In Sunday's Washington Post, ombudsman Deborah Howell laid out the internal deliberations behind the Post's decision to shelve two "Opus" Sunday comic strips mocking the character Lola Granola's flirtation with radical Islam. Howell concluded: "I think Post editors overreacted in killing the strips. Comics are meant to be artful, fun and provocative. The two strips were all of that and worth publishing. Let comics be comics."
Worse yet for the Post pluckers, Howell found that the Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) didn't favor the censorship. CAIR's Ibraham Hooper said the strip "poked fun at the strip's characters, not Muslims or Islam. I see hundreds worse on the Internet every day." And:
Nearly everyone with a television can make jokes about TV awards shows, especially the speech-making. How many times have people made the hoariest jokes about thanking the "little people," or mimicking Sally Field’s Oscar speech: "You like me! You really like me!" But Kathy Griffin, the comedienne with the self-satirizing "My Life on the D-List" show on that D-list network Bravo, took the ritual to a new low when she won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program.
She mocked Jesus Christ.
"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award," she declared. "I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, 'suck it, Jesus.' This award is my god now." The audience reaction? Reporters noted laughter in the crowd. Griffin certainly knew Hollywood die-hards would be pounding the tables over that one.
Two years after a Danish newspaper provoked manufactured outrage in the Islamic world by printing a series of cartoons lampooning Islam's founder, a Swedish newspaper may have done the same with a series of sketches:
Marking the beginning of yet another dispute over free speech and religious sensitivity, the government of Pakistan has joined Iran in protesting the publication in a Swedish newspaper of a sketch featuring the head of Mohammed on the body of a dog.
"Pakistan condemns, in the strongest terms, the publication of an offensive and blasphemous sketch of the Holy Prophet in the Swedish newspaper," the foreign ministry in Islamabad said in a statement Thursday.
It is becoming ever more obvious that the press treats cartoons poking fun at Islam in a much different manner than those poking fun at any other religion. One might even say there is a double standard, and why not, since the media themselves acknowledge that it is true.
"The strip came in and I knew we would have to send out an alert to all the newspapers," Lago said. "I do that fairly regularly with materials that might pose issues for local areas. ... We knew that because it was a sex joke, it could raise issues. And there is another client that has issues with any Muslim depiction whatsoever." ... But she did alert newspapers about the Muslim-themed cartoon because there was a question about whether Muslim readers would be offended. "I don't necessarily think it's poking fun [at Islam]," Lago said. "But the question with Muslims is, are they taking it seriously?"
What's your nomination for today's Dumb Headline of the Day?
Here's mine, from the August 27 blog entry by Chicago Tribune religion reporter/blogger Manya Brachear. The topic was Mother Teresa's diary and how some entries revealed a fear of being distant from Jesus:
After conquering space, where he spends his days and nights, wacky dictator Hugo Chavez has decided to conquer time itself. According to the August 21 New York Times, no less, Chavez is changing the clocks starting in 2008 as part of his plan to move to a six-hour workday.
The left's second-favorite dictator, after Castro, "claims that it will help the metabolism and productivity of his fellow citizens," wrote the Times in a bizarre brief.
During his lengthy Sunday TV show, Chavez was joined by Héctor Navarro, the minister of science and technology. The Times quoted him saying: "This is about the metabolic effect, where the human brain is conditioned by sunlight."
Next up, the "passionate," "dignified," and "intelligent" Chavez, as Barbara Walters called him March 16, says he wants to help America's poor and then raises the price of oil again.
Following in the footsteps of "Springtime for Hitler," the hilarious musical-within-a-musical of "The Producers," comes "Jihad: The Musical." Here's a video of one of the theme songs, "I Wanna Be Like Osama."
Left-wing author and media darling Barbara Ehrenreich’s August 29 article, entitled “Smashing Capitalism,” proves yet again what’s been obvious for quite some time. Her view of economics is crazy. Ehrenreich is the author of numerous books, her most famous being “Nickel and Dimed,” and her most recent “Dancing in the Streets”
Ehrenreich claims the poor are single-handedly “smashing the global financial system.” She even describes their actions as a “revolution.”
Prices for birth control are going to increase a lot for college students. That has CNN deeply concerned. Higher prices for birth control? Oh, the humanity.
That’s because deficit reduction legislation has changed how much the federal government pays to underwrite contraceptives. Costs for the pill and patch have gone up enough, apparently, for college students to consider anything except abstinence.
For a long time, the San Antonio Express-News was unique, not in its predictably liberal editorial page or in its port-skewing news coverage. No, instead, it was one of the few American newspapers to have two editorial cartoonists, one liberal and one conservative.
That is no longer the case. Under pressure to cut jobs and staff in the midst of the overall decline of print media, Express-News editorial page editor Bruce Davidson decided that the paper should drop conservative cartoonist Leo Garza, a fixture at the paper for over 20 years. Liberal cartoonist John Branch will remain on the staff.
