This morning I was doing some work and I was listening to KABC. O”Reilly’s show came on and Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News judical analyst, was guest host (click here for a bio and a photo; he looks like a real tool). The topic for the hour was former CNN head Ted Turner’s criticism of Fox News’ obvious bias--which Napolitano, not surprisingly, said didn't exist. I called in and this time (I have appeared on O’Reilly’s show before) I posed as “Floyd” from Palos Verdes (Palos Verdes has good surfing but nasty locals).
Here's the transcript:
NAPOLITANO: Floyd, what do you think—what do you think about Fox [News] and the manner, Floyd, in which it covered the war which just concluded?
SCOOBIE: I think there was a big double standard and there was really no perspective in the way in which Fox News was really part and parcel of the attempt to silence dissent.
NAPOLITANO: Wait a minute. What dissent, Floyd, did Fox silence? It didn’t silence me. It didn’t silence Bill O’Reilly. It didn’t silence those of us who have been critical of the government when we think it’s wrong.
SCOOBIE: There was no objective reporting in terms of people who had reasonable beliefs that the war was wrong. The Dixie Chicks give their opinion about George W. Bush and they’re viewed as un-American and pro-Saddam and stuff like that. Let’s compare that to Fox News’ coverage in terms of Kosovo when you had Tom Delay who wanted to pull the plug on the troops—on the military budget when you had troops who were in harm’s way, nobody attacked him--
NAPOLITANO: I’m beginning to wonder, Floyd, just how much of Fox you watch. We’ve had leading Democrats—with the exception of Al Sharpton—I don’t think I’ve seen him on. We have had every declared Democratic candidate for president on Fox within the past month. We’ve had the chairman of the Democratic National Committee on. We’ve had Congresswoman Pelosi—who’s the leader of the Democrats in the House. We’ve had Congresswoman Jane Harmen, a liberal [Democrat] from California—all on the air almost every day, because fair and balanced is not just a motto, it’s the essence of what we do at Fox. Have you heard those folks?
SCOOBIE: Yes, I have and I’m glad you mentioned that. Nancy Pelosi gives her opinion and you have someone like Brit Hume calling her opinion juvenile—which is his right to do [Note: Hume said this on Fox News Sunday]. But what I’m saying is don’t talk about fair and balanced to me when you have someone like Roger Ailes who heads Fox News—a man who was part of the ugly and ghoulish smear against President Clinton that he was responsible for the death of Vince Foster. [Note: click here for more info on this].
NAPOLITANO: Roger, listen you jackass, Roger Ailes created the greatest newsgathering organization out of whole cloth and it’s crushed the liberal monolith that existed at CNN and I think you’re part of it and I think you’re bitter because of that. But thanks for calling my friend...
Today a Fox News Analyst Called Me a Jackass--Details Later I treat this name-calling as a badge of honor. I am still laughing about the incident. I'll post the transcript later. Am I a jackass? I'll report; you decide. Teaser: the reason the Fox News drone called me a jackass was because I hit home about his boss, Roger "Jabba The Hutt" Ailes.
The Issue Is Hypocrisy I got a chance to hear firsthand part of Diane Sawyer’s interview with The Dixie Chicks on Hannity's show. I find the whole episode discouraging. What I find so disheartening is that the main issue of discussion is whether Natalie Maines is sufficiently remorseful about her “disrespectful” comments about George W. Bush. This framing of the debate in these terms was due mainly to the efforts of the Clear Channel propaganda machine. The rabble that listen to Clear Channel stations are sufficiently whipped up; Sawyer mentioned the slew of detailed death threats that The Dixie Chicks received. Sawyer mentioned how one of the Chicks said it was not an issue of her career but the safety of her child and her family.
What has conveniently been pushed aside in this controversy are two major issues: 1) perspective; and 2) rank hypocrisy. These two issues go together, because if the people who were assessing this matter would look at it with some perspective, then I think the debate would be much different.
When Maines made her comments, Clear Channel took action and treated Maines’ opinion about George W. Bush as if it were an assault against the office of the presidency and against America. Clear Channel carries such people as Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and Michael Reagan—not to mention the various Limbaugh clones. Give me a break. Each of these three lowlifes has done more to lower the level of American political debate than anyone since Joe McCarthy. These three have engaged in an inhuman assault against President Clinton and others—their cruelty knows no bounds. I have focused on Limbaugh because he is the most vicious and the most incorrigible (I held out the hope when Limbaugh lost his hearing that he would develop some perspective, look back at his cruelty, and become a human being; no such luck). Dr. Laura Schlessinger is an equally nasty homophobic nag who, to a lesser extent, passed on many of the nasty rumors about Clinton. When many of these things were shown to be false, there were no apologies or retractions by Schlessinger; someone should tell the author of The Ten Commandments that little thing about not bearing false witness against thy neighbor. Reagan has been a big supporter of Newsmax--the organ for Clinton conspiracy theorist Christopher Ruddy.
