Pop Culture With Paul Farhi

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Paul Farhi
Tuesday, March 16, 2010; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi talks about topical issues in the pop culture world of TV, radio, movies and trends.Today: Is former New York Times editor Howell Raines on to something when he says mainstream journalists should be calling out Fox News Channel for its alleged biases? Or is Raines' comment motivated by the same kind of partisanship that he would decry in Fox News? We report, you discuss. Also: Peter Graves, RIP. And ABBA makes the Rock Hall of Fame. ABBA? Seriously?

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Paul Farhi: Greetings, all, and welcome 'round again...So this piece in Sunday's Outlook section sparked quite a bit of debate in my house, and maybe yours, too. In case you missed it, Howell Raines, the former editor of the New York Times, thinks mainstream journalists should be calling out Fox News for its "bias" in covering the health-care debate. Howell's basic point is that FNC has violated journalistic norms and poisoned the debate with demogoguery, falsehoods and "raucous commentators." Would love to get your thoughts on this. Me, I won't wade into the murky swamp of health-care reform (you're welcome) and I won't support or defend Raines' basic point (brave of me, no?). But I will raise a few questions just to get this ball rolling: --Is Raines exaggerating Fox News' clout and impact on the long and complex health-care debate? No question that FNC is the preferred choice of cable news junkies. But on a given day it reaches, what, five or six or seven million people? Given that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, a thousand daily newspapers and a million billion websites reach many, many millions more, isn't he exaggerating Fox News' influence? --Is Fox News really converting anyone, or is it simply preaching to the choir in the way that talk radio and partisan web sites have done for years? That is, is its partisanship, in whatever form it may take, merely reaching people who hold similar views and simply tune in to have those views reinforced? Isn't that the reason for its success? --Is Raines using too broad a brush? Is there no distinction between the reporting that FNC does and the overtly partisan advocacy of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly? If so, isn't that like saying the Op-Ed page of the New York Times is the same as its news pages? --"Raucous commentators"? Hmm. We report, you discuss.In other news...This just (recently) in: Tiger Woods, who hasn't played golf in public since a Thanksgiving-night car accident unleashed a slew of revelations of marital infidelities that led him to take a leave of absence from the game, announced Tuesday he will return at the Masters, the season's first major championship.And in other, other news: Peter Graves, RIP. Have to love him for subverting his own trademarked stone-faced authority figure by playing the airline pilot in those Airplane movies. Have to love him for being the great Cold Warrior Agent Phelps in "Mission: Impossible." And especially have to love him for playing the Nazi informant in "Stalag 17"--a great role in a great movie. And in yet still other news: ABBA has been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ABBA? I mean no disrespect to the millions of loyal ABBA/"Mama Mia" fans out there, but I do intend some disrespect for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What part of "rock" or "roll" does ABBA represent? Yes, I know lots of pop groups have been "inducted" into the Hall (I've been there, btw; it's like like a giant Hard Rock Cafe, with better food). But if pop groups like ABBA are worthy, why bother calling it a "rock" hall in the first place? Wouldn't Museum of Popular Music (and really great souvenir stand) better cover everything that's there now, from ABBA to ZZ Top? Okay, let's go to the phones...

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Raines vs Fox: I personally think that "Fox News" is an oxymoron and applauded Mr. Raines comments heartily. I did note that on the comments pages Mr. Raines was called out for hypocracy regarding his tenure at the New York Times and circumstances of his departure. Can you illuminate for us regarding that?(Also, what/when can Wapo do something about the abusive misuse of the comments pages so that some civil discourse can resume?)

Paul Farhi: Gerald Boyd)left under a cloud caused by the Jason Blair plagiarism scandal. Not sure if there's a hypocrisy angle in that, but if so, please enlighten ME...And while I don't dig some of the nasty and irresponsible comments left on our stories, I think ignoring them is the most useful strategy until we can get the manpower to monitor them better.

