The Importance of Crashing the Oscars On Academy Awards night, a 1957 Chevy Belair stretch limousine (click here; it’s the second car down) carrying two public-access television producers (Frank Cromer and Scoobie Davis) was able to breach the much-touted “enhanced security” at the 2002 Oscars with a bogus limo pass and was able to arrive at what was thought to be the most secure spot in the United States that afternoon: the red carpet in front of the Kodak Theatre. It had all of the makings of a comic opera: the pseudo-celebrity in the back of the limo was one of the producers, a blond tuxedoed surfer (Scoobie) who posed as “Owen Wilson’s illegitimate brother.” As the limo made the slow trip to the red carpet, I stuck my torso out of the window and screamed “ I’m the Surferdude. I’m the Surferdude.” Like the parade-attendees in The Emperor’s New Clothes, the celebrity-starved thongs of fans lining Highland Avenue pretended they knew the mysterious man and responded by giving him uproarious cheers. Scores of flashbulbs went off and people held their children up to see the Surferdude. People in the crowd shouted back “We love you, Surferdude” and similar praises. The limo parked in front of the red carpet and the Surferdude did the hang loose sign and blew kisses to his adoring “fans.” Finally, after the limo was idle for over a minute, a security person approached the Surferdude and asked him if he planned to get out of the car. The Surferdude, who did not have enough time to forge a ticket to get inside the ceremony, went into the-dog-ate-my-homework-mode and lamely said, “Dude, I think, uh, I left my ticket at home.” The other producer in the limo interjected that they had already let the person with the ticket out of the limo down the street. The limo driver then was given the go-ahead to exit the red carpet. As the stretch muscle car left Hollywood’s Ground Zero, Surferdude again rose out of the limo's window and whipped up the cheering crowd. It was by far the best fun I've ever had crashing an event--which is a lot to say because I'm a veteran Hollywood party crasher.
If the stunt I described were in a screenplay, it would be rejected for lacking verisimilitude. This comedy of errors has garnered a lot of media attention. While this episode is comic and surreal, the events have serious societal implications. The primary concern is homeland security.
[click here for the entire article]
What I'm about I would like to thank Tom Tomorrow for providing a link to this page. I just started blogging so a lot of my page is under construction. Right now, much of my web log is devoted to my crashing of the Oscars (On Saturday at about 7:30 PST, I'll post a more serious article on the societal implications of this Oscar security breach). Don't be put off by the excessive attention to this; I'm no one-trick pony. Take, for example, the hilarious phone conversation I recently had with Matt Drudge (I videotaped it for my forthcoming television show; see my March 11 blog). Also, I was the one who broke the story about the urban legend passed off as truth in the late Barbara Olson's book The Final Days. I have a lot more in store for the hard right in the near future.
Exclusive Talk with David Brock on the Journalistic Ethics of the Right
I got a chance to ask an important question to author and former right-wing hit man David Brock about the journalistic ethics of his former employers. In his best-selling book, Blinded By The Right, Brock pointed out how when he was employed at the American Spectator and the Washington Times, he knew nothing about fact-checking (this is of little surprise with anyone familiar with either publication). However, I was curious about how Brock’s editors at the American Spectator dealt with the accusation made in 1994 that Brock had used blackmail to get a witness to recant her account about Clarence Thomas’s behavior (a charge that Brock now admits was correct). Here’s a transcript of the question (Brock was a guest on the Michael Medved radio show):
Medved: Let’s go to Scoobie in Los Angeles. You’re on the Michael Medved Show.
Scoobie: Good afternoon, David. I love your book. I think it just shows a lot of integrity. I wanted to ask—I’m curious about the journalistic standards of the American Spectator editors. Back in 1994, I was heartened when I read Frank Rich’s New York Times column in which he reported the allegations that you blackmailed Kaye Savage in order to recant her witnessing of [Clarence] Thomas’s pornography habit. Now when he wrote that article, did the editors confront you with this and try to determine the veracity of this or not?
Brock: That’s a great question. No. Absolutely not. No one raised it at all, actually. Yeah, I mean the fact that Frank Rich called it exactly correctly. He reported what I did and no one at the Spectator was troubled by it at all as far as I know.
