Tag Archives: media

Chart of the Day: The Sean Spicer Show

Mother Jones

Here’s a fun chart from Media Matters:

(Note: I have switched the colors in the graph to the correct red-state-blue-state representation.)

The remarkable thing here is not that President Obama’s press secretary was televised so little. That’s normal. The remarkable thing is that President Trump’s press secretary is televised so much. This is, pretty obviously, not because Spicer is singularly transparent and produces loads of news. It’s because the guy is a train wreck and we can’t look away.

But here’s a question: the standard excuse for this is that Spicer gets great ratings. But does he? I know he did in his first few weeks, but are his ratings still higher than ordinary news? I can’t seem to find any evidence one way or another.

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Chart of the Day: The Sean Spicer Show

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A Vet Turns to Farming to Heal His Wounds

Mother Jones

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Alex Sutton sorts through all of his prescribed medications. His regimen at the time included anxiety medication and pills that helped him deal with depression, nightmares, and low energy issues.

Alex Sutton is a decorated US Army veteran who served three tours in Iraq. Raised by his grandparents in Iowa, he joined the Army at 17, and served 13 years in the military. He has been wounded in combat and received the Purple Heart for his injuries. In 2011, he was honorably discharged and medically retired, and took up residence on an isolated farm in rural North Carolina with his fiancée Jessica. They raise heritage breed chickens, along with some pigs and sheep.

Beyond his physical wounds, Alex carries the weight of serious, and chronic, post-traumatic stress. The couple is dead set on healing his mental wounds through rigorous farm work and the space of time; however, healing from PTSD is a nonlinear process. In Alex’s case, it encompassed periods, even weeks, of progress punctuated with deep periods of depression and the constant fear of flashbacks and nightmares.

It’s a story playing out in similar ways in thousands of homes around the country. More than 393,000 US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD by the Veterans Health Administration. Meanwhile, a majority of US farms are in their last generation with no family members to carry on the tradition—40 percent of farmers are over the age of 65. Groups like SAVE Farm and the Farmer Veteran Coalition are pushing to reintegrate vets into civilian life and the workforce through farming.

The new film Farmer/Veteran follows Alex and Jessica’s story as they attempt to soothe some of the mental wounds of war through agricultural therapy. Farmer/Veteran premieres on Independent Lens Monday, May 29th.

Alex decided to sell some of his tactical weapons as a result of discussions with his psychologist. He has a kid on the way, and he says he is trying to leave the soldier part of his life behind. He will keep a few handguns and hunting rifles, but feels that selling his military style weaponry will help in his recovery.

Alex holds one of the many birds on his farm. Alex and his fiancée Jessica initially raised hundreds of heritage breed birds before the workload became too difficult to manage.

Jessica sits on her four-wheeler as Alex fishes. When he has bad days, he goes down to the pond on the farm to settle his mind and try and calm down.

On the way to a fishing trip on Badin Lake, Alex stops for bait fish.

Alex baits a hook while fishing on Badin Lake. Fishing is one of the few things that can calm his nerves.

A shot pheasant waits to be cleaned at a Patriot Hunts event for veterans from the Airborne and Special Forces communities. Alex served with the 82nd Airborne and has attended a few of these events that bring together vets from the region.

Jessica stands at the bed of the Sutton’s truck after a Patriot Hunts event.

A rifle cartridge sits on a table at the Sutton residence next to a mailer about veteran medical benefits.

Cattle push and bellow in a pen at a livestock auction in rural North Carolina. The Suttons came to try and a buy a cow or two and ended up with two alpacas, which Alex bought on a whim.

Alex and Jessica wait for the birth of their first child. After losing custody of his first daughter (from a previous marriage) after returning from his third tour in Iraq, Alex has always wanted, but feared, the arrival of his first child in his new relationship.

Alex shows his new haircut.

