Sunday, June 29, 2008

listener challenges Andrew Wilkow on Habeas Corpus

I wanted to highlight a showdown between APF pundit Andrew Wilkow and listener Troy. This is a first as I've never highlighted a listener challenge originating from a blog.

In the past I've highlighted listeners challenging pundits on the air and what pundits are likely to do when they are overmatched by a caller. These are only possible once the Pundit accepts the listener's call, but what recourse does the listener have if the Pundit doesn't respond?

In his blog Troy challenges Wilkow's assertions of Habeaus Corpus rights as it relates to the latest Supreme court ruling on Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
I wrote him an email this morning and posted a comment on his MySpace page contradicting his so-called "perfectly executed political analysis" and guess what he does?

He DELETES my profile under his 'friends' and REMOVES the comment.
JUNE 28, 2008: Andrew Wilkow has YET to respond. His silence speaks LOUDER than not only his INACTION; but also his RANTING on the radio that's "I'm right, they're wrong" because "I've just provided perfectly executed political analysis."
Whilst Troy does bait Wilkow he also provides a well sourced argument. Personally I have no legal training and am not well read on the American legal system. I also haven't heard audio of Wilkow's offending statements. It was worth highlighting this challenge because it was in the spirit of the blog - it's quite common in wrestling for people in the audience to challenge the wrestler in the ring. Troy is a respectful loyal listener of Wilkow. He believes his challenge is in the spirit of Wilkow's mantra of championing rational thought and discussion.

Read Troy's post here: Andrew Wilkow DOES NOT like having his perfectly executed political analysis questioned!!

Do not be fooled by the MySpace aesthetic. It is an earnest blog expressing the perspectives of a man with a humble microphone. Though Troy doesn't explicitly state if he is a democrat or Republican we can infer certain things as he is very transparent in his blog. He has served over a decade in the military, likes all kinds of music except rap, isn't a fan of political correctness and is a 'Trekker'.
Read Troy (Starfleet Cadet's) Blog on MySpace

Join the discussion and share your thoughts on the ruling of Habeas Corpus as well as the assertions made by Andrew Wilkow and Troy. You're welcome to do that here or on Troy's blog.

Go to Andrew Wilkow's MySpace Page
Go to Troy's (Starfleet Cadet's) MySpace page
Go to Troy's blog on MySpace
Go to Andrew Wilkow's official website

Watch what happens when a normal audience member challenges a wrestler -
VIDEO: Santino Morella challenging Umaga

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in unity

unity, obama, clinton, democrats, hulk hogan, ultimate warrior
Respect Angle: Ultimate Warrior hugs Hulk Hogan after Wrestlemania 6.
Barack Obama hugs Hillary Clinton in Unity, NH
The wrestling tie-in is explained in my previous post 'The Democratic Primary: How should Barack and Hillary finish it?'. As anticipated, the dueling Democrats ended it with a "respect angle".

Ever since Obama secured the Democratic Party nomination we've been anticipating the moment when the pair would put their past feelings behind them and Hillary would ask her supporters to throw their weight for Obama. In a previous post I highlighted how the dueling Democrats needed to resolve their differences after a heated Primary contest.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton began their unity campaign June 27, 2008. It was an affair full of labored symbols. The event was held in Unity, New Hampshire, but the symbolism doesn't end with the schmaltzy venue name. New Hampshire is where she won her first Primary and where her campaign kicked into second gear. She claimed a shocking victory defying the pundits and the polls who had counted her out after originally being tagged 'inevitable' in the year leading up to the Primaries. Though she bested Obama in the State overall, Unity split their votes down the middle giving 107 apiece to Obama and Clinton.

Whilst the event was a great gesture of solidarity, only time and the voters can tell if the bad blood washes off or if it leaves a lingering stain.

Read comments from conservative and liberal readers:
- Video: Three weeks later, still no unity in Unity
- Obama and Hillary in Unity, NH
- Open Thread Obama/Clinton discussion
from NewsBusters
- ABC's Jake Tapper with a quick recap of the hard fought primary. Watch the video here
- To see how rival wrestlers show "unity", watch this video from the 2m24s mark

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Latest APF Profile - Pete Dominick

I'm happy to announce Pete Dominick as the latest addition to the APF roster. Pete is the second independent pundit featured on the site, accompanying Bill O'Reilly who had long been the lone independent.

