Is President Obama getting overexposed? This we know: a firm believer in all his fawning media clips, Obama thinks there is no political problem he cannot overcome with yet another nationally televised address. Not only has he scheduled an umpteenth appearance in prime time, he now insists on addressing the nation’s schoolchildren.
Why is this controversial? What is more American than having her president addressing the young? Reagan did it. So did Bush. The problem is Obama and his administration. There is – always is – a political agenda.
The mission was not to educate, it was to indoctrinate. The public learned the Department of Education sent out guidelines to principals urging that children "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." Older students were urged to answer the question: "What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?"
I was stunned to read on Life Site News that a new movie is being planned about Our Lady of Guadalupe, so-named for an appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 that’s credited with converting nine million indigenous Mexicans to Christianity. The film, still untitled, will be produced by Mpower Pictures, the company that was launched with the pro-life movie "Bella" in 2006 and founded by "The Passion of the Christ" producer Steve McEveety.
That a movie would be made about Our Lady of Guadalupe is amazing, but that wasn’t half the surprise. The movie is being written by Joe Eszterhas. Yes, the same Joe Eszterhas responsible for screenwriting filthy movies like "Basic Instinct" and most infamously, "Showgirls," a movie so pornographic even the late Jack Valenti condemned it.
What I didn’t know until now is the story of the conversion of Joe Eszterhas in 2001, powerfully captured in his 2008 memoir entitled "Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith."
Four years have elapsed since one of the most amazing cases of Republican-bashing media bias in the television era began. The media elites laugh when preachers say immorality causes God to send hurricanes, but they suggested with straight faces that Hurricane Katrina was a death sentence President Bush and his cronies brought to the less fortunate.
In the early spin, race-baiting rapper Kanye West and "objective" anchors like Brian Williams were in rhetorical sync: George Bush didn’t care about black people. On "The Daily Show," Williams said "everyone" knew Bush would have done better if white people were endangered: "Everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: ‘How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, ‘Had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have –’"
Williams couldn’t finish. The liberal audience drowned him in applause.
Our national media are treating the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy as an historic event, more historic even than the deaths of presidents like Gerald Ford. Is this level of attention warranted?
We can all grant that Ted Kennedy was a major legislator with his hands in a lot of historic government action. He was at times a very eloquent speaker and was always a passionate fighter. To his side of the aisle, he was their inspirational leader.
Now add the personal story: Two of his brothers were mercilessly assassinated. He was the final Kennedy from that generation. Clearly, when the media spent countless hours mourning the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., a man who never had a political career, the death of an actual Senator of 46 years should be a greater event.
It is not the amount of coverage that bothers, it is the quality of reporting. "[The Kennedys] are the closest thing we have in this country to royalty, the clan's iconic images engraved on our national consciousness." That's how ABC's Claire Shipman put it on the August 26 Good Morning America, echoing what others have been saying across the dial. CBS anchor Harry Smith began this way: "He bore the unspeakable grief and overwhelming hopes of a nation."
The death of columnist and reporter Bob Novak was a sad occasion for conservatives who voraciously read his columns and cheered his verbal punches on cable television for decades. On TV, Novak’s passing was treated with respect, but only briefly: ABC, CBS, and NBC all noted it on their evening news on August 18, but by the next morning, NBC offered only a sentence or two. ABC and CBS had nothing at all. (All three squeezed in the mandatory daily update on Michael Jackson.)
Perhaps this wouldn’t be surprising for a newspaper columnist, since it’s unrealistic to expect self-adoring TV people to think a mere national print journalist would be worth much air time. After all, who even knows what these newspaper people look like? But Novak wasn’t just a newspaper man, but he was a TV personality as well – starting with almost 250 appearances on NBC’s "Meet the Press," many of them well before he became known as a cable gladiator for conservative principles. (This makes is stranger for "NBC Nightly News" to offer him a mere 67 words on the night of his death.)
The baby boomers are trotting out the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," complete with all that soggy and groggy Woodstock nostalgia. Perhaps the singular statement of that summer was the music and the open celebration of "free love."
All of which, believe it or not, is preferable to what is on the air this summer.
Start with the big hit "Birthday Sex," which brought quick fame (which is to say, infamy) to a singer named Jeremih. (Why must these people always celebrate illiteracy?) His basic lyric is "Don’t need candles and cake / Just need your body to make / Birthday sex." But Jeremih also elaborates about how he wants sex in the kitchen, on a waterbed, and so on. It’s an audio porn movie.