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ABBA: I am sorry ABBA should never even be considered for the Rock and Roll HOF. What a disgrace! I am sure Keith Richard's is rolling over in his grave. Oh wait he isn't dead let.And neither should Elvis or Pat Boone. the real King of Rock and Rollis Chuck Berry.The only HOF Bruce should be in is Pete Seeger wanna bees and the fake socialist folk singers HOF.Who wants to jam with ABBA or even Genesis at the end of the night.

Paul Farhi: To their defense(?), the Hall inducts performers and writers who "influenced" the course of rock music. Thus, blues and R&B artists are in there. I'm just not sure, however, who or what ABBA influenced.

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Peter Graves and Steven Hill: Mr. F: A bit of "Mission Impossible" trivia - Steven Hill (best known as DA Adam Schiff for 10 years on "Law and Order") was the MI team's leader the first year of the series. Schiff is an Orthodox Jew, and, even though he'd told the producers he wouldn't be available from sunset Friday through Saturday every week, they didn't realize the extent of the problems that would result. Then, toward the end of the first season, he also had a big disagreement with a director about shooting one scene, and management decided "goodbye" to Schiff and "hello" to Graves.

Paul Farhi: But props to Hill for his principles and good to see that it didn't keep him for further roles.

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Finally: ABBA is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?This is indeed a great honor... for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Paul Farhi: Haha! The Hall graciously accepts its induction of ABBA, apparently...

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P. Graves: So, Joey ... have you ever hung around gymnasiums?______________________Rest in peace.

Paul Farhi: And do you like gladiator movies?

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Fox "News": No one is calling out Fox. Why? Maybe because the job market is so bad for journalists, many are afraid they may seek work at Fox?No one is calling out Fox. Why not? If I was a reputable news organization, I would be dicrediting Fox every chance I had. It's what newspapers used to do so well before they became lifestyle platforms. If local newspapers would just go back to "newspapering" and jettison some j-school induced pretentiousness, readers would come flocking back.

Paul Farhi: Keith Olbermann does a pretty good job of beating up on Fox News every night.

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Pot, meet Kettle: No question in my mind that Fox News is biased (and as a result, usually unwatchable). But to have someone from the NEW YORK TIMES complain is laughable. I'm as liberal as they come, but on occasion even the Times makes me cringe with its left-wing, holier-than-thou snobberyI'm always fascinated how people are offended by bias only when the bias doesn't match their own.

Paul Farhi: The pot-calling-the-kettle-black thing has been raised about the Times, yes. I'll just note that for the record.

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The Airless Cubicle: Roger Ailes.. Of course, if any of your Impossible Mission team are killed or captured, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. If you change your mind, I'm the first in line. Honey I'm still free -- take a chance on me. This recording will self-destruct in ten seconds. However, if you missed any of it, you can watch FOX Reality tonight and catch up on our newest hit program, "The Real Housewife Punk Rockers of the CIA Academy." You subvert -- we decide.

Paul Farhi: Great ThreadWeaving[TM]! But I have no idea what your point is. Poetry, maybe?

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Rock n Roll Hall of Fame: Paul, the name's something of a misnomer. It's really the Hall of Fame of Popular Music During the Rock n Roll era (the Rock n Roll era starting around 1955 and being a phrase tossed around by the likes of Casey Kasem when he talked about chart records). So, yes, unfortunately ABBA and Madonna get in, but then again fortunately so do Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Paul Farhi: I gotta say, one of the more interesting "exhibits" at the Rock Hall were letters written by Madonna to some friends while she was in college, and before she hit the bigtime. They were honest revealing in a way that all of Madonna's faked-up P.R. control would never again allow. I'm still not sure why she's in the Hall (other than the fact that the people who run the Hall can't keep any mega-selling pop singer out), but it was interesting to see.

