PBS recently responded to accusations of a liberal slant to its July 23 Need to Know program which featured satirist Andy Borowitz making fun of Sarah Palin’s intelligence as the show's executive director Shelley Lewis claimed that, because the previous week's episode had featured a segment that was critical of President Obama, the program in reality has been balanced in going after political figures. According to TVNewser, quoting from Michael Getler's July 28 "The Ombudsman Column" on the PBS Web site, Lewis argued: "Is a little joking about Ms. Palin's penchant for malaprops really such a big deal? Last week, editorial cartoonist Steve Brodner was pretty tough on President Obama, and we heard plenty from Obama fans about how unfair we were, how right-wing we were, etc. We do try to have some fun at both sides' expense..."
But the July 16 segment that poked fun at Obama actually criticized him for not being liberal enough in keeping his campaign promises as cartoonist Steve Brodner was shown drawing sketches of Obama while a voiceover of the cartoonist lamented that "the presumed anti-war Obama became the 30,000 more troops Obama," and that "the previous stimulus advocate Obama who faced McConnell finally and a vocal conservative movement, he didn't campaign consistently for the stimulus that he mentioned in the State of the Union, wound up advocating for that along with deficit reduction, making him at least partly like McConnell."
Brodner also drew a more unflattering sketch of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell than he did of President Obama, making the Kentucky Republican appear similar to a pig. Brodner then took a cut-out sketch of half of McConnell’s face and placed it over half of Obama’s face to signify that President Obama had compromised too much with conservatives.
After complaining about Obama not going far enough on financial reform, the cartoonist concluded: "Is it possible he was never the man we thought he was in the first place? Obama, where art thou?"
On the July 23 Need to Know, during the show’s semi-regular humor-based "Next Week’s News" portion of the show, Borowitz devoted the entire segment to mocking Sarah Palin’s intelligence as he faux-predicted that, after winning the 2012 presidential election, "Her first official act will be to cancel the agreement between nouns and verbs," and that she will then "replace the English language with ‘Palinese,’ a language known only to her."
Citing Palin’s coining of the word "refudiate" which she used in a Twitter posting as a premise, Borowitz made up other words to take shots at the former Alaska governor’s intelligence, as he alluded to her tendency to write notes on her hands, and used the made-up word "rignorant" to portray her as stupid for wanting to continue oil drilling in the ocean after the BP oil spill disaster. Borowitz: "'Rignorance' means advocating deep water drilling in the aftermath of an ecological disaster that killed thousands of pelicans."
The satirist also cracked: "I figure if we learn three words a day, in two years we might have a shot at understanding her State of the Union Address."
The show's "Next Week’s News" segment has a history of taking shots at the intelligence of conservatives as, on the second show of the series back in April, Palin and Supreme Court Justice Clarence were both targets of ridicule. Borowitz also once suggested that Palin and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann are two of the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Below are transcripts of the relevant segments from the Friday, July 23, and the Friday, July 16, Need to Know program on PBS:
#From the July 23 show:
ALISON STEWART: Here at Need to Know, we believe in real reporting.
JON MEACHAM: We don't put much stock in crystal balls or reading tea leaves.
STEWART: But when we need to know what's happening next week, we turn to our own Andy Borowitz to give us his trademark glance into the future. Hi, Andy.
ANDY BOROWITZ: Hi, Alison and Jon. Well, this week we're going to look a little bit further into the future to 2012. If the presidential election were held today, Sarah Palin would defeat Barack Obama. Now, that's according to a new poll published in Mayan Prophecy Weekly.
Here’s what you need to know about a Palin presidency. Her first official act will be to cancel the agreement between nouns and verbs. Next, she'll replace the English language with "Palinese," a language known only to her. Even her husband Todd doesn't speak it, although to be fair no one has ever heard him speak.
We got a little taste of this strange new language last week on her Twitter page when she used the word "refudiate." Now, when she uses a word like "refudiate," she may seem "incohecent," but in 2012 we're all be talking like this, so we better start learning "Palinese" now. I figure if we learn three words a day, in two years we might have a shot at understanding her State of the Union Address.
Let's begin our lesson in basic Palinese. Word number one, "mitteracy." "Mitteracy" means the ability to read off one's hand. Word number two, "rignorance." "Rignorance" means advocating deep water drilling in the aftermath of an ecological disaster that killed thousands of pelicans. And, finally, "mooseacre." "Mooseacre" means a really fun day in the great outdoors. Well, that's our lesson in "Palinese" for today.
Now, you may be wondering where does Sarah Palin find all these new words of hers? In a little book called the fictionary. Well, that’ll do it for "Next Week’s News." Back to you, Jon and Alison or as we say in Palinese, "Jalison."
STEWART: Thank you, Andy, Professor Borowitz.
#From the July 16 show:
ALISON STEWART: According to the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, confidence in President Obama has hit an all-time low with 57 percent of those surveyed responding they have only some or no faith in Mr. Obama's ability to make the right decisions for the country. If it's any comfort, he still rates higher than either Democrats or Republicans in Congress. Some are asking whether President Obama is the same person as candidate Obama. That's a good question for editorial cartoonist Steve Brodner.
STEVE BRODNER: Recent studies show that Tibetans actually possess a gene that keeps their blood flowing at high altitudes so that they don't have mountain sickness. They tracked this change in their genetic structure to as recent as 3,000 years ago. So this is a very recent example of evolution in people. Is this what happened to President Obama when he rose to the greatest height? Could his changing have evolved to the not-so-much changed? Are we seeing somebody who also has a recent evolution?
Well, on the war in Afghanistan, the presumed anti-war Obama became the 30,000 more troops Obama. Put a little camouflage in Obama’s face here.
On jobs, on the stimulus bill, the previous stimulus advocate Obama who faced McConnell finally and a vocal conservative movement, he didn't campaign consistently for the stimulus that he mentioned in the State of the Union, wound up advocating for that along with deficit reduction, making him at least partly like McConnell.
On financial reform, lobbyists worked for months to water down the industry reforming legislation. The tough-on-Wall Street Obama becomes the man with liquid assets. It might not be a cloud that we see, but maybe smoke arising from some vast power machine, the mechanical Washington-Wall Street-K Street monster.
Is what happened at that great height a natural political evolution? Or is it possible he was never the man we thought he was in the first place? Obama, where art thou?