Sunday, August 31, 2008

TV: The endless non-news

Should anyone bother with covering political party conventions? That's long been a question the press has grappled with. Last week, the answer was a resounding "no" as the Democratic Party made clear that news is not being produced.


PBS' The NewsHour and Democracy Now! elected to extend their broadcast time all last week with what they declared was "coverage." It wasn't.

Each failed repeatedly on the most basic issues. They failed in different ways, they failed in similar ways. But the failure was loud and clear to anyone bothering to reflect on what they saw.

Though they were at an alleged political convention, neither offered reporting. They offered sit-down "analysis." Though it can be argued a tiny offering from Democracy Now! qualified as reporting (those segments done by Jeremy Scahill), by the time Democracy Now! was airing their sit-down 'analysis' with the actress Daryl Hannah, the problems should have been obvious to all.

The most obvious problem throughout the week was the lack of respect for women. Women were silenced or ignored. And if you're wondering how that applies to Hannah, it's not just that her sit-down was "brief" (Amy Goodman appears to lose interest when Hannah states she's not attending the convention), it's how Goodman chose to represent Hannah. For those not familiar with Hannah, Goodman offered at the start of the segment, "Daryl Hannah has starred in dozens of films over the last twenty-five years, including Blade Runner and Splash and Wall Street and Kill Bill." As the segment ended, Goodman declared, "Her feature films, well, include many, like Wall Street and Kill Bill."

Yeah, Hannah's films have included many (though she had one of her largest audiences for the TV mini-series Paper Dolls). Where's Steel Magnolias?

Where is Steel Magnolias? That's a film starring women (Hannah, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton and Olympia Dukakis). It remains a popular film on video and you may think our noting it is nit-picking.

If that's what you're thinking, ask yourself when the last time you saw an actor or actress on TV and, when the host listed their films, he or she failed to list their biggest box office success?

That is what Steel Magnolias is. It is the top grossing film on Hannah's filmography. It outgrossed her bit part (even when Sean Young's big scene was stolen from her and handed to Hannah on the set) in Wall Street. At $82,759,091, the US box office for Steel Magnolias is basically twice that of Wall Street ($43,848,100). In fact, in real time, Wall Street was considered not just a bad film but a bust. Nothing Hannah has ever appeared in made it across the one-hundred-million mark. Steel Magnolias came closest with nearly $83 million. (Splash took in $62,599,495. Though not noted by Goodman, at $70,172,621 and $70,172,621 respectively, Grumpier Old Men and Grumpy Old Men are the next biggest box office for a film Hannah's appeared in.)

Can you imagine an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio today or ten years from now that didn't mention Titanic when listing his films? No. That's his biggest grosser. When listing a number of films your guest has appeared in, you always list their highest grosser because you are trying to remind people where they have seen the guest and, if they still don't know, leave them with, "Ah, yeah, I never saw that, but I heard about that movie." Steel Magnolias is Hannah's Titanic and it has had a longer life than any film she's made.

It's amazing that Hannah's highest-grossing film at the box office and her largest renter and seller on home video (VCR and DVD) is ignored until you grasp that Steel Magnolias is about women and Amy Goodman's the woman who decided to publish in Larry Fl**t's H*tler magazine -- apparently to make clear that she had no affinity for women. Message received, Goodman.

And message amplified all last week. Along with Hannah, Goodman's sit-downs only included women three other times. Though you could see the likes of Danny Glover, John R. MacArthur, Michael Eric Dyson, Ralph Nader (link goes to his segment, click here for Nader's campaign website), Bill Chandler, Chris Chafe (for two different segments), Steve Clemons & Stephen Zunes (billed that way because they appeared in a debate -- all other men had their own individual segments) and others, women didn't fair so well.

You had the brief segment with Hannah, a segment with mother-daughter duo Jean Carnahan and Robin Carnahan, a segment with Lie Face Melissa Harris-Lacewell (who started the year on Democracy Now! by playing objective but managing to rave over a speech by Barack Obama that she just happened to catch -- and neither Goodman nor Harris-Lacewell felt the need to disclose to the audiences that Harris-Lacewell was and had been campaigning for Barack) and, for one brief roundtable, (compare it to MacArthur's segment) Dolores Huerta, Sacha Millstone and the fact-free Patricia Wilson-Smith. Fact free?