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Race for the Cure: Last week someone complained about the ads for the Race for the Cure; you posted a response detailing their good work and closed with "'Nuff said" or something like that.I disagree. Put me down as a woman who hates those ads and mutes the TV or turns the channel every time they come on. I hate the insufferableness of that woman with her pink boa and her mother's shoes who thinks she's entitled to a "say" about death. But more than that, I'm tired of the constant cancer drumbeat from Komen and Breast Cancer Awareness Month and "Buddycheck 9." Every 20 minutes it's "fight breast cancer" or "get your mammogram" or "do your self exam" with the implication of OR YOU'LL BE DOOMED. It's stressful and depressing to be reminded of the possibility, even though it will never happen to 90% of women.

Paul Farhi: Right, because the airwaves should only be filled up with entreaties to mindless consumerism. Asking people to safeguard their health or contribute to those who do--no, we can't have that.

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Several: 1) No news is purely objective; each news organization and its staff start from a specific viewpoint (left, middle or right). I think it's pretty obvious when FNC has commentary on like Glenn Beck (or the equivalents on MSNBC and CNN). My opinion - Mr. Raines argument is not on solid ground. 2) I'd love to see the plans that Augusta National and the local police will be putting into place to keep this year's Masters from turning into a total media circus. 3) RIP Peter Graves. 4) ABBA in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Are they kidding? ZZ Top have got to be spinning their guitars right about now.

Paul Farhi: We could get into a journalism-school debate about "objective" reporting, but it would bore everyone. Suffice to say, the simple rule once laid down by Bob Kaiser, our former managing editor, seems like a pretty good place to start: Give people one clean shot at the facts--and don't tell them what those facts "mean."

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Fox, dangerous outlier: Is it possible that Fox is lamentable not because it's capable of American mind control, but because it dares to suggest there's an alternative to media groupthink?

Paul Farhi: cliche?

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FOX/MSNBC: "Keith Olbermann does a pretty good job of beating up on Fox News every night." Bombastic journalism(?) on both sides, I watch neither. I read newspapers instead.

Paul Farhi: A reasonable alternative! And Raines doesn't seem to have a problem with MSNBC's partisanship on this issue. I'm not even suggesting there's an equivalence (because I don't know how to measure such a thing), but MSNBC's commentariat seems to have staked an ideological niche opposite Fox's.

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Jayson Blair: Really, Paul, you've already forgotten Raines being suckered by Jayson Blair, who wrote tender dispatches about Jessica Lynch's back yard from a bar down the street in Manhattan? Regardless of ideology, he's not exactly arguing from a position of journalistic strength.

Paul Farhi: Fox News...

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Fox News: Converting people? No, not in the sense that people with existing opinions on an issue will see it and change their minds. But the uninformed definitely have their beliefs molded there, and even more damaging, the already-entrenched get angrier and more militant when they see their beliefs reinforced there. An otherwise rational right-leaning person can go from normal to red-line-overload nutjob after a few sessions with Fox. Next thing you know, they're picketing the wrong agency with misspelled signs regarding policy they don't understand.

Paul Farhi: That was the Lovely Mrs. Station Break's point, too--that Fox News both reinforces and INFLAMES the beliefs of its core audience. I don't know if that's true (it may be), but if so, isn't the answer more information? People could turn to another station or another news source if they wanted to...

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Mission: Impossible: Yes, I remember Steven Hill as Dan Briggs for the first year. In their first two-parter, The Cardinal, he played the calliope for Mary Ann Mobley's high wire act while Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) got into the prison to rescue Cardinal Cyril Delavanti. He came sliding down a wire from a tower window with poor dear old Delavanti clinging to his back! Graves played Jim Phelps, a different character. I was irate when the first Misson: Impossible movie made Phelps the villain because Tom Cruise's Ethan was sleeping with Phelps' wife. Heresy!

Paul Farhi: And when did Peter Lupus, Greg Morris and Barbara Bain show up? Season One, or later? (I have a funny feeling we're boring the young 'uns with this line of nostalgia...)

