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The Media

Lauren Weinstein: If MTV Calls, Hang Up 761

Lauren Weinstein writes "Usually when one gets a call to participate in a news-oriented television program, subterfuge isn't a worry. But in the brave new world of 'newsertainment' -- a blurring of news and entertainment -- you really need to watch your back. Herein is the sordid tale (posted last night to Dave Farber's "IP" list) of what recently happened to me -- and my narrow escape -- when Viacom/MTV Networks came calling, asking for my help to educate the world's youth about important topics (in this case, the scourge of spam). Be warned. It could happen to you!"
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Lauren Weinstein: If MTV Calls, Hang Up

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  • Punk'd? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:47PM (#9479187) Homepage Journal
    After Punk'd, I would never speak with anyone remotely appearing to give me a hard time over anything whatsoever. I'd just walk away. Who would speak to MTV anyway? Aren't they just a bunch of asshats with lots of money but no direction whatsoever? I mean, I'd love to party with those guys because it'd be a blast... but to work seriously (or try to) with MTV would be like a game of career-Russian-roulette.
  • by mutewinter ( 688449 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:56PM (#9479232)
    Thank God for Google. ;)
  • Amazing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:01PM (#9479263)
    In the world of Daily Shows, Ali G., etc.-- as well as smartass miniDV documentaries [] I can't see why anyone, celebrity or not, talks to a camera crew anymore. You're just asking to have your quotes taken out of context and to be laughed at by the world.
  • by mutewinter ( 688449 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:02PM (#9479265)
    "Reality" shows? You mean shows that have absolutely no connection with reality but have low production budgets?
  • Re:coward (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:02PM (#9479271)
    "Even if the whole thing was a fraud, it should have been an experience to participate. Having known it was a setup, this would have been a great opportunity to spin things back on the hosts and have some fun."

    It was NOT LIVE.

    If you did something clever back at them, they would edit it to make you look like a retard.
  • by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:05PM (#9479287) Homepage Journal
    I read the article, it's about an "embarass the guest" kind of show and since it's taped, Comedy Central holds all the cards. Definitely something you would never want to be on.

    If you are ever asked to guest on a show you aren't familiar with, it is imperative that you get familiar with it. Any information you get from the producers should be in writing. If they insist on using only telephone or editable email (a red flag, BTW), print it out as a contract and ask that it be signed.

  • Ali G ? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:07PM (#9479302)
    Sounds similar to Ali G ? Like when being shown around the United Nations and presented with the seat for Jordan he asked if it was right that a single basketball player should be represented.
  • Re:coward (Score:4, Insightful)

    by antic ( 29198 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:10PM (#9479315)
    And then when they use that footage against you elsewhere to imply that you're unprofessional?

    Best to not waste time with it or, as someone else said, send in some guy off the street for a free ride.
  • Viacom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479341)
    I guess $200 is the market value for a person's dignity according to Viacom.

    That must be a nice company to work for.
  • by Radon Knight ( 684275 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479343)
    One sad thing about this is the very premise of the show. Experts in any field, by definition, possess information and knowledge which typically requires either (a) great scholastic ability, or (b) great native intelligence and/or intuition. IMHO, it seems that people possessing expert knowledge - which is really knowledge (think justified true belief, although this definition of knowledge is not up to date, it works as a starting point) - are the kinds of people who we, as a society, ought to respect, admire, and seek to emulate! Why should we take those individuals who represent the very pinnacle of human intellectual achievement and attempt to humiliate them in front of an audience under false pretenses?

    The answer, of course, is obvious: most people aren't experts. Most people aren't geniuses. Most people are within one standard deviation of the mean and are pretty satisfied with their abilities. Hobbes was right when he wrote that the surest proof that humans are approximately equal in intelligence is that most people are satisfied with their level of ability, and their is no better indicator of a fair distribution than when each person is satisfied with their share.

    Now, I could see supporting a show that took bogus experts as the target - i.e., those people who pretend to be able to talk to their dog, or to share karma with plants, use crystals to heal, etc. (but note that, under the abovementioned definition of knowledge that these people aren't really experts since they lack knowledge). That might be fun to watch. At the very least, it would serve the greater good of society by providing an intellectual function.

    But humilating smart people just so that some moron with barely enough intelligence to operate the remote can get his kicks? Bah. Give me the philosopher-kings of Plato anyday.

