Hair Brained

The Cable Gamer is somewhat sensitive about “dumb blonde” stereotypes. But she really gets hacked off when they come from an ignorant partisan without a glimmer of a clue what she’s talking about. An apt description for Hadley Freeman, a writer for the lefty Brit “news” site The Guardian. Her article is titled:

Why do all the women on Fox News look and dress alike? Republicans prefer blondes.

That’s nonsensical on its face, and underneath appears a graphic showing three blondes: Kellyanne Conway, Ann Coulter and Ivanka Trump. The alert reader may have noticed that none of these women work for Fox News (in fact Ann Coulter was an employee of MSNBC). But Ms. Freeman isn’t picky about such things as accuracy, and plows ahead with enraptured descriptions of “left wing media women” like Andrea Mitchell who looks like “all the Golden Girls at once.” Then comes the good stuff…the attack on Fox News:

But then we turn to rightwing women. Kellyanne Conway, Scottie Nell Hughes, Tomi Lahren, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Ivanka Trump, and pretty much every single woman on Fox News: a uniform vision of girlishly long bottle-blond hair.

Ms. Freeman must have spent all of three minutes researching this piece. She cites five women who have never been employed by Fox News in any capacity, plus Laura Ingraham who is a contributor (though Freeman doesn’t seem to realize that). In fact, as far as the plethora of Fox News blondes is concerned, that’s as far as she goes. One. Hadley Freeman never cites any further examples, even though she’s sure “pretty much every single woman on Fox News” is a blonde and they all look alike:

When I see them all lined up as talking heads on the news, I get a rare insight into what it must be like to gaze upon the bar area of one of those private American tennis clubs that don’t allow anyone whose name is “too urban” or ends in -stein or -berg. Welcome, people, to death by Wasp… How hard it must be having to operate within such a narrow aesthetic palette. I mean, this is a demographic that considers being brunette a physical deformity

The author’s ignorance of FNC is impressive. In an article ostensibly about “all the women of Fox News” she cites close to a dozen women…and only one works at Fox. And then she claims Ivanka Trump is “rightwing.” Plus there’s her assertion that she has seen them “all lined up as talking heads on the news,” talking about six women, only four of whom are talking heads (i.e. pundits) and only one on Fox. In what alternate universe are they all talking heads on Fox News?

And as for brunette hair being “a physical deformity” because of a “narrow aesthetic palette,” Freeman is full of it. She clearly has no clue who’s on Fox News and who isn’t. Blondes are not “pretty much every single woman on Fox News.” Most likely they are a minority. If the reader doubts that, your Cable Gamer has assembled a selection of Fox News on-air reporters, anchors, correspondents, and contributors who are not of the blonde persuasion:

browne acuna guilfoyle banderasherridge  cowan green gabriel fischer faulkner boothe holder huntsman lee joshi 1446482252329griffin ratner  bartiromo jackson mcglowan uma miller neville roginsky2 turner mcdowell vogel williams pirro

It’s doubtful Freeman could pick any of these people out of a line-up, let alone identify them. Yet among those pictured above are a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, a former CBS News correspondent, a winner of an “outstanding newscast” Emmy, a member of the Jesse Jackson family, a former Navy fighter pilot, the first openly gay commentator hired by a cable news channel (Fox), and a six-time Emmy winner who is also America’s most watched female African-American cable news anchor. And there are more than just these 30. To sum it up: Sod off, Freeman. Your incompetent, hair-brained hit job is giving fake news a bad name.

Postscript: The Cable Gamer would be remiss if she did not acknowledge that there are fair-haired females at FNC, and like Megyn Kelly (now with NBC News) they are smart, savvy, and thoroughly professional. They break the blonde of the ordinary.

No Laughing Matter (Updated)

CNN’s Brian Stelter is a must-follow on twitter. While some media personality twitter feeds don’t show much personality, Stelter’s is a virtual window into his thoughts. And it’s fair and balanced–far-left Trump haters get retweeted, but so do media establishment Trump haters.

