Droning on, &c.


Last week, the father of one of the victims in the Newtown massacre was testifying about guns. MSNBC edited a video in a way that made it look like an audience member heckled him. MSNBC’s anchor, Martin Bashir, commented, “A father’s grief, interrupted by the cries of a heckler.”

This provoked cries of — well, ideological editing. Which led MSNBC to air the video in full. Good for them: They let people decide for themselves whether heckling had occurred (though they did not acknowledge, in airing the full video, that they had run the fishy one).

A year ago, their parent network, NBC, aired a doctored version of a 911 call placed by George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Travyon Martin case. The object of the doctoring was to make Zimmerman look like a racist. Three employees were fired over that — which was good news.

It may sound treacly to say, but journalism is a public trust, and that goes double for reporting. Triple for reporting that involves corpses.

In recent weeks, I have had occasion to think about Max Kampelman and Benjamin Britten. Kampelman because he died. Britten because I’ve read, and reviewed, a big new biography of him, by Paul Kildea. This is the composer’s centennial year. (His dates are 1913 to 1976.)

Britten has always been lauded for his pacifism, and for being a conscientious objector. (At least I have always heard such lauding.) He was in America from the beginning of the war until 1942. When he returned, he was given a complete exemption from service by his country. He would not even play the piano or something like that for the troops. He considered such service a betrayal of his ideals.


As Kildea says, a tiny number of Britons were granted complete exemption — even a tiny percentage of “conchies,” i.e., conscientious objectors (6 percent). Britten was very lucky.

Kampelman, too, was a pacifist, and a conscientious objector during the war. But he did not do nothing: He volunteered for the starvation experiment at the University of Minnesota (an experiment that would prove helpful in treating former POWs, concentration-camp survivors, and others after the war). He went from 160 pounds to 100.

Later, of course, Kampelman changed his mind about pacifism, and became a reserve officer in the Marines. In the ’80s, he was a Reagan arms-control negotiator.

In any case, two different ways of being a conscientious objector.

As you’ve heard, there will be no Saturday mail. I’ll save my numerous and longstanding beefs with the Post Office for another day. For now, I’ll just say: I’ve never liked not having Sunday mail — though I would not be in favor of Sunday delivery. And I’ll not like going without Saturday mail.

When will they nix Friday? Or Monday?

I saw this headline a couple of days ago: “At 900 years, Knights of Malta confronts modernity.” I thought, “No, no! Can’t you guys hold out another 100 years? Can’t you at least make it to 1,000 before dealing with modernity?”

Incidentally, you will not necessarily want to be interviewed by the reporter (Associated Press) who wrote the story. She begins, “Matthew Festing — aka His Most Eminent Highness The Prince and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta — bounds into the sitting room of his magnificent Renaissance palazzo sweaty and somewhat disheveled, and asks an aide if he should take off his sweater to be photographed.”

Nice, Nicole.

Let’s end with some sports. I’ve always liked Jalen Rose, a lot, and like him even more now. He was a basketball star at the University of Michigan — one of the Fab Five. Those were the guys who took Michigan to great heights in the early 1990s. Rose went on to have a substantial NBA career.

Michigan has a very, very good team once more. And Rose was talking about that team earlier this week, in the presence of a couple of the players. He was comparing the current team with the Fab Five. And he said, “The thing we love about you guys the most is that you’re nothing like us. This guy [meaning, Glenn Robinson III] does a 360 dunk and runs back just like, ‘No big deal.’ I made one shot, and I’m showboating.”

(For the article I’ve quoted from, go here.)

Once upon a time, on the basketball court, I was called “Jalen,” in honor of Rose. Needless to say, I could not live up to the billing. I think I could live up to the showboating, though.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.