Hasselbeck has had a lot of battles on the show with her co-hosts, from Rosie O'Donnell months ago to Barbara Walters. But today was the day I actually felt bad for her. The group was talking about the election, and how nasty the election could soon get in the final few weeks (Joy wasn't on the show today, so it was Elisabeth, Whoopi, Sherri, and Barbara). After playing the funny debate sketch from Saturday Night Live, the women discussed Governor Palin's attack on Barack Obama over the weekend, linking him to Bill Ayers (probably a desperate gambit by McCain but a fully legitimate one, I believe). Now, this has been brought up before, most notably by George Stephanopoulos in a debate and also by Hillary Clinton if I remember correctly, but the McCain campaign is bringing it up again.
So when the women discussed it, you can pretty much guess what happened.
In some ways, The Rachel Maddow Show is a spinoff of Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Maddow has been a regular sub for Olbermann, proving her prowess to MSNBC, and her show has a cushy spot between the first run of Countdown at 8 p.m. ET and the replay at 10 p.m. For the premiere episode, in fact, Keith appeared as Rachel's first guest -- a crossover from the end of Countdown where Rachel was interviewed in the last segment before the close. This was a smart move, sort of like a bridge from his show to hers, a bridge to somewhere if you will.
The new studio for Maddow has the quality MSNBC look, glass top desk, plasma screens, obnoxious -- but expected -- graphics on the bottom and bugs and flags reinforcing information as it's spoken.
In fact, she's been Keith's regular fill-in this summer, a sure sign that she's MSNBC's star on the rise. The network has just announced that Rachel Maddow has been chosen to replace MSNBC's Dan Abrams, bumping his show Verdict out of the primetime lineup.
Maddow is getting a great spot on MSNBC, right after Countdown at 9 p.m. Abrams is not getting kicked to the curb. Like when Tucker Carlson lost his show and remained one of the net's pundits.
Despite the efforts of ColorOfChange.org and other black activists online, Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute will be co-sponsoring primary debates this fall. The CBC Institute, which includes members of the Congressional Black Caucus, decided that the reach of Fox News was worth it, despite allegations of the channel's "marginalization" of blacks, allegations I don't fully comprehend. I'm not sure how Fox News would benefit from making a conscious decision to show black politicians and pundits in a negative light, unless one's perspective is based on the dubious theory that all black people are liberal.
I couldn't care less about whatever bias guides Fox News, or any other news outlet for that matter, but it seems that any political party would be remiss if it didn't take advantage of this kind of exposure.
I love reporting on the occasional political stuff: it's like tossing raw meat to a pack of wild dogs and watching them tear at each other. Now read this post and fight! Fight and bite, my polemic pooches!
Sorry, I shouldn't refer to my readers as "polemic pooches," that's not very nice. Anyway, here's the news:
Here's an original idea: create a sitcom based around two brothers with different political beliefs. Make one of these men liberal and the other one conservative. Also, make sure the liberal is the intellectual one and the conservative is an obnoxious blowhard. Now, to try and distract from the complete lack of originality inherent in this sitcom, put the conservative guy in a wheelchair. See? He's not just some cookie-cutter stereotype, he's a crippled cookie-cutter stereotype.
Anyway, that's the gist of a new pilot called Playing Chicken that was recently ordered by FOX. Perhaps the show will actually make fun of these stereotypes rather than perpetuating the nonsense that all conservatives are obnoxious and all liberals are erudite snobs, so I won't judge too harshly until I actually see it. Actually, who am I kidding? I'm going to judge it quite harshly.
Paul Conrad is now a freelance political cartoonist, but spent the majority of his career as a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining the Times he drew for the Denver Post after graduating from the University of Iowa where he started drawing political cartoons for the school newspaper, The Daily Iowan. Conrad drew his scathing cartoons through eleven presidencies, starting with Harry S. Truman and continuing to the present day. Ostensibly a liberal, he had no desire to adhere to the party line, and, while his favorite targets were the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, he would also occasionally upset people on the left with his opinionated drawings, and attacked Clinton for what he considered selling out the Democratic party.
The special mixes interviews with the Pulitzer prize-winning Conrad, his friends, family and colleagues with a surfeit of his cartoons that covered some of the most tumultuous times in recent history, from Vietnam and Watergate to 9/11 and the current conflict in Iraq. It's a wonderful piece of film making about an outspoken man who does what every artist strives to do: create images that convey what is impossible to express in words.
If you get Current TV, you might have seen the Flash-animated shorts called SuperNews, but if you haven't, you can check out a bunch of them here. I don't receive the channel, and only found these clips on the Current TV site recently via Cold Hard Flash. Obviously, given the channel that's airing these cartoons, they're going to have a liberal/democratic bias, but setting that aside and looking at them as just goofy satirical jabs at politicians and celebrities, a lot of them are pretty funny. Some of them also fall rather flat, which is why I recommend watching them online so you can skip the ones you don't like and watch the ones you do. The cartoons were created, written, and directed by Josh Faure-Brac. The "Oprah" episode in which Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, and Jesus Christ get in a tiff over Jesus' sex life is especially funny.
The "liberal bias" of the media we hear so much about was called into question recently with a study released by Media Matters which claims that Sunday morning political shows such as Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week tend to have more conservative guests than liberal. Of course, some are arguing against the study. NBC argued that during Clinton's term in office there were also slightly more Republican guests on Meet the Press. The point, I suppose, is that it's not necessarily dictated by who's in office. Also, there's the question as to who's really conservative and who isn't, especially when it comes to centrists like John McCain and others. My advice? Tune into The McLaughlin Group, a show where everyone is equally a raving lunatic, no matter their political affiliation. Or, go to the zoo and watch spider monkeys fighting each other. It's pretty much the same either way.
Al Franken recently moved his radio show to my humble little metropolis of Minneapolis, the city where he grew up. By sheer coincidence I know one of his producers and I asked them why he was back in his homestate of Minnesota. Turns out Franken is giving some serious consideration to making a senate run in 2008. He hasn't officially thrown his hat in the ring, according to an interview with AlterNet he did recently, but the fact that he moved the whole shebang to Minnesota pretty much makes one think it's going to happen. I think the "celebrity to politician" move is a crap shoot at best, but this is Minnesota, and Al is a hometown boy. I figure if Jesse Ventura could get his hulking frame into office Franken probably stands a pretty good chance.
In the interview, Franken talks about humor revealing a deeper truth (something I completely agree with), but even with his recent political affiliations, do people still think of him as just Al Franken the funny guy from Saturday Night Live? Put another way, can a person add a new dimension to their public persona after so many years of being seen only one way? It has happened, but that move is always a tenuous one.
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