You will find a feature and interview of Pete Dominick here. Though it wasn't designed intentionally, the addition of Pete Dominick means I've interviewed a Liberal talker, a Conservative talker and finally an independent talker. Not bad.

As with every new Pundit to the APF we include the obligatory Pundit animations. This is a another two-fer animation with the button on the bottom left allowing you to toggle Pete's outfit.

Introducing Pete Dominick

For any of Pete's listeners who'd like to promote his show, kindly email me to get the code to have these animations featured on your site or myspace page:

Go to Pete's official Website
Get to Sirius Satellite Radio to listen to Pete's show
Find more about the Indie Talk channel on Sirius
Visit Pete's myspace page
Watch Pete's videos, from standup to TV appearances.

Introducing the newest APF Pundit: Pete Dominick

A conversation with Pete Dominick
Pete Dominick is a talker on Sirius Satellite Radio. His program – 'Pete's Big Mouth' is featured on the IndieTalk channel. The channel's motto: "Political talk for people who hate political talk" is a fitting description for the show.

Pete often talks about wanting his show to counter the bravado of his Talk Radio peers: "They’re really trying to get people to follow ...Ed Schultz is a liberal talker and he wants you to call yourself an "EdHead", with Rush Limbaugh you’re a "dittohead... I think that’s dangerous. It insinuates that what that person is saying is right and is always right".

Political Talk Radio has traditionally been a combative format. The talker issues their talking points, bashes the other side and only concedes failings strategically. When a caller interjects with an opposing viewpoint, they know they’re in for a fight and are at the mercy of the talker’s bully pulpit.

On Pete's show it's quite the opposite. When Pete is flippant or says something his audience find ignorant, he will host a stream of calls or read emails disabusing him of that contention. He isn't afraid to reconsider his stance after some back and forth but concedes at times “he’s been too apologetic" and admits "it isn't good for radio".

There is an inviting and casual air to the show, this follows even if you're a first time listener or disagree with Pete’s views. This is partly a function of Pete’s persona and the "independent" nature of the show. As the program is driven by audience input and Pete’s curiosity it’s hard to predetermine the direction the show will take on any given day or even hour by hour. The show has spent time discussing matters as varied as 'McCain's war record', 'racism in America' to 'audience celebrity encounters' – spurred from an encounter with Geraldo Rivera during Pete's morning drive to work. Pete often becomes animated during the topic of religion (he is an outspoken agnostic) and American party politics (doesn't like the two-party system, favouring instant-runoff voting).

Pete's personality coupled with the freedom of the Sirius format gives the show a schoolyard vibe - a regular caller greets the host with "Hey Pete, How the f*ck are ya? It's a cliché in the world of Talk Radio but there is a sense that he values every listener. He welcomes callers like they're old friends, remembering names from previous conversations by phone and email. Pete wants his audience to own the show "I'm not interested in leading people. I'm interested in having a salon discussion everyday...I just love listening to people's opinions". He feeds off the enthusiasm and intellectual appetite of his audience, Pete often jokes on air about the overzealousness of listeners sending 9 emails a day "why not just wait a little bit then send all 9 links together".

Pete's Big Mouth is built from the interactions of his audience. Pete moves the conversation with his inquisitiveness, using a skillset he describes as being his "personality, wit and off-the-cuff improvisational abilities". It's been these qualities that have attracted Sirius (he also hosts Comedy by Request on the Raw Dog Comedy Channel) and impressed Jon Stewart who invited him to be the warm-up for the 'Daily Show', eventually moving to 'The Colbert Report'.

The way Pete describes the dynamic of his Colbert audience warm-up is reflective of the spirit of his radio show "I'm going on a journey with the audience... we're leading each other and I'm making jokes in the moment. It's hard to follow that with scripted anything".

Pete's Big Mouth isn't your conventional Talk program. It's best described as a show where people discuss the memes they've just heard on the radio rather than the show disseminating it. Instead of people regurgitating talking points, they're deliberating over them. Pete encapsulates the essence of his show and personality simply, when he says "I like conversation".

