Saturday, August 23, 2008

Irony, Thy Name is National Enquirer

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

I've always had a healthy disrespect for tabloids. In fact, throughout my college years, when I was ensconced in my studies of media and journalism, I considered the term "tabloid journalism" an oxymoron. Boy, is my face red. But, not so red as is the Gray Lady's, I should think. She's now playing catch up on news her editors did not think "fit to print."

Scandal has turned Mr. Edwards into a pathetic has-been. It's had much the same effect on the news bosses at the mainstream media, who used to be the gatekeepers for all things fit to print. When the Enquirer broke the story months ago – while Mr. Edwards was still in the race – they treated it like poison ivy. “Classically not a Times-like story,” sniffed Craig Whitney, the standards editor of The New York Times. This was the same paper, you may recall, that recently ran an innuendo-laden story on John McCain and his friendship with an attractive lobbyist a decade or so ago. No wonder critics accuse the MSM of double standards – one for Democrats, and another for Republicans.

Indeed, the Enquirer turned up its nose at McCain non-story. It would seem, wisely so. This and other revelations from The New Republic -- they, of the Stephen Glass debacle. That The National Enquirer is burying the bona fide press corps in the sack, is shaping up to be the story of the year.

Normally, in the pitched tabloid battle for exclusives, losing a competitive bombshell like the McCain scandal would send Perel into fits. Not this time. Five Enquirer reporters had spent more than a month in 2007 chasing down the same rumors but failed to uncover any documentary evidence. "I wouldn't have run that piece, there was nothing in it," Perel told me recently about the Times story, which received widespread criticism when it ran. "It was filled with innuendo. . . . When you're done reading it, you're like, there's no there there."

My first intimation that the Enquirer might just be a force to reckoned with came while I was watching a documentary on the O.J. Simpson trial. (No. It did not come during the actual trial; a story which became so burdensome, day after day, that I extended great effort to tune it out.) But, I was somewhat taken aback to hear more legitimate reporters speak in respectful terms about the quality reporting the Enquirer did on O.J. While other reporters were beating minutiae to death, the Enquirer was willing to get dirty, and in doing so, kept breaking the big stories. They became the go to source during that scandal.

In fact, the barbarians have been at the gates ever since the O. J. Simpson trial, which turned out to be a cultural and racial event of immense significance. The MSM couldn't bear to dumpster-dive into the lurid details, even as an insatiable public gobbled them up. That was when they began to lose their grip on deciding what is news. With the explosion of the blogosphere, their power is gone for good.

It seems that while many of the major media brokers are busy chasing headlines, Enquirer reporters are chasing actual stories. I speak not of the kinds of stories they do, but of the way they do their reporting. Like it or not they are doing actual investigative journalism -- something the TNR piece makes clear -- while far too many so-called reporters are writing stories from press releases and proving to be knee-pad wearing whores for the same unreliable sources, again and again.

New York Times "Reporter" Judith Miller
photo: Kevin Wolf AP

Nowhere has the whoredom of mainstream press been more evident than with the media circus over VP selection. Massive resources have been allocated for reporters to camp out on lawns and whip themselves, and, sadly, the public, into a frenzy over something that we were all going to find out anyway. Why is it so important to get a story first, when no one, but no one, will give a shit two weeks from now who "broke" the "Biden is the VP pick" story? The only thing mildly interesting in this woeful display has been watching some bloggers and reporters step on their cranks, in their haste to "get it first."

What is more important? Getting it first, or getting it right?

Perhaps the paper of record will be able to reestablish its cred with the newest investigation into John Edwards's smarminess. This they will do by retracing some of the source material for their successful reportage into Eliot Spitzer's smarminess. I hope it pans out for their sake, if not for Elizabeth Edwards's.


Lance Mannion:

It's like your parents told you they were going to give you a big surprise for your birthday, something you always wanted, and although you knew they couldn't have meant you were going to get the pony you always dreamed of you hoped that meant they weren't going to give you something boring like a new winter coat, but maybe it'll be a new bike, at least, but as you counted down the days to your birthday they kept hinting and hinting that it really might be the pony and you couldn't help it, you began to think it would be the pony, then the morning of your birthday comes, and your mother wakes you up early to give you your present, she even tells you it's out in the backyard, and you jump out of bed and rush downstairs, telling yourself it's the bike not the pony, it's the bike not the pony, and you fly out the back door and find...your dad holding up the new winter coat.

The Rude Pundit:
1. Biden's son is heading to Iraq. That's the kind of political street cred it takes something like five and a half years in a prison camp to earn.

2. Biden is a tough motherfucker. God tried to take him out with brain cancer, and Biden kicked God in the nuts. Don't you want a Vice President who can kick God in the nuts and not be allied with Satan?

3. Ron Fournier of the AP is a little bitch. Biden must have pissed him off somewhere down the road.

4. Yeah, he ain't perfect (see the Clarence Thomas hearings and his anti-Obama comments that are already being used against him). But if you're complaining, would you seriously have wanted the media talking about the tension between Obama and Clinton(s) for the next four to eight years? And would you have wanted to explain to every non-Virginian just who the fuck Tim Kaine is?

Who gives a damn at this point? If it isn't Jesus Christ or Elvis, it's going to be a letdown.

Biden? The bankruptcy bill guy? Uh, O.K. He's not Hillary Clinton. He's not Joe Lieberman. He's not Dick Cheney. He's--ah, the hell with it. Just win, baby.

