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Entries by Harry Shearer from 06/2005

Wallowing

| Posted 06.01.2005 | Media
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"I'm not going to wallow in Watergate", Richard Nixon avowed in one of the iconic statements of the twilight of his Presidency (amateurs remember "I am not a crook"; true aficionados tend to side with "wallow"). But Tuesday's revelation that W. Mark Felt, the former number 2 man in J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was the source Woodward and Bernstein (or some market-savvy book editor) named after the most successful porn movie of all time has given us all an opportunity for one more wallow, perhaps our last.

Our Deep Throats

| Posted 06.01.2005 | Media
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Our leader, Ms. H, asks today for the floodgates to open and "our" Deep Throats to emerge, to start leaking the truth about our war in Iraq. Good ide...

King-Sized Week, Part 2

| Posted 06.01.2005 | Media
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Tough as you might want to be during an interview (here, Bush 41 and Barbara), you still gotta take the opportunity to see if the interviewee might want to speak at a charity dinner you're emceeing.

25 Years of This?

| Posted 06.02.2005 | Media
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Mid-day today, Wolf Blitzer (hailed in a mid-show promo as a "tough interviewer"), asked CNN legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin, who's in Santa Maria ...

A King-Sized Week, Pt 3

| Posted 06.02.2005 | Media
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During the election campaign, Larry King interviewed President and Laura Bush. Just before the interview started, Larry (1) patted himself on the bac...

A Voice From the Past

| Posted 06.03.2005 | Media
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When I saw "The Fog of War", I thought that Donald Rumsfeld is the modern Robert McNamara--a whiz kid from industry who thought he was going to revolu...

A King-Sized Week, part 4

| Posted 06.03.2005 | Media
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No better way to end this tribute than to see and hear Larry King sing the little-known third verse of America the Beautiful ("I know this song!"). The occasion: Larry is anchoring from Ronald Reagan's funeral one year ago, and shadows are lengthening. LINK

Those Pesky Civilians

| Posted 06.06.2005 | Media
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A listener to my radio show writes: Harry: Please parse the phrase "civilian contractor interrogators" in Iraq and Guantanamo. This phrase has...

The Trouble With Local News

| Posted 06.06.2005 | Media
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Here's the story: a reporter from a local TV station in Providence refuses to give up his source, and gets sentenced to six months' home confinement (the entire story here). What interests me is what the guy discovers after six months of being forced to watch what most Americans choose as their primary news source, local television news: he figures out that it's too sensational and not serious enough. Helpfully, he blames us, the public. We want the shit, you see...

Moral Equivalency

| Posted 06.06.2005 | Media
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I have to admit I was stunned to see Richard Ben Veniste of the Watergate prosecutor's office sitting (virtually) next to G. Gordon Liddy, convicted Watergate felon, to discuss the unmsking of Deep Throat. Did no one ask, "Are we, by this pair of bookings, declaring a moral equivalency between the prosecutor and the ones he prosecuted?" What other crime story would get such weirdly even-handed treatment? Can we look forward to Vincent Bugliosi and Susan Atkins side-by-side on Court TV for a leisurely look back at the Charles Manson case?

Invited Contributor: Carol Joynt

| Posted 06.07.2005 | Media
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All this kicking up of dust regarding Deep Throat got me to reflecting on Watergate. It was a big part of my life, not only as an American, but as a j...

The World's Fun Leader

| Posted 06.07.2005 | Media
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About a month ago, I shared with you the quotes of CNN/US President Jonathan Klein about the "fun" that anchors Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown were having with their broadcasts. But they're not monopolizing the fun at the once-dominant news channel, now in its third (fourth? fifth?) year of trying to figure out how to be what it used to be. From today's Washington Post, TV columnist Lisa deMoraes brings news of still more fun....

Taking the privilege...

| Posted 06.08.2005 | Media
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The point Amnesty International was trying to make, in its possibly clumsy way, was that Gitmo represents an abandonment of the Western liberal ideal of justice, where evidence has to be presented, and confronted, before an impartial magistrate, in a speedy and fair manner, before such conclusions are drawn about a person. That's what links the Gitmo project to far worse depradations like the Gulag. FYI: the people who've been released thus far from Gitmo have been viewed by the US military as a non-threat. Where do they go to get their two years back?

A Day Without Klein...

| Posted 06.08.2005 | Media
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"If I had one decision to take back, it would be the extent of our coverage [of the Jackson trial]," says CNN/U.S. chief Jon Klein, six months on the job. "Looking back, we should have just covered the beginning and the end." That's the way I want my trial coverage--no unnecessary testimony and evidence to confuse me. Just have the cameras there on the days the big crowds show up.

