The Reviews Are in: Donald Trump Bombs On SNL

Now that is it’s all over, it turns out that the hype that engulfed Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was more entertaining than the actual show. There are barely any reviews that have anything positive to say about either Trump’s performance, or that of the regular cast and writers.

Donald Trump Racist

The big problem with Trump hosting the show, and the reason the protests were so pronounced, was never about the debate between opposing political ideologies. It was about the noxious validation of an unrepentant hate monger. Would SNL proffer an invitation to a KKK leader if they thought it would produce big ratings? One can only hope not. Likewise, the role of political satire is not to suck up to the rich and powerful, but to slather them in mockery. On that level SNL failed miserably.

Even with regard to ratings, SNL failed to achieve much of a victory. The program did not break any records. It did exceed their other programs over the past three years (not a long time frame for a show that’s been on the air for more than forty years), but fell below such non-talents as Sarah Palin and Charles Barkley. And the reviews for Trump were decidedly unflattering to say the least. Here’s a short sampling of the damage:

  • New York Times: “S.N.L.” stuck with obvious, anemic political riffs and apolitical sketches that were cringeworthy all around.
  • Los Angeles Times: “SNL” seemed so bent on appearing nonpartisan that it over-compensated and forgot its actual mandate: Be funny.
  • The Wrap: In its 41st season, the show would rather play along with the wealthy and powerful than satirize them.
  • Yahoo TV: Host Donald Trump kicked off this week’s Saturday Night Live with an opening monologue that demonstrated all the reasons it wasn’t a good idea for him to host SNL. […] The only entity that came off worse than Donald Trump was SNL.
  • Variety: Most of the sketches involving Trump were weak, timid or predictable.
  • Time: His episode of SNL was among the most anodyne in the show’s recent history.
  • Washington Post: Trump’s sorry night on ‘SNL’: An overhyped bummer for us all.
  • Townhall: Trump on SNL Was Dull, Unfunny.
  • Greg Gutfeld, Fox News: They deliberately wrote nothing, as a protest. It’s like a restaurant cook spitting on someone’s food.

The last two in this list were specifically included to show that it isn’t just the “liberal” media ganging up The Donald. Gutfeld’s paranoid observation that there was a conspiracy by the writers to tank Trump is especially ludicrous. Why would they do so knowing that it would make them look just as atrocious as their star? They have their own careers to consider.

The one moment in the show that was universally applauded was Larry David’s heckling of Trump’s opening monologue wherein he called Trump a racist. David was cashing in on the actual offer by Latino activist group Deport Racism to pay $5,000 to anyone in the SNL audience who called Trump a racist on the air. The group says that it will honor the offer and pay the prize to David (not that he needs it). SNL’s attempt at a preemptive strike to dilute the impact of an audience member disrupting the show backfired because David’s disruption got far more people talking about Trump’s bigotry than an unknown person in the audience would have.

Trump, on the other hand, was stiff and painfully humor-challenged. What’s worse, he managed to make himself appear even less presidential than he has on the campaign trail this year (not an unimpressive feat). It probably won’t hurt him among his supporters because, by definition, their judgment is pitifully defective.

But the real losers in all of this are NBC, who reversed their pledge to cut ties with Trump due to his offensive remarks, and SNL, who are demonstrating a crushing weakness in what should be their core comedic competence. It’s a sad decline for the program that seems to be accelerating downward. And following this disgraceful capitulation to a bully bigot, you have to wonder what’s next for SNL.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump SNL

Crybaby Donald Trump Calls For NBC Debate Boycott But Still Wants To Host SNL

Following the debate fiasco on CNBC, the Republican candidates announced that they would be meeting to discuss how they could could strong arm the media into producing debates that weren’t so hard on their fragile and weak-kneed candidates. They are exposing themselves as the cowards that they are and responding like bullies, as cowards often do. I wrote a more detailed analysis of this situation yesterday, but there is a new development that requires attention.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, announced that he would punish NBC for what took place on CNBC by suspending the agreement to have NBC host a GOP debate that was scheduled for February. It’s another act of Republican cowardice with a side of revenge. And shortly after this announcement, Donald Trump’s campaign came aboard saying that he “supports the RNC’s decision to suspend the debate on February 26th due to the total lack of substance and respect.”

