Time Listens In On Andrew Breitbart’s Conversation With Ann Coulter

Is there anyone who hasn’t profiled Andrew Breitbart in the last few months? Yowzer. What is there left to say (other than the computer in the bathtub trick is always tempting but generally ends badly)? Instead let’s listen to one side of Andrew Breitbart’s phone conversation with Ann Coulter, as recorded by Time.

The woman at the other end of the line, conservative fulminator Ann Coulter, is among Breitbart’s staunchest allies, and they soon are engaged in a spirited attack on liberals. “Their entire structure is writhing in diseased agony on the side of the road, and they don’t even realize it,” Breitbart says. But the left isn’t the only object of disdain. “I’m sick of this effete GOP nothing sandwich,” he adds, growing more animated. “As long as everyone is so pristine and socially registered, we’re going to lose.” Shortly before signing off, Breitbart says, “The second I realized I liked being hated more than I liked being liked — that’s when the game began.”

Also, there’s more ‘Big’ coming the Internet’s way. Breitbart is reportedly launching a slew of new sites including “Big Peace, which will cover national security, followed by Big Tolerance (aimed at conservative gays, blacks and Jews), Big Education and Big Soros (which will address the world of institutional giving).”

Related: Citizen Breitbart [Time]


MSNBC And Media Matters Struggle To Understand Glenn Beck

MSNBC’s opinion programming continued its celebration of the health care reform bill passage last night with an objective look at Fox News’ programming from Lawrence O’Donnell and Media Matters President Eric Burns.

Just kidding – it was more hypocrisy from two gloating left-wingers over HCR, with occasional observations on the leanings of FNC.

O’Donnell opened the segment by setting the tone for what was to come, discussing all the recent public support in the past couple days:

Whether that’s because the public tends to side with winners, because the right wing noise machine sputtered, or because every major mainstream news organization’s treatment of the bill’s passage included all the good things in the bill…

So now that it’s passed, and everyone (except Fox) is saying good things about it, people support it? It’s an interesting idea, considering O’Donnell himself was highlighting all the things the bill didn’t do on a regular basis, as recently as last week.

And then he turned to Fox News – O’Donnell called the coverage “almost comical,” noting Megyn Kelly spent “about 23 seconds on it.” This would make sense, and is a very valid point – the news coverage certainly looked different than the coverage on CNN or MSNBC. Highlighting Kelly, a neo-anchor whose supposed all-news show can be criticized for story selection and right-leaning tone, drives home that point.

But then he and Burns spent the rest of the segment breaking down Glenn Beck – or trying to. “Glenn Beck barely mentioned the health care bill for the first 45 minutes,” said O’Donnell (our count had it around 20 minutes) and they picked up on a gun reference made late in the show.

Burns called it a “continuing part of Glenn Beck’s ongoing campaign to destroy the progressive movement, and frankly I’m concerned, perhaps even incite a revolution in this country.” Is it true some could misinterpret what Beck says as a call to violence? Sure, but he continues to make the case against violence – as he did last night again.

The point is, Beck and his FNC colleagues are right-of-center politically and in the media, while MSNBC is left-of-center in both areas. So when O’Donnell charges “they’re not a news network, they’re a political operation” it ignores the messenger. Maybe it would mean more coming as a postcard from John King, USA.

Here’s the segment:

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The Case For Nightly Broadcast News – And What’s Wrong With Cable News

Over the past ten years we’ve repeatedly read stories in the MSM that the big three nightly newscasts are a dying breed. We’ve read that viewership continues to decline. And there have been prognostications that one of the big three will get out of the nightly news business eventually; usually the network hinted at is CBS because it’s been stuck in 3rd place, well behind NBC and ABC, for longer than most of us can remember.

The premise concerning the “eventual demise” of broadcast news and its slumping viewership generally revolves around two things; the explosion of cable news outlets over the past decade and the increasing reliance on the internet as a news medium – both deliver news quicker to those who want it and make the big three nightly newscasts seem both redundant and woefully late to the story because of their early evening air times. That’s the theory anyway.

It’s a theory I and others have steadfastly adhered to. I surmise this is partly why Brian Stelter started out his media writing career in 2004 with a lesser known precursor to TVNewser called CableNewser which focused solely on the six cable news nets at the time; CNN, HLN, MSNBC, FNC, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV. It wasn’t until Stelter sold CableNewser to Mediabistro and it was re-branded as TVNewser that it was then expanded to cover all TV news outlets, broadcast and cable.

