Posts Tagged ‘media bias’

By John Ruberry

After a long day at work earlier this month I clicked on the “Surprise Me” feature on Netflix. What popped up was Mike Myers’ new vehicle, The Pentaverate.

“Well,” I said to myself, “this might be pretty good.” 

In fact, The Pentaverate doesn’t even measure up to “pretty bad.” The six episode limited series is one of the worst shows I’ve suffered through. Oh, somehow I managed to view a couple episodes of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. I know about awful.

Warning: There are numerous spoilers and some rather disgusting things that I will mention in my review of this Netflix series.

The origin of The Pentaverate dates back to a throwaway line from Myers’ second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer, where the father of Myers’ lead character, also played by Myers, claims that a secret society, the Pentaverate, a five-man cabal, which at one time included Colonel Sanders as a member, rules the world. In this series narrator Jeremy Irons tells us, the original members of the Pentaverate discovered in 1347, contrary to the belief of the Catholic Church, it was fleas that spread the bubonic plague. 

As the first episode begins, the newest member of the group of five, Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan-Michael Key), a scientist, is accepted into the Pentaverate after he is kidnapped. Apparently, he is the first non-white fellow of the all-male group, replacing a member who mysteriously died. The other members are played by Myers. Lord Lordington, an elderly Englishman, Bruce Baldwin, an Australian media mogul, who of course is based on Rupert Murdoch, Shep Gordon, a manager of various rock acts, a real person who is the subject of a documentary directed by Myers, and Mishu Ivanov, a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin crony.

Warning! Not-safe-for-work language in the trailer.

But Myers isn’t done with his roles. The lead character of The Pentaverate is Ken Scarborough, a television reporter who wears plaid sportscoats; he is a quirky throwback from the 1970s who does man-on-the-street interviews of other oddballs, while overshadowing them. Scarborough works for, wait for it, Toronto-based CACA news. Yep, caca. 

The other four Pentaverate members manufacture a story that Dr. Clark, who was invited into the secret society because they believe he can reverse climate change, is dead. Clark’s phony passing occurs while attempting to mimic an internet video fad–kissing your own anus. Clark’s room at Pentaverate headquarters is guarded by a sasquatch, who immediately defecates outside the scientist’s door. 

In addition to a Shrek cameo, Myers plays two other characters, internet personality Rex Smith, a stand-in for Alex Jones, and Anthony Lansdowne, a conspiracy theorist from New Hampshire. 

Besides being an assault on good taste, The Pentaverate is an attack on right-wingers, with the implied message that all conservatives are conspiracy whackos like Lansdowne. He is a believer, or has been a believer, in QAnon, Pizzagate, and the Illuminati. His last words as he falls to his death is, “But what about her emails?” 

Lansdowne, in his bumper-sticker laden van, which not surprisingly has a malfunctioning portable toilet, drives Scarborough and his pre-woke Doctor Who-like young female companion, Reilly Clayton (Lydia West) to New York City, which looks nothing like today’s NYC, but more like your standard Doctor Who “future metropolis.” Scarborough, recently fired by CACA, is convinced by Clayton and Lansdowne to infiltrate Pentaverate headquarters, and he does so after a painful penis tug initiation. 

Clark, following an intimate evening with the Pentaverate’s executive assistant Patty Davis (Debi Mazar) in the Moon Room studio–did the Pentaverate fake the moon landings?–suddenly dies, this time for real. He is promptly replaced by casino billionaire Skip Cho (Ken Jeong). Oh, I have never thought Jeong was funny. Jeong recently showed his true political colors after childishly storming off the set of The Masked Singer after Rudy Giuliani was revealed as a contestant.

Myers seemingly hasn’t emotionally moved on from being an 11-year-old. Flatulence jokes are among the things that ruined his cinema take on Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, a children’s film, by the way. Scatological so-called humor also undermined another Myers movie bomb, The Love Guru

Outside of Myers’ fading fame, why did Netflix greenlight this debacle? Could it be that woke Netflix executives fell in love with The Pentaverate’s snide attacks on conservatives, who they probably believe are personified by Smith and Lansdowne? I have liberal friends. Really, I do. And many of them insist that I take marching orders from Alex Jones.

Here’s a tip for Netflix and Myers: the first rule of comedy is that comedies need to be funny.

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Its stock value plummeted 35-percent last month. Yes, when you go woke you go broke. And I can’t think of a single Netflix dramatic series that is aimed at conservatives. Longmire was the closest show I can think of, but production of it ended in 2017, and Longmire was originally an A&E offering. And as I wrote in last week’s review of Ozark, that otherwise quite enjoyable show contorted itself to find ways to attack Republicans.

