The Today Show: Educational television at its best

I no longer wear a necktie unless specifically required to do so. They are ridiculous artifices of the past and literally (and perhaps figuratively) nooses around the neck of anyone who wears one.

If you enjoy wearing ties or like the look, more power to you.

If you are forced to wear a tie but despise them, my condolences. You take at least take solace in the fact that sales of neckties and the wearing of them have both been in a steep decline for the last 20 years. Like the hat that men once wore whenever they left the house, ties will one day be a thing of the past. 

In the past ten years, I have worn a necktie exactly three times: 

My sister-in-law's wedding (I was in the bridal party) and two weddings that I officiated and was specifically asked to wear a suit and tie.

But when I wore ties more often, when working in banks and managing McDonald's restaurants, I had to tie them daily. Oddly, I learned to tie a Windsor knot by watching The Today Show one morning when I was in high school. I happened to own exactly one tie at the time, and being a Boy Scout, I saw the segment as an opportunity to learn a new knot. I grabbed the tie, tossed it around my neck, and followed the steps described on television. 

Two minutes later, I was able to tie my own necktie.

Sesame Street taught me about community and the alphabet. 3-2-1 Contact taught me about science. But it was The Today Show circa 1988 that taught me a practical skill that remained useful to me for many years.   

Though I don't wear neckties anymore, I still tie them often for my students before graduation ceremonies, concerts, and school picture day. A small part of me hates to do it, feeling like I'm helping indoctrinate these kids into this bizarre and dying custom of wrapping patterned polyester around their necks because it supposedly looks good. 

The Today Show has cornered the market on young, white, blond, female kidnapping victims. You should stop watching.

The Today Show did a segment yesterday entitled Hannah’s Story.

As soon as I heard the promo for the segment at the opening of the show, I knew that the kidnapping victim would be young, white and probably blond.

Not surprising, I was right.


My wife heard me shout at the television in protest, and she argued that this was a national news story worthy of coverage. Even though I had yet to hear about Hannah and her presumably tragic kidnapping through my usual news sources, I believed her.

I’m sure that the mainstream media outlets covered this story closely, and perhaps justifiably so. I’m sure that The Today Show garnered millions of viewers for the segment.  

But I also don’t care. I refused to listen to a single word of Hannah’s Story.

This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you get your news primarily through sources like The Today Show and network news in general, but people are kidnapped in America every day, and some of them are not young.

Some of them are not female.

Some of them are not white.

Some of them are not blond.

Even though you can probably name half a dozen young, white, probably blond girls who have been kidnapped and murdered over the last decade,  there are African-American, Latino and Asian girls kidnapped and murdered all the time. Boys, too. And older people. Unattractive people, even. It happens every day. And in even greater numbers than young, white, blond girls.

But can you name even one?

Can you name a single African-American kidnapping victim from any point in American history?

For every Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, Taylor Behl, Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard (names that even I know despite my purposeful refusal to pay attention to these stories), can you name even one non-white kidnapping victim?

Or one male kidnapping victim?

Or a kidnapping victim over the age of 30?

I don’t know how other mainstream news sources cover kidnappings, but The Today Show has been specializing in young, white, oftentimes blond kidnapping victims for years, and they suck.

It’s a disgrace. I refuse to watch. You should, too.

A toddler bikini? I’m think I’m okay with that. A poorly written defense of the toddler bikini? I take great umbrage.

I did not like this piece by Jessica Grose in The Daily Beast defending the toddler bikini. I don’t like it at all. 

I’m not quite sure how I feel about toddler bikinis. Honestly, I think I agree with Grose on the issue for the most part, but I don’t like her argument one bit. It’s a mess.

Issues include:

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goofily named e-commerce website and blog, Goop, recently featured bikinis for girls 4 to 8 years old.

Don’t open the piece by making fun of the name of the website selling the bikinis. Even if you think Goop is a goofy name for a website (and I do not), it’s no way to begin an argument. Ad hominem attacks are unnecessary and undermine your authority.


“The British charity Kidscape, whose mission is to prevent bullying and child sexual abuse, took one look at the dour blonde child model donning the Odabash bikini on Goop and cried outrage.”

Also poorly argued. To imply that Kidscape “took one look” attempts to imply that the organization did not examine the issue closely before issuing their statement. Grose could not know this, and it is likely not true.

Also, using the phrase “cried outrage” implies that Kidscape’s statement was less than reasoned. Read the statement. Kidscape did not cry outrage. The organization released a statement that explained their opposition to these bikinis in clear, reasoned language, and I am quite sure this was written after more than just “one look.”


This isn’t the first time Kidscape has criticized a celebrity mom for her pro-bikini stance: They dissed Jessica Simpson back in September for putting her baby girl, Maxwell, in a yellow two-piece and showing pictures of the 4-month-old on Katie Couric’s show.

Dissed? Read their statement. Kidscape released a rationale statement expressing their concerns about these bathing suits, especially in light of Simpson’s celebrity status. They did not “dis” her. They did not attack her in any way. Once again, this is an attempt to imply an emotional response that simply did not exist.


“…if you unpack the logic behind it…”

This may be a personal preference, but “unpacking the logic” is a self- important phrase that carries no real meaning. You can examine the logic. Counter the logic. Debate the logic. Refute the logic. Oppose the logic. Even guffaw at the logic. But unpack the logic? Give me a break.


If you think there’s anything sexual about that child model’s presentation, you’re probably the kind of person who’s outraged by the retro Coppertone toddler. All that exposed cartoon flesh! The horror!

Not only does Grose make a broad assumption here (if you believe A, you must believe B), but she does not actually attempt to refute the opposition to the bikini or the retro Coppertone toddler. A sarcastic “All that exposed cartoon flesh! The horror!” is not an actual argument. There’s nothing wrong with a little sarcasm if it’s also supported with an actual reason or evidence, but Grose provides no reason whatsoever.


Beyond the misplaced fears of early sexualization, the other concern among the anti-bikini set is that girls who are put in bikinis at a young age will be more worried about their weight.

While I agree that these fears of early sexualization may be misplaced, Grose doesn’t actually make this argument. She simply dismisses them in this single transition sentence. “Beyond the misplaced fears of early sexualization?” When did we get beyond them?


But as Dr. Robyn Silverman tells the Today show, a mom’s attitude about body image is much more important for her daughter’s well-being than how much fabric her swimsuit has.

Agreed, but just because a mother’s attitude about body image trumps the amount of fabric in a toddler’s swimsuit does not mean that the swimsuit is irrelevant. No one is surprised that many factors play a role in a girl’s body issue, nor are we surprised that some factors might be more important than others. But to imply that the importance of one nullifies another entirely is an obvious a flaw in logic, packed or unpacked.

In addition to all of this, Grose cites expert’s appearances on The Today Show and a commenter on Jezebel in the piece, and other than a writer from the Daily Mail, these are the only sources she uses. I don’t think of any of these sources as serious or reliable. Basing your argument on the answers derived by third party journalists on a morning talk show is hardly the way to support your argument, and cherry-picking a random Jezebel commenter is convenient and ridiculous.  

As I said, I ultimately agree with Grose on the issue of the toddler bikini. I don’t think I have a problem with it unless it is designed in poor taste.

But I have a problem with this piece.

While the bikini doesn’t offend my sensibilities, Grose’s argument does. It’s careless and at times ridiculous.