At the time, I felt that the expanded coverage of TVNewser perpetuated the “myth” of broadcast news relevance while shifting the focus away from where the future really was, cable news. And that, among other reasons, is why I started blogging at ICN in 2005. As far as I was concerned broadcast news was dead. It was just that nobody had bothered pulling the plug yet.

But a strange thing happened over the past five years since ICN launched: the broadcast news programs remained relevant while cable news began to become less relevant on a daily basis for almost everyone except political junkies.

I started watching nightly broadcast news again a couple of years ago and I have come to some sort of Alice in Wonderland bizarro world epiphany. For news, the broadcast networks still do it right and cable news is increasingly doing it wrong. As one who blogs exclusively on cable news, this revelation has been a tough pill to swallow. How did my TV news world become so topsy turvy?

>>>NEXT PAGE: The first problem with cable news – ratings.


Bill O’Reilly And Anthony Weiner Spar: Health Care, IRS, & “The Truth”

This is how its done. Bill O’Reilly had on NY Congressman Anthony Weiner to discuss federal health care last night, and “the Obama administration trying to expand federal power” (which is how O’Reilly presented the discussion.) The crux of their debate centered on O’Reilly’s assertion that “the IRS will have to enforce ObamaCare.” Weiner repeatedly tried to disabuse O’Reilly’s notion of criminalizing health care, as well as the hosts comments that congressmen claimed to be O’Reilly’s untrue assertions.

While the debate was spirited, and featured a comedic fit of pouting by Weiner, the discourse stayed on topic, remained respectful, and never lowered to name calling nor ad hominem attacks. The only literal short-coming was the five-minute length of the segment. This is the sort of debate and discussion that could go on for an hour, and might actually be a healthy excursion for what some call bitterly divided nation.


Not Even Al Franken Is Sure What The Senate Was Doing Last Night

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. Or something. The Senate pulled an all-nighter last night in a effort to “reconcile” the amendments to the health care bill. They were only sort of successful. Cue one of those times where you learn things about Senate procedure that you probably never knew (the sort of plot point West Wing episodes used to hinge on).

The short version is that the package of final changes to the health care bill is going back to the House for another vote. Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin is apparently the person in the Senate who decides “what is germane, under Senate rules” and last night he decided that not everything was reconcilable. From Reuters:

Alan Frumin upheld two Republican challenges under budget reconciliation rules, Senate Democratic aides said, requiring another vote by the House just days after it passed the package during a contentious debate Sunday.

The challenges involve the package’s revamp of the student loan program, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. … The ruling means 16 lines will be stricken from the bill, Manley said, but any change required House action once again.

So back to the House it goes! Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken, who was chairing the ‘vote-a-rama’ last night looked just as confused as many people will probably feel when they wake up to this news. When is it time to pound the gavel? Was the Senate adjourned or not!? Video below.


Bill Simmons: Caught Between The Everyman And The Establishment

One of my most memorable moments of my college paper career occurred during the spring of my senior year. I was sitting across a meeting room table from Boston Globe writer and ESPN contributor Bob Ryan, who had come talk with upperclassmen at his old alma mater about the industry. During his brief time with us, I got to lob a question at Ryan, and although it was a few years back, I recall asking him something along the lines of, “How do you feel about the new journalism coming from guys like Bill Simmons? Is he stealing some of your space while writing from the perspective of a fan?”

The memory will never leave me, because Ryan looked like he was not amused. I’m paraphrasing here from a foggy memory, but his answer was: “I’m a journalist. He doesn’t speak for all of us who have made a career out of reporting sports for decades.”

I respect Ryan – especially as someone who grew up reading him in the Globe. But that was a moment I realized that becoming the traditional, in-the-trenches sports reporter was long gone. For years, I pictured the massive divide between the press box and the bleachers, but Simmons was the first to successfully demonstrate that there didn’t have to be. He was on to something a lot sooner than the rest of us, he was writing in a blog style long before there were blogs, and ESPN recognized his talent and style quick enough to make a smart move and bring him aboard.

