MARY REICHARD, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of our program!
Today, we’re recording live from beautiful Asheville, North Carolina where we’ve been all week on WORLD’s staff retreat.
On the program today for Culture Friday, our editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky on Reforming Journalism.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today, Megan Basham reviews a provocative new documentary called “No Safe Spaces.”
And listener feedback from our live audience here in Asheville.
REICHARD: It’s Friday, October 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Welcome!
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Defense secretary blasts Turkey over Syria invasion » Defense Secretary Mark Esper came down hard on Turkey during a speech in Brussels on Thursday.
He blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for forcing the United States to choose between two allies.
ESPER: Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation. I think the incursion was unwarranted. I think President Erdogan was fixated on making this incursion, for one reason or another. And there was not a possibility that we were going to start a war with a NATO ally.
Esper also said Turkey is moving away from its ties with Western nations as it draws closer to Russia. But, he said, that doesn’t mean we should widen the gap.
ESPER: I think we all need to work together to strengthen our partnership with Turkey and make sure they trend back to being the strong, reliable ally—responsible ally—that they’ve been in the past.
But the Turkish offensive in northern Syria shows no signs of slowing. The state news agency in Damascus reported that Turkish fighters attacked Syrian forces on Thursday.
Both sides claim they are abiding by a ceasefire agreement that divides up a 19-mile wide strip along the border.
Lawmakers pay tribute to Cummings at Capitol » AUDIO: [Sound of choir singing]
A church choir sang in the old House chamber at the Capitol Thursday as lawmakers paid their respects by the flag-draped casket of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings.
The longtime Maryland Democrat was the first African-American lawmaker to lie in repose at the Capitol.
Several of his colleagues shared their memories, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. He recalled protests and riots in Baltimore in 2015 when Cummings walked the streets of his hometown, bullhorn in hand, calling for peace.
MCCONNELL: Here’s what he said: Let’s go home. Let’s all go home. And now our distinguished colleague truly has gone home.
Demcratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also paid tribute.
HOYER: In much the same way he saw poverty in Baltimore and elsewhere and worked to alleviate it, he saw injustice and worked to make our country more just.
Cummings was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He died October 17th from long-standing health problems.
California wildfires spread » Wildfires in California exploded in size Thursday, prompting officials to order mandatory evacuations.
Authorities ordered at least 40,000 people to evacuate as wind-driven fires rage north of Los Angeles.
And in Northern California, officials ordered evacuations in Geyserville in the Sonoma County wine country.
Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to about half a million people late Wednesday to stop more fires from starting. High winds and low humidity have created the perfect conditions for fast-moving fires.
Some customers complained about the inconvenience of blackouts. Others were grateful for any efforts to avoid more damage.
CALIFORNIA: I know some people have been upset but for me, I just remember how scary it was when the fires did happen and I kind of see it as I would rather take the precaution.
Fire officials have blamed power company equipment for starting several fires in recent years. They caused billions of dollars in damage and killed dozens of people.
British PM seeks early election to break Brexit impasse » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling for an early general election in the UK. With that, Johnson effectively conceded that Brexit will not happen on schedule, as he had previously vowed. He said he expects the EU will grant the UK’s request for another extension.
British lawmakers this week voted to advance his reworked Brexit agreement with European leaders. But they rejected his effort to fast-track the bill to beat the October 31st deadline. Lawmakers said they needed more time to scrutinize it.
The prime minister said Thursday…
JOHNSON: We’re saying if you genuinely want more time, you can have it. Here it is. But the condition for that is that we all agree to go for a general election on December 12th.
He said a December election will create a “deadline” for lawmakers to finally push a Brexit deal across the finish line. On Monday, they’ll have a chance to vote on whether to hold an early election.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, says he’ll back an early vote—on one condition: Guarantee the UK won’t exit the EU without a divorce deal—a so-called no-deal Brexit.
CORBYN: Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support an election.
Britain’s next scheduled election is in 2022.
WHO announces polio strain eradicated » The World Health Organization has announced the eradication of a second strain of the polio virus.
There are three different types of polio. They cause the same symptoms but must be targeted separately. Health officials declared the first strain wiped out worldwide in 2015.
News of the second strain’s eradication came on World Polio Day. The last case caused by this strain was diagnosed in northern Nigeria in 2012.
But the last remaining strain of the disease continues to sicken children around the world. Health officials in Zambia confirmed the first local case of polio there since 1995. And it was traced back to a polio vaccine that contained live copies of the virus. In rare cases live virus in the oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky joins us for Culture Friday. Plus, listener feedback live from Asheville. This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday the 25th of October, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up today: It’s Culture Friday.
