The Watering Hole, Monday, September 22nd, 2014: ‘Fair and Unbalanced’

On the Friday before last (September 12th), we watched the Bill Maher two-venue HBO special live from Washington, DC.

Former Governor Haley Barbour (whom Jerry Seinfeld later referred to as “Boss Hogg”) thrice repeated a line to which no one responded with what I thought was the obvious answer. Although it’s not in any transcript that I’ve found, you can find it here.

Barbour’s line: “The President’s got to LEAD.”

My response: The President cannot lead people who have sworn not to follow.

It’s as simple as that, no one can be a leader without people following him/her. While some Democrats may hesitate to follow President Obama’s lead on some matters, the entire Republican membership has made it their sole mission to thwart the President’s leadership and to hinder any possible accomplishments that would reflect well on the President. Former Governor Barbour also trotted out this canard about Saint Ronnie:

“Reagan, when he was president, every time he passed something, he had to go meet with the House Democrats to get their votes. He compromised on everything. President Obama doesn’t even talk to the Republicans.”

Well, when the Republicans started off the first Obama Administration with a meeting to discuss how to obstruct everything and make the new President a “one-term President”, and when Republicans invited to the White House decline the invitation en masse, who can blame Obama for not wanting to talk to the Republicans?

What the internets picked up on was Bill’s statement about Fox News, and that Jerry Seinfeld “pushes back”.

Here’s the only part of the transcript that I found, on Real Clear Politics (which may have a video clip):

BILL MAHER: “I find that it’s not the state you’re in it’s whether you’re from a city or in the rural part of America. I’ve been to two cities in Alabama this year. I’ve been to Birmingham and Mobile. They look like everywhere else. They have a Pottery Barn and Thai food. And we’re talking about the polarization in Washington. I wonder, people always talk about Washington, the politicians can’t get along, I think maybe it’s that the people are polarized and the politicians just reflect that and I feel ————————–like the reason the people are polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed in America, Fox News changed the most. It used to be the John Birch Society came to your door once a year. Now they’re in your TV in your living room everyday and we don’t even know how to talk to each other. It’s like we have a language barrier. because what they’re hearing on Fox News — it’s the same people. It’s like what? Saul Alinsky? We don’t know who that is…”

FMR. GOV. HALEY BARBOUR: In fairness, Fox News doesn’t have a monopoly on television taking sides.

JERRY SEINFELD: Yeah, that’s true.

BARBOUR: Take tonight, for instance. Bill Maher is a big personality in American politics.

MAHER: Well, thank you.

BARBOUR: We have those two moderates on the TV show — Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann**. Let’s see, you have these four Republican congressmen you’re trying to decide which one to assassinate.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

SEINFELD: I think that you’d have a better argument that each side just talks to its side, listens to its side.

MAHER: Right.

SEINFELD: That’s polarizing. To blame it all on Fox News doesn’t seem completely fair.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Couldn’t you argue there are people out there who are fed up with everything that happens in this city and aren’t voting, aren’t involved. That’s the silent majority of middle, moderate, thoughtful people, who just want thoughtful people —

BILL MAHER: With all due respect, the opposite of fox news is not really me. It’s MSNBC, which doesn’t get near the ratings of Fox News because I think there is something in the conservative brain that wants to be hearing the same thing over and over and doing the same thing — thing over and over. Liberals like different. Always a new restaurant. Conservatives are like no, I go to the diner and I get the number five every day.

HALEY BARBOUR: Those of us, including y’all who grew up in the time where we had three networks and two big newspapers and they all had the same message, same way. Fox News was the first thing to come along that gave a conservative point of view and as you say, there are big networks that are very, very left and I think there’s a huge market in the middle of the United States. I think people want a common sense, straight talk problem solving. They want to get things done. Your point is the media has become as polarized is —

JERRY SEINFELD: That’s not as entertaining as hysteria.

**Keith Olbermann is back to sports and has been for some time now, and, while Michael Moore is a Liberal who makes documentary films about current events, he does not have a 24/7/365 pulpit reaching millions of viewers, whether they like it or not. And, as Americans Against the Tea Party puts it:

“But what these “false balance” denialists fail to take into account is that Fox News wields disproportionate influence, and that the station is far from “fair and balanced.”

Breitbart TV, of course, has their own take on the Maher/Seinfeld issue: the title of their article is “Seinfeld Defends Fox News Against Maher Attack”. Unfortunately – very unfortunately, as I’ll discuss further along – the Breitbart link was one of the few that came up when I binged ‘video of Haley Barbour on Bill Maher.’ Until last evening, sources that promised the video had had to take it down. Here’s how Breitbart’s Pam Key interpreted the discussion:

“Friday night’s live broadcast from Washington D.C. of the season premier[sic] of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” featured a take down of the hosts’ attack on Fox News from comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) that had even rival MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell recoiling at Maher’s insistence that Fox News was responsible for the polarization of America.” [I’d say that Jerry was more, well, gently chiding, and could in no way be described as a “take down.” And, though I’d have to watch the video again, I don’t think that “recoiling” is an accurate description of Mitchell’s reaction.]