Scoobie's Security Breach At Oscars Picked Up By The Associated Press
Here's a Sacramento Bee story (pulled from the AP wires) about our expose of the sham of homeland security:
Report: Men with bogus limo pass breach Oscar security
Published 12:20 a.m. PST Monday, March 25, 2002
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Three men used a bogus limousine pass to breach tight Oscar security and get right up to the red carpet, KCBS-TV reported.
The men, who run a Los Angeles area cable-access show, videotaped themselves getting waved through security checkpoints by smiling officers.
KCBS aired some of the footage. The men said they got through three checkpoints with no difficulties.
The men - two photographers identified as Frank Cromer and Scoobie Davis and a limo driver identified as Travis - used a limousine pass they said was made on a copy machine by an obliging limo driver they met at a copy shop.
Officer Don Cox, a police spokesman, said he was aware of the report but the Police Department would have no immediate comment.
Exclusive: Security At The Oscars Was A Sham For an investigative report for my forthcoming cable show, Dude!, my colleagues and I borrowed a limousine and attempted to breach Academy Awards security. We forged a limousine pass at Kinko’s easily and were able to get past a phalanx of security personnel. We got through to the red carpet in front of the Kodak Theatre with a minimum of effort. We made no effort to act as if we belonged; in fact, I was in the back of the limousine wearing a tuxedo and a headband shouting to the throngs of people, “I am Scoobie Davis. I am the surferdude. I am Owen Wilson’s illegitimate brother.” The story was picked up by CBS and the Associated Press and Entertainment Tonight has shown interest in the story.
Jonathon Chait is Smokin' I have found The New Republic’s Jonathon Chait a thoughtful and engaging analyst. In recent weeks, Chait has been white hot. First, Chait took Andrew Sullivan to task for his attacks on Paul Krugman. Next he skewered Bernard Goldberg’s Bias. Most recently, he eloquently points out the way in which Peggy Noonan’s political analyses are elevationistic for her heartthrobs and correspondingly reductionistic for her opponents (click here to see the article).
Bad Karma From today's Paul Harvey commentary, "Does it worry you at all that all of those same people who couldn't figure out out to use the voting machines in Florida--those people are filling out their income tax returns?" This lame attempt at humor is especially noxious considering author Greg Palast's findings that show that in predominantly white Florida counties when a voter incorrectly filled out a ballot, a machine would spit it back out--allowing the voter to recast a ballot; in predominantly black counties, invalid ballots were accepted and then not counted. By the way, Harvey is listed number 164 on the latest death pool.
UPDATE: I received an email criticizing me for being supposedly wishing for Paul Harvey's death. I hope Mr. Harvey lives a longer life. I was being ironic. Jeez.
The National Catholic Register's Tom Hoopes wrote a column in National Review Online about Alanis Morissette that is one step above word salad. Hoopes's reductionistic blather is a good example why the unhip should not touch issues they could not possibly fathom (writing for National Review Online is a good indicator that one is terminally unhip). In fairness, Hoope's pseudo-intellectualization of Alanis and her lyrics was not as bad as the chronicle of a Bruce Springsteen concert done by George Will back in the 1980's. However, by the tone and content of Hoopes's analysis, it is obvious that if he were any more prim, he would be Amish.
Must Read From the Columbia Journalism Review, how the mainstream media played fast and loose with the facts in their reviews of The Hunting of the President by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons (click here for the story).
George W. Bush's Fuzzy Math In his trenchant but funny column on chicken hawks (people who love war just as long as someone else--usually minorities or working class men--do the fighting), Bill Berkowitz makes the following observation about George W. Bush: "[Bush] decided that a six-year National Guard commitment really means four years."
Must Read Buzzflash's interview with recovered right-wing smear artist David Brock. In the interview, Brock discusses in detail how now current Solicitor General Ted Olson had attempted to fan the Vince-Foster-Was-Murdered conspiracy theory, even though Olson believed correctly that Foster had committed suicide. Imagine the reaction from the right if prominent Democrats had promoted the smear that the current administration was responsible for the murder of Olson's wife in the 9/11 Pentagon suicide bombing. Of course, nothing like that happened and Ted Olson was allowed to have a peaceful grieving process, a luxury he and others (such as Representative Dan Burton) denied to the Foster family.
Surfing Safari I'm surfing this weekend. I'll be back on Monday. One parting shot for the weekend: Has anyone noticed how since Jonathon Chait's critique of Andrew Sullivan's unrelenting attack campaign against the New York Times's Paul Krugman (who, by the way, has a devastating piece on the administration's energy policy), there has been little if anything on Sullivan's site concerning Krugman?
