Archive for May 6th, 2009

May 6, 2009

Chris Matthews sucks bad

Turned on the TV in my home office, hoping to watch Michelle Malkin on the Glenn Beck show, but the old portable TV my kids hooked up doesn’t get Fox News.

So I switched over to MSNBC just to try to get an update on the non-Carrie Prejean nude news — just in time for “Hardball” with Chris Matthews.

He completely sucks, doesn’t he? I remember for years how the liberal bloggers were always ranting about the wretched awfulness of “Tweetie” Matthews. I didn’t get it, because I never watched his show. (I’m not a big TV watcher, period.)

I’d occasionally be switching channels, catch small doses of Matthews and not really think about it But . . . OMG!

To try to sit in a room where the TV is tuned to “Hardball” for a full freaking hour! Now I get what the liberal bloggers were complaining about. The man seems congenitally incapable of framing any argument except in the most superficially stereotypical terms.

Chris Matthews is to coherent discourse what Johnny Rotten is to fine jazz — which is to say, he’s never even attempted it. What is so annoying about Matthews is his utter lack of curiosity. He doesn’t ask questions in search of information, and he routinely mischaracterizes the scope of any controversy.

Matthews begins an interview with an antagonist — a guest who represents the “other side” — by expressing the most ludicrously pejorative caricature of the antagonist’s position. So, before the guest can begin to engage, he must first clear away this misleading distortion. Then, predictably, while the guest is attempting to clarify his own position, Matthews interrupts with some sarcastic idiocy.

He’s a much worse TV interviewer than either Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, and I’m not a great admirer of either of those guys. The whole point of having a guest do a TV interview is to hear what the guest has to say, but Matthews is infinitely more interested in hearing his own voice than in letting the audience hear his guests.

At least when Hannity starts the bully-boy routine on a liberal guest — hectoring and interrupting — it’s entertaining in a pro-wrestling sort of way. O’Reilly has his own trademark brand of obnoxiousness, but it is arguably entertaining obnoxious.

What’s the difference? Hannity comes out of a talk-radio background, and O’Reilly has been doing TV all his life. Both of them are professional broadcasters, who have some basic concept that they are on TV to attract and engage an audience.

Matthews, by contrast, is a lifelong Democratic Party hack, who got hired for TV as a “political analyst” and parlayed that (via the DC schmooze circuit) into his anchor role. But because he was hired for his politics, he didn’t have to be any good at the audience-attraction part of the job, and never bothered to learn it.

Before anyone can yell “hypocrite” at me, I am well aware of my own bad rhetorical habits. But I do this in writing. The written word and broadcasting are very different media. You can skim through the written word and turn the page any time you want, so an article you disagree with doesn’t have the intrusive feeling that you get being stuck in a room with Chris Matthews on your TV. (This old 13-inch portable TV doesn’t have a remote.)

With TV, however, you can’t “skim.” There is a temporal linearity to the TV-viewing experience, from which the viewer can only escape by changing the channel. And the ability of Chris Matthews to inspire viewers to change the channel is the most obvious explanation for MSNBC’s persistently low ratings over the years.

It’s not about Matthews’ politics. Ed Schultz comes on right after “Hardball,” and Ed rivals Keith Olbermann for obnoxious liberalism. But Ed is entertaining. He’s a good interviewer who brings on the guest, asks questions, and lets the guest answer.

Matthews has been on MSNBC forever and has never attracted an audience. There is no evidence that he even has the capacity to learn how to be good on TV. If the executives at MSNBC cared anything about building an audience, they’d cancel “Hardball” immediately and negotiate a buyout of Matthews’ contract.

Somewhere out there in America is a good TV newsman — liberal in his politics, but skilled at his craft — who is being deprived of a career opportunity because the stupid suits at MSNBC can’t see what anyone with two eyes and a brain can see: Chris Matthews sucks beyond hope of redemption, and he’s clogging up a perfectly good hour of cable TV time.
May 6, 2009

Carrie Prejean Sideboob Jailbait?

An anonymous commenter on an earlier post just directed me to a blog asserting that Carrie Prejean was a precocious 17 when she posed for the now notorious Cheesecake Photo That Shook The World.

Words cannot sufficiently express my indifference to this “controversy.” If Carrie Prejean were stripped of her Miss California USA title tomorrow — and dibs on the “Carrie Prejean stripped” Google-bomb, just in case Pirate’s Cove thinks they can beat me at that game — so what?

