Sunday, June 03, 2012


Jim: This is a roundtable that's going to cover many things, including a comment I'm pulling out of Ava and C.I.'s piece and insisting be included here instead.  We plan to talk politics and other things.  We'll see how it goes.  Our e-mail address is, we're making sure we do one this edition. Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts. Betty's kids did the illustration, Ava and C.I. are taking notes and you are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): First up, American Masters is a bad PBS program that Ava and C.I. take on this week.  They note it airs falsehoods and there are no corrections for those, of course.  They take on deliberate lies about Joan Rivers that the program tells.  And C.I. has a great comment in it that I think distracts from the piece but does belong in this edition.

C.I.: I'm not going to sit here and read that comment.  The point of it is that PBS and the film maker lie about Joan Rivers.  I don't like Joan Rivers as a person at all. I do credit her with being a wonderful mother.  She did a great job with Melissa and deserves praise for her role as a mother.  High praise, she deserves high praise for that.  She also deserves praise for her role as a comedy pioneer.  I'll give her that as well but  I don't like her personally and yet Ava and I are fighting to get the truth out about her so she's not unfairly attacked.  American Masters presents the lie that Joan Rivers betrayed Johnny Carson by doing a late night talk show on Fox.  This is where my personal comment that's now out of our article came in.  Joan wanted me to do her show.   I sent word through my people that I wasn't interested, thank you.  I wasn't doing anything at that time, no interviews, and actually that was for personal reasons.  But her response to that was to trash me to a magazine that cleaned up her comments.  She continued to trash me repeatedly for weeks, with the c-word.  Because I wouldn't do her show and I wasn't the only one she trashed.  She referred to me as the c-word repeatedly.  Regardless of how badly she needed guests for her Fox show, I don't care and I don't forget all the things she said.  And yet here Ava and I are, writing a piece that takes on and refutes lies that paint Joan Rivers as The Tonight Show villain.  We're trying to be fair.  PBS doesn't give a damn.  I find that appalling.  I find it appalling that I am more fair than PBS.

Jim: Ava, anything to add?

Ava:  We were trying to figure out what we were going to write about and kept tossing discs into the DVD player and fast forwarding and I was also reading sections from transcripts of public affairs programs from last week when I said, "Joan Rivers."  And C.I. grabbed the remote and went back to the start.  It was the American Masters program on Johnny Carson.  And we watched and she said, "That's not what happened. They're lying about Joan."  She called several people -- a  one-time Tonight Show associate producer, an NBC exec in 1986 and a entertainment reporter and we quizzed them about what happened versus what the 'documentary' said happened.  I know Joan and Melissa, I'm not friends with either.  But I know them and I know C.I. doesn't care for Joan.  You can check our past work where that's noted.  And we usually -- I believe always -- also note something nice about Joan regardless of that.  So I was kind of shocked when we were writing -- we write longhand.  Sometimes one of us dictates a section, sometimes one of us grabs the legal pad and writes it without dictation, sometimes we struggle over it -- sentence by sentence -- together.  So C.I. grabs the legal pad and I'm thinking, as she's writing furiously, "This is going to be funny."  Because usually when she does that, she's got something funny.  So I was surprised it was a disclaimer but it worked perfectly in the piece and now that you've removed it, we can't include another part where we were addressing other press attacks.  The flow is gone.

Jim: My apologies.  And there are a lot of press distortions these days.  Sometimes it seems like there are more distortions than anything else.  What happened there?  The internet was supposed to be the check on press lies.

Mike: I have the response for that and here it is:

Cokie Roberts has been ritually crucified -- they cut off her head and a million Cokies sprung up to replace her -- some of which were supposedly going to 'change it all.' Before there was Cokie Roberts, there were millions in different eras. There always will be. 

Jim: Well said.

Mike: I was quoting.

Jim: My bad.  I didn't know that was a quote.  Who is it?  Oh, wait.  That's C.I., isn't it?

Mike: Yeah from November 2006.  There are earlier riffs on that at The Common Ills but that was my favorite and when I heard we were roundtabling, I looked it up.

Rebecca: But it's exactly true.  And the reason is because in 2004 and 2005, we thought there were these insurgent truth tellers on the net.  The majority weren't.  They were liars and hucksters.  They didn't want to stop the Titanic from sinking, they just wanted to move up from steerage to a nice deck chair to watch the whole thing go down.

