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Ed Driscoll

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“It’s official: Brian Williams is moving to MSNBC and Lester Holt will formally replace him as ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor, NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andrew Lack announced today,” showbiz bible Variety reports; an appropriate source considering both the Orwellian nature of the Big Three’s TV news operations, and Williams’ desire to transform himself from a more-or-less trusted newsreader to the second coming of Jon Stewart or David Letterman:

Holt, who joined NBC in 2000, has been serving as the “Nightly News” anchor since Williams was suspended in February after allegations surfaced that he misrepresented his involvement in a 1993 reporting trip to Iraq.

“I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true,” said Williams. “I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on ‘Nightly News,’ but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”

Lack and Steve Burke, CEO of NBCU, have decided that Williams will return to MSNBC — where he worked from 1996 to 2004 — as anchor of breaking news and special reports. He will work with Mark Lukasiewicz, SVP of Special Reports for NBCU News Group.

When you reverse the two phrases in Variety’s headline on the Williams story, “Brian Williams Moves to MSNBC, Apologizes for Losing Audience’s Trust,” as I did for my headline above, it all makes sense, doesn’t it? As Ed Morrissey writes today, “Media analysts wonder: What does Williams move say about MSNBC?”

It confirms an argument long made about MSNBC by conservatives, which is that it has no credibility as a news bureau, even while operating under the supervision of NBC News. In fact, assigning an anchor exposed as a serial fabulist to a position of the cable channel’s “face” of news coverage almost looks like an admission that MSNBC operates at a much lower level of credibility.

Ed quotes Bloomberg’s veteran media analyst Jack Shafer, who tweets, “Not good enough for NBC but good enough for MSNBC. How does that work?”

Well, MSNBC has long served as both NBC’s farm team, where, as Variety notes, Williams began his career with the network, but it’s also the place where NBC reporters can go to really let their biases hang out for all to see (QED: Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd) and where the network can dump fabulists such as Al Sharpton but still keep them on the payroll. (And in the case of Sharpton, pay him protection money to reduce the odds he’ll destroy one of their own again, as Sharpton did in 2007 to former MSNBC star Don Imus.) As I wrote last night, perhaps quietly tossing Williams down into the bowels of MSNBC makes more sense than a long-protracted tabloid fodder lawsuit between Williams and the network if they terminated his contract.

Meanwhile, “Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple sounds distraught over CNN reporter Brian Stelter’s reporting that speculation around how NBC will use disgraced anchor Brian Williams is centering on MSNBC,” NewsBusters’ Tim Graham writes, spotting Wemple pleading in his headline, “Do not foist Brian Williams on MSNBC.”  As Graham writes, “Doesn’t MSNBC have enough problems?”

Putting aside the structural problem that liberals are splintered in their brand loyalties, MSNBC has caused a great deal of its struggles. Lifeless programming, tepid panel discussions, excessive liberal agreeing and the occasional nasty comment followed by an excellent apology — these are the dynamics that help to account for the cable channel’s worm-level ratings.

One problem it doesn’t need is Brian Williams. By one count, this is the guy who’s been busted by an internal investigation for 11 quite outrageous embellishments regarding his past. At the same time, Williams is a smooth news delivery vehicle with a high name recognition: If he is unloaded on MSNBC, how much worse can things get?

Considerably. MSNBC’s critics are a motivated bunch and are already busy enough with Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews & Co. Just watch what happens when Williams pilots a report having to do with Iraq or helicopters or Israel. Then again, there really aren’t a lot of places to hide a liability like Williams, whose six-month suspension is up in August. Newsrooms don’t designate set-asides for embellishers.

Now who’s being naive, Erik? As Graham writes in response, “Actually, CBS did let Dan Rather anchor the evening news for a few months after he disgraced himself in 2004, and didn’t dump him until the summer of 2006. It can be joked that every interview for Bill and Hillary Clinton is a ‘set-aside for embellishers.’ Remember ‘I dodged sniper fire in Bosnia?’” And Walter Cronkite had more than his share of “embellishments” during his two decades as CBS anchor, but the sites like NewsBusters, Hot Air and our own didn’t exist to call him out on his lies and biases during that era of monolithic mass media. More recently, ABC doesn’t seem to mind at all that George Stephanopoulos is a Hillary stalking horse posing as a journalist.

Regarding Williams, Ed Morrissey asks, “So [NBC's Andrew Lack] has chosen a fabulist to lead MSNBC to the Promised Land of journalistic integrity and objectivity?”

 That would make for a hilarious joke under other circumstances, and actually is pretty amusing in this context, too. Consider this: NBC News has a stable full of talent to help them make that transition, ranging from foreign correspondents like Richard Engel to political analysts like Chuck Todd. For that matter, they could look outside the organization to woo upcoming talent away from competitors who have established credibility outside the NBC/MSNBC organization.

Rather than do that, they’ve decided to make Brian Williams the face of objective credibility at a cable channel so poorly considered that it’s become a joke in the industry. There’s only one possible reason for this decision, and that’s the money that it would take to shove Williams out the door.

In response to Erik Wemple’s cri de coeur at the Washington Post (home for several years for juiceVox ringleader Ezra Klein, self-admitted fabulist Matt Yglesias, and leftist posing as a conservative/libertarian Dave Weigel), Ed concludes, “if the plan is to hide Williams for the duration of his contract, there really isn’t any better place to put him.”

Heh, indeed — read the whole thing, as Ed’s co-speaker at the upcoming Bullets and Bourbon event in December would say.

Update: This is also equally heh-worthy:

And elsewhere at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw adds, “As for Williams himself, it’s surprising to me that he’d even consider this move:”

Back in the nineties he started out with the company working an evening gig on MSNBC. After that he moved up to NBC News and and finally landed in the big chair. Going to Griffin’s operation has got to feel like being sent back to the kids’ table for someone who has stood on top of the mountain. But who knows? Maybe Williams just has the need to be doing the news on television engrained so deeply in his blood that he’d rather take anything than go home and retreat to obscurity with a big asterisk next to his name in the annals of journalism.

Like Dan Rather joining HDNet, Mark Cuban’s comparatively obscure cable network in 2006 after the disgrace of RatherGate, or like an aging athlete who just wants a bit more time on the field and in the locker room with the lads (Unitas’ last season with the Chargers, Namath’s with the Rams, and Emmitt Smith’s last years with the Cardinals all come immediately to mind), what else did you expect him to do?

Not every disgraced public figure can be John Profumo.

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Front page headlines don’t get any better that “Headless Body In Topless Bar,” and Vincent Musetto of the New York Post was the man who wrote it. He died of cancer yesterday at age 74:

The headline appeared above an article about an infamous crime in which a psychopath entered a bar in Queens, shot the owner, and then had the one female patron cut off the victim’s head.

When the police report came across Musetto’s desk, he thought it was almost too good to be true. Upon finding out the that the drinking establishment also featured topless female performers, fate had aligned with those five words. He created the perfect headline.

One of the city editors yelled to Musetto across the room, expressing his disbelief that the local bar was actually a topless one. Musetto jumped on top of his desk and waved his arms yelling,“It’s gotta be a topless bar! This is the greatest f***ing headline of my career!”

And it was. As Thomas Novelly of the Washington Free Beacon notes, “The famous headline earned Musetto his spot in the pop-culture hall of fame and his clever turn of phrase was featured in Saturday Night Live sketches, became the title of a crime film, and even earned him a night in the guest chair with David Letterman.”

It’s also the title of a fun-packed anthology of Post headlines that the Manhattan tabloid published a few years ago. If you’re a blogger, you owe it to yourself to buy a copy and study it as if it were a how-to guide, because it is: no matter how good a post you write, no one will see it unless the headline grabs them first.

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“Bin Laden had the book on Obama,” Paul Mirengoff writes at Power Line, who asks, “What should we make of the bookshelf?” Bin Laden’s bookshelf that is. Beyond being photographed on the 2008 campaign trail — chillingly in retrospect — holding fellow leftist Fareed Zakaria’s then-recent book The Post-American World, the pop culture-obsessed Mr. Obama seems to prefer binge-watching television to reading.

But Bin Laden’s choice of reading material is fascinating, as Mirengoff writes, who notes that Bob Woodward has the rare distinction of being on both Nixon’s enemies list, and Osama’s reading list:

Above all, it confirms that bin Laden was obsessed with the United States. Unlike ISIS, which strives to capture territory and create a caliphate, bin Laden focused on attacking America and American interests.

But attacking America wasn’t an end in itself. Bin Laden’s overriding goal was to drive the U.S. out of the Muslim world so that al Qaeda and its affiliates could topple hostile governments in these regions.

Once we understand this, we must see bin Laden as more of a success than a failure. And we must see President Obama as the vehicle through which bin Laden succeeded.

Under Obama, the U.S. is basically exiting the Muslim world. We pulled out of Iraq (and haven’t re-entered to any significant degree). We’re pulling out of Afghanistan. We never pulled into Syria, despite the advice of many in both parties that we should.

We didn’t stay in Libya. We’ve been driven out of Yemen. Our influence with Egypt and Saudi Arabia (two countries of special interest to bin Laden, surely) has waned considerably.

As for the toppling of governments, bin Laden’s dream is partially realized. The Afghanistan government hasn’t fallen, but it may well, once the U.S. leaves. And the government’s hold on large portions of the country is weak to non-existent.

The Iraqi government hasn’t fallen, but it has lost huge chunks of territory to Islamic terrorists, with even Baghdad now threatened. The government of Syria is in basically the same condition.

These two pop culture icons couldn’t be happier about the rapidly disintegrating state of the world:

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(Artwork atop post created using multiple AP and Shutterstock.com images.)

Letterman’s departure is 15 years too late,” Kyle Smith writes in the New York Post, tracing Letterman’s shift over the years from midwestern anti-comic like his doppelganger Bill Murray to hack showbiz insider:

When Letterman got a new job at CBS in 1993, it was even better. Now he was on at 11:30 p.m. instead of 12:30 a.m. I’d miss fewer shows, plus my new job (I started at The Post the day after he launched “Late Show”) meant I didn’t have to get up until noon. I saw practically every episode, for years.

