Monday, May 22, 2017

BILLIONS OF OFFENSES

You might not believe there's a connection between my daughter entering middle school a decade ago, the recent season finale of a cable drama, and the downfall of journalism. But come wade in the weeds with me, won't you?

In their first day of Current Events, my daughter and her classmates were asked by the teacher to take a quiz regarding their opinions on, among other things, abortion, guns and the death penalty, in order to see if they were Republicans or Democrats.

I thought it a strange, not to mention simplistic, assignment, when she brought it up over dinner that evening. Were these the kinds of topics to bring up with 11 year-olds? By the time I got to dessert (or the third class of Chardonnay), however, it was forgotten.

Andrea Peyser scans a
menu for something that
makes her sick.
Eight weeks later, Andrea Peyser -- the air raid siren that walks like a human -- wrote about the quiz in her New York Post column. In case you've never read her work, Peyser craves to be offended the way a dipso craves a bottle of rye -- and my school had inadvertently gifted her with an entire vintage case of the stuff.

In case you're wondering why this was suddenly news two months after the fact, Peyser timed it to run the day of the school's first parent-teachers meeting. This was like trying to start a war between two other countries who didn't know there was a problem.

My daughter and her friend -- who took the same quiz in a different class -- were appalled not only by the column, but how Fox News amped it that evening up by claiming that kids felt intimidated to answer the questions in the "correct" way. No one, they swore, was pressured to answer in any particular way.

To add insult to injury, the Fox News piece was accompanied by file footage of a suburban school that looked nothing like hers. From that day on, she stopped believing anything she saw on the news. And this was long before the "post-truth" era.

Flash forward ten years to the headline in last Saturday's edition of the Post: Critics outraged over use of 9/11 memorial in ‘Billions’. The piece goes on to say:


The three "critics" quoted by the Post are the mother of a fireman who was killed on 9/11; a fire-science professor at John Jay College; and someone who lives seven blocks from the site. And it took two weeks to find them.

While I'm not going to stop the parent of a first-responder who died at the site from saying what she wants, just what did the other guys do to warrant their opinions? Especially when the sister of one of the Flight 77 pilot was OK with it?

How dare those insensitive bastards from
Billions smile!
I did a Google search to see if there were other "critics" who were "offended." And all I could find were reprints of the article on sites with a few more readers than mine, along with the UK Daily Mail and Fox News -- like the Post, Murdoch-owned businesses.

I have a personal interest in this alleged outrage, because it was one of several episodes of Billions I worked on last season. And I promise you, we were fully aware of the gravity of the location; there was no goofing around that day. If you were able to lip-read what we were saying, you'd have seen us sadly reminisce about 9/11, and how heartbreaking the memorial was.

We learned that Billions was only the second production crew ever allowed to shoot at the Memorial. All of us felt like we were taking part in something special, not some exploitative trash. As the p.a. warned the actors playing the FBI agents, "I can't emphasize this enough: do NOT take your prop firearms of your holsters. The 9/11 Memorial is the last place in America where you want to be seen waving a gun."

I cop to being a fan of the New York Post, and watch the roundtable segment of Fox News' Special Report news program. But goddamn, if they don't like to gin up "controversy" where none exists. They're getting as bad as the lefties who get offended by Halloween costumes, pronouns, and taco bars. C'mon, guys, you're supposed to be better than that!

Well, no they're not, but I didn't want to offend them.

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