» Oh, That Liberal Media!

Ed Driscoll

Oh, That Liberal Media!

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

May 24th, 2015 - 11:02 pm

A $190 million summer blockbuster starring George Clooney based on an area in a Disney theme park hits theaters, presumably hoping to rake in at least that much at the box office. Its narrative goal, however: to get you to stop caring so much about the vapid capitalistic things that are ruining us all and instead maybe do something to make the world a better place.

“George Clooney’s Global Warming Shaming: George Clooney’s new summer blockbuster shames us for our roles in global warming and a potpourri of other earthly calamities,” The Daily Beast, today.

As the Insta-Professor likes to say, I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves. Since Clooney and Disney’s corporate management apparently believes that “global warming” and other “vapid capitalistic things are ruining us all,” but lack the conviction to eliminate their carbon footprints by shutting down down their theme parks and ceasing production of $190 million dollar movies, then the next best thing would be to shun their products until the corporation ceases “shaming” its customers. (Given the film’s poor ratings from both critics and audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.com, it sounds like there are far better ways to spend your time than watching Clooney’s hectoring new film.)

Oh, and given that Disney is ABC’s parent company, what say you, 105 million dollar Disney corporate spokesman George Stephanopoulos?

Punk Meets the Godfather

May 23rd, 2015 - 1:36 pm

The Hollywood Reporter has a fun look back at the “Starship,” a Boeing 707 that was converted into the rock superstar transport of the 1970s. Led Zeppelin originally chartered the plane to allow the band to stay in one hotel while touring various American regions, and as a potent PR tool when journalists were brought aboard to interview the band. The article’s headline derives from Robert Plant’s most memorable experience onboard the plane: ”Oral sex during turbulence.” And once Led Zeppelin started the trend, numerous other bands began hiring the Starship, given its usefulness as a status marker, as Peter Frampton tells the magazine:

“It was definitely a show of where you were in your career,” says the now-65-year-old Frampton, whose management leased the plane ­during his white-hot superstardom touring behind the ­unstoppable Frampton Comes Alive! “It was a statement of how well you were doing. ‘Whoopee! We must be big — we’ve got the Starship!’ ”

Led Zeppelin was the first to lease the plane, in 1973, after a white-knuckle flight from Oakland, Calif., to Los Angeles in a tiny Falcon 20 business jet terrorized the entourage. At the time, Led Zeppelin suffered from almost surreally bad press — Rolling Stone suggested the band change its name to Limp Blimp — and it was thought that the Starship might earn the group some respect. “It was an extremely useful tool because inviting a journalist onto the plane, the story kind of wrote itself,” says Danny Goldberg, Led Zeppelin’s publicist for the tour, who had been hired to gin up positive ­coverage. “The novelty value was significant.”

Zeppelin became indelibly associated with the Starship when the band posed with the plane in Bob Gruen’s iconic 1973 portrait. The picture, Gruen tells Billboard, “sums up the excess and decadence of the ’70s, the fact that here are these guys — they don’t even have to button their shirts — and they have their own plane.” The photo has been a touchstone for rock ‘n’ roll aspirants ever since. “[Keyboardist] Dave Bryan of Bon Jovi and many other musicians told me that when they saw that picture, that’s what they wanted,” says Gruen.

However, in England, a rebellion was brewing against such mid-’70s excesses of the American music market at its peak. If the Starship was the flying equivalent of the Palace of Versailles,  then as Pete Townshend of The Who once told an an interviewer about punk rock in England,  “It really was like the French Revolution. It could have ended up with the Beatles, the Stones and the Who being beheaded.”

Punk never established a serious foothold in America, but it was useful for NBC for attempting to scare the hell out of its viewers:

To understand how bifurcated NBC was becoming in the 1970s, that clip aired in 1977 on a magazine-styled news show called Weekend that, if I’m remembering correctly, aired every fourth Saturday night, to give the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live a breather. Within just two years, SNL would begin airing punk rock’s more musical brethren in the New Wave genre such as Elvis Costello, Gary Numan, Blondie, and after Lorne Michaels left the show for several years in the early 1980s, full-fledged punk bands such as The Clash and the L.A.-based punk rock band Fear, fronted by musicians with tasteful stage names such as Lee Ving, Derf Scratch, and Spit Stix.

The NBC Weekend Show was hosted by the avuncular Lloyd Dobyns, and its theme song was (no joke), the opening chords of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash.” (As one of three people in the country who watched the show, I remember this well.)

As Wikipedia notes, in 1978, Weekend was moved to 10:00 PM every Saturday night, and “Linda Ellerbee was added as Dobyns’ co-host and co-lead reporter. Placed against strong programs on ABC and CBS, the show eventually died of poor ratings. A few years later, Ellerbee and Dobyns reunited to anchor another late-night NBC news program, NBC News Overnight.”

A show to which James Lileks was one of its three viewers. Which is why, as he noted a few years ago, to get their revenge against crazed programming chief Fred Silverman, the following clip was circulated internally at the network in the early 1980s:

As Lileks adds, when Silverman discovered the above clip after Don Imus played it on his radio show, “You suspect everyone was fired. Everyone.”

Gaslighting, Then and Now

May 22nd, 2015 - 3:13 pm

“Bill Clinton is the greatest gaslighter in modern American politics,” Jonah Goldberg notes in his latest G-File. Click over for the Wikipedia definition of the term if you’re unfamiliar with it; after which Jonah writes:

A truly sociopathic liar (though his sociopathologies hardly end there), Clinton has a gift for making other people feel like there is something wrong with them for objecting to his deceptions.

