Sunday, July 29, 2007

Somebody stop the New York Times

Here's a rule that seems to work pretty well this year: If it's a page 1 (or top of the website) story in the New York Times about one of the leading presidential candidates, it's a completely worthless piece of pseudo-psychological bullshit that uses a few pieces of completely unrepresentative evidence to draw broad and unwarranted conclusions about that candidate's personality and psyche.

Does anybody out there think the letters they sent when they were a teenager tell us anything about what they are like as a middle-aged adult? It's ludicrous and it's embarassing to see in our nation's "paper of record."

But at least it's another good candidate for Brendan's contest.

PS What kind of a publicity-seeking dick releases to the press private letters a now-famous friend sent almost 40 years ago?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The lame debate over Michael Moore's "Sicko"

My good friend Brendan Nyhan and I have staged a Spinsanity semi-reunion to write about "Sicko" and its critics. Initially, we expected to critique "Sicko's" factual errors just as we have Michael Moore's other work.

But we found out that "Sicko" gets all its fact pretty much right. Instead, we discovered we have a lot more to say about the mainstream media critiques of "Sicko" and what they tell us about the sad state of fact-checking amongst professional journalists and how that has allowed Moore to try to whitewash his record of frequent dishonesty. The introductory paragraphs are below and then you can read the whole thing over at Brendan's site:

The mainstream media has started fact-checking Michael Moore one movie too late.

As veteran fact-checkers of Michael Moore, we should be taking a victory lap in the wake of "Sicko." The liberal icon's latest film has been aggressively fact-checked by major outlets including CNN's Sanjay Gupta, the Associated Press, and USA Today.

However, the media has decided to pounce on Moore just when he seems to be addressing his problems with accuracy. As a result, they have little to say -- indeed, the weakness of the criticism makes Moore look thoughtful and careful with his facts by comparison.

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Intelligence insulting L.A. Times story of the day

My local paper does some fine journalism. But lately I've been noticing that many of the inner sections in the Sunday paper are a little light on quality content, to say the least.

Today's business section hits a new low. Here's the headline of the lead story:
Surfing before you fly can uncover best fare

And to think I've been wasting my time visiting my local travel agent every time I need to book a flight. Who knew?!

Coming next week: a fascinating feature on how e-mail can help you to communicate with your co-workers no matter where you are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Living every angry Xbox 360 owner's dream

I wouldn't wish the notorious red ring of death on anyone. Especially if, like me, the Xbox 360 isn't only your primary videogaming console, it's also your DVD player that you have hooked up to your surround sound stereo system.

But an abnormally high percentage (25%? 33%?) of Xbox 360's are experiencing this serious defect, which is why Microsoft took a $1 billion-plus write off and extended the 360 warranty to three years to correct the problem.

However, if it's going to happen, I have to say that my situation is ideal. One of my jobs is covering the videogame industry for Variety. My 360 broke down with the red ring of death tonight. Coincidentally, tomorrow is the day before the opening of the annual E3 videogame conference. In preparation, I will be interviewing both Peter Moore, corporate VP of Microsoft's interactive division, AND Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment & devices division.

Suddenly, I have a new line of questions I'm very eager to ask them.

I'm sure I'm not the first 360 owner who would like to ask Peter and Robbie a few questions the day after his or her console breaks down with the red ring of death. But I bet I'll be the first person ever to actually live that dream.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The funniest thing EVER

I have been waiting to find this skit for as long as people have been pirating video online, and it's finally here.

If, like me, you were a political nerd in the early '90s at the same time that "Saturday Night Live" was in its Carvey-Hartman-Rock-Sweeney-Hooks-Farley prime, there is simply nothing as funny as their skit based on "The McLaughlin Group," led by Dana Carvey's over-the-top but still dead-on McLaughlin.

It is simultaneously a brilliant parody and also a devastating satire of everything that's wrong and ridiculous about American punditry.

Some of my favorite elements:

-Asking the panelists to judge something "on a scale of 1 to 14, with one being the lowest degree of likelihood and 14 being absolute metaphysical certitude." The answer? 6.5

-McLaughlin's evolving nicknames for Morton Kondracke as the show proceeds: "Mor-Kon," "Mor-Kon-Town," "Mor-Kon-Tine," "Mor-Kon-Town USA," and finally "Mor-teeny-tiny-table-top"

-McLaughlin asks "what number am I thinking of?" -- hilarious in and of itself -- and then when Eleanor Clift asks "It is between 1 and 100?" he replies "Don't skirt the issue!" That makes me lose it every time. F*cking brilliant.