Monday, March 26, 2007

When tag partners turn against each other..

One of the oldest spots in wrestling is when two tag partners in the process of attacking their opponent inadvertently hit each other instead. Usually its done for comic effect, at worst it can lead to the partnership dissolving and may escalate into a feud. At any rate what makes it exciting is the embarrassment it causes. The suspension of hostilities against their enemy as they turn their attention towards each other. Tension between two allies is far more compelling than that between sworn enemies as it is more personal and unexpected.

I'll be linking to some recent episodes where likeminded pundits start conversations cordially enough but slowly turn on each other.

APF pundit Laura Ingraham talks to Conservative commentator Fred Barnes about the recent controversies surrounding Alberto Gonzales. Laura is disappointed at the performance of Attorney General Gonzales. Fred Barnes takes her to task but Laura fights back. Listen to snippets here. Read the discussion here.

Bill O'Reilly talks to his radio audience about the same controversies surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Bill faces unexpected opposition from his co-host Lis Wiehl.
WIEHL: That's right. But there's no transcript of it. There's no way that we're -- the people are gonna find out about it.
O'REILLY: No, wait a minute. Hold it. That's another lie.
O'REILLY: You see. I don't like you today.
WIEHL: Why not?
O'REILLY: Because you are not -- you did not do your homework.
WIEHL: Yes, I did!
O'REILLY: No, you didn't. You did not do your homework. There is a record of every word that is said.
Listen here. Read transcript here.

An example of a softer disagreement, but embarassing nonetheless. Sean Hannity tags in Colonel David Hunt after being harangued by two democrats. Hannity doesn't get the reinforcement he expected. Listen here.

Bill O'Reilly gets into a shouting match with Geraldo on the subject of illegal aliens. Read the discussion on this clash here.
VIDEO: Bill O'Reilly argues with Geraldo Rivera

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sphere of Influence (2 of 2)

Below are links to audio & video the APF pundits make available. It is separated into 4 categories:
1) Listen Live - streaming broadcasts
2) Archives - catalogue of previous shows
3) Membership - sign up for a more comprehensive package
4) Website - official website
Note: There are podcast sites such as Yahoo Podcasts and Podcast Directory that may offer content. I will only feature media links that are comprehensive and constantly updated.

Tucker Carlson
4) Website

Ann Coulter
4) Website

Stephen Colbert
2) Archives - Comedy Central video
4) Website

Al Franken
2) Archives - Podcast Directory and Air America
4) Website

Janeane Garofalo

Sean Hannity
1) Listen Live - Radio
2) Archives - Hannity and Colmes video, Hannity's America video
3) Membership - Hannity Insider
4) Website

Hugh Hewitt
2) Archives - Audio Highlights
3) Membership - TownHall membership
4) Website

Laura Ingraham
2) Archives - Selected free stuff
3) Membership - Become a Laura 365 member
4) Website

Mark Levin
1) Listen Live
2) Archives - Comprehensive Audio Rewind and Fan site
4) Website

Rush Limbaugh
2) Archives - members only
3) Membership - Rush 24/7
4) Website

Rachel Maddow
2) Archives - Air America Radio, MaddowFans Audio and Video
4) Website

Bill Maher
2) Archives - Video from Bill's official site, Video from Bill's TV show: Real Time
4) Website

Michelle Malkin
2) Archives - Hot Air
4) Website - Blog and Video Blog

Keith Olbermann
2) Archives - One Day highlights
4) Website

Bill O'Reilly
2) Archives - Fox News O'Reilly Factor Video,
3) Membership - Premium Membership
4) Website

Randi Rhodes
1) Listen Live
2) Archives - Official site audio, Air America Radio
4) Website

Joe Scarborough
4) Website - Official site, MSNBC site

Ed Schultz
1) Listen Live
2) Archives - Video and Audio highlights
3) Membership - Are you an EdHead?
4) Website

Sam Seder
2) Archives - Daily podcast AM 1090 Progressive Talk, Podcast Directory, Air America Radio
4) Website

Jon Stewart
2) Archives - Comedy Central video
4) Website

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sphere of Influence (1 of 2)

Rush Limbaugh excluding non-paying readers to his audio archives has led me to catalogue the media availability of other APF pundits. I am definitely more respectful of those who make their show archives available. Frankly it helps in extending the pundit's reach in markets untapped and worldwide.