At the outset of the 1990s, liberals had worked themselves into a moral panic about sexual harassment. If anything, it was a bigger obsession than the campus-rape panic we’ve been witnessing over the last few years (no doubt in part because there was more factual basis to the problem). Male politicians — Bob Packwood, John Tower, et al. — had their careers summarily ended because of their “womanizing” — a term popularized by Tower’s predations. (Ironically, the original meaning of the word was to “make effeminate,” i.e., to turn into a woman. Given the mainstreaming of sex-change surgery, maybe it’s time to rehabilitate the older definition?)

Then, the country was presented with proof, incremental and suggestive at first, overwhelming and indisputable by the end of the decade, that Bill Clinton was an irrepressible and irresponsible sexual predator, at least by the moral and evidentiary standards established by feminist activists and the press corps that loves them. And, rather than face the consequences of applying their own principles consistently, they prostrated themselves to the Oval Office. Gloria Steinem raced to the pages of the New York Times to advance the “one free grope” rule. Susan Estrich, Susan Faludi, and countless other professional feminists defenestrated their principles in a desperate attempt to defend Clinton.

It was a perfect example of what Lord Acton really meant by power corrupting. He didn’t mean that rulers are corrupted by power, he meant that intellectuals become corrupted by their worship of the powerful.

When Bill Clinton had to “apologize” to his cabinet for playing baron-and-the-milkmaid with an intern and lying about it, he asked if anybody had a problem with it. Donna Shalala foolishly assumed he was being sincere. She chimed in and said she had a problem. He berated her for her effrontery, explaining that her prudish standards would have prevented JFK from being president. And while those of us not ensorcelled by the cult of that charismatic mediocrity might respond, “Yeah, so?” this was a debate-settling argument for many liberals.

Clinton’s sexual exploits were only one facet of his full-spectrum gaslighting of America. He sold pardons. He sold the Lincoln bedroom. He lied and cheated in innumerable ways, large and small, and he successfully made the people who objected, or even pointed out the truth, seem like the weird ones.

Jonah mentioned the campus rape panic in the second paragraph quoted above; in her latest column, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal writes, “Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘triggers,’” and adds, “quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up” — or actually, being programmed by their socialist teachers and professors. Noonan’s column is on the censoring of classic books and epic poems such as Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” which students at Columbia University attempted to suppress:

The class read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, which, as parts of a narrative that stretches from the dawn of time to the Rome of Caesar, include depictions of violence, chaos, sexual assault and rape. The student, the authors reported, is herself “a survivor of sexual assault” and said she was “triggered.” She complained the professor focused “on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” He did not apparently notice her feelings, or their urgency. As a result, “the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.”

Safe is the key word here. There’s the suggestion that a work may be a masterpiece but if it makes anyone feel bad, it’s out.

That goes as well for public speakers who risk harshing the kids’ collective mellow, Mark Hemingway writes in the Weekly Standard:

At [Christina Hoff Sommers'] speech in April at Georgetown University, multiple undercover policemen were placed in the audience. At Oberlin, also in April, uniformed police officers never let her out of their sight and after her speech escorted her in a police car from the campus to a dinner. In May, she was the guest of honor at a Washington, D.C., meetup of “Gamergate” supporters—video gamers concerned about radical feminism’s influence in the video game industry (more on that later). In response, Salon and Daily Beast columnist Arthur Chu started a social media campaign to pressure the bar where the gamers were meeting to drop the event and sent emails to the venue accusing them of hosting a “right-wing hate group.” Despite the pressure, the owner of the bar, Local 16, emailed Sommers to tell her they “would never keep any group out. This is America.” A bomb threat soon followed, necessitating a heavy police presence and a tour of Local 16 by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Through all this, Sommers says, “I didn’t feel threatened. I’d never known feminists to be violent.” Her calm in the face of feminist extremism is in marked contrast to the fury of her critics. “I am a threat to their health, to their mental well-being. That attitude is new,” she says. “Before, they might have thought, ‘Oh, her views on feminism are reactionary.’ But now it’s that her views are a threat.”

Indeed, an inability to distinguish between threats and disagreements seems to be a hallmark of this contemporary feminism. Sommers is scary precisely because she doesn’t shy away from heightening the contradictions. Where op-ed writers have patiently picked apart the discredited “wage gap” statistics feminists insist on recycling, Sommers shows up in the proverbial lion’s den, calmly points her finger at the scolds-in-training, and challenges them to prove their commitment to female equality by changing their major to the lucrative and male-dominated field of petroleum engineering.

These days, campus feminists make no attempt to debate Sommers on substance. Instead, she routinely faces attempts to shun her, silence her, or distort her message. After her Georgetown speech, there were demands that the student group that had hosted her remove the protesters from video of the event. A university administrator warned that if the upset students weren’t edited out, “Georgetown [would] need to step in.”

Got that? Protesters showed up at a public event to draw attention to their message—but then realized that footage showing ostensible adults holding signs saying “Trigger Warning: Antifeminist” was an embarrassment to the students and bad PR for the school, so they wanted it censored. Another embarrassment is young feminists’ ignorance. When Sommers joked at Oberlin that the Junior Anti-Sex League had occupied campus feminism, a voice from her audience yelled, “What the hell is that?”

For the most part, Obama and Hillary love keeping already high-strung college kids on emotional tenterhooks, ready to swing into action at the latest perceived racial or sexual “microaggression,” and anyone who dares commit doubleplus ungood Emmanuel Goldstein-esque thoughtcrime. But isn’t there a huge, equally Orwellian contradiction here? Hillary is counting on those same college kids, who see sexism, male oppression and rape everywhere to swing enthusiastically into action to support her. (Presumably, as is Obama, as Hillary is a far safer bet to preserve his “legacy” than a Republican president.) Completely ignoring the fact that she’s the enabler of a former president whom Rand Paul dubbed one of Washington’s most prominent sexual predators. As Paul noted on C-Span last year:

Democrats are being hypocritical by criticizing Republicans as waging a war on women while at the same time embracing Mr. Clinton, who was impeached for lying about a sexual relationship with a White House intern.

