Sunday, December 27, 2015

TV: 2015 Fakery and genuine

Fakery and genuine moments, 2015 offered both.

Too often it was fakery.

This dualism was on display in the last few days just as it was throughout the year.


NBC re-aired DOLLY PARTON'S COAT OF MANY COLORS on Christmas.  This after the original broadcast this month already set records, becoming the highest rated TV movie since 2012.  The story was already a winner, a basis for Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors" -- a classic since it first charted in 1970.

And Parton produced the film with care and Ricky Schroder was a stand out as her father but if his strong performance got little water cooler traction, that's probably because the entire cast was a revelation including Jennifer Nettles as Dolly's mother.

But what made the telefilm work so well was the script by Pamela K. Long which didn't try to pretty up moments, allowed  Alyvia Alyn Lind (playing the young Dolly) to express anger, resentment and more -- at her parents, at God, you name it.

('You haven't commented on Lind!' Our policy is not to comment positively or negatively on child actors.)

In a condescending review at VARIETY, Brian Lowery offered his usual attack on women -- something VARIETY has long allowed him to do and one of the reasons that VARIETY is beaten these days in coverage and columns by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and DEADLINE.

No, Dolly's film was not like a Hallmark movie.  It was messy and it was real.

In its own way, it stands alongside Jane Fonda's THE DOLLMAKER and Ann-Margaret's WHO WILL LOVE MY CHILDREN? -- two other rare telefilms that acknowledged poverty in the United States.

And just as the corporate press ignores Senator Bernie Sanders' comments on poverty and the working class -- except to insist with disdain that there's no money in the national budget to address American poverty -- uppity little assholes like Brian Lowery sneer at any fictional representation poverty manages to have on the small screen.

Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and he appeared on NBC's MEET THE PRESS today and squared off against Hillary Clinton's devoted fan Andrea Mitchell.

Think that's harsh?  Listening to her whine repeatedly to guests about Hillary and Hillary's chances was bad enough.  But why the need to show SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE clips . . . of Larry David sending up Bernie?

There were none mocking Hillary.  This despite Kate McKinnon becoming a household name largely as a result of her SNL parody of Hillary.

Worst of all?  'Journalist' Andrea commenting, "Which is Bernie Sanders and which is Larry David?  I can't get them straight."

Saving Hillary meant also doing a segment on how Hillary was right and Donald Trump was wrong about Russia, Putin, a no-fly zone over Syria -- and having both guests be . . . former members of the Obama administration former members and forever lackeys.

When Andrea did (briefly) remember she was supposed to be a journalist, she noted former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel telling FOREIGN POLICY this month that the White House tried to destroy him and that Barack destroyed his credibility in 2013 when he refused to stand up when Syria crossed the red-line that Barack had drawn.

Did, Andrea asked, Barack destroy his credibility?

Wendy Sherman (involved in that 2013 decision) refused to answer.  She talked, she yacked, she steered the conversation away from Hagel's observation.  She refused to answer.

And 'journalist' Andrea let her get away with it.

Worse was when Bernie appeared for a segment.

Andrea puffed up her chest and used her self-important tone to hector him about how, since the Islamic State attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, his polling had fallen as evidenced by CNN, "While these [jobs, the economy, poverty] are really important issues, what recent polling shows is that Americans, since Paris, since San Bernardino, are more concerned about terrorism, the threat of terrorism, than they are about the economy."

Bernie corrected her.

That was the spin on the CNN poll, not the reality.  Bernie schooled her on the reality -- a double digit increase in support for him since the first debate according to the CNN poll:

Senator Bernie Sanders:  While these are really important issues, what recent polling shows is that Americans, since Paris, since San Bernardino, are more concerned about terrorism, the threat of terrorism, than they are about the economy.

Andrea just brushed it aside.

Her whoring for Hillary is appalling.

We say that because a friend who's covering Hillary's campaign continues to tell us everything she's seen about how Andrea hectors other women, tries to influence the coverage, makes gender appeals, etc. instead of merely covering the events.  Our friend jokes that if she write a book about the campaign, she'll zoom in on Andrea and call it BITCH ON THE BUS -- giving a send up to Timothy Crouse's 1973 campaign classic.

(Regardless of what she might title it, we are urging her to write it.  This book could be as important to political reporting as Nora Ephron's essay "Miami" was.)

Let's drop back to that 'foreign policy' segment.

The laughable Wendy Sherman and Mike McFaul  were supposed to be discussing foreign policy -- the Islamic State specifically.  Wendy's a war hawk.  So is Mike

Mike went on about how the US government was addressing the Islamic State, the thousands of bombs dropped -- on Iraq and Syria -- and the billions spent on these bombings.

Then he invoked the White House buzzword "multi-pronged approach."

He insisted that one was needed.

And here he deserves a bit of credit.

We've foolishly believed that this multi-pronged approach would include diplomacy.

After all, in June, 2014, Barack declared publicly that only a political solution could end the crises in Iraq.

And yet the administration has ignored the politics and diplomacy repeatedly.

We're not the only ones who've been appalled by that.