Maines gives her opinion about George W. Bush; she is branded un-American by the same network that carries Limbaugh, Schlessinger, and Reagan who told vicious and libelous falsehoods about President Clinton. I dare and defy anyone on the right to explain the morality of this to me.
I'm a Wuss Last night, I had about a 99 percent chance of successfully sneaking into the Identity premiere after-party at the Highlands. I didn't take it because I psyched myself out. I had in my mind the vision of Amanda Peet witnessing me being taken away by security--that would have been too much. There are other parties to crash.
Film Stuff Last night, I went to an advance screening of The Real Cancun, which is from the producers of MTV’s The Real World. Where do I start? When I used to flip through the channels and see MTV’s The Real World, it would get me to think that if that was the real world, the people on the show were living on the planet Dumbass. I hated that show not only because it was stupid but also because it inspired all of the equally stupid “reality TV” (read: unreality TV) series clogging the network primetime lineup.
The Real Cancun is a faux cinema verite look at a dozen college-aged partiers who go to Cancun for spring break. Watching this film leads me to the following conclusions: 1) Partying is fun; 2) Watching other people party is not fun; and 3) Shelling out nine bucks to watch other people party is pathetic. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay to see it because it was an advance screening. The main problem is that if you watched the film to see the party scene in Cancun, you would only get an inkling because the film focused on the goings-on of the dozen subjects—none of whom I found interesting (example: a young woman tells a guy that once she caught her boyfriend with her best friend; he responded that he never experienced anything that intense in his life; if that’s true, it’s time for him to go out and experience life). Small talk permeates the film. I can hear small talk on the street.
Even for the type of person into the cheesy Girls Gone Wild tapes, this movie is a disappointment. There is a steamy wet t-shirt contest early in the film but that's about it. The subjects start to pair off. A guy and a gal get busy under a blanket in a room with the night vision camera rolling—at breakfast next morning, the guy treats her as if she had SARS—that was cold. One final thought about The Real Cancun: there are a dozen college students and not one of them was smoking weed. What gives there? This is probably the first film that has Snoop Dogg in it in which there is no weed-smoking.
A film I saw recently that I liked was Frazetta: Painting with Fire. It is a straightforward documentary biography of artist Frank Frazetta. As the film points out, Frazetta has not been given the credit he deserves as an artist from much of the fine arts community because he has primarily been a commercial artist (comic book artists know him as the top artist of the 1950’s and 1960’s; others know him as the artist for the paperback Conan the Barbarian book covers; when I think of Frazetta, I think about the cover art for a Molly Hatchet album). The film shows Frazetta not only as a great artist but also as a remarkable person who endured many trials.
Hannity’s Chickens Coming Home To Roost? On this blog, I have pointed out how the people who decide to advertise on talk radio take into account the gullibility factor of talk radio’s listeners. Hence, talk radio is inundated with ads for “no money down” real estate learning courses, baldness cures, expensive “herbal Viagra”, commodities dealers, MLM, and miracle diets. Talk radio listeners are a good source of easy income for unscrupulous companies--and it isn’t as if the radio hosts give a damn that their listeners are deceived—that’s the nature of talk radio. People who put up with Rush Limbaugh’s obvious lies are easy targets for these flimflam men.
I Was A George Will Fan Last night, George Will spoke at Redondo Beach. Here is my flyer:
George Will Fan Site
www.georgewill.blogspot.com The most comprehensive site on the
Web for information on America’s
top journalist and pundit. Contains a
complete bibliography and all the
information you need about George Will.
Okay, okay, it isn’t a fan site and there’s no bibliography, but please cut me some slack. I realize it isn’t nice to use deception to get people to the site but I figure the same people are shelling out their hard-earned money ($40 to $50!) to see an operative passing himself off as a journalist. The more people who read things about the pompous ass that one won’t find in the mainstream media, the better. I dressed the part of the type of person who would run a George Will fan site (I was thinking the Philip Seymour Hoffman character in The Big Lebowski). I dressed in a gray Brooks Brothers-type suit, a foulard tie, wing-tips, and a white shirt with a tab collar. I even shaved off my soul patch.
