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Ed Driscoll

Oh, That Liberal Media!

The other night, after staying up too late watching an episode of Rumbole of the Bailey on the Acorn channel on my Roku set-top box, I clicked over to the Vemo channel. Acorn is devoted to classic British TV series, such as the Poirot murder mysteries, Brideshead Revisited, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, and the aforementioned Rumbole, starring veteran British actor (and occasionally scenery devouring over-actor) Leo McKern in the eponymous role. Vevo is an entirely different channel, one that also has a large YouTube presence, as a repository for rock videos old and new. At the start of the week, while listening to Sirius-XM on headphones while working, I heard Aerosmith’s “Jaded” song from 2001 for the first time in ages, and Joe Perry’s riff, which sounds inspired by Jimmy Page’s sharp-suspended fourth riff on Led Zeppelin’s “Dancin’ Days” rapidly became an earwig, playing over and over in my head.

So I thought I’d check out the video for the song, since Vevo generally does a very good job with running the videos in HD with full-range audio. And really – who doesn’t conclude a segment from a 1978 Thames Television show about an aging British barrister by saying, “Well, now that I’ve seen Rumpole of the Bailey, it’s time for some classic Aerosmith!” But I’m me, and that’s how my brain works, after years of having been badly mutated through massive Chernobyl-level  overdoses of pop culture.

While Vevo’s clips are free to watch, they’re often preceded by commercials for various products that sponsors believe would be appropriate for a rock video audience. However, in this case, the video was not preceded by a commercial, but by a public service announcement (PSA) designed to encourage young people to stop smoking.

Through the use of the most disgusting imagery possible.

The PSA began with a young man entering a convenience store and asking for a pack of cigarettes. Plunking a five dollar bill and his ID on the counter, he asks the clerk, “This enough?” Whereupon the clerk says, “Nope, there’s one more thing I need” – and proceeds to rip the customer’s front teeth out with a pair of pliers.

As James Lileks would say, pure 100 proof nightmare fuel.

Once the pliers came out, I averted my eyes until Steve and Joe and the boys began playing. I understand that not everyone realizes that excessive smoking can have injurious effects on a person’s dentition — and that Seinfeld is no longer on the air to remind them of this fact. At which point the juxtaposition was grimly hilarious, considering that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry used wear T-shirts in their rock videos describing themselves as “the Toxic Twins” – by the late 1970s and early ‘80s, before they went through maximum-strength rehab, puffs from a Marlboro 100 were by far the healthiest thing they were putting into their bodies.

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Pangender’s Game

April 17th, 2014 - 3:27 pm

“Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms,” a recent post at the College Fix blog, is the launching pad for Roger L. Simon’s latest article at PJM, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding:”

And the cost of this misunderstanding has expanded exponentially  - to sixty-five thousand dollars!  That’s the current approximate total for room, board and tuition at many of our finest private universities for those considered “fortunate” enough to be able to pay the full amount.  For others it can be anything from ten to forty grand, still a princely amount.

And what are we parents getting for this (besides broke)?  The College Fix’s editor Nathan Harden gives us a look in a report today — “Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms” — that begins:

When you really have to pee at Columbia University, there is one question that must be answered before you can go: What is my gender today?

If you are biologically male, for instance, but feel like a female, you may feel the need to use the ladies restroom. And why shouldn’t you? If the girl in the stall next to you doesn’t like to take her pants down next to a man she doesn’t know, that’s just evidence of her hetero-normative bigotry. That’s why the Obama administration ruled in 2012 that dudes who feel like ladies have a right to use the women’s bathrooms on campus, no matter how unsafe that makes the women on campus feel.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against everyone  having his, her or [question mark's] bathroom.  In fact, I read in Slate there are now fifty-six genders on Facebook and  if they each want their own baths, or to share forty-eight of them,  I say knock yourselves out. But — excuse me for being heteronormative or, worse than that, for using caps — I DON’T WANNA PAY FOR IT!!! — either via taxes or tuition.

If you missed it, the Slate article from February that Roger links to is an astounding bit of sophistry, but just when you thought it was safe to venture out of the multi-gendered bathroom, comes word from “Think” “Progress” that the very air that you breathe is — of course! — racist. (Link safe, goes to Twitchy):

A study produced by the University of Minnesota concluded that race is a determining factor in who is most affected by air pollution. Specifically, non-white people breathe air that is substantially more polluted than the air that white people breathe.

According to Julian Marshall, who led the University’s research, race outweighed income in regards to who is most affected by poor air quality. When low-income white people were compared to high-income Hispanic people, the latter group experienced higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Altogether, people of color in the U.S. breath air with 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide in it than their white counterparts, particularly due to power plants and exhaust from vehicles.

The creator of Twitchy proffers a modest proposal:


Pro-PRC spokesman Thomas Friedman says it’s a remarkably enlightened place to live. Just be sure to pack a (gender neutral) gas mask.

In related news

Gore cited two “game changers” in recent years that will help. The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. The second is the exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, driven largely by consumer demand for lower prices.

The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous.

“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,” he said of both.

Says the immoral, unethical and despicable man whose business and political interests profit off of fossil fuels.

Finally, one more from the indoctrination camps formerly known as academia: “Where’s the feminist anger at Brandeis over Ayaan Hirsi Ali?” In the eye of the hurricane, whipping it up, writes Stacy McCain.

