Friday, March 28, 2008

Jonathan Storm: The week in cable babble

Joyce Comments: This article is an example of pure liberal bias. It is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. Mr. Storm seems to be sucking up to CNN and MSNBC, to maybe work there?? Some of Storm's bias in the article "Screeching Sean Hannity demonstrated just how tough the business is." and "Where Olbermann needs attacks on his archrival O'Reilly to get a few laughs, O'Reilly, the master at Fox News, is a goofy act unto himself, unfettered by facts or opinions more informed than his.
He trashed the "leftist media," which is everything but Fox in his lexicon, for seeking to kill the Obama-Wright story. He evidently forgot that it was ABC News that broke it in the first place." Bill O'Reilly if you happen to stumble onto Storm's, don't bother publicizing it. To quote Geraldo of all people, "grow a thicker skin" and don't give writers like these the time of day who get their 15 minutes of fame by mentioning you in their articles. Unless you are libeled, don't give them free publicity.


Political coverage on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, currently starring Pennsylvania, is speculative, partisan, often uninformed and uninformative.

Posted on Wed, Mar. 26, 2008

By Jonathan Storm
Inquirer Television Critic

The Pennsylvania of political pundits on TV seems to exist almost entirely of 55-year-old white male steelworkers who live in Scranton - and a few pretty scenes of Philadelphia.
And while locals are reveling in the unusual significance of a crucial late-season Democratic presidential primary a month away, many TV talking heads have already tallied the results and moved on to North Carolina and Indiana.

A survey of coverage by everyone from Tim Russert to Sean Hannity last week, the kickoff of campaigning in Pennsylvania, turned up mind-numbingly predictable opinions, incessant redundancy, and an astonishingly narrow perspective. A diligent viewer could gain small understandings, but the results did not justify the intense effort.

Bill O'Reilly thinks progressive Democrats are "loons." Keith Olbermann thinks Bill O'Reilly is a loon. Larry King lobs softballs that at least give his interviewees a chance to talk, and a-rambling off they go. Do people really watch this stuff regularly?

Yes, but not very many. The total audience of all the cable news blabbers is less than that for any one of the three big-network evening news programs, which all posted reporters in Philadelphia, standing outside picturesque Independence Hall or on the Art Museum steps, to preview or assess the big political news last week: Barack Obama's Tuesday speech about race in America and his relationship with controversial Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Two TV journalists stood apart from the pack. Fox News' Major Garrett, covering Obama's campaign, provided key insights, while refusing to be drawn into the speculation game that makes up what seems like 85 percent of cable news political coverage. NBC's boyish political director Chuck Todd appeared all over his brand's outlets, offering perceptions that, unlike those of so many of his counterparts, illuminated the situation rather than the pundit.

When anchor Martha MacCallum asked Garrett if Obama had succeeded in defusing a difficult campaign situation in his battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton, he responded, "That's a question I can't answer."

Other newsmen, from Fox's Brit Hume to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, had no such compunction about offering opinionated speculation. It undermines their reporting credibility and underlines two of the major deficiencies of cable news: the 24-hour demand for something, anything, to fill the airwaves, and the relatively small budgets these organizations provide for such an impossible undertaking.

You don't see Katie Couric, Charles Gibson or Brian Williams pontificating. Instead, the broadcast networks use people like Todd. He discussed Obama's political savvy on MSNBC's Countdown, John McCain's foreign policy on Hardball With Chris Matthews, also on MSNBC, and on Meet the Press Sunday, Todd declared that nomination D-Day is May 6, when North Carolina and Indiana hold their primaries. The reason: He and many observers already see the vote on April 22, election day in Pennsylvania, as a fait accompli.

"Hillary by double digits," declared Fox news analyst Rick Santorum on The O'Reilly Factor.

"Pennsylvania's a walk," responded the host.

It's weird that TV news shows, not just cable, get such obvious partisans as former Sen. Santorum or Princeton associate professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, an unabashed Obama backer who appeared on CNN, to tell us what's going on. Do their skewed viewpoints actually add any information to the proceedings?

News coverage, such as it is, gives way, in many cases, in the evening to flat-out partisan hectoring, an entertainment form that Obama criticized in his speech:

"Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism."

Joined by liberals, they weren't about to give up their paychecks because of some speech.

