Media

Big Media Hits & Misses of the Week—From Hot Dog-Eating Contests to How the GOP Is Still Ruining the Country

The media loves those drone bombs bursting in air.

This week brought out the best and wurst in our media, from a columnist at the Washington Post laying bare how badly the Republicans are destroying the country to the press's love affair with hot dog-eating contests and international high-tech drone warfare.

BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT

Once in a while, even the New York Times must seek a “happy story” in the nation’s capital. Obstructionist Republicans in Washington solely to stymie Democrats present a challenge. The Times rose to it with a frontpage story on the Burpee togetherness fostered by Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullins’ bipartisan workout regime. Mullins, an Oklahoma plumber, fanatically opposes government assistance, but his plumbing business took $370,00 from Obama stimulus act funds in 2009. He now heads up bi-partisan morning sweat-fests for members of Congress.

A more discerning, bleaker take on bipartisanship is Eugene Robinson’s op-ed In the Washington Post, on how Republicans have fulfilled George Washington’s greatest fear about a two-party system. Robinson reminds us that Washington worried political parties would act in the “spirit of revenge,” bringing on “disorders and miseries” rather than governing. Sore-loser Republicans started practicing hari kiri politics during the Clinton era and refined it to an art form in the Obama years.

THE FRUITED PLAIN!

Competitive eaters bellied up to the table at Nathan’s on Coney Island on July 4 and tried to beat last year’s hot dog-eating record set by Joey Chestnut, who consumed 69 dogs in 10 minutes. This amount of food means: 20,010 calories, as much as a man would eat in a week, or 34.5 feet of hot dog, enough, the New York Post put it, to wrap a belt around what Rush Limbaugh is calling the Statue of Immigration – that is, Liberty.

Our Land of Plenty suffers from a national eating disorder in which obesity and child hunger plague us in equal measure, and Chef Gordon Ramsey’s food porn is almost as popular as American Idol. The Fourth is a good time to remember that of the 10 states Gallup cited as the most obese, eight went for Romney in 2012: Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma. 

THROUGH THE PERILOUS NIGHT

On Thursday, the Labor Department announced the economy added 211,000 jobs in May. Good news for the nation – and the President – but bad news for the playa-haters at Fox. Predictably, the network found a way to make good news look bad. “That is far short of what is needed to keep up with population growth and genuinely reduce unemployment,” opined Fox commentator Peter Morici in advance of the report. Two hours after the report was released, Fox’s homepage featured a hunting cheerleader, a crying Japanese politician, and buried in a second line in the news feed: “Wall Street hits 17k on on “strong jobs data.”

BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR

Most of the media panted about the news that the demoniacs of Al Qaeda in Yemen have invented a new undetectable airplane bomb. The season of fireworks is a good time to give some thought to American bombs. With hand held iPhone bombs now able to vaporize commercial jets, we remain the political equivalent of Gulliver, stymied by the Lilliputians. The nation that brought the world Little Boy and Fat Man pumps billions into iffy nuclear weapon defense, as detailed by the LA Times.

Boeing and other aerospace behemoths have slurped up $40 billion of our taxpayer defense dollars on a missile defense system its own engineers suspect doesn’t work. Despite the first successful test late last month, after four failed tests, engineers told Live Science: "Even though a particular kill vehicle finally destroyed its target last month, that doesn't mean another one will. Each kill vehicle is handmade, with 1,000 component parts, meaning no two are the same. A successful test of one doesn’t predict the performance of others."

DO NOT GIVE US YOUR POOR!

Speaking of immigration, the good people of Murrietta, none of whom seem to have indigenous American blood, are waving the flag and screaming at busloads of brown mothers and children from south of the border to get the hell out of town. Clearly, the Murrietans have been slurping up Rush Limbaugh’s chicken soup for the American soul this week. Two days before Independence Day, Rush fulminated that the 50,000 kids at the border were dumped there by devious parents and that protesting against them is neither racist nor un-American.

In other news, America’s top right-wing radio commentators Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity made the list of Forbes World’s Most Powerful Celebrities. Limbaugh waddles in at number 59. He’s still worth $66 million. No one ever went broke giving aid and succor to our nation’s flintiest, meanest instincts.

BORN IN THE USA!

Most mainstream media stories on the Hobby Lobby ruling failed to fully explain how the entire case is built on the scientifically false assertion that certain forms of contraception kill embryos, cause abortions. On the eve of our nation’s 238th birthday, our Enlightenment founding fathers had to be rolling in their graves as the justices extended their special superstition exemption to evangelical Wheaton College.

The Hobby Lobby story of the week is at Mother Jones, which revealed how Hobby Lobby dollars financed a Christian cult whose leader, Bill Gothard, has been hauled up for sexual harassment.

Hobby Lobby gave Gothard’s Institute for Basic Life Principles a 2,250-acre campus in Big Sandy, Texas, for $10. The campus has a landing strip and aircraft hangar, a boot camp training young men train in disaster response techniques and program for girls 15 and older aimed at molding the ideal Christian doomsday prepper consort. "Skirts are required to encourage the girls to remain feminine in an active lifestyle," and the application asks girls about their “mental health"—including whether they struggle with "daydreaming," "fantasy," and "lustful thoughts."

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

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