Archive for the 'television' Category

Fox News Says Something Fair and Balanced

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

From the “Man Bites Dog” department:

I’m (obviously) not much of a Fox News watcher. Those of you who are: Is this typical behavior for Shepard Smith?

On punditry and discourse

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I’ve been critical of the style of argument for a long time. This little clip was very eye opening to me, confirming what I’ve suspected for a long time. Shows like Hannity’s America or Hardball have has much to do with debate as professional wrestling has to do with prizefighting.

Peter Schiff on the Coming Economic Meltdown — Two Years Ago

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

So, is this a stopped clock being right twice a day? Or a little boy pointing out the emperor’s naked backside while being laughed at by his fellow pundits?

My favorite part: Ben Stein at 6:31 encouraging everyone to load up on all those “astonishing bargains” in financial sector stocks. So, I wonder how much of his own money Stein put on that bet?

I don’t know anything about investing. But if you don’t ever bother to go back and compare what your experts said would happen to what actually did happen, well, you’re terminally clueless.

In which case, you’re probably perfectly willing to accept Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that “the Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen.”

Well, I guess it’s true enough, at least in the sense that Obama is going to be the one to have to deal with cleaning up the mess. But somehow, I don’t think that’s what Rush meant when he said it.

Did the McCain Campaign Push the Carved-B Hoax?

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

I haven’t bothered posting about Ashley Todd, the disturbed young McCain volunteer who apparently carved a backwards “B” on her face, then told police she’d been assaulted by some kind of rogue Obama supporter. Yes, it’s technically a high-profile lie, but meh, can’t summon the energy required.

But this question is a little more interesting: From David Kurtz at TPM: Who do you believe? Kurtz looks at the evidence for and against the claim (made by two local TV reporters in Pennsylvania) that a McCain campaign official was pushing the story to them Thursday night, embellishing it with extra race-baiting details absent from the police report. Today the McCain campaign denies that they pushed the story, claiming that both TV stations made the same mistake, accidentally attributing to the McCain campaign false information that had actually been provided by the police.

There’s more detail in this earlier story from TPM’s Greg Sargent, if you have the energy to pursue it: McCain Communications Director Gave Reporters Incendiary Version Of “Carved B” Story Before Facts Were Known.

Eleven more days…

Update: Janus/Onan pointed out this to me. It’s kind of mean, but it also made me laugh:

Still later update: So, the following interesting coincidence occurred to me: Both campaigns have now had a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, and in fact a lie told by a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, that ends up playing a key role in the campaign’s narrative on race. Here’s Obama’s version of the Ashley story, as he told it in his “More perfect union” speech:

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Still yet more later update: Josh Marshall doesn’t like it. He gets specific about who was pushing the story (“McCain Pennsylvania communications director Peter Feldman”), and says it is Time for answers:

Our reporting did not find any direct evidence that the McCain campaign’s national headquarters played a role pushing the story.

However, the national campaign has now come forward and lied about what happened in Pennsylvania. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers has now told NBC that alleged quotes from the McCain campaign in early reports of the story were actually the product of “sloppy reporting” and that they were actually quotes from the Pittsburgh police.

This is simply not credible.

It’s not the crime. It’s the coverup.

Even later than the still yet more later update: Sven wrote to ask what I meant by Ashley Baia’s lie. What I mean was, when the young Ashley lied to her mother about liking mustard-and-relish sandwiches. Though I suppose it’s possible that the whole story is a lie, either by Ashley, or by Obama. Maybe Ashley Baia doesn’t even exist.

Hm, no, apparently she does. A quick googling turns up the following article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sandwich girl an Obama organizer here.

Anyway, that’s what I mean about her lying: lying to her mother about liking the sandwiches.

The update after all other updates: If you’re still interested in this story at this point, there’s a good followup article with additional details in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: McCain volunteer admits to hoax.

The update that makes the previous ‘update after all others’ into a lie: I just noticed another coincidence: Both Ashleys apparently have found themselves volunteering in Pittsburgh in the closing days of the campaign. What do you think the chances are that they’ve actually met? Or that they might meet now that they’ve both been processed by the campaign newsgrinder? Maybe a joint appearance on one of those hair-pulling daytime reality shows? It’s a little embarrassing, but yeah, I’d probably watch that. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Which means there’s probably a TV show low enough to try to make it happen.