“They can’t have it both ways. And so I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back,” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said. “If they want to take position on women’s rights, by all means do. But you can’t do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.”

Or is the assumption that because Hillary will do “good things” (read: expand government and restrict freedoms — including, as she herself admits — freedom of speech) the same college kids obsessed with rape and sexual predators will overlook Bill’s serial macro-aggressions?

It’s too bad that Lord Acton is yet another dead white European male; because as Jonah wrote above, the Clintons really are the perfect example of what Acton “meant by power corrupting. He didn’t mean that rulers are corrupted by power, he meant that intellectuals become corrupted by their worship of the powerful.”

And young, self-styled wannabe intellectuals as well, as yet another generation of leftists are gaslighted.

I know the aforementioned Rand Paul did a fair amount of battlefield prep last year by pointing out Bill’s past, noting that “Mr. Clinton’s settlement with Paula Jones in 1999, in which he paid $850,000 to settle Ms. Jones’ claims of sexual harassment, is an admission of guilt by the former president.” Not to mention Bill’s “friendship [with] seedy billionaire and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein,” as Sean Hannity discussed this past February. But I’m surprised more Republican candidates aren’t mentioning this enormous contradiction, which seems ripe for exploiting.  And/or anyone on the left who’s serious about opposing her. Isn’t it time for the spouse of the man who made “Sister Souljah” a verb to experience a “Sister Souljah moment” of her own from one of her fellow Democrats?

We’ve mentioned the left devouring its own several times in recent months. The “campus rape epidemic” seems like a bizarre intellectual climate to serve as the background for Hillary’s campaign — and she has no one else to blame but her fellow Democrats for creating it. Or am I simply gaslighting myself?

osama_book_shelf_5-21-15-1

“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:

obama_letterman_finale_iraq_5-21-15-2

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

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.”

How to Answer the Question of the Week

May 20th, 2015 - 1:22 pm

“I am mystified as to why Republicans are always so polite to journalists who are, obviously, allied to the liberal side of American politics and are willing to carry water for it,” John Steele Gordon writes at Commentary. And we all know what the question is, at this point, right? ““Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq in 2003?”

So, if I were running for president (alright, no snickering in the back of the room, please), I’d answer in one of two ways. First way, ask the journalist a question. In response to “Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq in 2003,” ask “Knowing what you know now, would you have abandoned Iraq in 2011?” and then talk about how the new president in 2017 will have to deal with the results of the most shockingly inept American foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson sailed for Paris a century ago.

The second way to answer would be to ask, “Excuse me, is this a history show or a news show? Are you a historian or a journalist? If the latter why aren’t you asking about what I would do in the future, not what I would have done in the past? Are you trying to protect the Obama Administration from the criticism it so richly deserves for its disastrous foreign policy?” When the journalist, inevitably, says no to that, say, “Well, you could have fooled me. How about asking me an honest question?”

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, punch back twice as hard.

This is the GOP primary, remember? Republican voters love it when their candidates punch back twice as hard against the MSM. George W. Bush lost no voters in 2000 when an open mic caught calling out the New York Times’ Adam Clymer as the big, well, Clymer he is. Newt Gingrich rose from the political dead to becoming a hair’s breadth away from securing the GOP nomination in 2012 purely because GOP primary voters loved watching him taking clueless DNC-MSM reporters’ questions and jamming them back into their throats. We saw Rand Paul do something similar recently when he tossed a hand grenade of an abortion question right back to the MSM and one of their de facto leaders, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But why aren’t we seeing clip after clip this year of all of the Republican candidates employing similar tactics? They’ve had three years since watching both Newt nearly secure the nomination and Mitt Romney’s earnest but clueless presidential bid that followed. Old media’s tactics are, well, old. For once, why can’t the Stupid Party grow a brain?

At his new Diary of a Mad Voter site, Roger L. Simon noted last night, “Refighting the Iraq War of 2007 is waste of energy.  We are up to our necks in a bigger one now and absolutely devoid of strategy.”

John Nolte answers the question thusly:


Particularly when, as Moe Lane writes, “Barack Obama campaigned on losing the war in Iraq” — and campaigned hard on doing just that in 2008. And concurrently banked (successfully) on his allies in the media having a serious case of amnesia concerning their fellow Democrats:

Update: “Ted Cruz dropped the hammer on the media for continuing to ask him about gay rights.” Don’t miss the clip at the conclusion of the post of Cruz pushing back against a DNC-MSM “that is obsessed with sex,” as Cruz tells one Democrat operative with a byline.

“Remember the protests (and riots) in Ferguson last summer? It looks like at least some of the protestors were told they would be paid to show up and now they’re upset the checks haven’t arrived yet,” Katie Pavlich writes at Townhall. “Weaselzippers has the full story and the screen shots showing “protestors” using the Twitter hashtag #cutthecheck in response to non-payment. Based on tweets, Organize Missouri is responsible for issuing payments:”

On May 14, protesters, upset with not being paid their promised checks for protesting, protested outside MORE, Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment, an ACORN organization which had received funding through George Soros to fund the protests.