Inside Info Danny DeVito's latest film, Death To Smoochy, is going to be a big hit. I got some inside info that it did well with preview screenings. In fact, I know someone who went to one of the preview screenings and he thought it was funny as hell. It's going to kill at the box office.
Must Read Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, explains how the state of Florida purged voters (mostly African-American) from the rolls by misidentifying them as convicted felons. An exclusive interview with Buzzflash.
Drudge Confronted By Scoobie Davis About False Enron Rumor
I have listened to Drudge’s radio show, but not on a regular basis. The idea of listening to Drudge’s grating voice prating barely coherently for three hours is a bit too much to ask (Drudge’s rant against me after he cut off my phone call is a prime example of one of Drudge’s hilariously incoherent rants). I wanted an explanation from Drudge as to why he didn’t bother to apologize for or even retract his “scoop” on the Drudge Report that Ken Lay slept over in the White House during the Clinton administration. Drudge’s misinformation was picked up by the usual suspects in talk radio as well as by reputable media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times (click here for a detailed analysis). Drudge not only did nothing to help set the record straight, but he didn’t even make a retraction for his original misstatement. Apparently moving on after starting a false rumor spread to tens of millions is Drudge’s idea of journalistic responsibility. So I called his show to see what he had to say about it. The following is a transcript of our conversation:
DRUDGE: Let’s go back to the board. Line one; you’re on the air with Drudge.
SCOOBIE: Hey Drudge, this is Scoobie here, man. I just wanted to compliment you on your Enron coverage.
We Report, You Laugh Out Loud Fox News was hoaxed by the parody web site Hollywood Pulse regarding a story Fox News did on the legal troubles of comedienne Paula Poundstone. Ray Richmond, who runs the web site and wrote a satirical story “Paula Poundstone Granted Supervised Child Abuse,” was contacted by Fox News for a serious interview on Paula Poundstone’s legal problems. Fox News, which apparently didn’t check the article, included an interview with Richmond in its news story on Poundstone. Click here for the full story.
On the Michael Jackson radio show, Richmond said, "This site [Hollywood Pulse] has no absolutely no basis in fact…If you look at it, it is clearly one hundred percent humor, satire, spoof. But they blindly emailed our contact… seeking an expert to include in a story they were putting together on Paula Poundstone and her legal problems. And, of course, we thought, well, that’s interesting--why would they want us? They mistook us, of course, for an actual news organization, as opposed to a humor site…If they had read one sentence, they would have seen that our story that week about Paula Poundstone had to do with the fact that she was granted supervised child abuse privileges.”
Matt Drudge’s Misleading Identification Smear On the Drudge Report today, Matt Drudge featured a story about an obscure former Little League administrator arrested on child pornography charges. This item would not be particularly newsworthy except that the last name of the arrested man is Blumenthal (no relation to Drudge nemesis Sidney Blumenthal). Drudge apparently made the headline, “BLUMENTHAL INDICTED ON CHILD PORN CHARGE...” in the hope that readers would think it was Sidney who was arrested. Drudge is still smarting after Blumenthal sued Drudge for Drudge’s smear against him that he beat his wife. Even conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt denounced Drudge for the intentionally confusing headline. One would have hoped that Drudge would have learned from his previous misinformation fiasco, his spreading of the false rumor that Enron CEO Kenneth Lay stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton presidency.
Blasphemy of the Day Sorry I missed this one. Last week, the Weekly Standard's David Brooks wrote an article with this howler: "In the first place, Bush says he feels God has selected him for this moment and that things happen for a reason." If God chose Bush to be president, why did He: 1) make it necessary for Bush's crew to prevent a complete and fair recount of the votes in order to give Bush an electoral vote victory? and 2) have it such that Bush received fewer overall votes than Gore?
Look Who's Talking Department One of the headlines on Matt Drudge's web site: "Slate Gets Duped; Online diary of 'auto exec' turns out to be hoax..." Drudge should talk: he duped most of the right's media about Ken Lay sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton presidency--or was it an intentional move as part of the strategy to diffuse responsibility for the Enron fiasco? Also, Drudge was duped by Kathleen Willey that an innocent man had threatened her (subsequently, the man was almost murdered as a result of this right-wing media smear). Drudge was also duped about Clinton's black love child, Juanita Broaderick...Being on the right mean never having to say you're sorry.
