Friday, November 13, 2020

TV: Who's been sleeping in my bed?

 HBO's THE UNDOING raises many questions but mainly: Who did you crawl into bed with?  


The mini-series is produced by David E. Kelley and Nicole Kidman with Nicole also starring.  David, who is also writing, last teamed with Nicole on HBO's BIG LITTLE LIES which won four Golden Globe Awards, eight Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and one Writers Guild of America Award.  Director Susanne Bier joins them for this project

How well does anyone know anyone?

Seems like if you're speaking to someone, you should know them -- especially if you're speaking to them for an interview.

But somehow, people keep crediting Paul Reickhoff keeps getting credited wrongly. Equally true, he also refuses to correct those who get it wrong. Most recently, that was Paul Reickhoff remains the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; however, he is no longer the CEO nor the executive director and it's really insulting of him to pretend otherwise. 

paul reickhoff

Yet there he was last week on AMERICA THIS WEEK WITH ERIC BOLLING with Eric Bolling bringing him on and saying in his opening introduction that Paul "is the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America."  And Paul doesn't correct him.  He does this over and has done it for years now.


He passes himself off as this and has done it over and over.  He did on September 9th on MSNBC with that dreadful Stephanie Ruhle who described him both as her "friend" and as "the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America." 

This isn't an accident.  This isn't mistake.  It happens over and over.

It was noted September 10th at THE COMMON ILLS -- prior to that, most were just biting their tongues.  When it was noted at THE COMMON ILLS, we heard from multiple IAVA members -- including a board member -- about how they were tired of this.

Paul hasn't been executive director in years.  In May of 2017 -- yes it was that long ago -- he stopped being the executive director.  That's when Allison Jaslow became executive director.  Yet he continued to run around presenting himself on TV as the executive director.  The organization made him CEO.  But he lost that position in January 2019 when IAVA announced Jeremy Butler was the CEO.  


He continues to present as the executive director.  It takes five seconds to say to correct that on air.  He's not the leader of the organization and he's not been for years -- plural.  


"He's the Donald Trump of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America," an IAVA friend joked on Saturday noting that, like Donald, Paul was out of a job and refused to accept that fact.


His refusal to get honest is insulting -- insulting to the viewers who tune in and don't get the truth and insulting to the people who are in leadership at IAVA but don't get the credit because glory hog Paul won't get honest.  Of course, he's a very insulting person.  For example, the Iraq War Veteran has his own site, RIGHTEOUS MEDIA, and it's a bad site.

We make that assertion based not on our opinion of the opinions Paul expresses there. We say it's a bad site because in what world does an Iraq War veteran do a site that isn't welcoming to all veterans? We're not talking politics, we're talking what's offered. Video, video, video. Never a transcript.


Did he miss the issue of hearing loss? As far back as 2006, the issue was being noted:


Soldiers sent to battle zones are over 50 times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) than soldiers who do not deploy, according to research published in the December 2005 issue of American Journal of Audiology (AJA). The study, led by Thomas M. Helfer, Nikki N. Jordan, and Robyn B Lee of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, examined the cases of 806 U.S. soldiers diagnosed with NIHL.
The research was publicized in the Feb. 21 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and received feature coverage in the Feb. 22 edition of the Seattle Times.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers sent to Iraq have suffered NIHL due to a lack of education about hearing protection, a reduced force of military audiologists, and a lack of monitoring for threshold shifts, the research states.
Of these soldiers, 5.6% suffered acoustic trauma from a single loud noise, such as a bomb blast. Another 1.6% had broken eardrums, which often heal, but leave soldiers vulnerable to ear infections in unsanitary battlefield conditions. About 29% had a permanent threshold shift, and in 15.8%, the hearing loss was considered significant enough to limit or disqualify a soldier from duty according to military standards. Most visits for eardrum perforation or a permanent threshold shift occurred in April to June 2003, a period that coincided with the heaviest combat operations and blast injuries during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“These are not just mild hearing losses that you and I might have from listening to music, or from aging,” said Brenda Lonsbury-Martin, ASHA chief staff officer for science and research. “These are pretty severe hearing losses that will impact your life.”
Many of these injuries could have easily been prevented. However, there was an inadequate supply of earplugs for all soldiers, and a failure to provide unit commanders with information about troops having adequate hearing protection and pre-deployment baseline audiograms.


 Paul's not the only one misrepresenting to TV audiences.

We're done with CONSORTIUM NEWS.  Journalist Robert Parry started that site after his run-ins with the corporate media.  It was going to be an alternative news source.  For many years it was and it survived.  Apparently, it can't survive Robert Parry's death in January of 2018.

