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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘MSNBC’

Angry Liberals in America

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is staring at me with the uncontrolled intensity usually reserved for serial killers and time-share salesmen. “We know how to get the country back to work. The government needs to lead the way.”

He folds a napkin in what looks like some expensive oyster bar, but is probably just a television studio backdrop. “The government has to get us back to work.”

O’Donnell already has a job. His job is to yell angry things on MSNBC. Most of his listeners also have jobs or at least they have parents.

MSNBC is not a news network for the unemployed. It is a news network for aging liberals still addicted to listening to angry liberals yell about George W Bush.

On the television, O’Donnell, doing his best imitation of a strangler, wrings his hands and leans into the camera. Lean Forward, the ad, sandwiched between a drug ad that features smiling families at a picnic while the announcer soothingly tells you all the ways it can kill you and that multiracial Cheerios ad that General Mills hopes to use convince a new generation of consumers that racial progress is more important than good taste, tells me.

The ads are more soothing than the angry MSNBC segments that they bookend. And soothing is code for upscale. Even Lawrence O’Donnell angrily leaning forward in his imaginary upscale oyster bar where there are no other people smells of that same soothing patina of a moneyed world where nothing can go wrong except minor servant problems.
Strip down MSNBC to its skivvies and you find an angry NPR. It’s as if all the NPR people have given up speaking in their supercilious voices and after a few drinks at a cocktail party began holding forth on everything wrong with the canapés.
MSNBC is chock full of anger, but like Lawrence O’Donnell choking down his fury in an imaginary oyster bar over the inability of some people to understand that the government has to get us back to work in the fifth year of a liberal administration that promised to do just that, it’s an anger that makes no sense.
Liberals like to mock conservatives as a bunch of angry white men, but there are more angry white men yelling at the camera in two hours of MSNBC than in two days of FOX News.
It’s not the kind of yelling that unemployed men do when they get a call from the bank telling them that there will be no loan modification. It’s the prissy raised voices you hear at Starbucks when the Chris Hayes lookalike is shocked to be told that the java isn’t locally sourced and that if he doesn’t like that he can take his MacBook Air and finish his Great Unamerican Novel in some other coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.
MSNBCers don’t quite yell. Instead they tighten up, grind their teeth and treat viewers like the waiters in their oyster bar who got their order wrong. They aren’t going to yell, but they make it clear that they are furious and the only thing keeping them from turning red and breaking down in a screaming fit over nothing is that they suspect deep inside that the only response to their innermost volcanic venting will be a shrug. What angry leftists who grew up convinced of their snowflake specialness fear is that their anger will not change the world. That like a squalling infant in his third rate news network crib, no one will even care.
That is liberal anger, the privileged wheeze of entitled brats who do for politics exactly what their younger counterparts do for music with Pitchfork Magazine. It’s not righteous anger, but snob rage, the frustrated fury of the aesthetes of the Hill who hate what is on your iPod, your Kindle and your news feed.
“Republicans,” they spit with the venom of a Mohammedan rug merchant matching wits and saliva with his camel on a hot desert day.
“Tea Party. Ted Cruz. John Boehner.” These are the dread curses of the MSNBC set and are spoken like obscenities over an overturned car, like a starving urchin cursing the thief who stole his last loaf of bread, like a man sitting in an empty oyster bar speaking the name of the waiter who took his order an hour ago and then never came back.
These are the tales of the tribe that leans forward cupping hands around the smartphones that tell them who their enemies are and how they wronged them in the days of Nixon, the great betrayal of Bush v. Gore and the latest horrible plot just uncovered by the intrepid fabricators at Media Matters.
The tribe has few identities. It isn’t big on religions and nations. The borders of the United States are an outdated detail to them and the only ancestry that interests them is the stark divide between white and official minority. What they have are tastes. Their tastes in music, movies, food and politics are more than interest or enjoyment… these things are their identity. The things that they love in a way that they could never love people… give them meaning.
The left is a creature of trends, it pops up in trendy places as the alternative and it is always changing and spawning alternatives to itself. It is always trying to be edgy as it can before it settles down to the pudgy displays of choked down anger of the man who does not quite dare to yell at a waiter on display nightly on MSNBC.
There is a lot of anger on MSNBC, but it is mostly misdirected anger. It is the anger of men who want to yell at their wives and sons but instead gibber at viewers in empty oyster bars that are as fake as their economics. It is the petty anger of men who have put so much of themselves into their hobbies because their shallow egotism permits them no more human a connection and tolerates not even the slightest slights against the objects of their impeccable tastes. It is the anger of an old elite that has become foolish and deranged and does not really know why it is angry anymore… except perhaps because it is dying.
Liberalism in those northeastern circles used to be a matter of good taste. There is nothing good about it anymore. It has become a suicide pact for angry lonely men who wait in imaginary oyster bars for a waiter who will never come, for an Age of Aquarius that will never be born and a transcendence of government that will never arrive no matter how they twist their hands, tug at their red napkins and lean forward.

