Thursday, November 19, 2015

Live from New York! It’s the Republican Clown Car whining for attention!

Republican presidential candidates
demand the right to the same public
air time NBC gave another clown
Where is Dr. Freud now that we need him?

It seems like an increasing number of Republican presidential candidates are now suffering from a pathological case of Trump Envy. 

They are whining out of the mouths of their press agent that they want all the attention that Trump has received. Well, not the attention that he received everywhere. Just the attention he received when he was a guest on Saturday Night Live.

Or so we must believe if we read Variety, increasingly the newspaper of record concerning the orgy of showbiz and political miscegenation that characterizes the general Republican ethos these days. Well, the New York Times has also covered this, but the rest of the press? Hah! Anyway, back to the story:

As you may remember, Donald Trump appeared for  twelve minutes and five seconds on Saturday Night Live l recently. Since Trump can be charitably regarded as an entertainer, although not really as either a politician or a serious presidential candidate, his appearance, for all of those twelve minutes and five seconds, made a kind of sense. He's a clown. The SNL cast clowned around with him.

But now some of Trump's rivals in the Republican clown car are demanding their own twelve minutes and five seconds of fame, too. That’s less than the 15 minutes of fame the late Andy Warhol said everybody would eventually enjoy. But it’s exactly, down to the last second, what the law says they’re entitled to.

Pause here to mention the five attention-hungry whiners. They’re George Pataki, John Kasich, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore. Jim Who? Well he’s on the ballot somewhere-or-other, so he’s entitled to twelve minutes and five seconds, too.

See under FCC rules…well, let Nick Cosanti of the New York Times explain it.
Federal Communications Commission regulations state that other candidates for president are entitled to “equal time” on the network when a broadcast event isn’t a “bona fide newscast,” “bona fide news interview,” “bona fide news documentarty” or “on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events. 
By law, NBC is not required to give [the candidates] exactly the same treatment as that received by Mr. Trump, meaning that there will probably not be a Mike Huckabee-hosted “S.N.L.” anytime in the neat future. The network is just required to give equal time for the candidates to reach a relatively equal audience.”
So Pataki the forgotten governor, Kasich the other governor, Mike the Huck, Lindsay the G, and Whatsisname may be negotiating a deal for free advertising time on various affiliate stations. The pressure is on NBC and its affiliates, but not on Saturday Night Live, which caused this headache for the people who broadcast their show.

Seems to me the broadcasters are passing up a huge opportunity here, the 21st Century equivalent of locking malefactors in the public stocks in the town square and letting people throw eggs at them. 

The broadcasters should lean on SNL to put each on of these clowns on their show for exactly twelve minutes and five seconds. This would deliver just about precisely the same audience, in exactly the same time slot, which gets the fairness issue out of the way.

As a comedy show, SNL was able to dictate to Donald Trump exactly what it would or would not allow on its show. (Trump was free to accept or decline.) SNL should do the same with The Five Clowns. In fact, I like that concept.

For example, each of the whining Republicans could be required to wear a clown suit while appearing on the show. Costumes would be chosen by the producers of Saturday Night Live. And the skits?

Well, I think Mike the Huck should judge a wet T-shirt contest, during which some shapely women and Mike would be wetted down with hoses while the women dance. Mike would be entitled to preach about abortion and same sex marriage while the hoses are on him and the wet dancers are gyrating. Maybe we could get a few gay dancers in there, too.

Pataki’s clown suit act should include a dunce cap. He should be made to write on a blackboard 100 times, “I will not have the unmitigated gall to run for President again.”

Lindsay the G should be fitted with an elaborate Pinocchio nose, which grows longer as he recites his litany of complaints against President Obama.

John Kasich should be required to repeat his not-quite-famous lame “joke” about abolishing teachers lounges, while members of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers throw cow pies at him.

And Whatsisname could explain who he is.

What if the candidates refuse to accept? Well, they were offered equal time, to do comedy on the same program. The obligations of NBC, and for that matter of SNL will be discharged.

But I do hope SNL makes the offer. And I can’t wait to see who accepts and what the show looks like.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How did Melissa Click ever get on the University of Missouri journalism faculty in the first place?

Melissa Click, the former journalism
 professor who protested against journalism,
 but evidently never did much —if any
— of it.
So in the midst of real life-and-death stuff — I’m thinking especially of the terrorist attacks in Paris—we 
had a tempest-in-a-teapot event last week.

It involved a journalism professor at the University of Missouri who tried to keep young journalists from covering a public event in a public space.

She apologized and resigned from the faculty where she had a “courtesy appointment,” whatever that means, as Assistant Professor of Journalism.

No big deal. Or so I thought until I sat through 12 minutes and 41 seconds of the event. The event's purpose, whatever it was, has been drowned out and forgotten by the behavior of  Click and the other demonstrators. The video is below. Scroll down now if you must, but then come back here.

Instead of what might have been a forgotten protest event, what we now have is something else:  a permanent Internet exhibition of classic Brownshirt behavior aimed solely at pushing people around and trying to make sure nobody gets to cover whatever the protest was supposedly about.

