Slacker Friday


We've got a new "Think Again" column called "Olympic Coverage or Cover Up," here. Take a look at the last two paragraphs even if you don't care about that for the latest in "heckuva job, Brownie"-style Bush appointments.

Name: Charles Pierce

Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"Oh, there been times I thought/I couldn't last for long/But now I think I'm able/To carry on."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Weed Head Women" (Champion Jack Dupree) -- Oh, god, Whatever or Whoever you are, I pray you love New Orleans half as much as I do. Not even the stunningly richly deserved irony of coincidence makes this worth it.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Lilly Ledbetter gave a helluva speech the other night. She's someone who's actually worked for a living, unlike this knob here. And the delicious cherry of stupidity atop this little cupcake is, of course, that Dustin Hoffman actually played Dorothy Michaels with...a...Southern...accent. What a maroon. Anyway. Here's Exhibit A, also featuring the late, great Sidney Pollack.

Part The Second: It is, of course, not about race. Not at all. Ever.

Part The Third: I liked the speeches, too, but, you know, damn.

Part The Fourth: Swift Boat this, mother****ers. You have to admit, having a primary challenge back home does concentrate a politician's mind wonderfully.

Part The Fifth: The history of rightist goons as regards smearing journalists doing their jobs leaves me strangely unmoved by what happened to poor old Stanley Kurtz. F**k a buncha him.

Part The Sixth: The Corner's been a bloodbath for the past couple of days. I think the traffic light has failed. There's broken glass and bits of stupidity shrapnel all over the road. This is fairly representative. The sirens are dying away in the distance.

Part The Last: Much was made, and rightly so, of the historical symmetry between Barack Obama's accepting the nomination of his party on the 45th anniversary of Martin King's famous address at the Lincoln Memorial. But Clio, Muse of History -- sometimes known by her Marvel Comics name, The Proclaimer (!) -- commands that we all spare a few seconds to remember the two guys who were the party's national ticket in 1964. The Honorable Mr. Atta J. Turk does the honors for one of them. Mr. Caro takes care of the rest. As for me, well, this is still the greatest speech given by an American president in my lifetime. If anyone working in television believed that history was something other than whatever came in on your BlackBerry 10 minutes ago, these two speeches would have been played into the ground by now.

Speaking of which, it's always been a fairly popular parlor game to wonder how major events of the past would have been covered in today's media culture. After the past week, the answer is fairly clear -- extraordinarily badly. ("Some people think Dr. King is being presumptuous speaking there at the Lincoln Memorial." This was a big week for those well-known political savants, "Some People.") The cable news networks disgraced themselves, journalism, entertainment, and human thought with promiscuous regularity. If it wasn't the passel of complete bores on CNN, it was the fact the entire MSNBC delegation seemed to have completely lost their minds. There wasn't a dead horse left unflogged ("The Clintons! What do they want?"). There was no pointless triviality left unmined ("Oooh, look, columns!"). I saw Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews nearly spit on each other and Norah O'Donnell look as though she wanted to hit Mike Barnicle with a chair. And nobody on Planet Earth seems to like Joe Scarborough. (David Shuster should have gone medieval on his ass with a Spanish omelet.) By the third day of wondering whether the entire network was simply going to dissolve into gunplay, the whole thing was as boring as listening to Tom Brokaw, the world's most boring human. As the old football coaches say, it was like watching monkeys try to f**k a football. By Friday morning, we had Mika and Joe speculating on the Republican VP pick, and you realized with great horror that this was nowhere near as bad as you know it's going to be next week.

P.S. -- Well, I'm gobsmacked. An anti-choice, Creationist half-term governor. (I'm not as bad off as David Gregory, who just referred to John McCain as "John Mitchell." Now THERE'S a comparison to put on your posters.) Give the old feller credit, though. He found a high-profile Alaskan Republican who doesn't have a standing weekly appointment with the FBI.

Name: Kathleen O'Neill
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Dr. A:

So does Brokaw's "any Democrat" statement mean that 1) no Democrats served in Vietnam while Mr. McCain was held in a Hanoi prison and therefore 2) no Democrats have a right to criticize McCain? Does that therefore mean that Dick Cheney (R, I Never Saw A Deferment I Didn't Take) is really a Democrat? Are John Kerry and Max Cleland really Republicans? Is that what he means? I'm confused. Also, thank you for your follow up on Mike Baker's fevered musings about Elizabeth Edwards. My first reaction after reading it was, "Huh"? (There I go -- confused again). Keep up the good work.

