Thursday, June 08, 2006

Harry Shearer: Voice of the Simpsons Becomes Voice for Media Criticism

One of the biggest recent regrets I have professionally was my failure to reach comic Harry Shearer when I was preparing a profile on Arianne Huffington and her Huffington Post blog.

That's because Shearer's voice has become one of the most interesting things in that space, providing endlesly insightful commentary about media miscues in an area called Eat the Press.

One of his most recent, spot-on, commentaries took on Huffington herself, as one of a group of pundits who downplayed the Arms Corps of Engineers' admission that the levees in New Orleans failed because they didn't build them correctly -- not because a hurricane knocked them down.

Shearer, a New Orleans resident, has been tirelessly passionate in his criticism of media outlets which have gotten the Katrina story wrong, finding time ocasionally for a bon mot directed on other fronts (he notes, for example, that conservatives who decry the bad news reporting from Iraq also have to take on the U.S. Iraq ambassador, who describes conditions worse than many news reports).

The HuffPost this week has seriously amped up its Eat the Press section, with showcase links to loads of media stories ranging from the kerfluffle over Ann Coulter's latest heretical rantings to allegations the Boston Herald plagiarized a story on plagiarism. It's a sleek-looking space with tons of information; a welcome addition to the world of media watching.

The only drawback: poor Harry is scrunched down toward the bottom of the page, crowded out by more professional, splashier voices. Hope they don't forget to keep giving special prominence to the guy who made that section crackle when it was just a nook inside the HuffPost machine.

I mean, it's easy to hate a guy talented enough to go from voicing Monte Burns to voicing sharp insights about media miscues (he, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert continue to prove that satirists are often the most savvy observers of media). But I'll keep scanning Eat the Press for his delightfully ascerbic wit, as one of the few celebs on HuffPost with consistent, engaging things to say.

Brangelina News Crosses into the Absurd

Is this really worth $4.1-million? (I'd publish the photo here, but Mother Times don't have the legal muscle Gawker does, so I'll let them take the hit).

Shout Out From CBS Appreciated

Deep in their blog entry about CBS' exhaustive coverage of the bomb blast which killed two of its news staffers and seriously injuroed correspodent Kimberly Dozier (they even had footage of an extremely battered-looking Dozier being loaded onto a transport plane to the U.S. yesterday), CBS' Public Eye blog noted my post comparing their response to ABC's much more guarded reaction when anchor Bob Woodruff was hurt in January.

Thanks guys. Even though many officials at CBS denied reacting to ABC's example in deciding how to handle releasing information on Dozier, they acknowledged being aware of their rival's reaction. Always nice to see when one's thinking might impact someone higher on the media food chain.


  • At 1:54 PM, June 08, 2006, formerly mr anonymous said…

    gayle fee at the bos herald explains her theft of the e&p piece by saying she posted it just as she was 'running out the door' and shd have credited e&p....tsk tsk.....before the internet made cutting and pasting and googling so easy, things like that wd have been impossible. not only did the press not screw up as much, but no one knew what anyone else was doing bec there was no vast online community. kind of makes one long for the good old days...

  • At 7:49 PM, June 08, 2006, Anonymous said…

    You may be right. But on a personal level, Harry Shearer is condescending, self-absorbed, nasty, venal, and just too pleased with himself for words. Spend ten minutes with him, and you'll never want to hear about him again.

  • At 3:15 PM, June 09, 2006, Anonymous said…

    To "Anonymous":
    You're mistaken. I just didn't like you.



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