Farrow’s ‘Catch and Kill’ Draws Ire of Two Famed Rapists and their NBC Enablers

“To review and translate:

  1. Harvey Weinstein, who deployed an entire mass of enablers in service of his sexual crimes and subsequent cover-ups, is FLUMMOXED by suggestions he reached his disgusting paws into other controversies in order to spare himself.
  2. Andy Lack leads a morally pure media empire that somehow employed one of the longest-running, most rampant and overpaid beasts of prey in broadcast history. But it’s Ronan Farrow doing this disrespecting of his colleagues.
  3. Matt Lauer prizes his family relationships above all else, dammit! He’s just a lying philanderer and rapist trying to rebuild his life. Why (oh why!) can’t we just leave the poor pervert ALONE?

The immediate, scripted and entirely cynical reaction of all of these parties to Farrow’s book, which shot to the top of bestseller lists a week before its debut, is indicative of its promise of speaking truth to power. These men can feel feint, pathetic grasps on the narrative slipping further away. Farrow’s record of accomplishment and industry respect have made him increasingly dangerous. A piece from him is no as longer easy to scuttle as it was in 2017.

That doesn’t mean the predators and their fix-it men won’t keep trying. The conspiracy, however weakened, rolls on.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

After 20 Years, No One Should Be Surprised By Matt Lauer’s Blatant Misogyny

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“It’s gratifying to see Matt Lauer pilloried as he deserves after Wednesday night’s pathetic excuse for forum moderation. However, the pile-on is about 20 years overdue. Lauer took over Today Show hosting duties in January 1997 after longtime anchor Bryant Gumbel stepped down. The last two decades have featured a parade of female co-hosts with whom Lauer is rumored to have clashed, engaged in extra-marital affairs or otherwise disrespected. Crackerjack work picking this guy to host such an important presidential event, NBC.

On average, American women watch 40 minutes more per day of television than men. This disparity is even greater when it comes to morning news/talk programming. This means that a number of female viewers of Lauer’s disgraceful Wednesday night belly flop were likely unsurprised by the misogynist prime time performance. Let’s review a few of Lauer’s “challenges” with the opposing gender over the years.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Ben Carson and the Alan Keyes Cautionary Tale

Ben Carson

In February of 2013, author and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson gave President Barack Obama a piece of his mind on issues ranging from health care to political correctness, during the National Prayer Breakfast. And a Republican star was born. Earlier this month in a column entitled The Soft Bigotry of Ben Carson, New York Times Op-Ed writer Charles Blow offered this assessment of the confrontation:

“It’s not that others have not criticized the president before or since, but it was the particularity of the racial imagery of Carson’s critique — one smart, accomplished black man undressing another in public — that gave it particular power. It insulated the attack from racial characterization. He said things from the lips of a black conservative that roiled the minds of white ones. And it represented a prominent breaking of ranks, a slicing off of black solidarity from not only Democratic loyalty but also from fidelity with this president.”

The accomplished, soft-spoken Carson currently sits just five points below 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a recent release from Public Policy Polling. That is a sentence I’d never thought I’d write in my lifetime, but I digress. Carson may be a brilliant physician but as my sister Jennifer recently and astutely observed, he’s also “frankly, one of the smartest dumb dudes alive.”

In a 2016 Republican primary campaign depressingly rife with distortions, inflammatory hate speech and blatant cynicism, Carson has not been the voice of class and reason for which many undecideds hoped. No matter how accomplished his resume or soft his tenor, the good doctor has disqualified himself over and again for the nation’s highest office – even as “progressive” Republicans and conservative media pundits enjoy their latest mainstream alienating love affair.

I’m quite sure the party’s base would love him to go on talking. Because no matter how outrageous the right has grown in its free political ignorance, as Blow highlights, there are still things white candidates (Donald Trump notwithstanding) can’t allow themselves to say. Such as these gems from the Sunday, September 20 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

“Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is. If there’s somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I’m with them.”

To quote Bart Simpson, Ay caramba. This was not gotcha journalism (my thoughts on the investigative dereliction of Meet the Pressmoderator Chuck Todd will be happily shared another time). This is an unqualified, racist crackpot speaking with the authority and support (silent or otherwise) of his partymates, trying to convince the rest of us that he is wizened and thoughtful enough to lead a nation of disparate peoples.