But, somewhere around the turn of the century, I lost interest. The show became less and less surreal. Real celebrities started showing up, and I winced as Dave would suck up to them. Suddenly, everyone had a perfectly polished, self-deprecating anecdote — invariably meant to prove the utter fiction that Celebrities Are Just Like Us — that sounded suspiciously crafted by a team of writers. Suddenly, each episode had as many as three celebrities, with Letterman being unctuous and insufferable and fake-laughing his way through every minute.

At times Dave would turn depressingly earnest, particularly when he thought he had a Deep Political Point to make. He had George W. Bush on during the 2000 campaign and started grilling him about capital punishment. It was crushingly wrong for Dave to turn into a finger-wagger, especially since he seemed woefully out of his depth on any issue. His comedy started to sound like everybody else’s, with the same potshots at the same easy targets. His act sounded less like dada, more like Dad.

Letterman was the barking dog who caught the car, was invited in, and curled up delightedly on the seat. He was the outsider who joined the very club on whose doorstep he used to leave a flaming sack of dog poop. He was the cool guy who became Mr. Big-Time Showbiz Personality. Letterman shouldn’t retire. He should just continue doing his shtick. In Vegas.

Shortly thereafter, just as Vietnam and other events of the late 1960s cleaved American pop culture in two, 9/11 had a similar effect, alienating much of show business from its potential audience, including (especially) Letterman, who was far less adapt than Jay Leno at bridging the gap between the worldview of his fellow leftwing show business elites and Red State America.

CBS’s response to Letterman’s finale? They’re literally kicking his show to the curb, another article at the Post notes:

​Just hours after Letterman said farewell after 33 years on late-night TV, Ed Sullivan Theater crews hauled off blocks of blue stage and hacked up pieces of the iconic New York City bridges that made up the set of the “Late Show​.”

Fans and passers-by gathered around a police barricade cordoning off the Ed Sullivan to watch workers unceremoniously chuck red theater chairs into an overflowing Dumpster and ​take reciprocating saws to his miniature Brooklyn Bridge.

“It’s an end of an era,” commented onlooker Alex Lafreniere, 24, a fan visiting from Oklahoma.

The complete breakdown of the set is expected to take about a week.

No word yet if Cosmo Kramer will discover the remains of the set moulting away in a garbage skip and launch his own talk show from his Upper West Side apartment:

And as John Nolte adds at Big Hollywood, that’s not the only element of Letterman’s show that CBS is tossing into a dumpster:

Despite all the hype and hoopla and nostalgia around Letterman’s finale, CBS will not be filling his old timeslot with “Late Show” reruns.

Until Stephen Colbert arrives in September, CBS believes reruns of the CBS drama “The Mentalist” will attract more viewers than reruns of Letterman.

Ouch.

Did the door hit Letterman on the way out?

Probably not, it was already in the dumpster.

Sounds like the brass at CBS is as eager to be rid of Letterman as the rest of us.

Update: “One Final Insult: Leno Beats Letterman In Finale Ratings” — Leno’s last Tonight Show attracted “almost a million more [viewers] than Mr. Letterman’s [finale] did.”

Ace of Spades calls out lefty Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, after the latter man plays the moronic “Is David Letterman a liberal? It’s surprisingly hard to say” game. No it isn’t — you could ask him, as Howard Stern did last year at the conclusion of his half-hour interview with him, which Roger Friedman of ShowBiz 411 accurately calls “Letterman’s Most Revealing Interview.” Click on the above clip to go straight to the relevant bit about Letterman’s politics, or go to Friedman’s post to hear the whole thing. And as Ace writes:

You could compare his extremely hostile interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh — in one he snapped, without smiling, that what O’Reilly was saying sounded like pure “bullshit” — with his fawning, Tell Me More interviews with Rachel Maddow and undisclosed (but obvious) liberals like Brian “Chopper Warrior” Williams and Tom Brokaw.

Not to mention the 2006 interview with O’Reilly in which Letterman admitted to essentially be rooting for Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS:

In now a famous “You Tube” moment, Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel, went on Letterman to be the recipient of the host’s rude and sophomoric antics. As the segment shifted into high gear, O’Reilly asked Letterman a pointed and direct question: “Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?”To the surprise of no one but his sycophants, Letterman could not or would not answer the question. When pressed by O’Reilly to answer, the best he could do was to play to his mostly left-leaning audience for cheap debating points and say, “It’s not easy for me because I’m thoughtful.”

But that segment of Ace’s post is really the least interesting aspect, as everyone who is honest knows Letterman is on the left, and everyone who isn’t is lying about him, as Cillizza attempts to do. What’s really fascinating is this:

One of the types of comedy Letterman has long been far too enamored with is Time-Wasting Anti-Comedy. In the early days of his show, Letterman got a lot of laughs by doing pointless, time-wasting (and sometimes budget-wasting) stunts.

The best of these were things like Throwing Objects Off a Fifth Floor Roof, or throwing himself, in a suit of Velcro, at a Velcro wall to see if he would stick. (He did, in fact. Science!)

The worst of these was Letterman just wasting time, having pointless chats with Schaeffer (Letterman would probably claim the pointlessness *was* the point, or some stupid meta-comedy conceit like that), or, as Norm MacDonald wickedly parodied him, just repeating the same word over and over, believing that if he said “Ehhhh…. Got some gum?” enough times, it would become funny.

Letterman got away with this in his early days because the show’s conceit was that the whole thing was an elaborate prank on the network, that they had no business being on TV, and that they were wasting the network’s time and money by staging this deliberately stupid, pointless show.

It made you think — if you were young, and fan — like you were in on the joke, and that you were right there alongside Dave wasting precious Network Minutes and Dollars for this lame thing.

Here’s what the Oscars did, though, at least for me: Letterman’s time-wasting nonsense — his “Oprah… Uma” introductions (between Winfrey and Thurman) that went on for two minutes and then was repeated later in the show — finally made me see the light:

Letterman wasn’t just wasting The Network’s time with this sort of so-unfunny-it’s-funny (but actually not) non-material.

He was wasting my time, too.

All long I thought I’d been in on the joke.

Suddenly, I realized: No, I was not in on the joke. I was in on one joke, the superficial one about vengeance against the network, but definitely not in on the deeper joke, the real joke.

The real joke is that while Letterman’s show was gleefully slapdash, I was still a prisoner of it five nights a week, and voluntarily so.

The real truth was — and perhaps Letterman intended us to understand this; and perhaps he should be praised for trying to make us understand this — was that if you were watching TV, you were wasting your time.

In the previous post, I quoted longtime Johnny Carson head writer Raymond Siller, who noted that “Johnny was a lot more sarcastic than his on-air persona, but he couldn’t bring himself to ridicule his fans.” But for Letterman, it’s an illustration of how his postmodernism was ultimately a vicious circle: Letterman’s early schtick was that he was doing cheap gags that made fun of the pointless nature of TV; so what does that say about the people who watched it religiously? No wonder Dave seems to have such a tortured relationship with his audience.

Or in recent years, the increasing lack thereof.

Earlier: ‘After Losing to Jay Leno, David Letterman’s Bitterness Cost Him His Indiana Soul’ and from last year, Colbert Replaces Letterman; CBS Forgets the Lessons of The Late Shift.

When NBC and Jay Leno took the dream of hosting the Tonight Show away from David Letterman, “the sweet, charming, irreverent Indiana kid became the angry, bitter, lazy New York asshole.” Spot-on take from John Nolte at Big Hollywood on how David Letterman lost his midwestern soul and alienated so many potential viewers, beginning with losing the Tonight Show to Jay Leno in 1992:

It was sometime around 2003 when I began to realize Letterman didn’t like me anymore. His anger was no longer subversive and clever, it was bitter and mean-spirited and palpably real. He was a jerk playing to his loyal audience — urban, cynical, elite, Blue State jerks. The humble, self-deprecating Dave had become the nasty, arrogant Letterman, an unrecognizable bully who reveled in pulling the wings off those he saw as something less.

Chris Christie’s weight; Rush Limbaugh’s personal life; everything Bill O’Reilly; Bush, Cheney, Palin, and the last straw, a statutory rape joke about Palin’s 15 year-old daughter. Suddenly you were a dangerous idiot for protecting the most Indiana of things — your gun.

The man who could make you laugh at yourself now wanted to hurt and humiliate.

Letterman’s politics were never the issue. You can’t share my passion for show business and movies and let politics get in the way. Carlin was probably to the left of Letterman, but Carlin was funny and thoughtful and smart. Watching Letterman berate and hector and attempt to humiliate conservative guests over guns and the climate and the brilliance of Obama was boorish. Describing Mitt Romney as a “felon” was just sad.

The American Heartland had disappointed its own Indiana son, and for more than a decade the son was out for payback.

Or maybe Letterman was just so scared and insecure about losing what little audience he had, that he sold out his genius and Midwestern decency to bitterly cling to them? He certainly never again displayed the courage to challenge them, or to make them feel in any way uncomfortable.

Night after night the man who became my hero for biting the hand was now licking the boot — and convinced while doing so that he’s superior to the rest of us.

How I pity him.

While I rarely watched Letterman on a regular basis by the mid-naughts (especially beyond the Top Ten List), all it took was one question from his guest Bill O’Reilly in 2006 that caused Letterman to drop the mask, and caused me to permanently tune out his show:

In now a famous “You Tube” moment, Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel, went on Letterman to be the recipient of the host’s rude and sophomoric antics. As the segment shifted into high gear, O’Reilly asked Letterman a pointed and direct question: “Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?”To the surprise of no one but his sycophants, Letterman could not or would not answer the question. When pressed by O’Reilly to answer, the best he could do was to play to his mostly left-leaning audience for cheap debating points and say, “It’s not easy for me because I’m thoughtful.”

