Monthly Archives: March 2013

Jerry Sandusky, John Ziegler and the Shame of “Today”

This week’s Philly Post column is about the Today Show interview with Jerry Sandusky, brought to the show by the noted bottom feeder/con man John Ziegler. There was quite a bit I had to say that didn’t fit in the column, here’s some of that below:

– Sandusky probably has the least credibility of any man on planet Earth. His word is worth dirt, probably less than dirt. It doesn’t matter what he said. And if that one minute was the best they could come up with from three hours of interviews, I don’t feel too hopeful about the rest of the footage.

– Perhaps NBC’s biggest misstep of all was getting into bed with a hack like Ziegler, who showed, like Andrew Breitbart and his various imitators, that the quickest way to get prominent media coverage is to constantly denounce the media. The media hates John Ziegler so much that they can’t stop inviting him onto their shows.

– The interview uses the words of a man who is definitely lying- Sandusky maintains his innocence, when he is not innocent- in order to impeach the credibility of the witness against him who we have no reason to believe is lying. It’s hard to imagine a single person on the planet watching that interview and coming out of it more sympathetic to Joe Paterno- or Jerry Sandusky, or John Ziegler- than they were at the start.

– The Sandusky interviews are supposedly from an upcoming, feature-length version of “Framing Paterno,” Ziegler’s scummy little YouTube mini-movie, which heavily borrowed both its structure and musical cues from the 9/11 Truth conspiracy genre. I reviewed it here last November; among numerous faults in its argumentation, the biggest was that not a single person interviewed on camera could spare a single word of sympathy for any of the children abused by Sandusky, or acknowledge that maybe this saga has victims who aren’t named Joe Paterno.

– I may not agree with much of what the Paterno family has done in the past year or two, but to their credit, they’ve been out front on the issue of sexual abuse prevention. And, also to their credit, they’ve loudly distanced themselves from Ziegler’s dubious injection of Sandusky into the debate.

– Ziegler, more recently, has taken to defending and advising the football coach in the horrific Steubenville rape case, an old buddy and book subject of his. I can only assume that, in 1988, Ziegler went to see the movie “The Accused” and rooted out loud for the acquittal of Jodie Foster’s assailants.

– More news since I filed: Ziegler named Victim 2 on his site, kept it up for eight hours, claimed he was hacked, and then published perhaps the least sincere non-apology apology in recent history.

And finally, here’s a great piece by Tim Baffoe, that really gets to the heart of Ziegler’s loathsome M.O.:

“He’s a hell of a lot smarter than the people who slobber all over him because he’s their last glimmer of hope twinkling off of Coke-bottle glasses that JoePa Claus is real. In taking an argument concerning a dead guy, he’s found an angle in which he can’t exactly lose, and that’s how many arguments, nefarious as they may be, are “won.” See, logically Paterno deserves blame, but Ziegler’s is an emotional appeal to the slackjaws, and reason always loses to makin’ the willfully ignorant feel good. He knows this, just as any televangelist knows this. Now go on and hand over your money for the Lord… I mean, help fund his documentary, Framing Paterno. The film is in perpetual infancy due to people not forking over money (can’t imagine why), but certainly it will crack open the truth that the bad people are keeping from those who really believe Paterno pooped jellybeans and sunshine.”

What’s the Best Sitcom?

I enjoyed Vulture’s “tournament” of the best sitcoms ever, and while I’d have chosen Cheers or Seinfeld over eventual winner The Simpsons, I really loved Matt Zoller Seitz’s final essay:

Every episode of The Simpsons is about television, comedy, popular culture, history, human nature, America, the world, the universe, time, space, head and groin injuries, gluttony, piety, lust, greed, hypocrisy, dogs, cats, living together, mass hysteria, parenting, marriage, maturity, immaturity, and the exquisite pleasures of the prank phone call, plus anything else that Groening and his murderer’s row of writers felt like stirring into the mix… Cheers is a flawless pearl glinting on a beach. But The Simpsons is the beach. It’s bigger than Cheers, bigger than sitcoms, in some ways bigger than television. It’s our virtual Smithsonian and Library of Congress, our collective data cloud, the Force, or Farce, that surrounds us, binds us, and holds the galaxy together.

