Posts from March 4, 2005

Bill Maher: Over the edge!

Bill Maher: Over the edge!

: Bill Maher has on Ward Churchill tonight and it is an unbelievable performance. Unbelievable terrible, insensitive, numbnutty, offensive, wrong-headed, anti-American, rude….

Maher sits Churchill down and says, “Some things we have in common, some things we don’t… I know to a degree what you’ve been going through, some things taken out of context… You’ve been Dixie-Chicked….” He says they disagree but: “I think you deserve to be heard.”

Maher then leads the apparently inarticulate Churchill down his path. He asks Churchill to talk about “the blood that America has on its hands.” Churchill can’t get a paragraph out. Maher keeps leading: “Just tell the folks what you think…” Churchill mutters how the attack on the World Trade Center was not senseless because “anything that was that well-planned wasn’t senseless.” Anything this poorly expressed in senseless. Even Maher can’t take it…. because Churchill isn’t making the point Maher wants him to make: the blood-on-our-hands point.

So Maher says, “Let me do it for you… There was the bringing over of the slaves… Then we’re talking about the Indians in America, your people, you’re part Indian…” Churchill nods. And they add up numbers. Maher continues: “So we have a lot of blood on our hands… So then you talk about the first Iraq war. How many died there?…. And then the sanctions… I know we don’t want to hear this but the country of America has blood on its hands…. Not to mention in Germany and Japan when we were close to winning the war we obliterated Dresden….”

Good God, man! But it continues.

Churchill says that, “First of all the government doesn’t kill anybody.” He says that Americans do it.

Maher asks him whether fighting Hitler was wrong. Churchill says, “I wouldn’t say that opposing Hitler was wrong but some of the ways he was opposed were wrong.”

Maher: “Even if America committed these crimes I don’t understand what you’re saying. I don’t understand how the average American can be as guilty as you say they should be.”

Churchill babbles about the “technological elite” in the buildings. He says that janitors weren’t guilty.

Maher: “You said they were not innocent.”

Churchill says that if you were “performing a technical function… you were not innocent. You were performing a function” like Eichmann.

And the torture continues. Maher brings out a 9/11 family member, Michael Faughnan, who lost his brother at Cantor Fitzgerald. He says the brother disagrees with Churchill but supports him.

We couldn’t find anyone who doesn’t support Churchill, Bill? We had to exploit a family member?

Now Maher wimpily questions Churchill but still attacks America: “I don’t understand how you can compare the passive aggressive… We’re lazy and arrogant and greedy and myopic, and all those things cause some misery around the world. But Eichmann was proactively killing people.”

When did genocide become the subject of MBAspeak: “technical function,” “proactive”…. It’s murder, men!

Churchill says that by displacing profits and “moving labor to sweatshops in Maylasia you’re doing things comparable to what Eichmann did.”

The brother says that Eichmann was evil and his brother was not.

Maher, doing his very bad imitation of an afternoon talk-show host, asks the brother, “Do you think he owes you an apology?” The brother does. Churchill grunts and offers none and Maher doesn’t even push him or wait a second. He lets him off the hook.

Instead, Churchill says that, OK, this poor man’s brother wasn’t guilty but then he says, “Would you make the counter argument that there was no one who fit the description… that there was immaculate genocide?”

Immaculate genocide? What the F does that mean?

Maher can’t leave bad enough alone. He says that “I’ve gotten in trouble for many things” and one of them was proposing that at the World Trade Center site, we should build a “Why They Hate Us Pavilion.”

He has the nerve, the incredible insensitivity to ask the brother whether he agrees. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate place,” the man says, all too politely.

Maher continues: “Don’t you think there are reasons why they hate us and they’re valid….?”

The audience applauds at this.

Don’t you think there are reasons why people hate you, Bill? And you, Ward?

: I will bet that another Maher storm and Churchill storm will follow.

I’m not a Maher hater. I’ve quoted his good lines often enough. I’ve also been agog and aghast at his ludicrous lines. But this is over the edge.

: It’s almost as if Maher is making an argument of academic freedom when he says that Churchill deserves to be heard.

Well, he was heard. Having him on TV means that you want him heard again, Bill.

This isn’t about academic freedom or freedom of speech; it’s not about left or right. It’s about judgment: the bad judgment having Churchill on to spew again.

: LATER: There’s an entire blog devoted to Churchill’s offensiveness. And another.

: What Roger L. Simon thinks of Maher.

: LATER: Crooks & Liars has video. So does Ian.

: SATURDAY UPDATE: Democracy guy says:

As a Democrat, I move that we put Bill Maher on a plane and send him to Martha Stewart’s ranch as a stable boy so he can shovel actual horse shit for a living. He should be fired for this show. Period.

As for Churchill, when you see him on Maher’s show, you begin to wonder if anyone ever embodied the stereotypical head up his ass, anti-social, blinking, twitching, insane homeless blogger better than this guy. Not bloody likely.

Maher ends by suggesting we have a “Why they hate us” display at ground zero. I have a better idea. This video should be placed in the DNC lobby, running on a continuous loop 24 hours a day, under the banner “Why voters hate us”.

The ultimate consumer

The ultimate consumer

: The ultimate consumers are the ones who design your products for you — so you know they will like it and buy it. In this new world, consumers will also market for you and handle customer service for you but the ultimate is when they go to the effort to tell you exactly what they want in the hopes you will give it to them, if you’re listening.

See TreoCentral Treonauts today, redesigning the Treo 650 into the Treo 710.

: UPDATES: I made a terrible mistake, attributing the redesign to TreoCentral not Treonauts, both of which I love reading. Andrew Carton was most gracious in his email to me; I would have been at least a little snarky. So I’m sorry. That’s Treonauts.

