Sunday, June 12, 2011
In fact, attorney, Bill Quigley has documented that more than 2600 activists have been arrested since Obama was sworn in 2009.
The Constitutional Lawyer turned POTUS is committing atrocities against peace, justice and human rights at a pace that Bush and Cheney only dreamed possible. If Obama can’t have one of us arrested or executed on his orders, then he will gladly diagnose our principled questioning as a mental disorder. Obama even told [Scott] Pelley of 60 Minutes that if any American dare question his obvious lies around the re-death of Osama bin Laden, then he/she should have “their heads examined.”
-- Cindy Sheehan, "Police State Much?" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).
According to Glenn, we have to wait until Obama is defeated and a Republican is installed in the White House before we can properly judge the motives of antiwar/civil libertarian Republicans and gauge them on his Sincerity Meter. I, for one, am not willing to wait that long – and we don’t have to. The reality is that – given the conduct of the "progressives" in Congress, and in the media, during the Obama years – it’s the sincerity of the "progressives," whose faith in government is apparently boundless, that really has to be called into question.
A long Sunday. We weren't planning on having a special edition or theme. But Ava and C.I. were writing their piece for this edition and stopped to inform us, "We've got one long piece. We think it would be smart to break it up into two pieces. And that's shelving one aspect we really wanted to tackle."
At which point, we started thinking about a theme. Dona was doing a piece on videos. Could we turn it into a TV theme? Yes, we could.
First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And what did we come up with?
So that's what we ended up with. Pretty good edition, I think. Next week? We don't know yet but for those of you e-mailing -- our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org -- to ask about our annual summer read edition, we will be doing that this summer as usual. It could be as early as next week. It could be later than that. This will be our seventh summer read edition. I'd like to tell you we've planne for it but the reality is that we'll pull it together as we go, the way we generally do.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
It's news. And you might have read about it in some of the print outlets. You even saw it on the screen . . . if you watched Al Jazeera Arabic.
But if you turned to one of the US newscasts, you learned that, even when there's video of an attack, broadcast news just isn't interested.
Wednesday a US soldier died in Iraq (Matthew J. England). It wasn't broadcast news for most.
How many deaths does it take to be broadcast news?
Monday we learned that for ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, five US soldiers dying in Iraq on one day is not enough to qualify as news. The program had time for Weiner-gate, had time for a segment noting Katie Couric had signed with ABC (Couric did not take part in that segment) and for many other things. But Diane and company didn't feel 5 US soldiers dying in Iraq was news.
The Defense Dept. identified the five:
Their deaths were news to their families. Their deaths were news to their friends. Their deaths were news in their home towns and home states. How strange that professional journalists working for a network news division couldn't see that the deaths were news.
How strange that The NewsHour -- with an hour to fill on 'commerical free' PBS -- couldn't do a report on the five deaths, could only offer it up as a brief headline, not even the first headline of the night, mind you. Buried in the mix, three brief sentences.
Nouri al-Maliki and Ahmed Chalabi are now at odds. That's also not news that's worth broadcasting, apparently.
When Iraq is mentioned, it's with the lie that it's a 'success' and a 'democracy.' Diane Sawyer was happy to swallow that crap when US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was squeezing it out Monday. The same day 5 US soldiers died in Iraq and Diane deemed it not news, she was allowing Gates to lie to the country.
Iraq held elections in March 2010. These were national elections, parliemantary elections. Those elected to the Parliament would vote in a prime minister. The prime minister would establish a Cabinet. This was not a new development or something Iraq hadn't already done before (elections in December 2005, prime minister-desigante in April 2006, prime minister and Cabinet in May 2006).
But it is now one year and three months since Iraq held elections and the country still has no Minister of Interior, Minister of Defense or Minister of National Security. That's not a functional government, let alone a successful one.
As broadcast news drives more and more viewers away by refusing to report the news, they have no one to blame but themselves for their own obsolescence.
Most untruthful tales start with a huckster. We were reminded of that last week when Old Man Moyers was on Democracy Now! and felt the need to declare of Jon Stewart, "And Jon Stewart is a remarkable satirist and parodist in the vein of Mark Twain, because Jon Stewart understands what Mark Twain knew, which is that the truth goes down more easily in a democracy when it’s marinated in humor." It's that sort of hyperbole that's damaged The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
Last week, The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik twice (here and here) attempted to inject some reality into the public discourse. He was critiquing Stewart's efforts at addressing the topic of texts and Anthony Weiner. On that, we'll just note that when you bring on a wheel with a dildo attached to it for a joke (as Stewart did), you're no longer commenting from above, you are in the sewer.
Though Zurawik focused on Weiner-gate, we saw other things that disturbed us far more. (For those who don't use links, Zurawik felt that Stewart let Weiner off too easy and that Stewart needed to apologize for his previous attacks on CNN for covering the story.)
He interviewed some nothing that we won't bother to identify by name because it's not our policy to promote deceit or deceitful books. The 'author' was on to talk about Osama bin Laden apparently. He was telling Jon Stewart that (a) it was right to invade Pakistan's national soveriegnty and to give the Pakistani government no heads up, (b) it was right to dump his body in the sea and (c) it was right not to release any photos.
Anyone of those three is a controversial position -- except on basic cable where Jon Stewart comfortably resides. He agreed with the thug and congratulated the thug on helping him see that the public's right to know really wasn't that important.
We have watched in horror as Jon Stewart has turned himself into The Fourth Stooge in order to even slightly critique the Barack Obama administration (with a lot of funny voices and yuck-yucks) but that did not prepare us for what we saw in that interview.
But even that didn't prepare us for the racism. We don't watch The Daily Show regularly. Until this week, the last time we caught it was when Jon was interviewing Michael Steele after Steele was no longer the RNC Chair. We cringed at that encounter because it included a puppet of Steele and a voice. This was apparently a regular feature. We were seeing it for the first time. It didn't sound a bit like Michael Steele to us but maybe we were missing something?
We were willing to consider that might be the case. But then came last week and we caught him ridiculing Herman Cain. First, he ridiculed Tim Pawlenty for addressing issues. This in an episode whose premise was that real news had been missed to focus on gossip. (NOT WORK SAFE -- there's a dildo in the video, click here to watch.) Then they play a clip of Cain espousing that if he was president, he would make sure that no bill was longer than three pages. Since Congress writes the bills, the only way any president could 'enforce' that would be to refuse to sign any bill passed that happened to be over three pages. We didn't really agree with him but it wasn't a big deal to us either way. (But then we don't look to Think Progress for our daily talking point of how awful Republicans are and how wonderful we are.) Maybe Republicans agree this is a big issue? We don't know, we're not Republicans and haven't spoken to any about length of bills. Regardless, whether you agreed with him or not, racism wasn't a valid response.
Yet again, we were hearing that voice.
The same one that bothered us when it was used for a Michael Steele puppet.
Since neither Steele nor Cain speak like Fred Sanford (the character made famous by Red Foxx), why the hell does Jon Stewart insist upon voicing them that way?
And is no one aware how racist that comes off?
(We'll assume you know what Michael Steele actually sounds like. If you don't know what Herman Cain speaks like, click here for this Washington Unplugged video by CBS News.)