Fact free Patricia Wilson-Smith got caught in an on-air lie. Not that Goody was paying attention:

Can I just say one thing to the point that you just made? I've heard over and over again from Hillary supporters that basically the media didn't treat her very well. I think the argument could be made for Senator Obama, as well. He definitely took his hits in the media also. But having said that, you know, nobody's more conflicted about this than I am. At the beginning, I was very much a Hillary Clinton supporter, at the very beginning. But the time has come for us to basically--

No, Barack didn't take any real hits. That's a lie. But it's not the lie we're speaking of. Read her statement above closely. She was "very much a Hillary Clinton supporter, at the very beginning"?

Patricia Wilson-Smith is a questionable character in our eyes and we say that because she is not a young woman and so her mother is also not a young woman. That would be the mother she states, on air, just had surgery. A political convention or your mother who just had surgery? Wilson-Smith didn't appear troubled in deciding to leave Georgia for Denver. But she wasn't troubled by the fact that she lied on air.

Patricia Wilson-Smith was lying to the audience. She was supposed to present herself as a Hillary supporter who came to Barack and, as such, her lie is supposed to encourage other women to do the same. She certainly claimed she supported Hillary early in the broadcast. But when she couldn't succeed in convincing Hillary supporter Sacha Millstone with her propaganda, Wilson-Smith grew frustrated and went off script declaring, "And secondly, of course, because I've been working so tirelessly over the last year and a half for Senator Obama, I wanted to make the trip and complete the cycle."

Did you catch it because Amy Goodman let it slide by. She's "been working so tirelessly over the last year and a half for Senator Obama." Earlier she asserted, "At the beginning, I was very much a Hillary Clinton supporter, at the very beginning." Now people have claimed it was a long primary process (it wasn't) but it did not last a year and a half. Before the primaries even began (in January of this year), Wilson-Smith had already logged a year working on Barack's behalf.

A year and a half, she states, she worked "tirelessly" to get Barack the nomination. Yet she wants people to believe she's a former Hillary supporter? And not only does Barack supporter Amy Goodman (who has turned her show over to the cause of electing Barack since 2007) avoid confronting Wilson-Smith on that statement, Goodman does damage control by ignoring it and immediately declaring:

I wanted to go back to this issue--although, Sacha Millstone, you say, "I'm not thinking about this at all"--I think this is shocking like to someone like Jose Serrano, the Congress member, who a long time supported Hillary Clinton, now supporting Barack Obama, the issue of, how could you come out of the convention and then conceivably, possibly, sort of leave it open to vote for John McCain? If you could just say whether or not yet you've decided at this point, which clearly you haven't, what appeals to you about him?


First off, listen to the show, read the transcript, Sacha Millstone has never used the words "I'm not thinking about this at all" so Goody's wrong right there.

But Goody's attempting to suggest that Sacha is supporting John McCain. Sacha had already made clear she was at the convention to vote for Hillary and that's as far as she's decided.

But listen to Liar Goody as she rushes in to cover up for Wilson-Smith exposing herself by pulling out of thin air the claim that Sacha has stated or implied she'll vote for John McCain. (Sacha has mentioned neither the GOP nor McCain up to that point.) Sacha attempts to reply and gets cut off at "I never said" at which point Amy jumps in (covering for herself and Wilson-Smith). Amy Goodman cuts her off and snaps, "So, how could you vote for him?" "Him" being McCain. Sacha manages to get a response before being cut off by Goodman again ("I never said I would. I never said that I was considering voting for John McCain. The question is, am I going to vote for Barack Obama?").

In the Cracked World of Red Diaper Baby Goodman, there's no greater offense than voting for John McCain. So when Wilson-Smith outs herself as a fraud, Goody chooses to jump in and smear Sacha with that in an attempt to distract everyone.

She begins insisting that Sacha said she would or might vote for John McCain when Sacha's never even brought up McCain or the Republican Party. When Sacha attempts to point that out the first time, Goody cuts her off. If you're remember Amy Goodman's embarrassing performance with Thomas Friedman (she let him walk all over her), you may find that especially striking. If you're remembering any of the times Amy's allowed a right-wing guest or centrist to walk all over her, you might find her behavior with Sacha shocking. What you're forgetting is that Sacha is a woman and Amy's not going to let one of those step all over her. (Funniest moment all week was when a Barack supporter spoke of disagreeing with her husband and said to Goody, you know what that's like. No, Goodman doesn't.)

It was all garbage. There was no point in wasting the time (or money) to broadcast from Denver. Any reporting done was done by Jeremy Scahill. (Monday included a 'report' that wasn't a report. The guests were the ones who experienced the 'drama' on Sunday, not Goodman and, naturally, she was more interested in the male blogger than the female one.)

We need to leave the gender issue for a moment to note another glaring fact in Goodman's coverage. Sacha is the one who has to bring up the fact that the choices go beyond voting for Barack or McCain. Amy Goodman, the Queen of 'Alternative' and 'Independent' Media, is pushing (strongly and repeatedly) that voters only have two choices.

You need to remember that because Goodman expanded her hourly show to two hours last week for the DNC convention. The convention ended Thursday but she was still at two hours on Friday. So that's ten hours of broadcasting last week for the DNC. What did she offer the Green Party during their four day convention in July?

Nothing while it was ongoing (it started on a Thursday, it ended on a Sunday). But after it was over, she offered the following:

And the Green Party has nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to be the party's presidential nominee. The Greens also nominated hip-hop activist and organizer Rosa Clemente to be McKinney's running mate. McKinney spoke on Saturday at the Green Party convention in Chicago.
Cynthia McKinney: "And when I got to Washington, I saw that public policy is really made in a room at a table. There were real seats at the table. Well, imagine what has happened to public policymaking now. There is a real room with a window and a door, and there's two seats at the table. The window is for us to look through, while our representatives make policy for us, so we can see what they're doing. At the table, one seat is for the Democrats, one seat is for the Republicans. Now, we don't know who did it, but one of them put a lock on the door and slipped a key to the corporate lobbyists who can come and go at will and whisper what they want to Democrats and Republicans, and the result is that we the people, who pay for those seats and determine who sits in them, want one thing, but because the corporate lobbyists can come and go at will, our values get overridden and our representatives give us something else. That's how we end up with everyone saying they're against the war and occupation, but war and occupation still gets funding. That's how we end up with everyone saying they're against illegal spying on innocent people, yet end up with a telecom immunity bill being signed into law. That's how we end up with everyone saying they’re in favor of universal access to healthcare and no one supporting what the physicians, nurses and healthcare really want, and that’s a single-payer healthcare system in this country."

That was it. That was Democracy Now!'s entire coverage of the Green Party convention. A headline on Monday, July 14th. Not even, the lead headline, mind you. It was the seventeenth item. Before she could get to it, she had three items on Barack. In fact, even playing the clip of a section of McKinney's speech, Barack got more time and words in her headlines that day.

A clip? Cynthia McKinney's acceptance speech of the Green Party presidential nomintaion in Julywas not judged as worthy of a segment on the show. Last week, Amy offered up Barack's speech, Hillary's speech, Joe Biden's speech, Al Gore's speech . . . everyone including Michelle Obama who is not running for public office and we're having a hard time remembering when Democrats last let a spouse not holding elected office speak at a convention. (The Republican Party infamously let Marilyn Quayle speak in 1992.) But Cynthia McKinney wins her party's nomination and Goodman doesn't even think her speech is worth playing as a segment on the show? She thinks "breaking the sound barrier" is offering a tiny sliver of what Cynthia said during headlines? Not only did Goody play Democratic speeches as their own segments last week, she brought those same speeches into other segments, into sit-down 'analysis' segments where she would replay portions of the speech.

If you're a Green -- a real one, not a play one like PDA's Medea Benjamin -- you really need to start complaining and start expressing your outrage. A four day political convention was reduced to a headline. And on that day (July 14th), when the convention was over, not only was it reduced to a headline but Cynthia got less time in headlines than Barack did.

Amy Goodman is not breaking the sound barrier, she's not breaking the silences, she's not going to where the silences are. Where were the silences? One media silence was on the Green Party convention. Amy didn't break that silence, she reinforced it. She never took her ass to Chicago for any of the four days of the convention. She never interviewed Green Party candidates or delegates at the convention. She didn't feel the need to expand her show to two hours or provide ten hours of coverage for their political convention. For Amy Goodman, a tiny headline was more than enough coverage of the Green Party's four-day political convention. If you're a Green, that should really bother you.

As long as you accept it, as long as you don't call it out, that's what you're going to get from the so-called largest, grassroots, independent media collaboration in the country. We're not Greens. We're objecting because it's not fair and what Goodman offered last week wasn't journalism.

The NewsHour didn't offer journalism either. Night after night. For our critique, we skipped The NewsHour proper. That is PBS' weekday, hour-long newscast. They continued it as such last week. After it went off the air, The NewsHour team remained on the air (we believe on all PBS' stations -- but maybe some had the good sense to re-run an old movie) for hours and hours each night. Well after eleven p.m., you could still catch them yacking. And they plugged additional "coverage" at their website.

With over fourteen hours of live coverage by The NewsHour team, what did Americans actually learn? Nothing of value.

Unless you find value in wondering how long it takes the gas-bag team of Mark Shields and David Brooks to get it together and dress appropriately? Answer: Day three. The first day, Brooks is wearing a spotted tie (the spots look like water stains) and a shirt in a color that men generally don't wear on TV. Tuesday it was Mark's turn to embarrass himself as he wore a checkered shirt whose lines distorted on TV (with a tie in a hideous shade of green). By Wednesday, both men appeared to know how to dress on air. That really was all the news that PBS could be proud of.

News that they couldn't be proud of? It was embarrassing to hear John R. MacArthur offering Amy Goodman the sort of crackpot theories one usually finds at right-wing websites (and usually not even the respected ones) about the Clintons. PBS managed to outdo that.

As always, when the really big shudders come on PBS, they come when Gwen Ifill's pontificating. Last week was no different. Senator Hillary Clinton gave a speech that had people cheering, on their feet applauding, repeatedly. You knew Gwen had to snark it up. She did not disappoint.

Instead of commenting on Clinton's speech, Gwen headed for the gutter. Her never-ending remarks included that some people just continue to believe "every thing's a conspiracy against Hillary." Had Hillary said anything like that in her speech? No.

Jim Lehrer tried to remind Gwen she was at the adults' table and not on her gas-bag show by stating that, from over the convention, he'd seen people on the floor "hugging each other" at the end of the speech. He also noted that when the speech began, he saw "some people were holding their breath." Gwen's reply, "We were."

Gwen's remarks (gas bagging from the convention floor) really should be put on DVD and provided to all journalism college programs across the country as an example of what not to do. First off, a reporter is never nervous that conflict may appear. Conflict drives the news. For Gwen, as she made clear repeatedly on her gas bag weekly show, it was personal. For Gwen it was all about Barack. That's not reporting. Her on-air remarks following Hillary's speech are a moment of shame for journalism if you consider Gwen a journalist (we don't).

Gwen generally appeared at the end of each convention night to offer her 'analysis' briefly. When time permitted, they'd work her during the proceedings. Thankfully, time didn't permit that too often.

Time was permitted for many mistakes. Jim declared that, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama gave a keynote address at a Democratic Party Convention and then went on to become the party's nominee. At that point, Barack had not been declared the nominee, but Jim wasn't worried about that. He did come back later to issue a correction. Bill Clinton had not been the keynote speaker, he informed, but both Barack and Clinton spoke at a Democratic Party convention and went on to become president.

Excuse us?

We though the election was in November. Jim's telling us that Barack's president. It's in comments like that (rightly or wrongly) that people find the grounds to continue to argue that Barack receives more favorable treatment than McCain. No, Jim didn't issue a correction to his correction. He did make many more mistakes and he found them so amusing.

We like Bill Richardson. We didn't know the governor of Mexico was Elvis. Jim was gas bagging like crazy, hyping out of the world, playing Bill like the most wronged man in the country ("he suffered from the wrath of the Clintons" -- Jim didn't feel a citation was necessary) and now he was going to speak on the convention floor! "I've just been told," a sheepish Jim declared, "he's not going to speak." Sadly he needed to give another correction, informing the audience at home that Richardson would speak the following day. It was all a lot of heady drama from above the convention floor . . . which added up to nothing back home. (We were present Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night -- the mad-dog enthusiasm Jim was offering on camera was never reflected in the hall.)

It was gas baggery at its worst and reminded us of the endless 'analysis' on ESPN which never leaves the joking aside. Jim was declaring boastfully, "I said Harry Reid [was about to speak] and he didn't speak. That shows you the power of television." Jovial Jim, just don't call him Newsman Jim. He wasn't done. "Senator Reid finally heard me! Here he comes!"

What followed was a semi-strong written speech delivered meekly by Reid, no surprise, it is Harry Reid. Milquetoast is the only word for him and, as if to prove that, the signs from Nevada supporters on the floor read: "Give 'Em Heck, Harry!" Yes, because Harry could never raise even a little hell. A new word entered the lexicon during Reid's speech: "tirrible." "The most tirrable irony." He said "terrible" at other points so we'll assume he knows that word and was, indeed, coining a new one in his speech. By the time he was meekly declaring that Bully Boy has been "sleeping on duty," Reid was gesturing non-stop and looked like a mechanical figure of Abraham Lincon.

Let's share some notes on other speakers while we're at it since we were there in person for most of the events. (We skipped Barack's speech and Thursday events.)

A woman, excuse us. awomanspokeandreadherspeechfromapieceofpaper . . .

Does that capture the monotone nature? She's with a labor group (yes, we know her name, we're being kind). She stood at the podium (while the convention was being broadcast during primetime) and read her speech in a monotone and never bothered to look up once at the large crowd gathered, as she rushed through her flat reading. From certain angles (we were moving around), you couldn't tell that she was looking at a piece of paper and people were asking, "Is she praying?" They couldn't hear her and some people stood up and bowed their heads briefly when they wrongly thought a prayer was being said.


It didn't seem like it would it ever end. When it did and Anna Berger spoke, you realized things could get worse. We'll assume Berger, when not working on labor issues, is a mean dancer and, no doubt, will soon be featured on So You Think You Can Dance? We base that conclusion on her speaking manner. Cha-cha. Cha-cha-cha. Slow, slow. Fast, fast, fast. That's how she alternated constantly. The first words in each sentence were held for full beats, the next words were quarter notes. Cha-cha-cha.

Then we had to suffer from Janet Napolitano throwing her speech out of the right side of her mouth. Looking like a mixture of Tyne Daily (the later years) and Oliver Platt, Janet argued that John McCain can't win the presidency, that no one from Arizona can win the presidency. We'll remember that should she, the governor of Arizona, ever attempt to seek the presidency.

Wednesday the podium offered (during primetime) a woman who seemed to think that persuasion came from yelling. In case that alone didn't do the trick, she waived her hands around so widely that a mayor next to us asked, "Is she signing her speech?"

We're going to note Mark Warner as a positive. We don't care for Warner. His speech has been criticized -- but from the floor, his speech was well received and when we watched The NewsHour coverage of it later (PBS Real Friends provided us with DVDs of the entire NewsHour live coverage), he came off well on the screen as well. Again, we're not Warner fans. And our limited personal interactions with him haven't done anything to change our aversion. However, his speech was alive. We're not calling it the best speech of all time. We have no trouble saying it was one of the best delivered speeches during the convention. Others delivering well were both Clintons (Hillary and Bill), Beau Biden (Joe's son) and . . . that was really it.

What about the substance of the speeches?

The substance? Hillary and Bill spoke about the issues that make people Democrats. One of the loudest applause lines during Hillary's speech (or during the convention period) was when Hillary mentioned one of the elephants in the room that no one wanted to touch: LGBT rights. The uproar was huge.

After the speech, we spoke with three people who were among those cheering its inclusion very loudly. The man, who identified as straight, stated he couldn't believe that was, "the first acknowledgment in the entire convention that this is the 21st century." He noted that Barack's campaign had done "nothing" on LGBT issues and he found that surprising. He was not aware that Barack had put known homophobes onstage in South Carolina and allowed homophobia to be expressed at that campaign even (from the stage). He said he was looking into that and, if true, "I'm not voting." You're not voting for Barack? "I'm not voting in November." If true, he said, he wasn't voting. He found that "so disgusting" that he would stay home.

The two women were a lesbian couple. They had heard of Barack's use of homophobia in South Carolina. They stated they had reservations about coming because they didn't think Hillary would get a roll call vote "and she clearly won." Were they affiliated with PUMA or any other group? No and they thought PUMA was shoe gear. They enjoyed Hillary's speech and were planning to either leave tonight or come tomorrow for "Bill's speech but, to be honest, our heart isn't in it. We were here tonight to applaud Hillary and make sure that she had support. And if you ever wonder why that is, she did it. Up there, she recognized us. We're Americans too."

Both women made clear that they were not voting for Barack in November. Due to McCain's respect for Mark Bingham (who died on 9-11 and was openly gay) and "his sacrifice, we are open to McCain, but we will not vote for Obama." Revealing that we weren't voting for Barack, we explained that some say people who won't vote for Barack aren't really Democrats.

"Clinton did it," the quieter of the two said very upset. "He pushed our rights further. That was Bill Clinton. What did Al Gore do? What did [John] Kerry do? In 1992, Bill Clinton advanced our rights. None of the [Democratic] nominees have bothered to do a damn thing for us since Bill. I'm a Democrat. Bill Clinton's a Democrat. I don't know about these other people. They scare the hell out of me because they're willing to sacrifice us [LGBT community] to get votes. Remember, the Republican Party used to support women's equality. I think we're seeing a real change in the Democratic Party and anyone tells me I'm not a Democrat, they better tell me what they've done for gay rights!"

It really is one of the elephants in the room. The media will now acknowledge that feminists ("women's right activist," to use Jim Lehrer's term during the broadcast) point to the sexism and the media will quickly dismiss that. But the homophobia is not even acknowledged briefly. It was all over the convention and never noted by the media.

After Bill Clinton's speech, as we were leaving the floor for another area, a man we passed asked, "Wasn't he great?" We replied Bill's speech was powerful and he said, "You know, I voted for him and I have never regretted it." He went on to talk about his son who was gay and had come out of the closet during Clinton's second term and how "the country's acceptance then" now seems to have vanished. Is he voting for Barack? No. He's not and his son's not. Why? Barack's use of homophobia and refusal to make a statement early in June (Hillary made a statement the first day, and the man knew that) about Gay Pride Month. "The country's on the wrong course," the man told us, "but Barack's not going to take us to a better place." Was he attending the Big Speech tomorrow? No.

The big speech was of course Barack's speech. Though why anyone needed to hear it, who knows? (We did review The NewsHour coverage of it.) Hadn't the entire convention, with the exception of Bill and Hillary, been all about Barack?

Earlier in August, Nancy Pelosi declared that Barack was a 'gift from God' ("a leader that God has blessed us with"). The convention played like she and others actually believed that. We are struck by Pelosi's remark and remember when the White House tried to float that Bully Boy was put in place as 'God's destiny.' We remember the outrage over that assertion. (We also remember that Laura Bush rejected that claim in a televised interview.) When the people at the convention we spoke with, who will not be voting for Barack, talk about a change for the worse, it's that sort of thing they're talking about.

The convention did nothing to dispel the notion that Barack was God's gift to America. The Christ-child. The Second Coming. Our personal savior. Gee, we just thought he was running for president.

Michelle Obama chose to stand at the podium so we'll choose to critique that. It was an awful speech. Could you imagine Joan Kennedy (the only woman with sense Ted ever married) delivering that speech? We couldn't even recall Nancy Reagan making similar remarks. Barack Obama wants Americans to vote for him and there was Michelle up onstage (with lovely hair additions that no one ever noted in all their rah-rah) giving a speech that sounded like she was attempting to set America up on date with him. There she was jabbering on about Barack "bringing us together and reminding us how much we share" blah, blah, blah. Possibly Michelle thought she was at a ceremony for the Nobel Prizes and not at a political convention?