She’s young, she’s beautiful, she’s famous and, one way or another, she’ll soon be very rich. Her future’s so bright, she’s got to wear shades. She’ll get a book contract for at least a million dollars, and the publisher will pay a ghost-writer $75,000 to actually write the book. There will be speaking engagements, magazine interviews and TV appearances. She’ll fly around the country first-class, stay in five-star hotels and eat at the finest restaurants, all of it at someone else’s expense.

And good for her, right? OK, so a bunch of grouchy gay militants are calling her ugly names, but they call me ugly names, too, for which I have not the consolation of either beauty or wealth. (You can help remedy the latter by hitting the tip jar, by the way.)

While I congratulate myself on having the keen capitalistic foresight to include the phrase “Carrie Prejean nude” in my first blog post about Miss California USA, and while I glory in the reward of surging traffic, would you mind if I ask a favor?

Could everybody please stop taking this so seriously? There are children dying in Sudan, OK?

So I’m finding it kind of hard to get all worked up over the “Martyrdom of St. Carrie” meme. To wit:

MEDIA ADVISORY, May 6 /Christian Newswire/ — The “tolerant” proponents of homosexual marriage, following the hateful lead of homosexual, Perez Hilton and the likes of anti-Christian bigot Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, have had their fun bashing Miss California, Carrie Prejean. For simply stating the obvious truth that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman, Carrie has been unjustly slandered, insulted and ridiculed.
“By courageously shining the light of God’s truth on the marriage issue, now homosexuals and their allies irrationally seek to defame and destroy Carrie Prejean,” said Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. “Perez Hilton, ‘queen of all media,’ and your sycophant Keith Olbermann, take some advice from Jesus Christ; ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'”

Dr. Cass, I agree with you wholeheartedly, just as I agree wholeheartedly with you about marriage. (See, “Marriage: A Hill to Die On.”) Yet I hope you will excuse me for saying that, as someone who’s been in the news business since 1986, I think Christian conservatives need to think a little harder about their communications strategy.

Yesterday, in my role as a Joe Friday “just the facts ma’am” reporter, I made a few inquiries trying to get to the bottom of this Carrie Prejean topless photo story. Simple questions: Who took these photos? When? Where? Why?

People associated in various capacities with Miss Prejean either (a) did not have the answers to these questions, (b) were not authorized to address these questions, or (c) didn’t think I was sufficiently important to deserve so much as a “no comment” in reply.

Fine. You are paid to know what you’re doing. But the folks who were managing Sen. George Allen’s 2006 re-election campaign thought they knew what they were doing, too. And one of the things they made sure to do was to ignore my repeated attempts to contact the campaign. “For want of a nail . . .”

As I explained in an e-mail to one of Miss Prejean’s associates yesterday, the fundamental principle of crisis communication is that you can tell your own story to a sympathetic source, or you can allow your enemies to tell their story to an unsympathetic source. To be silent is to surrender the battle to your enemy, who will be only too happy to portray your silence as fearful defensiveness.

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer . . . for there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not. . . . Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
Acts 27:22-25, KJV

“Be of good cheer . . . Fear not” — we don’t hear that enough from Christian leaders nowadays. If you have faith and hope, you should also have the courage that God can deliver you. And if you have courage, you can laugh at the folly of those who think themselves greater than God.

Trust me, I know how easy it is to doubt, to become frustrated and impatient, to demand deliverance right now, when it suits God’s purpose to let you be chastised a while longer. We are fearful because we are weak, but we should learn to laugh at our weakness just as we learn to laugh at our persecutors.

So I’ll laugh at the irony of being the Christian conservative blog king of “Carrie Prejean nude,” just as I’ll laugh at the idiots who tell me that believing in marriage as ordained by God is a function of a psychological disorder, “homophobia.” Hey, I’m about nine kinds of crazy, but that’s one kind of crazy I’ve never been.

Lighten up, people. Be of good cheer. Fear not. And don’t fight that urge to hit my tip jar. I’ve got a sexy wife and six beautiful kids to feed.

UPDATE: I noticed I was getting traffic from AnnCoulter.com, and you can go over there to see what she quoted. She’s apparently decided to help us celebrate National Offend A Feminist Week.

The first time I was introduced to Miss Coulter, she shook my hand and said, “A most unfortunate name.” And I said, “Ah! Crazy Cousin John!”

She and my buddy Pete Parisi of The Washington Times were in the same class at the National Journalism Center, and I’ve told the story of the night we all got together at Shelly’s Backroom Tavern. Like many another famous conservative — and some of us not so famous — Miss Coulter’s fearsome reputation is a distortion manufactured by liberals who would rather demonize her than to engage her arguments.

At any rate, Carrie Prejean should say a prayer of thanksgiving that Perez Hilton didn’t ask for her opinion about Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If you think it’s hard being denounced as a “homophobe,” you should try being denounced as a “racist.

