Month: September 2011

Once you go black…


I remember when Sarah Palin first became John McCain’s presidential running mate. She was an enigma to most of us because the last thing that we in the lower 48 do is pay a lot of attention to who is running that State Up North and To The Right. So while the Republicans thought she was, and this is quoting one of the magazine covers she graced back then, “The Hottest Governor in the Country”, the rest of us simply said, “Sarah who?”

But from that moment on, we’ve learned so much about Sarah Palin she’s practically family. Granted, she’s the Black Sheep of the family, but she’s family nonetheless.

We were there when she sent out the press release that let everyone know that her daughter Bristol was pregnant, something that has led to a radio show, television appearances, and as a stint as the poster child for abstaining from sex before marriage for teens. We were there when she went out on a bus and showed the entire world that she slept through American History class. (See the post “Me, My Horsey and a Quart of Beer” on this blog…)

And now, we’re learning that not only was she possibly the most unprofessional news reporter in the free world, but that if she had actually made it our of Alaska, her reporting style could have set female sports reporters back at least 50 years.

In the new book The Rogue: Searching For the Real Sarah Palin author Joe McGinnis tells us a whole gang of things that we may not have known about La Palin. Things like she’s done a little cocaine. Like she’s messed around on her husband Todd both before and after they got married. Like she got it on with former NBA star Glen Rice when he was playing for the University of Michigan in the Great Alaska Shoot-Out and she was a sports reporter covering the tournament.

it’s that last one that seems to have gotten the most notice.

(I could make some snide remark about how this makes sense considering that Rice played for Michigan and guys from Michigan have really bad taste, but I’ll try and leave the whole Michigan/Ohio State thing out of this.)

In any case, the reason why the tryst, which took place in her sister’s college dorm room according to the book, is getting so much notice is because (a) Rice admitted to it, (b) he’s black, she’s not, and a lot of Palin’s political rhetoric implies that she believes black men problematic and (c) when you go around wagging your finger at people who engage in the kind of behavior you appeared to have engaged in yourself, the word “hypocrite” starts getting thrown in your direction.

Naturally, those who are Palin partisans have labeled the book “petty”, and filled with lies and innuendo. Even the New York Times Review of Books, not a publication that LaPalin would read frequently if her television interviews are any indication, have panned the book.

But good or bad, people are buzzing about it.

Now to be honest, part of the reason for that buzz stems from the fact that Sarah Palin is about as likable to some people as a bad case of poison ivy. Some folks don’t think she’s very bright. She’s kinda irritating because she believes that we all ought to aspire to live in a land where only the rich have health insurance, the poor deserve to be there, and folks like her should have a say on whether or not you have a kid.

So being able to give her grief about her Black Man Fetish (according to the book, not me) is probably some folks’ idea of fun.
But I really could have gone my entire life without knowing about her peccadilloes.

However, I am really, really glad that she didn’t decide to stay in my line of work. Having someone who would sleep with a potential source, especially when that source was a college kid and they’re a professional journalist, working with me would be a nightmare I don’t want to think about.

You see, once upon a time I was a sports reporter. I covered the Phillies and the Eagles for WRTI, Temple University’s Public Radio Station. I had always been a big football fan, so naturally I wanted to cover the Eagles game when they played my favorite team, the Oakland Raiders.

The Sports Editor, a guy who I really liked otherwise, told me that I had to cover a Temple football game before he’d let me cover the pros. So I did. But he didn’t let me cover the Raiders game despite my being more knowledgable of professional football than most of the GUYS in the newsroom.

I then asked if I could cover the Eagles/Miami Dolphins game. Again, I was told that I had to cover another Temple football game before I could go and cover the pros.

(Did I mention that Temple’s football team was simply abysmal in the early 1990s? Those two games added up to six hours of my life that I’ll never get back!)

So after putting myself through another Temple football game, I asked for the newsroom credential for the Eagles game. The Sports Editor told me that he didn’t think it would be a good idea if I were allowed to cover the game because “girls don’t go to these games to cover the game…”

I went to the News Director, taking the Sports Editor with me, and told the both of them that either I get the Eagles credential, or they’d get to me my attorney and the EEOC when the discrimination lawsuit goes to trial.

I got to go, but the message was really clear to me: If I was going to cover sports, I’d have to kick the whole professionalism thing up another notch. I don’t wear button down shirts unless I have a sweater on over it. If I wear a skirt, i’ll also wear tights instead of panty hose. I’m friendly to the men I interview, but I don’t flirt.

In other words, I make sure that these guys know that I’m there to do a job, and while I know this job may require that i kiss your ass a little, I won’t be giving you head. That’s a far too intimate act that I don’t like you enough to even consider doing. Besides, you’ve got a wife and a whole lot of groupies for that.

