Seriously Cable News, Don’t Rush It

I am watching MSNBC at the moment. Chris Matthews is in his usual hyperactive state. As they approached a commercial break, on came a Quinnipiac Poll with the potential outcome of Hillary Clinton versus a few Republicans in Virginia.

Hello! We just re-elected a president in November. The next presidential election is 3 years, 5 months, 22 days away. Am I going to have to go through this worthless horse race analysis for the next 1,271 days?

Looking at politics as a race instead evaluating competing issues trivializes the whole process. Little we know about the candidates today will make a difference then.

Isn’t there enough real news to fill their time?

My Two Cents On Keith Olbermann’s Suspension

I am a believer in taking the high road and standing by your principles. Keith Olbermann walked away from his. Corporate policies aside that’s sad in the abstract.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard by now MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is off-the-air for violating an NBC News policy. He donated to a political campaign without permission. Donating in and of itself is not against the rules. Permission from management is, however, required.

Others like Joe Scarborough have given to campaigns in the past. Scarborough followed the rules. No harm, no foul.

MSNBCs reacted swiftly.

I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay. – Phil Griffin MSNBC president

I’ve read a lot of people supporting Keith. Not me. Not this time. It has nothing to do with the program itself (though Keith became a little over-the-top over time) or its political bent.

Simply put MSNBC did the right thing.

My lack of support has nothing to do with other cable anchor/commentators making donations (as Rachel Maddow argued in her own commentary in support of KO). It has everything to do with Olbermann’s earlier criticism of Fox News for its political contributions and the political fundraising and drumbeating of ts ‘stars.’

I am a believer in taking the high road and standing by your principles. Keith Olbermann walked away from his. Corporate policies aside that’s sad in the abstract.

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center called Olbermann “the worse hypocrite in the world.” It’s not that the conservative Bozell needed an excuse to rail against anyone on MSNBC, but here he is fully justified. The mere act of Olbermann making a contribution was totally hypocritical!

I hope the suspension is temporary. It was necessary.

Coverage You Can’t Count On

A t-shirt vendor saw it and called a mounted cop. That’s the part of the story that pleasantly surprises me. A vigilant New Yorker did the right thing!

It’s a quarter after two on Sunday morning. This is my favorite time of the day. This is when my mind is its sharpest. The door to the deck is open. Cool air and the rhythmic call of an owl are floating in. The TV is on. The computer is on too. There are dozens of early Sunday morning’s like this every year.

For the past few hours I’ve been watching ‘thumb sucker’ coverage of the discovery in Times Square of a parked car loaded with an improvised explosive device. It’s a dark green Nissan Pathfinder with Connecticut plates. It’s flashers were on as smoke suspiciously built up inside.

A t-shirt vendor saw it and called a mounted cop. That’s the part of the story that pleasantly surprises me. A vigilant New Yorker did the right thing! The cops followed up.

For hours MSNBC was the only network covering this story. Fox News joined in after a while. CNN was notably… embarrassingly… missing as they continued to re-run Larry King Live. Even the New York City stations were in regular programming for much of the evening.

Google News (bless their hearts) tracked the ramping up of online coverage over time.

It’s impossible for me to know why this story wasn’t covered through conventional outlets. My guess is many staffers were in D.C. for the nerd prom (White House Correspondents Dinner). TV staffing is down too. ABC News just finished laying off 25% of its staff! The local stations have reduced headcounts as well and those who do remain are often less experienced.

Weakly watched Saturday night is an easy target when you’re deciding where to save money.

MSNBC had an interesting quandary. They had nothing to report, but a story too compelling to leave! If I were running the network I don’t know what I would have or could have done differently.

Their coverage, though totally unsatisfying, gets a free pass from me. Filling time until there was something to report was the right decision.

Mayor Bloomberg has just spoken. He instills confidence. He’s a straight shooter.

I’m going to begin by telling you what we know and what we don’t know.

In spite of his later request it’s tough to think everyone will go about their business in Midtown Manhattan tomorrow. I certainly couldn’t.

Here’s my takeaway:

  • There are enough cameras in the Times Square area to make a Bourne movie jealous.
  • The bomb was assembled in an amateurish fashion.
  • All the evidence is preserved.