You'd think that given the Express-News's posture of demanding accountability from government and (other) businesses, that it would be consistent and respect the "public's right to know" what prompted this politically charged decision. Alas, no such explanation seems in the offing for us plebs.
NonPartyPolitics has picked up on how the liberal ThinkProgress blog smells something fishy in presidential daughter Jenna Bush's engagement to beau Henry Hager. Basically the lefty blog suggests that first lady Laura Bush lied to the press -- in 2005.
That's right, there's got to be something sinister and mendacious in Laura Bush's 2005 prediction that Jenna and Henry were "not serious." I mean, it's not like true love can blossom in a courtship in two years. Not for someone that close to President Bush!
Matt Damon dressed as gas pump? Ben Affleck as an ear of corn? No, it’s not “Good Will Hunting,” the sequel. It’s a new set of videos promoting ethanol mandates on the Web site cleanmyride.org.
The Clean My Ride site is run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, an arm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. The purpose of Clean My Ride is to urge Congress to mandate ethanol as a fuel.
Earlier this week, NBC’s Lee Cowan admitted it was ethanol’s fault milk prices were “skyrocketing.” So which is it? Do environmentalists want better gas mileage or cheaper milk?
One of the other main points of the Web site is to try and get people to stop “running scared from Big Oil.” The first video, which features Affleck in a corn costume – it’s better than “Gigli” – even shows a sequence where “Big Oil” executives are chasing down an ear of corn and then bludgeoning it to death.
I'm no expert on firearms or anything, but I'm pretty sure spent ammunition doesn't look shiny and pristine. So why did the AFP (and Yahoo!, which syndicated the photo) swallow that notion hook, line, and sinker?
Apparently Hardball host Chris Matthews has a bit of a problem keeping his lust in check on the air. On Friday evening's Hardball, Matthews was interviewing CNBC's Street Signs anchor, Erin Burnett, about the latest Wall Street news when suddenly he switched gears as you can see in this video. The official transcript isn't up yet on the MSNBC website but here is a transcription of the conversation as best I could understand it:
MATTHEWS: Could you get a little closer to the camera?
BURNETT: What is it? Is it (garbled) in strangely?
It seemed like a comedy sketch meant to parody the unique Larry King interviewing style but last night satire met reality when King interviewed several transgendered people on his show. Because Larry didn't change his typical interview style a bit, the show came off as both extremely surreal as well as unintentionally hilarious. Here is a portion of the transcript from King's August 10 show which melodramatically begins with this introduction:
Joe Brancatelli's column at Conde-Nast's new Portfolio business magazine August 9 hit at the airline industry pretty hard, so hard, they forgot to remove their airline advertisement from the 'printer-friendly' page.
Brancatelli targeted the "perks and payoffs of airline C.E.O.'s", calling them "self-styled sky gods". This is a rather strange cause for a magazine that in its first issue targeted the "'C-suite' executive (i.e., CFO, CEO, or COO)".
Awaiting the presidential press conference shortly before 10:30 this morning, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric tossed a question to Pentagon correspondent David Martin. But Couric apparently wasn't informed that Martin has lost his voice and was ill-equipped to go live on national television as he could barely whisper the answer to Couric's question.
Under the category of "WELL DUH!," Editor & Publisher had an amusing little blurb on August 1st about a Harris poll "measuring public perceptions of 23 professions and occupations." It's hard to imagine that anyone would need to go to all that work to create the poll, however, at least as far as answering the question of where the occupation of journalism would rank with the American people. All they had to do was to take a peek at Newsbusters to get that easy answer: at the BOTTOM of the pile!
Video (0:55):Real (1.51 MB) or Windows (1.74 MB), plus MP3 audio (305 kB)
As part of a new segment on the "Today" show called "Candidate Cribs," NBC's Jonathan Alter went on a cab ride, with Democratic candidate Mike Gravel behind the wheel. However, Alter received more than a calm cruise through the city from the former Alaskan senator. In a gimmicky stunt, meant to showcase the candidate's past life as a New York City cabbie, Alter slid into the back seat for a ride but just after Gravel started griping about Iraq he crashed the taxi.
Alter: "Gravel is best remembered for helping end the Vietnam era draft with a filibuster and for reading the Pentagon Papers in the Senate. Now, after a quarter-century out of politics, he's an angry Rip Van Winkle."
Gravel: "I know how to get out of Iraq. I know how to affect the solution, it's a diplomatic solution."
Helen Thomas, the Hearst columnist and long-time scourge of Republican presidents as UPI White House correspondent, was "miffed" at Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau because he joked that the rumors were that she was Harry Truman's lover: "I wished he said I was Jack Kennedy's lover."
