Category Archives: Media

What’s My Lyin’?

In the infancy of broadcast television, game shows were a popular prime time staple. There were two varieties. Big money quiz shows like “The $54,000 Question,” which really was big money in its day. The grand prize is more than $650,000 in current dollars. The second category was an excuse to watch unscripted celebrities showcase their knowledge and wit while solving a contestant’s occupation (“What’s My Line?”) or deciding which of three contestants was who he or she claimed to be (“To Tell the Truth”).

I thought about these programs while watching the reboot of “Night Court” and viewing a promo for the return of “Magnum, P.I.” Games shows are also part of this trend. Michael Strahan is the new Allen Ludden on “The $100,000 Pyramid.” To give you some idea how important Ludden was to the game show genre, it takes THREE Manning brothers –Peyton, Eli and the third guy (Cooper)–to fill his shoes on “College Bowl.”

Maybe it is time to bring back “What’s My Line,” which aired on CBS from 1950 until 1967. The final segment of each show required the panel be blindfolded before a famous “mystery guest” came on stage. So close your eyes, adjust those rabbit ears and tune in as host John Charles Daly (not to be confused with golfer John Daly) welcomes tonight’s celebrity contestant to be interrogated by the panelists–publisher Bennet Cerf, journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, actor Arlene Francis and original Tonight Show host Steve Allen.

Daly: Now we come to the special feature of our program and welcome our celebrity, our big and important guest. Our panel would certainly recognize our guest on sight. So we provided them with blindfolds. Will you please come in mystery guest and sign in. (Audience gasps and then wildly applauds.)

Alright panel, as you know, we get right down to the business of the mystery guest, so we’ll begin the questioning with Bennett Cerf.

Cerf: Judging from the audience reaction you are a very famous person. Are you in the entertainment world?

Guest: Sim, senhor.

Cerf: Have you been an actor?

Guest: Sim.

Cerf: Are you still an actor?

Guest: Sim.

Cerf: Would I recognize any of the plays, movies or television shows you have been in?

Daly: That’s a no. Miss Francis.

Francis: Are you famous for your ability to sing and dance?

Guest: Absolutely.

Francis: Do you play parts in different accents since you’re so well equipped for it?

Guest: Oui, madam.

Francis: Have you ever won an Oscar or a Tony.

Guest: Yes and yes.

Francis: Are you Lawrence Olivier?

Guest: (Hesitates) Non.

Daly: Mr. Allen.

Allen: Can I assume you graduated from lighter things and have gone on to something more pretentious?

Guest: Yes.

Allen: Is your acting of a more serious nature at the present time?

Guest: No.

Daly: Miss Kilgallen.

Kilgallen: If your acting is not serious at the moment, is it comedic?

Guest: Not intentionally.

Kilgallen: Have you appeared on the New York stage in the past year?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: Are you a former athlete?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: Are you also a philanthropist?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: I think I know. Are you Anthony Zabrovsky?

Guest: No.

Cerf: Are you Anthony Devolder?

Guest: No.

Francis: Are you Brazilian drag queen Kitara Ravache?

Guest: No.

Allen: Are you George Santos?

Guest: No.

Kilgallen: Are you all of the above?

(The guest begins to answer but is interrupted by Daly.)

Daly: YES! It’s none other than the poster boy for the Republican Congress and man of a thousand falsehoods. George, you fooled our panel just like you fooled the voters of the 3rd district of New York. And I understand you may soon appear on a special edition of “To Tell The Truth” with guest host Margaret Garnett, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Santos: Only if they let me take the Fifth.

Daly: That’s our show for tonight. Thanks to the panel and our very special guest whoever he may be. And join us next week when we ask members of the 118th Congress GOP leadership, “What’s My Lyin’?”

NOTE: Much of the dialogue and many of the questions in this post were taken verbatim from a 1952 episode of “What’s My Line” on which Desi Arnaz was the mystery guest.

For what it’s worth.

In Defense of Dave Chappelle

That Dave Chappelle SNL monologue probably did more to normalize anti-Semitism than anything Kanye said.

