Friday, December 31, 2021

Some Things I Learned After Watching "Get Back"

My grandmother must have really loved me. What else would explain her sitting through a quadruple feature (yes a quadruple feature) with me of all four theatrical releases of Beatles films in a Chicago theater fifty years ago? 

The total running time for A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be clocks in at around six hours. You could add in their TV special Magical Mystery Tour and still end up an hour short of the running time Peter Jackson's epic three-part saga The Beatles: Get Back. And while the five films span five years, much of the public life of arguably the greatest rock and roll band ever, Get Back spans less than one month in the life of the band.

I've written in detail in this space before about my passion for the Beatles so I won't repeat myself here. If you're interested, you can read about it here and here. Suffice it to say the Beatles provided the soundtrack of my formative years and many of the ones to follow. While I would hardly consider myself a Beatles scholar, yes such a thing does indeed exist, I probably know more about the Fab Four than your average Joe on the street. 

But as the title to this post suggests, there were a number of things that I and no doubt many other fellow Beatlemaniacs learned from our required viewing of Jackson's monumental re-edit of the documentary footage of the band shot in January of 1969, under the direction of Michael Lindsay Hogg. 

Here are a few of them:


The first thing I never realized was that the end result of the 1969 project which resulted in over 60 hours of film footage, double that amount of audio recordings, and a live performance on the roof of Apple Records headquarters in London, ended up being a far cry from the original concept. The idea was to document for television, the band composing, rehearsing and performing live in concert (for the first time in three years), fifteen or so new songs, which were to be included in a new album. 

The working title for the project was Get Back, reflecting Paul McCartney's idea to return to the band's roots and perform their music live, just the four of them, without the help of overdubbing and other postproduction effects that defined much of their work after they stopped performing live in 1966. 

The time frame for all of this, including choosing, procuring and performing in the as yet to be determined venue for the concert, was three weeks. Talk about not making little plans!

It turned out to be all too much. A good portion of the first episode of Jackson's film is devoted to heated discussions on a venue for the concert. Ideas ranged from the mundane, a London music hall, to the curious, an orphanage, to the outrageous, a Roman amphitheater in Libya where the band and their audience would be transported aboard a cruise ship.

Needless to say, in the end none of those worked out, they settled on the iconic rooftop performance which concludes the movie, and we are all the better for it.

There would be no TV documentary. By the end of shooting in late January,1969, that performance was all they had to show for their efforts. A single, recorded during the filmed sessions was released three months later. Beyond that, none of the miles and miles of film and tape they went through, would see the light of day for almost year and a half, not until things had changed considerably for the band. More on that later.


...AKA John, Paul, George and Ringo. Clearly things had changed since A Hard Day's Night. Common knowledge has it that the Beatles were John Lennon's band until the groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper, Paul McCartney's baby, came out in 1967. That year also saw the unexpected death of the group's manager Brian Epstein which had a profound impact on the band. By that time, George Harrison had become deeply interested in Indian philosophy, music and culture, John had become interested in Yoko Ono and drugs, and Ringo Starr was busy being Ringo. That left the reigns to Paul who according to common knowledge, was a bit of a control freak and taskmaster. This could be off putting to the rest of the lads who were beginning to lose interest in being Beatles. Much of the rancor famously came to a head during the recording sessions for the White Album when even the normally docile Ringo walked out on the band for two weeks. 

As I mentioned it was Paul's idea to get back to their roots so to speak and try to be a rock and roll band once again. But as one can imagine, for him at times, leading a group whose members were starting to go their separate ways, must have seemed a little like herding cats. 

This comes across in Peter Jackson's documentary. What doesn't come across at least for me, is the common assumption that McCartney was being an asshole, unreasonable and out of line. What does come across was his tremendous passion to keep the band together and moving forward, while John appeared to be constantly stoned out of his mind, George had a perpetual chip on his shoulder, and Ringo seemed as if he'd rather be in bed.

Paul's devotion to The Beatles is painfully apparent in the most revealing scene in the entire eight-hour saga, when after George walked out on the band and John was MIA, McCartney, visibly shaking, ruefully contemplates the all too likely day when the Beatles would be no more. 

Despite the bumps in the road including George's departure, McCartney succeeded in bringing the band together. Much to the contrary of common knowledge, Jackson's film shows that when they were together, the Beatles were still a tight unit, full of creative energy who cared deeply for one another.