Interestingly, and sadly, few can be found to disapprove of foisting these "adult situations" lyrics on children. Radio station managers are, as a group, completely apathetic. But school administrators? The Chicago Public Schools enlisted their newly famous alumnus Jeremih in an online Twitter campaign to urge Chicago teens to go back to school this fall.
There are an awful lot of people I know in the world of public policy, many of whom I respect and admire. But beyond respecting his wisdom and admiring his courage, I just plain like Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. I like his Irish feistiness. I like his sense of loyalty. I like his sense of humor. Most of all, I like how he drives his opponents mad. And with his new book, "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America." he could be expected to be stricken from all manner of Christmas card lists -- except the people he skewers don’t believe in Christmas.
Disclaimer: I’m on the Board of Advisors of the Catholic League. I’ve been involved with this terrific organization for many years because Bill Donohue invited me, and I’ve never been able to refuse Bill Donohue anything.
"Secular Sabotage" is serious business. Donohue insists the United States should be considered unequivocally a Christian country. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves as such. Indeed – and I didn’t realize this – the United States is the most Christian country, in quantitative terms, in the world.
There have been a couple of constants where Iraq War cinematography is concerned. One, movie makers ignore the public appetite for movies supporting the anti-terror war message in favor of drab, depressing, preachy anti-war politicking featuring marquee names and little else.
Two, those movies, which predictably bomb at the box office, are the rage of the film critics who levitate in ecstasy at the opportunity to praise that which trashes Bush, the war on terror and the military all at once.
So how to explain “The Hurt Locker” and the critical rapture that surrounds it? Here’s a new offering that has none of the political messaging of Hollywood, doesn’t contain a single marquee name, and the critics are cheering.
New York Times tastemaker A.O. Scott bluntly proclaimed it "The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq." Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal also raved: "A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances."
The plot is disarmingly simple, if I can use that pun. The film follows a team of U.S. Army technicians in Baghdad disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The audience shares the unnerving tension, even paranoia of the soldiers, feeling the prospect of death lurking around every corner, hidden behind every wall, and in the slightest of movements of every Iraqi stranger.
Morgenstern is not kidding about "austere technique." This has to be the quietest war movie ever made, and it’s a quiet movie about… bombs? Outside of a few breaks of inside-the-movie music (rock music from boom-boxes or video games), there is no mood-establishing music until the 1:02 mark – a sensual eternity.
Director Kathryn Bigelow never provides the viewer with the audio cues warning of impending crisis, leaving the viewer conditioned to expect disaster constantly. There is no Dolby-Stereo wizardry or enormous special-effects monsters in "The Hurt Locker." This film operates on a maddeningly vulnerable, heart-pounding human scale.
This is not a pro-war movie; it is a movie about war, period. It is certainly the first Iraq War movie that drains all of the political rhetoric out, offering instead just the microcosm of American troops in a theatre where terrorists really are blowing people up with a quick dial on their cell phones.
Some leftist critics have found that lack of politicking to be political. Tara McKelvey of the American Prospect complained that the movie was "propaganda," an "effective recruiting tool" for the Army. Yet McKelvey can't even seem to convince herself. In another passage, she stated the movie "shows the paranoia, rage, and brutal recklessness of soldiers trapped in the downward death spiral of the Iraq war."
The soldiers here are not bigoted monsters. In New York magazine, critic David Edelstein suggested "The Hurt Locker might be the first Iraq-set film to break through to a mass audience because it doesn't lead with the paralysis of the guilt-ridden Yank."
The central character of the movie, Staff Sgt. Will James, is not guilt-ridden, but he's also not your standard G.I. Joe action hero. The soldiers under his command are so unnerved at his reckless bomb-disabling antics that they briefly consider taking him out with friendly fire to keep him from getting them killed.
Ice seems to flow through Will's veins as he takes apart bombs that could blow up a city block. And yet when he returns home to his wife and infant son, he's clearly unnerved by the tedium of rolling through a supermarket deciding which cereal to buy, as the syrupy sounds of Muzak suggest a stark contrast with the exploding ordinance of a war zone. While his squad dreams of going home in one piece, he's clearly much happier hovering over a bomb fuse. There is no dramatic "Top Gun" hero ending, where he's applauded by a cast of hundreds. In the end he’s as conflicted as when he was first introduced.
Some Iraq veterans have complained the movie isn't militarily realistic about what Army bomb squads actually do, but that reminds us of the D-Day vets who said the opening act of “Saving Private Ryan” wasn’t realistic enough. The viewer certainly feels he is trudging along with the troops on very perilous ground.
