no justification for the rogue gangs of thugs who attacked Logan, dozens of journalists, and hundreds of citizens. But, from the story of reporter and citizen courage against a 30-year dictatorship, no matter how benevolent it may have appeared, there emerged another story, one not as dramatic, nor as compelling, nor as important. But it is a story, nevertheless.

            Because of deadlines and a sense of having to get the story at any cost, news organizations sometimes become in-your-face inquisitors. Privacy isn't usually something the more aggressive news organizations give to those they want on air or in print. It's still common to see microphones stuck inches from faces of people who have suffered tragedies

            But when it comes to one of their own, news organizations seem to have a different set of standards. The brutal attack upon Logan occurred Feb. 11, but it was four days until CBS released any statement. After a brief review of the facts, CBS refused to make further comment or to respond to reporter inquiries. "Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time," the network said. A four day delay to give a basic statement is inexcusable by CBS; a statement that it did not give more information about the attack in order to protect the correspondent's privacy is hypocritical, and trumpets a double standard that the news media are somehow exempt from the reporting practices it demands of news sources.

            There is another factor in this mini-story. Judith Matloff, a journalism professor at Columbia University, told the L.A. Times, "Generally, female correspondents do not come out and talk about it [sexual assaults] because they worry that they won't get sent on assignments again."

            Paternalism in the news profession often has editors and news directors, most of whom are male, "protecting" their female reporters and correspondents. Journalists and news crews who go into dangerous situations, including riots, demonstrations, and war must be trained to deal with violence—and must be given every assistance by their organizations when they have been harassed or attacked. But, for news executives to discriminate on who to send because of the "fear" that women may be subjected to sexual assault, and for women not to report it to their bosses, is to acknowledge that they, and probably society, haven't come far in eliminating sexism within the profession.

            There is a further reality. The news media often don't identify adults who have been raped or sexually assaulted, a belief that somehow these crimes are more personal and more traumatic than any other kind of assault. However, sexual assaults and rapes are always brutal and vicious crimes of power and control. For the news media to continue to adhere to some puritanical belief that they are protecting womanhood by not reporting names and details perpetuates the myth that rape is purely a sexual intrusion, and not the brutal attack it truly is.

 

[Walter Brasch has been a journalist about 40 years. During that time, he has covered everything from city council meetings and music festivals to demonstrations and riots. He is the author of 15 books, most focusing upon history and contemporary social issues. You may contact Dr. Brasch at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

 

 

Sexual Assault Coverage by Media Shows Double Standard, Paternalism, and Sexism

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

            Lara Logan, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent, was beaten and sexually assaulted, Feb. 11, while on assignment in Cairo to report on the revolution that concluded that day with Hosni Mubarak resigning as president.

            Logan, according to an official CBS announcement, was attacked by a group of about 200 Egyptians and "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." The mob, probably pro-Mubarak supporters, but never identified by CBS—had separated Logan from her camera crew.

            About a week earlier, Mubarak's army detained, handcuffed, blindfolded, interrogated, and then released Logan and some of her crew after several hours. The government ordered her expelled from the country, probably for her on-air comments about the government intimidating and harassing foreign journalists. Logan returned to Cairo shortly before Mubarak resigned. She returned to the United States the day after the assault, and spent the next four days recovering in a hospital.

            The Mubarak administration at the beginning of the protests had expelled the al-Jazeera news network, and began a random campaign against all journalists, the result of the government believing that the media inflamed the call for revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak. There were about 140 cases of assault and harassment of journalists during the 18-day protest, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Ahmad Mohamad Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed by sniper fire, probably by pro-Mubarak supporters.  Among American reporters physically assaulted were CNN's Anderson Cooper and photojournalist Dana Smillie, who was seriously wounded by what appeared to be a dozen BB-size pellets. Journalists displayed "admirable levels of courage as they—initially as individuals and small groups, and eventually in droves—made statements and took actions that exposed them to immense personal and professional risk," according to the CPJ.

            There can be no justification for the rogue gangs of thugs who attacked Logan, dozens of journalists, and hundreds of citizens. But, from the story of reporter and citizen courage against a 30-year dictatorship, no matter how benevolent it may have appeared, there emerged another story, one not as dramatic, nor as compelling, nor as important. But it is a story, nevertheless.

