The Digital Journalist
November 2004

by Beverly Spicer

The election is over and some of you E-Bit-meisters have hit a brick wall at the end of your massively creative attempts to sway voters this way or that. The number of E-Bits floating around in October was at an all-time high, and much of it started to run together on my desktop after awhile. The content of most everything that arrived in my mailbox reflected the voting trend. From Democrats, I received a myriad of articles, videos or scathing commentary concerning social issues, the economy, war and accountability. From Republicans, I was more likely to receive flowery poems and visuals with angels and prayers, flags, smiley faces and dancing teddy bears, or lists of flip-flop statistics. Character assassination was big, and what I saw tended strongly toward outrage from both sides, never the twain to meet. Everyone was outraged—outraged or oblivious. Before this season, it was hard to imagine a passive-aggressive angel or militant teddy bear. Even smiley faces were frowning, though I have to admit I didn't think those wolves looked all that scary.

Some time around the third week before the election, I began a pattern of running back and forth between computer and TV, to see what the latest juicy arrival was over e-mail or what was going on as I surfed continuously from one news channel to the next. Just about the time I started to realize that the outrage was fully unleashed IN the media, I began receiving clips about the media itself. So my last days preceding November 2 were dedicated to a sort of full-blown media-watch.

As you know from last month's column, THE DAILY SHOW offers a nightly, comedic recap of the day's news as well as interviews with prominent riders on the merry-go-round of U.S. politics and world events. But it was when DAILY SHOW funnyman Jon Stewart appeared on CNN's CROSSFIRE with Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that we hit a new high, or low (whichever way you want to look at it) in the media circus. Stewart was deadly serious in criticizing CROSSFIRE's divisive commentators, and they returned the compliment in kind. "Stop. Stop hurting America," he pleaded with them, "What you're doing is hurting us. We need your help." "You're not being funny," complained Carlson. "Be funny." Stewart asked where the likes of Begala and Carlson go after the debates. "You go to Spin Alley," he said. "Don't you think for people watching at home that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called Deception Lane?" After being attacked for not asking hard enough news questions on his comedy show, when their offering is pure partisan hackery on a serious news channel, Stewart lamented, "We're in bad shape, fellas." I have to agree. Watch Jon Stewart, unspun, in this clip from CROSSFIRE

Speaking of Spin Alley, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog appeared last month on NBC's LATE NIGHT with Conan O'Brian in a hilariously rabid exchange with media luminaries over at Deception Lane right after one of the debates. Watch TRIUMPH AT SPIN ALLEY

October was like being inside a washing machine, there was so much spin. As for schlock, sometimes just a little dab'll do ya, as they used to say in the Brylcreem commercial. I don't know if I could take a steady diet of Shaun Hannity of HANNITY & COLMES, whom I watch for fascination value, but here he is, giving us the FOX NEWS Channel in a nutshell, as he interviews Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

With Halloween just past, I'm wondering how many of you saw these 2004 costumes that arrived on my desktop in a cyberspace trick-or-treat instead of at my door. If you think mere ghosts and goblins aren't frightening enough anymore, take a look at these VERY SCARY HALLOWEEN COSTUMES and their descriptions.

Last but not least is an animation, GOP ARE THE CHAMPIONS from, for a little post-election gloating, conservative-style.

We will all look forward to the bright days of December, and whether you're elated or devastated by the election, join me in thinking about this 1,000 year-old poem by Izumi Shikibu (A.D. 1002-1003) that just arrived this morning on my desktop.

It is true the wind
Blows terribly here - - but moonlight also leaks
Between the roof planks of this ruined house.

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.

The links that appear in this column are from World Wide Web. Credit is given where the creator is known. The Digital Journalist and the author claim no copyright ownership of any video or photographic materials that appear herein.