Law And Order LBO: Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly

As the year comes to a close, many people view the remaining days as an opportunity to tie up loose ends, complete unfinished projects, and maybe produce another accomplishment or two to top off the year on a high note. For folks like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly that means achieving something that surpasses their ordinary annual output of anger, hatred, and ignorance. This is the time of year to go for the gold, and you have to admire the tenacity of these professionals as they endeavor to reach new heights of stupidity and malice. Happy Holidays.

To this end, both Beck and O’Reilly serve up a heaping portion of boorish outrage directed at an episode of NBC’s Law and Order: SVU. The storyline concerned the murder of three immigrant children by a man obsessed with illegal aliens and possessed by the hateful rantings of a fictional TV talk show host, Gordon Garrison. In a pivotal scene, the lawyer for the defendant, played by John Larroquette, describes Garrison, Limbaugh, Beck, and O’Reilly as…

“…a cancer spreading ignorance and hate. I mean, they’ve convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system.”

Perhaps that description, and the general plot, cut a little too close to the bone for Beck and O’Reilly. They may have seen more of their own dark underside in Garrison than they are comfortable acknowledging. This sends them both into a tizzy, infuriated by what they regard as a direct insult by the show’s producers and writers.

Billo-pediaBill O’Reilly starts off by telling his television audience that Dick Wolf, creator of NBC’s Law and Order, is “a despicable human being,” a “liar” and a “coward.” Seconds later he asserts that he doesn’t “demonize innocent human beings.” Apparently you lose your innocence if you disagree with O’Reilly or say anything unflattering about him. The entirety of his Talking Points rant was devoted to disparaging Wolf and glorifying himself. He even took partial responsibility for security fences on the US/Mexico border. But most of his tantrum made little sense, as usual.

In the course of his tirade, O’Reilly labeled NBC as “Propaganda Central in the USA.” (He must not watch much Fox News). But he undermines his own argument by immediately adding that it has the lowest ratings. How can it be the paragon of propaganda if no one is watching it?

For the record, NBC Entertainment is in fact the lowest rated broadcast entertainment network, but NBC News is the highest rated news broadcaster with four times as many viewers as O’Reilly. And that’s what makes all of this particularly bizarre. O’Reilly can’t seem to differentiate between reality and theater. He thinks that the dialogue of a character in a fictional TV program represents the opinion of the author. He thinks that if John Larroquette’s character says that O’Reilly is a cancer, then it is Wolf who believes that. And that’s as deep as O’Reilly’s comprehension can go.

The problem is that Larroquette is portraying a thoroughly unsavory character. He is not remotely sympathetic. He is, after all, defending a man who murdered innocent children. He is attempting to get his client off on an insanity defense and cast the blame elsewhere – to the talk show host. He is reviled by the show’s main characters and heroes. [SPOILER ALERT] He ultimately demonstrates his own extreme behavior by murdering his client. So the words to which O’Reilly objects were put into the mouth of the most unethical and unlikeable character. How on earth does O’Reilly interpret this as advocacy for those remarks? All of this easily discernible context notwithstanding, O’Reilly was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore:

O’Reilly: I mean enough is enough with these network pinheads who shove propaganda down our throats under the guise of entertainment.

Is he referring to Dick Wolf or Roger Ailes? Because it seems to me that it is Fox that is using entertainment to disseminate propaganda. It is Fox that turned journalism on its head by casting loudmouth demagogues and witless beauty pageant rejects as news anchors. It is Fox that decorated their broadcasts with flamboyant graphics, alarmist “alerts,” and noisy soundtracks and gongs to announce even the most trivial events. And it is Fox that still pretends to be a news enterprise, while Law and Order has never presented itself as anything but drama.

Can O’Reilly tell the difference? Maybe his comment above is referring to Glenn Beck, who describes his own program as the “Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment.” Wouldn’t that make Beck a “pinhead” shoving “propaganda down our throats under the guise of entertainment?” For his part, Beck also misread the Law and Order segment for all the same reasons O’Reilly did. But Beck took a different tack. Rather than hysterically attacking Wolf and company, Beck launches into a self-serving defense to absolve himself of responsibility for the sort of violence portrayed in the program. He describes himself as “just a dad” and defiantly asks: “Where is the evidence for inciting any violence?”

