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Punditry

Fishbowl5 with Will Durst

Standup comic Will Durst is a five-time Emmy nominee, political satirist and cheeseburger enthusiast.

Durst is in town today and tomorrow performing at the Comedy Theater on E St. We caught up with him to pick his brain on the pressing issues of the day.

1. Has President Obama completed his evolution? Well, he’s evolved enough to grow some flippers to walk on dry land and crawl to Dick Cheney’s position on gay marriage. Perhaps he grew some other things as well.

2. Does Mitt Romney have any evolving to do? In what areas? Not sure Mr. Romney can evolve. They keep saying the long campaign made him a better candidate. But the only thing he’s done for five years is run for president. Pretty sure his learning curve has run out of bendy parts. He’s just electile dysfunctional. Finally figured out who Romney is: he’s Thurston P. Howell III before the island. And Ann is training to be Lovie.

3. Who’s your favorite journalist (print or TV)? Love a lot of gifted writers out there: but especially [NYT's] Gail Collins. She manages to merge punditry with humor. Doesn’t take herself or her opinions too seriously. It’s rare that this particular medium is so well done. And Carl Cameron on Fox News for the exceptional job he’s doing of passing.

4. What do you think of Sarah Palin co-hosting “Today”? Should she do it full time? Don’t care what the former Governor of Alaska does as long as she keeps doing it. The girl can’t help herself. Every two weeks with her there’s something. Every two weeks she erupts. She’s like Republican herpes. But I mean that in a good way. “Celebrity Apprentice” should be next on her list.

5. Michele Bachmann recently received dual-citizenship status with the U.S and Switzerland. What’s the significance of this? More yodeling from behind the closed door of Marcus‘s bedroom?

Note: Since this interview took place Michele Bachmann says she has renounced her dual-citizenship status with Switzerland.

Retch-a-Sketch

By now, we’ve all been inundated with emails and commentary on the meaningfulness of Mitt Romney’s campaign saying that he will emulate an “Etch-a-Sketch” when he reaches the general election. Eric Fehrstrom, the top Romney advisor made the gaffe while on CNN yesterday. It seemed like mere minutes before Rick Santorum hit the campaign trail with an actual Etch-a-Sketch toy in hand. Newt Gingrich, never one to miss a big fat opportunity, followed suit. Both liberals and conservatives had a field day on Twitter. The hashtag #Romneytoys began trending. The parody account, @MittsEtchaSketc popped up. Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins reported that the Etch-a-Sketch press flack had quite a busy day yesterday.

  • WashPost turned this into a big picture conversation about how little slips on the campaign trail can become lingering problems.
  • Ann Romney appeared with Piers Morgan on CNN to answer his question, “How’s your etching and sketching going?”
  • Leave it to Politico, however, to own the market on Etch-a-Sketch stories. A quick search on their website reveals that since Wednesday afternoon, when the story broke, they published 24 stories with references to the Etch-a-Sketch. (Of COURSE they did.)
  • HuffPost got creative and included their artist’s rendering of a sad Mitt on an Etch-a-Sketch (pictured here).

So, does this really hurt Mitt? Time will tell. One thing is for sure: Etch-a-Sketch wins. National Journal reports that Ohio Arts, the parent company of Etch-a-Sketch has skyrocketed. Their stock started the day at $4 per share and ended at $12.50.

Bill Maher: Mike who?

Politico‘s Mike Allen has been featured on the cover of New York Times magazine, WaPo and HuffPost. Most everyone working in D.C political news media reads his “Playbook” and knows who he is. And yet, somehow his existence escaped HBO’s Bill Maher, who had no idea until Friday. And he still might not know.

Makes a person want to scream in Maher’s face: What kind of an idiot are you?

Republican strategist Michael Steele was a guest on the panel during Friday’s edition of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” While talking about the fast-changing media landscape Steele said, “You find that bloggers actually are directing the news on any given day. The first thing in the morning, someone like Mike Allen and his political profile. How we start the day…”

Who?,” Maher interrupted. “Mike Allen, he’s a big blogger out of Washington, D.C,” Steele explained.

We see two potential problems here. First, Allen is the chief White House correspondent for Politico, not a blogger. Second, why doesn’t Maher, a pretty savvy political commentator not know who Allen is? Quick, get him on the Playbook listserve!

Allen hasn’t responded to our request for comment.