It’s a good movie to see, if only to remember the next time you come across a veteran deserving a nation’s gratitude.
Darlene Haynes was only 23 years old when another woman brutally slashed her open and removed her eight-month-old baby girl from her womb. Her decomposing body was found on July 27, wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a closet inside her apartment in Worcester, Massachusetts. The body was so mutilated that when they found it, the police said they couldn't immediately determine its gender.
The suspected murderer, 35-year-old Julie Corey, lived in the same apartment building and was found soon after the crime in Plymouth, New Hampshire, claiming the baby was her own.
This heart-rending story is also notorious for how the "pro-choice" media sputter and struggle to deny the humanity of a baby, even as the child is slashed away and stolen by a psychopath. I would highly doubt Corey said to bewildered onlookers, "Look at my new fetus."
And yet journalists insult this motherless baby as merely a "fetus," this their dismissive blob-of-tissue word suggesting an unborn baby is subhuman until birth, no matter how many months along in the pregnancy, and no matter how physically able it is to survive outside the womb.
MTV specializes in the kind of "reality show" that would have you believe all young Americans are spoiled, profane, and crazed about alcohol and sex. From its raunchy spring-break coverage to its "Real World" and "Tila Tequila" reality shows, MTV is constantly sending a message to young people that absolutely everyone is enjoying or seeking casual sex, and never are there negative consequences beyond the occasional break-up.
So it was shocking this summer for MTV to air a reality show called "16 and Pregnant." MTV, airing a show on the very real-world consequences of the hook-up culture? Jaws dropped across the spectrum of MTV critics, from the moralists who decry the promotion of premarital sex to the health experts and "safe sex" promoters who want every sex scene to come with a contraceptive message.
The six-part "16 and Pregnant" series examined the hardships undergone by six impregnated teenage girls. It illustrated how childbirth and motherhood radically changes a young girl’s life, and explained what Barack Obama meant when he clumsily said he wouldn’t want his daughters to be "punished with a baby."
Martha Joynt Kumar, a scholar of presidential communications strategies at Towson University, reports that President Obama is almost everywhere in the media. In their first four months, Bill Clinton gave 11 interviews and George W. Bush gave 18, compared with 43 from Obama. He has offered his eloquence to ABC News at least six times, seven times on CBS and nine times on NBC.
That large number doesn't count his latest TV interview blitz, or the four prime-time press conferences. But all this access to the media – based on the strategy that Obama's charisma can overcome all objections to his policy nostrums – isn't stopping the collapse of his attempts to rush the country into massive new spending and regulation schemes.
When it comes to awful movies, Pat Buchanan once quipped he didn’t have to look underneath a manhole cover to know there’s a sewer down below. The smutty new movie "Bruno" can be read by its cover. In the midst of a barrage of crude sexual humor, master satirist Sacha Baron Cohen is once again exposing Americans for what Time magazine calls their "ignorance and prejudice, hypocrisy and primitive rage."
Yes, I’m sure it has its funny moments, and some are laugh-out-loud hilarious. I say I’m sure because I really don’t know. I was on my way to the theater when I reversed course. I’m not going to give these slimy people $9.50, or $1.50. Besides, it’s all there on the Internet.
In his last film, "Borat," Cohen played an idiotic journalist from Kazakhstan who attempted to expose unsuspecting people as misogynistic, racist, and anti-Semitic. The new title character of "Bruno" is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter who is going to expose the raging "homophobia" in America, especially the South (also targeted in the last film).
It’s a consistent line from the left: conservative talk radio is a cauldron of hate. In the Clinton years, a CBS News promo set out to warn the public about the dangers of Gordon Liddy: "The words are shocking... What he says may not be illegal, but is it dangerous? Has free speech gone too far? Hate radio under fire, and firing back."
It is an unmistakable, unquestionable, resoundingly unequivocal exercise in liberal hypocrisy. The airwaves are now filled with the meanest, most insulting, most dishonest ad hominems in history. They are coming from left-wing talk show hosts.
And from CBS & Co.? Dead silence.
Take Ed Schultz, the closest thing the liberals have to a talk-radio star. He comes unglued when he talks of Rush. On July 15, he uncorked this rant: "Apparently the drug-ridden loser Rush Limbaugh, he thinks because he’s got a lot of money and a lot of stations that he's a success in life, the guy that can't hear because he did so many drugs and had no self-discipline and character has now taken his first shot at me on ‘The Ed Show’ on MSNBC. I love it!"
