Soundbite: Beck And Limbaugh Are A ‘Story Of Remarkable Volume And Utter Weakness’

s-GLENN-BECK-RUSH-LIMBAUGH-largeSo what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

The New York TimesDavid Brooks on the fall and rise of right wing media stars like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Continued below.

But this is not merely a story of weakness. It is a story of resilience. For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America.


Can Larry King Really Save A Cad? Jon Gosselin Makes His Case

Jon GosselinMaybe it’s the suspenders.

Or maybe it’s the fact that this snazzy 75-year old shops at Juicy Couture, but for whatever the reason, “celebrity” douchebags alike think that Larry King can save them from their swift decline into official American public scum.

Jon Gosselin told King on Larry King Live last night that a sudden “epiphany” (after four years of taping the reality TV show,  Jon & Kate Plus 8, for the TLC network) made him finally realize that subjecting his 8 young children to constantly being filmed (and now during a highly publicized/messy divorce) might not be so healthy.

Suspiciously enough, Gosselin’s appearance on the show came two days after TLC officially announced that their most popular TV show would be changing its name to Kate Plus Eight and that Gosselin would no longer be an integral part of filming, which thanks to the public’s weird fascination and hankering for all things dysfunctional, has caused the ratings to drop.

During the segment in which Gosselin, who’s face has been plastered on numerous tabloid covers this past year with rumored and confirmed accounts of cheating on his wife, very strategically avoided Kings’ important questions (mainly the one where King confronted Gosselin on the fact that his sudden utter despair over his children being filmed came right after the network decided to pretty much cut him out of the show).

His well choreographed tap dancing routine around certain questions and very convenient epiphany are pretty reminiscent of Chris Brown’s sudden (selective) amnesia during his desperate attempt to look like less of a girlfriend beating douchebag on Larry King Live back in August.

But even with a powder blue bow tie and his mother in tears by his side, it’s pretty clear by these comments from the Larry King Live blog and this poll on the New York Daily News website, that it’s gonna take way more than a suspender wearing, juicy couture shopping TV host to get America to like him again.

So if Brown, who unlike Gosselin actually has some sort of talent to rely on along with a pretty devout fan base, couldn’t get a bone thrown at home after Larry King Live, well, then, let’s just say, Gosselin is pretty…f*cked.


Hollywood And Washington, D.C. Are Very Much Alike

In yesterday's Los Angeles Times, John Horn and Tina Daunt wrote about the extent to which the Hollywood community is terribly out of touch with the rest of the country on the matter of Roman Polanski. Their article is worth reading just to experience the pancreas-curdling, sanctimonious bilge that issues from the snackhole of Harvey Weinstein. But what's even nicer about this piece is that at some later date, they can refile it as a broad criticism of the Beltway media elite without making more than a few cosmetic changes. This could save print media, maybe!

You can only imagine how paragraphs like this resonate with me:

"The split between what the rest of the world thinks about Polanski and what Hollywood thinks about Polanski is quite remarkable," said film historian David Thomson. "It proves what an old-fashioned and provincial club Hollywood is. People look after their own."

Seriously. The only difference between their provincial club and ours is that most people finds theirs to be prettier.

Take a look at this paragraph. You'll see what I'm talking about:

When Mel Gibson launched into an anti-Semitic screed following his 2006 arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, hardly any Hollywood leaders -- agent Ari Emanuel and Sony studio chief Amy Pascal among the few exceptions -- publicly rebuked the actor. The criticism of Hollywood at the time was that in a business contingent on relationships and currying favor with the powerful, no one was willing to denounce such a prominent artist.

Just make the following changes:

--"Mel Gibson" to "the Bush administration"
--"launched into an anti-Semitic screed...of driving under the influence" becomes "launched a pointless, expensive, and detrimental war in Iraq."
--"Hollywood leaders" becomes "Beltway media professionals"
--"actor" becomes "President"
--"Hollywood" becomes "Washington"
--"artist" becomes "politician"

...and voila! It's all just as true as the original!

The only thing I'm missing are suitable replacements for Ari Emanuel and Amy Pascal. I guess Hollywood is two up on us in the "ability to make a lick of damn sense every once in a while" category.