What a pompous act of hypocrisy. If a “total lack of respect” is sufficient justification for the RNC to cut NBC’s debate, then it’s more than sufficient for NBC to cut Trump from hosting Saturday Night Live. Trump’s disrespect to Latinos (and so many others) is far worse than anything that happened at the CNBC debate. And now that he is attacking NBC and Telemundo, they should respond in kind. What obligation do they have to allow him to host their program while he is advocating a boycott of their network?

Donald Trump SNL

Trump should not be surprised if NBC decides to do the right thing and cancel his SNL hosting gig. After all, he is currently forbidding any reporters from Univision (another Latino news outlet) to cover his campaign events. The nonsensical reason he gives is that he is suing the network’s entertainment division because it canceled their contract to broadcast his Miss Universe pageant after he disparaged Latinos as murderers and rapists. He says it would be a “conflict of interest” – a phrase he apparently doesn’t know the meaning of – to admit Univisions’s reporters. Don’t try to figure that out, it’s the Trumpian anti-logic that he uses to justify his bigotry.

The invitation to host SNL came after NBC had broken business ties with Trump due to his “derogatory statements” about Latinos. NBC said such rhetoric was contrary to their values. Have their values changed? Is it now acceptable to do business with the same noxious blowhard who’s pushing a boycott of your network? What’s more, Latino groups are appalled that SNL would allow an overtly racist hate monger like Trump to appear as host, especially considering the fact that there are zero Latinos in the current SNL cast, and only two in the whole forty-one year history of the program. What message does the network send by embracing Trump?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In conclusion, if it’s OK for Trump to banish Univision’s Latino reporters from his campaign events, and to advocate a prohibition of Republican debates on NBC and Telemundo, then it is more than justified for NBC to retract their offer to let him host SNL, and they should do so immediately. [There is a petition to urge NBC to rescind the offer here.] The question is, do they have the principles and the backbone to do it, or will they kneel before The Donald in utter disgrace?

GOP Candidates Frightened Away From Scary Debates They Can’t Control

The Republican field of presidential primary candidates are cowering together to formulate a new debate process that isn’t so darn frightening to them. Following the debacle on CNBC, they are taking steps to insure that such ghastly encounters are avoided in the future in favor of more friendly frolics through the political pastures of pussy willows and wingnut trees.

Republican Debate

The Republicans spent two hours Wednesday night whining about how the debate questions were framed. They had some justification, but they carried it so far as to dodge even the substantive questions, using their frothy indignation as an excuse. Immediately afterward they went into high hysterics over what they asserted was a fiendish plot by commie instigators to tarnish them and their party. But accusing the Wall Street defenders at CNBC of being ultra-liberal conspirators against these poor, dumbfounded conservatives smacks of severe mental breakdown.

Now the GOP contenders are planning to huddle together to come up with a new debate format that better suits their needs. They intend to address how they might take more control over the process, diminish the role of the Republican National Committee, and decide how the debates are conducted, including the selection of moderators. It’s an unprecedented initiative to transform what is supposed to be an open dialog that provides voters with an informative look at the candidates, into a PR vehicle that functions more like propaganda.

The RNC, which is taking some heat from the candidates, had already barred MSNBC from hosting any debates when they originally published their schedule back in January. That admission of fear has now escalated as the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, advised NBC today that the one debate they had scheduled (Fox News has four), in partnership with Telemundo, has been “suspended,” whatever that means. So the RNC intends to punish NBC for the perceived wrongs committed by a separate unit of the Comcast/NBC family, And in the process they are also risking their only access to a minority audience, via Telemundo, that the GOP desperately needs to make inroads with. Will Republicans make demands as to who will moderate or what can be asked in order to lift the suspension? Well, Priebus is now saying that “Every debate on the calendar is going to be reevaluated, reset — look at the format, the moderators, everything,”

What really makes this whole phony controversy ridiculous is that it doesn’t benefit any political party to impose such strict demands. First of all, if they get their wish and appear before “friendly” moderators like Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh (as Ted Cruz actually suggested last night on Hannity’s show), they might find the questioning even more damaging. The rightist Taliban, as represented by Limbaugh et al, will be more likely to force candidates to stake out extreme positions which they will be unable to “Etch-a-Sketch” away after the primaries. The wingnut media are notoriously committed to the sort of ideological purity that voters find repugnant. What’s more, even if they got the sympathetic treatment they desire, it would only result in the candidates being woefully unprepared for the full-contact combat they will eventually encounter in the general election.

