STILL MOWING THEM DOWN

No contest!

Donald Trump wins TV interviews through attrition, abetted by his questioners’ incompetence or resistance to bending their rigid program formats in the interest of truth and clarity.

Trump famously wears down interviewers with marathon stream-of-conscious riffs, benefiting hugely when they don’t require him to back up his tall tales—demand it on the spot—before speeding forward to the next question. Most of these interviewers haven’t the will or mental dexterity to engage in close-quarters combat with Trump. So they wilt; after each encounter, you can see his footprints on them.

And the smarter, more competent interviewers are too shackled by their stopwatches—must get on to the next interview—to go off script and take time to make him fully accountable.

Take the host of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” a very bright guy who does better than most with Trump. But still falls way, way short. That was true Sunday morning in an interview that was taped the day after the Democratic National Convention.

George Step-Trump interview

To his credit, GS threw in some pointed follow-up questions. But not nearly enough I found when watching the interview and later picking through the transcript.

His missed opportunities were plentiful, a list as long as Trump’s Pinocchio-lying nose. Here are a few:

–When questioned about former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Trump-trashing speech at the Dem convention, Trump responded, “…I think he made a deal with Hillary where he gets a job because he’d like to— ’’

STOP!

GS should have interrupted and asked: Do you have evidence that Bloomberg agreed to speak in exchange for a job in the Clinton administration? If Trump obfuscated (who, him?) or didn’t answer, GS should not have continued until he did answer. But the clock was ticking, and he moved on.

–Trump all but accused Clinton of rigging the coming three televised Presidential debates so that two would air against highly popular NFL games, implying she was fearful of losing and wanted as few voters a possible to see her face Trump: “You know, Hillary wants to be against the NFL—”

STOP!

GS should have cut in and demanded that Trump cite his evidence. But he didn’t.

–When GS brought up the anti-Trump Dem convention speech of Khizr Kahn, whose Army captain son, Humayun, died in Iraq, Trump asked, “Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writer write it? Everybody—”

STOP!

GS should have asked Trump for evidence to support his message that someone in the Clinton camp had written Khizr Kahn’s heartfelt speech. But he didn’t, instead letting Trump ramble on and leave behind his usual dungy trail of nasty innuendo.

Trump appears to have a very limited vocabulary and little command of the language. But the one word he’ll understand is the one he never hears.

STOP!

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GAVEL-TO-GAVEL GAB

I’ve been wall to wall with the GOP and Democratic conventions, and here is how the media shake out.

Throughout modern history, we’ve heard from movie critics, theater critics, music critics, dance critics, media critics, literary critics, architecture critics, culture critics, food critics and critics of critics. Have I omitted any? Oh, yes, inane and blustery (blush) TV critics.

Now it’s come down to this. TV anchors, reporters and commentators—mentally twiddling their thumbs as the two major parties execute their camera-ready stagecraft—have evolved into an arcane new species.

Speech critics.

Yes, thumbs up/thumbs down political journalists who generate blurbs as if writing for movie ads: glorious, superb, breathtaking, beautifully expressed, loved it. And slams, too, of course, with pundits and other Great Minds informing you if the podium speeches you watched were good or bad, electrifying or dull, effective or ineffective. As if you had to be told.

Take Tuesday night’s Dem headliner Bill Clinton. I experienced his speech from the perspective of someone who would rather Hillary possess the nuclear codes than hair-trigger Trumpet. It’s not that I don’t favor eliminating ISIS, only that I’d prefer not eliminating the entire planet at the same time.

Bill Clinton 3

So, I found Clinton’s speech masterfully written and delivered—sweet and personal leading to a big-bang payoff—however much of it may have been embroidered or flat-out erroneous. C’mon, I want her to win. So if the goal was to soften his wife’s image and show her “other side,” he nailed it.

I thought.

Though most of the reviews were positive, the beginning that I liked (“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl…”), a few speech critics didn’t dig at all. Several felt dwelling on the Clintons’ courtship was “risky,” given his famous philandering.

Not that assessing these speeches as entertainment value has a place in news.