Joe Lauria now runs and ruins CONSORTIUM NEWS.


The site is less focused now that Parry has passed away.  It has added a video element with their program CONSORTIUM NEWS LIVE!  They feature a number of writers -- mostly men (Caitlin Johnstone is one of the few women the site publishes regularly and Elizabeth Vos co-host CNL!).  Our problem is with one writer, Scott Ritter. 


From the November 6, 2020 episode of CONSORTIUM NEWS LIVE!:

Joe Lauria: We got Scott Ritter who's coming in --

Elizabeth Vos: Fantastic.

Joe Lauria: (Con't) -- who's going to join us.  Scott, yeah.


Elizabeth Vos:  That's great.


[. . .]


Joe Lauria:  Maybe Scott knows more about that.  He's been in the military, so maybe he knows.  Scott, are you with us?  We just need you to unlock your -- There you go. Welcome Scott Ritter to CN LIVE! -- back to CN LIVE! I really appreciate this.  Day four of our election.  Scott, of course, former US Marine counter-intelligence official and better known to the world as a lead UN weapons inspector in Iraq and a critic of the war for which he was ostracized.  And he's back with us.


He was back with them.  In fact, he never left.  He was with them when Robert Parry was alive.  He's with them now.  


And we largely looked the other way.  Not that many people read CONSORTIUM NEWS -- Ray McGovern's articles, for example, reach a larger audience when they go up at INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE. It also has nothing that would really appeal to young people.


Why does that matter?


Because, as Lili Taylor sings in SAY ANYTHING, "Joe lies."

And he does and he did.  Ritter wasn't ostracized because he was a critic of the war.  Ritter's public profile increased as he spoke out against the war.  Many people suffered for speaking out against the war, for doing the right thing.  Janeane Garofalo made two funny sitcom pilots and both were passed on and, yes, it was because she was speaking out against the war.  Phil Donahue's MSNBC program was cancelled despite high ratings because MSNBC didn't want any voices that might offer anything other than rah-rah war.  That's an example of two who suffered.


Did Scott?


His increased profile, his higher visibility, led to his life being better known.


And he may have been ratted out because of his position on the war or it might have been for other reasons -- including many of his former friends finding him irritating.  One of his former friends began airing Ritter's dirty laundry.  


He was removed from CNN -- and we know this because it was a CNN friend that advised one of us to not to promote Ritter -- because he was arrested for trying to have sexual relations with a girl.  He was caught in an online sting.  


Ritter insisted it was an attempt to shut him up.  It wasn't.  He was arrested.  His defenders tried to lie that this was all Bully Boy Bush and it was to silence Ritter.


Problem with that?  For one, Ritter's arrest that came out?  It was his second arrest for trying to have sex with an under-age girl.  His second arrest.


Still people like Seymour Hersh ignored this and went on speaking tours with him and promoted Scott.



We didn't promote him.  We called him out.  Laura Flanders and many other so-called feminists were promoting Ritter.  In the height of hypocrisy, Laura used a weekend -- a Saturday show and a Sunday show -- to call out some sport (football in the US or the UK, we didn't care) for a sports team using a Gary Glitter song.  Glitter, a UK hit maker with tellingly leering songs like "Do You Want To Touch Me," was arrested in 1997 for having 'kidie porn' -- arrested and convicted  He was arrested again in Then came 2012 and the accusations of Glitter having raped a girl in a BBC dressing room.  Other accusations followed and he was convicted again in 2015 -- convicted on multiple charges including intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.  


And Laura was offended by the fact that one of his songs was being used at sporting events.

She was offended by that.  But not by the fact that Scott Ritter was twice arrested for attempting to have sex with girls -- underage females.  That didn't offend her and she was happy and thrilled to bring Scott Ritter on her program repeatedly.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, at this time, was also happy to interact with Scott Ritter.  Scott was the Jeffrey Epstein of the US political world.  Even though it was known -- after the war started -- what Scott had been arrested (twice) for, people were willing to ignore it.  

To Katrina's credit, after we hit on this topic repeatedly, including asking how she, as a mother of a teenage daughter, could give a platform to Ritter, saying to young NATION readers, "Trust this guy" -- after we hit on the topic repeatedly, Katrina stopped publishing Ritter at THE NATION.