If Republicans go through with this dictatorial mission to force news networks to obey their commands, the networks must refuse to participate and decline to broadcast any such manipulated program. In fact, networks that aren’t directly affected should also boycott the Republican debates in solidarity with the independence of the press. It would be a journalistic atrocity to submit to such interference in the role of the media. If Republicans want a fully scripted television farce, let them buy the time like any other telemarketer.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In the end, what Republicans are proposing now is not only hostile to freedom of the press, it is also horribly bad judgment with regard to their own interests. It will leave their candidates unprepared for debates with Democrats, and mired in ultra-rightist ideologies that will alienate voters. And if that weren’t enough, it also reveals them to be afraid of being exposed to the sort of tough questions that will occur throughout any political campaign. And if they can’t handle a few questions from reporters, how will they ever handle Vladimir Putin and ISIS?

Donald Trump Shares His Special Bond With Vladimir Putin: Hatred For Obama – Plus Other Assorted Idiocies

The growing contingent of Republicans and pundits who think that Donald Trump is a Democratic plant dispatched to embarrass the GOP and clear a path for Hillary Clinton to the White House is getting harder to dismiss. The combination of Trump’s bombast and ignorance is just too much to be believable. Here are a couple of eruptions that popped up this weekend.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump posted a tweet bragging that he is already having an effect on foreign relations, particularly with respect to his confidence that he would have a great relationship with Russian oligarch, Vladimir Putin. The tweet said that “Russia and the world has already started to respect us again!” It also included a link to an article titled Putin loves Donald Trump that supported that assertion. The article outlined the fondness that Putin has for Trump, and vice versa, citing sources that were friendly to the Kremlin. In fact, the primary source was described as a “Kremlin mouthpiece […] a propagandist arm of the Putin government machine.” And Trump was quoted saying…

“I think that I would at the same time get along very well with him. He does not like Obama at all. He doesn’t respect Obama at all. And I’m sure that Obama doesn’t like him very much,” Trump added. “But I think that I would probably get along with him very well.”

So the special bond that Trump and Putin share (along with most of the GOP) is hatred of the man that Americans elected twice to be their president. Isn’t that romantic (and patriotic)? Although it’s no wonder that Trump would fall hard for Putin. They are both wealthy narcissists – megalomaniacs with aspirations of world domination. And many other GOP figures, including Ben Carson, have fallen for Putin.

Also on Sunday, Trump was interviewed by Chris Wallace of Fox News and failed to answer any question directly, as usual. However, in one of his bumbling dodges he managed to demonstrate, again, how woefully ignorant he is about pretty much everything. Wallace attempted to get Trump to clarify his recent comments implying that George W. Bush was responsible for the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. [For the record, Al Qaeda was responsible, but Bush did fail to heed warnings from Richard Clarke, his counter-terrorism coordinator for the National Security Council, as well as the Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US.”] Instead, Trump diverted to a preposterous explanation for why 9/11 would not even have happened if were president:

“Well, I would have been much different, I must tell you. Somebody said, well, it wouldn’t have been any different. Well, it would have been. I am extremely, extremely tough on illegal immigration. I’m extremely tough on people coming into this country. I believe that if I were running things, I doubt those families would have – I doubt that those people would have been in the country. So there’s a good chance that those people would not have been in our country.”

That’s all well and good, except for on little thing: None of the 9/11 terrorists entered the country illegally. Every single one of them entered with legal visas. The fact that Trump doesn’t know this, but still uses the issue to advance his xenophobic campaign against immigrants, while pretending that he could have prevented a catastrophe about which he doesn’t even know the facts, is more proof that he couldn’t win a race for village idiot.