Dispatches from Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC

April 17th, 2014 - 1:15 pm

“Dee Dee Myers to Join Warner Bros. as Head of Communications,” Glenn Reynolds notes, describing it as “The Political-Entertainment Complex” in action:

“Dee Dee Myers, once the White House press secretary to Bill Clinton, will be joining Warner Bros. as executive vice president for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, the studio said on Wednesday. Ms. Myers is not the first political operative to join Hollywood’s ranks. Jim Kennedy, recently named to the top communications post at News Corp. after serving in similar jobs with the Sony entertainment operations, for instance, had also served in the Clinton administration, and was once a deputy press secretary in the White House.”

Plus: “Ms. Myers’ husband, Todd Purdum, is a senior writer for Politico and was formerly a correspondent for The New York Times.”

Perhaps it’s necessary to swap journalists between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO and the Democrat Party to maintain an even balance of propaganda: Time-Warner-CNN-HBO trundles Jay Carney off to be Mr. Obama’s press secretary (and keeper of pro-totalitarian propaganda); Myers is dispatched to a division of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

In any case, the interconnections between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC definitely puts the zero into zero sum game.

Oh and speaking of Carney:

JAY CARNEY: I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch The Daily Show than some other news shows. But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of The Daily Show. (A Conversation with Jay Carney at George Washington University, April 17, 2014)

Note that in 2004, Stewart was also likely the only talking head to ask then-presidential candidate John Kerry about Cambodia in light of the Swift Boat Vets’ ads — and as I noted back in August of 2004, even Stewart got a non-answer from the legendary leftwing flip-flopper.

I’d ask the MSM if they’re proud of themselves, but as a group made up largely of Democrat Party operatives with bylines (to coin an Insta-phrase), the answer is: of course they are.

Conservatives in the Mist, Yet Again

April 16th, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Sally Kohn explains “What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox News” to the Christian Science Monitor:

My time at Fox News was marked by meeting and working with some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in life. As I said in my TED talk, Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – and even now that I’ve parted ways with Fox, he remains a good friend and mentor.

For a radical progressive who once harbored negative stereotypes about folks on the right, it was a turning point for me to meet people such as Mr. Hannity, Karl Rove, Monica Crowley, Sarah Palin, and so many others, and see that – though we certainly disagree profoundly on political issues – they’re personable and kind and human. Just like me.

It’s strange to suggest that a seemingly simple realization such as that is in fact a profound revelation, but in our hyperpartisan era, when we often vilify the other side as being less-than-human, it is.

Which sounds almost exactly like what liberal Fox pundit Kirsten Powers said to Real Clear Politics’ Carl Cannon a couple of months ago:

Cannon began by asking Powers how she is treated by her Fox colleagues. He recalled that New York Times’ conservative columnist David Brooks was not well-received when he first started writing for the Times and asked if Powers had encountered a similar experience.

“People are really nice at Fox,” Powers revealed. “It’s been good for because I – before that, I lived in a real liberal bubble.”

“All my friends were liberals and I grew up in a really liberal family,” she continued. “I had a lot of ideas about conservatives and then I got to Fox and just, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not all evil and stupid.’”

As I noted back then, Kirsten Powers was living out Krauthammer’s Law:

I realize she’s speaking glibly and off-the-cuff, but the inference is that on some level, Powers actually did believe that all conservatives are evil, thus butting up against fellow Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer’s law of politics from over a decade ago. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Krauthammer wrote in 2002.

Similarly, in response to Kohn’s article, Warner Todd Huston writes in the comments at Hot Air today:

You DO realize that there is a MAJOR admission in that op ed, right? She is essentially admitting that through most of her adult life she thought conservatives were evil… until, well into her late 30s, she finally MET SOME!

Sally Kohn lived in a liberal bubble for nearly all her life until 2 years ago she finally met some conservatives and discovered *gasp* they aren’t all like little Hitlers.

I’m glad that Kohn and Powers have granted those on the right are, as Kohn notes, “personable and kind and human. Just like me.” But why did it take working among them to make the epoch-shattering discovery* that half the country are actual flesh-and-blood humans and not The Other?

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Two CNNs In One!

April 15th, 2014 - 5:09 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

“Unsettling video shows large al Qaeda meeting in Yemen,” CNN, today.

Are “right-wing” extremists more dangerous than Al-Qaeda terrorists? According to CNN’s National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, they are. In a CNN commentary posted yesterday Bergen wrote, “U.S. right wing extremists [are] more deadly than jihadists.” He also also happens to be a director for the George Soros-funded liberal New America Foundation. What a coincidence.

 Bergen claimed that “white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology.” He cited a New America study which counted 34 people killed by right-wing extremist acts and just 23 people killed by Al Qaeda-linked terrorism, after 9/11. Why start there? Wouldn’t the 2,977 people killed that day by jihadists skew those findings somewhat?

The count included “hate crimes” in the tally of “political reasons.” Which is funny considering that Bergen cited the Southern Poverty Law Center in his article. The SPLC could be accused of a “hate crime” itself for inciting the shooting at the Family Research Council in 2012. Floyd Lee Corkins admitted that he targeted the conservative organization after the SLPC listed the FRC as a “hate group” for it’s “anti-gay” stance on marriage.

The study’s tally seemed suspect as well, considering that they counted domestic disputes where police officers are killed as “hate crimes” influenced by “political reasons.” For example, they included a 2009 shootout in a Pittsburgh home where Robert Poplawski  killed three police officers after his mother called the police during an argument. Later it was revealed that Poplawski had anti-Semitic views and was an alleged skinhead.

—”On Boston Bombing Anniversary, CNN Analyst Says U.S. Right-Wing Extremists Kill More Than Jihadists,” Newsbusters, today. At Big Journalism, John Nolte adds:

Bergen just happens to be a research assistant at the New America Foundation and apparently his colleagues chose to overlook cop killer Chris Dorner and the left-wing manifesto he left behind that expressed some real affection … for CNN employees.