It also showed that Paul McCartney was the glue that held the whole thing together. Without him, the Beatles would have been done much sooner. My respect for him grew in leaps and bounds after I saw the movie.


In the beginning, things did not go well. For starters, the producers decided to shoot the film not in a natural environment for creating music, but in a cavernous motion picture sound stage in London. Making matters worse, the shooting schedule revolved around the convenience of the film crew, not the subjects. Getting up earlier than normal and forced to perform in a cold and unwelcoming environment led to some very grumpy Beatles, not just George. It became clear very early on that they weren't going to make the quota of fifteen new songs. So they decided to run through some old numbers of theirs they never recorded, each one sounding worse than the one before.

As part of the effort to bring George back, it was decided they would forgo the soundstage in favor of a place more conducive to creating music, a hastily put together recording studio in the basement of the Apple building. That seemed to help a bit. 

But just like manna from heaven, what really turned things around was the appearance of Billy Preston

The Beatles were all gifted musically, especially in their ability to create songs and perform them. That they weren't exactly virtuoso performers was no secret, but it hardly mattered. Their competency as musicians was more than enough to serve their music. Besides, if they needed to up their game, they could bring in others to help take up the slack such as when their longtime producer George Martin would bring in classical musicians, or when George Harrison invited Eric Clapton to perform lead guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Their relationship with Billy Preston, a virtuoso keyboard player and singer, went back to their Hamburg days in the early sixties. It was Harrison who invited Preston to show up to the Apple basement. From the moment he walked in, the entire vibe changed. He immediately (at least in the film) sat down at an electric piano and joined the band as they rehearsed John's Don't Let Me Down, his familiar riffs to that song coming to him seemingly out of nowhere. 

Watching Billy Preston walking into that studio in the film reminded me of the time I was photographing a high school orchestra when Yo Yo Ma came and sat in with the group. The presence of the master helped make all the awestruck students play better. 

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Preston's calmness, his positive demeanor and above all his brilliant musicianship, rescued the Beatles from the brink of extinction. So grateful were they for his contribution, Preston's name was credited as an artist on the Get Back/Don't Let Me Down single, the only artist who was ever credited for his work on a Beatle record. 


A couple months after the January, '69 sessions, the Beatles with Billy Preston returned to the studio where the Fabs had made most of their recordings, the EMI Abbey Road studios. It also marked the return to full capacity of George Martin who was briefly relegated to second banana status during the January sessions. He appears in the Jackson film mostly wandering aimlessly about the Apple studio.

With Martin back in command in the booth and the group back to more familiar surroundings, they laid down the tracks for what would become what many consider to be their magnum opus, the album Abbey Road

Meanwhile, Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hard at work editing down all the footage his team shot during the January sessions. As the group was contractually obligated to produce one more feature film, it was decided the finished product of Lindsay-Hogg's efforts would now be a film, not a TV program. Glyn Johns, who produced many of the seminal recordings of the British Invasion with the exception of the Beatles up to that point, was mixing the recordings from the sessions for the movie's soundtrack. Upon hearing Johns' final mix of the recordings, The Beatles, who had asked him to make the mix sound rough and unproduced, in keeping with McCartney's intentions to get away from the slick studio sound of the past three years, rejected it because it sounded too rough and unproduced.  By and large the Beatles had lost interest in the project as much of the experience had left a bad taste in their mouths, and the project languished for well over a year. 

Eventually Lennon gave the tapes of the sessions to the infamous American producer Phil Spector "who puked all over the bloody lot of them," in the words of Johns who is prominently featured in Jackson's film. If you saw it you know him, he's the guy in the studio who's dressed like Austin Powers. It was the over-the-top, puked all over Spector produced mix that ended up on the Let It Be album.

Let It Be, both the film and the soundtrack album, were finally released in May, 1970, one month after Paul McCartney publicly announced he was leaving the group. John Lennon had privately announced his decision to leave the band to the other three Beatles the previous September. 

The film developed the reputation of having been a bleak look at the demise of a cherished institution.

