New York Times Leads Media Lynching of Adrian Peterson (Part 2)

The media coverage of Adrian Peterson makes a perfect case study for Media Manipulation 101.

It’s a “beating,” not a “spanking,”  It’s a “tree branch,” not a “switch.”  Racism comes into play: “Beating of children is a black thing.”  Regionalism: “Beating of children is a Southern thing.”  Religion and Political affiliation, too, facts be damned.

Simple reality: No one is FOR “child abuse.”  But the majority of people — regardless of race, region, religion, or politics — do endorse “spanking.”  Including many researchers.  Take a look at this chart from the Dallas Morning News.  No subdivision whatsoever is below 50 percent:

spankI heard a sports talk radio host last night tell caller after caller that “beating” was the appropriate word for Peterson, not spanking.  Callers would suggest the term was overkill, and the host would go off on another tirade.  I suppose he was trolling for callers, but demonization of Peterson was his end result.

The media’s refusal to use the word “switch” is laughable.  They don’t have much of a story if they say, “Peterson is a child abuser because he spanked his kid with a switch.”  So they say he “beat” his child with “a tree branch.”

The media’s relentless insistence that Peterson used “a tree branch,” not a switch is important to note, but I risk boring readers if I write much more about it.  Let me just say (at least for now) that a Google news search for all stories with both “Adrian Peterson” and “tree branch” in them returned 20,400 results.

Here’s a usage in a Fox News article I found worthy of note:

Bush’s comments — which follow the indictment of former Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, who has admitted using a tree branch to discipline his 4-year-old son — were “very concerning,” Antkoviak said.

“Tree branch” is there, of course, but note the clever (actually, not so clever; as it’s a frequent media device) use of “admitted.”  The word “admit” implies a person tried to hide or deny something.  He finally admitted to the murder.  He admitted he stole the money.  You never heard this: He admitted he donated money to the Red Cross.  The media uses “admit” when they wish to demonize a person.  That’s fine when the “admitted” action is a generally-accepted societal taboo.  When used to push an agenda, it’s blatant propaganda.

It’s somewhat odd that Fox News is condemning Peterson to such a degree, because their viewers — their bread-and-butter, to whom they cater nonstop — tend to support the spanking of children.  I surmise they weighed “evil black man” versus “teaching your children to behave,” and decided “evil black man” would be a better hot button topic among their target demographic.  Remember, this is the network that proclaimed President Obama fist-bumping his wife was a secret “terrorist fist bump.”

I should make something clear:  I can’t stand the NFL.  I seldom watch it.  My sport is golf, which should be obvious by the fact of this website.  I enjoy and watch college football, because I enjoy the school sprit and student-athlete vibe of it all.  The NFL is run by corporations, for corporations.  Its popularity peaked 20 years ago, and my interest in it has fallen even faster than the general public’s.

I feel it necessary to point that out to show my defense of Peterson is based not on some blind loyalty to the NFL, but rather on the fact that the media has wrongly demonized Peterson in order to create and extend a Big Story that will bring more readers/viewers.

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New York Times Leads Media Lynching of Adrian Peterson

[I've decided to make this a multi-part story.  I have a lot yet to write, and I also think a series of articles would better position me for a Pulitzer.  I'll leave the "work in progress" intro, as it provides an overview of the topic.]

[This is a work in progress.  I'll finish it later tonight or tomorrow morning. I just felt like posting this part of it now.  Our media will say anything to create or prolong a lurid story, all in the interest of profit.  Distort, exaggerate, demolish a man's reputation -- who cares as long as those cash registers are ringing.  Maybe you disagree with Peterson's parenting methods, but tell me, is it better for a child to get a few switchings growing up, or to zombie his way through life stuffed full of ritalin?  Which is the real abuse?  It's a question worth asking.  Anyway, there's a difference between child abuse and a personal distaste for spanking.  The New York Times would rather destroy a man's reputation than derail a story with level-headed reporting.]

Daddy’s in the big chair sippin’ on a cold beer
Grandma’s cuttin’ a switch
She overheard Mary cussin’ her brother
Called him a son of a bitch
She got a good green limb off a sweet gum sapling
Man that’s bound to sting
But Mary don’t cry just stands there and takes it
Doesn’t seem to feel a thing
No Mary don’t cry, you know she’s a big girl
Wonder what made her so mad
She takes those licks looking in through the den door
Staring right straight at her dad

From “Memorial Day” by James McMurtry

The New York Times doesn’t think “switch” is evil enough, so they’ve taken to using “branch.”  Adrian Peterson didn’t spank his child with a switch, he struck him with a damned tree branch!

The revelation that Adrian Peterson, the Vikings’ All-Pro running back, faces child abuse charges for beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch (“switch” is such a polite word), and that the league intends to let him play on Sunday, has pushed a few high-rolling corporate sponsors into a reasonable facsimile of concern.

And you thought the New York Times was constrained by things like facts and word definitions.