Today, April 15, just so happens to be the one-year anniversary of Bergen using CNN’s airwaves to speculate that right-wing groups might be behind the Boston Marathon bombing. Bergen is apparently using today’s hysterical piece of selective, anti-science analysis to balm that embarrassment.

By publishing this junk, CNN is merely doing what CNN has been doing all throughout the failed Zucker-era: trolling the bottom of the barrel for attention.

“The media literally has the same storyline one year later,” Ace writes in response to the second link. “Nothing is ever learned; nothing ever changes.”

Except that the viewers have tuned out — knowing that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO is essentially accusing half their potential audience of being worse than Islamic terrorists — when they aren’t accusing them of being Islamophobes. As Ricochet’s Troy Senik has noted, “Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People.”

Just NBC the Giant Memory Hole!

April 14th, 2014 - 12:22 pm

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NBC CEO once donated to Rick Santorum (R-PA), who’s no fan of gay marriage. Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator wonders when this story will be breaking on MSNBC, or when the network will call for his resignation, a la Mozilla’s Brendan Eich — though I suspect that in either case, he’s not holding his breath:

So in the wake of the Mozilla/Brendan Eich kerfuffle? When push comes to shove on business executives who give money in the name of what leftist gay activists are calling homophobia? Forced to choose between a powerful liberal media insider — aka the Rick Santorum-supporting NBC/Universal Chief Executive Stephen Burke (a $2,000 contribution to Santorum’s losing Senate re-election bid) — and gays? The liberal media fell suddenly silent.

Whatever happened to MSNBC’s famously gay hosts Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts? And MSNBC reporter and Brendan Eich critic Adam Serwer? Or Media Matters and its gay leader David Brock? America Blogs gay activist John Aravosis? Or Michelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large of Huffington Post’s Gay Voices. Or Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment? And, yes, where is Tina Fey?

Not to mention Slate, a publication whose senior tech writer Will Oremus was only this week insisting that any CEO who was an opponent of gay marriage was not fit to be a CEO. We brought to light the fact that Slate’s sister company the Kaplan Educational Foundation had a CEO who was repeatedly and deliberately on record as opposed to gay marriage. But Slate’s Oremus, like MSNBC, Media Matters and the rest has gone quieter than a church mouse in a morgue.

Let’s do a little compare and contrast.

Read the whole thing. And kudos to Dropbox, unlike Mozilla and Brandeis for sticking with Condi Rice as a boardmember, in the wake of the left’s latest hate storm.

Theodore Dalrymple quips that “’Do you care about the health of the planet?’ is a question not quite in the class of ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?,’ but it is approaching it:”

Some questions are asked in a spirit of inquiry, to obtain answers, but others are asked to intimidate or badger or coerce agreement with a point of view and establish the irreproachable virtue of the persons who ask them. I received such a question by email the other day from the Lancet, one of the most important medical journals in the world. Addressing me by my first name (already sufficient to irritate me), it asked me, “Do you care about the health of our planet?”

Frankly, the answer is that I don’t. Planets, unlike dogs, are not the kind of thing I can feel affection or concern for. My bank account occupies my mind more than the health of the planet. I am not even sure that planets can be healthy or unhealthy, any more than they can be witty or self-effacing. To call a planet healthy is to make what philosophers used to call a category mistake. This is not to say that I wish the earth any harm; on the contrary. Indeed, in a multiple-choice examination, I might even tick the box for wishing the world well rather than ill, at least if I had any reason for wanting to pass.

Of course, the people asking the question care about their bank balance far more than “saving the planet” themselves. NBC runs periodic “Green Weeks” urging individual viewers to turn all their their lights off, but they can’t quite seem to turn away the revenues from NASCAR and the NFL. As with CBS’s original leftwing naif Walter Cronkite going all-in on “Earth Day” in 1970, Scott Pelley, his latest replacement as the network’s nightly newsreader, smears global warming skeptics as Holocaust deniers and approvingly chats up the Obama-funded Tesla, yet CBS’s cable sports channel happily runs programming devoted to gas-guzzling muscle cars. (Really bitchin’ gas-guzzling muscle cars, too. Perfect for Iowahawk’s next Earth Week Cruise-In, to celebrate, as he likes to say in his own inimitable style, “Mother Earth — the Ultimate MILF®!”)

If either of these networks actually believed the “we only have five years to save the planet” rhetoric that radical environmentalists have been continually insisting since 1970, they would pull their financial backing from all of these shows, and begin scheduling programming, a la the 15-minutes into the future doomed Australia depicted in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (and Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film adaptation) that prepared the nation for the holocaust to come.

To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds just slightly, I might be more willing to consider thinking of global warming as a crisis, when and if the people who tell me it’s a crisis begin to act like it’s one themselves, first. Don’t tell me to change or cut back on my lifestyle, until I first see very visible and dramatic proof that you’ve reduced yours.

And yes, I’m looking at you right now, United Nations and EPA.

(Via 5′F.)

And After All They Did for New York City…

April 13th, 2014 - 7:26 pm

occupy_wall_street_time_magazine_parody_12-10-11

New York Court Struggles To Find Jurors Who Don’t Hate The Occupy Movement,” notes the American Glob blog, linking to the London Guardian:

It is the most important question being asked of dozens of New Yorkers lined up as potential jurors for the trial of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer: what do you think of her protest movement?

Unfortunately for those keen on the swift procession of justice, a series of Manhattan residents who presented themselves at the criminal courthouse this week declared that they strongly disagreed with it – and could not promise to be impartial about one of its members.