MONTAGE: What I hear a lot from people all of the time is that, they don’t watch anymore, because they’re tired of hearing all of that. / Places like The New York Times and the Washington Post have great reporters, but they tend to be cut from the same ideological cloth, same background. / We, everybody understands the difference between opinion and news, except obviously apparently our dear friends at The New York Times. This is a news story. This is a front-page story. / There’s a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposefully misleading the American people. / Editorial pages in our newspapers have op-ed pages and that’s perfectly healthy. I think the challenge comes when the line gets blurred, when people are not saying ‘yes, I’m giving you my opinion, rather than telling you what I think is the truth.’
Did you hear that? People are tired of hearing and they are tuning news out. We hear about great reporters. We also hear they are cut from the same ideological cloth. We hear honest mistakes versus purposeful, misleading. I tell you, I cannot remember a time frankly, when the credibility of the profession was under such stress.
Well, Marvin Olasky joins us now. He’s editor in chief of WORLD. He has just released a new book on journalism. It is part theory, it’s part history, it’s part practice. And the aim here is to recover Biblical journalism with the hope of forming citizen reporters and forming discerning consumers of the news.
REICHARD: Hey Marvin.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Hi Mary. Hi Nick. Good job on the history.
EICHER: Yeah. Yeah. So a, I read this book and um, did you mean to give all the house secrets away?
OLASKY: Well, there, there are only secrets if people keep being secretive and there’s no reason to because this is the most exciting time in journalism in nearly two centuries.
In the 1830, suddenly there was the opportunity for lots of people instead of sitting back and just having to take what was given to them. There were presses printing presses that became cheaper than before and they were able to go faster. And as a result you saw a new expansion of newspapers. It was an exciting time. This is an exciting time like this also. It’s a scary time. Back when I started teaching journalism at the University of Texas in 1983, there was a clear career path for journalists. You start in a small paper, then maybe you go to the Dallas Morning News, then you may be go East and so forth. That’s all gone. There’s no clear path. Careers are jagged, but there’s an exciting time where anyone can become an editor and a publisher right away on the internet. The question is, will anyone read you?
That’s a whole thing. And that’s what the book tries to get into both theory and practice.
EICHER: Well obviously I was being cheeky about the—
OLASKY: Cheeky? You, Nick?
EICHER: Yeah, yeah. Jowly. Actually, we know this. We do this on purpose. We have the World Journalism Institute, but a twist to the World Journalism Institute a few years after its founding was the mid career course and we probably have a commercial for it here.
EICHER: Mary Reichard actually is a product of the mid-career World Journalism Institute. She’s an attorney if you listen to the program, you know that she does the Legal Docket on Mondays. But Mary decided that she wanted a career change and World Journalism Institute and mid-career is what that’s all about. But that we believe in that we don’t hold how secrets in. We would like the whole world to practice this kind of journalism.
OLASKY: Well that’s exactly right. The most fun part of the mid career course is halfway through. We send the reporters out to do person on the street interviews and they are so scared when they go out because these are engineers, lawyers—they’re not used to going up to someone on the street and asking questions. And it’s so much fun because they come back joyous. They’ve been able to do it. They’ve been able to ask good questions, get people to talk. It’s an exciting time when you don’t have to go to journalism school. You don’t have to do all that. You can learn if you’re interested enough and smart enough and a good enough writer, you can learn the techniques there. They’re not secret.
EICHER: Was there something that happened that caused you to think that that would be a good idea? What gave you the idea that people could come from some other profession and train at a later age?
OLASKY: Well, just this idea of citizen journalists, people who know something about a particular occupation and they were able then to go and report on that and then they were able to translate that into, into things that ordinary folks can understand. So this is an opportunity that wasn’t there a generation ago. A generation ago, if you wanted to have a newspaper, you had to be rich. Now we can become our own editors, our own publishers. And if we are clever enough and thoughtful enough and I hope—as Christians—Biblical enough, we’ll find an audience.
EICHER: Nothing short of a reformation in journalism is what you’re looking for. Just small ambition here, Marvin.
OLASKY: Small indeed. Yes. But what’s fun here sitting looking around this room, there are about 45 people on our masthead who have gone through the World Journalism Institute. Mary’s the exception. She’s full time. Just about all the other people are part time and they’re continuing with their jobs, but they, they love doing this.
