Thursday, January 26, 2017

Guest Column - About Mary

“You’re gonna make it after all...” With those words ringing in our ears, we of a certain generation sat and prepared to watch Mary Richards make it through another 30-minute episode of her life. It was a Saturday night ritual, that CBS line-up featuring Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett. And it made a big impact on our lives, who we were and who we became in future years.

It may be difficult to understand how a television show, or several television shows could have such a big effect. After all, it’s just TV, right? Aren’t there hundreds of shows to choose from to watch? Yes, in today’s world. But in the 70s, TV was different. There still were the idyllic shows set in small towns where all the problems of the world were neatly wrapped up in 30-minutes (including commercials). But as the 60s melted into the 70s, television moved more and more toward reflecting “real life”, taking a look at society and bringing it into our living rooms nightly.

I suppose Norman Lear probably was the leader of this movement with All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Good Times, Maude, and what seems like dozens of other shows. But to this then-teenager sitting on the brown and tan plaid sofa in the den, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was it. Who didn’t want to go out and become a successful working woman with a beautiful apartment, gorgeous clothes, and supportive co-workers? Could I really have that? The “reality TV” of the 70s made it seem so.

Feminism? Perhaps, but only in today’s lexicon. It wasn’t strident, it wasn’t overbearing and bossy (like Maude) – Mary was working at what she loved, having fallen into the job via true serendipity. She applied for a secretary’s job and voila, Mary instead becomes an associate producer (at $10 less a week than the secretarial job paid)! “If you can get by on $15 less a week, I’ll make you a producer,” Lou Grant tells her. “No, no, I think all I can afford is associate producer.”

Over the years, as Mary Richards grows more confident in her work and (in my opinion) earns the title “journalist”, we of that certain generation learned that most jobs didn’t have to be divided into “male” or “female”. Look! Barbara Walters and Leslie Stahl reporting network news! On local TV, Judy Licht, Rose Ann Scamardella and Pat Harper. Jane Tillman Irving, Mary Gay Taylor, and Irene Cornell on the radio (yes, I grew up in the NYC suburbs). The fictional Mary Richards was daily reality. It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t be a broadcast journalist, only that I wanted to be.

With the news of the death of Mary Tyler Moore, I wonder how often she may have thought about how her character was a trailblazer. Heck, she herself was one (along with then-husband Grant Tinker) founding MTM Enterprises. I’ve read all of Mary’s books and many articles about her and I don’t think she ever considered herself a feminist. In a 2013 PBS show, Moore said she turned down an invitation to join the feminist movement. “I believed, and still do, that women have a very major role to play as mothers. It’s very necessary for them to be with their children."  
Moore continued, "That’s not what Gloria Steinem was saying. She was saying you can do everything and you owe it to yourself to have a career. I really didn’t believe that.” The Mary Tyler Moore Show may have coincided with a rise in feminism, but I am glad that the role model for Mary Richards was not Gloria Steinem.

Are any of today’s TV programs influencing the future of young viewers? I’m hard-pressed to think of one. Maybe the 70s were a more magical time, a time when TV shows were more encouraging, enlightening, and uplifting than today’s reality or fictional escapism. With only four or five channels back then, you had to get up off that plaid sofa to switch to another show. But that sofa certainly complimented the gold shag carpeting that Mary Richards had in her apartment.


Cassie Wilson
Broadcast Journalist/Writer

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies

It was announced today that the thirty-five year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning has been Presidentially commuted. Barack Obama deserves no credit for this, he's only planting land-mines for Donald Trump.When she is released in May (no, I don't know why the delay), she will have served seven years, during which she was confined in such an inhumane manner that she went mad and tried to kill herself more than once. Knowing the mentality of jailers as we do, we can only imagine the other ways that she was intimidated and tortured by corrupt "corrections" personnel, acting under the scoundrel's excuse of patriotism.

Naturally, all of the conservatives in the New Media are going fully as ape-shit as they accuse their unhappy anti-Trump opponents of going. They are absolutely beside themselves (and kind of funny to watch), with self-righteous indignation because a very humble and vulnerable Army private did their job for them.

She paid the price. Manning was tried and imprisoned for releasing 750,000 secret government documents, many of them detailing dubious or illegal government activity, not to some enemy, but to Wikileaks, and thus to the entire world, including the very individuals who are forced, every year, at implicit IRS gunpoint, to pay for them. In a democracy, supposedly comprised of self-ruling people, the government _has_ absolutely no right to secrecy, or else how will these self-ruling people know what decisions to make?

And before anybody's knee jerks, and he brings up the favorite alibi of hip-pocket tyrants and armchair dictators everywhere, this is _especially_ true of the so-called "representative republic" that America is loudly advertised to be. where, again supposedly, We The People hire politicians, and they hire bureaucrats to make these decisions for us. I don't recall ever consenting -- in a Jeffersonian sense -- to such a corrupt system. How can any of us vote informedly, if politics itself is cloaked in guilty secrets? Isn't that exactly how we got stuck with an evil administration that, in 1941, enticed a fairly stupid enemy into providing us with an excuse to destroy them? Isn't that how an equally evil regime faked an incident that led to 60,000 American deaths in Southeast Asia? And how about those "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq? Representative republicanism is a complete and total hoax.

A murderous hoax.

In a colossal example of the Catch-22 phenomenon, rivaling the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem witch trials in its evil absurdity, at Manning's "trial", the government was unable or unwilling for all-too-convenient "security reasons" to name any identifiable individual whose life was endangered by the information she released. Had they been committing war crimes, as at Abu Ghraib, was she supposed to keep her mouth shut about that? And in any case, in this enlightened era of an all-volunteer military, there is presently nobody out there in the field who was forced to be there at gunpoint. The risk of having one's ethical shortcuts embarrassingly exposed is simply a new one to add to the list of consequences of going in Harm's Way.

It is the very depth of churlishness to condemn Chelsea Manning as a criminal or traitor. She was, in fact, fulfilling her military oath far better and more faithfully than those she worked for. If Obama hadn't dirtied it by giving it, like a Crackerjack prize, to Joseph Biden, she deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom (as do Julian Assange and Edward Snowden). As it is, we welcome Manning back into civilization and only hope that others will be as civilized as she is.


L. Neil Smith
The Libertarian Enterprise