“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” George Yih, one of a group of prospective jurors whose names were plucked from a tombola by the clerk, said under questioning from Judge Ronald Zweibel on Wednesday. “They can protest all they want, but they can’t brainwash my mind.”

Which seems rather odd — considering that the Occupy Wall Street crowd were in many ways a continuous outdoor performance art coming attraction for the de Blasio administration — when the two groups weren’t interconnected, that is.

(Time magazine parody atop post from the earlier, funnier period of OWS’s existence.)

Clearly Barack’s Sycophants

April 13th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

● “Attkisson: CBSNEWS producers don’t want to deal with ‘headache’ of covering Obama controversies…”

—Headline, the Drudge Report today.

● “CBS’s Bob Schieffer Interviews Dem. Elijah Cummings, Ignores His Relationship With Lois Lerner.”

—Headline, Newsbusters today.

Good thing CBS News doesn’t have a half century history of being wildly partisan towards the left, while continually feigning objectivity…

Related: Meanwhile, at NBC, “Andrea Mitchell Fails to Ask Kathleen Sebelius Obvious (HuffPost) Question About ‘Resignation.’”

Unexpectedly.

Jay Carney Comes Full Circle

April 11th, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Hey, give Carney credit for pro-Communist consistency.

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“In towns like Pushkino (pop. 90,000), many Russians view the tumult sweeping Moscow with more anxiety and skepticism than do their big-city compatriots…they wonder if the destruction of Soviet communism will bring them anything more than uncertainty and hardship.”

—Jay Carney, cub reporter at Time magazine, September 9, 1991.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his family are featured in a worshipful profile in this month’s Washingtonian magazine.

It’s the sort of adoring journalistic exercise reserved for only the most handsome of the power elite. In it you can find out details about the Carney dog (a cousin to presidential pooch Sonny!), and how much the press secretary’s tie costs ($135).

But keen observers may notice the kitchen decor in the photo: Soviet propaganda posters. They really are the perfect pop of color whether you are the dour and sincere Nikita Khrushchev or the cheeky press-wrangler for a president who is constantly accused of being a socialist himself.

“Obama’s press secretary decorates home with Soviet propaganda,” The Week, today.

And do not miss Noah Rothman at Mediaite, who spots the Washingtonian doing some sort of Photoshopping on the books on Carney’s bookshelves: “Carney is surrounded by shelves and shelves of the same books. The photo-shopping was so hurried, in fact, that Carney’s son’s finger was never removed:”

And the same photo “updated with more duplicated books.”

Not surprisingly, Twitter is having a field day with the Washingtonian’s Photoshop meltdown.

letterman_colbert_big_4-11-14-1

Meeting of the President’s Elite Palace Guard.

We’ll get to CBS’s decision to replace David Letterman with Stephen Colbert in a couple of minutes, but first, some backstory, as they say in Hollywood, for why this all has a feeling of deja vu about it.

After an article at Vulture.com last week on David Letterman’s retirement mentioned HBO’s 1996 TV movie The Late Shift, based on the best-selling book by the New York Times’ Bill Carter, I rented the movie from Netflix (on DVD, not streaming, alas.) As Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture writes, “I know showbiz journalists and a good many regular viewers who can recite every twist in Carter’s narrative the way Greek children used to be able to recite the highlights of the Peloponnesian war. (Remember when Leno hid in a closet and eavesdropped on his bosses?)”

It’s a fascinating curio of a (made for TV) movie, once you get through the uncanny valley effect of the actors playing Letterman, Leno, and Johnny Carson. Physically, John Michael Higgins, who plays Letterman is actually pretty spot on, but you’re always aware it’s an actor in a Letterman toupee imitating Dave’s many tics and neuroses. Daniel Roebuck, playing Jay Leno is as stiff as plywood, and wears what looks like the prow of the Titanic as prosthetic fake chin covered in a layer of smeared-on make-up, phony looking even in the standard definition video I watched. And appearing at strategic times in the films, Rich Little plays Rich Little playing Johnny Carson. (Which must have been loads of fun for Little as payback: he was performer non gratis in the last years of the Carson Tonight Show for reasons never explained to him, despite his many appearances on the show in the ‘60s and ‘70s.)

But that’s the challenge when making any film about real-life celebrities known by millions. For the audience, if you can suspend disbelief and get past the waxworks leads, behind them are arguably the real stars of the film. These are the performers playing the behind the scenes chessboard manipulators, including Kathy Bates as Leno’s ball-breaking first manager, Helen Kushnick*, Bob Balaban as NBC executive Warren Littlefield, and Treat Williams as then-Hollywood power broker Mike Ovitz. (Who has since, as John Nolte of Big Hollywood writes, run afoul of what Ovitz called “the Gay Mafia,” in a very different cautionary tale than the main topic of our post.)

Of course, what ultimately makes The Late Shift work as a TV movie is the taut script, based on Bill Carter’s source material, which runs from a discussion between two CBS executives who want to steal Johnny Carson’s thunder by stealing away Jay Leno from the network, followed by Kushnick planting a “tip” in the New York Post that NBC was planning to replace Carson with Leno, followed by an aging, peeved Rich Little playing an aging, peeved Johnny choosing to retire at the top rather than face a bruising power struggle with NBC. NBC’s executives, Warren Littlefield, played by Balaban and Reni Santoni (“Poppy” the restaurant owner on Seinfeld) as his lieutenant, John Agoglia, both like Leno because he’s an easygoing team player, and not a petulant head case like Letterman. Once Letterman knows he won’t get the Tonight Show, he turns to Ovitz, who first helps him to break his contract with NBC, then lands him his deal with CBS, and a boxcar-sized payout.