It's really amazing to grasp that the same core group of people who hiss "racist!" at every Republican are watching these racist portrayals of Michael Steele and Herman Cain on The Daily Show and laughing. These are Amos & Andy portrayals and they need to stop. We didn't jump to the conclusion when we saw it with Steele months ago. We were willing to wait and forget it if it didn't come up again. But now it has. And it is racist and it needs to stop.
Notice how we did that? We called it out and we spoke clearly and we didn't turn it into a joke or rush to assure you that Jon Stewart has a pure heart. Remember that.
Yes, boys and girls, we're now moving on to the other overly praised in the Water Cooler's Petting Zoo, Tina Fey.
Tracy Morgan acts on 30 Rock. He has done so despite having to report for work with an ankle bracelet because he was on probation. He has done so despite numerous homophobic remarks -- in comedy club appearances and out of them. Until last week, it was never a big deal to NBC or Tina Fey. But last week, Morgan's 'antics' made the news. See Betty's "Tracy Morgan is disgusting," Rebecca's "the disgusting tracy morgan," Marcia's "Morgan, Fey and Baldwin treat homophobia as a joke," and Mike's "Idiot of the week: Ron Nyswaner" for details about Morgan's homophobic rant onstage which included threatening violence on his own son should his son turn out to be gay, insisting women who said they were lesbians just hated men, stating that being gay was a "choice" and much more.
It was disgusting and it was appalling. As the pressure built, Morgan knew he had to do something and, on Friday, he issued a written statement that did not disavow any of his remarks. His written statement said he went "too far" but it did not say that he didn't believe what he stated onstage.
Tina Fey felt the need to . . . Get attention. So she wrote what she thought was a humorous piece. And some idiots loved it. Denise Guguay gushed "Ain't Tina Fey just the best?" (Montreal Gazette). Uh, no, she isn't. When we called out the racism earlier in this piece, we did so. We did so clearly. Tina Fey elected to turn it into a writing piece, a humor piece.
That undercuts any power it might have had because it stops being about what happened and becomes about how 'clever' Tina Fey is.
She's clever enough to have gotten through five seasons and counting of homophobia on 30 Rock, that's for sure. We've called it out before but let's revisit since somewhere Tracy Morgan got the idea that it was okay to be homophobic. Maybe he got it from the 30 Rock scripts?
Take the final episode this year, "Respawn." To shake Jack out of his depression over Avery being held hostage in North Korea, Liz decides to make him angry. Where's the first place she goes? Two women adopting a child together.
When people say 30 Rock has jumped the shark, it's moments like that they can point to. The third episode of the first season had Jack doing what to Liz? Fixing her up on a blind date with a friend of his named "Thomas," Gretchen Thomas. If Jack were opposed to two women being together, would he be arranging dates? No.
That third episode was probably the last time 30 Rock addressed gay issues without being insulting. We catalogued many examples last February. We didn't include "Respawn" because it hadn't aired. We also didn't include "Klaus and Greta" (episode nine of season four). But in that episode, Liz outs her cousin Randy who then shows up in NYC to stay with her. Randy goes clubbing and is seen the next morning with a clear-to-white sticky substance that has dried on his face and "SLUT" written in marker across his forehead while talking about 'activities' -- "I meant to wash it off. But when I got into the bathroom everything started up again."
Tracy Morgan didn't need to learn homphobia in his personal life, he could encounter it near weekly on 30 Rock where the few gay characters that do exist are promiscuous men who mince around and "gay" is used as an insult and punchline by all characters. "Plan B" hadn't aired last February, so we didn't mention it either. But that episode was the return of Devon Banks (Will Arnett), the gay character to appear most frequently on the show. Devon now has a husband (unseen) and they have babies.
But this being 30 Rock and Devon being gay, he can't have babies, he has "gaybies." How is that funny and who in their right mind would think it was acceptable to call babies that? On top of that, Devon uses one of the babies (the one with the best cheekbones) to get ahead at work and even vomits on himself and passes it off as the baby's vomit. And then in a moment that if it had happened to a woman character would have resulted in outrage, Devon gets the big promotion he's always wanted but . . . falls apart because he'd have to leave the triplets. Strange that they've never thought to put that scene with a straight man but automatically go there when presenting a gay character. Someone needs to explain not only to Tracy Morgan but to Tina Fey that gay men are not women with penises.
Tracy Morgan may have thought he could treat gays like freaks in part because that's how 30 Rock has repeatedly treated gay people.
For Tina Fey to show up with her 'hilarious' little essay was not only hypocritical, it also turned the whole thing into a joke. Wanda Sykes called out Tracy Morgan and Roland Martin (Martin for defending the homophobic remarks):
And for anyone who thinks, "They've barely touched on Tracy Morgan," we made our thoughts known on him long ago. We don't need to revisit it. We have nothing to atone for. After all, we didn't sit down with him and chuckle over his saying this on Saturday Night Live.
I don't need to hear him sing to know I don't like it. I just think he's bizarre. I mean, you're a real dude. You be fixing your transmissions and everything, man. That dude is fruit of cake, man, sweet like bear meat.
For those who can't figure that out, Tracy Morgan is expressing homophobia in that skit from Saturday Night Live (written by Tina Fey). We don't find Tracy Morgan funny. We certainly didn't enable his homophobia by writing those lines or, worse, by playing that on NPR. But Terry Gross, didn't she? And never explored the homophobia. She spent 39 minutes on air with him in October of 2009 (and decided the repulsive interview made for 'holiday' repeats) and, of all the SNL skits, she picks that one to go with. She promotes the homophobia, she gives it her stamp of approval. We wouldn't piss on Tracy Morgan if he were on fire (to steal from the late, great Cass Elliot) but we're under no delusions that a huge portion of the 'left' has been waiving through repulsive behavior, encouraging it, for some time now. It's past time the Water Cooler Set took some accountability.
Two radio goons, Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) and Amy Goodman (Pacifica and Public Access' Democracy Now!) interviewed two TV buffons, Keith Olbermann and Bill Moyers, and anything that passed for informative was unintentionally so.
Let's start with Terry just because she has an audience (though we have no idea why). The greetings had just been exchanged when Olbermann clued everyone in that he was yet again climbing up on the cross, "But the premise of the change [from MSNBC to Current TV] was that what I saw coming for many years in the entirety of television news - this is not specific to NBC or MSNBC - but I just saw an environment growing, in which there were more and more conflicts of interest within these large national corporations or even multinational corporations. Where no matter what you said, you had the potential to affect some other part of the big company's business."
Keith of Bethlehem was allegedly explaining about his time at MSNBC and implying that he left because he was too hard hitting and hurting GE. Really? We must have missed his expose on GE destroying the Hudson River. In his explanation of how GE was preoccupied with their own businesses and divisions, Keith gave as an example: Fox News.
No, GE does not and did not own Fox News. So Keith's talk was (as usual) muddled but it only got worse.
His example of the problems at MSNBC due to 'synergy'? Fox News?
He couldn't tell anything about it, not first hand. This is supposedly how he knew it was getting time to leave MSNBC, that's what he says.
So, in other words, he found out that it was time to leave MSNBC by reading The New York Times?