I don’t think it was anything in the water particularly at CBS; all of the Big Three are filled with equally cocooned and equally smug leftists. But Peggy Noonan, who began her career working for Dan Rather, had a revealing profile of what caused both his warped worldview and ultimately his self-destruction in 2004. This passage also rings true of Letterman; just substitute Indiana for Texas:

Ultimately this is what I think was true about Dan and his career. It’s not very nice but I think it is true. He was a young, modestly educated Texas boy from nowhere, with no connections and a humble background. He had great gifts, though: physical strength, attractiveness, ambition, commitment and drive. He wanted to be a star. He was willing to learn and willing to pay his dues. He covered hurricanes and demonstrations, and when they got him to New York they let him know, as only an establishment can, what was the right way to think, the intelligent enlightened way, the Eastern way, the Ivy League way, the Murrow School of Social Justice way. They let him know his simple Texan American assumptions were not so much wrong as not fully thought through, not fully nuanced, not fully appreciative of the multilayered nature of international political realities. He swallowed it whole.

He had a strong Texas accent, but they let him know he wasn’t in Texas anymore. I remember once a nice man, an executive producer, confided in me that he’d known Dan from the early days, from when he first came up to New York. He laughed, not completely unkindly, and told me Dan wore the wrong suits. I wish I could remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “He had a yellow suit!” There was a sense of: We educated him. Dan wound up in pinstripe suits made in London. Like Cyrus Vance. Like Clark Clifford. He got educated. He fit right in. And much of what he’d learned–from the civil rights movement, from Vietnam and from Watergate–allowed him to think he was rising in the right way and with the right crew and the right thinking.

That’s also a reminder of something that Christopher Caldwell wrote a decade ago at the Weekly Standard on the motivations of small town liberals:

There are basically two kinds of people in small towns–those who assume, as Shaw put it, that the customs of the tribe are the laws of nature; and those who have sussed out that there is a big and varied world beyond Main Street. This division used to have little to do with politics. But small-town politics in its Norman Rockwell variant–all those democratic battles over school bonds and ousting the crooked sheriff–is not what it was. Now, all politics is national. Political ideology, for most people, is a matter of whether they prefer to have Bill O’Reilly or Diane Rehm console them for their impotence in the face of events happening elsewhere.

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

When Tom Landry retired from the NFL after coaching the Dallas Cowboys from their birth as an NFL franchise, his then-recent losing seasons were quickly forgotten, and as Skip Bayless wrote in his biography, Landry was free to become his own legend. The many losing seasons that Letterman racked up at CBS will similarly be forgotten, and what will be remembered will be the breakthrough of his early NBC years. Its empty postmodernism ultimately sewed the bitterness of Letterman’s unwatchable last years, but for a time, his willingness to puncture all of television’s most beloved tropes sure made for great viewing, didn’t it?

Related: “Johnny Carson Worried David Letterman Would ‘Self Destruct,’” former Tonight Show head writer Raymond Siller notes at Big Hollywood:

In ‘95 I invited Johnny to lunch for his 70th birthday at a restaurant in Malibu. Letterman, having lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno, had begun The Late Show at CBS. Johnny had hoped he’d inherit his job, but NBC chose Jay. The helicopter dad in him was critiquing his protégé.

David’s on self-destruct and it may be too late to pull out. He’s consistently two ratings points behind Leno. People won’t want to say they watch him among their friends and he’ll never get them back. He’s changed since he went over to CBS. He makes his staff stay after the show each night to analyze it. And the way he makes fun of people. I could never do that.

Johnny was a lot more sarcastic than his on-air persona, but he couldn’t bring himself to ridicule his fans.

“I didn’t like how he handled hosting the Oscars. You’re at their event. You have to respect it”.

Then on the Letterman reclusiveness. “I’m private, but David is secret”.

Last year, when he reviewed former longtime Carson confidant Henry Bushkin’s memoirs at Commentary, veteran TV producer Rob Long praised Carson’s incredible acting skills:

It was Carson’s mother, according to the unlicensed psychoanalysis of Henry Bushkin, who was at the root of his emotionally distant, even cruel, behavior. “As long as [Ruth Carson] lived, he strove to win her love, and he never received it. He was the child of an emotionally abusive mother—no matter how strong or successful he became, he was a child whose trust had been betrayed.”

Others agreed. “‘She was selfish and cold,’ Johnny’s second wife, Joanne, once told an interviewer. ‘No wonder he had trouble dealing with women. Mrs. Carson was cold, closed off, a zero when it came to showing affection.’”

And when she died, he called Bushkin with the news: “The wicked witch is dead.”

None of this is really news, of course. We’re all primed to hear stories of movie stars and celebrities and their creepy emotional problems. But for actors—who, after all, appear only on screen, in character, or in a few carefully stage-managed publicity appearances—it’s easy to cover up the seams of a psychotic or broken-down personality.

But Johnny appeared on television every weeknight. He was playing himself—or, rather, an idealized version of himself: jovial, chummy, witty, warm. The strain of that kind of acting must have been monumental. It’s no wonder that real movie stars—Jimmy Stewart, Michael Caine, a whole bushel of A-listers—respected him so much. In one of the best stories in a book filled with great stories, when Johnny arrives late to a very exclusive industry event filled with movie stars, he lights up the room. He wasn’t just the king of late night television. He was the king of managing not to appear like the rat bastard he clearly was.

Given Carson’s own legendary anger issues off the air, Letterman’s palpable on-air burnout in recent years is a reminder of what a brilliant performance Carson gave pretending to be himself while the cameras were on, even as, like Letterman, his life became increasingly insular and isolated. But then, knowing what we now know about Carson’s inner demons, in an odd way, perhaps Johnny was personally far better at being a practicing the on-air art of postmodernist distancing than Letterman ever was, as he delivered nightly what Kathy Shaidle once dubbed “Carson’s cool-warmth — that charming-yet-menacing mien.”

“Oh Look: Michelle Obama’s Complaining Again.” Jon Gabriel of Ricochet on the never-ending kvetching tour of our perpetually-aggrieved FLOTUS:

Last week, first lady Michelle Obama lectured the leaders of The Whitney Museum at their grand opening, insisting that American museums are unwelcoming to “people who look like (her).” Her stable, middle-class childhood and her Ivy League education — topped with wealth, power, and privilege — can ‘t mitigate her fury at perceived ill-treatment at the hands of a racist America.

This week, FLOTUS registered a new complaint about the bad hand America has dealt her. In a commencement address, she inspired graduates of Alabama’s Tuskegee University by lamenting the pain and emotional distress she has endured as the first African-American First Lady.

Read the whole thing. And then check out Michelle Malkin, who lowers the boom on Michelle O. “It’s hard to take Mrs. Obama seriously, because she has been caught so brazenly lying about the racial discrimination she supposedly still faces today even as first lady of the United States:”

“Even as the first lady,” she bemoaned, “not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me” at a Target store “was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf.” Remember: ABC News reported that Mrs. Obama claimed such “incidents are ‘the regular course of life’ for African Americans and a ‘challenge’ for the country to overcome.”

The anecdote turned out to be a tall tale — with the emphasis on “tall.” The reason the 5-foot-11 first lady was asked to get detergent off the Target shelf was that her vertically challenged fellow shopper couldn’t reach it. How do we know this? Because Mrs. Obama said so herself in a radically different version of the Target story she told David Letterman three years ago.

“I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down,” the first lady described with that megawatt grin, and the shopper said, “Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.” Far from psychologically debilitated by any racial “sting,” Mrs. Obama told Letterman, “I felt so good” helping out the short woman.

I don’t care what color you are: This arrogant exercise of first lady privilege — invoking false stories to stoke racial hostility and score political points — is patently offensive. There’s enough demagoguery in the public square. The Aspen ski-vacationing, haute couture-wearing, Hollywood elite-chumming first lady’s delusional discrimination fables are fuel on a raging fire her husband has failed to alleviate with billions of dollars of government “investments,” programs, summits and photo-ops.

It is especially irresponsible of Mrs. Obama to be spreading her cultural gasoline on college campuses, where the excesses of identity politics and multiculturalism continue to poison young minds.

Don’t like suffering the “daily slights” of questions about your honesty? Stop lying.

In recent weeks, Mrs. Obama seems to have entered the political equivalent of the late career decadent phase in which many ’70s rock stars wallowed, during the financial peak of that industry, in the copycat wake of John Lennon’s confessional first solo album after the Beatles split up in 1970. Traffic’s “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” Bob Seeger’s “Turn the Page,” The Who’s Who By Numbers album, Led Zeppelin’s Presence and Pink Floyd’s double album The Wall all made ’70s-era audiences shell out their hard-earned money to hear how truly awful it was being a millionaire rock star. Oh, the psychic horrors of touring by private plane and the endless brandy, coke and groupies after the stadium shows. The horror. The horror. Dire Straits’ mid-’80s smash “Money for Nothing” was a witty turn on the same concept; song from the point of view of a jealous blue collar major appliance installer wondering why he’s not entitled to the same lifestyle. But the underlying message was the same: recording and touring is such hard work, you peons.

Similarly, Michelle Obama is demanding the privilege of speaking to audiences (transported via private plane and surrounded by security, both taxpayer-funded amenities) to remind them that as First Lady of the United States, set for life as the wife of the president, about to experience unending taxpayer-supplied luxury and as much leisure time as she desires at the end of next year, that she’s a victim.

The horror.

“Hate Network CNN Wants Disgraced Brian Williams to Replace Piers Morgan,” John Nolte’s headline screams at Big Journalism — and given how many times Nolte’s used the phrase “Hate Network CNN” over the past couple of weeks, CNN, must love having that phrase becoming increasingly associated with them. Hopefully they understand though, that’s the price you pay for transforming a news channel into a platform for socialist justice warriors.

But I digress:

According to a lengthy Vanity Fair article that examines the ongoing credibility implosion at NBC News, CNN Chief Jeff Zucker used his left-wing cable news network to “fan the flames” of the Brian Williams scandal in the hopes that it would further his scheme to eventually hire the disgraced anchor:

The most Machiavellian scenario, floated by an NBC partisan, is that Jeff Zucker, whose distaste for Comcast executives is well known, has fanned the flames of controversy so that he can eventually snare Williams for CNN—not as a newsman but as the long-sought replacement for Larry King. “That’s the perfect solution,” a source says. “Zucker gets a star, and Brian gets the talk show he always wanted.”