Thursday night Mr. Stelter issued the following:

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-12-19-08-am

This was a retweet + comment from Stelter; in this case the pointing fingers constituted Stelter’s contribution. A perfectly reasonable RT, even though it’s devoid of any actual details, sourcing, or verification. But maybe that’s why Stelter pointed to it with only three fingers.

This, however, was not the first time Brian Stelter issued this tweet. That happened a few minutes earlier:

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-11-22-02-pm

This is an artist’s conception of how that tweet looked; it was deleted before a screen grab could be made. But it was seen, however briefly, by any Stelter follower watching their timeline when he sent it. The Cable Gamer has confirmation from others that they also saw this tweet, and its peculiar, inexplicable extra emoji: the laughing face.

What was Brian Stelter trying to tell us with the laughing face? That it’s funny more classified information was being made public? That CNN’s nonpartisan media reporter was happy to see Trump unable to stop the flow of government leakers? Your Cable Gamer asked that very question:

More than three hours and over a dozen Stelter twitter entries later, CNN’s fearless media critic has not replied.

UPDATE: 

Brian Stelter: Against Cheap Shots Before He Was For Them

cnn_rs_deray_150524a1-800x430-696x374The things you learn on twitter.

Reading Brian Stelter’s twitter timeline is like tromping through a strange world pockmarked with establishment journalism fossils, #Resistance activists, and empty entertainment icons. You’ll also see a healthy number of attacks on CNN’s competitors (with Fox News the favored target) along with an unending stream of RTs praising Brian Stelter.

When a Media Matters bigwig complained that nobody wanted to broach the topic of President Trump’s insanity, Stelter jumped in, tipping him to watch the next Reliable Sources. (It featured an embarrassingly softball interview with discredited birther conspiracist Andrew Sullivan addressing that very topic.) Mr. Stelter did not care for your Cable Gamer pointing this out on twitter, but his argument was flawed at best.

One of today’s Stelter attacks on Fox News came by way of retweeting a clip collection assembled by GQ. The theme: while the good guys were covering A, silly Fox News was covering B, or even worse, C. People in the business know how easy it is to make any channel look bad using this premise: there’s hardly any hour in the day where at some point one channel isn’t covering something different, or even worse, less serious than the day’s top story. So just pick those moments and any news channel can be made to look frivolous or worse. It’s a propagandist’s technique, and Brian Stelter knows it.

But when it’s used to attack Fox News, CNN’s media critic can’t resist. So he promptly forwarded it on to his 454,000 followers. And The Cable Game caught it:

Another cheap shot by CNN…not exactly breaking news. But Cable Gamer Johnny Dollar spotted this and told us a Brian Stelter story. A while back Dollar was seeing a lot of cherry-picked comparisons of what was airing at odd times of the day, invariably chosen to make Fox News look bad. And Brian Stelter was not above RT’ing them to his followers. So Mr. Dollar did one of his own, and Stelter pounced:

  • Johnny Dollar: Fox News covering the shooting in Missouri as CNN leads off the hour with the still ‘breaking news’ that The Interview is streaming online.
  • Brian Stelter: cheap shot
  • Johnny Dollar: Inexpensive, perhaps. And yes, these moment-by-moment comparisons are often used to make cheap points. However I would argue what leads the hour is somewhat more on point than comparing, say, 24 past the hour, which I’ve seen.

The Cable Gamer’s point here is simple, but telling. Stelter insists it’s a “cheap shot” when it makes CNN look bad, but will send it out to half a million people when it makes Fox News look bad. This says a lot about Brian Stelter: a “company man” rendered unreliable by partisanship and hypocrisy.

The Worst Interviewer in the World?

cnn_rs_deray_150524a1-800x430-696x374There was a bit of a dust-up last week when POTUS chewed out CNN’s Chris Cuomo over an interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal. Mr. Trump complained that CC didn’t even question Blumenthal about misrepresenting his combat experience, only Cuomo did in fact do so, in his very first question:

CUOMO: All right, so first we have a credibility attack and then an attack on the facts. What is your response to the president of the United States saying you should not be believed because you misrepresented your military record in the past?