  • Re:how silly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retro128 ( 318602 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479347)
    Actually it's a "he". Poor guy, what were his parents thinking? :)

    Since his server's been nuked, you can read a little about him here. []
  • by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479348) Homepage Journal
    The Daily show does try to be reasonably accurate, in that their targets are people who are already in the straight news and presumably an intelligent viewer can sort things out It is almost a real news show for those who know to take it all with a grain of salt
  • Re:coward (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ( 184378 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:25PM (#9479395) Journal
    Instead you just bowed out... hell you didn't even let them send the car. Think of the potential.

    Well, it wasn't being filmed live, but disregarding that, one could always show up and inform the other guests whats going on, and then leave before the show starts. Let the legitimate guests in on the secret before they're embarassed...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:27PM (#9479404)
    It's one thing to make fun of celebrities. Their personalities are well-established and a couple of joke interviews are fair game, don't affect the person's reputation in any way, and are sometimes funny.

    It's also one thing to make fun of whackos. The idea being that they will ruin their own reputation sooner or later anyway.

    But it's something different altogether to do joke interviews on unsuspecting non-celebrities. Their personalities may not be well-established in the public eye, and making one of their first appearances on national TV as the butt of a joke can ruin their professional reputation, or at least make it hard to establish.

  • by josh3736 ( 745265 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:28PM (#9479409) Homepage
    Since I usually have Comedy Central on in the background (as it is usually quality programming), I have seen a few ads for this new show.

    It looks like it is gonna suck. Ass.

    Most likely it'll flop after 3 episodes. And good, it looks rediculusly annoying.

    It'll go in the pile of CC shows I hate, along with Colin Quinn's Tough Crowd. Which I'm amazed hasn't been canceled yet. Futurama would be so much nicer there!

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:38PM (#9479443)
    I think most people, including experts, need to stop taking themselves so damn seriously and learn to laugh at themsevles. We are all the butt of a joke from time to time. Rather than get all pissey about it, laugh. It's not just other people and viewpoints that are funny you and yours are as well.

    I don't see any problem with this, or with shows like the Daily Show. They are fun, and they people they pick on even can have fun too, if they just will roll with it and take a joke.

    John McCain is a great example. Back in 2000, they decided to pick on him and his wife. They got on his bus, asked him BS questions, and so on. He was nice and had fun the whole time. This, of course, invited more jokes on him in the future. It also lead to them rather liking him, and making him a fairly frequent guest where he does get to speak his mind to a latge number of young voters.

    Really, the problem with many experts is that they are so focused on their issue, their area of expertise, that nothing about it is funny. They act like they are on a divine mission or something and if you poke fun at it, you are benieth contempt.

    Well guess what? The world is FULL of "most important issues" and "things nobody can laugh at" and most of them are funny to somebody else. People need to lighten up a bit and learn that yes, you are funny too and no, you don't hold the One True Way and the moral righteousness that is untouchable.
  • Re:coward (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:42PM (#9479463)
    Well, it wasn't being filmed live, but disregarding that, one could always show up and inform the other guests whats going on, and then leave before the show starts. Let the legitimate guests in on the secret before they're embarassed...

    Whether it's live is irrelevant. Obviously it wouldn't be live.

    But if they're paying you $200 to make a fool out of you, imagine how much it probably cost them to set up and produce that show. If you showed up and made every bit of your footage unuseable, it would probably cost them thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

    People harping about them editing you out of context to look like an idiot is much ado about nothing. If you refused to speak, what's the worse they could do? Or if you wore some t-shirt under another shirt that you took off once they set everything up, that had some message that they couldn't broadcast (maybe a t-shirt or the logo of their competitors). They could block it out but it wouldn't be too difficult to make it hard for them to use any of the footage... you could move around making the camera people go nuts trying to keep you in frame. There are lots of things.

    I think spreading the word about the show among the expert community will help, but it wouldn't hurt them as bad as spoiling an entire episode they had meticulously set up.
  • by Durandal64 ( 658649 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:51PM (#9479522)
    I like watching Tough Crowd. I just hate Colin Quinn. Not only do I think he's an ignorant religious bigot, but he can't even present his bullshit views in a humorous fashion, making him totally worthless to the show ... which is his own show. Seriously, I can't believe the guy was successful as a stand-up comic. He can't deliver a punch-line, obviously doesn't rehearse for that travesty of speech he calls a monologue at the beginning of his show, stutters, forgets material and is often played off by the music on his own god damn show.