To understand how we got here, it’s worth flashing back a few decades. In 1970, Tom Wolfe’s publishers packaged his classic lengthy New York magazine “Radical Chic” article, on Leonard Bernstein allowing the Black Panthers to fundraise in his opulent Park Ave. duplex, as a double-feature with his lesser-known article “Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers,” which captured seething leftist protests on the other end of the wealth spectrum in San Francisco. While it lacks the star power of “Radical Chic,” “Mau-Mauing” offers several key insights into what made the Great Society years and their aftermath hell for millions of Americans, and possibly the first appearance in print of the phrase “community organizing,” our current president’s erstwhile former occupation:

It was a truly adventurous and experimental approach [Johnson-era bureaucrats] had. Instead of handing out alms, which never seemed to change anything, they would encourage the people in the ghettos to organize. They would help them become powerful enough to force the Establishment to give them what they needed. From the beginning the poverty program was aimed at helping ghetto people rise up against their oppressors. It was a scene in which the federal government came into the ghetto and said, “Here is some money and some field advisors. Now you organize your own pressure groups.” It was no accident that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale drew up the ten-point program of the Black Panther Party one night in the offices of the North Oakland Poverty Center.

To sell the poverty program, its backers had to give it the protective coloration of “jobs” and “education,” the Job Corps and Operation Head Start, things like that, things the country as a whole could accept. “Jobs” and “education” were things everybody could agree on. They were part of the free-enterprise ethic. They weren’t uncomfortable subjects like racism and the class structure—and giving the poor the money and the tools to fight City Hall. But from the first that was what the lion’s share of the poverty budget went into. It went into “community organizing,” which was the bureaucratic term for “power to the people,” the term for finding the real leaders of the ghetto and helping them organize the poor.

And how could they find out the identity of these leaders of the people? Simple. In their righteous wrath they would rise up and confront you. It was a beautiful piece of circular reasoning. The real leaders of the ghetto will rise up and confront you … Therefore, when somebody rises up in the ghetto and confronts you, then you know he’s a leader of the people. So the poverty program not only encouraged mau-mauing it, it practically demanded it. Subconsciously, for administrators in the poverty establishment, public and private, confrontations became a ritual. That was the way the system worked. By 1968 it was standard operating procedure. To get a job in the post office, you filled out forms and took the civil-service exam. To get into the poverty scene, you did some mau-mauing. If you could make the flak catchers lose control of the muscles around their mouths, if you could bring fear into their faces, your application was approved.

And by 2014, Ferguson as a media event existed as pure kabuki for the network mini-cameras. (Never mind the innocent businesses looted and burned — the networks sure didn’t.) In August, NBC allowed Al Sharpton to jet out there to organize the protestors, which his network colleague Andrea Mitchell Orwellianly referred to as Sharpton being “on a peace mission.” The protestors which Sharpton had ginned up threw rocks as part of their “peace mission,” narrowly missing his network colleague Chris Hayes, who was on scene. Hayes took it all “unexpectedly” well — as  Larry O’Connor wrote at the Washington Free Beacon, “MSNBC Wouldn’t Be This Calm If Tea Party Protesters Threw Rocks at Their Hosts.” Camera crews working for MSNBC “endangered lives by shining its lights, spotlighting police officers in the crowd of Monday night’s violent racial protests,” the Daily Caller reported back then. CNN trotted out Spike Lee, last seen in 2012 attempting to publish the home address of George Zimmerman’s parents, who blurted on the air to Anderson Cooper, ”I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

Lee got his wish, and then some, as we’ll explore right after the page break.

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Like Al Sharpton himself, his daughter Dominique has a plan to stick to the man — and like Al himself, she’s her own worst enemy in implementing it:

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s island-hopping, mountain-hiking daughter — who is suing the city for $5 million after purportedly injuring her ankle on a Soho sidewalk — posted more damning Instagram pics Monday of her frolicking in Indonesia as legal experts said her social-media activity could cost her big bucks.

“#Balidays on the Gilis!!!’’ Dominique Sharpton, 28, wrote with two snapshots of herself at what looked like a posh Gili Island retreat.

The new entries came the same day The Post revealed others in which the supposedly hobbled Dominique boasted of climbing a mountain there.

Since allegedly spraining her ankle in October, she has also been pictured in high heels at a hippie party and climbing the dicey terrain of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada.

The photos kill even the slightest chance Dominique had of collecting big bucks from the city, legal experts said, even as the de Blasio administration has been shelling out more money than ever to settle lawsuits.

The New York Post quotes a legal expert who predicts that as a result of her photos undermining her case, Sharpton’s daughter would collect only $5,000 to $7,500. “That would leave her with a net gain of about zero after paying off expert witnesses and her lawyer, he said.”

No word yet on when NBC will be forcing her father to pay his tax bills; “Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses,” the Gray Lady reported last year in a rare moment of journalism from the former newspaper.

Like millions of other voters, I rolled my eyes at the news last night the State Department would be releasing Hillary’s emails, albeit likely in heavily redacted form, in January of 2016, just in time to make maximum trouble for Hillary’s election bid.

“So, why *did* John Kerry pick January 2016 to roll out the Clinton emails?” Interesting theory by Moe Lane:

Remember 2004?  Remember how, just after the end of the Democratic national convention, suddenly Bill Clinton went to the hospital? I remember it quite well: it pretty much had the effect of sucking out all the media oxygen that would have normally followed a political convention. And while it did not cost the Democrats the election, per se, the utter lack of Bill Clinton on the post-convention campaign trail was certainly a factor in George W. Bush’s reelection, and said re-election meant of course that Hillary Clinton would effectively be able to run for President in 2008, and not have to wait for 2012*. And, hey! The Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004 was… John Kerry!

[pause]

What goes around, comes around.

Moe Lane

PS: I am not entirely wedded to this theory, to put it mildly. But I do think that it should be noted that there’s no particular reason for John Kerry to like Hillary Clinton. Or vice versa.