Not a particularly pointed question (note how Cuomo separates himself from the uncomfortable fact of Blumenthal’s dishonesty by out-sourcing the issue to Trump) but at least he asked it. Whereupon the Senator simply ignores Cuomo’s question and gives a pre-scripted answer. A competent interviewer (like Jake Tapper) wouldn’t let him get away with that, but Cuomo–whether for lack of competence, or just to protect a fellow Democrat–gives the Senator a total pass and promptly drops the issue.

That’s a pretty poor job of interviewing, but The Cable Gamer has seen worse. In fact, what she saw yesterday may just go into the record books.

To say Andrew Sullivan has credibility issues is like saying you might find sand in the Sahara. For years he has promoted a daft conspiracy theory involving Sarah Palin’s son Trig: that she faked her 2008 pregnancy to cover up for the fact that he was actually Bristol’s child. Even Donald Trump faced facts and abandoned his birtherism, but Andrew Sullivan seems reluctant to let his go. And yet here he is, on Reliable Sources (yes, the irony is thick), to proclaim it’s Trump who’s the “unstable” one.

This is a situation rife with cross-examination possibilities, all of which Brian Stelter studiously avoided. No mention of Sullivan’s history of tin-foil conspiracy mongering at all.  The Q&A is full of obvious gaping holes where questions about Sullivan’s birtherism would be mandatory to anyone who calls himself a journalist:

STELTER: My next guest, Andrew Sullivan, a pioneering blogger, now a contributing editor for the “New York magazine” is taking it a step further, questioning Trump’s mental health…

SULLIVAN: …And he’s [Trump] able to command his underlings to actually go out there and say things that are empirically untrue.

STELTER: You said unstable. In your column you said mentally unstable. Why do you think it’s appropriate to be describing the president that way?

SULLIVAN: I’m not a shrink, and if I were, I wouldn’t say this, anyway, because you can’t diagnose someone. But I’m a human being, and I can tell if someone is saying things that we know not to be true and never corrects it.

STELTER: But you’re taking it a couple of steps further by questioning his mental stability. And I wonder why you think that’s not been said more often on television or in columns like your own.

SULLIVAN: I think sometimes you want to assume that there is a rationality at the center of our entire republic. That there is someone who can listen to reason, who see an empirical fact, who can distinguish between an opinion and a fact, between what he wants to be true and what is true.

Look at those doors, flung wide open to question Andrew Sullivan about his own “empirically untrue” statements that he “never corrects” because he “wants it to be true.” Yet Jeff Zucker’s wunderkind journalist, Brian Stelter, blindly stumbles on, never once mentioning the pachyderm in the room:

SULLIVAN: He won’t correct anything. In fact, I don’t think of all the hundreds and hundreds of false statements he’s made, he and his spokesman have not actually retracted a single one.

SULLIVAN: But at some point, being a writer or a journalist requires one to simply say what one is seeing in front of one’s eyes.

SULLIVAN: If you continually do that and you never recognize reality…it is, to put it frankly, a little bonkers.

SULLIVAN: We have to relate it to reality at some point, our interpretation of reality.

STELTER: Andrew Sullivan, thank you so much for being here this morning.

SULLIVAN: You’re so welcome, Brian.

There are grade-school newsletters whose interns could conduct a better interview than this.  The Cable Gamer sees two possible explanations. Either Brian Stelter is a partisan hack, as far left as his twitter feed suggests, who has ceased being a media reporter to function as a propagandist. Or he really is the worst interviewer in the world.

Is Townhall Promoting Fake Megyn Kelly News…and a Scam?