            Because of deadlines and a sense of having to get the story at any cost, news organizations sometimes become in-your-face inquisitors. Privacy isn't usually something the more aggressive news organizations give to those they want on air or in print. It's still common to see microphones stuck inches from faces of people who have suffered tragedies

            But when it comes to one of their own, news organizations seem to have a different set of standards. The brutal attack upon Logan occurred Feb. 11, but it was four days until CBS released any statement. After a brief review of the facts, CBS refused to make further comment or to respond to reporter inquiries. "Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time," the network said. A four day delay to give a basic statement is inexcusable by CBS; a statement that it did not give more information about the attack in order to protect the correspondent's privacy is hypocritical, and trumpets a double standard that the news media are somehow exempt from the reporting practices it demands of news sources.

            There is another factor in this mini-story. Judith Matloff, a journalism professor at Columbia University, told the L.A. Times, "Generally, female correspondents do not come out and talk about it [sexual assaults] because they worry that they won't get sent on assignments again."

            Paternalism in the news profession often has editors and news directors, most of whom are male, "protecting" their female reporters and correspondents. Journalists and news crews who go into dangerous situations, including riots, demonstrations, and war must be trained to deal with violence—and must be given every assistance by their organizations when they have been harassed or attacked. But, for news executives to discriminate on who to send because of the "fear" that women may be subjected to sexual assault, and for women not to report it to their bosses, is to acknowledge that they, and probably society, haven't come far in eliminating sexism within the profession.

            There is a further reality. The news media often don't identify adults who have been raped or sexually assaulted, a belief that somehow these crimes are more personal and more traumatic than any other kind of assault. However, sexual assaults and rapes are always brutal and vicious crimes of power and control. For the news media to continue to adhere to some puritanical belief that they are protecting womanhood by not reporting names and details perpetuates the myth that rape is purely a sexual intrusion, and not the brutal attack it truly is.

 

[Walter Brasch has been a journalist about 40 years. During that time, he has covered everything from city council meetings and music festivals to demonstrations and riots. He is the author of 15 books, most focusing upon history and contemporary social issues. You may contact Dr. Brasch at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

 

 

Assessing Republican Seriousness on the National Debt

A bit ago Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Mr. Ryan’s speech focused heavily on the national debt, which he declared as a one of his “greatest concerns as a parent.” The representative used the example of his three children to emphasize the grave importance of the issue, which was the main theme of his speech.

Mr. Ryan’s call to reduce the national debt, while necessary and useful, was also somewhat lacking in specifics – because many of the specific actions required to reduce the debt either are unpopular, or go against the priorities of the Republican Party.

Take, for instance, the extension of the Bush tax cuts. A true deficit hawk would be horrified at extending these tax cuts; doing so adds an estimated 4 trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s former budget director stated that, “If we actually ended the Bush-era tax cuts, that would pretty much do it [balance the budget],”

Despite Mr. Ryan’s purported concern over the national debt, he and almost the entire Republican Party supported extending these tax cuts.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this; most Americans, the president himself, and this blogger were with Mr. Ryan on extending the Bush tax cuts. There are legitimate reasons to do so. One may believe in the value of tax cuts, or in the value of stimulating the economy.

But to support adding 4 trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade, and then to make a speech calling the national debt the greatest threat to the country’s future, is a tad hypocritical.

There is another way to test Republican seriousness on the national debt.

Many Republicans like to call for cutting spending and reducing the size of government as a way to reduce the national debt.

This is quite reasonable. In fact, let’s talk about the most wasteful part of America’s government. Today the United States lavishes hundreds of billions of dollars on this bloated organization – an organization which is very often ineffective at doing what it is supposed to do, yet constantly screams for more money and is given that money by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

I am talking, of course, about the military.

America spends six times more on the military than any other nation on Earth. Of the top ten military budgets in the world, the U.S. and its allies (France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and Italy) compose 79.8% of the money spent on the military.

There is quite a bit of waste in this spending, too. Take the infamous F-22, a $65 billion program which was finally ended in 2009. The F-22 was originally envisioned to fight high-level Soviet planes two decades ago. Each plane cost approximately $44,000 to fly for one hour. Despite spending $65 billion on the F-22, the plane was never been used once in combat – not a single time.

This is the very definition of wasteful government spending that Republicans like to complain about.

If one is serious about reducing the debt, a great way to start is by cutting military spending. Military spending, for instance, is ten times what the federal government spends on education every year.

Unsurprisingly, however, Republicans have no plans anytime soon to reduce military spending.

