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I was out Thursday night and missed Howard Kurtz’s appearance on the Daily Show to promote his new cure for insomnia, Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War. Fortunately, Scott Horton called it to my attention with his delightful post about the episode, which includes a link to Jon Stewart’s interview with Kurtz.
The last time a media figure was so thoroughly humiliated on TV came when Ali G. interviewed Andy Rooney. And like Rooney, Kurtz was utterly clueless about what was happening. The highlight came when Kurtz laid out a central thrust of his book, namely that nightly news shows are “framing” the war in Iraq in a negative way and always “find ways to hammer . . . home” bad news. Sort of like Japanese newscasters after Hiroshima.
Kurtz related that Lara Logan’s bosses at CBS had once asked her “to do the lighter side of Baghdad–let’s do a story about female soldiers who are keeping cyberpets online.” I guess if Kurtz had received that request, he would have jumped from his desk and begun preparing a long segment on G.I. Jane and “Barky” the Cyberdog. Logan, because she has self-respect, refused. Indeed, as Kurtz related, she emailed back, “I would rather stick needles in my eyes than spend one second of my time on that story.” Kurtz seemed appalled by this, but Stewart clearly sided with Logan. His reply to Kurtz: “Good for her.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”