Sunday, July 25, 2010

TV: Everybody is a spy

Sly Stone got it wrong -- "spy," not "star." Everybody is a spy.


Or apparently wants to be. Which explains a number of current details including the reception USA's newest drama is receiving. Covert Affairs (click here for Hulu page) stars Piper Perabo as CIA agent Annie Walker. Some in the press are wrongly calling her a "CIA trainee." Trainees are on the farm. She got plucked from the farm in the first episode and, at the end, it was decided to keep her in the field. She's not a trainee, she's an agent. It's not surprising that the character of Annie Walker would be downgraded -- the entire premise appears to exist for just that reason. But we'll get to that.

Let's get the cast out of the way. Christopher Gorham is her work-wife Auggie. He's a CIA genius who is also blind and also very horny. What might come off offensive from a sighted man is apparently cute from Gorham -- barring, of course, any surprise plot twist where Auggie gets charged with sexual harassment. Kari Matchett plays Annie's CIA boss Joan Campbell, Anne Dudek plays Annie's sister Danielle and Peter Gallagher plays Joan's husband and the CIA Director of the National Clandestine Service. Eion Bailey plays Ben Mercer whom Annie had hot, steamy island sex with in Sri Lanka before the series started.

Now let's get some of the problems out of the way. First off, green hair. Leave it to the male-dominated Water Cooler Set to use their peckers as some sort of precious metal detector and miss the obvious. Piper Perabo needs a trip to a professional salon where her hair can become the shade of blond she and the producers want it to be and not the cheap, green shade we're seeing on TV. Get it blond or let her go back to the natural color. It is awful and, tongues and knuckles dragging on the ground, the Water Cooler Set never found time to note it.

Some may ask, "That's the most serious problem?"

It is. Annie's nothing but a cupcake. She's not a real character. So let's not pretend that she is. The show's nothing but a cartoon -- nothing wrong with that and we love the spy cartoon Archer (click here for its Hulu page). A lot of people are trying to insist this is like Alias. We made it through that show's shelf-life biting our tongue and ignoring it because we saw nothing to praise. J.J., we owe you an apology. Compare Sydney (Alias) to Annie and there's a hell of a lot to praise.

In conversations with people working on Current Affairs, we repeatedly noted how weak (and pathetic) Annie is. And we were repeatedly told that wasn't the case. Leading us to retort, "Right, it's not just Annie, it's all the women."

They disagree and insist that by having Annie's Sri Lanka affair take place, she starts the show as a "full bodied sexual woman." No, that's not what it means at all. It would be great if it did. If Annie were a sexual being, great, wonderful, saints be praised. But she's not.

First off, she lives at her older sister's. Her married older sister. Who never stops lecturing her. Including when Annie is afraid of agreeing to be the guardian to her sister's children should something happen to her sister and her sister's (unseen) husband. Annie lives with her older sister, who fixes her up with pathetic men.

Seeing a sexual being there?

We're not either and we're not done. In Sri Lanka, Annie spends three weeks of sex with Ben who then leaves a note and vanishes on her. Hold on, we're not done. Annie's recruitment interview focuses on her sexual affair -- we're not joking. And that seems strange -- even for the repressed CIA -- until, at the end of the first episode, viewers learn that Ben is someone the CIA wants. That's why they recruited Annie, that's why they're taking her out of training on the farm and putting her in the field, that's why she's got Joan as her boss.

Sexual being? No, that's not what the affair conveys. It does not convey maturity or anything other than, "Here's a pawn we can use to catch a man!"

On Fringe, J.J. Abrams and company rightly increased the number of women after the show began airing. That included giving Olivia (Anna Torv) a sister. Giving her a sister, not a nag who constantly insults her life with words and actions. Did Annie really get a sister or did she get Phyllis Coates playing a nagging Lois Lane?