23 percent of Muslim Americans identify as black. Most of the remainder are other persons of color. Carson is a person of color, therefore untouchable no matter how hurtful and discriminatory his statements. An ironic carte blanche. See Carson shoot up the polls.

The only qualification Ben Carson seems to possess as a legitimate politician is the ability to talk (or mumble) out of both sides of his mouth. He wants everyone to succeed, peace and harmony for all, but he also wants to exclude an entire group of citizens from the White House against explicit Constitutional decree. Because 9/11 y’all. MD and skin color aside, Carson’s neck is just as red as Mike Huckabee’s.

As a longtime Illinois resident, the Republican and mainstream media’s pathetically forced Carson/Obama symmetry brings to mind the 2004 Senate contest between the future president and political activist, author and former diplomat Alan Keyes. Keyes, an African-American, demonstrated to his party’s caucus that being educated and black was far from enough to counteract Obama’s stride to Washington. The Free Republic reported at the time:

“He’s alienated almost all of the Republican party operatives throughout the state, starting with his wild-eyed rhetoric about Barack Obama’s pro-abortion stance (the ‘slaveholders’ position, similar to a terrorist, etc) and his attack on Dick Cheney’s gay daughter (Keyes called Mary Cheney a ‘selfish hedonist’).”

One has to talk a lot of crazy to alienate the Cheney family. 11 years later, Keyes exists as a frightening, if somewhat humorous political footnote. I eagerly await Carson’s similar recession from the public consciousness.

30 Days of Gratitude: 2013 Edition (November 26, 2013)

Yes, I have seen this meme work its way across Facebook over the course of November. I thought about participating, but my brain is usually too stream-of-consciousness for that level of daily content commitment, and I refuse to violate my personal rule of one status update per day (any more than that and I run the risk of the dreaded newsfeed “block” by bored connections). So with that in mind, here’s a month’s worth of people, events and phenomena for which I am grateful over the course of 2013, all in one shot.

1.Occupying the top spot with good reason, I am grateful for April’s reconciliation with my sibling and her family. Life is a lot less funny and loving without my baby sis.

2.Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, recently described by funny man Stephen Colbert as a “possessed Cabbage Patch doll,” I thank you for two things: reminding North America that the USA does not have the monopoly on mentally challenged local politicians, and for instilling waves of nostalgia for the comedic stylings of Chris Farley.

3.Early summer period of unemployment: I salute you. Were it not for the unexpected job loss, I would not be happily ensconced as a Marketing Manager with a wonderful company in downtown Chicago.

4.I am grateful that pompholyx eczema, while challenging and painful, has thus far limited itself to my hands. In many cases, the feet are also affected, ushering in a whole new wave of debilitating restrictions.

5.Early Fall welcomed Act III with the love of my life. We’re making it work this time, applying the lessons of the past with strategic guidelines for a balanced future. That might sound more business jargon than romantic sweetness, but I’ve finally learned that hard work and commitment are every bit as important as passion. And we’re lucky enough to have that too.

6.I’m grateful that the Illinois Woman’s Press Association chose me as their 2013-2015 leader. Together we’ve grown membership by 20 percent in six months, introduced dynamic new programming and collaborations with other communications organizations. The era of siloing and membership bleed is over. This makes me proud.

7.Thank you to the rollerblading ukulele player and singer who often greets me as I alight from the Red Line stop near my apartment. The sight of you gliding in circles with perfect tune and pitch never fails to put a smile on my face.

8.I cannot stress enough how much I love my de facto stepdaughter Amber and four year-old grandbaby Chloe. I leapt right over motherhood into a full and diverse family life as unexpected as it is treasured. Our growing bond is a source of continual joy.

9.Dr. T: You with your string of pearls, pale blonde hair and Stepford Wife looks. You may not have been the ideal of how my perfect therapist should appear, but when you echo my angry “f” bombs, I never feel more understood.

10.Salt Lake City: As an atheist from an all-business metropolis, I never expected to find your exceedingly friendly locals, natural cultivation and Mormon-culture appealing, but your $4 beer and shot specials, clean streets and sincerely helpful citizens won me over.

11.Breaking Bad: Thank you for five seasons of jaw-dropping storytelling and acting. I held my breath, I cried and I was angry. You shall never be duplicated. Thank you as well for leaving the party long before you got stale.