Beck has the sort of convenient memory that allows one to be a sociopath without any messy recollection of his vile deeds. He forgets that he once fantasized about choking Michael Moore to death with his bare hands:

“I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out…”

He forgets his frequent radio bit wherein he mulls over who he would like to beat to death with a shovel:

“I’ve been sitting here for the last few minutes trying to come up with a list of people I want to kill with a shovel. […] How many people have I said let’s kill with a shovel, huh? How many people have I said let’s line ’em up and shoot ’em in the head? I think quite a few.”

I don’t know many dads who articulate these revolting ideas. Beck also forgets the numerous calls for his legion of demented disciples to “fight back” against an enemy that is deliberately trying to attack your family, your values, your faith, and even to destroy your country. Marxists and fascists are taking over Washington. They are indoctrinating your children. They are on your doorstep. Beck insists that this is not a time for compromise or debate. He says that “You don’t compromise on your destruction.” It is an Apocalyptic Gospel that leaves little option for true patriots. They either fight or they, and everything they love, dies. It doesn’t matter if Beck occasionally recites legal disclaimers to refrain from violence. Once you’ve convinced people that the very essence of their existence is threatened, there are going to be those who will conclude that violence is acceptable – even inevitable – as self-defense.

Rush Limbaugh - Riot in DenverBeck speaks in a Da Vinci coded language about things that only he can see to a congregation that is especially vulnerable to a message that only they can hear. Rush Limbaugh is even more direct. In advance of the Democratic National Convention in Denver last year, Limbaugh told his listeners to Screw the world! Riot in Denver!

“I mean, if people say what’s your exit strategery, the dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That’s the objective here.”

He couldn’t be much clearer than that. Limbaugh has yet to comment on the Law and Order episode that mentioned him and O’Reilly and Beck, but his record of offensive and hostile rhetoric like that above is well documented.

If you take the combined blather of these shoutcasters, it isn’t hard to foresee an outcome not unlike that of the one played out on Law and Order. And perhaps much worse. Yet they will continue to deny any culpability for their irresponsible fear mongering. And they will fire back at any criticism that holds them accountable. Even if it doesn’t make any logical sense, as this incident with Law and Order demonstrates. And even if it contradicts their professed appreciation for the First Amendment, as they seek to silence the creative output of a television dramatist. (Note: O’Reilly’s guest for the discussion on this subject was Laura Ingraham, author of “Shut Up and Sing,” a repulsive assault on free expression that reduces the role of artists to trivialities, ignoring their contributions to society and their potential for insight and inspiration).

But more than anything else, this affair reveals how intellectually vacant these losers are. They are incapable of grasping the meaning of a popular TV cop drama – which is not exactly the pinnacle of human intelligence. They are just angry that someone said something about them that they vaguely regard as adverse. And that’s enough to launch a full scale media war. Because, in the end, all they really want is an issue to blow out of proportion; a hyperbolic fireball of frenzy; a meaningless and dishonest controversy. An excuse to raise their voices, pull out their hair, and drive their viewers into a panic.

Like I said above…Happy Holidays.

p.s. Ice-T has a few words for O’Reilly.

Update: Just one day after all the whining about how liberal Law and Order is, and how it is spewing leftie propaganda, the program aired an episode that told a very different story. This one featured an ACORN-like community organizer whose murdered body was found with the word “FED” scrawled across his chest. However, the conclusion revealed that it was not some right-wing, anti-government, Beckoid who was responsible, but the head of the community organizing group who was attempting to cover up an affair. So having indicted the liberals in this episode, will Beck and O’Reilly and the vast, conservative, Hollywood-bashing, over-reactionaries retract their allegations of bias against producer, Dick Wolf? Don’t bother staying tuned.

Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Success Story

Michael Moore’s new documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story,” opened nationally yesterday in 900 plus theaters after a limited engagement in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The bi-coastal exclusive set the record for the year so far in per theater box office. The wide launch is now adding handsomely to the film’s success.

For Friday alone Capitalism earned $1.5 million, putting it in seventh place. The six movies ahead of it were all in two to three times as many theaters. Capitalism was the third highest earner on a per screen basis.

[Update 10/5/09: The full weekend take for Capitalism was $4.85 million. It took eighth place for the weekend. It was fourth on a per screen basis]

Three months ago I made a prediction that Capitalism would draw a larger audience than the Fox-sponsored Tea Baggings. So how did I do?

With ticket sales of $4.85 million, and an average ticket price of $7.18, it comes to about 675,000 tickets sold. That number is higher than any estimate of the Tax Day Tea Parties last April. In addition, the attendees of the 9/12 Tea Bagging in Washington were estimated to have been about 60,000 to 70,000. That estimate was provided unofficially by the DC Fire Department. There were other debunked estimates that went as high as 2 million, and they came with photo documentation. The only problem was that the photo was proven to be from a rally that took place over ten years prior. So if we throw out the ludicrous seven-figure fabrications, it would still take ten times the Fire Department’s numbers to approach (yet still fall short of) the audience for just one weekend of Capitalism’s attendance.

Conclusion? I was right! So what’s the significance of this foresight? It isn’t that I’m an uncommonly gifted observer of politics and media (well, not just that, anyway). As I wrote last June, the media made quite a spectacle of both the Tax Day Tea Baggings and the 9/12 event. The implication was that any public gathering that attracted such a crowd should be regarded as statement of the public’s mood. If that’s the case, and if Moore’s movie performs the same or better as an attraction, then wouldn’t that make this event at least as representative of the public mood as the Tea Parties were said to be? Wouldn’t that suggest that it deserves at least as much attention from Fox News and the rest of the media?

So far, Sean Hannity has not hosted a live, on location event with thousands of cheering Moore supporters. Glenn Beck has not assembled throngs of patriotic Americans who agree with Moore that our economic system is dangerously flawed. We haven’t even seen Griff Jenkins cheerleading for the film and riding along on bus tours promoting it. What’s more, the rest of the press is not treating this cinema sensation, that is outperforming the Fox-sponsored rallies by every measure, with equivalent resources and exposure.

The fact that Capitalism produced a bigger turnout than the Tea Parties should guide coverage of, not just the movie, but the issues underlying. It ought to inform the press corps that Americans are expressing their views through the free market by actually paying to align themselves with a political position that is woefully underrepresented in the media. It ought to put the lie to the claim that Tea Baggers were non-partisan opponents of reckless government spending. Were that true, they would be flocking to Moore’s movie which addresses the very issues they claimed to be so riled up about. Instead they are bashing the movie, without having even seen it.

Capitalism, the economic system, is demonstrating that Capitalism, the movie, is a far better gauge of where America is today than the lame tea socials that were so heavily promoted by Fox News and the rightist media. Despite not having anywhere near the promotional boost, or the free publicity from Fox, the movie is proving that Americans are far more interested in honesty and fairness in government than in pandering to the giant multinational corporations who got us into this mess in the first place. The Beck’s and O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s of the world pretend to be guardians of the people’s welfare, but in reality they are defenders of greed and deregulation and all of the worst faults of unbridled capitalism. When will the press recognize this and balance their coverage with reports on what the film’s success really means?

It’s is rather ironic that the success of the movie, in which Moore describes capitalism as “evil,” is also a demonstration of the free market voting for Moore’s perspective on free markets. God bless America.

Michael Moore’s Campaign To Save Our CEOs

This past weekend, a few lucky moviegoers were treated to a preview of what to expect when Michael Moore’s new movie is released in October. The short trailer consisted only of Moore making a personal plea on the behalf of the troubled corporations and executives who have suffered so much in this economic downturn:

“The downturn in the economy has hurt many people, people who have had no choice but to go on government assistance. Yet our welfare agencies can only do so much. That’s why I’m asking you to reach into your pockets right now and lend a hand. Ushers will be coming down the aisles to collect your donations for Citibank, Bank of America, AIG, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and a host of other needy banks and corporations. Won’t you please give generously?”