    Fortunately for him, he has people like Jim Norton and Nick DiPaulo to keep the show interesting. Quinn is a persistent hemorrhoid on the ass of stand-up. It's the only reason he gets any attention at all.
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:52PM (#9479527)
    The only difference between the daily show and fox news is, the daily show lets you know its fake up front.
  • by Pfhor ( 40220 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:53PM (#9479535) Homepage
    Most news shows do this, I have seen this happen on both sides.

    What gets me is when someone on the Right claims that a Left group does this, but denies O'Reilly of doing the same tactics.

    Or the new "Michael Moore Hates America" movie, which from all appearances does an exposé on how manipulative and lying a documentary can be. Of course, the director misses the point that by doing a video documentary, which of course is a selective medium, the director is doing the same "tactics" that Moore does. You know, taking people out of context, rushing them on issues, manipulating their words, etc. (of course, the overall idea of Moore's Bowling for Columbine documentary which I saw was the use of Fear to manipulate and control the populace, the media's partake in it, and the government's use of it. As is F. 9/11 looks to be going more into).

    Also as someone who has made a documentary, the medium is very maleable. I'd never be in someone elses video actually, and I understand why moore wouldn't be in the "anti moore" documentary.

    Anyway, I am sorry you got manipulated by that circumstance, thought I would throw in my two cents.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:54PM (#9479539)
    The problem is that the older generation doggedly hangs on to the concept that "news" is the collection of all facts as being reported by ethical "journalists" regardless of how much these facts and reports affect profits. While that might have been true at some point, it's rarely true these days. And while some "journalists" may still be ethical, at least one of the editors up the chain will not be so.

    The younger generation has realized this, so they figure they might as well have some fun while watching the "news". Hence, programs like "The Daily Show."

    Personally, being part of the internet age, I don't consider anything news unless it's reported in a manner where people from around the world can discuss it and question its accuracy.

  • by red floyd ( 220712 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:58PM (#9479563)
    "Reality" shows are the most UNREAL thing on TV.
  • Re:coward (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:08PM (#9479625) Journal

    Because you misbehaved on a comedy show, that you KNEW was setting you up?

    God forbid any working professionals have a sense of humor, the f*cking world might collapse.

    It's that kind of mentality that makes this world a sick, sick, sick place. Yes, really.
  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:15PM (#9479646)
    Typically, the Daily show makes fun of the current state of journalism and their questions reflect that. The people they interview aren't the ones being mocked.

    Except of course the really nutty people they have on the program. In which case, the Daily Show plays them straight and lets them hang themselves.
  • by adamruck ( 638131 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:23PM (#9479681)
    You have a point. Everyone needs to have fun. Everyone needs to live a balanced life.

    The situation this article is talking about is not about having fun(Why wouldn't they tell her the actuall premise of the show outright?). This is about creating a culture that demeans intellectual people. I think that mainstream culture today glorifies joe sixpack/beergut. That in my opinion is wrong.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:26PM (#9479693) Journal
    and cnn is just as bad. HINT, all news is biased one way or the other.
  • Pity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slonkak ( 648358 ) <> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:36PM (#9479726) Homepage
    I feel sorry for those folks who work in the phone center making these calls who are only there because they need a job in order to support their families. I feel expecially sorry for those people who know exactly what they're getting people like Lauren into when they make the phone call or send the e-mail.

    Some of my friends thrive on such programs. Punk'd is one of their favorites. I can't stand it. For those of you who have never heard of it, it airs on MTV. The premise of this show is the same as the debate show, except they take more extreme measures. Instead of arguing with you, they'll have your house repossessed and make you think you just lost your home, until the end of the show when they inform you it was only a joke. I've seen people start to cry on this show. Somehow, I'm not finding this funny!

    Some people think of this as genius, I see it as a striving reach for attention. These people need help, I can't provide it, but someone has to.
  • Re:Punk'd? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:37PM (#9479731) Homepage Journal

    This goes straight into one of my iron clad personal rules:

    Never, ever, ever, ever, sign a video release wavier.
  • This story inspired me to write my blog entry Democracy in U.S.: Ridicule and bullying []:

    As highlighted by [], according to a mailing list posting [] (mirror []):

    From: Lauren Weinstein

    [...] Subject: Warning to IP Readers: When "The Debate Show" Calls -- Hang Up!

