Pop Culture With Paul Farhi: Miss USA, Obama blog, Bob Ryan, more

May 18, 2010

Paul Farhi explores the latest in the world of pop culture, trends and daily news.

Today: It's just an itty bitty weekly video blog from straight outta 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But does West Wing Week say something larger about President Obama's communications strategy -- like maybe he'd rather get his message out without having to deal with all those pesky reporters? Plus: What does it mean, if anything, that a Muslim-American woman is the new Miss USA? Plus, plus: Iconic local weatherguy Bob Ryan is jumping from Channel 4 to Channel 7. Your reaction: a) Good for Bob; b) Good for Channel 7; or c) I'm sorry, who?

Greetings, all, and thanks for stopping by...So, this weekly video blog, courtesy of the taxpayers and your  White House, has flown pretty much under the radar since it debuted in late March (none of the weekly videos has recorded more than 5,000 views on YouTube). But it does raise a couple of questions, most prominently, what does the Obama Administration think it's doing? The answer could very well be nothing more than providing people "an inside look" at what the president has been up to all week. Fair enough. But when you juxtapose this with the news media's complaints about their access to the president, you start to wonder. Is this another end-run around the press? Is this another way to cut out the middle men and women to get your message out? Is this what passes for "full disclosure"? It may not be fair to put these two things side by side, but the complaints of the White House Correspondents Association are very real.  Most people hate something or other they read, saw or heard in the media, but enabling the media to do its job serves everyone and makes a free society free (cue up patriotic background music).  Anyway, I'll get out of the way on this. You can weigh in with your own thoughts.

In other news: Normally, I don't care one way or another about beauty pageants (okay, you're pretty, thank you...), but the Miss USA contest certainly was interesting this year. Interesting Part No. 1:  The winner, Rima Fakih, is a Lebanese-American woman from Michigan, and a Muslim. Interesting Part No. 2:  The runner-up, Morgan Elizabeth Woolard (beauty queens get extra points for having three names, I believe) from Oklahoma, caused what passes for "controversy" in the pageant by speaking favorably about Arizona's immigration law. In fact, some are suggesting that she may have lost the title because of her comments (the pageant people say no). This sounds very much like the whole tiresome business about Carrie Prejean, the California contestant and Christian conservative who caused a flap last year by speaking against gay marriage. So, to summarize all your beauty-pageant news for the past year: Arab-American lady wins this year's contest, anti-immigrant lady loses, Christian-conservative lady makes headlines.  All in  in a pageant held in Vegas and owned by Donald Trump. Need I say it? Okay, I will:  Only in America, ladies and gents.

And in TV news news:  Genial local weatherperson Bob Ryan hightails it out of WRC, channel 4, after 30 years for a new gig at WJLA, channel 7.  What I find interesting here is how much people seem to care about their weather forecast. This information is available just about everywhere on the internet, yet weather remains the single most important facet of local TV newscasts, according to viewer surveys. People DO care who reads them the temperature every day. Weird but true.

Okay, let's go to the phones...

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) resigning after admitting affair. Family values at its finest.

Yes. This just in. Or he's just out.  Why does this seem to happen to all the "family values" guys? Or do we just notice it more?

Judging by the comments left after your article on "West Wing Week" I can only surmise that the usual suspects are not impressed. The President is either criticized by his detractors for being "everywhere" in the media (except 5,000 ft. down fixing the oil leak) or for not being available "enough" for the press corps. As long as he is doing the job he was elected to do, which I believe he is, I'm happy.

Comes with the job, I'm afraid. If you're The Man, you take the heat. But there are some legit gripes here. The press just wants access to the president. Handing out photos and video blogs is a crummy substitute. It's not "news," it's public relations (notice I didn't use another word that starts with "p" and rhymes with "hop-a-ganda.")


Mark Souder to resign after affair.

Why are people behaving as if Miss USA is now, or has ever been, some sort of wholesome enterprise. Miss Fakih was wearing more clothing in her "stripper" dance than she did in the swimsuit competition. Why do people love to laud immodest beauty, only to tear it down again?

But Miss USA has ALWAYS traded on its slightly unsavory--i.e., somewhat sluttier--rep. It's always been the Not Miss America pageant. It did bikinis long before Miss Am got there.  And tear it down? I dunno. You think stripper pole dancing is what nice girls do?

