Monday, April 06, 2015

Quick Hits: Volume CX

- Late last year, Rolling Stone magazine shared the ordeal of a young woman named Jackie, who had allegedly been the victim of a gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house. Not long after, such outlets as the Washington Post began to investigate discrepancies in the story, so much so that Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana conveyed that Jackie's story no longer seemed credible.

Then this past weekend, Rolling Stone published a report put together by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism which detailed how this went so, so wrong (Read it here). One clue: the word "failure" was used more than twenty times.

National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote a piece a little more than four months ago discussing the prevalence of "narrative journalism." The concept is that many journalists concoct "preconceived storylines that fit a particular agenda or political or ideological view, almost always progressive." In this specific article, Geraghty referenced the shootings of unarmed black teens Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown being killed in separate incidents and how the media pounced on both to perpetuate how prevalent racism still remains as well as the perils of Congress not enacting gun control. Both narratives concluded with the media having proverbial egg on their collective faces as well as such "reporting" being "harmful to the causes they seek to advance."

Now substitute in Sabrina Rubin Erdely's Rolling Stone piece about the University of Virginia perpetuating a culture where rape victims are silenced by the powers-that-be in an effort to protect an institution's credibility. If, God forbid, a brutal gang rape of a young woman actually occurs on a major college campus in the future, don't believe for one minute that the public will have completely forgotten this debacle once a news outlet reports the story. Such a tragedy would be exacerbated if indeed the public questioned the veracity of a legitimate victim.

- Taking place this Saturday will be the Republican Party of Minnesota's spring meeting of State Central Committee delegates. One of the high profile items of business is the election of party officers. Current Chairman Keith Downey, who is seeking a second term, will be opposed by Bill Jungbauer, who once served as chair of the Congressional District 2 Republicans. All indications are that Jungbauer is a favorite of the libertarian/tea party faction of the MNGOP, which immediately puts him at odds with conservatives/moderates.

On the other hand, there appears to be a significant amount of dissatisfaction with Downey as the state party is still scuffling to improve it's finances. In addition, many felt Downey blew a golden opportunity to help the one GOP statewide candidate with a legitimate shot to win this past November (Dan Severson lost the Secretary of State race by a scant 1.1%) by diverting precious financial resources to a TV ad attacking Gov. Mark Dayton. The ad was a public relations nightmare. And let's not forget his bungling of the Michelle MacDonald endorsement for MN Supreme Court.

Given the two choices for MNGOP chair, I have a feeling that a fair number of delegates would prefer a Montgomery Brewster type candidacy.

- As a lifelong Minnesotan, I rarely (if ever) root for any sports team which hails from Wisconsin (my alma mater UW-River Falls being the lone exception). Sure, many will construe my attitude as one of "sour grapes" or betraying my own jealously at the recent success emanating from my neighbors to the east (whether it's been the Green Bay Packers, Univ. of Wisconsin Badgers football and basketball, etc.). While both are logical assumptions, the fact of the matter is I've been anti-Wisconsin sports since the '70s when the Badgers, Packers, et al were so pathetic that it hardly seemed worth any expended energy to jeer them. 

With all that said, I have to give credit where credit is due. The run the University of Wisconsin men's basketball went on in this year's NCAA tournament was remarkable. When they earned a #1 seed in the West bracket, I immediately surmised that they would be fortunate to even get to the coveted Final Four, given they'd probably have to go through powerhouse programs like North Carolina and Arizona. Even if they did reach the national semifinals, it was likely an undefeated Kentucky team would be awaiting them. 

Ah, but this was not the lame Badgers program of my youth. They were a #1 seed for a reason and they proved it by dispatching the three highly touted teams I just mentioned. Yes, after upending a 38-0 Kentucky squad on Saturday, Wisconsin would play another legendary basketball school in Duke for the national title. For the record, I have literally rooted for the Duke men's basketball team a total of three times before Monday. Not so coincidentally, it was the three occasions they played Wisconsin. So before Monday, Duke was 2-1 in games which I was in their corner. 

After Monday? 3-1!


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