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Happy New Year, All Things Considered

This is our last essay of 2017, and the way things have gone this year we’re glad of it. Journalistic tradition and the traditional slowness of the news cycle dictates that end-of-the-year essays be a look back at the past 12 months, a prognostication about the next 12, or a top ten list of the past 12 month’s something or another, but traditions don’t matter lately and we’re taking the news one day at a time.
The big story of the year’s last days, appropriately enough, is that it’s cold out there. Here in Kansas the daytime highs are lately struggling to get past freezing and rapidly dropping into single digit lows after the early sundowns, and when you add in the Kansas winds that are blowing down from the North Pole it feels far worse than that. To the northwest and the northeast it looks even worse on the weather maps, and it looks like a very long drive to the southwest or the southeast to get warm enough for our tastes.
Which kept us inside most of the day, and reading the rest of the desultory news. We noted that President Donald Trump “tweeted” about all the cold weather from the fabulous Florida resort where he was playing some holiday golf while a shifting truck block the news crews from filming, and he gloated about being vindicated for his controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Being climate change skeptics ourselves we’ve also taken advantage of these annual cold snaps to kid our global warming alarmist friends, but we mean it as a joke rather than a serious scientific argument, and the “tweet” struck us as unpersuasive and un-presidential.
He also “tweeted” about a very minor flap between Vanity Fair magazine and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, with the former standing accused of making a slightly sexist joke about the latter in a little-seen video, and of course Trump ridiculed the magazine — “which looks like it’s on it’s last legs” — for “apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H.” We’re skeptical about Vanity Fair and Clinton, as well, but that also struck us as something a president with some sense of dignity should be far too busy to do.
Meanwhile, down in Alabama, which still looks too cold for our tastes on those weather maps, the Republican Secretary of State of certified the upset election of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, which was another big story of the day despite its inevitably since last month’s election night. Republican candidate Roy Moore was contesting the election results right up to the last minute, filing a court challenge alleging just enough voter fraud to reverse the outcome, but but after a Republican judge dismissed the suit the fait accompli was at long accomplished. It was a fitting end for one of the sorrier stories of the year.
Moore was arguably the worst nominee the Republican party ever nominated, the present competition notwithstanding. His inglorious career of public service and private enrichment and antebellum views about slavery and women’s rendered him upset prone even before several middle-aged women came forward to describe how he had pursued them when they were teenaged girls and he was a 30-something prosecutor. He was so awful he lost in Alabama, off all places, to a Democrat, of all people, and he never did concede that fact. His last-minute filing had a statistical analysis proving massive voter fraud in one particular mostly-black county, but one of the experts had also previously proved by statistical analysis that were was a massive conspiracy to kill President John Kennedy, and in the end the Republican Secretary of State and the Republican judge and the Republican sheriffs who had checked out some other claims included in the lawsuit all signed off on a Democratic senator.
Former Moore supporter Trump didn’t “tweet” anything about it, so far as we can tell, so Moore’s confederate cause seems at long last truly lost. What with that Vanity Fair versus Clinton flap and the ongoing “Russia thing” and another round of golf he had more important things to worry about, we suppose. The stock market was slightly up, the unemployment rate is still low, and the economy seems to be generally progressing along its pre-Trump trajectory, so Trump did find time to “tweet” about that.
All the meteorologists are telling us this dying year will come to a frigid end and the next year will start off just as bad, and all the political prognosticators are sounding just as dispiriting, but we’ll just take it day by day with a reasonable exception for better days. By late June the temperatures will be comfortably in the mid-90s around here, we’ll not gripe about the 100s of July and August, and the springs and autumns are always delightful except for the occasional severe storms. The economy has a good chance of surviving all the politics, and we hold out hope that rest of us will also survive the politics.
Our Wichita State University Wheatshockers head into their inaugural basketball season in the American Athletic Conference as the eight-ranked team in the country, by the time they finish what we hope will be a long run in the national championship tournament the pitchers and catchers will be reporting for spring training, with our New York Yankees looking very promising after some hot-stove season acquisitions for an already potent team, and that’s something far better to worry about that some flap involving Vanity Fair and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
All things considered, we can wish all our readers a very Happy New Year.

