“He speaks English, and he has a hot wife.” —Andrew Tabler, Washington Institute For Near East Policy, explaining to the New York Times how the bloody Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad managed to get fawned over by Vogue, Paris Match, French Elle, the Huffington Post, and Barbara Walters.
WHAT A SPELL of cultural miseries. Oprah Winfrey commended “Pierre de Chardin” to the graduates of Spelman College and exhorted them to “let excellence be your brand.” Yale University elected to have its commencement addressed by Barbara Walters. Al Sharpton appeared in the pages of The New York Times Book Review, which warmly noted that its reviewer has lost a lot of weight and eats fish twice a week and many vegetables. And Daniel Bell was made responsible for the Iraq war.
This is a subject about which we’re not supposed to speak. Or write. Well, I suppose we can allude. But not in detail. So, even though bloodletting is a daily occurrence in the orbit of Islam, discussing it is forbidden. At least among the sensitive, the sensitive left most notably. By which I mean, firstly, folk who think of themselves as universal souls but see others, Americans and Brits, French and Germans, Italians and Dutch, also the bulk of English speakers wherever they are, as retrograde. Patriots, for God’s sake, patriotism being not only a dirty concept but a dirty word.
One Monday morning in November, according to the admittedly rough transcript provided by the Federal News Service, “Morning Joe,” anchor Joe Scarborough spoke 3,213 words; his co-anchor Mika Brzezinski spoke just 644. Most of her words seemed merely to remind the audience that she was still awake: Yeah. Okay. Yes. No. Maybe. Right. Terrific. Scarborough dominated the meaty segments; Brzezinski piped up mainly during the transitions.
Say this for the president: He knows how to charm the ladies. Obama’s sit down on “The View” this morning seemed to go about as smoothly as one could hope. POTUS stayed cool, confident, and charming as he answered questions ranging from “Why don’t we get out of Afghanistan?” to “Where is your message machine to combat the right’s?” to “Were you invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding?” (No. He was not.) His one clear moment of not knowing how to respond was when Joy Behar asked if Mel Gibson needed rage therapy.
The revelations about Mark Sanford's adultery prompted a lot of condemnation of his betrayal of his wedding vows: If he can’t even keep a promise to his wife, why would we citizens think he’d keep any campaign promises made to us? ... Gays aren’t a threat to marriage, folks. It’s people who can’t keep their wedding vows. But it turns out that Sanford did keep his wedding vows: South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford recalls how she made the "leap of faith" to marry husband Gov.
Via TPM, I notice that Palin said this to Barbara Walters, after Walters asked whether Obama was lying when he said that death panels were not a part of the health care bill: "He's not lying, in the sense that those two words will not be found in any of those thousands of pages of the different variations of the health care bill...No, death panel isn't there. But he's incorrect. It's kind of what Reagan used to do though when he used to talk about, say, the Evil Empire. You're never going to find 'The Evil Empire' on a map of the world.
From a New York magazine profile of Barbara Walters: But she also kept her hand in breaking stories, to the occasional annoyance of Peter Jennings, who didn't take Walters seriously and didn't care who knew it. "When they'd be sitting at the anchor desk for something like Princess Diana's funeral, he would ask Barbara to comment on what people were wearing, because he knew it would drive her crazy," remembered one ABC staffer. Walters would passive-aggressively pretend to slip up and address Peter as "Ted," as in Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, the staffer said. --Isaac Chotiner
A society that is notorious for its inability to remember is about to do nothing else. America eats the past, which is why people eaten by the past run to it; but even the American creed of newness will pause on September 11, and learn its limitations. The yahrzeit is here, and the least lachrymose country on earth is devising its rituals of commemoration. The interesting question is whether the memory will have life outside the media. September 11 will be a test of the American sense of reality, for it marks the anniversary of a day on which reality bested every representation of it.
In 1968 a documentary producer at CBS News had the idea of creating a television show that would resemble Life magazine. The result was “60 Minutes,” the most popular TV news program in history. Its success transformed the television magazine from a conceit into a familiar journalistic form. Today these “magazines” include, in addition to “60 Minutes,” “20/20” on ABC, “1986” on NBC, and “West 57th,” a sort of yuppie cousin to “60 Minutes,” on CBS.