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Features:

Mayoral Survivor Contest: The BEAST Wants You to Run for Mayor!

Truth is Overrated: Why Does My TV Think Bush Won the Debate? - Al Uthman

Political Snickering: M&M/Mars' Campaign of Terror - Matt Taibbi

Big Brother Knows Best: Blockbuster Rents Bogus Fahrenheit 9/11 DVDs - Paco Alameda

Scary Little Man: Bush's Belligerence -William Rivers Pitt

Kneeling Before George: President Bush is a Serious Stud - Merry Dunce, the Beast's "Fresh Voice"

American Indian Museum Opens in DC, Promptly Stolen by American History Museum -Jake Novak

Reading the Blitz: Election Hacks Score Touchdown in Overtime Frenzy - Matt Taibbi

Freedumb: Zell Miller Echoes Militaristic Fallacy - Mark Golden




Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Notes from the Big House

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten

Brush with Greatness: I met Gretzky - Seamus Gallivan

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Entertainment:

Movies:

Kino Korner

Music:

Album Reviews: Tom Waits, De La Soul

Events:

Misfits Roadie's Haunted House -Ken Barnes

Beastivities

Sports:

High Quality Losers: Numbers Game Pays little for Bills -Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob The Angry Flower - Stephen Notley



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Archives--Old BEASTs

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2004 The Beast

It's been almost a week since the second Presidential debate, and I'm still baffled at the post-debate coverage.

Well, no, that's not really true. I remember turning to a fellow viewer as we watched Bush go to pieces and saying, "watch; they're gonna come on and call it for Bush."

I was kidding, really, but only half-kidding. I felt the same way four years ago watching Bush walk off with the popular opinion trophy after futzing his way through on the strength of "fuzzy math" and simple lies. I would have sighed too.

I was actually a bit chuffed after the first debate, watching even assholes like Joe Scarborough gush about Kerry. Soon after, Bill O'Reilly even said Bush would be finished if Bush took a similar pasting in the second. I should have seen it coming.

Look, neither debate was even close. Kerry crushed Bush in both, it was painfully clear. I'm certain he will do the same in the next-it's really kind of hard to watch, like a Bills/Cowboys Superbowl. But, in media sports-metaphor-speak, the refs seem to be calling a different game from the one I'm watching.

I was actually cringing when George steamrolled Charlie Gibson to reprimand Kerry for having the audacity to criticize him. His tone was enraged, and his argument was ridiculous: Kerry shouldn't criticize the war because it would make the troops sad; he'd hurt the coalition's feelings. It was a theme Bush hammered over and over again in both debates: Hey man, this is a war. Dissenting opinions are in poor taste.

The President fell apart up there. It was horrible. I was ecstatic. When he answered the final question--from a woman who wanted to hear him admit three mistakes--with a tirade about how he's always done the right thing, I thought that would be the first thing the pundits would jump on.

But I was wrong. To my initial shock and continuing horror, when the debate had concluded, my ear canals promptly filled with shit. No one seemed to be talking about Bush's angry meltdown, or the dodged "mistakes" question. No one seemed to mention how Bush had simply repeated himself again and again, with the same stock lines about mixed messages and firm resolve that had failed him in the first debate. The general consensus was that Bush "came to play," that he had either won or it was a draw.

I could see what was happening here, what was always happening: Bush is actually protected by his incompetence as a human being. His first debate performance had been so incredibly bad, and expectations lowered so much, that conservatives were delighted beyond belief by the fact that he actually made it through the thing without sobbing or falling over. Kerry was pretty good, they said, but Bush had done really well-you could almost hear them stifling the words "for such an idiot." MSNBC's Republican-stacked team worked overtime to cast Bush as the winner in the face of all logic. They glowed about his performance in the way a parent praises her child's performance as a dancing molar in a school play about dental hygiene-"you remembered your lines and everything!"