If I'm Doug Hill, no matter what I say publicly, I must feel like Jason Campbell after the Redskins signed McNabb. Channel 7 can't afford TWO big paychecks, so he must be going out to pasture when the contract is up. But at least Doug doesn't have to go play for Al Davis.

Channel 7 apparently CAN afford two big paychecks. What makes you say otherwise? In fact, they seem to be able to afford a number of big paychecks (I'm sure Gordon Peterson, Maureen Bunyan, Leon Harris and Tim Brant don't come cheap). Plus, they're funding Newschannel 8, Politico and the new TBD.com website. Bully for them.

Mr. F: I kow you're not a big jazz fan, but let's say good-byeto Hank Jones, one of the best all-time jazz pianists, who passed at 91. He was the eldest of three great jazz brothers (Thad -- trumpet and Elvin -- drums) and was playing professionally from the end of the swing era, through bebop and on and on and on. Great as he was, his best claim to "pop culture" status is no doubt a gig he played while a CBS staff musician -- accompanying Marilyn Monroe when she sang "Happy Birthday" to JFK in 1962. Mr. Jones later said Monroe was nervous, and a little tipsy, and he didn't realize JFK was in the audience until she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President."

Yes, R.I.P., Mr. J. This guy had a very long and very successful career. He heard Charlie Parker playing bebop in the early 1950s and soon enough was playing WITH Charlie Parker.  In the 1950s! Amazing longevity....

Paul: I don't understand the far right uproar about an Arab-American winning. Isn't this an outstanding example of how immigrants from this part of the world are assimilating/being assimilated into America?

Yes. But the Arab-American community around Dearborn is large and relatively old, so maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised about "assimilation." It is nice to see the judges rewarding my Semitic brethren (or sistren, actually) for their beauty. It takes all kinds. And ain't that America?

All the local channels seem to be under severe budget constraints, except 7 is the one that has gone after high-priced castoffs from other stations. How can they afford it when the others can't?

That really is an excellent question (and I didn't mean to duck it previously). My guess: Local TV stations are STILL a highly profitable business (the WaPoCo. owns six and they're doing well), even though they are less profitable than they once were (and what isn't in this economy?). So, Allbritton Communications (WJLA's owner) is taking some of those profits and plowing them back into the media business. I'm sure Bob Ryan didn't come cheap (not with Bob Barnett as his lawyer-agent), but it might not be all that much relative to the profits the station is generating.

I can remember 25 years ago when Channel 9 was the 800 lb gorilla of DC TV news, Channel 4 was a robust #2 and Channel 7 barely registered in the Nielsens. Then 9 lost sportscaster Glenn Brenner almost overnight to brain cancer and never seemed to find its footing, while Channel 4 just became a line item on a budget once NBC was bought by GE. Channel 7 has the virtue of being owned by a broad based communications company, which I think has made all the difference.

I think it makes a big difference, yes. Gannett (Channel 9's owner), Fox (Channel 5) and NBC (Channel 4), all have many claims on their investment capital. Allbritton owns a number of TV stations around the country, but they seem very aggressive about investing in this market.

Actually, according to Doug Hill, he was the one that pushed for Bob Ryan to come on board. They have been good friends for over 20 years. Neither of them are spring chickens and I'm sure Doug loves not having to do the 11:00 newscast anymore, what with his early mornings on WTOP. Personally, I'll miss Doug since I only watch the 11:00 news.

All true. But I think Bob was dissatisfied at Channel 4. The offer from 7 seemed to come at the right time for him.

You forgot the part about her being an alleged stripper. No, not from the lingerie shoots, but from an earlier "beauty" contest.

Yeah, but so what? Do beauty contestants take some sort of vow of modesty?  Being beautiful kind of makes them in demand as models and such, don't you think? As Vanessa Williams showed many, many years ago, many of them have old photo shoots in their past. 

Donald Trump deserves some credit for making the Miss USA pageant at least somewhat viable, unlike the Miss America pageant, which bounces around from cable network to network. And I find Celebrity Apprentice to be an amusing show, but mainly because of the sight of Brett Michaels or Cyndi Lauper try to show leadership ability.

