Friday, April 25, 2008

Twists & Turns
& Tapioca

Do you hear something freezing over?

THE WIDENING GYRE. Peculiar things are going on. The falcon is definitely getting mixed signals from the falconer. For example, there are actually two good reasons to watch 60 Minutes this Sunday. When has that ever happened? But if you tune in, you'll get to see Justice Scalia put Leslie Stahl in her place.

"I say nonsense," Scalia responds to Stahl's observation that people say the Supreme Court's decision in Gore v. Bush was based on politics and not justice. "Get over it. It's so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn't even close. The vote was seven to two," he says...

Furthermore, says the outspoken conservative justice, it was Al Gore who ultimately put the issue into the courts. "It was Al Gore who made it a judicial question…. We didn't go looking for trouble. It was he who said, 'I want this to be decided by the courts,'" says Scalia. "What are we supposed to say -- 'Not important enough?'" he jokes.

Cool. And that's not all. In another reckless move, 60 Minutes is also featuring an interview with the head of the Israeli Air Force, who is given air time to make a point as dead obvious as Scalia's -- that Israel doesn't think Ahmadinejad is joking when he declares Iran's intention of wiping Israel off the map.

Of course, you can expect them to do some CBS-style spinning and misrepresentation, but we know for sure that some of the necessary things do get said on the air -- not on the editing room floor -- by the interviewees. Amazing. (Just remember to change channels before that old bastard Andy Rooney starts squawking at the end of the show.)

Next thing you know, Barack Obama will miraculously agree to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Just kidding. Never gonna happen.

What??!! You don't say! Really?

The Obama Watch Comes To An End: Fox News Sunday Gets Obama!

Chris Wallace must be happy...

FishbowlDC has learned that Sen. Barack Obama will finally appear on Fox News Sunday this weekend. A pre-taped interview is slated to take place Saturday in Marion, Indiana.

You'll recall that Wallace started the "Obama Watch" in March (and even put notice of it on his office door) and dated it back to May 2006, when Wallace said Obama agreed to a face-to-face interview on Fox News Sunday.

What do you suppose changed his mind? Could it be the other absolutely unbelievable thing that happened on Fox News this week?

Actually, this kind of turnabout is happening enough on Fox of late to make left-wingers start scratching their heads. Back in January McAuliffe complained about mainstream media bias (?!) to Chris Wallace and even joked with him about Bill Clinton's ugly Fox interview. Then, this week, he was a guest on John Gibson's Fox radio show and utterly trashed MSNBC's Chris Matthews. And McAuliffe isn't the only former DNC chair to start cozying up to the most hated name in cable news. Governor Ed Rendell praised the network in March and again this month, which earned him Keith Olbermann's ultimate plaudit (1:40 in), to which he responded pretty directly on the Charlie Rose Show: "Keith Olbermann should be on the Obama payroll."

It all kind of defies analysis, doesn't it, to hear any Democrats talking this way? It's reminiscent of that terribly ominous scene in Ghostbusters (2:00 in).

Venkman: "This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions."
Mayor: "What do you mean, biblical?"
Ray: "What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor... real Wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies."
Venkman: "Rivers and seas boiling!"
Egon: "40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanos."
Winston: "The dead rising from the grave!"
Venkman: "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats, living together... mass hysteria!"

Dogs and cats living together. Would that be anything like this?

What the hell is going on? Gingrich is trying to explain it away, but we're inclined to think it's part of some astrological inversion where Mercury is in retrogade and all the houses are misaligned with the planets under a bad rising sign or something. How else would you explain Jenna Bush suddenly -- pointlessly -- volunteering on national TV that she might not vote for John McCain? Or John McCain -- still sorely in need of winning over a recalcitrant conservative base -- going out of his way to slam Bush for a Katrina screw-up most conservatives believe owes more to city and state incompetence than to Washington's?

For that matter, who would have expected that the decisive rebuttal of a Washington Post hit piece on McCain's dangerous temper would have been delivered by arch-Democrat Bob Kerrey? (btw, many hat tips to Hot Air for the above.)

And above all, who out there could possibly have imagined that a New York Times columnist delivering a speech on an Ivy League campus would be physically assaulted as if he were Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan or some doesn't-deserve-to-live scum like that?

Yet in this most extreme circumstance, we can see the beginning of an explanation for the chaos. It's all about the New York Times. For at least a century, the "Paper of Record" has been the linchpin of the intricately interleaved framework of the vast American media-political complex. Everyone from senators to network news producers to small town editorialists to professors and novelists looked to the front page of the Times and its op-ed section for guidance about what was news, what was a legitimate political or social issue, and what didn't count for squat. In a very literal sense, the Gray Lady was the Great Nanny who ordered the way to our current over-protected and hyper-sensitive national culture.

Then she gradually went senile and, frankly, insane. Imposing her will through increasingly inept sons and grandsons, she hired reporters for their color and sex and politics rather than ability, she forgot the meaning of basics like fact-checking and fairness, and she began to embarrass herself in public like a crazy old aunt shouting gibberish in church.

Without her even being aware of it, everyone has stolen silently out of the room. They're loath to admit it, but these days the place everyone looks first to see what's happening is the Drudge Report, where the only criterion for the front (and only) page is sensationalism. If a headline isn't the umpteen-zillionth reworking of "Man Bites Dog," you're out of luck -- unless you can prove that hundreds or thousands have died or maybe possibly might.

"Man Bites Dog" is the approximately correct headline for most of the anomalies we've reviewed here. We've all subtly absorbed the lesson that doing the unexpected is the last way left to get attention in this increasingly silly media circus. So Republicans scorn their own two-term president who has prevented another 9/11 and tilted the odds against al qaeda, blue-chip liberals eviscerate the Clintons for exactly the same attributes they defended tooth-and-claw a decade ago, and everyone everywhere pretends that what used to be called advocacy (and sometimes truth-telling) is some kind of hate crime that gives all decent people a paralyzing anxiety attack. All the also-rans and has-beens and might-be's scramble ceaselessly around with their hands in the air and in each other's pockets, hoping to be the next surprising headline. And, oh yeah, every hack attention-seeker who claims the sky is falling must be some kind of irreproachable saint.

Good God Almighty.

Is this what we want? Is it? It's at least something to think about. Can we really continue in this overwrought, I'm-so-offended, I'm-so-perfect, look-at-meeeeee media hysteria in perpetuity without having some kind of national nervous breakdown? Don't we need SOME adults in the mix? Where might we find them? (HINT: Not at Drudge.) Any ideas?

The New York Times won't be coming to our rescue any time soon in case that's what you were hoping for. Various processes have already been initiated to assess the old gray mare's deterioration with an eye to having her declared incompetent and sent, well, to the glue factory. This is what the Brits call "deep tapioca." Deep indeed. Which may offer some insight as to exactly what kind of glop was hurled at Roger Friedman in his appearance at prestigious Brown University.

P.S. Lest you feel the New York Times is a unique phenomenon, it may help to realize that the London Times is pursuing a similar downward spiral. For just one brief example, here's an op-ed published in that paper by one of its editors (also linked in Drudge btw) who condescendingly observes that America is not ready to elect a black president. Never mind that his dissection of the troubled Obama campaign describes garden-variety political missteps and character issues that could derail any presidential bid. Never mind that the author is a Russian-born London resident whose association with the U.S. could most charitably be summarized as visitor. We're supposed to be impressed with the acuity of his pronouncements on the basis of his superior Euro-intellect. The London Times is also going not-so-gentle into that good night. The one where the lights finally go out, for excellent reasons.

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