Mitt Romney, Sometimes It Sucks to be You

Taxes here, scandals there, sometimes it’s not worth getting up in the morning, especially if you’re a candidate for President. A not very good candidate for President. Mitt Romney, sometimes it sucks to be you.

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How Many J-Words Can Dance on the Tip of a Tongue?

Sanchez and Stewart at Odds

HEY RICK! FOX MIGHT HAVE AN OPENING FOR YOU! - Rick Sanchez is clearly not the sharpest pundit in the shed and going up against Jon Stewart was a monumental error. But an error worth canning him for?

CNN’s Rick Sanchez decided to go toe-to-toe with faux newser Jon Stewart and suffered the same fate as the last CNNer to do so – Tucker Carlson. However in the aftermath, we have a sort of “how many J-Words can dance on the tip of the tongue” argument brewing.

Stewart had been doing to Sanchez what he’s done to so many others for weeks – made fun of him. It’s the penalty one pays when one is famous and says dumb things. It’s all too easy for Stewart’s crack staff to find double-speak video and other public statements to hold crapweasels up to ridicule. I think Stewart’s brand of ridicule, despite its definite bite, is far less passionate than Keith Olbermann‘s skewers of the famous and inane. One gets the sense that Jon knows it’s a joke while Olbermann actually believes his targets are the Worst Persons in the World.

But then, I ain’t famous so what do I know?

Punking Yourself
If you live under the glare of studio lights and talk for a living – incessantly – you’ll punk yourself occasionally. It happens. And when it does, you have to either have a great sense of humor or develop tough skin, because the dumber you are, the more you’ll be held up to ridicule. Exhibits A-D, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle, et al.

Sanchez’s skin is apparently as thin as John McTheusela’s, as is the skin of Sanchez’s CNN overlords. Sanchez let the J-Bombs fly, CNN fired him, he apologized to Stewart soon after and Jon and Rick rode into the sunset, at least if not BFFs, OK with things. And, Christopher Hitchens takes up Sanchez’s cause.

Hitchens? Really? Famous crusading atheist? Has cancer?

One in the same.

Hitchens argues that Sanchez’s anti-Jewish statements are literally true. Despite the anti-semitic overtones, he says Jews (along with white Christians) actually are disproportionately represented in media and entertainment boardrooms. To Hitchens, Sanchez simply stated a fact no more problematic than saying African Americans are under-represented. And as boneheaded as Hitchens often is, he has a point. But, it was never about THAT point and it isn’t a necessarily a socially polite thing to say.

It all boils down to a “who can safely say the N-word, or in this case, the J-word”. Sure, Sanchez was unbelievably stupid, but if we’re going to fire every TV personality who’s stupid, TV would consist of lots of HD snow and annoying test pattern buzz.

But, you could make an argument that would be an improvement.

Not a White Supremacist Candidate
I personally find Sanchez annoying and I suspect his assumed anti-semitism may be real to some degree, although, barring any information to the contrary,  I’m not so sure he’d be a good candidate for your neighborly white supremacist enclave.

I don’t condone what he said. In fact, I don’t think it is as literally true as Hitchens does either. But, I’m not sure if it’s a firing offense when put in context.

Sanchez did the right thing in calling Stewart to apologize – though he wimped out by letting his wife announce it to the public on Facebook. Everyone might have been better served if the apology was both personal and public. A true mea culpa with some teeth – perhaps a show or series of shows devoted to anti-semitism coupled with some work with Jewish charities and up close and personal exposure to Jewish people. The Jewish religion believes in atonement, and this would be an earthly one to be sure, but atonement nonetheless.

If Sanchez refused to do these things, if his superiors had to co-opt him to do them – in a very public way – they, and those calling for his resignation, would have every right to say, “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” Or, if he did it again, ala Mel Gibson, away with him. No one has to cut the man some slack and some believe no one should.

But we might all learn a little about ourselves and each other if we did.

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Good Night and Good Luck…You’ll Need It

Infotainment Rules

WHAT'S THE DIFF? - With today's oversaturated media market and constant demands for more and more entertainment, the news has become just one more Big Show.

Americans are an easily bored lot. We demand everything be ripe with entertainment possibilities. We’re a nation addicted to 24X7, 500-channel television – which we nevertheless claim has nothing worth watching – on which we gorge ourselves on a never-ending supply of reality shows promoting the most fame-crazed and mentally defective of us to open their lives in the most voyeuristic fashion. Real life made unreal by the millions of gawking rubberneckers tuning in.

And, the most unrealistic reality shows are the news shows.

Television news was once a place where networks expected to lose money on the public service of covering the news. Now ratings make newsrooms just like any other Disneyesque entertainment outlet. The Edward R. Murrow/Walter Cronkite newsroom was a place where serious people investigated serious topics, regardless of their inherent profitability. Today, there’s little distinction between the Daily Show bullpen and the CNN newsroom.

Once profit became the news’ primary MO focus-grouped, ratings-pregnant drivel stepped in as a sort of news lite where interviews are ‘booked’ and ‘talent’ eggs on the most disgraceful, but oh so entertaining, shout-fests. As much as everyone likes to complain about the ‘mainstream media’ – which is curiously deemed both too liberal and too conservative at the same time – we’ve got no one to blame except our infamously Nielsen-rated selves.

Because of our national, self-absorbed entertainment obsession, we’re killing the geese that laid our golden First Amendment eggs. We’ve abandoned print media altogether. Once-vibrant publications like Newsweek are going the way of the dodo because of the printed page’s inability to adapt to our real-time, excitingly manufactured, multimedia entertainment extravaganza demands.

But even e-media is slipping away. We’ve begun sucking the marrow from infotainment’s bones and it’s not long on this Earth because of it. Real TV news has been supplanted by screaming mimis like Glenn Beck. Even the ‘serious’ Sunday news programs are pale imitations of professional wrestling – all faux drama and glittery costumes bumptiously pontificating on the national debt or latest job numbers. We’ve molded the news to our ravenous need for entertainment and are in a rapidly quickening race to put it out of business too. It seems that as we’ve consumed reality shows like Big Brother we’ve unwittingly given ourselves over to Orwell’s Big Brother…

…and become a nation of scandal junkie couch potatoes minus the skills to tell the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart.

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