I can no longer keep track of which update this is: Over at 538, Sean Quinn points out that there is still another Ashley to keep track of: The one Bush hugged during the 2004 campaign: The three Ashleys.

The update that dare not speak its name: Greg Sargent at TPM has a followup item: McCain campaign attacks TPM, keeps denying our “carved B” story. In a nutshell, the McCain campaign continues to claim that “the liberal blog post” (TPM’s reporting about the two Pennsylvania TV stations that independently reported that Peter Feldman, McCain’s state spokesperson, told them the story that Ashley Todd’s attacker carved a “B” in her face that stood for “Barack”, after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car) “has no basis in fact.”

The McCain campaign is obviously lying about this. It’s not a huge deal; not even a particularly big lie compared to some of the others they’ve pushed — and continued to push — even after the facts are out there in the public eye. But it’s a lie nevertheless.

Where To From Here?

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

It’s pretty much an immutable law of nature that political campaigns become uglier, not prettier, as election day approaches. The McCain campaign, in particular, has demonstrated that they’re willing to go really low way in advance. But that doesn’t mean they can’t descend further.

Still, knowing that from an intellectual standpoint is not the same as processing it emotionally. So I think I’m in for a series of mental shocks between now and November 4. A preview of things to come is this story in the Sunday Times of London: McCain camp prays for Palin wedding:

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Yeah. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Besides increasing ugliness, the other thing I think I can safely predict at this point is increasing funny from Tina Fey’s Palin impersonation in SNL’s opening skit. Like the latest one, here:

I’m not sure how obvious it is for someone who didn’t just finish editing together an hour-long podcast of Palin quotes, but Fey’s biggest laugh line, toward the end, was essentially a word-for-word re-enactment of Palin’s scariest response in the real Katie Couric interview.

Sarah Palin’s America: Where the comedy writes itself.

He’s John McCain, and He Approves This Message

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

He’s John McCain, and he approves this message:

Note that this isn’t isolated. There have been a whole string of McCain web ads recently pushing similarly dishonest crap containing embedded racist dogwhistles.

Like I said: he’s John McCain. And he approves this message. Which I think says all that needs to be said. But if you’d like some more analysis, here’s Joshua Micah Marshall in keeping track:

…here we have a candidate, John McCain, who is running on a record of straight talk and honorable campaigning running a campaign made up mainly of charges reporters are now more or less acknowledging are lies. But there’s precious little drawing together of the contradiction. What’s more, as everyone will acknowledge after the campaign, the McCain campaign is now pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women.

On Fox News

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

They’re not the only ones doing it, obviously. But they were the first to go this far with it. And I guess it’s some measure of the lingering memories of a bygone era that I still find it somewhat shocking that Fox News stoops this low in its efforts to manage its reputation.

See this write-up from David Carr at the New York Times: When Fox News is the story. It has additional back-story regarding this item from Media Matters, showing altered photos of NY Times reporters that were run on the “Fox & Friends” show: Fox News airs altered photos of NY Times reporters.

I mean, really, guys. Can we go back to a world where grown-ups are in charge?

Greenwald on Carlson on Peev on Power on Clinton

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Intelligence is sometimes overrated. Stupidity can be a great source of truth, not to mention (black) comedy. In that vein I give you the Michael Scott of US television “journalists”: Tucker Carlson.

You have to sit through a commercial to view the video at that site (which is why I didn’t embed the video here; I will not let my teency piece of the web be degraded in that particular way, at least not yet), but I think it’s actually worth sitting through, because Carlson exposes so clearly what is wrong with US journalism, and the response of The Scotsman reporter Gerri Peev (who did the interview with former Obama advisor Samantha Power where Power called Hillary Clinton “a monster”) is so awesome.

This is coming courtesy of Glenn Greenwald, who has lots more insightful things to say about the issue, including a round-up of several YouTube clips of non-US journalists asking questions of US politicians. All highly recommended.

To sum things up, here’s an excerpt from Greenwald’s piece at Salon (Tucker Carlson unintentionally reveals the role of the American press), which also requires viewing an ad (sigh), though at least it’s not a TV ad.

Credit to Tucker Carlson for being so (unintentionally) candid about the lowly, subservient role of the American press with regard to “the relationship between the press and the powerful.” A journalist should never do anything that “hurts” the powerful, otherwise the powerful won’t give access to the press any longer. Presumably, the press should only do things that please the powerful so that the powerful keep talking to the press, so that the press in turn can keep pleasing the powerful, in an endless, symbiotic, mutually beneficial cycle. Rarely does someone who plays the role of a “journalist” on TV so candidly describe their real function.