US House Rep Loretta Sanchez stressed DIME in a December 1st House Armed Services Committee hearing:

US House Rep Loretta Sanchez:  You said that we are arming the Kurds.  The last time I spoke to [KRG President Mahmoud] Barzani, he suggested that they needed heavier duty weapons versus light arms.  And so my question -- my first question -- would be what are we arming them with?  I mean, is this really for the battlefield that they find?  Secondly,  I'd like you to address this whole issue with respect to the Iraqi army and the inability for us to get integrated -- or for Iraq's government to get it integrated.  I remember back in the -- under the Constitution and the whole issue of, for example, having a vote on the Kurd area being an independent entity, for example.  That was something that I continued to ask our military leaders at the time who were overseeing Iraq and the reality was they kept saying, 'That's the hardest part, that's the hardest part, we're going to get to it.'  And we never got to it before we were gone.  Now we see the fruits of that in that we are still not able to have a military that -- or police force -- that's very integrated.  So what do we do about that?   Uhm, so we've been taking back territory in Iraq and one of the issues that we had is it always takes additional -- I mean, we need to leave troops there or we need to leave somebody there in order to hold onto it. Otherwise, we end up losing that territory.  So what is our strategy to do that?  And the recruitment effort.  I would like -- and I'm sure that it would be not within the public realm, but I would love to get briefed on the cyber issues and how we're countering the recruitment with respect to ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call them. these days, from a global perspective.  But in particular are we doing anything that you can talk about in this setting with respect to the recruiting effort in the region itself?  And lastly, DIME -- Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic.  You know, it's not just military that we need here.  So, Secretary, if you could speak a little to what are some of the other efforts we're doing to counter-act what is really something we need to eliminate which is ISIS.  Thank you.

Secretary Ash Carter: Uh-uh, Congresswoman Sanchez, I'll touch two of the points and ask-ask the Chairman especially with respect -- with-with respect to arming the Kurds -- if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman -- and-and-and generally the Iraqi security forces.  Uhm, you talk about DIME?  Absolutely, it is essential that we recognize even though we -- uhh-uhh, I believe this is absolutely true -- are the center of the campaign because there must be a military defeat of ISIL.

Lip service from Ash Carter can mislead.

Thankfully, Mike McFaul cleared it up today.

Mike McFaul:  The solution is a multi-pronged long-term strategy, as Wendy just alluded to. And it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be a slogan. I do think the administration has undersold its policy, as the president hinted at a couple weeks ago. I just want to remind your viewers, when I hear candidates say, "The United States is doing nothing to fight ISIS," there have actually been 9,000 attacks against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We've spent over $5 billion already in that theater alone.  But nobody believes that there's going to be a victory over ISIS through an air campaign. And that's why we need to have the multi-pronged strategy, including our Muslim allies.

The multi-pronged strategy that's needed?

"We need Muslim soldiers" on the ground.

He insisted, "Because at the end of the day it's going to be Muslim soldiers in Iraq and in Syria that are going to ultimately defeat ISIS. It won't be the United States alone."

Soldiers from other countries in the region.

That's the 'multi-pronged' 'strategy.'

This administration's drowning in a shallow, wading pool of non-ideas.

But don't expect Andrea to ever point that out, not when she's busy electing Hillary.

And then there's Bernie.

And then there's that uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranqulizing, Right on Bernie!!!!

(Nod to Donny Hathaway's theme to MAUDE.)

Yes, and then there's Bernie.

Bernie wanted to talk poverty.

With millionaire journalist Andrea Mitchell.

With the millionaire journalist married to millionaire Alan Greenspan -- the former Chair of the Federal Reserve.

If Bernie knew what he was doing, when Andrea tried to brush the subject off with her 'these are important subjects, but . . .,' he would have responded with, "No, these are important subjects to the millions of Americans who do not have your wealth, Andrea."

He would have put her on the spot and she would have had to have acknowledged poverty or come off like the out of touch elite that she truly is.

As she continued to harp on the Islamic State -- better she harp on that than the 'data breach' which, for the record, she also brought up (no one cares about that story) -- Bernie missed his golden opportunity.

Where he succeeds is when he paints himself as the defender of the basic American.

We don't think he's 'weak' on defense.

But we do think he argues it poorly.

He's calling for, among other things, Saudis to step up in the fight against the Islamic State.

Andrea's only question there was what made him think he could make that happen?

He really should have responded, "If I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't be running."

Instead, he let her set the terms of the debate.

He answer included, "We have to destroy ISIS. But I will not stop fighting for working families and the middle class, will not stop taking on a billionaire class whose greed, in many ways, is destroying our economy. "

That's an answer.

A weak one.

The really strong answer is: Billions have been poured into Iraq -- billions of US tax dollars -- and billions continue to be poured into Iraq.

There will be no economic progress domestically until the United States stop spending billions overseas on war.

That's a message US voters could relate to -- as they watch their bridges crumble, as they see the 'universal' healthcare become a universal nightmare (good plans trashed, bad plans offered on the public exchange, fines rising), as they watch the bulk of their tax dollars continue to fund war, war and more war.

Bernie fumbled in other ways -- his comment about Jane Sanders and his response to Donald Trump were both poorly worded -- we understood what he meant but he made his points poorly.

And we could focus on that or on the hideous teeth of Andrea's other guest Debbie Wasserman Schultz's hideous teeth -- doesn't Congress have a dental plan?

But if we did that, we wouldn't be MEET THE PRESS, we'd be THIS WEEK.

As bad as MEET THE PRESS was today, Andrea can take comfort in the fact that it wasn't ABC's THIS WEEK where Jonathan Karl handled hosting duties.

He apparently did his entire prep while standing at the urinal before the show.

That would certainly explain why viewers felt pissed on.

Karl presided over the "powerhouse roundtable" -- a rather weak assembly of a neocon, a corporatist rightest, a corporatist leftist and a corporate journalist.

This dweeb trust was used to comment on events of the week?

No, of course not.

They were too busy offering their predictions of who would win Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Then they were galloping off to November 2016's general election.

This served no one.

This was utter crap.

A complete waste of time.

Andrea didn't go deep into any issue but she did cover issues.

ABC was more concerned with broadcasting political coverage via The Psychic Network.

More and more, the fakery wins out on network television.  That's the real lesson of 2016.  The subtext, of course, is that when reality does make a rare appearance -- Dolly's telefilm or Bernie talking about poverty -- it's a revelation which speaks to many.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }