Sunday, September 28, 2008

TV: Do Not Disturb The Propaganda

Last week Do Not Disturb became the first series of the fall line up to be cancelled. Do Not Disturb pretty much sums up TV these days and the only surprise is that so much more cannot be cancelled with it.

Do Not Disturb was a quick fix of many elements but somehow overlooked the important ones. In that regard, it's not at all unlike Pacifica's highly embarrassing Democracy Now! The alleged public affairs program is supposedly based (somehow) in journalism but finding any journalistic standards in the hourly Pravda on the Hudson is like attempting to find one good laugh in Do Not Disturb.

Last week it was time for Red Diaper Baby Amy Goodman to yet again deploy in her non-stop efforts to elect War Hawk Barack Obama (efforts began in 2007). In order to do so, her chief goal is to destroy the GOP ticket of McCain and Palin. Which means she repeatedly misled all week in the headlines on what The New York Times actually reported in their cover story on John McCain last week. It also means that she zoomed in on what she saw as embarrassing moments as long as it didn't effect 'her side.' Which is how she offered up this garbage on Friday:

In other campaign news, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been caught in an apparent gaffe after claiming the US has achieved "victory" in Iraq. Speaking to CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Palin said, "a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there, as it has proven to have done in Iraq." Palin was also asked about her comments that an Israeli attack on Iran shouldn't ever be "second guessed."
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "We don't have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That's not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys."

As you read that, you're probably thinking, "Uh, what about Iraq?" Goody doesn't give a damn about Iraq. She loves her some Iran, so much so that she allowed its president to offer a homophobic diatribe on Friday while she nodded along and smiled. We'll get back to it.

Palin called Iraq a "victory." Amy Goodman didn't 'notice' it -- she failed to credit Howard Kurtz (what? you thought Goody did any damn work of her own?) who noted that Palin might have misspoke. Actually, Governor Palin probably didn't misspeak as noted in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Turning to the US presidential race. Yesterday The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured part one of an interview (link has text and video) with Governor Sarah Palin (part-two airs tonight), the GOP vice presidential candidate. Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) thinks he's found a mis-step in Palin's remarks, specifically in this section: "So, again, I believe that . . . a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq." Kurtz offers, "The vice-presidential nominee may have misspoken in an attempt to say that President Bush's military surge in Iraq has been a success, but she did not qualify her remarks." While she may have misspoken, there's nothing in her remarks that indicates she has. In fact, her remarks are perfectly in keeping with top-of-the-ticket GOP nominee John McCain. In the last months McCain has repeatedly declared victory in Iraq but the press has rarely paid attention. There was some attention to his May 15th speech in Ohio which included, "The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a function democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent . . ." Speech in full (text and video) at the McCain-Palin 2008 website. Based on that and other speeches McCain has given over the summer, there is nothing inconsistent with Palin's answer. (I don't happen to agree with her or McCain. That's not the issue. The issue is did she know what she was saying? Why assume she didn't? No one assumed he didn't, now did they? McCain's repeatedly made those type of remarks and there's been no questioning of them.)

Get it? McCain's been saying that publicly since May. Palin says it and suddenly it's a 'gaffe.' Not when a man says it, only when a woman does. And that bulls**t was on display all last week. For example, Joe Biden is the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket and he made a huge gaffe last week but, strangely, Amy Goodman didn't devote a headline to that. Goody was hardly alone in ignoring it -- even though it happened on TV, even though it also happened in an interview with Katie Couric. Friday evening, under pressure, The New York Times editorial board posted on Biden's gaffe at their blog (link has text and video) -- not in the paper:

In his own interview with Ms. Couric, Mr. Biden said: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"
There are, of course, a few historical inaccuracies there. First, Herbert Hoover was president when the stock market crashed, in 1929. Roosevelt did not take office until March of 1933.
When he did, Roosevelt communicated to the people over radio -- not television.

Everything Biden said was wrong; however, it was not time to mock him, now was it?

Goody's far from the only propagandist on the public airwaves and there was, in fact, another Biden incident last week. She ignored it which didn't surprise us. We were much more curious about how 'journalist' Bill Moyers would handle the other Biden incident? Would Old Man Fibber and Dr. Kathy gas bag again?

No. No the deadly dull duo hasn't gone there. The ones who ripped Hillary Clinton apart over her eyes watering as she spoke of how important America was (Bill called it her "moisty moment"), a moment Bill Moyers said he wasn't sure was genuine, a comment Dr. Kathy wasn't troubled by, a 'discussion' that required Moyers 'showing' America what he was talking about not by playing the videotape of Hillary but playing Jesse Jackson Jr.'s racist and sexist attack on her from MSNBC which, for the record, Chatty Kath didn't call out either.

In speaking about the country, Hillary's eyes watered. She did not shed a tear, she did not sob. But goodness if everyone didn't have to smear her for that moment (including Old Man Fibber Moyers). Last week, Joe Biden repeatedly choked up at a public event and you didn't hear about that, now did you?

Hillary's eye well and it's turned into a national incident, one that requires questioning whether or not the moment was genuine and whether or not she's fit to serve. Biden tears up in Pennsylvania and everyone rushes to act like it didn't happen.

ABC's The Note explained it Thursday:

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: The story about the car accident that killed Sen. Joe Biden's first wife and daughter in 1972 is well-known, but in his speech today in Greensburg, PA, an emotional Biden described a gesture by the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers that left a lasting impression on him and his two injured sons.

[. . .]

"I'm sorry to take your time, but Mr. Rooney reminded of this, Dan reminded my by just seeing him," Biden said. "They wouldn't let me bring a Christmas tree in, understandably, into the hospital, because of concern about fire, so I went to K-Mart to get a synthetic tree that would, you know, so I’d be able to bring it in and have something there at Christmas for my kids."
"I don't remember precisely, it was either the 23rd or Christmas Eve Day, I’m not sure, I think it was the 23rd, while I was, one of the few times I was away from their bed for a couple hours," the Delaware lawmaker recalled. "I came back and they, they looked like they had lighted up like Christmas trees. My one little boy was in traction and the other little boy had a seriously fractured skull and they were happy, and they each had separately, they had a football in their beds…"
At that point, Biden paused, with the whole high-school gymnasium silent as the senator choked up behind the podium.
"Excuse me," he said, as the audience then filled the silence with applause.
"Anyway," Biden continued. "I said, 'Guys, where'd you get the ball?' and they said 'Daddy, Rocky Bleier gave it to us.'"
Art Rooney Sr., Dan's father, had sent Bleier, the Steelers fullback, to Wilmington to present the young Biden boys with a get-well gift.
"Mr. Rooney Sr., Dan's dad, had, without any fanfare, without, without any announcement, without anything other than his incredible decency…," said Biden, trying to continue but stopping again to wipe away his tears.
"I really apologize, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I shouldn’t have tried to do this, but anyway…"
More supportive cheers came from the crowd as the senator caught his tears with his handkerchief.

Did you get it? Biden cried. "Wipe away his tears." Now let's not be Old Man Fibber here. We know Joe Biden (a very decent person) and there's no reason to doubt his sincerity. But Hillary didn't cry (despite Jesse Jackson Jr.'s lying in the clip that Moyers played) and it was huge news that eyes welled. Biden breaks down on stage and that's not news?

Again, we will state outright that the moment was sincere. But we'll note how strange it is that not only are Palin's perceived gaffes non-stop news while Biden's aren't, but in this instance we're dealing with a man doing more than a woman (Hillary) did on the campaign trail and everyone looking the other way while the woman was called out and scorned for much less.

Dropping back to a thirty-six year-old, personal memory, Biden cried on stage. And, unlike with Hillary, there's no endless debate? There's no questioning of it? There's no effort to smear him as unfit for it?

We're not saying he's unfit. Quite the contrary, Biden's the only reason to vote for that ticket and the US would be damn lucky to have him as vice president or president. (We are not voting for the Democratic Party ticket because we will not vote for Barack. We are also not voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.) But we're pointing out the huge double standard that last week revealed.

Biden couldn't have made a stronger case for the sexism that Hillary was regularly attacked with if he had given a forty-five minute speech on the topic. In that Pennsylvania campaign incident, you saw one candidate's crying at a campaign appearance judged as no big deal, a huge contrast to Hillary's not crying in New Hampshire back in January.

The media can't even stick to their own relatively new 'standards' these days, let alone the established journalistic standards of the past.

Two examples of the way women are treated in the media. Palin makes a remark last week that's the same call McCain's been making for months in public and yet her remark comes under scrutiny. Hillary doesn't cry in New Hampshire and yet is vilified for "crying" at the start of the year, Biden cries onstage last week in Pennsylvania and, like McCain on Iraq's 'victory,' he's given a pass. There are no standards the media sticks to when covering women but they are happy to hand out one pass after another when it comes to men.

If a man does it, it's not questioned, it just is.

Do Not Disturb operated under that principle and that's among the many reasons it tanked. Jerry O'Connell was the nominal star as a 'ladies' man' hotel manager. Sexual harassment was turned into a joke and even that didn't provide laughs. But we were supposed to believe everyone thought it was 'cool' and 'cute' that Neil Danner (O'Connell's character) was delightful to co-workers as he came on to every woman. Having set up that offensive joke in the first episode (which required everyone attending a training on the issue), by the second episode, the writers had already decided "screw what we established." That's when a MTV starlet made a guest appearance and Neil bumps into her in the lobby. She has a request and as Neil eyes her up and down slowly, you assume that Neil will grant it. Instead, Neil asks her if she has a MTV crew with her? Finding out she doesn't, he tells her to forget it and hurries off.

No, it makes no sense at all. No, it wasn't in character but the 'creative geniuses' behind the show obviously figured that since a male character was doing it, everyone would accept it as 'normal.' And why wouldn't they when that's how the political 'coverage' has played out all year long?

Niecy Nash was the other nominal star and she's not learned how to do a sitcom. Broad sketch comedy she can handle. A sitcom? Not yet. She probably wasn't helped along by other characters who compared her character (Rhonda) and Neil to Sam and Diane or Rachel and Ross -- always quickly adding "if ___ was Black." Rhonda was nothing like Rachel or Diane as written. It made no sense. Rhonda was a lot like a bit character that worked at Ross' museum on Friends, in fact, she was exactly like that character who was also named Rhonda. If characters hadn't kept repeating the comparisons to other sitcom characters, you never would have guessed Rhonda was supposed to be a lead.

To make Rhonda a lead character, she would have had to have been written as such but that was apparently too much work for the writers. Instead, they gave all the good lines to Molly Stanton who actually carved out a character (the only one on the show worth rooting for) in Nicole. Stanton played a completely different character on Twins. Also getting plenty of air time (and crowding out Nash) was Jesse Tyler Ferguson who played Richie on The Class and played Richie on this show as well even if the new character was supposed to be (a) gay and (b) named Larry. Worst of all was watching Dave Franco recycle Dean Collins' performance from The War At Home -- naturally the Water Cooler Set tried to tell you Franco was good and, of course, the reality was that he flat out sucked.

In fairness to James Franco's little brother, there was no part in Gus. He was repulsed by gay sex, he was attracted to it. Repeatedly. Over and over. In the same episode. And not because it was supposed to say anything about Gus but because the writers couldn't get a handle on the character and used Gus for every cheap laugh there was with no regard to characterization.

And that was the entire show: grabbed elements from elsewhere, pasted together with someone praying a strong wind wouldn't blow it over. On no level did it ever work. On no level did it ever even sound like a hit. That includes putting Jerry O'Connell in the same slimey role he played on last year's flop Carpoolers.

If Fox is that devoid of taste and ideas, they should stick with spin-offs. Seriously. Grab Doris Roberts and put her in Marie. Newly widowed, she's in a retirement community where she makes the other retirees and the workers miserable. Can't get the rights to do a spin-off called Marie? Give her character a new name. We're not joking having sat through too many of Fox' bad sitcoms starring 'young' actors. Put Doris Roberts on the sound stage with them and they'll rise to her level. Put Roberts on stage and they'll have someone to play against, a character to bang their heads against the wall over because comedy is conflict -- a factor that recent Fox sitcoms have largely ignored.

Conflict is also news. But don't tell it to the public affairs and 'news' programming that has continues their slanting to Barack. As awful as the orgy passed off as news has been all year, Amy Goodman managed to scrape even lower in the gutter last week.

Apparently not content to have aired homophobe Bernice King's sermonizing about "perversion," last week Goody cozied up to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and allowed him to spew homophobia: "a very unlikeable and abhorrent act," "abhorrent act" (so awful he had to say it twice!), "immoral act," "against our values," "robs humanity," "brings about diseases," "It should be of no pride to the American society to say that they defend homosexuals and support it" and so much more.

But there was Goody making nice-nice and allowing such trash to be spewed on the public airwaves. Now Goody loves to play Last Journalist Standing and finger-point at the entire American press so here's a tip for her: When a guest is trashing the LGBT community, you don't just sit there smiling, soaking it in.

A real interviewer might have declared, "You seem to know a great deal about homosexuality. How did you learn about it?" A real journalist might have asked, "Have you engaged in any immoral acts?" Anyone with common sense could have said, "Who the hell are you to judge?"

But with Goody, if your non-White and 'religious,' you can get away with anything (and always do). The woman is obsessed with Sarah Palin's religion just as she when it comes to any other White person. But apparently homophobia doesn't exist among non-Whites so when Bernice King (who has marched to deny the LGBT community rights) is blathering on about "perversion," it just flies over Goody's head and when the Iranina president is issuing a non-stop rant against the LGBT community, it's okay because he's a Shi'ite.

No, it's not okay. Intolerance is never okay and the Communists in the last century had a lot of explaining and apologizing to do when they repeatedly refused to call out intolerance in real time, when they ignored it as it went down. For everyone not grasping how that came be, they only need to check out Friday's Democracy Now! which found Goody offering up a 'guest' who was nothing but an apologist for the Iranian government. And, like most of the really good apologists of the Communist community in the 20th century, her guest was introduced by a name that was not in fact his name. "Kourosh Shermirani" does not exist. It is an alias. The fact that Goodman didn't feel her audience needed to know that goes a long way towards explaining how far into crap Democracy Now! has descended. Repeating, she introduced a guest by his alias and never felt the need to tell her audience that it was not in fact his name. That doesn't fly in journalism.

But we have about as much actual journalism today as we have actual laughs in sitcoms. In a fair world, Democracy Now! would be suffering the same fate as Do Not Disturb.
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