Someone will be caught quickly–please.

Update On My Dad II

“Your father can see,” my mother said in a very excited voice. That didn’t make sense since he is still wearing a patch.

I just called my folks again. At times like this I really wish I was there. They were lying down, resting after being at the doctor’s office at 6:30 AM.

“Your father can see,” my mother said in a very excited voice. That didn’t make sense since he is still wearing a patch.

My dad came on the phone and explained he could see around the edge of the patch, so he looked at the TV. He could read the scroll at the bottom of the screen on MSNBC!

This is very good news. I have goosebumps.

Something Fox News Is Doing Right!

Today Fox News Channel, MSNBC, The Washington Post and others have positioned themselves and their coverage away from the middle. That puts them under the microscope as political opponents scour for weakness which can be used to embarrass them.

fnc-logo.jpgWelcome to journalism in the 21st Century. The ‘right down-the-middle’ mantra of the last half century is gone. We’re back to journalism practiced by partisans.

Yeah–back to. This is how it used to be.

Here’s a little Wikipedia refresher on William Randolph Hearst. I suspect you’ll be surprised!

As Martin Lee and Norman Solomon noted in their 1990 book Unreliable Sources, Hearst “routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events.” This approach came to be known as yellow journalism, named after the Yellow Kid, a character in the New York Journal’s color comic strip Hogan’s Alley.

Hearst’s use of yellow journalism techniques in his New York Journal to whip up popular support for U.S. military adventurism in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898 was also criticized in Upton Sinclair’s 1919 book, The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism. According to Sinclair, Hearst’s newspaper employees were “willing by deliberate and shameful lies, made out of whole cloth, to stir nations to enmity and drive them to murderous war.” Sinclair also asserted that in the early 20th century Hearst’s newspapers lied “remorselessly about radicals,” excluded “the word Socialist from their columns” and obeyed “a standing order in all Hearst offices that American Socialism shall never be mentioned favorably.” In addition, Sinclair charged that Hearst’s “Universal News Bureau” re-wrote the news of the London morning papers in the Hearst office in New York and then fraudulently sent it out to American afternoon newspapers under the by-lines of imaginary names of non-existent “Hearst correspondents” in London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Berlin, etc.

Hearst is just the easiest example of what’s certainly a long list. Rupert Murdoch is a lot less of an outlier than he’s portrayed.

Today Fox News Channel, MSNBC, The Washington Times, New York Post and others have positioned themselves and their coverage away from the middle. That puts them increasingly under the microscope as political opponents scour for weakness which can be used to embarrass them.

Jon Stewart has mastered the art. He often shows FNC on both sides of the same argument, depending on the political winds at any given moment. Recently he showed Fox using video from one event as coverage of another more sparsely attended event.

Last week Fox did it again. Sarah Palin video from the presidential campaign was used as B-roll for a book signing appearance. An anchor talked about the “huge crowds.” Oops.

Maybe, even for Fox, enough is enough. Here’s an internal memo passed along by MediaBistro’s FishbowlDC.

Subject: Quality Control We had a mistake on Newsroom today when a wrong book cover went on screen during a guest segment, the kind of thing that can fall through the cracks on any day with any story given the large amount of elements and editorial we run through our broadcasts. Unfortunately, it is the latest in a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months. We have to all improve our performance in terms of ensuring error-free broadcasts. To that end, there was a meeting this afternoon between senior managers and the folks who run the daytime shows in which expectations were reviewed, and the following results were announced: Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the “mistake chain,” and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews. So we now face a great opportunity to review and improve on our workflow and quality control efforts. To make the most of that opportunity, effective immediately, Newsroom is going to “zero base” our newscast production. That means we will start by going to air with only the most essential, basic, and manageable elements. To share a key quote from today’s meeting: “It is more important to get it right, than it is to get it on.” We may then build up again slowly as deadlines and workloads allow so that we can be sure we can quality check everything before it makes air, and we never having to explain, retract, qualify or apologize again. Please know that jobs are on the line here. I can not stress that enough. I will review again during our Monday editorial meeting, and in the days and weeks ahead. This experience should make us stronger editorially, and I encourage everyone to invest themselves one hundred and ten percent in this effort.