According to him, he never had any bad experiences himself, but he read, he read plenty:
I can't point to a specific example. But I think it is well-documented that two summers ago -- and I'm relying mostly on reporting that I read in the New York Times to relate this to you, as opposed to anything I knew firsthand -- there were negotiations between GE and News Corp about what should and should not be in each of their companies' news networks' content, relative to each other's corporations. [. . .] What I can tell you is that it was widely reported at the time, and to some things that I certainly did not know about, that Mr. Immelt of GE, and Mr. Ailes, on behalf of Fox and News Corps., got together at Mr. Immelt's office and just sort of batted back and forth what they could do to stop that.
'I didn't know about it but it's why I left." Ourselves? We leave a job, a relationship or just a party, we know why.
Reality, Keith burned another bridge. Years before he left, we were telling you he was being pushed slowly to the door. But Keith's revisionary history insists he was getting ready to leave himself because of the fact that GE was interested in protecting its own divisions and it was putting a crimp on him and yet the best example he can provide is some deal GE and Fox supposedly entered into. We don't doubt that they did but shouldn't Keith know if they did? If GE and Fox agreed that Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann would each tone it down about the other, shouldn't Bill and Keith know?
Because she's nothing but a schill, Terry Gross played Olbermann giving O'Reilly a "Worst Person of the Week." Why do we say that? For several reasons.
First, MSNBC and NBC first began exploring how valuable Olbermann was to MSNBC when he began attacking reporters. This is an excerpt of the remarks by Olbermann that began to sink his ship, "It is analysis that strikes me as having borne no resemblance to the speech you and I just watched. None whatsoever. And for it to be distributed by the lone national news organization in terms of wire copy to newspapers around the country and web sites is a remarkable failure of that news organization. Charles Babington, find a new line of work." We know Charlie Babington (as we've noted before) and that might be one of the reasons why NBC and MSNBC suits and news division types told us Keith was in hot water in August 2008. It may also be because, as we noted in that article, it followed his attack on Katie Couric -- an attack that led us to ask several in the front offices what the hell was going on at MSNBC?
That was June 2008 and Katie was declared "Worst Person of the Week" by Keith Olbermann for this commentary noting sexism and the media and a speech she had given the night before. The commentary is straight foward and on the money. The speech? She noted a very obvious fact, Lee Cowan shouldn't have been assigned by NBC News to cover Barack Obama on the campaign trail if he's confessing on air to Brian Williams that he can't be objective about Barack. In his "Worst Person," Keith especially took offense to that and snarled that Cowan was objective and fair. (We called out Cowan in January of 2008 for that statement.)
No, he clearly wasn't. And Keith Olbermann doesn't understand a damn thing about conflicts of interest and the appearence of them. Terry made a bigger fool of herself than usual when she gladly went along with Keith's little ethics lecture.
He got suspended for donating to political candidates -- something you're not allowed to do when you work for NBC News. He still doesn't get it as evidenced by his continued spinning on this subject. He told Terry, "If you were purporting to do a straight news broadcast, if you did the hourly radio newscast on CBS News and you donated money to a campaign, that I can see a sincere conflict of interest. If you're doing a political opinion show and your opinions are nearly universally liberal, and you have been caught donating to Democratic candidates in three instances, I don't think there's a conflict of interest. If the candidates had been donating to you, I could see that as a problem. Or if you were, say, had made a donation while interviewing them or in some period of time other than when you were not covering them, it begins to get a little cloudy. But none of those things applied to the instance last year when I donated to Jack Conway in Kentucky and Gabby Giffords and Raul Grijalva in Arizona." What applied "to the instance last year" was the written guidelines. What applied were the standards his employer expected him to uphold. He refused to do so, he got in trouble for it. Was he wrong? Yes, he was wrong. NBC already had a bad reputation thanks to MSNBC antics. (Some at NBC even blame the poor ratings for NBC's prime time line up on the fallout from the MSNBC antics.)
Not only does he not grasp that written policy is written policy and you can protest it and you can call it out. But if you make no noise and then break it, get caught and get disciplined, stop your damn whining.
He has no ethics at all. He doesn't even understand what ethics are or why a code of ethics is necessary for a news outlet. He insisted, "I had one my last interview with Grijalva, and later that night I made my donations." He also stated, "And I knew that on Tuesday night we were not covering the congressional elections on MSNBC. So essentially, my coverage of Raul Grijalva and my coverage of - certainly of Gabby Giffords - was to end on that day. And therefore, I thought ethically there was nothing wrong with it and the slightest." Deciding you'll donate to someone but waiting until after your coverage is finished to do so isn't ethical and doesn't mean you didn't slant your coverage.
More importantly, ethics are not a lecture from Keith Olbermann. Network news divisions have ethical guidelines for the viewers. They exist to assure the viewer that the network tries to be impartial. And chief in every network's guideline is that you're not only supposed to avoid conflicts of interests, you're supposed to avoid anything that could appear to be a conflict of interest.
His actions clearly created an appearance of conflict of interest and they contaminated the entire NBC news division. Not that he gives a damn about that even now. He was smearing them on Terry's show and she was letting him get away with it. According to Keith, at some point, the Bush administration tried to contact him. They couldn't because they spelled "Olbermann" with one "n" causing the e-mail to be bounced back repeatedly. Desperate, they e-mailed, according to Keith, "[. . .] they sent these talking points to all the people who they considered friendly at NBC News, and said, would you pass this on to Keith Olbermann? So I got this same email with talking points for Joe Wilson forwarded to me by seven or eight people at NBC News. And literally, I then had a list of all the people at NBC News that the Bush Administration thought were theirs."
And Terry Gross let that b.s. pass.
Regardless of whether it's Bush or Barack, Bill or Reagan in the White House, if the White House is attempting to contact someone with a network's news division and someone else in that division is asked if they can pass something along, they will. Let's use Terry Moran as an example because he's at ABC News and doesn't factor into this. If tomorrow the White House announces they want to contact Jake Tapper but their e-mail to him keeps bouncing back, if they pass something onto Terry, he's going to slide it over to Jake. It doesn't matter if it's flattering or threatening or what have you. It is a professional courtesy for a collegue at the very least. The same is true of NPR and Terry Gross knows that. She whored her program out which isn't a first, but we can't remember her ever whoring out her program before so that an entire news division could be pissed on by angry, fired worker.
Somehow she made it through the entire broadcast (38 minutes) without ever mentioning sexism. Despite the fact that, as Bob Somerby has long documented, click here for one example, it was not a passing moment but one of the main strands in Olbermann's program. But, as Marcia reminded last week, was it really surprising that Gross wouldn't address sexism? In 2010, only 18.54% of Terry's guests were women.
Keith Olbermann couldn't stop lying. About going to Current TV, he insisted it's tiny audience is just like MSNBC, but people forget!, when he started there. No, it isn't. Donahue, who was on MSNBC before Olbermann, had well over a million viewers each night. Most irrirating and illuminating -- of him and Terry -- was their discussion of his 'special comment' on ObamaCare. "Death panels!" they all but hissed. They weren't mad at the 'idiots' who fell for the lie about death panels, they were made at the liars.