Warning: the first article in my “fan site” is titled “George Will on Sex and Marriage.” I don’t think I’m making any unwarranted assumptions when I make the observation that George Will and sex are topics that don’t mix well. In fact, while I was writing the piece, some unpleasant visuals occurred.
More Reasons That Clear Channel Is Bad For America I recently wrote about my run-in with the godawful pro-Bush Clear Channel radio network. Here are some more reasons not to trust Clear Channel.
1. The Clear Channel station in Los Angeles (KIIS-FM) does homogenous rock and employs Rick Dees as a DJ.
2. KIIS-FM's $1,000,000 Contest is a sham. Clear Channel has TV ads in LA that claim that KIIS-FM is giving away $1,000,000 . Well, if you read the fine print, you'll find out that:
1) Winners don't actually win a million dollars. It kind of reminds me of the cold war joke by Ronald Reagan: Did you hear about the million dollar Russian lottery? The winner gets a dollar a year for a million years. Well, it's not quite that bad but the "million dollar winner" gets the choice between $25,000 for 40 years or a lump sum of $400,000.
2) The promotions for the contest strongly imply that it is a local contest. Not so. The rules state: "Company may conduct the Contest concurrently and simultaneously on several participating stations licensed to Company, and in various States, and Company may add or remove participating stations or change call letters of any participating station at any time during the Contest as announced on the affected station." Clear Channel has over 1000 stations. They don't state how many will be participating in the contest. This allows many Clear Channel stations to advertise the $1,000,000 giveaway (and drastically reduce the chance that a particular radio listener wins). Not honest.
One More Reason (Out of Millions) Not To Trust Fox News One of my fellow bloggers (I don’t recall who it was) pointed out that even to debate over whether Fox News is biased to the right is to give credibility to the absurd position that it isn’t—it’s kind of like debating a flat-earther or a Holocaust revisionist. Let’s face it; Fox News is a right-wing political operation masquerading as a news channel.
Steve Milloy, the self-proclaimed “Junkman,” is the type of person who Fox News uses as an expert on issues (Milloy writes columns for Fox News’ web site). Milloy also craftily grabbed the domain name www.junkscience.com to promote his views. Ostensibly, Milloy is on a crusade against junk science—which he terms “faulty scientific data and analysis used to used to further a special agenda.” Certainly, this is a noble calling. Unfortunately, exposing junk science isn’t part of Milloy’s goals—unless it serves his true agenda (that you won’t find on his web site).
PR Watch also uncovered Milloy’s propaganda regarding asbestos and the World Trade Center. Following the collapse of the twin towers, it was a talk radio talking point that had the framework of the upper floors been insulated with asbestos, there would have been a delay in the collapse of the towers--possibly saving thousands of lives. The authors of a PR Watch piece debunk the Junkman’s junk science on this issue:
The only individuals quoted to support this theory, however, were scientists who had previously worked as paid expert witnesses for the asbestos industry during product liability lawsuits filed by cancer victims. None of these experts had actually done research comparing asbestos to other heat-resistant insulating materials in the event of a plane crash like the one that destroyed the World Trade Towers, and in fact there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the claim that asbestos would have delayed the collapse of the towers by even five seconds, let alone four hours.
Milloy portrays himself as a watchdog for the public interest. Instead, he is a lapdog for corporate interests that harm consumers. The American people are ill-served by him. It is not surprising that Fox News would associate itself with this hack.
Movie Stuff I’m taking off the next few days from blogging. I’m much too busy. I’ll be back early next week with a vengeance—trust me. Hollywood is responding to the war; here is an excerpt from a letter given to the attendees of the premiere of the upcoming Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler film Anger Management: “In consideration of world events, Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures have opted to proceed with our premiere but will not move forward with a traditional red carpet or the pre-screening food and festivities that we had previously planned.”
On the topic of films, I am at a loss so I need some help. Generally, I’m a very laid-back person. One exception is when I go to a film and a fellow audience-member acts as if it’s his/her living room. Here’s the situation: last Saturday night, I went to see Old School (okay, okay, it was a guilty pleasure). Someone two rows in front of me starts to crack her gum. After taking a couple minutes of it. I whispered loudly, “Please don’t crack your gum.” I think they heard it because there was no gum-cracking for the next fifteen minutes or so. Then the cracking started again, so I stood up, leaned forward and said, “The person who is cracking the gum needs to quit cracking the gum.” It stopped for a while and started again. I was in a laid-back mood so I decided against pouring my smuggled-in carrot juice on top of the offender’s head. Plus the movie sucked so I left and told the manager about the situation and he told me in so many words that Old School was the type of film in which there would be a lot of mouthbreathers in the audience. So he let me see another film. I chose Chicago. I found it amusing in the film that one of the women in prison murdered her husband for cracking his gum. I have the following questions; please email your answers. I’m sorry I can’t reply to most of your emails (I’m about a week behind on answering my email):
1. What is it with people who crack their gum? I don’t personally know anyone who does this, so I need some help. Do these people not realize how obnoxious they are or are they trying to annoy people on purpose?