The memo has a message for all newsrooms of all political persuassions: Content trumps presentation.

If the reason for these most recent screw-ups is a rush to make the broadcast look pretty or flashy the emphasis is wrong. Facts need to be correct before worrying about production values.

This isn’t going to change FNC’s slant. They’ll continue to cover news from a right-of-center perspective. I actually have little problem with that. It just looks like the effort will be made to sell their points from a more factual base.

Of course it’s also possible the memo was leaked to provide easy political cover while nothing changes! We’ll have to wait and see.

Matt And Geoff’s Great Brooklyn/Queens Adventure

I was born in Brooklyn and went to high school there (via a bus and two subways). I figured I’d done my time. Did I have to go back?

I asked fellow meteorologist Matt Scott if he wanted to go to the city? Helaine had business on the other side of the state and I’m drawn to New York. I know Matt is too. We just didn’t know what we’d do once we got there!

Not to make a joke of it, but even as we left Connecticut we didn’t have a clue where we’d go or what we’d do.

IMG_1552.jpg“I’ve never been to Brooklyn,” he said.

I was born in Brooklyn and went to high school there (via a bus and two subways). I figured I’d done my time. Did I have to go back?

We drove over the Throgs Neck Bridge, onto the Cross Island and then the LIE.

There are signs on the Throgs Neck stating photography is strictly prohibited. At the same time on any given Saturday and Sunday the Brooklyn Bridge is infested with thousands of tourists and locals–most with cameras. What makes the Throgs Neck so insecure? Do they really think it’s a more tantalizing target than the storied Brooklyn Bridge?

I asked Matt if he’d like to see where I grew up and went to grade school? What was he going to say? I was driving!

A few minutes later we were standing in front of PS 163. The front door was propped open. A man was outside smoking a cigarette.

“I went here 50 years ago,” I began.

Shit, that makes me sound old. Luckily, I’m immature for my age.

Before long we were in the school.

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This building is the equivalent of one of the locales for MSNBC’s prison doc block! It was a school unsuited for me run by a woman I suspect hated me. From grade two to six I suffered inside.

The only saving grace was it was an amazing school for learning–even for someone who fought learning as much as I did! PS163 was firmly grounded in “tracking.” That’s the practice of grouping students of similar abilities together. Tracking has lost favor today. I’d be surprised to hear it’s used anywhere, though it certainly benefited me. I spent five years competing in a class of overachievers.

We had no gym. We had no recess. We had little outdoor activity–ever. Imagine.

There was… there still is a large room in the front of the building where, for a few years, we did some sort of cockamamie square dancing.

I was astounded to see numbers still painted high on the walls. This was where each class lined up in the case of emergency. The numbers corresponded to room numbers. This paint job is at least fifty years old!

PS163 worked out so well I asked Matt if he wanted to see Electchester, where I grew up? Again, to my surprise he said, “Yes.”

Everything looked smaller as we wound our way through the south end of Flushing. We headed to Kissena Blvd. then the LIE’s service road and up Parsons Boulevard where I lived. I put the top up on the convertible and we got out.

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I’ve used this analogy before, but these buildings (and the ones across the street at NYCHA’s Pomonok Houses) are reminiscent of the worst of Soviet style architecture! Considering the two complexes had well over 5,000 residents we were pretty devoid of amenities and services.

Because of how our individual building was turned to the street it was always much more convenient to enter through the basement which was 100% concrete and had asbestos wrapped exposed pipes and conduits. Maybe if I’d used a more formal and ‘softer’ entrance my experience would have been different. I’ll never know.

Matt and I walked around the building as I took photos. I wasn’t about to go in an see who was living in 5E where my family moved in 1953.

Stopping at these two places was amazing even though my experiences at both were sub-optimum. I decided to give Matt his trip to Brooklyn… but would he mind if we stopped at my high school?

We drove down Jewel Avenue to the Van Wyck Expressway then westbound on the LIE to the BQE. Without a GPS the rest was dependent on instinct and luck.

“See that tall antenna?” I asked Matt, pointing at a tall radio tower atop a building. “That’s my high school.”

We took the turns I thought would get us there while Matt tried to keep the antenna in sight. When we turned onto Fulton Street we were home free.

