Monday, July 27, 2009

Reliable Sources Debates Erin Andrews: Geraldo Rivera Airs Nude Clip Again; Long National Nightmare Winds Down Amid Lingering Moral Hypocrisy

London's Daily Telegraph has a late report out today, "US Sports Reporter to Sue Over Naked Internet Video." But with Sunday's Reliable Sources on the Erin Andrews controversy, we're finally seeing our long national nightmare fade from the media cycle.

the transcript.

Even Christine Brennan is in damage control after her unambiguous statement blaming the victim for the peephole privacy invasion:

KURTZ: So, are the media exploiting this sick act even as they supposedly decry it?

Joining our panel now, Christine Brennan, sports columnist for "USA Today" and a contributor to ABC Sports.

Christine, should "The New York Post" and "Fox & Friends" and others reporting on this outrage have used those screen shots of a very nude Erin Andrews?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY": Absolutely not. It is despicable behavior. It's what I said on the first radio interview I did, that what happened to Erin was just gross and despicable.

And, you know, it seems to me that what they're doing -- and I got dragged into it by being quoted completely out of context -- what they are trying to do then is create a story line so that then they can show it again. And, of course, what they'll do in the case of Fox is say, oh, this is terrible, this is awful, get that off the air, as they've shown it again and again.

And think about poor Erin Andrews and what she's going through. And that, to me, is just shoddy journalism.

ASHBURN: It's prurient; right? And we're not as journalists in the porn business. And, well, even if we were, we couldn't find the video right away. It was pulled ....

KURTZ: All right.

Christine, you mentioned an interview that you did this week that drew some controversy. This was with a Raleigh, North Carolina, radio station. It was replayed on "Good Morning America."Let me roll some of that and we'll talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BRENNAN: If you trade off your sex appeal, you trade off your looks, eventually you're going to lose those. She doesn't deserve what happened to her, but part of the shtick, seems to me, is being a little bit out there in a way that, then, are your encouraging a complete nutcase to drill a hole in your room? (END AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ: Some people jumped on that, as you know, and said it was some version of, well, she kind asked for it.

BRENNAN: Right. There's a sound bite there that's missing, Howie. I said, "And I want to have a long career." I was talking about myself. That was taken out of those clips.

KURTZ: Yourself as a female sportswriter...

BRENNAN: Absolutely.

KURTZ: ... and you're covering a male-dominated sports world?

BRENNAN: Exactly. I mean, so, that first part of that, I was talking about myself. And that was literally taken out of the clip. Also, if I may say, that in the course of that interview, nine minutes and 20 seconds with that North Carolina station, the first words out of my mouth were that this was gross and despicable. And eight times in that nine and a half minutes I said she didn't deserve this, it's wrong, it's terrible.

KURTZ: But what about the part about creating a climate that encourages the nut cases of the world? Creating a climate by flaunting sex appeal?

BRENNAN: I was again talking about myself. The question was about the larger issues of women...

Actually, she wasn't talking about herself, and she was called out for her sexism, rightly so. It turns out this isn't the first time for Brennan either. See, "Remember, Christine Brennan Hates Good Looking Female Journalists." (And see Howard Kurtz at this morning's Washington Post, "Howard Kurtz Discusses the Media and Press Coverage of the News.") Added: Deadspin, "Christine Brennan Continues Her Erin Andrews Smarm Offensive."

Plus, it turns out that Geraldo Rivera also featured a debate-panel on the controversy on Saturday, "
Erin Andrews Peephole Video, Photos Shown Again."

As any student of the media knows, Geraldo Rivera's name is synonymous with sensationalist-smut journalism. Like Bill O'Reilly, Rivera aired lengthy clips of the Andrews nude peep video. It comes as no suprise. Rivera's list of controversial broadcast-outrages
is virtually unmatched. And he remains a national media personality with a powerful reporting platform. Yet conservatives might recall, in 2007, Rivera threatened to spit on Michelle Malkin for her views on immigration, calling her "the most vile, hateful commentator I've ever met in my life." Malkin subsequently announced that she'd no longer appear on The O'Reilly Factor. (See Michelle's report on that incident here; she also called out Christine Brennan as well, "USA Today Columnist Blames Peeping Tom Victim.")

Here's how
one commentator described Rivera's coverage of the Andrews controversy:
FOX's Geraldo Rivera is obsessed with ESPN sportsbabe Erin Andrews and that naked video and how it came to be. Geraldo July 25th: "She's holed up in her house until September... I think she's going to huge. I never heard of her before."