Betty: I think that's very much true.  And I think we especially saw that in 2008.  I think a number of people were posing as truth tellers in a desire to be bought off.  Though not really a blogger, not even in her Air America days,  I include Rachel Chris-Matthews-is-a-sexist! Maddow on that list.  She makes the assertion and then MSNBC offers her a show and suddenly she's telling the press Chris isn't a sexist.  That was like a period of three consecutive days.  I can't imagine a less public buy-off.  But the point I was wanting to make here is that in addition to the ones who sell out, there is the change online.  You know, Facebook and Twitter weren't issues back then.  So people who might be using their time to hold the press accountable are instead in new media.

Elaine: Betty's bringing up a good point.  There are new forms.  Myself, Twitter?  I can't imagine anything more boring.  If CNN's live reporting on a protest in Baghdad on Twitter, for instance, that's of value.  Similar live reporting from elsewhere would interest me as well.  But the idea that people are going to Twitter random thoughts?  I have enough trouble both making time for four blog posts a week and in finding things to say that aren't repeats.  I don't care if you're Stephen Hawking or Cher, I have no interest in reading your Tweets.  Random free association?  I get paid to hear that, thank you.

Jess: That's a good one.  Elaine's a psychologist, if you didn't get that joke.  I think the weblogs are still the best format out there in terms of offering media criticism and providing information.  I hope we see a revival but it's not happened yet.  There are sites that try to avoid tribal think.  But it would be great if that were the goal.

Cedric: I predict we'll see a revival or an attempted one.  If Barack loses the election, for example, I predict it will start in 2009.  Suddenly, it will be all these little whores who've stayed silent for four years or, worse, lied for Barack and suddenly they're going to care that Guantanamo is still open and that the US is still engaged in wars.  And they'll tell you, "Hey, I'd call it out no matter who was doing it!"  But they're lying because they spent the last four years ignoring Barack's crimes and wars.  But they will try.  As soon as a Republican is in the White House, they'll be trying to fool everyone.

Jim: Do you think people will fall for it?

Cedric: I think a significant number will.

Jim: Ann, you're on Facebook.  Thoughts?

Ann: I've got a Facebook account.  I'm not really on it.  I stopped posting after learning that they were tracking your web searches and visits.  I did make a point to go on and ask for input.  I got two e-mails.  The feeling is Facebook has peaked.  To that, I would add that it's good for sharing images.  Photos, cartoons, drawings, etc.  But in terms of writing?  It's not really geared for that.  The only thing less devoted to words would be Twitter.

Jim: Did the Facebook stock issues influence your opinion of it at all?

Ann: No.  But I did enjoy Trina's post "My thoughts on the Facebook offering fiasco" and to that I would add that somewhere between 1996 and 1998, my friend Arlena was all excited and e-mails me asking if I got Yahoo stock.  Huh?  Yahoo's going to go public and offering everyone that uses it a small stock, like 1% or something.  And I told her that was probably a scam by someone who wants your information to use it for identity theft.  Now I don't know what happened there and whether it was a scam or for real but one way that Facebook could have mitigated its bad image and generated some good will would have been to have offered stock to its users.  I find it disgusting that the users are going to make nothing but, at least before the stockw as available, there was the illusion that billions would be made off users.  It's, to me, more examples of slave labor.  And I say that as a Black woman.  We built Facebook, we do all the work, and someone makes billions off our efforts.  Let's be really clear that without the users, there is no reason for anyone to spend a dollar on Facebook stock.

Stan: For me the worst thing about Facebook is that newspaper and other websites include it.  I can't even look at a Yahoo story at work.  The page never finishes loading because of all the gadgets -- the Facebook widget, the Dig, etc.  There's not point in even trying.  And I think these gadgets that are supposed to help us share just prevent sharing.  I'm also with Elaine, I have no interests in your daily Tweets.  I wouldn't Tweet my own life and I have no idea why you think your life is that interesting.  That's the sort of thing you might believe as an adolescent but once you get older than that I'd hope you'd have a little more maturity.

Jim: Isaiah, your thoughts?

Isaiah: I think maturity is in short supply. Barack insulted Poland and refused to apologize.  Cedric, Wally and Mike covered it with "Nut up and apologize, you little candy ass," "THIS JUST IN! HE'S A COWARD AND DUMB ASS!,"  "He still won't apologize,"  "THIS JUST IN! STILL NO APOLOGY!" and  "Barry Punk Ass won't apologize to Poland."  If I hadn't grabbed the economy, that would have been my focus.  I think it's a telling moment.

Jim: How so?  Because of the mistake?

Isaiah: Because he refused to apologize.  Even when it was a mini-international incident.

Dona: Isaiah, I agree with you on this.  But I'm going to toss out what some Kool-Aid drinker will e-mail, "It was no big deal! It was a simple mistake!"

Isaiah: Then why the refusal to apologize?

