alisyn

Smug CNN Anchor is a Disaster

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota moderated a panel of Trump supporters, and it’s the weirdest thing ever.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a moderator go out of their way to treat their own guests rudely, but usually the guest is an expert they dislike. It is unusual to be rude to guests who are only there to share their personal opinions.

Take a moment to watch, if you dare, and keep in mind that the purpose of her panel is to interview the same people repeatedly over a long period of time to observe how, why, and when their opinions change. Alisyn’s role is to listen and look for insight about what influences them.

You see, Alisyn is not observing and reporting on the opinions of her guests. She’s there to expose their opinions, discredit them, and hold these people up as an example of how poorly informed one must be to be a Trump supporter.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to refer to Alisyn as “A.” for the rest of the post. I just don’t have the energy for the bizarre spelling tonight.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the fascinating 4-part technique demonstrated in the video:

  1. A. seems anxious that her viewers have no doubt about her deep aversion to her guests. She is too refined to just blurt out, “Aren’t they gross?”, so she is forced to convey her disapproval of these animals via a series of contorted facial expressions and exaggerated gestures.
  2. She begins the discussion by acknowledging a change has taken place – but it’s more like an accusation that they’ve changed their minds. The guests are there for the express purpose of discussing how their opinions have changed, so it’s an interesting approach.
  3. A. zooms in on one guest and starts to challenge her personal opinion. She hastens to remind the woman that her opinion has changed. The woman says her views were altered by new information. A. demands to know where this information came from.
  4. A. pulls out her cell phone to look up the article the woman mentioned, intent on debunking the story or possibly fact-checking the guest’s opinion. Even allowing for a non-traditional approach,  I’m sure it isn’t normal to whip our your cell and Google something to rebut the person you’re interviewing. This was one of the most unprofessional things I’ve seen an anchor do on air. After glancing at the title, A. snorts and pushes her phone aside, explaining she won’t waste time reading because she knows where it’s from.

A.’s triumphant expression shows us she considers this an unqualified success, but…  Oh, why must I always find fault with the media?

If her role was to be civil, ask one or two insightful questions, and spend the rest of the time listening, A. failed.

If A.’s role was to use morally, logically superior views to help her guests recognize their own ignorance and to applaud as she debunked an obviously fake story, she still failed.

It isn’t as though A. demonstrated critical thinking skills, provided a compelling analysis, or offered up a really credible source to debunk this article. She just announced it was fake because it is. At least the other woman could cite an article which gave her some credibility that A. completely lacked. Yes, the story the guest cited was untrue. But what stood out in the segment were A’s embarrassing manners and complete absence of self-awareness. So much so that I, Ruby Lee, avowed hater of the mainstream media, felt an unexpected pang of pity for A., as she exposed her incompetence again and again.

Maybe one day A. will see this clip and be overcome with embarrassment. More likely, she will not modify her behavior whatsoever. Her doctrine seems to be that changing one’s opinion based on new data, observations, and evidence is for the weak.

Still, it was weirdly fascinating to see a CNN anchor so thoroughly miss the point of her own panel and attempt to use it as a platform to discredit her own guest – who is a private citizen – because she did not share A.’s opinion. That wouldn’t even fly on Public Access tv.

Trump’s Twitter feed: Flag-burning

Donald Trump, U.S. president-elect, has a deep love for Twitter.

He’s stirred up much angst, using his account to create a spectacle of his personal and political attacks, and on occasion, as a way to make amends. Now that he is the president-elect and uses Twitter to communicate with the American people, his tweets can reasonably be looked at as representation of his official stance on any issue he comments on. That’s why today’s tweet about flag-burning gave me pause.

I have complex feelings about burning the American flag. I hate to see it — really hate it — and have nothing but contempt for people who do it. But I always come back to Freedom of Speech is a right that cannot be tampered with. So if flag burning is free speech, then flag burning is legal.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-11-29-49-pm

It would be an interesting and fair point if Trump said, “The Supreme Court should revisit whether flag-burning is a Constitutional right.” But his tweet has different implications, and shows how important Freedom of Speech is, and it illustrates that he doesn’t realize he shouldn’t publicly rant about his opinions, when his opinion involves the controversial expression of a Constitutional right. Trump isn’t a private citizen anymore.

Presidents, over time, have been allowed to give themselves extraordinary powers they were never meant to have. One of the many dangers to allowing one person that much power is that presidents now can (and do) act unilaterally on matters of great importance.

It’s not just harmless venting when Trump says an activity that is now a Constitutional right should not be allowed, and suggests a year in jail and revoking citizenship as a penalty… not when he may conceivably have the power to do it.

Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson, and what the Brady Bunch opening credits tell us about Humanity

Florence Henderson, Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch, died today. This is sad news; she was a good actress.

Now that I’ve paid my respects, I’ll admit I was never a huge Brady Bunch fan. Yet today’s onslaught of Brady nostalgia has uncovered all kinds of wonderful things I never noticed before.

I will not pack six lunches, nor will I pretend to be interested in Mike Brady's architecture

I will not pack six lunches, nor will I pretend to be interested in your stupid architecture, Mike Brady.

First, let’s acknowledge that Florence Henderson was a beautiful woman. In her early career, she was glamorous but by the time she got to the Brady Bunch, she was more believable as a mom.

Yet you need go no further than the opening credits to witness the cast’s horrifying deterioration, like those Faces of Meth mugshot progressions. Florence’s hair was veering into alarming territory as the seasons wore on, but she did manage to begin pulling things together in the last season.

evolution

Though I have singled her out, Florence was by no means the only guilty party.

Little by little, the girls replaced their cute mod clothing with the blandest outfits the 1970s had to offer, while all the kids’ hairstyles are a reminder that LSD can make lots of crazy things sound like a good idea.

In Season I, Greg was a little Madman, but at the end of the series he had morphed into John Travolta’s darkest days. Or look at Cindy. Her pigtails were cute when she was little, but she was still sporting them at the end of the series, when she was in her mid-40s.

kids

If you’re thinking it’s mean and cowardly for me to anonymously mock child actors who endured the painful years of adolescence on a world stage, I have to agree. To balance things out, let’s quickly spotlight Alice, who did not change her look in the slightest degree during the show’s run. Ann B. Wilson must have mastered that gym teacher look before the show started because while Cruel Mother Nature played havoc with the Bradys, time stood still with Alice.

bradys

Here’s a larger version of that last Ann B. Wilson picture… What do you suppose was going on with Jan and Peter?

jan-phase

Okay, one more point on the Bradys as representatives of the human experience, and we’re done.

Can we agree that some kids are lovable and some aren’t? Parents – even pretend parents on a sitcom – know this. They may have made an effort to like all the kids equally, but they probably didn’t.

With that in mind, what do you make of Florence Henderson’s expressions as she gazes at each of her pretend daughters?

My affection for each of my children is directly correlated to my facial expression. No offense, Jan.

My affection for each child is directly correlated to my facial expression. You watch your back, Jan.

Farewell, Florence! See you on the other side.