On society’s list of most shameful professions, the pornographer would be near the top. What must pornographers think of themselves? They would argue that their industry has joined the mainstream, yet for porn performers, it’s a sordid career fraught with perils of drugs, disease, and in the darker corners of porn, exploitation and abuse.
Take the case of a true pervert, Paul Little, who calls himself "Max Hardcore." The British author Martin Amis submerged himself in the sleaziest subcultures of sex on film for the British newspaper The Guardian a few years ago. He recalled the making of Little’s "Hollywood Hardcore 13." The film included a series of...excretory humiliations.
Struggling to sell a "public option" of socialized medicine on America, the left needs demons. So here comes, right on time, the focus on all the "lies" that free-market "front groups" are pushing on the failures of nationalized health care in countries like Canada and Great Britain.
These leftists are shameless. Their intellectual dishonesty is boundless. One wonders if socialized medicine might include treatment for this condition.
A man named Wendell Potter was the star of the hour on PBS’s "Bill Moyers Journal" on July 10. Potter used to be a spokesman for the insurance giant Cigna. He painted a picture of gilded excess. "I was served my lunch by a flight attendant who brought my lunch on a gold-rimmed plate. And she handed me gold-plated silverware to eat it with." Sitting in a spacious corporate jet, he said he was overcome by guilt at the gap between his creature comforts and the health struggles of the poor and uninsured.
The Washington Post called it an "orgy of praise" and an "exercise in excess." They were referring to the star-studded, mega-televised Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles. It just as accurately described the supposedly serious national media’s weeks of outsized hyperbole concerning the life and death of a man who was a pop sensation, to be sure, but also highly controversial, even scandalous.
There certainly was the exercise in excess on the "news" programs. On the night of July 6, ABC, CBS, and NBC, paid twenty times more attention to Jackson (more than a week after his death) than to the deaths of seven brave soldiers in Afghanistan.
They were only tip of the excess iceberg. Jackson dominated every "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight" show for two weeks. The memorial service aired on 19 different networks, drawing 31 million viewers. At least that exposed one piece of hype from the Jackson camp: that "a billion" global villagers would tune in.
The network news divisions are enjoying the unprecedented coverage they're providing President Obama, not just because they support him, but because White House specials are cheap and do well in the ratings. "Obama should change his middle name from Hussein to Nielsen," quipped longtime TV reporter Gail Shister in a story by David Bauder of the Associated Press. It seems like a never-ending spin cycle: laudatory coverage leads to popularity, which leads to higher TV ratings, which leads to more laudatory coverage.
But it's not working any more. Behind the glittery curtains, Obama's polls are falling. Worse, some ink-stained wretches are getting a little sick of the propaganda merry-go-round. Helen Thomas and CBS reporter Chip Reid both slammed press secretary Robert Gibbs on the hermetically sealed "town hall" meeting on health care in Annandale, Virginia, where all the questions and questioners (and president-huggers) were carefully screened to make sure no one burst the bubble of Barack's astonishing cool.
But the network chieftains continue to be unapologetic, even insulting when questioned about their laudatory coverage of the White House.
Many years ago, when Bill Maher’s comedy show was hosted by Comedy Central and he was funny, his formula for success was truly unique. Every week two sets of political and/or cultural opposites were pitted against each other, and he refereed with humor. It was all designed for a good laugh and succeeded because once upon a time Bill Maher was truly funny.
Some producer really thought in extremes when they pitted Oliver Stone and Brent Bozell for one episode. I have to say that you were gracious, charming, engaging, and we enjoyed ourselves – except for that moment when I chastised you for claiming you’re an historian. You bristled and denied ever claming that moniker. I cited the source, an interview in some West Coast paper (I can’t recall which one now). “I’m a filmmaker, that’s all,” you told me.
The surrealism of celebrity pop culture erupts when a major celebrity dies. The sudden, mysterious death of Michael Jackson caused a near-total eclipse of the real news. The cable-news channels blurred into 24-7 wailing walls for the so-called "King of Pop." Television ratings surged with a big ka-ching.
So much for the "news" business. On Friday, for example, just 24 hours after the death news broke, anchors like NBC’s Brian Williams fit the "news" of Congress and recession and Iran into a neat thimble of snippets so they could devote most of the newscast to continued mourning of the man with the glittery glove.