Other forms of entertainment such as Wrestling (WWE and TNA) and Basketball (NBA) host comprehensive archives of their content. With growing global audiences through the internet and cable TV, as well as growing competition between all forms of entertainment. It has become standard for companies to make content freely accessible. In political talk you would think it was more imperative. Besides standard business concerns, pundits are also furthering a social/political agenda. They have an interest in making a cultural footprint. Being seen as a person of influence can lead to future sales (books, advertising, merchandise) but this is only possible if they are heard.

In Rush' case, he is the leading voice of conservatism in America today. Responsible for mobilising a large voting block and a key figure behind the Republican revolution of 1994, his influence will be seriously blunted if he does not make his audio easily available.

Addendum: Rush's myspace page is no longer. I'm not a heavy user of myspace but I always noticed Rush's myspace profile. It was very active. Often 'online' and always greeting newly added friends with a simple "Thank you". Its also sent daily bulletins on Rush' thoughts of the day, which was consistent with Rush' persona as a populist and movement figurehead. At last account, Rush' myspace layout was changed in keeping with the newly redesigned website. I have no idea why his myspace profile would go down as it was a big part of consolidating his profile (in this case the web social community). The site was most probably updated by a staff member or intern, cost cutting measures perhaps? Definitely unusual.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rush Versus Arnie

At some point i'll be talking about the Arnie/Limbaugh feud as an extension to my previous 'Celebrities' posts.

What I am more concerned about however is that Rush' website redesign has brought with it no more free daily audio. Its unusual as this will surely limit the reach of Rush' influence, isn't that a bad thing for Rush and his listeners. I don't know if thats the best business model, anyone else bothered by this?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Profile 4: Hugh Hewitt, Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt is a conservative radio talk show host, author and blogger. He is considered one of the savviest APF pundits in the realm of New Media. Hugh is the Executive editor of Townhall, a leading conservative website. hosts Hugh's blog as well as a comprehensive archive of his Radio show. His columns are featured in publications such as the World Magazine.

Hugh Hewitt has written 9 books:
1) First Principles:
A Primer of Ideas for the College-Bound Student (1987)
2) Searching for God in America:
The Companion Volume to the Acclaimed TV Series (1996)
3) The Embarrassed Believer (1998)
4) In, But Not Of:
A Guide to Christian Ambition (2003)
5) If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat:
Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It (2004)
6) Blog:
Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World (2005)
7) Painting the Map Red:
The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority (2006)
8) A Guide to Christian Ambition:
Using Career, Politics, and Culture to Influence the World (2006)
9) A Mormon in the White House?:
10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney (2007)

Laura Ingraham is a conservative Radio host and author, she has been a fill-in host for the O'Reilly Factor multiple times. Laura famously went to Iraq in pursuit of showing the positives in Iraq which she feels is poorly represented by the media. Pictures of her trip can be found on her website. Laura's Radio show covers topics ranging from politics to Hollywood and the News Media.

She has written 2 books: The Hillary Trap: Looking for Power in all the Wrong Places and Shut Up & Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN Are Subverting America.

Now introducing...

I am planning to introduce 4 more pundits to the mix. At this stage it will be 2 Blue Team and 2 Read Team pundits. I'm looking to add more independent pundits as well so i'm accepting nominations, I can't seem to to think of any. Does Michael Savage count as an independent to you guys?

At any rate I'm accepting nominations for the pundits you want to see added to the APF.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

PunditFight: Glossary of Terms

In case there are people who haven't checked out the Companion PunditFight Myspace page. As a service I'm posting the Glossary of Terms found on that site here. I've also included some new terms. Enjoy!

Glossary of terms
Like most subcultures the APF has its own jargon, an amalgam of elements borrowed from the world of wrestling and politics.

