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I Jinxed Bill Bennett
By Ed Driscoll · September 30, 2005 09:50 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Oh, That Liberal Media!

Yesterday, I dusted off a John Leo op-ed from two years ago, in which he wrote, "We seem to be in the midst of a campaign to take down high-profile conservatives":

William Bennett went down too, for his over-the-top slot-machine gambling. He did it himself, of course, but the only moral rule always observed in Las Vegas casinos is Thou Shalt Never Reveal How Much the Heavy Roller Hath Lost. That rule was somehow suspended in Bennett's case. The total amount of his losses, $8 million, was somehow fed to the media. Curious, no?
I think I must have inadvertently put the hex on Bill Bennett last night. Today, as you no doubt already know, he was attacked out of context for remarks he made on his radio show. As Nick Schulz, my editor at Tech Central Station writes:
Bill Clinton claimed while he was president that he wanted to have a "national conversation on race." Perhaps he was being sincere. But it's plain from recent events that hardly anyone else in this country really, truly wants to have a "conversation" on this topic. If the mindless, knee-jerk reaction to Bennett's remarks -- including from places like the White House -- is any indicator, no one has any interest in an honest discussion of race.

Perhaps it's nothing new, but we live in a time where uncomfortable truths -- even challenging questions -- are to be shouted down and, if possible, driven from the public square. Harvard University's Larry Summers discovered this recently. Now Bill Bennett is on the receiving end of this same idiotarian nonsense. America is the worse for it. Thank goodness some liberals were honest enough to defend him. Let's hope others see fit to do the same.

Jeff Goldstein also has a great take:
For those of you who wish to dismiss this kerfuffle as the consequence of a soundbite culture about which Bennett, as a political pro, needs to be more cognizant, let me remind you that the way we find ourselves in a soundbite culture to begin with is that we’ve traded context and original intent for brevity and the kind of resignification that comes when an editor decides what to show us is representative of an original utterance. Part of this is the nature of the media beast; which is why it is so important that we be able to trust those who are doing the initial interpreting for us.
Trust the media beast? Sorry, it's going to be quite a while before I do that again.



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