So what are these awards--the JOOP AWARDS? They are awarded to the five people in the media who I believe we should most treasure for their unique voice, honest take on events, reasoned perspective on major issues, and articulate, unpretentious communication skills. JOOP stands for Jerry's Opinion Only, People, and if I were stranded on a dessert island, these are the five I would want to still have access to so I could keep in touch with world events. And then there are the UNJOOP AWARDS, the five media personalities I believe we could most do without, and would all be better off if they were removed to a dessert island and no longer available to the rest of us.
These are not in any particular order of importance or preference.
THE JOOP RECIPIENTS:
1. David Brooks--perhaps the most rational Republican commentator out there. His NY Times columns are some of the few available that maintain the spirit of the old-fashioned newspaper columnist. And one of the only must-see TV events in the field of political discourse is his weekly debate with Mark Shields at the end of the Friday edition of PBS Newshour.
2. Andrea Mitchell--NBCs Chief Foreign Correspondent, is one of the hardest working reporters in network news. And she always checks her facts, a quality dramatically lacking in many of her colleagues. I've seen her work ethic firsthand when we were both at KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia (we even dated a few times), and she almost singlehandedly changed the presence of women in media from ditzy weather girls to respected journalists.
3. Andy Borowitz, our best political humorist, period. His columns for NewYorker.com are in the tradition of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Mort Sahl.
4. Peggy Noonan, another Republican voice of sense and sensibility. She's come a long, long way since being Ronald Reagan's primary speech writer. I don't always agree with her, but she always tells the truth, gets her facts straight, and leavens her commentary with humor and humanity. She also wrote one of the speeches considered among the ten best of the 20th Century, President Reagan's address to the nation after the Challenger shuttle explosion.
5. Andrew Sullivan, founder of the Daily Dish blog, and frequent guest on TV political talk shows. That rarity of rarities, a conservative gay Republican, he is always provocative, often at odds with his party, and just a refreshing presence on the media scene.
Wow, how about that for diversity? Three Republicans, two women, one gay man. Together, while on that dessert island, I think I would get a truly fair and balanced view of what was going on.
THE UNJOOP AWARDS:
These are the media stars I could most do without, who get their facts most wrong, and who never would have met the standards I had to live by when I was a broadcast journalist.
1. Ann Coulter, who is more of a media clown than a serious commentator, probably has done more damage than most of them, since in order to bring attention to herself, she makes the most outlandish provably wrong political statements. Some people must take her seriously, so that she has become a bestselling author instead of being laughed off the stage or publicly shunned. Her transgressions are too numerous to catalog here, but whenever she appears, you can be certain of one thing, at least one major lie will be told and retold.
2. Rush Limbaugh, America's right wing Windbag-and-OxyContin-Addict-In-Chief. The most notable thing about him is that you can listen to his show today and not be able to distinguish it from any show he did twenty-five years ago. The same prejudices against Democrats and women and minorities, the same lame jokes. If we ever think we have made intellectual progress as a nation, that view is quickly dispelled when we realize this guy has the number one radio talk show in the U.S.
3. Glenn Beck, the ultimate conspiracy theorist and Joseph Goebbels mini-me, his views are so outrageous that he has largely lost his influence. If political commentators were forced to undergo psychological evaluations, this man would be institutionalized rather than talking to anyone.
4. Laura Ingraham, another conservative blonde bimbo, though she seems more articulate and intelligent than Coulter.
5. John McLaughlin, host of The McLaughlin Group, which used to be on my must-see list, and was a favorite political talk show for over twenty years. But, sad to say, John is losing coherence week by week, and I wouldn't be surprised to see any announcement that he is suffering from Alzheimer's. His panel members try to ignore his many gaffes and prop him up, but he embarrasses them and himself by refusing to pack it in. The former Jesuit priest and Nixon speech writer could have left a couple of years ago at the top of his game.
There you go, and once again, remember these are Jerry's Opinion Only, People.
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