What particularly makes The Late Shift such an interesting film is that when it was originally shot, it looked like CBS got the better of the deal, with Letterman dominating the ratings. As it turns out, according to the Internet Database:

Subsequent airings after the initial release have added an additional epilogue on how the Hugh Grant interview boosted Jay Leno’s ratings past David Letterman’s.

Thus Littlefield and Agoglia, despite being portrayed as Machiavellian manipulators on massive scale, end up looking like rather smart guys, in spite of themselves. Perhaps unintentionally, the film contrasts the difference between Letterman and Leno in the way they treat their production crews. Letterman, as big a neurotic backstage as in front of the cameras, barks at his staff after what he thinks was a bad show. An hour into the film later, when NBC decides to fire the bruising Kushnick as executive producer of the Tonight Show, Leno issues a “we’ll be OK gang, we’ll all get through this together” speech to console the troops.

As portrayed in The Late Shift, the young Leno appears fairly comfortable in his skin — offscreen, he’s a shier, more puppy dog like version of his stand-up comic persona. Letterman, as numerous critics wrote in the 1980s, is essentially an actor portraying a talk show host, trapped in the middle of the goofy whirling vortex of the first postmodern talk show that poked fun at all of the  gimmicks of Big Time Network TV at its hokiest polyester worst. Late Night picked up the baton from the recently-concluded original Lorne Michaels-era of Saturday Night Live (hence the appearance of Bill Murray on Letterman’s first show). It was new and fresh and plenty of fun at 12:30 at night in the mid-’80s, particularly as a contrast to the phone-it-in final years of the much more staid Carson-era Tonight Show.

But by the 21st century, Letterman appeared to be continually bitter at first George W. Bush, then Sarah Palin, then the Tea Party, then Mitt Romney. Concurrently, since 2008, Letterman has played supine Palace Guard to Barack Obama — a kindred spirit; another postmodern impressionist of a sort. As a result, Letterman’s shtick eventually became as freeze-dried as the talk shows of the ‘60s and ‘70s he used to parody. While Letterman was born in Indianapolis, in escaping flyover country for a career in New York and Los Angeles, the hungry young comedian turned surly old man lived out a variation of the warning voiced a decade ago by Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard: “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.”

Leno, taking his cue from Johnny Carson, while very much a “Progressive” himself, is smart enough not alienate his core audience, and departed with enormous goodwill when he was pushed out by NBC this past February.

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My Back Pages

April 9th, 2014 - 1:47 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common…Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with “people who do not cherish America the way we do” is that “they did not read the Federalist Papers.”)

Rolling Stone, “The Truth About the Tea Party,” September 28, 2010.

Flash-forward to today:

rolling_stone_julia_dreyfus_john_hancock_constitution_4-9-14

“Rolling Stone Mistakenly Plants John Hancock on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Back,” Josh Encinias, at the NRO Corner today. As Justin Green of the Washington Examiner tweets, “Pro tip: John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution.”

But it’s a nice bit of karmic blowback against a magazine, which in addition to despising anyone to the right of Pete Seeger, last year thought Boston bomber Dzohkar Tsarnaev was so totally cool and early Jim Morrison dreamy that he was worth featuring on their cover. In his terrific new book Not Cool, Greg Gutfeld describes that gesture as the end product of a sclerotic leftwing magazine on life support, asking, “If the Rolling Stone offices had been the target of bombing, would they have put such an adoring photo on their cover?”

Actually, maybe they would. Think back to Robert Fisk, the leftwing British journalist and namesake of the popular Blogosphere technique of fisking, who famously wrote after being attacked while covering the war in Afghanistan in late 2001, “My Beating is a Symbol of this Filthy War.” Fisk added, “In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.” In other words, In other words, ‘I totally had it coming.’

Or as Gutfeld himself quips, “If only bin Laden had been younger and hotter. If only he’d had abs. Then Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, who put the Boston Bomber on the cover of his rag, might have done him first.”

The Rise of the Anti-Tech California Left

April 8th, 2014 - 3:37 pm

When I moved out to Silicon Valley from New Jersey in 1997, Internet fever was just about to peak (literally so, in the form of the bursting tech bubble that decimated the NASDAQ three years later). Silicon Valley was seen as the next big thing, ushering America into the wonders of the 21st century — and possibly saving the increasing bloated state government of California in the process. Wired magazine, based in San Francisco, was still owned by founder Louis Rossetto, and maintained its quirky but libertarian vibe, before Rosetto sold the magazine to the mammoth reactionary left Conde Nast publishing empire four year later. For those of us who had started computing on Altair 8800s and TRS-80s twenty years earlier, the mid-to-late 1990s was quite a ride.

It was fun while it lasted.

In his latest USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds writes that these days, “Silicon Valley Scares Americans:”

Silicon Valley has a trust problem, and it’s growing. Some of this is the result of National Security Agency spying — and the tech community’s cooperation with same — and some of it is based on other things tech leaders are doing. But the worst of it is based on who our tech overlords have become.

The NSA spying has already done harm enough. As Glenn Derene warned in Popular Mechanics when the story first broke, fear of NSA spying is giving a boost to offshore competitors, as companies and users seek hardware and software without back doors and compromised security standards. Some foreign customers feel betrayed by Google, Facebook, and other tech giants.

