Posts from January 27, 2005

About Alterman

About Alterman

: In the world of one-from-column-A/one-from-column-B TV, I spent a few minutes on MSNBC Tuesday night on the other side of rabid conservatives Pat Buchanan and Michael Medved (on The Passion of the Christ and the Oscars) and the next day I’m back on MSNBC placed on the other side of rabid liberal Eric Alterman (on Iraqi blogs and the election). I mentioned the confrontation here but didn’t go into detail mainly because I long ago stopped paying attention to Alterman and didn’t think he was worth the effort and moreso because I did not want to again spread the blood libel he engages in regarding Iraqi bloggers: After quoting his favorite blogger on Iraq — who else but Juan Cole? — Alterman repeats the irresponsible, unfounded, dangerous speculation that, gee, if Iraqi bloggers are pro-American they must be CIA plants, huh? ‘

I told Alterman on the air that that was irresponsible and dangerous. I said he had not one shred of evidence or reporting or fact to back up his speculation. I said that he could end up getting these men, whom I’ve met and whom I know, harmed.

Alterman said, well, gee, the CIA has done weird things before so why couldn’t they do this?

That’s responsible journalism? Not in any universe I know. That’s the worst of tabloid, tin-hat, anti-intellectual, ammoral rumor-mongering. That’s Eric, the rumor monger.

What he did was, let me repeat, not journalistic. Any editor worth his salt would have killed that speculation in print (well, except at the NY Times).

I was going to let that dog lie but now Alterman has gone on the attack:

I never had any reason to give any thought to the issue of blogs and the Iraqi elections, until I was asked to appear on a segment about them on MSNBC yesterday with Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley, who are getting a new show there, with Jeff Jarvis as the other guest.

Well, if a booker calls me to ask about coming on the air about a topic I “never had any reason to give any thought to” I would decline. But not Alterman. He’ll make up an opinion about anything, it appears.

Reagan and Crowley just might work, as cable TV goes, I dunno.

I smell Alterman sucking up to his bosses at MSNBC. But I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist.

Monica is just about the least annoying television conservative I know and Ron Regan [sic] is, for reasons of his pedigree, given permission to say genuinely liberal things that are allowed to no other cable pundit.

Monica and I had our own interesting conversation about Eric after we got off the air. I won’t speak for her.

But I

Advertisers: You have lost control of your message. Get over it.

Advertisers: You have lost control of your message. Get over it.

: VW is going berserk over the parody ad that showed a terrorist blowing himself up inside a small but tough sedan. The company is demanding apologies and threatening to sue.

Sorry, guys. That VW has already left the barn.

You are no longer in control of your message, advertisers. You can fight it or you can embrace it.

Learn the lesson from the music industry. They fought. They lost. Big media is trying to learn that lesson now. TV is trying to learn that lesson. Your turn, advertisers.

If you embrace this, I’ll just bet you will find something amazing happen: You will find that your customers are better at marketing your products than you are.

Oh, I know your fear: ‘But what these people say will be off message!’ Well, then, maybe your message is off.

If I were you, VW, I would hold a contest to get people to create the best damned VW commercial anywhere and promise to spend big bucks to air it on, say, the Oscars. You don’t have to pick the terrorist commercial. You’ll be making clear that the thing was not made by you. At the same time, you will learn a lot about new messages that truly resonate and reverberate from your customers — because your customers are creating them. How’s that for market research?

This is the Cluetrain economy, guys: Markets are conversations. Join in the conversation, don’t try to muzzle it.

If you let them… your customers will tell you how to create your products. If you let them… your customers will market them for you. If you let them… your customers will even be your free customer service department if you let them — yielding more happy customers and no complaints about putting people on hold and pissing them off.

Look at how TreoCentral: That’s a guerrilla customer movement of Treo fans helping Treo fans. That is the future.

: More on sell-side advertising and the idea that consumers are your best marketers here. More on exploding TV here.

Ruff, ruff

Ruff, ruff

: Yes, I bark. But my bite is worse.

That’s a sly link to Jack Shafer’s Slate column about last week’s Harvard journalism/ blogging confab and hooha.

Ed Cone is right: Shafer’s column is pretty clueless.

: Jay Rosen assigned the class around the table to write up what changed their mind at the conference. Collective blatherings here.

: LATER: Rosen takes down Shafer… hard.