Yes, Miss America has been a disaster for some years (declining ratings, changing networks, etc.). Miss USA does seem to be the leading beauty contest these days. Maybe only because of its annual "controversies."

Darn straight, I want the prez to answer to the press! Even the press we have, that has been so mushy for him for years, at least they sometimes ask pertinent questions. He SHOULD answer to the press -- since he can't realistically (and won't really) answer to the public -- that is the ONLY way for him to answer to the constituents. So I find this whole thing -- from the 'transparent' administration -- disgusting.

The White House press has been complaining since last year about this. They would not agree with the White House's claims about "transparency."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. There's no "far-right uproar" about a Lebanese-American winning a meaningless pageant. That's just another unchallenged left-wing allegation trying to score a cheap political point with zero relationship to facts.

Thanks for the clarification. I don't recall any "far-right uproar" either, but maybe I just missed it.

Isn't Miss USA's embracing of the more "unsavory" side of these contests pretty much the reason why it remains relevant in this day and age, while Miss America, largely, doesn't? For his many faults, you have to give "The Donald" credit. He's a very good businessman for a reason - he gives the people what they want.

Yes, but I'm not sure what that is exactly. Miss America has adopted pretty much all of the, um, innovations of Miss USA. The two shows seem pretty indistinguishable nowadays, and yet Miss Am continues to fade.  Maybe Miss America should figure out some kind of media uproar...

I thought they weren't supposed to have done any nude modeling. I mean, haven't several of them had their crowns taken away for indecent behavior?

No nude modeling? Why? I mean, there's SOME difference between strutting across a stage in high heels and a bikini on national TV and doing nude modeling. But short of flat-out porn, why is anyone concerned about nude photos these days?

The "American Experience" documentary on My Lai. The doc did more than just recycle footage and quotes, which unfortunately a lot of historical documentaries do, but provided details about and context for an obviously controversial event.

Didn't see it, but sounds interesting. I gotta say: PBS docs are typically a cut above anything else on TV. HBO does the occasional good 'un, but PBS is consistently the best. One more reason why we need public television.

I don't think Miss USA is a "scholarship pageant," although you might win a year's tuition at the Trump Academy.

Yeah, Miss America makes a big deal out the "scholarship" angle, mostly, it seems, to pretend that it's doing something more than just putting on a parade of pulchritude. But I can't imagine there's one viewer who's sitting at home thinking this is about "educational opportunities."

And what was the brouhaha over the one winner that went wild in NYC afterwards and was doing cocaine or something, and the Don had to have the presser to announce he wasn't going to remove her title or whatever? Man, does that guy know how to get ratings or what! You're right, it's an annual "controversy"...

Ah, yes. Forgot that one! That was brilliant P.R., too. I think the late, great Spy magazine had it right when it dubbed Trump a "short-fingered vulgarian." But you have to respect the man's media manipulation skills. Or maybe disrespect the media's willingness to be manipulated.

So Paul, do you have any thoughts about the networks' new fall TV schedules coming out?

Yes, one thought: Zzzzzz.

Please, the king right wing nut on my facebook friends list posted tons of anti-Miss USA crap on his page today. The wing nuts are there. Text as follows: Hezbollah supporting (and supported) Miss America Miss Michigan, from Dearbornistan of course. Taqiyya, Doctrine of Islamic Deceit (see Nidal Hassan). Miss Oklahoma lost because she was thrown a Careie Prejean spoiler question concerning AZ upholding and enforcing federal immigration law, even though Miss Michigan spazzed and tripped.

Ah. Okay. There you go. Wing nuts R them...

Actually, right wing types did criticize the pageant. Michelle Malkin (surprise, surprise) said, for example, that people were tooting the "identity politics" horn. http://thinkprogress.org/2010/05/17/right-rage-muslim-usa/

Thanks again. We stand corrected. Or maybe just informed.

Because young girls look up to these "role models." Who do think watches these shows--and I'm not talking about the replays on Youtube.

You don't think those girls want to grow up to be models, nude or otherwise, too? Say what you will, but there seems to be a rather large cohort of young women who think posing nude is very flattering and a great compliment.

So, why is this person your friend?