Here are the first online definitions I found for “switch”:

  • A slender, flexible shoot, rod, etc., used especially in whipping or disciplining.  (Dictionary.com)
  • A slender flexible whip, rod, or twig. (Merriam-Webster.com)
  • A slender flexible rod, stick, or twig, especially one used for whipping.  (thefreedictionary.com)
  • A slender flexible shoot cut from a tree. (oxforddictionaries.com)
  • A stick that is so thin that you can bend it easily. (MacmillanDictionary.com)

I think you get the point.  A “switch” is… a switch.  A “branch,” on the other hand, conjures up those big things that seem to regularly fall out of trees in Central Park, killing and maiming people.  I’m pretty sure the guys at the New York Times have heard about those incidents.  After all, they’ve cost New York City $11.5 million.

So, New York Times, let’s be sure not to associate Adrian Peterson with a grandmother switching her granddaughter as in the James McMurtry song.  No, no, let’s use the word “branch” to subliminally suggest an image of, oh, I don’t know, Paul Bunyan pummeling a kid with a redwood tree.

It’s not just that one writer (Michael Powell).  Here is another awkward refusal (Pat Borzi and Steve Eder) to simply use the appropriate word, “switch”:

Peterson is accused of injuring his son while disciplining him with a tree branch, commonly known as switch, last May in Spring, Tex.

That’s not even written correctly.  Poor grammar aside, calling a switch a branch is like a carpenter calling a 2×4 a tree trunk.  “Bring me another tree trunk, Ernie.”

Here’s another (Ken Belson):

The team said that Peterson, who was accused of disciplining his son with a switch, or a small tree branch, would be placed on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list and would have to stay away from all team activities.

Three articles, four writers.  Pretty clearly the New York Times wants to use the word “branch.”

The USA Today also seems befuddled by such an outlandish word as “switch”:

They say Peterson [Adrian's father] whipped his children and some of their friends with a belt or a tree branch known as a “switch.”

Are there really people who don’t know what a switch is?  If I didn’t, and read that description, I’d come away thinking a switch weighed ten pounds and put to a man’s head would leave him unconscious.  Again, hardly the switch grandma hit Mary with in the James McMurtry song.

This is important because switching a child as a disciplinary action doesn’t sound like “child abuse” at all.  Whacking a kid with a branch does, though.  Like hitting them with a baseball bat.  The New York Times doesn’t casually choose one word over another; they are clearly trying to paint Peterson in the worst possible light.

No one likes why-when-I-was-a-kid stories, but here’s mine.  I got paddled in school with a board far heftier than any switch off a sapling.  Today’s media would say I was “beaten” and suffered “child abuse.”  If I were famous, I could go on Oprah.  Along with pretty much every other male member of my graduating class.

Getting spanked with a switch stings like hell.  It leaves marks.  It can even draw blood, though not as much as a scraped knee or elbow.  But a switch is not going to do any lasting damage.

To throw Peterson into the category of “child abuser” is massively inappropriate and unfair.  Child abusers burn children with cigarettes, and lock them in closets and basements, and chain them to beds, and slug and punch and slap and kick them.  They leave them in parked cars or at home while they go get high or drunk.

Why is Adrian Peterson being threatened with prison time for deliberately spanking his child with a switch, something that has been commonly done for ages, and is still commonly done?

I have an answer.  Ray Rice got into an elevator with his future wife.  A few seconds later, he dragged her out of the elevator, unconscious.  The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, pretended not to know what happened in the elevator.  They did next to nothing, telling Rice he had to ride the bench for two games.  TMZ released a video showing the actual KO punch and — boom — the world changed.

Now Goodell is scrambling to maintain his ridiculously high-paying job ($44 million last year) by over-reacting to things he would have covered up a year ago.  If keeping his job means booting Adrian Peteronson out of the league, tough shit.  $44 million is real money.

There is also an ugly strangeness to the indictment against Peterson.  It seems a grand jury initially declined to indict Peterson, then the Rice video came out, and it became all the rage to go after those horrible NFL barbarians.  That’s when a second-attempt grand jury indicted Peterson.

Some in the media seem to have already convicted Peterson of child abuse for spanking his child with a switch.  Today Keith Olbermann made a comment about Peterson, saying the Vikings barring Peterson from team activities meant he could “spend more time with his kids, God help them.”

Bear in mind that Peterson disciplined the child for pushing another child off of a bike, an action which could have caused far more harm than a switch

(still not finished… to be continued…)

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Golf vs. Football — Which is manliest?

With the golf season over, all eyes turn to the NFL. The National Football League, in all its wife-punching, child-lashing, drug-taking, drunk-driving, raping, murdering glory.

Let’s be honest. Professional football’s best days are behind it. Its highest-rated Super Bowl was in 1982. Yeah, 33 years ago. Jack’s win at Augusta came four years after the highest-rated Super Bowl. Let that settle in.

Golf, on the other hand, is poised to enter its Second Golden Age — after two decades of media-driven hype aiding and abetting IMG’s conversion of the PGA Tour into a mindless celebrity reality show. Now, with Rory, Fowler, Horschel… we’re seeing the kinds of battles we had in the days of Hogan, Palmer, and a young “Fat Jack” Nicklaus.

