Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Politics (61-70 of 205)

The latest Republican debate: Perry falters again, Cain thunders defensively, Bachmann gets 'two Happy Meals,' Newt goes 'radical'

The Republican debate televised on CNBC on Wednesday night featured eight candidates engaged in an economics-themed tussle that will probably be overshadowed in the media by a Rick Perry gaffe and Herman Cain on the sexual-harassment defense. It took a mere 20 minutes for one of the questioners, Maria Bartiromo, to ask Cain about his extra-economic troubles. There were boos from the Michigan audience when she did, and cheers when the questioning was steered back to the issues. READ FULL STORY

'Rock Center with Brian Williams' premiere review: 'Birth tourism' and man-camps: Jon Stewart gives his blessing and some beer

Brian Williams has carved out a unique position in network news. He’s the anchor for NBC’s nightly news at a time when the early-evening national newscast has never meant less to a public used to 24-hour cable news and instant internet updates. So Williams has raised his profile by pursuing his instincts, which are those of a wiseguy. He’s been very funny on talk shows, displaying a wry, self-deprecating humor that doesn’t undercut his authority when he has to report breaking news or grave stories. Which also makes him one of the few news broadcasters who can make the most out of the showcase he’s been given: the cutesily named but engagingly interesting Rock Center with Brian Williams. READ FULL STORY

David Letterman 'loves' the Occupy Wall Street protests: 'I'm very sympathetic' -- with Leno UPDATE

David Letterman did not pussyfoot around in making clear his feelings about the Occupy Wall Street protestors. “I love these people causin’ trouble,” he said on Monday night’s Late Show. “Increasingly, this is the way we get change in this country.” READ FULL STORY

CNN Republican debate turned into 'Ocean's Seven': It was Vegas, baby!

The “Western Republican Presidential Debate,” televised by CNN, began with a heavily produced intro that made sure you knew the debate took place in Las Vegas. A gritty-voiced narrator ran down the current odds for the candidates, their pictures placed on playing cards tossed onto green felt. The poker game where “the stakes are high”! Where Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul are “wild cards”! Wayne Newton was in the audience! READ FULL STORY

Sheen says he 'adores' Obama, criticizes 'corporate America' for not 'investing back'

Describing President Obama as “still the only adult in the room,” Martin Sheen will tell Joy Behar tonight that liberals in Hollywood should hold back on criticizing the President: “Steady, steady,” he warns recent celebrity Obama critics such as Michael Moore and Matt Damon, “you’re talking about a very special man.” READ FULL STORY

See video of Herman Cain singing 'Imagine There's No Pizza'; John Lennon dismayed in heaven

Presidential candidate Herman Cain has been doing his best to establish himself as a viable option in this election season. Now The Omaha World-Herald has released a video of the Godfather Pizza king singing a variation on John Lennon’s “Imagine” that may tip your opinion one way or another. READ FULL STORY

'Prohibition' premiere review: Get drunk on this good stuff

Watching Prohibition, you can almost hear Ken Burns knock back a shot of Bushmills, slam the glass on the bar, and yell, “Yee haw — let’s make us some television!” There’s a hot-cheeked vigor to this three-night production on PBS, crammed with history, revelation, drama, and opinion. It’s both an eye-opener to the past, and a remarkable metaphor for the woozy present we’re reeling through today. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' season premiere review: Alec Baldwin, Tony Bennett, Herman Cain, and comedy of promotion

We bring to Saturday Night Live standards for funniness that are different than those we apply to everything else on TV. We cut the show a lot of slack for simply getting a 90-minute live show up and running every week. SNL has been on so long, it’s embedded a kind of reflex action in generations of viewers: If the studio audience thinks a sketch is funny, we’re liable to read more funniness into it than may be there, and any cast member or host who does a good celebrity impersonation is granted a degree of immunity from criticism, since impersonations have been the one consistent element that SNL goes back to time and again with the greatest degree of success. READ FULL STORY

The Tea Party/CNN debate: Ganging up on Rick Perry, as Kurt Cobain makes a cameo

The Tea Party Republican debate turned into a brawl pretty fast on Monday night. Well aware of the momentum that Gov. Rick Perry has as the most media-analyzed Republican of the moment, candidates including Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann went after him on issues ranging from Social Security to the HPV vaccine.

Airing on CNN, the debate displayed more fierce competition than its time-period competitor, the season finale of Bachelor Pad on ABC and the Miss Universe pageant on NBC. That comparison is apt: These GOP contestants, so fiercely fixed on appealing to the Tea Party members in the audience who asked them questions, behaved like well-groomed models striving for just the right words, just the right glances and smiles, that would win over their viewers.

Perry pledged to “make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.” He was heckled by Mitt Romney about his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” Romney adding that this “scares” the American people. Jon Huntsman went pop-culture on the panel by asserting that “Gov. Romney called [Social Security] a fraud in his book No Apology — I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not — and then you’ve got Gov. Perry calling it a Ponzi scheme… we’re frightening the American people.” Americans including, one presumes, Courtney Love, if she happened to be watching Huntsman misquote the song title “All Apologies.”

Newt Gingrich scored a crowd-pleaser with a verbal bank-shot that managed to ding three targets: “I’m not particularly worried about Gov. Perry or Gov. Perry scaring the American people,” Gingrich said, “when President Obama scares them every day.” Oh, psych! Oh, was there a point he was making there? Oh, right: The President’s new jobs bill is terrible, don’tcha know…

The other subject that set the TV aflame was the HPV vaccine, administered to many school-children to prevent cervical cancer; HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. In Texas, Perry had been in favor of requiring the vaccine to be administered to girls in the sixth grade and up. He is certainly not the only governor to support this, but his opponents this night lit into him as though he was in favor of shooting up puppies with heroin.

Saying “cervical cancer is a terrible way to die,” Perry said he’d erred on the side of trying to prevent such deaths. Bachmann interpreted this as Perry doing a flip-flop, and said, “Little girls don’t get a mulligan; they don’t get a do-over.” While Rick Santorum said the program Perry once favored was “bad policy,” Bachmann went further, digging deeper into melodramatic, tangled syntax, asserting that she was “offended for all the little girls … who didn’t have a choice.” She said the vaccine “violates liberty… [with] 12 year-olds forced to have an injection into their body [sic].”

Even though it was moderated by Wolf “My Voice Is Making You Sleepy, Sleepy” Blitzer, the Tea Party debate made for some of the liveliest TV in this political season. And as I write, every media outlet with a working knowledge of Google is undoubtedly going haywire fact-checking all the dramatic economic, medical, and musical references that were made this night.

Twitter: @kentucker

President Obama, the American Jobs Act, and the media: Who was listening? Who was buying it?

President Obama preempted … Jeopardy!? Seinfeld syndicated reruns? … to deliver his “American Jobs Act” speech, careful to avoid both Big Brother and the Packers-versus-Saints game. The president offered a combination of oratory and policy proposals that were driven home by one oft-repeated phrase: “You should pass this jobs plan right away.” READ FULL STORY

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