Rivera beats himself off under the desk for eight minutes:

So, where are we now, as a culture and a nation? For almost two weeks now we've had this wrenching national debate on the limits of propriety in mainstream reporting and commentary. But as someone who wrote early on this - and under absolutley no false pretenses - it could be argued that America's abject moral hypocrisy is a crime tantamount to the original hole-carved peeping incident. In yet another commentary, this article summed it up best, "Peeping Erin’s Andrews":
Every article you read about Erin Andrews and her peephole video reads the same. Every story has to use the word “creepy” or “disgusting” or “low-down” or some adjective either directly before or after referencing the video as an over-the-top attempt to try to convince the reader that they didn’t spend all afternoon frantically searching Google and using “happy tissues” like they were going out of style. But, masturbatory habits of the average sports fan aside, the real question that everyone wants to know is Who’s to blame?
Read the whole thing for one of the better compilations of the tragedy of a national moral epic fail. We're all to blame, of course, Heaven forbid.

And speaking of "masturbatory habits," let me close out my daily coverage of the Erin Andrews controversy with some belated - and hopefully final - commentary on the "Rule 5 community."

I announced my retirement from "Rule 5" blogging at Saturday's post, "
Erin Andrews Internet Traffic Report."

I should note that I couldn't have been more clear in my motivations for writing my original Erin Andrews Google-bomb entry. But let me reiterate a couple of the main points:

* I have NO PROBLEMS with operationalizing my own egoistic-rational self-interest in testing Robert Stacy McCain's model of traffic-generating nude-pic scandal opportunism. As the TrogloPundit once exclaimed, "It works! R.S. McCain is a genius!" And I would add that R.S. McCain's been an amicable fellow through all of this. Good luck on his continued success!

* And to be clear again, I am NOT PASSING MORAL JUDGMENT on others who have sought to achieve their own self-interest by shamelessly exploiting the objectification of women to increase blog traffic and to build a lowest-common-denominator readership. Despite protests to the contrary, my comments in previous posts have been simply observations all along. But being a blog flame-war, participants have conveniently ignored the facts at hand. It's certainly understandable. Like Dorothy's frail old wizard,
it's not flattering when the curtain is finally drawn away. Frankly, we all do it. And since Stacy made the reference in his post last night, I don't mind citing Jesus' words, King James Bible, John 8:7, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." (And don't miss Stacy's whole post, "'That's Just the Rule 5 Way It Is!'" And Stacy's now-famous Google-bomb masterpiece is here: Carrie Prejean Nude Pic Scandal.")

And given all of this, folks might think it just a bit amusing to find Cynthia Yockey jumping on the moral condemnation bandwagon. I love the title of this post: "I Am With Little Miss Attila in Villainous Company to Challenge American Power." The entry includes some "I can haz faux moral condemnation":

Look, I've been reporting real news on this story for over a week. So, if readers will pardon my language, Cynthia doesn't know WTF she's talking about. Indeed, she'd be better off frankly to just SDASTFU.

You see, Cynthia's a perfect example of a traffic-slutting "Rule 5" acolyte (NTTAWWT!!). Cynthia's claim to fame is her classic Bea Arthur exploitation post, "
‘Symbolism Was My Life’." And as she admits at her eminently "villainous" post:
Now, “nude Bea Arthur” was not a picture and key phrase that I expected to generate a lot of traffic. However, until my Web host changed my blog’s URL without my understanding how much that was going to screw up my standing in Google for the pictures indexed from my blog, I was getting just over half of my daily traffic just from the nude Bea Arthur portrait and my Bea Arthur eulogy post, “Symbolism was my life.”
Hey, more power to you, sweetie! Bea Arthur had a huge rack! I hope your traffic numbers rebound, but to borrow from Stacy's favorite line, "don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

Also, after my Saturday entry, the hapless Joy McCann was moved to respond, TWICE:
Donald Douglas Would Like Some Attention," and "Cynthia Takes the Wood to Donald Douglas." And in a twist, Joy found a way to plug her husband's work in the "Freakazoid" franchise while simultaneously attacking my family name:

Actually, my main criticism of Donald Douglas is his name. He sound like a Freakazoid! character. What is he?—the Freaka-cousin? Sheesh. Change your name, Bud. Or use a nickname as a first name—one that doesn’t begin with a “D.”