Adam feldman, Time Out New York

Saturday night, I went to bed basking in the glow of Catherine Cortez Masto’s successful re-election campaign which assured Democratic control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Yet, when I opened my news feed Sunday morning, the “big news” was Chappelle’s supposed defense of Kanye West and Kyrie Irving on Saturday Night Live. On Twitter, the Jerusalem Post accused the comedian of “promptly engaging in antisemitic tropes.” Even had the story “above the fold.” (I know the term is a relic of the era of print media. In the digital age, it means you see the headline without having to scroll down the page.)

This is not the first time Chappelle has faced criticism for remarks found to be offensive to a segment of the population. In September 2021, Chappelle was verbally attacked by the LGBTQ+ community for comments made in his Netflix special “The Closer.” I decided to watch the performance and make my own judgement.

Yes, Chappelle pushed the envelope as he so often does. But he continued with the poignant story of his friend, transgender standup comic Daphne Dorman who opened for him in 2019 and received a shoutout from Chappelle during his Netflix “Sticks and Stones” September 2019 special. In response to her defense of and association with Chappelle, she too became a target of the “eat your own” transgender community. On October 14, 2019 Dorman tragically took her own life.

Chappelle is an equal opportunity thorn in side of political correctness. He makes fun of everyone. Later in the monologue he said of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, “I don’t want to speak badly of Walker because he’s black, but I have to admit, he’s observably stupid.” Chappelle simply points out you must be willing to do so within your own community if you want to effectively criticize others. Which he did by pointing out how equally observably stupid the former guy is when it comes to his hoarding government documents at Mar-a-Lago.

I’ve been fired from jobs many times in my life, and taken items on the way out. You know what I never stole from work? Work.

But unlike an increasing majority of standup comics he does not shout at you. He is humor’s equivalent of Bob Dylan, a combination of poet and prophet who mixes dark humor with a call for empathy.

He acknowledged something is not right with Kanye. “I don’t think he’s crazy, he’s possibly not well.” But if you think he was defending Kanye, listen to what he said about Adidas breaking ties with one of its most lucrative partners.

Ironically, Adidas was founded by Nazis, and THEY were offended. I guess the student surpassed the teacher.

Perhaps one of the most insightful observations in the monologue is Chappelle’s take on the double standard when it comes to Blacks and Jews. The Jewish Independent reported “the studio audience laughed nervously” when Capelle alluded to Kanye’s claim that Jews run Hollywood. Chappelle, in the tradition of Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, showed how to demonstrate the difference between fact and a conspiracy based on a fact.

I’ve been to Hollywood and — no one get mad at me — I’m just telling you what I saw. It’s a lot of Jews. Like a lot.

But that doesn’t mean anything! You know what I mean? Because there are a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn’t mean we run the place.

Now, consider the lyrics to the number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” from the Monty Python musical Spamalot.

To get along on Broadway
To sing a song on Broadway
To hit the top on Broadway and not lose

I tell you, Arthur King
There is one essential thing
There simply must be
Simply must be Jews

Guess who won a Tony and who is being skewered by the media. The answer is as simple as black and white.

Dave Chappelle exercises his right of free speech based on an assumption the audience is patient enough to listen and intelligent enough to understand what he is trying to say. The response by some to his SNL monologue suggests he may be wrong.

For what it’s worth.

Plea Deal Time

One Trump syncophant after another has started to accept the fact their false idol is likely headed for indictment and possibly prison. Most recent among them Alan Dershowitz, who told Axios the Department of Justice has enough evidence to indict his former client, but doubts they will. You have to give Dershowitz credit. He is a master of mixed messages.

The first half of his missive seems directed at the target of DOJ’s investigation into illegally obtained and mishandled documents. “Buddy, you really stepped in it this time. No amount of money can convince any doctor to help you get out of this by claiming you deserve a pass due to brain spurs.” The second phrase is less clear. Is he taunting Merrick Garland, insinuating he does not have the fortitude to do what the law commands? Or is he trying to stiffen the attorney general’s desire to take down the white whale, planting seeds for another massive payday as a member of Trump’s legal nightmare team (even though Trump payday is an oxymoron)?

