Tuesday, 28 December 2004
Bad sushi and blogs
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - Further to my year-in-review column of yesterday, I was remiss in my evaluation of the year forgetting to mention a few things. First, the whole Bill O'Reilly incident with his telephone indiscretions with a female producer was amusing in that the outspoken firebrand of Fox News was spinning himself. Whether he harassed the young woman or not wasn't the question. It was the lurid details of the allegations themselves that were entertaining. It proved that conservatives can have fun too.
Second, Tom Brokaw's departure from the anchor chair at the NBC Nightly News is worth mentioning. It's about as noteworthy a departure from television news as Walter Cronkite's was or David Brinkley's. It pointed out the decline that the supper hour newscasts have had in the American conciousness, coupled with the rise of cable news. Also, Brokaw was perhaps the most upstanding of the three anchors-he, Jennings and Rather. He got out at the right time on his own watch, unlike the other two, who are now being called out.
I also should have mentioned the Ukraine vote that saw calls of cheating, lying and poisoning. The battle of the Viktors-the incumbent Yanukovich and challenger Yushchenko-was noted more for the appearance of Yushchenko, who went from fresh-faced to pocket-marked and disfigured in a matter of months. Poisoning claim his supporters decked out in orange, while the government claim it was just some bad sushi. Dioxin was the new substance that folks heard batted about endlessly.
Time magazine tapped George W. Bush their man of the year. That's apt, but one ought to note the selection that Keith Olbermann made on his MSNBC program Countdown last night: William Hung.
I'll be back later in the week, with what has become a tradition of this column, my annual death list. It's not a macabre exercise; it's more a look back at those who've come and gone in the year. They do it at the Oscars with that stupid display of rising applause every time a recognisable face appears. You may want to catch up on years past death lists, by going to my column's archive: http://www.thecommentary.ca/planta_archives.html.
The Commentary, the website where this column appears, as well as the writing of other writers like Babak Khorram, Brian Nguyen, Michael Kwan, and Marlon Richmond appear whenever they can muster the time, has just been nominated for two, count 'em two, 2004 Canadian Blog Awards. Best Blog and Best Group Blog are the categories, and they're accepted gratefully even though I've never dabbled in the blog format per se. Blogs have become very du jour. Recall during NBC's election night coverage in November, Brokaw cut to a bloggers panel a few times, giving them time on the air that would have gone to more traditional pundits. Blogging, don't forget brought to light the whole Dan Rather debacle, and it seems everyone now has a blog. Howard Dean's rise in the national political arena was necessitated by blogging and other internet pursuits.
For me, I've been writing columns in this space for five and half years. They were like a blog, sure, but since building the site with my colleagues over the last year or two, it's more like a magazine. Columns, at least mine, are written just as if they were for a media outlet like a paper. They're in the neighbourhood of 800 to a thousand words, and they aren't as free flowing and raw as say some of the typical blogs are on the web. Blogging has been a potent tool, politically as well as culturally. And frankly, though I've stayed away from out and out blogging in the past, on behalf of my colleagues, it's neat to be amongst such accomplished and noteworthy bloggers.
A word about how the awards, anyone can submit their favourite blog or their own for nomination, and they're sponsored by the blog My Blahg. I submitted The Commentary in five of the eight categories, and though we only nabbed two, I'm nonetheless pleased because it really is a neat exercise. I've had fun checking out the other blogs the last couple of days. Voting begins on the first of January and goes to the 15th. Anyone can vote for their favourite blog, and are limited to voting once a day. Do check out the other great nominees on the nominations list: http://www3.sympatico.ca/robert.mcclelland/blogawards.html.
Some of The Commentary's friends are also nominated. Ian King (ianking.ca) is nominated in the Best Liberal Blog, as are three former On the Line guests: David Schreck, Jamie Lee Hamilton and the great Warren Kinsella. In the Best Group blog category, The Commentary's nominated alongside FreeThought.ca, a site who we share links with, which is a really good blog. Do check out these nominees and vote for them too.
Speaking of former On the Line guests, Rachel Marsden will appear on Fox News in early January on a program hosted by a prominent media figure named elsewhere in this column. This month, she made two appearances on Dennis Miller's CNBC program, and she reports that they were a blast. Marsden, whose UBC Radio program airs Saturday nights at 6.00, recently was stood up by Ann Coulter, the American conservative's diva, as Bill Maher puts it. Coulter will make up the no-show and appear on CiTR on January 8th.
By the way, it was Rachel Marsden's note last week, before Christmas, that alerted me to the fact that Fox News is now available in the Lower Mainland. Early in the week, I sent Shaw a note asking when the top rated cable news network was going to be included on the digital tier. The note I got back from Matt of Shaw's customer relations department was that it would be available before the end of the year or early next. Channel 142 is where you can get such hits as Bill O'Reilly, Hannity and Colmes, and more.
Finally, an odd story I heard on Keith Olbermann's Countdown on MSNBC last night, which airs opposite The O'Reilly Factor: It seems that Larry Taylor, 37, had been the victim of a robbery. Sammy Williams, 27 wanted Taylor's cellular phone. When Taylor refused, Williams shot him in the head. He walked a mile and a half to a convenience store, but it was closed. He knew he was going to die, so he decided to walk further to his mother's house, so he could die there. Alas, once at the house, he saw that his mother had moved. Though he's now prone to seizures, he's grateful to be alive and that he was shot where he was. A half an inch lower, he'd have been a dead man.
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