"Friend" might be too strong a word. It could be his/her relative. And, what, do all your FB friends share all your political views? Sounds kinda boring, frankly...

If weather is that important to viewers, then I have to wonder why (1) WRC allowed Bob Ryan to leave and (2) have not replaced him in the evening with someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and articulate. They may not want to hire someone new, but why not move Tom Keirein or Chuck Bell into the evening newscasts? I like Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler, but I am considering switching to WJLA at 11:00 just to get a better (and better delivered) weather forecast.

I can't speak for WRC, but I'm sure they believe they DO have someone "knowledgeable, experienced and articulate" in place of Bob. Several people, in fact. And let's state a basic fact here: Channel 4 continues to be the most-watched TV newscast(s) in Washington. Remarkable loyalty there, even as Ch. 4 has lost many familiar and experienced people.

I'm sure my right wing FB friend feels the same way I feel about him when I post my leftist agenda. Doesn't mean I won't go see his band and he won't come to my parties.

Sure. What else are friends, or "friends," for?

You notice it more with the "family values" politicians, though they are no more hypocritical, corrupt, or venal than the others. The White House video blog provides the illusions of openness rather than the substance. Either the president can explain what he's doing in terms we understand, or he should start thinking about how he can communicate it in those terms. Didn't President Roosevelt sell Lend-Lease to the American public in 1940 by using the analogy "Suppose my neighbor's house is on fire, and I have a garden hose?" Quantity is quality when it's artillery fire, when it's information pushed by a computer, it becomes spam. I don't get upset over Miss America being anything else other than female. Airless

Well put--the illusion of openness rather than the substance. And, yes, I would like the president to keep answering questions. Every day.

I don't care if they model nude or act in a porno myself because I don't care too much about the contest or who wins it. But I honestly thought there were some "decency" rules. I'm specifically thinking about Vanessa Williams, but I just looked that up and she apparently resigned over the controversy. I thought she'd had her crown taken away for the nude photos, but that's not what happened.

Well, that was when? 1984 or so? That's forever ago, and I think our sense of "modesty" has evolved since then. Do we really think these contestants have never thought about exploiting their assets in venues other than a beauty pageant? Of course not.

Why is it your chatters always get so worked up over local news and newscasters ? Isn't most of what passes for news these days just warmed over pablum from the big news oligarachs and doesn't it make sense to sell that stuff with a pretty face and a smile ?

But you're saying "a pretty face and a smile" like it's a bad thing. People have always wanted to hear news from other people, and if they happen to be pretty, all the better. As for "warmed over pablum," yeah, some of it is mush. But some of it is very useful information.  Stop with the generalities.

There's a story about this right here on this very web site! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/18/AR2010051802870.html

Oh, I don't trust that liberal/conservative/middle of the road rag.*


* Preview of my reader emails whenever I write something even vaguely related to politics.

Aren't they trying to lower their cost profile ? The late George Michael leaves because they want to cut his staff to nothing and Bob leaves because of their Weather.com investment. Can we assume that Doreen is next and that with Craigi Melvin even Mr. Vance might be on his way out ?

Yes, NBC (channel 4's owner) has been on a cost-cutting binge for several years. But every news organization has been doing something similar; NBC just made the mistake of giving a name to it (NBC 2.0).  That said, there's always a diminishing return point. Losing Doreen and, especially Vance, would be fatal to WRC, I think.

That's my point exactly! Girls from such a young age learn that their body is the only way to get attention, I know this because I was one of those girls. Maybe an older gentleman will never understand this.

"Maybe an older gentleman will never understand this"? Are you kidding me? Older gentlemen created the market for young women to exploit themselves. But don't blame older gentlemen alone. Many women (and unfortunately, younger girls) self-exploit. They don't need anyone's help to understand the incentives for doing so.

You say "evolved," I say degenerated. Oh, and some of us still don't refer to our "friends" using insulting terms, and we expect the same courtesy.

Yes, "degenerated" is a better word...And your comment about "friends" goes to the hijacking of that word by Facebook.  I have many "friends." I don't have nearly as many friends.

Miss USA's win, and symbolism, being deconstructed by bloggers

Who needs bloggers when you have to the deconstructive powers of this chat? The Pop Culture with Paul Farhi People will never be defeated!