As someone who is one of the many influenced by Simmons, an everyman fan who has been a writer at ESPN.com for more than a decade, I will be among the first to admit he isn’t the pure commoner he once embodied. However, he still is putting himself out there from a very non-traditional place in the sports media world. He has such a distinct spot in the last decade of the Worldwide Leader, and not just on dot-com, but also because of his New York Times bestsellers, the 30 for 30 sports documentary series he produces and his star-studded podcast, The BS Report. He has a self-carved empire somewhere in the middle of “Booyah” and the screaming heads of Pardon The Interruption and Around The Horn.

The normal preaching about Simmons’s career appears in a column in April’s Atlantic Monthly by Isaac Chotiner. While a heavy emphasis on Simmons recent bestselling The Book of Basketball, Chotiner still gives plenty of ink to the following that the sportswriter has earned through his personality and style:

In public, Simmons fans love to yell out “Hey, Sports Guy!”—which (again) recalls voters who, when interviewed on camera about their candidate of choice, say that he is “one of us.” To Simmons’s credit, however, the unassuming nickname actually fits him comfortably. In certain respects, the public figure that Simmons most clearly resembles is the early David Letterman, although Letterman has never tried to seem like an average guy. Still, they have one thing in common: the way they personalize their work.

Chotiner sets up an even more interesting dichotomy in the column when he begins by referencing Bill James, whose stat-crunching encyclopedia of baseball is also very present as an influence to the works of Michael Lewis. Whether the obvious ties in Moneyball or the more shrouded stat-mind in the sports part of The Blind Side (i.e., the book, not the movie), Lewis is clearly a bookish disciple of James. The thing is that Simmons is kind of the opposite side of the same coin of Lewis; Chotiner places his tome of Basketball at the opposite end of the bookcase from James’s equally voluminous archive of statistics, yet certainly deserving of the same shelf.

This imagery is important for this era of journalism: Simmons is comprehensive in his coverage of sports, but not even close to the same way as James and Lewis. He grew up among fans in the decade of citizen journalism and online publishing, and he hasn’t let that change how he writes – he is proud to know Matt Saracen’s stats in the same way he does Matt Cassel’s. That has to irritate the crap out of the guys who’ve filed hurried game summaries from press boxes of low market teams to work their way up.

Yet, as Simmons has grown in popularity, the same problem has alienated him slightly from the fan base that once adores him. There’s a running joke about the time ESPN opened up comments for Simmons’ regular written columns – and how quickly the vitriol (actual comments in this 2007 Deadspin post) forced them to shut down that section for his posts still to this day.

In an exclusive interview with Mediaite last fall, Bill mentioned to Colby Hall:

You can’t work for ESPN and NOT be part of the establishment. For most people, we are the Starbucks of sports. When I started writing for them, it was like a switch went off — suddenly I was getting these “you sold out” emails and I’m like, “I sold out? Where’s the money?

The question I have, though, involves whether or not the establishment accepts him. It’s one thing to be a part of it, it’s quite another to be invited to the reporters’ buffet. As much as that ESPN tag makes him one of “The Man,” Simmons still has to fight the battle of being alongside the Rick Reillys, Gene Wojciechowskis and Bob Ryans of the world, with whom he still doesn’t line up perfectly. He’s as much outside the circle as inside of it in that regard.

Chotiner partly discussed Simmons in the same breath as David Letterman’s comedy stylings in the Atlantic feature. Letterman didn’t care who thought throwing watermelons off roofs wasn’t funny, he did it anyway; Simmons likewise doesn’t mind if you aren’t a fan of the television critics, fiction authors and former college roommates he parades through his podcasts. Changing the style to appease fans or join the reporter’s gallery isn’t in him – and even if he stands alone in this middle ground, he still will forever change the notion that there is no cheering in the press box. Because of him, the cheap seats are just as likely of a home for the next game changer in the future of sports journalism.


Jimmy Fallon’s F-Bomb Version Of Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just A Bill”

Rarely does a comedy bit feel both inevitable and really funny, but that just happens to be the case in the following clip. By now nearly everyone has heard Vice President Joe Biden’s “this is a big f-ing deal” comment to President Obama that was picked up by hot mics during the ceremonial signing of the recently passed health care bill. But it took clever comedic minds at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to present that wonderful gaffe in the proper context: via the classic Schoolhouse Rock short “I’m Just A Bill.”

Explaining why comedy works (or doesn’t work) is almost never an entertaining or worthwhile exercise. However, its worth noting that it appears that producers at Late Night tracked down Jack Sheldon, the performer who sang the original version (else, they found a dead-ringer voice-alike.)