Archive for the ‘Media and Pundits’ Category

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LIBER-RUSH-E

March 4, 2010

We have all heard of Rush Limbaugh, the radio voice of the Conservative Movement. His rants against Liberalism are well-documented. He is unrelenting in his attacks. It’s what he gets paid to do.

Those in my generation remember Liberace – an incredible pianist and showman with a flare for the ultra-extravagant, to put it mildly. Pictures of his Palm Springs home from many years ago certainly reveal his lavish, ornate and over-the-top decorative tastes.

We also knew he was gay.

Now, take a look at Rush Limbaugh’s Penthouse in New York. It’s for sale so the pictures were made public.

Thoughts?

Anyone?

🙂

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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TO KILL A FROG

September 26, 2009

ToKillAFrog2LOGO

Far be it from me to EVER defend Glenn Beck – and I’m not defending him here. Even though he didn’t kill a frog, his political analogy was still absurd – and that’s a compliment.

But this is not about Glenn’s reasoning – it’s about the frog, which, as far as I’m concerned, deserves all the attention.

By now, most have probably concluded no frog was boiled to death by Glenn Beck. This is for those who are still not so sure. Yes, PETA members, I’m speaking to you.

Here’s the “controversial” clip from Beck’s show. 

Here’s some stills from the video. In this first still, we see Beck’s hand in the aquarium just after he grabs a frog.

FrogSlide01

He starts to close his hand.

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As he continues to close his hand, notice that he keeps his index finger slightly open.

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This is the slide that starts to reveal Beck’s process for letting go of the frog. You can see a small part of the frog between his thumb and index finger. Also notice there is nothing in the top right corner of the aquarium.

FrogSlide04

In this slide, you see Beck creating an opening by moving his thumb out of the way, allowing the frog to jump out and land in the top right corner of the aquarium. His front legs hit the aquarium wall first.

FrogSlide05

In the next several slides, with the frog still located in the top right corner of the aquarium, you see Beck has closed his hand, and is removing it from aquarium. The frog’s rear legs are almost planted on the aquarium wall.

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Note that the frog is now firmly “attached” to the aquarium wall.

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FrogSlide08

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In the next series of slides, Beck, no frog in hand, claims that he is throwing the frog into boiling water. One problem: you never see a frog go from his hands to the pot on the stove.

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FrogSlide12

FrogSlide13

FrogSlide14

FrogSlide15

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FrogSlide17

FrogSlide18

No frog. No splash. Nothing.

And finally, here are the same video stills in a PDF Presentation. You can move through them at your pace with the up or down arrow. (This may take a few seconds to load.)

So, relax. As controversial as Beck is, I don’t think he’s a frog killer.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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MEET ERNIE

September 18, 2009

MeetErnieLOGO

I seldom watch our local news broadcast here in Columbus. It’s not that I’m not interested in my community, it’s just that I’m more interested in national news. I watch ( or listen to) many different cable broadcasts throughout the evening. They often air at the same time as the local broadcasts, so cable wins.

Ernie Anastos and Dari Alexander could change that.

 Ernie-Dari

As is true with any live broadcast, there is always a chance for a blooper or two. Ernie, however, has “perfected” the blooper and his latest does not disappoint.

But it is his co-anchor, Dari Alexender, who wins the prize for the absolute BEST reaction to a blooper ever recorded.

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Everytime I look at the reaction on her face, I really do laugh out loud. 

It appears she’s had many opportunities to perfect her reactive “look.” Here’s a still from another Ernie classic. She’s doing all she can to hold back laughter. 

Reaction2 

And the blooper that led to that reaction?

Yup. If Ernie and Dari were our local news co-anchors, I would have to tune in.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Dari Alexander did work as a reporter in Columbus for a short time, but was never an anchor. 

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LOONEY LANE

September 9, 2009

I was at my Dad’s house September 5th to watch the Ohio State / Navy game. (OSU has some work to do!) As I have mentioned before, there are many Republicans in my family. It’s all they know, and I for one, have no intention of trying to change their minds. They’ll figure it out eventually – hopefully in this life. If not, there’s always the next one. 🙂 

One of my family members happened to mention the “sudden change” in Glenn Beck. “I used to love his radio show and when he was on CNN. Now, I don’t know what’s happened to him. He’s really out there!”

