Category Archives: TV

The Naysayers of Doom

I accidentally listened to Wolf Blitzer on the way home from work tonight. At one point, as a teaser before a break, he said something like, “Our allies have joined the fight again ISIS. But is it too late?”

And I thought, “Why couldn’t he have just said, ‘Our allies have joined the fight again ISIS. Hooray! Isn’t that good news!'”

Why can’t we pause to celebrate good news, instead of immediately looking for the downside? Is naysaying really necessary?

I imagined how Wolf Blitzer, and other cable news anchors, would have treated other major stories.

“The allies have landed at Normandy. But have we walked into Hitler’s trap? We’ll talk to our experts…after the break.”

“Smallpox has been eradicated from the earth. We’ll examine the plight of scientists who are now out of work.”

“The Cold War has come to an end. Bad news for spy novelists like John Le Carre. Can the book industry survive?”

“George Washington defeats the British at Yorktown. But do we really think we can govern ourselves? We’ll talk to several experts who say we’ll regret this.”

“Jesus has ascended to heaven. What is he running away from? We’ll ask our roundtable.”

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FoxNews Disrespects Women in Uniform

I was shocked yesterday by Eric Bolling’s sexist statement on FoxNews‘s “The Five” about the United Arab Emirates fighter pilot, a woman, who led a raid on ISIS. After claiming to have so much respect for people who put their lives in danger for us, he proceeded to totally disrespect this woman–who, in addition to being a highly trained pilot, is also somewhat of a trailblazer in the Arab world. Greg Gutfield added to it with his trademark flippancy.

This goes beyond political correctness. It’s hypocrisy and blatant disrespect of women in uniform. Today Bolling gave a really lame apology. He apologized to his wife for the statement, and he apologized to viewers. Missing was an apology to this UAE pilot. And nothing from Gutfield (who is always extremely self-pleased with his own cleverness).

I don’t put a lot of stock in “The Five.” Bob Beckel and Dana Perino are good and fair, with resumes that go beyond FoxNews. But the others basically use the show to reinforce their anti-Obama bona fides, seeking Roger Ailes’ approval so he’ll keep them on the payroll. I guess Bolling’s statement shouldn’t be too surprising. This, after all, is the “news” network that loves putting women (usually blondes) in very short, tight dresses atop stools with cameras pointed at them.

However, in a personal bit of hypocrisy, I usually end up listening to “The Five” on the way home from work. My other choices are Ed Schultz on MSNBC, a gargantuan blowhard; the fingernails-on-blackboard Wolf Blitzer on CNN; and the ridiculous Dan Le Betard show on ESPN. “The Five” is simply the least objectionable option.

UPDATE Sept 26
I did some checking. Turns out Eric Bolling has a lot of experience with apologizing.

In 2011 Bolling, on a Fox business show, he apologized for racist comments he directed at Obama. Referring to a state visit by the President of Gabon and by rapper Common, Bolling commented, “What’s with all the hoods in the hizzy?”

In 2011, he tweeted an apology for a statement on The Five in which he said President Obama had been a drug dealer. The same comment was also made on Hannity’s show.

In 2011, he said on The Five: “”America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time.” He later apologized for that.

In September 2012, Bolling said Obama “answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second.” To which co-host Bob Beckel slammed his fist on the table and said, “”That’s just an outrageous statement. Even for you, that’s an outrageous statement.” Bolling sort of backtracked on the statement later in the show.

In 2011, he apologized for saying on-air that “The Obama-allied Center for American Progress” released a report blaming Islamophobia in America on “a small group of Jews and Israel supporters in America.” Actually, he got his information from a right-wing blog.

In May 2011, he proclaimed on Fox Business’s “Follow the Money” show that he was a birther. “There is a legitimate question as to whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States.” He was convinced the birth certificate had been Photoshopped. Never apologized for that. I don’t know if he’s still a birther.

In short: Eric Bolling is not somebody to take seriously. Though he comes across as a fairly nice guy.

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I enjoy the silly games and activities Jimmy Fallon inflicts on some guests. Like the recent game of “Faceballs” with Julia Robert. I guess he’s taken some criticism for these stunts, but I find it very fun. A writer in Esquire agreed, saying the following about Faceballs:

“By the end of the segment, we’d been given a far more genuine illustration of what Julia Roberts is like than could have ever been achieved through one of the traditional sit-down interviews that have defined the host-guest relationship on late-night television for the past 50 years. We saw Roberts’s personality in action, reacting to an unfamiliar and unpredictable set of circumstances, rather than going through the motions of another pre-plotted interview. We even had a better idea of what it might be like to have a beer with Julia Roberts, the human. It was the late-night equivalent of ‘show, don’t tell.'”

