Thursday, February 16, 2012

The lesson of the turkey sandwich

Recently, I commented on a story out of North Carolina that involved a pre-schooler's brought-from-home lunch and the decision on the part of someone at the West Hoke Elementary School that this lunch was not sufficiently nutritious, thus requiring the school to supplement it with some chicken nuggets. That's the short version.

The long version includes the USDA standards for school lunches, actual North Carolina State rules concerning lunches brought from home, the issue of who was doing the lunch inspection, and the the school's decision to at first charge the parent for the cafeteria lunch then later rescind that decision. But let's not dwell on those minor points.

Instead, let's look at the consequences of this admittedly minor story. On one side of the ideological fence are people who find the incident troubling, who see an overreach on the part of government through the school system, and who fear this story may just be the tip of an iceberg, so to speak. On the other side of the ideological fence are, well, people who just don't want to talk about this story, either because they don't see a problem here, or for some other reason.

Allow me to submit that the "other reason" is--in many cases--fear. Fear that even admitting to this story's mere existence will cost them something within their own world-view; fear that maybe, just maybe, their ideological foes are right on this issue, even if it is a very minor thing. But that's the trouble with "minor" things like this. They're always minor on their own, but add to the volume of incidents offered as evidence of increasing government overreach and involvement in people's daily lives.

As to whose world-views are in jeopardy, part of that answer is crystal clear: the liberal-oriented mainstream media. Do a google search for "turkey cheese sandwich" in "News," see what you find. As of the writing of this piece, there are currently some 117 stories on this incident. Exactly none of them are on CNN. Or on, or on, or on, much less at the New York Times, WaPo, or other leading media sites. There is a story at HuffPo, to be fair, but aside from FoxNews, local entities, and right-leaning magazines/blogs like Hot Air and NRO, this story is just not being covered.

And that just can't be argued away with a "well. it's not much of a story." It's too easy to sell, from the perspective of the media: "food cops take preschooler's turkey sandwich," or some such thing. The story need not have a political angle, at all. But you won't see it on MSNBC, unless some sort of "gotcha" moment emerges, that allows the story to be used as a means of embarrassing the people who thought it deserved some attention.

And frankly, that's a big problem. I think it goes the other way, too: conservative sources avoiding little stories that are crowd-pleasers for the left. Still, the great majority of the media--the people that work in it, that write stories, that make daily decisions on what to cover and what not to cover--lean left. They always have and always will, for a variety of reasons.

So it's worth quoting the words of the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, from 1737 on this occasion:
The stage, my lords, and the press, are two of our out-sentries; if we remove them, if we hoodwink them, if we throw them in fetters, the enemy may surprise us.
The lack of a story is--in this case--the real story. And its a very clear warning sign, as well.

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. Would this also explain the dismissing of individual cases of botched home invasions, shooting of pets and innocents, and the planting of drugs as "isolated incidents" in the War on Drugs? Stories of children ending up on sex offender registries, police brutality, corruption and coverups as not indicative of a growing police state, but simply the failings of individual actors?