Posts Tagged ‘CNN’


Comedian Kathy Griffin is back in the news. A few days ago she posed with a mock severed head of Donald Trump covered with fake blood.

From Griffin, this isn’t terribly surprising; on a New Year’s Eve several years ago I channel surfed to CNN’s live Times Square broadcast just in time to see Griffin direct a hoary stand-up putdown to a heckler (this is paraphrased, but close): “Hey! I’m trying to work! I wouldn’t come to your workplace and knock the cocks out of your mouth!”

Once the photo hit the ‘net, the denunciations thundered down from all sides: from CNN (which axed her from their New Years’ Eve broadcast), to 37-year-old spoiled brat Chelsea Clinton, to Trump himself. The reasons for the outrage were what you’d expect: the photo was vulgar, tasteless, “over the line,” disrespectful of the presidency, and disrespectful of Trump as a human being.

My reaction was a bit different: This seems like a stupid thing to post; it seems like she’s doing Trump and his minions a favor. What’s the point? Is there one?

Then I wondered about the context. What was it? Well, it turns out that Griffin was doing a photo shoot, and posed with the mock severed head as a comment on Trump’s disgusting, misogynistic remarks about Fox News host Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

But that’s still not a good enough reason to pose for that photo, even if Griffin had made the context obvious. That, at best, would have made the photo an expression of anger and contempt.

Why isn’t that sufficient justification for shooting and posting it? If Griffin was just an Internet troll, fine, whatever. But Griffin is a well known comedian, and if a comedian is going to use a shocking image it should at least be funny, and ideally be both funny and thought provoking.

Many of the best comedians — in days past, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, and currently Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Bill Maher, Jim Jeffries, and Doug Stanhope — routinely “cross the line,” routinely use vulgar, deliberately offensive language and imagery; others, notably Steven Colbert, Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, and Seth Myers, use shocking language and imagery occasionally.

(If you want your comedy to lull you to sleep, comedy that stirs up no disturbing thoughts whatsoever, you’ll always have your Jerry Seinfelds, Jay Lenos, Jeff Foxworthys, and Bill Cosbys, comics with either nothing to say or who drastically pull their punches.)

What sets the work of Carlin, Hicks, Jeffries, et al. apart from the Griffin photo? Their use of shock and vulgarity is oftentimes funny and almost always thought provoking.

The Griffin-Trump photo is neither.

It isn’t funny, it doesn’t make a point, and it allowed the Whiner in Chief to whine — and this time with some justification. Kathy Griffin did Donald Trump a favor.

In the end, the only funny line (that I’ve seen) about the matter was delivered by an anonymous TMZ headline writer: “Kathy Griffin Beheads President Trump: I Support Gore.”


BAD GUYS, n. pl. A term habitually used by analysts on the Children’s News Network, in deference to the sophistication of their audience. (with a tip of the hat to the anonymous realist who accurately decrypted the acronym “CNN”)

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–from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded) the best successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary


I wasted a hell of a lot of money for a hell of a lot of years by paying for cable and satellite TV.  When I finally cut the cord, I was paying $75.99 a month for DirecTV, and it’s probably gone up a bit since then. I was also  subscribing to the mlb Extra Innings package (major league baseball, for all you furriners readin’ this), which at the time was $169.95; it’s also probably gone up. So, I was paying nearly eleven hundred bucks a year for satellite TV.

Last summer I finally asked myself, “Why? What am I actually getting for my money?” The answer was “not much.” I had the news (Al Jazeera or MSNBC, which is really more PC opinion than news) on  in the background while I worked, and would actually watch it occasionally–and it was often more of an irritant than entertainment. Beyond that, I usually watched “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report,” the occasional show on the Science Channel, the very occasional show on the Discover Channel or the Hitler Channel, baseball games, occasionally a football game, and the local news, and that was it. I was paying over a thousand dollars a year for the privilege, so, I canceled my satellite subscription.

The better part of a year later, I barely miss it. I have high speed Internet (which I had anyway), Netflix ($8 a month), and the mlbtv streaming package ($109.95 last year), which provides the same programming at lower cost than the Extra Innings package. (Free sports programming is available via Stream2Watch. Some of the streams Stream2Watch points at aren’t strictly legal, but if God didn’t want us to watch them, why did He create proxies?) I can watch “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central channel, sans commercials a day after it airs.  For news, I mostly use the Guardian, Al Jazeera, and BBC sites, and occasionally the CNN-for-grownups site.  (Yes, CNN has a kiddie site aimed at the U.S. audience, and an actual news site aimed at the rest of the world. The difference between the two is sometimes jaw dropping. Kiddie CNN seems to think that Idiocracy is a documentary. As I write this, the headline on that site is “Jurors Get Superbowl Talk.”)

But getting back to cutting the cord . . . For the local news, I just watch it over the air. Any flat screen TV will receive digital over-the-air channels, and the only piece of additional gear you need is an antenna. Commercial ones typically cost about $30, but you can easily build a better one in under an hour for no more than $10. I built one entirely from junk in the back room, and all it cost me was about 45 minutes of time.

At the end of all this, I find that the only thing I miss is Al Jazeera, which for those who haven’t seen it (and that includes most U.S. cable and satellite viewers) is, overall, a very good news channel. But it’s not worth a thousand bucks a year.