Thursday, December 22, 2005

News Media Either Cowed or in Cahoots with Religious Right Fringe

Something is mighty fishy about this latest battle in the culture wars -- the claim, receiving a great deal of media attention, that saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" is somehow attacking Christianity. The latest polls show 84% of Americans agreeing that the courts are correct in ruling that "Intelligent Design" does not belong in the science curriculum and I suspect that a similar or higher majority think that saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" in public greetings addressed to groups that include Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and others is simply being polite, sensitive and inclusive.
So why is the news media giving these fringe viewpoints such extensive coverage? For example, the "Quad-City Times" on Wednesday, December 21 published a front page story by reporter Todd Dorman that breathlessly reported that "Most of the nation's governors .... are wishing their constituents a happy holidays even if some were hoping for 'Merry Christmas'" and then going on to name the names, presumably so that voters could take this valuable information into the voting booth with them. At one point the article referred to the governors using generic holiday sentiments rather than the word "Christmas" as "trying to toe a neutral line" as if being inclusive and sensitive was not a natural and normal thing for an elected official.
So what is going on here? I would appreciate any insight anyone could shed on this. It is not as though this is such a slow news period that they need to manufacture issues to report. Is the news media cowed by the religious right and fear a powerful backlash if they try to ignore these issues? Or, as implied by the wording of the article, do these reporters and the editors share this fringe viewpoint? From everything I know about newspaper people that seems unlikely. So what is going on here?

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