Then there's her boss. Joan. When Joan's not insulting Annie, she's chasing down her husband to accuse him of cheating on her, using her position to get lists of his phone calls, etc. Is he cheating on her? The viewer doesn't know but they do know that Joan's forever flying off the handle and when she is supposedly on the front line of the so-called 'terrorist' war, she's actually diverting resources to spy on her own husband.

Into that offensive mix, comes bumbling, stumbling Annie who -- in a throw back to Honey West -- is forever flirting and using feminine wiles to get her way while undercover. Playing a hooker, was it really necessary to stage the scene so that she kneels down at the crotch of the cop questioning her? (Seconds later, viewers and the cop will realize she did that to pick up a pair of discarded shoes.)

There's nothing sexually empowering about her, she's just one more whore slinging her ass around in an attempt to get it to accomplish what her brain apparently can't.

Did someone say "whore"?

Everybody wants to be a spy -- or at least a large portion of people. Which, we'll assume is what explains both Journolist and the grand denials issued since last week's outing. As with most good stories, we first learned of it last week from Hillary Is 44 (see "Hillary Was Smeared First - DailyCaller, Race-baiting JournoList, And DailyKos DailyKooks - The Big Media/Big Blog Cartel," "'Call Them Racists' - The New Racism And The Political Importance of JournoList JournoGate; JournoLister Ben Smith's Delusions; And Scooter Libby" and "The Barack Obama Campaign Started "Call Them Racist" - JournoList Followed - And A Shocking 'Hooray For Tucker Carlson'!") which highlighted and underscored key passages of Jonathan Strong's reporting on the tricksters of Journolist (Daily Caller) -- a list-serve of over 400 people -- who plotted how to attack anyone who questioned or even reported on Barack Obama, plotted how to take down political opponents and much more while pretending to be journalists.

Strong's reporting probably surprised few. For example, it documents the vile sexism. It documents how MSNBC cream puff Keith Olbermann's sexism was well known. They didn't miss it, they knew it. And they ignored it. Why? Luke Mitchell of Harper's magazine explained, "Olberman[sic] is irritating and his obvious sexism is reprehensible. But yes, someone going on TV and saying that torture is bad is a net positive."

Throughout 2008, sexism flourished and we watched with disgust as our feminist 'leaders' refused to call it out. Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan briefly called it out when it was targeting Hillary. They were attacked for doing so and quickly WHORED themselves out to the patriarchy. There is no way to rewrite that or pretty it up, as painful as it is to say, that's what they did.

And, girls, that's who you were helping: Men like Luke. Men who will forever use women as the canaries in the coalmine. We are dispensable, we are disposable. Our safety is not an issue.

"Olberman[sic] is irritating and his obvious sexism is reprehensible. But yes, someone going on TV and saying that torture is bad is a net positive."

Sexism is a-okay as long as you toss out a down-with-torture remark? Because, apparently, without Olbermann, the American people would never know that torture is wrong?

How many prisoners do you think the US tortured overseas? Now tell us many women got beaten in the United States last year? Or raped? We'd argue women were at greater risk in this country than prisoners were around the world at the hands of the US. We're not denying the torture, we know it went on, we know it continues to. We're noting that women in the United States are repeatedly ignored, are repeatedly told to wait, are forever being ignored.

Here are some statistics, from NOW, that Little Luke never grasped:

*According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year
* According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006.
*In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner

Why are these numbers so high? Because men like Luke Mitchell and outlets like Harper's magazine refuse to take crimes against women seriously, refuse to take violence against women seriously, continue to repeatedly sell us out.

Understand please, women will get their turn . . . when every other problem and issue is solved. That's the Luke Mitchell way. And that's why women -- especially those of us who are feminists -- need to stop embracing the patriarchy. Women sold out other women to hop on board the Barack bus so they wouldn't be attacked or called mean names. There was never a reason to do that. And if the Journolist does anything, hopefully it confirms how women are really seen -- even with other women present -- there were women on the Journolist and that didn't mean a damn thing, now did it?