Reality, implying that people are stupid is no way to ever win them over. While we don't feel that the panels are "death panels," that's our opinion. We are comfortable with our opinion and we're aware that other people sometimes feel differently. On the supposed 'educational radio,' they never grapsed it nor on Keith's show. But if, one example only, you are a staunch believer in a religious faith, you may not see a conversation with a doctor about various options including ending a life as 'helpful.' It is about when to end a life. And while we see it as part of the health care spectrum and something we would both access, we do not pretend for a moment that such a meeting might be offensive to some people and might strike them, yes, as "death panels." Some people do not believe they need any counsel on life and death matters other than from their faith. That is their point of view, it is their lives and they have every right to believe as they choose. Those who want to grab their ear in an attempt to get them to reconsider will never do so by disrespecting their beliefs or by insisting that they're too stupid to know what's really happening.
If NPR was fulfilling its mandate, that would have been addressed. But NPR is not fulfilling its mandate.
Nor is PBS. The PBS mandate is what Bill Moyers wanted to speak about to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Excerpt:
BILL MOYERS: The Carnegie Commission became the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. And I wish we had it here, because the speech Lyndon Johnson made when he signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 is a great tribute to a network devoted to the life of the mind, the life of the spirit, and the diversity of American voices. He believed that only white male straight guys got on national television in those days, and he was right. And he saw the value, the changing—the changes coming in America, and he believed there should be a public media that was devoted to the diversity, the pluralism of American life, and to the highest expression of the creative and journalistic arts in this country.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the actual act of the—creating the Corporation for Public Television, talked about serving underserved—
BILL MOYERS: Yeah.
JUAN GONZALEZ:—communities of America.
BILL MOYERS: And unfortunately, as you’ve probably noticed, that there was a report done by Fairness and Accuracy in Media, a public interest group—
AMY GOODMAN: In Reporting.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, right?
AMY GOODMAN: FAIR, right.
BILL MOYERS: FAIR. And they showed that even on public broadcasting today, in our mainstream broadcasts, it’s usually the official view of reality that’s represented, far more corporate spokesmen than labor or working people spokesmen, far more white, male figures of authority than people of color and marginalized people.
It's really cute the way Olbermann and Moyers never think to take accountability. In the last 12 months of Bill Moyers Journal his guest ratio was basically two men for every woman. Does he not grasp that? He should because we were calling him out on that long before the last 12 months -- and that was ticking him off. We were not, in his words, "friendly" to his program.
Actually, prior to 2008, we had many nice things to say about the program. But our job is not to be a "friendly." Our job is to call it like we see it. What really offended Bill was when we were able to repeatedly point out his sexism. Instead of being offended by us, maybe he should have used that anger as a motivation to improve his guest line up. He chose not to, even after he was angry at us for calling it out. That says a great deal more about Bill Moyers than anything in the full hour of Democracy Now! devoted to him (minus headlines) last week. They refused to weigh in on the revolving door that allows journalists to go to work for administrations, they refused to weigh in on Moyers homophobic witch hunts during the LBJ administration, they refused to explore anything of merit.
NPR and Pacifica demonstrated that public broadcasting is really just a circle-jerk where you invite on your friends and then you both attack your enemies while fawning over one another. There's nothing educational about it, there's nothing 'news' about it, there's nothing of merit to it.
"I'll throw my pregnancy weight around the room, but I'm not doing any damn dancing! Get f**king real."
As most of our regular readers know, I've been pregnant. It was not a 'fun' pregnancy. I had morning sickness throughout all nine months. 'Morning' sickness? I had morning,noon, evening and night sickness. On a good day, I had one or two. On a really bad day, I had all four. And with all that hurling, you might think my weight would have stayed low. It didn't. I gained 42 pounds, my ankles swelled and still appear fat.
On the plus side, I've lost 37 pounds. In order to do so, I had to really work out and I utilized over 20 workout DVDs. This article is about the best (two) and the worst (two). Most were of little use. But one thing that stood out about all was that, contrary to popular opinion, working out is not about "dedication" to making the time or whatever, it's about enduring the crap that these videos throw at you. I really need to thank C.I. I usually did my workout at one in the morning. I'd get up around midnight to nurse the baby, then we'd get in the rocking chair, then it was back to the crib and Mommy Me had the best shot at work out time without interruption.
Remember I told you about the crap? The crap is when you're being asked to do something stupid or unnatural and your body rebels and you feel worthless as a result. That's what makes some people stop working out. I was lucky because on those occassional days (and for one week after the absolute worst workout video), I could call C.I. and, thanks to the time difference (she was on the East Coast), I'd catch her as she and Wally were doing their morning run. She would Bluetooh with me, giving me a series of exercise instructions for 25 minutes and then talk me through the cool down all while running with Wally. She understood what I needed, what I was comfortable with and she was far more encouraging.
I needed that so badly because when you're watching one of thse videos, when you're reduced to watching because you've stopped due to your body saying, "I can't do that," you feel like the biggest failure in the world. Obviously, some people can. You've got an instructor on the TV doing it -- maybe some people behind her or him. And they're doing it. So what the hell's wrong with you? Why can't you do it? Why won't your body do that?
That's what causes people to stop working out. I'll return to this topic when I get to the two best but, as they all seem to love to say on their DVDs, "Let's get started."
The absolute worst video workout that you should only wish upon your worst enemy?
The Biggest Loser: The Workout: Power Walk. This is the worst.
In the screen shot above, that's Bob Harper, who leads two of the four workouts on the video, paying mocking attention to the heavy guy. At first, I thought, "Oh, how nice, he's being encouraging." But as he repeatedly smirked throughout the video and made comments to the heavy guy, I was reminded of a sadistic boys basketball coach in high school who used to pick on my boyfriend's little brother. Why? Because he needed someone to pick on in order to feel good about himself. That would be Bob Harper who, you'll note, is wearing dark clothes and you'll see why when he reaches overhead in some exercises. For an average guy, that's an okay body. For a fitness instructer, he's getting a little thick around the middle. And I wouldn't note that if he weren't so damn rude to the heavy guy.
To women? He ignores all the women including the one in the yellow on the left. That's a big problem because he makes her the 'low impact' demonstrator. But in his second workout both he and she frequently forget she's supposed to demonstrating the low impact version. How do you do that?
I'd assume you do that by being in for the money and not for the workout.
His personality is a turn-off, his failure to ensure that there is a low impact version going on in the second video is a turn-off, his inability to do the exercises himself (he likes to walk around for no real reason in the middle of the workouts), his tight-ass carping about not moving your hips during his instructions (which, by the way, for women, would be natural body movement, Bob) and that smug little grin all add up to the worst workout experience you could have.
I had never watched The Biggest Loser, I'm not a fan of reality TV. This video did nothing to make me ever want to watch it.
Alison Davis, by contrast, does have a body that's in shape. And then some. But, I decided while doing her The Firm: Cardio Overdrive, if being in shape required me to talk like an airhead, I think I'd rather be fat. If Bob Harper reminded me of the sadistic high school coach, Davis brought to mind the worst stereotype of a high school cheerleader.
Perky I can take. Chirpy? No, thank you.
She flutters around like a bird with back up dancers. Yes, dancers. That's the only word for it. And they're bad dancers at that. If your goal in life was to be a dancer in a bad Las Vegas revue, The Firm: Cardio Overdrive is the video for you.