Or, if you’re Glen Rice, you have Sarah Palin.

On that note, some Parliament/Funkadelic…

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Deals with the Devil…and other reasons to stop watching CNN


Remember this date: Sept. 12, 2011.

Now why am I telling you to remember this date? I’m telling you to remember this date because Sept. 12, 2011 is the date that CNN, a news network created by Ted Turner to provide international news coverage to Americans on a variety of issues, lost what little of its credibility it had left.

How? Because CNN decided to partner with the Tea Party Express to produce a Republican Presidential Debate on Monday night in Tampa, Florida.

(Wow! Florida! Quel Surprise!)

But lest you think I’m pulling you leg, I’m not. CNN partnered with the Tea Party Express, the group of gun-toting, birth certificate demanding, no understanding of the Constitution having, economy hostage holding astroturfers from the world of the Koch Brothers to produce a presidential debate. That’s like my partnering with a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to creating a newspaper and expecting fair and balanced coverage. It certainly makes about as much sense.

Because I am somewhat of a masochist, I found myself watching this debate at 3 a.m. The whole idea was to help me fall asleep somehow.

But after sitting through it, I may never sleep again. In fact, I found myself yelling at the television. I won’t tell you what my Significant Other, who woke up and found himself watching with me, was saying. Mostly because much of it was profane.

After the first 30 minutes, I got the following out of this:

1-The EPA has run amok and regulations governing the pollution of our air, water and soil should be drastically reduced. In fact, any business wanting an incentive for creating environmentally friendly “green jobs” is asking for a handout.

2-Herman Cain moves himself further and further away from being taken seriously as a presidential candidate every time he opens his mouth. When you say the American people are too uptight and that you’ll bring a sense of humor to the White House, you kinda cry out to be laughed at.

3-Health care should be a privilege, not a right. And if any of these jokers are elected president, a whole lot of us are going to be hurting in that regard.

4-Rick Perry had two really good ideas: mandatory HPV vaccines for young girls so that they can avoid having cervical cancer through this virus. and a sort of DREAM act designed to help illegal immigrants who are in Texas get a college education. Too bad he’s running away from them as fast as he can.

5-All of these clowns are willing to make up whatever lie they can about anything that President Obama has done as a means of giving red meat to this base within a base.

and 6-Newt Gingrich is an asshole. But then again, you knew that already.

The Tea Party Express and it’s groups nationwide were the questioners for this clambake and because they were the audience, there were a couple of moments that can only be described as cringeworthy.

Like the following:

In case you didn’t catch that, the people yelling “Yeah!” in agreement with Paul’s contention that you should be allowed to die if you don’t have health insurance are the folks in the Tea Party audience.

See what I’m sayin’…

Now I understand that CNN wants to be the debate station for the GOP, especially since the Democrats haven’t found anyone willing to alienate the party’s most most consistent voting bloc by being a primary challenger to President Barack Obama, not to say that the far-left, so-called “progressive” wing of the party isn’t hoping that their White Knight in Shining Armor, otherwise known as Hillary Clinton, will come charging to the rescue…

But having produced a debate myself once, I believe that you should be careful who you sign on to do one with.

Now if CNN had partnered with the New Republic or some other right-wing publication, I’d have no problem with this. It would be a couple of news organizations trying to bring news to their viewers and readers in a way that allows them to make a choice of who the Republican nominee should be.

But when you partner with the Tea Party Express, who in addition to being a group of sources is also a group with some really serious credibility issues, you put yourself in a position to have your credibility seriously questioned. Considering the fact that you have a better chance to getting a news program with CNN if you’re a failed governor or a former Fleet Street hack, the channel’s credibility was already kinda shaky.

My guess is that CNN is going to find out what John Boehner, most mainstream Republicans, and anyone who likes a little sanity with their right-wing politics has learned when dealing with the Tea Party Express:

You can make a deal with this particular devil if you want to, but he comes to collect early….and his prices are to quote former New York Gubernatorial Candidate Jimmy McMillan, too damn high. People are going to look at them a bit askance from now on, so I hope they enjoy the ratings.

I sorta know now why Christiane Amanpour left…

I sat through as much as I could of the debate before deciding that not even my sense of humor could stomach much more of this. But because of that whole masochist thing, I’ll be sitting in front of my TV when CNN presents the next GOP debate in Las Vegas…a town in which it makes sense because it’s a town filled with really garish stuff.

Besides, the thought of having a bunch of Bible Thumpers like this in Vegas is just too heady! You’ll probably be able to see Rick Santorum’s hives in HD. With any luck, sex columnist Dan Savage will be in the audience, bringing even more delight to my sick sense of humor….