The neighborhood has really changed for the better. The brownstones on Ft. Greene Place were decrepit and often abandoned when I went to Tech. Now the neighborhood is gentrified. Don’t think of looking at a brownstone for less than seven figures.

I remember getting off the GG (now G) train at Fulton Street and walking by three bars before turning toward the school. Even at that early morning hour I remember watching drunks stumble out as I walked down the street. The bars are gone. The new stores are nice.

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Brooklyn Tech is currently surrounded by scaffolding. There’s some sort of major renovation going on. This is, after all, a school built as a stimulus project during the Great Depression. It’s aged.

We walked three sides of the immense school building stopping at every outside door to see if it was open. At the very last door we saw three men at a car. The adjacent door to the school was slightly ajar.

“Do you work here?”

New Yorker’s aren’t usually quick and free with information, but they answered yes.

“I graduated forty years ago and haven’t been back since. Can we go in?”

The boss looked at one of his workers and told him to take us in. We couldn’t stay long. There was work to be done.

No matter how large a high school you went to mine was larger! Allow me to sing.

Tech alma mater molder of men.

Proudly we rise to salute thee again.

Loyal we stand now six thousand strong.

The rest of the song is inconsequential. Six thousand boys went to Tech. That’s the important part.

Most of the school was eight stories tall with five corridors per floor. A smaller part of the building went to eleven stories. Yes, we had elevators, but you could only use them between certain designated floors.

“What’s that up there?” Matt asked looking at a glass covered area on the highest floor.

“That’s the foundry.”

Yeah, we had a foundry. In high school I poured molten pig iron! I know what a cope and drag are and how to make a wooden pattern for pouring.

Tech was where you learned to be an engineer. Our course of study was perfectly designed to fill the needs of 1940’s America. Alas, it was a little long in the tooth upon my arrival in 1964.

We stopped for a few photos in the 3,000+ seat auditorium and a look at some of the intricate work produced by government employed WPA artisans. Remember, Tech was built both as a school and as a make-work project to employ people during a horrific economic crisis.

Again, this was a great stop. I was totally shocked we’d been let in. Thank you unknown custodial staff. I appreciate your kindness.

When Matt originally mentioned Brooklyn it was because of a weekly flea market he’d read about. It was in the neighborhood and we headed right there.

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As is the case with much of New York City this flea market was a veritable United Nations. Every possible shade of skin as well as an immense variety of accents were represented. There was enough diversity to make everyone a minority.

It’s tough to describe what was being sold because so much of it was totally off-the-wall. Yes, there were books about Hitler. Yes, there was a Jesus Christ Action Figure.

“It has wheels,” said the guy trying to sell it.

Like Tech this was a bad neighborhood at one time. Not anymore. I said to myself, “I could live here,” though I’m not really sure that’s true. Certainly on this lazy summer’s afternoon it was quite lovely and inviting.

The flea market closed at five and we were back in the car heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Last August I’d walked the bridge with my friend Steve. I thought Matt would enjoy it too. I had only the vaguest of guesses where the bridge was as we set out.

“There it is,” Matt blurted, but he was looking at the Manhattan Bridge.

Typical out-of-towner mistake. A bridge is a bridge–right? But knowing where the Manhattan Bridge was the same as knowing where the Brooklyn Bridge was because they’re so close to each other.

We found on-the-street parking a few blocks from the entrance to the bridge’s walkway. A whole day in New York City without paying for parking! My father is proud!

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The Brooklyn Bridge provides an incredible vista from which to view the city. Crossing the East River the bridge connects Downtown Brooklyn with Downtown Manhattan. It’s about a one mile walk.

I bought a bottle of water from a vendor and we headed over.

I cannot recommend this trek enough. Looking south you see Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. In the distance tall cranes mark the port facilities in New Jersey.

To the north is the nearby Manhattan Bridge and a glimpse into Midtown. The Empire State Building dominates most northward views.

The East River is a working river. There’s plenty of commercial traffic though not the international fleet found on the Hudson.

There were lots of interesting looking people on the bridge, but none more interesting than the couple (by her accent, French) who found a girder with hand rails which led over the auto roadway to the edge of the bridge. It looked scary. They had just begun to head back when I spotted them.