Here are a list of words you’ll find used in the APF. In the future I hope to link to video examples to further illustrate the terms.


angle n. The “storyline”. It may happen over one debate or many and the pundits do not necessarily have to meet. Often the escalation of events occur when the pundits are on their respective shows

base n. people who already agree with a pundit. Those who already watch their shows, buy their books and read their blogs. It is important for the pundit to indulge this audience as they are the loyal core of support

blogosphere n. the set of weblogs on the internet, in this case political. They may be written diaries, discussion boards or Video journals

booker n. the party who invites and sets the tone for the debate. This can be cordial late night talk show appearances, or heated interrogations on a radio show

card n. the series of debates appearing on the program at one time

draw v.t.n. the popularity of a pundit. Popularity is judged by the amount of people tuning in to see the pundit speak their mind. This may be the ratings of their respective TV and radio shows, the columns, blogs and books they write. The spike they create in ratings when they appear on other programs. The attention they receive from the news media and the blogosphere

n. A particularly bad and totally uninteresting debate

entrance theme n. a piece of music that heralds the arrival of a pundit, usually played at the start their TV or radio show. The song is a reflection of the pundit's personality and fanbase.

face n. & adj. [babyface] a pundit well loved by his audience, hero-like. This can be achieved by being receptive to the audience, championing popular ideas or opposing a detestable character

feud n. a series of debates between two pundits. It can be a civil encounter, multiple invitations to discuss current events possibly on a contract basis. It can also be heated, the eventual confrontation when two pundits have baited each other and finally meet

gimmick n. a pundit's personality. The behavior and distinguishing traits apparent while performing, this will often dictate whether a pundit is a Face or a Heel

heat n. Enthusiastic negative response. Controversy can often lead to exposure, by negative referencing and discussion on blogs, the news media and radio. The attention may lead to more invitations for TV and radio appearances

heel n. & adj. a pundit who brings attention to themselves by intentionally alienating or discomforting viewers. Someone who generates ‘heat’. They may be offensive generalizations or unpopular truths told without tact

job n. Losing a debate on purpose by staging it convincingly

jobber n. a weaker pundit brought in to make a debate opponent look comparitively better. It is usually an inexperienced and less charming person

kayfabe n. adj. of or related to inside information about the business, especially by fans. This can be backstory on the debaters’ history, past connections and affiliations

mark n. an audience member who takes everything their favorite pundit says at face value, often regurgitating there talking points. They are usually gullible and uninquisitive, not interested in sourcing different opinions that may discredit said talking points

midcarder n. adj. a personality not quite in the elite group of pundits due to lesser name recognition or audience pulling power.

main-eventer n. adj. an elite pundit, a household name. Commanding larger audiences, fees and media attention

pop n, v.i. positive enthusiastic response to a pundit. Their debates are recorded and featured on blogs and video sites. Their work referenced positively on radio and TV. Audience frequently complimenting when they call in their radio shows. High volume of readership, listernership and exposure

promo n. an organized discussion or speech used to escalate a storyline or feud. It may involve baiting or impugning another pundit in the hope of a confrontation

pundit n. adj. a person who appears in the media offering opinions, analysis or discourse on a subject. Unlike journalists who are expected to be objective when reporting, pundits can provide context and an ideological perspective to highlight the important aspects of the issue for the public

punditocracy n. a term coined by Nation columnist Eric Alterman. It describes the growing influence of a "tiny group of highly visible political pontificators who make their living offering 'inside political opinions and forecasts' in the elite national media." It refers to the notion that politicans no longer seek the approval of the people as it is being eclipsed by the pundit class who are the noisiest and have the last word. This is considered dangerous by some because pundits are not always representative of the community (they are broad by nature) and are subject to personal ambitions such as advancing their status and influence

push n. a personality who starts getting promoted heavily, seen to have potential. A network may give them their own show or a better timeslot.