They have fun doing it and we love reading what they write and hearing what they say and training them. My wife and I do this together in our living room, 10 people at a time. It is the most fun teaching I’ve ever had.
EICHER: In all of your study of history, have you heard the quotations that we were talking about from the press state of the media reports talking about how the transformation is epical. We hear things like this is kind of like the time that the printing press was invented. You agree with that historical perspective that we’re in really epical times?
OLASKY: Epical times, yes. And we don’t know how it will turn out. The good thing now is that Christians are fully competitive and can be fully competitive with anyone else. And you know, the training, again, this is in a sense, this is a public service announcement.
We keep doing this and my wife and I, we’ll be doing this a couple of times a year. We’re going to be having one course specifically for journalism teachers at Christian schools. We’re going to have another course specifically for missionaries in another one for college professors at Christian colleges. They can take what they know and translate that into terms that ordinary folks can understand. And it’s all doable now, in a way it wasn’t a generation ago. The printing press, some people said way back then is God’s gift to expand the ideas of the Bible and to get more, let more people read it. God’s gift to us now in a way, strange though it may sound, is the internet with all the bad stuff that comes in with the internet, there’s just an enormous opportunity for good stuff and we can do it if we, if we seize the moment.
REICHARD: Marvin, I haven’t had a chance to read your whole book, but I know one of your later chapters is titled when societies fall apart. I’m just curious, what do you see the role of journalism when and if that does happen?
OLASKY: That’s such a good question and a hard question to answer. When societies fall apart there are more and more people saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling and giving up in despair. But as Christians, we know the sky isn’t falling. God holds up the sky, hard times come. But God’s spirit is there. The joy that we can have. And, as Eric Liddel said in Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I mean, we can do that journalistically and I am really excited about this. And we see the excitement and our mid career people as they go through. For some it’s like a fantasy baseball camp. They can be reporters. For others like Mary, they actually learned so much in their show. They can become pros at the thing. So it was just a great opportunity and I’m very glad that God has given us this opportunity in this generation right now.
EICHER: Well, as we read through this, actually we were talking about American history and all the rest, but this book is also aimed at another country, not just the U S.
OLASKY: Right. A lot of it is aimed at the most courageous journalists in the world right now. I think in China, facing enormous oppression, facing persecution. My wife and I have met young people there who are on fire for the Lord and under pressure much greater than anything we have in this country. They are holding firm. And we have the joy of knowing some of them. We learn from them. They learn for us from us. And that’s just another way that God is working right now with the opportunities we have.
EICHER: Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of WORLD, author of 22 books, including this new one called Reforming Journalism. It is Culture Friday. Marvin, thank you.
OLASKY: Thank you Nick.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Well, this one gives new meaning to the phrase “the rat race.”
Scientists at the University of Richmond taught rats how to drive. (And I’m talking about the rodent kind of rats, not the ones who won’t let you merge …)
Scientists made a teensy Ratmobile out of a plastic jug with aluminum floors.
When they managed to move the car forward, the critters got a reward of Froot Loops. That was enough to keep them motivated to learn more new ways to navigate the little rat car!
Here’s what the scientists found: learning something new and challenging brings stress levels down.
Bottom line? Mastering a difficult task and learning a new skill brings satisfaction.
So it all goes to show that old rats really can and should learn new tricks. And that applies to us, too!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, October 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Megan Basham with a review of a provocative new documentary called No Safe Spaces.
MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: No Safe Spaces is the title of Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla’s documentary sounding the alarm about assaults on free speech. And its very rollout seems to underscore the movie’s point.
First, Facebook refused to carry ads for the film. Then the Motion Picture Association of America insisted on giving it a PG-13 rating instead of PG. Their reason? Because it shows real-life footage of a protestor punching a conservative student in the face for passing out tracts that contain “violent” language. And because of a brief tongue-in-cheek cartoon showing the First Amendment being shot.
Mildly incendiary? Maybe. Less provocative than some double-entendres that pop-up in PG-rated Dreamworks animated movies? Definitely.
Here’s Dave Rubin—a self-identified liberal who finds common cause with conservatives on free speech.
RUBIN: If there’s someone that’s watching this right now that is a hard-core progressive thinking—man, I hate Prager and Rubin and this is all nonsense—guess what? If you have any spark of individualism in you, or anything about you that’s interesting or different, they will come to destroy that too.