I haven’t watched new Simpsons episodes in years. But will it last long enough for my kids to one day enjoy it? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Steubenville, Schachter and Looking the Other Way

This week’s Philly Post column is on a couple of instances of adults looking at the facts of rape and abuse cases and pretty egregiously taking the wrong side. There’s CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville verdict, and the comments by Yeshiva University scholar Rabbi Hershel Schachter about child sexual abuse.

I don’t know what it is about cases like this that drive me crazy- maybe it’s being a father. But I just don’t understand the moral depravity that leads one to side with an abuser over a victim.

On Obama, Israel and the Golden Girls Video

Here’s one of the stranger diplomatic missives in history:

My summer camp, in the mid-’90s, once did a stunt in which they had counselors dress as Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, Yassir Arafat and King Hussein, and had them lip-sync the audio of the post-Oslo Accords and Israel/Jordan peace treaty speeches. The Israeli embassy’s “Thank you For Being a Friend” stunt may have been even weirder.

Meanwhile, here’s a demonstration of how wide a cross-section of people I follow on Twitter:

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 10.44.09 PM

Thoughts on Dick Morris, Philadelphia Radio Host

In the most inexplicable programming decision by a radio station in Philadelphia since someone at WIP dreamed up “Eskin and Reese,” WPHT announced last Thursday that its new afternoon drive time host is Dick Morris, the Clinton White House advisor-turned-conservative pundit/activist. Morris replaces MIchael Smerconish, who recently said he’s leaving for satellite radio.

The only man in American politics who’s been involved in a toe-sucking hooker scandal and had it only amount to the second-most embarrassing episode of his career, Morris was recently let go from his “Fox News Contributor” gig, after a particularly laughable election season performance in which he predicted a huge Mitt Romney landslide all the way until the end.

Morris has a well-earned reputation as at best an exceptional political hack and at worst, an actual con man. Staking out a role on the right as half-pundit, half-Tea Party activist, Morris has spent the Obama presidency raising money, cranking out books with 40-word titles and sharing egregiously wrong predictions.

It’s hard just to overstate how wrong Morris is, just about all the time, and I’m not only talking about his 2005 book, “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.” His performance in 2012 was so embarrassing to all involved that it was decided this level of shameless, dishonest hackery on behalf of the Republican Party was too much even for Fox News. Whether he will be able to continue his side business, which sounds an awful lot like a scam, remains undetermined.

But even if Morris didn’t have that record, and even if he didn’t have a nails-on-the-blackboard speaking voice, or give off an aesthetic in which sleaze appears to visibly waft off of him as he speaks, there are two very strong reasons why it makes no sense for WPHT to hire him: He’s never hosted a radio show in his life, and he has no ties at all to Philadelphia.

Morris’ Wikipedia entry describes him as “an American political author and commentator who previously worked as a pollster, political campaign consultant, and general political consultant.” That’s a lot of different professions, but none of them are “radio host.” And the history of the radio industry is filled with big names who’d never done radio before, flaming out relatively quickly.

I may not agree often with WPHT’s morning host, my Philly Post colleague Chris Stigall, but “radio host” is his profession, he’s been doing it for years and he knows what he’s doing.

I also can’t figure out what his audience is supposed to be. Liberals aren’t going to listen to him, and whatever credibility he had over conservatives is likely gone after 2012. When he spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the audience looked like the stands at a Miami Marlins game.

Morris has often appeared as a talk show guest, most notably with Sean Hannity, but guess what- Hannity’s own show will air opposite Morris’, on 106.1. I imagine Hannity’s audience will stick with the genuine article.

Morris was most recently seen appearing with Piers Morgan on CNN, as Morgan continued his recent tactic of scanning the very brief list of people in the world more loathsome than Piers Morgan and inviting them as guests on his show; so far only Morris and Alex Jones have made the cut. And after calling for far-right purity since at least the early Bush Administration, Morris has been urging Republicans to moderate ever since, a stance that always goes over great on conservative talk radio.

I just don’t see how this idea can possibly work. If Morris is still employed on WHPT a year from now, I’ll be shocked.