Paul, as long as they don't try to put you in a bikini I'll accept my warmed over paplum from you any day...

Are you saying those pictures have surfaced?!! Let me just say, I was very young at the time...

Look, the president has always tried to make end-runs around the press, at least as far back as LBJ. The best paragraph in your article was the tenth, when you gave Prof. Kumar's data on the news conferences, one-on-ones, and informal talks by Obama, Bush, and Clinton. Different presidents use different strategies; "West Wing Week" doesn't seem any more or less insidious than other strategies. Yes, the president should absolutely be accessible to the media, but I can't tell you that one-on-ones promote that goal more or less than news conferences or informal talks. Should the WHPA raise the issue? Sure. Must President Obama's particular strategy be cast as a threat to democracy? Hard to see why.

I'm not sure any of this is a threat to democracy. But I am a big fan of MORE accessibility. And if you parse the WHCA complaint, you realize that it has a narrow core argument: That the president should be more accessible to reporters who don't get to do one-on-one interviews, which is Obama's favored media format.

Miss America has a lot of history attached to it: Atlantic City, Bert Parks hosting it for what seemed like a century crooning to the winner, "There she is, Miss America, there she is, our ideal...," the winners, such as Lee Merriweather and Bess Meyerson, who went on to have long public careers -- it really was a part of American life in the three network days. Everybody watched it, some because they really liked it and others for the camp value. Miss USA doesn't carry all that baggage so it can do as it pleases, while Miss America now seems like a counterfeit of what is once was.

Great point. Miss America may very well be a captive of its traditions (they've move it out of Atlantic City and changed the week-after-Labor Day timing, too). Maybe it was caught with a no-win situation: It had to break away from those traditions to seem "relevant," but it couldn't do so without seeming like just another pageant.

Rima doesn't look like she had any obvious surgical procedures, but I'll wait for the airbrushed playboy pictorial before I make my final decision.

I think you may have to wait awhile for that. A Playboy shoot is usually a sign that a celebrity is on the far downside of her celebrity and is desperately seeking a career revival.  This Miss USA has a few good years left before that happens.

An end-run around the press? Well, at least they're being direct, as allowed to by the technology, and don't resort to manipulating and lying to get press stories written their way, a la Richard Nixon and no doubt others.

I think press "manipulation" goes on every day, and has gone on in every administration since the beginning of time. I'm less sure about the "lying" thing, but would not be surprised if the same statement applies.

I think the real question is if Donald Trump had a chicken bone stuck in his throat would you give him the heimlich or would you pretend not to notice ?

Well, I can think of several questions that might qualify as the "real" question about Trump. Yours would not be one of them.

So basically, NBC Universal, which owns and operate WRC 4, is being cheap and nearsighted. Shocking, that one!

That's your characterization. I think NBC would say they're watching out for their shareholders and running their business in a prudent fashion.

I think it is just a marketing ploy that works. I wouldn't be surpirsed if they review past video/photo work before they pick a winner. It's Trump at his finest.

If so, would we be shocked to learn such a thing? That a made-up entertainment spectacle is actually picking its winner in advance because it makes better entertainment that way? I guess we'd be surprised if that were true, but it's kind of like lip-synching or the storylines in pro wrestling--if it enhances the entertainment value, what's the harm exactly?

"Actually, according to Doug Hill, he was the one that pushed for Bob Ryan to come on board. " Well, of course, that is what he has to say now. My point is that when the contract comes due, are they the really the only channel that can afford all of those stars.

I am certain NBC can afford Bob Ryan, too. But Ryan chose to leave for what appears to be something other than monetary reasons.

Paul, is there any historical correlation in DC with ratings drops when a particular "talent" leaves? I'm especially wondering if the ad revenues drop by less than the annual salary of said "talent."

Great question. The evidence, so far, is not really. WJLA has been trying to close the ratings gap with WRC for about 10 years. It has hired a number of big-name talents (Peterson, Bunyan, Harris, Hill, Brant, etc.). And what do they have to show for it? WRC, meanwhile, has been shedding people for years. And what do they have to show for it? Well, they're still No. 1. The more relevant example might be Channel 9, which has lost most of its stars over the years (including Hill, Peterson and Bunyan). And they've been struggling in the ratings for years. So, I guess the answer is it's not clear. There are other factors at play.