This is a nice way for Vanity Fair to button up the story of Williams, a news anchor who reportedly wanted to replace Jay Leno and David Letterman. Apparently, Williams primary desire is to be America’s Raconteur — which is a nice to describe a man accused of serial-lying for years to puff himself up.

The move to CNN, however, would also make sense for CNN — a network also in journalistic decline since the arrival of Zucker. CNN’s serial fabrications, outright lies, the fabrication of evidence against George Zimmerman, the fomenting of mob violence in Ferguson, the lies about the religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas, would make the network a perfect soft-landing spot for a disgraced Brian Williams.

I agree — and I called this as one of Williams’ options back in February.

Also, this quote from the Vanity Fair story is umm, interesting:

Turness and the other executives who had gotten involved quickly became frustrated, as they would remain for days, with Williams’s inability to explain himself. “He couldn’t say the words ‘I lied,’ ” recalls one NBC insider. “We could not force his mouth to form the words ‘I lied.’ He couldn’t explain what had happened. [He said,] ‘Did something happen to [my] head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something in my head?’ He just didn’t know. We just didn’t know. We had no clear sense what had happened. We got the best [apology] we could get.”

Williams isn’t the first NBC anchor about whom some have speculated if a brain tumor might be the cause of some of his more curious statements.

Finally, exclusive video of Williams attempting to explain himself to the NBC brass!

Earlier Today: NBC & Brian Williams: Worst Assumptions Confirmed By Insiders.

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There aren’t a whole lot truly new revelations buried within Vanity Fair’s juicy-sounding “Inside Story of the Civil War For the Soul of NBC News” for anyone who closely followed Williams’ implosion here at Ed Driscoll.com and elsewhere in the Blogosphere in February, but it serves a decent summary for anyone coming in late to the party, with some occasionally fun passages along the way:

There is NBC News before Tim [Russert] died and after Tim died,” says the recently departed correspondent. “Tim was our soul, our conscience…. When Tim died, and Brian pushed out John Reiss, there was no one who could influence Brian in a significant way, who could say, ‘Goddammit, Brian, you have to do this.’ ”

* * * * * * *

Since Comcast took control of NBC, the network’s news division—famously termed Comcast’s “crown jewel” by C.E.O. Brian Roberts—has endured one debacle after another. “When Comcast took over, they had the No. 1 morning show, the No. 1 Sunday show, and the No. 1 evening broadcast,” says a former top NBC executive. “That’s all completely fallen apart. I don’t know how you blame anyone but Comcast and the people it brought in. It’s been a nightmare.”

Behind the scenes much of the blame has been laid at the feet of three executives: Turness, a British-trained newcomer to U.S. television; Fili, who had virtually no experience in journalism; and Fili’s boss, the steely, driven C.E.O. Comcast installed to run NBCUniversal, Steve Burke. Under Burke the network has done well overall—its ratings have rebounded from last to first in the coveted 18–49 demographic, and NBCUniversal’s profits were up 18 percent last year—but he and his deputies, their critics charge, time and again proved unable to rein in the news division’s high-priced talent. “News is a very particular thing, NBC is a very particular beast, and Deborah, well, she really doesn’t have a fucking clue,” says a senior NBC executive involved in recent events. “She’s letting the inmates run the asylum. You have kids? Well, if you let them, they’ll have ice cream every night. Same thing in TV. If you let the people on air do what they want, whenever they want, this is what happens.”

Well, NBC and particularly its subsidiary channels MSNBC and (to a slightly lesser extent CNBC) have felt that way to its right-leaning viewers for almost a decade now. But it’s nice to have the assumption confirmed by both Vanity Fair and an NBC insider that the network and its subsidiaries are staffed by lunatics, overgrown children, and/or adolescents posing in bespoke Paul Stuart suits.

Speaking of one of the biggest adolescents at NBC, this is a classic:

“What always bothered Tim was Brian’s lack of interest in things that mattered most, that were front and center, like politics and world events,” says a person who knew both men well. “Brian has very little interest in politics. It’s not in his blood. What Brian cares about is logistics, the weather, and planes and trains and helicopters.”

“You know what interested Brian about politics?” marvels one longtime NBC correspondent, recently departed. “Brian was obsessed with whether Mitt Romney wore the Mormon underwear.” (A supporter says that this characterization is unfair and that Williams reads deeply and broadly, especially about history and politics.)

Really? It certainly wasn’t reflected in his work; doesn’t the quote describing Williams’ obsession with Romney’s Mormon underwear fit the former anchorman perfectly, particularly given both his worshipful genuflection to Obama and his concurrent paranoid ramblings when the Tea Party originally emerged in 2009?

Meanwhile, back at Vanity Fair today:

“If Brian could’ve eaten [in the NBC Rockefeller Center 51st-floor executive dining room*] eight days a week he would’ve,” says another onetime NBC executive. “He would hold court at some table, with some poor mid-level schmo who didn’t know what was going on, and he always seemed to be there when Steve Burke would come in. And [with Burke in earshot], he would make a point of taking someone down a notch. It could be Pat or Steve [Capus] or [P.R. chief] Adam [Miller] or someone else, but over time it got to be Steve Capus a lot. Brian took Steve down. I heard those lunches. I know what he said. He got Burke and Pat Fili very riled up about Steve.”

No wonder Williams appeared to have few friends inside the network, which turned him with vicious force when the news of his serial lies and fables reached a head in mid-February.

More delicious schadenfreude to digest:

“Look. Deborah Turness: I have seen no evidence she knows what she’s doing, but in fairness, she walked into a complete shitstorm there,” says a former top NBC executive. “Today is a horror show. Brian Williams? He didn’t give a rat’s ass what Deborah Turness says. But this is fundamentally not a Deborah Turness problem. She’s just a symptom of the problem…. This is a Comcast problem.”

Officially, in a damage-control mode where almost no one will be interviewed freely and on the record, NBC News declined comment for this article. Unofficially, its loyalists cooperated extensively. While admitting the occasional misstep, they reject the harsh critiques that have trailed in the wake of the Williams scandal, blaming them on a coterie of departed executives, including former NBCUniversal C.E.O. Jeff Zucker and former NBC News chief Steve Capus, who resigned under pressure in 2013. “We know the people saying these things about us, and we know why,” one NBC partisan told me. “Because five years later we are still cleaning up the mess they left behind.”

Good luck to anyone at the network searching for the pony hidden under that network’s self-described sh**storm, or even understanding how tall the pile is. Particularly since hitting CTL-F and typing “Sharpton” in an article otherwise devoted to the woes at NBC’s news division brings up zero results. And given MSNBC’s daily rants against us eeeeeeviiiiil awful raaaacist Satanic boogiemonsters on the right, Williams was fighting for his job as network anchorman, having effectively already ceded the moral support of half the country. Williams himself wasn’t directly responsible for the steaming mess at NBC’s subsidiary network, but it certainly reflected badly on him and earned him few friends on the right.

And finally:

This executive long believed that Williams’s penchant for embellishment was a function of his insecurity when it came to Brokaw, but that it was all essentially harmless. “I always felt he needed to jack up his stories because he was trying so hard to overcome his insecurities,” this executive says. “And he had to follow Tom, which brought its own set of insecurities. He likes to sort of tell these grandiose tales. But, can I tell you, in all the years we worked together, it never rose to the point where we said, ‘Oh, there he goes again.’ I just saw it as one of the quirks of his personality.” It was a quirk, however, that incensed Brokaw, who is still thought highly of inside the news division. “Tom treated that anchor chair as a public trust,” says one former correspondent. “He really was our Walter Cronkite.”

Given what we now know about Cronkite and how on numerous occasions he badly abused the “public trust” of his anchorman’s chair decades before there was a Blogosphere to call the elite media on their bias, false assumptions, and lies and push back, that’s a surprisingly damning quote.

* Sharpton apparently has the lock on the Grand Havana Room.

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“Last summer, around the time Chuck Todd took over as moderator of Meet the Press, several staffers recalled that Williams told him: ‘At least your ghost is dead. Mine is still walking the building,’” That’s from New York Magazine’s “(Actually) True War Stories at NBC News,” in which Brian Williams was forced to deal with the reputation of Tom Brokaw as a more beloved newsreader than himself. Which might explain why his strongest goal in television was leaving the news media for the entertainment division, and becoming the next Chevy Chase or Letterman at NBC rather than being the next Brokaw.

And note this:

The assignment of persuading Williams to continue to play the part of anchor fell to NBC News president Deborah Turness. A talented 47-year-old British TV-news executive, Turness had been at NBC for a year and a half. News chair Patricia Fili-Krushel hired her in May 2013 with the stated mandate to reverse ratings crises at Meet the Press and Today and the ­unspoken goal of busting up the boys’ club that had dominated network news in general and NBC News in particular. (Fili-Krushel and ­Turness declined to comment.)

Turness had long ago proved she could run with the boys. In her career at Britain’s ITV, she’d covered wars and Washington and risen through the ranks to run the news division. She was known for her tenacity. “She almost became a pain in the ass. She wouldn’t let an idea go,” says ITV chief newscaster Mark Austin. At Nightly News, Turness set about hiring more diverse correspondents and pushing for bigger exclusives, but she ran up against resistance from Williams, who was used to running his show his way. Like his predecessor Brokaw, Williams held the titles of anchor and managing editor, meaning he had final say over all the show’s content. Last summer, with ABC World News eating into Nightly’s ratings, Turness told Williams to tape more live promos, a suggestion that infuriated the anchor, according to a source. But eventually, thanks in part to some effusive praise in a presentation to advertisers in the fall, Turness won him over. Over the holidays, Williams would even send her an optimistic note, according to a friend: “2015 is going to be our year together.”

Near the end of the night at Del Posto, Turness raised her glass and presented Williams with a gift: Edward R. Murrow’s mahogany writing table. Weeks earlier, Matt Lauer had told her that the 1940s desk was for sale at an L.A. antiques dealer. The catalogue listing said: “This venerable signed desk with its special, unique provenance can be yours, assisting you in becoming the next greatest icon within your own chosen industry!” Turness hoped it would remind Williams that he was America’s most trusted anchor—the Murrow of his day. He shouldn’t give that up to be Jimmy Fallon.