Besides being lazy, Jack Shafer

And what about Bugs Bunny’s carrots: Freudian?

And what about Bugs Bunny’s carrots: Freudian?

busterfarm.gif: Josh Marshall’s reader found the lost episode of Buster the Bunny’s lesbian adventure. Says Buster’s blog:

While there, we visited Emma, David, and James, who live with their two moms, Karen and Gillian. Karen and my mom used to work at the same newspaper together.

Yup, that’ll make the next generation gay.

: Meanwhile, the United Church of Christ proves that not all churchgoers are humorless, bigoted prigs. They issue a press release welcoming Sponge Bob and all his nefarious cartoon buddies to their pews:

Joining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus’ message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants – the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.

“Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob,” the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”

spongebobchurch.jpgFor that matter, Thomas explained, the 1.3-million-member church, if given the opportunity, would warmly receive Barney, Big Bird, Tinky-Winky, Clifford the Big Red Dog or, for that matter, any who have experienced the Christian message as a harsh word of judgment rather than Jesus’ offering of grace.

The UCC’s welcome comes in the wake of laughable accusations by James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, that the popular SpongeBob and other well-known cartoon characters are crossing “a moral line” by stressing tolerance in a national We Are Family Foundation-sponsored video that will be distributed to U.S. schools on March 11, 2005.

Later, an assistant to Dobson called SpongeBob’s participation in the video “insidious.”

Thomas said, on the contrary, it is Dobson who is crossing the moral line for sending the mistaken message that Christians do not value tolerance and diversity as important religious values.

“While Dobson’s silly accusation makes headlines, it’s also one more concrete example of how religion is misused over and over to promote intolerance over inclusion,” Thomas said. “This is why we believe it is so important that the UCC speak the Gospel in an accent not often heard in our culture, because far too many experience the cross only as judgment, never as embrace.”

Dobson, despite his often-outrageous viewpoints, is arguably one of the most oft-heard religious voices in popular culture today. Through his Focus on the Family media empire, Dobson produces daily commentaries that appear widely on television and radio stations across the United States, often times as “public service announcements.”

Meanwhile, the UCC’s recently released 30-second paid television commercial – produced to underscore the denomination’s belief that Jesus didn’t turn anyone away – has been rejected by two major television networks for being “too controversial.”

Amen. Let’s hear it again: Amen!

: LATER: What’s so extraordinarily distasteful about all this is the idea that merely exposing a child to a person who is homosexual is somehow offensive or wrong. How intolerant. How bigoted. How unChristian. How unAmerican. How many first stones they’re throwing, these fools.

: See also Andrew Sullivan.

15 years later…

15 years later…

: The 15th anniversary of Entertainment Weekly caught me quite by surprise. I wasn’t counting.

Rick Tetzeli, EW’s third editor, was nice enough to quote my editor’s note from the first issue and it got me to look back at the 10 promises I made to EW’s readers:

10. This is a national magazine. We cover what’s at your local ‘plex instead of what’s on Broadway because more than 200 million of you don’t live in New York (you lucky ducks).

9. We won’t have long, ponderous, pompous articles about show-biz–5,000-word stories about 50-minute albums … Short is fine.

8. The magazine is current…. Each issue will tell you what you need to know now.

7. Entertainment Weekly is selective. We don’t review and report on everything, on what’s notable… In fact, finding what’s notable is our most important job.

6. The magazine must be easy to use…. You also should be able to find out quickly and easily what our critics think, and that’s why they grade (from A+ to F) everything they review.

5. This magazine will be a voice for quality in a business that needs one.

4. Since we are boldly and loudly opinionated, we also must be open to the opinions of others…. In this magazine, everybody’s a critic.

3. Our critics enjoy the areas of entertainment they review. They are discriminating fans and members of the audience, just like you.

2. Guaranteed: The opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the writers and are free from influence by advertisers, corporations, public relations people, or stars.

1. Entertainment Weekly will be entertaining….

Sounds a little blogish, I think. Not a bad list, eh? You’ll have to tell me whether the magazine follows those rules.

Another time, I may start telling some of the stories of the magazine’s launch and my departure (I refused to sign the editor’s contract at Time Inc., with its shut-up clause, precisely because I believed it was important to maintain my right to tell those stories, good and bad).

This week, I simply want to congratulate editors Tetzeli and Jim Seymore before him and the staff of the magazine through the years. Good work. So the baby’s a teenager already. Damn.