I'm starting to see "MacGuyver" used as a verb (or maybe that's been around for awhile and I never noticed). Recently on my favorite blog (Cuteoverload, if you must know) they had a caption that started "It took me a good two hours to MacGuyver that jigsaw..." How long before we start talking about "MacGrubering" something? As in, "I had to redo everything Joe worked on, he really MacGrubered that project."

I like both! "MacGuyver-ing" would mean successfully jerry-rigging something. "MacGruber-ing" would mean the opposite, I guess. Very nice!

Gordon, Maureen, Doug, Arch. Now we can add Bob Ryan. Channel 7 has certainly become the elephant graveyard of local news personalities. What makes them think this will be a winning formula, when it hasn't worked up to now?

Some people always assume the management of any radio or TV station, TV network or newspaper doesn't know what the hell it's doing. I find that those people are often wrong, or at least, extremely ill informed.

His statement was a little odd. He had a "mutual relationship" with a part-time member of his staff. 1. The affair was "mutual?" What is he trying to tell us, his mistress consented to the affair? Alrighty. 2. Saying she was part-time, like that matters? Does that make it a part-time affair as opposed to a full-blown full-time affair?

Hahaha! What kind of  friendly/non-hostile "relationship" isn't mutual? That's why it's a relationship. I have the same problem with the phrase "mutual agreement." Of course, it's mutual. Otherwise, it wouldn't be an agreement.

Pole dancing has gone mainstream. There are plenty of fitness classes and videos to teach it to women in their 20s and 30s. It's like dressing like a tart for Halloween.

Yes. And herein we re-enter the "evolve" vs. "degenerate" debate again. I'm sticking with degenerate.

I think it's pretty obvious that we have the thinnest-skinned president since Andy Jackson -- and can you blame him? After three years of embarassingly fawning coverage, he can't believe that the media isn't treating his every utterance as worthy of hagiography. So why not make his own videos?

So the meidia coverage ISN'T fawning now? Glad to hear you say that because some folks cannot shake the media-loves-Obama shtick. Not sure it's ever been true, or didn't have lots and lots of counter-examples.

I have never really understood the ratings for the four local newscasts. As far as I'm concerned, 9 has the best format (especially their graphics), 7 has the best personalities, 5 has the news at 10, and 4 is a cost cotting machine (they JUST went HD for goodness sake). My theory... 4 gets higher ratings because it's the first channel you pass when you flip through the stations, and that's it. If the other networks want to pass 4, they need to change their number to 2.

Nice theory, but I would say it's not exactly like that.  Reason: Channel 4 gets massive switchover from other stations at 11 p.m. In other words, people are actually voting for it. During the entire Leno debacle on NBC, when NbC's primetime ratings were on the floor, WRC/News4 was STILL leading the ratings at 11 p.m.--one of the few NBC stations in AMerica that was doing so.  It's actually pretty remarkable how much viewer loyalty the station has.

I am pretty glad that NBC finally ended L and O's death rattle. The show should've been canceled three District Attorneys-ago (after Steve Hill left, what was the point?). It reminds me of a "Family Guy" cutaway a couple of years ago where the cast of "JAG" ask each other if anybody still watches the show, and that it's only on to provide some comfort to a small segment of seniors who crave familiarity.

But L&O was pretty solidly popular for a long time. I don't think the networks are all that sentimental; they're business people who tend to make decisions based on business criteria. Yes, awards and relationships come into it (no one at NBC wanted to anger Dick Wolff, who kept NBC in business for years), but it's basically a numbers game.

Is the president any more or less "accessible" than before? If not, why is the WHPC raising the complaint now? It doesn't seem to this casual observer like this president is doing anything different than presidents past. It seems a lot more like traditional media outlets lashing out at their feigning relevance in this new media age.

Again, I would say that the basic complaint is that he's less accessible to the mass of reporters who are never favored with a sit-down interview. I saw a McClatchy Newspapers story over the weekend that had a startling stat: That 20 percent of all the sit-down interviews that Obama did with print reporters in his first year were with the New York Times. Now, you could argue (as the White House probably would) that that's a smart media strategy, but you won't get much agreement from the rest of the media pack.