By the way, will any reporter ask Kerry his take on Clinton fixer Sid Blumenthal’s role in Libya, before Benghazi broke? Nahh, didn’t think so. As the aforementioned John Nolte likes to say, Democrats sure got it good.

48 Reasons to Distrust & Despise the Media

May 19th, 2015 - 12:15 pm

“I’m With the Media, Screw You,” the late Newsweek bureau chief Ginny Carroll publicly admitted on C-Span to wearing at the 1992 GOP convention, neatly summing up her industry’s attitude to conservatives, their audience, and the truth. At Big Journalism today, John Nolte has a must-read “Scandal Rap Sheet: 48 Reasons to Distrust & Despise the Media,”  a chronological look back at how the MSM as lied about some of the biggest events of the last two decades.

From NBC News rigging a pick-up truck in 1992 to explode on impact with another vehicle and Newsweek spiking the Lewinsky scandal in 1998, to the L.A. Times assisting Barack Obama by  burying the Rashid Khalidi tape a decade later, and George Stephanopoulos burying his contributions to his former employer’s slush fund earlier this month.

Plus 44 other examples of media malfeasance, from some of the biggest names in news, many of whom still hold themselves out as being “objective,” a reactionary vestigial boast held over from the FDR-era, during the the days where there were only three national radio networks.

These days, as Elizabeth Price Foley wrote this morning at Instapundit, “Mainstream media has died.  RIP.  All that’s left now is a bunch of progressive/liberal zombies out for ideological flesh. Most people know better than to listen to them anymore.”

Well, except for those millions of everyday hard working voters who get their only news from TV at 6:00 or 11:00 PM.

Which is why the lies go on:

(And yes, the far left Salon did eventually add an “alleged” to its headline, but only after being called out.)

“Writing in the New York Times this weekend, economist, author, and blogger Tyler Cowen says that we might need to get used to the idea that the economy will continue to underperform our expectations,” Yahoo reports, as spotted by Ace of Spades:

Rush Limbaugh was just talking about this article, which had been published in the New York Times. His take was that as it had been excerpted at Yahoo News, Low Information Voters and Millennials (but I repeat myself) would actually see it when they came to Yahoo to read about “Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez and her butt.”

The economy might stink for a while.Writing in the New York Times this weekend, economist, author, and blogger Tyler Cowen says that we might need to get used to the idea that the economy will continue to underperform our expectations.

Cowen says that right now there are two core outlooks on the economy, both of which are inherently optimistic.

One says that things like low wage growth and low interest rates are phases that will pass, and the other is that we merely didn’t appreciate how long it would take to recover from the financial crisis.

But is it a foregone conclusion that things will just get back to “normal”?

In February of 2009, back when I was still doing my Silicon Graffiti videos, I produced a clip titled “Rendezvous with Scarcity,” in which I concluded, “Ronald Reagan began his political career as an FDR supporter. Beginning in the 1960s, he took to using FDR’s iconic ‘Rendezvous with Destiny’ phrase in many of his most important speeches. But these days, it’s looking like the next few years—maybe even a big chunk of the next decade—could very well be a rendezvous with scarcity.”

A couple of months prior, Time magazine described Obama as the next FDR. Curiously, they meant it as a compliment.

Was the Iraq War a Mistake?

May 18th, 2015 - 11:36 am

“It’s become the gotcha question for Republicans seeking to win their party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential campaign: Knowing what we know now, would you have ordered U.S. forces into Iraq?,” Michael Rubin writes at Commentary:

Would the Islamic State have existed if the United States had not gone to war? Saddam Hussein turned toward religion and privileged radical clerics in the wake of his defeat in Kuwait. That’s the time when he put “Allahu Akbar” on the Iraqi flag and commissioned a Koran made from his blood. According to the State Department Human Rights reports, Fedayeen Saddam was rampaging through Baghdad beheading women it accused of loose morals in the years before the U.S. invasion. And then, of course, there was the case of Laurence Foley, a U.S. diplomat assassinated in Amman in 2002 on the orders of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man responsible for Al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the Islamic State. Foley’s assassination shows the group to have been active before the war.

It is embarrassing that Governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, and others are so ill prepared for the Iraq War question, but it is also embarrassing that the media also conflates so many decisions about the Iraq war into one. First, there was the decision about whether to use military force to oust Saddam. (My take: the right call). Second, there was the decision about whether to replace Saddam with a more democratic structure or his sons or a strongman general (My take: Bush made the right call). Third, was the decision about whether to spend tens of billions seeking to reconstruct and develop Iraq (My take: huge mistake). The world is better without Saddam. Most of the Iraqi deaths following the invasion were caused not by the United States but by the terrorists and Iranian-backed militias whom American forces were fighting. George Bush understood that the proper course of action, as the “Iraq war mistake” question implies, was not to give those terrorist free reign over Iraq. It is sad that so many Democrats and now Republicans give in to what amounts to a journalistic auto-da-fé in which candidates accept a twisted and inaccurate narrative imposed by journalists guided more by politics than fact.

Why don’t we have candidates smart enough to respond to the question, “Was the Iraq War a mistake?”, with something a reply along the lines of, “Certainly, the current war is a mistake; as the New Yorker noted last year, Barack Obama was solely responsible for American troops leaving Iraq in 2011, which created the vacuum that ISIS quickly filled.” And if pressed, respond, “Wait, you’re asking if a war we won is a mistake? A war that Hillary approved? a victory that Joe Biden celebrated?”