UPDATE II: Somebody in the comments just linked a site which actually seems to be trying to drag Miss Prejean’s relatives into this mess. This kind of unlimited personal attack, involving people’s family members, is vile beyond words. Nevertheless, I did not delete the comment, because whatever the facts are, the facts are.

These sleaze merchants are really exposing their own viciousness, and you can evaluate that along with whatever truth there may be in their accusations. It’s out there, and I’m not going to pretend it’s not out there. Please pay attention:

To Carrie Prejean, whoever is “representing” Carrie Prejean, and everyone who knows and cares about Carrie Prejean:
You can’t cover-up or stonewall in the New Media environment. You can’t sit around trying to calculate and worrying about, “Gee, what do they actually know? How much is going to come out?” Assume the answers to those questions are “everything” and “all of it.”
Not only have I spent 23 years in the news business, but I am personally acquainted with some of the top P.R. professionals in the country, including the kind of people that a Fortune 500 company calls when they’ve just been sued for a gazillion dollars and they’re guilty as hell.
It is becoming clear from the way this story has spun out of control that whoever is giving Carrie Prejean media/P.R. advice, their advice isn’t working.
Let me make a suggestion to Carrie Prejean’s team: Call the Clare Boothe Luce Public Policy Center and ask to speak to their director of marketing. I guarantee you she can recommend somebody who knows all about crisis media management.

I hope somebody makes that call soon. Trust me.

May 6, 2009

How to Reply to a Feminist . . .

. . . if you must. This is National Offend A Feminist Week, and Allison at The New Gay finds herself angry, mystified and intrigued by the crazy dude in the Speedo:

Why is feminism still a dirty word? Why do people still regard it as a fleeting female term with no historical purpose? . . .

To which I replied in the comments:

If we are in a War of Ideas, it is important to distinguish between ourselves and our ideas. Identity politics, however, convinces some people that an attack on feminism (an idea) is an attack on people (women), just as some people confuse an attack on same-sex marriage (an idea) with an attack on people (gays).
Allison, I believe that I know more about feminism than you know about conservatism, and I certainly believe I know more about conservatism than you do. Either I do know more or I do not. But to assert my own superiority of knowledge is not a personal attack on you. There are many people whom I love and I admire who know less than I do.
What I am trying to say is that there are actual facts in this world. Not everything is a matter of opinion. And the possibility that you might be mistaken as to the facts is something you might want to consider.
Thanks for the link. Like I say, Rule 4: “Hits is hits,” and linky-hate is as good as linky-love, when it comes down to increasing blog traffic. That is a fact.
BTW, I’m thinking of an Elvis Costello song:
Oh, it’s so funny to be seein’ ya after so long, girl,
And with the way you look, I understand
If you are not impressed . . .
My aim is true
.

Which is to say, don’t worry your pretty little head about it, sweetheart. Now run along and get me a cup of coffee, hon. Cream only.

(And I think somebody wants to hit the tip jar.)

May 6, 2009

Forget those other scandals!

Naked beauty queens? Nuclear Pakistan? Bank of America $35 billion short? Forget all that silly crap.

DIJONGATE!

Barack Obama ordered a burger with dijon mustard! Just what we can expect from one of those snooty un-American law professor types, y’know.

  • Fact: Dijon mustard comes from France.
  • Fact: From 1843-45, Karl Marx lived in France.
  • Fact: From 1940-44, Adolf Hitler ruled France.
  • Fact: From 1978-79, the Ayatollah Khomeini lived in France.

Draw your own conclusions.

May 6, 2009

Caption Contest

OK, the real story behind this photo is at The Green Room. But feel free to make up your own. (Hint: That’s Miss California USA Carrie Prejean on the right.)

May 6, 2009

The kind of job I need

Los Angeles Times:

For seven years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid Matthew Kim a teaching salary of up to $68,000 per year, plus benefits.
His job is to do nothing. . . .
A special education teacher, he was removed from Grant High School in Van Nuys and assigned to a district office in 2002 after the school board voted to fire him for allegedly harassing teenage students and colleagues. In the meantime, the district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs.

(H/T: NewsAlert.) Obviously, the L.A. schools need to fire Kim and hire me, because I’m excellent at doing nothing. Ask my wife. And if they want me to harass someone, I’m also very good at that, too. I’ve had years of experience, threatening to strangle various journalistic colleagues or beat the daylights out of my kids.

I’m going to apply for one of these no-work jobs in Los Angeles and if they don’t hire me, I’ll sue them for discrimination. Hillbillies have rights, too, y’know.