I only saw Let It Be the film twice, the second time around 1977 with my friend Jeremy, and my memories of it are not vivid. The film did include the famous exchange between McCartney and Harrison, where Harrison taking exception to McCartney's overbearing nature, expresses his frustration at his bandmate. With the exception of the rooftop concert, it is one of the few scenes that are included both in the film Let It Be and Jackson's Get Back. Aside from that scene with Harrison, I don't recall Let It Be being particularly bleak. Much of it was devoted to finished performances of the songs, some in the studio, others on the rooftop. And I distinctly remember scenes of the group having fun jamming together, tearing up corny ancient pop tunes they played in their early days such as Besame Mucho.

It could be that since I became a Beatle fan right around the time the band broke up, I had always accepted the band's demise as a fete accompli. Had I been following them for years I'm sure their breakup would have been devastating. I have no doubt that seeing the film right on the heels of learning of the demise of the Beatles had to have colored the opinions of both the film and the album for long time fans. 

For me the big difference between Let It Be the film and The Beatles: Get Back, beside their running times, is that Let It Be strove to be a documentary in the tradition of cinema-verite, where the camera is meant to be a passive, unobtrusive recorder of events, giving viewers the feeling that they are the proverbial "fly on the wall" witnessing the events taking place. 

What we see in the footage Jackson uses in his film is that the film crew and especially Lindsay-Hogg himself, were actually the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room. John is constantly mugging for the camera. In one scene he surreptitiously removes something from his pocket then looks over in the direction of the camera and as if he were caught red handed, puts it back into his pocket. It's funny despite it being obviously set up. And in case you were wondering who was calling the shots, during the first episode, Lindsay-Hogg asks the Beatles if they could turn down the volume of their amps so his audio people could better record their spoken dialog. Cinema-verite indeed.

Let It Be the album didn't fare much better. Like the film, it didn't help that it was released after the announcement of the band's breakup, and well after the much more adventurous Abbey Road

Consequently, it was excoriated as having been a very weak swan song for the band. As they say, timing is everything and I have no doubt that had the two been released closer to when they were made, their reception would have been much different.  


I never did buy into the idea that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. Why? Because they said so themselves in interviews given way back in the early seventies. John and George especially were looking to get out and do other things which they couldn't if the Beatles still existed. And Paul who we find out in Get Back, didn't want to quit the band, and really didn't mind Yoko, said one of the most remarkable lines in the Jackson film: "it's funny, people fifty years from now will be saying that the Beatles broke up because Yoko sat on an amp."

He was right, it's fifty years later, and then some, and a whole lot of Beatle fans still blame Yoko. I hear way more trashing of her than of the person singlehandedly responsible for making sure the Beatles would never perform together again, the guy who killed John Lennon.

Some people regard the breakup of the Beatles as a tragedy on a par with the crash of the Hindenburg or the sinking of the Titanic. It's possible that I'm one of the few Beatle fans who view the breakup as a good thing. Quitting when they did, created a mystique about the band. The last album they recorded together was Abbey Road, and the last live performance they gave was on the rooftop, not a bad way to go out. 

Had they continued performing together as the Beatles, they would no doubt have gotten to a point where they were past their prime. People might have tired of them and the last image we had of band together instead of playing Don'tLet Me Down and Get Back on the roof at 3 Saville Row in Central London, could have been of them middle aged, performing She Loves You at the Nebraska State Fair.

Or maybe not, but you probably get the point.

Anyway. Jackson's film shows us that despite being at John's side during the entire movie, Yoko really wasn't much of a distraction. 

On the other hand, two scenes in the movie point directly to causes that really did break up the Beatles. One scene has George in conversation with John and Yoko, telling them that he has a whole catalog of songs that he thought deserved to be on an album. John and Yoko encouraged him to go for it, which he finally did in November of 1970 with the release of the three-disc set, All Things Must Pass, which many claim to be the best of all the post-Beatles records. (Not sure I agree).

The even more revealing scene regarding the eventual breakup comes in the third episode when John out of the blue brings up in glowing terms the agent Alan Klein whom he had just met. It was Klein, quite the notorious figure in his own right, who gained the favor of three of the Beatles, while a much skeptical Paul McCartney (who has a priceless reaction shot when John brings up Klein's name), preferred the services of the man who would become his father-in-law, Lee Eastman.

It was money, and the split over who would represent the band, that more than anything else led to the breakup of the band and the acrimonious relationship between its members for the next few years.