This appears atop the newsletters page of townhall.com at 3:40 pm ET today:

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What appears to be the lead story is actual a link to an external site. Yes, the Megyn Kelly link is an advertisement, though not so mentioned. And it leads to Health-E News where you can read the heretofore secret reason Megyn Kelly left Fox News:

A source close to Megyn revealed that the star was not concerned about making millions of dollars, in fact, Megyn’s main concern was that Fox News was so demanding, it was interfering with her secret side business. “Megyn has been hard at work on her own company for many years but she was finding it harder and harder to devote time to it due to the pressure of her job with Fox News,” her close friend revealed.

Investigations have revealed that Megyn Kelly is in fact the CEO of skincare company LuxAllure which has become a cult favorite over the past year. Their two hero products the LuxAllure Ageless Moisturizer and the LuxAllure Eye Serum have garnered a mass following after receiving rave reviews about their anti-aging properties online.

A series of photos follows, each with a glowing (and dubious) quote about Megyn and her “magic cream,” followed by a special offer: “Claim yours now before they’re all gone!” and a series of faux Facebook comments rhapsodizing about the magic cream. Buried at the bottom of the page, in tiny grey-on-gray type, is a series of disclaimers that the site is an advertisement, completely with a “marketing disclosure” and an “advertising disclosure,” like “Any photographs of persons on this site are models” (clearly that’s not true), “Before/after images used on this site are not real,” and so on.

This sounds suspiciously like how Joy Behar left The View because she was hard at work on her own line of skin care products (more details on how this con operates here). Needless to say your Cable Gamer could find no evidence that Ms. Kelly is a secret skin care CEO, or that the anti-aging cream being hawked in her name is anything more than another internet rip-off. This is not a new scam; it’s been around for years. So why is Townhall.com promoting it?

CNN’s “Breakout” Star Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-7-09-19-pmFunny thing about red lines, as our former President can attest: if you draw them, you’d better be ready to enforce them. Unless they’re just for show–sham lines, a little-known offshoot of “fake news” that seems to be the latest weapon in CNN’s arsenal against POTUS.

Meet Van Jones. He’s CNN’s “breakout” star:

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Jones—a political activist, attorney and CNN commentator—made a viral splash for his nuanced reflections on Donald Trump’s rise and surprising victory.

The powers-that-be are so enamored with him that, even though he is nominally just an opinionizer, Van’s been given his own series of news specials to anchor, with the next airing on Wednesday. But does he have the qualifications for the push Zucker is giving him? Let’s go down the list. Communist? Check. Supporter of cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal? Check. 9/11 truther? Check. And check. Plus, he stayed at a Holiday Inn, more than once.

Your Cable Gamer reminds you of all this detail to underscore the sensitivity of such an extreme curriculum vitae for one who is to anchor programs about a hotly contested election. Because CNN clearly does not want its employees going out there and taking part in activist doings. Otherwise why would they have told them so just four days ago?

CNN Reminds Employees They Can’t Participate in Women’s Marches
At the CNN editorial meeting Wednesday morning, Rick Davis, who heads up CNN Standards & Practices, reminded employees that they are not allowed to participate in the events. CNN tells TVNewser it has a longstanding policy that employees may not participate in political marches or rallies. “Rick was simply re-iterating the policy in advance of the marches this weekend,” a spokesperson says.

That would seem pretty clear on its face, but at CNN rules are like pie crust–made to be broken. Especially if you are a “breakout” star. So who should show up at the women’s march, not just observing or reporting, but as a featured speaker? You guessed it: Van the Man. He don’t need no stinkin’ rules. This clearly didn’t take CNN by surprise; his role was publicized well in advance. Yet there he was, on CNN’s air, doing his opinionizer job–trashing Trump’s speech–just hours before he’d be out there giving one of his own.

The Cable Gamer thinks all this has a certain aroma about it, and it’s not a fragrance any respectable news organization would want to wallow in. Mind you, it’s not like CNN couldn’t see it coming. They do read The Hill’s savvy Joe Concha, don’t they?

