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September 17, 2004 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-09-17

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In Search Of Truth

Columnist Frank Rich laments the intersection of news and entertainment.


The most refreshing voice in reporting, he
said, getting applause, was Jon Stewart of
Comedy Central's The Daily Show — "the most
trusted voice in fake news," he said quoting a
billboard he'd seen for the TV show.
But he bemoaned the acceptance of partisan
anchors in the real news and said that the retire-
ment of NBC's Tom Brokow this fall was very



. ow did we get from good journalism
to "infotainment" — news that enter
tains, but not always based in reality?
Frank Rich, columnist and associate editor of
the New York Times, explored the changing
presentation of the news at the opening event
of the National Council of Jewish Women-
Greater Detroit Section on Sept. 9 at Adat
Bush And Israel
Shalom Synagogue. Known for his work on
Rich's reply to why Republican Jews aren't con-
culture and politics, Rich, whose mother and
cerned with President Bush's religious beliefs had
grandmother were NCJW members, spoke to
two-part answer.
425 people on "Culture Wars in an Election
"Bush successfully convinced people that
John] Kerry was going to do some-
NCJW, which has a lobbyist in Washington,
to Israel, which is ridiculous,"
supports causes that affect women, children and Grea
ter Detroit NCJW President Sheila Guyer, day chairperson Edie
Rich said.
families, including preserving abortion rights,
Broida and day co-chair Mary Schwartz shmooze with Frank Rich.
But more troubling to Rich have been e-mails
said local president Sheila Guyer. In addition,
received that links Bush rhetoric to the kind
the Detroit section does work ranging from
big success on television, he said. "Now we have a
that Rich criticized in Mel Gibson's
Meals on Wheels to the recently completed playground
monster, with "mediathons" like the O.J. Simpson trial. film The Passion Of The Christ.
in Waterford for all children, including those with spe-
There were also structural changes in the news indus-
Once he criticized the film, Rich said, he would get
cial needs.
try that fed this troubling direction, Rich said. Like
ugly e-mails calling him a "Christ-killer" if he wrote
Mary Schwartz and Edie Broida, both of Farmington when big entertainment companies such as Disney
critically of Bush. "Bush is playing with fire," he said.
Hills, co-chaired the event.
bought news operations like ABC or Time Warner
When asked why Kerry and the Democrats are so
Frank began his talk with examples of disconcerting
bought CNN.
Rich responded, "That's the $64,000 ques-
"Values changed as well as the pressure to keep the
could lose a historic opportunity with a
"A majority of the population still believes [Iraq's]
drama going," he said.
bad economy and a war people don't like. Though
Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9-11.
But some results were inexcusable. Rich criticized his
Kerry's poll numbers are down, Rich added, Kerry is
We have enormous security problems. The viewing
own newspaper and others for not questioning
for being a great closer in politics, coming from
public is fascinated by reality TV when it has nothing
President George W. Bush more carefully at news brief- behind.
to do with reality ... and the president of the United
ings before the war — and passing on misinformation
When asked what citizens can do about the media,
States can stage an event using movie imagery from Top that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
replied, Vote --- Don't watch or buy suspect news
Gun to convince large numbers of people that the war
He concluded that a lot is asked of consumers —
Find and subscribe to honest news brokers and
ended with no causalities — which we learned is not
those interested in the news — to distinguish among
information you get. What's play-acting? What's news?
"Rich made me realize that by watching TV I'm not
The line is blurred, he said, pointing to both the
as informed as I need to be," said Florence Herrmann
News As Mini-Series
Republican and Democratic conventions.
of Beverly Hills, NCJW vice chair for state public
Rich traced the mixing of news with entertainment to
In 1992, Rich learned that the director of the Tony
the first gulf war in 1991 with the advent of CNN that Awards was also the director of the Democratic
"Rich has the ability to analyze and look at cultural
presented news 24-7. "The news turned into a mini-
National Convention. "This year, both conventions
events, and he's also politically astute," said Barbara
series with a logo, theme music, celebrities like U.S.
became slick TV shows," he said.
Tukel of West Bloomfield, a NCJW member. "His
Army General Norman Schwarzkopf and unpaid
A Broadway theater company made the podium that recent column amplified what he said in Detroit, that
experts," he said.
rose at the Republican convention. Both conventions
the best actor — not necessarily candidate — will win
The coverage of the war was weak journalism, but a
were "denuded of spontaneity and too scripted."
the upcoming elections."



Help Hurricane Victims

JARC Sets The Stage

B'nai Kith Great Lakes Region, through the
International Center for Community Action, is
launching an appeal for donations to assist victims of
Hurricanes Charley and Frances.
Persons interested in helping to fulfill the unmet
needs of hurricane victims, after emergency relief
donations have been exhausted, are asked to send
checks, payable to B'nai Kith Disaster Relief Fund, to
B'nai Kith, 6735 Telegraph, Suite 304, Bloomfield
Hills, MI 48301. For information, call B'nai Kith,
(248) 646-3100.

JARC co-chairs for the 24th annual fall fund-raiser,
featuring Thoroughly Modern Millie at Detroit's Fisher
Theatre Oct. 12-13 are Craig Erlich of Southfield,
CEO, StarTrax Events, Southfield, and Robert
Nusbaum of Franklin, president of Legendary
Properties, Birmingham.
The Wednesday, Oct. 13, performance will be sign-
language interpreted.
The Young Adult Pre-Glow party, "Millie's
Speakeasy," is for young adults, ages 21-40. Chairing
the 2004 event are Amy and Jeff Schlussel of

Huntington Woods, Amy and Brian Shapiro of West
Bloomfield and Marla Tapper of Bloomfield Hills.
1 he party will be underwritten by Rock Financial.
Event sponsor is Standard Federal Bank. Event under-
writers include Edward C. Levy Co., Rock Financial,
Staples Business Advantage, and Victor Harder
Ticket prices begin at $60. Information on ticket
prices and purchases is available by calling (248) 538-
6610, ext. 418

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