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Outlier Theory, Again: By "groupthink," I'm not saying it's like the Borg. I think it's fair to suggest that the media elite tend to favor Obama, and would like a little health care reform. Fox stands out because it's not like the others. This damages the idea that "objective" media favor Obama, without somehow losing their objectivity. That' s what Raines is trying to argue: that we've had objectivity since WW2, not ruined by Fox.

Paul Farhi: Wait. You're saying that by being "unobjective," Fox News "damages" the idea of objective reporting? Or that objective reporting no longer works? Oh, I'm so confused ( I KNEW I should have taken that philosophy class in college).

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FNC: The point it that the NYT does have a liberal editorial stance, but it does not seep over into the news. FNC, on the other hand, has politicized the news. They say that their news and talking heads are different, but it is pretty well documented that their supposed hard "news" shows do not play if down the middle. Jon Stewart (W&M grad, cheer for W&M vs. UNC tonight) has put together a catalog of examples the last few weeks after FNC made the claim that, during certain hours and on programs, they only report the news. It is really remarkable how vitriolic FNC is during the "news."

Andrea Caumont: Go Tribe!

Paul Farhi: The show Stewart picked on was the newish afternoon hour hosted by Megyn(?) Kelly. Pretty clear from the clips played on "The Daily Show" that Ms. Kelly has a way to go before being touted as "objective."

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Race for the Cure Fatigue: The person complaining about this does make a good point, albeit obliquely. The continual drumbeat about breast cancer over the past 20 years convinced a substantial majority of American women that the disease was the biggest health threat they faced. Actually, it is heart disease--by a wide margin. NIH has been conducting an awareness campaign around this fact for years now and it is finally getting through, which is why you see so many stories about women's heart health in February, which is Heart Month.

Paul Farhi: Fair point. There's a kind of anti-halo effect, I guess. If you emphasize a certain risk (or in this case, disease), you risk distorting the likelihood of that risk. Example: People are very aware of terrorism, because it gets covered so much. But as a result they exaggerate the chances of being a victim of terrorism. Meanwhile, they don't wear seat belts and/or overeat--both of which create much higher personal risks than terrorism.

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ROF: The Rock & Roll HOF is not some selfless endeavor to honor national heros - it is a money making machine. It's no mystery why people like Madonna and ABBA get in - it's because there's a finite number of rock stars and this keeps the HOF relevant and keeps the turnstiles spinning. And folk singers are socialists? Really? When did our level of political discourse degenerate into labeling anyone that has a different view as an enemy of the state? It's tiresome, and I doubt that most people that sling that term around so freely even understand what socialism is. Or that putting labels on people with opposing viewpoints in order to villainize them is one of the fundamentals in the school of fascism.

Paul Farhi: Sure. Not much percentage in NOT honoring popular acts, I guess. And, yes, it is unfair to label folk singers socialists. (Total aside: Mary Chapin Carpenter once joked about writing the ultimate folk song--about a train wreck in a coal mine).

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Mission: Impossible: Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, & Peter Lupus were all in the first season. Peter Graves came in the second season & the rest of the cast stayed for seasons 2 & 3. When Bain & Landau left at the end of season 3, Leonard Nimoy replaced Landau as Paris and, I believe, either Lynda Day George or Leslie Ann Warren was the female agent. Mobley & Delavanti were guest stars. Other notable guest stars from the first seasons were Eric Braeden, Fritz Weaver, Nehemiah Persoff, Mark Lenard (the original Sarek), Mark Richman.

Paul Farhi: Interesting. But now I KNOW we've lost anyone under the age of 49.

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Non Sequitur: Who in the heck is Andrea Caumont and why is she cheering on the Cleveland Indians?

Andrea Caumont: I'm Paul's producer today and also a W&M grad and Tribe supporter.