2. Am I the only person who tells people to quit talking or quit cracking their gum in the theater? Have you witnessed people in the theater telling other people to be quiet?
3. Is it wrong for people like me to yell at people misbehaving in the theater?
4. Any ideas about how to put an end to this scourge?
Synchronicity In my earlier post on why Michael Kelly's departure from this world improved ethics in American journalism, I noted how he and Peggy Noonan ganged up on Paul Begala--intentionally distorting Begala's words. It's fitting that the Wall Street Journal editorial page's eulogy for Kelly is by none other than Nooner. It's essentially a puff piece (..."he wrote like a dream, that he was a great reporter with great eyes that he was a keen judge of what is news and what should be news..."), but what else can one expect from the Dolphin-Queen? Great eyes? At least she didn't mention his feet (see addendum). No memorable howlers, such as mentioning Christian dolphins, but I chuckled when I read this assessment of Kelly: "...a life of honesty is a life of controversy, and Kelly seemed constitutionally an honest man." Fitting words from one member of the anti-Begala tag team to another.
Addendum: Noonan on Reagan: "I first saw [President Reagan] as a foot, highly polished brown cordovan wagging merrily on a hassock. I spied it through the door. It was a beautiful foot, sleek. Such casual elegance and clean lines! But not a big foot, not formidable, maybe a little frail. I imagined cradling it in my arms, protecting it from unsmooth roads."
Kerry Versus The Chickenhawks From the Horse: "Unlike many of his Republican critics, Senator Kerry has worn the uniform, served his country, seen combat, so he'd just as soon skip their lectures about supporting our troops." Kerry Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs, responding to Chickenhawks Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert's criticisms regarding Senator Kerry's call for regime change in America.
I haven’t checked the blogosphere but if anyone gets mushy about the tragic loss to journalism due to Michael Kelly’s death, I have one message: get real. Certainly, it is a personal tragedy for those who were close to him. However, Kelly’s death will improve the quality of American journalism and political discourse significantly (unless, of course, the Washington Post replaces him with someone just as egregious as Kelly was). I can think of few pundits who had so many opportunities to shine but who were as lazy, intellectually dishonest, and derelict in their duties as Kelly. Kelly’s death was a tragedy, but so was his wretched career.
I first became acquainted with Kelly when he was editor of The New Republic back in the 1990’s. I subscribed to TNR because it was supposed to be the voice for progressivism. For those of you not familiar with this web site, the 1990’s were important because of the savage nature of the American right and its media—in the form of talk radio, TV preachers hawking conspiracy tapes, Scaife-funded toadies, and Fox News; President Clinton was mauled by a loosely organized dirty tricks operation that cared nothing about the truth, common decency, or mercy. Let me describe the agenda of the hard right of the 1990’s: It was entirely dishonest, cheap, low. It was utterly hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts--bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in smarmy tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible.
The words in bold are not my words, there were Kelly’s words—not to describe Limbaugh, Joseph Farah, or Chris Ruddy in their heyday. No, they were the words Kelly used to describe Al Gore when he dared to criticize the foreign policy of the man who usurped his position. Those of us who spent our money for TNR and who wanted to read Kelly using these kinds of words to describe Limbaugh or any of the other miscreants of the anti-Clinton right faced weekly disappointment. In fact, during the 1990’s, not only was Kelly silent on these matters, but also he was part of the problem. A case in point, Kelly wrote a jaundiced piece on Clinton, portraying him as a corrupt lackey for Tyson Foods (a good account of some of the errors and distortions in the piece can be found on pp. 151, 152 of The Hunting of the President). Finally, in 1997, Martin Peretz canned Kelly, but it was too little too late. Those who fought a dishonest war against Clinton got away with it because people like Kelly didn’t do their jobs.
William Bennett and Sun Myung Moon William Bennett is my second least favorite self-appointed guardian of moral virtue. One mitigating factor that puts Bennett above another self-appointed virtue czar, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, is that at least with Bennett there are no nude photos taken of him by his paramour. I am very thankful for this because, by all appearances, the only sin of the flesh in which Bennett indulges involves bacon double cheeseburgers.