The crux of the matter, the real joy of The Beatles: Get Back, is the view into the creative process of the band. In the movies, it usually looks so easy.  A composer might hear a little tune from a nightingale's song and turn it into a theme for a pop tune. Or Mozart could compose an entire symphony in his head then write it down in between billiard shots, (allegedly he really could do that.) But I don't know of a film that has captured the actual composition of a song as Lindsay-Hogg's cameras did of Paul McCartney creating the main theme and refrain to the song Get Back out of nothing. For the life of me I have no idea why this amazing scene didn't make it into Let It Be, but it has become the most commented upon scene in Jackson's film. 

One might expect that Jackson's Get Back is filled with such scenes, but they are few and far between. This isn't a criticism of the film; on the contrary it is exactly the opposite. The creative process for most mere mortals, even ones as talented as the Beatles, is filled with false starts and misdirection, which comprise about 90 percent of Jackson's film. That goes along with the old adage that: "genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." There are web sites that will tell you where to find all the gems in the movie, so you don't have to sit through all the perspiration, but I'm afraid that's missing the point. Doing so, one misses the true joy of coming upon those rare moments of genius in the midst of all the nonsense, chaos and tedium.

The general assumption if you have only a superficial knowledge of the Beatles is that, like many song writing teams, in the songs credited to Lennon and McCartney, John was responsible for the lyrics and Paul, the music. Then you learn that most of the songs, both the lyrics and music, were written by one or the other. Then you see this movie and realize that it didn't work that way either. Someone would come up with an idea, then bring it to the studio where the other three (four if you count George Martin) would put their contributions into it. I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see songs I know like the back of my hand in the process of being created. So many times I wanted to yell lyrics at the TV as the actual lyrics hadn't been written yet, such as when George was trying to finish the line: "Something in the way she moves, attracts me like..." To which John added, "a cauliflower" 

The Beatles: Get Back is admittedly an indulgence for Beatles fans who can't get enough of their heroes. For them it could have been several hours longer. On the other hand, Jackson probably could have cut a couple hours and the film would not have suffered any. Personally, I could have lived without sitting through performances of Two of Us, one of my favorite songs on the Let It Be album, sung by John and Paul with their teeth clenched. It was hysterical the first time we saw it but the second time? Well not so much.

Maybe I'm just not worthy.

I'm sure Jackson's film will not change many minds about the Beatles, only intensify them. If you hated the group, you'll probably hate them even more after watching the film. If you love them as I do, you'll probably love them more, especially the knowledge that despite all the distractions and bullshit, in the end they cared deeply about the music and especially about each other,

And if you were indifferent, you still are because you couldn't get past the first hour of the first episode. 

Finally, for me the most valuable contribution of The Beatles: Get Back, is how it puts everything into context. We can appreciate Let It Be, the album, probably the most maligned in the group's history for what it was, a brief, foray into the past, something they hardly ever did. We can see the struggles they went through working through difficult situations and time constraints placed upon them by the film makers. Despite all of that, they managed to put together a very good album and an unforgettable performance for the ages. 

In Jackson's film, we see they weren't done in January 1969 but were looking forward, working on songs that would appear on their next album, and also ones that would, unbeknownst to them at the time, appear on their solo albums. 

Let It Be's proper place in history is not as the last album released by the Beatles but as the penultimate album of original material created by the Beatles. When viewed in that context, saying Let It Be is the group's worst album (which may be true) is a little like saying that the Eighth, Beethoven's penultimate symphony, is that composer's worst:

What do you think?

It might be true that the Eighth is Beethoven's worst symphony, but does anyone really care? 

Same with Let It Be.

I'll give the penultimate word to Ken Mansfield, the US Manager of Apple Records, who was present at the rooftop concert:

I’m four to six feet away from the band, so I’m virtually looking in their faces. When they started playing, at some point – and this is something I’ll never forget – there was this moment where Paul looked over at John or John looked at Paul and there was this look of recognition. It’s like they were saying: “You know what? No matter what’s going down, this is us. This is who we are. This is what we’ve always been. Stuff’s going down right now, but we are what we are, and that’s a good rock’n’roll band.” 
The last word goes as it should to John Lennon:
I would like to say on behalf of the group and ourselves I hope we passed the audition.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Whose Narrative is it Anyway?