This follows on the heels of YouTube categorizing hundreds of PragerU videos as restricted—a category typically reserved for violent or obscene videos. But these are on topics like the Ten Commandments and challenging human-caused climate change. So it’s hard not to see their point that the hard left is succeeding at shutting down opposing viewpoints.
But simply arguing a point that many Americans might agree with is not the same thing as making a good film. Plenty of bad conservative documentaries have done that. Despite a few unnecessary digressions, No Safe Spaces succeeds because it does a solid job making its case journalistically.
Carolla and Prager interview plenty of experts who would normally be considered ideological opponents, like Van Jones, Cornel West, and Andrew Sullivan. They also have some interesting panel discussions with non-political figures.
But it’s not the pundits who make this film successful. It’s using actual, documented evidence.
A lecturer at Yale sparks protests after suggesting students can decide for themselves which Halloween costumes are offensive. Students mob and physically threaten a professor at Evergreen State College because he refuses to cancel his class for a minority student event known as A Day of Absence. He is eventually fired. Worse, the administration does nothing to ensure standards or order or even the safety of their staff.
CLIP: Then the administration of the college made it clear that they were strongly encouraging white people not to come to school on that day in an effort to quote, unquote “center” people of color. I found this offensive. It was people organizing this protest telling others not to show up to a public college on a particular day because of the color of their skin which is anathema to me as a liberal, so I said so.
One of the quieter cases is somehow one of the most disturbing. A teaching assistant is reprimanded because she played clip of a professor of Transgender Studies debating Jordan Peterson.
Her intent was clearly not to voice agreement with Peterson, but to foster class discussion about grammar. She nonetheless loses her job when she pushes back against a policy that characterizes open debate about LGBT issues as “sexual violence.”
CLIP: Not to do the thing of comparing everything to Hitler but this is, this is basically like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler. These are very young students, and something of that nature is not appropriate to that age of student. Because they don’t have… 18? Yes. They’re adults. Yes, but they’re very young adults.
What the film does not do well is delve into thornier issues of free speech. Like, as the digital age has progressed, where do private companies’ rights end and the public’s interest begin?
I asked Prager about this when I spoke to him about the film.
PRAGER: The issue with Twitter, YouTube, Google, etc. is that they have a virtual monopoly on information. The issue is not that they’re private. The New York Times doesn’t have a monopoly on data, but Google does. Ninety-seven percent of the information in the free world travels through Google.
Toward the end, No Safe Spaces loses focus somewhat, drifting into generic gripes about millennial snowflakes. This would seem to undermine its stated aim to encourage open dialogue and clarity.
Carolla told me one of the most effective ways to de-normalize reasonable, common-sense ideas is to demand apologies for them. That is, online mobs pressuring corporations, celebrities, athletes and other public figures to issue mea culpas whenever they say something that falls afoul of far-left-wing orthodoxy on social issues.
We saw this recently when Drew Brees distanced himself from Focus on the Family because of their biblical convictions on marriage and gender. Carolla says there’s a simple answer.
CAROLLA: Stop apologizing, that’s all. When people tell you to apologize, just don’t do it. Unless you’re married to them.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, October 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time now for listener feedback.
And we are recording live in Asheville, North Carolina.
Managing editor J.C. Derrick is going to circulate the microphone.
DERRICK: Hey, good to see you guys. And great to see this awesome audience we have here tonight. Looking forward to our first question here.
EICHER: John Burke of Dallas, Texas.
BURKE: Thank you. Yeah, I have two. One is a comment. First of all, I really like it when Mary and Nick cross-examine John Stonestreet on Friday. It adds a little bit more tension to the program. So I really liked that, encourage that. And the other question, I always wonder what time at night or in the morning do you record the program? And there’s people missing because there’s more people involved and I hear other voices.
EICHER: There are enormous numbers of people involved.
DERRICK: Actually they are all in the room pretty much, uh, just spread out at the different tables.
But it really depends on what part of the program, uh, we’re talking about. So generally the later in the program, the earlier we can work on on it. So segment four is generally commentary that’s done, uh, days, sometimes, sometimes a week or two in advance. Segment three, how about it Paul? Sometimes it’s, it’s real early. Sometimes it’s a little bit last minute, but with those features, it varies how much we can get those done in advance.
The prime part of the program that really has to be done kind of last minute is the segment two and obviously the newscast. So, um, throughout the day we’re, we’re sifting news. Our news editor, Leigh Jones and Kent Covington, our anchor, are the prime people who are leading that… the sifting the news. And then they produce the newscast and um, Kent voices that generally around seven o’clock in the evening or so. And then basically that’s the last thing. Generally that’s come in and from seven to midnight is when our audio engineers, uh, Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are putting together the program. So you’ve heard us say they stay up late to get the program to you early. So generally here on the, uh, on the East coast it posts a lot of times between midnight and 1:00 AM.