Obama and his blog are just a 21st Century fireside chat.

Kind of, but reaching far fewer people. And that's a valuable point to consider here, too--no single media channel really reaches the mass of people any more. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. just chop the audience into smaller and smaller fragments. That makes getting ANY message out much harder these days.

Since the 90's, anyway. Even get's used in Stargate:SG1...

Someone used it in "Stargate"? Really? Well, I guess that takes place in the future, so maybe to "MacGuyer" will be a well established verb by then.

It is interesting that WJLA has basically signed a collection of news people other stations have dumped. Those names you mentioned plus Arch Campbell for example. How has that worked out for them ratings-wise? What's their motivation? Surely they could pay a bunch of younger, greener folks a lot less money for similar ratings.

Again, very tricky business. People do watch certain people on the news, but your favorites may not be my  favorites.  I think the proof of this is when you go to another city and flip on the local TV news. You see the folks on the air and you think, "Who ARE these amateurs"? They never seem as good as the people back home. But the real reason is that you just happen to like the people back home because they're so familiar to you.

Paul, do you have any theories as to why Obama prefers one-on-one interviews as opposed to news conferences or other formats? The man is, next to Clinton arguably, the most articulate and wonky president in modern times. He seems to do pretty well without the fabled teleprompter. Any thoughts?

I think you've answered the question. Obama is a law professor, and he speaks like one when he's wonking out. There are commas, and clauses, and footnotes. That works far better in a one-on-one interview than in a press conference, which is largely about theater. On the other hand, as you point out. the prez is pretty good at public speaking, too.

Takes place in the present, but Richard Dean Anderson (MacGuyver himself) starred in the show....

Ah. A little cross-promotion then. But didn't that kind of break the "fourth wall" by noting that the guy playing a character on a series also played another character on another series? Or do "Stargate" fans not take "Stargate" all the seriously in the first place?

Why hasn't Channel 4 picked a Chief Meteorologist yet? I agree with the earlier poster that either Veronica Johnson or Chuck Bell should just be given the job (apparently, Tom Kierein doesn't want it - think I read that somewhere but not sure where). Also, what happened to the weekend weather guy -- unfortunately, I don't remember his name he was there for such a short time?

I guess it's been only a couple of months. Maybe Ch. 4 is still considering its options.

I don't think you can underestimate the appeal of Jim & Doreen, and for the longest time Bob and George at 11. They were together for years and years. I grew up watching them (now early 30s). My sister who is 11 years my junior grew up watching them. My parents have been watching them since we moved to the area in the early 80s. People like the sameness. And, even though a lot of anchors have dropped by the wayside over the years, Jim and Doreen have pretty much been a constant.

Oh, no, I can understand it perfectly. Yes, people like continuity in their anchors (some TV guy once explained this as the " old slippers" theory of  TVnews--people like to be comfortable with a familiar face, sort of like wearing old slipps). And they like "chemistry" between their anchors, although this is nebulous and undefinable. Jim and Doreen obviously have it, though I would have said Jim and Doreen and Bob Ryan and George Michael and Arch Campbell had it, too.

News4 Washington (Channel 4 news) comes on at 4:30 now -- earlier than before. All it is is repeat news, over and over. It's worse than radio. There's nothing new in the broadcast. You'd think they could come up with something new for the early start, but no. Just shows you how "original" local news producers are.

How much "new" do you think there is between 11:35 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.? Some, I'm sure, but not much. More important, local stations stretch out the news they have as a cost-saving strategy. Repeating it makes some sense, too, because people tune in and tune out, and don't always see the repetition.

FWIW, it's MacGyver not MacGuyver, people!

Jeez. Of course. We stand corrected (at least we got "MacGruber" and "Stargate" right).

And on that fine note, I'd better move along. Thanks for all the give n' take this week, everyone. We're back again next week, so bring all your MacGyver/MacGuyver issues back around. We should have it straight by then. In the meantime, as always, regards to all!  --Paul.

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Paul Farhi
Pop Culture With Paul Farhi explores the latest in the world of pop culture, trends and daily news.
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