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London Olympics: NBC Opening Ceremony Coverage So Bad It Got A Hashtag

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[View the story “Shut Up, Matt Lauer!” on Storify]

NBC’s coverage of yesterday’s London 2012 Olympics was so bad Twitter gave it its own hashtag: #ShutUpMattLauer. Actually, two: #NBCFail was the other. The Matt Lauer – Meredith Viera tag team commentary was worse than their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade performances. Apparently, NBC thinks American audiences are both stupid and so USA-centric we wouldn’t have been interested to watch Danny Boyle’s special tribute to the victims of the 2005 London Bombing, known as 7/7.

So, here is what NBC cut and in its place ran an interview with Olympian Michael Phelps. Don’t blame Phelps — blame NBC for reinvigorating the meme of “ugly American.”

Deadspin calls Boyle’s tribute “a downtempo performance of adoptive sporting anthem ‘Abide With Me’ by Scottish singer Emeli Sandé. The song and accompanying dance were a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London that claimed 52 victims days after the 2012 Summer Olympic hosts were named.”

The U.K.’s Guardian notes:

“Tim Berners-Lee? Who’s that? Madagascar? Oh, like the kids movie! If you’re going to make us wait hours to watch the ceremony live, NBC, the least you could have done is keep quiet.”

As the Olympic torch was lit in London at the end of a three-and-a-half-hour ceremony live blogged and tweeted across the globe, NBC finally began to broadcast the show – to Americans on the east coast (west coast viewers had to wait another three hours for their turn).

Commentators Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira reunited for the cameras as if it was Beijing 2008 – or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or just a regular morning in 2011.

Theirs was the job of interpreting, explaining and trampling all over Danny Boyle’s fast-paced, high-def presentation of Great Britain from the time of maypoles and hay bales to the current day.

Meanwhile the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes never made it onto American television nor did a memorial package displayed in the stadium on big screens.

Instead, as a taste of what we can expect in the days and weeks to come, NBC interrupted exciting and emotional television for a static Ryan Seacrest studio interview with Michael Phelps.

By the end of the night three and a half hours of live action had become four and a half hours of tedium and #nbcfail was trending on Twitter. It was an award rightly earned.

The Huffington Post notes that NBC “was heavily criticized for not airing the extravaganza live on Friday afternoon and instead waiting until primetime. Thousands took to Twitter and other online platforms to express their displeasure.”

But NBC’s Olympic-sized headache didn’t end there. The network’s tape-delayed broadcast of the London opener was criticized for being insensitive, heavy-handed and just plain annoying.

There was also a particularly cringe-worthy moment when Lauer and Viera blew off a tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely considered to be the inventor of the world wide web.

“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” Viera said.

“Google him,” Matt added moments later.

#ShutUpMattLauer indeed.

Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression, put together a great Storify story, which for some technical reason is refusing to display above in some browsers. You can see it here.

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News

Dem Wants Probe Into Allegations of Congress Members Drinking During Contempt Hearing

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House Oversight Republicans held a contempt of Congress hearing for Attorney General Merrick Garland while lawmakers allegedly were drinking alcohol and acting “pretty ugly” during Thursday night’s proceedings. Now, they are the ones accused of behavior “embarrassing to our institution” by Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who wants an investigation.

“Members of the panel ultimately advanced a contempt of Congress resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland on a party-line vote, but the far more striking takeaway was the personal attacks and theatrics lobbed between lawmakers in both parties — as Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) struggled unsuccessfully to gain control for more than an hour,” Politico reported Friday, adding: “both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged some members had been drinking that evening.”

Who was drinking remains a secret.

“A House Republican described the hearing as ’embarrassing’ and ‘a four -alarm dumpster fire,'” Axios reported. “The session quickly devolved into chaos, with Democrats blasting the GOP for postponing the hearing so several members could visit former President Trump’s trial and Republicans heckling them in response.”

One Democrat during the hearing spoke up.

READ MORE: Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

Ranking Member Raskin “said it was ’embarrassing to our institution’ and that he ‘constantly’ instructs his members to maintain a ‘high level of dignity and respect and decorum.'”

“We have some members in the room who are drinking inside the hearing room … who are not on this committee,” alleged Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM).

The Hill adds that Congressman Raskin said, “I didn’t see the drinking,” and that “the gentlelady from New Mexico, Melanie Stansbury raised it, she said there are members drinking in the room, and that’s something that is worth investigating if there was in fact drinking taking place.”

One unnamed House Republican told Axios, “This place is so stupid.”

The evening’s events quickly took a bad turn when U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), violating decorum, interrupted Ranking Member Raskin barely 30 seconds into his remarks.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

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OPINION

Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

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Justice Samuel Alito’s defense for why there was a “Stop the Steal” flag flying at his Alexandria, Virginia home three days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, ten days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, just fell apart.