12.Mr. Roger Ebert: Your April death provoked a sense of public loss I had not experienced since the 2008 premature passing of NBC’s Tim Russert. My sincere gratitude for your thoughtful, diverse body of work and the opportunities to bond with a father who was and remains, mostly incomprehensible.

13.Thank you soft, black doughnut cushion (February 2013 – August 2013) for making hours of sitting bearable as my poor, busted tailbone slowly healed. Thank you also for doubling as a comfy Metra train sleeping pillow. I apologize for carelessly leaving you behind in the Salt Lake City airport. I like to think you are enjoying a second life comforting the buns of another injured soul.

14.Epsom salts: I just wrote about you last week, but it bears repeating. For your affordable, diverse ability to treat and soothe so many conditions, this Bud’s for you.

15.My growing adoration for the NFL, despite its imperfections and the perennial so-so-ness of the Bears, is the reason I do not entirely succumb to Seasonal Affective Disorder each Fall.

16.The Republicans behind the late-Fall government shutdown: grazie for providing a much-needed, if temporary distraction from the abominable rollout of Obamacare.

17.President Obama: Thank you for breaking with eight years of W’s “Cowboy Diplomacy” to show the world that we are capable of talking and negotiating our way to a more peaceful world. Thank you also for being tough enough to stand up to warmongers who love to try to settle scores with bombs, yet failed to learn from the Iraq and Afghanistan examples that getting in is a lot easier than getting out.

18.I regret the coming conclusion to PBS’s Downton Abbey, but am grateful for the modern-day Austen void this society drama has filled.

19.Red wine: You’ll be on this list every year, you angel/devil, you.

20.The Boston Marathon bombing was tragic, frightening and a terrible blow to the assumed security of community events, but it taught the nation a couple of critical lessons: don’t assume Islamic terrorists are brown-skinned folks from distant lands and most of all, DON’T mess with the Boston PD.

21.Pope Francis: Like I said I am an atheist, but I am a huge fan of the compassion, good sense and humility you’ve unleashed on the Vatican thus far. There may be hope for a modern, relevant Catholic Church yet. I still can’t believe you made it through the Conclave given your radical ideas about poverty and tolerance, but I’m glad you did.

22.Not a fan of Edward Snowden, but I’m grateful for the public conversations about privacy and surveillance his shenanigans invited. It can easily be argued that we would not be having them otherwise.

23.Paul Krugman: For keeping Keynesian economics alive and mainstream and for standing up to destructive austerians and “deficit scolds” on the regular. Your brilliance, approachability and determination demonstrate why they don’t hand out Nobel Prizes to just anybody.

24.I thank the National Federation of Press Women for seeing fit to bestow my second first place national writing award in four years. The fact that my 2013 prize was for last year’s work on this very blog makes the victory that much sweeter. This page is me.

25.I am grateful for my diverse, eclectic neighborhood of Rogers Park, and the multi-faceted benefits of lakefront living.

26.Zipcar: Thanks to your affordable membership prices and pickup location plentifulness, I don’t miss vehicle ownership one whit and shall never purchase an automobile again.

27.I don’t know whose decision at CNN it was to allow Newt Gingrinch to assault the airwaves on a weekday basis, but thank you. I now have a place to channel my sweaty hate whilst running on the treadmill.

28.Much love to PK and his painful, awful craniofacial massage techniques that have helped the Great Migraine Crisis of 2012 seem like a distant memory.

29.Wendy Davis: Your June, 11-hour filibuster badassery in the Texas Senate may not have killed the State’s assault on abortion rights, but your honey badger determination announced a new leader for women’s issues – and spiked sales of pink sneakers.

30.Last but not least, I am grateful that I have been given another year on this planet upon which to reflect.

Newt Gingrinch Gains a Little of My Respect…Before Promptly Losing It (May 18, 2011)

I have taken a detour the last couple months from my regular obsession with the political arena to talk all things divorce and cancer. But as I am enjoying a relative “good” period, filled with some degree of life satisfaction and emotional equilibrium, I am inspired to join the endless sport of Capitol Hill navel gazing once again.

I am a huge fan of NBC’s Meet the Press, the Sunday morning political chat stalwart now hosted by David Gregory. While Gregory with his whiny, waffley interview style is no match for the “just the facts” tenacity of the otherwise cherubic Tim Russert (may he rest in peace), MTP is a habit I just can’t break. In years past, I would enjoy the show while indulging in the traditional Sunday hangover remedy of carbs and Gatorade, but now I am in my 30s and am usually well rested and alert. There are things to like about aging.