What happened to him, my beloved, uninformed, FOX-News-watching, Limbaugh-loving, family member, is a black man was elected President of the United States.

Since Beck started going “really out there,” his show is losing sponsors. I am not suggesting that he will lose his show, because the publicity he receives from his insidious statements all but guarantees his place on FOX News – and ONLY  FOX News. Here’s what upset the sponsors back in July:

Ads were pulled in droves. By mid-August, twenty sponsors asked that their products not be promoted during Beck’s show. Here they are:

1. Wal-Mart 
2. Best Buy 
3. CVS Drugstores 
4. Allergen 
5. Ally Bank (part of GMAC!) 
6. Broadview Security 
7. Re-Bath 
8. Travelocity 
9. ConAgra
10. GEICO
11. Lawyers.com
12. Men’s Wearhouse
13. Proctors & Gamble
14. Progressive Insurance
15. Radio Shack
16. Roche
17. SC Johnson
18. Sanofi-Aventi
19. Sargento
20. State Farm Insurance

Here’s more information on the sponsorship pull-out.

Beck making ludicrous statements should not surprise anyone. What is surprising, sadly, is the number of people who STILL believe what he, and others like him, say about our President.

Why is “the noise” getting louder and more ridiculous? The number of “believers” is diminishing. As the audience continues to dissipate, the noise will increase – but only for a while. It may take a few more decades, but eventually, there will be an implosion of this “shock” media genre. Ultimately, attrition will come to bigotry.

Can you imagine our country not allowing women to vote? No Social Security? No Medicare/Medicaid? No interstate highway system? There too, will come a time, no doubt long after I’ve left this earth, when people will read about this era, unable to imagine our country ever tolerating the likes of Glenn Beck in our media.

It’s my dream – let me enjoy it.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – The original photo I used to create the title graphic was taken by yours truly while on vacation at Seabrook Island, SC, at the end of August. My wife and I were in Charleston on a carriage ride.

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“THE BEST OF A BAD LOT”

July 24, 2009

BestofaBadLotLOGO

Calm down. I explain the title in the third paragraph.

I wasn’t a big evening news watcher when I was younger. Being a professional musician, that time of day was usually spent traveling to a gig or, if it was local, getting ready for one. I do remember a few news anchors that really stood out as the best of the best: David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, and of course, Walter Cronkite.

When I did have the opportunity to watch him, Walter Cronkite seemed like a young grandfather, teaching me about current events of the day. I never questioned the veracity of his reports. “Grandpa” was the embodiment of truth.

So when I learned – a week ago – Walter Cronkite was a liberal, I was dumbfounded.  I learned this while watching “Hardball” with Chris Matthews. This is when I also learned that Richard Nixon called him “The Best of a Bad Lot.”

Those of us who watched his evening broadcasts would have never known Walter’s political bias. To my knowledge, Richard Nixon never said anything about it publically.

The broadcasts below are vivid in my mind. Like millions around the country and the world, I can remember exactly where I was during all of these moments.

Before we get to Walter’s broadcast, let’s listen one more time Neil Armstrong’s famous words, as they were spoken:

After retiring from broadcasting, Walter discusses the Vietnam War – something he very rarely editorialized on his broadcasts during the war.

We could always count on Walter Cronkite to tell us the truth.

Now, we have to research it for ourselves.

Peace be with you, “Grandpa.”

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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SOUR GRAPES

July 16, 2009

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He just can’t stand it.

He has to be in the spotlight. His narcissism is second-to-none. He never retracts statements – regardless of how malicious and untrue they may be. Fortunately for him, he’s not paid to be a nice guy – a role that would be an anathema to his existence.

The idea that a counterpart could actually achieve a modicum of success that surpasses his – on just one level – is enough to drive him crazy. So he does the only thing he knows how to do: attack. No congratulations. No respect. No recognition for the hard work that it took to get there.

This is the sad and pathetic amoeba that is Rush Limbaugh.

In Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, I wrote…

“On January 2, 2004, a new voice entered the nation’s airwaves  – on two radio stations…naturally, there were detractors. Some said the voice wouldn’t last a month. Others called it a $4 an hour nobody.”

The “others” I referred to were Rush and his ilk.

Since his attack on MSNBC backfired in May of this year (KO’s K O), Rush has now decided to go after their latest host and his one-hour show (6:00pm EST weekdays), Ed Schultz.

Some people just don’t learn.

True, Ed still has some rough edges. His presentation isn’t always the smoothest but he’s only been on television since April 6th. Not bad for a guy who started out as a “nobody” a little over five years ago. Based on his instincts so far, I would say that he’ll do just as well in front of the camera as he does in front of a radio microphone. BTW – The ratings in his time slot are up 30% since he went on the air according to the latest cable news ratings.

Rush had his own TV show from 1992 to 1996 that he cancelled because he could only get it aired late at night. The show was too big of a departure from what his fans had come to like about him on radio – his constant attacks on the Clinton Administration. A comedic Rush was not what his audience wanted so the ratings/reviews were never strong enough to move it into a better timeslot.

And then there’s this more recent gem ala FOX News. God help us all if this tidbit of fiction ever comes true.

It’s amazing to me that a man with a $400,000,000 contract is so insecure that he has to attack a guy who is earning 2 to 3 percent of that income. Why is Rush so concerned? Why take up valuable air time on a three hour radio show to go after this “nobody?” The “business” answer is that Rush knows by attacking Ed, he increases his exposure.

But it’s more than that.

This is sour grapes, plain and simple. Ed has his own television show – Rush doesn’t. Rush has not been offered a TV slot since 1996 – not even from FOX News. What Rush fails to see is that by going after Ed, he makes Ed look even more successful. Ed has everything to gain and nothing to lose by talking about Rush. By attacking Ed, Rush looks petty.

Life lesson, Rush: money and success are NOT synonymous.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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20TH CENTURY FOX

June 24, 2009

20thCenturyFoxLOGO 

We all know that FOX News has always topped the TV ratings  for cable news.

That’s a problem – for FOX News.

Millions of people are moving away from watching news on TVs to watching news on their PCs and cell phones.

FOX has been outfoxed in the last two election cycles.

What’s the most visited online news website? MSNBC. According to the latest Nielson Ratings, in March, 2009, MSNBC topped the online ratings list with 39,900,000 hits to FOX News’ 16,800,000. Add to this the tens of millions that went to YouTube during the last two election cycles, and it’s not hard to understand that traditional TV news viewership is rapidly decreasing.

Internet traffic numbers are only part of MSNBC’s website success.

MSNBC’s parent company is a partnership between Microsoft and NBC (which is owned by General Electric). With Microsoft as one of your owners, there’s a good chance your website is going to be second-to-none – and theirs is. Add to that the fact that NBC News uses MSNBC’s website for THEIR programs and you have a very powerful online news website. It even beats CNN’s online traffic.

This is why you hear FOX News commentators railing against NBC and GE, with conspiracy theories, conflicts of interest stories, etc. Here’s one of many, many examples:

It’s not surprising that they’ve created this dialogue about the NBC family. FNC’s parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, lost over $6,000,000,000 (that’s BILLION dollars) last year.

So why doesn’t FOX News’ TV ratings translate into big ratings for website viewership?

Most of FNC’s TV audience is above the age of 45. Generally speaking, that demographic is not nearly as internet savvy as the 34 to 45 and 18 to 33 demographics. They are also less educated in the latest technologies. Ten years ago, that didn’t matter. Today, it’s critical. The 45+ demographic that watches cable TV news, while having very loyal FNC viewers, is no longer large enough for FOX News to help Republicans win national elections. The 21st Century has moved beyond FOX News.

I can attest to these facts based on the people I know that are avid FOX News fans. Most are not computer literate. Many are at least my age or older. Those that are younger than me do not spend time researching information. Whether it’s from a lack of computer knowledge, or a lack of desire, I can’t be sure. These are the people that FOX News counts on – what I called the “Low Information Voter” in Faith Trumps Fear. Some of these people are family members as I wrote in Twelve Words and Yes, I’m Going There.