But over the last decade, everyone from Jon Stewart to Keith Olbermann to Joy Behar has been dubbed “the Murrow of his day” at one point or another during their careers. Murrow earned his rep by actually doing stuff; today’s MSM throws the title around to anyone handed a microphone.

Which explains much about the politicians to which they eagerly play palace guard, of course.

Related:

Unexpectedly.

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Nothing.

That’s according to Howard Kurtz, who writes, “Brian Williams does not face investigation, stepped aside voluntarily, source says”:

The move on Saturday, developed in consultation with the NBC brass, was not a thinly disguised suspension. In fact, no one, including NBC News President Deborah Turness, suggested that Williams take time off, this person says.

What’s more, according to the source, NBC is not conducting an internal investigation of its anchor, as has been widely reported. The network is engaging in journalistic fact-gathering so it can respond to questions about the crisis created by Williams’ false story about having been in a helicopter in Iraq that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. That means there will be no report with a finding on his conduct, this person says.

Williams knows that he needs to address the situation beyond the botched apology this week that made matters worse. And he has a prime forum coming up: An appearance scheduled for Thursday on CBS’s “Late Show” with David Letterman.

Williams is strongly considering keeping the appearance and using it as an opportunity to clear the air and address the lingering questions, the source says, but no final decision has been made.

Ironically, the anchor will be sitting in the same chair where he told Letterman the false Iraq story in 2013—a clip that has been widely replayed to show that he has repeatedly claimed to have been in the downed Chinook.

At Big Journalism, John Nolte ponders what Williams cashing in his get-out-of-jail -free card with Letterman implies. As he asks, “Because this is all one big fat joke to Williams and NBC News, right?”

If you think about it, though, it does make perfect sense.

There have been numerous reports about how Williams, like no other news anchor before him, “fervently courted celebrity.” And it now appears as though that is exactly how Williams sees himself — not as a news man and managing editor of the most-watched nightly news telecast on television; but as Hugh Grant —  a celebrity, a star — a guy who can run to a comedy show and HumbleCharm his way out of a career-ending scandal by taking some pre-scripted barbs from a comedian.

Reading a teleprompter for 20 minutes a night is only part of Brian Williams’ celebrity job. The main part is yukking it up with David Letterman and Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon with slow jams, exaggerated “war hero” anecdotes, and digging-his-toe-in-the-dirt confessionals to get out of career jail.

At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple investigates another lie Williams told during his disastrous appearance on David Letterman’s show in 2013:

Amid talk of the incoming fire, Williams supplied this detail: “Our captain took a Purple Heart injury to his ear in the cockpit.”

The Purple Heart is a military decoration for those who are killed or wounded in combat. Chris Simeone, in a first-person piece in the New York Post, claims to have piloted the Chinook that transported Williams and his NBC News crew. Contrary to Williams’s claims — in that Letterman appearance, among other venues — that his helicopter sustained “AK-47 and RPG” fire from the enemy on the ground, Simeone says the flight was “uneventful.” That means no injuries, which also means … “I do not have a Purple Heart, and my ears are just fine,” wrote Simeone in the New York Post.

Other members of the Chinook crew that allegedly transported Williams & Co. insist that the helicopter took absolutely no incoming fire. “No we were not shot at. We took NO enemy fire,” Joseph Miller told the Omaha World-Herald.

As Nolte asks:

Is Brian Williams a news man, or not?

Is NBC News a news division, or not?

We’ve known the answer to that second question for nearly a decade now:

In the late 1960s, Lily Tomlin’s career was launched on NBC’s Laugh-In, where one of her recurring characters was a snippy, matronly phone company operator, in the era when Bell Telephone really was a nationwide monopoly. One of her catchphrases was, “We don’t care, we’re the phone company.”

While today’s Big Three TV networks are no longer monopolies either, they essentially are to the eight to ten million elderly viewers left who still watch each network’s evening news shows, because they can’t get on the Internet.

In contrast, on Twitter this week, blogger Ace of Spades asked his followers: when was the last time you watched a network nightly news broadcast? For me, the last time I voluntarily watched an NBC, CBS or ABC nightly news show was probably in the mid-1990s, prior to my first cable modem. Other than the half-hour of CNN I’m force-fed nightly at the gym, whenever I write about a disaster on TV news, it’s because they’ve been caught by Drudge, NewsBusters, Mediaite or another video aggregation site, and if you’re reading this post, chances are the same holds true for you as well.

As I joked with my wife last night, it’s quite a 21st century media world when I trust a guy whose handle is “SooperMexican,” and whose Twitter avatar is a masked professional wrestler, more than I do the news division and the cable networks associated with 90-year-old National Broadcast Company. But once trust is lost, it’s nearly impossible to get it back without a thorough housecleaning of all of the responsible — or in this case irresponsible — players.

Which NBC’s brass can’t be bothered to do, if Kurtz’s source is correct, lest they risk losing the audience they hold captive at 6:30 to another TV network. If so, NBC has come full-circle; they’re where Tomlin’s phone company was in the late ’60s and ’70s. They’ve got a monopoly on their viewers, and as long as that lasts, they don’t care if they’re lying to them or not. Do their viewers? As Iowahawk tweeted last night:

And in her last years, before she passed away in in 2012 at age 87, I could certainly picture my own mother thinking, “I don’t care if Williams lied. He looks nice. He sounds nice. He has nice hair. And he’s on before Wheel of Fortune at 7:00. I’m sticking with him.” Is that the calculation NBC is making? We’ll know soon enough, but it does seem like the most NBC thing for NBC to do at this point, doesn’t it? Update (3:55 PM Pacific): NBC wisely talks Williams into cancelling his Letterman appearance on Thursday, according to the Politico:

According to the people with knowledge of the situation, the instinct at the top of NBC and Comcast, its corporate parent, has been to try to preserve the asset: Williams is No. 1 at 6:30 p.m. by a wide margin, and “Nightly” is NBC’s only consistently dominant newscast newscast. The sense inside NBC News has been that Williams is too big to fail: He’s just too valuable, and there’s no obvious replacement. One of these people emphasized in an interview with Playbook that there is no suspension, and there was no discussion of a suspension. This was Brian’s idea, and he took a pen and wrote yesterday’s statement himself, the person said. Brian is very remorseful — he has apologized, and likely will again, the person added.

Williams can apologize all he wants, but “There is no such thing as partial credibility. Once a source has proven that they are willing to lie — deliberately and consciously — they lose all credibility,” as Stacy McCain wrote at the end of last year regarding the now-infamous fables penned by the co-worker at HBO alongside Williams’ daughter. One question that’s been repeatedly asked over the past week is this: Is Brian Williams a newsman or an entertainer? If this report in the Boston Herald is true, the answer is most assuredly the latter:

And note this humble brag from Williams, describing in an interview one of the souvenirs that may or may not be in his “man cave”:

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Tanned, rested and ready: Just imagine the social media outreach possibilities, NBC! 

“A guy so cocksure he figures he can push it a little further each time,” Steyn writes as he charts “The Life of Brian:”

Assuredly there’s been some turnover in NBC News since 2003. So maybe nobody working on the program now was working on it then. But in TV you’re always looking for ways to show rather than announce, so, if you’ve got a line like that on Brian’s prompter, it defies belief that someone wouldn’t have said, “Hey, grab that footage out of the archive.” And then the intern comes back from the basement and says, “Um, it was somebody else’s helicopter that got forced down…”

I would wager, even as Williams read his line, that most everyone who mattered on the show knew it wasn’t true. And maybe one or two of them looked nervously at each other in the control room, but let it go. Hey, he’s the star, right? NBC Nightly News with Walter Mitty reporting.

Hardly anything on TV at the Brian Williams level is accidental. That riveting account of death-defying derring-do with Letterman would have been worked out during the pre-interview for the show — in other words, the misremembering was painstakingly rehearsed. Maybe Williams is delusional. Maybe he is to anchors as Anthony Wiener is to wankers – a guy so cocksure he figures he can push it a little further each time.

Which brings us to the latest chopper whopper, as spotted by one of Ace of Spades’ co-bloggers. As Ace writes, in 2007, Williams told the kids at Fairfield University, “I looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us and it hit the chopper in front of ours:”

Williams starts doing his Sergeant Rock shtick after a question is asked about what story has had the most impact on his life, starting at 1:42. Here is his answer:

“It gets me to thinking, I’ve been very lucky the way my life has turned out, I’ve been very lucky to have survived a few things that I’ve been involved in, at a perception a few minutes ago, I was remembering something I tend to forget, the war with Hezballah in Israel, a few years back, where there were Katuyshka rockets passing just beneath the helicopter I was riding in. A few years before that, you go back to Iraq, and I looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us and it hit the chopper in front of ours.”

So 2007 is a transitional phase in the telling of the story. He has not placed himself in the shot-down chopper as he would by 2013, but he is claiming explicitly that the chopper was right in front of him, and he witnessed its shoot-down.

Of course, he adds the whole new detail that he looked into the tube of the RPG launcher which took down the bird.

That seems rather unlikely, given that the chopper that actually got hit was nowhere near Williams’ and was moving in the opposite direction. And as Travis Tritten of Stars & Stripes told CNN’s Jake Tapper today, the radio broadcast of the RPG attack that Williams’ sound guy recorded was from the other chopper.

But in any case, here’s the clip of Brian Williams’ Flight of the Valkyries story, circa 2007:
.

As Steyn concludes:

Thirty years ago, it would be difficult to imagine a liar or fantasist surviving in a job that supposedly depends on one’s trustworthiness. Yet today Brian Williams’ survival is the way to bet — because the obsolete format of Big Three “network news” is a dinner-theatre exercise that now bears so little relation to real news that Williams’ ability to project the aura of authority and integrity trumps the reality that he doesn’t actually have any. If you get your news from old-school “network news”, you’re not actually getting any news, you’re watching a guy ’cause he has great hair. So getting it from a delusional narcissist is only taking it to the next level.

But Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News, now has the opportunity to really take things to the next level*, as Rush Limbaugh told his listeners today. Why settle for a real news anchor making stories up, when you now have the opportunity to hire the best known fake news anchor in America for the 6:30 news?

Remember how [Turness] backed a Brinks truck up to Jon Stewart and tried to hire him for Meet the Press?

Well, Turness, here’s another golden opportunity to get Stewart.

CBS got Colbert.  NBC could get Stewart.

So you’re out there professing your love and admiration and your total unblinding support for Brian Williams, you’re secretly trying to hire Jon Stewart to do the news.  I mean, if you’re gonna have Jon Stewart host Meet the Press, what does that say about Meet the Press and what does it say about what the news has become?  If it’s not about numbers anymore, if it’s all about bragging rights and getting the hippest dude as Les Moonves said when he hired Colbert, well, here’s a chance for Deborah Turness to make another run at Jon Stewart, while everybody thinks Brian Williams is safe.

It makes a certain amount of sense: the nightly news format is fossilized, as Mark writes above. Furness and the Obama-supporting CEO of Comcast likely wouldn’t hire someone openly conservative, no matter how much he would boost NBC’s ratings. Hiring Stewart is their only other bet to shake up the ancient 6:30 news format, and likely the job — and the Brinks truck of cash — would be his if Stewart wants the gig.

And if he doesn’t, like the phalanx of British drummers who sent their resumes in to Led Zeppelin and The Who when John Bonham and Keith Moon went off to the Happy Groupie Hunting Grounds, there’s no shortage of newsreaders (or narrative readers as Rush has taken to calling them) eager to replace Williams. Katie Couric is telling anyone who will listen that she’d love to bail on her low-rent Yahoo.com gig and return to NBC. I doubt very much she’s the only out-of-work TV newsreader whose emailing in a CV to NBC right now.

*As to whether or not “the next level” is moving things up or down I leave to you, but when even Dylan Byers of the left-wing Politico site can see “The Decline and Fall of NBC News,” you know things are hitting bottom at the once well-respected network.

Related: Brian Williams, humble friend of the working man at his most downtrodden:

Update (11:45 AM 2/7/15): Report: Brian Williams Could Step Down Early Next Week. And at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey explores the other story that Williams tosses out in the above clip to the journalism students at Fairfield University in 2007: “I tend to forget the war with Hezbollah in Israel a few years back, where there were Katyusha rockets passing just underneath the helicopter I was riding.” The “I tend to forget” being shot at by rockets is a nice touch.

And the New York Post rounds up more of Williams’ tall tales:  “Brian Williams’ heroic stories include Princess Di and Hurricane Katrina:”

“I lost a very good friend to Agent Orange-related cancer,” he told Alec Baldwin in a March 2013 interview on the “30 Rock” actor’s “Here’s the Thing” show on WNYC radio.

“I was in the hospital room with him. It was a Saturday night, I had just done ‘Nightly News.’ My pager went off: ‘Diana, car accident, Paris.’ I called the office, and they said, ‘You better get in here,’ ” Williams recalled.

“I had no idea that I’d be announcing to what was then, I mean, they plugged us into cable all over Europe. I have people wherever I go to this day who say, ‘I was with you the night Diana died,’” the anchor said.

Williams has spun more wild story lines than his own network’s sitcoms.

He said armed gangs constantly threatened him and his terrified crew while they were covering Hurricane Katrina.

“Unfortunately for Williams, authorities had said five years earlier that stories about armed gangs running amok were not true.” Plus a video of Williams telling Brokaw in 2010 that “we watched, all of us watched, as one man committed suicide” in the New Orleans Superdome. But, as the Post adds, “But he later admitted it was only a story he had heard about and not seen himself.” And as The Blaze deadpans, “Brian Williams Once Claimed to See a Body Floating Down the Street After Katrina. There’s Just One Problem…”

Plus from the Daily Caller, “Brian Williams Told Two Different Stories About His 1994 Interview With Nelson Mandela.” All of which dovetails perfectly into our exit quote:

Update (6:15 PM Pacific): Brian Williams Stepping Away From NBC Nightly News.

(Photo atop post based on a modified AP image.)

Brian Williams: A Uniter, Not a Divider!

February 5th, 2015 - 7:03 pm

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“Williams Should Not Resign His Job as NBC Narrative Reader,” says Rush Limbaugh, inventing a great description for Williams’ nightly job:

Brian Williams told an abject lie that any number of people at any point the rest of his life could expose — and he didn’t just do it once. He did it two, three times. He did it on Letterman, did it on the NBC Nightly News.  You know I’ve always liked Brian Williams. And, in a personal observation, he’s one of the few in the Drive-By Media who has been fair to me.  But, man, I just don’t understand. I think one thing to keep in mind here… You know, people say, “He ought to have to resign! Brian Williams ought to resign!”

No, no, no, folks. Brian Williams shouldn’t have to resign.

Brian Williams… There isn’t journalism anymore.  These people are not journalists. They’re not reporters.  They’re not even news readers! I have a new name for television info anchors: Narrative readers.  They really are there just to read the script of the daily soap opera that is Washington.  Whoever determines it, whoever writes it, they are there to advance it.  Brian Williams’ job every day is to sell a narrative, to get away with whatever he can to move his and the Democrat Party’s agenda forward.

This is really not an assault or an insult to journalism, because there really isn’t too much journalism going on. But clearly there isn’t any journalism at NBC News.  We know this.  They doctored 911 calls in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, any number of examples like this. [QED -- Ed.]

On the PJM homepage this afternoon, Tom Blumer concurs. “Please Stay On, Brian Williams: Only you can more quickly hasten the establishment press’s demise:”

The indispensable Kristinn Taylor at Gateway Pundit has found that “speech promotional bios touted Williams’ bravery in returning to Iraq after he claimed being under fire.” The exhibit at his post touts the anchor’s commencement speech at Fordham University in 2011. Shortly after Taylor’s post, Fordham revised the related web page, adding a note that “on Feb. 4, 2015, Brian Williams issued an on-air retraction regarding the helicopter flight.” Quite a few people at other sites will be similarly busy scrubbing their web pages in the coming days.

In his daily email on Thursday, Jim Geraghty explained Williams’ likely motivation:

Before telling Letterman the helicopter story, Williams makes the caveat that he’s not much of a war correspondent. He cites NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel as the kind of reporter who calls a day where he’s shot at “Tuesday.” There’s your motive, for anyone trying to understand why he would do this. He’s an anchor, sitting behind a desk most nights in New York City. It is embarrassing for a man to not have any good war stories or stories of bravery. So Williams took the story of how he was about an hour away from life-and-death drama and changed it. Unfortunately for him, that’s also called “lying.”

Also, in early 2003, though he had been chosen to succeed Tom Brokaw, Williams was not yet perched in the Nightly News anchor chair. There were barely concealed concerns that Williams, whose primary previous duties were at CNBC and MSNBC when the latter at least pretended to be objective, would not prove to be a strong enough presence. The 2003 incident, as embellished even then, surely boosted Williams’ perceived testosterone level at an arguably important time.

That description of Williams’ salad days at NBC dovetails quite well with Tom Wolfe’s 1980 description of how the world has worked inside the network news cocoon since Walter Cronkite donned his first flak jacket:

Within the television news operations there’s such a premium put on not being a reporter. Everyone aspires to the man who never has to leave the building, the anchor man, who is a performer. The reporters are called researchers and are usually young women, and the correspondent on television is a substar, a supporting actor who prides himself on the fact that he doesn’t have to prepare the story. You talk to these guys and they’ll say, “Well, they sent me from Beirut to Teheran, and I had forty-five minutes to get briefed on the situation.” What they should say is, “I read the AP copy.” The idea is that as a performer you can pull together this news operation anywhere you go and the whole status structure is set up in such a way that you’re not going to get good reporters. Just try to think of the last major scoop, to use that old term, that was broken on television. I’m sure there have been some. But what story during Watergate? During Watergate there were new stories coming out every day. None were on television, except when television simply broadcast the hearings. The can do a set event. And that’s what television is actually best at. In fact, it’d be a service to the country if television news operations were shut down totally and they only broadcast hearings, press conferences and hockey games. That would be television news. At least the public would not have the false impression that it’s getting news coverage.

After Dan Rather imploded, TV writer Burt Prelutsky wrote in 2005

You can go back to Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor and Walter Cronkite. We treated them all with a deference that was totally out of proportion to the work they did. Essentially, the job description requires that they read the captions to the news footage we’re watching and to introduce the on-site reporters. Do you really think that constitutes the mental equivalent of heavy lifting? For doing what your uncle Sid could do — and with a lot more pazazz — they’re paid enormous amounts of money. On top of all the dough, they are constantly the honorees at testimonial dinners, but that’s fine, so long as I don’t have to attend. But the trouble is, they’re regarded as important people by way too many of us, and that’s not good. Why? Because it makes us all look like a bunch of saps — what H.L. Mencken called the boobus americanus and what P.T. Barnum simply labeled suckers.

Because these anchors get to spend their entire careers talking about important events and important people, they naturally come to regard themselves as important. Self-delusion is a form of insanity and we should not encourage it by fawning over them.

When they finally sign off for the last time, you notice that the testimonials inevitably mention how many political conventions they covered, how many space missions, how many inaugurations, assassinations, uprisings and wars, as if they had had a hand in any of these earth-shaking events. It wasn’t their hands that were involved, it was their behinds, as they sat year after year at those desks, declaiming in those store-bought voices what we were seeing with our own eyes — all thanks to the journalistic peons who actually went places and did things and took risks so that we could sit home and watch it

Now, I’m not saying we should kill the messengers. I’m just suggesting it’s time we stopped canonizing them.

Indeed. And as Tom Blumer writes today, “Brian Williams’ continued presence in the Nightly News anchor chair would henceforth make him the press’s poster child. He would become the starting point in any discussion of media bias with those who still believe that the press is fair and balanced — and readers can rest assured that Williams’ track record is a heavily documented, target-rich environment.”

