As I was typing the previous post, I began thinking why it was that I hadn't blogged much recently. True, I just got back from vacation and I've been tired and busy, but I think above all, I didn't have anything that I really felt I wanted to comment on. Of course the story of the moment is CBS News' incompetence and arrogance, and I'm enjoying it, but there's so much to it that it's futile for me to spend the time trying to summerize it when you can simply go to the guys who are making the news, Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, LGF and the guys who are collecting all the various details, Instapundit and the Corner. So look through those blogs for good coverage of Rathergate. Anyway, this is all a long way of saying I came across something that triggered my writing reflex.
Drudge has a story about Jay Leno's politics where he gives an interview about it to an LA Weekly writer who had previously criticised him for introducing Arnold and letting him announce his candidacy on The Tonight Show. Leno comes off as a pretty decent and fair guy. He seems to be one of the genuine liberals who's more concerned about Supreme Court judges than the foaming-at-the-mouth "RARRGH $%^&*#^&! BU5H h8!" type that seems to personify most of the Hollywood Left these days. What I found most revealing about this interview, though, is what a lefty the writer conducting it is. Leno had to steer her away from nonsense occasionally.
Here are my thoughts on some of the Q&A.
You get a good clue as to the writer, Nikki Finke's, ideology right off the bat when she quotes a previous column applauding Letterman for "presenting Dubya in all his dumb-ass glory." Arrogance, thy name is Hollywood. (Or Rather, depending on whom you ask.)
Finke tells Leno it was "inappropriate" for him to MC Arnold's victory party and that it "hurt his objectivity." First of all, who is Finke to say what is appropriate and what isn't when it comes to political speech? Leno explained that Arnold is just a friend anyway. I wonder if Finke called the Kerry party featuring the vulgarities and Bush hatred of Whoopi Goldberg and others "inappropriate?" Furthermore, who ever said Leno had to be objective? He's not a newscaster. Leno, though, has the correct answer in saying he's just a comedian and it's his job to get laughs. Equal-opportunity joker. Well, less so than South Park which is the real objective standard for taking on any and all comers, in my opinion. But still, I think Leno does a good job.
Finke complains about Leno allegedly "bashing Clinton" as if he was still in office. Leno, appropriately, responds that he's just making a sex joke. Leno doesn't say it, but I think he only is making Clinton jokes because Clinton is in the news. Clinton doesn't ever go away! Besides, when Clinton's doctor says that he's "sedated but arousable" how can you not take that and run out the door with it?
Then Finke gets all indignant about "bashing Teresa," but ome on, this woman makes her own punchlines, just like her husband. Again, Leno has the right answer when he says it's just a rich joke. Teresa is rich and she acts like it. Republicans take flak for being wealthy all the time. The left can dish it out, but they can't take it, even when it comes to jokes. Leno has picked up on this, too, and outright says later in the interview that Democrats are just not good sports about jokes.
Finke presses Leno for a joke "denigrating" Laura Bush. Why is she so desperate for that? Laura Bush just doesn't have anything about her that's common knowledge that lends itself to humor. Teresa does.
The best answer from Leno comes when Finke asks him about the French jokes. Leno:
Well, there’s nothing funnier to me than the French. The French Resistance is probably the biggest mythical joke that ever existed. There were four guys in the French Resistance. They couldn’t hand over the Jewish people fast enough. Oh, please, don’t tell me about the French. The French have all sorts of secret deals with Saddam and everybody else for two cents a liter. It’s an easy target.
Leno then gets Finke to reveal her thinking on Bush and Kerry by making a joke about Bush's intelligence. When she laughs he observes, "Oh, see, now that’s your kind of joke. If I did that joke about Kerry..." She interrupts him saying, "But Kerry's not stupid." Congratulations, Nikki Finke, you win the Media Groupthink award for the day. Well, actually, as we're still waiting for some foot-in-mouth memo from CBS News, I shouldn't be too hasty, but let's run with it anyway. Finke is displaying exactly the meme that runs through the media that Rush and Ann Coulter are always pointing out: conservatives are stupid and ignorant, but liberals are enlightened, nuanced, and brilliant. Reagan was stupid, Clinton was brilliant, Bush is stupid, and Kerry is intelligent. I honsetly have a hard time believing that someone who shoots himself in the foot almost everytime he opens his mouth is all that brilliant. How much intelligence does it take to tell an audience exactly what they want to hear? It takes intelligence to reconcile the opposing views you gave to auto workers one week and environmentalists the next. The problem is, Kerry's really bad at it.
Leno does venture into liberal condescension territory when he says that talk radio is all conservative because conservatives need to hear their views reinforced and liberals don't. That's stupid on it's face. People of like ideologies enjoy hearing others articulate views they agree with, not because they require that reinforcement, but because everyone has different ways of expressing those view and everyone has a slightly different take. That's why I like my radio line-up of Rush, Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt. They all have different approaches and different thoughts on the issues of the day. Liberals like to hear people of the same ideological stripe just as much as conservatives do, otherwise Michael Moore would not be as popular as he is. Liberals lined up by droves to see his movie, just like they did to buy Clinton's book. The actual reason talk radio is mostly right is because it's the main place conservatives can get the conservative side of the story. Liberals don't need to seek a place like that out because they get what they want from ABCNNBCBS. But really, how many more times does that need to be explained? Everyone should know this answer by now.
Unsurprisingly, Leno's writers are all Democrats. I notice Finke doesn't wonder if that hurts Leno's objectivity. Finke then complains that this White House doesn't laugh at themselves though that's obviously untrue if you've ever seen the White House Correspondants' Dinner. Leno had another great response:
The interesting thing is, I have found that the Republicans respond much more to jokes about themselves than the Democrats do. Democrats take it very, very seriously. You know, when Al Gore was here in 2000, we said we want to do this bit, and then it was, “Can we run it past our people?” “Can we make these changes?” Then the day of the show, “We’re going to pass.” Bush shows up. We had a bit where we’re playing Jeopardy, and he’s going to look kind of stupid. But then, in the end, the joke’s on me. “Yeah, fine, whatever you want.” It couldn’t have been easier.
Liberals can dish it out, but they can't take it.
Finke is horrified that something from Leno's monologue was featured on Drudge, but so what? It's a place to get stories from. I'm sure she wouldn't have any problem with Leno getting material for jokes from CBS News, but they've been revealed to be just as or more partisan than Drudge.
Finke then goes on to complain about Republican spin in the media. No fair-minded person can really seriously entertain the notion that the media runs with Republican spin anymore in this post-Bias
, post-Jayson Blair world. Of course, Finke doesn't seem like she's really paid attention to much in politics outside the trendy statements bantied about at Hollywood cocktail parties: "The media seems to only present the Republican spin and to not present the other side of what’s going on."
I found the story about Leno and Michael Moore very interesting. We all knew Moore is paranoid, but Moore himself seems to freely admit it. That might explain "The 122 Minutes Hate" because only a paranoid could believe that level of tin-foil conspiracy. Apparently Moore was mad about leno making a joke about Bush blowing up his house. Moore doesn't have any problems attributing all sorts of evil motives to the president, but he gets upset about a joke about a fictious retaliatory strike on his house? Again, liberals can't take it. And it's not just humor. They can't take it when they're held to account for their record; that's mean spirited. You can't question their positions on defense policy; that's calling them unpatriotic. You can't point out their politicization of the war; that's politicizing the war.
Again, this interview really said much more about the interviewer's politics than Leno's, but I found it entertaining anyway. Kudos to Leno for being such a straight-shooter. Other comedians could learn a lot.