Another health crisis for my mother meant another chance to channel surf between moving in to her apartment to take care of her dog and visiting the hospital. 

Being given free reign of the remote enables me as it has in the past to toggle between two wildly divergent views of the world, parallel universes one might say whose points never meet. 

I'm talking about the two cable television channels (which we don't have at home) which on my mom's TV, sit only two clicks from each other, MSNBC and FOX. Watching these two networks side by side as I've been doing, it doesn't take much to realize why this country is hopelessly divided at the moment. 

The current crisis happened to coincide with the internationally publicized trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager from Illinois who shot and killed two men and severely wounded another during the unrest, or riot if you prefer, (depending upon which side you're on), over a white police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a black man, seven times in the back, right in front of Blake's children. This all took place in Kenosha, WI, a city I know intimately, which sits smack dab between Chicago and Milwaukee. 

If you choose FOX as your prime method of news delivery, this is what you know about what happened the night of August 25, 2020 in Kenosha:

Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man who spent his summers in Kenosha working as a lifeguard, offered the owner of a used car lot that had been torched by rioters, to help defend the business from further damage. Armed with a medical kit in one hand and a legally obtained AR-15 style rifle in the other, Rittenhouse found himself under attack from members of a mob. One of them, Joseph Rosenbaum, a man with a long criminal record, chased the youth into a parking lot while threatening to kill him, then lunged at Rittenhouse, trying to take his rifle. Fearing for his life, Rittenhouse opened fire on Rosenbaum. As he desperately ran from the scene trying to find police to report the incident, Rittenhouse was chased by more rioters, all with criminal pasts, one of whom jump kicked him after he stumbled and fell to the ground. Another, Anthony Huber, smashed the youth in the head with a skateboard and also attempted to take his gun. Again, fearing for his life, Rittenhouse shot Huber. Shortly thereafter, another rioter, Gaige Grosskreutz, pointed a pistol at Rittenhouse who in self-defense, shot Grosskreutz in the arm. 

If MSNBC is your primary news source, this is what you know of the same story:

A high school dropout from Antioch, IL, Kyle Rittenhouse, an alleged white supremacist and pathological liar, had a passion for law enforcement and Donald Trump. Enraged by the destruction of property during the unrest over police brutality that was taking place in another state, Rittenhouse took it upon himself to drive from his home in Illinois to Wisconsin armed with an assault rifle, to inflict vigilante justice in a place where he had no connection. During a confrontation with some of the protestors, Rittenhouse shot and killed two unarmed men, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, then shot and severely wounded Gage Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse was charged with two separate counts of first degree reckless and intentional homicide in the deaths of Rosenbaum and Huber, attempted first degree homicide in the shooting of Grosskreutz, and reckless endangerment for firing shots at the guy who kicked him. Another charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 was dismissed by the presiding judge due to a technicality. 

Both networks provided virtually gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial, not surprisingly each with their own slant on the proceedings. 

The Second Amendment and one's views of it play a great role in one's views of the case. To the gun crowd, many of whom are devotees of Fox, Rittenhouse was well within his rights to arm himself in order to help protect businesses targeted by lawless arsonists and looters, and also in defending himself against the men who intended to harm if not outright kill him. 

To those on the other side, Rittenhouse should have stayed at home that night and left the policing to the police.

The reaction to the jury's verdict of not guilty on all counts was also predictable. To the Fox crowd it was considered a victory of the American judicial system, preserving the right to bear arms and to defend oneself by using deadly force if necessary. To them, Rittenhouse was not only hailed as a fine, upstanding young man, but also a hero who has been celebrated and treated with offers of employment by ultra-right legislators tripping over themselves to hire him, a prime-time interview on FOX with their biggest star, Tucker Carlson, and an invitation to Mar-A-Lago where he was granted an audience with the exPOTUS.

To the other side, the verdict was a miscarriage of justice which set a dangerous precedent that will only encourage more people to openly carry guns in public. To them Rittenhouse is at best a foolish young man who got himself in way over his head, at worst a vigilante, some even call him a terrorist, bent upon taking the law in into his own hands in a place he had no business being. For them he murdered two men in cold blood, severely injured a third, and deserves to be held accountable for his actions.