— Bud Norman

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Ancient Greece and the Modern Madness

Greece, once the ancient birthplace of reason, seems to have gone stark raving mad in a very modern way.
On Sunday the Greek people rejected the European Union’s offer of yet another multi-billion Euro bailout for its disastrous economy, apparently persuaded by their Prime Minister’s argument that doing so will enable him to negotiate an even bigger bailout without any pesky conditions that Greece enact economic reforms that are necessary if it ever hopes to repay any of it. The argument might yet prove true, as the EU has been so eager to keep all its members on board that it’s gone along with all of the previous bailouts and might yet be willing to dole out another one rather than  admit that its one-size-fits-all currency scheme and post-nationalist political philosophy doesn’t work with a fissiparous coalition of vastly different-sized economies in countries that stubbornly retain their national self-interests, but then again it might decide sooner rather than later that Greece is simply more trouble than it’s worth. In either case the citizens of Greece will soon collide with the reality that it can’t keep on sending out government checks that total more than the economic output of the country, and that their fellow Europeans who are counting on their own generous government checks won’t keep making up the difference forever, and that the rest of the world hasn’t even any illusory reasons to help out, but in the meantime that great Greek invention of democracy allows them to vote against reality.
Although the futility of voting against reality is especially conspicuous in Greece, where the store shelves are empty and more than half the young people are unemployed and most 50-somethings are retired and the lines of the few gainfully employed are already long at banks that are readying to stop any withdrawals, the modern tendency to do so is nonetheless apparent everywhere. You’ll find it in Puerto Rico, where a similarly dire default situation is brewing, and in China, a more significant economy, and in Chicago, where the public sector unions are protesting the fact that their too-good-to-be-true contracts are at last proving too good to be true, as well as the debt-swamped broader American economy, and at the Supreme Court, where the latest rulings declare that a law doesn’t mean what it clearly says and that somewhere in between the lines of the Constitution there is definitive re-definition of the institution of marriage as it has been understood almost everywhere on Earth from the dawn of civilization until a couple of weeks ago, and you’ll find it in the electronic opinion pages of The New York Times, where a couple of white guys start talking about “whiteness” and wind up agreeing that the whole notion of reasoning from the objective facts of reality is a “white male Euro-Christian construction” and that such a useful and verifiably true concept as “true north” is “Nordo-centrism” and somehow rendered invalid by “insensitivity to people who live in the southern hemisphere.”
You’ll also find it on the cover of Vanity Fair, where a man quite artfully made to appear as a woman is expected to be regarded by polite opinion as a woman, at the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where the former president insists that despite her white ancestry she be regarded as black, in the ongoing debate about law enforcement that insists “black lives matter” when they are taken by police but that the far greater number of black lives taken by black criminals because of a lack of policing don’t matter, and of course in all those frustrating conversations with the ordinary people you no doubt frequently encounter who can’t see any fair reason why American government isn’t sending out evermore generous checks that total to more than the American economy produces.
The tendency is readily understandable to any observer of human nature and the rest of reality. Reality is so often unpleasant, and the alternatives that even the most limited imaginations might conceive are so much more desirable, that it is in the nature of human beings to vote against it. In this age of “virtual reality” it is tempting to conclude that better everyone should get that check in the mail, that the laws should mean whatever a majority of the Supreme Court thinks they should mean, that people should get to be whatever sex and race and species they prefer to be, that true north and other objectively verifiable facts be abandoned for their “Nordo-centrism” and insensitivity to the peoples of the southern hemisphere, and that the last rich person left on Earth should be made to pay for it all. After that we’ll all face the inevitable mathematical and biological and human nature reality, but until then at least the Greeks have bequeathed us all the right to vote against it.