    [...] They wanted me to debate a known spammer (who they wouldn't identify at the time) regarding the scourge of spam. It would be fun she implied, since the audience would of course be on my side.

    [...] Crossballs is a rigged "reality" show, where real guests, who have been kept in the dark about the show's real format, are paired off against actors (playing the debate opponents) for the amusement of the live audience. The stories I read from persons recently on the show included descriptions of crude, sexually-oriented verbal attacks (and worse, like being handed various sexual "apparatus") and concerns that their reputations would be ruined once the shows aired.

    The nature of Crossballs is confirmed by a couple of other sources. According to a [] commentary:

    This show is not "The Debate Show," as advertised and the name they use to procure panelists, but "Crossballs" a newly produced show for Comedy Central, owned by Viacom and MTV networks, and is a spoof of political debate shows that seeks to mock conservatives with actors posing as some of the panelists.

    One such real panelist, who thought the show was going to be a serious debate show, was a conservative activist from California who prepared to appear on the show to talk about the 2nd amendment. Jim March, whose account we have attached, is a 2nd amendment activist and was mocked and ridiculed by a "psychologist" who said he had sexual issues and offered him a two month supply of penis enlargement pills if he gave up his guns.

    Nowhere in the material for "The Debate Show" and the press releases for the upcoming "Crossballs" do they make the connection, or let you in on the joke that the "actor panelists" debate the real panelists, complete with props and "live feed" video designed to mock and make fun of the real panelists and their conservative views.

    And according to a June 15, 2004 story [] from, an entertainment newsblog:

    Debate shows on US cable news channels such as CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Hardball are to be "skewered" by a new Comedy Central show, Crossballs.

    The new show will feature comedians posing as experts debating real people who don't realise that the show is a sham.

    "Shot in front of a live audience, Crossballs is a smart, comedic spoof of programs such as Crossfire, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and the entire Fox News Network," explains Comedy Central.

    The show premieres on Tuesday, July 6 at 7:30pm ET and will air for eight consecutive weeks.

    In similar display of mockery, according to a Jun 5, 2004 story []:

    A small but determined group of about 60 demonstrators displayed their anger and disgust in front of the offices of Arlington defense contractor, CACI last week.

    CACI is the firm recently implicated in the report by U.S. Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. CACI employees "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib," according to the report. Taguba strongly reco

  • by mandalayx ( 674042 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:46PM (#9479781) Journal
    Reminds me of this quote perhaps applicable:

    "The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about."

    source: wikiquote []
  • Re:Punk'd? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:54PM (#9479815)
    Punk'd has at least one "lost episode" because the celeb involved refused to sign the release waiver. Everyone you see on that show has to approve their segment being aired, because the star involved most certainly can legally lock up the episode if they want to.

    There is also an example where a very aware star declared "If this is a joke, I want out of this car right now." She could have brought the stunt driver driving the car up on kidnapping charges (and pulled Ashton and everybody else involved in the show in as an accessory to the crime) if she wanted to after making that statement.
  • by snkline ( 542610 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:55PM (#9479824)
    But you knew it was the Daily Show right? If they had hidden the fact that they were the Daily Show from you, then I think it would be the same. Even if you didn't know beforehand what the Daily Show was, you could easily find out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:56PM (#9479831)
    Making fun of important issues has its place, but that's not what experts do when they are invited specifically because they're experts. The whole show is set up to put the unsuspecting guests in a state of mind which makes it easy to embarrass them. Most experts can and do laugh about themselves and their field of expertise when they realize that you're just kidding. This show purposefully tricks them into being serious.

    The audience is laughing at them, not with them. That's what's bad about these shows.

    It seems that the typical TV viewer (at least as perceived by the stations) likes to cushion his ego by pushing others into ridiculousness. Times are rough. When everybody is laughing about some "idiot" on TV, they're not laughing about you. Are we really so insecure that we need to ruin the life of "Star Wars kid" just to feel better?
  • by torinth ( 216077 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:17PM (#9479926) Homepage
    The point of the both Crossballs and the mock-interviews on The Daily Show is (usually) to be funny. One very effective way to be funny is to ridicule people who take themselves too seriously.

