Judging by the media behavior at the First International Conference on Men’s Issues, the torch of Woodward and Bernstein wasn’t passed, it’s been dropped!
What’s with this recent crop of journalism-school graduates, anyway? Where’s the sparkle in their eyes and the fire in the bellies? Where’s the eagerness to challenge conventional thought? Or dig deep to uncover a truth that inspires so much moral outrage that the story demands to be heard? Rather than challenge the current narrative against men’s issues, this batch of Pulitzer Prize nopefuls seemed content to simmer in their moral outrage, harshly judging something that is of great importance … and completely beyond their ability to understand.
Take the guy from ANIMAL – Bucky Turco is his name. After asking me if I wanted to be interviewed, I said, “Why not?” and told him why I was at the conference, and even shared a bit of my divorce/custody experiences with him, as well as other topics I’ve written about here. Things were going well, I thought, until Bucky said, “C’mon! Everybody knows that men have all the power.” The notion that this spurious claim somehow invalidates all the things that the esteemed panel members were discussing was not only foolish, it’s patently absurd. In the end, I’m glad he didn’t use my quotes or my picture in his so-called coverage, which was nothing more than a pathetic post-feminist male’s attempt at Hunter S. Thompson, and not a very good one at that. In his piece–where he also confuses the press conference for the main event–he even claims that the death threats AVfM members received weren’t true. How would he even know this? The letter from Shannon Dunavent and the Doubletree Hilton people and the thinly-veiled Facebook threats were enough that anyone who takes security seriously knows you can’t just laugh it off.
Would anyone have laughed if there were threats to a women’s conference? Rhetorical question; I already know the answer.
Moving on, “thinly disguised rage” is how I’d describe the overall attitude of MSNBC’s Adam Serwer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to interview me or throw down in a cage fight, UFC-style! He stood at an angle, jaw tightened, hand clenching, and eyes blazing, as he forced questions through pursed lips in a cold, terse manner. I tried my best to both answer him and keep an eye on his fist as it balled up tighter and tighter, practically shaking in his revulsion. It was as if speaking with me somehow betrayed his probable “progressive” (read: radical feminist) indoctrination. To his credit, he asked some thought-provoking questions of the panel, though it’s clear that he didn’t even consider what they had to say in reply. Suffice to say, his coverage of the event was as far from objective as Pol Pot was from democracy.
Last but not least was my conversation with the guys from VICE. They got a few sound bites off me about why I was at the conference and my issues with the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA) before I decided to cease the interview halfway through. The reporter and cameraman were doing a good good cop/bad cop routine, with the reporter being a little too good at bad cop. He seemed much too eager and impatient for my liking. To be honest, I suspected a hack job—one that would likely do damage to both John P. Ribner and AVfM—so I bailed. True to form, the reporter did not take kindly to this; since I didn’t appreciate his abrupt manner, I guess this makes us even. Their report is the only one I haven’t read yet and admittedly, there’s some fear on my part; this experience with VICE was actually on the day of the press conference, the day before the main event, and I’m told by others who were there that the VICE people calmed down and became more professional and reasonable with others, so I’d like to see how it all turned out and if they do a better job than those from Time, The Washington Post, and MSNBC.
Despite my unique experiences, I enjoyed the conference. It gave me the opportunity to meet Paul Elam and Dr. Tara Palmatier, two people whose work I’ve admired for a while. It also gave me an opportunity to see how my brothers and sisters in the “dead trees and ink” club would cover this important event. Being a former newspaper reporter and current magazine writer, I was quite interested to see how these youngsters—no doubt the products of our increasingly failing education system—would treat the subject matter. Would they be fair and objective, the goal of any reporter worth his or her salt? Or would they simply take the easy way out and jack a few details into their venomous diatribes that reflected their own political beliefs and cognitive biases.
After reading what they had to write, let’s just say that I’m not impressed.