Over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020. That’s a lot of viewers, Netflix. We don’t live in vans with clogged toilets. We own televisions. 

Cloying use of easter eggs, that is, references to other works that do nothing to advance the story or add laughs–assuming of course there is even one laugh in The Pentaverate–is also another problem here. Winks to other Myers’ works, along with yet another tired replay of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Game of Thrones, are simply annoying. Rob Lowe, a veteran of several Myers movies, makes an unnecessary appearance.

Myers’ acting, outside of his sympathetic portrayal of Scarborough, is subpar. In his review of The Cat in the Hat, Roger Ebert noticed that at times Myers sounded a bit like his Linda Richman “Coffee Talk” character from SNL. The use of convincing accents is supposed to be one of Myers’ strengths, but his Lansdowne character’s accent, rather than sounding like what you’ll hear from a rustic New Englander, varies from a Canadian to a New Yorker style of speech–that is, when Lansdowne isn’t coming across like Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World.

Oh, when there is a crack within the five members of the Pentaverate, who do you think is behind it? Why of course! It’s the casino billionaire and the Murdoch stand-in. 

I hated The Pentaverate. Hated, hated, hated. If you have any sense of taste or decency, you will hate it too. 

You have been warned. 

Oh, if you think I am just a grumpy old man with a minority opinion on this actual sh*t show, as of May 15, the average critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 20 percent. Only once in the last week have I noticed The Pentaverate ranking as a top-ten most viewed program on Netflix. And based on the CGI and the A-List (to some people) cast, I imagine Netflix wasted a lot of money on this fiasco.

The Pentaverate is rated TV-MA for full frontal (possibly with use of prosthetics) nudity, animals engaged in sex, violence, suicide, adult situations, foul language, and scatological references. Well, at least no one smokes in it. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Last year, in his farewell column, longtime Chicago journalist Phil Kadner spoke of his praises, and he indeed deserved his own pats on the back. Kadner mostly covered the generally overlooked, but corrupt, south suburbs of Chicago. I grew up there, they are a rat-hole of graft.

A creature of the left, who called for President Trump’s impeachment in 2019, Kadner discussed in that final column, his anger after Trump said the media was “the enemy of the people.”

Is Kadner an enemy of the people? No.

But with a few exceptions, most of the media is. 

The latest example of why that is true took place at the University of Chicago, which hosted along with the Atlantic, the Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy conference. A quick look at the speakers at the event betrays what kind of conference it was, there were no conservative panelists. Only the self-appointed “cool kids” are allowed in the tree house.

Ah, but there were at least a couple of conservatives there, including freshman U of C student Daniel Schmidt, who challenged one of the speakers, the Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum. Schmidt blew the whistle on her for dismissing the importance of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations in 2020, which at the time Applebaum wrote that it “barely registers” with her.

Her response? “My problem with Hunter Biden’s laptop I think is totally irrelevant.” Applebaum continued, “I mean it’s not whether it’s disinformation or, I mean, I didn’t think the Hunter Biden’s business relationships have anything to do with who should be president of the United States, so I don’t find it to be interesting, that would be my problem with that as a main news story.”

Ah, now here is an enemy of the people to be sure, Anna Applebaum.

Hunter Biden, if not Joe Biden, because of what has been discovered on that laptop, can rightly be called as I’ve remarked before, the head of a Chicago-style influence peddling ring

It’s arguable that the Biden family has sold out America to our enemies, particularly China. 

The Clown Prince of Disinformation is CNN’s Brian Stelter, the host of the laughably misnamed Reliable Sources. He spoke on the next day at the conference. And it was the turn of another University of Chicago freshman, Christopher Phillips, who said of Stelter’s network, “They push the Russian collusion hoax, they push the Jussie Smollett hoax, they smear Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh as a rapist, and they also smeared Nick Sandmann as a white supremacist,” Phillips told Stelter. “And yes, they dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop affair as pure Russian disinformation.” 

Phillips continued, “With mainstream corporate journalists becoming little more than apologists and cheerleaders for the [Biden] regime, is it time to finally declare that the canon of journalistic ethics is dead or no longer operative?”

Stelter quipped, “Too bad, it’s time for lunch,” but then gave a meandering reply that didn’t address any of Phillips’ points.

The Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy conference was reminiscent of a bad Hollywood thriller, where the protagonist is finally able to report his findings of an anti-government conspiracy after escaping captivity, only to learn that those he trusts in the government are part of that nefarious plot too. 