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terrorism: I can choose not to overeat or use seat belts. I can't choose not to be blown up by a terrorist.

Paul Farhi: But many people DO choose to overeat or smoke or whatever. They've calculated the personal harm to them and decided that the shortterm pleasure is worth more than the longterm risk. It's "rational" on some level. The terrorism thing is just plain irrational; there's some risk, yes, but it's very, very, very unlikely that it will affect you personally.

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cause and effect: It's a double threat - people don't wear their seatbelts because they're too fat from overeating. Al Quaida could be quite effective in carrying out their terrorist threats simply by opening a chain of doughnut shops.

Paul Farhi: Haha! Are you suggesting something about Dunkins that was previously unknown? Or did you mean Tim Horton's--they are from a foreign country, aren't they?

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ABBA in the R&R Hall of FAme: What will be **really** weird is when Meryl Streep stars in a musical based on the tunes of Iggy Popp.

Paul Farhi: I was thinking Steve Buscemi could do Iggy justice. Or vice versa.

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Annoying Cancer Ads: I'm writing this from the infusion room at my oncologist's office, where I'm being treated for stage 3 colon cancer. These ads may be annoying to the commenter, but important to anyone whose cancer is caught at an early stage. I wish colonoscopy ads were as prevalent. Colon cancer kills more Americans than breast cancer. But, and it's about butts, colons are not as sexy as breasts are. So we don't see much of it. March is colon cancer awareness month, but the way.

Paul Farhi: Thanks for that. Seriously. Thanks. And godspeed to you.

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Fox News: The Morning Show ("Fox and Friends", isn't it?) is nothing but the hosts sitting on the couch bashing Democrats and praising Republicans, particularly this most right-wing elements of the party. That's fine for an opinion show, but isn't the morning show supposed to be news? The other networks don't have the people on the couch parroting the network's political opinions. (They have the hosts' pitching the network's evening entertainment shows, instead.)

Paul Farhi: "Fox & Friends" some years ago. It was at the time when the hosts were cheerleading us into the Iraq war. And I use "cheerleading" in the most objective way possible--it was practically a pep rally. I asked them about this in reporting a story; they didn't see a problem with it.

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Comments after articles: I stopped reading them ages ago - here, on WTOP, NYT. Mostly vicious, nasty, ugly, ANONYMOUS rantings. Most of the "writers" and I use that term loosely, wouldn't say half that stuff in public.I'll stick with the dead tree version and the (mostly) thoughtful letters printed in the A section.

Paul Farhi: than they are anonymously.

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re: Race for the Cure: I'm going to have to agree...but not because I get depressed by it, but because there are SO many other types of cancers, diseases, etc. that get ignored because somehow the breast cancer marketing peeps found a way to co-opt the market. A friend who is a oncology researcher has commented that breast cancer research is FLOODED with money and that funds should be directed elsewhere.I hate pink, too, so that doesn't help. But what bugs me more is during breast cancer month, I get hit up all the time for donations. I choose to put my money elsewhere and respectfully decline, but because I'm female, I'm considered 'evil' or not 'sticking up for women' or whatever. Annoying. My family genes have lots of other health issues that I'm much more likely to get, so let me put my money there, thanks.

Paul Farhi: I hate to pit one worthy cause against another, one fatal disease vs. another one. They're all good, one way or another. But the "zero sum game" argument is a valid one. There is a finite amount of charity, research funds, medical resources etc. to go around. Choose your cause wisely.

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But people want to be told!: You wrote: Give people one clean shot at the facts--and don't tell them what those facts "mean."But don't people want analysis from those who are smarter/more informed/more engaged on a particular issue? I agree with much of what Ezra Klein writes about HCR so I trust his opinions. Isn't it just a matter of finding the news source you agree with?

Paul Farhi: with those facts placed in their proper context, would be helpful.

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don't forget Merlin Olsen: While we are noting celebrity passings I was actually somewhat sad to see that Merlin Olsen died last week. As a child of the 70s both he and Graves were very much in my TV landscape.