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Hiltzik With a Reality Check on Tort Reform

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times has a helpful column cutting through some of the noise in the health-care debate on tort reform. Hiltzik isn't the first to point out that malpractice litigation and so-called defensive medicine aren't a critical factor in driving health-care inflation. They cost a lot of money, some $50 billion a year, but you've...

Reporter at Sea-Sick

File this under newspaper promotional contests that make us feel sick to our stomach. USA Today is teaming up with cruise line Royal Caribbean International in a contest headlined "Royal Caribbean and USA TODAY Open a Sea of Dreams for Aspiring Journalists." Royal Caribbean International is teaming up with USA TODAY to launch the "Reporter...

Inventions Is Another GOOD Idea

The folks at GOOD have always made playfulness a part of their video strategy, creating informative web content that avoids didacticism by using, for example, a naked girl’s body to relay facts about Internet porn, or an animated host to read the news. And while their newest series, Inventions, aims more for entertainment than education, its creativity and cleverness proves to be surprisingly inspiring.

Inventions, co-sponsored by Delta Faucets, brings together individuals from all walks of life by asking them to answer the question: “What invention would make your life better?” The results range from the practical, like noise-cancelling speakers to improve congested urban living, to the fanciful, like an augmented Toyota Tercel that transforms cats into dogs. Each device or idea is “prototyped,” so to speak, by well-crafted animation sequences which illustrate the invention in action, resulting in a slick, 2-minute-long package of ideas, personalities and even the occasional funny gag.

There are at least two white male 20-something comedians featured in these episodes, but while they’re both very funny and creative, the stronger episodes feature people from more eclectic backgrounds. USC film sound professor Tomlinson Holman, who invented the THX sound system, lays out his noise-canceling speakers idea with familiarity and grace. And sure, environmental justice advocate Majora Carter’s plan for a virus that spreads love is more than a little hippy-dippy, but her earnestness is as contagious as a cold.

My favorite invention is video artist Lincoln Schatz’s brain-sharing device. OK so it probably won’t be possible to experience the world through someone else’s consciousness for several more decades. But the way Schatz describes the concept, which would, for example, allow you to walk around a city and see architecture the way a brilliant architect does, is eye-opening in its own way.

What Inventions promises on the surface is the seemingly impossible. But what it delivers to audiences is imagination and innovation, which are the ingredients necessary to make the impossible come true.


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Media Attention Didn’t Help Homeless-bound Woman

helenRecently, we brought you the story of Brianna Karp, a homeless woman who, through hard work and determination, and a little bit of luck, has seen her situation improve greatly.  She got her big break when she pitched herself to Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll and scored an internship When Brianna’s story went national, Wal-Mart felt compelled to return her wrongfully-impounded trailer, and she also got a job at Orange County Choppers.

Even though she’s still working hard and struggling, Brianna’s is definitely a feel-good story.

Several days ago, I was contacted by Helen Hatat, a woman whose story echoes Brianna’s in some respects, but which is definitely a feel-bad story.

Like Brianna, Helen was an Executive Assistant, until she lost her job due to the disastrous economy.  She’s college-educated, has a good resume’, but has been unable to find a job.  Like Brianna, Helen’s story has received media coverage.  CBS2 New York did a story on her in July, nine days before she was to be evicted.

Unfortunately for Helen, the attention didn’t change much.  She still sends out hundreds of resume’s, but  has yet to find a job.  When she put an ad on Craig’s List looking for work, what she got were criminal and sexual propositions.  She has subsisted on help from church and friends, but months later, she finds herself on the verge of homelessness again.  She has no medical insurance, and no way to pay the $800 every 2 weeks that her landlord agreed to to keep her from being evicted.

It’s tempting to see a story like Brianna’s, and feel too good.  She would be the first person to admit that, compared to other homeless people, and despite her worthiness, she has been very fortunate.  She would also be the first person to tell you not to forget about people like Helen, who teeter on the verge of homelessness, or people like the ones I met in January, who endure varying degrees of hardship living in shelters or the streets.