How about “Frank”? Or “Goofball”? Or “Butch”?

Image Credit: Wikipedia (Fair Use Citation)

Actually, no.

That's not Joy's main gripe. Men are assholes, remember? Yep, Joy took issue with the Erin Andrews posting and in her pathetic refusal to take responsibility for her shameless "Rule 5" chubby-building exhortations she instead went for the cheap personal attacks in smearing my family name. Real classy, Joy, that one. Sexy smile though, I must admit!

Husband John's blog is here (he's a real looker; but Joy apparently still needs to post an extra hunk of beecake now and then, NTTAWWT!!) Strange, in any case, all of Joy's fulminations - but it's better not to judge, remember?

Okay, let's not forget Cassandra at Villainous Company. I pretty much said my piece with Cassandra already, but you might want to check her additional comments at the thread.

I think Cassandra's a good woman, and my sincere hope is that after all of this blows over we can still be friends.

Cassandra's problem is that she's way too quick to condemn others for the very same traffic-grabbing exploitation techniques she's not above deploying. (See also, Wikipedia: "Psychological projection.") And I'm not just talking about her hot laced-garter pinup across her blog's banner. No, Cassandra's a huge booster of Project Valour-IT, a veterans' fundraising drive that has helps provide laptaps, game-systems, and GPS devices to returning soldiers. If I'm not mistaken, the major milbloggers have some sort of contest every year to see who can drum up the most contributions. Castle Argghh! has a big thank you to supporters. Cassandra gets a big mention there. And while I'm not at liberty to discuss her methods, I do know that Cassandra's not above hawking some skin in order to get the big blogs on board for promotion (i.e., images, but not of her, as far as I know). But readers will have to check with Cassandra for the details. While I have no problems exploiting a peep scandal for traffic, I'm not going to betray personal confidences, as juicy and damaging as those might be.

So that's it. This story's spent, and my daily Erin Andrews reporting ends here. I will, of course, update with major breaking news if things develop. I will also be watching Erin Andrews' return to sideline reporting in September, if that works out for her. We'll see, and don't be ashamed to stay tuned for updates.

And with the exception of something really egregious, I don't expect to engage in any more flame wars. I've sought no enemies through all my reporting, and I stand by my motto of "no enemies on the right." No doubt some bloggers would rather never speak to me again. That's fine. I understand. Others will continue to flood my e-mail inbox as if nothing ever happened. That's fine too.

And of course, "Rule 5" blogging will continue without a moment's genuine introspection among most of the participants. Joy McCann barely batted a mascara'd eyelash in posting some hot beefcake this morning (see, Oh, Yeah. I Got Your Rule 5 Right Here"); and Chris Wysocki's got a big entry up for some full-steam-ahead babelicioius action: "Donald Douglas and the Rule 5 Identity Crisis."

My only advice is for folks not to get down on themselves - and have fun! Remember, I'm a political scientist. I study political culture AND human interest. I find it extremely interesting that folks are horrified at how I could justify my posting on Erin Andrews on rationalist grounds. In testing Robert Stacy McCain's Google-bomb theory, I acted on a rational egoist premise holding my own utility-maximizing self-interest as the determinant of what's good or bad. Such a position should be no secret to students of rational-egoist epistemology. And among Ayn Rand fans, I'd be particularly suprised to see objections, for Rand's method is pure self-interest maximization:

When one speaks of man’s right to exist for his own sake, for his own rational self-interest, most people assume automatically that this means his right to sacrifice others. Such an assumption is a confession of their own belief that to injure, enslave, rob or murder others is in man’s self-interest - which he must selflessly renounce. The idea that man’s self-interest can be served only by a non-sacrificial relationship with others has never occurred to those humanitarian apostles of unselfishness, who proclaim their desire to achieve the brotherhood of men. And it will not occur to them, or to anyone, so long as the concept “rational” is omitted from the context of “values”, “desires”, “self-interest” and ethics.”

In citing this I readily affirm my guiding theme of honesty and integrity, but also moral clarity. (WYSIWYG!!) Would that so many others shared it. This is not say that an added cost/benefit analysis taking in other emotive-spiritual-non-rationalist factors is to be completely abjured. It's simply to point out that my blogging has always been guided by a foundational set of beliefs, and nothing's changed.

