The Insider: Diss ‘N’ Dat

Nov 16, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Insider is serving a time-out in the cranky corner this week, so today’s column is written by her less cranky Whatnot.
Those who don’t know what a Whatnot is didn’t see last week’s extended “takeover” of NBC’s “Today” by the Muppets, which really was an extended run-up to a segment about Muppet Whatnots, which is what Muppeteers call the man-made extras in Muppet scenes. Whatnots have been spun into a new make-your-own moneymaker franchise with a “boutique” inside the flagship FAO Schwarz store in Manhattan. Think Mr. Potato Head meets Build-a-Bear with a Muppet aesthetic.
Best moment: “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira assuming the up-against-the-wall position with an all-too-authentic alacrity and spread upon the order of security guard Bobo the Bear.
Those who don’t know what weather gabber Dave Price looks like in a powder-blue polyester leisure suit and stacked heels didn’t see “The Early Show’s” heavily costumed time trip through five decades, the most unattractive of which was the ’70s. Not even Julie Chen can pull off a tuffet atop the tresses.
Best moment: When it was over.
While The Insider is facing the wall in her cranky corner, she is cross-stitching a wall sampler with the fabled list of words one can’t say on public airwaves for MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (who, of course, is on cable and not subject to FCC sanction). She’s going to cross-stitch a line through the f-word that Mr. Scarborough uttered on “Morning Joe” last week. The wall sampler is to be taken not as a list of no-no’s, but as a series of goals. There’s nothing more entertaining than Mr. Scarborough making an apology. Bonus points would be in order now that MSNBC has slapped a seven-second delay on the show. That “whap” heard was the sound of the MSNBC barn door closing belatedly, but only on “Morning.” The rest of MSNBC remains a no-delay zone.
Best moment: “Joe” sidekick Mika Brzezinski calling him “honey” immediately after the offense, when Mr. Scarborough still wasn’t convinced he’d actually uttered the naughty word.
In between needlework, The Insider has been passing some of her time in the cranky corner studying the survey results released last week by the Pew Research Center. While a number of outlets delightedly gravitated to the charts showing the alleged “favorite” and “least favorite” news and commentary personalities, The Insider, puzzled by the fact that one could qualify to be on either list with as little as 1% or 2% of the responses, was stunned to see that 50% of those surveyed had no favorite or didn’t know who their favorite was, and 60% had no least favorite or didn’t know who their least favorite was.
Anyway, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly topped both the “favorite” and “least favorite” lists with 5% and 6%, respectively, out of a pool in which 50% and 60% didn’t or couldn’t name anyone. Landslides. Not.
In the categories of Republicans and Democrats picking favorite and least favorite campaign news reporters, only 35% of those who identified themselves as Republicans and 38% of Democrats named a favorite, while only 24% of Republicans and 28% of Democrats named a least favorite.
If 60% or more have or are unwilling to state an opinion, it seems fair to question Pew’s headline, “Public’s Favorite—and Least Favorite—Campaign Journalists.”
Perhaps these categories should have been deleted (hear the scream from gossipy writers at the prospect of having one less breathlessly bold-faced item to write, whether it said anything of note or not). At the very least, these would have been better labeled results from a non-opinion survey.
The Whatnot is under orders to ask William Safire, The Insider’s favorite parser of words, to rule on the question of whether one can have a “least favorite” anything. “Favorite” is like “unique.” It is or it isn’t. It can be neither most or least, nor more or less.
Centerfolds and schmaltzy lyricists may have long lists of favorite things. Scriptwriters may pen lists of “10 Things I Hate About You.”
But even they know no other adjectives are needed or appropriate.

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