Or as Allahpundit writes at Hot Air, after watching “Chris Wallace [spend] three minutes trying to get Rubio to say whether the Iraq war was a mistake,” Rubio “had a better answer available if he wanted it:”

Sure, he could have said, the war was a mistake in hindsight because we naively assumed Bush’s Democratic successor would finish what he’d started with nation-building in Iraq. If Obama had insisted on a residual force of U.S. troops, if he’d been quicker to pull the trapdoor on the ruinous Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq might be relatively stable and ISIS-free today. As it is, the country’s falling apart. In hindsight, it was a mistake for Republicans to launch a war whose successful conclusion might eventually be entrusted to Barack Obama. How come he didn’t give that answer?

Why, oh why, can’t have we candidates who can play the media soundbite game?

Update: Nolte knows how to play the game:

Kurt Schlichter of Townhall runs down the myriad scandals and what they tell us about the “objective” pose of the legacy media:

So, do we really need to rehash the litany of the mainstream media’s recent follies, foibles and fiascos? Oh, hell yes.

We have NBC News paying talentless Parental Lotto champ Chelsea Clinton $600,000 a year to interview ferns. She does deserve some credit, though – she yet to lie about her courage under fire like her fellow NBC newstool Brian Williams. And, for that matter, like her mother.

We have ABC News hiring the Clintons’ tiny human dustpan George Stephanopoulos not as a commentator but as a “newsman,” and thereby lying twice in one word. Then ABC decided he should host the GOP debates, which he did carrying a cheat sheet full of Democrat talking points about such burning issues as the phantom campaign to ban birth control. And then ABC decided that the perfect guy to interview the painstakingly thorough gentleman whose book chronicles Hillary’s vast corruption was the same guy who is not only Hillary n’ Bill’s lil’ minion but who handed over $75K to their slush fund.

And when caught, the MSM doesn’t even bother to try to tell convincing lies anymore: “Oh, yeah, it sorta happened that I gave her money but I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it and I guess I … oh well, whatev. Uh, glass ceiling.”

Subjects of MSM utter disinterest include foreign potentates handing millions of dollars to the Secretary of State.

Subjects of MSM curiosity include what Scott Walker thinks of Adam and Eve.

Chatty Candy Crowley? Human Latino-meter Mark Halperin? What about that lying wench from Rolling Stone? How are we to ever again believe a positive review of a Mumford & Sons album?

No, members of the mainstream media are presumptively hacks, and the pain and misery they endure as their organizations convulse and die should inspire laughter and joy. Sure, there are honest reporters out there, but that’s only a fluke of statistics. There have to be some, if only because of the random vagaries of chance. They can get real jobs with the new media. But in general, MSM members’ pain is our gain.

Remember, they hate us. Hate us. They don’t merely not care about us. They don’t simply misunderstand us. They hate what we think. They hate how we live. They hate what we believe. They hate us.

Fortunately, as Schlichter’s examples illustrate, enough masks have dropped in recent months that nobody believes the objectivity lie any more. Now if only the Stupid Party could get smart articulate politicians who can play political jiujitsu with the MSM’s bias.

“It has been a rough weekend for ABC News’s embattled chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, and an even worse Sunday,” Lloyd Grove writes at the Daily Beast:

If ABC’s chief anchor thought two apologies over his undeclared Clinton Foundation donations would be enough to pacify his critics, he was wrong.

It has been a rough weekend for ABC News’s embattled chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, and an even worse Sunday.

On CNN’s Reliable Sources media criticism program, Stephanopoulos’s former ABC News colleague, Carole Simpson, unloaded on the former top aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton that she said she likes and respects.

“There is a coziness that George cannot escape,” said Simpson, who toiled for two decades at ABC News, notably as the weekend anchor of World News Tonight from 1988 to 2003. “While he did try to separate himself from his political background to become a journalist, he really isn’t a journalist.”

Thus Simpson attempted to obliterate Stephanopoulos’s claims of impartiality as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up, featuring Hillary Clinton’s status as the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Like Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter and another former ABC News colleague, Jeff Greenfield, Simpson said she was “dumbfounded” by Thursday’s revelation that Stephanopoulos failed to disclose $75,000 in recent donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—this, as he conducted a confrontational April 26 interview with Clinton Foundation critic Peter Schweizer.

“I wanted to just take him by the neck and say, ‘George, what were you thinking?’ Clearly, he was not thinking. I thought it was outrageous,” Simpson said. “And I am sorry that again the public trust in the media is being challenged and frayed because of the actions of some of the top people in the business.”

Simpson added that despite Stephanopoulos’s alleged lack of journalistic bona fides, “ABC has made him the face of ABC News, the chief anchor, and I think they’re really caught in a quandary here. While ABC says this was ‘an honest mistake,’ they don’t feel that way. Secretly, they are hopping mad, I am sure.”

How far to the left is Carole Simpson? This far. And if she (and Grove at the left-leaning Daily Beast) can see Stephanopoulos’ enormous conflict of interest, perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope that even the brass at ABC can, particularly if the issue doesn’t go away. (Keep up the pressure, conservative Blogosphere.)

Stephanopoulos Has Got to Go

May 17th, 2015 - 6:26 pm

ABC News isn’t an understaffed, under-capitalized small town newspaper, “ABC News can hire whomever it wants,” Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO:

But Washington, too, is a small town, with a substantial overlap between journalism and politics. And hiring George Stephanopoulos wasn’t a terrible idea: He’s smart, he’s articulate, he knows everybody. He was a Clinton functionary with deep ties and longstanding loyalty to all things Clinton. Is that a problem? Sure, of course, but it’s a problem that can be addressed in no small part with simple disclosure.

Which is to say, the one thing that ABC News and Stephanopoulos needed to do is the one thing that they failed to do.