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A Vet Turns to Farming to Heal His Wounds

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These Early ’70s Ads Tried to Convince Kids the US Army Wasn’t Totally Uptight

Mother Jones

In the early 1970s, the US Army had a serious problem with its brand. It was stuck in an unpopular and bloody war. Morale stank; even President Richard Nixon conceded to West Point cadets that “It is no secret that the discipline, integrity, patriotism, self-sacrifice, which are the very lifeblood of an effective armed force…can no longer be taken for granted in the Army.” Plus, Nixon had promised to stop the draft and the Pentagon had agreed to reintroduce an all-volunteer force in 1973. That meant military brass could no longer rely on a steady stream of warm bodies to fill the ranks—they would have go out and convince new recruits that Army life wasn’t a drag.

Iconic and unseen war photos from Vietnam and Iraq AP Photo

So in 1971, the Army enlisted Madison Avenue to help. Not literally Madison Avenue, but N.W. Ayer, a venerable Philadelphia advertising firm that held the Army recruitment account and had coined copyrwriting gems such as “A diamond is forever.” Armed with a $18.5 million budget—a sixfold increase from 1970—would-be Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons started brainstorming ways to sell the Army to a target demographic that had come of age amid peace protests and love beads.

This wasn’t the first time Ayer had tried to convince young Americans that the military got them. In 1969, it created an ad targeting young women titled “The Army needs girls as well as generals.” Beneath a photo of an aging staff officer and his fresh-faced assistant—his hand creepily touching hers beneath a manila folder—the ad gushed about the need for “girls who can keep things moving in the office.” And if the chance to wage bureaucratic warfare in a potentially hostile work environment wasn’t enticing enough, the copy promised the chance to meet “young people who want to go places and do things.”

N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

The generals who oversaw the 1971 Army rebranding project were unimpressed by Ayer’s initial pitches. One rejected concept, described by historian Beth Bailey, featured an image of a chicken wearing dog tags with the tag line “Bye Bye Birdie.” (Sorry, Sal Romano.)

Eventually, the firm sold a reluctant Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland on the slogan “Today’s Army Wants to Join You”—a twist on the old “I Want You for U.S. Army” posters that one ad exec said was meant to evoke “individual expression and changing lifestyles.” (The other branches of the armed services also deployed new slogans to woo the Me Generation: The Navy: “If you’re going to be something, why not be something special?” The Air Force: “Find yourself in the United States Air Force.”)

N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

The resulting youth-friendly campaign featured a variety of print ads published in mainstream magazines such as Popular Science and Field and Stream. Ads aimed at African-Americans ran in Ebony, Jet, and other black magazines. “When was the last time you got promoted?” asked an ad depicting a young African-American woman in an office. There was no mention of doing a general’s paperwork; instead, the ad talked up interesting work—”at the same starting salary our men get.”

N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

The campaign also included TV and radio ads as well as records like the one below. Inconveniently, Bailey notes, the TV spots rolled out just as Lt. William Calley was being tried for his role in the 1968 My Lai massacre. A survey found that the ads didn’t shift young men’s interest in enlisting; some unswayed viewers called them “slick garbage.” The TV campaign ended after three months and its funding was not renewed. But Westmoreland later reported that the short-lived campaign was “eminently successful.”

The external rebranding effort was matched by an internal one. In preparation for the end of the draft, the Army rolled out reforms at a few bases as part of Project VOLAR (Volunteer Army). Changes included an end to reveille and bed checks, fewer inspections and more privacy, and other moves toward easing discipline and breaking down military hierarchy. Commanders could even allow the sale of low-alcohol beer in mess halls and barracks.

Operation Dessert Storm: The military loves giant cakes National Archives

In 1971, a couple of recent enlistees hit the road on their motorcycles on a new kind of recruiting mission. “Rapping with kids on street corners, at dances, at bowling alleys and high schools from New York to Baton Rouge,” according to the Soliders magazine, the duo talked up the perks of the new, laid-back Army. At one high school, Specialist Mike Speegle boasted about his two-person room: “I had black light posters, peace signs, a little styrofoam beer cooler in the corner.”