In addition to these moments of moron, crybaby Trump also whined about needing Secret Service protection due to all the bad guys out to get him. But just two weeks ago he was bragging that he is an armed mofo and that if “Somebody attacks me, oh they’re gonna be shocked.” He also whined about the length of an upcoming debate, threatening to take his ball and go home. If he can’t answer some questions for three hours how can he take on ISIS?. He also called Bernie Sanders a communist, proving that he doesn’t know what the word means. And, finally, he bashed the Wall Street Journal after being told about some criticism that they published. He said that…

“The Wall street Journal was bought for $5 billion. It’s now worth $500 million. They don’t have to tell me what to do. The Wall Street Journal has been wrong so many different times about so many different things.”

The thing is, he said that to Chris Wallace of Fox News, which is owned by the same media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Journal. And Wallace didn’t say a word about that connection.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

And finally (for real this time), the news that Saturday Night Live has invited Trump to host the program has been receiving well-deserved criticism. It is unprecedented for the program to allow an active candidate for president to host the show. Hillary Clinton was given only a brief guest appearance. And the invitation came after NBC had broken business ties with Trump due to his “derogatory statements” about immigrants, which NBC said was contrary to their values. What’s more, Latino groups are appalled that the show would allow an overtly racist hate monger like Trump to appear as host, despite the fact that there are zero Latinos in the current SNL cast, and only two in the whole forty-one year history of the program. There is a petition to urge NBC to rescind the invitation here.

When Will Fox News Fire Bill O’Reilly For Lying About Combat Duty?

Conservatives have tenaciously sunk their fangs into the juicy scandal that is engulfing NBC News anchor Brian Williams. The fact that he has admitted (and apologized for) some false statements he made several years ago regarding his experiences covering the war in Iraq is troubling and particularly so for people who make their living on their reputation for honesty.

However, the degree to which the right has gone overboard with their overt hostility is a spectacle that is worth watching for the sheer entertainment value. Although it’s not as if they wouldn’t be showering their hatred on Williams and the rest of the so-called “lamestream” media even if their weren’t some budding scandal. For its part, Fox News has been exhibiting a Benghazi-like obsession with their relentless coverage of the story.

What’s missing from all of this is any sense of perspective or context. Has Fox given equal time to the false assertions by their own Geraldo Rivera who excused his lies as being the fault of the “fog of war?” Of course not. Neither do they make a distinction between the lies advanced by mis-remembering a distant event in the past in order to enhance one’s own personal image, and the lies perpetrated deliberately by national leaders (i.e. George Bush, Dick Cheney, etc.) that resulted in the violent deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent, non-combatant Iraqis.

Brian Williams, George Bush

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Nearly every discussion about Williams in the Conservative Media Circus includes outright demands for his termination. Never mind that the false statements made over a decade ago were not made during a newscast or presented as part of his duties as a journalist. The wingnut brigade wants Williams fired for having said some things on David Letterman’s late-night comedy program.

Well, if that’s the standard they are embracing, then let them apply it to Bill O’Reilly as well. Back in 2006, O’Reilly took an extended book promotion tour to Kuwait where he visited with soldiers and signed copies of his book. Reports at the time described how “servicemembers asked O’Reilly about his own tour of duty in Kuwait during Desert Storm.” That might have been an interesting story except for the fact that O’Reilly never did a tour of duty in Kuwait during Desert Storm, or anywhere else since he never served in the military at all.

More recently, O’Reilly told his radio listeners about how he would have coaxed information out of an enemy soldier based on his personal experiences in combat (video below):

“I tell you what, I’ve been in combat. I’ve seen it. I’ve been close to it. And if my unit is in danger and I got a captured guy and the guy knows where the enemy is and I’m looking him in the eye, the guy better tell me. That’s all I’m gonna tell you. If it’s life or death, he’s going first.”

As noted above, and contrary to his statement, O’Reilly has never been in combat. Consequently, he has never commanded a unit or had to contemplate how he would deal with an enemy prisoner. His pretend bluster and machismo is all just a bunch of fantasizing of himself as a hero. So how is that any different than the offenses for which Williams is being pilloried?