Stitution--Pro or Con?

| Posted 06.09.2005 | Media
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BBC Radio 4's World at One reported Thursday on growing doubts among some observers that the Iraqi constitution can, or should, be written according to the agreed-on schedule. And what then? If stable old Europe can fracture while trying to ratify a constitution, what's going to happen in, to use a cable news cliche, The New Iraq?

Rising to the bait...

| Posted 06.10.2005 | Media
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The comments stew is cooking nicely, but this one stands out for some reason: Harry, CNN would be happy to report news that calls into question Bush'...

Lies, Damned Lies, and Promos

| Posted 06.10.2005 | Media
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All winter long, MSNBC -- home of a quarter million regular viewers nationwide -- ran elaborately produced promos that said "America's watching MSNBC." America was so not watching MSNBC that Osama Bin Laden was rumored to be hiding out on the set of "Scarborough Country." Yesterday, the channel was awash with promos for Chris Matthews' "Hardball," whereon Russell Crowe was supposed to be "breaking his silence" on the (cough) incident in New York. Might that be the same silence he broke on Letterman the night before?

Parlez-vous 180?

| Posted 06.13.2005 | Media
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It would seem sexy enough, journalistically, that the father of Freedom Fries turned against the war that spawned his original fame. Yet it took an appearance on the least-watched Sunday news yakfest to light the story's fire. Could it be that our major papers now don't believe it if they don't see it on TV?

What IS a Journalist?

| Posted 06.16.2005 | Media
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Journalists like to know how does it feel, and what’s the mood here now. Journalists don’t like to know how the Social Security system really works. Journalists can be Anchors, but never Sales. They can be reporters, or just repeaters. A journalist looks down on celebrities until the day he becomes one. Journalists can’t resist: miracle puppies. children trapped in wells. killer bees. Journalists are more curious than anybody, attacked by everybody, and lent money by nobody.

Why the New Memos Matter

| Posted 06.16.2005 | Media
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It's a sad litany of excuses Howard Kurtz pries out of the editors of mainstream newspapers as to why they gave the original Downing Street Memo such cursory, if any, attention. My favorite is Tim Russert's, who says he's learned that anything from the British press has to be vetted first. This is about a Times of London report, quoting, by name, the head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, issued during the height of the British election, at which point neither the Prime Minister nor any of his minions denies the authenticity of the published memo. Yeah, gotta do some heavy vetting.

Two Little Letters

| Posted 06.17.2005 | Media
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LONDON--Watching the American reaction to the serially leaked Downing Street memos from over here is something like having a conversation in London between an American-based cellphone and an Australian-based one (which I did day before yesterday). The delay can be confusing. Are American editors really saying "we all knew that, it's the readers' fault if they ignored it way back in 2002"?

What You Don't Know...

| Posted 06.19.2005 | Media
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The British Sunday papers, the ones that weren't agog over Tom and whatshername arriving in London for the premiere of whatsis, had a couple of interesting stories not reflected on the Sunday papers or TV back home. One was the decision by Zimbabwe's rather nutty ruler, Robert Mugabe, to sweep poor people out of the capital, Harare. The other story, also reflected in ads, committee-signed op-eds, and subway posters, concerns the 60th birthday of Burmese activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

What's That Sound?

| Posted 06.21.2005 | Media
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British TV news is very, very different from the American product, so much so that CNN's International feed seems to feel the need to ape the Brit style, lest its international viewers be appalled at what real American TV news is like these days. For one thing, look at those teeth. British TV news presenters have the local dentition, which is to say, watch this space, a tooth may appear here shortly.

Identity Theft, Bangalore Style

| Posted 06.23.2005 | Media
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LONDON--Once you get past the crime stories, and Tony Blair's challenge to the EU of which he's about to become the next rotating president, you get to today's big story, broken by, of all publications, the normally not-to-be-spoken-of-in-polite-company Sun. Owned by Rupert Murdoch, claiming a circulation in the zillions, the Sun today reports that private banking information of Brits is being sold by someone or someones in India, where banking call center jobs have been outsourced.

Rummy Spins Russ

| Posted 06.27.2005 | Media
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Sunday morning, Donald Rumsfeld made the rounds of the TV yakfests, talking up the war. One of Rumsfeld's stops was on Meet the Press where, just before going on the air, the old master administered a bit of crucial spin to the host and moderator (and NBC Washington bureau chief). Here's the video clip