The changes went all the way to the top. Following “an extensive study of Army policy on haircuts,” restrictions on longer hairstyles, sideburns, and mustaches were eased. A LIFE magazine article on “liberated” Fort Carson, Colorado, reported that the new three-inch haircut rule allowed “enough for a spectacular Afro.” One recruitment ad focused on the new hair policies. “You’ll find that today’s Army is pretty relaxed about how you cut and style your hair,” it read. “You’ll discover that we care more about your head than we do about your hair.”

In 1971 LIFE asked cartoonist Bill Mauldin to view “the new Army” through the eyes of his grizzled World War II dogfaces. Life/Google Books

Soliders

The closest the “Today’s Army” campaign came to acknowledging the Sexual Revolution was an ad that suggested a tour of duty in Germany was a chance to see some action. In it, a GI in civvies and almost-civilian-length sideburns fraternizes with an attentive blonde at what looks like a Parisian café.

N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

A photographer follows soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan—and back. Peter van Agtmael

By the mid-1970s, many of the VOLAR reforms were scrapped. Officers and lawmakers alike worried that the changes, exemplified by the “Today’s Army…” slogan, were indicators of deteriorating post-Vietnam morale and readiness. “Because of slogans like that, and because of the felling that they have beer in the barracks, no reveilles, and things like that, it was perceived by a great many Americans that the Army would be an undisciplined Army,” Secretary of the Army Bo Callaway told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1974.

In 1973, “Today’s Army wants to join you” was replaced with a new slogan, “Join the people who’ve joined the Army.” (N.W. Ayer would later lose the Army account after a kickback scandal.) But the campaign’s basic message—that a stint in uniform was a chance for self-realization rather than mindless submission to conformity—would remain a fixture of future recruitment campaigns, from “Be all you can be” to “An Army of one.”

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These Early ’70s Ads Tried to Convince Kids the US Army Wasn’t Totally Uptight

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Fox Host Claims She’s in Talks to Replace Sean Spicer

Mother Jones

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Is Sean Spicer a dead man walking?

Nearly a week after he survived one of the most tumultuous episodes of the young Trump administration, it appears as though Spicer’s tenure as White House press secretary could be coming to an end. Kimberly Guilfoyle, the co-host of Fox’s The Five, told the Mercury News Tuesday that she is in active discussions with several White House officials about taking Spicer’s job, and she signaled she would accept the position.

“I’m a patriot, and it would be an honor to serve the country,” Guilfoyle told the San Jose-based paper. “I think it’d be a fascinating job, it’s a challenging job, and you need someone really determined and focused, a great communicator in there with deep knowledge to be able to handle that position.”

Though she declined to go into details about her conversations with the White House, Guilfoyle described Spicer as a “patriot” and acknowledged that the role of press secretary was a “very tough position.”

In his short time as press secretary, Spicer has committed numerous gaffes in his attempts to justify President Donald Trump’s policies and erratic behavior, provoking ridicule both in the media and among White House officials. Trump has hardly kept his own disdain for Spicer a secret: According to a recent New York Times report, the president openly talks about replacing Spicer and purposely keeps him in the dark concerning major decisions, such as last week’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

As for Guilfoyle, she appears to be a good fit for the Trump White House. She has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and once suggested that Secret Service agents should “kill” rappers Snoop Dogg and Bow Wow for making disparaging comments about the president.

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Fox Host Claims She’s in Talks to Replace Sean Spicer

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How America Treats Working Moms Like Shit

Mother Jones

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Mothers have always worked in this country, whether out of desire or necessity. But America’s relationship with these employed moms has been fraught from the start. In 1873, a Harvard medical professor claimed that higher education would make young women infertile. During the 1950s, writers, psychiatrists, and psychologists argued that career women had “penis envy,” while John Bowlby’s “attachment theory” was widely misconstrued to mean that moms spending time apart from their kids would cause permanent psychological damage.