If one adds just these two items together – extending the Bush tax cuts, and refusing to cut military spending – one gets ten trillion dollars over ten years, which the Republicans have declared off-limits in their attempt to reduce the debt. That’s a lot of money that can be saved, but which Republicans refuse to due to their ideological priorities.

In Mr. Ryan’s rebuttal to the president, he said the following words:

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

So much for that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Values Voters: Hating Sin, Loving Sinners Only Applies to Their Own Group

When will politicians learn that running on personal values is a non-starter, particularly since most voters don’t care? But more importantly, how is it that the most sanctimonious pricks are usually the ones who turn up in compromising positions with those they hate on?

I don’t care what a person does behind doors. Really, I don’t. Plushies, fisting, or sex with park benches, it’s all good with me. By the same token, if you don’t like something, I’m OK with that too as long as you don’t try to force others to embrace your kookie, holier than the holiest of holies blather. But when a lout like Carl Palidino screams about the evils of the “homosexual life style” and is then caught emailing “awesome lesbian porn” (BTW Carl, lesbians are homosexuals) it’s rank, “large H” hypocrisy.

However, I expect a some “little H” hypocrisy, even though it too is wrong. There are a variety of reasons for candidates to change positions – from legitimate conversions of opinion to taking a slightly different spin on an issue to placate a particularly important constituency. But, there is something different about ignoring what you preach, particularly when you scream it at the top of your sinning-assed lungs.

And, here’s the difference.

When a candidate changes position on, for example, whether the Department of Education should be abolished, most voters – if they notice at all – forget about it within days. Most wouldn’t vote based on that single issue anyway.

But when a sanctimonious ass cake preaches the evils of homosexuality and is then found in bed with hookers or shipping porn spam around like a Nigerian Viagra dealer, values voters never seem angry about the breach of faith. In fact, they often scapegoat others, from the media to some innocent party, to protect the “sinner”. Values voters are much more likely to care less that a soldier who was never asked and never told was discharged than the sin of the anti-gay, red-handed jackwad pulling his pud over lesbian porn.

And values voters do often vote purely on values issues. They seem to have an attitude of hating the sin but loving the sinner only when the sinner is one of their own – even if the sinner has compounded their original sin with the sin of lying about it – repeatedly.

It’s also different in another important way.

If someone is elected and succeeds in abolishing, say, the Department of Education, the Republic may suffer from a stupid decision, but it’s unlikely to perish. However, if values voters continue to ignore and defend the transparent imbeciles like Palidino and nibble away at constitutional protections because someone is gay or Muslim or black or just different in some way, the Republic will perish.

If you think the worst thing that can happen is the repeal of DADT or gay marriage, you ain’t seen nothing like a country turned into group-belief theocracy.

Especially if you’re not a member of the theocratic elite.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Rand Paul To Break Primary Promise in KY-SEN

So far Rand Paul’s problems have been about his ideas and words, not his behavior. That changed this month. Paul’s upcoming fundraiser with Senate Repub Leader Mitch McConnell may not seem like a big deal, except last September, he pledged not to accept any campaign contributions from Senators who supported the bank bailouts. The Northern Kentucky Enquirer reported at the time:

Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has pledged to not accept campaign contributions from any U.S. Senator who voted in favor of bailing out the nation's banks last fall. Paul's pledge comes as one of his opponents in May's GOP Senate primary, Boone County Republican Trey Grayson, prepares to raise money at a Sept. 23 Washington fundraiser hosted by about 20 Republican members of the Senate…

"A primary focus of my campaign is that we need Republicans in office who will have the courage to say no to federal bailouts of big business. There is nothing in the Constitution that allows the government to pick winners and losers in the private sector and the Republican Party platform specifically condemns bailouts," Paul said.

Yet here’s this, from Politico:

Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul railed against the Washington establishment in his primary campaign, but the Tea Party’s favorite Kentucky candidate will benefit from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fundraising gravitas in Washington later this month.

McConnell will host a fundraising reception and dinner for Paul on June 24 at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by POLITICO and confirmed by a GOP official. Tickets to the McConnell-Paul event are pricey: Guests must pay a minimum of $1,000 to attend the reception and $4,000 to attend the dinner...

A request for comment to the Paul campaign was not immediately returned.

McConnell, of course, voted for the bailout. Small wonder, then, that in its latest rankings out today, First Read said that this seat is the 2nd best chance for a Democratic pick-up, ahead of the once-hyped contests in Missouri and New Hampshire. The Democrat in this race is state Attorney General Jack Conway.

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