Be thinkful? sure, whatever...
August 20, 2002 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Be thinkful? sure, whatever... It turns out that Phil Donahue's new show is just a sort of left-wing version of Bill O'Reilly's. What a shock. Read how guests are ambushed and shouted down by the guy who "doesn't let the government tell him what to think".
posted by clevershark (38 comments total)
Why would a sentient being waste time on Donahue?
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:48 PM on August 20, 2002

Donahue? Ahhh, yes: the hard-hitting journalistic style of Larry King, coupled with the politically-objective sensibility of Rosie O'Donnell.

I can't imagine how I've managed to miss his show so far...
posted by wdpeck at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2002

I guess that means I'm not missing either show. And Donahue will be towing that anti-government line only so long as neo-conservatives are in power. Good article though, thanks for the link. I predict this show will go down the tubes, kind of like Geraldo's (was his old show on CNBC?) folly.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:56 PM on August 20, 2002

Also, this is why short-format TV is the worst place to discuss and attempt to resolve ideas like this.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:58 PM on August 20, 2002

Is that really the motto? "Be Thinkful"? Yeah, nothing says "Intelligent discussion of the facts" like a nonsensical slogan.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:05 PM on August 20, 2002

C'mon! Did anyone REALLY think this was going to be some sort of MacNeil-Lehrer, only sassier? Be real.
posted by UncleFes at 3:08 PM on August 20, 2002

Be Thinkful, Think Different.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:12 PM on August 20, 2002

"The told me no cheap shots. They lied"

Come on, dude. It's a fucking TALK SHOW! (The typo is icing, btw.)

And UncleFes, are you saying MacNeil-Lehrer is actually informative and not just hype?

When you live in a country where they show Al-Quaeda gassing puppies, how can you even pretend to seriously expect a TV talk show, the lowest common denominator, to speak any truths whatsoever?
posted by zekinskia at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2002

Knowledge is good.
posted by mathis23 at 3:32 PM on August 20, 2002

how can you even pretend to seriously expect a TV talk show, the lowest common denominator, to speak any truths whatsoever?

There's a difference between not covering all the issues and actively misrepresenting some position or point of view. Not only did they not reveal any truth, they actively obscured the truth with alarmist statements and out-of-context imagery. They may as well have called that segment, "Video Games: Threat or Menace?" There was no pretense of objectivity, they just sacrificed the so-called "industry representative" (which he isn't) to the soccer moms.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:42 PM on August 20, 2002

Not only did they not reveal any truth, they actively obscured the truth with alarmist statements and out-of-context imagery.

Yeah, it's called SPIN and if it surprises you to see that on TV, you must not watch much. Kudos, TV sucks!
posted by zekinskia at 3:46 PM on August 20, 2002

Thanx for reminding me why I didn't bother subscribing to Salon.

If the Donohue bashers can possibly separate their hysteria over things "liberal" from the man himself and watch the show in a detached manner they might be shocked to observe that he often concedes valid points to the opposing view, often throttles the proponents of liberal position for taking a facile or emotional stance on an issue, and most always allows each side a full hearing (given the limitations of the show). Certainly moreso than any number of right-wing windbags (my favorite example being Rush Limbaugh, who quietly hangs up on opposing callers and keeps talking as though they were still on the line -- awed into silence by his bombasts). The only times that I've seen Donahue hound a guest or shout them out was when they went off into la-la land instead of addressing the question on the table.

I'm not a cheerleader for Donahue; I often disagree with his positions.
posted by RavinDave at 3:48 PM on August 20, 2002

Wait, wait, wait. I read the transcript of the show, and the guy had plenty of opportunities to bring up his points, he just didn't. He was a total pushover; he answered the questions posed by other people without riposting with relevant facts, or asking questions of his own. He allowed this White lady to control the tone of the debate. It reads to me like Jenkins just needs to bone up on his debate skills, rather than blaming other people.

I'm not defending Donahue, by the way, out of any great love for him or his show.
posted by Hildago at 3:49 PM on August 20, 2002

I actually saw this segment of Donahue. They kept breaking into what the guests were saying to show more footage of a rather inept player playing GTA3. It was all pretty poorly concieved. I think Mr. Jenkins fared better than he thinks, but I am rather close to this issue and understood what he was talking about while the other guests and Donahue himself seemed clueless to the concepts Jenkins was describing.
posted by McBain at 3:53 PM on August 20, 2002

Yeah, it's called SPIN and if it surprises you to see that on TV, you must not watch much.

I don't, but thank you for that brilliant thesis. My gripe is that they exhort their viewers to "be thinkful," but it looks like Donahue's audience is about as thinkful as Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads.

