My investigative journalism professor, Joel Campbell (aka the Mormon Media Observer), wrote this piece for MormonTimes.com that I thought you'd all enjoy:
Investigation, secrecy, documents, Oh My!
The American News Project is promoting a news video "investigation" of the LDS Church's support of Proposition 8. While this film could be called an advocacy documentary or simply propaganda, please don't call it quality journalism or even "news."
It's produced by Steve Greenstreet, who identifies himself as a former Mormon missionary who produced the documentary "The Divided State" about Michael Moore's and Sean Hannity's visits to Utah Valley State College.
Set to the drone of sinister music you might expect in a spy thriller, Greenstreet lays out his case about "two contradictory stories" that have emerged after the Proposition 8 battle. In essence, Greenstreet implies there is a cover-up by the LDS Church.
Having revealed "undisclosed" audio tapes and transcripts, he points out the LDS Church helped provide Web sites, phone banks and a satellite broadcast that were never accounted for in campaign contributions. Of course, the writer emphasizes twice that the California Fair Political Practices Commission is also "investigating." Greenstreet doesn't explain how he obtained the undisclosed documents. Such transparency is a hallmark of good reporting. He also does not say where the California inquiry has gone.
This kind of framing, coupled with a steady stream of anti-Mormon signs and footage of protests at LDS temples, is propaganda rather than balanced news reporting. So, first is this latest work news or investigative journalism? No, there is not much new in this report. Investigative journalism, by definition, means reporters bring something new to light. Most of the report is simply a rehash of things previously reported in the press.
A quick Internet search yields stories with the same information weeks before this report.
However, what Greenstreet does is skillfully juxtapose sinister music, the propaganda of Mormon critics and stereotypes about Mormons. By definition, "propaganda is a one-sided, biased presentation of an issue, trading on emotional appeals and a widerange of rhetorical devices in order to override critical assessment." Producers certainly allowed no room in this report for a dialog about how and when religion can participate in the public arena and even a discussion from both sides about the vagary of rules that govern such things. Instead, viewers are offered implied indictment instead of public-service enlightenment.
The report does not meet the standard promoted on ANP's Web as "dedicated to defending and promoting the public interest through high-quality, investigative video journalism."
One only needs to look at the first two canons of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics to find Greenstreet's shortcomings. The code says: "Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible."
The way this news report is produced is a deliberate distortion, first in making the audience believe the reports has uncovered new information and second it's format filled with photographs of anti-LDS signs, protests and innuendo. The only two sources interviewed for the report questioned the LDS Church's motives. The report is alsodismissive of the LDS claims about their position based on spirituality.
The second SPJ canon is to "diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing." There was no evidence of diligence here. Why no LDS voices? There was nothing to indicate Greenstreet contacted the LDS Church, Mormons or others inside the Proposition 8 movement forcomment.
Greenstreet has had some history with this kind of reporting. He's even been lauded for advocacy. Instead of calling this kind of work investigative journalism, please label it advocacy and commentary. The SPJ Code says: "Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context."
Greenstreet was contacted for response, but did not return a phone call. Space will be provided in a future column if he chooses to respond.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
My investigative journalism professor, Joel Campbell (aka the Mormon Media Observer), wrote this piece for MormonTimes.com that I thought you'd all enjoy:
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 8:31 AM
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I came across this video that discusses Barack Obama's civil rights agenda more in depth and find it interesting how his fight for "civil rights" squashes others' rights:
Note that he commentators bring up some of the same cases we've discussed in light of Prop. 8. Obama's taking a far, far-left stance with dramatic changes regarding same-sex issues and abortion (the Freedom of Choice Act will wipe away all limits on abortions; Obama has already signed an executive order that now allows for taxpayer-funded abortions overseas).
Buckle up, friends - we are in for a ride!
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 2:33 PM
Friday, January 23, 2009
Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have. Sincerely, Tom Hanks.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 1:08 PM
Send a letter to your representatives. Spread the word. Fight for the family - after all, if we don't, who will?