There are, however, some very real differences between Williams and O’Reilly. Williams has been found to be less than truthful on this one occasion. O’Reilly has lied repeatedly over his career at Fox News with plenty of documentation to prove it. What’s more O’Reilly has demonstrated himself to be an arrogant, rude, bully who shoves his usually inane opinion down the throats of his guests and his viewers. That’s something that cannot be attributed to Williams.

So if anyone should lose their job over any of this, it would be most advantageous to the television viewing audience, and to society in general, if it is O’Reilly. But don’t count of Fox News to do the right thing. It would be against everything they hold dear.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

h/t Meteor Blades at Daily Kos for the video.

Your Moment Of ZENBC: NBC Tried To Recruit Jon Stewart To Host Meet The Press

From the “Horribly Misguided” file: Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine is reporting that NBC, in a desperation move, sought to snag the host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart, to helm their Sunday morning news gabfest, Meet The Press. Sherman writes that…

“Before choosing [Chuck] Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks. One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually ‘anything’ to bring him over.”

Jon Stewart Meet the Press

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What on Earth are these people thinking? Stewart is an inspired media satirist with a unique ability to shine a light on the absurdities of newscasting and the Stepford characters who present the parade of establishment-approved stories. And certainly his popularity with a young and coveted demographic might set the network honchos’ tongues to wagging. But there are so many obvious reasons that this would be an epic disaster that it’s incomprehensible that they would seriously consider it.

First of all, having a substantive, long-form discussion about issues that impact the nation and the world with the people that actually make the decisions is very different than exchanging snide, albeit often poignant, comments for a five or six minute segment of a comedy program. While Stewart is often better informed, and capable of making more relevant observations, than the cast of the current Sunday news shows, the tone of his presentation is entirely inappropriate for the type of programs that air on Sunday morning. And it is his voice, with a thick layer of “what the fuck” over a bewildered mug that makes him popular. He could not get away with that on Meet the Press.

Secondly, whatever ratings score NBC hoped this move would achieve is completely illusory. Let’s face it, Stewart’s fans are not going to get up that early on a Sunday to watch him be serious with a bunch dead-panned politicos and pundits. And the typical, “mature” audience for these shows wouldn’t stayed tuned to Stewart for very long.

Finally, did NBC forget that Stewart’s interviews are only a small portion of the Daily Show. Most of the program consists of comedy monologues and canned bits from his “correspondents.” And all of that material is plotted by a staff of ten or twenty talented comedy writers who help to make Stewart the genius he appears to be. It seems unlikely that NBC would have put all of them under contract to their news division had Stewart signed on.

It’s hard to believe that the prospect of Stewart accepting a position as one of the talking heads that he so masterfully skewers could ever have been taken seriously. It makes no sense from either a journalistic or a business perspective. What would come next? Bill Maher hosting Face the Politically Incorrect Nation? This Fuckin’ Week with Chris Rock? And poor Fox News Sunday, they would be stuck with Dennis Miller (or for a real comedy coup, Sarah Palin).

NBC News Exclusive: Putin Dissed George W. Bush’s Dog

As evidence of how far American journalism has fallen into the abyss of infotainment, minus the info, on Friday NBC’s Today show assigned their crack correspondent, Jenna Bush Hagar, to interview her father George at the opening of an exhibition of his paintings at his presidential library.

NBC Interview Jenna/George Bush

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The interview violated a slew of journalistic ethics, most notably avoiding a conflict of interest, real or perceived. The relationship between the former president and his daughter obviously precluded any potential for an enlightening news report. An example of the depth attained in this segment is this brief exchange about Bush’s encounters with Vladimir Putin:

Jenna Bush Hagar: You could tell from the very beginning that he was interested in power. And there is an anecdote that you’ve written about that is symbolic of that.
George W. Bush: Well, as you know, our dear dog Barney, who had a special spot in my heart, I introduced him to Putin. Putin kind of dissed him.

Indeed. Putin’s uncomplimentary remarks about the First Dog are symbolic of his aspirations to embark on a territorial clampdown that destabilizes the region and sours his relationship with the community of nations. Thanks to Jenna’s dogged reporting we now know more about the Barney Doctrine than was ever previously disclosed.