I believe there are two possibilities in regard to what has gone wrong with the mainstream media, and neither are good. The first is that the most members of the fake-news media are indeed propagandists for the left and the Democrat Party. The second is that they’ve deluded themselves into believing that they are indeed truthful providers of information, reminiscent of when legendary New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle, while downing booze during breakfast, remarked to a reporter with a straight face that he’s not an alcoholic. 

Mantle died of liver cancer, despite receiving a liver transplant, and alcoholism very likely contributed to his death.

Where will the mainstream media end up?

Right now, the media, most of it, is indeed the enemy of the people.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Salem, Wisconsin, October 11, 2020

By John Ruberry

Last week, in the 24th paragraph of a New York Times article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s tax problems and his emails, the Old Gray Lady sneaked in this line, “Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Biden in a Delaware repair shop,” the three authors of the story (why does the current media need to utilize multiple writers?) wrote. And they added, “The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.”

Flashback to October 2020. It was “October Surprise Time” again as a presidential election winded down. Yeah, I know what I wrote. With the over-reliance on early voting, drop-off ballot boxes, and ballot harvesting, Election Day is almost an afterthought, we now have Election Season. And the ’20 surprise was a shocker, as the New York Post revealed that it had obtained a copy of the hard drive of a MacBook Pro laptop computer that Hunter dropped off at the aforementioned repair shop and then apparently forgot about it, like an old suit left behind with a dry cleaner.

Besides embarrassing photos, emails discovered on the hard drive by the Post revealed what intelligent people with an open mind long suspected, that Hunter Biden was the head of an influence peddling ring that profited from the political career of his lifetime politician father. Or perhaps Joe Biden, “the Big Guy.” who might have been the recipient of 10 percent of a never-realized financial deal with a Chinese energy firm, was in charge, was the CEO of a Chicago-style political racketeering operation, a bit like this one.

Twitter, Facebook, and the mainstream media–Fox News was a major exception–immediately went on attack mode to block and suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story.

During his radio show on Friday, Dan Bongino said, “Hunter was working in Ukraine, his dad knew about it, his dad was the point man in Ukraine for the Obama administration. The corruption is back-breaking. There is no way Joe Biden would have won the last election if the media didn’t conspire to make that story–the Ukraine-Biden story and the laptop–go away.” He added, “They rigged the election through their censorship of the story.”

“Look at the polling data,” Bongino exclaimed. Let’s do just that. According to a Media Research Center post-election survey, of the voters Biden voters who weren’t aware of the Hunter Biden scandals, 16 percent of them would have changed their vote. Incumbent Donald J. Trump lost by less than one percent in these four battleground states: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. If those states went to Trump, then he still would be president.

Although he had no experience in the energy industry and he does not speak Ukrainian, Hunter Biden served on the board of directors of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm, while his father was vice president.

Twitter was the worst offender in censoring the laptop story, blocking the posting of reports under the false belief that the laptop revelations were hacked, despite possessing no evidence that those suspicions were true. For nearly two weeks, as Americans daily voted for president, Twitter suspended the New York Post’s popular main Twitter feed.

Facebook, which funds fact-checkers at USA Today, PolitiFact, and LeadStories, suppressed the Hunter laptop story. “While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post,” FB spokesperson Andy Stone Tweeted at the time, “I want [sic] be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.” No such fact-checks every were done by FB’s favored fact-checkers.

During the final presidential debate, moderated by NBC’s Kirsten Welker, and also while being interviewed by 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl, Trump tried to initiate a discussion about the Hunter Biden laptop. Welker deflected, and Stahl replied to Trump about the scandal, “Can’t be verified.” Well, now it has been, Stahl, by the paper that publishes “all the news that’s fit to print,” the New York Times.

Where is your apology, Lesley?

Government-funded NPR also dismissed the Hunter Biden story. On Twitter in 2020, in response to a question on why NPR hadn’t covered the laptop scandal, NPR’s managing editor Terence Samuels, who apparently is the kind of arrogant SOB that Groucho Marx used to justifiably torment, replied, “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions. And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was … a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way.”

In preparation for the writing of this story I endured one hour of CNN’s ludicrously misnamed Reliable Sources, hosted by a circus clown masquerading as a journalist, Brian Stelter. Much of today’s broadcast was dedicated to policing “misinformation” and “disinformation” by Russian media sources as the war in Ukraine continues. But Stelter and his sycophantic guests didn’t utter a peep about the New York Times update on the laptop. “So slowly and surely,” Stelter said at the end of today’s episode, “media criticism can improve media diets.” How ’bout starting with criticizing yourself, Stelter? His latest email newsletter, which I hear is very popular among liberal journalists, omitted mention of the Times’ revision on the Hunter MacBook.

Here’s a flashback for you.