The entire justification for a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice with lifetime tenure who refuses to recuse himself from cases including ones related to the 2020 election, which ethics experts and U.S. Senators say he is obligated to do so, is a dispute with a neighbor, according to The New York Times‘ original reporting, and a Fox News reporter.

Critics say his defense doesn’t justify flying a U.S. flag upside down, a symbol of the Stop the Steal movement used by insurrectionists.

In brief, Fox News’ Shannon Bream reports Justice Alito “told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream wrote. She added Alito “says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” which prompted Mrs. Alito to hang the American flag upside down as the insurrections did on January 6.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

Court watchers and critics have called into question Alito’s judgment. Senate Democratic Judiciary Chairman Dick Durban has called for the Justice to recuse himself from all cases related to the 2020 presidential election, NBC News is reporting.

Critics are asking if Justice and/or Mrs. Alito’s response to an alleged dispute with neighbors was appropriate, but now Justice Alito’s telling of events is being called into question entirely.

Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), says no school children would have been waiting for school buses at the time the Alito’s flag was photographed upside down, because schools had moved to virtual learning during the COVID pandemic at that time in the area the Alitos reside.

Further calling into question Justice Alito’s claims, CNN’s Holmes Lybrand, a former fact-checker for The Weekly Standard, reports none of the Alitos’ neighbors remember the alleged dispute the justice recounted.

“I spoke with some of Justice Alito’s neighbors who said they remember the American flag being flown upside-down at his home but didn’t recall any neighborhood drama surrounding it,” Lyband reports. “Each neighbor I spoke with reiterated multiple times how kind and well-liked the Alitos are.”

In its report that broke the story, The New York Times noted, “The half-dozen neighbors who saw the flag, or knew of it, requested anonymity because they said they did not want to add to the contentiousness on the block and feared reprisal.”

READ MORE: Trump Appears to Violate Gag Order After Judge Threatened ‘Incarceration’

 

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OPINION

Alito Tells Fox News Story Behind His Home’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag but Critics Unconvinced

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Editor’s note: The spelling of Fox News host Shannon Bream’s last name has been corrected.

Justice Samuel Alito on Friday appeared to compound concerns over the bombshell New York Times report revealing a flag associated with the January 6 insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” movement was flying at his house just before Joe Biden was inaugurated and while the Supreme Court was reviewing a 2020 election case.

Alito, whose far-right positions including writing the majority opinion in the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade, have infuriated and frustrated the left, once again has found himself the subject of apprehension over his impartiality and grasp of ethical norms.

In a rare move, the embattled justice, who now faces strong calls for his ouster, spoke immediately to the news media to address those issues, and revealed the story behind the decision to fly the “Stop the Steal” flag at his home.

Confirming again it was his wife who put the flag up, Alito seemed neither remorseful nor cognizant of the great ethical and credibility violation that act represented.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

“I spoke directly with Justice #Alito about the flag story in the NYT,” Fox News host Shannon Bream reported late Friday morning via social media. “In addition to what’s in the story, he told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream continued.

“Justice Alito says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” she wrote. “Following that exchange, Mrs. Alito was distraught and hung the flag upside down ‘for a short time’. Justice Alito says some neighbors on his street are ‘very political’ and acknowledges it was a very heated time in January 2021.”

The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol chastised Bream, noting she got Alito’s side of the story without “trying to see how it compares with the accounts and recollections of others involved. If only the anchor had the resources of a ‘news’ channel to seek out the truth!”

Some critics responding to Bream’s report say Alito’s explanation doesn’t make their perception of his actions — or his wife’s – any more reasonable.

Former George W. Bush administration official Christian Vanderbrouk commented, “Sam Alito is unapologetic for desecrating an American symbol as part of a neighborhood feud.”

READ MORE: Why Are One in Five GOP Voters Still Voting for Nikki Haley Over Donald Trump?

“Interesting claims by Alito,” attorney Robert J. DeNault remarked. “Not sure it’s reasonable to think any person would react to a neighbor disagreeing — even crassly or rudely — over Trump by hanging an American flag upside down. Does not feel credible to contend Alito’s upside flag was divorced from MAGA symbolism.”

“Alito speaks to Fox about New York Times report, continues to attribute it to his wife, but does not explain why his wife’s reaction to a ‘fuck Trump’ sign and being insulted was to hang an American flag upside down in the days after Jan. 6.” observed CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere. “Suburban neighborhood disputes happen all the time – over lawn care, noisy children, Christmas lights… all sorts of things. Not many instances of an escalated response being a now very politicized symbol of military distress.”

“Friendly reminder the entire GOP and Fox News is screaming on practically a daily basis that Judge Merchan needs to recuse because of the work his adult daughter separately does,” national security attorney Brad Moss offered. “But yeah, this is no biggie.”

READ MORE: ‘Long History of Playing Games’: Biden Campaign Shuts Down Trump’s Tantrum

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