FROM Robert Thompson
Are Cable-Only Debates Undemocratic? CNBC is hosting the third GOP presidential debate tonight at 5 p.m. But if you don’t have cable, you’re out of luck. While the other debates have streamed online, CNBC will require you to have a cable subscription password or a CNBC Pro account. Not exactly democratic, as some critics are pointing out. Should all debates be free to the public?
Does Iowa Still Matter in the Age of TV? Last night was episode thirteen for the Republican presidential candidates. Has it been serious politics or reality TV? The TV debates have been compared to sitcoms and reality TV, with different leaders week after week and big audiences, apparently due as much to personal attacks and embarrassing gaffes as pronouncements on policy. Newt Gingrich , this week's principal target, said he was "editing" his remarks to avoid Mitt Romney 's charge that he can be "zany." Romney went back to his role of attacking Barack Obama without speaking ill of other Republicans. With time growing short, others showed no such restraint. Iowa voters will caucus in less than three weeks. Will they pick a winner or will their choices be soon forgotten as the candidates move on to New Hampshire? Websites of Republican presidential candidates: Michele Bachmann Rick Perry Ron Paul Jon Huntsman, Jr Rick Santorum
The Random Nature of Political Scandal New York Democrat Anthony Weiner resigned without any evidence he ever committed a crime. Was it because fellow Democrats didn't back him up, even though there's no evidence he was anything more than an Internet exhibitionist . Was it because he lied about tweeting those pictures? Louisiana's Republican Senator David Vitter was re-elected, despite being well known to patronize prostitutes. Was it because he never tweeted at all? Why is one public figure run out of town while another one rides out the storm? Is the private morality of public figures subject to double standards? Should Americans, their leaders and the media be less obsessed with the sex-life of politicians or are they just being human?
The Oprah Effect After 25 years of dominating daytime TV, nobody needs to hear Oprah's last name. Some advertisers are paying a million dollars for 30-second commercials on tomorrow's last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show . It's being called the biggest wrap-up in television since Johnny Carson walked away from The Tonight Show. Oprah's launched a lot of products, books and various careers, and even claims some credit for President Obama's election. Robert Thompson, Professor of Popular Culture and Television at Syracuse University, considers her impact on American culture.
Big Money and Stealth Campaigns Since the US Supreme Court declared that private spending is a form of free speech, political campaigns have been as much about money as anything else. Now, the Obama White House is attacking Republicans for hiding the sources of millions of dollars, suggesting they might be raised illegally overseas. Republican agents like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are striking back, accusing Democrats of a government-run smear to divert attention from the economy. Even some Democrats are worried about a backfire. Meantime, as the TV commercials multiply, is this the “year of the Missing Candidate?”
CBNC's Cramer Gets Slammed by Jon Stewart On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart staged a showdown with Jim Cramer, the former hedge-fund manager turned clownish financial advisor and host of CNBC’s Mad Money . The New York Times said it was less an interview than " a cathartic ritual of indignation and castigation ," like a Senate committee hearing. Professor Robert Thompson is founding director of the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.
Saturday Night Live, Hillary Clinton, and Pop Culture and Politics Hillary Clinton 's new momentum has political junkies fixated on the influence of popular culture on politics. Gushing videos by supporters of Barack Obama prevailed on YouTube until a satirical late-night TV comedy skit made Clinton seem victimized by reporters. In the MSNBC debate just before the Ohio and Texas primaries, Clinton made a rather awkward reference to the Saturday Night Live skit. Suggesting that she was getting tougher questions than Barack Obama, she asked if the reporters didn't want to get him a pillow. Did that influence news coverage of the campaign? How important was it for Clinton to laugh at herself with Jon Stewart ? Have TV and movie portrayals of black and women presidents helped to make possible what used to happen only in fiction?
The Writers' Strike Despite the presence of a federal mediator, yesterday's last minute talks between television and film writers and the Alliance of Film and Television producers went nowhere. Today members of the Writers Guild of America began carrying picket signs in New York and Los Angeles. Should the rest of the nation care? We hear how new media are changing the world of entertainment and America's cultural economy.
Did My Cable Go Out during 'The Sopranos' Finale? Last night, millions of Americans thought there was trouble with their TV reception. But then the credits rolled on an anti-climax that has now taken its place in entertainment history. After 86 episodes including plenty of murderous violence, millions of viewers expected a dramatic ending to The Sopranos . As the Soprano family sat down for dinner at a family restaurant, nothing happened. Professor Robert Thompson founding director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television.
Pop Culture's Affect on Politics The TV show 24 portrays a hero who saves the country by violating the law. His use of torture is part of a hit program. An Inconvenient Truth is Al Gore's power-point lecture on global warming. For a movie-going audience, that might be the perfect sedative. But it's made more money than some big-time features and last night it won two Oscars . Both on stage with Leonardo DiCaprio and after the ceremony, Gore joked about another presidential run. Whether or not he does run again--or sparks action on climate change--one thing is clear: entertainment and politics really do mix. Do audiences get it? Are the messages getting through?
YouTube Find out what happens when you put a box of Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke. Watch a US senator make the mistake that lost him the race. It all started with one video of a trip to the zoo. Less than two years later, YouTube features 100 million videos, enjoys 20 million visitors each month, and has won Time magazine's Invention of the Year award. The founders of the Internet site have cashed in big, selling to Google for more than $1.65 billion. The video-sharing site has created a video village on the web, where anyone can be a star, from lip-synching teenage girls to skateboarding dogs. It even played an unexpected role in this year's elections. What is YouTube's appeal in a media-saturated age? Who's using it and why? How is it helping to redefine copyright issues? Sara Terry guest hosts. (An extended version of this discussion originally aired earlier today on To the Point.)
YouTube Video-Sharing Site Is Changing Popular Culture Find out what happens when you put a box of Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke. Watch a US senator make the mistake that lost him the race. It all started with one video of a trip to the zoo. Now, less than two years later, YouTube features 100 million videos, enjoys 20 million visitors each month, and has won Time magazine's Invention of the Year Award. The founders of the Internet site have cashed in big, selling to Google for more than $1.65 billion. The video-sharing site has created a video village on the web, where anyone can be a star, from lip-synching teenage girls to skateboarding dogs. It even played an unexpected role in this year's elections. What is YouTube's appeal in a media-saturated age? Who's using it and why? How is it helping to redefine copyright issues? Sara Terry guest hosts.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.