Bay Buchanan’s Book on Boys

Imagine our delight when we opened up the mailbox here at the Fishbowl to find an advance copy of conservative pundit Bay Buchanan‘s upcoming book, “Bay and Her Boys.” It’s a book all about Buchanan’s struggles to raise her three boys by herself. While we couldn’t be bothered to read the thing in its entirety, we did flip through the pages scouring for tidbits. Which led us to this completely accurate excerpt from the book.

“I recounted Billy’s wild and crazy adventures as a male pimp. I described his drug habits and how he went from using to dealing. I explained that it was a gradual decline, a slippery slope that led him to his current lifestyle.”

This is HARDLY the prose we expected when we cracked open a Bay Buchanan book. In context, she was recounting a story about when one of her sons, Stuart, pranked his brother, Billy. Stuart filled out a college application form for Billy with the anecdote listed above. We can only hope that the rest of the book is filled with such entertaining stories. What, you don’t expect us to read the whole thing for you, do you?

Did Current TV Bank on This?

When Al Gore hired Keith Olbermann to anchor his primetime line-up, he knew he was getting a bomb-thrower more than a newsman. Just how much more, he might not have known.

On Monday, Current’s Chief News Officer created an uproar when he and guest Markos Moulitsas joked about alleged rapes at Occupy Wall Street protests. This is always a dumb move. He later doubled-down on the stupid when he tweeted “No Occupy rapes, no cover-up, no apology, no retraction…” and accused BigGov’s Andrew Breitbart of creating the whole thing in an attempt to discredit the protests.

When Big Journalism Contributor Lee Stranahan complied all the rape and sexual assault stories about Occupy in one post for the world to see, you’d think that would’ve been the end of it. But Olbermann’s ego won’t allow anyone to have the last word on anything, so he “debunked” each one, one by one.

Unfortunately for Keith, the Breitbart websites are not the silent, wallflower types even if their writing is sometimes abominable.

In his “debunking,” Olbermann changed his tune from “No Occupy rapes” to “Because almost none of the allegations are of rape and most of this list are duplicated…” to “2 stories duplicated” to “Occupy MEMBERS were victims.” That’s quite a journey in just one day, especially without ever acknowledging his position completely changed.

Even still, where he ended up, that the victims and not the perpetrators were the only Occupy people involved in these rapes and sexual assaults, isn’t the truth. After Olbermann’s “debunking, Stranahan was back a few hours later with a section by section debunking of what Olbermann said. Keith then went silent, maybe to bed, maybe to play with his baseball cards, or maybe to Stuart Smalley in the mirror to calm his nerves.

On a final note, Olbermann tweeted, “Here’s a wager: @DLoesch (Editor-in-Chief of Big Journalism) and @AndrewBreitbart will NOT post the video of tonight’s debunking.” They did. No terms were offered, but here’s a wager: Olbermann won’t admit they made a fool of him.

 

Vanden Heuvel and Harwood Talk Dick

Last night, Stephen Colbert welcomed the “Available Panel” on his show. But truth be told, it would have been better had they been unavailable. The host’s odd collection of newsies in town  included CNBC’s John Hardwood, The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel and – whoa! – singer David Cassidy.

Colbert immediately turned to Harwood for thoughts on the Florida primary and who will win. Harwood said he’s “in an open marriage with my political predictions right now.” Maybe in my lifetime, reporters will learn that it’s almost NEVER wise to go on comedy shows and try to be funny. First of all, thanks for bringing us to the cutting edge of 10-day-old-humor, John. Secondly, what does that even mean? It’s a shoddy attempt at a cheap laugh and the joke doesn’t even make sense.

Sensing the air of hilarity around her, Vanden Heuvel tries to wedge in some laughs. When asked about Newt’s chances in the primary, she said, “The Republican party has been screwing this country for too long. It’s not just Newt Gingrich. It’s basically just screw and shaft.” Even a comedian as seasoned as Colbert was taken aback. “A screw AND a shaft,” he exclaimed. “So, it’s double teaming the American people.” Even vanden Heuval then looked perplexed by her own avalanche of dick metaphors.

Believe it or not, the most restrained guest was David Cassidy. When talking about the amount of money Mitt has raised for his Presidential campaign, he lets us know that he’s a capitalist. Vanden Heuvel remarked, “I’m glad I didn’t know that you were that kind of capitalist when I kissed your poster on my wall.”

To get the full effect, the entire video is below. Just try not to make out with your computer when Cassidy comes on, Katrina.