If that makes Thomas sound like a liberated woman, that would be in line with her recent Planned Parenthood luncheon speech in Iowa, where she claimed conservatives would love to deny women even their right to vote: "It seems now, more than ever, the Supreme Court is prepared to put Americans -- especially women -- back in the 19th century if not earlier...Women, in particular, have to be more vigilant. They can never let go and think that the battle is won. There has been a chipping-away at every advance we've had. Pretty soon they'll be taking aim at the vote."
This is why it's hard not to make slippery-slope arguments against the "reforms" the media in this country are constantly pushing, we can see the eventual result--politicians outlawing any kind of criticism of themselves with the media bearing the brunt of it:
New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.
The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for "satire, ridicule or denigration".
Mika Brzezinski is so outraged that people are discussing Hillary's cleavage . . . that she hopes it helps the Dem prez candidate.
The topic arose at 6:18 A.M. EDT on today's "Morning Joe." The affable Willie Geist, a frequent panelist, is serving this morning as guest host for the absent Joe Scarborough. He broached the subject.
MORNING JOE GUEST HOST WILLIE GEIST: One of the other big stories that everybody is talking about is this Hillary Clinton cleavage thing.
MORNING JOE NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI [in an exasperated tone]: Oh my gosh.
GEIST: . . . There's a shot of it right now; that's not so bad, I've seen much worse.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you kidding me? That's a great outfit. But what annoys me is that people wrote about it and talked about it. And if has helped her in any way I guess it doesn't bother me because that was ridiculous.
No matter how obscure the corner of our culture it might be covering, the MSM often manages to inject its politics. And so it was on this morning's "Today," on what had been shaping up to be a harmless feature on ventriloquists.
NBC's Brian Balthazar narrated the segment, which focused on a ventriloquists' convention in Kentucky. At one point, this dialogue between a ventriloquist and his dummy, Dexter, was rolled.
DEXTER THE DUMMY: I'm thinking about running for president.
VENTRILOQUIST AL STEVENS: President? Who in their right mind would vote for a dummy for president?
The Washington Post 2008 campaign blog "The Trail" has an update on Cleavage-gate, a minor row that seems to have caught the paper's fashion critic Robin Givhan with a dear-in-the-headlights look while giving New York's junior senator a change to perk up her campaign's finances. [Update: Tim Graham has an excellent take on the matter, coming at it from a different angle than I did here. It's a good read. Check it out.]
As the Post's Howard Kurtz and Anne E. Kornblut note, Givhan protests that she:
...would never say the column was about a body part... It was about a style of dress. People have gone down the road of saying, 'I can't believe you're writing about her breasts.' I wasn't writing about her breasts. I was writing about her neckline.
No matter. Kurtz and Kornblut note that Hillary's acolytes are using Givhan's July 20 article to push-up fundraising:
Correction (July 31 | 14:40): Colbert's wrist was broken. He injured it running around his studio before a show. I regret the error.
Bob Shrum, the Democratic political strategist who has only slightly fewer losses on his resume than the Philadelphia Phillies, appeared on the Colbert Report last night to tout his book, “No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Complainer,” err, I mean, “No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner.”
Colbert, who was pretending to be gravely hurt and wearing a fake cast on his arm, was ushered in by wheelchair. Shrum, not missing an opportunity to shill for the Democrats, quipped:
“I hope all the suffering has made you more inclined to support national health insurance, so everybody can get the same kind of risk care you do.”
Clever as ever Mr. Shrum. But that was only the beginning.
Colbert immediately turned his attention to what Shrum, the Susan Lucci of political campaigning, is best known for, losing.
A transcript of Colbert and Shrum’s conversation follows. Colbert’s show is designed as a satirical homage to Bill O’Reilly and usually makes fun of conservatives and certainly Shrum knows this. Even so, he’s dead serious about his Bush-stole-Ohio charge.
Nepotism alert! Tim Russert’s college-age son Luke – yes, the youngster with the XM satellite radio sports show with James Carville – was sitting in as one of the wise-cracking sidekicks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, and Joe Scarborough was mocking him and his "New Age parents" for drinking green tea from Starbucks. Apparently, "morning joe" humor is required, considering the show name. Channeling the spirit of Don Imus, with his regular drug jokes, Luke quipped: “Starbucks are legalized opium dens, and I agree with that.” He’s obviously joking, but you wouldn’t want to run for office and have Tim Russert put that quote up on screen, would you?
Nothing biased here, just an amusing video to kick off your weekend. Yesterday shortly after 3:30 p.m. Eastern on "Studio B," Fox News anchor Shep Smith cracked up his guests and crew by joking about the all-too-frequent incidence of false fire alarms at Fox News Headquarters in New York.
See Update below: Michelle back on the flooding beat!
If you're Michelle Kosinki's agent, you surely have a verboten vocabulary list. Words you don't want your ward ever to say on air. Above all, of course, "canoe." But others too. Ones like "puddle," "slosh," and certainly . . . "row."
But there was Michelle on this morning's "Today," reporting from London on Potter-mania. And you guessed it . . .