Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nixon/Frost: Poster Boys for Opportunism

Last night Bill Maher interviewed the ghost of David Frost and brought back a rush of memories about Richard Nixon, the 1970s' president who lied and broke laws with heartfelt sincerity.

Maher deferentially let Frost, with customary sliminess, rewrite the Iraq war into a little misunderstanding in which Americans and British went in willingly, without bothering to mention that up to 2 million people in London and hundreds of thousands in New York and Washington were in the streets protesting before it started.

But Frost, now immortalized in a play and upcoming movie for his post-resignation interviews, is remembered by contemporaries as a perfect match for Nixon, poster boys for smarmy opportunism. Typically, his "hard-hitting" interview with the disgraced President was the result of relentless cajoling.

The James Lipton of his day, Frost snagged unctuous sitdowns with Presidents and Prime Ministers, while earning the scorn of the Monty Python and Beyond the Fringe satirists, who called him the "Bubonic Plagiarist" for stealing their satirical approach to the news in his other incarnation.

For an approximation of Frost at his zenith, imagine a tireless, disingenuous combination of Jon Stewart and Larry King with unlimited ambition and greed.

His counterpart, Nixon, ended in disgrace but Sir David Frost, a multimillionaire and now host on the Al Jazeera English Channel, is still with us, pimping his way through history.

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