Media

5 Pathetic Failures of the American Media This Week

Esquire and its writer Tom Junod win the week’s "Oops, My Sexist Underwear Is Showing" award.

It was another week of mainstream media disasters and right-wing outrages, from sexism to good ol' fashioned Bush-era WMD lies. Here's a recap:  

1. In praise of bald and gray old guys who rank women.

Esquire and its ASME award-winning writer Tom Junod win the week’s "Oops, My Sexist Underwear is Showing" award for their “In praise of 42-year-old women” article (illustrated with Sofia Vergara in a black maillot with her legs bent and Photoshopped into perverse plastic doll-like curves, like Barbie’s).

They probably thought they were doing "older" women a favor this year, and I bet they don’t get why this whole ranking thing is insulting. 

Here’s a snippet of Junod’s dulcet, if patronizing, prose: “A few generations ago, a woman turning forty-two was expected to voluntarily accept the shackles of biology and convention; now it seems there is no one in our society quite so determined to be free. Conservatives still attack feminism with the absurd notion that it makes its adherents less attractive to men; in truth, it is feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.”

Esquire has “occasionally” rated the hottest age of women for more decades than any of us have been alive, but this year the tradition got some deserved blowback. New York Magazine’s “The Cut” posted mug shots of Tom Junod and his boss at Esquire, aging baldy David Granger. “Meet 2 Men Who feel Entitled to Weigh In On Women’s Hotness.”

Running their mugshots was brilliant, economical commentary. My only beef with NYMag’s female-centric column is that it has a rather offensive name. Feminist observations should be shared by men and women, and served up in a gender-neutral format. Otherwise, all the male-written columns out there should be renamed Cock and Dick.

But we take what we can get from the dude-itorial desks.

2. Poor Israeli zoo elephants.

The brilliant PR machine that is Israel reached for the bleachers but slammed a foul ball when someone provided the world with video and pictures of an Israeli zoo elephant shielding its baby from air raid sirens. Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail were among the Western media outlets that picked up the photo.

Awesome cuteness, Tel Aviv!

Not one of them bothered to run the video beside any imagery of one of the dead Gaza mothers (at last count 10) lying on top of one of the dead Gaza children (last count, at least 20). None of the articles even included words to the effect that there are human Gaza mothers hovering over their human children as the ferocious Israeli assault on Gaza continues.

While we’re at it, can any mainstream media outlet stop reflexively calling people who fight back against Israeli hellfire on Gaza “militants” and “terrorists"?

3. Brownie to the border rescue!

Big thanks to Rush Limbaugh for noting that Fox News trotted out Michael “Heckuva Job, Brownie” Brown to commentate on the refugee crisis this week. Yes. They. Did.

That border-state brown people tsunami that’s freaking out the nativists really calls for the best minds of our generation, and that includes the notoriously effective public servant, Bush’s legendary Katrina-FEMA director.

From the Limbaugh website

“This is Neil Cavuto yesterday afternoon on the Fox News Channel, and he spoke with Mike Brown, the former FEMA director under George W. Bush. They're talking about the immigration crisis Southern border.  Brown had a good point, by the way. But I want to see if you pick something up in this bite.

Neil Cavuto said, 'There are a lot of differences, but the one commonality, when you get to the scene of the incident -- and President Bush was criticized for getting to Katrina too late; this president for not getting to the border at all. So, which is worse, Bush getting to the scene too late or Obama not even going?'

Brown: During Katrina, you had a focal point, you had the New Orleans Superdome, and that focal point allowed the media to really focus on what was going on in that natural disaster.  What you don't have in the border issue is the focal point.  The media hasn't been able to get in, so there's no focal point for anybody to focus on, so the American public doesn't get that this humanitarian crisis is as bad as the natural disaster in Katrina. But the president's not going to go because this really fits the Limbaugh Theorem, that he uses the words that he's involved, he's paying attention, his staff is briefing him, but he's not gonna go 'cause he doesn't want a photo-op.

Rush: Did you catch that, folks? Did you?”

4. That Boehner 'lawsuit.'

Mainstream media took it seriously. Hey. Okay, it’s summer, news is slow as molasses, but still, can’t the big newspapers acknowledge that this is just one more slab of red-meat bait for the base, a silly stunt wasting taxpayer dollars?

No. We must have serious men discussing it like it’s serious.

Legal analyst Lawrence Tribe helped the Washington Post waste ink in a long interview, concluding that, you guessed it, the “lawsuit” lacks merit: “Now that we have seen the Boehner complaint, it has become painfully clear that it lacks merit anyway.” No kidding!

Slate gave law professor Eric Posner a whole article to write, to come to the same conclusion: “If you want to blame someone, don’t blame Obama. Blame the Constitution.”

The mainstream media would better serve the interests of the public by making easily understandable graphs on just how much this baseless lawsuit is costing taxpayers.

The President had the right idea. Laughter, and a Marky Mark Wahlberg quote. “There’s a great movie called The Departed — a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg... they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy, and the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.’”

5. WMD, who cares?

Now that the Bush-Cheney Iraq war has reached its logical and easily foreseeable conclusion of turning an entire nation into a failed state and terrorist haven, we don’t care quite as much about weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands. That’s especially true over at Fox News, which, along with the rest of the media, is downplaying a letter to the UN from desperate people inside Iraq that ISIS walked off with radioactive material.

Here’s Fox’s lead:

Iraqi jihadists have grabbed 88 pounds of uranium compounds from a Mosul University science lab, but U.S. and international weapons experts are downplaying the possibility the deadly toxins could be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb."

The last line of the story: Earlier this week, Iraq's U.N. envoy said that the government had lost control of a former chemical weapons facility near Baghdad to "armed terrorist groups."

Scary stuff and time to reiterate: Obama effectively helped rid Syria of its entire chemical weapons stock this year, without firing a single Tomahawk.

Nina Burleigh has written for the Washington Post, Rolling Stone and New York magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @ninaburleigh

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