After the not guilty verdict was read, FOX's prime time talking head Sean Hannity read a laundry list of misdeeds perpetrated by the mainstream media in their coverage of the Rittenhouse affair. According to him, "the media" (I guess to Hannity that term doesn't include himself or his employer), completely misrepresented the case by reporting falsehoods and leaving out details that "didn't fit into their narrative". That narrative according to Hannity, is to promote a progressive, left wing, "woke", anti-gun, pro-abortion, anti-Christian, pro-ANTIFA/BLM, and anti-American agenda.

Full disclosure, if you've read anything in this space before, you probably know my sentiments do not lie with FOX. In fact, I find the organization and its representatives to be for the most part, reprehensible.  

But in this case, having watched a good deal of MSNBC, CNN and FOX coverage of the Rittenhouse affair, I think Hannity has a point. That began to hit home after things I had assumed from the outset turned out not to be true, such as Rittenhouse having no connection to Kenosha, or that his mother drove him to Kenosha that fateful night, or that he illegally transported the gun from Illinois to Wisconsin. And the most controversial tidbit of information broadcast about Rittenhouse, that he is a white supremacist, has never been firmly established. For what it's worth, he publicly denies it.

Now these misconceptions once widely broadcasted MAY have been cleared up by MSNBC and CNN, but they certainly didn't go out of their way to do so. In fact, looking back on virtually everything I read and heard about the case from my usual go to news sources such as The Atlantic, the New York Times, NPR, and when I get the chance to watch cable TV, MSNBC (my mother's network of choice), the picture painted of young Mr. Rittenhouse's character was indeed bleak. There was little nuance, he was painted by and large as an ultra-right-gun nut, very possibly a white supremacist, and little more.  It didn't help his reputation that his cause was quickly picked up by nefarious groups such as the Proud Boys. 

I felt the coverage of the trial, especially on MSNBC was especially biased, leaving little doubt that Rittenhouse acted out of malice in killing two men and severely injuring another.  One of the talking points of Hannity and his FOX colleagues was that the just-left-of-Attila the Hun media infused the most polarizing issue of the day, race, into the equation. 

Again, reluctantly I have to agree. It's true that the violence in Kenosha was directly set off by police shooting a black man and fueled in large part by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis a few months earlier. But all four of the men that Rittenhouse shot at were white. Nevertheless, the question kept coming up again and again, what would the outcome of the trial have been had Rittenhouse been black? 

Other than stirring up more outrage, I'm not sure of the point of that question. I believe that had the circumstances been exactly the same but for the race of the defendant, in other words had a black Rittenhouse gone to Kenosha to help protect businesses from arson and looting, then had been chased and threatened by rioters whom he ultimately shot, I truly believe the verdict would have been the same. 

I believe this because after having listened to much of the evidence at the trial as well as having seen several of the videos of the shootings, I have no doubt that given the law presented them, the jury came to the correct conclusion. This is a controversial opinion especially in my circle of friends and family. But according to Wisconsin law, Kyle Rittenhouse from what I can tell, was within his rights to carry the weapon. You may or may not agree with the law, I sure as heck don't, but that opinion is irrelevant in a court of law. A jury's responsibility is not to judge the merit of a law, nor judge the character, politics nor feelings about race (repugnant as they might be), of the defendant. 

A jury's one and only job is to determine if the law in place was broken.  It is also clear from the testimony that Joseph Rosenbaum (who was carrying a chain), initiated the hostilities between himself and Rittenhouse, and the subsequent string of events that let to the other shootings. Rosenbaum verbally threatened Rittenhouse's life, chased him, and in the end, grabbed for his gun. 

The other men shot by Rittenhouse, also initiated their confrontations with him. 

It is entirely reasonable that in the moments before he shot and killed Huber and Rosenbaum and shot and wounded Grosskreutz who was pointing a pistol at him, Rittenhouse felt his life was threatened because it probably was. And according to Wisconsin law, that is a sufficient motive to legally shoot someone. 

However, being found not guilty in a trial does not necessarily make a defendant innocent. It's absolutely true that Rosenbaum and Huber most likely would be alive today had Rittenhouse not brought his gun to the protest.

Rittenhouse is not a hero. Openly armed with a powerful, deadly weapon that night as several other people were, Rittenhouse was an active participant in the violence that took place on the streets of Kenosha. As such, Kyle Rittenhouse is the poster child for the absolute insanity of laws around this country that enable people not only to own deadly weapons designed to commit mass murder, but to openly carry them in public. 