Where the emotional appeals haven’t worked, opponents have outright or effectively blocked moms from clocking in by cutting day care programs, firing them for breastfeeding, and refusing them family leave. To this day, the United States remains the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate maternity leave.

As many have pointed out, all moms are working moms, regardless of whether they are paid for their work. But as sociologist Arlie Hochschild put it in her book The Second Shift, mothers juggling housework with a day job enjoy a “double burden.” In time for Mother’s Day, here’s a short history of some of America’s most underappreciated employees.

1800s
Women are legally barred from jobs such as lawyering and working underground based on the notion of “separate spheres“—a women’s should be at home with her children.
1850
The popular magazine Godey’s Lady Book touts piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity as the traits of “true womanhood,” and notes that women “step out of their own path when they attempt to encroach on the proper masculine pursuits.”
1851
Abolitionist Sojourner Truth points out that Godey’s definition excludes black women, who are often obliged to work outside the home to feed their children. “Ain’t I a woman?” she asks.
1869
A shorthanded Treasury Department hires married women including moms to fill positions vacated by Union soldiers. At war’s end, some widows are allowed to keep their jobs—at half the pay men get.
1873
Harvard Medical School professor Edward Clarke argues that higher education makes women infertile.
Turn of the 20th Century postcard

1888
Josephine Jewell Dodge establishes an early nursery school in a New York City slum that is later featured at Chicago’s World Fair. She goes on to start the country’s first national day care organization. Her critics propose an alternative strategy—”mothers’ pensions“—to keep women at home.
1930s
The Depression forces white middle-class moms to look for jobs—the number of married women in the workforce jumps 50 percent—while women of color solicit day labor in so-called slave markets. But “no one should get the idea that Uncle Sam is going to rock the baby to sleep,” the White House declares.
1943
World War II shortages of male workers inspire the first federally funded day care program. But the armistice marks a return to traditional gender attitudes: The day care initiative lapses and career-driven women are described by popular writers as “lost,” “man-hating” or “suffering from penis envy.”

1950s
Employers phase out the “marriage bar“—the legal practice of firing (or not hiring) women who get married. It will be nearly three decades before federal law forbids the boss from firing women for being pregnant.
1951
Psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s “attachment theory” posits that separating a mother from her child causes long-term behavioral difficulties—short separations are fine, he says, but his theory is twisted to make the case that mothers shouldn’t work.
1952
Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy is written into an episode of the sitcom I Love Lucy, but the actors are not allowed to use the word “pregnant” on air—too vulgar, says CBS.

1963
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique gives voice to “the problem that has no name”—the frustrations and disappointments of housewives. Friedan had conceived of her idea as a magazine piece, but no magazine would take it.
Betty Friedan AP Photo/Anthony Camerano

1969
Under disability laws, five states allow female workers paid maternity leave, while others specifically exclude pregnancy as a temporary disability. A federal family-leave law remains decades away.
1970
“I have no objection of a pediatric or psychiatric nature about women going to work,” writes child-development guru Dr. Benjamin Spock: “What I say is that the children are going to have to be reared, and you ought to have women growing up feeling this is important, womanly work.”
Dr. Spock Associated Press

1971
Congress votes to establish federally funded child care centers nationwide, but President Richard Nixon vetoes the bill, saying it works against “the family-centered approach.”
1972
The Equal Rights Amendment, which outlaws sex discrimination, is attacked by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly on the grounds that a women’s place is in the home. (The bill flops.) Betty Freidan dubs Schlafly “Aunt Tom.”
1978
An ad for Enjoli perfume croons, “I can put the wash on the line. Feed the kids. Get dressed. Pass out the kisses and get to work by five of nine. ‘Cuz I’m a wooooman!” Congress passes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, making it illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant—employers must offer her medical benefits equivalent to what other workers get.