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Jimmy Fallon – A New Carson, Sort Of

The new Tonight Show set has a NYC skyline.

The new Tonight Show set has a NYC skyline.

In the opening show, Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith danced a very funny "History of Hip Hop."

In the opening show, Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith danced a very funny “History of Hip Hop.”

On the third Tonight Show, Fallon and three guests (Tim McGraw, Emma Thompson, and Bradley Cooper) played charades. It was hysterical.

On the third Tonight Show, Fallon and three guests (Tim McGraw, Emma Thompson, and Bradley Cooper) played charades. It was hysterical.

I never watched “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”–too late for me–but always heard it was good. I sometimes saw clips of clever musical pieces he did. So this week I began DVRing “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

I watched the first three night, and I really like it. With his versatility, and the types of things he does during the show, he brings back a lot of the creativity of Johnny Carson.

I always found Jay Leno to be very smart, yet mostly a one-trick pony who too often resorted to crudeness. Fallon–I think I’m really gonna like him.

I also like the idea of bringing the Tonight Show to New York City. A whole different vibe.

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Only American Spoken Here, Please


Katty Kay, a British journalist, was on Morning Joe this morning. This is an American show, yet she was not speaking American. She was speaking British. I object to that.

The lead actors on House, Homeland, Hawaii 5-0, and Walking Dead are all British, but on TV they speak American. On “The Americans,” Matthew Rhys, a Brit, plays a Russian who speaks American with neither a British nor Russian accent. Daniel Day Lewis spoke American in the Lincoln and Mohicans movies. The new Spiderman guy is a Brit, but you know he speaks American, as Christian Bale did as Batman. I’m glad to see that Jon Stewart got rid of John Oliver on “The Daily Show” because he refused to learn American.

Why shouldn’t Katty Kay be required to learn American if she’s going to be on American TV talking to Americans? After all, they wouldn’t have someone on Morning Joe speaking Chinese or Spanish or Swahili, because Americans don’t speak those languages. If you’re going to work in America, you need to learn American.

I’m going to write my Congressperson.

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America is Beautiful in Any Language

After seeing the Coke “America the Beautiful” commercial, I commented that some people would be upset by it. Got that one right. All across the internet are people saying things like:

  • Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go coke.
  • DO NOT sing my Country’s song of Freedom in a different language.
  • Dear Coke, Your commercial is a slap to the faces of my Italian and Finnish ancestors who came here & learned English.
  • Safe to say I’m never drinking coke again after they sing an american song in another language, buncha pricks.
  • You can’t sing an American song in another language!
  • America the Beautiful was meant to be sung in our accepted language. Drink Pepsi.
  • Our forefathers are rolling over in their graves. America the Beautiful is sung in English.
  • This is the most un-American commercial I have ever seen.
  • Because of this I will never drink Coca Cola again.
  • Terrible ad, Coke. Just terrible. Offensive isn’t a strong enough word.

On the other hand, many people (like me) did like the commercial. Including:

  • The best part of this super bowl is Coke losing a million racist customers.
  • So you think people who don’t speak English aren’t allowed to love America?

I have friends who are immigrants from China and Latin America. Although they know English, it is not their “heart” language and never will be. Their heart language is Chinese or Spanish. Should we native English speakers be offended if they, and other immigrants, sing “America the Beautiful” in their heart language?

Is the Pledge of Allegiance invalid if spoken in Spanish?

Is that Coke commercial really so terrible?

Have Americans become a bunch of weenies, getting offended over just about anything?

Coke apparently anticipated that some people would be upset. They created a number of YouTube videos focusing on a single language, kind of a “making of” the Super Bowl ad, it seems.

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Thou Shalt Not Live by FoxNews Alone

A guy named John Haggerty wrote a great piece for Salon. He spent a month watching three hours of FoxNews every day, and not consuming news from any other source. Only Fox. He knew that FoxNews was very influential, and wanted to see the affect of relying solely on FoxNews for your view of the world, as is the case with many people.

He watched three shows every day: Fox & Friends, Shepherd Smith, and O’Reilly. That’s a pretty balanced selection from the schedule. He did this during October. His observations were quite interesting.