And Doc Searls is right: I should have said customer instead of consumer in all those references because it was Doc who taught me that consumer is an industrial-age word that assumes, to paraphrase the man, that we’re all sitting back, consuming content, and crapping cash. Search and replace.

Dead v. live

Dead v. live

: Adrian Holovaty tears down PDF publications (I agree) but what he’s really tearing down is paper:

A print-newspaper journalist tries to guess the dozen-or-so pieces of information that people might want to know, freezing the facts into a flat, unbendable package…. But a Web-savvy journalist tries to anticipate the hundreds of ways people will want to slice, dice and use information, and creates the infrastructure that makes it happen.

It’s the difference between a flat list of marriage licenses and a searchable database that lets me type in a person’s name and corrects common misspellings.

That’s what Web news is all about. A newspaperman deals in information dictation; a Web journalist deals in information discovery.

And a citizens’ journalist deals in….

Macho cat blogging

Macho cat blogging

: From the AP: “Cat Survives 10-Mile Trip on Top of Car”

Hitting the big-time

Hitting the big-time

: Jay Rosen appeared on the real journalism show last night: Jon Stewart’s. We’re at this Harvard confab and the hotels don’t have Comedy Central so I emailed Trey Jackson and the human TiVo got it.

: Bill Doskoch has the blow-by-blow.

He started off by explaining how the mainstream media doesn’t have the same influence it once did, that professional and amateur journalists were getting to be on the same plane, and that essentially, there were no rules anymore.

“Sort of like f–king in the 1970s,” Corddry observed.

That appeared to catch Rosen slightly off-guard.

The program talked a bit about blogging. Corddry said declaratively to Rosen, “you’re a blogger.” Rosen happily agreed that indeed he was. “Well thank you for wearing pants,” Corddry said.

: Crooks & Liars has the video, too. It’s a great segment.

They just showed it here at the journalism confab I’m attending. What’s great is that now you have media machers (mostly) expressing their admiration for Jon Stewart (with grumbling and shaking heads in only a few corners). There is admiration that Jon Stewart isn’t dull, he has life, he calls bullshit bullshit.

Rather’s punchline

Rather’s punchline

: Here’s a transcript of Dan Rather on David Letterman. They do talk about Rathergate.

Another whither journalism conference

Another whither journalism conference

: I’m at Harvard (again) for (another) conference on the future of journalism and there’s fear in the air about the future. I read the group Fred Wilson’s post about the revolution of the ants; there’s excitement in the air outside.

I won’t blog this whole thing; there’s been enough blog posts on enough journalism and blogging conferences. But there are provocative lines and quotes flying past and I’ll grab a few out of the air here:

: Len Apcar, editor in chief of NYTimes.com, said he is “ecstatic we bought About.com because it says the New York Times is not a newspaper company.” That’s provocative and it’s right. The New York Times is a news company, an advertising company, an audience company, a company in need of diversifying its ad base and in need of new sources of growth; it is and must be more than paper.

Before it was done, I poked fun at the About.com deals that were rumored as old-media marketplaces trying to buy a new-media marketplace in a time when marketplaces will be replaced by distributed media. But hearing more from Martin Nisenholtz and from Apcar, it’s apparent that they see this is a platform for getting the cost-per-click advertising that’s now going to Google, for getting expertise in search-engine marketing, for diversification into distributed media, and for growth with speed.

More than one person in this room saw the About.com and the Dow Jones/Marketplace deals as very important for the future of old media (though Len also said that Marketplace was necessary to Dow Jones because its pay model is a “failed model”).

: Jay Rosen tells how journalism fellows who spend a year learning from at Harvard’s Nieman, where we’re sitting, go back to their newsrooms and have no opportunity to share their learning. “The profession doesn’t value intellectual capital,” he says. “It doesn’t really value learning.” He says that journalism is a “knowledge profession that’s having huge difficulty updating its own knowledge… and that’s part of the reason its in so much trouble.” At a Microsoft, he says, learning is valued and the culture expects its knowledge and assumptions to be outdated every five years; journalism has not gone through such a change in 45 years.

: Merrill Brown ads that “the state of journalism training has never been worse.”

: Jay says that journalism protected itself by separating itself — “a separation theory of professional integrity”: It separated itself from business realities (church v. state) and political reality and the public. That separation is at the root of its problems today, for it must instead find a way to make connections.

: Rosen on the tools we have enabling citizens’ media: “We now have the ability to create self-informing publics.” Without middlemen, in other words; without marketplaces.

: Rosen also wants to see just one reporter in one newsroom work on open-source journalism — on distributed reporting — using the audience to not just contribute quotes to TV or stories but to contribute reporting.

: The assumption in the business and its culture and at events like this is that media won’t die: TV didn’t replace radio and all that. But here I am hearing people in old media say that some forms may not survive as media spectrum — broadly interpreted as paper, broadcast, online — is re-mined and reallocated. One editor said he thought that newspapers and broadcast would not survive. Another attendee agreed with the notion that some local old-media outlet could sink with the blame going to online competitors. I don’t know; we’ll certainly see.

: David Weinberger said a key missing element in media has been ownership. When he looks at Wikipedia — even if he doesn’t contribute to it — he feels an ownership: It’s ours. That sense of ownership will be crucial to reestablishing trust in media.

: Dan Froomkin of WashingtonPost.com is filled with thought arrows, for instance: “Yahoo won the breaking-news-aggregatoin battle before we even knew there was one.” He says the news outsiders (Yahoo, Google, et al) could do the same with hyperlocal.