However, the only person that matters is TFG, himself. Mopey Dick seems as determined as ever to use this occasion as one more grift opportunity, begging small donors to send him their lunch money. We know the Republican National Committee is not happy. Those same nickels and dimes used to fill their campaign chest until Trump came on the scene. Televangelists must feel the same way. There is only so much change to go around. They may think Trump is a partner in the culture wars, but he is really the competition.

All this assumes Garland is facing a binary decision. You either prosecute Trump or you do not. There is a third choice. Forget the investigation. Forget locking him up which might only make him a martyr to MAGA-world. Trump knows better than anyone what the National Archives and the FBI found. He must also have a pretty good idea what is under all that black ink in the just released affidavit. Switch chairs at the table. Let Garland sit in The Godfather’s place. Then make Trump an offer he cannot refuse.

There is probably some room to negotiate, but not much. At a minimum, the agreement must include the following.

  • A public admission of guilt. (Imagine his salivating at those TV ratings.)
  • Prohibition from seeking or holding any future public office.
  • Forfeiture of all the post-presidential perks including pension and allowances as well as secret service protection and public support for a presidential library.

This would relieve Trump of further liability for past criminal charges (not civil cases such as the one before the NY attorney general or E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit). Enforcement would be based on a conditional commutation of an agreed term of incarceration, perhaps 20 years. Should he violate any of the above terms, he would have to surrender to authorities for immediate imprisonment.

Would he take this deal? I doubt it, but he should be given the opportunity. Since release of the affidavit last Friday, only Trump and a couple of his most delusional supporters now think the court approved Mar-a-Lago search warrant was (pun intended) unwarranted. The timeline indicates Trump was given more than ample opportunity to do the right thing before the search was requested or executed. That seems to have made a difference with some of Trump’s defenders and in the court of public opinion.

Giving him a chance to come clean before throwing the book at him in court, if and when that time comes, could make a difference whether the majority of Americans view DOJ actions as appropriate prosecution or political persecution.

Why CNN Still Needs Brian Stelter

Welcome to Sunday morning without CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and host Brian Stelter. Within days of the announcement of his termination, CNN demonstrated why this was a mistake. Stelter would not only focus on the big issues, but point out the smaller ones which signal the systemic failure by most media, particularly the dependence on euphemisms, e.g. inaccuracy versus lie.

Consider the following example. After release of the DOJ affidavit on Friday, a CNN anchor reported they had just received the first response from a Trump supporter who continued calling the search a political witchhunt. The statement came from Taylor Budowich, director of communications for Trump’s Save America PAC. Calling one of Trump’s paid employees a supporter is like calling a bank robber a customer. And the real story should have been this initial defense was coming, not from the usual suspects Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz, but from a hired gun.

Brian, we miss you already.

For what it’s worth.

Donnie & Clyde

Driving from Springfield, Massachusetts to Orono, Maine on our way to Nova Scotia, my wife and I were listening to the Coffeehouse station on Sirius XM Radio. Among the selections was a number titled “Bonnie and Clyde” by Australian singer and songwriter Vance Joy. The first verse chronicles the demise of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow just as they were going to give up their life of crime. They felt safe at last. But as we know, the only thing they actually felt were 130 rounds of Texas Ranger ammunition.

Last week, as I listened to the Donald try to weasel his way out of his latest predicament, I thought, what would it sound like if TFG had tried to help Clyde defend himself against charges of bank robbing.

Excerpts from Clyde Barrow interviews on SlyFox News:

MONDAY: I never took any of the bank’s money.

TUESDAY: I found some of the bank’s money in my home, but when asked, I gave it all back. One of my accomplices even signed a sworn statement saying I’d given it all back.

WEDNESDAY: If there is any of their money, it was planted by the Texas Rangers who raided my home. They said they had an authorized search warrant. Damn that corrupt Judge Roy Bean; he has always been anti-Barrow.

THURSDAY: I’m a bank robber. That’s my job. And like anybody else, I sometimes need to bring my work home. It’s hard to find time during the day to count it.