If the Donohue bashers can possibly separate their hysteria over things "liberal" from the man himself and watch the show in a detached manner...

If you think Donahue allowed each side a full hearing, you must not have seen the show. I just read the transcript. They never gave the guy a chance.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2002

Donahue's show is getting trounced in the ratings by both the CNN and FoxNews alternates, so it doesn't seem like anybody cares one way or another.
posted by Dreama at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2002

Jenkins (the housemaster of my college dorm, although we never talked) was one of the first strong anti-bullying voices after Columbine, and he's always taken a lot of flak for his pro-gaming views - including in front of Congress - so he's really used to this sort of thing. I don't think it's quite fair to criticize hime for being naive - Donahue has always strove to present himself as intellectually far above other talk show hosts. Jenkins' fellow anti-bullying crusader, Jon Katz, incidentally, usually refuses to deal with mainstream media for just this reason.
posted by transona5 at 4:01 PM on August 20, 2002

are there actually people who DON'T know these things are all choreographed? oops - never mind.
posted by quonsar at 4:32 PM on August 20, 2002

I like Donahue, but he's no liberal O'Reilly. Putting aside his positions, O'Reilly is more entertaining because he puts it to his guests. Phil is more balanced, which is all well and good in liberalandia (a region I live in the suburbs of) - it makes for uninteresting tv.

I have to assume this guy was living in Liberalandian paradise if he thought it would be quiet npr-style conversation on cable news. This guy needs to get off the campus and into reality sometime soon.
posted by owillis at 4:33 PM on August 20, 2002

If you read the ratings for his and most of the news networks, you realize that Glenn Reynolds as popular as they are. I never feel so alone when watching MSNBC and realize that I may be the only one watching...
posted by Coop at 5:19 PM on August 20, 2002

The problem with Donahue is that he still hosts it like one of those daytime talk shows. He panders for the emotional stuff, says the goofiest shit, and has this kind of "how is it possible that anyone could think about this other than the way I feel about it?" attitude, imo. I'd say he even gets pretty good guests and has interesting topics. But as soon as I hear him talk for like five minutes, I have to change the channel.

I like Curtis and Kuby though, at least that show is entertaining (hell, that Alan Keyes show was better than Donahue's...
posted by stifford at 5:43 PM on August 20, 2002

O'Reilly is entertaining because his eyebrows always point upwards he smiles and it proves he's the devil.

And like every other talking head with their own show, Donahue included, they aren't there to discuss anything, they're there to yell at the experts and lifetime analysts of the subject with their obviously superior Simplest Answer Possible, then cut to a commercial.

In no way am I attacking you personally, owillis, but I'm sick to death of hearing that O'Reilly is something special. He's just a more famous asshole among competing assholes. And Fox's morning show thinks it's cute to do "stories" on the success/failure of Donahue because they don't want his assholery cutting in on their network's dominance of the asshole market.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:46 PM on August 20, 2002

There are so many rightwing assholes and blowhards on TV and radio bullying guests and pontificating and propagandizing for their point of view, that I say it's about time we have somebody at least slightly leftwing who does the same thing.
posted by Rebis at 6:50 PM on August 20, 2002

Huh. So, let me see if I've got this straight.

Guy appears on Donahue show. Guy gets his ass kicked. Guy not too thrilled! Guy writes article. Article disses Donahue show.

And Donahue is the one you're accusing of bias?

Donahue's opinion is clear from the word go, and it isn't his responsibility, in this format, to present the opposing view: that burden falls to Jenkins.

Jenkins failed.

He's looking to blame somebody else. The producers. The host. The format. Al Qaeda. Anybody.

I don't feel particularly sorry for him.
posted by kjh at 7:58 PM on August 20, 2002

liberalandia (a region I live in the suburbs of)

And in one of those walled and gated suburbs at that?
posted by y2karl at 8:02 PM on August 20, 2002

I couldn't have said it better myself.
posted by bas67 at 8:06 PM on August 20, 2002

Yeah, and if you read the transcript it is eminently clear that everyone agrees that games don't make kids killers. Actually, I thought the message conveyed by the show was clearly against marketing to children, which is sensible. This guy is just being pissy because he didn't get his main point across. I really don't think he was savaged.