And so, likewise, I have no problem with laws that push for people to be treated equally. I disagree with discrimination and think people should be judged on the content of their character - not on skin color or sexual preference (although I most certainly do not see the two as the same sort of issue, since one is a noun and the other a verb - but that's a post for another day).
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 10:26 AM
A new study by Freedom to Marry argues that same-sex marriage is a non-issue that doesn't hurt a politician's electability. The San Francisco Bay Times reports:
I think this is an interesting comment, considering that the point of elected officials is to select people to represent your views in the government.
Voting for same-sex marriage or against an attempt to ban same-sex marriage is a safe move for politicians, a new study by the group Freedom to Marry has found. A review of such votes in 21 states by more than 1,100 legislators found that the legislators were consistently re-elected. The report revealed:
* Legislators who voted to end marriage discrimination in California, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts had a 100 percent re-election rate in all 499 instances in three consecutive elections.
* Legislators who changed their position from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage had a 100 percent re-election rate in consecutive elections.
* Legislators who voted for marriage equality in their state’s lower house and then sought higher office all won.
* None of 664 legislators from 17 states lost re-election after voting against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
“For politicians, standing up for marriage equality is not touching a third-rail; rather, it is a track to re-election,” said Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson. “Legislators should take the findings of this report as proof that there’s no reason to back down from supporting the freedom to marry and opposing anti-gay measures. And those of us outside the legislature should not be afraid to ask our representatives to do the right thing.”
As fellow DNA'er BeetleBlogger said, "This is not the opportunity to forgive and forget or turn the other cheek. It’s time to ask ourselves, 'What’s in the barrel?' and toss out those [bad apples] who pander to corruption and are rotten at the core."
She makes an excellent point - corruption doesn't seem to matter in today's political arena. What on earth has happened to reason, responsibility, common sense and virtue?
Californians have voted twice to uphold traditional marriage and define it as between one man and one woman. I would argue that the "right thing" is to respect the views of your constituency on all issues - especially when it comes to one so fundamentally linked to our society's fiber.
The family is the cornerstone of society - if we chip away at it enough, it will crumble, and we will fall.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 9:58 AM
Monday, January 19, 2009
Hello, my fellow traditional marriage supporters!
My colleagues in the Digital Network Army (DNA) and I want you to join in our letter-writing campaign today to the editor of the New York Times, following up to the article that ran today about the H8 maps.
NY Times instructions for submitting:
Letters for publication should be no longer than 150 words, must refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer's address and phone numbers. No attachments, please.
Send a letter to the editor by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go viral, my dear ones! Thanks for standing up for marriage and for the donors' right to privacy!
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 2:31 PM
From the NY Times:
SAN FRANCISCO — In many ways it is a typical map, showing states, highways, cities and streets.
But also dotting the online display are thousands of red arrows, marking spots from Bryn Mawr, Pa., to Jamacha, Calif., identifying the addresses of donors who supported Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
It is exactly those arrows that concern supporters of the measure, who say they have been regularly harassed since the election — with threatening e-mail messages and sometimes boycotts of their businesses.
“Some gay activists have organized Web sites to actively encourage people to go after supporters of Proposition 8,” said Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for Protect Marriage, the leading group behind the proposition. “And giving these people a map to your home or office leaves supporters of Proposition 8 feeling especially vulnerable. Really, it is chilling.”
So chilling, apparently, that supporters have filed suit in Federal District Court in Sacramento seeking a preliminary injunction of a state election law that requires donors of $100 or more to disclose their names, addresses, occupations and other personal information. In particular, the suit seeks to stop the final filing for the 2008 election, which is due Jan. 31. That filing includes donations made in the closing days of the campaign, when the proposition surged to victory.
James Bopp Jr., a lawyer from Indiana who filed the lawsuit on the behalf of Protect Marriage, said the harassment of Proposition 8 supporters violated their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.