Paul Farhi: Ah, yes. We forgot Merlin. RIP, for sure. Here's how old I am: I grew up rooting for the L.A. Rams and the "Fearsome Foursome" that he was a part of. Anyway, he lived an interesting and admirable life, as our obit on his passing demonstrated.

Andrea Caumont: NFL Hall of Famer starred in frontier TV dramas (Post, March 12)

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Peter Graves in Airplane: The Zucker Brothers claim that Graves was the one actor who never could grasp the concept of what they were trying to do (have stalwart action-movie heroes parody themselves). Graves kept saying he thought the role should be played by a comedic farce actor, in particular by Harvey Korman. Bridges, Stack, and of course Nielson understood the premise, but Graves never comprehended it until he attended the premier and his wife fell out of her seat laughing at Grave's famous dialog.

Paul Farhi: Hard to believe! What part of "Do you like Turkish prison movies, Bobby?" did he NOT understand as comedic/ironic?

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Fox "news": Whether other media calls Fox out or not, the best take-downs going are those of Jon Stewart. They're dead-on and hilarious.

Paul Farhi: I think Stewart/Daily Show is the best source of media criticism in America. At least on TV, which doesn't really do a whole lot of self-reflection. One thing, though: Stewart/DS are very, very tough on Fox News. They may want to mix it up a bit more.

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Peter Graves: I had no idea he was the younger brother of James Arness, who survives him, by the way.

Paul Farhi: I had a vague recollection of that when I read his obit, but was surprised to learn it again. They didn't really seem that much alike. Or at least they were known for such very different things that you'd never associate the two of them.

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World's smallest man: The smallest human being, a man only two and a half feet tall, died yesterday. The world seems a little bit larger today.

Andrea Caumont: World's shortest man, He Pingping, dies in Italy (AP, March 16)

Paul Farhi: Wow. That's profound! Or maybe not.

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Permalink: Call me old, but what is it?

Andrea Caumont: It's a link that takes you directly to that particular question in the chat. Here's a demo. Click it --> Permalink

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Faux News: I've always felt that Fox is way slanted, they use the "fair and balanced" slogan, but its just that, a slogan. They mainly preach to the choir, but I know of quite a few people in my community who believe they are objective and therefore swallow whole everything they report. Now I feel these people are missing an important fact many find out, that we have to question and reason things out for ourselves. But that doesn't mean that Fox isn't culpable for misrepresenting themselves, and are in my opinion represent the resurgence of yellow journalism in the 21st century.

Paul Farhi:

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Mission: Impossible: It appears that rugged Sam Elliott was in a half-season of one of Mission's later seasons. By looking at this intro clip, it appears the mission was to find out who stole Sam's manly mustache.

Paul Farhi: I once encountered Sam Elliott, at the Century City mall in Los Angeles. He seemed less folksy and aw-shucksy than the characters he always plays.**This personal anecdote comes to you courtesy of the fact that everything is really about me, me, me...

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Fox News shows: I've noticed that in a number of Fox news show, the male hosts are dressed in conservative suits, while the female hosts are in short dresses with unprofessional necklines. Just sayin'

Paul Farhi: Thank you for sayin'. I will pay closer attention now.

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Article Comments: I guess I feel a little differently. Reading the comments reminds me that a lot that I hear from people is lip service. People have been taught well how to be PC, but if they can say something bigoted without anyone knowing, they wil. I'm not entirely sure it does any of us a favor that they are afraid to voice their true opinions in public.

Paul Farhi: I guess one could argue that those ugly comments represent the id of the American public, and to deny them a forum is to deny the hideous undercurrents of our society. One could argue that, of course, but one would be wrong.

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Alexandria, VA: Paul, did you ever see the movie Idiocracy? If so, have you heard the Frank's Red Hot radio spot where the little old lady say's "I put that -bleep- on everything". One small step for mankind closer to that reality...

