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Entries by Harry Shearer from 08/2005

Low-Voltage Current

| Posted 08.01.2005 | Media
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Most of the coverage of Al Gore's new TV news-lite channel, Current, focuses on what it offers, making only a glancing reference to what it replaced: Newsworld International. Begun as a spinoff of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp's all-news channel, NWI aimed at American audiences, filling a very specific niche summed up in its slogan: "Putting World News First." I don't know exactly what kind of news the youth-targeting Current will be putting first in its succession of fast-paced "pods," but I'll bet it isn't world news.

David Shaw

| Posted 08.02.2005 | Media
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He wrote long. He wrote media criticism in a daily paper before it was cool. I knew him, on and off, since he joined my college newspaper and started ...

The Big Picture

| Posted 08.02.2005 | Media
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A friend who is an editor at a major national newspaper wonders why, in all the ink that's been spilled on the Plame-Rove-Novak story, there's so litt...

Murdoch Family Values

| Posted 08.04.2005 | Media
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I’ve resisted writing about Lachlan Murdoch’s decision to leave the executive suite of the News Corporation until now because, like Lachlan’s dad, I’ve been “particularly saddened” by the development. Actually, Daniel Gross in Slate found that quote from Rupert’s weekend press release on the departure peculiar, alleging that Murdoch pere was not a man known for his emotions. On the contrary, I’d suggest he’s possessed of quite a few; the problem for outsiders may be that most of them are expressed in the keen, and requited, urge to nail someone’s penis to the floor.

Catching Cows

| Posted 08.05.2005 | Media
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For a lovely change of pace, try this story from the BBC about a bounty for catching a cow on Delhi's crowded (and, apparently, cow-ded) streets. A ni...

The Russert Watch -- Pattern Recognition

| Posted 08.07.2005 | Media

For the last few weeks, I've pointed out how...demure Tim Russert has been in acknowledging his own role in the Plame/Novak/Rove story. It happened again this Sunday in a completely different context. The topic was the role of religion in the nomination of John Roberts. Russert mentioned, just after introducing guest Mario Cuomo, that he had worked for Cuomo twenty years ago. Good disclosure. But since the subject at hand was one's Catholic faith, and how it affected one's professional temperament, might it have been appropriate for Russert also to mention that he shared the nominee's faith? Sure, it's a tricky business, but co-religion might have a greater impact on his willingness to pose tough, impolite queries than a two-decade-old work relationship with one of the guests. Misdirection, thy name is MTP.

Great Minds

| Posted 08.08.2005 | Media
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Tonight on MSNBC, Tucker Carlson re-premieres "The Situation" at 11 p.m. ET. This afternoon on CNN, Wolf Blitzer premiered for the first time "The Sit...

First Looks: Wolf's Train Wreck; Cosby's Tabloid DNA

| Posted 08.09.2005 | Media
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Two cable news broadcasts premiered this week. One, Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room," is watchable only for those devotees of train wrecks who used to love that mid-day talk-show on CNN -- the place Bobbi Batista went to die -- that smooshed together email, phone calls, and live guests in the CNN Center in front of an audience that looked more like hostages. You remember, that show. The other broadcast -- actually, cablecast, don't get me started -- is "Live and Direct" with Rita Cosby, on MSNBC, the channel whose average daily national audience is smaller than the population of a medium-size town in Kansas. Cosby, she of the blown-out vocal cords, comes from a decade at Fox News, and she seems to have tabloid DNA.

The Cosby Cult

| Posted 08.10.2005 | Media
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Uh-oh, am I getting sucked in? Night 2 of Live and Direct provided the day's best laugh. Rita is getting all the Big Interviews, including a near-exclusive with, drum roll, please, Miss Heidi Fleiss. She, as it turns out, is back on her feet (metaphorically speaking), and she's doing an interview with Rita to announce the construction of her new brothel in Nevada ("it's legal!"). She promises the most beautiful girls in the world, suites themed around famous designers -- do I hear the approach of lawyers? -- and then, because it's Rita, Heidi Fleiss confided that this isn't the end of her ambition. Two thirds of the wealthy people in the world made their money in real estate, she points out, and so...her ambition is to build "affordable housing."

