One of the great things about Steve Jobs is that he gave the world the iPod, iPad and Apple TV so that when the political reporting herd becomes completely ridiculous I can create my own albums of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Yves Montand to complement my selection of Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams and Bob Dylan. Instead of spending unhealthy time listening to what passes for political commentary, one can enjoy the finer things in life. (If anyone is interested in these things, please advise, I would love to do an iPod and Apple TV piece.) In the meantime, it is a 50-50 election, and the media herd jib-jab that is now piling on Obama is far out of control.
Headline on Drudge this afternoon: “Obama Lit Agent Shocker: ‘Born in Kenya and Raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.’ ” It links to a story in Breitbart showing a full photo of President Obama in a brochure by Acton & Dystel, said to be a literary agency, printed in 1991. Beneath Obama’s picture it states: “Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” The brochure was advancing a book, apparently by Obama, titled Journeys in Black and White.
According to the report, other clients of Acton & Dystel included Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Ralph Nader and New Kids on the Block.
I have interviewed Joel Pollak, 34, several times since he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 against Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) in the 9th district of Illinois. I’ve kept in touch with him and talked to him as he left his boyhood roots in Skokie and moved to L.A. to go to work for Andrew Breitbart.
I had spoken to him last Thursday, the day the 43-year-old Breitbart died, and again late Monday. (Breitbart’s funeral is today.)
Without saying so explicitly, Pollak indicated that his boss had died of natural causes. As to the reports of previous heart problems, he said, “Andrew was the picture of health. I had a conversation with someone who had been with Andrew on the day before he died and this person told me, 'Andrew looked so good.' He went to the gym the day he died, he was losing weight, he was healthy and robust.”
Rush Limbaugh is ridiculous. He is appalling. He is not even close to being believable when he says he was “sincere” in apologizing to Sandra Fluke for calling her a “prostitute” and a “slut.”
Even in his apology, on top of his earlier apology, all he seems to focus on is that he used the wrong “words.” He is only semi-apologizing because his lawyers and his agent and his station manager told him to put it all behind him. They were nervous that more advertisers would continue to flee. Follow the money, folks. As of Monday, nine advertisers had pulled the plug.
Stephen Sondheim had it so right — "send in the clowns.” And that is what is happening with political punditry.
I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago when I found myself turning to page 2 of The New York Times’s “Week in Review” to read the week's best lines from Leno and Letterman before turning to more serious remarks of Friedman and Dowd.
This week we lost one of the great journalists of our age, Anthony Shadid, who died far too young, after doing so very much. Shadid was made from special stuff, the stuff of the foreign correspondent, and in recent years he brought real lives and big truths about great events in the Middle East to readers of the Boston Globe, Washington Post and New York Times and many others who followed his work.
I imagine that as Shadid left this earth and ascended to the skies he was met by a greeting committee at the gates of heaven composed of folks like Thomas Jefferson, John Peter Zenger and Edward R. Murrow who rose to greet him with a standing ovation, saying something like:
"Son, you were what we had in mind when we believed in the high trust of a free press of a great nation."
The mainstream media basically gets to choose our president based on the degree to which they choose to scrutinize each candidate. Those they champion (Obama) are barely vetted at all, whereas those they disdain are dissected to the nth degree. Hopefully the American people will awaken to this phenomenon and not allow themselves to be so easily manipulated. Ideally, the elite media will regain a sense of responsibility and integrity as they carry out a most important function in a society blessed with the freedom of the press.
I just listened to an interview with ABC’s Brian Ross on Washington’s WMAL about his interview with New Gingrich’s second ex-wife, Marianne, scheduled to air tonight on "Nightline." It doesn’t sound like it warrants the Matt Drudge siren of yesterday, like there’s anything in it that we didn’t already know about Newt’s chaotic private and public lives.
Especially if we read in the summer of 2010 John Richardson’s long (eight pages in the online version) and mesmerizing Esquire story on Gingrich. Romney and his aides must have missed it.
If the biggest shocker in the Brian Ross interview is that Newt asked Marianne, to whom he had been married for 18 years, for an “open marriage,” that’s there in the year-and-a-half-old piece. In Richardson’s words: “He asked her to just tolerate the affair [with current wife Callista Bisek], an offer she refused.” Also, there is Newt calling Marianne to ask for a divorce shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, having installed Callista, 23 years his junior and a congressional aide, in their Washington apartment and in their bed.
UPDATE (7:25 p.m., Mon., Dec. 19) —
Today Josh Block misstated and mischaracterized what I wrote in this blog. He headlined my piece pertaining to him and apparently sent this distorted version of what I wrote and intended to his mailing list:
"Lanny Davis: CAP sandbagged me; Josh Block is right — CAP needs to clean up its act."
This is the kind of loose language and mischaracterizations that gets Block into difficulty.
I did not write nor intend to imply I was "sandbagged" — I believe Clifton sincerely thought I understood he would be emphasizing my disagreement with parts of Block's statements.
Nor do I agree that Block is "right" — he did not include the section of my column where I disagreed with his characterizations and attacks on CAP and its leadership.
Nor did I ever state or imply that "CAP needs to clean up its act." Those are Block’s words, not mine.
I resent his attempt to put words in my mouth, words I did not use or not mean.
What happens when you are wrongly accused in a posting on the Internet and you call to correct the false or misleading assertion?
This happened to me on Dec. 8 — not the first time — on a post on a website associated with the liberal Democratic organization the Center for American Progress (CAP) — an organization I strongly support and whose leader, John Podesta, is a close friend of mine of over 40 years.
The CAP-affiliated website, Think Progress, and the author of the piece, Eli Clifton, wrongly accused me of supporting the “coup” in Honduras in 2008 and of defending the military strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, who had been defeated in an election in the Ivory Coast. He did so in the context of criticizing my business partner, Josh Block, for accusing CAP bloggers of using language that was “borderline anti-Semitic.” And Clifton never called me first to check his facts before attacking me.