CBS on Saddam’s Wacky Desire To Be Invaded

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Thanks to knarlyknight for mentioning this item in the comments. From FAIR (yeah, I know): The “Great Mystery” of Iraq’s WMDs?

A January 27 report on CBS’s 60 Minutes attempted to answer what CBS reporter Scott Pelley claimed was a key mystery of the Iraq War: Why didn’t Saddam Hussein tell the world he had no weapons of mass destruction, and thus avoid the U.S.-led invasion? But if Pelley had been watching his own network’s exclusive interview with Hussein on the eve of the war, he would have known that Hussein did exactly that.

It’s really quite remarkable. I remember the run-up to the war, and CBS’s willingness to completely mischaracterize what happened then as part of its “news” reporting is fairly disheartening. I mean, I realize that Fox News is intentionally ridiculous in order to cater to its target audience’s hostile-media-bias perceptions, and that CNN has made a conscious editorial decision to follow Fox in order to defend its market-share. But CBS?

Oh, waiter. Can I get another media, please? This one isn’t very good.

CNN: The New Fox News

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

I remember when CNN still had some journalistic integrity. It was sort of like an appendix, I guess; a vestigial organ left over from an earlier evolutionary stage. I watched Bernard Shaw and Peter Arnett broadcast live from Baghdad at the start of the first Gulf War; did they know at the time, I wonder, that what they were doing was a weird sort of kabuki theater, a throwback to an earlier tradition that was well on its way to obsolescence?

Anyway, those days are long gone. As evidence of that, I offer the following clip, aired during “news” coverage recently by CNN:

Obscure reference for ymatt:

> forty cnn journalistic integrity

Neiwert on O’Reilly’s ‘Kabuki Correction’

Friday, July 13th, 2007

David Neiwert points out the ritualistic elements involved in someone like Bill O’Reilly “retracting” a bogus story while not actually retracting it: The Kabuki Correction.

– The feint. This is the “correction” itself, such as it is. Typically this requires the pundit to suggest that some minor transgressions, none of which even potentially affected the overall thrust of the reportage, occurred.

– The assurance. This involves the pundit assuring both his interlocutor and his audience that he is well-intended and decent, and therefore any minor errors that occur along the way are perforce inconsequential. (Typically delivered with a smarmy, thoroughly insincere sincerity.]

– The defense. Here, the pundit produces some kind of half-fact, mischaracterization, or non-sequitur that serves to stake the claim that the overall thrust of the reportage is perfectly accurate, no matter to what extent it was built upon the foundation of errors or falsehoods previously admitted. Indeed, the more the reportage was built on those errors, the more ferocious the defense. This part of the ritual is almost always delivered in a bullying, petulant, intimidating tone, which makes the previous smarminess all the more clearly phony.

– The attack: The interlocutor is at this point accused of engaging in the same kind of error and smear tactics, forcing him to defend a point that has nothing to do with the pundit’s own rotten journalism.

The particular false reporting in this case concerned O’Reilly’s claim that gangs of lesbians packing pink pistols were engaged in a nationwide crime wave. No, really.

Bandwidth Stealing Nerds Attack! Mr. Whorf! Fire Phasers!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Okay. The person behind I Always Believe There’s a Band, Kid is right that Best of Both Worlds was a pretty darn good two-parter, with a nice cliff-hanger. And I’m always happy to see that people are linking to’s content, as he (she?) did in linking to the image I stole from some random news photographer in the item on the Virgin Mary water stain. But I wish that he (she) would have linked to the actual posted item, rather than just linking to the image, so people who aren’t clever enough to munge their Location: box would be able to experience the full juicy goodness that is

Oh well. At least he didn’t inline the image from my server. If he’d have done that, I’d have had to think about assimilating that image and Borg-ing it into something like (which is for sale, it turns out).

But no; I’m more highly evolved than that. Instead, I will simply return the not-quite-favor by linking unto his (her?) actual item, which was actually kind of amusing: Ha-Ha! We’re Nerds–315751.3175735667.