FoxNews creates an alternate reality for its viewers, who tend to reject any other news sources as the “liberal media.” Only Fox can be trusted. As a result of Fox’s selective coverage, showing only what fits a conservative agenda, viewers come to believe that only certain issues are important. (It’s well-known how Roger Ailes puts out an “agenda” every morning, detailing subjects he wants shows to talk about through the day. That’s why every show in the schedule pretty much hits the same points and in the same lingo.)

For instance, Haggerty found almost no coverage of the negative affects of the government shutdown. In fact, Fox referred to it as a government “slimdown,” and booked guests who tried to explain how the shutdown was actually a good thing. By watching only FoxNews, you wouldn’t realize the terrible impact it had on everyday people.

Haggerty found that FoxNews generates very little news. It’s mostly just commentary, primarily about the damage Obama and Democrats in general are causing the country.

Two major things FoxNews didn’t talk about: poverty, and foreign affairs. When the poor were mentioned, it was in a disparaging way (parasites, etc.). Fox rarely does foreign reporting.

It was alarming to hear Haggerty say that of the three Fox & Friends hosts, Steve Doocy “seems to be the brains of the three.”

He grew tired of the FoxNews outrage. “There is a constant barrage of stories of righteous people wronged by the forces of evil, usually in the form of government…the list of abuses perpetrated on the hardworking patriots of this country seems never-ending.”

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Be Careful Who You Aim At

In 1997, I believe it was (maybe 2001), my denomination passed a resolution to boycott Disney, because Disney was extending benefits to gay partners. The boycott was quickly forgotten, but it has never been rescinded. So technically, we’re still boycotting Disney…which half-owns A&E, which airs Duck Dynasty. Which means, I guess, that we should be boycotting Duck Dynasty. I’m so confused.

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Thank You, A&E


Dear A&E:

We Christians have been bashing you for the past week. It’s certainly not in line with James 1:9, which tells Christians, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (violations of which, Phil Robertson would agree, is sin). Corporately, Christians tend to be very prickly, and you’ve been the recipient of our ire. So, with Christmas approaching, let me–just one solitary Christian from Indiana–take a more positive approach.

Thank you–I repeat, THANK YOU–for airing Duck Dynasty for the past TWO YEARS. You permitted Christian values and beliefs to be broadcast to millions of people. I hope other Christians have commended you for this, but perhaps their voices are drowned out by the angry voices crying, “Persecution! Censorship!” But I greatly appreciate your willingness to invest in a show which lets Christians be Christians.

Duck Dynasty is a huge success now, but at the beginning, it was a gamble in which you were investing millions of dollars. I’m sure many corporate voices cautioned, “A show about a group of bearded conservative Christians?” Yet you took the chance, and we appreciate it. I’ve heard many people talk about the way the Robertsons are able to freely express their faith. You enabled that to happen. Thank you.

After two years of airing Duck Dynasty, A&E earned the benefit of the doubt. But instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt, we immediately hurled invective and righteous indignation at you. As Christians, we should have stepped back and considered things from your perspective.

You, as a business, also have values which apply to all of your shows. Your main purpose is to earn money–we understand that. One of your employees, in an entirely different medium, offended an important demographic and violated a corporate value. He endangered your investment. Companies have every right to take action in such circumstances.

In fact, Christians believe in accountability, in policing ourselves. Sort of. Yes, we too often give celebrity preachers and entertainers a pass when they violate Christian values, forgoing the discipline Scripture requires. But you, a secular company, took strong action even though you knew it would hurt you where it counts–the bottom line. You exist to make money, and Phil Robertson was making you lots of money. Yet you suspended him anyway. I don’t agree with the reason you suspended him. But I respect that you did it.

I apologize that Christians are giving you so much grief right now. If you’re looking for Jesus in the flood of criticism coming at you, you won’t find Him. We are behaving badly.

Like I said, after taking a chance on Duck Dynasty, and after permitting Christianity to be on bold display for two years, you deserved better from the Christian community. You had earned better. I hope our harsh reaction won’t make you wary of airing more programs which involve Christians. But if you avoid anything involving Christianity in the future, I understand. And I remain thankful for these two years of Duck Dynasty.

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The Ear of the Beholder


“George Bush was the first UB president who THOUGHT that he spoke Spanish.” – Univision anchor Jorge Ramos on the Daily Show. Cracked me up when he said that.

Ramos was REALLY funny. He’s also quite influential in the Hispanic community with is platform at Univision.

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