Related: Kyle Drennen of NewsBusters charts the roster of “The Incredibles: NBC’s Growing List of Irresponsible Journalists,” from Williams to Ebola quarantine-breaker Nancy Snyderman to Al Sharpton.” And at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey spots “Variety’s buried lede: ‘Senior’ NBC News execs ‘counseled’ Williams to stop telling helicopter story.”

“Over a Decade, a Reporter’s War Story Grew Ever More Dramatic,” Ad Week reports:

In Williams’ original telling of the story, his helicopter lands without drama–or danger. “Suddenly, without knowing why, we learn we’ve been ordered to land in the desert,” Williams says. “On the ground, we learn the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky.” The crew aboard that helicopter, Williams reported, were took shaken to talk about the incident on camera.

But years later, Williams told a far more dramatic version of the story to David Letterman. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one that I was in,” Williams said. “RPG and AK-47.” Letterman asks Williams “what happens the minute everyone realizes you’ve been hit,” and Williams–whose grasp of detail despite a decade having passed includes the elevation and airspeed of the Chinook–describes a nervy emergency landing in the desert. “We landed very quickly, and hard…We got hit, we set down, everyone was okay. Our captain took a Purple Heart injury to his ear in the cockpit.”

It was that harrowing version of the story that led some veterans to post comments to the “Nightly News” Facebook page, openly–and pointedly–questioning Williams. “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened. Then I remember you guys taking back off in a different flight of Chinooks from another unit and heading to Kuwait to report your ‘war story’ to the Nightly News.”

The Hollywood Reporter adds another telling of the story:

Fox News also points out that Williams penned an account of the false story on the Nightly News blog back in 2008: “We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47′s. The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”

Both links via John Nolte of Big Journalism, who adds that Williams’ lies didn’t happen in a corporate vacuum:

Williams’ 12 year lie is a disaster for the anchor and for the network that made him the face of its news division. Obviously no one at NBC News bothered to check a story that was just too good to check. Worse, this will only compound the credibility and ratings issues that have damaged the NBC News brand for a few years now.

Just a few months ago, NBC News Chief Medical Correspondent Nancy Snyderman was caught violating her Ebola quarantine. During the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman uproar NBC News was caught editing a 9-1-1 call to make Zimmerman look racist. During the 2012 presidential election Andrea Mitchell was caught fabricating a Mitt Romney gaffe.

For the last few years, NBC News has perpetrated one fraud after another on the American people.

If CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, who has a huge credibility issue of his own, is any indication of how the left-wing intelligentsia will react to Williams’ 12 year lie, the wagons are already being circled:

To follow-up on our initial post about Williams, would Stelter write anything similar if a GOP congressman or Fox News anchor had been caught lying, particularly about a wartime attack? But then, Stelter works for a network whose former CEO Eason Jordan was also a serial Iraq War fabulist, resigning in 2005 after being caught at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland claiming that “he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.” The previous year, the London Guardian quoted Jordan as saying, “The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces.”

After quoting Stelter and a Politico journalist both immediately circling the wagons to protect Williams (ala Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings defending Dan Rather a month after Rathergate broke in 2004), “Democrats sure got it good,” Nolte adds. “But if you think about it, it makes sense for NBC to keep a serial stolen valor liar like Brian Williams as the face of its dishonest, fraudulent news division. Perfect sense.”

Exit quotes:

And speaking of NBC’s corporate culture, these links further place Williams into context:

 

 

“And now, NBC Nighty News with your hosts, Brian Williams and Baron Munchausen,” John Hayward quips on Twitter. “Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years,” Stars & Stripes reports today:

Williams repeated the claim Friday during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

Williams made the claim while presenting NBC coverage of the tribute to the retired command sergeant major at the Rangers game, and the fans giving the soldier a standing ovation.

No word yet if Sinbad, Sheryl Crow and Hillary Clinton were also onboard when the attack didn’t occur:

When Williams replaced Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News, he was sold to the American public in 2004 by his then boss, Jeff Zucker (now in charge at CNN) with a lie: “No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian,” Zucker told USA Today, despite knowing that Williams was a cast-in-the-mold reactionary “liberal.” The following year, Williams compared America’s Founding Fathers to terrorists; in 2010 he would have a severe case of the vapors over the Tea Party while praising “the Clinton economy.”

So it’s not surprising that Williams himself is fabulist; it comes with the territory at NBC, its subsidiary networks, and the politicians they fawn over nightly.

Update: “‘Even lying in his apology’: Brian Williams slammed after recanting personal story about RPG attack in Iraq,” Twitchy reports:

Williams tells Stars & Stripes, “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Blogger Ace of Spades assists the befuddled anchorman in understanding what happened:

Let me help you out here, Brian. You conflated one aircraft — one you were in — with another aircraft — one you were not in — not due to a “mistake” but due to an age-old reportorial practice called lying to advance an agenda.

The agenda here was dressing up a soft, delicate little boy into a the sort of iron-stubbled man who looks like he belongs on a battlefield.

So you lied. You claimed you were on one of the helicopters that took fire; no human being could ever confuse “Me” or “Not Me.”

Steven Wright makes just that joke — “The other day I was — wait, no, that was someone else.”

See, Brian, it’s funny because we know that confusion about “Me” versus “Not Me” is not possible, except in the insane.

So you lied, and over the years you’ve lied and lied again.

Trust us, they lied.

I was curious if there were any photos of Williams on the battlefield, Dan Rather-style, so I typed in the words Brian Williams and Helmet into Google Images. Look what came up near the top:

brian_williams_helmet_helicopter_2-4-15-1

That’s from Time magazine’s ten questions for ”Newsman Brian Williams” piece from 2010, which appears to no longer be online, except for the above photo. But it seems like Williams was evidently still playing on his helicopter adventures seven years after they didn’t occur, and Time-Warner-CNN-HBO was more than happy to play along, much like Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings helped Dan Rather keep up the charade.

Update: In 2007 at a Newsweek forum, Williams sounded like the second coming of Lee Ermey when asked about his adventures in Iraq:

And here’s video of Williams lying about the helicopter attack with David Letterman in 2013.

Mediaite has the video of Williams “apologizing” tonight on his NBC news program about his repeatedly-told lie – and his apology itself contains a lie; Williams acts as if he was following directly behind the helicopter hit by an RPG, when Star & Stripes reports “Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.”

As Mediaite notes, Williams described his serial fabulism as a “bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran,” a variation on the “botched joke” get out of jail free card that the left have employed for years. But as at least one person asked on Twitter tonight, how would Williams react if a politician attempted this same defense?

A Republican politician*, that is. (“Or a Fox anchor,” Noah Pollak of Commentary adds.)

By the way, a reminder from Iowahawk that Williams is far from the worst serial fabulist that NBC has on their payroll. Given MSNBC’s ratings woes, perhaps the two could swap channels:

* When confronted by a fellow Democrat fabulist, Williams merely bows in his exulted presence.

Goodbye to Sullivan & Sophistry

January 29th, 2015 - 1:10 pm

In his “A Long Overdue Goodbye to Andrew Sullivan,” Pejman Yousefzadeh, whom I believe first started blogging in 2002, right around the same time I did, writes, “Andrew Sullivan was one of two big-time bloggers–the other being, of course, Glenn Reynolds–to have helped put me on the blogospheric map. For that, I shall always be grateful.” Those early days of blogging were heady times indeed; living in California, I remember Glenn would sign off at around 9:00 or 10:00 PM pacific time, then I’d switch over to James Lileks’ Bleat, which would go live right around that time, then check if Steven Den Beste had written his daily mega-post of at least 5,000 words (or so it seemed at the time), and then around midnight, I’d see what new items Andrew Sullivan had posted. Forget Carson, Cavett, Snyder, and Letterman, this was some quality late-night programming tailor-made for discussing the immediate aftermath of the post 9/11-world:

At the outset, when I first started blogging, Sullivan’s political views and mine coincided quite neatly. After a while, they began to diverge. I certainly changed some of my political views as the years went on, and I don’t quite see how anyone could go an appreciable period of time without reappraising at least some political views. Sullivan’s views, of course, changed drastically. He went from being a supporter of George W. Bush to a fervent opponent. The shift began when Bush signed on to the Federal Marriage Amendment issue, and Sullivan reacted with outrage. I always got the sense that this issue became the jumping-off point for other Sullivanesque disagreements with the Bush administration; over Iraq, over interrogation and detention policy, and over foreign policy in general. Of course, it ought to go without saying that Sullivan was and is entitled to change whatever political views he wanted and wants to change.

So while Sullivan and I had our differences, some of those differences were reasonable in nature. Others . . . not so much.

In 2008, Sullivan decided that he really liked Barack Obama a lot. But he didn’t want to be identified as a contemporary American liberal, so he started concocting all sorts of ridiculous claims that the onetime senator and future president was and is a conservative. Hayek was cited, as was Locke, as was Oakeshott. Oakeshott was cited a lot. The claims, of course, made no sense whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Sullivan from making them, even as the rhetoric and policies from the White House became more and more port-sided. Of course, Sullivan could have taken the honorable road and simply announced a fundamental shift in his political philosophy. But instead, Sullivan, like Shakespeare’s Caesar, claimed and claims to be as constant as the North Star when it comes to his ideology, and his approach instead has been to desperately try to shoehorn Barack Obama into that ideology. It never worked before, it doesn’t work now, and it won’t work in the future, but Sullivan, not recognizing defeat when it stares him in the face, keeps on trying to make it work. The whole thing is rather pathetic, really.

Sullivan had begun that shtick four years earlier, in the aftermath of George W. Bush not supporting the notion of gay marriage during the election year of 2004. Sullivan, who had previously dubbed Bush 2002′s “Man of the Year”, at first hemmed and hawed over whether he would support him in again. And then this classic bit of sophistry appeared in the Sunday addition of the London Times and on Sullivan’s own Daily Dish blog:

The argument that Kerry must make is that he can continue the war but without Bush’s polarising recklessness. And at home he must reassure Americans that he is the centrist candidate, controlled neither by the foaming Michael Moore left nor by the vitriolic religious right.

Put all that together and I may not find myself the only conservative moving slowly and reluctantly towards the notion that Kerry may be the right man — and the conservative choice — for a difficult and perilous time.