MSNBC, whose TV ratings are still far less than FNC’s, does not seem to be worried. Their ratings are increasing drastically and they managed to edge out CNN during primetime in March, 2009.

One more thing that gives MSNBC TV an edge is NBC. Contrary to what FNC spews about NBC, Brian Williams is #1 in the 6:30pm news ratings. Their news department is one of the most widely acclaimed in the industry for its fact-based reporting.

FOX News will never have the talent or gravitas of NBC, Microsoft or MSNBC.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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TWELVE WORDS

June 21, 2009

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“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities,

can make you commit atrocities.”

I know. I know. It’s just a bumper sticker.

But words are powerful. I wrote them down and drove off. As I continued running my errands that day, the sentence stayed with me. When I had the opportunity, I did a little “googling.”

With the exception of one word, the sentence is a quote from François-Marie Arouet, whose pen name is Voltaire. (He used the word “those” instead of “anyone.) After doing a little more research, I learned that this man was a bit of a non-conformist in his day. A contrarian, much like me.

A few days later, I was visiting with family and as is often the case, I started hearing FOX News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. “We’re losing our freedoms, one by one.” “We’re slowly becoming a European country” and “Our image around the world is weakening.” I listened to about three minutes of it, temporarily excused myself, and called my wife to tell her I was on my way.

As I was driving home, I remembered the Voltaire quote. While I know that no one in my family is capable of committing atrocities, I also know there are those who listen to hateful language from TV commentators and radio talk show hosts, day in and day out, that take these words to heart. Sadly and pathetically, some act on them.

Police officers killed in Pennsylvania because the shooter believed that President Obama was going to take his guns away. Where did he get that idea?

Dr. George Tiller murdered for performing legal medical procedures. Where did this gunman get the idea that Dr. Tiller was illegally killing babies?

To be sure, Bill O’Reilly is not Walter Conkrite and Keith Olbermann is not Tom Brokaw.

The 21st century, while bringing us incredible information technology, has also forced conventional media to move away from truth-telling to what has been called “Tabloid Television” and “Shock Radio.” The days of truthful television and radio “news” programs are all but gone.

If you are looking for the truth, unfortunately, you have to search for it. Fortunately, we have the internet. Yes, there’s plenty of spin there as well, but there are also plenty of facts. It’s not hard to discern the difference. The internet was responsible for the outcomes in the 2006 and 2008 elections. People started researching the “facts” heard on TV and radio, learned the truth about those “facts,” and voted accordingly. The corporate “noise machines” were not able to control the message, regardless of how many TV affiliates, radio stations and newspapers they owned. TV and radio ratings are becoming less and less significant. Internet traffic to news and information/video websites is the future.

Hearing absurdities from commentators is entertaining. Hearing them repeated by family members is something entirely different. My reaction is a mixture of surprise and sadness. The surprise is that these are educated people with good jobs and young families. The sadness – and concern – is for the children. What’s the take-away message for them when they hear their parents talking like this? No hope? No freedom? No future? No security? Hate? Fear?

Just a bumper sticker?

Really?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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THANK YOU, TIM

June 16, 2009

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One of my co-workers walked over to me on that June afternoon, with a sullen face. He knew I followed politics, so he thought I might be interested.

“Tim Russert just died.”

“What? No. You mean his dad just died – his name is Tim, too.”

“No, the TV Tim Russert died.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Tim was only five months older than me. How could he have passed at such a young age? I immediately took a minute to read the breaking news on the MSNBC website. It was true. One of the most beloved newsmen on TV was never again going to share that smile with the world.

Later that Friday evening, my wife and I sat on the couch, literally in tears, as we watched the story unfold.

Neither one of us realized how much this man was a part of our lives. His was always the most insightful, intelligent, well prepared and executed Sunday Morning News program. Nothing else came close. If you wanted the truth and the facts on the issues, it was always Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

His wife, Maureen and their son, Luke, both exhibited extraordinary strength through what had to be the most difficult days of their lives. No amount of consoling can reduce that sense of loss. Only time helps.