Screeching Sean Hannity demonstrated just how tough the business is. There was no fun at all in his show featuring African American ministers. "If the church would have gave an award to Louis Farrakhan," he sputtered ungrammatically in an interview with the Rev. William Lawson, the 79-year-old pastor emeritus of Houston's Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, who looked into the camera with a peaceful incredulity.

Fox News nemesis Olbermann, of MSNBC, almost foamed at the mouth with the news that contract workers in the State Department had looked at Obama's passport records. He called it "breathtaking" and "a huge story," an apparent dirty election trick by the Bush administration. Another cable news drawback: Its instant reports are frequently wrong or incomplete. It turned out the workers also pulled Clinton's and McCain's records, and the story fizzled.

Where Olbermann needs attacks on his archrival O'Reilly to get a few laughs, O'Reilly, the master at Fox News, is a goofy act unto himself, unfettered by facts or opinions more informed than his.

He trashed the "leftist media," which is everything but Fox in his lexicon, for seeking to kill the Obama-Wright story. He evidently forgot that it was ABC News that broke it in the first place.

When his "body-language specialist," Tonya Reiman, gave a relatively benign assessment of Wright's gestures, O'Reilly responded, "I'm not an expert," and then gave his own critical take.

"So far, Jesse Jackson has been silent" on Obama's speech, O'Reilly said, before cutting to one of his producers shoving a mike in an understandably recalcitrant Jackson's face. Actually, Jackson had spoken at length, on Fox News, a day earlier, calling the speech "bone chilling . . . for America, the great learning moment."

Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough's sidekick on Morning Joe, an MSNBC Regis and Kelly for news fans, is a woman who proved her journalistic mettle last year by shredding a Paris Hilton story rather than reading it.

Her take on Obama's speech: He's putting "more faith in the American people than they might be willing to cough up at this point."

But do the people ever even get to hear what's going on? Obama did speak at length on Nightline, which garnered some sweet ratings. (Is anybody paying attention?) Gwen Ifill did a lengthy interview on PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. And CNN's King gave him an hour, too.

But immediately after the speech, most TV news outlets turned away from the difficult issues it raised - black and white resentments, expectations, communication roadblocks - to more simplistic speculation about its campaign impact.

Scarborough and others obsessed on the reaction of the old-time bloc of white male Reagan Democrats, as the nighttime talk shows showered us with their usual shrill sound bites and shouting.

It might be fine to put faith in the American people. It's American TV that might not be able to cough up the goods.

To comment on this article, go to: Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or Read his recent work at http://

Group states unprecedented bid to recall Corzine


Associated Press

TRENTON --- Three Glen Ridge residents are the first in New Jersey history to try to recall a governor.

The state Attorney General's Office says the three filed a notice of intent to recall Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

The recall law took effect in 1995.

The petition was filed by Carl Bergmanson, Andrew Bergmanson and Caroline Martin.

State law requires the three to gather 1.2 million signatures within 320 days to get a recall question placed onto a ballot.

They've started a Web site at

Monday, March 24, 2008

Legendary manager Gary Hart passes away

Legendary manager Gary Hart passes away

Written: March 17, 2008

WWE is mourning the death of legendary wrestling manager Gary Hart, who guided the careers of several icons and was one of the creative forces behind World Class Championship Wrestling. Hart passed away over the weekend.

Hart's career, which spanned four decades, began in 1963, when he made his debut as an in-ring competitor in wrestling territories in Illinois and Wisconsin. However, “Playboy” made his greatest impact as a manager and creative mind in WCCW, guiding the careers of legends such as The Great Kabuki, The Great Muta, Bruiser Brody, Terry Funk, One Man Gang, “Gentleman” Chris Adams, Abdullah the Butcher, WWE Hall of Famers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Big John Studd and the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and countless others.

Hart played a pivotal role in the iconic rivalry between the Von Erichs and The Freebirds, which helped propel WCCW to national and worldwide prominence in the 1980s. He also managed Adams during his wars with Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, and spearheaded the J-Tex Corporation (which included Funk, Muta, Dick Slater, Buzz Sawyer and Dragonmaster) in their memorable rivalry with Flair and Sting in 1989.

Hart spent much of the last decade involved in many Texas-based promotions and was a much sought-after historian in wrestling autograph sessions and memorabilia shows. His son, Chad, carried on his legacy when he made his in-ring debut on independent wresting scene in 2004.

