Monday, June 20, 2022

TV: There were never any standards

TV is all about pretend and we're not talking ONCE UPON A TIME.  The public affairs programming attempts to pass itself off as news despite the fact that it's a rare episode when any actual reporting takes place.  

Instead, we're stuck with dull talk shows featuring dull people.  


Mark Shields.  He just passed away on Saturday and the nation is supposed to be mourning.  THE NEW YORK TIMES tells us he was known for his wit.  In what world?

Dorothy Parker?  She was known for her wit.  When Katharine Hepburn opened on Broadway in THE LAKE, Dorothy Parker declared, "Miss Hepburn ran the whole gamut of emotions -- from A to B."  That's wit.

There was nothing witty about Mark Shields  There was a great deal soggy.  And there was a lot that was offensive.

On PBS, on the show that finally became THE NEWSHOUR, Mark popped up as a regular and eventually, in November of 1988, joined the Friday segment. As Ruth observed:


He started appearing on the program in November of 1978.  Ten years later, in 1998, he began participating in the Friday debate that the program still airs where a (centrist) Democrat and a (centrist) Republican offer up talking points from their respective political parties.  In the days when TV was very limited, this was a big deal.  Cable, back then, meant you did not have good reception in your area from a TV antenna so you paid for a cable connection which delivered whatever over the air stations broadcasted in your area.

That tended to be ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.  If you were lucky, you might also have some independent UHF station that broadcast old movies and/or old sitcoms.  

Mr. Shields was part of the template for convincing Americans that two very limited opinions were, in fact, a full range of the political spectrum.

Truer words were never spoken.


He offered nothing on the big issues of the day instead always waiting for the Democratic Party to signal where they stood on an issue and then he adopted that. Ahead of the Iraq War, he never called it out, he never opposed it.  He fretted, in fact, that if Bully Boy Bush backed down to the United Nations (after he failed to get the approval of the UN Security Council) it would look bad for UK lapdog Tony Blair.  That's the kind of garbage Mark Shields provided on THE NEWSHOUR for years.  And if you think that's bad, you should heard him in the early days of the war. 


Mark's limited views weren't the only problem with his Friday 'debates.'  He played that little game from 1988 through 2020.  And he wanted to play it with a boy.   First up was David Gergen (through 1994) and then Paul Gigot (through 2001).  In fact, Paul left on September 14, 2001. So effected by the 9/11 attacks, he enlisted in the US military and served in -- no, no, we're joking with that sentence.  He stayed on at THE WALL STREET JOURNAL where he used his role to send others into wars.  This allowed Mark Shields to be paired with the dentally challenged David Brooks.

Of all the same-sex coupling on THE NEWSHOUR, this was the most enduring, with the two men gazing warmly into each others eyes for approximately 19 years. 

Of the same-sex coupling, some may try to argue that, "Shields started appearing in that debate segment in 1988 and that's how things were, that's just how things were."


No, it wasn't. 

The segment wasn't created by THE NEWSHOUR.  It was instead stolen from 60 MINUTES which called it "Point-Counter Point."  And, from 1975 to 1979, the segment featured Shana Alexander sparring with James Kilpatrick. The show THE NEWSHOUR stole it from managed to have a woman weekly for four years.  

The thing about TV public affairs programs (and TV news) is that it just gets worse each year.

Last week, we were reminded of that when Don Lemon decided to insult guest Philip Mudd, a paid CNN analyst, on air.  They disagreed about whether or not former US President Donald Trump could be successfully tried on treason.  Don, not being a legal expert, was wrong.  But Don, being Don, attacked the guest repeatedly.  He dismissed the legal issues and he dismissed the way it would look in public  He attacked the analyst ("You're wrong!").


In fact, Don did everything but shove his hands down the front of his own pants, rub it around his crotch, take his hand out and shove his fingers under Philip's nose.  


Don doesn't do that . . . on TV.


We watched this on the 'new' CNN.  The one that grown ups are supposed to be returning to.  


Last week really wasn't the week for CNN.  Ratings revealed that Brian Stelter  hit a ratings low he hadn't seen since 2019.  Suddenly, an asexual, rotund man with baby teeth was demonstrated to be as unappealing as we've always noted he was.  TV is a visual medium, after all.  Why CNN ever hired him to begin with is a mystery for the times.  Mystery for "the times,'' not THE TIMES.  He worked at THE NEW YORK TIMES where he typed up a lot of nonsense -- "said to" -- such and such network or streamer is "said to" be about to -- whatever VARIETY or THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER was reporting.  He'd grab that and type it up with "said to."  He wasn't much of a reporter for THE TIMES and he's been even worse at CNN.