"The body moves certain ways," Davis and company appear to have realized, "so let's come up with as many awkward and unnatural moves as possible while beaming and flinging our hair around! Yea, girls!"
There are two workouts on the DVD. If this is your cup of tea, you'll need to watch both at least once before attempting them, otherwise, you'll be completely lost in the 'routines.'
Those were the worst. I can sit here today and dissect them, pointing to their flaws. However, on the days when I finally had to give up on both, I didn't have that ability. I only had self-blame and self-loathing. That I had paid money to feel that way only made it all the worse.
On the recommendation of a woman I met in birthing class, I picked up Crunch: Total Resculpt. I loved this and it was one of the two best workouts I sampled. Kendell Hogan (above) is the instructor and after Bob Harper (and company), it was so great to find someone who seemed to really care about the viewer. He leads a class in the videos here. Hand weights are used in this DVD and that may be a turn off for some people. You can -- and I did when I was too tired to go retrieve them one morning -- do the workout without them but you may (as I did) feel like you're cheating yourself. There are two workouts, all the moves are natural and, again Kendell Hogan is a great instructor. (Thank you to Lynette for her recommendation.)
"Feel good about yourself. And down . . .," instructs Jane Fonda in her Walk Out.
Jane, I'd love to. And you're a woman who's given birth twice, so why the hell did you put me through that second routine? I have massive breasts for the first time in my life, do I really need them flopping and hopping around?
Walk Out comes with a beginners routine and an advanced one. On the beginners, in one week, I lost five pounds. That was the most I lost in any week doing the DVDs. (I lost six pounds one depressed week when I was on the phone to C.I. every morning and she instructed me in workouts Monday through Saturday.) Two pounds was the standard. (I also maintained a diet -- dictated by my doctor, who thought I was too focused on losing the weight.)
On the first routine, I felt good about myself, just like Jane wanted us to. I felt eager to do the walk out. And this was before I had weighed myself at the end of the week. I was so excited about the five pounds I took off and having so much fun with the beginners workout that I decided I'd start the advanced.
Huge mistake. Suddenly, I was no longer in a Walk Out, I was in a dance class. And, point of fact, I don't "love" grapevines. And they may have been around forever (which I take to mean since the sixties), but no one my age has ever done a grapevine on the dance floor.
Now grapevines exist in the beginner's walk out as well. But it's not dance based. The advanced is. And I grew to hate the box step and the grape vine and all the other crap.
Jane Fonda, on the beginner's walk out, not only provides an excellent workout (in fact, the best of all the DVDs I sampled), she reminds the world that she's the woman who did this, the woman who revolutionized the home video industry, the woman who made exercising a national craze.
But then comes the second workout when Jane wants to do what she wants to do. And that's fine and good but don't charge me money for it. Six minutes into the advanced, when Jane's got us doing some hop dance move, I'm not in the mood. A few minutes later when "the pony" shows up, I'm even less interested. And that's before we're doing the box step and then switching it around. And when you think it can't get any worse, Jane wants you to mambo. It's called a Walk Out, not a Dance Out.
I think in the two Walk Outs there's a story about the workout craze in the US and why it peaked and why America became such a fat nation.
Jane Fonda showed up with the original Jane Fonda Workout. And the workout was intense and repetative but everyone could do it (though some of the yoga in the cool down might not have been done to perfection depending on how limber a person was). And that got so many women (and some men) interested in working out, interested in losing weight, interested in increasing muscle, interested in owning their own strength.
And it sold like crazy. First as a hardcover book (later softcover). Then as a vinyl album and audio cassette and, most importantly, as a video cassette. Jane remained a leader in the fitness market and continued to sell with later workouts but the fitness market itself (and Jane's sales) shrank.
Did people just lose interest?
While discussing my weight loss with my mother over the phone, she talked about "doing Fonda" (apparently the phrase back in the 80s) and how a "New and Improved" came out and that was the one she still does. She bought others but they didn't speak to her.
I can understand that because there's a world of difference, for me, between the beginners and the advanced Walk Out. And, as I did background research for this piece, I spoke to several women who made video cassettes back during the national craze. Their feeling, in retrospect, was that some changes were needed due to recognizing the damage to the body that some of the exercises could do. But some of it was about, "Now I'm a dancer!" And the thing to do was to compete with other instructors to see who could be more jazzy or more ballet or more what have you.
You'd think they'd realize that this was sending the audience away. Oh, it kept the core audience. Basically women who buy several workouts every year. But not only did that crap not expand it, it actually helped shrink the industry.
A smart instructor would grasp that if we wanted to be dancers, we'd be taking dance classes. A smart instructor would be attempting to reach the audience.
I am probably part of the largest, most dependable, 'unique' (as they say of web visitors) audience they potentially have: A woman who's given birth and wants to get her body back. If I wanted to dance, I'd be in a dance class. I just want to work out, build up a sweat and lose some weight. Save the frills, save the fancy.
When the challenge was waking up and facing a workout, America was involved. When the challenge became making your body do this or that manuever, the industry changed.
If I'm tough on Jane Fonda, she's the mother of the revolution. She birthed this and she should be more aware of the potnetial problems than anyone. But, my guess, I think today she gets her feedback from people who already workout. She was at her most powerful (and had her biggest sales) when she was speaking to those who didn't.
The beginner's Walk Out does that and provides a great workout. I've recommended it non-stop to friends (Target has the best price for DVD, if you're a downloader, be sure you're doing the beginners*) and it's still the one I do. It's the best of all the ones I sampled. I just wish there was an advanced version that I felt the same about because, as Jane herself says about working out during the beginner's Walk Out, "It will make all the difference in your life."
*A friend downloaded Jane Fonda Prime Time Walk Out from Amazon after I'd raved about the Walk Out and called me to complain that it "sucked." I apologized and told her why I valued it. And she brought up the pony and how (she liked this part) Jane says, "I used to yell at myself all the time when I did my videos. 'Oh, Jane! Go away already!'" I told her, "Wait, you're doing the advanced." That was the first video on her download, not the second -- it didn't download in order. So be sure you check that if you download the Walk Out. And, again, the beginners Walk Out is the best of all the videos I sampled.
May 18, 2009, Whoopi was "Amen"ing guest Jesse Ventura's comments against torture.
While we happen to agree that water boarding and other forms of torture are abuse, illegal and should never be utilized, we didn't make Fatal Beauty.
Though a strong argument can be made that watching that film is, all by itself, torture.
In the film, there's a character she calls "Richard Gere." As a police woman, Whoopi decides to 'question' him and initiates the questioning by shooting him in the ass, having two men string him up for her taking a knife to his crotch and threatening him.
It is these moments that have softened the American people to torture and the next time Whoopi wants to speak out against torture, she needs to take accountability for her part in promoting torture. Until she does, she's just talking crazy on The View.
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.
Jim (Con't): "It's a story, of a man named Brady . . ." Sing those words and chances are, at least in the US, most people will instantly know what you're singing. The theme song to The Brady Bunch. It's one of the best and most well known themes. Let's start by tossing out some other well known ones.
