My absolute favorite podcast, THE REWATCHABLES, is doing a live staging tonight in Los Angeles. If you’re not familiar with it, it combines the two passions of its creator and founder Bill Simmons and his minions–sports and movies–and revisits classic movies through the lens of a fresh look and a series of category ratings much like the post-mortem of a sporting event. Tonight they’re (over)analyzing A FEW GOOD MEN, which for my money features one of the most compelling scenes in movie history. Yes, THIS one. Do you think I title these musings randomly?
Tickets went on sale a week ago, but it happened to fall on the one morning in the last few weeks where I actually had a business meeting. But the site continued to promise that there would eventually be more released. I visited the site at least twice a day, but, alas, nothing. Didn’t sit well with me. Not one bit.
If someone promises me something, I don’t think it’s beyond reasonable expectations to either a) deliver on it or b) at least offer a reasonable explanation for why the promise can’t be fulfilled and an estimate for when it could. Just don’t LIE to me and make a promise you can’t or won’t keep.
My best friend lives by that one principle. She’d rather hear an uncomfortable truth rather than catch you in a lie. We have had some uncomfortable conversations of late. But at least we have them.
And then I look around at whatver headline alert I seem to get in my inbox when my oft-canceled plans give me time to clear it out and it hits me like a ton of bricks. We have become a nation of liars.
Wednesday’s hearing for Hunter Biden was already poised to be a historic event, as the son of a sitting US president appeared in court to plead guilty to federal tax crimes, bringing a controversial investigation to a near close.
But the three-plus hour hearing saw the original plea agreement nearly fall apart and leaves the son of President Joe Biden in limbo for the moment – and will only further brighten the spotlight on the issue as congressional Republicans pursue their own investigations into Hunter Biden’s actions.
Hunter Biden failed to pay between $1.1 million and $1.5 million in federal taxes before the legal deadlines and was set to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors with prosecutors agreeing to recommend a sentence of probation. The deal was also meant to resolve a federal firearms offense.
(He) was placed under oath and told US District Judge Maryellen Noreika – an appointee of President Donald Trump who was supported by Senate Democrats – that he wanted to plead guilty. Noreika began asking him a series of procedural questions that are asked at basically every federal plea hearing.
But as things dragged on, and Noreika quizzed the lawyers from both sides about the particulars of the tax deal, she sussed out a disagreement between the parties on a critical question: Did the deal protect Hunter from possibly facing additional charges for illegal foreign lobbying, known as FARA (The Foreign Agents Registration Act)? The Justice Department said no, but Hunter Biden’s team thought yes.
Without a “meeting of the minds,” as Noreika put it, there could be no deal.
Think what you will of the degree of honesty we’ve seen from the leading Republican candidate and his family. None of us need to rehash THAT. But let’s just say that the alternative doesn’t look all that appealing these days.
And if you are so sympatico as to think there’s anything better beyond the Biden family, I’d urge you to take a gander at this thoughtful reaction to the debate going on between the incumbent’s “right hand” and his opponent’s top “challenger” which USA TODAY’s Ingrid Jacques penned this morning:
It’s tough to be disliked more than Joe Biden these days, but Vice President Kamala Harris has managed to outshine her boss on this metric. She spurred a slew of headlines after attacking Florida’s recently revamped social studies standards, which include the teaching of African American history.
Yet, Harris went beyond political chiding into the realm of deceit when she blasted the Florida Board of Education’s new standards as “revisionist history.” Harris took the most umbrage at a part of the standards that calls for instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The next day, she doubled down on her remarks while on a visit to Florida expressly to bash the social studies standards: “They want to replace history with lies.”
“These extremist, so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach if we really are invested in the well-being of our children. Instead, they dare to push propaganda to our children,” Harris said in Jacksonville.
The way she described the updated standards, you’d think the point was to whitewash history by painting the horrors of slavery in some sort of positive light. If that were true, it would deserve outrage.
If you read the standards, however, that’s far from the truth.
Shortly before the Civil War began, slaves made up more than 40% of Florida’s population. The state’s disturbing history includes horrific violence against Black people after the Civil War. Florida also had some of the worst Jim Crow laws in the country. Those laws, which denied Black Americans basic rights, were enforced into the 1960s, meaning in the lifetime of many people alive today.
It’s essential that students learn about their state’s ugly history. But the new social studies standards don’t gloss over the damning facts.
So, sorry, Momaleh, much as it may be cool and opportunistic to castigate Ron DeSantis as a feckless reactionary, as Disney executives did so in a press release that THE WRAP released last night, you haven’t exactly draped yourself in glory, either.