About the producer helping Phil sound like he was getting this call fresh, does the professor really expect Donahue to not talk beforehand to someone as important to that segment as the mother of the kid who was stabbed reenacting Mortal Kombat? You've got to be kidding.
posted by mblandi at 8:19 PM on August 20, 2002

The closest I've seen Donahue come to railroading, cutting off, or being a blowhard was with the Drug Czar. Phil had like five advocates for legalizing marajuana against the poor Drug Czar and he apologized about it profusely and fleshed out a lot of the Drug Czar's position.
posted by mblandi at 8:23 PM on August 20, 2002

Donahue's in the stifling environs of a structured home economics class and he has to bake a cake, just like the rest of them. I read the article last night and found this guy's impetus for writing it questionable. As I see it, what the fuck would have happened if he were on O'reilly, got showed up and then wrote an article essentially crying that the corporate media isn't fair? Uhhh. No story. Everybody knows O'reilly's a cock. But being slighted by O'reilly isn't "suburbs of Liberalandia" Salon material. Donahue doing it is. Furthermore, the guy had no point in the first place. We're talking the very existence of Grand Theft Auto 3 being what even put this guy as a fleeting blip on our collective radar screen. Donahue's been around for a long time. Donahue, I would imagine, knows what's best for his show's survival. And, most importantly, Donahue, should he survive, by doing reactionary segments like this for the time being, will be able to bring his one of a kind tact to covering the real deal without risk of his fledgling show committing suicide.
posted by crasspastor at 8:29 PM on August 20, 2002

More reactions at joystick101 (Obviously, with a video game slant.)
posted by mkn at 9:06 PM on August 20, 2002

owillis: Cable news is reality? The meaning of "reality" is indeed pretty darned subjective. Nice try with the George Wallace-style anti-academia reactionary bit, though.
posted by raysmj at 9:46 PM on August 20, 2002

oh, and another thing, owillis: How many conservatives have screamed about what they see as a need for media to be a need to be objective? And how many would argue that what they see as a lack of media fairness justifies the behavior of, say, Bill on Fox? (This is exactly the sort of argument Newt Gingrich made for taking the gloves off in the '80s. I'm not saying that he was right, just stating the facts.)

Meantime, I remember a show where matters political and social were discussed quietly, and the host was usually fair, even if the show was still a piece of entertainment as much as anything else. It was called Firing Line, and hosted by a conservative, William F. Buckley, whose celebrity and image as a non-hothead and intellectual certainly helped pave the way for the think tank-heavy end of the conservative movement. Why, his show even ran on PBS, which still runs more subdued conservative fare (including one called Think Tank, actually).

For the record, there's no such thing as objectivity. I'm all for a livelier, although non-a-holish, media. Journalists should only try to be fair no matter what, though. Otherwise, it's not news or even entertainment to me, but pixilated crap.
posted by raysmj at 10:34 PM on August 20, 2002

I watched Donahue Monday night and he had Studs Terkel on as his guest. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the show. I don't know about the quality of his other shows but if the one I watched is any indication then Donahue will probably be successful if given the time to build his listening base.
posted by nofundy at 5:02 AM on August 21, 2002

Had this guy never watched MSNBC, FoxNews, CNBC, CNN, etc. before he appeared on Phil's show? It's the land of Coulter, Buchanan, and Ingraham. Logic, clever discourse, and thoughtful debate do not exist. Snarking and bellowing are the order of the day.
posted by alou73 at 7:18 AM on August 21, 2002

I almost feel bad for Jenkins. He wasn't prepared for how engineered the debate was going to be and was overwhelmed. Maybe he'll do better next time, if there is a next time. I kind of doubt he will though, because it seems to me he doesn't have much material to defend video games with. The best point he made in the article was saying that it was parents' responsibility to police their kids' video game purchases. I think that's true.

He seems to really struggle with trying to defend video games as works of art. It's a nice thought, and while I think the potential for video games becoming works of art is there, I don't think the medium has evolved that far yet. Most of industry's innovations seem geared towards making the blood spray on the walls in a more realistic fashion rather than challenging players' intellects. I guess it's no different than Hollywood in that respect, but at least cinema has some diamonds in the rough. I can't say that any one video game has ever done anything to enrich my life like many movies have. And I've played a lot of video games.
posted by picea at 8:30 AM on August 21, 2002

As far as I'm concerned, all he had to do was point out that Japan has much more violent games available and no discernible ill-effects. The "monkey-see-monkey-do" school of pop psychology holds little currency with me.

I agree with his position. He simply got pummeled on Donahue and instead of sharpening his rhetorical skills for the next encounter, he opted to sharpen his claws at Salon -- safe and secure in a private bubble where no one could contradict him directly.
posted by RavinDave at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2002

The main difference between Donahue and O'Reilly is that Donahue is a Liberal and makes no bones about the fact. Everybody knows where he stands. O'Reilly, on the other hand lies to you from the start by claiming to be unbiased and 'spin free'. What a crock.
posted by TCMITS at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2002

I actually saw the show in question and the guy did a crappy job of articulating his position. Maybe he should stick with the written word since he can't hold his own in a Donahue debate?
posted by StormBear at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2002

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