RealityFest for Simon Andrew Sullivan has been flirting with the hard right recently, but he has--at long last--some sober analysis for the GOP--specifically for Republican nominee for California governor, Bill Simon:
Some Republicans see another Reagan. I’ll refrain from commenting. But campaigns serve a purpose in that they help show the weakness of a candidate and therefore his potential weakness in office. Riordan clearly failed the test – and the voters’ judgment should be respected. Whether Simon can now rally is another matter entirely. Still, the warning signs are there. Davis picked the GOP candidate. The turnout was pathetic. Simon’s politics have little majority appeal. I smell political suicide. But Simon deserves the benefit of the doubt – for now.
OUTRAGE!!!!! I haven't had the chance to buy David Brock's just-released book about the right's smear machine, Blinded By The Right. But there's a good story about it in the New Yorker (click here). What outraged me particularly in the article was the conduct of current Solicitor General Ted Olson regarding the question of publishing an article in the American Spectator about the death of Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster that Olson knew to be reckless and untrue:
Brock faxed [Olson] the piece. Olson's response was evidently not what he was expecting. Olson, Brock writes, "told me bluntly, in a tone of voice that I had never heard him use before, that while he believed, as [Kenneth] Starr apparently did, that Foster had committed suicide, raising questions about the death was a way of turning up the heat on the [Clinton] administration until another scandal was shaken loose, which was the Spectator's mission. The statement stunned me. Though I was all for harassing the administration, I was not ready to accept the reality that the Spectator was a propaganda organ.
Gushfest for Simon Update Now that Bill Simon won the Republican nomination for California governor, the gushfest from the right for Simon is just beginning. According to Paul Harvey, "California is listening to what Simon says...Simon says what Reagan says." Sorry, Paul. It's a whole different state than when Reagan was governor. Californians are listening to what Simon says and they don't like it. GOP voters blew their best chance to beat incumbent Gray Davis when they defeated moderate LA mayor Richard Riordan in the primary.
Gullibility Watch James Taranto of Opinion Journal makes the following observation: "...former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan faces come-from-behind businessman Bill Simon in the Republican primary for governor. Our John Fund sized up the race last week, and today's Washington Times predicts a Simon victory."
Puh-lease. Taranto got burnt once when he repeated a Washington Times smear story (to Taranto's credit, he retracted his criticism of Clinton based on the story). Psst, Taranto, the clowns at the Times have no credibility. Dude, this "newspaper" is owned by a guy (Sun Myung Moon) who thinks he's the messiah. Media mogul Ted Turner has an ego, but this is ridiculous.
I Couldn't Take the Day Off I say I was taking off today because of my election duties, but I'm taking a break from my duties to write this one thing. The Drudge Report is featuring a story about a soon-to-be-published Regnery book about Jesse Jackson. If you're wondering why the scandal-conscious Drudge has nothing to say about David Brock's new expose, Blinded by the Right, click here.
California Primary day off I 'm doing some California primary day duties--not so much for the cash (which is piss-poor) but because I'm doing some stuff for the show. I'll be at the polls all day tomorrow so I'll be back on Wednesday. I predict that "businessman" William Simon (I put the word businessman in quotes because, like George W. Bush, Simon got where he got because of his daddykins) will win the GOP primary for governor and that Gray Davis will eat Simon's lunch in November. The right is comparing Simon to Ronald Reagan in 1966. Wrong. Why? 1) The GOP is no longer the party of Lincoln; it's the party of Jefferson Davis. That is fatal in a state that has no stomach for the current Republican party or its leadership. 2) Simon is an empty suit.
What makes this funny to me is that former LA mayor Richard Riordan would be the strongest GOP opponent.
Evidence That Andrew Sullivan Is Demon-Possessed In fairness to Andrew Sullivan, I went to his web site to see if he had written a rejoinder to the Jonathon Chiat article (as of 8:15 AM PST, there's nothing on the site on this matter). However, I did find some evidence that Sullivan is possessed by demons. No, I'm not alluding to Sullivan's sexual orientation (which many of Sullivan's new allies on the sectarian right attribute to demon possession; click here for an example). No, rather I'm referring to an advertisement on Sullivan's site for a demonic form of entertainment.