Partial conversation transcripts below:
Pete on his radio peers
All I'm finding, a lot of times no mater who they are. They're really trying to get people to follow their – Ed Schultz is a liberal talker and he wants you to call yourself an "EdHead", with Rush Limbaugh you're a "dittohead"... I don't want people to identify with Pete's Big Mouth or with Pete Dominick. I don’t need that kind of following because I think that’s dangerous. It insinuates that what that person is saying is right and is always right and that’s not what I want to do. I'm not interested in leading people. I'm interested in having a salon discussion everyday, selfishly because I'm entertained by it. I love talking about the subject matter we talk about, I can't wait to get into those conversations privately with family and friends and I love doing it on the air. I just love listening to people's opinions. I think if anyone’s gonna follow me I hope they're following the idea of individual thought. That's all.
Pete on his comedy
I’m not a political comedian. It's one part of a larger act, I do current events, politics, social issues as one part of my act. I also talk about my personal life, my insecurities, my relationships and I also do an observational chunk usually as well.

I’ve never been able to pin myself down or paint myself as one type of comedian. To some extent that’s been to my disadvantage. I have always been a host and an emcee, I’ve gotten more work as a host and emcee on TV and in radio and certainly mainly in comedy clubs. As well as doing the audience warm-up. My skill set I think is my personality, my wit, my off-the-cuff improvisational abilities.
Pete on warming up for Colbert
I like conversation. I like to go onstage (when I’m doing stand up) if it would be okay with everybody I would just talk to them for 30 minutes and get laughs that way and I do do that with warm-up every night on the Colbert Report. I do that about 20, 30 minutes. Often during my jokes the laughs come from the situation.
Listen to my conversation with Pete Dominick (On the 12m20s mark, the audio the cuts forward to another question. Apologies for the quality)

The all important 'Idgit' Vote

Leading satirists 'The Onion' have been running a series of poignant pieces skewering the presentation of Politics.
Astute and very funny.

In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote
An august panel discusses the vital 'Idgit' vote.

An 'Idgit' voter can be broadly defined as:
- Someone who looks at all the options by not considering them
- The idgit voter is the man of the moment
- The idgit vote is a vital vote and they represent the heart of America
- They vote based on how a candidate "looks" or if the candidate's name sounds like a beverage

Go to the The Onion website
Go The Onion's Election08 microsite
Read comments from readers of Conservative blog HotAir

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Behind the Scenes with Stephen Colbert

I found some interesting video courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo. It's Stephen Colbert backstage, out of character advising a guest on how they should react to his on-screen persona. The guest was Senator John Kerry appearing on the Colbert Report April 19, 2007.

VIDEO: A rare glimpse behind the scenes of the Colbert Report
Talking Points Memo: A rare Behind-the-Scenes look at The Colbert Report
STEPHEN COLBERT: Are you familiar with what we do here?... well you know that I'm in character.
COLBERT: And that I'm an idiot
JOHN KERRY: It's wonderful to see you out of character
COLBERT: There's no guarantee that I'm out of character right now. I might prove myself an idiot before -- I'm an idiot that I'm letting them film this... I'm wilfully ignorant about what we're talking about so disabuse me of my ignorance
KERRY: Do I have to?
COLBERT: You don't have to. You can join the life if you want.
KERRY: No I can't do that. I'll try.
You very rarely see Colbert breaking kayfabe. I've often wondered what it's like before the cameras roll on a Pundit showdown. Obviously 'The Colbert Report' has a different dynamic to straight programming found on Fox News or CNN. It's essentially a comedy show with a faux interviewer, harboring no malicious intent with only an agenda to entertain.

Watching the backstage video, I couldn't help but think of this from 'Beyond the Mat' (1999). Skip to 1m15s where you can see the Rock and Mankind discussing how their match will go down.

VIDEO: Beyond the Mat: 5) Backstage at the Royal Rumble

Watch and Read more on TalkingPointsMemo with Senator Kerry
Go to the 'Talking Points Memo' website
Go to the official 'Colbert Report' Website

It's not quite in the same vein, but wanted to recommend it all the same as it has Colbert backstage and features a show I enjoy watching on 'College Humor'.
Stephen Colbert giving advice to Talk show host Dan Levy.
Watch the clip here - The I Have To Go In A Minute Show: Stephen Colbert

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Karl Rove interviewed by GQ

Men's magazine, GQ has an interesting interview with Karl Rove. As usual Rove is entertaining and has the blogosphere up in arms.

Read the full GQ interview here - 'Karl Rove Likes What He Sees'
The CarpetBagger rebuts a point Rove makes in the interview about the implications of Obama's "arrogance"
Rove: Obama is coolly detached and very arrogant. I think he’s very smart and knows he’s smart, but as a result doesn’t do his homework.