After the bridge roundtrip we were hungry and found the Water Street Restaurant and Lounge. Surprisingly it wasn’t busy. I had a Cajun Blackened Sirloin Burger with BBQ Sauce, Andouille Sausage, Crisp Onion Ring, Cheddar Cheese. Matt had the Norwegian Lox Sandwich with Avocado, Pickled Cucumbers, Lime Mayo on Black Rye.

Good choice! Dinner was tasty.

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Our last stop was the area under the two bridges. This being the weekend there were weddings taking place with the Manhattan skyline as backdrop. When you get married down by the banks of the East River you’re inviting anyone around to stop and watch. It’s really quite sweet, romantic and frugal!

We stayed near the river until the sun went down, then headed home.

We’d set out with no firm plan and yet (even Matt will admit) had a really fun day. It was nice to go back home. It was nice to see how Brooklyn’s changed. It was good for Matt to discover Brooklyn.


Car Chases

Is it news? That’s a tougher question.

“I don’t do crack, but I think this is probably what it’s like.”

The quote is from Helaine. She said it as I was scrambling to leave the house and drive to work. She was referring to today’s Dallas, TX police chase.

“There should be a channel with only this,” she added.

They are addictive even though they’re entirely predictable. Attention miscreants: If you hear a copter overhead, pull over. You’re done.

I knew what Helaine was talking about because the chase was on the TV in the bedroom as I got dressed. MSNBC’s anchors were quizzing a Texas police dispatcher. They seemed more interested than he was.

dallas-chase-crash.jpgIt was a “routine traffic stop,” the dispatcher said. In some quarters those words are considered cover for police as they hassle minorities. In any event the driver took off and led police across the Dallas area for a few hours before running through an intersection and getting slammed by a pickup truck.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a follow-up. When the perp was caught the story ended.

Why is this stuff covered? People watch–that’s the easy answer.

Is it news? That’s a tougher question. MSNBC and others were following it without knowing any off the underlying factors. They were not following a crime or criminal as much as they were following a chase.

In the past I’ve referred to this as soft core porn for newsrooms. My opinion hasn’t changed.

Father’s Day Gifts

Don’t feel sorry for my dad. He is 100% sharp and 100% active. He teaches computing to his fellow seniors at the condo. I suspect he is currently having the best time of his life. Can you say that?

logitech_keys.jpgIt’s Father’s Day. It’s good to have an excuse to be nicer to my dad! We like to buy a Father’s Day gift for him, but quite honestly it’s tough to do. What do you buy an 82 year old man? By now he has acquired nearly everything he wants!

We know some of the gifts we got him in the past were received graciously, but still missed the mark.

Oh–I should mention deciding on my dad’s gift is my responsibility. Considering Helaine is responsible for the other 99.9% of purchases we make it seems fair. But, like I said, he’s tough to buy for.

Along with being 82 and quivering from “essential tremors,” my dad has just one working eye. The ‘good one’ is no prize either with cataracts and other age related problems.

-PAUSE- Don’t feel sorry for my dad. He is 100% sharp and 100% active. He teaches computing to his fellow seniors at the condo. He is MSNBC’s most loyal viewer (often playing the TV loud enough to make sure his neighbors also hear the show). I suspect he is currently having the best time of his life. Can you say that?

While visiting us last month he mentioned in passing that it’s sometimes difficult to use his computer’s keyboard in anything but strong light. That’s what led to his gift–a “Logitech Illuminated Ultrathin Keyboard with Backlighting

Bright, Laser-Etched, Backlit Keys that Let You Type Easily–Even in the Dark

Bright, laser-etched, backlit keys provide precise illumination that can be adjusted to suit your needs. And only the characters are illuminated, so you get just the right amount of light.

When we spoke to him early this afternoon he sounded genuinely pleased. He characterized it as a “thoughtful gift.” It’s something for my dad’s inner geek.

It is better to give than to receive.

My Folks Go Back To Florida

My parents are both significantly older than they look or act. That’s no small compliment


The phone just rang… or whatever it is they do nowadays. “I’m sorry. Did I wake you?” It was my mom calling from Atlanta. They are halfway home. She knew after we dropped them off at the airport I’d head back to bed. I am much more easily predicted than the weather!

