Tag Archives: CNN

Extremism, rejected

The latest CNN/ORC poll highlights American disillusionment with the Republican Party:

Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP’s views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme.

Democrats were considered to be a “generally mainstream” party by 57 percent in the new poll.

“That’s due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well,” said Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director.

John McCain: no longer a maverick, now just a bitter old man

[cnnvideo url="http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/11/15/exp-tsr-bash-mccain.cnn" inline='true']

Oh, the irony:

Most of the Republican members of a Senate committee investigating the terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, skipped a classified briefing by administration officials on the incident Wednesday, CNN has learned.

The missing lawmakers included Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who at the time of the top-secret briefing held a press conference in the Capitol to call for the creation of a Watergate-type special Congressional committee to investigate how and why the attack took place.

McCain, who has accused President Barack Obama of not telling the truth about the Benghazi attack, said that even though there are several committees involved in the probe, only a select committee could streamline the information flow and resolve the “many unanswered questions” about the tragedy.

When CNN approached McCain in a Capitol hallway Thursday morning, the senator refused to comment about why he missed the briefing, which was conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials. Instead, McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn’t there.

“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain said.

Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated: “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you keep badgering me.”

So let’s get this straight: McCain skipped a classified intelligence briefing on Benghazi to hold a press conference about how he doesn’t have enough information on Benghazi.

In unrelated scary news, this man once came close to the presidency.

Today’s comic relief

Courtesy of Thomas Peterffy, founder and CEO of Interactive Brokers, who’s spending millions to run a new political ad warning against socialism in the United States (and thus endorsing Mitt Romney). He intended it to run in swing states only, but I just saw it on CNN in New York, so he appears to misunderstand the concept of geotargeting as badly as he does socialism.

Anyway, here’s the spot. Watch it and weep, or laugh, or whatever it is you do when you see ridiculous things:

Soledad O’Brien is a truth vigilante

Jay Rosen noted an encouraging development from CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, seen below (on Monday’s show) challenging reigning Republican doofus (and U.S. Representative from New York) Peter King on his “Obama’s apology tour” lies.

O’Brien is on somewhat of a roll, as she managed to reduce another Romney surrogate to flailing ad hominem attacks last month when his “reality” simply refused to match up with, well, Reality’s reality.

This is exactly the type of journalism we need to see more often if the infamous “post-truth” trend in American campaign seasons is to be stopped. It’s going to take aggressive but fair questioning, backed with judiciously researched data and facts. And it’s going to require a journalistic courage not to back down in the face of screaming old white men (or black men, or white women, or anyone else).

Over time, these confrontations could even become less necessary as campaigns readjust, knowing they won’t get away with telling lies on a national TV channel devoted to journalism. It goes without saying that journalists must be aggressive with lies told by both sides, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to see that the vast majority of bald-faced lies, distortions, and half-truths is coming from the right wing these days. It’s time to remind them we’re not all as stupid as they clearly think we are.

stewart

A response to Steve Almond on our late-night political comedians

Jon Stewart

Michael Potemra of the National Review Online takes issue with Steve Almond’s critique of the late-night comedy duo Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (previously covered here):

The Baffler writer…calls the work of Colbert and Stewart an “almost entirely therapeutic” attempt to “congratulate” the viewers, and criticizes the viewers for “accept[ing] coy mockery as genuine subversion.”

But what if we, the viewers, don’t want genuine subversion of the exact same things you happen to want to subvert? Furthermore, what if we don’t mind laughing even about some things we agree with? Both Colbert and Stewart make fun of some of my own political views. I was thinking of saying that I like them in spite of this; it might be more accurate to say that I like them, at least in part, not in spite of this but because of it — because I don’t want to live in a country where people can’t laugh at themselves, and where everybody takes himself and his own opinions as seriously as the Baffler guy seems to.

I don’t think this debate comes down to who takes himself more seriously. It’s about who you think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are. If you think they’re simply comedians, you react as does Potemra. But if you suspect that behind their mock rage lies something a little more like…real rage, then perhaps you wonder, as Steve Almond does, why they don’t take that last, significant leap into hard-edged social commentary. Instead, we’re treated to the now all-too-familiar sight of Jon Stewart retreating behind the tired trope of “I’m just a comedian.”

Which he isn’t. Comedians generally don’t get CNN shows canceled. And they don’t play major roles in passing healthcare legislation for 9/11 first responders. Stewart, like so many of The Daily Show‘s hapless victims, wants it both ways. It’s just that, since he himself is the subject of this conversation, we don’t have someone funny around to point out his blatant inconsistencies.

