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Monday, February 17, 2003


Hiatus Break: A Bunch of Stuff

Happy President's Day (because George W. Bush is in the White House, it's Not My President Day). I’m taking a break from hiatus. I am interviewing for various respectable jobs (no need to get a haircut because I was paid for one when I got an extras gig for the forthcoming Tobey Maguire flick Seabiscuit; I got into a few scenes). Once I get a job that makes me financially solvent, I will be back with the blog. I’d like to thank all of those who contributed to this blog. To those who have written me, don’t worry because I’ll be back. In the words posted on the wall when I played football in high school: “Fight on, my merry men all, I am a little hurt, but I am not slaine; I will lay me down for to bleed a while, Then I'le rise and fight with you again.” Here are some observations about recent events:

1. Michael Savage (read my blog on his book) got a television deal with MSNBC. I found this incredible that a whackjob can get such a position but I think he is a good spokesman for the American right. I was surprised that Robert Stacy McCain would cite a quote from me in his story on Savage in the Moonie Times. I dispute that my description of Savage and his book are venomous; rather they are an accurate description of the author and his book. I wonder if McCain knew what I have written about the journalistic ethics of his paper (hats off to Eugene Volokh for his recent work on this) or the complete lack of humanity of its owner.
I predict that Savage won’t last long on TV. Without going into a McLuhanesque analysis of why talk radio people fail on TV, it has to do with the phoniness factor; it’s easier to fool people when they only hear your voice; when people see you also, phoniness shines through—unless one is a good actor.
Let me give an example. When I crash Hollywood parties, I often use the telephone to get info, names, etc. It’s much easier to pull one over on people when you’re on the phone. However, when I’m at an event and I try to get past the security people, it is more difficult because I have to act the part too. Thus, talk radio charlatans like Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schessinger, and the late Morton Downy Jr. (click here and here) didn’t have the dramaturgical skills to sell their bills of goods to television audiences. I remember watching Limbaugh’s TV show and a family member (a Republican) commented on how much he thought Limbaugh was a complete phony.

2. I got a chance to skim through Joseph Farah’s ironically titled book Taking America Back: A Radical Plan to Revive Freedom Morality and Justice. Taking America Back is another book from Christian publisher Thomas Nelson’s unholy alliance with the noisome WorldNetDaily (joining books by Michael Savage and Katherine Harris in Thomas Nelson’s deal with the devil). As regular readers of this blog are well aware, during the last decade Farah, who wears his Christianity on his sleeve, was one of Scaife’s trained (and highly compensated) monkeyboys behind the noxious paranoid conspiracy theory that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. in this book, Farah rehashes unfounded talk reagarding the Filegate nonscandal (So much for not bearing false witness against thy neighbor).

3. Buy Eric Alterman’s book What Liberal Media? It’s important. Alterman has caught some flak for saying some intemperate things about Limbaugh and his mouthbreathing radio audience: “I hate to say it, but I wish the guy would have gone deaf. I shouldn't say that, but on behalf of the country, it would be better without Limbaugh and his 20 million listeners." Most notable is Andrew Sullivan’s criticism of Alterman. True, Alterman’s comments were bad karma, but let’s put this in perspective. For the past 15 years, Limbaugh has been spewing undiluted venom at those whom he perceives as enemies (Limbaugh uses the word “enemy”, not “opponent” to describe those he criticizes; click here for a recent example of Limbaugh’s literal demonization of Tom Daschle). Limbaugh has lied repeatedly on his show; Limbaugh made racist comments, Limbaugh was part of the chorus that claimed that Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons (then denied it) (click here for a litany of Limbaugh’s vile rhetoric; this is far from exhaustive).
Where was Sullivan? During the 1990’s, Sullivan was editor of the progressive The New Republic. It was Sullivan’s duty to expose and discredit hateful demagogues like Limbaugh. Sullivan was completely derelict in his duties (as was Michael Kelley who was also a TNR editor in the 90’s; it seems that Kelley can only use the word “vile” to Al Gore’s reasonable criticism of Bush foreign policy). Sullivan’s outburst against Alterman reminds me of Sullivan vis-à-vis David Brock: When Brock was flooding the media with transparent and hateful lies during the 1990’s, Sullivan was AWOL. Brock finally came clean with his book Blinded by the Right; When Brock was on Crossfire, an error by the transcriber made it appear as if Brock has made a misstatement about not appearing on Fox News—a minor and inconsequential error had he made it. Sullivan jumped on Brock and treated him as a pathological liar. Go figure.
Regarding Limbaugh’s deafness. When I first heard about it, I wondered if Limbaugh would mend his ways; serious illnesses often have a way of telling people that life is too short to be an asshole; no such luck, post-surgery, Limbaugh is the same asshole. The man has no soul.

