Holiday retirement party: Ten people who need to go

Mark Judge Journalist and filmmaker
Font Size:

This year, Brad Pitt announced that within three years he will retire from making movies. If he has the guts to actually do it, Pitt should become a national hero — Saint Brad of the Dignified Exit. Either due to personal ego, or the fact that medicine is letting people live as long as Old Testament patriarchs, or both, people just aren’t taking their bows when they should. I say better to go out like Leonidas in “300,” felled gloriously by a cloud of arrows in battle, than be Larry King, who now drools more than the kids he keeps having. As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time to cull the field. Here are 10 people who need to retire posthaste.

Katie Couric

As this point, Miss Perky is hanging on due to nothing other than self-importance and her addiction to the camera and her own voice. I take nothing away from Couric’s early career. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and remember when she was a reporter for the local NBC affiliate. She was cute, she was smart, she was funny. She still had the charm when she decamped for “The Today Show.” Then came celebrity and self-seriousness (although she still talks like a teenager). Then the debacle at CBS, which is being followed by a talk show. No one has the guts to gently break it to her that people find her shallow and self-aggrandizing. It happened to Dan Rather, Katie, and you don’t have his gravitas. Courage, Perky. Buh-bye.

Tony Bennett

Another reason to hate MTV. Bennett was shuffling offstage when the hipsters at the network decided to give him his own “Unplugged” special in 1994. Bennett’s son Danny had been promoting his dad as relevant to younger audiences throughout the 1980s, but it was the MTV spot that pushed Anthony Dominick Benedetto into one of the greatest second acts since Betty White. It has been a disaster for jazz fans, who watch Bennett hog the spotlight — even forgetting the words to songs — while genuine talents like Kurt Elling play small clubs. The obsequy of Bennett’s celebrity cult is phony. His ubiquity is officially oppressive.

Daniel Snyder

For those who were there, it was magic. The Washington Redskins in the 1980s. The team was winning, they actually played in the city that they are named after. Riggins. Theisman. Art Monk. And the owner, Jack Kent Cooke — a colorful septuagenarian who had been married five times. For some of us Washingtonians, winning was even beside the point; the Redskins and their fans were a family. In 1985, John Riggins got plowed at a formal dinner and told Sandra Day O’Connor, “Loosen up, Sandy baby. You’re too tight.” (Imagine the hand-wringing that would cause today.) Then the Redskins moved to Redneck, Maryland, and Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999. There are a million things Snyder has done wrong, from charging to park to watch the team practice to suing critics, but the cumulative enormity of his crime, the sheer psychic and emotional damage he has done to Washington, which was deeply in love with the Redskins, can only be understood in cosmic terms. Remember in the “Star Trek” reboot when the evil Romulan used a substance called “red matter,” a teaspoon of which could create a black hole and destroy a world? Daniel M. Snyder is the red matter of NFL owners.

E.J. Dionne

President Obama is brilliant, but he needs to find some guts by embracing the left. The Republican Party has moved too far to the right and is now a radical movement. I have just saved you from having to read E.J.’s next 103 columns.


In one sense, Slate’s trajectory in the last few years from The New Republic on the Web to a link-baiting site heavy with pop culture makes it less annoying. There’s less of that smug, Maddowite pedantry and those dumb, predictable “contrarian” switchbacks. But it turns out that’s all the site had going for it. Do I really want to read about the best video game of the year by “Slate’s annual gaming club”? Or “why so many full-time mothers don’t want to work”? (It’s called biology.) Last year Jack Shafer, who at the time was an editor at Slate, asked his readers to help him find a long-form story to tell. When your second-in-command has announced his creative bankruptcy, it’s time to draw the blinds.

Luke Russert

Here’s the thing, Luke: We all know you’re faking it. The audience knows it, you know it, even Andrea Mitchell knows it. We can see it in your eyes. You try and get into that portentous Capitol Hill correspondent rhythm, but you’re just not made for it. You love sports. You used to host a radio show talking about them. Go back to that, or become what the D.C. gossip scene desperately needs: a public bachelor who gets drunk, arrested, dates hot chicks, whatever. And take Chelsea Clinton with you.

George Lucas

Three words: Red Letter Media. The most devastating movie reviews in history not only destroyed George Lucas’s reputation, both personally and as a filmmaker, they effectively made it impossible for the “Star Wars” mogul to make another film. Thank God.

Will Smith

Dude, let another brother have a shot. You should have had enough by 2005, when you broke a Guinness record by having three film premieres in 24 hours. And it’s not like Meryl Streep, whose talent and eclecticism, at least for me, continues to amaze. Smith has been making the same movie for 10 years now. “Men in Black III”? Seriously? If I was worth hundreds of millions of dollars and was married to turbo hottie Jada Pinkett, and had creatively exhausted myself like Smith has, I’d spend the next couple years sitting on an island with her. Actually, Smith can afford to buy the island. Wouldn’t it be great if he just stayed there?

Joe Scarborough

In the early days of “Morning Joe,” the show had an awkward charm. Scarborough was just a redneck with a cranium the size of one of Jupiter’s moons. He had taken over from Imus, a veteran, but Joe’s ineptitude kept him humble. As his comfort level has risen, so has his ego. Scarborough has gotten arrogant, insulting and abrasive. It’s creepy and uncomfortable to watch his verbal abuse of co-host Mika Brzezinski (seriously, if he is this much of a tool on air, what’s it like backstage?). Joe, you’ve got a congressman’s pension. Back to the Redneck Riviera with you. And please, in the name of all that is holy, stop talking. Please.


I’m begging you, Newsweek. Call time of death. It’s over.

Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.