My Parents’ Wedding Anniversary

I woke up this morning and turned on my television set, which was last on A&E, where I had been watching “Storage Wars” I believe

What greeted me was a documentary on the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks. This film showcased the attacks in real time from the moment that the first airplane hit World Trade Center Tower One to when Tower Two went down, including the folks who felt hopeless enough to jump to their deaths.

Not really caring to linger on that visual, I changed the channel.

But it seemed as if everywhere I went, the terrorist attacks followed me.

They were featured on “SportsCenter”. All of the Sunday Morning programs originated from Ground Zero. MSNBC even re-ran the Sept. 11, 2001 edition of the “Today Show”.

And don’t even get me started on Fox Sport’s coverage of the NFL. I fully expected Howie Long to put on a flight suit and make his way to an aircraft carrier before the kickoff of the Philadelphia Eagles/St. Louis Rams game.

It was patriotism run amok…and when an Army Brat tells you that, it’s an issue.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with America and Americans remembering a day that really did a number on us as a country. In addition to the loss of close to 3,000 people, we lost our sense of security as a nation to a large extent.

Heck, I can even remember where I was when the attacks happened. I was on I-95 north on my way to work. I saw a sign that said, basically, that New York was closed, something that made me say “Well, I guess I won’t be going there today…”

When I got to the picket lines of the teacher’s strike I was covering and found no teachers there, I also figured that something was up. I went to the Union Hall and found out that the teacher’s weren’t picketing because a plane hit the World Trade Center tower and the union president was afraid that her daughter was on one the planes. (She was flying from Boston to LA). That began one of those days where being a reporter is a good news/bad news proposition. The good news is that you have a hot story that everyone can localize. The bad news is, you’re not able to process it for yourself until you get home.

(Editor’s Note: I’m still pissed off at ABC for showing the airplane hitting Tower Two on a continuous loop all night. I couldn’t sleep behind that shit. If I ever meet the producer who thought that was a good idea, he or she will get slugged. That is all…)

But that said, the loss of our sense of security has led to America doing some things that have really pissed me off over the last 10 years. There was a time after the attacks happened that I couldn’t get on an airplane without damn near having to submit to a full-cavity search. And remind me sometime to tell you about the fun I had getting my souvenir baseball bat from Turner Field in Atlanta home on an airplane without breaking it.

And I’ll be kind enough to spare you my diatribe on the fact that we’ve decided that if it’s a choice between liberty and security, we’ve opted for security. USA PATRIOT ACT. I’m just sayin’.

A Facebook friend posted a blurb that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put on his blog about the commemorations of Sept. 11 and how subdued they seemed this year. He also says that in light what happened next, they should be subdued.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I wish that I could disagree with Krugman. But I can’t. It’s still not safe to be a Muslim in the United States. We’re still in two wars, only one of which makes sense to me. And our economy is still all kinds of jacked up, something that’s led to the further decimation of the news business.

But while I could dwell on all of that, something that it appears the TV industry would love to see me do and something that would really give me something to talk about in my Media and Social Memory class on Tuesday, I’ve kinda been raging against the dying of the Sept. 11 light over the last couple of years.

Why? Because of the date these bastards chose to play “Let’s crash the airplanes into the towers!”

You see, Sept. 11, more than a few decades ago, my parents, Jack and Ollie Clay, got married.

My dad was in the Army and mom worked in a factory near Paris, Kentucky, which is where they got married in my grandparent’s living room. They were together for over 40 years and as far as my dad was concerned, there was no one more important to him than my mom and the rest of us.

I have since found out that Sept. 11 is also the birthday of my friend Carol Colby-Hubler’s late father, the father of Kim Pearson, journalism professor extraordinaire, Annette John-Hall, one of my favorite newspaper columnists, my old neighbor Kyle Brown who has always amazed me with his intellect, me and Carol’s former classmate Joyce Artemus, and a whole host of other people who have made their mark on the world.

So while it would make sense for me to concede this day to the assholes who barged in on it, and the havoc they created as a result, I refuse.

My mom and dad loved each other until the day he died. And I’m convinced that she will still love him until she’s no longer on the planet.

So to me, this day isn’t about the acts of some misguided people. It’s about love. The love between my parents. The love Carol and Kim have for their dads. The love that Annette has for the written word. The love that Kyle has for knowledge. The love I have for all of them and the people who I call my friends and family.

A love that’s stronger than any hate that can be brought to bear.

So while I’ll say a prayer for those lost to the violence that befell us as a nation on Sept. 11, 2001, I’ll also say another prayer thanking God for the love that surrounds me every day.

Because in the end, love is stronger than hate, any day of the week.

Here’s a commercial that Spike Lee did for State Farm to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11. It’s actually kind of cute having kids singing “Empire State of Mind”. Thankfully, they chose the only verse that kids could sing without raising the eyebrows of their parents, Could you imagine a kid singing: “City never sleeps, but i’ll slip you an Ambien”?