Haggard: I Am a Deceiver and a Liar

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

The Ted Haggard story was an interesting example of high-profile lying. The footage of him being interviewed in his car on Friday, with his wife and kids, was especially powerful stuff. Check out the video, if you haven’t seen it yet: Haggard interview (WMV file).

But that interview was actually the second act (or so) in this three-act public tragedy (or comedy, depending on your sympathies). First came the earlier interview, from last Wednesday, in which Pastor Ted claimed not to know his accuser. Check that out here: Deborah Sherman on her two Ted Haggard interviews (WMV file).

If you just watch the second interview, in the car, it’s hard not to believe the guy is telling the truth. There’s a directness, an affected artlessness, to his manner, that is really compelling. He just exudes trustworthiness. Which shouldn’t be shocking, I realize, for a highly successful televangelist.

What happened between the first and second interviews is that his accuser produced audio recordings of Haggard’s messages, left on the accuser’s phone, and audio experts indicated that the voice probably was Haggard’s. It was Monica’s blue dress all over again. Haggard’s second interview put as good a face on things as he could, but with that first interview already out there, there was no way to reconcile the two statements. And once you realized that in at least one of those two statements Haggard had to be lying, it was all over.

And so today we got the third act. Haggard had the following read aloud to his former congregation at Sunday service: Statement by Ted Haggard.

The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I’ve said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.

So, there you go. Think about that, people, the next time someone seems oh-so-trustworthy, oh-so-sympathetic. Surely Pastor Ted, of all people, couldn’t be lying to me.

Actually, yeah, he could.

The ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ Story

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

The LA Times’ Meg James has written an item in honor of tonight’s airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The article recounts the story of the show’s making, which is a pretty good story if you haven’t heard it before. From You’re a good magnet for holiday ads, Charlie Brown.

When they finished about a week before the show’s December premiere, Mendelson and Melendez were disappointed with the show’s slow pace.

“We thought that we had ruined Charlie Brown,” Mendelson recalled.

CBS executives thought the show was awful, Mendelson said. They complained that there wasn’t enough action and that the jazz soundtrack was all wrong for a children’s show. Besides, they asked, what kids would talk in such a grown-up manner?

With the premiere broadcast just days away, it was too late to pull the plug. But as others braced for a flop, there remained one true believer in the little Christmas show.

“Sparky liked it from the beginning,” Mendelson said.

In December 1965, the first viewers tuned in to see snowflakes gently falling on a frozen pond…


The show was an immediate success. Nearly half of all homes with TV sets tuned in that night in 1965, and the show would go on to win an Emmy for best animated special.

Over the years, the show would bring in more than $50 million to the producers, United Media, Schulz and, later, his estate, and the two networks that have broadcast it.

Last year, ABC raked in $5.75 million in ad revenue for its two telecasts of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” according to TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks ad spending. More than 13.6 million people watched the show, which led its time slot in all key demographic groups.

More than 30 companies bought ad time, collectively forking over five times the nearly $1 million in license fees that ABC paid to run the show.

ABC is anticipating another big audience tonight, and, thus, more happy advertisers. Companies that committed to buying time during the show last summer paid about $170,000 for a 30-second spot. Now, with so much demand, the price tag for latecomers has topped $200,000.

That’s almost getting up to the range where, Superbowl-like, the commercials would be sort of interesting to watch in their own right. But we won’t be doing that around here; like any normal person, we have the show on DVD.

Dana Stevens Recoils in Horror from the New Daily Show Set

Friday, July 15th, 2005

I’d say that Slate’s Dana Stevens has been spending too much time thinking about The Daily Show — except that technically, I don’t think that’s possible. Anyway, be sure to check out her in-depth analysis of the new set: Talk show feng shui – Is anyone else freaked out by The Daily Show’s new studio set?

Wil Wheaton Hears Voices, Does Drugs; Millions Watch

Monday, March 14th, 2005

The CSI episode in which former Starfleet Ensign Crusher played a deranged killer aired the other day, though I didn’t watch it (I’ve seen about half of one CSI episode, ever; I have a high threshold for allowing new addictions into my life). Anyway, here’s his description of watching the episode, including his 22 seconds of I-am-not-just-a-child-actor validation: tall buildings shake voices escape. You can also read this recent New York Times piece about the former Wesley: A computer is also a screen, Wil Wheaton discovers.

(Oh, and courtesy of the newfound lack of topic icons, I easily create a new category for ‘television’. Yee ha.)