Mudsock Heights

Mudsock Heights

Powell is interviewed by Charlie Rose. Hey, television wasn't very sharp in 1988.

Tales of Shamelessness and Fear

By Dennis E. Powell | Posted at 8:59 PM

The phone rings in the White House and Bugout Joe Biden, his pre-existing cowardice now exacerbated by geriatric enfeeblement, answers.

White House aides let him answer it himself because it’s the hot line from Russia, and every day at about this time it rings. Biden answers, the voice on the other end, Vladimir Putin, says, “BOO!”, and except for Biden’s attendant having to get him a fresh Depends, no harm is done.

But not this day. “Alaska is traditional part of Russia,” says Putin. “You give back. I have atomic bomb.”

As the commander-in-chief curls into a ball and whimpers, the national security staff springs into action. Soon, Justice Department lawyers are consulted. The question is the most important of the non-young president’s young term: Is there a way that a President of the United States can give away an entire state by executive order?

While the incident described above didn’t happen (yet), Bugout Joe’s eagerness to surrender whenever and wherever possible, especially if he can embellish it later with obvious falsehoods blaming the results of his own actions on someone else (right down to the contents of the Depends, probably), makes it somewhat believable.

Leaders of European nations courageously traveled to Kyiv yesterday to meet with and show support for the leader of Ukraine. When Biden goes to Europe, it’s to demonstrate there’s no gas shortage as far as he’s concerned.

Washington, D.C., has become a very dark comedy, and everyone has his own role to play. It could be thought of as shameful, but there is no such thing as shame in our nation’s capital. Not among our elected officials (with vanishingly few exceptions). Not in our news media.

A shameful event that took place just yesterday had the increasingly awful Fox News Channel, home of Little Sir Haw Haw, at its center. It took place at about 3:30 p.m., when Fox newsblonde Martha MacCallum interviewed Volodymyr Omelyan, a former Ukrainian cabinet member who has stepped aside from his infrastructure work to take up arms in his country’s regional defense force. Omelyan began by offering his condolences over the deaths in a Russian attack on Monday of a Fox News cameraman and a young Ukrainian woman working for Fox.

“Huh?” I thought. I knew that correspondent Benjamin Hall had gotten wounded; it wasn’t until later that the channel mentioned that cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was caught in the same attack and was killed. Not a peep about any young Ukranian woman.

Funny thing: After the interview and a commercial, there was one of those ubiquitous “Fox News Alert” things, supposedly for breaking news but used now to signify that the hour has changed or that the commercial break is over. It’s a programming trick and it’s crap.

(Remember the old CNN breaking news sound? It was so distinctive that it found its way into movies, in the background, and it always grabbed the movie audience’s attention. That’s because it signified, fancy this, important breaking news. Unfortunately, Fox News is programmed to be the televised equivalent of the lowest of the British tabloids, so it will pull the “breaking news” nonsense over anything and nothing. And when there is real breaking news, intelligent viewers know anyway to switch to Sky News or some other provider for coverage that tends to be less stumble-bum and more accurate, the way ABC News was in the 1970s and early 80s.)

But this “Fox News Alert,” broadcast after a Ukrainian official had let the cat out of the bodybag, so to speak, was to inform us that, oh yeah, 24-year-old Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshinova, a Ukrainian working with Fox News and in the field with its crews, yeah, she got killed, too.

They now kind of had to cover her death, after it got mentioned in a condolence message from someone fighting for his country and the lives of his countrymen and family, half a world away and still somehow more sincere than Fox News. Absent it being forced on them, I thought and think, I don’t believe they intended ever to mention her at all.

At 3:46 p.m. a hastily cobbled-together story about the young woman appeared on How do I know to characterize it that way? Here’s the first paragraph as posted:

Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshinova, who was serving as a consultant for Fox News on the ground during the course of the Russian invasion, was killed Monday alongside Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire. She was 24 years gold.

Do you think a carefully put-together, edited story would have the absurd error that is the final word of the lead?

The story continued with practically no details of the attack itself. It largely said, We don’t know who she was, but people say they liked her, along with parts that might have been lifted from a dating site profile, describing her as having “a passion for music, the arts and photography,” and, apparently embarrassed at having acted as if her death was not worth our notice, concluded, “We held off on delivering this devastating news earlier today out of respect for her family whom we have been in touch with throughout and we extend our deepest condolences to them.” Huh? Two things: first, her death could have been mentioned without identifying her, but Fox News didn’t deem it newsworthy. Second, if there had been any actual respect for the family of the deceased it would have been a first for Fox News. I wonder if the “in touch with” her family was via lawyer. Yes, there are lawyers even in Kyiv. It is said that the lawyer is the one creature that would survive nuclear armageddon.

