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37 posts categorized "Television"

October 08, 2009

Does Chris Christie look fat in this?

NJ governor Jon Corzine's new ad insinuates that his Republican opponent Chris Christie abused his status as a US Attorney to get lenient treatment for two serious traffic infractions.

The ad sticks close to the facts: In 2005, Christie was pulled over for going 58 in a 40 zone. It turned out that the car's registration had lapsed and Christie couldn't produce proof of insurance. Remarkably, the cop let him drive home, despite New Jersey's strict policy of towing unregistered vehicles. The Lambertville police director initially claimed that Christie got loud during the traffic stop, but later reversed himself.

Christie denies that he pulled rank. He says he was allowed to drive home because his children, his wife, and his deputy were in the vehicle and he didn't want to leave them. Curiously, the tickets Christie received in connection with the incident were marked "no deal." This wasn't Christie's first brush with traffic laws, either. In 2002, he turned the wrong way down a one-way street and hit a motorcyclist. The cyclist ended up in a trauma center and Christie's rental car was totaled, but Christie walked away without a ticket.

The ad also alludes to Christie's failure to pay income tax on the interest from an unreported loan he made to a subordinate while he was a public prosecutor.

The takehome message is that Chris Christie has one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else. You can decide for yourself whether that argument is convincing, but the underlying allegations are true.

So, how does the Christie camp respond to the ad? By accusing Corzine of mocking his weight. Welcome to non seqitur hour in GOP-land.

Continue reading "Does Chris Christie look fat in this? " »

September 17, 2009

Wombs for Rent: Surrogacy scams

Tomorrow NOW will broadcast an expose of scams in the surrogate motherhood industry, supported by my friends at the Nation Institute. Old school investigative reporting meets cutting edge medical technology:

Many European countries, from Spain to Germany to the Netherlands, have banned surrogate motherhood. But in the United States it's the Wild West -- an almost completely unregulated industry that has left some surrogate mothers with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills and would-be parents with pilfered bank accounts. "If you compare surrogacy to buying a used car," says one expert in the field, "there are many more rules when you buy a used car."

Investigative Fund reporters Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann traveled the country speaking with surrogate mothers, agency operators, and intended parents to expose the human costs of this lack of regulation and produced a segment for NOW on PBS, "Wombs for Rent," which takes a close look at one of the industry's many bad actors, SurroGenesis.

"Wombs for Rent," which was supported by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, airs Friday, September 18, at 8:30 p.m. in New York City. Go to for broadcast times nationwide.

September 03, 2009

Glenn Beck loses 11 more sponsors

Glenn Beck: Officially too sketchy for sellers of miracle cleaning products, insurer, and Big Yogurt.

August 28, 2009

Glenn Beck claims Americorps will be Obama's SS

Seriously, folks. Glenn Beck and his cronies believe that Obama wants to enlarge Americorps to be his shock troops, his fedayeen. Beck and his guests convince themselves that Americorps will be the ones who will disarm the radical militias in South Texas if the military refuses to follow the president's orders.

In the clip, Beck claims that Americorps has "just received half a trillion dollars in funding." What the hell is he talking about? Half a trillion dollars is $500 billion. Half a trillion dollars would put Americorps in the same league as the Pentagon.

For FY 2010, the president requested less than two billion dollars for Americorps' parent agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and congress appropriated $90 million less than he asked for.

Half a trillion dollars for Americorps would the agency in the same league as the Pentagon. Is Beck talking about the $5.7 billion national service bill which, amongst many other things, would put Americorps on track to grow significantly between now and 2017.

Update: Commenters tell me that Beck corrected himself later in the show. A grownup must have realized the claim was too preposterous, or more too easily falsifiable, even for the Glenn Beck side show.

It's even funnier that Beck's guests played along with the half-trillion claim. Surely they knew it was false. This wasn't just an incidental mistake, it was the hook for Beck's crazy conspiracy theory.

August 01, 2009

Manufacturing consent: Execs called off Olbermann/O'Reilly feud

The high-profile feud between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was great for the shows' respective ratings.

So, the suits were happy to let the feud continue. That is, until O'Reilly started assailing MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, for doing business with Iran.

The O'Reilly crusade against GE had real-world consequences. A GE shareholders meeting was reportedly overrun with Iran critics and an O'Reilly producer.