Those familiar with Moore’s work would be safe to assume that this project will contain a fair measure of disdain directed at greedy industrialists and ineffectual politicians. He is likely to highlight the hypocrisy of partisan rhetoric that condemns government intrusion into contracts that protect executive bonuses, but advocates for such intrusion to break contracts that benefit unions and workers.

However, the tone of this documentary, based on the trailer, appears to be deeply critical of corporate bailouts and government spending. Sound familiar? That is the principle theme upon which the Tea Parties held earlier this year were based. It is the issue that supposedly motivated thousands of “non-partisan” protesters to “spontaneously” gather in parking lots across America with tea bags dangling from their hats. Will those same people be filling seats in theaters to see a movie that addresses the same concerns?

What I’m really wondering, however, is whether Fox News will turn the debut of this movie into a major news event, as they did with the FNC Tea Party Day. Will they promote it for weeks prior to the opening? Will Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity be dispatched to metropolitan cineplexes to cover the premiere – LIVE – and for the full hour of their programs? Isn’t this precisely the issue that they claimed had captured the hearts and minds of a nation that was screaming out for reform? And wasn’t that the pretense for their wall-to-wall coverage of the Tea Partiers?

I’ll go on record right now – more than three months before the release – to predict that more people will attend the opening night of this movie than attended the Tea Parties nationwide. That’s just the opening night. Wouldn’t that make this event at least as representative of the public mood as the Tea Parties were said to be? Wouldn’t that suggest that it deserves at least as much attention from Fox News and the rest of the media? And remember, the Tea Parties were free. People will have to pay to see Moore’s film. Isn’t that an even greater expression of support?

Somehow, I’m not expecting Beck to be preening on a specially erected festival stage outside an Alamo movie house on October 2, with Ted Nugent on lead guitar. More likely he and his Fox cohorts will bash the film and its director in an attempt to preempt the message and its impact. And, of course, they will then continue to insist, through it all, that they don’t regard this as a partisan issue.

Did Fox News Capitulate To Scientology?

Last April, Fox News entertainment reporter, Roger Friedman, was fired, allegedly because he had acquired and viewed a bootleg copy of 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” At the time it appeared a rather harsh sentence considering that Fox has no problem with continuing to employ people who…

  • …joke about assassinating Barack Obama (Liz Trotta).
  • …read Republican Party press releases on the air as if they were actually news (Jon Scott).
  • …express a desire to strangle competing reporters (Bill O’Reilly).
  • …yearn to choke Michael Moore to death (Glenn Beck).

I also wondered whether Fox might have been itching for an excuse to cast Friedman overboard due to his blasphemous praise of Fox nemesis Michael Moore:

On Fahrenheit 9/11: “It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.” He continued, “…a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty – and at the same time an indictment of stupidity and avarice.”

On Sicko: “Filmmaker Michael Moore’s brilliant and uplifting new documentary, ‘Sicko,’ deals with the failings of the U.S. healthcare system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.”

Now the New York Daily News is reporting that Friedman is suing Fox News for wrongful termination, and the reason is something I had not anticipated. He is claiming that Rupert Murdoch and News Corp bowed to pressure from Kelly Preston and Tom Cruise who wanted Friedman fired because he had written critically of Scientology. At first, that seems to be a frivolous assertion, but upon further examination it becomes more plausible.

The Scientology organization has a reputation for being fiercely aggressive when it believes that it has been disparaged. And Friedman did indeed write multiple columns that were less than complimentary to Scientology. For example: Television Star Exits Scientology and Will Scientology Celebs Sign ‘Spiritual’ Contract? and Isaac Hayes’ History With Scientology. And there were others that touched on big stars like Will Smith and Tom Cruise.

