Sarah Palin Breathes Life Back Into Death Panels Just In Time For Oprah

2069_galleryThere is still a week to go before Sarah Palin’s much-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey next Monday, which will also likely serve as the starting shot in the Sarah Palin media blitz/beginning days of the 2012 campaign season that is sure to last till Christmas.

No doubt Oprah has been working on her interview questions for quite some time now (presumably since August 29, 2008), but it will be interesting to see which way, if any, Palin attempts to point the headlines ahead of her headline-making interview. As of today, the money appears to be on “death panels.”

In a posting on her Facebook page this weekend titled ‘The Pelosi Bill Was Rammed Through on Saturday, But Sunday’s Coming’ (side note: that is a great hed) (side note #2: if we are allowed to vote via Facebook in 2012 Palin is going to have an edge on the competition) Palin had this to say:

Now we can only hope that Rep. Stupak’s amendment will hold in the final bill, though the Democratic leadership has already refused to promise that it won’t be scrapped later. We had been told there were no “death panels” in the bill either. But look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care. Look closely at provisions addressing illegal aliens’ health care coverage too.

She alluded to the infamous (and fictitious) panels again in a pro-life speech in Wisconsin, that Politico’s Jonathan Martin apparently attended despite the fact it was closed to the press. Per Politico:

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee asserted that if policy-makers don’t believe a child in the womb is valuable, then “perhaps the same mind-set applies to other persons.”

“What may they feel about an elderly person who doesn’t have a whole lot of productive years left…In order to save government money, government health care has to be rationed… [so] than this elderly person that perhaps could be seen as costing taxpayers to pay for a non-productive life? Do you think our elderly will be first in line for limited health care? And what about the child who perhaps isn’t deemed normal or perfect per someone’s subjective measure of their use or questionable purpose in the eyes of a panel of bureaucrats making our health care decisions for us.”

The Death Panel meme has certainly been a successful one thus far for Palin, moreover it’s probably a preview of the sort of campaigning we can expect to see from the former Governor going forward, but reviving it so close to her big Oprah interview (not the mention the Barbara Walters one shortly thereafter) makes one wonder if she is not setting herself up for a extra thorough vetting on national TV come next week.

Glenn Beck Dominates Bestsellers List With Children’s Books Too

sweater_11-9We’ll just say it – there’s not a single thing Glenn Beck won’t dominate right now.

TV, radio, publishing, and now, Children’s book. That’s right, another New York Times bestseller.

In the wake of his last New York Times #1 bestseller, “Arguing With Idiots,” way back a couple weeks ago, Beck’s new Children’s book, “The Christmas Sweater,” reached #1 on the NYT list this week.

This makes it five consecutive publications to debut at #1 on the NYT bestsellers lists. His publisher believes he has made history. From the release:

Beck’s publishing house, Simon & Schuster, believes that Beck has become the only author in history to ever have #1 New York Times bestsellers debut on these four different lists: hardcover fiction (The Christmas Sweater), hardcover nonfiction (Arguing with Idiots and An Inconvenient Book), nonfiction paperback (Glenn Beck’s Common Sense), and now with The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book, children’s picture books.

And some of these books by Beck are still hanging around their respective NYT lists. “Arguing with Idiots” is #5 on the hardcover nonfiction list in its 6th week and “Common Sense” is #8 on the paperback nonfiction list. It was released June 16 and has currently sold more than 1 million copies. At this point Beck could release a collection of drawings from his chalkboard and it would hit #1.

As for the next time you’ll see Beck on TV or radio, he tweeted today that he’s slated to be back tomorrow. We’re sure he’s got a lot to say in the week he’s been off air.

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Twenty Years Ago Today: Peter Jennings Reports “Astonishing News” Out Of Germany

Berlin Wall FreedomToday is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So much has happened in the last 20 years to fundamentally change the political landscape of not only Europe but the entire world it’s hard to remember a time when the continent of Europe was literally divided by a wall. Or how momentous it was, and how sudden, when that wall suddenly came down.