Liberalism has become sick with its own disease. It is as dogma-ridden as any Red drinking sour beer in 1920s Chicago. It has nothing to offer to anyone except the ideological denunciation of thought crimes and the attendant superiority of being on the right side of the guillotine. And it has the misplaced self-righteousness of those who are busy pretending that they are angry about what is being done to other people, rather than their own egotistical anger with which they confront their sense of futility.

Liberalism, like all trends, seeks novelty, it burns brightest among the young, it plots to escape from history through the engine of progress only to discover that the mortality that is the greatest fear of the intellectual mayfly outlives the schemes of men.
The left personifies vanity. Its activists and advocates envision an escape from time only to drown it. Anger is their engine of change, but their anger makes only a little light and a little heat before it burns out leaving them alone in a cold dark oyster bar with history behind them, leaning forward into oblivion.

Al Sharpton and MSNBC – Perfect for Each Other

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

For years, Al Sharpton has been dishing out something – and it sure is not news. And that makes him perfect for MSNBC.

Stuart Stevens, prompted by a New York Times and Retropreport.org documentary, writes in the Daily Beast an expose of the sordid history of Al Sharpton:

[Tawana] Brawley was 15 years old in 1987, when she was found in her hometown of Wappingers Falls, New York, with “Bitch,” “KKK,” and “Nigger” written on her stomach, her jeans burnt in the crotch, feces in her hair, and her tennis shoes sliced open. She said that she had been abducted and raped by a group of white men.

A trio of increasingly prominent, and radical, New York City black activists represented her and her family: attorneys Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Brawley told them said that a cop had been one of her attackers, and Sharpton named that officer as Harry Crist Jr., a police officer from a nearby town who had committed suicide shortly after Brawley was found. Sharpton also named a local prosecutor, Steven Pagones, as one of the attackers. He offered no proof.

Sharpton and attorneys who “represented” Brawley sparked a lot of racial strife with their unsupported accusations, making life miserable not only for the innocent accused but for the rest of the city and country. Eventually, a jury found the obvious: the whole affair was a hoax perpetrated by Brawley, Sharpton and other race-mongerers. Pagones life became a living hell-because of Sharpton.

Sharpton has a long history of racism and anti-Semitism that trails him wherever he goes, though this has been neatly excised by MSNBC, Bill Clinton and others who have found it politically useful to rub elbows with Sharpton. This has been a shameful practice – the likes of Sharpton have done harm not only to fellow African-Americans but to the nation as a whole.

Stevens continues:

The Tawana Brawley case that captivated New York in the late eighties is a shocking reminder of the toxic mix racial exploitation and personal ambition can produce. The New York Times and Retroreport.org have just released a new 15-minute documentary on the despicable hoax, which should be required viewing for the NBC News executives who are heavily invested in rehabilitating a key culprit of this loathsome episode: the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton was a key player inflaming the 1991 Crown Heights riots following the death of a young African-American who was hit by an ambulance driven by a Hasidic driver. Sharpton called Jews “diamond merchants” with “the blood of innocent babies” on their hands. A mob subsequently attacked and murdered an innocent Hasidic Jewish student visiting from Australia. (Twenty-five years later, he wrote a mealy-mouthed not-quite apology for his rhetoric.)