Unfortunately, Jenna never asked her dad about the war in Iraq, enhanced interrogation (aka torture), the economic meltdown, or any other area of controversy that enveloped the Bush presidency. And since Bush has rarely subjected himself to the media since he left the White House, any unfulfilled chance to fill in some of the blanks is a bitterly missed opportunity from a journalistic perspective.

For NBC to broadcast this charade represents a sad milestone in the collapse of television news. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to let Bush be questioned by his daughter should suffer eternal shame in the eyes of his or her colleagues. What’s more, any media critic that doesn’t condemn this sort of fluffery isn’t doing their job. Imagine the outrage that would have ensued if NBC News permitted Chelsea Clinton (whom they did briefly employ) to interview Bill Clinton. Fox News would have had a collective conniption.

And speaking of Fox News, their ability to fairly recognize media malfeasance is lacking, to say this least. On today’s episode of MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz made the following observation:

“Look, I know this constant coverage has been very, very good for [the] ratings, but I just don’t get the obsessive focus.”

Kurtz was talking about CNN’s coverage of the missing Malaysian plane. The first part of that statement that rubs reality the wrong way is that he doesn’t “get the obsessive focus.” Of course he does. He knows very well that it’s about ratings and he even says so in the beginning of the sentence. But more importantly, he is oblivious to the fact that the same commentary could be applied to Fox’s coverage of Benghazi. Although Fox’s motives are far more nefarious than merely goosing their ratings. Their obsession is focused squarely on attacking President Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

In other Bush news, Fox aired an hour long commercial for Jeb Bush’s prospective presidential campaign. It came in the form of an interview at the George H.W. Bush library during an event that was closed to the press. Lucky for Fox, they are not regarded as press and their own Shannon Bream was the interviewer. Her segments with Jeb were broadcast on the Fox News Channel along with cutesy bits from Mama Bush and other close associates.

However, the program may do Jeb more harm than good. He articulated a couple of positions that are not going to endear him to the fanatical Tea Party wing of his party that of late holds the keys to any nomination. For instance, he offered a rather sane opinion on immigration that will surely boil the blood of folks like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin:

“They crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

In addition, Jeb defended the Common Core educational initiative. Saying that “I’m totally committed” to Common Core is not going to win him any friends in the Tea Party. But what will surely bring the knives out in force is his criticism of fellow Republicans who caved to the irrational opponents of Common Core:

“I just don’t seem compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country. And others have, others that supported the standards all of a sudden now are opposed to it. I don’t get it.’

Between George Bush’s inquisition by his daughter Jenna, and Jeb Bush’s friendly sit-down with a Fox anchor at a supposedly press-free event, the media has demonstrated this week that ethics are the last thing on its mind. And the fact that both of these affairs involved members of the Bush dynasty suggests that they, and the media, are not yet through screwing up our country.

RNC Threatens NBC, CNN: Cancel Hillary Projects Or Lose GOP Debates

The Republican National Committee is flexing its acutely atrophied muscles this morning with a nearly impotent threat aimed at their foes in the mainstream media.

RNC Debates
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This is just too funny. RNC chair Reince Priebus has sent letters to the heads of CNN and NBC to protest their plans to produce projects about Hillary Clinton, who is a possible candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. Priebus is very upset and is issuing an ultimatum to the networks that will surely cause them to lose sleep – due to their uncontrollable fits of laughter.

What isn’t so funny is a political party that thinks it has the right to demand that entertainment producers bend to its will. In fact, it’s an open assault on freedom of expression. It would be one thing for the RNC to decline to work with a network that it believes has a partisan slant against them. But it is something else entirely to threaten a network in order to force them to alter specific programming.

Priebus begins his missive by whining about the perceived bias that has been a part of the GOP gospel for decades:

“It’s appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives.”

Appalling indeed! I’m sure that Priebus is just as disturbed by the million dollar gift that Fox News (News Corp) gave to the Republican Governor’s Association, and all the other right-wingers at Fox who have donated to Republicans, including News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch. And there is no network that has so brazenly acted as a partisan campaign operative than Fox News, the PR division of the GOP. Priebus’ letter to Fox must still be in the mail. In the meantime, he is making his position to CNN and NBC crystal clear:

“If they have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor.”