 

 

A Brief History of Television Farts

BuzzFeed alerted us this morning to a potentially windy situation that occurred on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show last night involving Republican Strategist Rich Galen. Galen made a bit of a stink while talking about Newt Gingrich. Galen tooted his own horn about his years of experience working with Gingrich and then was asked by Cooper about Newt’s negative campaigning. Galen makes a pained expression while he’s sounding off about Newt, and then something happens. It SOUNDS like Galen lets flatulence escape mid-sentence. Watch for yourself.

In case you missed it, we are providing a transcript of Galen’s comments.

“Let me cut to the cheese, I mean chase. There’s been a lot of hot air blowing around related to Newt. Gingrich has always made a lot of noise with his statements. He’s not the silent, but deadly type. In the end, he will pull away leaving the competition seeing nothing but his skidmarks.”

OK, so that’s not anything CLOSE to what Galen said, but that’s what we heard.

It’s not like this is the first time a TV personality has let one rip. Larry King was NOTORIOUS for breaking wind on the air. Here’s a clip of him with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

A few months ago, we reported on when Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) maybe allegedly dropped a bomb on Rachel Maddow a few months ago?

We reached out to Galen to see if he broke wind, or if this was the classic case of “Whoever Smelt It, Dealt It.” He has not responded. In an effort to sniff out the truth on the issue, we have shown the video to dozens of people and everyone agrees…. it’s a fart.

Some of this might seem juvenile. But, farts are funny. The great Louis CK, who is headlining the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner this June, summed it up best when he appeared on The Daily Show last year:  “You don’t have to be smart to laugh at farts, but you have to be stupid not to.” Watch the whole video:

 

Meghan McCain – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Meghan McCain’s blog is one of those rare websites like textsfromlastnight.com or the DailyKos where you come away feeling dumber having read it. Yesterday’s post entitled “My Beauty Essentials” hurts the head more than usual.

The MSNBC Contributor, Daily Beast columnist and child of privilege decided the world needed to know her beauty secrets. No problem with that, really. It’s her blog, she can write about whatever floats her boat.

The problem is with how this graduate of Columbia University writes. The most polite way to put it is she writes like someone for whom English is a third language they were taught in their second language.

The post starts off like this:

“As many of you may know I travel a lot for work. After many years, I have mastered the art of doing makeup on a plane, giving myself a facial at home and *gasp* yes even applying false eyelashes. Later on I will be posting little tricks I have picked up along the way but here are ten products I simply can’t live without and have stood the Meghan McCain test of time.”

Dear copy editors reading this, sorry for making you sick. Fear not, later on she’ll be posting more vomit inducing rants to answer questions no one asked. Hopefully it will refer to herself in the third person more, cuz that’s, like, awesome ‘n’ stuff!

I can’t go through this line by line since I just ate, so here are a few “highlights” to give you the general idea.

Product 2 on her top 10 list is “Peter Thomas Roth Sulfer Cooling Masque.” It’s probably a great product, I have no idea, but it’s also spelled “Sulfur” not “Sulfer.” How do I know this? First, I know how to spell. Second, she posted a picture of the damn thing right there under the name. The picture shows the label clearly, which includes the proper spelling of the word “Sulfur.” But Meghan was far from done.

The description of why it’s an “essential” is an unparalleled nugget of “HOLY CRAP!”

It’s, “This face mask saves me whenever my skin gets dehydrated. I have tried what feels like hundreds of face masques, this one is definitely my favorite.” Her skin gets dehydrated? So without it her skin would be jerky? Skin gets dry, it doesn’t get dehydrated. DEHYDRATED??!?!?!?

Next is Dove Beauty Bar, about which she writes, “Sometimes the simplest products are simply the best. I have used this soap everyday in the shower for as long as I can remember and it’s the only product that doesn’t dry out my skin.” Doesn’t she mean it won’t “dehydrate” her skin? And “Sometimes the simplest products are simply” ANYTHING? Simplest simply?!? My head hurts.

About the Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit she writes, “This product is a miracle worker and is truly the one thing I can’t leave home without, it is a miracle for covering up under eye circles!!!” It’s the miracle worker that is, um, a miracle! Maybe she should cut down on her make-up budget for a week and buy a thesaurus.

On the Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Lip Gloss, Einstein, er, Meghan writes, “I know it’s kind of funny, but my favorite lip gloss is one I discovered checking out in line at Victoria’s Secret.” That’s not “kind of funny.” It’s not even a little funny. Maybe she should take two weeks off from make-up to buy a dictionary as well. And “…I discovered checking out in line..” What? It hurts to read.

The last product on her list is Purell Hand Sanitizer. That’s fine, that’s normal. I just wish they made Purell for the brain so I could wipe clean the memory of reading this post.