General Electric was not amused. So, a sitdown was arranged to bring the feud to an end, even though it was making money for both MSNBC and Fox News:

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal. [NYT]

Executives told the New York Times that the feud was called off specifically because it threatened the business interests of GE and the News Corporation.

Olbermann denies that he's a party to any deal, but the verbal barbs have tapered off.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, it's ironic that Charlie Rose, who brokered the deal, has publicly dismissed the idea that parent corporations slant TV coverage for the benefit of the larger enterprise.

July 23, 2009

Chris Matthews demolishes "birther" G. Gordon Liddy

You know, Chris Matthews is pretty smart when he remembers to take his Ritalin. Watch him demolish G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate burglar turned "birther" (a term for those conspiracy theorists who believe that president Barack Obama is an illegal alien from Mombassa, Kenya). For more on the birther phenom, check out my friend Dave Weigel's recent appearance on Rachel Maddow:

April 22, 2009

Video: The Gaythering Storm

Funny or Die parody...

...of the National Organization for Marriage anti-gay marriage spot:

Continue reading "Video: The Gaythering Storm" »

March 24, 2009

O'Reilly calls Amanda Terkel a "villain" for highlighting his ugly rape comments

Last night conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly called Think Progress blogger Amanda Terkel a "villain" on the air for obliquely noting the irony that, he was been invited to headline a benefit for a non-profit that benefits rape survivors.

Terkel didn't even mention the much more ironic fact that O'Reilly was invited to a benefit for the survivors of sexual assault despite having been forced to pay over $2 million to settle a sex harassment suit brought against him by his former producer, Andrea Mackris in 2004.

Instead, Terkel mentioned in her Mar 1 post that O'Reilly had made deeply offensive on-air comments about 18-year-old rape and murder victim Jennifer Moore in 2006.

O'Reilly called Moore a "moronic girl" and suggested that she was responsible for her own grisly death. Moore was kidnapped after she ended up drunk and stranded on the West Side Highway having wandered away from her friend after a night of clubbing.

Here's what Bill O'Reilly had to say shortly after Moore's badly beaten body was found in a dumpster:

O'REILLY: So anyway, these two girls come in from the suburbs and they get bombed, and their car is towed because they're moronic girls and, you know, they don't have a car. So they're standing there in the middle of the night with no car. And then they separate because they're drunk. They separate, which you never do. All right.

Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She's walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug. All right. Now she's out of her mind, drunk.

And the thug takes her over to New Jersey in the cab and kills her and rapes her and does all these terrible things to her. And the thug is so stupid, he uses her cell phone, and the cops trace it back to him and they -- and they arrest him and charge him with murder. He had a prostitute girlfriend with him, and she's charged as an accessory to murder. But Jennifer Moore is in the ground. She's dead.

Imagine if Jennifer Moore's parents heard O'Reilly tarnishing their dead daughter's memory. O'Reilly even excoriated the parents for not keeping their daughter under curfew, Adele Stan writes at HuffPo.

To illustrate his point about Moore's "culpability," O'Reilly brought up disgraced actor Mel Gibson as another example of a person who deserved what was coming to him because he got drunk. O'Reilly implied that Moore's death was analogous to Gibson's recent DUI arrest during which the actor had called the arresting officer "sugar tits" and screamed antisemitic slurs at police. 

Over the weekend, O'Reilly sent two men to confront Terkel about her post--producer Jesse Watters and an unnamed camera operator. The two approached Terkel on the street in Virginia, having apparently tailed her on the two-hour drive from her home in Washington, D.C.

As you'll see in the video clip, Watters tries to insinuate that Terkel is lying when she says that she listened to O'Reilly's remarks before commenting on them. Watters demands to know the significance of O'Reilly's remarks about Mel Gibson. Terkel doesn't answer.

The producer demanded that Terkel apologize for causing pain and suffering to a rape victim and her family. Which rape victim? Jennifer Moore? No, O'Reilly was referring to Alexa Branchini of Alexa Foundation. However, Terkel never criticized the Alexa Foundation, and never mentioned Ms. Branchini. The idea that Terkel deliberately inflicted distress upon the Alexa Foundation is laughable.

