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8 items from 2009

Penn Jillette talks about Tommy Smothers' Beck blow up

21 October 2009 9:06 PM, PDT | Monsters and Critics | See recent Monsters and Critics news »

Smallscreen comedic actor Tommy Smothers took Penn Jillette to task for appearing on Glenn Beck.s TV show. In the Crackle network of webisodes, "Penn Says" is a regular platform for engaging comedian and performer Penn Jillette to discuss whatever is on his mind. Smothers, described as a childhood hero by Penn, was apparently livid with him, and screamed at him for being "wrong" and "evil" about appearing on the conservative Glenn Beck show. Jillette defended his decision to apear on Beck, and other talk shows where he and the host don't see eye to eye on key issues. Watch the whole thing: *Nsfw language Talk Synopsis: When Penn Jillette has an opinion, it's a safe bet he won't »

- April MacIntyre

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The liberal Fox News couldn't handle

19 October 2009 7:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Meet the man who turned some of Fox News Channel’s biggest fans into its harshest critics.

When on-air analyst Marc Lamont Hill was fired by Rupert Murdoch himself last Friday, the news was probably overshadowed by the all-out war being fought by the cable news channel and the White House. But when the CEO of News Corp. publicly pink-slips a guy at a shareholders meeting in response to a question from an activist shareholder, it’s worth noting.

The question came from Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, which together with another conservative-leaning media watchdog, David Horowitz, had called on Fox News repeatedly from their respective blogs in recent weeks to dump Hill. Ordinarily, these men were ardent supporters of Fox News, but Hill’s amply documented roots in radical leftist politics were too much for them to take.

Nevertheless, their insistence on Hill’s ouster underscores a naivete »

- By Andrew Wallenstein

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The anger of the festering fringe

16 October 2009 7:05 AM, PDT | | See recent Roger Ebert's Blog news »

I've had these thoughts for some time, but have been reluctant to express them. Now so many others have voiced them that it's pointless to remain silent. I am frightened by the climate of insane anti-Obama hatred in this country. I'm not referring to traditional conservatives or Republicans. They're part of the process. I'm speaking of the lunatic fringe, the frothers, the extremist rabble who are sweeping up the ignorant and credulous into a bewildering and fearsome tide of reckless rhetoric.

There have always been nuts. Remember when the John Birch society thought Kennedy was a communist? In those innocent days most of the American people were reasonable. They'd shake their heads in wonder at such a weird notion. Kennedy might be one of those liberals, but he wasn't a commie. And when people said Johnson murdered Kennedy? Also ridiculous. But slowly, ominously, things began to change. After his death, »

- Roger Ebert

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Michael Moore's influence is undeniable. But is he helping his causes — or his enemies?

26 September 2009 9:52 AM, PDT | - The Movie Critics | See recent - The Movie Critics news »

Whatever you think of Michael Moore -- whether you love him, hate him, or (like me) believe that he's an ingeniously captivating big-picture muckraker who can truly be great when he sticks to reality (which he often does), but is anything but great when he proves overly willing to bend it -- few would deny that he's the most prominent, incendiary, and headline-grabbing, the most influential feature documentary filmmaker of our time. (I would say that the other pre-eminent nonfiction Big Cheese is Ken Burns, who works on PBS in what is by now almost a form of his own. »

- Owen Gleiberman

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Keith Olbermann Declares War on Glenn Beck

7 September 2009 10:01 AM, PDT | TVGuide - Breaking News | See recent TVGuide - Breaking News news »

MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann is looking for dirt on Fox News' Glenn Beck.

"Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes," Olbermann posted on The Daily Kos. (Burguiere produces Beck's radio show; Ailes is the head of Fox News.)

Read about the top 5 talk-show controversies of 2009

Olbermann's request for fact-finding was a somewhat cheeky reply to...

Read More > »

- Mickey O'Connor

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The O'Reilly Procedure

12 July 2009 11:16 AM, PDT | | See recent Roger Ebert's Blog news »

Bill O'Reilly has been brought low by the same process that afflicted Jerry Springer. Once respected journalists, they sold their souls for higher ratings, and follow their siren song. Springer is honest about it: "I'm going to Hell for what I do, and I know it," he's likes to say. O'Reilly insists he is dealing only with the truth. When his guests disagree with him, he shouts at them, calls them liars, talks over them, and behaves like a schoolyard bully.

I am not interested in discussing O'Reilly's politics here. That would open a hornet's nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability »

- Roger Ebert

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Fox News set for best year yet

24 June 2009 3:01 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Fox News is on track to have its most-watched year ever, showing significant ratings growth despite having just come off a highflying election year.

With the second quarter coming to a close, Fox News averaged about the same number of viewers as the top three other cable news networks combined. And while rivals including CNN (-22%) and MSNBC (-18%) took hits following last quarter's inauguration-fueled boost, Fox News (-3%) remained nearly steady.

Compared with last year, the Fox News (averaging 2.1 million viewers, 509,000 adults 25-54 quarter-to-date) is up 35% over last year in primetime viewers and 48% in the demo. CNN (805,000 viewers, 210,000 in demo) fell 16% in viewers and 29% in the demo. MSNBC (787,000 viewers, 259,000 in demo) climbed 15% in viewers and about on par, -3%, in the demo. And CNN Headline News (553,000, 201,000) showed very strong growth, up 39% and 37%, respectively, and is on track for its best second quarter.

The new standings are strong enough to »

- By James Hibberd

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Best. Gay. Week. Ever. (April 17, 2009)

16 April 2009 5:57 PM, PDT | The Backlot | See recent The Backlot news »

Best.Gay.Week.Ever? I don't think so. First, there was that kerfuffle where the online merchant began treating almost all books dealing with gay subject matter (even purely academic ones) as adult content — excluding many very worthy titles from their sales rankings system and standard searches.

One sad result? When you type in "homosexuality" as a search on Amazon, the results are skewed dramatically toward crap like this:

(Here's my bit of unsolicited advice to Amazon shoppers who might be interested in A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality: "Do everyone a favor and don't have kids!")

So what's going on here? On the surface, it sure looked like Amazon had adopted some sort of conservative policy to effectively bury positive gay representation on their site.   

But then company spokespersons variously blamed it on a computer "glitch," and a "ham-fisted cataloging error" and made assurances they were working on a fix. »

- dennis

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