Friday Night Lights: My Own Real Story

Gloria Feldt

A "truth-telling" episode of NBC's Friday Night Lights, dealing with teen pregnancy and abortion, represented the realities of life in a small Texas town. I know: I lived there.

On July 9th, 2010, the hit NBC drama Friday Night Lights, a fictional show based on the nonfiction book of the same name, depicted the decision made by Becky–a 15-year-old high school student facing an unwanted pregancy from a night of unprotected sex with a schoolmate–to have an abortion. It was, as noted by the New York Times, the first time in decades such a decision has been depicted–and accurately–by a network.  As part of a discussion among pro-choice advocates of the episode, Gloria Feldt had the following response, which she agreed to share with Rewire. She includes here a link for those who want to send a note of appreciation to the producers of FNL for its honest portrayal of the issues in a time when anti-choice forces circulate so much misinformation about women’s health and rights.  See also Sarah Seltzer’s earlier review of the show when it first appeared on DirecTV.

On a personal note, it pleases me no end that this truth-telling episode appeared on “Friday Night Lights.” The show is based on [H. G.] Buzz Bissinger’s book of that same name, a sociology of the very West Texas town (Odessa, Texas) where I lived for 20 years, and the high school (Permian) from which my three children graduated. Not only do I know Dillon/Odessa and its hardscrabble culture all too well, it was where I moved as a 15-year-old pregnant teen with my new husband. We hailed from an even smaller West Texas town where our football team was truly the only game around (my high school classmates still play the 8-millimeter film of our state championship game at every reunion if that gives you a clue). At least Odessa has supermarkets and movie theaters!

Odessa was also where two things came full circle: my growing understanding of the complexity of childbearing decisions, and my growing realization that–though I loved my children more than anything–I would have been a much better parent if I’d waited 10 or 20 years to have them. My 30-year career with Planned Parenthood began when I became executive director of the fledgling affiliate there in 1974–an affiliate now headed by a woman who was in my older daughter’s Permian High graduating class.

Sadly, I know from stories I still [hear] from young women that the same time-warped pattern repeats itself: teen girl wants to please football player boyfriend and gets pregnant. The good news is that these stories now–regardless of what the girl decided to do about the pregnancy–are much more likely to end in a statement of appreciation for having had choices in the first place. This particular episode of FNL is a testament to the fact that regardless of the reactionary, shaming culture and a media with a rightward tilt, real life women will find a way to save their own lives even in unlikely places like the fictional Dillon and the very real Odessa.

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I’ve sent NBC a note of appreciation and urge all of you to do same. We’re good at reacting when we don’t like something, but less so when there’s a show worthy of applause.

Here’s where you can go to send a comment:
http://www.nbc.com/contact/general/

The series is executive produced by Peter Berg (the film “Friday Night Lights,” “Hancock”), who also wrote and directed the pilot. Joining Berg as executive producers are Jason Katims (“Roswell”), Brian Grazer (“Frost/Nixon,” “The Da Vinci Code”), David Nevins (“Arrested Development”), Sarah Aubrey (“The Kingdom”) and Jeffrey Reiner (“Caprica”). “Friday Night Lights” is a production of Universal Media Studios, Imagine Entertainment and Film 44, in case you want to target a specific individual.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.

News Politics

With Primary Wins, Clinton Is First Woman to Become Presumptive Nominee of Major Party

Ally Boguhn

Celebrating her victory at a rally in Brooklyn Tuesday night, the former secretary of state pointed to the historic nature of her campaign. "Thanks to you, we've reached a milestone: the first time in our nation's history that a woman will be a major party's nominee," declared Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared herself the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for the 2016 presidential election after a string of Tuesday night primary victories and a survey of superdelegates conducted by the Associated Press (AP).

Celebrating her victory at a rally in Brooklyn Tuesday night, Clinton pointed to the historic nature of her campaign. “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone: the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” declared Clinton. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

Going on to praise rival Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for “the extraordinary campaign he has run,” Clinton pointed to the shared goals of the two campaigns. “Let there be no mistake, Senator Sanders, his campaign, and the vigorous debate that we’ve had about how to raise incomes, reduce inequality, increase upward mobility, have been very good for the Democratic party and for America.” 

Clinton went on to pivot to the general election, criticizing presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump as “temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief.” Clinton then spoke of the road ahead: “The end of the primaries is only the beginning of the work we are called to do,” she said. “But if we stand together, we will rise together, because we are stronger together.”

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Tuesday’s presidential primaries boosted Clinton’s delegate lead over Sanders, with wins in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Sanders won both Montana and the North Dakota caucuses. NBC News reported that night that, projecting a win in California, Clinton had secured more than half of all pledged delegates in the Democratic primary:

Based on initial vote reports from California, NBC News has allocated 140 delegates to both Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders. That gives Clinton 2,043 delegates, more than half of the pledged delegates up for grabs throughout the primary season.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, whose organization endorsed Clinton in January, reiterated the organization’s support for the former secretary of state in a Tuesday night statement. “Secretary Clinton’s victory tonight is a victory for all women because she is the model of a true champion for reproductive freedom,” said Hogue. “NARAL will be out in force to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next president—not Donald Trump.”

Clinton has been a vocal supporter of reproductive rights while on the campaign trail, though the Democratic candidate has also signaled her support for restrictions on some later abortions.

The former secretary of state reportedly spoke of the historical significance of a potential win Tuesday night during a campaign stop in California, prior to reports that she had become the party’s presumptive nominee.

“My supporters are passionate. They are committed. They have voted for me in great numbers across the country for many reasons,” said Clinton Monday according to the Washington Post. “But among the reasons is their belief that having a woman president would make a great statement—a historic statement—about what kind of country we are, what we stand for. It’s really emotional.”

Tuesday also marked the eight-year anniversary of Clinton’s speech conceding the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, which similarly mentioned the progress her campaign had made for women. “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it’s got about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before,” said Clinton that night, urging her supporters to back her rival in the race for president.

AP first projected Clinton as the presumptive nominee Monday after conducting a “count of pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses and a survey of party insiders known as superdelegates,” ultimately concluding that the Democratic candidate had the required 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Sanders and his supporters swiftly condemned the media for calling the race before Tuesday’s primaries results were in. “It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” said Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs in a Monday statement.

“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination,” continued Briggs. “Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”

As the New York Times’ The Upshot blog explained, this is not the first time a count including superdelegates was used to declare a presumptive nominee. “The news networks projected that Mr. Obama was the presumptive nominee in the 2008 Democratic primary based on the same rules for tabulating superdelegates,” noted writer Nate Cohn Tuesday.

Politico reported last week Sanders would need “to persuade nearly 200 Hillary Clinton superdelegates to bolt from her camp” in order to win the nomination—a difficult feat given that thus far no superdelegates have made that switch and only about 30 changed candidates in 2008.

Even as Tuesday night’s results came in, Sanders pledged to continue his fight for the Democratic nomination. “Next Tuesday we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C. … And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” said Sanders during a rally in California.