Eastern Standard Tribe

You know the sort of horror movie where the suspense builds and builds and builds, partially collapsed at regular intervals by something jumping out and yelling "Boo!" whereupon the heroes have to flee, deeper into danger, and the tension rises and rises? You know how sometimes the director just doesn't know when to quit, and the bogeymen keep jumping out and yelling Boo, and the wobbly bridges keep on collapsing, the small arms fire keeps blowing out more windows in the office tower?

It's not like the tension goes away--it just gets boring. Boring tension. You know that the climax is coming soon, that any minute now Our Hero will face down the archvillain and either kick his ass or have his ass kicked, the whole world riding on the outcome. You know it will be satisfying, with much explosions and partial nudity. You know that afterward, Our Hero will retire to the space-bar and chill out and collect kisses from the love interest and that we'll all have a moment to get our adrenals back under control before the hand pops out of the grave and we all give a nervous jump and start eagerly anticipating the sequel.

You just wish it would happen already. You just wish that the little climaxes could be taken to read, that the director would trust the audience to know that Our Hero really does wade through an entire ocean of shit en route to the final showdown.

I'm bored with being excited. I've been betrayed, menaced, institutionalized and stranded on the roof of a nuthouse, and I just want the fucking climax to come by and happen to me, so that I can know: smart or happy.

I've found a half-brick that was being used to hold down the tar paper around an exhaust chimney. I should've used that to hold the door open, but it's way the hell the other side of the roof, and I'd been really pleased with my little pebbly doorstop. Besides, I'm starting to suspect that the doorjamb didn't fail; that it was sabotaged by some malevolently playful goon from the sanatorium. An object lesson or something.

I heft the brick. I release the brick. It falls, and falls, and falls, and hits the little blue fartmobile square on the trunk, punching a hole through the cheap aluminum lid.

And the fartmobile explodes. First there is a geyser of blue flame as the tank's puncture wound jets a stream of ignited assoline skyward, and then it blows back into the tank and boom, the fartmobile is in one billion shards, rising like a parachute in an updraft. I can feel the heat on my bare, sun-tender skin, even from this distance.

Explosions. Partial nudity. Somehow, though, I know that this isn't the climax.

Pervis Jackson (1938-2008), RIP

Pervis Jackson of the Spinners dies

Baritone, 70, recorded for Motown and Atlantic Records; services Monday in Detroit


For nearly five decades, Pervis Jackson's rich, low voice was the glue in the Spinners' sound, an unmistakable feature on pop, R&B and eventually oldies radio.

Friends and fellow Motown Records musicians are mourning the loss of the Detroit singer, who died "quietly and peacefully" early Monday at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, said Claudreen Jackson, his wife of 40 years. He had been diagnosed late last week with brain and liver cancer, just a month after starting to feel ill and bowing out of several Spinners dates. He was 70.

"I don't know how many people get to live their lives the way they want," said Claudreen Jackson, "but he was one of them."

His last onstage appearance was July 19, when the Spinners performed in La Habra, Calif. The group has been a fixture on the casino and festival circuit for years, typically on the road more than 200 days annually.

Surviving him in the group are fellow original members Henry Fambrough and Bobbie Smith. Founding member Billy Henderson died in February 2007.

It's the second loss this year in the Spinners' extended family: Longtime manager Buddy Allen died at his New York home in March. His son, Steve Allen, worked as the group's road manager for several years.

"Pervis was the classiest, nicest, most perfect gentleman," Steve Allen said. "He never let the fame and the glory years go to his head."

Known to friends and associates as "Mr. 12:45" -- a nod to his trademark lyric in the hit "They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" -- Jackson was heralded as a consummate professional, making time to mingle with fans and serving as the group's de facto spokesman.

"He always said: 'When the people come to see you, they've done their part. It's up to you to keep them,' " said Claudreen Jackson.

One of the greatest R&B groups ever. Thank you, gentlemen.

No Wonder There's A Housing Crisis, McCain Owns 'Em All!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

That's Entertainment?

"Culture" is brutal, smart--and funny. Writer/Director/Actor Ari Gold holds a funhouse mirror to our collective faces and dares us not to flinch. If you blink you'll miss it, but it sure as hell gets to the point quicker than a bloated snoozer like, let's say, Funny Games.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McCain is a secret Romulan

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

After watching this past weekend's "megachurch debate" McCain showed that he really has only two main planks in his platform - Kill It and Drill It. Killing and drilling is all he seems to know.

Obama on the other hand can articulate subtle issues like health care, social injustice, unemployment, off-shoring (as in moving jobs off shore, not drilling), global warming, alternative energy, transportation, and diplomacy.

Diplomacy is such a lost art it seems. When faced with a global conflict, deploying a diplomat is cheaper than deploying the 82nd Airborne. A diplomat will need a laptop, cell phone, air fare, hotel room, and a few cab rides. That is dirt cheap when compared to lugging half of Jacksonville, NC all the way around the world.

Diplomats may be forceful, but they do not kill, especially innocent civilians. They don't accidentally level schools, hospitals or baby milk factories.

McCain has never been able to articulate his ideas about diplomacy, probably because it doesn't involve gunpowder.

Lastly, if you don't get today's strip, click HERE.

Size Isn't Everything

I'm sorry, but when I see all of the chickenhawk gasbags on TV salivating at the ominous prospect of rebooting the Cold War with Russia, this poster came to mind. These creeps think "the smell of napalm in the morning" is an aftershave.