Betty: "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have, The Facts of Life, The Facts of Life, There's a time you gotta go and show, you're growing now you know about . . ." The Facts of Life theme.
Stan: That's a good one. I'd go further back with, "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale," Gilligan's Island.
Kat: For me, I'd say the theme to Welcome Back, Kotter. With the "welcome back, welcome back, welcome back." After that, "Moving On Up," the theme to The Jeffersons.
Rebecca: And, of course, Charlie's Angels was one of the classic themes and openings. It sets up the show perfectly, which is what the theme is supposed to do.
Jim: Correct. And these days we rarely get that. In part because there are even more commercials than there were a decade earlier. The FCC obviously approves since they're the ones allowing it. So what you have is shorter themes and more commercials. Is there any show on the air now that really has an opening theme that sets up the show?
Mike: Well the theme is instrumental but, as with Charlie's Angeles, there's a voice over that explains the show, Chuck. It sets up the whole show in the opening.
Elaine: The way Mission Impossible, another famous theme and opening, used to.
Mike: Yeah, maybe spy shows require that.
Isaiah: What I dislike is when they chop up The Simpsons in syndication. Sometimes they lose the opening theme or the full opening theme but most of the time it's the lead in to the credits when they reduce the screen to a tiny box and talk over it so you miss the last scene.
Wally: Yeah, if you want to enjoy The Simpsons or any other animated show, you've pretty much got to get it on DVD because they really slice and dice those episodes in syndication.
Jim: Okay, let's move from music themes to themes or devices. What turns you off quicker than anything else?
Cedric: Voice overs. I want to watch a show, I don't want it to be narrated. I can't stand Grey's Anatomy or How I Met Your Mother for the same reason, they have to layer words over words over words. They don't trust me, the viewer, to grasp what I just saw, they have to yack about it.
Ruth: I would agree with Cedric on that and also add that I am so tired of the comedy device of 'reality show.' I enjoy Parks and Recreations so much . . . until the episode is broken up with someone speaking into a camera and I am reminded that, like The Office and Modern Family, this is a show about a reality show.
Marcia: That was my least favorite part of Arrested Development and, I agree, it's just irritating as hell.
Jess: Right and, as Cedric was pointing out, you've just seen what happens. Instead of allowing you to react to that, they bring on a speech that really drives you out of the moment. I can't stand that sort of thing. It's like watching an Aaron Sorkin show and wondering if the characters will ever shut up.
Dona: On themes, one thing I wanted to toss out was Katie Couric. She has now left the desk and is no longer the anchor of the CBS Evening News. Any thoughts?
Ann: Absolutely. Katie Couric was never going to succeed. It didn't matter what she did. Read "Katie was a Cheerleader" by Ava and C.I. That documents the war on Couric and it's months before she ever anchors. As Ava and C.I. document, people were out to get her, they were out to destroy her. That includes sexists of both genders. Some women just couldn't stand the idea that Couric would succeed. She got great ratings when she debuted. But the attacks on her had only increased and that was really it. She wasn't able to overcome those attacks. No matter what she did. No matter what news the program broke and whether or not she had a hand in it. She did a great job, in my opinion, but she was never going to overcome that wave of hatred.
Dona: So should she have even tried? My opinion's yes, but what's your opinion, Ann?
Ann: I agree with you. Katie Couric could have stepped down at any moment. Instead, she honored her contract and took the lumps and took it for all women -- even those who tried to get ahead by tearing Couric down. Katie Couric is a trailblazer who made history and I thank her for that. And, this is something I'm rushing to weigh in on because I did watch her evening news and I have discussed this a lot with Ava and C.I., if you look at it, Katie blazed the trail and changed the world. If you doubt that, look at Diane Sawyer. Katie was trashed for coming from daytime. Diane becomes the evening news anchor over at ABC shortly after Katie Couric and she gets a pass. It's not fair to Couric but it's a sign of how much Katie Couric accomplished that even the sexists knew they couldn't use the same attacks so soon after deploying them on Couric. So they did, instead, what sexists always do, ignore Sawyer -- who I do not think has done a good job, by the way.
Dona: I agree with you. I haven't talked to Ava and C.I. about it, but -- by the way, they're doing two TV pieces this edition so they're not participating in this roundtable -- Diane Sawyer had it very easy because of all the attacks Katie Couric stood up and took. I don't think anyone's ever been so little criticized when they moved to the evening news as Diane Sawyer was.
Betty: And, of course, last week, Diane and her program didn't even have time to note the 5 US soldiers had died that day in Iraq. Her interviews with officials are always fawning. Katie Couric wasn't afraid to get tough with officials. There was her interview with a VA official that I'm thinking of, in particular.
Jim: If you had to pick a theme for broadcast news in 2011, what would it be?
Ty: "Watch us ignore the Iraq War."
Trina: I was thinking that as well.
Ty: Right because it's the disappeared war. Can you imagine 5 US soldiers dying in one day in any country around the world and a network newscast ignoring that?
Trina: And let's point out that not only was C.I. writing about those deaths Monday morning, NBC's Today Show was reporting on the deaths Monday morning. So for the Monday broadcast of World News Tonight, that evening, to ignore it? There's no excuse. They had more than enough time to prepare something.
Ty: But it's just not important to them so they ignored it. And let's also note that all The NewsHour could do was toss out three measly sentences on the issue.
Trina: But, as Stan pointed out in "PBS is becoming a cesspool," they had time to do a whole segment on a non-sex 'scandal.' As a woman still in my first marriage and the mother of eight children, let me state that if sex isn't involved, it's not a sex scandal. Texting isn't sex. But The NewsHour had time for that but not time to do a segment on the attack on the 5 US soldiers. And they didn't even note it on Wednesday when another US soldier was killed in Iraq. And those five deaths Monday? As Ruth pointed out in "Free Speech Radio News ignores Iraq," Free Speech Radio News didn't cover it in headlines or in a report. 30 minutes of commercial free broadcast and they couldn't even note the death of 5 US soldiers on one day in Iraq.
Jess: With regards to PBS and Pacifica, when I see things like that, when I see them actively ignore the real news, I don't feel any need to contribute to them via a pledge or via my taxes.
Jim: Agreed. And we're going to wind down now. This is a rush transcript, enjoy typos.
2) Alter-Punky's boss, Katrina vanden Heuvel (pictured below in one of her typical beach ware outfits in Isaiah's "Grim Peace Resister"). Her insistence upon speaking in that absurd breathy voice makes the cultivated manner of Arianna Huffington's seem home grown. Katty-van-van operates under the rule of: Why speak for myself when I can claim to speak for everyone.
3) Melissa Harris-Lacewell-Perry-LieFace. In fairness to LieFace, her appearances on MSNBC are always amusing. When she's announced at the top of the show, you never know what racial panic the bi-racial LieFace will be in. Full-on racial panic? She'll have in the dreads and toss around "my blackness" frequently. As a cultural oddity, a pundit more famous for lying and failing to disclose than for any actual opinion shared, LieFace is probably prime material for a sociological study but in terms of viewing pleasure -- let alone basic information -- she forever fails to deliver.
