Boston Dailies (wait for it) Diverge on Gates-gate

April 24, 2015

From our Late to the Ancestral Party desk

The current Henry Louis Gates Jr./Ben Affleck/PBS/Sony Entertainment/WikiLeaks rumpus over the excising of Affleck’s slave-owning ancestry from Gates’s documentary series Finding Your Roots got very different play in Thursday’s local dailies.

Let’s let the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr set the scene.

Lessons in inconvenient truths

Affleck revelation shows that nothing stay hidden nowadays

This week’s celebrity tempest in a teapot is brought to you by Ben Affleck, Henry Louis Gates Jr., PBS, and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Oh, and WikiLeaks, which, if it had hands, would be rubbing them together 8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-8917b9a34d2c47788d1664887d6c02e1-0in adolescent glee.

The website, whose editor in chief, Julian Assange, is still living in political asylum at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, recently released tens of thousands of documents left over from the Sony hack late last year — the ones that the original hackers (North Koreans or whoever; the jury’s still out) hadn’t bothered to make public. Among those memos is a back-and-forth between Harvard professor Gates and Lynton about whether to expose the fact that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves on Gates’s PBS documentary series, “Finding Your Roots.”

 

Affleck asked Gates to omit that part of his ancestry. Gates turned for guidance to Lynton, who said “all things being equal, I would take it out.” But Gates clearly knew it would be wrong to do so, telling Lynton that if the issue ever became public, “It would embarrass [the star] and compromise our integrity. . . . Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Well, consider it lost, Henry, since you did omit the Affleck family’s slave-owning past and, according to the lamest press statement since Mark Sanford hiked the Appalachian Trail, “focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry.”

Uh-huh.

Burr’s conclusion: “The stain isn’t that Affleck had ancestors who owned slaves. It’s that he thought we’d think less of him — or his celebrity brand — if we knew. And now, poor schmo, we do.”

A Globe editorial also spanked Affleck: “This Cambridge homeboy needs a reality check. You can edit truth out of movies, but not out of family history.”

Actually, it’s the Boston Globe that needs a reality check.

The issue here isn’t Ben Affleck, who did what most people might instinctively do. The issue is Skip (Journalism 101) Gates.

And the Boston Herald’s Mark Perigard nailed him on it in Thursday’s edition.

‘Roots’ censorship shows host Gates has got to go

Faces of America

Stop stalling, PBS.

You know what needs to be done.

Either cancel “Finding Your Roots” or fire host, executive producer and Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr.

 

As Perigard notes, Gates could have used this whole kerfuffle as a “teachable moment.”

He could have reminded [Affleck] he is not responsible for the sins of his ancestors.

He could have appealed to his ego and told him his reputation would only be enhanced by 
acknowledging this shameful bit of family history.

He could have informed him that previous guests — including Anderson Cooper, Derek Jeter and Ken Burns — have discovered slave owners lurking in their family trees.

Most critically, Gates should have recognized his own obligation to the truth.

 

But he didn’t.

The great Henry Louis Gates Jr. tried to cover his ass.

And, as Mark Perigard says, his ass should now be fired.

(More, no doubt, to come as we head downstairs for today’s papers.0

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Supreme Difference Between the Local Dailies

March 28, 2013

As you would expect, both Boston dailies today report on yesterday’s Supreme Court DOMA hoedown.

Boston Herald:

Donald B. Verrilli Jr., Charles J. Cooper, Theodore Olsen, David Boies,A boost for gay marriage: Justices question US law

WASHINGTON — Concluding two days of intense debate, the Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it could give a boost to same-sex marriage by striking down the federal law that denies legally married gay spouses a wide range of benefits offered to other couples.

As the court wrapped up its remarkable arguments over gay marriage in America, a majority of the justices indicated they will invalidate part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — if they can get past procedural problems similar to those that appeared to mark Tuesday’s case over California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Since the federal law was enacted in 1996, nine states and the District of Columbia have made it legal for gays and lesbians to marry. Same-sex unions also were legal in California for nearly five months in 2008 before the Proposition 8 ban.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more-liberal justices in raising questions Wednesday about a provision that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal law.

 

Boston Globe:

164726423Most justices voice skepticism on marriage act

WASHINGTON — A majority of Supreme Court justices expressed deep skepticism Wednesday about a federal law denying benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples, conveying after two days of historic testimony on the institution of marriage a sense that they would declare the law unconstitutional.

During oral arguments over a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ticked off some of the 1,100 federal benefits the law denies to gay couples who have been legally married in Massachusetts and eight other states: They are not guaranteed family medical leaves, cannot collect spousal Social Security benefits, and cannot file joint federal tax returns and receive a marital deduction.

“With that set of attributes, one might well ask, what kind of marriage is this?” said Ginsburg, interrupting an attorney who argued the law does not violate states’ rights.

As a result of the law’s regulations, Ginsburg added, the nation is left with two classes of marriage: “Full marriage and this sort of skim-milk marriage,” she said, drawing laughter from the packed courtroom.

 

Same story, different details. What does distinguish the two papers, though, is where they turn for sidebar material.

Globe:

Excerpts: ‘Sea of Change’

‘There has been a sea change’

On why President Obama is still enforcing the law if he believes it is unconstitutional (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.):

ROBERTS: If [President Obama] has made a determination that executing the law by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, “Oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.’’

On the question of whether the definition of marriage should be a federal matter (Justice Anthony Kennedy and Paul Clement, the lawyer representing the House Republican leadership in defending the law):

KENNEDY: You are at, at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody.

CLEMENT: First of all, the very fact that there are 1,100 provisions of federal law that define the terms ‘‘marriage’’ and ‘‘spouse’’ goes a long way to showing that federal law has not just stayed completely out of these issues. It’s gotten involved in them in a variety of contexts where there is an independent federal power that supported that.

 

And etc.

Herald:

Picture 3

 

And there’s more where those came from – Beyoncé, Ben Affleck, Joe Kennedy 3.0, and etc.

Check it out for yourself.