Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts, Michelle Malkin, and Common Sense

(The news media weren't as inventive as I feared they might be: see Update at the end of this post.)

Let's start with a little quiz:
  • Rachael Ray
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Michelle Malkin
  • Common Sense
What item does not belong with the others?

Dunkin' Donuts decision to pull an ad that Michelle Malkin and (apparently) quite a number of casual observers didn't like is still in the news. "Dunkin' Donuts pulls Rachael Ray ad over 'terror' controversy" (CNN Money.com (May 29, 2008) discusses the matter from a business perspective. [February 16, 2009: This article is no longer available]

And, the journalists are still getting it wrong.

Journalists Quoting Reporters Quoting Columnists?

The CNN article's lead is factual: "The coffee and baked goods chain removes an online spot where Ray wears a fringed black-and-white scarf that critics complain looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress."

CNN also displays a screenshot of the 'terrorist' scarf, which I think is vital in an article about the appearance of something.


(from CNN, used w/o permission)
[February 16, 2009: This image is no longer available]

After that good start, CNN repeats a quote that they claim is from Michelle Malkin's column of May 23, 2008:

"The kaffiyeh, Malkin wrote in a column posted online last Friday, 'has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant [and not-so-ignorant] fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.' "
(from previously cited CNN article)

The only problem is that Michelle Malkin's post, "Of donuts and dumb celebrities" (May 23, 2008), does not contain those words. At least, not in that order.

The nearest approximation to the CNN "quote" is in a comment to the post:

"Look, the kaffiyeh has a *direct* association with Palestinian violent action against Jews and Westerners that goes back at least 40 years. Yassir Arafat himself popularized the use of the keffiyeh in direct conjunction with his terror campaigns. Many, many, many innocent people have been brutally murdered under that black and white emblem".

I'll admit that Michelle Malkin could have edited that passage out after the journalists read it, but I doubt it. If she had re-written her post, that would have been bigger news than the original Rachael Ray / Dunkin' Donuts debacle. The headlines would practically write themselves: "Conservative Columnist Cover-Up," "Malkin Re-Writes Controversial Post."

An earlier claim that Malkin had written that particular claptrap is in an MSNBC article, posted yesterday, which contains a portion of the CNN quote: "popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos." That seems to indicate that both articles are drawing from the same source.

MSNBC might have gotten its material from either of these articles:
  • "Dunkin' Donuts yanks Rachael Ray ad
    (Boston Globe (May 28, 2008))
    "By Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan Globe Staff / May 28, 2008"
    • " 'The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,' Malkin yowls in her syndicated column. 'Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.' "
  • ""Rachael Ray Involved in Keffiyeh Controversy"
    (The Hollywood Gossip (May 28, 2008))
    "Posted at May 28th, 2008 12:55 pm by mischalova
    Filed under: Rachael Ray" .
    • " 'The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,' Malkin wrote in her syndicated column. 'Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.' "
The Boston Globe article does not have a time stamp, as far as I could see, so it's hard to tell which of these actually came first.

Of course, it's possible that CNN, MSNBC, The Boston Globe, and The Hollywood Gossip all got their material, including the ersatz quote, from a source I wasn't able to find.

A Clueless Conservative Columnist and Cultural Awareness

However fictional the details may be, mainstream news got one thing right. Michelle Malkin posted a column that deserves a place in the Clueless Hall of Fame. (If the CHF doesn't exist, it should. Although it would be a crowded place.)

Michelle Malkin clearly wanted her readers to believe that Rachael Ray and Dunkin' Donuts were promoting Palestinian terrorism with a paisley scarf.

She may actually believe that the scarf is a keffiyeh, and have been unable to perceive the obvious differences between the scarf's pattern and that on the keffiyeh worn by Yasser Arafat.

She may even be correct in her assertion that many people on the coasts identify that sort of headgear with terrorism.

But to make the claim that Dunkin' Donuts was promoting terrorism - without checking the facts - showed abysmal judgment, at best.

Back when I was growing up, before Telstar, Michelle Malkin's egregious blunder might have been more forgivable.