Read the full CarpetBagger post hear Karl Rove, after more than a decade of service to George W. Bush, accuse anyone of being “arrogant” and unwilling to “do his homework” is so spectacularly amusing, I’m almost amazed he’s too far gone to appreciate the irony.

Rove took another shot at Obama using a different metaphor on the same theme. Rove: Obama Is The Type Of Guy Who Hangs Out At Country Clubs via TalkingPointsMemo
"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said... "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Sam Seder and Chris Hedges: What Tim Russert represents

In a recent post I catalogued Pundits eulogizing iconic journalist Tim Russert. I noted that there was a surprising lack of liberal of input.
Curiously many liberal APF pundits didn't offer personal statements for Tim. I was only able to find one from Keith Olbermann who was a fellow MSNBC colleague. I didn't exhaust myself trying but I will add them as I find them.
As promised, I bring to you what some liberal commentator have since said about Tim Russert's legacy. It turns out the silence was deafening.
The Hedonists of Power by Chris Hedges
The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation’s greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.
Liberal Radio Talker Sam Seder shares his thoughts on Tim Russert's legacy during his weekly chat with Marc Maron. True to form Sam remains outspokenly against Tim Russert and his ilk. His main quarrel being the stenography approach and the insider mentality of shows like 'Meet the Press'. Sam has a regular segment on his Sunday show called the 'Weekend Watchdog' with Bill Scher, the segment audits the Weekend talk shows to make sure they are covering the "real" issues.
What is it about this guy that was particularly special? What did he sacrifice? $5million a year this guys was making. He had no relationship with the audience... he would get politicians on the record once a week. The f***ing laziness I spent a year watching his show and I learnt nothing, nothing from this man...
the irony is in death they (media) missed the news stories as much as he did when he was alive...
Listen and Download the excerpted audio of Sam and Marc discussing Tim Russert.

Sam is particularly heated and potty-mouthed in this audio. For the uninitiated, former AirAmerica talkers Sam and Marc conduct a candid weekly podcast for their online audience.
Watch the June 20th Vodcast of Maron VS Seder
Find links to the June 20th Maron VS Seder audio here
'Enough Already!' by Justin Raimondo
Enough already with the encomiums to Tim Russert, whose untimely death has sparked a veritable chorus of eulogies depicting him as the epitome of objectivity and the greatest of journalists. This is all coming, quite naturally, from his fellow journalists and intellectual gatekeepers, who share his prejudices, his politics, and – alas! – his shortcomings. It's time for a little Russert revisionism.
Read my original post - 'Remembering Tim: Pundits reacting to Tim Russert's death'
Go to the Vodcast archive of Sam Seder
Go to the columns archive of Chris Hedges
Read Sam Seder's bio
Read Chris Hedges' bio

Monday, June 23, 2008

Myspace Page updated and new Interview and Pundit to be unveiled

Hello folks,
Just letting you know that the Myspace page has been revamped. The folks at MySpace are constantly changing their formatting so I figured it was time to use a more conventional look and feel so as to not upset their ever-changing framework. Hopefully the more traditional look will be more inviting as far as comments and interactivity go.

I was also fortunate enough to interview Pete Dominick. He is a Radio Talker on Sirius for the IndieTalk Channel, the warm up act for Stephen Colbert and a touring comedian. Anyone familiar with Pete's show - 'Pete's Big Mouth' - knows he is a very accessible and funny guy. I am in the process of transcribing it and incorporating some graphics with it. Expect a new animation and some audio of the interview in the near future.

In the meanwhile here is a preliminary animation. It's still in it's beta stage, I'll probably give him a choice of two outfits.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama unveils new logo with mixed results

I've mentioned in a previous post, the effectiveness of the Obama brand. No brand is immune to hiccups, Obama is no exception

Obama's controversial customised Presidential Seal
Photo credit: AP, White House. Image from CNN's Political Ticker

He has unveiled a new logo which has received mixed results.
Here are sample reactions from commenters on the New York Times blog. Some see the logo as innocuous whilst others are worried the brand may be overreaching.
4. June 20th, 2008. 3:55 pm
That is kind of weird but i could understand how these message gurus are carving out a great image. I just hope they don’t over do it.
— Posted by Bee

10. June 20th, 2008. 4:04 pm
A bit presumptuous isn’t it? Looks to me like Obama has delusions of grandeur! Can’t imagine why the eagle would have arrows since Obama would never think of using force. He’ll just talk the leaders of terrorist supporting countries to death.
— Posted by jschm

11. June 20th, 2008. 4:05 pm
Uh oh…. I can see his critics having a field day with this one….
— Posted by Mike..............Durham, NC
Read the full post from The New York Times blog "The Great Seal of Obamaland?"