“The cost of transparency cannot be discouragement of people’s participation in the process,” said Mr. Bopp, who has argued several prominent cases challenging campaign-finance laws in California and other states. “The highest value in the First Amendment is speech, and some amorphous idea about transparency cannot be used to subvert those rights.”
The election law in question, the Political Reform Act of 1974, was approved by California voters as Proposition 9, and gay rights advocates say there is rich irony in supporters of Proposition 8 opposing the earlier ballot measure.
“They believe in the will of the people if it’s in tune with what they believe,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, marriage project director with Lambda Legal, the gay rights legal organization, in Los Angeles.
Opponents of Proposition 8 are also suspicious of the intent of trying to prevent donors from being identified. “Do they want to hide something?” said Shannon P. Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.
Mr. Schubert insisted that there was “no smoking gun” and that the filing would show only “modest in-kind contributions” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church members contributed millions to the “Yes on 8” campaign, and the California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating accusations that the Mormon leadership neglected to report a battery of nonmonetary contributions, including phone banks, a Web site and online commercials on the behalf of Proposition 8.
The lawsuit is just one part of the continuing legal wrangling over Proposition 8, whose constitutionality is being reviewed by the State Supreme Court. The court legalized same-sex marriage in May, a decision that was overturned by Proposition 8.
The court is expected to hear arguments on the proposition as soon as March, and will probably also decide the fate of some 18,000 same-sex marriages that were performed in the state.
Several prominent groups filed or signed on to briefs in recent days expressing opposition to Proposition 8, including civil rights and women’s rights organizations, labor and religious groups, and Google, which created the mapping technology.
In his suit, which is also being argued by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group, Mr. Bopp alleges a wide range of acts against supporters, including “death threats, acts of domestic terrorism, physical violence, threats of physical violence, vandalism of personal property, harassing phone calls, harassing e-mails, blacklisting and boycotts.”
In one instance, a supporter found a flier in his neighborhood calling him a bigot and listing his employer. In another, white powder was sent to a Mormon temple and a facility run by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic group, which contributed more than $1 million in support of Proposition 8. Other supporters, including the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Richard Raddon, have been forced to resign because of their backing of the measure, while some businesses have been boycotted because of Proposition 8.
Mr. Bopp also said that the level set under California’s campaign law for public disclosure, anything above $100, was too low.
“There certainly would be an amount that would influence more than a few voters,” he said. “But it’s way above $100.”
Opponents of Proposition 8 have condemned any attacks on supporters, but noted that those claiming harassment are already protected by laws. “Violence and vandalism are illegal, and those laws should be enforced,” Ms. Pizer said. “And sadly people on both sides of this issue have experienced some of that.”
Posted by IzeOfLight at 12:36 AM
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 10:46 PM
Friday, January 16, 2009
I've always been a Tom Hanks fan, but apparently those feelings don't go both ways - according to Hanks, I am "un-American" because of my support of Prop. 8.
Fox News reports:
I'm surprised that Hanks is uninformed enough to think polygamists are an offshoot of the LDS Church that supported Prop. 8. The two have nothing to do with each other; all they share are common roots, but the mainstream LDS Church left polygamy behind well over 100 years ago.
Tom Hanks, Executive Producer for HBO’s controversial polygamist series “Big Love,” made his feelings toward the Mormon Church’s involvement in California's Prop 8 (which prohibits gay marriage) very clear at the show’s premiere party on Wednesday night.
“The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”
Also, he refers to LDS people giving money to their church to make Prop. 8 happen. That simply is not the case! Donations were made to ProtectMarriage.com. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a part of a broad-based coalition of faiths, but it was not running the show.
I, for one, am a proud American, and I am grateful for the self-correcting Constitution to which Hanks refers. It's a process that lets the people - not the judges - decide what is best for them, and they will then be accountable for those decisions, good or bad.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 9:57 AM
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Apparently Big Labor, a coalition of more than 50 of California's labor unions, is pushing its weight to overturn Prop. 8.