A few years later, an African-American Pentecostal church asked a Jewish tenant of a church-owned property, Freddie Fashion’s Mart, to evict one of his subtenants, an African-American-run record store. Sharpton led protests crying, “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.” One of the protesters attacked Freddie Fashion Mart, shot several customers, and started a fire that killed seven employees.

There are a lot of angry, twisted individuals in America and Sharpton is hardly alone in having spent decades vomiting hate, leaving innocent victims in his wake. What distinguishes Sharpton is the willingness of powerful people and organizations to look past the hate when they believe it may benefit them.

Stevens notes MSNBC has spent millions of dollars to “rehabilitate and promote” Sharpton as a “credible source of information” and has “made the ethical and news judgment that Sharpton” should be a key influence-maker in America.

Recent events bear out Steven’s criticism.

In the last two days, Sharpton has declared–despite all evidence to the contrary–that there is “no evidence at all” connecting Holder to scandals .

Clearly Sharpton has no problem lying to the American people.

But maybe Stevens should not be so outraged at MSNBC. He sees it as a news organization.

But how does MSNBC view itself?

In a rare moment of truth, the network has all but admitted it is not a news outlet. Bill Carter reports on MSNBC’s slumping ratings at the New York Times:

At a time of intensely high interest in news, MSNBC’s ratings declined from the same period a year ago by about 20 percent. The explanation, in the network’s own analysis, comes down to this: breaking news is not really what MSNBC does.

“We’re not the place for that,” said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. “Our brand is not that.”

The brand, one MSNBC has cultivated with success, is defined by its tagline, “The Place for Politics,” and a skew toward left-wing, progressive political talk, the opposite of the conservative-based approach that has worked well for Fox News.

MSNBC began to commit itself to presenting a liberal spin on political coverage in the middle of the last decade, partly because it had not found success in previous models (like trying to be a news channel for younger viewers) and mostly because it had one host, Keith Olbermann, whose ratings were exploding based on his outspoken criticisms of the Bush administration and the conservative voices on Fox News.

Ever wonder why so much of what is news gets short shrift – if it is covered at all – at MSNBC? They are not in the business of gathering and broadcasting news. This network is the home of Obama-worshipers and GOP-bashers such as Chris Mathews and Rachel Maddow (whose show’s ratings are plummeting) and is merely a spin-machine. They are not a part of the mythical fourth branch of government but are merely a branch of the Democratic Party.

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Move Along, No Bias Here

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
            The Media Research Center is out with its annual compilation of the year’s Best Notable Quotables (December 2009 through November 2010) – a collection of dozens of examples of media liberal bias and idiocy that is as dispiriting as it is (unintentionally) humorous.
            One can’t help but marvel while reading the choices:These are the representatives of our elite news outlets? Can their sycophantismtoward liberal politicians be more nauseating, their championing of liberal policies more transparent, their utter disdain for conservatives more apparent?
            A few of the Monitor’s favorites follow. For the complete selection and to find out where all the quotes ranked in terms of ignominy as determined by a panel of judges, go to www.mrc.org.
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, talking about radical Muslims: “Somehow, the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
            Host Tavis Smiley: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
            Ali: “Do they blow people up every day?”

            Smiley: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is – I could do this all day long…. There are folk in the Tea Party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people ‘nigger’ as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people. That’s within the political – that’s within the body politic of this country.”

Exchange on PBS’s “Tavis Smiley,” May 25.

 

“The oil spill is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency so far. It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors, whether it was bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Afghanistan – which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated – preventing a depression that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch. So this is more of the same.”

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter on MSNBC’s

 “The Daily Rundown,” June 10.

 

“No one has a quicker mind or tongue than [Al] Sharpton. His political instincts are unmatched, and his personal charisma has been undimmed since high school…. He is out there all alone, still standing on the same principle he first enunciated in his housing project in Brooklyn: poor people have the same rights as rich ones, to justice in the streets and in the courts. If he didn’t exist, we might, in fact, need to invent him.”

Newsweek’s Allison Samuels and Jerry Adler
in their August 2 cover profile of Sharpton.