As a graphic designer and someone involved in marketing. It seems to me the marketing department got a little overzealous. Often times designers get carried away and create superfluous designs because they like the branding language they've created so much. Other times they just feel like doing extra to charge a little extra. Obama's brand success has come from the balance of sophistication and simplicity in his messaging. Not unlike what Apple has achieved. The brand discipline seems to have escaped the Obama team here.

Below are posts examining the Obama brand closer. Including an insightful interview from the perspective of graphic designer Michael Bierut.

Expertinent: Why the Obama "Brand" Is Working

Is Obama's stuff on the level with the best commercial brand design?
I think it's just as good or better. I have sophisticated clients who pay me and other people well to try to keep them on the straight and narrow, and they have trouble getting everything set in the same typeface. And he seems to be able to do it in Cleveland and Cincinnati and Houston and San Antonio. Every time you look, all those signs are perfect. Graphic designers like me don't understand how it's happening. It's unprecedented and inconceivable to us. The people in the know are flabbergasted.

The Chicago Tribune traces how the Obama brand was crafted very early in his political life.
Carefully crafting the Obama 'brand'

Patric Ruffini has more - "The Marketing of the President in 2008"

Dan Herman provides insight on how the brand helps Obama in the short term, but more importantly in the long term. Ensuring that what might be seen as a fad converts into a robust and credible politican - Can Short-Term Brand "Candidate Obama" Transform Successfully Into Long-Term Brand "President Obama"?

Leslie Singer isn't convinced with the notion that Obama is already a brand.
Just because you are in the news, doesn't make you a brand. When you start changing the news, you are on your way. When you fulfill a promise that changes lives and impacts our culture in a way that resonates in the history books, then you are a brand. Anything less, you are a just a moment in time.
Read the full piece on the Comments section of this post

As quickly as the logo was revealed, it has disappeared just as swiftly. "Obama Campaign Drops Faux Presidential Seal"
Courtesy of AdAge

Friday, June 20, 2008

Barack Obama is a used car salesman

The Obama campaign has well and truly entered the zeitgeist. Political Sketch shows and YouTube parodies are usually the first signifiers of a phenomena. But when a car company co-opts your campaign...

VIDEO: President Obama Car commercial

With this current election getting so much attention and so many historic characters and events in play. Expect to see a lot more references and a lot more impersonators. Wrestling was on top of it months ago.

Jon Stewart with his take on the Commercial.

Jon Stewart: I don't think we have seen a historic figure advertisement turnaround that quick since... (queue parody Ad)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sam Seder: when radio callers attack (then not)

I'd like to recap one of the more interesting calls between a caller and radio talker. It happened April 10, 2008 between Sam Seder and a caller named Joe. To provide context to the exchange, Sam was filling in for Randi Rhodes' timeslot after her sudden resignation from Air America. Sam had also received unfortunate news regarding his broadcasting future in an earlier program break. He learned of it not from his bosses but through internet chatter, much to Sam's frustration.

Sam described it as an "odd but somewhat entertaining call".

The exchange from Conservative Joe started off typically enough. Sam could only give the caller Joe a minute as a break was approaching.
You don't give Republicans much of a chance on your show do you? Only a minute huh.

You've been doing Talk Radio for 4 or 5 years and you haven't developed one single star. You don't have a Limbaugh, a Savage, a Hannity, a Boortz you don't have any of that...
You liberals take to talk radio like a Muslim takes to a Peace meeting.

I've got a lot more to say but I don't think you wanna hear it, you want everyone to pat you on the back, don't you?. To tell you how wonderful your liberalism is. But I wanna debate, are we on? Are you scared?
Sam Seder put the caller on hold. Postponing the fireworks till after the break, one would think.