4) Ed Schultz -- MSNBC's biggest woman hater (a fierce competition even with Keith Olbermann having left the network) is no lefty. The Republican demonstrates that repeatedly to any who pay attention. Our personal favorite? When Little Dicked Ed decided to sing the praises of the CIA-backed contras as "freedom fighters." Drug runners, yes. Freedom fighters, no.
5) Mark Shields. It's past time The NewsHour retired Mark Shields. Not that we think they'd find an actually lefty to fill his shoes but after 23 years, it is past time to find some new blood. Shields is a partisan hack. He exists solely for that reason. When PBS does fill his shoes, it would be truly revolutionary if they could find an actual leftist who didn't carry water for any political party. But there's nothing revolutionary, radical or even living about PBS so don't hold your breath.
But if the alternative is Eric Mann, Podhoretz's transformation becomes a lot more understandable if not forgiveable.
Like Podhoretz, Mann hails from Brooklyn, was a Red Diaper baby, is well over-sixty and Jewish. Mann has decided that no one can better speak for Black America than a White Jew and he made that decision many, many years ago.
In October of 1993, when race riots were feared in Los Angeles, Robert Siegel and All Things Considered (NPR) just knew the best voice to represent Black America was . . . White Eric Mann. And attention hog Mann didn't have the grace or good sense to say, "Hey, maybe you should book a Black person for this segment?" If you're confused as to who Eric Mann is, substitute another nobody for him: He's Danny Schechter 100 pounds lighter.
(Eric Mann pictured above? No, it's his soul-twin Peter from Family Guy.)
It is White people like Mann, still living in the 50s, who keep Black people down within the media by repeatedly attempting to speak for them. It's a form of a racism to think you, a non-Black, can speak better to the needs of Black people than a person who actually is Black.
Eric Mann isn't a face you'll see on TV -- thankfully. (But we're sure Amy Goodman's speed dialing him right now and extolling the virtues of her public access cable show.) There are people who don't have anything to contribute.
Mann likes to list The Boston Globe in his credits but doesn't note that the paper fired him. They tired of his observations as well. (He and Howard Zinn were both columnists for the paper for one year.) When talking about some of the horrors we on the left have to endure via the media and, specifically, the 'voices' that represent us, we wondered if there were any voices we were glad didn't represent us on TV? Immediately, we all thought of Mann.
Dislike for Mann is quickly becoming near universal judging by the month of May when KPFK did so much better in the Tuesday 4:00 pm time slot with "special programming" instead of Mann's program which mainly exists to demonstrate that he can't say "stay" ("say tuned," he slurs) and that he can't stop smacking his lips into the microphone.
Along with his own vanity, there are other reasons the program exists. Since 2009, it exists largely to excuse away Barack Obama. When Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, how Mann could rage, how he could thunder.
Instead, even on a topic like blasting the tops off mountains, Mann speaks softly and with regret, sprinkling words like "unfortunately" to describe Barack's policies.
That's surprising only if you didn't know that Eric Mann was part of the Cult of St. Barack.
Eric Mann provided "10 Reasons For Obama Vote" (different titles appeared at different websites) which continued his insistence that all opposed to Barack Obama were racists. Interestingly, in an end note, he noted that he refused to work for Cynthia McKinney's campaign. For the record, Cynthia was the only Black candidate for president. Barack is bi-racial. But the over-60, Red Diaper Baby, Brooklyn Jew is notorious for sexism. A vote for Bambi was a vote against racism. Apparently, in Mann's book, the better "Black" is the one who is half-White.
Mann saw racism everywhere, a bit like McCarthy spotting Communism in earlier times.
Mann attended an indoctrination camp on Long Beach, he confessed, and the reasons for voting for Barack cited there include? "He is the most qualified Black man." Huh? He's not Black but was there a Black man in the race? No, just a Black woman and, again, these types don't like women. Other reasons included that Barack "is so intelligent" and "Because I want my children to see we can elect a Black president." On the latter, then you should have supported Cynthia McKinney in 2008 if that was your main reasoning.
In his bad writing, he comes off like Peter (Family Guy) speaking to a large group of Black men about 'the struggle' and telling them he was there when various TV moments took place ("I was there when Tootie got those painful braces."). Excerpt of Mann:
I was also there when John F. Kennedy moved to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and tried to assassinate Castro. I was there when Lyndon B. Johnson initiated and then tried to disband the poverty programs, when Johnson escalated a genocidal war in Vietnam. These actions by Kennedy and Johnson led to more protests, not less. They led to the emergence of some very principled left liberal Democrats, and the radicalization of many formerly Democratic liberal students who came to see that more radical, structural, revolutionary change was needed.
[. . .]
Ask Glen Ford if he sees a wave of people of color standing up to the police state or, for that matter, calling out the illegal Libyan War Barack just started. It hasn't happened. He's gotten one pass after another while expanding the empire. Among those making excuses and handing out passes? Eric Mann.
" When the election is over," hypocrite Eric Mann wrote, "whether Obama is elected or McCain, we all have to work together in a broad united front against the war in Iraq and racism at home."
That may have been the last time Eric Mann noted the Iraq War. Since Barack was sworn in, he's led no protest, he's written no demands for the war to end. He's done nothing. He's the perfect accessory for the faux left, showy, leathered and dysfunctional.
Eric Mann likes to speak out against White skin privilege . . . but he's yet to realize his tired ass (does no one on the faux left ever retire?) yammering away about second-hand observations of racism prevent someone who actually knows about racism from being heard. He should surrender the mike and, if he won't go willingly, KPFK should have the courage to replace him. For now, just be glad he's not on TV.
We'll start with the worst if only to make everyone else look better.
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer might strike some as having a strong opening. Most in the know however are probably remembering when Diane was on the morning shift (long before Good Morning America and ABC) and she was one of three who had an interview with British royalty. It was a fluff interview. (And long before Princess Diana entered the picture in case anyone thinks Diane was on to a big story but just missed it!) All three were told the ground rules and agreed to them. Diane broke the ground rules. And was quite proud of herself after.
She accomplished nothing. It was a piece of fluff interview -- all three. But Diane, to prove her 'independence' if not her skills, broke the ground rules and . . . produced nothing of value or interest. Not even a curiosity was captured.
That describes the Nixon White House worker's work probably better than anything else, all these years later.
Yesterday, World News opened with an overly long segment of Diane in Afghanistan. There were a few moments that some idiots may applaud. Especially at the start.
"Are we winning?" Diane asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Gen David Petraeus. That's a "yes" or a "no." But Diane let Gates prattle on and Petraeus follow up by wheezing, "We're making progress."
Diane then wanted to know (in her strongest moment -- for her), "If we can't talk about winning, if we don't talk about military victory, is it too much to ask of American military men and women to put their lives on the line for the hope of a negotiated settlement with the people they're fighting?"
It's the sort of moment they'll clip and pretend is amazing. (It's nearly identical -- especially in delivery -- to Barbara Walters with Colin Powell when he was still Secretary of State.)
Gates, Secretary of Defense in two consecutive administrations, thought the following was 'information' when it's actually rather telling on his 'leadership,' "Diane, we have not had a declared victory in a war with the possible exception of the first Gulf War since WWII. It is the phenomenon of modern conflict."
Petreaues and Gates both wanted to point to Iraq with Gates applauding the "strategy" in Iraq.