It was a bad speech. Grassroots feminists are still angry with her for her remarks (that if Hillary can't run her own house, how can she run the White House, that she's not sure she'd vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, etc.) and there was nothing in her endless yammering that was going to change their opinions of her. Her "mentor"? Her brother. Her other heroes? Her father. It was Helpmate Hell and Michelle couldn't stop babbling. If there was a strong woman in the country during her life, Michelle never encountered her. A young self-identified feminist, mocking her lines about her brother ("my mentor and protector"), shouted (during the cheering), "Liberate yourself, Michelle!"

We just rolled our eyes at the garbage while it was being spoken. It was only after, when we read the text, that we saw Michelle was not just the ultimate Stepford Wife, she's also a woman who places little value on women. The first eight sentences of her speech mentioned and praised her brother in seven sentences. Her father gets his own paragraph. Her mother doesn't. (And she doesn't acknowledge that her mother worked. She refers to her as "a mother who stayed at home" as if she was lying around on the couch being waited on.)

It was an awful speech. So of course, gas bags praised it. One PBS' 'historian' compared Michelle to Rosa Parks on the basis of the bad speech. No, she's not Rosa Parks. For one thing, Rosa usually wore a girdle at public functions and she certainly wouldn't wear a dress without a slip under it which, for the record, Michelle did. (Showing America, when the cameras took a shot from behind, that she wears Granny Panties.) She stumbled and fumbled and it was all rather surprising since she kept looking to the tele-prompter.

Interviewed the following night by Judy Woodrfuff, Michelle would score some points with us for admitting her speech wasn't all of that (she'd also admit that it was heavily rehearsed and based on speeches she'd given throughout the campaign: "a more polished version of . . . what I've been doing for the last year and a half"). Any thoughts of, "Okay, Michelle can cut loose, she's not all about herself" vanished as she went on and on about herself and Barack and not about the country. (Prompting Isaiah's comic.) Someone should have prepped her that it wasn't all about her ("When people hear my story . . .") We'd also suggest Michelle's old enough to have lived many years as a tall woman. Slumping your shoulders throughout an interview does not change your height and does not make you look shorter.

Judy Woodruff did sit-down interviews. Woodruff on-air during the coverage is the only thing PBS can point to with pride and we'll come back to her.

But let's back up to that 'historian.' Might we first suggest that if you can't pronounce "speculate," you don't say it on air when you're trying to present yourself as an expert? He couldn't pronounce the word. He.

Did you know that there are no female historians in the US?

PBS apparently thinks that.

Each night they offered the same three males in a roundtable. (Margaret Warner generally moderated.) If you didn't naturally notice that women were being excluded, you should have gotten that point after Michelle's interview when PBS moved on the 'historian' roundtable where the three male 'historians' explored women's voting.

Apparently PBS thinks they can get away with that crap under some mistaken belief that "The Ladies Love to Hear Us Men Talk about Them." It's probably cheaper than picking up a check.

Night after night, we heard the 'historians' and it wasn't any history we knew of. Two of the men regularly left the world of facts to invent. Maybe they took their cues from what went on above the floor? Maybe the gas baggery floated downward?

Jim felt the analysis could be offered (non-stop) by Dave Brooks and Mark Shields. The boys would get off a joke about how they were all Jews. We doubt anyone laughed at that but maybe, for a moment, viewers thought, "Yeah, and you're all men."

PBS women were the worker bees. They were on the floor. They were interviewing. The gods above it all, the only ones allowed to present opinions passed off as facts, were three men.

And the men weren't experts. We have numerous notes on their lies and falsehoods presented as fact but we think just one sums it up. This flew out of baby-teethed David Brooks' mouth, "When Hillary Clinton says if you don't pick me, you can't pick any woman . . ." Stop the feed. Hillary never said any such damn thing. No one corrected Brooks (and he didn't correct himself). So you've got non-stop lying about Hillary and Jim declaring Barack president already. Want to still pretend there's been no bias?

Judy Woodruff had many strong moments. When interviewing citizens, she was respectful and allowed them to finish their statements. When interviewing elected officials, she questioned assertions. Gwen, study what Judy did, even you may be able to learn.

For example, US Senator Chuck Schumer was asked about the polling which consistently does not look the way it should for a sure thing Barack win in November. Schumer insisted that it would change as people got to know Barack. Judy Woodruff rightly responded, "But he's been campaigning, with all due respect, for a year and a half."