And speaking of Hollywood trades, this whopper of accusations of lies unfolded yesterday. Per THE WRAP’s Natalie Korach:
Former CNN president Jeff Zucker has requested a retraction for a Variety report that characterized him as desperate to acquire the network, an individual close to Zucker told TheWrap.
Variety is facing intense backlash in response to a report published Tuesday by executive editor Tatiana Siegel that claimed Zucker has spent the last year courting billionaires to secure funding in an effort to purchase CNN.
Siegel’s full story can be read via the link below, and I’d strongly encourage you to find the time once again to fully digest it. For the moment, Siegel and her publication are standing by what she wrote. But Korach, one of the few voices of scale beyond a Jay Penske-monopolized trade media monopoly, tossed out this nugget of framing worthy of gnawing on:
Since the article was published on Tuesday, rumors have circulated that one of Siegel’s sources was former CNN CEO Chris Licht, who was pushed out of the network following a tumultuous tenure.
“It is abundantly clear that Chris Licht is trying to re-write history,” argued a Zucker confidant.
Siegel’s article is not only receiving backlash from Zucker’s camp but also from The Atlantic, which she invoked in relation to Tim Alberta’s damning profile of Licht that led to the CNN CEO’s ouster. The Variety article questioned Alberta and The Atlantic’s journalistic integrity while claiming that the 14,000-word takedown contained inaccurate reporting.
Alberta took to Twitter to reject Siegel’s claims while calling Variety’s “editorial standards” into question. “A retraction is probably in order,” said Alberta, “but I doubt they have the stomach for it.”
Now frame that against this one key segment from Siegel’s piece:
“This has been a massive dick swing between David Zaslav and Jeff Zucker, and Chris got played right in the middle of it,” says one insider who has been privy to major recent decisions at CNN. “When all is said and done, we’re going to find out this whole thing was a big game, and the price of CNN is going to get driven down.”
So SOMEBODY is lying. Or, perhaps, everyone is.
Just like the website supposedly selling tickets to tonight’s REWATCHABLES did. Or so I thought.
Because early this morning, after the umpteenth refresh, I was at last offered the chance to purchase a ticket.
So there goes my diatribe on being lied to by them.
However, the current price for that resale ticket is $250.
That’s a few dollars beyond what my budget will allow me to spend, even on Mr. Simmons, Chris Ryan and the other brilliant observers who I’m certain will have quite a bit to say on some of these other lies dominating the news of late, especially off the record.
So my truth means I’m yet again gonna miss out on something I really want.
Just like I did the other night when once again one simple word from one special person might have made me a bit less frustrated and a notch closer to closure.
It didn’t happen. And, as I sob uncontrollably through writing this, it’s becoming increasingly evident that it will NEVER happen. No matter how much I’d like to believe it’s deserved. No matter how badly I believe I NEED it.
More objective and less emotional observers might like to try to console me and yet again urge me to just move on.
I can’t, No, I WON’T.
Because Nathan R. Jessep was right. The character went to jail, a threat that’s already been thrown out to me at least twice. Well, I’m still a free man. But the actor who delivered that line earned an Academy Award nomination, And as THE LOOPER’s Nick Staniforth wrote, that’s because someone called an audible:
Fans of the film know that when provoked by Cruise’s ‘snot-nosed’ lawyer, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, in the final round of this trial for the ages, Jessup’s rant sparks from “you can’t handle the truth,” which cuts through the courtroom like a knife, and has become one of Nicholson’s most quoted lines. However, the original line thrown at Kaffee from the witness box was actually “You already have the truth!” According to Judith Humphrey’s book “Impromptu: Leading in the Moment,” the change was made by Nicholson himself on the spot, rounding off a hair-raising 21 minutes between himself and Cruise. While we’ll never know how it may have sounded with the initial line, the alteration actually benefits both the speech and the character as a whole. The modification amplifies Jessup’s sense of superiority over Kaffey, which he unknowingly loses with every sentence that follows, making his realization of where he’s gone wrong that much sweeter.
So I’m calling my own audible. I’m putting out into the universe that someone, perhaps on the Ringerverse’s Reddit site, might respond to my plea for a Grateful Dead-like miracle. Or at least a price point south of $250.
My expectations and hope are minimal, though. Based on what’s been happening to me over the last few days, I’ve got plenty of reasons to have that mindset, versus the one I’ve been urged to adopt. Because, much like any observer of the world at large, I already have the truth. But I can’t handle it. Not today, at least.
Until next time…