Deja Voodoo

| Posted 08.10.2005 | Media
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There are those who, impatient with the anti-war cohort's insistence on fleshing out the details of the falsehoods by which we were led into Iraq, keep saying, "let it be, it's in the past, what good does it do to obsess about what's done?". The answer to that question is now available in one neat word: Iran.

The Rita File, cont.

| Posted 08.11.2005 | Media
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Okay, after this I go cold turkey. But my favorite media story of the week was from Lloyd Grove's column in the NY Daily News, about Rick Kaplan, bos...

Peter Jennings

| Posted 08.12.2005 | Media
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Is it just possible that Peter Jennings would have been more honored, had the Walt Disney Co. taken all the money it lavished on full-page In Memoriam...

War? Struggle? Intersectional Tussle?

| Posted 08.13.2005 | Media
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It hasn't escaped MSM attention that, in the past two weeks, Pentagon officials announced a withdrawal from the phrase "Global War on Terror," following which President Bush and White House officials struggled mightily to maintain that nothing had changed. Similarly, Pentagon officials suggested an early-spring drawdown in Iraq troop levels, which the President himself worked hard to deny. It is hard work. What's going on?...

Bookmark This Date

| Posted 08.16.2005 | Media
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Last weekend may be remembered as the moment when administration officials, in the White House and the Pentagon, decided that Bush message discipline was no longer as important as sending signals to their Beltway friends that their fingerprints will no longer be on the mess in Mesopotamia.

Fantasy Assignment Desk -- the PFIAB

| Posted 08.17.2005 | Media
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The Administration is blaming the intelligence community for the failures that led to the war in Iraq. Good time for the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board to look into the matter and issue a report, wouldn't you think?

That's the Way to Treat a Friend

| Posted 08.18.2005 | Media
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The United States was "testing" Agent Orange and Agent Purple back in the 60s by spraying them at a Canadian military base.

Buried Lede Department

| Posted 08.19.2005 | Media
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An otherwise unremarkable Australian story about who knew what when regarding prisoner interrogation in Iraq saves its real wallop for way down the pa...

Buried Lede, Redux

| Posted 08.19.2005 | Media
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The initial reports were, to be Tenetian, slam-dunk: the dead man was wearing a heavy coat in hot mid-summer London, he ran onto a tube train when police spotted him. Only trouble, as we now know: none of it was true.

The Slow News Movement

| Posted 08.20.2005 | Media
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The Holloway drama is being milked by cable because this is a "slow news period." Really?

What We Know, Because he Knows

| Posted 08.21.2005 | Media
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A commenter chided me earlier this week for saying that we know now that the London Met Police issued a completely wrong story...

Invited Contributor: Lawrence Dietz

| Posted 08.21.2005 | Media
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First Amendment Blue For the media, is anything more sacrosanct than the First Amendment? Most of the media points to Judith Miller as a latter-day J...

The Missing White Man

| Posted 08.21.2005 | Media
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Here's a story that has all the elements -- celebrity, mystery, odd silence -- of a cable news natural. Except for one thing: the missing person is a man.

Let's Have a Plan, People

| Posted 08.22.2005 | Media
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The Bush Administration is amassing a nice little group of folks who say the right things about two years too late.

Reality-Based Reality

| Posted 08.23.2005 | Media
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Given the fact that the Bush's proposal for private/personal Social Security accounts has gone south faster than the chances of a Baghdad stop on the Stones tour, will this story gain any traction stateside?

"We Feed Them Chum"

| Posted 08.24.2005 | Media
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Here's the other side of the Natalee Holloway story: the St. Petersburg Times looks at how being in the eye of the cable news storm has affected Aruba...