While the boys gas bagged from above, the women were the worker bees on the floor. Gwen obviously didn't like it and she was openly hostile to other women (she was also hissed by several women on the floor Tuesday night and looked around to see who they were hissing it -- it was you, Gwen). She's more than earned it. Feminist 'leaders' may not have called out her crap but women are more than aware what went down, what stunts Gwen pulled over and over. She continues her disrespect and demonstrates it's not Hillary she disrespects, it's all women. That was most obvious when Gwen 'hosted' a three-person panel composed of military members. It was two men and one woman. Want to guess who spoke the most and who spoke the least? Want to guess who Gwen tossed to? Do we need to point that she asked both men three questions and the woman was only invited to speak by Gwen twice.

Does PBS really not notice this? (A friend on the CPB told us it was noticed and it's "going to be addressed." We've heard that before.)

The convention and the coverage pointed to why Barack still can't close the deal. Guests repeatedly turned the issue of America into an issue of Barack.

The Thursday speech was a whimper (and as we feared last week, no one taught Barack to modulate). The entire week was a Love-In. Only, unlike past love-ins, it wasn't about "us" (however, you define the noun), it was about Barack.

Try to get it if you support Barack (we don't) because you (his supporters and the media) continue to hurt his chances of winning in November. Americans want to elect a president to work for them. Americans aren't electing a Love God, a Second Coming, a Homecoming King. James Carville has famously (and rightly) called the first night as a disaster. It was a disaster. The disaster continued all week, with few exceptions.

The convention was supposed to bring America on board. What was being sold? It wasn't the Democratic Party. It wasn't a need to make the country better. It was Barack, Barack, Barack, Barack. Over and over.

Here's reality that the campaign better start accepting: Barack is not experienced.

That's a reality. America will gladly take a chance on a candidate if they believe the candidate has something to offer them. You need to accept the reality and you need to drop the testimonials. If you're serious about getting Barack into the White House (we plan to offer advice when we cover the GOP convention as well), you need to start making it about America and not about Barack.

It was a vanity parade. It was grown adults embarrassing themselves like Baby Soxers. It was never about where American can go, only that Barack could lead.

"Change to what?" was the question created during the primaries by the campaign refusing to be specific. "Lead us where?" is the question they replaced it with as a result of the convention. And, just like during the primaries, they had no answer to the question their actions raised. Four nights of non-stop infomercials told you there was a product named Barack and that you should buy it. But no one could ever tell you what Barack could or would do. Now people may buy a number of things from infomercials. They might buy a treadmill or a hair care product or anything else. But the infomerical has to tell you what it does. Repeating "It's great!" over and over doesn't sell the product.

And the convention didn't sell to America. It may have picked up a few converts. It didn't provide what Barack needed or anything he could build on. Four percent is what we're told the 'bounce' was. Four percent isn't a bounce and isn't even beyond the statistical margin of error. In other words, four four days, a non-stop infomercial ran and it didn't sell a damn thing.

And it didn't provide any news. Even when actual news took place, there was no coverage of that. Who would be the nominee? Would there be a roll call vote?

We found out that answer mid-week. Strangely PBS had no gas baggery to offer on that. (All 'experts' were supporting Barack and that may be why they didn't question it or it may have been they feared being falsely charged as "racists" if they did.)

There was no roll call vote. It started and it was halted. There was Nancy Pelosi looking like a loon and acting like one as PBS showed her yelling, "All in favor of the motion to suspend the rules and nominate by acclimation!" A vote is going on and the Speaker of the US House stops it to propose suspending the rules. A news organization filling endless hours of airtime doesn't find that news worthy? Their gas bags don't find it worthy of commenting on? Then there's Nancy laughing right after, "I have been asked to inform you Senator Biden has accepted the nomination."

Maybe pointing out that moment would have required them pointing out that they had been duped into airing a non-stop infomercial for a candidate and nothing resembling news? The broadcast networks have been cutting back on their coverage and greatly reduced it in 2004 to loud hisses from some quarters. The 2008 Democratic Party convention demonstrated that it is not a news story and no more requires round-the-clock coverage than an Amway convention. Both may offer a few 'human interest' stories, but there's no hard news to be found there.
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