screw-job n. adj. a debate or ending which is not clean (definite) due to factors outside the normal course of a debate

shoot n. when a pundit breaks the expected decorum of a debate and becomes unfairly hostile, usually to satisfy their base. It may be pressuring someone to answer a loaded question, bringing up something negative from the interviewee’s past irrelevant to a debate

smark n. a political junkie, someone who follows politics attentively. They will read messageboards, blogs and listen to as much media as possible. The depth of exploration makes them more discerning and skeptical. The opposite of a ‘mark’

spot n. The high-point. An event or sequence of events which makes a particular debate distinctive

squash n. a totally passive job where one pundit completely dominates another. v.t. to win a squash match

stable n. A group of pundits working together for the same cause. An alliance

stiff adj. Not quite a shoot, but almost. It involves someone who doesn’t return the same cordiality to a fellow pundit. A stiff worker will act more serious and aggressive to a pundit who may be being light hearted creating an imbalance in attitude

turn n., v.i. change in orientation from heel to face or vice-versa

work n. a deception or sham, the opposite of a shoot. When a pundit sympathetic to his interviewee creates a false appearance of asking tough questions. Usually when a personality needs to do damage control, an agreeable pundit may get an ‘exclusive’ to interview them

workrate n. how hard the pundit works. How often they venture into varying mediums; writing blogs, appearing in debates and interviews on top of their day-to-day job

For those who'd like to compare, here is a list of Pro wrestling terms.

Technical Wrestlers: Hugh Hewitt and Thom Hartmann

In wrestling and punditry, its easy to overlook certain personalities amongst the larger-than-life characters. The more successful personalities are often the more colorful and bombastic. They are the ones who we regularly see invited on programs, given their own shows and asked to write Op-Eds.

They're exposure has more to do with their ability to entertain rather than their record of accuracy or knowledge on the issues (see previous post). In other words presentation trumps substance. This post will be about the personalities who are less about presentation and more about technical ability- The Ring technicians.

Pro wrestling has always valued entertainment highly but it also valued in-ring ability. As wrestling has become more mainstream with far more TV exposure it has created different demands of its wrestlers. Todays' wrestlers are expected to be good showmen with convincing acting ability, skills on the mic (charismatic verbally) and of good size. There are less wrestlers coming out who are schooled in or are interested in displaying the technical, fundamental side of wrestling. Instead they favor power moves, and hardcore use of weapons. This is primarily because its what the audience now come to expect, no more room for subtlety or slow build up in the ring.

Its increasingly hard to find pundits who engage in fruitful debate because of the popular 'Crash TV' formats of most TV and Radio. The small amount of time alloted and the diametrically opposite viewpoints held naturally degenerates into shouting matches. Its the extreme left and extreme right exchanging talking points where the viewer as Stephen Colbert says is left to "mix these two things together and come up with the least informed mishmash of ideas you could possibly have". It makes for great TV but provides little substance.

The reason I bring this whole topic is because of a recent 1.5 hour debate between APF pundit Hugh Hewitt and conservative author/commentator Andrew Sullivan. Its a fascinating interview because there is contempt in the exchange obvious from the outset. But as they mutually agreed to talk for the hour+, they had to resolve their differences via reasoning and old fashioned debating. It's reminiscent of the classic 'Iron Man' matches in wrestling where two wrestlers must duel for 1 hour. These type of matches are usually between technical wrestlers as they are best at sustaining such a long match. There aren't too many pundits who enjoy such vigorous debate and have formats to accommodate it. On the Right I can name Hugh Hewitt and for the Left Thom Hartmann.

I guess technical pundits like technical wrestlers are a dying breed. I highly recommend you listen to the Iron Man match between Hewitt and Sullivan- fascinating! Listen here. Its the Tuesday March 6, 2007 edition of the show.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Profile 3: Sean Hannity, Janeane Garofalo

Janeane Garofalo is a comedian, political activist and one-time radio host. Currently Janeane is possibly the least professionally active pundit in the APF. She is best known for her work as a comedian and actor, of note she appeared on TV show The West Wing for 15 episodes as a feisty campaign adviser to the Democratic presidential nominee. Janeane rose to prominence as a pundit in 2003 during the lead up to the Iraq War campaigning on behalf of groups like Move On and Win Without War, appearing in commercials for the latter. Prior to the war she represented one of the few dissenting voices allowed on mainstream media. In March 2004, Janeane co hosted radio program The Majority Report with friend (and fellow APF pundit) Sam Seder, she was regularly absent from the show due to her acting engagements leaving the show finally on July 2006.