Asked about ten billion a month being spent on the war, Gates insisted, "The cost is already coming down, we will be spending 40 billion dollars less on these wars in 2012 than we did in 2011. I think you also have to ask the question what's the cost of failure? We've invested a huge amount of money here. We've invested 1254 lives up to this point so what's the cost of getting it wrong. Congress-Congress is almost always impatient I remember in the spring of 2007 people saying the war is lost in Iraq."
First off, ICCC lists US troop fatalities in Iraq to be 1610, not "1254." (DoD's count is 1594.) (He says "twelve-hundred and 54 lives.") I have no idea where Gates got that number but that is the one he gave. (Iraq is at 4462 according to the Pentagon figures plus the 5 killed yesterday, so he wasn't referring to Iraq -- though, yes, he did mingle the two in his answers.) If $120 billion -- by Diane's remarks and not rejected by Gates or Petreaus -- is being spent yearly on the Afghanistan War, I'm not really sure how Gates' assertion (true or false) that next years costs for both wars will be $40 billion less means much at all. $40 billion is a third of just the cost of the Afghnistant War. $170 million is the estimated cost for both wars this year. Gates is talking about a 'reduction' that maintains 3/4s of the obscene budget. It's a point Diane failed to grasp or at least follow up on. It's interesting that Gates went to money before the human costs. It's also telling that he wants Americans to now ask, "What's the cost of getting it wrong?" When that question should have been asked before either war started and since Gates admitted that no war -- except possibly the first Gulf War -- has been won by the US since WWII, maybe they should have been a lot more hestitant when they started the wars and maybe that point should be brought up by the government every time they start a new war: "We'd like to start a new war, we know we really haven't won one since WWII, but we'd like to start a new one!"
After 12 minutes of this nonsense, it was time to toss to George Steph in the US who quickly launched into the story of Anthony Weiner having 'textual relations' with some women. Over 2 minutes and 40 seconds were spent on that nonsense. Then it was time for 'headlines' which was a long cancer segment and then George offering "Welcome back, Katie!" to Katie Couric who just signed with ABC today to do her own talk show. I like Katie, I know Katie, I'm happy for her and wish only the best for her talk show, but, no, it wasn't broadcast evening news. (Nor do I think she'd see it as such.)
It was then time for the woman whose fortune Tricky Dick once kissed to return to her roots of fluff with an overly long profile on Robert Gates that was as 'penetrating' as this, "He's the kind of man you can count on."
It was truly the gutter. And you could have watched the entire half-hour and never leaned that 5 US soldiers died in Iraq. They never had time for it. But they had time for puff, for sex or 'sex' scandals and for inside baseball. ABC World News Tonight -- the show no one should waste time on.
PBS is probably real proud of their NewsHour right now -- as happy as they are that the stations are taking the blame currently for the decision to air commercials during some programs next fall (that's not a local decision and further proof that PBS games the system and then wants to play like, "We just provide content!"). They didn't forget Iraq last night.
Hari Sreenivasan: In Iraq, U.S. troops suffered their worst loss in more than two years. Five Americans were killed near Sadr City in Eastern Baghdad when rockets hit their compound at a joint U.S.-Iraqi base. They had worked as advisers to Iraqi security police. The remaining 46,000 American troops in Iraq are scheduled to leave by year's end.
And that was it. A headline. Not even the first headline. Whatever happened to the days when American broadcast news knew how you order your headlines? In other words, turmoil in a country that no US troops are stationed in? It's not your opener. You open with US deaths when you have them.
Equally true, Diane Sawyer's program is about 21 minutes (minus commercials) while The NewsHour, minus advertising, is probably close to 46 minutes. With over twice the time, PBS couldn't offer more than 3 sentences on 5 deaths. The show opened with a segment on Yemen. Then on to headlines (which opened with Syria). Then it was time for, yes, a segment on Anthony Weiner. As Stan pointed out last night, "PBS is becoming a cesspool."
It was an awful broadcast that had damn little to do wth news nad made very clear that no one knew what they were doing. It didn't work as hard news, it didn't work as a program geared to an American news consumer, it was part TMZ, it was garbage. I honestly think ABC World News -- even ignoring Iraq -- offered a higher quality than The NewsHour did yesterday but we'll rank it ahead of Diane's show solely for the Iraq headline.
Onto NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams opened with the story of "oversharing" -- he could have been talking about the networks on the Weiner gossip but he was talking about Weiner.
Then? "We turn to overseas in Iraq today. We haven't had news like this for awhile, 5 Americans were killed in a rocket attack in Baghdad. It's the deadliest day for the US there since '09 and today, of course, 5 American families got the worst possible news."
With just that brief headline, Williams showed greater comprehension than did The NewsHour. He and Richard Engel then engaged in conversations about Afghanistan and Iraq. We'll note Engel's comments in the snapshot today.
So if Nightly News came in second, who did the best job? CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.The deaths were noted in the teaser over the theme music and Pelley opened with, "Good evening. We start tonight with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This has been a day of US casualties in Iraq and it is also a day [. . .]" Like Williams and Engel, CBS mixed discussions of the two wars together. There were reports from Afghanistan and Lara Logan providing an analysis of Afghanistan.
Scott Pelley: In the war in Iraq, this was the worst day for US troops in two years. 5 American soldiers were killed when their base in Baghdad was hit by rocket fire. This year, 29 Americans have been killed in Iraq. In Afghanistan, at least 159 US service members have been killed. What's next for both countries? Now to David Martin at the Pentagon, David, the five US soldiers that were killed in Iraq today, what happened there.
David Martin: Scott, this was a rocket attack on a compound in Baghdad where US forces were training Iraqi police. The insurgents got lucky and scored a direct hit on the area where the Americans lived but this is part of a trend of increasing attacks against US forces which Pentagon officials believe is the work of Shi'ite militias who want to see all US troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.
Scott Pelley: Remind us how many US forces remain in Iraq and what's the plan for them?
David Martin: Well there are currently 48,000 US troops in Iraq. Under an agreement signed at the end of the Bush administration, they all have to be out by December 31st unless the Iraqi government asks them to stay. Defense Secretary Gates have offered to keep some troops there to help with things lik intelligence and logistics but so far the Iraqi government has not accepted the offer and time is running out because the drawdown will begin in earnest at the end of July.
I know and like Anthony Weiner and you can insist -- as one ABC friend has this morning on the phone -- that I'm not recognizing the 'implications' of the Weiner story as a result. I disagree. If he has physically cheated, I still don't see how it trumps the deaths of 5 US soldiers. The reality is that it's a local issue for the voters in his district. The only national headline in the story is the call by Pelosi and others for an ethics investigation. It's a trashy little story that doesn't rise to the level of national news. And for those who insist, "You're a Democrat!" or "You know him!," I haven't covered the Republican scandals either. I'm really not interested in any of that garbage. Or faux 'moralizing.'
5 US soldiers died in Iraq, they were sent there by the government, they died in a war that the nation falsely considers to be 'over.' Their deaths were news. It's a damn shame only Pelley and Williams saw that reality. It's a damn shame that PBS and ABC had time for what Bob Somerby calls 'panty sniffing' but not to cover real news.