EICHER: And, and Mary, what about your cross-examination skills?
REICHARD: Yeah, yeah, that’s really fun. You’re talking about with John Stonestreet, right? I like to kind of put John on the spot, if possible, in not throwing softballs. So if that’s what you mean. Yeah.
DERRICK: Well, she also does a good job of trying to push him down the ladder of abstraction. That’s one of Marvin’s terms. Rather than talking up at what we call suite level, trying to give me an example.
REICHARD 2: Yeah. Tell me what to say to people. You know, I need, I need practical help. I also want to give a little shout out to Kent because even though the tech guys might be working on it. Kent’s a night owl, and if sometimes there’ll be things happen overnight and you’ll hear it on the morning news. It’s because Kent stays up really late.
DERRICK: That’s right.
THOMPSON: Hi, my name is Donald Thompson. I live in Bristol, Tennessee. JC, you guys appeal to a relatively broad audience or at least you hope to. Um, you have some pretty challenging comments with Culture Friday as we’ve heard with movie reviews and significant hate mail that comes in. I’m wondering how you tease out the issues. First of all, where you want to go and then how do you present, dare I say balance? Do you want to present balance or what is the, what is the lodestone on which you operate?
DERRICK: You know, events kind of dictate what we cover. Uh, what’s going on, what people are talking about, the cultural trends, the news of the day, you know, we do try to keep you…we want people to be able to listen and feel like they have a good sense of what’s going on. Obviously we can’t cover everything. Uh, but one thing that really helps us in terms of our approach is something Marvin, um, has, has created for us. Uh, it’s a “rapids classification”– a way of classifying the news. And so if something is, if the Bible has something clear to say about it, then that would be what for us is a “Class One Rapids” and it’s based on the whitewater rapids metaphor. You know, it’s, this is smooth waters, you know, the Bible is clear. Um, and that would be something like, uh, for example, there’s this idea in our culture where open marriages might be a good idea.
The Bible is pretty clear about adultery, you know, we don’t, we don’t really have to parse that out too much. Um, and then there’s a spectrum of things in between there and a level six, which would be something like say a specific trade deal that the Bible doesn’t necessarily say how we should, how should we should approach an issue like that? Most of our issues, many times land in the middle. Sometimes stories have multiple elements of, of various levels of the Rapids. But that’s something that really helps us to, you know, identify what’s important in terms of where can we bring the Biblical worldview to bear on particular stories. And then a lot of times those stories will, will receive priority since they’re distinctive from what you would get in the rest of the media. Not to say we don’t cover those obligatory stories obviously, but that’s where we put a priority.
EICHER: And there’s a difference too between balance and fairness. And balance, not necessarily, but fairness, absolutely and always. Yeah. So another question?
ALMAGUER: My name is John Almaguer from here in Asheville. And um, during the editorial retreat this week, I noticed, um, some discussion about like, how we handle (it) when different writers disagree on things. And I would like to just maybe, um, love it. I think a lot of other people build it. I would love to hear about that. If you guys would mind expanding on that a little.
EICHER: We can love each other and disagree on things.
DERRICK: We can. Absolutely. And we do. We do. And I think that’s healthy to have a range of opinions and approaches to, uh, the news and our opinions. And, uh, like I said, that the, the rapids system really gives us a, a framework to engage. And I think that’s, that’s the thing I love about it. It gets us out of the right-left paradigm that we so often see in the news and just in our lives. And it gets us into thinking, okay, take a step back. What does the Bible have to say about this? Does it have anything to say about this? And that’s how we engage when we may be coming at it from different angles. We can engage on that same ground because we all believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word.
EICHER: We have time for one more.
HANNAH: I am Hannah from Hendersonville, North Carolina. And with The World and Everything in It traveling to different places, is there going to be a schedule online so people can see you guys live.
DERRICK: Yes, absolutely. That’s a great question. Um, our website is worldandeverything.org. That’s worldandeverything.org. And if you go there and click on the, uh, at the top there’s a banner that says “engage.” And on the drop-down menu, it says “Live Events.” And so our next one is in Nashville. Thank you for asking. It’s a great segue. So, if you’re near Nashville, anywhere in that area on November 21st next month, we will be in Nashville for our next live event.