What the video reveals to me is that what I thought was a brief outburst by Click that seemed to be calling for an assault (“Can we have some muscle over here?”) was instead something much more ominous — part of at least 12 minutes of orchestrated pushing and shoving, aimed and keeping whatever it was they were up to from going public. 

Getting out information is exactly what journalism is supposed to be about. And one of the first rules of misbehavior in front of the media is precisely what Donald Trump has been teaching the world in recent months. If you want attention, behave like an idiot, a willful child, or a fascist thug. Take your pick.

So it’s proper that Melissa Click resigned. It would have been equally proper to fire her had she not resigned. But what puzzles me is how she ever got hired in the first place.

Journalism is both a difficult craft and a noble profession, and among the most underpaid and insecure in both categories. These days many reporters need to shoot video, and take notes, and chase after quotes, and write accurate stories, and put out regular tweets, pretty much all at the same time.

There are plenty of seasoned journalists who are out of work, the consequence of too many publications having slashed staff, or folded, as the disruption of the Internet continues wreaking its havoc.

So surely, I thought, Melissa Click must have paid her journalism dues to join the faculty of a once-and-presumably-still prestigious journalism school. 

Maybe she had been a reporter covering breaking news, or doing investigative reporting for the Washington Post, or the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times.

Maybe she’d been a magazine writer for The New Yorker, or the Atlantic, or what’s left of Time or Newsweek. 

Maybe she’d been an online reporter. Slate, for example.

No dice.

Yes, she has published. But it’s the kind of stuff you’d expect from a professor of sociology desperately thrashing about to publish some kind of subject matter and avoid the academic equivalent of perishing. In fact,, if you check out Click's CV, you’ll her effort has been focused just about solely on academic  journals and books. 

For example: There's her book chapter, "Fifty Shades of postfeminism: Contextualizing readers’ reflections on the erotic romance series. In E. Levine (ed.) Feeling Feminine: Popular Culture for Women in the Early 21st Century."

Or her 2010 co-authored article “Aubrey, J. S., Behm-Morawitz, E., & Click, M. A. (2010). The romanticization of abstinence: Fan response to sexual restraint in the Twilight series. Transformative Works & Culture, 5. Available at:

She evidently went from undergraduate work at James Madison University, to graduate school at the University of Masschusetts, and then straight to the University of Missouri faculty without ever passing a newsroom. At least that's what both her CV ad her Linked-In page indicate.

Which raises at least a couple of  questions. What were they thinking at the University of Missouri when they hired her? And what are they teaching in a journalism school that’ll prepare the kids there to cover news, or investigate what's behind the news?

Or is a University of Missouri journalism degree in today's tight job market as useless as a degree from a for-profit university?

Okay, here’s the co-author of “The romanticization of abstinence: Fan response to sexual restraint in the Twilight Series” doing her number which I’ll call, “Academics and Totalitarianism: Incomprehensible Role Model Behavior of Faculty and Students For No Comprehensible Reason in Post-Journalism America"

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Crybaby Republican Presidential candidates want to pick up their marbles and go home. Let them.

Donald Trump as a baby. Or is it Jeb Bush? Or Carly
or Marco, or Ben, or...wait a second! Maybe it's one
of them today.
Oh, the poor babies! They got asked such mean, mean questions during the last Republican debate. Like where they were getting their facts from — obviously a gotcha question. Although come to think about it, it’s only a gotcha if you’re lying through your teeth or making stuff up.

But probing questions are  “petty and mean spirited” says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus. 

Y’see, it’s petty to ask people who intend to run the United States of America how they’re going to do it. We should all just take their word that they know what they’re doing. And I will, as long as, say, Ben Carson will allow me, with my degree in English Literature, and a lifetime spent in the writing  trade, will allow me to do brain surgery on him.  Hey Ben, trust me. I know what I'm doing. I read about it in a book.

Back to Reince Preibus, who said the moderates of the last Republican debate “should be ashamed” for calling out the Republican Pinocchios. The Republicans didn’t collect tons of money from billionaires just to get asked what the hell they’re talking about when they say they can cut taxes on billionaires, cut holes in the social safety net big enough to let a truck fall through, reduce spending, and still make us all rich.

So the Republican Naitonal Committee is now saying it will not continue with plans for a scheduled February 26th debate on NBC, which of course is a media property of CNBC.

Know what? Hold the debate anyway. The desperate ones, the ignored ones, the narcissistic ones all will come, eager for a little bit of extra attention. And we can have empty chairs with the names of the no-shows, just so the American public will see the ones who say they’re brave enough to stand up to Putin when in truth, they can’t even stand up to a probing question.

If we don't do that, we'll be forced to listen to pure drivel at the next Republican propaganda festival. Expect questions like this:

"Candidate X, you promise to honor the concerns of American families. Are you a family man? And as a followup to that, how much do you love your children. Okay, let me ask a real tough follow up to your last answer Do you love your children as much as you love Jesus?"