THE NATION mattered and Laura's program mattered because they do attract underage audiences.  Not a huge number, but they do attract a significant number.  (Laura now does GRIT TV and we're sure she continues to attract a significant number of young people.)  That can include young girls.  And if young girls are being told this is someone to listen to and that person is a predator, that puts them at risk.  As we noted repeatedly regarding Amy Goodman's fetish with Ritter that involved her bringing him on her program non-stop, when the next girl is put at risk, that's going to be on Amy.

And there's always a next one with predators.  It's how they work.  

And, here's the thing, Bully Boy Bush started the Iraq War with the help of a craven Congress in 2003.  Bully Boy Bush, we were told, tried to destroy Scott Ritter. Bully Boy left the White House in January of 2009.  Explain to us how, with Barack Obama as president, Scott ends up arrested again in November of 2009?


And this time, they're not nice about it.  They don't sweep it under the carpet the way they did with his first arrest.  They don't just give him six months probation like they did with his second arrest.  They take him to trial and convict him.  He spends approximately 29 months in prison before being paroled.


And yet THE HUFFINGTON POST and other outlets continued to publish him.  At which point, we noted that they should -- at the very least -- be running a disclaimer with the articles: Writer may molest young girls.

We think redemption is a possibility for most people.  Where we differ on Ritter is that his crime is the sort that doesn't just go away.  We're talking a criminal act committed by repeat offenders.  And, unlike so much of our society, we actually value girls.  We think their lives matter.  We believe they should not be subjected to the advances of adult males.  (Or adult females, for that matter.)  Ritter was trying the one-time only claim when news of his arrest surfaced in 2003 -- news of his second arrest.  And he claimed it had no bearing and it was in the past and blah blah blah yet, in 2009, he got arrested for the same thing yet again.  Who knows when he'll be arrested again?

He's a danger to young girls.

Bill Tilden.  He was arrested twice for sexual activity with young boys.  The first time, supposedly, he was arrested while engaging in the act in a car.  Later, he'd be arrested again.  Before he had that attached to his name in the late forties, he had been a star in the tennis world.  After his professional career ended, he'd used his name to become very comfortable (he was born into wealth but he spent freely) by giving tennis lessons.  With the exception of Katharine Hepburn, most of his famous friends went running after the arrests.  Charlie Chaplin did allow Tilden to use his own tennis court so that Tilden could give lessons (and earn income).  But that was rather weak.  Katharine Hepburn made a point to be seen publicly taking lessons from him and told everyone it was no one's business.

We don't agree with her claim.  But we do admire that she stood by someone she considered a friend.

And we bring up Tilden because we're not trying to prevent Ritter from putting food on the table and having a roof over his head. CONSORTIUM NEWS doesn't bring in a lot of young readers and Ritter targets girls who, honestly, would be the last to visit the website because it has no appeal for females.  Ellizabeth Vos is just a 'yes, you're right' to whomever man she's speaking with, Caitlin's articles can be read elsewhere on the web and there's no effort made to show females that they are wanted as readers of the site.  So Ritter publishing there was something we ignored.

Up and until Joe introduces him on the program as someone who suffered for telling the truth.

That's not why he suffered.  Even if Bully Boy Bush himself had outed Scott Ritter, that's not why he suffered.  He suffered because he had twice attempted to have sex with an underage girl.  Probably, he attempted it more than twice.  But two times led to his arrest.  That's what brought him down.  And then, years later in 2009, he was arrested a third time.  

Joe Lauria's actions are harmful and damaging.  We warned against Ritter for years, noting he would likely be arrested for the same actions -- criminal actions -- again.  And in 2009, he was.  Now we get Lauria -- on YOUTUBE -- insisting to the world that Ritter's world was brought to an end because he was a truth teller.

No, he's a serial predator who targets young girls.  

We have to wonder about the mental health of Joe Lauria.

On THE UNDOING, Nicole's Grace Fraser wonders about things as well -- mainly about her husband.. Hugh Grant plays that role. Grace and her spouse Jonathan are a power couple -- both doctors, both attractive, both flirting with one another. Apparently, Jonathan flirts with others. Plural.

Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) ends up murdered and Grace's tidy, perfect world falls apart. Jonathan disappears. Grace asks their son and finds out that, unlike his usual pattern, the day Jonathan left for the conference, he stopped in his son's room, woke up his son and told him goodbye. It doesn't fit the pattern. Grace points out that Jonathan always said goodbye the night before. The pattern.