    I mean, the guy wrote this to introduce us to his story:

    asking for my help to educate the world's youth about important topics (in this case, the scourge of spam).

    Unsolicited advertising is an important topic for the world's youth? A scourge?

    The AIDS epidemic is a scourge. Genocide is a scourge. A brash president that disregards diplomacy might be a scourge.

    But getting some extra emails? That's not a scourge, and if you believe it is, you deserve to be ridiculed. Mr. Weinstein was so eager to spread his anti-spam gospel to the tortured masses that he only needed $200 and a cab for compensation. You know what? That's funny!

    Comedy lets us point out the things that are out of place. People who think spam is a scourge are out of place. People who want 14 year old to have a 1/4 are out of place. Administrations that are accumulating scandals faster than people can grasp them are out of place. And so we laugh at them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:18PM (#9479931)

    > and cnn is just as bad. HINT, all news is biased one way or the other.

    Yes, it is. However, CNN is biased in that journalists - however hard they might try - can rarely keep their own values and beliefs from coloring their reporting and writing. Fox News is biased in that they were founded explicitly for "fighting the liberal media bias" and that has colored their every move. CNN has human bias, Fox has bias issued and enforced.

    (And you have no idea how annoying that is, since I'm quite the conservative and think that they don't do us a fucking bit of good.)

  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:54PM (#9480057)
    The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything

    Oh, that's so untrue. The idea behind "support the troops" runs exactly counter to ideas like "support the intifada" and "support the freedom fighters" and "support the armed resistance" and "support the deserters" that you hear all the time from anti-American radical leftist organizations that purport to oppose the war when they are actually supporting tyranny, thuggery, and terrorism that leads to the deaths of innocent foreigners and Americans at home and abroad [].

    "Support the troops" is vitally important because not everybody does, and we need to be mindful of that fact.

    That's the one you're not allowed to talk about.

    You know what always cracks me up about these assertions that people "aren't allowed to talk" about certain things? It's this: if these assertions were true, then people would be put in jail for making them.

    Whenever you hear someone spout off about how freedom of speech is being suppressed, or how it's a fascist state, or how Bush = Hitler, ask yourself why that person isn't rotting behind bars or in an unmarked mass grave... and then ask yourself if it's just possible that that person might be full of shit and not worth your time and attention.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:04PM (#9480095) Homepage
    Possibly because the intellectuals come up with terms like "Joe Sixpack/Beergut" for everyone else?
  • by justins ( 80659 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:52PM (#9480370) Homepage Journal
    Really, the problem with many experts is that they are so focused on their issue, their area of expertise, that nothing about it is funny.

    You're totally right. I really hope the next time I'm watching CNN and they're interviewing a WMD expert or talking about the Sudan genocide, they find a way to get some laughs out of it. I mean, lighten up, people!

    Look, if you're interested in anything more important than MTV or the useless crap in People magazine, you're going to have to live with the occasional sober conversation. Some things are important enough that they need to be discussed, even though they're not funny at all.

    I don't see any problem with this, or with shows like the Daily Show. They are fun, and they people they pick on even can have fun too, if they just will roll with it and take a joke.

    The Daily Show is nothing like what is described here. One of Jon Stewart's most impressive talents is the way he manages to keep everything lighthearted and funny without humiliating his guests, even when he's making jokes at their expense. Everyone, including the guests, typically goes away with a smile.

    Some of that is enlightened self-interest: a good guest is someone worth having on again, not someone you want to humiliate. But mostly it's just good lighthearted comedy (and good interviewing), which is so rare today.
  • by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:21PM (#9480862)
    Pity there isn't a -1 "humorless" mod.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:32PM (#9480933)
    But the thing about shows such as Ali G is that even though the "victims" may not always be famous, it is definitely a self-parody. The person being interviewed is not intended to be humiliated, because Ali (and Borat) both come out looking worse.

    Yeah, because after all, blacks and Kazaks are just fucking dumb.