What they praised I couldn't believe. His asinine, mechanical winking and smirking was labeled folksy and charming. His pumped-up, aggressive body language and his yelling were lauded as competitive and confident. His distorted bullshit about Kerry's record and his insanely hypocritical "flip-flopping" charge were deemed effective without any regard to their validity.

Nobody seemed to notice that Bush had called Kerry "Senator Kennedy" at one point. The awful "want some wood?" line was called effective long after it was determined that yes, Bush does own a timber company, and he did receive an $84 payment from it, and it does qualify him as a small business owner in the statistical fantasy that he enters when he criticizes Kerry's economic plans.

I couldn't believe it. Had I been so blind? Had Bush actually done well? I went and checked the instant web polls. All of them, even the one on Fox, showed Kerry as the winner by huge margins. These polls are not "scientific," but still I was pleased to see it. But the next day, after 24 hours of "Bush won" or "it was a draw" spin, the numbers were much closer, and Fox had reversed to 55% for Bush.

The madness continued for days. Heavily slanted "fact-checking" segments failed to mention that Bush had used the same damn lie about catching 75% of Al Qaeda's leadership, which had already been exposed as BS after the first debate. They also gave him a pass on the near-comic assertion that he had worked to reduce mercury and other pollutant emissions standards, when the precise opposite is true.

Still, the spin can only do so much. A "scientific" CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, which sampled 6 percent more Republicans than Democrats, showed Kerry winning with 47 percent to Bush's 45 percent. 53% of independents thought Kerry won; 37% thought Bush did. Other polls showed Kerry winning by bigger margins, in particular a CBS poll of undecideds--which MSNBC's Joe Scarborough actually crumpled up and threw away on air, refusing to broadcast the results to his viewers.

Then, a couple of nights ago, the ultimate slap in the face: on Fox News, Brit Hume brings out some suit from the Center for Media and Public Affairs, yet another "non-partisan" organization funded by far right luminaries like Pats Buchanan and Robertson, and fascist press overlord Richard Mellon Scaife. A colorful chart appears in overlay on the screen, indicating a clear "liberal bias" on network news in the post debate coverage. The evidence? The networks had said many more "positive" things about Kerry, while they had said slightly more "negative" things about Bush. The cable news channels, on the other hand, had more even scores.

The clear implication was that cable news, including Fox, had presented a more "balanced" view, and the antenna networks were showing their socialist leanings. Hume cheered on the study, going as far as he could to underline the message. What was not mentioned even once, however, was that Kerry was the obvious winner of the debates, which made the network numbers make sense, and the cable numbers the apparent product of editorial bias. But I didn't need a chart to tell me that.

The fix is in. Bush is getting kid-gloved all the way back into the White House. The news is now the enemy, poisoning the minds of the masses, trumpeting talking points and denying reality. The less news you watch in this election cycle, the better off you will be. They're pulling out all the stops now in an attempt to slow Kerry's building momentum-expect a lot of stories about Nader in coming weeks if things get desperate. It's an uphill battle presenting an unelected, unscrupulous, and unfeeling simpleton as a hero, but they've got a lot of money and no pesky souls to get in the way.

By the time you read this, the third debate will be over. This time, I'm going to try something new: I'm going to turn my TV off right when it's over, and spend the night in the company of my own conclusions. After all, there'll be more than enough lies getting tossed around in those 90 minutes to last me all week; I don't need more from the press.



 

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MAYORAL SURVIVOR: A BEAST CONTEST

ATTENTION BEAST READERS! The BEAST needs you to be the next Mayor of our dear city. That's right! We want you, a lowly loyal BEAST reader, to be the next Mayor of the city of Buffalo. WE ARE TOTALLY SERIOUS! We are launching a search for 16 contestants willing to run for the position of Mayor in 2005...


Political Snicker-ing Matt Taibbi

The good folks at M&M/Mars and BBDO New York have combined recently to give the world one of the more uplifting cinema experiences of the year: a series of commercials in which hapless, ambitionless zeroes with terrible haircuts make improbable journeys from their couches to the throne of mankind after eating Snickers bars.