           

“The moment was vintage Obama – emphasizing his zest for inquiry, his personal involvement, his willingness to make the tough call, his search for middle ground. If an Obama brand exists, it is his image as a probing, cerebral president conducting an exhaustive analysis of the issues so that the best ideas can emerge, and triumph.”

Washington Post writers Michael Leahy and
Juliet Eilperin in an October 12 story about the
president’s pre-oil spill endorsement of offshore drilling.

 

“It might be Islamophobia, Obamaphobia, or both, but when loud speakers are blaring ‘Born in the USA’ and signs say ‘No Clubhouse for Terrorists,’ it’s clear we aren’t just talking about a mosque anymore. There is a debate to be had about the sensitivity of building this center so close to Ground Zero. But we can not let fear and rage tear down the towers of our core American values.”

“Evening News” anchor Katie Couric
in her “Katie Couric’s Notebook” posted
at CBSNews.com, August 23.

 

“I think it’s probably a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it. She has pushed a button and unleashed the Hounds of Hell, and now that they’re out there slavering and barking and growling. And that’s the same kind of tactic – and I’m not calling her a Nazi – but that’s the same kind of tactic that the Nazi troopers used in Germany in the ’30s. And I don’t think there is any place for it in America.”

Author Joe McGinniss talking about
the reaction to his renting the house next door
to Sarah Palin while he works on a book about
the former Alaska governor, NBC’s “Today,” June 1.

 

Does [Palin] know anything? . Have you ever been an eyewitness to her actually reading something? Have you seen her – no, I’m dead serious about this. Have you ever seen her reading words on a piece of paper? A newspaper, magazine, anything? Have you ever seen her read something?”

Chris Matthews to Alaska’s Democratic Senator
Mark Begich during MSNBC’s election
night coverage, November 2.

           

   
Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Media Pinheads On Parade

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

The Media Research Center is out with its annual Best Notable Quotables in recognition of the most biased, outrageous, or unintentionally humorous media quotes from December 2008 through November 2009.

These are a few of the Monitor’s favorites (as was to be expected, the media’s worship of President Obama came in for heavy representation among this year’s entries). To read the complete selection and to find out which statement was chosen as Quote of the Year, visit www.mrc.org.

Let’s Slander Rush

● “Limbaugh’s perceived racist diatribes are too many to name but here’s a sampling: He once declared that [words on screen] ‘Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark,’ said Limbaugh.” – CNN’s Rick Sanchez promoting a made-up quote on the 3 p.m. ET hour of “Newsroom,” October 12.

Saint Ted

● “The heavens were weeping for Teddy Kennedy today.” – Andrea Mitchell noting the rainy weather for Kennedy’s funeral, August 29 “NBC Nightly News.”

● Mary Jo [Kopechne] wasn’t a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan…. We don’t know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she’d have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history…. [One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted’s death, and what she’d have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows – maybe she’d feel [her death] was worth it.” – Discover magazine deputy web editor Melissa Lafsky, who formerly worked on The New York Times’s Freakonomics blog, writing at the Huffington Post, August 27.

Saint Barack

● You’re so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken? Do you ever wake up and say, ‘Damn, this is hard. Damn, I’m not going to get the things done I want to get done, and it’s just too politicized to really get accomplished the big things I want to accomplish’?” – CBS’s Katie Couric in an exchange with Obama shown on “The Early Show,” July 22.

● “The president showed his analytical mind…. He was at his best intellectually. I thought it was a great example of how his mind works…. What a mind he has, and I love his ability to do it on television. I love to think with him.” – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during live coverage following Obama’s February 9 press conference.

● [Star Trek’s Mr.] Spock’s cool, analytical nature feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we’ve put a sort of Vulcan in the White House. All through the election campaign, columnists compared President Obama’s unflappably logical demeanor and prominent ears with Mr. Spock’s…. Like Obama, Spock is the product of a mixed marriage (actually, an interstellar mixed marriage), and he suffers blunt manifestations of prejudice as a result….” – Newsweek’s Steve Daly in his May 4 cover story, “We’re All Trekkies Now.”

