Media Matters

  • We know all too well the factors that can enable fraught elections. Prominent among them: the neither-of-these-“two evils” rationalists and the hissy-fitters who didn’t get their nominee–who then sit out the election. Or it’s ideologues who go third party, which eases their conscience but can invite a worst-case scenario. Then, of course, there’s the media—from social to Rush Limbaugh. And it’s hardly in a democracy’s interest to have a candidate owned by a major network. But the problematics can include the non-Fox, mainstream media; we’re not just talking Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham now.

We’re also talking the conservative-establishment Wall Street Journal. That’s you, Peggy Noonan, whose WSJ opining is too often a lead-editorial anchor for the Tampa Bay Times. She can be more dangerous than a Foxster or a Breitbarter. That’s because she’s a real journalist with a really disingenuous touch. And that’s a real concern. She’s aware and observant enough to (this week) remind us that Trump lied about the pandemic and produced chaos. And “it would only be worse, more dangerous, more careless in a second term.” Moreover, noted Noonan, this White House is “mostly populated by second- and third-rate people, with the seasoned and competent fired and fled. It’s all so dangerous. A vote for him is not possible for me.” Good. But then she moves on to GOPster talking points that stereotype and demean the progressive left. Then she acknowledges that she is sitting out the election. “Is abstaining an honorable choice? For me it is the only one.”

No, abstaining is not honorable, no matter how democratic reality and civic responsibility appears through the skewed Noonan lens. And if it’s the “only” choice, that means not voting for the one person who is the only viable option to four more years of white grievance, autocratic arrogance, international disparagement and climate-change denial. If you can’t see the rationale for doing everything to remove an existential threat, then at least abstain from sharing your complicity in helping keep America grating.

  • “(Trump’s) jealous of COVID’s media coverage.”—Former President Barack Obama.
  • Saw a media reference to “rap legend” 50 Cent, who inimitably retracted his Trump endorsement. “F*** Donald Trump. I never liked him.” Two takeaways. Before Cent retracted, he endorsed someone he never liked? Second, how devalued is “legend”?
  • Google is banning all election-related ads for a week after Nov. 3. The ban, explained Google, is necessary “to limit the potential for ads to increase confusion post-election.”
  • “In the absence of real competition, Google manages to get away with shamelessly tracking your shopping habits, video-watching preferences and the content of your email conversations. … With its dominant market share in search, estimated at 88 percent, Google will be hard pressed to convince a judge that it lacks monopoly power.”—Tim Wu, Columbia University law professor and author of “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.”
  • Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable operator, just passed a milestone—one that highlights the shift occurring across the media spectrum: It now has more streaming subscribers than cable-TV subscribers.
  • Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been a frequent guest on Fox News. But unlike some partisan politicians (think Rick Santorum on CNN) who cross the media aisle to expand career opportunities, Buttigieg was about making the case for Biden by doing more than preaching to the converted. At the very least, by being smart, articulate, inoffensive–and a former Naval officer–he makes it more difficult to stereotype and dismiss the LGBTQ community.
  • If you catch the latest Sacha Baron Cohen “Borat” mockumentary (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) be ready to fast forward. It’s not a matter of politics. It’s just cheesy, annoying and insulting. No wonder Rudy Giuliani shows up. BTW, what the hell was he doing in that hotel suite with a faux-journalist babe and that poorly-timed, uh, shirt tuck-in while lying in bed on his back?
  • “In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media. Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there.” That was Kairat Sadvakassov, the deputy chairman of Kazakhstan’s tourism board, on his country’s return to pop culture–even if in a demeaning context—after the release of the latest “Borat” movie.
  • Former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken was on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week. It was awkward, unfunny and made you wonder what he had been smoking.
  • Sean Connery, 90, has died. He was the original, iconically cool, seemingly irreplaceable James Bond. Daniel Craig might agree.

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