News 9 Runs Biased Segment

A recent article calling on the University of Oklahoma to end its Women Studies program is nothing but an academic hack job, and News 9 in Oklahoma City should be ashamed for running a segment on it.

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It shows you, once again, how the corporate media frames issues with an ultra-conservative slant in this place.

In a recent article, published by the archconservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Jennifer Roback Morse, a former economics instructor who is now a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, argues, “There is no legitimate reason why taxpayers should support an academic program—the Women’s Studies program at the University of Oklahoma—devoted to women and the promotion of the feminist ideology.”

But here’s the deal: The article is really not about the OU program specifically. The article is based on some opening remarks Morse gave at a debate at the University of Virginia in March. As you can easily see, Morse’s OCPA article and the opening remarks are pretty much verbatim, except for simple references to the OU program. Did the News 9 people even read the article?

But News 9, for whatever reason, thought it was important enough to do a piece on the article. The segment included remarks from a member of the OU Women’s Studies program. This person actually had to defend it from some right-wing quack who doesn’t even mention anything specifically about its program. The piece appeared on the site, of course, because The Daily Oklahoman is against women’s rights as well.

What a deal for OCPA, a local right-wing extremist group devoted to the complete corportization of our culture. They run this innocuous junk from an outside, right-wing kook, and it ends up on a local television station as “Serious News.” News 9 even called OCPA “a local research group.” What a joke. This is a blatant lie and should be corrected, but don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile, Oklahomans have to defend a program that has tremendous validity while the corporate media simple ignores the arguments of progressives.

Morse’s basic arguments about women’s studies programs are they are no longer useful because women now have equal standing in our culture and because more women than men now attend college. These programs, she also argues, promote feminism, which has been a “disaster for men and women alike.”

Morse, of course, doesn’t address her opposition in the article or consider these arguments:

(1) Despite what one might think about current state of women’s rights in the United States, women still face terrible oppression in many parts of the world. A recent video clip circulating on the net, for example, shows a 17-year-old Kurdish girl getting stoned to death for violating her village’s marriage rituals. Throughout many parts of the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere, women remain second-class citizens and face tremendous difficulties in their lives because of gender. American universities should absolutely take on the major role of fighting female oppression throughout the world. Women Studies programs are a sensible and intelligent way to combat this oppression.

(2) The history of female oppression here in the United States and throughout the world, is an important story that, like American slavery, needs to be studied and told over and over. Will there come a time when such studying or retelling is not useful? Certainly, the time is not here when we just call the women oppression issue solved and finished and move on. That’s ludicrous.

(3) Morse’s point about the declining enrollment of men and the rising enrollment of women in American universities is off the money as well. Yes, this is a recognizable and important issue, and Men Studies programs may well be useful to determine root causes, but for unmotivated young men and their apologists like Morse to blame women’s studies programs for men’s lack of interest in going to college is lame and weak. Morse is like that annoying, overbearing mother whose lazy son can do no wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault. I can remember when the GOP actually claimed to promote personal responsibility. That seems like such a long time ago, doesn't it?

What’s telling about this article and the local coverage is how well the right-wing corporate media and right-wing think tanks work together to give Oklahomans a distorted view of the world. And it’s so ironic on a colossal business level! Think about it. These young men not attending college these days will not read the newspaper online or follow the news. It will be the young women who might take a class or two in a university women’s studies program that you would think now form the target group for the corporate media. You know, these are the people who read, think, argue, and take an interest in the world around them.

You would think the suits would get it, but they don’t, not here in Oklahoma, anyway.