May 6, 2009

MSM pile onto Carrie Prejean nude

OK, when I started blogging “Carrie Prejean nude” yesterday morning, the story was basically MSNBC and some celebrity gossip blogs at WeSmirch. Now look:

You see the point? The story first broke online late Monday. By the time somebody picks up the paper Wednesday, the news is about 36 hours old and — assuming you’ve got Internet access at your home and/or office — if you actually care about the story, you already know everything. Why buy a paper that’s just rehashing what was on Pop Crunch yesterday morning?

And look at this pathetic excuse for a celebrity blogger at The Washington Post. Just read that dull bilge, if you can stay awake, and ask yourself how someone so deathly boring got assigned to the celebrity beat?

People who talk about Old Media dying because of liberal bias are missing the point. Old Media is dying because the people who run it are slow and dull. They seem to think they’re still living in a world where you can take eight hours to write a 450-word story and call that a day’s work.

What they lack is not “balance” or “fairness.” They lack hustle.

When things are slow, you can sit around sipping coffee and talking on the phone, and the idleness doesn’t matter. But when something big breaks on your beat, you’ve got to be ready to move like lightning and out-hustle the other guy.

I’m looking at the L.A. Times Web site and not seeing any Carrie Prejean news. Are you freaking kidding me?

She’s Miss California! And she’s NAKED! Gays! Hollywood! Politics! Controversy! This stuff sells papers!

How can the editors of the L.A. Times allow their paper to get scooped on a huge story like this in their own freaking backyard? If I were the publisher, I would be livid. A once-great news organization getting blown out of the water on a major story by a bunch of bloggers?

May 6, 2009

We Need The Traditional Agenda More Than ‘The New Agenda’

by Smitty (from The New Agenda via No Quarter)

As part of National Offend a Feminist Week, let’s observe a sample of the Agents of Societal Destruction in action. We have the standard hand-wringing over a serious problem:

What can we do to stop the “normalization” of violence in youth culture? What can we do to stop assault in the next generation? That was a major topic at The New Agenda’s Violence Against Women forum on April 18. Here’s the video: Please help us to spread it far and wide!

The gist: as part of the overall decay of public schools, women are seeing escalating violence, in addition to a spate of Big Numbers.

What we never manage to hear escape the lips of these purveyors of dismal is any recognition of possible societal factors involved:

  • The ongoing destruction of the family (i.e. male, female, children) as a unit of societal organization.
  • The denigration of the male role as a leader and servant in the relationship.
  • The promotion of government policy, process and procedure as a source of authority for societal organization.

The specific case these women are on about?

In the weeks after hip-hop artist Chris Brown allegedly beat and strangled singer Rihanna, a stomach-turning phenomenon happened across America: acceptance.

I will admit to a jaded cynicism: my first thought when Rihanna bobbed to the surface of the stream of effluent that is the cable news was that the whole thing was a publicity stunt. While Jane’s Addiction falls short of the John Bohnam Criteria, the observation that “…the news is just another show, with sex and violence.” remains spot on.

So, what do we do? I tell the kids in the youth group:

  • Don’t worry about being serious with anyone until after college. Figure yourself out first.
  • Don’t date in numbers smaller than four–keep the fun level up and the pressure level down.
  • Don’t date outside of the community of faith. If they’re too cool to show up at the house of worship at the appointed time, this is a good indicator of their actual interest level.

Of course, I’m ignored, but they can’t say they’re not getting sound advice.

The community of faith is valuable at the adult level, too. I wouldn’t accuse church members who attend steadily of perfection. However, I’d like to see a serious comparison study of their overall problems against society in general. My gut feeling is that the ugly numbers are significantly lower amidst those who have some grasp of the meaning of life, and for a good reason. Regular negative feedback on the “don’t do” aspects of life, and positive feedback on the “do this” aspects produce a superior product.

On the other hand, we have feminists who produce, in my severely biased opinion, a stream of marginally useful bumperstickers that will achieve little beyond short-term empathy for victims. If a community of faith is a nutritious spiritual diet, I’m accusing these feminists of pushing Snickers and Doritos, washed down with soda pop. If the real goal is minimizing violence against women, you’re going to have to return to the traditional modes of turning boys into men. The platitudes on offer here do little, AFAICT, besides open up more government programs and career paths for people to maintain the problem. So let’s discuss a broader “come to Beavis” meeting about the root causes, and ignore limited value approaches, please. Finally, remember that the “come to Beavis” meeting is an individual thing. We can do all of the rah-rah and statistics we want, but as with Fireproof, it remains an individual life-long challenge to avoid idiocy, irrespective of gender.