But even at home, the tech community is hurting. According to a study by Harris Interactive last week, people are actually reducing their Internet usage because of the Edward Snowden revelations and general fears about privacy. The study found that 47% say they have changed their behavior online, and 26% say they’re doing less online shopping. Among younger users, aged 18 to 34, the online shopping number was 33%. The Wall Street Journal quotes Stephen Cobb of information security company ESET: “In the technology industry, companies are finding that the sales cycle is getting longer, as customers ask questions such as whether an Internet router is NSA proof. ‘People are asking questions they didn’t ask before. To be in this place now, given the history of this industry, is just amazing. There is a level of suspicion and confusion we haven’t had before.’”

The California far left has always been confused — but their suspicion regarding their fellow high-tech mavens in Northern California is reaching new and paranoid heights, which Richard Fernandez explores in his latest Belmont Club post here at PJ Media, titled “Vanishing Point:”

There was an interesting postscript to the Eich saga in the bizarre protest held against Internet entreprenuer Kevin Rose.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters stood with signs and flyers outside of the Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a ‘parasite’ and a ‘leech.’  Techcrunch has a copy of the flyer:

‘As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.’

The flyer claims to speak for the service workers who “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors” and goes on to complain that most techies are “just like Kevin Rose,” though again, it’s short on specific criticisms, aside from pointing out that techies make a lot of money.

A supposed manifesto from an organization called “The Counterforce” makes demands believed to be related to the protest.

To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.

There is no direct relationship between the Eich and Rose incidents, besides the sheer outré character of the events, but one can’t help get the feeling that they emanate from the same strange universe, whatever universe that might be.  But it’s all shadows with nothing besides fantastic flashbacks of “Scorpio” from Dirty Harry and the People’s Temple crowds bellowing for an airlift to Russia to lend it shape.

Business Insider suggests the protests were something more prosaic. It’s social unrest. It’s poor people fighting for their share of the hipster pie outraged at the high rents in the Bay Area and the outrageous pricing of goodies beyond their reach. It’s the rebellion of “social equals” who find they are financial inferiors. It’s the outcry of people who thought they were part of a great movement who discover they are, after all, only menials. That makes it all the more pathetic.

Transportation seems to be a curious obsession with the anti-tech California left. For several months, they’ve been fixated upon the so-called “Google Busses,” corporate busses which transport Google and Yahoo employees around the Bay Area. It’s an interesting equation — mass transit, which the left once viewed as an unalloyed good, versus a comfortable vehicle (well, relatively comfortable: at 6’2″ and all legs, I have to scrunch to fit into most bus or coach airline seats) used solely by corporate employees.

Which the San Francisco left view as bad. Very Bad. So Incredibly, Stupendously, Intolerably Bad, it can make you throw up:

A protester so aghast with Silicon Valley’s impact on the Bay Area has gone as far as to vomit on a Yahoo shuttle bus.

The mystery demonstrator was among a group of protesters picketing the buses that ferry employees of the big tech corporations to work, deeming them indicative of everything wrong with the hyper-gentrified Silicon Valley.

On Tuesday, the group blocked an intersection in San Francisco’s Mission area, and protestors consisted of dancers in clown suit onesies.

But Valleywag.com reported that in Oakland, almost 50 ‘rebels’ blocked a pick up zone for tech buses and one apparently vomited on the windshield of a Yahoo bus from its roof.

I guess there weren’t any police cars around to poop on.

As we’ll explore after the page break, the Google Bus’s polar opposite vehicle, the tiny Weeble-sized Smart Car, is also under attack in San Francisco.

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ATTENTION INTERNET: THIS IS A QUADRUPLE FACEPALM ALERT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL — assuming Mother Jones’ story is accurate, of course:

Last week, the online dating site OkCupid switched up its homepage for Mozilla Firefox users. Upon opening the site, a message appeared encouraging members to curb their use of Firefox because the company’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, allegedly opposes equality for gay couples—specifically, he donated $1000 to the campaign for the anti-gay Proposition 8 in 2008. “We’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together,” the message read. “If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal.” The company’s action went viral, and within a few days, Eich had resigned as CEO of Mozilla only weeks after taking up the post. On Thursday, OkCupid released a statement saying “We are pleased that OkCupid’s boycott has brought tremendous awareness to the critical matter of equal rights for all individuals and partnerships.”

But there’s a hitch: OkCupid’s co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan once donated to an anti-gay candidate. (Yagan is also CEO of Match.com.) Specifically, Yagan donated $500 to Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) in 2004, reports Uncrunched. During his time as congressman from 1997 to 2009, Cannon voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against a ban on sexual-orientation based job discrimination, and for prohibition of gay adoptions.

William A. Jacobson of the popular Legal Insurrection blog notes that Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller was the first to report on Yagan’s donations (Ross’s article is date-stamped last Thursday), and that Mother Jones failed to credit Ross for his detective work. In any case, as Jacobson adds, “So when does the boycott of OKCupid start?  After all, the people who took down Eich did so based on the, ahem, purest of principled judgments.”

See, that’s problem with breaking out the torches and attempting to imitate the crowd in a 1930s Universal horror film: you can very easily get scarred yourself by the blowback. It will quite interesting to see where both Firefox and OKCupid go from here, having both jumped off the cliff in short succession.

Exit quote:

Although the source of the quote is pretty rich, as that great philosopher Murray Slaughter once said of another journalist who frequently descended into madness, when an elephant flies, you don’t complain about how short the flight is.

Oh, and heh.

Related: The Rise of the Anti-Tech California Left.

Don’t Ever Change, CBS

April 7th, 2014 - 7:34 pm

“CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ admits to faking Tesla car noise,” USA Today reports:

What is it about Tesla and its ability to make major media outlets look like fools?

The latest example came a week ago today when CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a report on Tesla and its amazing electric car. It was basically the kind of coverage that any automaker would kill to have (and must have left flummoxed General Motors executives wondering why they never got it for the plug-in Chevrolet Volt).