Instead, we have Steve Almond. Where Potemra is right, I think, is in judging just how mainstream Stewart really is. Over the past few years, I, too, have wondered if Stewart were going soft. But more and more I’m guessing he was never that leftist to begin with. The Bush years presented fruit ripe for the picking, so it was easy to paint Stewart as a liberal. But now that a Democrat (albeit a fairly conservative one) is in the White House, it’s quickly become apparent that Stewart has little interest in pressing against the dominant strand of right-wing thought that’s gripped American politics over the last few years.

Like Steve Almond, I want Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to take up the liberal baton with more vigor. I’m just not sure if that’s who they are, or if it’s simply who I wish they were.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan at the always-excellent Dish for linking to Potemra’s piece.)

Live-blogging the Republican presidential debate (live now on CNN)

Hello, and welcome back. I am once again sitting on a living room couch in Paris. It is 1:56 AM, and yes, I am repeatedly questioning my life choices. (Am I questioning my life choices as much as Republicans are questioning their presidential choices, however? I think not. I hope not.)

So then, let us begin.

1:59 AM – The CNN.com online feed is showing crew members walking self-importantly back and forth across the stage.

2:01 AM – The CNN intro just dubbed Ron Paul “the delegate hunter.” Not a great start for him. But then, Mitt Romney got called “the long-distance runner,” so that’s not much of an improvement.

2:04 AM – I think Rick Santorum got the weakest cheers when he walked out. And I’m not sure Ron Paul actually shook Newt Gingrich’s hand when he got to the center of the stage. (Probably just missed it.) Also, given that this is a GOP event, yes, we are in fact being treated to a cheesy choral rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s in their contract (for America?).

2:05 AM – How’d they find an Asian female willing to sing at the Republican debate? We’re all disappointed in you, ma’am.

2:07 AM – They’re sitting! Somehow that disappoints me slightly.

2:08 AM – Newt Gingrich is wearing a purple tie, and immediately mentioned energy in his 10-second intro. Weird choice. Or maybe not, given gas prices.

2:09 AM – Santorum has just promised to cut the budget by $5 trillion in 5 years. This seems reasonable enough. Also, he just assured us he won’t cut defense. But welfare’s on the chopping block. I am so glad to hear we’re not going to cut our military funding. We haven’t had a really fun war in quite awhile.

2:11 AM – Romney’s had his first “I’m a businessman!” moment. He loves to work that in. Also, these camera views are awesome. They’re sitting close enough together to play footsies under the table. I think that’s what Gingrich and Romney are doing now, in fact.

2:12 AM – Did Romney just say he’s going to cut unemployment by 10%? So we’ll have roughly -2% or -3% unemployment? Actually, I can almost understand the math: that horrible feeling when you have a job and can’t seem to get fired.

2:14 AM – Romney, in responding to Santorum, just made a point of assuring the audience that he would cut taxes for the top 1% as well. Way to pander? (Not so much.)

2:15 AM – Gingrich: “You’re never going to balance the budget on the backs of a highly-unemployed country…So I would focus on jobs-based growth.” So…you’re dropping out and endorsing Obama?

2:16 AM – Ron Paul! Jon King asks him why he called Ron Santorum fake. Paul: “Well…because he’s fake.” Best part? Santorum’s sitting two inches to his left. Paul’s still going at him for fake fiscal conservatism and got some loud cheers. Finally, he closes with a weird, off-tangent complaint about foreign aid spending. Come on, Ron. You’re better than that.

2:22 AM – Gingrich looks sad and lonely, but also oddly at peace with himself. Methinks he just downed a solid pre-debate burger.

2:23 AM – It’s strange to see Gingrich address Romney’s ideas with so much deference and friendliness. He looks like a man who’s well aware of his impending defeat and has been given strict orders to derail Santorum.

2:25 AM – No fireworks so far.

2:26 AM – I hate to say this, but I kinda, sorta agree with Santorum on this one. Earmarks aren’t the end of the world. OK, quick, must disagree with him on something quickly before I become unable to recognize myself.

2:29 AM – OK, and now it’s getting heated. Santorum’s getting pissed about the earmarks discussion, Mitt’s talking over him, then Newt tried to get involved because Mitt mentioned him (gently) as a leader of an earmarking Congress, followed by Paul trying to talk after Santorum called him a prolific ear-marker. This is all getting very confusing. And more and more irrelevant.

2:35 AM – This audience is weird. They’re booing and clapping at the strangest things. Literally, as soon as I typed that, they clapped when Mitt Romney said the word “bankruptcy.”

2:39 AM – I love watching ol’ Rick start to get heated. You just know his advisers keep telling him, “Keep your cool, keep your cool, keep your cool,” but he just can’t help himself sometimes. People can just be so wrong.

2:44 AM – First commercial break, and I’m out. Too tired, and nothing’s going on.