Why was Amanda Terkel, a young female blogger, singled out for an ambush from the O'Reilly goons? Her post was based on link to another blog, Newshounds. Many other websites and TVs shows covered the controversy. Earlier this month an anti-rape group with no ties to Terkel circulated a petition requesting that the Alexa Foundation disinvite O'Reilly on the grounds that his blame-the-victim comments disqualified him from addressing a benefit for rape survivors. (Bizarrely, according to Keith Olbermann, the Alexa Foundation issued a statement stressing that O'Reilly was invited to speak about his book, not rape victims.)

The 2006 attack on the recently-deceased Jennifer Moore wasn't an isolated incident.  O'Reilly also insinuated that Sean Hornbeck, a boy who was held captive by a child molester for years, stayed because he liked the abuse, according to noted rightwing watcher Dave Neiwert.

As if this saga wasn't sordid enough, O'Reilly Factor appears to have broken its own rules for ambush interviews by confronting Terkel. O'Reilly previously pledged only to ambush public servants and to confront targets only after contacting them and either inviting them to appear on the show, or giving them an opportunity to explain themselves in a statement.

March 13, 2009

CNBC's Cramer skips morning show

Jim Cramer of CNBC skipped the morning show this morning. The night before, the host of Mad Money decisively lost his much-hyped showdown with Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

Last night's appearance was the culmination of a feud between Cramer and Stewart. In recent weeks, Stewart has been sharply critical of CNBC's financial journalism in the run-up to the economic meltown. CNBC :

Part of the attack was leveled against analyst and Mad Money host Jim Cramer, who made some dubious predictions about Bear Stearns stock shortly before the financial giant kicked the bucket. While the rest of CNBC was content to sit tight and let ratings soar in the aftermath of Stewart's tirade, Cramer got, well, mad, taking to air to defend his show and his predictions. It earned him an even more scathing, personal rebuttal from Stewart, which aired March 10.

It's ironic that this whole thing started after CNBC's Rick Santelli agreed to go on The Daily Show show to discuss a televised trading floor tantrum in which he called struggling mortgage holders "losers." Santelli bailed on Stewart, sparking even more criticism of Santelli, and CNBC including Jim Cramer.

Jon Stewart to Jim Cramer: We are capitalizing your adventure

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show schooled Mad Money host Jim Cramer of CNBC last night.

By the time Cramer came on the show, Stewart and Cramer had been feuding publicly for several days.  Cramer was trying cast himself as a humble financial professional who made mistakes, but who is trying to reform a broken system from within.

Stewart confronted Cramer with video clips of his own past admissions about the conduct as a hedge fund manager.

So, it was a stroke of sheer genius on the part of Stewart and the Daily Show writers to load up these clips from The Street showing Cramer the hedge fund manager confessing that when he held a short position, he would create some spurious activity to artificially drive down the price of that asset. "It doesn't take much money," old hedge fund Cramer says in the clip.

Cramer's taped statements are simple declarative sentences in the first person, but the Mad Money host still had the gall to lie to Stewart's face. Confronted with the video of his own confession, Cramer insisted that he'd never confessed, that he was merely being inarticulate in the clips.

These clips are in service of Jon Stewart's larger point, namely, that there exist "two markets"...the long-term investments of ordinary people and the short-term speculative trades of Wall Street. As Stewart tells Cramer, the former is underwriting the excesses of the latter. As a financial news network, Stewart says, CNBC should have been warning ordinary people about the threat of the second market--but instead, Cramer and his buddies cheered on the speculative frenzy.

"We are capitalizing your adventure," Stewart told Cramer:

The full episode is available here, but the site keeps crashing, probably because of massive web traffic.

The Stewart-Cramer interview will be remembered as one of the great televised takedowns of our age. It's a cathartic TV confrontation in which Stewart gets to express our shared anger and resentment to an unrepentant co-conspirator in the financial collapse.

Cramer's probably never going to face a judge or an SEC investigator, or even a disappointed boss--what he did as a cynical cheerleader for the parasitic speculative class was probably legal and even protected speech. But at least Cramer has to sit up there and face the wrath of Jon Stewart in front of millions of viewers. Finally, someone is being held accountable.

The exchange reminded me of Joe Welch's legendary reproach to Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy heartings of 1954:"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"