Just one problem: As the Associated Press reported, a CBS editor made what is being called an “audio error” in dubbing the sound of a loud traditional car engine over footage of the much quieter Tesla electric car. The Model is whisper quiet, no matter how hard you push it.

Auto website Jalopnik broke the story of the fake sound and CBS was in retreat all week.

Unlike NBC’s malicious edit of the audio of the transcript of George Zimmerman’s 911 call, this sounds like awfully small beer, other than it’s a reminder that even in a news report (or news-ish, given the editorializing that 60 Minutes is notorious for), that plenty of sound effects are added in post production. CBS’s backroom audio boffin likely watched raw footage of cars zooming past and simply reached for the nearest collection of sexy race car sound effects, forgetting that coal-powered (heh) electric-powered cars sound very different than their internal-combustion equivalents. Or often, they don’t make much of a sound at all; Glenn Reynolds recently suggested adding “a Jetsons-style bleebing sound” to offset their silent acoustic signature.

And actually, audio sweetening of TV news and documentaries dates back to the Jetsons-era of Jurassic television. If you watch the DVD collection of Thames’ World at War series from the early 1970s, you’ll hear the same squeaky sound effect pasted under numerous tanks from all of the armies as they rumble past the (silent) newsreel cameras, and many of the same gun and rifle sound effects used over and over again as well. (I believe that many, if not all of them came from the British film industry’s legendary Cinesound sound effects collection, which were also used extensively in mid’60s and early 1970s UK-based productions, including Gerry Anderson’s shows such as Capt. Scarlet and UFO, as well as the original James Bond films. I used a few of these sound effects as well in some of my later Silicon Graffiti segments as a subtle homage.)

In recent years, the backroom technicians at all of the networks have been caught making mistakes on Chryons and the like, a combination of likely poor training these days in college, better scrutiny from the Blogosphere, and the sheer amount of programming television is required to crank out to meet the ravenous demands of the 500 channel cable and satellite set-top box. But CBS, the home of Rathergate, which caused Dan Rather his job, and helped supply the original name of our humble little outpost on the Internet, has to be extra careful out there.
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Don’t Ever Change, New York Times

April 7th, 2014 - 4:59 pm

“‘NYT’ Alters Ezra Klein Quote from ‘WaPo’ Criticism to Slam on Industry,” Warner Tood Huston notes at Big Journalism:

On Sunday evening, the NYT published a piece about Klein’s jump from the Post to his new Vox.com’s “explanatory journalism” news site. In the first piece, writer Leslie Kaufman quoted Klein as saying that the Post was somehow keeping him from doing journalism correctly, which was one reason he left print media:

“We were badly held back not just by the technology, but by the culture of journalism there,” he said of the Post, as he offered a preview of his new site, Vox.com, which was scheduled to launch Sunday night.

But by Monday morning, that quote slamming the Post was softened considerably and given a new direction:

“We were badly held back not just by the technology, but by the culture of journalism,” he said of daily newspapers, as he offered a preview of his new site, Vox.com, which was scheduled to be introduced Sunday night.

Clearly, the quote morphed from one specifically faulting The Washington Post for its policies to a more general criticism of the newspaper industry as a whole.

There is no way to tell, of course, but either the The New York Times misquoted Ezra Klein in the first place on being “badly held back” at The Washington Post, or Klein changed his mind and wanted his quote to be read as a broad critique of the whole newspaper industry, instead of one solely directed at the Post, and the Times bent to his will after the fact.

Whatever happened, readers got the changed quote, with no explanation of why the change was made at the Times website.

Ever since current editor Jill Abramson famously said in 2011, “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.” — only to have that quote airbrushed out hours later, it seems like the Times’ touch-up artists have gone into overdrive, removing doubleplusungood crimethink remarks, even after they’ve been quoted by dozens of blogs and Websites before the Gray Lady has tossed the original quote down the Memory Hole:

But then, with the second PJM/New Criterion Duranty Awards coming up next month in New York, perhaps the Times simply wants to relive the good old days when they could airbrush with impunity.

Don’t Ever Change, ABC

April 7th, 2014 - 4:30 pm

Give that man an Emmy — Dan Harris, smart enough to claw his way through ABC’s corporate structure and replace Ted Koppel as host of Nightline sure knows how to play dumb when asked about ABC’s leftwing slant. As Tim Graham writes at Newsbusters, Harris appeared on the Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV, where based on the transcript, Malzberg gave Harris a pretty good grilling over ABC’s biases, before Malzberg asked him isn’t water wet don’t most journalists at ABC lean left?

HARRIS: I don’t know, liberal might be overly strong. We actually have some very, very powerful voices, and I’m not going to say who, within our building, who are conservative. Very, very powerful….

MALZBERG: On air?

HARRIS: Yes. So –

MALZBERG: Name one?

HARRIS: No. But I wouldn’t name one I thought was liberal either.* So I’m just being fair. Having said that, I’m open to the possibility – very much open to the possibility that there is absolutely a subconscious bias that manifests in just exactly the thing you’re talking about. But in my time there, I’ve never heard someone say ‘We’re gonna go get this guy because he’s a Republican.”

* Not even former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos? (And as Graham adds, “Please see our list of the five worst Dan Harris media-bias outrages. I vote for his silliness about Saddam Hussein getting 100 percent of the vote!”)

It took a few years, but with Harris’s non-denial denial, the dinosaur media troika is complete: In 2007, Andrea Mitchell appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show and much to her chagrin, was asked about bias at NBC. Mitchell’s response?

Mitchell on Chris Matthews: “I don’t think he’s a liberal thinker.”

