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The MSM Roast of Mark Yost

By Michael Fumento

St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial page associate editor Mark Yost penned a provocative column on media coverage of the Iraq war, noting his contacts there told him, with apologies to Johnny Mercer, the MSM are accentuating the negative and ignoring the positive. He couldn't have imagined he was covering himself with blood and throwing himself into the shark pen. His media colleagues were merciless. "With your column, you have spat on the copy of the brave men and women who are doing their best in terrible conditions," a reporter at the same Knight-Ridder newspaper charged in an open letter. "You have insulted them and demeaned them," he wrote. "I am embarrassed to call you my colleague."

The D.C. Bureau chief for Knight-Ridder, Clark Hoyt, spent a column ripping off a chunk of Yost and chewing it. Hoyt said Yost "asks why you don't read about progress being made in the power grid [but] maybe it's because there is no progress." At the Romenesko open blog for journalists, this charge from Hoyt was repeated time and again: "It's astonishing that Mark Yost, from the distance and safety of St. Paul, Minnesota, presumes to know what's going on in Iraq." It's an interesting double standard for columnists that you can rip U.S. war efforts all you want from the comfort of a U.S. office (since Hoyt didn't mention going, we know he didn't), but if you're going to write something positive you had better have spent time in Iraq, notwithstanding that so often for reporters "time in Iraq" means a hotel behind layers of concrete barriers and concertina wire.

OF COURSE the war coverage is slanted: Why should the adage "If it bleeds it leads" stop at the Iraqi border? But as it happens, I did go to Iraq and somehow didn't feel the wetness of Yost's spit. I stayed in no hotels, got out of the safety of the Green Zone as soon as I had my press credentials, and went to the hostile Anbar province. I walked the streets, rode in the Humvees, and had my trip cut short by a colostomy that saved my life. But I was there long enough to see and report that Yost was right. If Hoyt thinks no progress is being made, he's either flat-out lying or wearing those blinders the MSM are so famous for. In any case, it's astonishing that Clark Hoyt, from the distance and safety of Washington, D.C., presumes to know what's going on in Iraq.

July 17, 2005 08:34 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq ~ Media ~ Military  ·  TrackBack (0)

Conservatives and government admonitions on obesity

By Michael Fumento

How should conservatives view government efforts against the obesity epidemic? This exchange might be useful.

Dear Mr. Fumento:

When getting someone else's comment about your obesity article at townhall.com, I heard that you are considered libertarian in your thinking. When I saw in the article, however, I sensed a strong dose of "Do Something". Don't throw away your conservatism on your war against obesity. Many people whom we call "liberals" are just conservatives who got all consumed on ONE issue that needs urgent government action. A government that has the right to tell you not to eat a big mac has the right to tell you what to do in your bedroom.

Billy [omitted]

Dear Billy:

Actually, in just the last few days hate mailers or bloggers have referred to me as "a liberal twirp" and a "neo-con" along with other things that are usually written out as &%$#^ or *&$#@+. But yes, I've also been called a libertarian. None of the above is true. I'm just an old-fashioned conservative, or to be more specific I refer to myself as a "Burkean conservative." Despite my disgust with politicians who call themselves conservatives and actually believe in nothing more than power and money, I will not "throw away" my core beliefs. On the other hand, you are the one who seems to be adopting the libertarian position that even government advice on food consumption is going too far. I'm sorry, but I draw a huge distinction between told something is bad for you and having a law passed against it. We have a Public Health Service for a reason – to protect public health. When it strays into areas like divorce, as the CDC has, it needs to be slapped down. When it lies, as it did about the AIDS epidemic, likewise. But weighing in (pardon the pun) on the second-greatest controllable cost of premature death seems to be exactly what public health people should be doing.

Michael Fumento

July 15, 2005 08:31 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Government ~ Obesity  ·  TrackBack (0)

Vaccine fearmongering and "intellectual prostitution"

By Michael Fumento

Mark Sircus, head of something called the International Medical Veritas Association, needs to learn a bit about the meaning of "Veritas." In a commentary titled "Intellectual Prostitution," he calls a whore anybody who disagrees with the proposition that childhood vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal (half of which is ethyl mercury) cause autism. They're all on the take; that's the only possible explanation for their positions no matter how authoritative and detailed their arguments may be. I am one of the named prostitutes. Commenting on a column of mine that appeared in Townhall and another piece in the Wall Street Journal, our three-ring Sircus says, "Mr. Fumento's [sic], of the Hudson Institute, recently published essays on thimerosal, [which] like many of the others, were bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry so one should read his and many of the current articles proclaiming the safety of known poisons with salt."

Does he have the least evidence that I was actually paid? No. It's supposed to be guilt by association, but it turns out to not even fit that.

"When it comes to the Thimerosal [sic] debate and Fumento's opinion it is not a coincidence that the Hudson Institute [where I'm a senior fellow] is based in Indianapolis, home of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant that holds the patent on Thimerosal [sic]," he writes. He also ties Dan Quayle and former OMB Director Mitch Daniels to both Lilly and Hudson.

Aside from not being able to spell "thimerosal," Sircus seems ignorant that Lilly patented the preservative in 1930 and therefore must have its rights half a century ago. Hudson is not based in Indy, but Washington, D.C. It moved a year ago, which is to say a year before I wrote my pieces. Hudson formerly received major funding not from Lilly the pharmaceutical company but from the Lilly Endowment, which truly has a Chinese wall between it and its drug company donors. In any event, the Endowment focuses heavily on Indiana projects and stopped funding Hudson when it moved.

But this isn't to say Sircus knows nothing about intellectual prostition. He makes his living running a clinic in Brazil that uses "chelation therapy," a fraud denounced by many medical organizations. Far from extracting "toxins" as claimed it merely extracts green material from the pockets of gullible parents of autistic children (and sufferers of countless other illnesses). It is the money trail behind the "vaccines cause autism" hysteria, the conspiracy behind the conspiracy theory if you will.

July 10, 2005 08:17 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media ~ Vaccines  ·  TrackBack (0)

Fat threatens national defense

By Michael Fumento

For those who still believe the nation's girth growth is strictly a personal matter, this article shows it's not just the war in Iraq that's hurting military recruiting. Nearly 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women of recruiting age are too fat even to be considered. Add to that thousands of experience service members discharged because they ballooned up and can't drop the pounds. "This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us," according to an Army nutrition expert.

July 5, 2005 08:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military ~ Obesity  ·  TrackBack (0)

No room on the Supreme Court for affirmative action

By Michael Fumento

If you're in your 40s or older, you probably remember "The Mod Squad," about a trio of cops whose only distinguishing feature was gender and color. They were described as: "One black, one white, one blonde." That's fine for TV, but in considering nominations for the highest court in the land it doesn't cut it. I've looked at numerous lists of potential candidates and while they vary greatly the one thing that stands out is the number of minorities, especially Hispanics. One is a two-fer, a black woman. Don't get me wrong; several of those minority candidates as described by their brief accompanying bios seem to be excellent choices. The point is that this is an extremely important body (far more important than it should be, having continually crept into legislative areas ever since the Warren Court) and it has only 9 members and right now we're deciding on a single slot to be filled by one of approximately 300 million Americans. If it turns out that the best candidate is the proverbial Bohemian midget with a peg leg who is one-quarter Cherokee Indian, fine. But the High Court must be a meritocracy.

July 1, 2005 08:13 PM  ·  Permalink  ·