It was a successful trip. They got to watch their last grandchild graduate college. They were in the studio for my 25th anniversary. We spent lots of time together.

My mom had back problems this past winter. She could hardly walk. Yesterday she went to Manhattan with Helaine and Stef. “I walked 8,000,000 steps,” she said. Later it became, “I walked 9,000,000 steps.”

My parents are both significantly older than they look or act. That’s no small compliment.

My dad who had his own back problems yesterday and doesn’t match up well against a hot New York day stayed home with me. This is what is meant when the words “quality time” are used.

What we did wasn’t as important as the fact we did it together! I’m saying that because I think we watched MSNBC for 12 or 13 hours straight. If I saw Dick Cheney one more time I was going to waterboard myself!

My dad and I went to the diner for dinner. Just two guys going for omelets.

It’s a place I’ve been going to for 25 years so as we left I started to talk to the boss and then a few of the waitresses. The conversation got around to Las Vegas and my dad took out “the picture.”

Holy crap, he carries it around!

We joked around at how lucky we were to have the wives we have. He said he couldn’t figure out why Helaine settled for me when she could have done so much better. He was joking–right?

After a full week my parents were ready to return to Florida. Their friends are there. It’s in their comfort zone. There’s BINGO tonight (which they play though both claim they hate it). Now they can rest.

There’s another trip in store for them before this year is out. They’re going to Milwaukee. This winter they’ll become great-grandparents! My niece Jessica, their first grandchild, is expecting.

Where they live in Florida becoming a great-grandparent is equal to winning an Olympic medal.

Our Nation’s Hate

As far as I can tell the “facts” in the email are absolutely made up. There is not a shred of truth to it. But, to the sender it doesn’t make any difference because it’s just ammunition in an ideological war.


Nearly three million people have voted in the MSNBC poll at the top of this entry. It’s non-scientific in its methodology, but it’s incredibly telling nonetheless. Our country has no center in political opinion. The vast majority of the votes are for the two extremes.

We are a nation divided. I love Obama. I hate Obama. There, literally, is no middle ground.

It’s sad because we’ve come to the point where people are so stridently driven by dogma, they’d rather see their ideas used than see success. That is why to many Rush Limbaugh’s January 21 pronouncement is so upsetting and to others so enabling.

So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far- left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?

I have often said I’d use the Psychic Friends Network to forecast the weather if it worked. Rush’s words are the antithesis of that thought.

This morning I got an email from someone I don’t recognize.

News Alert:

The US Navy has stated that the Navy seals could have acted faster and rescued the captain of the Maersk Alabama last week, but had to wait until the White House could confirm that none of the pirates were related to Obama.

That quote comes from a forwarded email nestled within the one sent to me. The sender, the unknown Andre Lefebvre, adds:

That S.O.B. will destroy this country.

You just watch.

One morning, very soon, everybody, in the U. S., will wake-up and find out that they have lost all of their rights and it will be too late to do anything about it.

As far as I can tell the “facts” in the email are absolutely made up. There is not a shred of truth to it. But, to the sender it doesn’t make any difference because it’s just ammunition in an ideological war.

The exact actions the president takes on any given day are much less important to this person than the overall political bent. And, I suspect, he’d say what he said even knowing it was false because it might injure his enemy–Obama.

This country needs to be righted economically. Then we have a whole lot of healing to do. The vitriol and hate from right-to-left and back again isn’t healthy.

Thanks to my friend Woody who sent along the MSNBC poll not realizing it would produce this.

How I Became A Maury Watcher

I know this crap’s been on for years. I’m more than a little late to the game.

I don’t watch any of the ‘trash’ studio shows. OK–let’s fix that. I didn’t watch any of the ‘trash’ studio shows until recently… and even now it’s a fleeting glimpse.

When we got our new flat panel TV for the bedroom the tuner found the HD transmissions from our local stations sandwiched between the news channels. Now when I go from Fox to CNBC to HLN to CNN to MSNBC, local channels 59 and 61 show up.