Upon return, Joe began with the statement
I'm a rock-ribbed Republican
followed by
When you liberals talk about conservatives and always put us down you have some points...because the administration has trailed off dramatically
This was the first of many odd strings where Joe would telegraph a punch then veer in the opposite direction.
You talk as if everything is wrong with the Republicans and you Democrats are squeaky clean...with this primary Hillary Clinton has proven herself a racist along with Bill Clinton
(here comes the swerve)
against my man Barack
I would prefer people listened to the segment as it's better appreciated heard than read.
Listen to the 10 minute segment between Sam Seder and Caller Joe here

Partial transcripts below:
As is Sam's MO he encourages listeners to exercise their own judgment and due diligence rather than blind faith.
Caller Joe: I actually crossed over out of pure disgust and disdain for McCain... That's why I'm listening. I'm trying to indoctrinate myself into your kind of thinking...

Seder: Joe you don't want to be indoctrinated. What you want to do is to actually start to flex the muscles.
Sam has never been one for self aggrandizing at the expense of real issues. In this exchange, he defines his difference in priorities with the caller
Caller Joe: You liberals don't take to talk radio, if you ever listen to my man Michael Savage you'll understand that Talk Radio is all about bashing people. See that's why your ratings are not that guys are trying to learn but some of you guys just don't have the knack for it...

Seder: Here's the difference between you and me Joe ...(Sam lists a series of Political issues facing the country)... so the notion as to whether or not Neal Boortz, because there is some type of distribution mechanism that favors him is doing well. I can't tell you. There isn't any part of my body small enough that could be a repository for how much I care about that. But for you it's a game. See this is the problem with the conservative mindset Joe. You just want to win.

But you don't want to win anything of substance. You just need to make yourself feel better...
True to form Joe ended with another curious headfake
You screwed Randi Rhodes, God Bless Jeff Farias and Mike Malloy. Go to hell loser!
Go to Sam Seder's official website
Watch the exchange in Video (Sammy Cam, April 10 2008) - Recommended: Watch Sam candidly during program breaks, including him excoriating his bosses off-air.

Remembering Tim: Pundits reacting to Tim Russert's death

Respected journalist Tim Russert passed away today June 13, 2008. He was 58. Tim Russert was the host of 'Meet the Press' and NBC’s Washington bureau chief. Read Tim Russert's bio from 'Meet the Press'.

Here are a collection of statements made by APF Pundits. Many of the featured pundits (left and right) has at one time been critical of Tim. By and large he was respected for his fairness and passion for politics as well as his genuineness.

Rush Limbaugh on Tim Russert:

It's just a shame. Tim was a regular guy with that perpetual smile he wore naturally all the time. He loved life and got everything he could out of it. Whether it was at dinner here in Florida while his son was taking golf lessons, or on the set of Meet The Press, Tim was always the same with me: genuine. He never condescended to anyone and was the consummate professional. He will be hard to replace. He was the closest thing there was at any of the networks to an objective journalist.
Hugh Hewitt on Tim Russert:
A talented, ebullient Irish-Catholic kid who made good first in Democratic politics and then MSM and never forgot his family, his friends, his colleagues or Buffalo. A great American.
Read Hugh Hewitt's full post on Tim Russert's life

Mark Levin on Tim Russert:
I didn't know Tim Russert personally. I used to kid about him on my show. But I, like most others, am stunned and saddened by his sudden death. I always admired his deep commitment to his family.

He was obviously a wonderful father, son, and husband. And he wasn't afraid to show his love and affection for them. That will be his true legacy. And it is a legacy far more important than any professional or career accomplishments, of which he had many. I wish his family peace.
Mark Levin's statement came from Talk Radio blog The Radio Equalizer who asked "several key talkers for their reactions to the news". Read Radio Equalizer's full post on Tim Russert

Keith Olbermann on Tim Russert:
I don't know, in my 30 years in broadcasting, if I ever met anybody who enjoyed what he did from the beginning to the end, every aspect of it, enjoyed it more than Tim Russert and more importantly showed that as he did it.
View Keith Olbermann's videos discussing Tim

Michelle Malkin on Tim Russert

Curiously many liberal APF pundits didn't offer personal statements for Tim. I was only able to find one from Keith Olbermann who was a fellow MSNBC colleague. I didn't exhaust myself trying but I will add them as I find them.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Elitism: Barack Obama and Applebees

One of the proven ways for casting a villain is to label them 'elite'. You need not look any further than wrestling where elitism sits alongside the "obnoxious foreigner" as a staple villain caricature. Classic "elite" wrestling heels include 'The Blue blood' Hunter Hearst Helmsley and John Bradshaw Layfield.

