Channeling fools gold: Letterman and Charlie Rose

Matt O'Connor Contributor
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Now that I am back on dry land, I am able to write about something that has been on my mind since last week, after watching a disaster of a TV show, a.k.a. The Charlie Rose Show.  The remote control was indeed working overtime late Thursday night in all of the seamless channel transitions between Letterman and Charlie Rose.  For last Thursday night I was on a quest: a quest to find TV comedy even if that meant finding it on the most unconventional of channels, PBS.   And wow, I sure struck gold Thursday night between CBS and PBS.  The “last channel” button on the remote is truly a fascinating feature to me … forget the damn remote, just give me the “last channel” button … but that wouldn’t be very practical now would it?

It is readily apparent to me that The Charlie Rose Show has devolved into a parade of nightly functionaries spewing liberally tangent opinions, for even the pretense of objectivity is now gone from the show.

It’s as if Charlie has pushed all his poker chips to the center of the table intending to go “all-in.”  Yeah, that’s right, Charlie Rose, the prim and proper sounding PBS host of his own show, the man who interviews anyone from politicians to actors to authors to hard rock musicians and everyone in between, is letting all of his liberal chips ride.  And why not?  Charlie’s now 68 years old and perhaps has grown tired of acting the part of the “objective journalist” and was up for a move.  The kind of move folks approaching 70 typically make out of a desire to replace the hassle of two-story living with the convenience of a one-story ranch.  Charlie’s new one-story ranch of a show is likely less painful on him personally now that he’s free from climbing all of those cumbersome “objective journalist” steps; it is one-story liberal ranch-style living now for Charlie and it appears to be treating him just fine.

Truth be told, I actually like Charlie Rose.  Anyone who interviewed William F. Buckley Jr. 18 times must not be all that bad — to me, that’s a safe bet.  However, the way in which Charlie Rose spins himself as a neutral “interviewer and fact finder” has grown tiresome.  All of the spinning has produced in my eyes a web of liberal design; a web in place to trick the average viewer into thinking they are entering a neutral territory of high-minded discussion and unfolding thought, when all along, the so-called discussion and unfolding thought is cleverly manipulated in a way that borders on the sublime.  The clever and sublime manipulation is achieved by creating liberal themes and narratives and by the running of certain guests and discussion topics in succession.  Fairly straightforward stuff but the effect, when aired on commercial-free television like PBS along with a savvy host, is gold.  A liberal fools gold, that is.

Take, for example, the guests and subject matter discussed last Thursday on The Charlie Rose Show.

In the first half of the show, viewers were treated to the sanctimonious mainstream bellowing news baritone of NBC’s Brian Williams; lecturing us on the lessons of Hurricane Katrina by blaming all of the tragedy and heartache caused by the massive category five hurricane on the federal government and the administration of George W. Bush.

Williams has seen NBC’s market share tumble since he took over the helm from Tom Brokaw several years back.  Several years back was still a time when people were willing to give deference to the mainstream media by hoping against hope that the product of mainstream news could not be as bad as it seemed.  Hope against hope, the mainstreamers in charge of network news really couldn’t be so nefarious in perpetuating a scheme of liberal manipulation.  After all, we thought, how could the networks that brought us David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, and Walter Cronkite be so deceptive?  It just couldn’t be, we thought … and thus, we hoped against hope, allowing ourselves to be deceived in order to preserve, at least in theory, the ideal of objective journalism — even if that meant enabling the deception by tuning in.

The sight of Brian Williams speaking on the Charlie Rose show last Thursday as the all-knowing, modern-day Oracle of Delphi, dispensing his liberal news anchor analysis, was almost too much to bear.  To hear Williams spin his liberal narrative in his over-the-top, bellicose style in his favored key of sanctimony was comical.  The subject matter was surely not comical but the way Williams preached his liberal spin in the language of doubletalk and sanctimony made Williams look like a caricature of cartoon quality painted on reality’s canvass.  If anything, Williams perfectly encapsulates the qualities of network news and the mainstream media in general — pejorative qualities, and as time marches on, qualities that will contribute to the total irrelevance of network news and their teleprompter-reading anchors.  Harsh words?  Of course they are, however, the liberal cat has been out of the bag in terms of the way network news and the mainstream media works for some time, and the reality of the matter is indeed harsh.  So the words used to describe the reality of network news and the mainstream media are naturally harsh.

Yet the genius of the mainstream media and its insidious liberalism is the fact that programs like The Charlie Rose Show do not go quietly into the night.  No, they continue the drumbeat of the liberal narrative, no matter what.

After Brian Williams spun his liberal webbing last Thursday night, Charlie Rose built upon the foundation set by the NBC anchor to segue into a “discussion” of President Obama with the “objective” and “balanced” guests of John Podesta (former Clinton chief of staff ) and Ken Duberstein (former Reagan chief of staff) entering the mix.  Except, what Charlie didn’t underscore is the fact that Ken Duberstein, as big of a Ronald Reagan supporter he may be, actually voted for Barack Obama AND happens to be married to Charlie Rose’s former producer, Jackie Duberstein.  What Charlie also failed to underscore is the fact John Podesta is one of the most partisan people in D.C., having started the left-wing witch hunt of a group named Media Matters, a group that scours the media in order to attack anything and anyone who doesn’t speak with a liberal tongue or who may be getting “out of line” in going against President Obama.

What Charlie also didn’t go into much detail about is the fact John Podesta is also the CEO and president of one of the most liberal think tanks in D.C., The Center for American Progress — a group that sets the liberal agenda and that advocates behind the scenes for the Obama administration in order to shape thought and perception on all things liberal and progressive.

So guess what Podesta and Duberstein’s “discussion” yielded  … you got it, the “point in fact” that President Obama is one of the most intelligent presidents ever to grace the White House and one who needs to essentially, “stop playing nice” and dictate the terms he wants instead of always “giving-in” to the various factions.  As I watched this charade unfold, I could only help but smile and wonder about the bribery and hijinks associated with Obamacare and the non-transparent and non-democratic way in which it was forced against the will of the people.

The absurdity of it all has crossed into humor at this point, humor that is increased when folks in suits and ties yawl for the “good old” days of political collegiality and bipartisanship, while wondering out loud: What happened?

Yes, watching Charlie Rose and his guests spin their liberal yarns, with Kenneth Duberstein playing the feigned “token” conservative, made for fascinating television last Thursday and helped me find comedy gold between the fools gold of Charlie Rose and David Letterman — achieved through the seamless channel transitions made possible by my trusty remote and the “last channel” feature, a feature of indispensable utility if your goal is to efficiently toggle between two comedies.

Matt is a freelance writer and founder of Clarion Advisory, LLC, a media production company and serves as the executive editor of Clarion Advisory.com, a site featuring political commentary and the continuous aggregation of national and international news covering politics and business.

Prior to forming Clarion Advisory, Matt worked as a broker and vice president within a Fortune 250 company on the West Coast.