— Bud Norman

The Good Ol’ Days of Media

The old media are dying, and Tina Brown mourns their passing. That she is one of the causes of the death of old media, and another reason to celebrate it, seems not to have occurred to her.
For those of you who are enviably unaware of Tina Brown, she used to be a big deal in the old media. After making a name for herself in the rough-and-tumble Fleet Street journalism of her native England, she emigrated to the United States in the ’80s to edit Vanity Fair and became as notable a celebrity as any of the rich and famous subjects of that plutographic magazine’s posterior-kissing stories. In the early ’90s she took control of The New Yorker, where she cured that one-venerable publication’s stodgy reputation for literary excellence with an infusion of Vanity Fair-style frivolousness. The resulting revival of The New Yorker’s fortunes made her such a sensation that she signed a lucrative deal with Miramax Films to become a multi-media mogul, which resulted in the short-lived and utterly forgettable Talk Magazine and a boutique publishing house that released titles by the likes of Queen Noor of Jordan and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright of Clintonland. Since then she’s started The Daily Beast, which is one of the internet’s more widely read sites but a mere internet site nonetheless, and when the site bought comatose Newsweek for the bargain basement price of $1 she wound up as editor of that. Now she’s written a whopper of an editorial for The Daily Beast about the media in wake of the sex scandal involving President Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky, and the unsurprising gist of it is that she’s nostalgic for the good old days when she was a big deal.
The editorial is well worth reading, as it is a masterpiece of self-serving snarkiness and a perfectly illustrative example of what is really killing off the old media. She opens with worries that Lewinsky’s recent reappearance in the news “plunges us straight back into the frothing world of ’90s gossip,” as if she had not become rich and famous in that same frothing world, but bravely marches into her subject because “It may be painful but it answers so many questions about today’s media.” The pain apparently derives from having to recall l’affaire Lewinsky, with its “appalling cast of tabloid gargoyles who drove the scandal.” She doesn’t mean the serial sexual predator who used his position as President of the United States to exploit a starry-eyed and dim-witted twenty-something in his employ, but rather those nasty people who told the truth about it. Even after all these years Brown feels obliged to heap scorn on Linda Tripp, who was dragged into the scandal because she had the misfortune to befriend Lewinsky, and is described by Brown as a “treacherous thatched-roof-haired drag-queen” with “dress-for-success shoulder pads. Conservative commentator and activist Lucianne Goldberg gets similarly snooty treatment, being described as a “cackling, fact-lacking hack.” Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who did the job he was given by Congress all too diligently, is explained as a “mealy-mouthed Pharisee.” The greatest object of Brown’s scorn, however, is the pioneering internet journalist who broke the Lewinsky scandal with a post about how Newsweek had nailed down the story but declined to run it. “Hitting ‘send’ on each new revelation that no one else would publish, the solitary, perfectly named Matt Drudge,” is how Brown introduces the real villain of her piece, “operating in pallid obsession out of his sock-like apartment in Miami.”
None of Brown’s “tabloid gargoyles” were using the Oval Office of the White House to do cigar tricks with a young woman who would soon be subjected to their politics of personal destruction, nor were they guilty of the tawdry and boorish behavior by the president that soon were revealed in the light of the Lewinsky investigation, but Brown somehow faults them for “driving” the scandal. There would have been no scandal to drive if Clinton had acted as a responsible married president rather than a lecherous reprobate, but Brown apparently finds that more forgivable than telling the truth about a politician with the correct opinions and right party affiliation. What’s most unforgivable, in Brown’s telling of the saga, is that “The press was at the height of its power when the Monica story began, and Drudge was its underbelly. The ascendant media that looked down on him has been pretty much destroyed.”