Jim Acosta decided Saturday to make a bad week even worse.  He brought on Henry Winkler.  The Fonz.  From that bad TV show.  Henry's been fortunate to carve out a career via cameos and supporting roles.  He's a working actor.  He had TV stardom playing a character that is not any way recognizable as a human being.  And then, when the toy he was for children grew old, and the children grew up, he was the new Adam West.  

Jim Acosta brought him on to talk about Herschel Walker, the former football player who is running for public office on the Republican ticket.  Walker had earlier declared:

I think some of the biggest problems going on in our country today [is] we have so many celebrities telling people that they can't do it. Telling a lot of people, 'Oh, well, you got to feel bad for yourself, feel sorry for yourself.' Which is sad to me. They've done it, but they're telling you you can't do it and it's like, you did it, why they can't do it? I think they tell all the kids they can't do it, making our kids feel sorry for themselves.


Honestly, what the hell does that mean?

It's incoherent.  It says everything needed by making no real sense and requiring no rebuttal.  A rebuttal is just going to draw more attention to it and rally a number of people around Walker.


But Henry Winkler had to rebut and he had to prove Walker right and where do the loony tunes go these days?  Ask Fatty Patty: Twitter.


So Winkler Tweeted a response:


I need to repeat this again I am an American First with every right to an opinion . . . then I am an actor.  Got that Mr. Walker . . . Mr famous Athlete.


What a tough guy!  The only thing scary about the 76-year-old celebrity would be his eyebrows.


 Again, Herschel Walker's incoherent ramble required no comment.

 Most Americans wouldn't take it seriously.

But there was faded 70s star Henry Winkler Tweeting and making people scratch their heads and wonder, "Is Walker right?"


Where ever there is s**t to be stirred, there is Jim Acosta who decided to round out CNN's bad week by bringing Henry Walker on air to comment.  Was ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY too occupied with real news?


This is the sort of garbage that makes CNN look so bad.  It's supposed to be a new network.  It's supposed to be.  But instead it got caught up in a celebrity cat fight.  There are real problems in this country and in this world and, instead of covering those, Jim Acosta is recasting himself as Miss Rona Barrett. 


"Henry, don't help," we shouted and cringed as he spoke with Jim.


The general premise has always bothered me.  I always thought it was sow eird that so many people use this kind of tactic to say, 'Oh, you're on TV.  You shouldn't say what you think.' And I think that's the thing -- craziest thing -- I've ever heard.  And then when I saw Mr. Walker's Tweet, I thought to myself, first of all, we are, as a profession, we are uplifting.  It's number one.  Second, why wouldn't I have the same point of view to which he is entitled.  He's a celebrity.


If Herschel Walker looked like an idiot with his statement, Henry Winkler came off like a bigger fool.


First off, Herny, you don't "have the same point of view to which he is entitled."  You disagree with his point of view, you stupid idiot.  Stop thinking you're smart enough to make up your own lines.  Clearly, you need a writer.


What you meant was, "Second, why wouldn't I have the same right to share my viewpoint the way he feels he can?"  That's what you meant.  Learn to speak.  Actually, at 76, it's too late for you to.  You've been an idiot your whole life.  


Second, stop taking him on.  You prove his point that people like you are not smart enough to speak.


He's sharing his point of view, yes.  But he's not just a celebrity at this moment.  He's a candidate for the US Senate.  That requires that he shares his opinions.


If Herschel was dumb and Henry was dumber, Jim Acosta was the dumbest of them all for delivering this segment on a supposed news channel at a time when the country suffers from inflation, when Iraq -- eight months after an election -- struggles to form a government, when the UK government announces that they're going to hand over journalist Julian Assange to the US government, at a time when Yellowstone Park is still recovering from flooding, at a time when . . . Go down the list  And we're putting all of that on hold to bring on a 70s TV celebrity so that he can make inane and idiotic statements and we're going to call that "news."


There's a reason people long ago stopped trusting CNN. 


B-b-b-but there's alternative media, you know, independent media!


Good for you,  You still have hope -- false hope.  Without false hope, half the country would just roll over each morning and go back to sleep.

Where's the independence, please tell us?

A group of YOUTUBERS pose as 'independent.'  But they all bring on convicted sex offender Scott Ritter as an expert -- Scott who now will have his own YOUTUBE program to reach out and touch . . . young girls.  