Maher began by discussing the real polarization being between rural and urban America but then not realizing the contraction[?] of blaming regional differences of a country on a cable news network created in 1996, he began to insist Fox News has created a “language barrier.”

Barbour countered by saying Fox News didn’t create the polarization — it was a response to it. Because Barbour explained there used to be a monopoly of three networks with liberal views that had “the same message, the same way. Fox News was the first thing to come along that gave a conservative point of view.”

Jerry Seinfeld jumped in saying “each side just talks to its side,” so it’s silly [to]single out Fox News, adding “to blame it all on Fox news doesn’t seem completely fair.”

I think that the Breitbart writers exaggerated a tad by calling Seinfeld’s statements “defend[ing] Fox News, and that Barbour’s and Andrea Mitchell’s protestations were a “take down” of Bill Maher.

However, the worst on the Breitbart site were the comments. I must call out one in particular, which featured a quote from Bill Maher stating that he’s more afraid of (climate-change-caused) ice melting than he is of ISIS. When I first looked at the quote, I didn’t realize what the commenter had superimposed it over a photo. To spare you all from having to actually view it, let me describe it: someone had taken one of the still photos of one of the journalists beheaded by ISIS, and had photoshopped Bill Maher’s head in place of what had apparently been the victim’s head, held in the dead man’s hands.

I have it saved, even though I never want to see it again. But if I EVER hear again the bullshit that liberal commenters are just as bad as conservative commenters, I’m dragging that piece of excrement out as the ultimate evidence.

This is our daily open thread.  Please feel free to discuss anything you wish.

26 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, September 22nd, 2014: ‘Fair and Unbalanced’

  1. The panel let Haley Barbour claim that the rancor started around 2006. It started when Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America agenda was implemented in 1995. That’s when scorched-earth politics became the norm. Too many religious conservatives were elected, and their ideology is that compromising with the opposition is the same as compromising with the Devil, therefore the opposition is on the side of the Devil.

    • I think Rush had a lot to do with it too. I’ve had former friends change from people you could have a lively discussion with into people who will actually say that all liberals should be killed.

      • It’s sad, but I too had a very good friend who seemed to go totally insane when the President was elected in 2008. He’d turned into a very hateful and angry individual. But I’m sure all of us can tell similar stories about those who have morphed into someone almost unrecognizable.

    • I’d push that time line back to 1980 when Ronnie Raygun declared war on the middle class with the advice and consent of the right wing media in place at that time.

      • One could also argue that the beginning of the end was the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the defection of the Dixiecrats to the GOP.

        • Perhaps the tap root of it all….But who’d really want to be allied with DixieEffingCrats who were against abolition in the first effing place…?

  2. And it came to pass that the ruling class used mass media and social psychology to divide the lower classes into conservatives and liberals. While liberals cared for one another, conservatives cared for themselves and their own, and sought to kill all liberals. It started with killing doctors who performed abortions, then went on to gunning down black kids, by private citizens, then by the police themselves.

    Meanwhile the ruling class continued to transfer their wealth out of the country and continued to buy elections. Elected representatives continued to represent their wealthy benefactors and the lot of the working class continued to decline.

      • Correct, RUC. It is not that they are unwilling to see it, they are incapable of seeing it, and anything else that is incongruent with their worldview.

        At the end of it all, they will be wandering about in the same state of collective shock as the Germans felt at the end of their Third Reich. And, sadly, yess, this country may be in the same state of ruin.

    • When the headlines say that climate change will cost the US billions, the ruling class sees that climate change will profit them billions – the working class and the poor will bear the burden once again.

  3. Those Lazy Jobless -Paul Krugman

    Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute what’s holding back employment in America: laziness. People, he said, have “this idea” that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” Holy 47 percent, Batman!

    It’s hardly the first time a prominent conservative has said something along these lines. Ever since a financial crisis plunged us into recession it has been a nonstop refrain on the right that the unemployed aren’t trying hard enough, that they are taking it easy thanks to generous unemployment benefits, which are constantly characterized as “paying people not to work.” And the urge to blame the victims of a depressed economy has proved impervious to logic and evidence.

    But it’s still amazing — and revealing — to hear this line being……….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/opinion/paul-krugman-those-lazy-jobless.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=1

  4. Militia Group Plans To Target African-American Democrats At Polling Places In Wisconsin

    A visit to the group’s Facebook page features makes it clear exactly who they are targeting. All of the pictures on the page feature African-Americans. The group is trying to get African-Americans who may have outstanding warrants arrested in order to keep them from voting. The group wants people to report those they suspect of having warrants out on them to the police on election day, “Do the community a favor and keep an eye out for people wanted on warrants and report them to the police on election day.”

    The “poll watchers” also plan on harassing and following people who they suspect of being wanted on warrants to their homes. The plan seems to be to use the police to intimidate African-Americans into not voting in November’s election.

    http://www.politicususa.com/2014/09/18/militia-group-plans-target-african-american-democrats-polling-places-wisconsin.html

      • Pete, I’ll give it a try. These are merely good citizens assisting law enforcement at locating and apprehending people who are wanted by law enforcement and the courts, people who have outstanding warrants for their arrest.

        • …and are dark skinned, because, you know, they are lazy too, on top of being the criminal element.

          Perception is reality. Some real interesting reality in America these days.

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