Name: John Caruso
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Regarding Tom Brokaw's snarky comment that "for Bill Clinton, and for anyone in the Democratic Party ... it's a very tricky case taking on John McCain and trying to rough him up," the argument could be made that there's actually some truth to this observation. Clinton and fellow Democrats tend to respect other people and value their service to our country, so it can be tough for them to criticize someone who has made obvious sacrifices. In contrast, Republicans have no such compunctions. They "rough up" veterans and war heroes left and right, from John Kerry to John McCain.

On the other hand, Brokaw's rather florid comparison between McCain's and Clinton's Vietnam-era actions is just plain sloppy. He says, "When John McCain was sitting in a prison in Hanoi, Bill Clinton was writing letters to his ROTC commander and trying to get out of the draft, which he did successfully." Making these sorts of smug, off-the-cuff biting remarks just invites viewers to join in the Ad Hominem Attack Game and invent luridly unflattering comparisons all their own. How about this? When McCain was sitting in a prison in Hanoi, Dick Cheney was orchestrating a series of deferrals to get out of the draft, which he did successfully. Or this? When Kerry was coming under hostile fire in enemy waters and earning multiple military decorations, George Bush was AWOL from his cozy state-side military assignment and out tying one on with his drinking buddies, which he did successfully. See, you can entertain yourself for hours doing this sort of thing.

Name: Richard Sattler
Hometown: Missoula, MT

Eric --

NBC sent Brokaw to cover the DNC to do exactly what he did, undermine the Democrats and prop up McCain. As to his staying full time in Montana, please no. We have enough problems here without adding another insufferable eastern elitist.

Name: Cheryl H
Hometown: Albuquerque

I looked at this week's television schedule and saw that our local ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates had just one (1) hour of convention coverage each night. The Fox station had zero. But PBS was presenting THREE (3) hours, every night. And PBS showed John Kerry's speech, in its entirety.

Now, if only they could have dumped ... David Brooks ...

Name: Larry Israelson
Hometown: Glendale, CA

At 1:45 p.m. MDT Thursday (8/28), I visited The second "teaser" link under "Latest News" (subsequently moved to the "Democratic National Convention" section of the web page) read "Praise for Biden; disgust over Clinton morals."

I followed the link and found that the "story" was basically a recap (no by-line) of comments submitted by so-called "I-Reporters." While I fully recognize that the "traditional" media no longer have a monopoly on journalism (and in fact have often been surpassed in that field by some who work primarily on the web), I believe it is safe to say that the vast majority of CNN "I-Reporters" are neither journalists nor politicians. Essentially, CNN elevated the partisan comments of one anonymous person into one of its "top" stories of the day.

Furthermore, the two paragraphs of anti-Clinton vitriol submitted by "SickOFSlick" were the only negative comments cited in the recap of submissions from approximately 12 I-Reporters (the majority of whom also seemed to be using their real names).

I am not contending that negative opinions should have been excluded from the recap, and I also realize not too much can be read into the preponderance of positive comments since most convention I-Reporters are likely pro-Democratic. I am, however, extremely annoyed with CNN for a teaser that 1) doesn't indicate that the linked article is just a collection of "amateur" opinion; and 2) plays up inflammatory comments from a single anonymous partisan as if collective "disgust over Clinton" was roughly equivalent to collective "praise for Biden."

Name: Bill Dauphin
Hometown: Vernon, CT

Re Brooks' comment about DNC delegates "hav[ing] been fed these talking points"... well, these are *Democrats*; if Obama and the campaign he leads have been able to successfully script them and enforce message discipline, it strikes me as the best evidence yet that he has the executive skills required to lead this country!

Name: Dwain Lowther
Hometown: Riverside, CA

Having just cruised a number of the usual suspect sites for convention "coverage and analysis" and found a plethora of noise and a paucity of substance, I finally ended up here. Your site is like an oasis of reason and sanity and is always heavily backed up with factual information and references.

Hence, I felt compelled to thank you for continuing to do the job that you're doing. Now, if only there were a means by which the content could be amplified across all manner of media outlets. Yeah, that'll happen. Right after we get the anti-gravity and time-travel machines working.

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