And later: “I don’t feel there is bias in what we do at NBC News. And I don’t think there’s bias in CBS or ABC.”

In 2003, one year before Dan hit the fan at CBS, Lesley Stahl sounded virtually identical to ABC’s Dan Harris, when asked about the bias at CBS by Fox’s Cal Thomas:

[Stahl:] I’m going to attack your premise and say that I think the voices that are being heard in broadcast media today, are far more — the ones who are being heard, are far more likely to be on the right and avowedly so, and therefore, more — almost stridently so, than what you’re talking about.”

Thomas pounced: “Can you name a conservative journalist at CBS News?”

Stahl was flummoxed and denied that anyone at CBS is biased in any way: “Well I don’t know of anybody’s political bias at CBS News. I really think we try very hard to get any opinion that we have out of our stories. And most of our stories are balanced, and there are standards that say they need to be balanced. So if you have one side, you try to get the other side. And I’m not saying we don’t have opinions, but I’m saying we try to cleanse our stories of them.”

Lucy Ramirez could not be reached for comment.

Don’t Ever Change, CNN

April 7th, 2014 - 3:19 pm


CNN redlines the irony meter — if only there was a big sexy story involving politicians allegedly gun-running with mobsters just begging to be covered as a change of pace.

Meet Al Sharpton, “former paid FBI informant,” Jessica Chasmar writes at the Washington Times, linking to a report from the Smoking Gun. It’s currently the lead headline atop the Drudge Report, written in the classic Drudge all caps smashmouth style“SHARPTON WAS FBI MOB RAT:”

The report published Monday claims that Mr. Sharpton regularly interacted with members of four of New York City’s five organized crime families, specifically leaders of the Genovese family, and he secretly recorded their conversations.

Mr. Sharpton was known by the FBI as “CI-7” — short for confidential informant No. 7 — and began working for the agency in the mid-1980s, the report said.

From the report: “[The Smoking Gun’s] account of Sharpton’s secret life as ‘CI-7’ is based on hundreds of pages of confidential FBI affidavits, documents released by the bureau in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records and extensive interviews with six members of the Genovese squad, as well as other law enforcement officials to whom the activist provided assistance.

In 2011, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin told NPR, “I’m a big fan of the Reverend Sharpton. I’ve known him quite a bit. he’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.”

And how.

“Resist we much,” Sharpton would likely implore them, but the Smoking Gun itself is of course having lots of fun with its discovery:

The former mob snitch has become a regular in the White House, where he has met with the 44th president in the East Room, the Roosevelt Room, and the Oval Office. He has also attended Obama Christmas parties, speeches, policy announcements, and even watched a Super Bowl with the First Family (an evening the man has called “one of the highlights of my life”). During these gatherings, he has mingled with cabinet members, top Obama aides, military leaders, business executives, and members of Congress. His former confederates were a decidedly dicier lot: ex-convicts, extortionists, heroin traffickers, and mob henchmen. The man’s surreptitious recordings, FBI records show, aided his government handlers in the successful targeting of powerful Mafia figures with nicknames like Benny Eggs, Chin, Fritzy, Corky, and Baldy Dom.

This is still not computing. Al Sharpton: G-Man? Next you’re going to be telling me that ultra-conservative poseur Morton Downey Jr., who hosted the show that first brought Sharpton to nation attention was secretly a Democrat who was play-acting.

Oh wait.

Invariably clad in a velor tracksuit, Sharpton and Downey, or Sharpton and a fellow guest would comes to blows by the end of seemingly every appearance.  Sharpton is on video smearing a fellow guest by bellowing, “You ain’t nothing! You a punk faggot!”, which, like much of Sharpton’s then-publicly-known past, was “unexpectedly” forgotten when he won his recent gig at NBC’s spin-off cable channel. (Perhaps he uttered the quote in character as part of his undercover work.)

All-in-all, as Kate of Small Dead Animals deadpans, “This is Awkward.” And as Larry Elder speculates:

As I was writing this post, I was wondering what J. Edgar Hoover would think about Sharpton working for the FBI. Then I started wondering, forget Hoover — what would Woody Allen say?

“When it comes to the doomsday cult called ‘global warming,’ it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the hucksters are in charge,” Jim Treacher writes at the Daily Caller, linking to Marc Morano of Climate Depot.com:

A new peer-reviewed paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, titled “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements”, is openly providing a “rationale” for global warming proponents to engage in mendacious claims in order to further their cause.

The paper appears to support or provide a formula for why lying or “information manipulation” is able to further the cause of man-made global warming and “enhance global welfare.” The authors use a mathematical formula to study information tactics.

The authors, Assistant Professors of Economics Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, note how the media and environmental groups “exaggerate” global warming and then the offer their paper to “provide a rationale for this tendency” to exaggerate for the good of the cause.

As Morano adds in an update, the two economists have issued a “who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?” sort of backtrack in response, but the damage has been done — and either way, as the abstract to their paper notes:

It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement (IEA) model with asymmetric information. We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex post induces more countries to participate in an IEA, which will eventually enhance global welfare. From the ex ante perspective, however, the impact that manipulating information has on the level of participation in an IEA and on welfare is ambiguous.

Yes, the left is nothing but Potemkin Villages all the way down — but unlike the builders of the original namesake, the 21st century left are more than willing to cheerfully admit that they lie — even as they lie. In 2007, Editor & Publisher magazine, the house organ of the establishment “liberal” MSM made the industry’s biases plain, in an article headlined, “Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers,” and in recent years, the left’s postmodern sophistry has only snowballed.

To use a term that was once thought to be a thing of the past.