Paul Farhi: "Idiocracy" had its moments (that sounds like one of them), but as consistent satire it was no "Office Space."

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Ignorance can be comic blis: Slim Pickens, who played the determined B52 pilot in Dr. Strangelove, evidently believed that he was an heroic Air Force guy in a standard war movie, because of course the only scenes he was in were on the plane. Not sure what he thought about riding that H-Bomb like a rodeo cowboy at the end, but that's what I have read.

Paul Farhi: I've met a few actors, and the better ones are actually very bright people. They have to be to understand their characters and the context of their characters. Now: Was Slim Pickens one of the better actors? I don't know for sure, but if he didn't understand that scene for what it was, I would have to say no.

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The Arness brothers (Jim Arness and Peter Graves): Actually, I always enjoyed noting the similarity, esepcially when they were playing the heors in those 1950s cheesy sci-fi movies battling giant insects. I don't think they ever acted together in one of those flicks, but it was basically the same guy in the same role each time.

Paul Farhi: Both went on to bigger (or at least more popular and better produced) things, didn't they?

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RE: Fox News: I'm as conservative as anybody on this chat, and the only FNC show I ever watch is the 7 pm news. I caught a little bit of the morning show recently, and you're right -- they are as aggressive in cheering on the Republicans as "Today" is at cheering on the president.

Paul Farhi: Does "Today" do that? Still? I don't know from the show's politics. But I was never much of a "Today" fan, and am less and less of one these days as their slide into infotainment (and relentless network self-promotion) continues apace.

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Fair and Balanced: In the old days, newspapers used to have names like "The Philadelphia Democrat" or whatever, leaving no doubt that they had a particular point of view. Why doesn't Fox just brand themselves as "Right-wing News and Opinion" instead of the dishonest claim to objectivity and fairness?

Paul Farhi:

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The Chatter Formerly Known as Albany, NY: I think the real reason that the MSM doesn't criticize FNC is because it cannot -- because FNC has cleverly defanged them through preemptive strikes."Objectivity" is a historicized concept in journalism, mostly localized in the 20th century. FNC has moved away from that. I don't have a problem with that per se. As Mr. Raines suggests, Britain manages to negotiate a landscape like this. I think there are some problems with the idea that FNC is borrowing the "grammar" of objective journalism (although they never explicitly say they're objective); they look like an objective source, but are not, and that confounds people. But I think that we will push through this, and eventually the marketplace will figure out how to treat FNC -- as an advocacy voice that employs some of the tropes of objective journalism.

Paul Farhi: Hi, former Albany...I think the premise is wrong--the MSM *does* criticize FNC (just Google "Fox News" and "criticism"--I'm sure you'll find a few things. What people are really saying when they say this is that other TV networks don't criticize Fox. But that's a bit unfair--TV historically hasn't criticized anything on TV (that's why Stewart/Daily Show are so refreshing, and why Olbermann occasionally lands a solid uppercut). TV is the least reflective medium ever!

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The Id of the American public: You're right - and Fox News is the Krell machine that amplifies it to create the Monsters from the Id. OK, that reference was to Leslie Nielsen rather than Peter Graves, but it was the only way to connect Fox News to "Airplane".

Paul Farhi: Judges?...Oh, sorry, no ThreadWeaving[TM] award...

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Fox News Necklines: I think there's a regional fashion issue at work. In Los Angeles, female professionals do indeed wear skirts that are shorter and necklines that are lower than are considered appropriate in Washington. You'd think this would create problems for the Fox News demo, which is decidedly non-Los Angeles, but there it is.

Paul Farhi: And don't even start about what the women on the Spanish-language TV networks wear, or don't. Yikes!

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R&RHOF: I hear what you are saying about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Abba. (I seem to recall that at this time a year or two ago you were equally outraged about Chic.) But, if you change your mind, they're the first in line...

