Category Archives: television

Save Tucker?

I never really understood how cable news “stars” rise and fall. I guess it usually comes down to a few gimmicks: sarcasm (Keith Olbermann), yelling at people in lieu of making a point (Chris Matthews, Bill O’Reilly), being just borderline racist/nationalist enough to still get away with it (Pat Buchanan), exuding a sense that you know what you’re talking about even when you probably don’t (Bill Schneider, Jack Cafferty), hating immigrants (most of Fox News, Lou Dobbs), being inflammatory while looking like a hooker (Ann Coulter), having a funny name (Wolf Blitzer), blind partisanship, being batshit insane (most everyone). One thing’s for sure: being thoughtful or bright isn’t helpful criteria. You pretty much have to be either a frothing right wing nut, or a center-right buffoon acting as an unwitting foil to a right-wing nut. Some guys, like Olbermann, get by on humor and being slightly inflammatory, but they’re a minority. But, fitting a mindless platitude into a 30-second soundbyte is a talent too, right?

Before I continue, I guess I need to lay out the cable news industry as I understand it. In the beginning, in the 1980s, there was CNN, and it wasn’t really all that good. But, 24/7 news had finally gone online (before “gone online” was even a cliche). Then, around 1996, along came MSNBC and Fox News. MSNBC was supposed to be hip and interactive, backed with money from Microsoft and featuring a mix of news and allegedly hip tech-oriented shows. Ratings never really worked that way, and MSNBC later tried other formulas (11 years later, they’re still experimenting*). Fox News, on the other hand, found its niche by catering to a massive, angry swath of American society that doesn’t quite understand why it’s angry—these people are among the incongruous masses who call themselves conservatives without knowing what the term means.

By the 2000s, Fox and CNN were at each other’s throats as the two heavyweights in the cable “news” business. Fox News actually managed to exceed CNN’s ratings sometime in the third millennium. Through it all, MSNBC was sort of like the yappy little chihuahua that got to watch. After every meal, after the two big dogs would eat the entirety of the meal, little MSNBC got to live off the entrails and feces of the kill. Because of low ratings, MSNBC often got left with the worst hosts, the worst personalities, etc.†

Tucker Carlson is one of those guys who really fits a lot of those criteria I mention in the first paragraph: if he’s not dumb as a rock, he’s pretty damn close. Tucker even has a unique gimmick: a bow-tie, like Jimmy Olson! He says he’s not blindly partisan, but he probably is. I guess he rose to stardom on CNN, and was thrown off the air circa 2005 when the so-called Cable News Network realized it hadn’t reported any news in years.

So, what’s this I hear about having to save Tucker?

Liberals want to save the whales. Environmentalists want to save the Everglades. Conservatives want to save the Confederate flag but we just want to SAVE TUCKER.

MSNBC executives are considering cancelling ‘Tucker’ with Tucker Carlson which airs on MSNBC at 6:00pm EST weekdays.

This decision by MSNBC will silence a conservative voice, part of a move by MSNBC to swing left and become “FOX for the Liberals,” dropping any pretense of objectivity or balance. Tucker Carlson is a conservative who brings a tone of civility and his unfailing good-humor to political talk television. Quirky and unpredictable, we love Tucker.

Silence a “conservative voice”? The majority of their pundits aren’t enough? I guess Pat Buchanan is more of a paleoconservative, to Tucker’s neoconservatism. Yikes! And we still have Joe Scarborough. Jesus Christ, I guess there are no conservatives to be heard at all. It must be hard fitting conservative voices between segments about the latest dead blonde woman to hit the airwaves.

“Objectivity or balance”? Do right-wingers think the only way to have objectivity or balance is to have nothing but Bill O’Reilly clones on all the time on every channel? How many frothing fanatics with shitfaced grins does society need hijacking our airwaves before far right Republicans will be pleased? I’m guessing anything less than 100% saturation is, to them, “unbalanced.” There is virtually nothing even watchable for anybody left of Genghis Kahn on television.

The video they post on their web site is precious. Introducing himself, Tucker says, “I’m a journalist.” Huh? Is spouting partisan rhetoric make you a journalist now? Why, every blogger must be a journalist!

Here’s an idea: no more fucking “news” opinion shows. Get Tucker, Pat, Ann, Chris, Lou, Bill, and every other right-wing nut off the air, and shut down the TV after the news is reported. I’d say we should get the left-wing nuts off the air too, but I don’t really think we have any, contrary to media claims about liberals and Vermont being left-wing.‡ I’m talking about what the networks should do, not the viewers. The viewers should read a newspaper, and then go outside and play, and stop watching the idiot box. Get the facts, and think for yourself. Yeah, sometimes newspapers are biased, but at least the better ones aren’t myopic.

* Last I saw, they were playing non-stop discussions about dead white girls.

† It isn’t just MSNBC that slummed for the “worst.” Many of Fox News’ right-wing hosts started out on MSNBC (John Gibson, for instance) before making their way to Fox. Democratic fanboy Paul Begala become CNN’s token “liberal” (whatever that is) after his show with Ollie North was cancelled (Ollie went on to work at Fox as a news correspondent). But MSNBC seems to pick up a lot of the crumbs the other guys can’t stand anymore.

‡ It’s perplexing that there really aren’t “left” or even moderate-liberal voices on television, but the reason probably is that most people intelligent enough to think Bill O’Reilly is an authoritarian windbag probably aren’t the biggest viewers of cable news. Sadly, they probably watch sitcoms.

Moms pissed off

I love hearing stories about pretentious suburban mothers getting hosed over nothing. And it happens all the time in allegedly “liberal,””progressive” Los Angeles. Like, this non-issue about some Disney Channel star on some movie that I’ve seen billboards for somewhere getting pissed off because an actress in it was seen nude:

(Sept. 7) – The wholesome image of Vanessa Hudgens, star of the made-for-kids TV movie hit “High School Musical,” was under fire on Friday because of a nude photo circulating on the Internet, creating a new publicity challenge for the Walt Disney Co.

“She’s damaged,” Renee Rollins-Greenberg, a Los Angeles mother of two, told Reuters. “She’s got this teeny-bop audience, young pre-teens and younger, who are admiring her and thinking she’s this wonderful, pure innocent person. Eighteen is awfully young for this kind of display.”

“I’m devastated because I have an 8-year-old for which I now have to have an explanation,” said another Los Angeles-area mother, Rosie Konkel. “She’s always looked at this character as a very smart and proper young lady.”

No, she’s not damaged. She’s damaged when she does a nude pictorial in Penthouse. That’s when you know your body is buying you a star on the Walk of Fame anymore.