Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Nothing sums up everything hatable about cable news and politics and possibly America itself better than “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s daily extended advertisement for Starbucks products and Joe Scarborough’s odd belief that he is funny and charming.
The former Florida congressman and possibly attorney of some kind followed up his unremarkable political career by becoming a wildly successful moderate TV talker. (“Wildly successful” in terms of monetary compensation and publicity — his show is watched by less than half the number of people who watch Fox’s daily televised morning train wreck “Fox & Friends.”) Joe’s supposed to be some sort of maverick because he’s not a doctrinaire Republican (anymore), but what he is is a totally doctrinaire member of the moderate Beltway political establishment.
So every morning he and Mika Brzezinski — who either pretends to be a weak-willed flighty moron because she thinks it’s necessary for her continued professional success as Joe’s oft-belittled second banana/screwball love interest or who is actually tragically stupid — perform the world’s most self-satisfied kaffeeklatsch (along with Willie Geist, the former Tucker Carlson sidekick and a man born to play the guy who dies first in a war movie). Their rotating cast of regular guests includes some of the biggest superstars in political hackery, from Jon Meacham to Mark Halperin to Whitey Bulger-defender/plagiarist Mike Barnicle, but what people who are far too easily entertained love most is the “banter,” that nonstop juvenile japery that I guess passes for wit when it’s 6:30 a.m. and you’re a tragically dull Washington, D.C., lifer. Joe can’t stop cracking up at the word “sodomized” during a discussion of … rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn! Hysterical stuff.
(Let’s pause here to remember Scarborough’s long history of being a sanctimonious “decency” crusader, demanding tough FCC penalties for fleeting obscenities on television, which seems to have ended after he said “fuck you” on air one morning, at which point his show instituted a somewhat glitchy seven-second delay.)
It’s Mr. Scarborough’s jocular chauvinism that is the most immediately repellent thing about him and his program, but what may be even hackier is his utterly unself-aware devotion to the “civility” myth. The civility crowd consists of a bunch of rich elites who’ve convinced themselves that all of America’s problems (their list of America’s problems basically consists of the federal deficit and “incivility”) would be solved if Republicans and Democrats sat down in a room and all agreed to basically become Rockefeller Republicans. This weird fantasy animates most of Scarborough’s political analysis, which is especially rich coming from an actual former Republican congressman who rode into Congress not based on a nationwide yearning for civility but rather run-of-the-mill right-wing anger, and who eventually voted to impeach a president for nakedly partisan reasons.
As an official political media elite professional, Joe rails against the “media elite” in columns written for Politico, the D.C. newspaper and website that used to publish Scarborough alongside a liberal counterpart until the liberal counterpart left and wasn’t replaced. These columns, amateurishly written and barely edited, show just how easy it is to become an important political power player if you have the requisite Bloombergian opinions and the correctly sized head for television.
HACKIEST 2011 MOMENT:
His unconscionably bad 9/11 “tribute song,” an ill-conceived celebrity vanity project that becomes more offensive the more you think of it.
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Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @pareeneMore Alex Pareene.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.
The Salon Hack List is our annual countdown of our least favorite media personalities, ranked (very roughly) in order of awfulness. This is our 2011 list. 2010's Hack Thirty is here.