During the Democratic Party primaries, FAIR stayed silent. In all its various forms, it stayed silent. It refused to call out the sexism that never stopped while each week insisting everything was racism. As we noted May 25, 2008, their radio program CounterSpin finally discovered (briefly) sexism:

Peter Hart: One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are. Not everyone's so out in the open. MSNBC host Chris Matthews opened his May 18th show wondering how Barack Obama would connect with regular Democrats? Obviously code for working class Whites. This would seem to make the millions of Obama voters so far irregular. But then consider the May 14th op-ed by Washington Post Writers Group Kathleen Parker. She wrote about 'full bloodness' and the patriot divide between Obama and John McCain offering that there is "different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines through generations of sacrifice." This makes Obama less American than his likely Republican rival and his success part of a larger threat "There is a very real sense that once upon a time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity." Well thanks to The Washington Post, Parker's rant appeared in newspapers around the country including the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. We're not sure what those papers used for a headline but one blogger suggest [nonsense] would do. Parker's attack wasn't even new. Before in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wondered if Obama had ever gotten misty thinking about his country's rich heritage. John McCain by contrast "carries it in his bones." There's an appetite in corporate media for such repellent ideas as Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell recalled, Noonan's column was praised by NBC's anchor Brian Williams as Pulitzer worthy.

As we pointed out then, their cries of racism requires interpretation. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the discussion of Hillary on CNN was the text itself, no subtext, no searching. And yet, note what happened: One damn sentence. Who called her a bitch? Never are you told. Who participated? No names are given. Because sexism just didn't matter and had we not repeatedly called out FAIR during 2008 and had we not, in fact, shamed them the week prior, that one tiny little sentence of criticism wouldn't have been made. Sexism was a-okay with FAIR. Their former 'women's desk' Laura Flanders couldn't get enough of the sexism either which is how she ended up on KPFA in February pontificating on what she termed Hillary's "cackle" -- pointificating long after the likes of Chris Matthews had stopped using the term after their sexism was called out.

Whores, all of them whores.

Katha Pollitt was just the most transparent. We called her out repeatedly as the Democratic Party primary wound down when she thought she was being 'brave' by calling out Tom Hayden's latest bit of sexism. We weren't offended that she called Tom out, we were offended by the confession she didn't seem to realize she'd made, how she'd decided not to call out sexism to "do my bit for Obama" (we've called her out many, many times for that, first right here). Katha, for those who have forgotten, was the first female columnist to insist that the feminist thing to do was to vote for Barack and not Hillary. Katha's been whoring a long, long time.

Which is why it was no surprise to find her declaring, on Journolist, "I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita."

The only thing that honestly surprises us about that statement is: Where was Bob? Truly, where was Bob Somerby? Hasn't he made his website all about refuting these sort of lies? Juanita Broadrick is an apparently unstable woman who made a claim that Bill Clinton raped her but never brought charges against him and couldn't get the basic details of her story right. That combined with her emergence during the last days of the Bill Clinton witch hunt has always made her unreliable.

Katha, we don't vouch for crackpots. We know that's hard for you to understand because, without crackpots, you'd have no one to sell your bad 'poetry' too.

Kathleen? Kathleen Willey? Really, Katha? Here's Bob Somerby on 'poor' Kathleen Willey who had Katha weeping tears:

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that there was good reason not to believe Willey’s story. Indeed, Independent Counsel Robert Ray would eventually give up on Willey. In his formal report on the Clinton investigations, Ray said that Willey had lied to the FBI; he even suggested that he had considered prosecuting her for her conduct. But when these embarrassing facts became known, your “press corps” did the thing it does best. It kept the evidence from public view, conducting its latest scam on the public. Few recent events do a better job of showing the depth of this press corps' dysfunction. The Willey affair shows how reflexively dishonest your contemporary "press" really is.

If Katha has trouble brushing off the claims of a professional liar maybe it's because Katha hangs with so many?