This is a bad thing, Brown explains because it is “how the death of privacy started.” She’s not referring to the National Security Agency’s snooping into every American’s phone records, or the mysteriously unsealed divorce records of candidates who challenge Barack Obama or formerly anonymous plumbers who ask him questions that provoke controversial answers, or the Internal Revenue Service’s illegal interest in the donors who contribute to causes the president dislikes, or any of the other troubling concerns about privacy that have nothing whatsoever to do with conservative journalism, but rather the outrageous idea that a president can’t exploit an intern without having to read about it on some arriviste web site. Perhaps Brown would hold steadfast to the same conviction that what happens inside the Oval Office isn’t a legitimate matter of public interest even when a Republican occupies it, but there is reason for doubt. We can’t recall Brown complaining about the Special Prosecutor who spent millions hunting for imaginary witches in the phony-baloney Valerie Plame investigation that dogged the Bush administration and found nothing but a small fish named “Scooter” telling an inconsequential lie about a scandal that didn’t happen in the first place, and we can’t imagine her ever employing such mean-girl insults against any women on her side of the political divide no matter how thatched-roof-haired or cackling they might be.
So long as it’s acceptable to speculate in print about others’ motives, we’ll venture that Brown is mostly miffed that the once-ascendant media that are still looking down their patrician noses at the upstarts have indeed pretty much been destroyed. For Brown, who enjoyed considerable prestige, power, and an unequal income in the ancien regime, it must be a bitter disappointment to see the likes of Matt Drudge with millions more readers and vastly greater power to make the public aware of a story. That these uncouth sorts who would have never besmirched the pages of Vanity Fair or The New Yorker during Brown’s reign are using that usurped power to expose facts that don’t serve Brown’s preferred politics is surely all the more galling. Lewinsky made her comeback in Vanity Fair, the folks who bought Newsweek for a dollar are now looking to sell it at all, the only television news organization that concerns itself with Democratic scandals is trouncing the competition in the ratings war, and obscure internet sites from obscure places such as Wichita, Kansas, are snearing back at Brown, and that has to hurt as well. Ah, for the good old days of monopoly media and unchallenged opinion-making power when a president could exploit an intern in the Oval Office or lie about a terrorist attack without any pesky questions being asked.
We can well understand such nostalgia, as we were working for a mid-sized newspaper back in the days after every town had been reduced to one daily and before talk radio and the internet and new means of classified advertising changed everything. The money was good, better than in most of the industries that the editorialists railed against for their corporate greed, and there was a satisfying sense of power in hearing the fear in a politician’s voice when you called up with a good question, and there was an even more seductive sense of power in knowing that anyone who wanted to know where the Kansas City Royals stood in the American League Western Division standings or the latest quote on that hot stock they bought or which of their neighbors had recently been arrested had to pony 50 cents for the latest copy of whatever we decided to print. For all their cocksure predictions about the dire future that others were inflicting on the world the titans of journalism never saw the cataclysm that was coming in their own industry, and most still refuse to acknowledge it even as they preside over the death throes of the once-grand institutions they somehow inherited. Technological change was a contributing factor, but just as important was a failure by those titans of journalism to recognize that they could no longer suppress any facts that were not to their liking.
That was another change in journalism, and one that the new technology was required to fix. In an era prior to Tina Brown the solitary fellow in the sock-like apartment putting out each new revelation that no one else would publish was a heroic figure than an object of ridicule, and Drudge would have been considered fitting because of the drudgery that is always involved in getting at the truth. That was an era when journalism was expected to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” an old cliché that journalists still spout when they’ve had a few too many to realize how very ridiculous it now sounds, and we doubt that Tina Brown would have found it any more comfortable than these changing times.