“This is a classic example of the right-wing media machine,” Stelter said about the laptop on October 18, 2020. “Fox and Trump have this in common: They want you to stay mad and stay tuned.”

A former host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz, on Fox News Sunday this morning declared, “It is an absolute embarrassment that the way that the way media downplayed or ignored or mocked or minimized this story, the New York Times now says [Hunter] is under active federal investigation for possible tax violations or lobbying violations by [him]–and they’re still not covering it.”

After some complaining about those commments from fellow Fox News Sunday panelist Juan Williams, Kurtz shot back, “It was censorship.”

A free and fair election process allows open distribution of information. The mainstream media, Twitter, and Facebook, by suppressing and censoring coverage of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations, prevented a free and fair election.

John Ruberry, just John and not two others, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

The mainstream media has been a propaganda machine for leftists since the rise of Barack Obama. Prior to then, the media had reliably liberal, but at least attempted to appear unbiased. 

For instance, the mainstream media showed minimal interest in investigating Obama’s ties to former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as the role of political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko early in Obama’s political career, as well as the Obamas’ purchase, with Rezko’s help, of their Chicago mansion. By that time Obama admitted he knew there was a cloud over Rezko, who later served time in prison for fraud and other charges. Obama in 2008 called his decision to work the Rezko on that purchase “bone-headed” in his murky explanation of that deal. A decision he made in 2008 was much more bone-headed, his naming of Joe Biden as is running mate. Had that not happened, Sleepy Joe would be enjoying a quiet, but rambling, retirement wandering the sands of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Hey fact-checkers: Are you going to attack me on that last statement?

I was unaware of fact-checkers as a political force until the 2008 presidential campaign; oh sure, I knew about Snopes debunking juicy urban legends, but the fact-checkers, such as PolitiFact, which was founded in 2007, got to work attacking during that campaign such stories as the Obama-was-born-in-Kenya canard. The fact-checkers were less enthusiastic in 2008 about defending John McCain after the New York Times claimed the Republican senator had an affair with a lobbyist

Last week a friend-of-the-blog who lives in Alaska tipped me off to a Babylon Bee story, “Biden Sells Alaska Back To Russia So We Can Start Drilling For Oil There Again.”

That “report” was published last Monday, when America was still buying Russian oil; the following day, under pressure from the left and right, Biden announced America would no longer be purchasing Russian petroleum. 

Kind of a conservative and Christian alternative to the Onion, the Babylon Bee is a satire site. Not getting the joke was USA Today fact-checker Ana Faguy, who apparently discovered the story on the Being Libertarian Facebook page. She even sought a comment from the Being Libertarian FB group. Faguy labeled the Bee story “satire.” 

Duh!

Do USA Today fact-checkers investigate the Onion too?

Last year another USA Today reporter, Daniel Funke, fact-checked the internet memes, since proven true, that Biden looked at his watch several times during the ceremony when the remains of soldiers killed during a terrorist attack in Afghanistan were returned to American soil, calling it “mostly false.” After being confronted with facts, USA Today edited the story and it was upgraded, not to “true,” but to “missing context.” How brave.

It’s not just USA Today. Four years ago, another Babylon Bee piece, titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication” was first labeled as “false” by Snopes. Like the Alaska-Russia fact-check, that Snopes article now deems the Bee story as “satire.”

Dan Bongino on his radio show and his podcast regularly tells his listeners that a reliable gauge that the left is getting desperate is how they protect sacred cows, such as the Biden White House, with fact-checks. One such story is the report from Russia that there are US-funded bio-labs in Ukraine.

“This story was real,” Bongino told Fox News’ Jesse Watters last week. “Yet the fact-checkers, who had no special access to information at all, came out and said: ‘No, no – no, no, no – that’s a bad story for the Biden administration – Obama may have been involved – so that’s a hoax and you’re banned from Facebook if you put it up. And you wonder why we are where we are right now with the information crisis in the country.”

Remember when Facebook, another priestly temple of truth [warning-satire!], used to routinely ban posts that claimed that the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China? They don’t anymore.

Beneath ever fact-check entry at USA Today is this revealing note, “Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.”

Here’s a story that the big-time fact-checkers, Snopes, PolitiFact, and USA Today are ignoring, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the name of which is actually “Parental Rights in Education.” But leftists use the first name as they demonize the legislation.

Governor Ron DeSantis says he will sign the bill, which is aimed at primary school kids. Here’s a revealing passage from the legislation: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” You know what I think? Let kids be kids, particularly in primary school.

However, this is true. The word “gay” is not mentioned in the so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

Most fact-checkers, like their brethren elsewhere in journalism, are propagandists.

Blogger in Alaska, still part of the USA, in 2020

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.