4. I finally got to see the Brazilian film City of God (Cidade de Deus). This film is easily in my top ten. It is extremely unpleasant to watch at times, but I give it the highest recommendation.

5. Read Gene Lyons on the travesty surrounding Beverly Lowry’s review of Susan McDougal’s book The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk in the New York Times Book Review.

6. When I recently called in to Bill O’Reilly’s radio factor, O’Reilly and his co-host/shill Lis Weihl (who ostensibly is the liberal balance on the show) were curious as to why I mentioned Vince Foster. I wanted to get back to Weihl and explain to her why I said what I did—something she would have known had she done her homework. I had my people contact Westwood One and other sources to get Weihl’s e-mail address so that I could send her a private message; we had no luck. We got the number for O’Reilly’s main assistant, Ron Mitchell (Mitchell is a good person to contact in case O’Reilly makes any more “wetback” slurs; Mitchell can be reached at 212- 301-3697). Since I couldn’t e-mail Weihl privately, I decided to write an open letter:

An Open Letter to Lis Weihl

Dear Lis,

On January 23, when you were co-hosting with Bill O’Reilly on the Radio Factor, I was a caller who attempted to take on O’Reilly for what I believe was his hypocritical criticism of Amiri Baraka and his hateful conspiracy theories. You and O’Reilly were confused as to why I mentioned Vince Foster—a situation that wasn’t helped by the fact that O’Reilly muted me before I could explain. I was simply attempting to point out that while O’Reilly was correct to criticize Baraka, I felt it was hypocritical for O’Reilly to make such a big stink considering the way that O’Reilly himself has been taking money from two of the most prolific and hateful conspiracy theorists of the modern era: Roger Ailes and Joseph Farah (read more about it in my original post). In short, these men engaged in the worst kind of lunatic conspiracy-mongering—resulting in numerous innocent people being hurt; they haven’t paid a price; I think they should pay a price. If your job is to provide ideological balance to O’Reilly, then you should have done your homework and countered O’Reilly with the objections that I didn’t have the chance to because of O’Reilly’s itchy mute button finger.

Regarding that matter, what is your deal? If your goal is to be camouflage for O’Reilly’s pretence of ideological balance on the show, then mission accomplished (the way you cackle on the show reminds me of the way Robin Quivers cackles when Howard Stern says something incredibly racist). If you want to be a full-fledged Aunt Jemima of the left, why not come clean about it?

On the other hand, if you are sincerely attempting to provide some ideological balance to O’Reilly, then you are an abysmal failure. Doesn’t it bother you that an underemployed surferdude is doing your job? You don’t have to thank me or pay me. What you need to do is to shit or get off the pot. Get with the program. I’m fully aware that if you become more than token opposition to the windbag host, you will soon lose your job not only as co-host on the Radio Factor but as a Fox News legal analyst; but then again, do you feel comfortable taking money from a moral leper like Ailes? Do the right thing, Lis. Right now you’re rubbing elbows with some nasty people. Do your homework and stand up to the windbag. You’ll lose your job but you’ll feel better.

Sincerely,

Scoobie


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