Posts from July 20, 2005



: Two notable TV deaths today:

: Gerry Thomas, inventor of the TV dinner, dead.

: James Doohan, Scotty from Star Trek, beams up.


Two notable TV deaths today:

: Gerry Thomas, inventor of the TV dinner, dead.

: James Doohan, Scotty from Star Trek, beams up.

Bizarro Bernie

Yesterday, I taped Donny Deutsch’s show with Bernie Goldberg about his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (earlier post here). It’s going to be on CNBC tonight at 10:30p and you have to watch, for you will see a bizarre performance that continued after the cameras went off.

Bernie went bonkers.

Or Bernie is bonkers.

We report. You decide.

The show started with Bernie snarling at Donny for no good reason. Then, in the second segment, Donny came to NY Post TV critic Linda Stasi, who was prepared to discuss Bernie’s silly list (giving it more dignity than I would have have). With good humor and energy, she asked why Rush Limbaugh wasn’t on it.

Well, that set Bernie off. And downhill we went. Bernie shouted to Linda to shut up. He got downright mean. Linda and I were in the same studio (though we were on different cameras) and we looked at each other to confirm that we weren’t nuts; this was. Bernie growled about how he can’t stand being on “panel show.” It got so bad that Donny had to scold Bernie for his behavior.

Later, Bernie insisted that he wasn’t a “church lady” (after Donny and I defended one of the names on his list, Howard Stern) but then he went on about people talking about “humping” on TV. When I said he did indeed sound like a church lady, he came back and said less-than-polite things about whom I hump. I said that’s a fine way for him to talk.

You get the flavor.

And then the madness continued.

Bernie called a producer at CNBC and reduced her to tears.

He called media outlets — starting with the, cough, sympathetic Washington Times — arguing that he was ambushed.

He called Fox — where, according to one of the other guests, he has already appeared eight times to promote his book — to whine and get on Bill O’Reilly’s show.

One theory is that this is all a publicity ploy. Another is that he’s acting wacky. I think it’s a combination of the two: This is the behavior of a paranoid who needs enemies to keep his paranoid rantings — and publicity — alive. Bernie wanted to be ambushed. He made it into an ambush. And the strategy is working. The book’s selling (at time of taping it was No. 3 on Amazon behind only Harry Potter; now it’s No. 6). Except we on the show didn’t buy the book. And that really pissed him off.

Here’s what appeared in The Washington Times:

“I’ve been doing this a long, long time, and I have never, ever, ever, never — I could say never and ever 10 more times — experienced what I just went through,” Mr. Goldberg told Inside the Beltway late yesterday after he taped the show, which is to air tonight, from Miami.
“Deutsch disagreed with everything, and that is just fine,” said Mr. Goldberg, the best-selling author of “Bias” who has written the new book “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is No. 37).”
“But then, unbeknownst to me, they brought on a panel of five, plus Donny, all of whom took the other side. And it’s not like they just respectfully disagreed; there was name-calling, ganging up; it was unbelievable. And not one of them even read the book. They admitted it.
“It was more than an ambush,” he said. “It was the most cynical, dishonest thing I have ever been lassoed into. They misled me.”
Immediately after the taping, Mr. Goldberg said, he told the show’s producer, Marilyn Cutler, that Mr. Deutsch had been “dishonest.”

And the spin continues. Someone masquerading as an “informed source” contacts the CaptainsQuarters with more whining:

However, instead of debating cultural issues as the producers had explained the segment to Goldberg, it turned out that the show had stacked the panel with people who disliked Goldberg’s book — and ganged up on him to belittle it.

The show issued a statement in response:

Mr. Goldberg was invited on our program to discuss his new book. We asked him if he would be willing to stay and join a panel of print and online journalists to discuss the people and issues he raised in the book and he agreed. At certain points during the segment, Mr. Goldberg, the panelists and Donny did not always agree. We felt that it was a healthy and robust conversation.

We treat all of guests, including Mr. Goldberg, with nothing but the utmost respect and courtesy. We encourage people to tune into CNBC tonight at 10:30PM and watch for themselves.

: Now here are a few quotes from the show. I don’t have a full transcript yet. This quote from me comes after he attacked Stasi and Barbara Walters before that, after the heat was already on high.

You know, Bernie, you put yourself up on a high pedestal here as if you’re above journalism. But you know what? You’re just using the oldest trick I know–and I did it myself–in: ‘Let’s come up with a meaningless list and then a meaningless debate about.’ [That’s] almost certainly what’s happening right now.

Let’s start with the premise. America’s not screwed up. Let’s start there. America is a good place. It’s a wonderful place….