I guess you could make the case that Kerry’s conservative in some fashion — he dresses nicely; his hair style is a cross between cold warriors JFK and Jack Kemp, freeze-dried to Shatner Turbo-2000 levels of perfection. But back in the real world, one need only look at Kerry’s infamous radical chic, anti-war, anti-American C.V. to realize that Sullivan was making himself look increasingly silly trying to make Kerry into something he obviously wasn’t rather than simply saying, I disagree with Bush on my defining issue, and as a result, I’ve moved to the left. Or, rather I moved back somewhere to the left; Sullivan was associated the New Republic magazine prior to blogging, after all.

And then the late summer of 2008 would of course see the emergence of Andrew Sullivan, Ace Uterus Detective, as Pejman goes on to note. By that time, Sullivan’s self-beclowning was complete.

Six years prior though, when he named GWB his man of the year in 2002, Sullivan wrote, “Forget the bloviations of the Hate-America-First crowd. History will one day credit Bush with patience, multilateralism and conviction. But right now, history is still being made. And there is a war to be continued and to be won.”

Well, it sounded good at the time, I guess.

Related: Will Andrew quit blogging permanently? “That’s what he says. I kinda doubt it,” Kathy Shaidle writes, and she’s been blogging as long as Andrew.

As they say in the music world, you have to break up the band before you can have the triumphant reunion tour to replenish the coffers — as Andrew himself well knows.

Update: “Conspiracy Theorist Andrew Sullivan Quits Blogging,” John Nolte writes at Big Journalism. But like the Stones and The Who sitting out most of the 1980s, it’s only a matter of time before the lucrative reunion tour begins: “Because Sullivan trained his debunked conspiracy theories at the child of a conservative woman and the Pope, he will always be welcome in the mainstream media.”

“Hey GQ, can’t find any crazy Democrats? Here are 16,” courtesy of Kyle Smith of the New York Post, and frequent PJM contributor:

In a survey of the “Craziest Politicians of 2014,” GQ had difficulty locating any Democrats. Seventeen out of 20 on the list were Republicans, with the only liberals being Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson and America’s reigning nabob of nuttiness, Joe Biden.

In a note appended to the story, GQ defensively said it wasn’t guilty of “standard liberal-media bias,” it just couldn’t find any loony Democrats to speak of.

Let’s give GQ a little help, shall we? Here are 16 more Democrats for the list of the most cra-cra political figures.

In addition to the assortment of leftwing lunatics that Kyle spots, if Conde Nast-published GQ was actually serious about finding crazy Democrats, it need only venture down the halls of its parent company’s office at One World Trade Center:

Yes, it’s Anna Wintour, maximum editrix of GQ’s sister publication Vogue, definitive One Percenter, winner of our first Duranty Award for her love of Syrian totalitarian Asma al-Assad, that “Rose in the Desert,” as Wintour’s magazine dubbed her, and terrorizer of her staff, as can be seen in the must-see 2008 documentary, The September Issue. And as Rush noted in response to Wintour’s exquisitely tone-deaf 2012 campaign ad for Mr. Obama spotlighted in the above clip:

WINTOUR:  These two wonderful women and I are hosting a dinner, along with the president, in New York City to benefit the Obama campaign on June the 14th.  It will be a fantastic evening, and you can join us.  We’re saving the two best seats for you, but you have to enter to win.  You can enter right now by going to BarackObama.com/NewYorkNight.  Sarah Jessica and I both have our own reasons for supporting President Obama, and we want to hear yours, so please join us.

RUSH:  Right.

WINTOUR:  But just don’t be late.

RUSH:  Two of you.  Two of you who Anna Wintour wouldn’t give the time of day to if she saw you on the street. In fact, you’d get fired if you looked at her. She’d send the cops after you if you looked at her.  She’s not on the street.  She leaves the building, gets in the car, goes where she’s going. This is such a divorce from reality.  So they’re having this big dinner party for you, two people.  You go to this website, you register, you make a donation, you could get chosen to have dinner so that Obama and Michelle and Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker can find out what you think.  (interruption) All right, all right, all right, I’m glad you did this.

The staff on the other side of the glass are telling me they don’t know who Anna Wintour is.  They know who Anna Wintour is.  You’re telling me you don’t know who she is?  Well, that picture, I mean she looks like the Beatles out of the sixties, Helmet Head, little Bobby. You really don’t know who she is?  Well, now, I’m a little embarrassed that I do, then.  She’s the editor of Vogue magazine.  Well, that’s why I said it’s a magazine for elites.  It’s a fashion magazine.  Very few people actually read it.  It’s one of these things, the right people read it.  But I guarantee you, whoever’s gonna end up having dinner at her house, this whole thing is a fraud.  Anna Wintour doesn’t want to meet these people.  She’s not interested in what they think.  Neither is Obama or Michelle or Sarah Jessica.

Not a coincidence that David Letterman’s band played “Here Come the Sun King” during this tense segment in 2009 of Wintour plugging The September Issue:

Backward Ran the Progress Until Reeled the Mind

December 31st, 2014 - 7:38 pm

New Year’s Eve 1954: Frank Sinatra and Gloria Vanderbilt hit the Big Apple with maximum swank:

New Year’s Eve 2015: Desperate for ratings CNN once again teams up Anderson Cooper, Vanderbilt’s son and the network’s would-be top anchorman,  with “comedienne” Kathy Griffin for maximum sleaze:

anderson_cooper_kathy_griffin_no_nudity_12-31-14-1

As the late Noel Sheppard wrote at NewsBusters two years ago:

Roughly eleven minutes into the program which began at 10 PM, Cooper commented about how on Twitter folks were suggesting that there should be a game that whenever he giggles nervously during the show, contestants have to take a drink.

Then, completely out of the blue, Griffin said, “I’m going to tickle your sack. You can say sack. That’s not bad.”

An obviously nervous Cooper responded, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have no sack of gifts here.”

Griffin then suggested the camera pan lower so the audience can see her “naughty gestures.”

* * * * * * *
As Tuchman finished his report, Griffin in the left split-screen bent down and kissed Cooper’s crotch.

* * * * * * *
“I’m going down,” she said. “You know you want to.”

“Believe me, I really don’t,” said Cooper as he once again pulled her upright.

* * * * * * * * 

Consider that during the 2009 show, Griffin dropped an F-bomb. The year before she directed a vulgar oral sex reference to a heckler. Last year she stripped down to her underwear.

Yet CNN keeps inviting her back.

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Say what you will about the myriad biases of Walter Cronkite — which became increasingly out there as he aged, and even more so after he left the airwaves — but at least in terms of tone, he acted the part of senior newsreader to perfection. I don’t recall him ever having an annual on-air debacle that embarrassed himself and his network. But hey, at least CNN has set the bar as low as possible to begin 2015, both for themselves and Jeff Zucker, their increasingly desparate boss, flailing as his network “Closes 2014 With All-Time Low Ratings.”

Update: Heh. But how does it play in Peoria?

More: Heck, how does it play in Atlantis?

Michelle Obama’s Rashomon Racism

December 17th, 2014 - 2:11 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.

* * * * * * * *

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

“The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” a People Magazine “Exclusive,” today.

“That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’  I kid you not.”

As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”

“Michelle Obama talks Target and her dad on Letterman’s couch,” the Politico, March 19, 2012.

As the Insta-Professor adds today in response to the First Lady’s Target-ed revisionism, “What’s interesting to me about this obviously-contrived episode is how hard the Obamas are working to position themselves as Super-Sharptons for the post-presidency.”

(H/T: Ashe Schow.)

Update: From Jim Treacher, “Michelle Obama: America Is So Racist, A White Lady At Target Asked Me To Reach The Top Shelf,” with video of Michelle on Letterman in 2012 during her earlier, funnier days.

“They might as well change its name from ‘The View’ to ‘The Feud,’” quips the New York Daily News:

A shrill, backstage brawl at “The View” Wednesday left co-host Rosie Perez in tears while panelists Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell battled over how to cover the latest allegations against Bill Cosby and the racially charged upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., sources said.

O’Donnell believed the show — now overseen by ABC News — needed to delve deeper into both controversial subjects, while Goldberg wanted to steer clear of the topics altogether.

Ultimately, both news stories were discussed at length on the air by the panel.

“There’s terrible frustration and there are problems,” a source close to the show told the Daily News. “Whoopi didn’t want to talk about Cosby and Ferguson, Rosie (O’Donnell) did — how could you not? These are topics that are uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s ‘The View’ and it’s their job to talk about topics that might make some people tense.”

If viewers are tense, it may due to the show’s increasingly uncomfortable format, now that Barbara Walters has finally retired.

The formula for a successful TV talk show isn’t that much different than the formula for a successful TV sitcom or drama, and has been the same since the medium took off in the 1950s. (That’s why they call it a formula.) A network talk show casts an appealing straight-shooting everyman and surrounds him with wacky, offbeat sidekicks for leavening. In the 1960s, the boyish Johnny Carson was flanked by big drinking heavyset Ed McMahon and the psychedelically-attired  Doc Severinsen. In the 1980s, long before he became churlish and partisan in his dotage, David Letterman was a fratboy variation on the same theme, another Midwestern everyman, this time with postmodern zaniness swirling around him. Fictional TV has long used the same formula, with Star Trek’s JFK-esque Captain Kirk surrounded by the pointy-eared Spock and Mencken-esque Dr. McCoy. Happy Days had clean-cut WASP Richie Cunningham, surrounded by Fonzie the Italian greaser and Ralph Malph the class cut-up. And M*A*S*H ran for a million years with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye character surrounded by oddball characters such as Radar, Klinger, Frank Burns, etc.

The View was a distaff variation on the same formula, with Barbara Walters the veteran journalist and everywoman surrounded by zany offbeat showbiz types such as the caustic Joy Behar, loony conspiracy theorist Rosie O’Donnell, and the far left Whoopi Goldberg. With Walters now retired, there’s no center of gravity to the show, no one to reign in the lunatics inside the asylum. No wonder the ratings have plummeted with the formula broken and the cast is feuding with each other.

When will ABC put this tired dysfunctional show out of its – and the remaining viewers — misery?