Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert of PRESS RUN; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2021, 6:26pm PT  

If you are faint of heart or a Fox "News" viewer, please proceed with caution before listening to today's BradCast, as we mention the very very scary issue of "Critical Race Theory" on today's program. Please call 911 immediately if, at any time while listening, you find yourself hating white people or turning into a gay communist. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

With that warning out of the way (you're welcome!), we start today with a few less amusing matters. First, Los Angeles County is restoring its indoors mask mandate as of this weekend, due to a surge in COVID infections thanks to the Delta variant, largely affecting the unvaccinated.

Then, horrific flooding in Germany and elsewhere in Europe has resulted in a death toll topping 125 as we went to air, with hundreds still missing. Desi Doyen walks us through what happened and why and how, yes, this deadly deluge is related to climate change. In somewhat related news, she also explains some of the science behind the recent headlines you may have seen of late regarding a "moon wobble" that could result in serious flooding problems in coastal areas across the world in the years ahead, as sea level rise due to our climate crisis intensifies along with it.

Next up today, we're happy to lighten the mood. After outrage over Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss failed to have the legs that Fox "News" and the Republican Party had hoped for, they've moved on to CRITICAL RACE THEORY(!!!) as the latest and greatest threat to our children, and life on Planet Earth itself. Since Joe Biden's inauguration, a recent study found, mentions of the obscure issue on Fox have at least doubled each month since. But, like most Americans --- and pretty much every Fox "News" viewer today --- you probably had no idea what Critical Race Theory actually was (and maybe still don't) until Fox started screaming about it and Republicans pretended to be outraged enough about it to actually pass First Amendment-defying laws to cancel its teaching in our schools.

(Fox would also appreciate, very much, if you'd run for your local school boards and demand they stop teaching it as well, before every good white person is "replaced" by a gay black Jewish communist...or something.)

Don't tell Fox or its easily duped viewers, but Critical Race Theory --- a decades old, largely obscure (until now), academic theory that (correctly) argues our nation's long history of systemic racism is now baked into our legal system, economy and society itself --- isn't actually taught in K-12 schools. It's barely taught in colleges and universities for that matter. But, if you turn on Fox "News" these days, you'll learn that it's actually a clear and present threat to our nation and that Joe Biden is now demanding every Kindergartner be indoctrinated to believe that white people are evil and America is bad. Or something.

Of course, all of this is as ridiculous as it sounds and something we have spent many weeks working hard not to waste your time on by covering it, because it's all so stupid. But, as longtime media critic and analyst ERIC BOEHLERT points out again this week in his PRESS RUN newsletter, when the Right gets angry, no matter the cause, non-wingnut media like the New York Times and Washington Post feel obligated to cover the faux fury. But on that, he argues on today's show, they are failing miserably in their coverage.

"The entire Republican Party is in on this," Boehlert explains. "This is how these phony outrages are created, and why the press pretends there's nothing they can do, they have to cover it. If you have the entire weight of the Republican Party, and the weight of a billion-dollar rightwing propaganda media empire and infrastructure all talking about the same thing, the press is defenseless."

"Yes, it is news that the Governor of Florida wants to ban the teaching of a topic in public schools," he rails. "What is also news, and what is also getting ignored, is that this topic is not taught in Florida schools! That should be the second paragraph of every one of these stories! "

"There have been hundreds of these stories. Most of the coverage doesn't even mention that Critical Race Theory is not taught in public schools!" Citing a recent 1,500 word story in the Times headlined "Why is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?", Boehlert notes: "The country is not panicked. Trump voters and QAnon nut-jobs are. Most people don't know what Critical Race Theory is, they can't describe it, and people --- outside of that 30% [Fox] bubble --- are not panicked about it!"

"The real story --- if the press was being transparent and honest --- the real story is that this entire machinery has created this issue around a topic that must be banned, this kind of sorcery that they're depicting Critical Race Theory as, and it's not taught in a single school in this country. If I'm a reporter, and I look at that, I'd say, oh, I see the real story here!"

This sort of rightwing hoax, grievance culture, ginned-up outrage is meant, in this case, to somehow help Republicans in the 2022 mid-terms. It's nothing new. It's now the stock in trade for the post-governance Republican Party. So, how is it that the (theoretically) legitimate media can't seem to figure that out when they cover it? As you might guess, we've got plenty to talk to political media maven Boehlert about on today's program.

Just proceed with caution. We'd hate for anybody to be harmed during the listening of today's BradCast...

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