And to say, `Well, I’ve got the list, and I have in my hand a list with names.’ It’s a ridiculous unjournalism, unnews exercise, and you make fun of Barbara Walters and others for blurring the line between news. This isn’t news. This isn’t journalism. It’s a way to get promotion you’re getting right now and then complaining about. It’s really pretty hard to take, Bernie.

: And now a sample of the exchange between Bernie and Linda:

Ms. STASI: Well, I just think it’s incredible that he writes a section on vicious celebrities and he’s being so vicious. And we’re just sitting here discussing it. You don’t have to tell me to shut up, you know. It’s just–I mean, don’t you find that vulgar if you’re yelling at somebody to shut up on television? Because I find that really vulgar.

DEUTSCH: I couldn’t agree more.

Unidentified Guest: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t understand how you could like…

DEUTSCH: Wait, let him respond to that.

Mr. GOLDBERG: No, I only did it because you don’t shut up.

Unidentified Guest: I don’t understand…

Mr. STASI: You know what? You see what I mean. It’s so ignorant.

Unidentified Guest: …how do you tell a woman to shut up?

Ms. STASI: It’s ignorant.

Unidentified Guest: A woman, tell her to shut up? I mean, come on.

Ms. STASI: It’s just ignorant. It’s just ignorant.

DEUTSCH: What signal is that? You’re talking about cultural wars? To any young girl watching out there, you tell a woman to shut up?

Ms. STASI: It doesn’t matter if I’m a woman or not, what he says…

Mr. GOLDBERG: Donny!

DEUTSCH: It does matter.

Ms. STASI: …is just silly.

Mr. GOLDBERG: Donny, Donny, that’s interesting.

Ms. STASI: It’s vulgar and silly.

Supreme distraction

Howard Kurtz on the uber media strategy in the White House:

I happen to think the president is giving the other side an extra month to build a case against his nominee (if that’s what Democrats and liberals are inclined to do). But from the administration’s point of view, media chatter about Roberts is probably superior to media chatter about whether Rove should be fired.

: MEANWHILE… Over at Kos they’re trying to find the silver lining and that’s how to lose well….

Acbonin says that the filibuster and dragging out other nominations worked; that this is a victory.

Steve M adds in a comment to that post that the Democrats need to lose this battle well:

But there are good losses too, and this is the concept that many refuse to accept. You can lose in a way that makes people sympathize with the principle you fought for. You can lose in a way that sets the stage to make a compelling case later. If you send a clear message to the American people that “we oppose Roberts because X will happen if he is confirmed,” and then X does happen, now you have your campaign issue for 2008, 2012, and beyond. “Elect Democrats so we can roll back X and make sure it never happens again.”

And Kos chimes in:

I see in Roberts someone who can help Democrats draw clear battle lines for the American public. It’ll allow us to define who we are and who they are, and drive home the point that elections do matter, that there really is a difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Selling your soul

I pass by the AM New York freebie paper stand today and see the screaming headline: MOVIE THEATER STUNS AUDIENCES. It doesn’t take a minute — or a genius — to see that it’s an ad for Motorola, Loews, Cingular. The ad takes over the front page. Oh, there’s still a real front page inside; this is a wrapper around the real paper. Still, this is the front page you see screaming at you from the valuable space of the newsracks; this is the image AM New York presents to its public.

Now this is hardly the first paper to put an ad on its front page; that may be holy space, but everybody has his price. Nor is this the first paper to put on a wrapper, though those are usually handed out at events and I’ve never seen one in a newsstand, because newsstands are all about selling papers — and news sells papers (doesn’t it?).

But, of course, this paper isn’t sold. It’s given away. And that changes the rules. Letting an ad take over the front page doesn’t depress newsstand sales; there are no newsstand sales.

And putting an ad with a giveaway on the cover may even help drive free papers out of the rack. All the better if they’d been giving away free sex.

Why the hell do I care? Because the free-news economy changes the rules and I am always fascinated to see how this happens.

I saw this happen at People in the ’80s, when stars and their flacks realized that their images were being used on covers to sell magazines and they wanted something for it — if not money then at least control (“picture approval” was their first bid).

Economics change media.

Here, AM New York’s value is distribution — greater distribution than the paid papers precisely because it’s free. So that makes its front page more valuable to advertisers than it is to AM New York.

I’m not pulling a holier-than-thou newspaper attitude about this; not making an ethical judgment about this. I’m just noting how the economics affect the product.

The medium isn’t the message. The bottom line is the message.

So what does that mean for online? Where’s our real value? Is it distribution? (No.) Is it audience? (Maybe.) Or is it relationships. (Yes.) And how does that make the product?