Oh my. If CNN and NBC were unable to acquire any of the GOP primary debates they might be forced to schedule interesting and entertaining programs instead. That’ll show ’em.

Let’s face it, the RNC has never been thrilled about putting their candidates in situations where they might face fair questions about their records and policy positions. They herd them onto Fox News where they can expect softballs and gushing praise. During the 2012 campaign right-wingers like Hugh Hewitt and Breitbart’s John Nolte were counseling the RNC to ban debates hosted by what they believed to be unfriendly media. Sarah Palin was advising Republicans to “speak through Fox News.”

The best thing that could happen to the Democrats is for Republicans to sequester themselves in the bosom of Fox News. It would limit their exposure to the broader electorate and the independents they need to win. It would also insure that their candidates were unvetted and unprepared for the real-life battles of a campaign. If they spend the primary season being fluffed by Fox, when they eventually face the general election they will be surprised by sharp criticisms from which they were shielded in their chummy primary.

One positive aspect of this strategy is that fewer voters, and a more narrow, conservative subset, would see the primary telecasts. Considering how often the GOP candidates in 2012 embarrassed themselves, that could be a benefit. Of course, those segments would still be looped on every other news broadcast the following day, so the benefit would be short lived.

By giving CNN and NBC the cold shoulder, the RNC increases the likelihood that only voters who have already decided to vote Republican will see the debate in its entirety. And while that limits their exposure to gaffes, it also limits their opportunity to make an appeal to undecided voters. Since Priebus has already promised to hold fewer debates in the future, the GOP’s visibility to anyone outside their circle shrinks considerably. The result is that GOP primary voters will be more partisan, more extreme, and more out of pace with the general population. That’s a recipe for a Republican nominee who will lead the party to a massive defeat.

Ironically, the motivation for the Priebus ultimatum is the prospect of a couple of Hillary Clinton projects being released several months prior to the 2016 election. That was precisely the issue that sparked the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling that now permits corporations and individuals to make unlimited, anonymous donations to political campaigns. At the time, Republicans were fiercely supportive of the Citizen’s United production and its release just a few weeks prior to an election. Now they are just as fiercely opposed to it.

What’s more, Priebus accuses the networks of producing a “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.” How he arrived at that conclusion he doesn’t say. He has not seen either production or spoken with the producers. He has no idea whether they will be complimentary, derogatory, or neutral representations of Clinton. He is making a wholly uninformed assumption and using that as the basis of his attempt to bully the networks.

So let the RNC snub CNN and NBC and any other “lamestream” media that they are afraid of. Let them take their balls and go home to Fox News where their cult-like disciples will embrace them with enthusiasm. It will only result in there being less of their obnoxious blather littering the television landscape and a better chance of them losing in November of 2016. Nice work Reince.

[Update: Priebus took his whining to (where else) Fox News last night and reiterated his silly ultimatum. Meanwhile, both CNN and NBC have refused to cave saying that it is “premature” to judge the projects that are not even in production at this time. Priebus gave an 8/14 deadline for the networks to comply. Here’s hoping he is dumb enough to follow through.

Bill O’Reilly STILL Needs To Fire His Research Staff: The Drone Edition

Last night Bill O’Reilly mustered up his signature pomposity in a debate with Bob Beckel over whether or not NBC had ever criticized President Obama on the use of drones or even reported on the controversy. O’Reilly was almost shaking with contempt at what he considered an outrageous example of hypocrisy. Beckel didn’t seem to care much about NBC’s reporting or pretend that he knew anything about their coverage of this story. But O’Reilly was relentless about NBC’s reporting and refused to let it go.

O’Reilly: “Remember the outcry about waterboarding? You know, everybody jumping up and down? Uh, NBC News, I thought they were going to, like, melt down over there. You heard anything on NBC about the drones? […] Neither have I. Neither has my staff.”

O’Reilly went on to accuse NBC of deliberately avoiding the story “because they are protecting the President.” There’s only one small thing wrong with O’Reilly’s bombastic condemnation of NBC: It was NBC who broke the story that made the drone controversy the lead on every news network on television. A little exclusive published by NBC’s investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff revealed the memo that outlined the administration’s rational for drone strikes targeted at American citizens.