The masses don't respond well to elites. We like our heroes to be accessible, likable, one of us. It's a curiosity of human nature, we don't mind if our sporting heroes or CEOs are obnoxious as long as they are winning or making the shareholders happy. When it comes to voting where we have a direct influence we will often consider other factors, personality often trumps talent. We want to elect people who we can relate to, someone we can be proud of. We don't judge Idol winners based on signing alone, we don't choose our favourite wrestlers based just on wrestling ability the same way we don't vote for our leaders based just on their policies. Unfortunately it sometimes just comes down to a popularity contest.

People respond actively against people they perceive as elites. That is why it's become a popular charge for politicians, birthing popular cliches like "they're out of touch with main street". Both parties view elitism differently. Liberals see elitism as the opposite of populism, being rich or well educated does not disqualify you from being in touch with the middle class or interested in the welfare of society. It's widely known that many 'Hollywood-types' are liberal, a function of creatives being predominantly left-leaning. This is an easy source of ridicule for critics with the decadence and hypocrisy associated with Hollywood.

Republicans view elitism differently. Whilst the republican base is known for a strong corporate makeup it also has a proud rural, blue-collar contingent. You will often hear variations of the insult "latte-sipping, gay-marryin', limousine elitists" in characterising their opponents. Liberals will often counter by saying that many conservatives vote against their best interests, that issues that like border security, gay rights and abortion that animate the populist wing are merely subterfuge for an agenda that mainly benefits the corporate wing of the party.

Barack Obama is latest politician to be painted as an elite.
Conservative commentator David Brooks famously said of Obama
"It's a big, historic movement, but the magic is not felt by a lot of people. It's not felt, obviously, by a lot of less educated people, downscale people. They just look at Obama, and they don't see anything. And so, Obama's problem is he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee's salad bar, and people think he fits in naturally there. And so he's had to change to try to be more like that Applebee's guy, and as he's done that, he's become much more transactional, much more, "I'm going to deliver this, and this, and this for you" on policy.
Read the full transcript from MediaMatters

Jon Stewart has his say on elitism
I know `elite' is a bad word in politics, and you want to go bowling and throw back a few beers, but the job you're applying for? If you get it and it goes well? They might carve your head into a mountain. If you don't actually think you're better than us, then what the **** are you doing?!?

Stephen Colbert with his take on Obama
Is Barack Obama an ‘elitist’? Well, he does want to join a club with only 43 members!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The branding of Barack Obama and John McCain

Both presumptive Presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain have an appeal that extends beyond the political realm and into popular culture. Despite his age (72, born 1936) McCain has a unique connection with popular culture having been invited to guest host SNL in 2002 and being a frequent guest on the Daily Show (a record 13 and counting).

Obama is no slouch either, his image is featured in all forms of creative expression from music, art to fashion. Barack is also Hollywood favourite, it's not entirely surprising being the Democratic nominee as John Kerry similarly had a lot of celebrity endorsements in 2004. Though it can be argued Kerry was only popular as an alternative to Bush and the figurehead for the Democrats rather than possessing any unique appeal.

Whilst John Kerry's election bid was assisted by celebrity-driven initiatives like 'Rock the Vote', Fat Mike's 'PunkVoter' and Puffy's 'Vote or Die'. Barack has inspired campaigns of creative expression like Will.I.Am's 'Yes We Can', a song comprised of Obama speech soundbites echoed by a gallery of celebrities. He has inspired art, with street artists like Shepard Fairey and Scott Hansen donating Obama pieces to raise funds for the campaign after initially spreading it autonomously. Barack has also become a fashion icon, it isn't surprising to see paparazzi snaps of celebrities wearing Obama T-Shirts. You won't need to look too far to find Obama inspired Tees.

barack obama art shirtsUsually Politicians referenced on t-shirts are cheeky or protests, rarely will they be earnest endorsements. I referenced in a previous post that its not often you'll find photorealistic shirts with general adult appeal.

While Obama's image has had success resonating with the masses John McCain has struggled. He has an appealing narrative, a war hero with a 'Never say Die' spirit and arguably a more affable personality but McCain is weak on the mic. No real shame there as Obama is a uniquely gifted political speaker. McCain does have the ability to win over smaller pools of people with his humor and accessibility just not in the stadium sweeping fashion Obama does.

john mccain logo brandingIn fact this is a telling McCain weakness. McCain is better as a small-outfit insurgent candidate, he isn't known for his ability to coordinate large campaign organism the way Obama does - The marketing, the street team, promotions. Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone has an interesting piece on the Schizophrenic McCain identity
- The Branding of John McCain.