Anyway, this past weekend I queued up my Tivo to watch the show commercial-free and nearly deleted it altogether when I saw that the featured guest was former Speaker of the House, and current Republican Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrinch. I will NEVER forgive Newtie for the 90s – from the ridiculous government shutdown of 1995, to his laughably hypocritical pursuit of President Bill Clinton on the “family values” front. This from a man on his third marriage, the second which began under the auspicious influences of infidelity.

For a number of years, Newtie sort of fell off the political radar, only emerging as the occasional commentator on really important issues like President Obama’s African, colonial worldview (I was under the impression that Hawaii ceased to be a colony in the late 1950s). Rhetorically, he was swatted away like the pop cultural gnat he became (though he prefers the term “gadfly,” thank you very much).

But Newt got my attention on Sunday’s Meet the Press when he addressed rising GOP star Paul Ryan’s irresponsible, top two percent-friendly budget proposal. Specifically commenting on the plan’s goal of dismantling Medicare as we know it, converting it to a voucher program, his Newtness said: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.”

Well ok! Newt never stood a chance of getting my vote, but such refreshing honesty, such lack of pandering! Maybe we have a new Maverick on the right.

But of course my praise and excitement was premature. Once the Tea Party establishment (who seem to accrue power in inverse proportion to their distance from the mainstream) got wind of Newtie’s comments, Gingrich began backpedaling faster than a honey badger.

Paul Ryan had this to say to Reuters: “I think he now understands the magnitude of his comments — how wrong they were. And I think he’s going to have more to say about that. And he’s working on that. He basically called and apologized. And I accepted his apology.” Newt – you just got served by a man with a freakishly big head.

Last time I checked, Ryan is a lowly House member from the minorityparty, but we currently live in an upside down political universe, where less is apparently more. As the brilliant Paul Krugman put it: “Normally, a party controlling neither the White House nor the Senate would acknowledge that it isn’t in a position to impose its agenda on the nation. But the modern G.O.P. doesn’t believe in following normal rules.”

And an article in the “Caucus” section of today’s New York Times asks, “Can Newt Gingrich Control Newt Gingrich?”

I may be wholly biased and partisan but I happen to believe that running afoul of an increasingly wingnut right establishment, which has essentially declared war on the middle class, is the FIRST positive thing Newt has done in awhile. Alas, no more. He has been cowed and has summarily returned to placating the ultra-conservative. I would have hoped he’d take a lesson from 2008 also-ran John McCain (another formerly bold player who relinquished any and all respect I ever held for him). Winning over your party’s base almost necessarily means alienating the mainstream in this century. In short, the already debatably electable Gingrich just become untouchable.

Rod-tarded (April 8, 2010)

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Those who know me well are aware of my cultural spilt personality: highbrow and literary on one side, lover of Beavis & Butthead on the other. In the past I have ignored the whiffs of shame that have threatened to encroach on my infinite love of reality television. A few examples from the Fox network come to mind: Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire or Paradise Hotel among many others from the dependably slimy steerage of Rupert Murdoch.

But until Sunday night, I never knew never the sensation of squirming uncomfortably, of physically recoiling from my television set as though bitten by a poisonous snake, wishing I could walk away, but knowing very well that I couldn’t if I tried. It took the shenanigans of one reality TV famewhore to create a personal gutcheck moment that no enjoyment of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge ever could.

I am speaking of course of Blago, also known as Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former Governor of Illinois. For some reason NBC loves “Hairball” (so nicknamed by Mr. A.) so much, and is such a willing partner in helping the deposed CEO of Illinois squeeze every drop from the bottle of his 15 minutes of fame, that the network has attempted to cast him on not one, but two reality programs. The first, last summer’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Outta Here! was a no go because Roddy Boy is unable to leave the country while awaiting trial. So NBC opted to cast loyal, foul mouthed wife Patti instead.

The already put upon denizens of Illinois believing they had dodged a bullet, we failed to recognize the awesome tenacity of the “Polar Bear” (so nicknamed by Eddie due to Blago’s love of jogging in tight pants in sub zero temps) in his quest for media domination. Of course Blagojevich found another willing consort in Donald Trump, no stranger to scandal and famewhoring himself. And thus a man who should be spending every waking moment with his unfortunate children before he is hauled off to the Pen, instead finds himself trying to “win money for charity” (What a guy!) on this season of Celebrity Apprentice.