A contributor job where one is paid to opine on television may not be able to compete with what said contributor deems as a bigger, more important cause. In Jones’s case, that’s a massive “love army” aided by his own boutique PR firm…CNN’s audience either needs to be informed of this potential conflict of interest or Jones needs to be shown the bench when it comes to any Trump segment.

Even though CNN told its people not to participate in the women’s march, Van went ahead and did it anyway. And CNN took immediate action. They punished Van Jones by publicizing his appearance (and his PR firm) with thousands of dollars worth of free air time, web space, and internet videos. And just in case you don’t read the website, there’s always Facebook. Or twitter:

The Cable Gamer wondered if those media monitors at Reliable Sources would deal with this situation today. After all, their “breakout” star flagrantly violating the rules set down by his employer, and then being rewarded with tons of free, favorable PR…that doesn’t happen every day in the world of cable news. But neither Brian Stelter nor anyone on his cumbersome, Brobdignagian panel even uttered the name of “Van Jones.” Because the first rule of Reliable Sources is followed more strictly than anything Rick Davis may propound: CNN doesn’t talk about its Cable Game. Now get that countdown clock up for the next Van Jones special.

How Many Republicans Are Allowed On MSNBC Prime Time?

msnbc_hosts_ap_imgThe news that two opinionizers, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, will be co-anchoring MSNBC’s “hard news” coverage of the inauguration along with a diminished Brian Williams seems to have been greeted by media watchers as it always is: with a yawn. Like the increasing use of opinion people in reportorial roles it’s all but ignored as “media reporters” write eyewash about MSNBC’s newfound commitment to hard news and straight reporting.

Similarly, writers like Gabriel Sherman call Tucker Carlson’s ascension to FNC prime time “Trump TV.” Silly to anyone who actually follows Carlson’s career and libertarian instincts, even sillier when it’s used to characterize the entire channel. But when was the last time you heard Gabriel Sherman refer to MSNBC as “DNC TV?” Your Cable Gamer took a closer look at MSNBC prime time, using the last day where full posted transcripts were available: January 16. Who were the hosts, who were the guests, and how did they align? How many were left? Right? Pro- or anti-Trump? Let’s go to the transcripts:

All In with Chris Hayes:

  • Ted Lieu (D)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (D)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D)
  • Jonathan Chait: Pro-Obama
  • Ilan Goldenberg: Anti-Trump

The Rachel Maddow Show:

  • Cedric Richmond (D)
  • April Ryan: Ostensibly impartial but praises Obama

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell:

  • Jonathan Capehart: Anti-Trump
  • Mark Thompson: Anti-Trump
  • Wesley Clark (D)
  • Richard Stengel: Obama appointee
  • Howard Dean (D)
  • Steven Brill: Pro Obamacare, anti-repeal/replace

In three hours of prime time there was quite a spectrum of opinion: from pro-Obama to anti-Trump. But if you hoped to hear even one person with a viewpoint in favor of Trump or his proposals, you were watching the wrong channel, because there were none at all. Zero. It was as close to DNC-TV as you could get without just putting Donna Brazile in charge of leaking the questions.

In contrast, that night’s opinion programs on Fox News, while reflecting a right-of-center perspective, included people from the left like Mary Anne Marsh (D) and Jehmu Greene (D). Bill O’Reilly goes out of his way to include opposing views on his top-rated hour. Tucker Carlson Tonight, the show that so alarmed Sherman, has made its bones with the lively, often-riveting exchanges between Carlson and people who vehemently disagree with him. Only Hannity had no dissenting voices on January 16 (though usually he has at least one Democrat on).

Your Cable Gamer just made up the moniker “DNC-TV” for MSNBC prime time. Yet it’s far more truthful and on-point than the “Trump-TV” taunts from anti-Fox partisans like Gabe. Meanwhile, tomorrow MSNBC will reduce the discredited Brian Williams to the role of sidekick for two partisan co-anchors: a political hack, and a far-left talk show host.  And call it “news coverage.”