(By last night the story had been expanded. The typo was fixed and a Tweet [!] from the Fox field producer Yonat Friling had been added: “In yesterday's attack near Kyiv, we have lost a beautiful brave woman — Oleksandra Kuvshinova - Sasha,” Friling wrote. “She loved music and she was funny and kind. She was 24 years old. She worked with our team for the past month and did a brilliant job. May her memory be a blessing.” Whereupon the story turned to the cameraman, who also had a story of his own.)

I worked very briefly — not long enough to get mention had I been killed — for the precursor of Fox News, on a program called The Reporters. I remember after all these years how I was told the best method of getting a grieving friend or relative to cry on camera. “Questions like ‘Do you miss [him/her]?’ don’t work. What always works is ‘What’s your favorite memory [of the departed]?’” Yes, you read that correctly: the goal was to get a person in mourning to weep, preferably uncontrollably, on camera.

Not long after that, I was interviewed in Washington on Charlie Rose’s late-night CBS program about a story I’d done on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. “Did you talk to the families?” the since-disgraced television guy asked. No, I said, didn’t need to. “Didn’t you want to?” I felt like going ballistic — No, because my story is about facts, not about making the aggrieved cry, you teevee louse! — but I didn’t.

A little more than an hour after the story of the young woman appeared on the Fox News website yesterday, she was mentioned on the FNC show The Five, the first show in the channel’s comedy block that runs (interrupted by the highly regarded Special Report from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.) until midnight. Eulogy duty was given to Geraldo Rivera, himself no stranger to tabloid television. He did his best serious-concerned voice, waxing on about how Fox News is a family and so on, except that he flubbed and had to consult notes and make a second run at the names of the departed family members. The whole thing, my friends, is shameful. Do you think anyone there was ashamed? Do you think anyone there even noticed that shame was called for?

It wasn’t until Bret Baier’s Special Report at 6 that a dignified story of the deaths got aired, and even then they didn’t bother to get any live or taped comment on young Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshinova from the crew in Ukraine, the people with whom she actually worked. (The Pentagon reporter Jennifer Griffin, at the end of her report, did mention her and the beloved cameraman and broke down in tears. Real ones.)

There are other news organizations. Though they’re reprehensible and shameless in their own different ways, if you switch around among them you’ll end up with a kernel of what may be truth. We have only one government (which in many ways is one too many). And its shamelessness knows no bounds.

Here’s an example. It is real. “Joe Biden deploys teenage TikTok stars to blame soaring gas prices and inflation on Russia as US's worst cost-of-living crisis in 40 years tanks president's ratings ahead of midterms.”

It’s true. The White House has recruited teenage ink monsters, butt shakers, and boobie flashers to spread the fiction that high gas prices here are the work of Vladimir Putin, not Joe Biden (even though the price of gas went up nearly a dollar during Biden’s year in office before Russia invaded Ukraine). This could be because finding anyone who would actually believe such nonsense requires the attention of a communist-Chinese-owned network of clueless teenagers and their pedophile followers.

Those of us not on drugs and who therefore still possess our memory might recall this from Joe Biden in 2019: “Putin knows if I am president of the United States, his days of tyranny and trying to intimidate the United States and those in Eastern Europe are over. I’m going to stand up to him. He’s a bully . . .” (Bugout Joe seems to have a thing for bullies, as witness his fabulous tale of how he tamed “Cornpop.”)

Those of us not on drugs and who are therefore capable of believing the witness of our own eyes and ears have, since 2019, learned that Bugout Joe is in fact stone terrified of Vladimir Putin and does anything except standing up to him.

While we’re here, something you might not have heard but that’s pertinent: “A member of Russia's parliament called for reparations from the United States on Sunday — including the return of historic settlements in Alaska and California — over the west's vast economic sanctions,” the Daily Mail reported yesterday. Known as the “Kremlin spin doctor,” Oleg Matveychev demanded, “the return of all Russian properties, those of the Russian empire, the Soviet Union and current Russia, which has been seized in the United States, and so on.”

Putin has an eye on Alaska and Joe Biden is president?

Uh oh.

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large at Open for Business. Powell was a reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio, where he has (mostly) recovered. You can reach him at

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