It just isn’t the United States and American democracy that Moon hates. Click here to view Moon’s bigoted views regarding blacks, Jews, women, gays, and others he doesn’t care for. Moon made religion a billion dollar racket—exploiting thousands of young people forced to peddle flowers while posing as charity workers. Moon also participated in the illegal entry of a Korean girl into the United States to become the “wife” of Moon’s son (Moon’s “daughter-in-law,” Nansook Hong spent the next fifteen years in hellish conditions)—Let’s add conspiracies involving statutory rape, immigration fraud, kidnapping and illegal detention to the list of Moon’s crimes (Moon also served time for tax evasion). However, William Bennett and, for that matter, George W. Bush believe Moon is the type of person who deserves their support.
Selective Morality. To Bennett, morality is not a matter of right versus wrong but right versus left. What makes Bennett particularly noxious is that he uses virtue and morality to club Democrats—while turning a blind eye to serious transgressions by Republicans. The 2000 campaign was a good example: Bennett joined the GOP chorus that Al Gore was a habitual liar in a Wall Street Journal column. The problem is like his fellow right-wingers, he exhibited more dishonesty than he claimed Gore exhibited. Contrast this with the discovery that George W. Bush was convicted of drunk driving and covered it up. Bennett immediately said that it would be an issue only if it was discovered that Bush lied about it. When it turned out that Bush lied about it, Bennett was silent.
Bennett’s hatemongering. Bennett discussed gays and lesbians on ABC’s This Week in 1997. He claimed that gay men have a life expectancy of 43. He also made this claim in a Weekly Standard article in which, ironically, he was accusing the Clinton administration of dishonesty regarding gays and AIDS. The 43-year lifespan claim was based on hatemongering posing as research by Dr. Paul Cameron, a notorious anti-gay crackpot. Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign wrote a letter to the editor pointing this out. Instead of retracting his claim, Bennett, in a supercilious tone, cited another researcher to back up the statistic. The problem was that the research Bennett cited was nothing more than another anti-gay polemicist who was citing Cameron’s original flawed research (click here for a comprehensive article on the controversy). So much for Mr. Virtue’s regard for truth.
The war on drugs (read: the war on people who use certain types of drugs, not the types that Bennett has used) epitomizes what a heartless dick Bennett is. Bennett not only called for jail time for simple possession of weed, but he wrote an article for the Weekly Standard against medical marijuana; it was completely disingenuous. Bennett pointed out that not a single study showed the efficacy of marijuana in a medical context; what Bennett fails to point out is that the illegal status of weed prevented researchers from doing the research on its medical efficacy. One more thing, when Bennett became Drug Czar, he had to use a patch to wean himself off of nicotine. We had a Drug Czar who was also a drug addict.
Such ironies is not surprising to anyone familiar with Bennett. One final irony: the paperback edition of The Death of Outrage (Bennett’s diatribe against Clinton for getting his rocks off and not wanting to tell the world about it) was released right around the same time that Newt Gingrich announced that he was trading in Wife Number Two for a younger model. Wife Number Two was a younger model Gingrich had gotten in a trade-in when he gave walking papers to Wife Number One (who had to depend on alms from her church because Gingrich cut her off financially after she helped him get elected to the House). There were no denunciations of Gingrich by the Virtue Czar, because, to paraphrase Gary Kamiya, when it comes to Republican transgressions and Democratic ones, in the exalted nostrils of St. William, only the latter stink.
What To Do When The Blowhard Is In Your Backyard Professional stuffed shirt William Bennett appeared at a "teach-in" at UCLA tonight. The crowd in line was waiting to get in so I distributed a flyer to them. Welcome to anyone who kept the flyer and who is reading this now. I will write the article and post it tomorrow. Here is what was on the flyer:
Scoobie Davis Online
In tomorrow’s Scoobie Davis Online:
William Bennett’s Phony Virtue
Find out about:
1. Bennett’s selective Puritanism
2. Bennett’s hypocritical silence regarding moral
shortcomings in the Republican ranks (to Bennett,
virtue isn’t a matter of right versus wrong, but right
3. Bennett’s hatemongering (and how he
dishonestly tried to cover it up).
4. How Bennett took a huge speaking fee from
a megalomaniac cult leader involved in a rape
scandal, immigration fraud, charity fraud, etc.
5. Bennett’s postmodernist view of Truth
(i.e., if you’re a Republican, you can be a
scumbag and get the Bennett seal of
6. Bennett’s drug war hypocrisy.
In short, you’ll find out why Bennett is a
loathsome blowhard who is unfit to harangue the
American people about virtue and morality.
It was a small gesture but it was fun. Check out this site tomorrow.