Sean Hannity is a Conservative triple threat. He is Executive Producer and co-host of the political debate program Hannity and Colmes (with liberal Alan Colmes) on the Fox News Channel. He also headlines his own show Hannity's America on Sundays. Sean also hosts a 2 hour radio show during the week, conducted before his nightly TV duties. To date Hannity has written two books - Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism and Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism. Hannity's website can be found at

Sean has also started his own enterprises including, a dating service for conservatives. Since 2003, Sean has hosted The Annual Freedom Concert featuring conservative speakers and guests to benefit the children of fallen U.S. military servicemen. Sean has also been immortalised in comic book form.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pundit State of the Union

In January I promised that I would be making a monthly PPV, featuring a fancy animation and logo covering a particular topic. That didn't work out too well- primarily because of the time needed in churning out an animation whilst dealing with regular posts and daily chores. Looking forward I realistically hope to make at least 5 PPVs a year.

So without further adieu I present the first topic 'The Pundit State of the Union'. It is an interactive animation where you can control the applause of the pundits by rolling over them. You can also activate the entire red and blue teams into applause by rolling over their respective logos.

The State of the Union 2007 (President George W Bush)

VIDEO: The Democratic Response (Senator Jim Webb)

The State of the Union 2007 (President George W Bush)
The Democratic Response (Senator Jim Webb)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Ann Coulter: Top Heel (wrestling villain)

Wrestlers fall in 2 general categories- Faces and Heels. Faces are the heroes, the wrestlers who the fans cheer for. Today's post will cover the personalities who the crowd boo against, the heel.

In wrestling being booed doesn't mean you're ineffective, in fact its the opposite. Being a convincing villain means you make a compelling entertainer. Heels feed of the crowd's hostile energy (heat), thrilling their small group of supporters and enraging the rest. An effective heel can be just as popular as a good face, they will sell tickets and command center stage. Most are compelled to watch just to see the heel get their comeuppance. There are many ways for a heel to antagonize or lose favor with the audience. They can attack symbols dear to the crowd (wipe their butts with the national flag, ridicule a local hero etc) and they can start a feud with a Face.

Punditry is no different, you will find provocative personalities who intentionally agitate audiences and create controversy. You will see them disavowed on national talk shows, then invited on them within the same week. The greatest heel in the APF and all of punditry without a doubt is Ann Coulter.

This week she caused her latest round of controversy, with her remarks at the CPAC conference- the largest national gathering of conservative thinkers attended this year by Vice President Cheney and all the Republican presidential hopefuls.

VIDEO: Ann Coulter at the CPAC conference 2007

Her full speech can be see here: Part 1, then Part 2.

Ann is known for and has made a career on her outrageous commentary. Naturally she is reviled on the left for her insensitivity, though they are hardly surprised. Denounced by some on the right for nullifying any of her good arguments by the use of unnecessary invective. As her outrageousness becomes more common, critics are directing their disgust at the media outlets who continue to invite and legitimize her on their show. She is undoubtedly a big draw, even bigger at times of controversy.

Some Ann Coulter media highlights: Ann being provocative on Bill Clinton, the 9/11 widows and Iraq. Moderate Ann on presidential nominations. The heel getting her comeuppance on Letterman, on a debate and an interview.

VIDEO: Ann Coulter being discussed on the O'Reilly Factor

Friday, March 2, 2007

Pundit Profile 2: Stephen Colbert, Al Franken

Stephen Colbert is a 3-time Emmy Award winning comedian. He headlines his own Opinion News parody show The Colbert Report, a spin-off show from his time as a popular correspondent on The Daily Show.
Stephen Colbert' profile as a political-cultural force was boosted when he was invited to perform at the White House Correspondent's dinner in 2006.

Al Franken is a political commentator and comedian, in February 2007 he announced his bid to run for Minnesota's Senate seat. Franken's presence on the Liberal Air America Radio placed it on the mainstream map. Al has been the subject of a documentary following his journey as a political player. Al has written 3 books, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right and The Truth (with jokes).