Now when I wake up and graze at the news buffet I pass by Maury. I stopped for a moment today. It was a poor schlmeil and his wife. She was his child bride–literally. They now have three children. Only two are his. She actually didn’t know if any of them were his before Maury dramatically opened the envelope and revealed the DNA test results.

I know this crap’s been on for years. I’m more than a little late to the game.

These people are sad. What’s just as sad, maybe sadder, is Maury and crew exploiting their ignorance and naivety.

By highlighting these stories shows like this legitimize abhorrent behavior. Watching might be a guilty pleasure, but it comes with a cost. We coarsen our world.

The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

All The Dirt That’s Fit To Print Or Broadcast Or Browse

If Obama cured cancer, Drudge would find a downside.

As I write this a Chris Shays for Congress ad is on during the Emmys. Even Republicans are running against the Republican Party. Shays is. Everyone’s a rebel.

I’ve read a lot about this presidential race being the meanest, dirtiest ever–and then I’ve read it’s not. Who knows? There’s no shortage of bullshit available on both sides.

This is probably our most partisan election as far as media goes.

There’s Fox–strongly Republican, though publicly in denial. Rupert Murdoch was on Fox last week saying what awful would happen if Obama is elected.

MSNBC has turned sharply Democratic and otherwise left-of-center with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. It’s a little less comfortable for MSNBC. Unlike Fox, there is an affiliation with a non-partisan news organization (NBC) and no Roger Ailes. They’d do better with a Roger Ailes to run interference.

I am most intrigued with politically slanted coverage on the net. I’ve been a big Drudge reader for years. He is heavily out in support of McCain/Palin. Tonight on Drudge:



If Obama cured cancer, Drudge would find a downside.

Drudge is now balanced by Huffington Post. Wasn’t Arianna Huffington once a conservative? On Huffington McCain can do no right.

Obama: Bailout Plan Must Address “The Crisis On Main Street And Around Kitchen Tables Across America”

Here’s the problem with all this vitriol. Once the election is over there’s going to be a huge segment of our population unhappy and ready to hatchet whomever wins. No matter what the result, this promises to be the most divisive (and derisive) election I can remember.

Bill O’Reilly

I was disappointed in what I saw on the web clip.

I have been trading emails back in forth with Woody, who is starting to rival my friend Farrell (International Man of Mystery) in miles traveled and places seen. We’ve been talking about oil speculation. Woody’s family business is home heating oil.

If you’re not in the Northeast, this may surprise you. We have trucks that drive around and deliver fuel oil (exactly the same as automobile diesel) to big basement tanks. Woody’s family has kept us warm for nearly twenty years.

I told him about a story on futures trading by speculators and the possible implications on the price of oil, that ran on MSNBC. I’ve watched three packages on this subject, and I still don’t totally understand.

Woody sent me a link. Bill O’Reilly was on and agreeing with the point made in the MSNBC report. I took a look.

I don’t watch Bill O’Reilly often. He is a very charismatic broadcaster. He’s a great reader whose inflection can sell a story. He has an extremely well developed on-air persona, which is more important to his success than whatever political point he’s currently making.

I was disappointed in what I saw on the web clip. To me, it seemed he was cold reading his Talking Points Memo. A few times, he read words, but used the wrong inflection. That’s the giveaway.

I know he doesn’t write everything he reads (maybe anything he reads) – that’s OK. But I expect him to do the broadcasting equivalent of basketball shootarounds and take a look at his copy before he’s in the studio.

It is only fair to note. I might have just caught him on a bad night. I have bad nights. Everyone does. The average of all your work, by definition, is average. Hopefully the excellent outweighs the mediocre.

Guess I Wasn’t Alone

Peter Jennings didn’t receive such heavy coverage when he died — ABC doesn’t own a cable channel.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my entry about the coverage of Tim Russert’s death. A few friends who wanted to chime in, but quietly, sent emails and links.

One link was this column by Hal Boedeker in the Orlando Sentinel. His opinion is very close to mine. Among his more interesting points:

Is there a sense of proportion? Peter Jennings didn’t receive such heavy coverage when he died — ABC doesn’t own a cable channel. And he was in our homes, night after night, for 20 years. MSNBC kept Russert front and center through the weekend.

It’s probably time to move on from this story now.