Dr. Grace Fraser lives by a pattern and if anything deviates from the pattern, she tends to become very frazzled. She's a therapist, for example, and when she's getting a text and grabs her phone, a patient in the middle of couple's counseling has to point that out to Grace who apologizes and explains it's from her son's school -- while still scrolling through the text. If that's what an unexpected text can do, imagine how upsetting learning that Jonathan was having an affair with Elena and that, oh, he had an affair with another woman and her best friend knew but didn't tell her even though this affair cost Jonathan his job. Oh, yeah, he lost his job. And while she's trying to process all of that, the police rule out Elena's husband as a suspect in her murder and start focusing instead upon Jonathan with every parent at the school now staring at her in repulsion. 

On the advise of her father (played by Donald Sutherland), Grace and her son leave town. By the lake, they're surprised by Jonathan who shows up to insist that he didn't kill anyone. Yes, he says, he cheated and, yes, he argued with Elena before she was murdered, but he did not kill her.

And maybe he didn't.

Who are we crawling into bed with?

Jonathan could be innocent. The killer could be anyone else. It might even be Grace.

Grace had a strange reaction to Elena from the beginning. She showed up for a parent's meeting and offered nothing that might help the school but did make a point to nurse her child -- to "aggressively" nurse her child as Grace put it. That's not all. At some point, Grace bumps into Elena in the gym. Well, in the locker room. Grace is covered up but Elena's just casually letting it all hang out as she walks around the locker room completely nude. She stands provocatively in front of Grace, her bush at Grace's eye level. It throws Grace -- and the audience -- off. Later, at a school function, Elena will be left alone by the other women while, in the words of Grace's friend, the men descend upon Elena. Is Grace bothered? Is she jealous? She's hard to read but she clearly has some form of a reaction. Jonathan's reaction when Grace shares what happened is clearly one of sexual interest.

And that's all before the kiss. Grace ends up bumping into Elena in the ladies' room. Elena will insist she has to leave, her breasts are leaking. She needs to go home and nurse her baby. Elena's in a hurry but somehow makes time to give Grace a great big smooch.

That's a detail Grace leaves out when the police question her. In fact, Grace leaves out all the details about Elena and claims to really not know her or have had any interaction with her -- claims this while Elena's husband is the suspect.

Grace wasn't protecting Jonathan -- he wasn't a suspect and she thought he was out of town at a medical conference. Was she protecting the memory of Elena? Maybe she was protecting herself.

Do we really ever know someone? That's at the heart of this tight mini-series. THE UNDOING is paced just right, giving you enough information to keep you watching and enough to keep you in suspense. It's probably the best drama airing right now and maybe the best since the first season of BIG LITTLE LIES. Disclosure, we know and like David E. Kelley and, as a result, for years we avoided reviewing his shows. We noted this as far back as 2005. We broke that self-imposed rule in 2011


This week NBC is debuting two strong shows: Harry's Law during the last hour of Monday prime time and Perfect Couples which airs 30 minutes into the first hour of Thursday prime time. Harry's Law is David E. Kelley's latest show.

As we explained early on, December 2005, "Disclosure, we won't say anything bad about David E. Kelley so there's no point in asking for a review of one of his shows. We wouldn't be impartial and the most extreme criticism we'd ever be comfortable leveling would be that Lara Flynn Boyle should have been kept in the cast of what's emerged from The Practice." So what changed?

Far too many bad hour long programs. Yes, we know David, yes, we love David and, reality, TV needs David. We've high roaded it and then some. We can't do it this time. NBC is giving Kelley six weeks to garner a hit (actually two weeks but official story is six weeks). You need to check the show out immediately. It stars Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. And, yet again, David Kelley is showing you how to do hour long TV -- take notes Jerry Bruckheimer and Dick Wolf. Actual writing, actual characterization and a show that thought went into. Mondays, last hour of prime time. You miss it, blame yourself for the state of TV.

And that was it. And felt bad about breaking our own rule. But HARRY'S LAW was a solid drama and TV had so much junk and garbage. So we wrote three paragraphs about David's then-new show. By 2017, even more junk and garbage had piled up so we broke our rule again and this time to provide a full blown review of the amazing BIG LITTLE LIES.



This go round? We'll offer the disclosure but no apology. David E. Kelley remains one of the best dramatic storytellers around and we're not going to wall ourselves anymore from praising the finest TV has to offer just because we happen to love him as much as we love his work. If you'd asked us in 2005 if that would ever happen, we would have told you no, never, no way. Which brings up another point. As our philosopher-queen Cher put it, "Sooner or later, we all sleep alone." She's right and sometimes you crawl into bed all by yourself. Makes you question -- and maybe makes Grace question -- how well do you know yourself?


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