The Contra Costa Times reports:
Can I interject for one moment? From what I've heard (i.e. what my highly-informed news junkie of a father told me), the majority of the brief Jerry Brown filed, while going against Prop. 8, actually counters the argument that Prop. 8 overstepped amendment territory. Brown had no qualms with the Yes on 8'ers methodology - his beef was with the gay-rights issue.
A coalition of more than 50 labor organizations representing more than two million Californians filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday urging the state Supreme Court to overturn the voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The labor groups' brief argues that "any change to the California Constitution that takes away fundamental rights or that divides citizens into suspect classes must be accomplished by a 'revision' of the Constitution, and not the simple 'amendment' employed in Proposition 8."
And another interjection: I hate using the term "gay rights." It implies that they're discriminated against as a minority and that we're trying to take rights away from them. Marrying whoever you want is not a right.
And, frankly, you can't classify anti-gay discrimination on the same page as anti-race discrimination, because race is apparent. It's usually fairly obvious if someone is black/Latino/Asian/Native American etc. Homosexuality has more to do with what you do than with who you are, internally and externally. I understand there are inclinations, but again, it's the actions that define the category - it's just not the same as being born into an ethnic group.
But I digress. Back to the news story.
"If a simple majority of voters can take away one fundamental right, it can take away another," the brief states.
"We believe Prop. 8 is improper and it's immoral and it's also legally invalid," Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, told reporters Tuesday. "We have an interest not only in defending the rights of our members, but we have an interest in defending the constitution of California."
Agreed UHW-West President Sal Rosselli, "Us defending the right of gay people to marry, us defending this civil right is fundamentally important because ... there's a slippery slope and wealthy bigoted people could organize votes of the electorate to take away other civil rights."
Equality California executive director Geoff Kors said he believes "the leadership of labor in this brief is going to have a tremendous impact." Jenny Pizer, Lambda Legal senior counsel and Marriage Project director, said the brief "is putting a special emphasis on how high the stakes are here for everybody in California."
The California Council of Churches and other faith organizations and leaders will file their own amicus brief Wednesday asking the court to invalidate Proposition 8. Others, including lawyers' groups and 44 state lawmakers, already have written similar pleas; conservative groups have urged the court to let Proposition 8 stand.
The California Supreme Court has set a fast-tracked briefing schedule, which should be completed this month, with oral arguments heard as soon as March.
Okay, for starters - talk about a conspiracy theory! "Wealthy bigoted people"? I would counter that the success of Prop. 8 is largely due to a grassroots campaign, where the legwork was done by people like yours truly who is definitely neither wealthy nor bigoted.
Furthermore, the California people backed up the veracity of feeling behind the campaign with their votes. That demographic would have taken in the rich, the poor and everything in between - and I'm pretty sure that includes the working-class labor types who these unions represent. I think that speaks loudly enough.
Why is it that unions feel compelled to speak out for or against issues that have nothing to do with the scope of their organizations? Not every teacher opposed Prop. 8 - yet their dues went to the California Teacher's Association's sizeable (and, frankly, deceptive) ad campaign.
With labor unions are jumping into the fray, I have to ask, how is marriage labor?
Marriage is hard work. And the whole family aspect definitely involves some labor - just not in the AFL-CIO sense of the term.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 5:07 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Fellow DNA'er GoodSense Politics posted a piece about Fred Karger, the McCarthyesque leader of Californians Against Hate who, ironically, is promoting hate with his "DisHonor Roll."
This list of Prop. 8 donors publishes not only the donors by name and amount but also includes any dirt that can be found on these groups and individuals.
I cringe to give the publicity-hungry Karger any undue time in the spotlight - the man has a long history of fighting pro-gay battles with the tenacity of a bulldog and the persistant noise of a chihuahua.
However, I want to give props to the people who followed their beliefs with their pocketbooks and made the donations that have, in turn, placed them in the target of gay-rights activists. These are good people! I'm amazed by how many people I know personally on that list and how much they gave. It makes me want to give them gigantic hugs for their amazingness in sacrificing so much for the cause... but, uh, that would be awkward for all involved, I'm sure. They're also truly humble individuals who wouldn't want to be called out for such good deeds but would prefer to give in the manner Christ proscribes of not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing.