I can’t pretend to know the truth about Friedman’s claim. Fox may have already had it in for him due to the Wolverine episode or his acclaim for Moore’s movies. All I can say is that, if Scientology really has Fox cowering before it, I wish Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck would say something to piss them off. Now that’s entertainment.

Glenn Beck – You Are That Person

If there is a more disingenuous hypocrite in American media, I swear, I can’t think of who it might be. Glenn Beck, who is twiddling his thumbs until his new show premieres on Fox News, tells this story of a recent encounter he had with a truck driver at a Wendy’s Restaurant. Here is the juicy part:

“He looked at me and the recognition was immediate and he said, You racist bigot! And I just said — I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was. You conservatives that have destroyed this country! And the hatred was so deep, it was breath taking. Luckily the swat team was there and I just separated myself from him and he just shouted through other people and there were children in the restaurant and he blamed me for everything, I believe including the Holocaust, and the hatred was palpable. The guy screamed at the restaurant, you better not let me see you in the parking lot because I’ve got a truck and I’ll run your ass over! Wow. Is this who we’ve become? Is this who we’ve become?”

I have to hand it to the truck driver who felt compelled to express himself when confronting the face of evil. Beck is indeed a racist bigot, and he needs to hear it more often from the public he assaults from the safety of his studio. But here’s the funny part:

“I could stand in line with Michael Moore and I wouldn’t say that to him. I would say some things to Michael Moore, but it wouldn’t be that. Is this who we’ve become? I believe there is a caldron of hatred on both sides, but the left is quite frightening. The extreme right is frightening, as well. I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent. I don’t care who you voted for. We cannot become that person.”

Someone needs to remind Beck of his radio broadcast on May 17, 2008:

“Hang on, let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus — band — Do, and I’ve lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I’d kill Michael Moore,’ and then I’d see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I’d realize, ‘Oh, you wouldn’t kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn’t choke him to death.’ And you know, well, I’m not sure.”

That’s right Glenn Beck. You are that person. But an even worse version who is so thoroughly delusional he probably should be in a padded room. He certainly shouldn’t be on the radio or TV.

Michael Moore On The Media

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America to promote his new film “Sicko,” Michael Moore discussed the media’s complicity with the horror that is Iraq:

“Had ABC News, NBC News, CBS News been more aggressive in confronting the government with what they were telling us back in 2003 about Iraq, you might have prevented this war,” Moore said. “3500 soldiers that are dead today may not have had to die had our news media done its job.”

Well said, Michael. Now how about making the media the subject of your next film? What could possibly be more important? There is no problem that our society faces that can be fixed without fixing the problem of the media first. And as you point out, lives are truly at stake. Without an informed populace it is impossible to move policy and politicians to effect real change on health care, the environment, civil rights, Iraq, or any other issue. The media is the forum for educating people on a mass scale. Unfortunately, it is also the forum for deceiving and sedating them, which is how it is used most frequently these days.

Sicko Gets Thumbs Up From…Fox?

Michael Moore’s new film, “Sicko,” got a critical boost today from an unexpected source. Roger Friedman, the Fox411 entertainment reporter, lavished praise on the film in his online column:

“Filmmaker Michael Moore’s brilliant and uplifting new documentary, “Sicko,” deals with the failings of the U.S. healthcare system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.”

Maybe this is not really all that unexpected. Friedman also reviewed Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” saying…

“It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.” He continued, “…a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty – and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.”

I wonder how Friedman managed to evade security at the Fox compound and seed the conservosphere with such disinformation. It appears he may have risen from a covert assignment at Murdoch’s New York Post before infiltrating the mother ship.

Friedman is not, however, out of danger. Having predicted last September that Sicko will be “a huge, huge hit…another cultural phenomenon,” Friedman, is directly challenging Fox’s heavy artillery, Bill O’Reilly, who has his own security force, and has already declared Sicko a failure that won’t make any money. Of course, O’Reilly also famously mis-forecast that the double-platinum selling, 5-time Grammy winning Dixie Chicks’ CD “Taking the Long Way” would flop.

We’ll know in a couple of months who prevails. My money is on Friedman.