    Or maybe (wait for it) Sacha Baren Cohen is a racist fuckhead?
  • by 87C751 ( 205250 ) <`sdot' `at' `'> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:37PM (#9480967) Homepage
    "Support the troops" is vitally important because not everybody does, and we need to be mindful of that fact.
    Ahem. The point is that "Support the troops" does not equate to "Support the administration that committed those troops to an ill-advised course of action for personal and political gain". The "support the troops" slogan is meant to deflect attention from the reasons the troops are there in the first place. Looks like you fell for it.
  • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:38PM (#9480974) Homepage Journal
    I believe the accepted term is infotainment, and in some cases - docutainment.

    I'm sorry, but these are just terms created by people hoping to sound like their profession actually means something.

    The actual term is 'crap.'

    Now edutainment can, on good days, mean something truly educational and valuable like 'Sesame Street' or 'Square One,' but believe me -- NOT if its on an MTV/Viacom channel....
  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:05PM (#9481141)
    "That's all it did. It did not create new laws. It did not give the FBI new powers. It simply extended the powers they already had to surveil, investigate, and pursue agents of foreign governments to cover agents not affiliated or directly sponsored by any state."

    You are so wrong, at least according to the DOJ and Ashcroft last week. They are using the Patriot Act to prosecute the CIA contractor accused of beating an Afghan detainee to death with a Flashlight. The DOJ could find no other way to prosecute him. A civilian can't be court martialed unless there is a state of war which Congress hasn't seen fit to declare. The U.S. isn't going to turn an American, especially a CIA employee, over to the Afghan courts. It didn't happen on U.S. soil so he can't be charged in the U.S. except step in the Patriot Act.

    The Patriot Act apparently has a clause to allow prosecution of foreigners(terrorists) who attack government facilities overseas. The DOJ has twisted it around to prosecute an American who attacked a foreigner at a government facility overseas. If it stands in court the DOJ acquires broad new powers to prosecute people outside the U.S.

    The worst thing you did here was made it sound like the Patriot Act is a tiny little law that did a few specific sage little things. It is in fact a huge, sprawling, hurriedly written law which is apparently open to really broad interpretation which means it is a badly written law.

    Hopefully they courts will throw out this new power grab by the DOJ but if it does then any civilian who murdered or tortured people in Afghanistan or Iraq may get off scott free.
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan&gmail,com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:16AM (#9481512) Homepage Journal
    Probably the least favorite thing about Moore's documentary style is his insistance that he should be able to walk into any building in the US and get an immediate meeting with the head of the company.

    The fact is, CEOs are usually busy doing something, and most of them don't want to be in a movie that incriminates them. The fact that they don't want to answer questions with no preparation time doesn't make them evil.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:12AM (#9481786)
    mean, the guy wrote this to introduce us to his story:

    asking for my help to educate the world's youth about important topics (in this case, the scourge of spam).

    Unsolicited advertising is an important topic for the world's youth? A scourge?

    And likewise, I hope your five year old daughter gets her copy of the "Huge Black Pole in Little White Holes" spam ad, complete with moving gif of a giant black man ramming a screaming red-head woman in the ass. And hopefully she'll be able to sit and watch it bang back and forth for a few minutes before you hear "Daddy, why is that woman crying like that?" and have come in and have to explain it all to her.. Ha ha ha!

    It's funny because you are taking yourself too seriously! Get it? Get it?

    Other people's pain is funny, right? Especially when they are being Jerks. It's great to "stick it to them". Ha ha! It makes you a much better person.
  • by bruthasj ( 175228 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:43AM (#9481896) Homepage Journal
    Of course, the director misses the point that by doing a video documentary, which of course is a selective medium, the director is doing the same "tactics" that Moore does.

    Well, what if that *is* the point. Then, he's hit it right on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:01AM (#9481963)
    What part do I not support.. uh.. all of it. What the hell are 'the forces of islamism'? Who told you all of this crap? Sure, it's a convenient binary to ascribe to. Good vs Evil, Islam vs. the West. But that's the most reductionist, inadequate analysis of Middle-Eastern politics I've heard in a long time. To believe that, you have to make a concerted effort to ignore any data that doesn't fit perfectly into your Cowboys and Indians scenario. Trillion dollar oil interests, U.S. support of numerous dictators across a number of states (from the Middle-East to Latin America), exploitation of the Middle-East throughout the Cold War, Western (US, British, & French) subjugation, murder, and dissection of the entire region.