But what, exactly, is it that Michael Jackson brought to America that was so essential? An alien arriving from space would find him celebrated for dressing in shiny socks and dancing the "moonwalk." His music broke sales records and sets dance floors hopping, and his videos made people say "I want my MTV." But all this happened a long time ago, when MTV was a music channel.
Twisted Hollywood and its twisted parade of tastemakers known as television critics are forever in search of another "black comedy," and if audiences don’t embrace one, then they can always make another one. Showtime didn’t succeed with "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," so now they’re trying a different brand of prostitute. "Nurse Jackie" is an addict who has daily sex at noon with her hospital pharmacist in exchange for Oxycontin and other drugs. She’s married and a mother of two little girls. She is a filthy degenerate.
And the critics love it. Matt Roush of TV Guide calls it "a perfect companion piece to the increasingly twisted ‘Weeds,’" as it "straddles the worlds of drama and comedy with confidence and gutsy gusto." For those who don’t waste their money on Showtime, "Weeds" is a "comedy" where a suburban housewife is a drug dealer pushing marijuana instead of Avon.
There is no doubt these two shows are a match in blackness.
The Public Broadcasting Service recently announced it will not allow new religious programming on their taxpayer-subsidized airwaves. The handful of stations that have shown a Catholic Mass or Mormon devotions will be allowed to continue, but the other 300-plus stations have been instructed to avoid any kind of evangelism.
Welcome to Barack Obama’s new world order.
News reports explained that the PBS station services committee insisted on applying a 1985 rule that all PBS shows must be "noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian."
To everyone who’s watched a pledge drive or contemplated a toy store stuffed with "Sesame Street" toys, the idea that PBS is following any "noncommercial" policy is absurd.
To everyone who’s watched two minutes of "Bill Moyers Journal," with its panels unanimously screaming for Bush’s impeachment, or more recently, for a single-payer socialist health-care system, the idea of PBS being devoted to a "nonpartisan" stance is several miles removed from ridiculous.
Pornography is no longer a poison creeping into the crevices of our popular culture. It is part of the very fabric. One sensation at a recent Apple conference for new and developing applications in San Francisco was the "i-Porn bikini girls" advertising free X-rated films for your i-Phone. It sounds like a whole new reason to fear people using their mobile phone while they drive.
Free porn sites are all over the Internet now, with zero restrictions or minimal electronic barriers against curious children who might be in for a very crude shock within seconds, just with the still photos on the home page. Even the most mainstream of video sites are inundated with pornography and its promoters. YouTube touts itself as the world’s most popular portal for Internet videos. It has become so big it’s even promoting a new technology called YouTube XL to put its videos directly on your big-screen TV.
A calm Sunday breakfast might have been ruined after a glance at The Washington Post’s front page on June 14. A chart below the fold explained that under Obama’s federal spending proposals, the United States would be required to borrow $9 trillion during the next decade. That’s $9,000,000,000,000. The Post compared that, in today’s dollars, to the financial burden of World War II: $3.6 trillion. That’s not all of Obama’s spending plan. That’s only the part that’s in the red.
Is it any wonder that a recent Gallup poll found more people disapprove rather than approve of Obama’s handling of the deficit? But we’ve only just begun. Now President Obama wants to add another enormous chunk of government health-care spending. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the latest Democratic bill in the Senate would add another one trillion dollars to the budget over the next decade, and they suggest that’s only a partial estimate.
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold confirmation hearings on June 16 for Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Communications Commission. He is not a controversial figure, in part because he seems like a blank slate. His positions on many regulatory issues are yet to be revealed. But passionate advocates will want answers dragged out of him.
The Obama team is placing its emphasis on the wishes of its liberal base, like expanding access to the Internet and broadband service. But conservatives want senators to press on the fervent desire of Obama’s Democratic supporters for a reimposed Fairness Doctrine (or, as conservatives are warning, a "Censorship Doctrine.") The White House has suggested the fury is overblown. They remind us that the president has come out against the Fairness Doctrine. But there are many evolving ways to try and intimidate radio stations to alter their content, including initiatives for diversity in broadcast ownership.
The Obama administration’s arguably unconstitutional and potentially illegal makeover/takeover of General Motors and Chrysler hit a legal road block on June 8, when Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay preventing Team Obama’s plan to sell Chrysler to the Italian automaker Fiat. This speed bump was a great opportunity for the media to pay attention to objections to the White House’s reckless executive-branch manipulation of the auto business.