● “Reagan [at the 1984 D-Day commemoration] was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is, ‘We are above that now. We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial. We stand for something.’ I mean, in a way, Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world. He’s sort of God. He’s going to bring all different sides together.” – Newsweek’s Evan Thomas to host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” June 5.

● “Between workouts during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.” – Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow in a December 25, 2008 front-page story about Obama’s vacation fitness regimen.

● “When they were both walking to the helicopter the other day, Marine One … you could tell, like, they were experiencing the – I’m getting old here – the grooviness, the excitement of being this first American couple heading towards Marine One, which is cool in itself, heading from there to Air Force One, to a quick flight across the Atlantic, on your own plane, and to meet with the world leaders as, like, the centerpiece of the world…. I’m saying it again, I’m getting a thrill…. We agree, we girls agree. I don’t mind saying that. I’m excited. I’m thrilled.” – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talking to Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Forum and Washington Post writer Lois Romano about the Obamas’ trip to Europe, April 1 “Hardball.”

The Lingering Intoxication

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

No doubt there were some well-meaning consumers of news who labored under the naïve illusion that the mainstream media would become just a wee bit more objective in its coverage of Barack Obama once their anointed one won the White House.

Not a chance. If anything, the coverage has grown even more celebratory and worshipful. Here in New York City, the two tabloids seem to be in competition as to which can shoehorn into any given issue the greater number of flattering photos and gee-whiz mentions of the president-elect and his family.

The Daily News endorsed Obama and has always been in the tank for the Illinois senator, but the Post, which endorsed John McCain, is in the midst of its own unique version of Obamamania, even gifting readers with a full color, two-page spread poster of a glowing Obama on which was inscribed the words “President Barack Obama” – premature, to be sure, as he’s no such thing for another nine weeks yet, but Rupert Murdoch seems to be desperately attempting to make up for backing the wrong horse.

The Media Research Center (mediaresearch.org) has compiled some of the more embarrassingly egregious examples of the media’s intoxication with Obama in the days immediately before and after the election, several of which follow, along with something of a mea culpa from Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.

● “Media Bias Largely Unseen in U.S. Presidential Race” – Headline over November 6 Reuters dispatch claiming no liberal tilt in favor of Barack Obama.

● MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “You know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work, and I think that – ” Host Joe Scarborough: “Is that your job? You just talked about being a journalist.” Matthews: “Yeah, it is my job. My job is to help this country…. This country needs a successful presidency more than anything right now.” – MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” November 6.

● “It was Hollywood. It was romance. It was realism. The technical quality of it, the production values were perfect, the way they timed going to live, the biographical material. But most important, the connection with the average person in the economic turmoil we face right now I thought was fabulous…. Everything was just right…. You’d have to be a tough customer not to be touched by it.” – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews moments after his network aired the half-hour Obama infomercial, October 29.

● “Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope…. Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.” – Time’s Nancy Gibbs, November 17 cover story.

● “As the nation prepares for President-elect Barack Obama to move into the White House, many Americans can’t help but draw similarities between him and the late President John F. Kennedy…. The similarities are striking. JFK was 43 when he was inaugurated. Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to the White House, including, young children…. Kennedy had more than his share of charisma and Obama knows how to light up a room. But it’s their wives who might be the real superstars.” – CBS’s Harry Smith on “The Early Show,” November 7.

● “Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico…. We’d take an educated guess – nothing so scientific as a Pew study – that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election…. [But] of the factors driving coverage of this election…ideological favoritism ranks virtually nil.” – Politico co-founders John Harris and Jim VandeHei in their October 28 column, “Why McCain is getting hosed in the press.”

● SNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “The media has been really, really biased this campaign, I think…. Is the media just in love with history here, Mark, do you think?”…
Time’s Mark Halperin: “I think mistakes have been made and people will regret it…. If Obama wins and goes on to become a hugely successful president, I think, still, people will look back and say it just wasn’t done the right way.”
– MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” October 28.

Phil Donahue: American Pestilence

Friday, October 4th, 2002

The good news is that the ratings for Phil Donahue’s MSNBC talkfest were so weak they forced the program’s unceremonious termination; the bad news is that MSNBC gave this raving anti-American, pro-Palestinian leftist a platform in the first place, reconfiguring its entire nighttime lineup around him and terminating the program hosted by the pro-Israel Alan Keyes in the process.