When not parading a convicted pedophile on their programs as someone to trust (pimping that lie requires that they also don't inform their audience that Ritter was convicted in 2011), these 'independent' programs spend their time in a very strange manner.

The US government destroyed Iraq.  US soldiers remain in Iraq.  But Iraq's no concern for them.  They have no sense of responsibility when it comes to covering -- or just discussing -- what's taking place in Iraq today.  What's taking place?  Drought had hit the Tigris River.  Drought has hit Lake Sawa is drying up.  Trees are dying, gazelles are dying.  Climate change is impacting Iraq already.  Rivers are also drying up because of the actions of neighboring countries, such as Turkey building dams.  The Turkish government is also destroying trees.  It's been dubbed an ecocide -- though what passes for 'independent' media in the US can't be bothered with this.  Nor can they be bothered covering all the attacks the Turkish government is carrying out in northern Iraq (Kurdistan).  Turkish war planes bomb northern Iraq, drones attack the people of northern Iraq, Turkish foot soldiers are in northern Iraq in bases the Turkish government has established in violation of Iraq's national sovereignty (these are acts of war).  They claim they're killing terrorists.

Mirza Dinnayi notes a 'terrorist' the Turkish government killed last week:

A dirty war crime and a planned elimination of Yezidi minority. An air strike killed a 12 y Yezidi child in Sinjar. Salah was working in a small shop of his father in Sinuni. Such a shame for the international community generally and iraqi political powers to keep silent

Amberin Zaman (AL-MONITOR) reports:

The government of Iraq has yet to comment on a Turkish drone strike that killed a 12-year-old boy in the town of Sinune yesterday, the latest in a string of attacks in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, adding to fury among Yazidis, a marginalized community that was subjected to genocide by the Islamic State.

Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, a Yazidi genocide survivor who was enslaved by IS, called Turkey’s attack “an act of terrorism.”

“Iraq has the ultimate responsibility to stop Turkey from attacking Sinjar,” said Murad Ismael, a prominent Yazidi activist. “The international community also has a moral responsibility towards Yazidis and the people of Sinjar. It is both painful and illogical that these attacks go [unaddressed] as if they are legitimate. It seems Turkey can get away with anything,” Ismael told Al-Monitor.

The UN condemned the attack without mentioning Turkey by name. “UNICEF is shocked at the killing of a 12-year-boy in an attack in Sinjar area,” the international body’s arm that deals with children said in a statement yesterday. “UNICEF calls on all parties to fulfill their obligation, under international law, to protect children at all times and without delay,” it added.

They claim they're killing terrorists.

What the Turkish government claiming they were targeting when they carried out their genocide last century?  When they carried out the Armenian genocide?

And there are so many other topics, so many other real issues.

But what does our 'independent' media choose to cover instead?

HARD LENS MEDIA, Jackie Hinkle, Sabby Sabs and others rushed to inform us that Ryan Grim was mean to Jimmy Dore (GRIM SMEAR! Sabby headlines it in a 25 minute 'report')  and that he didn't understand a joke.  Or Sabby Sabs -- a supposed African-American woman -- drops every issue to gush at length over Jimmy Dore's appearance on Tucker Carlson's FOX NEWS show.  Or Cenk and Jimmy are having words.  Or Jimmy --

Is this independent media or is this The Jimmy Dore Fan Club?

Navel gazing.  That's the kindest term for what they're 'covering.'

Sabby spent 25 minutes on "Grim Smear" -- Ryan's meanness to Jimmy Dore, for example.  And she spent 28 minutes slobbering over Jimmy's appearance on Tucker's show and a full hour interviewing him (we'll come back to that one).  In the same period, in fairness, we should note that she did cover a real issue: Medicaid Expansion.  She spent 20 minutes on that.  20 minutes.  


The interview?


Before we get to that, we need to drop back to our February 28th piece entitled "TV: Cringe-worthy TV" which focused on the strangely hostile interview with The People's Party's national chair Nick Brana.  That was strange.

But now that she's weakened him, someone might have been able to carry that party's presidential nomination, Sabby brings Jimmy Dore on . . . to discuss him running for president on The People's Party's ticket.  

Timing, right?  

We're supposed to trust these con artists who pretend to want to elevate the people but who instead keep elevating each other?  It's beyond a circle jerk and there are so many lies and so little ethics.

There never were any standards -- not in corporate media, not in 'independent' (aka beggar) media.  


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