And, back then, Rachael Ray's scarf wouldn't have gotten someone's attention. Odds are that, if that photo had been in a magazine, some nut would have taken the trees as cherry trees in blossom - and a symbol of Japanese Imperialism.

These days, particularly with so much attention focused on the Middle East, it's hard not to see dozens, hundreds, of men in the everyday clothing of that part of the world.

Noticing what's seen is something else.

Patterns on the kaffiyeh aren't all alike, and I noticed that men with the same pattern seemed to form groups more often than those with different patterns. My working hypothesis has been that the patterns are similar to the tartans of my Scots ancestors, indicating membership in some kinship group.

I'm impressed, not positively, that Michelle Malkin missed that detail.

I'm even more impressed that, on top of everything else, Michelle Malkin consistently misspelled Rachael Ray's name. According to Michelle Malkin, the Food Network personality's name is "Rachel Ray."

And, I'm embarrassed to admit that I picked up that mis-spelling in my post on this topic yesterday. It's corrected now, except where I quoted from Malkin's column. There, following my standards, I repeated the words of the source: not what I thought the words should be.

Previous post on this topic:

"Rachael Ray and Yasser Arafat? GET A GRIP!"
(May 29, 2008)

More:
Key to the quiz:

Answer to the quiz:
  • Rachael Ray
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Michelle Malkin
  • Common Sense
What item does not belong with the others?

Answer: Michelle Malkin. This conservative columnist didn't do some simple, fast, research before posting that May 23 column. Therefore, her name does not belong in a list that includes the term "common sense."

Mainstream news media didn't do their research, either, but that's another matter.
UPDATE May 29, 2008

Thanks to techfun, a fellow-member of BlogCatalog, who pointed out the actual source of the quote that was being referenced by news articles. It's from a post in Townhall.com: "Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts and the Keffiyeh Kerfuffle "
Townhall.com (May 28, 2008)

That's right: May 28, 2008. Not the May 23 post that reporters seemed to be referring to.

That's a relief. Whatever I think about the habit of reporters and editors to pick which facts they like, and which they don't, I've assumed that what they identified as a facts were, indeed facts.

The possibility that mainstream news media had repeated an unsourced quote - and not bothered to check an online source - was extremely disturbing. I'm glad to see that the quote actually did come from Michelle Malkin.

As for Michelle Malkin's remarks: I still think that she needs to learn that people in other parts of the world 'dress funny,' and that sometimes celebrity endorsements are made by people wearing contemporary fashions.

earthlingorgeous, another BlogCatalog member, had this observation on Rachael Ray's outfit: "It's not a terrorist scarf FYI it's the traditional design and for women to wear it it's called a Krama."

That's from a discussion thread I started: "Rachael Ray, a 'Kaffiyeh,' and a Plea for Help" (BlogCatalog discussion thread (started May 29, 2008)).

5 comments:

techfun said...

Looks like they may have gotten confused between hr blog posts and syndicated column. The quote is there, almost verbatim, in her column yesterday.

The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not so ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities and left-wing icons.

Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts and the Keffiyeh Kerfuffle By Michelle Malkin

Jeff said...

What’s next?

Two words: Rachael Che

http://www.tboblogs.com/index.php/life/comments/yum-o-la-revolucion-rachael-strikeray-strike-che-rocks-a-scarf/

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

techfun,

Thanks for the source - and the link. I'm adding that to the post, since not everyone looks through comments.

I'm relieved that there is a source for that quote. A major concern of mine in this matter was that a number of mainstream news sources were copying an unsubstantiated (and ersatz) quote.

Whatever I think of the biases and editorial habits of journalists - and the people who decide which articles see the light of day - I've always assumed that they checked their facts.

Like I say, it's good to know that there is a source.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Jeff,

Oi.

You could be right.

Brigid said...

Okay, I had to look up Yasser Arafat and Kaffiyeh since I didn't know what either really looked like.

Any idea how a fuzzy fashion scarf worn by a good looking woman got mistaken for this?

http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/03/08/arafat/story.jpg

Doesn't look a think like the scarf Ms. Ray is wearing!

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.