FRIDAY: It wasn’t really money. Just because someone stamps “legal tender” on a piece of paper, that does not make it so.

SATURDAY: It’s not like I’m the only one who takes money out of banks. Everyone does it. It’s called withdrawals. Are they raiding Willie Sutton’s home?

SUNDAY: The only reason they targeted me is they know I may apply to be the next bank CEO. It’s all financial politics.

FOLLOWING MONDAY: Before I entered the bank, I made it clear. Once the money goes out the front door, it’s automatically not money anymore. Is it my fault nobody heard me say that?

FOLLOWING TUESDAY: Under Article II of the FDIC charter, a bank robber can do anything he wants. Finance professors who have researched the issue call it the “unitary theory of bank robbing.” It’s just like Richard Nixon told David Frost, “If a president does it, it’s legal.” Shouldn’t that apply to everyone?

On Wednesday, before he could make any more excuses, Barrow was asked. “Weren’t you the one who thought bank robbers were getting off too easy with a misdemeanor charge? And didn’t you recommend that be changed to a felony with stiffer penalties, five years in prison for each offense?” To which Barrow replied, “I guess for the first time in my life, I may have been wrong.”

We can only hope!

For what it’s worth.

“You’re Hired”

NOTE TO TUCKER CARLSON: The following is what is known as satire. Stephen Colbert and Triumph the Insult Dog suggested I remind you of that.

MAN’S VOICE: Washington, DC is a real jungle, and if you’re not careful, it can chew you up and spit you out. But if you don’t care about the rule of law or the Constitution, you can really hit it big, I mean really big.

Good evening, I’m Donald Trump and welcome to The Apprentice: Sedition Edition.

Tonight, five teams will compete to see who can come up with the best way to stage a coup and and keep me out of prison. Let’s meet the teams and their captains. First, we have The Big Liars and captain Roger Stone. [Applause]

STONE: Our coup strategy is to convince people the only way you can lose is if it is rigged. Our motto? You can never start too early. [Applause]

TRUMP: Roger, a chip off the old block. I love it. Next, The Early Birds and Captain Rudy Giuliani. [Applause]

GIULIANI: We’re going to show you how to stage a coup by declaring victory before all the votes are counted. Let’s here it folks. STOP THE COUNT! STOP THE COUNT! [Applause]

TRUMP: That’s what I love about you Rudy. Everybody else thinks that’s a stupid idea, but I can dig it. Next we have The Batshit Lawyers and their captain Sydney Powell. [Applause]

POWELL: We plan to wear down the competition by filing hundreds of frivolous law suits. We call it the spaghetti against the wall strategy. [Applause]

TRUMP: Sydney, you’re making me hungry with all that spaghetti talk. Next up is The Alternate Electors and who else would you want at the helm than John Eastman. [Applause]

EASTMAN: It’s an honor to be here. As we love to say, two slates in the hand is better than one in the Pence. [Applause]

TRUMP: I don’t know, John. You’re talking about coordinating over a hundred people in six states. That’s a bigly ask. And last but not least, Team Hanging Loose with co-captains Proud Boy Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes. [Applause]

TARRIO: C’mon patriots. Three cheers for the red, black and blue. [Applause]

TRUMP: Mike, are you watching?

Just to remind our audience, here’s how it works. Each team has one week to implement its strategy. The judges, the offspring from my first marriage–Don, Jr., Ivanka and The Other One–will grade each team’s performance. The team with the lowest score is eliminated. The other teams get to come back for round two where they each will be asked to come up with more ways to get those chumps, I mean supporters, to continue sending us monthly donations for the Not-a-Fund.

The competition ends when there is only one team left. And each member of that team wins a nomination to the cabinet position of his or her choice in my next administration.

So, let’s begin and don’t forget, you get extra points for flattery and butt kissing. See you next week.

ANNOUNCER: The preceding program was brought to you by My Pillow, the perfect bedding to cover your head when the FBI comes knocking at your door with a search warrant. And Goya Foods, when you want to be as full of beans as the conspiracy theories you’re spreading.

For what it’s worth.