Much of media see all of this as a kind of show biz, and approach it that way. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews can be an enjoyable hoot, for example. But you wanted to slap a strait jacket on him the way he raved about the Trumpet propaganda video at last week’s GOP convention, going on and on about Jon Voight’s narration, and again pounding that theme late Tuesday night after Clinton’s speech.

His is not the only media pulse pounding like a Tom Tom these days.

Yet the GOP and Democratic nominating conventions are rarely more than tailored-for-TV-and-iPad infomercials, and their speakers as much gussied-up  hucksters as Matthew McConaughey in a Lincoln. All of it is self-serving propaganda.

Nothing is written in stone about media being responsible for giving presidential candidates “bounce” in the polls via free exposure at these partisan extravaganzas.

Nonetheless, these suckers are covered live and lavishly like the blockbuster news events they aren’t, when, with a few obvious exceptions, a 90-second daily TV summary and half column of newspaper or Internet space plus a few photos would suffice. For junkies, there’s always gavel-to-gavel no-frills coverage on C-SPAN.

One speech that hardly merited live coverage in its marathon entirety was Clinton’s Hillary toast. You couldn’t have detected news in it even with a Geiger counter. Nor much breaking news of any kind in both conventions.

Good people disagree about whether the present system of having state primaries and caucuses cumulatively pick major party presidential nominees is better or worse than the combustible oldies where choices for the top job were dictated by wheeling, dealing party leaders. What would the Bernie-or-busters say about that?

I’m no nostalgia-nik. But oh, for the good old days when these suckers were shows you could count on, a real rumble of action and insults, several days of suspenseful infighting over naming the party’s standard-bearer.

That hasn’t happened for years. Let’s see, what was that guy’s name, Grover Cleveland?

But seriously…it is true that no convention since 1952 has gone past the first ballot. Not for decades, in fact, has there been a truly definitive one whose top nominee was not taken for granted in advance. Whose undecided delegates truly made a difference. Whose TV interviews had relevance beyond filling time and justifying the expense of mounting this absurd level of coverage.

As for this month, my blurb: Enough already.

Rosenbeast Returns

We’re b-a-a-a-a-a-ck.

Rosenbeast and the board of directors (see Bio) have been on hiatus, and now we’re back—smarter, smirkier, smuttier, smellier and—obviously—as alliterative as ever.

And more angry.

Election Outrage: I’m not just pissed at the Clintons; I’m white-hot furious!  Just livid that their bullshit blunders and appalling judgement have widened a path for a pitch-dark, know-nothing, predatory carnivore to become our next President.

Is this really happening or just another bad Hollywood script? If only…

Hillary and Donald

Despite her own sinkhole flaws, Hillary Clinton should be leading that dangerous dingbat Donald Trump in the polls by half a mile, not half a head. And even that thin margin may be kayoed by the latest one-two punch of Bill Clinton’s outrageous private chat with Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch followed by FBI Director James B. Comey citing Hillary’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information on her private email account.

She may avoid criminal prosecution but not prosecution in the court of public opinion, as voters decide between a congenital liar in Trumpet and a selective liar in Hillary.

My God, what lack of character and, most surprisingly, incredible stupidity. The Clintons are supposed to be plenty smart. But how smart do they look now? And how deceitful?

Self-serving Plug: I am now writing short stories for Nikki Finke’s website, HollywoodDementia.com. My first title to land, “Paradise,” is very dark. Coming: “A Killer Review,” less dark. In progress: “Law & Disorder,” spun from my ongoing addiction to “Law & Order” reruns. Rehab hasn’t worked. After all these years, I’m still hooked and helpless to resist.

“Life on Speed”: That’s the title of a book Charles Feldman and I are researching. It’s our second book about the Internet, but this time a pavement’s-eye-perspective of its impact on everyday society.

Not on government and other big institutions—that’s been done. But on ordinary individuals. We’re collecting personal stories of how the Internet impacts you—the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. In other words, if it changes the way you live your life and/or do your job—for better or for worse.

We’re especially interested in ways the Internet’s blazing speed alters society. On a macro level, it’s changed the world. But what about the individual? Has our sped-up, revved-up cosmos changed your life in any way?

If you have a story to tell, here’s your chance. I’m listening.