Funeral plans have yet to be announced. WWE sends its condolences to Hart’s family and friends. Whether as a hated manager or as a creative genius, Gary Hart will live on in the hearts and minds of his friends, family and fans and colleagues.

Beatles' friend Neil Aspinall dies at 66

Beatles' friend Neil Aspinall dies at 66

Mon Mar 24, 1:18 PM ET

Neil Aspinall, a longtime friend of the Beatles who managed their business enterprises and helped make the group a moneymaking phenomenon decades after they split up, has died. He was 66.

Aspinall's death was announced Monday in a statement from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, and the band's Apple Corps Ltd. company.

Aspinall died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer, Sunday night, according to Geoff Baker, who formerly represented both Aspinall and Apple Corps.

Aspinall's wife and five children were by his side; McCartney visited him before his death.

He was a childhood friend of McCartney and Harrison in Liverpool, England. While he didn't contribute musically, he played several key roles in support of the Beatles, most notably as the head of their Apple Corps business, which oversaw the commercial concerns of the group, including licensing.

"I've known Neil many years and he was a good friend. We were blessed to have him in our lives and he will be missed," Starr said in a statement Monday.

Aspinall was the Beatles' first road manager and would drive them to gigs in his van. He later became their personal assistant, and in 1968, he took over the management of Apple Corps and continued to oversee the growth of the Beatles, even after they broke up in 1970.

As head of Apple Corps, Aspinall was executive producer of the hugely successful "Beatles Anthology" album and was behind other successes, including the "Beatles One" album and the recent Cirque du Soleil production "Love," which has been a hit in Las Vegas.

"As a loyal friend, confidant and chief executive, Neil's trusting stewardship and guidance has left a far-reaching legacy for generations to come," the band's statement said.

Aspinall stepped down from Apple Corps last year.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Detroit Mayor charged with perjury

Detroit Mayor charged with perjury

By COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer
24 minutes ago

DETROIT - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a one-time rising star and Detroit's youngest elected leader, was charged Monday with perjury and other counts after sexually explicit text messages contradicted his sworn denials of an affair with a top aide.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy also charged the popular yet polarizing 37-year-old mayor with obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

Former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, 37, who also denied under oath that she and Kilpatrick had a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

"Some have suggested that the issues in this case are personal or private," Worthy said. "Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, people's lives were ruined, the justice system severely mocked and the public trust trampled on. ... This case is about as far from being a private matter as one can get."

The charges could signal the end of Kilpatrick's six-year career as mayor of one of America's largest cities.

Perjury is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A felony conviction would mean Kilpatrick's immediate expulsion from office under the Detroit City Charter. Calls for his resignation have surfaced since late January and the Detroit City Council asked him to step down last week.

Kilpatrick was to hold a noon news conference but had not yet appeared and his office and lawyers were not commenting. A message seeking comment from Beatty's attorney, Jeffrey Morganroth, was not returned.

Kilpatrick has said he would not resign and last week said he expects to be vindicated when all aspects of the scandal are made public.

Worthy said she expected the mayor and Beatty to turn themselves in by 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Worthy began her investigation the day after the Free Press published excerpts of the embarrassing text messages in late January. The messages called into question testimony Kilpatrick and Beatty gave in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who alleged they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.

In court, Kilpatrick and Beatty denied having an intimate relationship, but the text messages reveal that they carried on a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their trysts.

Kilpatrick is married with three children. Beatty was married at the time and has two children.

The city agreed to pay $8.4 million to the two officers and a third former officer who filed a separate lawsuit. Documents released last month showed Kilpatrick agreed to the settlement in an effort to keep the text messages from becoming public.

The text messages published by the Free Press revealed a romantic discourse.

"I'm madly in love with you," Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002.

"I hope you feel that way for a long time," Beatty replied. "In case you haven't noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!"

Worthy filed eight counts against Kilpatrick and seven against Beatty.

Kilpatrick faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, perjury in a court proceeding and two counts of perjury other than in a court proceeding.

Beatty is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury in a court proceeding and two counts of perjury other than in a court proceeding.

For Beatty, who attended high school with Kilpatrick and managed his campaigns for Michigan's state House and the mayor's office, the scandal forced her to resign.

City lawyers and Kilpatrick's attorneys waged a futile legal battle to keep documents related to the lawsuit settlement and text messages from public eyes.

Calls for his resignation surfaced in late January from some city union leaders and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox repeated that call.