— Bud Norman

A Blast from the Scandalous Past

Monica Lewinsky is back in the news, and we welcome her return. That’s partly because things are now so dreary a fresh infusion of smutty fellatio jokes is needed to lighten the national mood, but mostly because Lewinsky is an embarrassment to many people who still need to be embarrassed.

The former White House intern who was at the center of the most publicized presidential sex scandal in history has penned her long-awaited tell-all book, intriguingly titled “Shame and Survival,” and excerpts have already begun to appear in Vanity Fair. Highlights of the first batch of include her deep regrets about her affair with President Bill Clinton, a claim that “my boss took advantage of me” but in the same sentence an insistence that it was consenting relationship, an admission that suicidal thoughts sometimes occurred to her during the scandal, and the revelation that her international notoriety did not enhance her prospects for a planned career in public relations. None of it is particularly surprising or at all salacious, but it’s sufficient to get the Lewinsky name circulating through the news cycle until the next installment and remind the public of stained dresses and cigar tricks and and imaginary vast right-wing conspiracies and what the meaning of “is” is and all the other wacky things that made the Clinton administration a late-night comedian’s dreams come true. Everyone will recall the hilarious farce that played out on the evening news and the talk show monologues, and some will even remember that it was also a tawdry and damaging tragedy.
Too many people missed that crucial point as the scandal played itself out. In the end Clinton temporarily lost a law license that he wasn’t going to use in any case, but otherwise he suffered no significant harm for his actions. He survived impeachment with the unanimous support of the Senate’s Democrats, his poll numbers improved, the opposition party that had attempted to hold him to account was punished in the following mid-term elections, and his enabling wife was rewarded with her own seat in the Senate. Everyone else who had the misfortune to become embroiled in the imbroglio took at hit, though. The Lewinsky scandal let loose a flood of stories about the President exposing himself to a state employee and inviting her to “kiss it,” groping a grieving widow who had come to his office in need of help, telling his rape victim to “put a little ice on that lip,” but somehow the unimpeachably circumspect Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr wound up being portrayed as a sex fiend. Clinton campaign aides talked openly of their aggressive tactics for dealing with “bimbo eruptions,” but a Lewinsky friend who taped their conversations to protect herself from that outfit was portrayed as a villainous and ridiculed for her middle-aged looks. Clinton had an amazing knack for this sort of thing, to the extent that even today he’s remembered as the economic genius who delivered us balanced budgets and Newt Gingrich is still known as that stingy grouch who wouldn’t let Clinton spend more money on the poor, and he’s beloved for the housing boom that resulted from his subprime mortgage policies while his successor is pinned with all the blame for their inevitable collapse, but “Slick Willie’s” slide out of the Lewinsky mess his finest work.
He was the gray-haired president of the United States, she was a 24-year-old intern, and the storyline went that she was entirely at fault for anything that might have happened, and that anyone who had a problem with it or with any subsequent lies that were told about was just a sexually-repressed old blue-nose who needed to get with the swingin’ ’90s. People bought it, for the most part, and it was really something to see. Even the mainline feminists who had been so thoroughly outraged just a few years earlier by a Republican Senator’s more mildly boorish behavior went along, and to many horny young men of our acquaintance Clinton was even regarded as a sort of ne’er-do-well folk hero. The loss of the House majority that had accomplished many of the things Clinton still gets the credit for was stinging to the Republicans and conservatives in general, to the point that many would just as soon not revisit the matter now.
This time around might be different, though. The political passions that drove the Clinton loyalists’ have surely faded some over time, or been transferred to a newer hero, and the past many years afford a different perspective. Lewinsky is now 40 years old and regretful, still attractive in a zaftig sort of way but with an unmistakable look of damaged goods. Many of those horny young men of our acquaintance now have 11-year-old daughters and wouldn’t want them anywhere near Bill Clinton. All those 11-year-old girls who first awareness of what adult relationships sometimes entail by watching the news for a current events class are now 27, and mostly loyal Democrats because of that Republican war on women thing, but we can’t help but wonder if they’re satisfied with the sexual landscape they’ve traversed since the likes of Bill Clinton became exemplary. Even the mainstream feminists are probably eager to pounce on the next Republican caught in a similar scandal, and will at last concede that Clinton’s behavior was unacceptable no matter how strongly he supported a right to abortion. The press might decide to bolster their current guy’s reputation as a family man by contrast, and they’ll be hard pressed to whip up any indignation against any of those long-forgotten villains from the past. Lewinsky’s talking now, the jokes are sure to follow, and we can’t imagine that anyone named Clinton is happy that the subject has come up again.
Welcome back, Monica.