It is amazing to watch this clip (below) of Peter Jennings deliver the “astonishing news” out of Germany in a breaking “special report’ on November 9, 1989. In part, because it somewhat conveys the sense of shock and awe that accompanied the news, but also because it’s such a quick and poignant reminder of a time when network news actually did break news stories to a nation unaware of the breaking events on the world stage.

As with other huge news stories of the recent past (Katrina comes to mind) it’s hard not to speculate how differently that day, or that time, might have unfolded has media outlets such as Twitter and YouTube been available. In the meantime, here is Jennings and ABC News’ special report on November 9, 2009. Below that, the opening paragraphs of the New York Times A-1 story that ran the following day.

NEXT>>> New York Times A-1 Story On Fall of Berlin Wall

Soundbite: Is Bipartisan Testosterone Turning Off Women and Independents?


“Sunday shows are usually a little more boring than that, that was like a testosterone overload yesterday morning. Part of it is you just can’t understand what they’re saying because they’re talking over each other, which I actually think is what turns off Independents and women when they try to watch these shows and it makes them more frustrated with Washington.”

Dana Perino, former press secretary for Pres. George W. Bush and current FNC contributor, on Fox & Friends this morning.

Perino was referring to a portion of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, replayed on Fox & Friends, where GOP Chairman Michael Steele got into a heated debate with his Democratic counterpart, Tim Kaine. The arguing was mixed with some physical contact as well, as the duo engaged in some hand-grabbing throughout the segment. Perino’s take was interesting – as she clearly took a shot at both sides of the debate. Although she said later, “I think that Michael Steele absolutely won that debate,” the tone of the argument was one which she identified as a negative for both Democrats and Republicans.

Here’s the testy exchange on This Week:

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Soundbite: Gossip Girl Threesome Is A Loving And Natural Part of Growing Up

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“This story is organic to the characters and it’s handled in a responsible way.”

Dawn Ostroff, President of Entertainment at the CW Network, justifying tonight’s threesome episode on Gossip Girl. Please let it not be Rufus, Lily and Eric.

Tonight on Gossip Girl: Triple your pleasure! In a show that has featured high school sex, college sex, Jitney sex, limo sex, art gallery sex, grudge sex, heavily implied “Eyes Wide Shut”-type gentlemen’s club sex and parents having sex will tonight feature the sexiest sex of all: The sex you share awkwardly with two other people. The LA Times reports that Gossip Girl’s heavily-touted “OM3″ three-way scene will air tonight, despite the objections of the Parents Television Council, which has given the show a nice burst of publicity thanks to its protests. Here’s a tip, Parents Television Council: They meant for that to happen. That, like threesomes for nubile college kids, is organic to the process.

Also organic to the process: The eventual ratings dropoff. I am part of Gossip Girl’s 10% audience decline in this, their third season (though honestly, that may be because now that Chuck and Blair are back together, whats the point?) but then again I am also part of the demo that watches the time-shifted version on the DVR, and will do so tonight (according to the LAT, its numbers jump 60% in women 18-34 via time-shifted viewing; I am just slightly outside that demo, but no less enthralled with what the kids are doing these days). I’m just still a little disappointed in Serena for not going to Brown.

Anyway! I will certainly be tuning in tonight, at some point. (Twitter don’t spoil it for me!) In the meantime, the CW is running a cheeky little promo suggesting possible permutations (above). Who do you think the lucky three will be? Take our poll below, and by all means feel free to write in your favorite combo in the comments if somehow we’ve missed it. Either way, I just hope that it’s Rufus crooning in the background. The right background music is so important to an organic, loving threesome.

A Liberal on Fox: Wanda Sykes’ New Talk Show Debuts

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On Saturday night, Wanda Sykes‘ new talk show debuted on Fox at 11pmET. Sykes started off by laying out what the show would and wouldn’t be, and she took some delight in its context: “In honor of my first talk show, let me be the first person on Fox not to pick on President Obama.” 