I don’t want to invoke a penalty for piling on, but lately I’ve seen too many insulting comments of the “golfers aren’t athletes” variety. I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean, but clearly the intent is to paint golfers as something less than manly. That’s ridiculous, of course. In fact, I submit they have it bass-ackwards. Here’s why:

  • In golf, you smash a drive into a hazard. In football, you hike a ball between your legs and throw a pass to the tight end.
  • In golf, you play the ball as it lies. In football, if a player is not standing in just the right place, you get a do-over.
  • Golf is played in the midst of alligators, bobcats, eagles, wolves, and bears. Football is played in the midst of grown men who dress up like those animals.
  • Golfers hit clubs made of titanium. Football players use a ball made of the same material as women’s shoes and purses.
  • Football players wear helmets, and yet there is still a penalty for an “illegal blow to the head.” In golf, helmet-less fans line fairways where golf balls head their way at some 200 mph. If a ball strikes a fan on the head, or any other body part, he gets an autographed glove from the player who beaned him, which he then holds up for the cameras like a winning Lotto ticket.
  • Golfers hit the links. Football players (and their fans) hit women.

Finally, here’s what a golfer looks like when he plays:

eagle2Here’s what football players look like when they play:

nfl

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Rickie Fowler in OWGR Top Ten For First Time; Furyk in Top Five; Horschel Races Past Tiger Woods

Rickie Fowler’s improved play this year, including his stellar play in recent weeks, has pushed him into the OWGR Top Ten for the first time ever.

Jim Furyk jumped two slots to OWGR #5.  He is the only American in the top five.  [Note to self: Consider whether Furyk's longevity is due to playing his entire life with his natural swing.]

Billy Horschel moved from #59 to #14 in just three weeks, an incredible run.  He has turned himself into one of the most interesting stories to follow in 2015.  By the way, Horschel is now ranked one rung above erstwhile media darling Tiger Woods.

Jimmy Walker has risen from #63 to #19 in the past 12 months under the guidance of Butch Harmon.

Bubba Watson is the American player who accumulated the most points in 2014.

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While waiting for Rory to tee off…

While waiting for Rory to tee off, I made the full rounds of the golf websites I find worthwhile.  I don’t read Geoff Shackelford every day, but I always try to catch up, so I at least see the headline of every single article he writes.  Why?  Because he is a “mainstream” golf writer (the only one?) who is not afraid to call a spade a spade, so sometimes he writes things you simply don’t want to miss.  By that, I mean: True things written for intelligent people.  (Shackelford will sometimes  step outside the bounds of golf.  I remember him not too long ago pointing out a New York Times article on the publishing industry which I found fascinating.)

I found this article today at Shackelford’s website: “Great Read: MyGolfSpy’s Anonymous Retailer Takes On Vendors”.  It’s an anonymous article by a golf equipment retailer who discusses the reality of dealing with the equipment manufacturers.  I have only read a little of it, but I intend to read the rest as soon as I finish this blog entry.

The article to which Shackelford refers is on a website called My Golf Spy.  That’s a new website to me (although, frankly, I sometimes visit websites then forget all about them).  Admittedly, golf equipment is not my greatest interest, but the problems of manipulation by powerful corporations is a topic near and dear to my heart.

As I looked around on MyGolfSpy this morning, I came across a fairly-recent article, “YOUR OPINION – Golf Companies Control Over Media.”  In the short piece, he describes a couple of incidents he has recently had with equipment manufacturers which were, to me, interesting and revealing.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention those articles as well as make these two points:

  1. Don’t neglect to read Geoff Shackelford.
  2. MyGolfSpy.com might be worth investigating.
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God Sends Atlanta a Perfect Day For Golf

You can feel it in the air today in Atlanta.

What you feel is not only the excitement surrounding today’s final round of the Tour Championship.  You also feel cooler temperatures and lower humidity.  Take a look at this chart.  The green line is dew point, a measure of humidity.  Note the drop occurring Saturday night:

dewThere is only a small chance of rain, and the temperatures should be in the 70’s all day.

One can’t help but think Bobby Jones had a little influence in this spectacular day.

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What Would a Rory Win Mean Tomorrow?

What would a Rory win mean tomorrow?  For one thing, it would mean there are only two names in the conversation for Greatest Of All Time: Rory and Mr. Nicklaus.

It would also put an exclamation mark on what was arguably the best year in golf since Bobby Jones’s Grand Slam.

And it would mean the American golf media’s “Rory Problem” isn’t going away.  Rory is so much better than the American media’s Golfdashian Twins that Phil and Woods could play best ball and Rory would still beat them handily.

I’m for Rory, make no mistake about it, but I admit a tiny part of me wants to see a winner whose life would be changed by pocketing $10 million.  Of course, it’s not like Horschel hasn’t cashed some sweet checks this year.  And, it would appear he’s taken his game to a new level, so the future probably has even more checks waiting for him.  To heck with guilt:  Go Rory!!!

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