President Bush and his team were regularly savaged by the media elite if they so much as sniffed a hint of evasion over the rule of law and the bounds of constitutional authority in fighting terrorism. So why is President Obama’s unprecedented intervention in the auto industry, including a TARP-fund bailout expressly ruled out by Congress, all but ignored?
Even with the Supreme Court order, the nightly news shows of CBS and NBC gave the decision just a few seconds of air time, the equivalent of a stifled yawn, and never went anywhere near describing the strange bankruptcy proceedings the Obama administration has cooked up to manipulate the industry to its liking.
MTV really knows how to stage the stunts that generate big publicity for their major events. In 2004, MTV produced the CBS Super Bowl halftime show where Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast. In the fall of 2003, Britney Spears kissed Madonna suggestively at their Video Music Awards program. They’ve done it again with the 2009 MTV Movie Awards show. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s dressed like an angel and his flying over the audience during the live show went badly awry. He crash-landed in the audience and ended up upside down with his bare buttocks exposed right in the face of the rapper Eminem.
The seeming perfection of this gross-out embarrassment, complete with Eminem wearing a microphone, having a swearing fit, and walking out of the theater, caused some to smell a calculated stunt. Cohen seemed to be wearing a thong so the gross-out didn’t include an upside-down whole-crotch hangout. So was it a fake? Scott Aukerman, head writer of this sorry program, admitted they staged this disaster. "That's all anyone wants to talk about, so let’s get it out of the way. They rehearsed it at dress and yes, it went as far as it did on the live show then."
In the very heart of the pro-life community, there is nothing they wanted less than another shooting of an abortionist. An unhinged vigilante's shooting of notorious Kansas late-term abortion "provider" George Tiller prompted an avalanche of press releases from pro-life groups denouncing the killing.
Why bother? Let's face it. The national media had zero interest in spotlighting a pro-life spokesman expressing horror, because let's face it, they don't believe it. Instead, as with ABC, they found anonymous citizens on the website Twitter saying "Oh, happy, day. Tiller the baby killer is dead." Another wrote, "God bless the gunman."
It was time for a barrage of liberal mudslinging. Keith Olbermann started his MSNBC program with these words: "A religious jihad by fundamentalist crusaders who believe that murder is justified, their acts of violence having the intended effect of changing behavior. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Not the Taliban, not Hamas, not al Qaeda."
On Memorial Day, it would have been nice if the top-rated show was PBS’s concert paying patriotic tribute to our brave fighting men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Instead, this Memorial Day had a different, much less laudable spectacle top the ratings.
The cable channel TLC beat every broadcast network with a new season debut of "Jon and Kate Plus 8," a "reality" program chronicling the eventful life of parents of a set of twins and a set of sextuplets.
The show itself was not some offensive parade of sex or gore. The spectacle here is the collapsing marriage of the "reality" show stars, Jon and Kate Gosselin, prodded along for weeks by all the tabloids and celebrity magazines. First, there were charges that Jon cheated on Kate with a teacher, and then came counter-charges that Kate cheated on Jon with their bodyguard.
The question that didn’t dominate: with a marriage on the rocks and eight young children in the balance, why not cancel the show and concentrate on real life?
Dick Cheney clearly drives the liberal media nuts. As much as they’d like to bask in the glow of the new and glorious Obama Era, they simply cannot achieve that requisite state of Nirvana with Cheney around. They spent eight long years packaging Cheney as some evil and deadly combination of Darth Vader and the Ebola virus. Now they can add to the descriptors a new title: Count Dracula. The man refuses to die.
That’s why every speech he makes draws a ferocious chorus of media boos of outrage at the idea he would dare to think he has freedom to speak in the first place. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was so flustered over Cheney’s latest speech at the American Enterprise Institute that he asked Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth: "If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?"
It isn’t easy to shock the jaded audiences at the Cannes Film Festival, but Danish director Lars von Trier achieved that with his new movie "Antichrist." It wasn’t really the title. It wasn’t the weird scenes with a talking fox. It was the graphically portrayed sexual mutilation.
Let’s dispense with the plot. A couple is mourning the loss of a child. They go to an isolated cabin, the mother loses her mind and goes postal on her husband, and herself. Pressed by journalists about his film, von Trier claimed his movies choose him, not the other way around. "I never have a choice," he said. "It's the hand of God, I'm afraid." He added, "I am the best film director in the world."
Journalists don’t agree. "I thought I had my head down a lavatory, frankly," said Baz Bamigboye of London's Daily Mail, one writer who demanded that von Trier attempt to justify his sick movie. The Hollywood Reporter called it "torture porn."