As I sat on the couch that night, it dawned on me that Tim, sitting at his desk, passed doing what he loved. His passion for life, combined with an unyielding work ethic that no doubt doubled the forty-hour work week was evident in everything he did. He had an energetic zeal that few could match. Some might say that’s what killed him. True or not, he left this earth living life to the fullest.

This event made me take a look at my life. At the time, I had a forty-hour-a-week job. I also helped out with our small church’s needs by handling the administrative work, the website, recording and mastering the CDs of the service and performing every Sunday morning. It added an additional twenty-five hours to my “work week.”

Late into the night, I silently asked myself this question: “Although each week is filled, is it fulfilling?” I enjoy my job – but it’s just that – a job. I work with very nice people in an environment that most would call enviable. The service to my church, while gratifying, encompasses so much in so many areas, that by Sunday afternoon, I am exhausted. Then it starts all over again Monday morning at 6:00am.

So the answer to my question was… no.

As sad as it is to think Tim’s passing helped wake me up to my life’s reality, that’s exactly what happened. I have a feeling millions across this country took a hard look at their lives in much the same way. Knowing what I know of Tim, he would be happy to know that he once again helped others, even at this sad time.

That was a year ago.

Today things are different. I relinquished my responsibilities to the church. The minister completely understood.

Now that I’m no longer exhausted from seven day work weeks, my desire to be involved in something creative is front and center. I’m in a new musical group which is still in rehearsals and will be ready to go public late in the year. In addition, I’ve started blogging, of all things. Who knew I would enjoy this? (Actually, my son, Adam, did.)

To say that both projects keep me busy is an understatement. My creativity is surfacing in so many different ways. Musically, my vocal and instrumental skills are growing – even at my tender age of fifty-eight. I’m improving my “chops” on the keys, singing styles of material that are new to me, and really expanding my repertoire.

TypewriterKeys

Blogging is the surprise. I never enjoyed writing when I was in school. I did only what was required to get a decent grade. The rest of my time was spent at a piano keyboard, not a typewriter keyboard. (Insert age joke here.) Now? I can’t wait to get to my next post. The ideas are endless. I’m not able to get to them fast enough.

PianokeysBecause I create a graphic for each post, I am also tapping into a different creativity. In addition, blogging has taught me a great deal about how to write with precision and clarity. It appears I may have learned a few things in those English Literature Classes.

Imagine that!

Thank you, Tim.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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KO’S K O

May 24, 2009

 KOsKO2

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

In a brilliant move by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Rush Limbaugh was revealed for the intellectual field mouse that he is. Combine that “attribute” with the personality of a rake and his Jabba-the-Hut posture as seen on  his “Ditto Cam” and you have the buffoon that conservatives are inexplicably afraid to defy.

Many think Rush is a genius when it comes to how well he markets himself, but let’s give credit where credit is due. ClearChannel Communications through its subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks, markets Rush’s show free of charge to hundreds of radio stations. Because Rush’s popularity is barely 20%, Premiere uses his show as a loss-leader to obtain advertising time for national sponsors. In other words, radio stations don’t pay a dime for three hours of national programming. They simply trade for 45 minutes of advertising in that three hour time slot. None of this was Rush’s idea.

Olbermann has gone after Rush in the past for some of his insulting, racist, and incendiary rants. Here’s Keith highlighting some of Rush’s “greatest hits.”

Rush has now challenged MSNBC. He believes they can’t go 30 days without talking about him.

This was a bad idea.

What Rush didn’t expect was Olbermann throwing the same challenge back on him in his “WTF!?! Moment” on May 21st, which featured Keith saying… you guessed it… “F. U.”  to Rush. (Not the actual words – just the letters.)

Rush responded by saying that Olbermann’s “back-at-you” challenge was incoherent.  That’s rich. The man with no ability for thoughtful discernment calls the highly educated and intellectually superior MSNBC host “incoherent.”

Never give Keith Olbermann a second chance to make a fool of you. He’s too good at it the first time. Olbermann not only re-issued and re-aired his challenge the next night, calling it the “WTF Coherency Test,” but had his graphics team create a new “Bouncing Rush” logo from Rush’s entrance at the CPAC Convention earlier this year.

Maybe “buffoon” is too generous.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com