That leaves Paula and Monica. Monica had a consensual relationship with Bill Clinton. What's to attack, Katha? A woman decides to have a relationship with a married man. It's not exactly novel, it's not exactly newsworthy. You've certainly slept with married men yourself, Katha. Paula is Paula Jones whose story changed from one moment to the next (as did whom she was suing). Was she propositioned once by Bill Clinton? Did she have an affair with Bill Clinton?

Here's reality for Katha: Journalists are supposed to pay attention to details and when details change repeatedly and when the people involved are paid for their stories, they are no longer seen as reliable sources. We're not surprised we'd have to explain journalism to Katha or, for that matter, to anyone on the Journolist.

Nothing surprised us. That Luke Mitchell of Harper's is a sexist pig surprises us after Third's July 5, 2009 feature "Harper's magazine: Only pencil neck males allowed" which explained that the first six months of the year found Harper's publishing 129 male bylines to 28 female ones? And that feature followed up on earlier coverage of Harper's (also see "Arthur Krystal delivers a lesson in exclusion" and "The sexism at Harper's").

Journalism is supposed to report, it is supposed to inform and illuminate. It cannot do so when it obscures and obfiscates. The people taking part in Journolist were not practicing journalism. They were engaging in conversations that should not have been held. An NPR weirdo thinks she can excuse herself because it was supposed to be "private" but, as Elaine points out, the privacy was the most offensive part of it.

Those who were supposed to bring the truths instead wanted to make like duplicitous spies. They wanted to invent narratives and devise strategies to trick and decieve the American public. That's not journalism. And that they can't figure out what they did wrong is amazing. That they're still employed may be the only truly surprising thing about the entire scandal.

At least in terms of those participating. What's most surprising to us about the scandal is how little has been done. We're talking about by Strong and others. For example, there's a lot of lying going on at Journolist and maybe that's so dots don't get connected.

Weighing in on Keith Olbermann, for example, Spencer Ackerman declared, "I hate both Ben Affleck and Saturday Night Live, but this should end all debate about the merits of Olbermann" -- linking to Ben's wonderful parody.

Are we the only ones who catch the lie? And let's note Spencer's just gone from double agent to triple agent.

Headwriter Seth and pony boy Spence are very, very tight. Does no one make these connections? How about Richard Kim?

Does no one connect The Nation writer to someone else?

Maybe we knew too much during 2008 but we're fully aware that Katrina vanden Heuvel's former coffee fetcher was in regular and repeated contact with Kim. Which raises the issue of the coffee fetchers and the whores coordinating. Certainly Kim's writing was linked to by the coffee fetcher. Linked to at the Obama campaign site. Because the coffee fetcher was the Obama campaign official blogger. Remember that?

We're kind of limited on what we can say here in part because the coffee fetcher had a meltdown and insisted one of us (C.I.) was "destroying my life!" But we can nudge you, we can steer towards where you need to go.

So what we can tell you right now is that Spencer and Seth are tight and that there was coordination between the Obama campaign and the Journolist.

Now nobody may want to connect those dots and we have to review whether we agreed to drop mentioning coffee fetcher by name forever or just through 2008 (agreed when he was in the midst of his meltdown). But those are details, those are threads that people should have been picking up. When the campaign's official blogger, for example, leaves The Nation magazine to work for the campaign, Daily Caller should now be examining the relationships between the campaign and The Nation magazine.

Coffee fetcher left to work on the campaign. Coffee fetcher did the right thing. Had any of the Journolist creeps bothered to do the same thing, they wouldn't be in trouble. You can take a sabbatical and work on a campaign. That is allowed. You cannot, however, use your platform to trick and deceive which is what the Journolist people did.

People thought they were reading or hearing independent thoughts from independent journalists and they weren't. They were being tricked. And that maybe the most damaging thing about a distraction like Covert Affairs or Alias before it. Mindless entertainment gets taken seriously and it gets emulated. You sort of picture Spencer as the Maxwell Smart of his set but you know he sees himself along the lines of James Bond. We'd correct him were it not for the fact that it's more honest than his pretending he's a modern day Woodward and Bernstein.
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