Monday, November 19, 2012

Political lies and liars

-- I understand that liberal columnist Frank Rich makes conservatives' skin crawl, but his latest piece in New York Magazine might draw a grudging nod in his analysis of Mitt Romney's defeat. In particular, there's this passage about the propensity of politicians of all stripes to stretch the truth and how Romney was particularly proficient: "All politicians lie, and some of them, as Bob Kerrey famously said of Bill Clinton in 1996, are 'unusually good' at it. Every campaign (certainly including Obama’s) puts up ads that stretch or obliterate the truth. But Romney’s record was exceptional by any standard. The blogger Steve Benen, who meticulously curated and documented Mitt’s false statements during 2012, clocked a total of 917 as Election Day arrived. Those lies, which reached a crescendo with the last-ditch ads accusing a bailed-out Chrysler of planning to ship American jobs to China, are not to be confused with the Romney flip-flops. The Etch-A-Sketches were a phenomenon of their own; if the left and right agreed about anything this year, it was that trying to pin down where Mitt 'really' stood on any subject was a fool’s errand. His biography was no less Jell-O-like: There were the still-opaque dealings at Bain, and those Olympics, and a single (disowned) term in public service, and his churchgoing—and what else had he been up to for 65 years? We never did see those tax returns. We never did learn the numbers that might validate the Romney-Ryan budget. Given that Romney had about as much of a human touch with voters as an ATM, it sometimes seemed as if a hologram were running for president. Yet some 57 million Americans took him seriously enough to drag themselves to the polls and vote for a duplicitous cipher. Not all of this can be attributed to the unhinged Obama hatred typified by Mary Matalin’s post-election characterization of the president as 'a political narcissistic sociopath.'"

-- Entirely different subject: It was throwback night last Monday on WKNY radio when I chatted for nearly an hour with Dan Reinhard on his weekly SportTalk program. I moved over from the sports department in 1983, which is around when I last appeared on his show. The real story is that Reinhard is still at it. In fact, he been doing SportTalk for 36 years, which may be some sort of record for continuous weekly sports radio program.

-- I read where columnist-author-broadcaster Mike Lupica will receive the 19th annual Damon Runyon Award from the venerable Denver Press Club. Well-deserved major journalism honor for Lupica (although, as I've suggested in the past, he's much, much better in print than he is on the air). Why the mention here? Because, under the heading of "small world, isn't it?, the president of the Denver Press Club is Bruce Goldberg. A lifetime ago, Bruce worked for me in the Freeman sports department.

-- My considered view about the demise of the Hostess baking company: I never cared much for Twinkies, but I will miss Sno-balls, chocolate cupcakes (with the swirl on top) and Devil Dogs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Looking in from outside the echo chamber

From the notebook:
-- Many Republicans and Conservatives were said to be truly surprised by Barack Obama's re-election. We're guessing most were regular viewers of Fox News (and, perhaps, listeners to its counterparts on right-wing talk radio). Consider what they were seeing and hearing inside echo chamber: predictions of a Mitt Romney landslide by "analysts" Karl Rove, Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich, among others; and allegations of bias against pollsters who were near-unanimous in mathematically seeing an Obama victory in the numbers. Add the drumbeat of the all-Benghazi-all-the-time run-up to Election Day and it's easy to understand why the far right was all but hypnotized into anticipating a Romney win. (Newsweek columnist and Republican speechwriter David Frum says the "conservative entertainment complex" - meaning Fox News, etc. - is to blame for the the false hope described above.)
-- Let's be clear: Independent research shows that there was more anti-Romney commentary on liberal MSNBC than anti-Obama rhetoric on Fox News. But from what I heard on MSNBC, while most of its talking heads were hoping for an Obama win, few were actually predicting it, despite the favorable poll numbers. And while MSNBC voices no doubt were optimistic and pleased by the polls, they were quick to point out that the numbers were close, in fact well within the margin of error. In other words, had Romney won, the disappointment on MSNBC would have been palpable. But there wouldn't have been the shock the results engendered on Fox News.
-- By the way, I've come around to Fox News in this respect: If you're going to stake out one end of the political spectrum and let it define your coverage, so be it. But if that's your game, take the word "News" out of your name and stop branding yourself as "fair and balanced."
-- Apropos of nothing, if you're wondering if sexism still exists in the TV news business, take note the number of female anchors who wear sleeveless tops, V-necks and short skirts. The most skin you'll see on a male anchor is when Morning Joe Scarborough wears a golf shirt or Mike Barnicle comes in without a tie.