— Bud Norman

Laid-back

There was an abundance of news on Monday, but two stories in particular caught our attention. Neither was at all surprising, and compared to a bench-sitting basketball player publicly declaring his homosexuality they might not seem very newsworthy, but the juxtaposition of two was fascinating nonetheless.
One was a report that President Barack Obama has thus far devoted twice as much time to golf and vacations than to meetings devoted to the economy. We spotted this at the cheekily conservative Breitbart.com web site, which was predictably indignant about the presidential schedule, and at Britain’s primly conservative The Telegraph, which seemed to find the president appallingly lazy even by British standards, but lest you suspect these right-wing muckrakers were making it up they both cited an analysis by the Government Accountability Office. The agency is famously non-partisan, which means they tend favor Democrats, and it made generous estimates of how long it takes for Obama to complete a round of golf and how much time he devotes to business while on vacation, so the muckrakers are likely understating their case.
The other item that caught our eye, appearing in Vanity Fair, took a decidedly different view. The glossy magazine for glossy readers, which recently hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner after-party for “Hollywood A-listers and Washington insiders,” ran a “photographic investigation of the ‘lean-back’ president.” A fawning introduction gripes that “Barack Obama receives ample flak from critics who say that he is too buttoned-up and reserved to thrive in an office that historically has required its fair share of cajoling, socializing, and even arm-twisting,” but insists that “Obama can, in fact, be remarkably laid-back.” We’re not sure who those critics are who lament Obama’s reserve and lack of haranguing, schmoozing, and Chicago-style political tactics, although they are probably to his left, but apparently even Brietbart.com and The Telegraph have already noticed that he can be laid-back. To further emphasize the point, however, Vanity Fair’s photographer shows us the president with his feet atop the Oval Office’s historic Resolute Desk, sitting tie-less with his advisers, more shots of the feet on the desk, and another shot with his feet on some non-descript coffee table, all of which invite the reader to marvel at very cool the president can be.
There’s something to be said for a laid-back personality, which is quite endearing in poets, musicians, and certain other occupations, but it’s not a quality that is necessarily well-suited to a president. When the president is spending more time on his golf game than the economy that is laying back a bit too far. On the other hand, with this particular president the less time he spends meddling in the economy the better.

— Bud Norman

Comforting the Comfortable

There’s an old newspaper adage that a journalist’s job is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Journalists are so fond of such nonsense that if you spend any amount of time with them you’ll soon grow weary of hearing it. After 35 years of working with newspapers we have vowed that the next time we hear anyone repeating this balderdash we will immediately go in search of a sockful of horse manure with which to pummel him.
It’s not so much how the adage negates a superior notion that a journalist’s job is to accurately report what is going on in the world, without regard to who is comforted or afflicted or by the truth, but rather that it’s so very out of date. The phrase apparently originated with Finley Peter Dunne, who wrote an Irish-accented column as “Mr. Dooley” way back in the good old days of yellow journalism when ethnic humor was respectable and journalists were not, and we wonder what the ink-stained wretch would make of the oh-so-comfortable scribes in attendance at this past Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
You’ve heard of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, of course, even if you make a point of avoiding all that boring political stuff in the news. The annual black-tie event has joined the Golden Globes awards and the global warming alarmist movement as one of those things that every self-respecting celebrity simply must do, and it now receives the same saturation coverage as any other show-biz event. This year Vanity Fair rushed to the internet with pictures of the “Hollywood A-listers and Washington-insiders” who attended the magazine’s after-party bash at the Kalorama residence of the French ambassador, and even the most staid news outlets were similarly star-struck. New York Magazine found it newsworthy that the First Lady wore a Lacy Monique Lhuillier gown, which is apparently some sort of fancy dress, and it  could not restrain itself from adding that “damn does she look good.”
Each year’s dinner features a monologue by a well-known comedian who is expected to poke fun at both politicians and reporters, thus allowing both groups to demonstrate what good sports and regular folk they are, but tradition also dictates that a gentler brand of humor be employed regarding Democrats. This year the honor went to late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien, who hewed rigorously to tradition. One of his few Obama jokes made mention of the fact that both he and the president attended Harvard University, and he ended with a heartfelt thanks to the president for helping his hometown of Boston “heal” from the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Whatever healing powers the president exerted might not have been necessary if the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been less sensitive to Muslim sensitivities when following up on Russian warnings about the bombers, an aversion to Islamophobia that has been imposed from the very top of levels of government, but O’Brien’s partisan fun-poking should have been expected. We well recall that during the Bush administration O’Brien used to regale his television audiences by doing a presidential imitation that involved mimicking a mentally retarded person and saying “duh,” a Swiftian sort of satire that the proud Harvard man could have just as easily learned on the playgrounds of Kistler Elementary School.
The president also spoke, which is another yearly feature of the event. Tradition dictates that the presidential monologue be self-deprecating, but Obama seems unable to make fun of himself lest it be considered racist. He acknowledged an embarrassing 2-for-22 shooting performance on the basketball court during the White House Easter egg roll, but only as a set-up for a joke about the NBC ratings, and most of the jokes were aimed a political opponents such as a wealthy Republican campaign donor. The watchdogs of the press politely roared, of course, and by all accounts everyone seemed very comfortable.

— Bud Norman