That $50,000 donation that has since grown to $75,000 may be chump change for Stephanopoulos — it certainly is for the Clintons — but if it were 20 bucks, you’d still want to disclose it if you were, to consider a random, implausible, and crazy hypothetical, overseeing highly critical coverage of a book alleging wrongdoing by the Clintons through the instrument of their family foundation.

Stephanopoulos has offered a half-hearted apology: “I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict.” But “extra mile” assumes a previous mile, and he did not really hike an inch to disclose this conflict — not an “appearance of a conflict,” but an actual conflict. The Clintons’ relationship with the eponymous nonprofit organization is a legitimate public issue, and Stephanopoulos has significant relationships with both family and foundation.

It is impossible to see how Stephanopoulos could do his job with any integrity in an environment in which the Clintons and their foundation will be central to the political news for the foreseeable future. Certainly not after concealing his relationship with the foundation. ABC News owes it to itself to live up to at least the standards of a small-town weekly newspaper. It owes them a lot more than that, in fact, but it cannot deliver the goods with Stephanopoulos at the desk.

But that assumes that ABC News is actually still in the news business. Arguably, in the 1960s and ’70s, when they owned a third of the real estate on national commercial television, and there was no Internet to turn for breaking news, they still were, but does anyone believe that ABC News is anything but activists for the Democrat party today? Nobody but the lowest of low information voters buys their pose as  objective dispassionate dispensers of information in 2015, and George Stephanopoulos, former and current Clinton fixer is the logical endgame of DNC-MSM revolving door journalism. Or as Mark Steyn told Hugh Hewitt this past Thursday:

You’re up front about who you support, and who you advise your listeners to donate to. George Stephanopoulos purports to be something closer to the media equivalent of a Supreme Court justice, that he is dispassionate and simply distributes media justice fairly. And that’s the difference… One of the signs of decay in free societies and civilized societies is that you have the outward signs of apparent normalcy, but in fact, their meaning has been utterly hollowed out. So when you talk about the Schweizer interview, if you were just a casual… low information voter, as someone says, and you switch on ABC and you happen to see this interviewer interviewing a fellow who’s written a book about the Clintons, you assume it’s an honest interview. And this is not an honest interview any more than that was an honest question four years ago in New Hampshire. And that’s the issue. You’ve got the forms of normalcy, but underneath, all has been perverted.

The avuncular star reporter or TV newsreader who spends his entire career claiming he’s utterly objective, and then the day he retires from his beat or puts down his microphone and begins writing op-eds and giving speeches that sound like they’re straight out of Pravda is one of the oldest cliches of American journalism — see also Walter Cronkite, Dan RatherHelen Thomas, Katie Couric, and countless others. At a still boyish-looking 54, Stephanopoulos simply jumped the gun on that phase of his career; but unlike most newsmen, at least given his background, the rest of us all knew it was a charade anyhow.

Investor’s Business Daily looks back at Stephanopoulos’ early days, and how one of the Clintons’ young thugs transitioned to a media talking head:

But he really made his reputation in Bill Clinton’s 1991 campaign. In “The War Room,” a 1993 documentary of that race, Stephanopoulos comes across as politically ruthless. At one point, he menacingly tells someone on the phone: “I guarantee if you do this, you’ll never work in Democratic politics again.” He was 30 years old.

Once in the White House, Stephanopoulos became a spinmeister par excellence, dealing with Clinton’s so-called “bimbo eruptions” and the many other scandals that surfaced — Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Nannygate, coptergate, and so on — too many to number.

When former FBI agent Gary Aldrich wrote “Unlimited Access,” an unflattering expose of the Clinton White House, Stephanopoulos attacked. He called Aldrich a “pathological liar” and, with others, pressured ABC’s “Nightline,” CNN’s “Larry King Live” and “Dateline NBC” to cancel Aldrich appearances.

Even liberal journalists came to distrust Stephanopoulos. As we noted in 1996, Clinton’s first press spokesman in 1992 was moved to another job within just months “because everyone in the White House press corps quickly learned not to believe a word he said.”

So how did Stephanopoulos the fact-challenged operative become Stephanopoulos the objective journalist?

A little tap dancing is all it took. After losing a bruising battle to become Clinton’s chief of staff, Stephanopoulos quit in 1996. The highly partisan aide “portrayed himself as nonpartisan after leaving the White House and was hired by ABC News in 1997 as a news analyst,” wrote Shirley Anne Warshaw in “The Clinton Years.”

In 1999, he completed his self-rehabilitation with a political confessional titled, “All Too Human: A Political Education.” In it, he offered mild criticisms of the Clintons, and bemoaned his own lost political innocence.

That did the trick. In 2002, he became anchor of ABC’s Sunday news program, “This Week.”

Ahh, the power of magical thinking among the corrupt: ABC likely came to trust Stephanopoulos as being “objective” in much the same way that Al Pacino’s mob boss trusted Donnie Brasco not to be a cop.

Related: “George Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Hypocrisy Is Staggering,” our own Victor Davis Hanson adds at the Corner. Read the whole thing.

…But I Doubt He’s Holding His Breath

May 16th, 2015 - 2:36 pm

“Peter Schweizer: ABC Should Redo Our Interview After Stephanopolous Admitted to Clinton Donations,” Katie Pavlich writes today at Townhall regarding the Clinton Cash author after ABC’s most prominent Democrat operative with a byline failed to disclose his $75,000 donation to the Clinton slush fund before the interview:

Now, in light of Stephanopoulos’ donation revelations, Schweizer wants ABC News to do another interview.