It is awful enough to have Blago’s face and voice put before me, a constant reminder that yes I voted twice for the Elvis loving loser who tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat about five minutes after he was promoted to the White House, every Sunday evening. I enjoy the show of course, but I also accept that witnessing Blago’s greasy prostitution of himself before America, gathering fame and fortune that most innocent people will never experience, is a punishment I richly deserve. I have said it before, and I will vow it again: never, ever will I allow myself to cast another ignorant local vote. National politics are important and of course I remain attuned, but no longer at the expense of knowing what’s going on in my own backyard.

I was ready for the egregious self-promotion, the practiced smile in front of any and all cameras and autograph seekers, no matter what else might be going on at the time. I never expected Blago to function as a focused and selfless team player, even if colleagues like wrestler Goldberg and sprinter Michael Johnson could stomp him without even trying. One of Blago’s many charms is that he is utterly impervious to looks of loathing.

Be that as it may, I was utterly unprepared to have evidence of Blagojevich’s most embarassing weakness of all sucker punch what was left of this voter’s self-esteem. The man cannot use any kind of technology at all. AT ALL! No email, no camera phone, no text messaging and the very idea of a laptop utterly befuddles him. Upon the placement of a computer in front of him on Sunday’s episode, he proceeded to turn it over with the confusion a man asked to assemble a 2,500 piece Ikea rocking chair. Therefore, one of my favorite snide comments that the Governor would need a GPS to find his ass with both hands is rendered obsolete.

Isn’t it enough that I cast two ballots in favor of a man with the moral scruples of Satan? At least the image of him as some sort of evil genius consoled me. I had obviously been hoodwinked by a mind much more powerful than mine. But no, no. Now I know that the man who utterly failed Illinois is a simpleton, whose inability to use technology to convey his “vision” to an obedient Bret Michaels, necessarily means he was never qualified to walk and chew gum, much less lead a State.

All I have left now is a thought provoking query posed to me on FaceBook by another one of our regular readers, a fine lady who could probably see the good in cellulite, so generous is she in her opinion. “A man w/such a lack of savvy, could he be wise enough to be a mastermind of criminal activity?” An intrguing question to be sure, but there’s no rule I’ve read that says the stupid can’t be amoral as well. Clearly, if Blago were any more adept at organizing his illegal behavior, he would never have been caught on tape. Nevermind that he would need someone to show him how to use a tape recorder.

Clearly the sullied politician is off the grid in more ways then one. We get it. Mercy! No more Rod Blagojevich NBC, I beg you! Illinois has suffered enough. Selita Ebanks for Governor in 2010!

So Long for Now Coco (January 23, 2010)

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I watched every last moment of Conan O’Brien’s finale on NBC’s The Tonight Show . Hilarious, intelligent, weird and completely human, the last show of O’Brien’s brief stint at the helm of the late night stalwart was the very essence of the host himself. The program was so unexpectedly joyous, and yet it was hard not to seethe with indignation at the knowledge of what NBC let get away. For the return of Jay Leno.

Conan is so in touch with his fan base, and is wizened enough to know that a legion of Coco followers felt very disillusioned by the unabashed, out of touch corporate politics that have now deprived them of the opportunity to laugh at the tall, funny looking pale looking pale guy. For the first time in 17 years, there will be a marked decline in humorous oddity on late night television. It makes one angry, particularly in a time when we may not be able to find much to laugh about on our own.

There were so many great moments involved in O’Brien’s Tonight Showswan song. How nice it was to be reminded that Tom Hanks got his start in Hollywood as a damned funny guy. But the best, was of course, for last: a brief, emotional and achingly gracious speech from the host, aimed at everyone from his cast and crew, to his loyal fans, to an unbelievably mature expression of gratitude to NBC for a long and fruitful career – the very network that he has now left.

In case you haven’t had the opportunity to witness the moment I am referring to, I encourage you to click the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhKTUPBvqSc

It’s not often I am inspired by the words of a television personality, but in a world of self-entitlement, bitterness and huge egos, this was a gorgeous parting gift.

Conan is legally obligated to remain off the airwaves until September. I can’t wait to see he does next, and my guess is that a lot of America is with me.