The contrast with Keyes was never more clear than the night when Donahue hosted the Jewish pro-Palestinian activist Adam Shapiro and his Palestinian wife, Huiwaida Arraf, and conducted the interview as if on bended knee — at one point cooing to the couple, “You take our breath away,” and at another gushing, “…Man and wife; holy cow….I’ll tell you, this is unbelievable…”

Donahue’s most recent audience may have been minuscule, but make no mistake: when they look back at the social and cultural meltdown that preceded and ultimately abetted the demise of American civilization, future generations will take special note of the singularly mendacious influence of this pioneer of daytime television talk.

Indeed, it is not too strong a statement to suggest that it was Donahue, more than any other media figure of the 1970′s and 80′s, who softened up the moral underbelly of Middle America, leaving it all too vulnerable to assault by the forces bent on a complete eradication of traditional norms and values.

While it’s true that Donahue was hardly the first and certainly not the last media star to push a particular agenda on a more or less captive audience, he nevertheless was uniquely situated to capture the hearts and minds of the legions of (mostly) women tired of the usual mind-numbing slop routinely served up on daytime television.

And, truth be told, his program, certainly in its earlier years, did stand a few intellectual notches above the spinning wheels and video pulp that littered the landscape of television’s morning and afternoon wasteland.

But in short time the Donahue show became the most slanted and misleading program aired on a regular basis; indeed, a steady diet could leave a viewer wondering whether there was still a solitary well-adjusted Caucasian of moderate taste and modest demeanor to be found anywhere in the country.

Yes, the gang of grotesqueries was all there: A collection of perverts, narcissists and out-and-out psychotics, with Donahue himself in the role of glorified ringmaster presiding over a circus in which specimens of the most exotically deviant lifestyles regularly took center ring, invariably in the company of some trendy sociologist or pop psychologist armed with misleading statistics and glib justifications.

All of the above, it should be noted, occurred years before the onslaught of the talk show vulgarians — Oprah and Sally and Geraldo and Montel and Jerry and Jenny and Ricki, not to mention the dozens of others whose efforts were, mercifully, much more short lived — who focused the attention of critics on the phenomenon that came to be known as “trash TV.”

The phrase may have been coined for the sleazemeisters who followed in Donahue’s wake, but trash TV of the daytime variety had its genesis on the Donahue show — though Phil, in contrast to his television progeny who shamelessly blamed their excesses on an increasingly dumbed-down pool of viewers, shrewdly couched his penchant for the lowest of the lowbrow in the highbrow rhetoric of political correctness, employing the sensitive cadences beloved by liberals:

We’re expanding horizons! Exploring neglected areas of the human condition! Raising society’s level of tolerance! Moral equivalence! Egalitarianism! Multiculturalism uber alles!

Making of a Space Age Liberal

According to his 1980 autobiography, Phil Donahue grew up a rather repressed young man, terribly inhibited and plagued by all manner of monstrous neuroses caused by the strict Catholic ambience of his childhood.

Poor Phil apparently felt shackled by the moral absolutes that informed church doctrine — so much so that his struggle to cast off all traces of his religious upbringing would last well into adulthood.

Then along came the Sixties, wondrous decade of self-indulgent baby boomers

proclaiming that they — not their mothers and certainly not their fathers — knew best about how the world works, or ought to work, and never mind five thousand years of recorded human history and the customs and conventions that developed over millennia.

This flouting of traditional standards, coupled as it was with a sniveling disregard for all forms of authority, found a home in the hearts of college students across the country (not all, or even most, but enough to attract the kind of heavy — and largely celebratory — media coverage that served to permanently identify an entire generation with the burgeoning counterculture).

But callow, college-age youth were not the only Americans to fall under the spell of the anti-establishment, revolution-for-the-hell-of-it pied pipers of the countercultural left; there existed no shortage of adults who, lacking the perspective and wisdom usually associated with age, loudly let it be known that, hey, maybe the kids were on to something.

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