Open Debate, Rula Jebreal, and MSNBC

Rula JebrealYou know my general feelings about MSNBC. It has become too much of a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. And like the Democratic Party, it lacks backbone and shows no loyalty whatsoever. This was clear when they fired Alec Baldwin, whose show wasn’t all that good anyway, but it was certainly better than Lockup that it replaced and was replaced by. Then there was the totally unacceptable firing of Martin Bashir. The network has the same non-offensive air that many people hate about the Democratic Party. It is also the reason that politicians like Ted Kennedy and Alan Grayson stand out.

Well, it would seem that MSNBC does have a backbone after all. It is just the backbone of top management and what they really care about. This was totally on display with the firing of MSNBC commentator Rula Jebreal. Her firing was the result of attacking the network’s biased coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. What’s shocking is that she said it on Ronan Farrow’s show—who would have known anyone actually watches that show? This immediately caused her booked appearances on a number of upcoming shows to be canceled.

Max Blumenthal at AlterNet has all the details, “Witch Hunt”: Fired MSNBC Contributor Speaks Out on Suppression of Israel-Palestine Debate. Jebreal said that she has been complaining in private to the network for the last two years with no change. What she said on the air was not different than what she has been saying privately. Blumenthal continued:

An NBC producer speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed Jebreal’s account, describing to me a top-down intimidation campaign aimed at presenting an Israeli-centric view of the attack on the Gaza Strip. The NBC producer told me that MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC executives are micromanaging coverage of the crisis, closely monitoring contributors’ social media accounts and engaging in a “witch hunt” against anyone who strays from the official line.

When Chris Hayes had her on to discuss the firing, he did not do himself proud. He defended the network and said that of course it was going to protect its “stars.” This is in reference to Jebreal specifically mentioning Andrea Mitchell. But as Blumenthal noted, “MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough has publicly attacked fellow MSNBC hosts and slammed the network for its support for the Democratic Party.” Of course, I’m sure that gold ol’ Joe speaks for the top management at MSNBC. They have a quasi-liberal network because there is an audience for it; it doesn’t make them liberal. And clearly Rula Jebreal got too far outside their comfort zone.

My experience with MSNBC’s recent coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict is that at its best, it is even handed. It’s usual coverage is highly biased toward Israel. What’s especially terrible about this coverage, however, is that it is better than the networks, not to mention Fox News. What is considered balanced coverage in America is that this all started with some extremists kidnapping three Israeli kids and killing them. This eventually led to Hamas firing rocks into Israel, who had to respond and ain’t it sad that so many Palestinians are getting killed. So the start of the narrative is arbitrary and picked to favor Israel. And in a horrific irony, the people who killed those kids either did it hoping for financial gain and not as a political act (and thus weren’t extremists but just criminals), or did it as a political act hoping it would lead to what is happening right now.

Regardless of any of this, the firing of Jebreal shows a fundamental weakness in MSNBC. She was a commentator, not a reporter or an anchor. She’s supposed to have opinions. And she’s the only one that was willing to voice this particular opinion. It was a great opportunity to address the issue. But MSNBC, because it is both timid and disloyal, just shut down the conversation. But if you want good coverage on just about anything, but especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, you should be watching Al Jazeera America.

See also: Dehumanizing Iranians and Jews.

Carl Jung

Carl JungOn this day in 1875, the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was born. When I was kid, I loved Jung. His work was so interesting. Freud seemed so bizarre to me, although there were things I liked about his work. But what I liked most about Jung was that he didn’t focus on dysfunction. He provided a description of why people were the way they were without necessarily labeling it as abnormal.

My favorite work, of course, was Psychological Types. Not only does it cover his whole system, but it provides a great deal of background information. He looked at other writers who had classified people into different types, “There are two kinds of people in the world…” What was especially nice about his system was that he didn’t classify types as normal and abnormal. That was especially important regarding introversion and extroversion, because introverts had long been labeled as damaged.

Now, of course, with the Myers-Briggs test books on the subject are everywhere. But they’ve also changed the theory somewhat. I don’t mind that, but it is interesting. Jung wasn’t some kind of oracle. And Jung thought that women were always (or nearly so) feeling types and mean thinking. That’s clearly not the case, although there does seem to be a strong tendency in that direction. I just took the HumanMetrics test and it said I was an INFP, although I am just as likely to come out as an INTP. Not that this necessarily means anything. I know the types are a model of how people are, but I’m not that sure of how fundamental they are. But it does explain to me why many (even most) perfectly nice people see the world so differently than I do.

Jung’s greatest work is undoubtedly The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. But it is overwhelming. Again, I don’t necessarily accept it. In particular, I don’t acception the notion of a collective unconscious. But we do share archetypes that are ingrained from our evolution. I have no doubt that the other great apes share some of the same ones, and probably also sparrows and frogs. The book itself is very interesting in the the way that Jung uses eclectic knowledge to pull the theory all together. But one must be very careful with Jung, because he was very good at that kind of thing, regardless of the truth. But there is no doubt that there is at least a core truth to it.

When I was young and fearful of death, I took a great deal of comfort in Jung’s answer to whether he believed in God, “I know.” At this point, I’m not even sure what he meant. He was a mystic. And as a fellow mystic, I could easily answer that question in the same way, without it being in the least bit comforting to my frightened young self. The question is too vague. What is meant by “God”? I would be interested in hearing Jung’s answer to the question, “Do you believe a God that loves you?” That’s where we would potentially part company. But it is regardless a very good answer to the question, because he took a very boring question and made it interesting.

Happy birthday Carl Jung!