Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Letterman, Polanski, Palin and Beck

In last night's monologue, David Letterman makes a little joke about avoiding award ceremonies for fear of being nabbed for sexual misconduct (as Roman Polanski was in Switzerland) and then gives his audience a no-laughs account of being blackmailed over having affairs with women who work on his show.

We are deep into media-outdoes-real-life here, in the terrain of the 1976 "Network" movie that posited a TV anchorman who goes raving mad, is exploited for ratings and then killed on-air when they drop.

Letterman will no doubt overcome his extortion embarrassment as easily as he did the flap over a tasteless A-Rod/Sarah Palin daughter joke last summer as he continues on his new $90 million contract, while the ex-Alaska governor matches his income, thanks to Rupert Murdoch's underwriting of her sure-fire best-selling memoir next month and career as a commentator for Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

Unless Palin's political career miraculously revives, all this might be filed as entertainment news, if it were not for the concurrent rise of Glenn Beck as a rival to Rush Limbaugh for the mad-as-hell-not-going-to-take-it-anymore crowd.

A lifelong radio-TV mouth with a history of alcoholism and drug abuse, Beck now rates a Time cover and a section of his own on the White House blog to correct the lies and distortions he is spewing over Murdoch's media.

In the New York Times, under the heading, "The Wizard of Beck," conservative columnist David Brooks tells "a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche--even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as 'The Wizard of Oz,' of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain."

Brooks is right, of course, but the conflation of show biz and real life continues as surely it was starting to do decades ago when I ran into my high-school classmate Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote "Network," in a restaurant on his way to meet William Paley, the founding father of CBS and the archetype of TV executives lampooned in his movie.

"I must admit," Paddy confessed, "I'm a little nervous about meeting him."

After he left, the agent with me said, "He should be. They showed 'Network' on CBS last week, and it got lousy ratings."


Holte Ender said...

I read the David Brooks column, he hit the nail right on the head, it doesn't make what the angry media men say any easier to stomach, but it was good to read a conservative writer express those views. Now what is needed is for some republican politicians to show to the same insight.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Letterman, Polanski, Palin and Beck?

Sheesh! Do we really have to pick one, or can we take all of them out to the curb?

Chuck said...

I like Beck and Limbaugh simply because they make so much sense to the educated mind - that is, the mind that has actually studied the principles of liberty upon which this nation was founded. You liberals seem to have learned nothing from history, and are making the same mistakes that have destroyed nations from time immemorial. Your main tactic is to berate the men who present the principles of liberty, because you have no real defense against the principles themselves. The above article is just one more example of that tactic. It is not impressive to the sincere and honest minded.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

How funny! Does the White House really have a "rebut Glenn Beck" blog? That is hysterical to me (in both senses of the word).

jf said...

I also read the Brooks article with intrest. Hope he's right.

But I also recall Eric Hoffer's description of successful mass movements. They all begin with fanatics, require something to hate, advance through marketing, and end with practical men who go on to implement policy.

In the fifties we had McCarthy and the Red Scare, but 10-years later, practical men of action sank the nation into the quagmire of Vietnam - to stop the march global communism, which fizzled out on its own.

Howard said...

I came across your blog when I googled "letterman polanski." I was wondering if anyone else saw the connection I saw. That is, that they are leftist elitist for whom, we are told by other leftist elitist, the normal rules of society do not apply. Statutory rape or sexual misconduct in the workplace, things that would get ordinary people jailed or fired, shouldn't interfere with the privilege and wealth these elitist enjoy. From Teddy at Chappaquiddick to Kanye West, these icons of blue state America laugh at our laws and the most basic standards of common decency, while preying on young white women. Yes, that's another common thread. These leftist elitist rape women, harass women, traumatize women, murder women, and go on to do it again and again. How primal can you get? Powerful, rich men preying on young women. Is it any wonder that the left has tried to stop Palin by making her a comedy punchline, rather than examining the merits of her positions?

Paul said...

Letterman is fine; he never was the “Family Values” type. Yes, he probably cheated on his girlfriend now wife. But at least he does go around claiming he is Mr. “Family Values” like some of our politicians (can you just see the grin on all “Fake News” reporters/commentators). This has been a tough summer, for Dave, for our economy but at least he did not end up on the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC).

Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware that polanski was a leftist.

How did you arrive at that conclusion howie? Just make it up?