Moyer's NOW, Carville Crossfire

The Best Not-Well-Enough-Known Show in America

Did anyone watch Bill Moyers put the heat on the chemical industry on Friday night? Does anyone know about Moyer's newish show, NOW, on PBS every Friday evening? It's the best show on television that not enough people are watching. We've all complained about creeping infotainment, media concentration, the lack of serious investigative TV, the tabloid nature of the magazine shows and on and on. Now we've got a show worth supporting, so let's spread the word. Press on the show has been minimal. Journalists, critics: How about some articles?

Last Friday's NOW offered a thorough analysis of the impact that thousands of untested chemicals are having on children, whose growing bodies are far more vulnerable than adults are to chemical exposure. The show was smart, sophisticated, comprehensive but not hysterical: No rash unsupported claims were put forward. Yet the evidence is overwhelming that we are in the process of being slowly poisoned. The chemical industry, which is not subject to testing requirements, is free to unload new and potentially dangerous materials onto the marketplace everyday.

Moyers' show advanced his earlier PBS special "Trade Secrets," and in the Masher's opinion this show was actually stronger. Moyers took the time to engage with community activists like West Harlem's Peggy Shepherd and focused on the many dangers, some controllable, some not, of air in New York, as pregnant women don special backpacks to test their exposure to all types of pollutants. Read more at

The chemical industry should be feeling some heat. Just last week, "Blue Vinyl," a "toxic comedy" by filmmakers Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold aired on HBO. Blue Vinyl took Trade Secret's message and made it fun, which isn't easy when dealing with PVCs. The film traces the environmental and health hazards of the world's second fastest-selling plastic. But don't take my word for it. Respected TV critic Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called it "that rare muckraking film with a sense of humor."

If you missed Blue Vinyl, there is still another chance to catch it. It airs Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 am on HBO. Since it's hard to laugh that early, if you can figure out how to program your VCR -- unlike the Masher -- then tape it and give it to your friends. For more about the national campaign for safer consumer products, see

Carville and Begala Kick Ass on Crossfire

Alan Bisbort, media critic for the Hartford Advocate, brings us up to date on the fireworks on CNN's Crossfire. He explains that the recent addition of Clinton mad dogs James Carville and Paul Begala as cohosts for the left on Crossfire (replacing Bill Press) is sending the Republicans rushing to the sidelines with their tails between their legs. Marc Racicot, ex-Enron executive who is now head of the Republican National Committee (isn't that interesting; from Enron to the Republicans?) was so rattled by tough questions on a recent show that he "fired off a memo to all Republicans warning them to avoid the show."

Here's a short exchange:
Carville: "What, is Mark Racicot, the Republican National Chairman, afraid to come on the show?"

Tucker Carlson: "that is absolutely -- "
Carville: "He's a weenie from the left, this is James Carville."

Not exactly enlightening -- but refreshing to see the left being as obnoxious as the right has been.

Bisbort advises visiting for a daily running tally of great exchanges. Not surprisingly, according to Bisbort, Crossfire is now the most popular news discussion show on TV. It seems that CNN and MSNBC are finally getting smarter in the face of being overtaken by Fox in the cable news category. CNN with a revamped Crossfire and MSNBC with a new show with Phil Donahue debuting in the summer are beginning to understand that progressives can play serious hardball, and it is good for ratings too.

Newspaper Circ Wars

Many of the country's largest daily newspapers didn't increase circulation totals in 2001, despite the events of 9/11, which did boost the sales of New York City dailies. And USA Today, the country's largest daily, was hurt by the attacks on New York and Washington.

The Wall Street Journal, ranked second, stayed virtually the same compared with 2000 with 1,821,000 daily readers, while the Washington Post at #5 increased a meager 0.7 percent to 812,000 papers distributed.

USA Today slipped 3.4 percent, due in part to half-empty hotels and airplanes due to shrinking numbers of travelers. USA Today is far and away the largest daily in bulk sales with 42 percent of the circulation semi-padded. The LA Times at #4 with 986,000 lost the most readers (6.9 percent) due primarily to a price increase for a single copy by 50 cents. By far the biggest gains in 2001 were earned by the New York Post, the right-wing rag owned by Rupert Murdoch. It increased circulation 15.4 percent to 563,000 and is now ranked number 9 -- its growth paralleling that of Fox's conservative cable news station. The Daily News, the Post's fierce competitor remained at # 6 with 733,000. Other rankings include:

# 7 Chicago Tribune, 628,000
# 8 Newsday, 578,000
#10 Houston Chronicle, 546,000
#11 Dallas Morning, 526,000
# 12 San Francisco Chronicle, 525,000
#15 Boston Globe, 479,000

Shameless Self Promotion Dept.

After being tabbed as one of Yahoo Internet Life's Top 100 websites, has been nominated for a Webby. And -- gasp -- highlighted by an item in Maxim magazine, the fastest growing men's (aka Laddy) magazine in the world. But hold that thought for a second, and don't ask why the Masher was reading Maxim.

Ironically, AlterNet's Webby nomination came in the Activist category and not in Zines, where AlterNet clearly belongs. The Masher's theory is that despite providing the 30 or more compelling pieces of journalism each week, AlterNet's put-a-bug-up-your-butt style translates to activism in some judges' minds -- whatever. But we're not complaining: no sireee. We're playing to win. So please, if you are really AlterNet's friend, you will go to and vote for us in the People's Choice category of the Webbys. One of the cute things about the Webbys is that if you win, your acceptance speech at the award ceremony can only be five words. (Any suggestions for what AlterNet should say in case we win?)

And then there's Maxim. Maxim's June UK edition included the headline: "Keanu in Bad Film Shocker: A website has launched its own worst film awards and named them after the talented movie star Keanu Reeves. Sources at say the awards were created in honor of the actor most able to make bad movie after bad movie, with little or no acting skill in evidence, and yet emerge unscathed and well-loved." Maxim apparently disagreed, but the Keanus were a big hit: Stay tuned for next year's version.

And in case you think Maxim ignores important news, it also headlined Lesbian Barbie, announcing that a film showing Barbie getting frisky with her Latina maid was banned in Mexico. Apparently Mattel obtained a court order banning "Barbie Gets Sad Too," claiming it would "ruin the doll's wholesome image."
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