To the gun crowd who claim that Rittenhouse was just defending himself when he shot three men, killing two of them, I would ask this: would you feel the same if a protester, one of those big bad ANTIFA/BLM types you fear so much, shot and killed a self-styled paramilitary vigilante like Rittenhouse because he felt his life was threatened? It does go both ways, Wisconsin law permits everybody, protester and vigilante alike to openly carry weapons in public and use them if need be for self-defense.

I'm guessing had that been the case, the folks over at FOX would have been singing a different tune, one that better fit into their own narrative. 

I think it goes without saying that there is no room for agendas and narratives in the work of real journalists whose responsibility, in a perfect world anyway, is to the best of their ability report facts in an unbiased fashion. The people over at FOX get around this by claiming their prime-time talking heads are entertainers not journalists, ever since their defense of Tucker Carlson in a defamation suit brought against him and the network, that claimed no reasonable person would take anything Carlson said seriously. 

In her ruling in favor of Carlson, the judge in dismissing the case said this:

Fox persuasively argues . . . that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism about the statements he makes....whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson's statements as exaggeration, non-literal commentary, or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same—the statements are not actionable.

Clearly the only credibility the FOX trolls have is what they bring to the company's bottom line, determined of course by their ratings. So as long as they tell their millions of viewers what they want to hear, according to the network it doesn't matter what they say or what damage it may cause. 

I would assume that the folks over at MSNBC and CNN looking toward their own bottom line, have at least a slightly higher standard and would not take such a brazen approach. Credibility over there, I would hope anyway, has at least as much to do with a semblance of accuracy in their reporting as presenting a palatable message to their viewers.

Of course journalists are only human and it's reasonable to expect them to have an opinion about what they're reporting. 

This is all the more true in a time when our country is indisputably at a crossroad, where our future has the possibility of moving in one of two distinct paths, either towards or away from democracy. It's only natural that all of us, journalists included, will be taking sides. 

Nevertheless, I believe it is incumbent upon real news organizations and the journalists they hire, to report as accurately as possible, giving expression to all sides of the story.

As an example, in all the coverage I witnessed, I did not once see or hear any reference on either MSNBC or CNN to the suffering of the people of Kenosha who watched helplessly as their city was in flames. It seemed as if the only viewpoint that mattered was that of the black community who was rightfully enraged by the shooting of Jacob Blake. To those news organizations and to those people who insist that looting and arson are justified if they are committed in the name of protesting injustice, I would ask this: How would you feel if it was your home or business that was going up in flames? Unless you are my friend Don Flesch (or someone like him), who somehow managed to find understanding and forgiveness as the family business he devoted his life to was being destroyed by looters and arsonists, your opinion on the subject is meaningless.

In the end, the MSNBC version of the Rittenhouse affair was just as incomplete and ultimately dishonest as the FOX version.

I'm reminded here of a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Right Stuff. In the scene, the CAPCOM folks on the ground are debating whether or not to tell astronaut John Glenn that there may be a fatal flaw in his spacecraft. Fellow astronaut Alan Shepard sets them straight by telling them, "He's a pilot, he needs to know the condition of his craft."

Here is an amazing film of the actual event. At around two minutes into the video, CAPCOM informs Glenn that there is to be a change of plans in his reentry procedure. Glenn asks them the reason for this and they tell him: "We'll get back to you." Then you hear Shepard come in and tell Glenn the truth about what's going on with his spacecraft.

My point is this, Democracy dies through division and hatred, promoted through dishonesty, misinformation, and outright lies. If our fragile democracy is to survive, we need to realize that we are all in this together and especially to be told the truth about the condition of our nation. If the folks at MSNBC and CNN are truly on the side of democracy, which I think they are, they need to trust the intelligence of their audience to make up their own minds by honestly telling the complete story, even if what they are reporting is not exactly music to their ears. 

In other words, leave the bullshit to Fox. 

Hannity was indeed paying them a high compliment. In accusing "the media" of lying and obscuring the truth all in the name of fitting a narrative, he was really saying this: "hey guys, you're acting just like me."

It's truly a cold day in hell when I agree with Sean Hannity.

By the way honey, pass me the blankets, it's freezing in here.