Paul Farhi: But didn't we acknowledge that Chic had had some actually influence on rock music? I don't recall what it was, but it was something, right? What is/was ABBA's contribution?

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Fox Slant: People tuning in to Fox and not knowing it is slanted is like someone turning on ESPN and being surprised there are athletic events.Label it what you want, its whats inside that counts.A bag of chips might claim 0grams trans fats but the product is still full of saturated fat. It just doesn't advertise it that way.

Paul Farhi: Yes. Hard to imagine that anyone watching any of Fox's opinion shows--its most popular programs, by far, by the way--would be shocked to encounter a conservative opinion. Screaming "partisan!" at Beck, Hannity, et al, can only be answered by saying, "Yeah. So?"

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Alexandria, VA: Real headlines today that could have come out of The Onion: "Inmate Hid Drugs In Fat Rolls" and "Body Parts Found Along Beer Can Beach"

Paul Farhi: My favorite was the story over the weekend about the resignation of the head of the GOP in Utah, who admitted he had sat naked in a hot tub with a 15-year-old girl many years earlier. The headline on one AP story referred to his "Hot Tub Confession," which sounded like both an Onion headline AND a song by the Grass Roots.

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What is/was ABBA's contribution?: Really bad clothing choices for the last half of the 70's and most of the 80's?

Paul Farhi: Having lived through that period, and worn clothes during it, I plead guilty. And that was the best part of "Mama Mia"--the wonderful parody of the styles of that time by Ms. Streep, et al, at the end of the movie.

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Re: Sam Elliott: If you're still there, how about some details on meeting him? I've always liked the guy so please don't tell me he was a jerk. Okay, tell me that but only if it's true...

Paul Farhi: It was a very brief encounter--like a few seconds--in the food court. Said hello, he smiled, everyone moved to their respective plastic tables. And, no, he was not a jerk. Seemed like any ol' schmoe.

_______________________

Graves: You're not old enough to remember Graves in FURY in the'50s, are you?Boy/Horse story, Graves the father.

Paul Farhi: I hadn't remembered "Fury" until it was mentioned in Graves obit. But yes, I DO remember "Fury"! Actually, all I remember was that it was about a horse, who reared up in the opening (or maybe closing) credits. That's it. I don't remember that Graves was in it.

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FoxBabes: They dress in a way to be attractive to men. It's what gals used to do before the Bella Abzugs of the world told them being hot was evil. Check out your average RNC convention attendee vs. your average DNC convention attendee if you don't believe me.Can you do a quick survey of your readers to see if they've ever actually watched Fox News, especially at 7pm? I'm willing to be that the vast majority has never seen that pretty snappy newscast. You're right about exposing yourself to other points of view...it's the same reason I sometimes watch CBS or listen to NPR.

Paul Farhi: Noted. Thanks.

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Mrs. Station Break: I thought she now prefers to be called Mrs. Pop Culture.

Paul Farhi: Shhh. The forces that decreed the end of Station Break forgot to attach a legal rider declaring other uses of the name null and void. My attorneys advise me that we own the rights to the Lovely Mrs. Station Break! We will be selling action figures and other products under than name in the near future.

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Future Great Moments in Journalism: Wait until CBS covers the Masters this year. They will be so nice to Tiger you'd have thought he was pulling a Ben Hogan and coming back from a life threatening accident. You'll see some of the softest interviews ever conducted. Between the need for ratings and the fact that Augusta National is run like the Kremlin, there's no chance of any journalism breaking out on air.

Paul Farhi: I can hear Jim Nantz now, intoning about "a tradition like no other." Ughhhh....

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Sam Elliott: Besides stealing the scene in every film he's in, he's married to Katharine Ross, from The Graduate and Butch Cassidy

Paul Farhi: Great factoid! Did not know that. Was he also in "Fury"?

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Paul Farhi: --Paul.


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