So, instead, I encourage you to support the DisHonor Roll members with your patronage to their businesses as the gay-rights activists push to chip away at these individuals' livelihoods. Perhaps write a letter or email to their company if they're in a position where hate mail might lead to a forced resignation. I'd hate to see another martyr to the cause like Marjorie Christofferson, Richard Raddon or Scott Eckern. Enough is enough!
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 9:26 PM
AUGUSTA, Maine—The gay marriage issue moved onto the legislative agenda Tuesday as supporters of the idea said this is the time to recognize marriages between same-sex couples -- even if the debate comes amid major concerns in the State House over budget cutbacks and their impact.
Sen. Dennis Damon said he is introducing a bill to rewrite Maine's existing statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, instead defining it as a union between two people. In addition, it recognizes gay marriages from other states.
Damon, D-Trenton, answered critics who questioned the timing of the bill as lawmakers face a $838 million shortfall by saying it's "long overdue."
"Currently there is discrimination. Heterosexual couples who have decided to spend their lives together are treated differently than same-sex couples who have ... that same commitment to each other," Damon said. "I don't see the fairness of that. I don't see the need for that, and this bill will put an end to that."
Maine currently has a domestic partnership registry that's open to gay couples. But
that's not enough for gay marriage supporters. Damon says it's time to "fully end discrimination in Maine."
Gay marriage is being debated elsewhere in the region.
In New Hampshire, a bill's been submitted to replace the term "civil union" with "marriage" in the state's 1-year-old civil union law. Vermont, the first state to recognize same-sex couples with its civil unions law, is now likely to consider a gay marriage bill.
In Maine, Damon's gay marriage proposal faces a fight.
House Minority Leader John Tardy, R-Newport, is expected to propose bolstering the state's one man-one woman definition by putting it in the Constitution.
The Maine Family Policy Council also plans to oppose the gay marriage bill "with everything we've got," Executive Director Michael Heath said.
Heath said gay marriage supporters are making a mistake running their bill now, when so much else is at stake because of the recession and state budget problems.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland also will work aggressively against the bill, which goes to the heart of a fundamental issue for many, said Marc Mutty, diocesan public affairs director. Mutty believes the proposal will ultimately be sent to referendum.
Gov. John Baldacci issued a statement in which he acknowledged his past opposition to same-sex marriage, adding the debate "is extremely personal for many people, and it's an issue that I struggle with trying to find the best path forward.
"Right now, I'm focused on creating jobs and doing what I can to help our economy recover from an unprecedented recession. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided or turned against one another during this crisis," the governor said.
The gay marriage bill has won that support of leaders of more than a dozen faiths across the state, who formed the Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine.
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 8:22 PM
Monday, January 12, 2009
Hello again, readers dear!
I hate to make promises that I don't keep, and so I'd like to say a big sorry for being so behind on the blog. Last week I thought I'd have a chance to get back to blogging, but a huge project at work has eaten up my week (including my weekend), and this week's still going to be busy busy. The blog's become mostly a one-woman show, and I'll do the best I can - after all, this is a battle with such far-reaching consequences, I don't want to seem flippant and brush it off - but bear with me, and thanks in advance for your patience. I love this blog, and, more importantly, I love championing a cause that is so vitally important in today's society and for our future.
So don't you worry - we'll be back to full swing soon.
In the meantime, MSNBC is doing a poll as to whether "In God We Trust" should remain on our currency. What do you think? Weigh in at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 10:05 PM
Monday, January 5, 2009
Hello, Preserving Marriage Readers!
My apologies for the holiday-induced hiatus. Just a quick note to say I've got a few posts up my sleeve, so watch for some news tonight and as the week progresses. Thanks for hanging in there with us - I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's!
Posted by Christa Jeanne at 8:53 AM