    Did 'the forces of islamism' push or are they just pushing back? Are they even the 'forces of islamism'? Do they care at all about religion or are they hiding underneath its banner in order to achieve political gains? Is the U.S. similarly hiding underneath the banner of national security or humanitarian concern for similarly selfish reasons?

    If they are worried about defending themselves why are they arming the world's terrorists and dictators (Saddam, Pinochet, Batista, Mubarak, etc.)? Why have they been doing so for 50 years? If they have humanitarian goals in mind why are they not fighting underdevelopment (the far more pressing concern for the vast majority of the world's impoverished citizenry)? It really doesn't get much worse than dying of starvation. Seriously, Saddam couldn't cause more suffering in his whole life than Western neocolonialist policies have in the past decade.

    Forgetting the troops for a moment policymakers on both sides have more in common with each other than with the populations they control. This is a war of opportunists hiding under the umbrellas of appealingly simple ideologies (islamic fundamentalism, capitalism, democracy, nationalism). There is a long history of the U.S. aiding and fighting terrorists and dictators. Nobody here is the good guy. The war didn't start on 9/11, you only just noticed it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:25AM (#9482268)
    Seems pretty bad. But the good thing is that at least in this case, scumball like that gun crazy idiot got humiliated, not some normal sane joe blow. :-)
  • by Blue Master ( 675893 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:32AM (#9482444)
    Hahaha, that's one of the funniest things I've read in a while!

    Seriously though, what's wrong with people these days? I can understand that people get angry after this, but it's actually quite harmless. The author saying stuff like

    They messed with the wrooong dude on this one. I cost the Million Mom March between $5mil and $8mil, I cost Diebold Elections Systems $45mil less than two months ago. Theyre gonna PAY for this mess.

    That just proves he's an idiot. If he instead took this as the joke it is, maybe people would take him a little more serious...
  • by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:16AM (#9482983)
    Seems pretty bad. But the good thing is that at least in this case, scumball like that gun crazy idiot got humiliated, not some normal sane joe blow. :-)

    And when they come for you, how will be left to defend you? Just because you disagree with someone doesn't make it right that that person is treated in a way you wouldn't want to be.
  • Re:We have one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cardshark2001 ( 444650 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:13AM (#9484503)
    at times their vaguely socialist emotional bias pops up pretty heavily

    Hehe, yeah, like with The McLaughlin group, and Firing line. John McLauglin and William Buckley sure are commie pinkos aren't they? Good think John has Eleanor Clift for "balance".

  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:52PM (#9529399)
    Its a check box on the submit page.

    So it is. I stand corrected. I thought it was some kind of trick that only the cool kids know how to do.

    I would have thought by now you could have gotten one of your "fans" to post as something other than an AC to salvage some of your credibility though its a little late now.

    Strangely enough, my teeming minions were nowhere to be found. Quel dommage.

    At this point if you are astroturfing as an AC to try to make yourself look good, and like your a globetrotting, "embedded" reporter for "The Post" I don't care, go for it.

    I'll thank you to stop spreading that rumor.

    You do have interesting, informative and useful things to say, something I doubt you will ever say about me or any of the other people you seem to despise.

    I have yet to hear you say anything informative or useful. Interesting, sure, in the sense that your stunning and bewildering array of blatant lies has been interesting. But informative? No. Useful? No.

    Unless you mean useful in the sense of "useful idiot." In that case, my answer is yes.

    But you wreck the good things you have to say by mixing in some bold face lies that you can't substantiate

    "If I haven't heard it before, it's a 'bold face' lie."

    (I think you meant bald-faced, although frankly it could go either way.)

    constantly insisting your view of the world is the only right view and there is "no debate", (there is always room for more than one view and debate in a free and civilized world)

    As I've pointed out time and again, there is no debate about facts which are not in question. Not everything is open to interpretation. Not everything is relative. Some things are simply true. And as such, no, there is no debate about those things.

    We are at war. This is not an opinion. It's not a question of interpretation. It's not situationally dependent. It's not a matter of one's point of view. It's simply true. As such, there is no debate about it.

    There are, however, people who like to try to deny the fact. These people are fools. There are also people who like to focus on a peripheral aspect of a statement, rather than the core aspect. These people are also fools.

    You're in both groups.

    and the worst is you resort to a LOT of unnecessary name calling. In case your selective memory has already purged that part, "traitor", "nutcase", "fool", "blind" .

