- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Oprah delusion

"Two weeks ago on 'Today,' Rosie O'Donnell announced that she will end her daily talk show when her contract expires in 2002. In the Entertainment States of America, a star may graduate to a movie career, the network may cancel her show, her option may not be picked up, she may be murdered by a stalker at Spago between seasons, but she does not quit television. It is downright un-American.

"Rosie, in short, is planning career suicide, yet she doesn't seem to care. She has credible reasons for wanting to escape the grind of 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show.' She hates fans intruding on her and her kids. She has just struck a deal to take over McCall's that dreariest of women's mags… .

"But the principal reason Rosie seems unbothered by abandoning her show is that she is suffering from The Oprah Delusion. This is the belief that she, like Oprah or Martha Stewart, transcends mere television, that she is a free-standing American institution, and that millions of acolytes will revere her no matter what she does… .

"It's understandable that Rosie has this hallucination. She was supposed to be the Great White Oprah… .

"Rosie's ratings slipped and have now plunged… . Eight million people watch Oprah every day; only 4-and-a-half million see Rosie."

David Plotz, writing on "Rosie O'Donnell: The Great White Oprah," posted Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Fuzzy math

"Domestic violence is a serious subject. President Clinton underlined this during his Oct. 28 radio address when he said, 'In America today, domestic violence is the number one health risk for women between the ages of 15 and 44… .

" 'Every 12 seconds, another woman is beaten. That's nearly 900,000 victims a year.' A dreadful state of affairs, if true. The trouble is that all three of these statements are untrue… .

"Let's start with the every 12 seconds figure. Most obviously, this doesn't even square with the '900,000 a year' figure. If five women were beaten a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day (you get the idea), the sum would be over 2* million, not 'nearly 900,000.'

"But even without this arithmetical carelessness, the figure still doesn't add up. The total number of violent incidents recorded by the FBI in 1999 was 1,430,693. That's about one every 22 seconds. Domestic violence is underreported to the authorities, certainly, but can it really be so underreported as to make it more common than the total number of all violent crimes?"

from "Domestic Violence Deja Vu," in the November issue of Vital Stats

Lost leadership

"When we see the Rev. Jesse Jackson once again descend on Florida, once again turn Democratic talking points into a bad poetry of protest ('it's the count, not the clock'), and once again arrange black faces around himself in a crescent of indignation, it is clear that a very familiar lever in our political culture is being pressed.

"Mr. Jackson is doing something that he is conditioned to do. When he and other civil-rights leaders press this lever, they are invariably rewarded with two things: an exceptionalism that excuses blacks (and in this case, Democrats as well) from rules that others must live by, and the license to meet a less-demanding standard than others must meet.

"This is the lever that often licenses blacks to meet a lower standard in college admissions, or that wins them a $176 million discrimination settlement from Texaco when no discrimination has been proven, or that chalks up weak academic performance in black students to 'subtle forms of racism.' It is the same lever that Mr. Jackson now presses to turn black misvoting in Florida into 'disenfranchisement.' …

"At no time in American history have blacks suffered from a leadership so lost, and so absurd."

Shelby Steele, writing on "When the Going Gets Messy, There's Jesse," in Friday's Wall Street Journal

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