The intensity with which O’Reilly insisted that NBC was derelict in their reporting only made his egregious mangling of the facts all the more preposterous. And by explicitly affirming his mistaken assertions with his staff, he casts doubt on their competence as well. In that regard, this isn’t the first time that O’Reilly’s staff has let him down in spectacular fashion. Back in April of 2010, O’Reilly reproached GOP senator Tom Coburn for suggesting that Fox had aired allegations that failure to get health insurance under ObamaCare would subject you to a prison term. He vigorously denied that anyone at Fox had ever said such a thing saying…

O’Reilly: “It doesn’t happen here, and we’ve researched to find out if anybody on Fox News has ever said ‘You’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance.’ Nobody’s ever said it. So it seems to me what you did was, you used Fox News as a whipping boy when we didn’t qualify there.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly and his crack research team, the video record was readily available (And this pretty hilarious stuff. The “jail” assertion was even made on O’Reilly’s program by Glenn Beck):

Fox News has been blathering for much of this week about what they delusionally call the “liberal” media for ignoring the drone story. One of the more prominent critics is the fake Fox version of a Democrat, Kirsten Powers. She has taken to the Fox airwaves to lambaste liberals and Democrats for not challenging the administration on their drone policy. However, no one has been more critical of the President on this than Isikoff, the reporter who broke the story, and Rachel Maddow, who devoted extensive portions of her show to it.

If anyone is guilty of hypocrisy it’s the Fox/GOP crowd who only seem to care about human rights when a Democratic president is accused of violating them. Both Fox and the Republican Party fiercely defended George Bush’s use of torture and wiretapping. Democrats opposed those breaches of human rights, and they are consistent today in opposing the use of drones and the targeting of Americans without due process. But these facts escape dullards like O’Reilly whose only purpose is to bash his adversaries and the facts be damned. However, if there is one thing that O’Reilly is consistent about, it’s his indifference to journalistic ethics or standards.

Bill O'Reilly

I couldn’t agree more, Bill-O.

[Update] O’Reilly addressed the response to his deliberately deceitful characterization of NBC’s reporting the following night. As might have been expected, he lied through his teeth absolving himself of any responsibility. His argument was simply that “I didn’t say NBC broke the memo story because we weren’t talking about that.” Not true. For the record, let’s review what he was talking about: “You heard anything on NBC about the drones? […] Neither have I. Neither has my staff.” Either he and his staff weren’t listening very closely or they don’t regard talking about drones to be talking about drones.

Today Show Ratings Down With Sarah Palin As Guest Host

Sarah PalinYesterday Sarah Palin was the guest co-host of the Today Show on NBC. It was a desperation move on the part of NBC who was reacting to ABC’s booking of Katie Couric for the whole of this week. And apparently it didn’t do them much good.

The Today Show won the time period as expected. They have long been the #1 morning network news program with ABC’s Good Morning America coming in second. However, the ratings for Tuesday on the Today show were 5.497 million total viewers, and 2.209 million in the 25-54 year old demo. That’s down from their average for the February 2012 sweeps period (5.55 Total/2.47 Demo). So Palin obviously didn’t do anything to help out the program.

By comparison, Good Morning America was able to beat their February sweeps average in total viewers with the help of Couric. Tuesday’s program pulled in 5.141 million viewers with 1.917 million in the demo. That was an improvement in total viewers over their February sweeps averages (5.03 Total/2.05 Demo).

So if anyone were analyzing the benefits of the bookings for these programs, it is clear that ABC got more out of Couric than NBC did from Palin. That may seem to be a predictable result since America mostly hates Palin and Couric is America’s sweetheart. But Palin doesn’t help herself by appearing on NBC and twice referring to “the failed socialist policies” of President Obama. And I can’t believe that doing cooking segments with Tori Spelling do much to improve her image either.

The sooner the media (and Palin) realizes that Palin is old news and has nothing to offer, the sooner they can quit pretending that she has some sort of relevance that they can exploit. By all indications NBC might have done better in the ratings with Kim Kardashian or Octomom as a co-host.