1979
Working Mother magazine targets America’s 16 million working moms: “We would like to share in your problems, your concerns for your family—and in your pride.” (It’s still around.)
Working Mother magazine

1989
In The Second Shift, sociologist Arlie Hochschild describes the “double burden” of mothers juggling housework with a day job. Also Child magazine coins the phrase “mommy wars” to describe tensions between working and stay-at-home mothers.
1992
Vice President Dan Quayle attacks TV show Murphy Brown for “mocking the importance of fathers” after the eponymous character, a working journalist, decides to raise her baby alone.

1992
Asked by reporters about allegations that her husband directed business to her law firm while governor of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton responds, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession.” Homemakers are furious.
John Sykes/Liason

1993
The Family Medical Leave Act guarantees maternity leave—but it’s unpaid, and more than half of working women are excluded thanks to exceptions for small businesses and part-timers
1994
Asked how he feels about then-wife Marla Maples (top) working, Donald Trump tells ABC, “I have days where I think it’s great. And then I have days where, if I come home—and I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist—but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.”
1996
Amid backlash against mythical “welfare queens,” President Bill Clinton overhauls the system, forcing single mothers to get a job within two years or lose their federal benefits.
1997
Future Indiana Gov. Mike Pence argues in an op-ed that “day care kids get the short end of the emotional stick” and that children with two working parents suffer “stunted emotional growth.” Also the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, a bill to end discrimination against nursing moms and make companies give women a place they can pump breast milk, dies in committee.
1999

The proportion of moms staying at home rather than working hits a low point of 23 percent. (By 2012, it’s up to 29 percent.)

2003
The New York Times Magazine describes the “opt-out revolution”—highly educated women scaling back their careers to stay home with their kids.
2008
The VP nomination of Sarah Palin, a mother of five, renews debate over work-life balance. “You can juggle a BlackBerry and a breast pump in a lot of jobs, but not in the vice presidency,” one Obama supporter tells the New York Times.
2009
Modern Family premieres on ABC—none of its fictional moms have jobs. Also a Texas woman is fired for asking her boss to let her pump breast milk at work. A (male) federal judge rules the firing is permissible because “lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” protected by law.

2010
The Affordable Care Act mandates work breaks and a private space for new moms to pump breast milk.
April 2012
Mitt Romney defends his homemaker wife: “I happen to believe that all moms are working moms.” Yet earlier, talking about the welfare-work requirements Massachusetts enacted while he was governor, Romney said that even moms with two-year-olds “need to go to work…I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'”
July 2012
Anne Marie Slaughter argues in The Atlantic that women cannot, in fact, “have it all”—kids and a fulfilling career. The problem, she writes, isn’t an “ambition gap,” but rather that America’s workplace culture still doesn’t value families.
Sept. 2012
“At the end of the day,” Michelle Obama tells the Democratic National Convention crowd, “My most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief.'”

2013
In her best-selling book, Facebook bigwig Sheryl Sandberg exhorts women to “lean in” at work. Cultural critic bell hooks eviscerates the book as “faux feminism…brought to us by a corporate executive who does not recognize the needs of pregnant women until it’s happening to her.”
2014
Apple and Facebook offer to freeze employees’ eggs in what critics call a cynical bid to delay childbearing. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, meanwhile, claims she has it harder than office moms who “can come home in the evening.” Retorts a New York Post columnist, “Thank God I don’t make millions filming one movie per year.”
2016
America remains the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave—only 14 percent of working moms can get it through their employers. In a September interview, Ivanka Trump brags to Cosmopolitan about her dad’s maternity-leave plan, calling him “a great advocate for women in the workforce.” But it turns out many Trump Hotels, including Mar-a-Lago, don’t offer paid maternity leave.
Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

2017
President Trump proposes a child care plan and asks Congress to “help ensure new parents have paid family leave.” But a Tax Policy Center analysis concludes that 70 percent of the plan’s benefits would go to families making $100,000 or more. “The devil,” the ACLU notes, “is in the details“—the plan applies only to married birth mothers, making it “as inadequate as it is discriminatory.”

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How America Treats Working Moms Like Shit

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