“What ABC could do is let’s do another interview on the Sunday morning show to talk about the contents of the book so we actually get a chance for viewers to hear what’s in the book. That’s the first thing I would ask,” Schweizer said in an interview on Hannity Thursday. “Looking at Stephanopoulos’ past, the question to me is really, going into that interview I assumed the relationship with the Clinton’s was in the past, that he had made this transition into the media and it was a different chapter in his life. These donations, the fact that he’s going to these events, it raises all kinds of questions about that and I think it’s legitimate for people to look into it. If this was any other political candidate and a reporter doing this, you can bet there would be serious consequences for it.”

Yes of course, but ABC either doesn’t realize how badly Stephanopolous is making the network look, or simply doesn’t care.

Related: But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Sister.

The Clinton’s man at ABC is boldly going today where Brian Williams has gone before, just a few months ago. As John Nolte of Big Journalism tweets, the Clinton operative with a byline at ABC “deceives his viewers and then offers a terrible apology. Any of this sound familiar, ABC News?”

Lloyd Grove of the left-leaning Daily Beast describes it as Stephanopoulos’ “Passive-Aggressive Non-Apology for Clinton Donation:”

You see, Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos was just too darned generous to poor kids and AIDS victims.

In a non-apology apology that is unlikely to appease the referees of press ethics, let alone his Republican detractors—and may just baffle morning television viewers who haven’t paid attention to the blossoming scandal within the media-political complex—the former top aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton put the very best face possible on his lapse in judgment in not disclosing $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation when he conducted a contentious April 26 interview with foundation critic Peter Schweizer on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, ABC News’s Sunday show.

Although Stephanopoulos’s case is very different from—and nowhere near as serious as—the embellishments of suspended NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, his explanation of his mistake on Friday morning was much in the same vein as Williams’s claim last February that he made up a story about a helicopter ride in Iraq simply in an innocent, good-hearted attempt to honor America’s fighting men and women.

Willams wrapped himself in the flag; Stephanopoulos cloaked himself in charity.

Grove concludes:

So if Stephanopoulos really wants to put this issue to rest—and I think he can—he’s going to have to do better than the once-over-lightly treatment he accorded it Friday morning. A “modified limited hangout”—to use Nixon aide John Ehrlichman]s famous phrase during the  Watergate adventure—just won’t do in this case.

I’m not at all sure I agree that Stephanopoulos’s case is “nowhere near as serious as” the Williams debacle. As Nolte wrote yesterday at Big Journalism, “Obviously, Williams is not to be trusted. Nevertheless, other than the Katrina fairytales that were obviously meant to damage President Bush, all of his lies were self-aggrandizing resume-enhancers. What ABC News and their chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos are guilty of makes Williams and NBC News look like freshly-scrubbed Eagle Scouts.”

In contrast to Williams’ Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket fantasies, Stephanopoulos looks more than ever like the Clinton’s paid fixer at ABC. Add to it, as Nolte writes, ABC censoring The Path to 9/11 miniseries to whitewash President Clinton terrifying decision to avoid capturing Osama bin Laden. Plus Stephanopoulos’s portrayal of the Clinton’s slush fund as a wonderful humanitarian charity (despite earlier telling Jon Stewart, “Nobody gives money to the Clintons without expecting quid pro quo.”) and not disclosing his ties when beating up Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer over his conflict of interest as a former Bush speechwriter. The result is a credibility disaster for ABC that’s been looming since the late 1990s.

And then consider that NBC let Keith Olbermann — who whatever his myriad excesses, never held himself out as an objective journalist and was the very face of MSNBC — go for a paltry $7200 worth of campaign contributions. And add to it, Geraldo Rivera’s claim today that he was fired from ABC in 1985 over a miniscule $200 campaign donation.

Over a decade ago, Jonah Goldberg noted that one reason why fictional (in this case openly fictional, unlike Stephanopoulos and Williams) TV franchises such as Law & Order, CSI and NCIS continue on waaaay past their freshness date is that in the age of the Internet, the networks are terrified that if they retire a venerable brand name, they’ll lose millions of viewers and never get them back. Beyond his close ties to the Clintons and the Democrat party, does ABC consider George Stephanopoulos to be a brand name that’s too big too fail?

We’ll soon find out; if ABC keeps Stephanopoulos on, they’ll have lost all credibility with half the country. (Not that they care much about that half of the country, which Stephanopoulos knows works in his favor.)

In the meantime, as with NBC while Williams was twisting in the wind, oh to be a fly on the wall of the ABC boardroom between now and Sunday morning:

Update: It gets worse for ABC: “Woman Who Delayed Response to Free Beacon While George Stephanopoulos Scrambled to Plant His Story at Politco Used To Work As Press Contact For… HILLARY CLINTON.”

If you’re an MSM journalist who believes that what Brian Williams did was worse than the corruption at ABC and among Stephanopoulos and his cronies, you’re being willfully blind to protect ABC, Stephanopoulos, and/or Hillary’s election bid.

And even more worse:

As Rothman tweets, “Looks like we get to test the proposition that you can serve as a network anchor even though no one trusts you to cover a POTUS campaign.”

Great Moments in Self-Awareness

May 15th, 2015 - 11:07 am

Or the lack thereof:

Despite this outrageous setup and all the attention to it over the past 20 years, the status quo is still firmly entrenched, especially when it comes to health research. All of us — physicians, policymakers, journalists, curious patients — can’t access many of the latest research findings, unless we fork over a hefty sum or it happens to be published in an open-access journal.

Because of these now well-known problems, it’s not unusual to hear statements like those from The Lancet editor Richard Horton that ”Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” He continued: “Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

“Science is often flawed. It’s time we embraced that,” GE-funded Vox.com, today.

You know what other “literature” may simply be untrue? The material published by the JuiceVoxers themselves. Just ask ‘em:

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

(H/T: Small Dead Animals; as one of the commenters notes, “What an odd story to be published in Vox since their history is steeped in ‘the science is settled.’”)