    Obviously I don't find it unnecessary. You are a traitor, a nutcase, and a fool. I no longer believe that you are blind, because I know now that your refusal to see the truth is willful, not inborn.

    Everytime I call you on a lie

    "If I haven't seen it before, it's a lie!"

    David Kay has already knocked the legs out from under your nonsense about WMD's in general, and chemical weapons in particular, in Iraq.

    Interesting, because it was from his reports that I got the very facts I gave you. I guess you didn't read anything that you claim to have read.

    If Saddam had any usable WMD's he would have used them in the final hours before his regime collapsed.

    If Saddam had had any C3I capabilities left, he would have used what weapons he had. Our attack destroyed his C3I capabilities, effectively decapitating the Iraqi army. There was no way to get orders from Baghdad to the deployed divisions.

    (C3I, incidentally, stands for command, control, communication, and intelligence. I wouldn't want you to have to strain yourself by looking it up.)

    What he might have had was hollow "programs" and "desires" and those don't count for anything in a real war or a real world.

    Actually, they do. As I already explained in a post that you ran from like a little girl, just one single weapons program alone would have been material breach of the 1991 cease-fire and subsequent UN Security Council resolutions, and sufficient
  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:32PM (#9529886)
    So, if I show up at one of your demonstrations with Nazi banners, you're obligated to have brought a banner in response to that?

    You kinda missed the point. If you showed up at one of my (hypothetical) demonstrations with a Nazi banner, I'd have an obligation to have you removed from the area, or if that's not possible to remove myself and my "demonstration."

    You have an obligation not to march alongside people who advocate something that you oppose. If you ignore that obligation, then you shouldn't get all huffy when people attribute their position to you. You were standing right beside them, after all.

    The people with those banners piss me off quite a lot, but when I protest, it's against those I believe represent the greatest threat to our country.

    That's why nobody, but NOBODY, will ever take you seriously. Because you think the sitting administration is more worthy of vocal objection than the guy with the "Kill American Soldiers" placard.

    Your perspective is so far out of whack that you find yourself on the same side of the argument as murderers and tyrants.

    And, just to make things worse, this doesn't seem to bother you a bit.

    That's why the "peace movement" and the "activists" are wasting their time.

    if we'd had more troops at the beginning, we could have rounded up the insurgent forces before they got organized, back when they were being clumsy and largely ineffective

    They were never clumsy or ineffective.

    Oh, incidentally: there are no insurgent forces in Iraq. "Insurgent forces" means indigenous people who take up arms to oppose an occupier. That's not what's happening in Iraq. The people who are fighting us in Iraq are Jordanians and Syrians and Lebanese and Egyptians and Saudis and even a few Iranians. If we'd put a million soldiers in Iraq in March 2003, they wouldn't have been able to do a thing to stop these foreign fighters from streaming across Iraq's porous desert borders.

    They could be planning to knock over a 7-11 in the U.S. (we wouldn't even have to know which one) and we'd have jurisdiction.

    No, not unless, as I said, they made an overt act in furtherance of their conspiracy. Which none of these enemy combatants actually did.

    But that's not all: there's something I forgot to mention last time. Are you familiar with the doctrine of posse comitatus? It's Latin, literally meaning "the power of the country" or something like that. The Posse Comitatus Act was an act of Congress that was passed during Reconstruction. It prohibits the government from using the military to enforce the laws. Meaning that if a Special Forces platoon marched into a terrorist training camp in Whatthefuckistan and took a hundred prisoners, then turned those prisoners over to civilian law enforcement agencies like the FBI, those prisoners would have to be released no matter what charges the government was prepared to bring against them. Because their arrest by US military forces would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

    So if you wanted to subject these people to civilian justice, you'd have to seize them with civilian law enforcement agents, or you'd have to accept extradition from another country that has them in custody. Neither of those were options in late 2001, and they're not options now.

    I said "military court", not "court martial", so all your hair-splitting is in vain.

    What is a "military court" if not a court martial?

    It's been almost 3 years now, and they haven't even been charged.

    Some have, some haven't.

    It's possible that the legal black hole theory is consistent with the letter of the law, but it's making even our closest allies very unhappy with us. Just because we can do it (and I don't think we have that authority either) doesn't mean we should.

    Fine, but again, what else should we do? We literally cannot turn these prisoners over to civilian a

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"