Jim: Okay, good point.  Dona, since you're now in it, you say you agree with Isaiah.  What would you do?

Dona:  You can say it's a minor thing, the mistake. The refusal to apologize is a major thing.  If this had happened between, say, "Skip" Gates and a police officer, Barack would be calling for a summit.  And this refusal to just come out and apologize echoes one of the biggest criticisms that we on the left had of Bush.  Admit your mistakes.  That's the point.  And  I don't personally think it's a minor thing or minor mistake.   People lost their lives.  This was an insult to the Polish resistance.  This was an insult to true heroes -- some of whom gave their lives.  And it became a bigger insult once there was a refusal to apologize.

Isaiah: Exactly.  If you make a mistake and people's feelings are hurt, you need to offer an apology.  Especially if you're the President of the United States.  You need to set an example. 

Jim: So good points Dona and Isaiah.  Marcia, Ruth, Trina, Ty, Kat and Wally haven't spoken.  Dona slid me a note on that.   Trina, let me start with you.  In "More Pasta Salad in the Kitchen," you highlighted an event of Jill Stein's.  Explain why you did that.

Trina: Because there was no news at her campaign website.  There's been nothing the whole week, nothing posted.  I assume we're not going to be highlighting her campaign as a result.  Jill Stein, by the way, is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.  I'll be voting for her in November.

Jim: And what do you think of her website's failure to update?

Trina: She's still in a primary, she's not yet won the nomination, I think it's a bad thing.  I think if you're running for office, you keep the information coming.  Jim, you pointed out four or five years ago, that your website is your online office if you're a politician.  And that's now a very popular way to refer to it.  Your office should always be open.

Jim: Kat?

Kat: I agree with Trina and I'd point out that I don't live in Trina's state.  What I mean is, I wasn't exposed to Jill Stein's run for governor.  She's a face that's emerged this year for me.  Her online office should be updating constantly.  My support for her, to be honest, stems in a large part from Trina's talk on her.  I've learned more about her from Trina than from her website.  If this is the way the primaries operate, how are we going to see her compete in the general election?

Ruth: And that is a real good question.  I'd vote for Roseanne if her run was serious but since she said she was not, I am interested in supporting Jill Stein.  However, that support gets pulled if it turns out this is not a real run.

Trina: That's true of mine as well.

Ruth: Good.  Because I am not interested in another faux run by the Green Party.  She has publicly rejected the 2004 faux run strategy.  If I even feel like this is a faux run, I am done with her campaign.  I am not going to be played for a fool.

Jim: So what would you do then, Ruth?  Would you do what Ava and C.I. are most likely doing?

Ruth: Ava and C.I. believe they will not vote for president.  They have noted that could change and if it does they will state so.  But they are not voting for Barack Obama.  I am not voting for Mr. Obama.  I might do that if Jill Stein's run turned out not to be genuine.  Who knows?  I might even vote for Mitt Romney to protest against four more years of Mr. Obama.

Betty: And so Ruth's not left alone on that limb, I've expressed that thought as well.

Jim: Interesting.  Ty?

Ty: I'm planning to vote for Stein as well.  Would I vote for Romney?  I don't know.  I guess as a protest vote, it might be worth it.  I'm voting in California and Barack will carry it so I can lodge a protest vote.  But in terms of voting for him to win, it's not happening, I'd have to move to another state.  California will go Democrat. 

Jim: Marcia?

Marcia:  On this topic, my neighbor said Friday that Barack was going to win.  I found that interesting.  Bear with me just a second.  My neighbor's a Latina, 65-years-old.  She says to me that she's glad Romney's not going to win because he wants to destroy Social Security but Barack will save it.  She has no idea.  I told her to Google "Catfood Commission" for how the commission Barack appointed wants to slash Social Seucirty.  I also shared that whatever may be happening to Social Security in the near future, it won't effect her and the most likely way they'll destroy it is by offering people the choice of opting out and doing a 401K equivalent.  And once that starts, you move people to that and have less and less on Social Security and then it's easy to kill it.  But if you know how Friday went, how the whole weekend went, you know no sane person would be saying Barack's a sure thing, not a news person.  And that's when it hit me.  I said, "You saw that on the news?"  She said yes.  I said, "Do you mean MSNBC?"  She said it's all she watches.  And I said, "Of course, you do."  MSNBC appears to exist to make Fox News look genuine.

Wally: Yeah, I'd say MSNBC is part of the problem.  And it goes back to how we were going to be the left generation that changed things but all we did was prove how hollow and unethical we could be.  We stopped caring about policies and became the worshipping cult that's all about personalities.

Jim: So that brings us full circle and we'll conclude on that.  Again, this is a rush transcript.

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