If readers continue to have a problem with my self-interested blogging, perhaps they might enjoy joining the comment boards at Crooks and Liars,
Daily Kos or Firedoglake. Leftists despise self-interest maximization. And so, for those who first attacked me with the line, "I can't belive he's a conservative," and for those who eagerly hopped on the bandwagon, I propose that these folks know nothing of where they speak, nor of any system of integrated values upon which they stand.

And if any readers still haven't gotten enough of Erin Andrews, check Coed Magazine's totally opportunistic, "
The Complete Erin Andrews Web Photo Index."

Plus, more exploitation at Mediaite, "Erin Andrews Most Influential TV Reporter? What Her Top Ranking Really Means." Also, my previous coverage is available here.


UPDATE: Dan Riehl get chivalrous here, "Short Sighted Bloggers Busted In Cloakroom Circle Jerk." He touts traffic impressive traffic numbers, here, but leaves out a key comment at my post, where I note, upon mention of my retirement rom "Rule 5" blogging, "I'm still learning about all the deceit and double-standards" in bloggging and media worlds (Dan would know, of course).

I'll add updates here if anything else comes up. Dan Riehl's a good guy, not too smart, but solid nevertheless. (You can't police the Internet all by yourself, Dan; but hey, knock yourself out trying.)

Also, interesting commentary, from Michael-Louis Ingram, on ESPN's handling of the controversy, "Sending In The Clowns??? Don't Worry, They're Already Here at ESPN."


Mark30339 said...

I thought AmPow's Erin coverage was fascinating and revealing about our culture. Before the internet, most would have averted their eyes.

The most telling is the TV media community going Donner party with one of their own, their starving for ratings is insatiable.

science fiction writer said...

Did you ever notice how "unprofessional" CNN's so-called journalist are?

Tom the Redhunter said...

I find this whole thing boring. Lets move on, Donald.

Dennis said...

On the money Tom.

Beth Donovan said...

May I suggest that you are out of your mind suggesting that Cassandra has done anything to get the attention of Castle Argghhh!

You see, I am Beth Donovan, married to John Donovan, creator of Castle Argghhh! Cassandra has had posting privileges at Castle Argghhh!for years - before Valour IT was even thought of.

Cassandra is a dear friend, and I insist you withdraw any and all comments about her, Castle Argghhh! and Valour IT.

I would also suggest that you withdraw comments about Joy, also.

You are making insinuations that are completely untrue, insulting and possibly even libelous.

Believe me, I will be contacting a lot of our friends who have Milblogs, and letting them know just what kind of person you are.

Murray said...

Bit of sneering little inudeno muck raker without sources yourself there pal.

Whats the matter, get your lunch money taken by a conservative at school?

Get turned down by a cheerleader whose dad was in the army/

You want to talk about projection lets look at your issues. A women doesn't agree with my politics, therefore she is some kind of ho i just know it, put I have no evidence so I'll just make it up!

You're a tragic case and a waste of my typing efforts. Back to icanhazcheesburger for me where there's more interlectual supmissions.

BillT said...

And while I'm not at liberty to discuss her methods, I do know that Cassandra's not above hawking some skin in order to get the big blogs on board for promotion (i.e., images, but not of her, as far as I know).

That's rather a slathering bit of innuendo -- the only *skin* I've ever seen on her site is the occasional Caption Contest posts, which are intended to generate comic remarks.

But perhaps you didn't see them in that light, since you appear to be somewhat lacking a sense of humor.

Wit, yes.

Humor, no.

FbL said...

Good grief! There are so many insinuations directed here at Cassandra that I hardly know where to start.

At greater risk of losing my temper the more I think about this, I'll keep point by point in hopes of getting it over faster.

1. Cassandra's concern was obviously that a woman who had been videotaped against her will (a crime) was being further victimized by people Cassandra thought shared her values and philosophy.

2. The reference to pictures and such was (as far as I know--as a friend of Cassandra and the coordinator of the fundraising event in question) a joke, a bit of playfulness. Even if pictures did change hands, they certainly weren't of someone photographed against her will (see above).

3. The idea that Cassandra is driven by traffic is utterly absurd. Every time she gets "too popular" she up and disappears, leaving her fans quite desolate.

4. It is easily forgotten here on the Internet that there are real people posting and real people commenting. And more often than is obvious, those real people have deep and abiding connections with each other offline, including inside jokes, unspoken rules, and a great deal of personal knowledge over the years that makes the accusations thrown around by those who know them less well absolutely comical.

In other words, stop digging.