I encourage you to read the post along with the comments. Poster John Lemmings makes a poignant point that possibly indicts this post and my blog:
This is completely laughable, coming from and being associated with what is usually a somewhat respectable and well done publication (Rolling Stone)...

Rolling Stone, do a review of what your staffers are putting online. Viable political discussion is great to see, but this amateur content that would not even be viewed on someone’s livejournal is simply a joke.

Obama is just another candidate, playing the same political game that McCain is, not some magical revolutionary who is going to hug the world and make it a happy place. The fight is going to come down to real issues, not the colors of a website which will be viewed by a minority of the overall voting populace. Obama supporters trying to stroke the ego of other diehard Obama supporters is fruitless, give us real substance!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bill O'Reilly, Bill Moyers and ambush journalism

Bill O'Reilly often sends his producer Porter Berry to ambush notable personalities to set up stories for his show, 'The O'Reilly Factor'. The people he targets have often been critical of O'Reilly or have refused to appear on his program.

The latest was an ambush of Bill Moyers at the 'National Conference for Media Reform'. Bill Moyers is an influential American journalist known for his investigative documentaries and long-form conversations with the world's leading minds. The conference was organised by 'Free Press' and held in Minneapolis.
According to the program overview on their website, The National Conference
will focus on broadening the media reform movement, envisioning the future of our media system, harnessing new technology for change, and achieving concrete policy victories through sustainable organizing.
The O'Reilly producer who came to ambush Moyers was awkwardly overmatched and quickly became the prey. Bill Moyers is seasoned and was well equipped to handle the O'Reilly surrogate. As keynote speaker, Moyers was also in friendly territory. Being a media conference the room had plenty of journalists and cameras to document and interrogate the lone ambusher.

Some of Moyer's best lines included.
- For the record I asked Bill to come on my show first (responding to why he declined to appear on Bill's show)
- I like to honor the people who do the real work in journalism and that's producers and reporters. It isn't anchors. It isn't the blowhards...
- Bill O'Reilly isn't a journalist, he's a pugilist
After Bill Moyers took the O'Reilly associate to task. Other citizen journalists took over and ambushed the man by shadowing and badgering him with questions of their own. Davin Hutchins, Managing Producer for the 'American News Project' led the charge:
- Do you think what you just did was journalism?
- Did you have a preconceived idea of what he was going to say?
- Did you come here to get facts, to set up a premise (or) a stunt...?
VIDEO: Fox ambushes Bill Moyers

The 'Producer's Notebook' section on provides a brief bio of Porter Berry, the ambushing producer. You can watch a previous ambush of Arianna Huffington here.
Porter Berry has been a producer for the O'Reilly Factor since 2005. Prior to joining Fox News, Berry was a filmmaker in Los Angeles for ten years. He received a B.A. in Economics from Texas Christian University in 1993. Berry was born and raised in Oklahoma City and now lives with his wife in New York City.
Read Bill Moyer's Bio from 'The Museum of Broadcast Communication'
Read the 'National Conference for Media Reform' program overview
Read more about 'Free Press' organization
Go to the official "O'Reilly Factor" website
Read more about the 'American News Project', the people questioning Porter Berry

Update: (June 11, 2008)
Bill O'Reilly returns fire using the footage his team captured. Bill seems a little threatened or at least intimidated by Bill Moyers as he calls him "fanatic", "crazy" and "scary"

VIDEO: Bill O'Reilly attacks Bill Moyers in body language segment

John McCain and Barack Obama official APF wallpaper

With Hillary 'suspending' her campaign, the official matchup is set. Barack Obama representing the Democrats and John McCain for the Republicans.

Below is the first wallpaper to mark this epic showdown. The tagline we've decided on is 'Hero and the Hope'. A few other taglines were considered, they included:
- The Sound and the Fury
- First and the Furious
- Soft Power and the Hard Power

mccain obama wallpaper election 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Let's celebrate the end of the Primary season

The primary season is coming to a close, and the nominees for their respective parties will soon be made official. John McCain for the Republicans and Barack Obama for the Democrats. To celebrate the end of the long and winding Primaries here is a new wallpaper.
super tuesday, primaries, democrats, republicans, obama, mccain