The show is appearing on Fox’s broadcast channel and not on Fox News, and so Sykes’ liberal stance is not quite as heretical as she’s making it sound. The Simpsons and Family Guy, no great bastions of conservatism, are Fox staples, and the rest of the programming lineup is beholden to no ideology other than the desire for good ratings.

Still, the episode was on-the-nose politically, and took direct shots at segments of what could be considered the Fox News constituency. From Sykes’ opening monologue: (transcript via Tabacco)

“Can someone explain something to me? Cause I passed out the other night — I mean, I went to sleep — when I woke up, people were mad at Obama! And I thought, ‘Did I miss something?’

Did Obama start two illegal wars? Did he fly over a flood zone and just wave? Did he torture detainees in a secret prison? Did he start illegally tapping phones? Did he alienate the world and squander a budget surplus? Because if he did any of that, we need to impeach that jackass!

He’s only been in office ten months, so what exactly has Obama done to piss everybody off? Nothing! People are going crazy calling him a Fascist. These people don’t even know what a Fascist is! When you say things like, ‘We’re gonna vote that Fascist out of office!’, you really sound dumb! When was the last time a Fascist got voted out of office! They usually stick around.”

The more standard skit and interview portions of the show weren’t as overtly political, but they bore the marks of a certain mid-2000s strain of outspoken humor: the clip below begins with a rather clunky bit about how Ann Coulter uses her huge eyelashes (?) to swat away criticism while making whooshing noises.

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the show will have any chance of taking off: it has gotten largely negative critical reviews so far, and has the further misfortune of competing with the first half hour of SNL during its second half.

One thing is fairly clear: Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a recent Atlantic essay on the “fat-target problem” of liberal comedians, and singled Sykes out for “[breaking] bravely with tradition and chose to roast the absent Rush Limbaugh rather than the incumbent chief executive” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner earlier this year, probably won’t be a fan.

Your Newest Congressional Media Star: Rep. Joseph Cao

cao_11-8We all know the stars of the House of Representatives – Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, John Boehner.

But every few weeks one of the 435 other congressmen and congresswomen bubble up and into the media spotlight – and now it’s Rep. Anh Joseph Cao’s turn.

Recently, it has helped to be loud and disruptive, like Joe Wilson and his “you lie” comment or Alan Grayson and various hyperbolic statements. Also there’s Michele Bachmann, whose “Super Bowl of Freedom” has helped increase her spotlight.

But Rep. Cao made his waves by casting an important vote – as the only Republican to vote ‘yay’ on the health care bill Saturday night.

Part of the reason the vote is so significant is it allows Democrats to say there was bipartisanship involved, and it means the GOP leaders like Eric Cantor can’t claim a 100% whip-ping of his party. But also, there’s what RNC Chairman Michael Steele said on’s Top Line last week:

Candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you.

In a CNN interview yesterday (below), Cao laughed off the quote, reminding Steele how the GOP celebrated his victory just last year in a traditionally Democratic district. He said Steele “has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican Party would need.”

The reason behind Cao’s yes-vote came after two key events occurred: first, the Stupak amendment was added, banning government funding of abortion (Cao is pro-life). Secondly, Pres. Obama made his pitch to Cao, and he promised help with recovery from Katrina. Conservatives seem to have mixed feelings on Cao’s vote. Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator writes, “Conservatives need to take a deep breath, relax, and stop bashing Joseph Cao,” because, “Cao did not hold out for just some ridiculous pork project favored by big-money lobbyists; he instead asked for help with local issues caused by THE GREATEST NATURAL CATASTROPHE THAT EVER HIT THIS NATION.”

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin asks, “Can’t the GOP do better?” She notes Cao voted yes simply for a commitment from Pres. Obama: “You know what that’s worth: Nothing.”

Cao had a short interview this morning on Fox & Friends and will likely be seen elsewhere on the dial as the day and week progresses. Will he keep the backing of his GOP buddies or get Scozzafava’ed next year? Welcome to the spotlight, Joseph Cao…

Here’s the CNN interview:

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