Another Day, Another Lunatic Hopeful

Campaign season has a way of bringing society’s crazies to light. Yesterday it was Fred Karger, lunatic candidate for President who hates him some Mormons, today it’s Terry Jones, lunatic candidate for President who hates him some sanity.

Jones, clearly a mustache enthusiast, is also the moron who felt the need to burn a Koran to point out the dangers of radical Islam rather than, you know, simply talking about them, is running for President on a platform of…Jello, really.

Jones, a pastor, is really down on gay marriage. Don’t even get him started. See a press release after the jump dated Dec. 21sh [sic]…

The “Issues” tab on his website lists four, count ‘em, FOUR planks in his platform.

1. Balance the budget and reduce the national deficit.

Considering the deficit is the annual measure of the difference between revenues and expenditures, a balanced budget would, by definition, eliminate it, not just reduce it. What Jones, or anyone around him with the slightest clue how the government he seeks to lead works, should have said is “reduce the national debt,” the sum of all outstanding deficits. But anyone who thinks that facial hair is a good idea can’t be expected to know the difference between such things, he’s got a campaign to run!

2. Eliminate our dependency on foreign oil.

Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Just think of the jobs it would create! If there were more to the Jones platform than a single sentence per point, like a link to exactly (or even approximately) how he planned on accomplishing his goals…OK, it would still probably be hilarious. But there isn’t. Maybe he has a Nixonian “secret plan” to end our need for foreign oil hidden is his mustache, but it’s doubtful. It’s simply not that bushy.

3. Deport all illegal aliens immediately.

Perhaps Jones is privy to Star Trek transporter technology that only those with serious presidential aspirations are told, but this seems improbable. Short of yelling “olly olly oxen free” in his inaugural address in a way that causes 12 million illegals to immediately head for their nearest border, this pledge will, at best, take some time. At worst, be broken.

4. Bring all U.S. troops home from foreign soil, Cut military spending by several billion dollars.

Aside from the danger and impracticality of this, he straight-up stole this from Ron Paul. Add in a line about letting, encouraging or helping Iran build a nuclear bomb and it IS Ron Paul’s foreign policy platform.  Why would anyone vote for Jones over Paul when at least Paul knows how to shave? I suspect this won’t be an issue for many people.

Each cycle brings out the crazies like the LaRouche cultists, and each brings his own brand of insanity. Like most lunatic candidates, Jones will get exactly as many votes as he has family members, maybe less. The only positive the Jones campaign can hope to exploit for additional votes is that he shares a name with a member of Monty Python. That Terry Jones was born in the UK, and therefore can’t constitutionally be elected President, but he still stands a better shot next November than this nutjob.

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Meghan McCain Makes Christmas Dinner Awkward

Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Cindy McCain, beer distributor heiress, whose only accomplishment of note is being born to rich and famous parents and finding a way to parlay a poorly written blog into a book deal, doesn’t like Newt Gingrich. Why does anyone care what this spoiled woman-child thinks? Because she’s on TV, naturally.

In what can only be explained as a prank that has gotten out of control, Meghan is also an MSNBC contributor who was brought on to represent the Republican Party. Well, it was either a prank or just how far down the food chain MSNBC had to go in order to find anyone willing to call themselves a Republican and regularly appear on their network. Either way, it ain’t right.

Meghan was on “Now with Alex Wagner” earlier in the week to discuss the Republican primary and used the opportunity to unleash fresh hypocrisy on the world.

In addition to claiming that a Gingrich nomination would be “the end of the Republican Party,” McCain decided to attack Newt’s wife Callista, who, in her eyes is a hussy.

Of Callista, Meghan says, “[S]he was a third wife and a mistress and is coming off somewhat icy and [her] reputation of being somewhat controversial within their campaign is doing damage. Maybe just to politicos, but I think it’s something that people, and especially values voters, will bring into the race.”

GUESS WHAT MEGHAN: YOUR MOM IS ALSO A HUSSY.

McCain, herself not a “values voter,” calls Mrs. Gingrich “a mistress.” It’s true, Newt was married to his second wife when they met. But what Meghan neglects to point out is her own mother Cindy, wife of the last Republican nominee, was a mistress herself. Yes, John McCain was married when he met and became involved with Cindy. That this doesn’t occur to Meghan isn’t surprising, since she’s so oblivious to the world around her that she actually thinks people take her seriously.

But that slight to mistresses might make for an awkward Christmas dinner at the McCain house…whichever of the 8 homes in which they’re “Christmasing” this year.

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