Dear American News Media — If You’re Covering Jeffrey Dahmer, You’re Allowed To Call Him “A Cannibal”; If You’re Covering Donald J Trump…

Rules are funny things, aren’t they? Journalism has no “laws” guiding its practices, it has “rules”. Ideals of how journalism is best practiced, its ultimate goal the fair, unbiased reporting of what’s happened, what’s happening — and what’s likely to happen next.

Somewhere along the way, American journalism took that desire for “unbiased” reporting to mean “neutral no matter what”. As in “no matter what that reporting uncovers or reveals”. As in — even if we knew the worst about someone — as we reported their story — we’d still report on them as if they weren’t as horrible as we KNEW them to be.

That’s a strange approach for a storyteller to take. Stories work by building new information upon older information. Learning things is ideally what causes characters in a story to react — and drive the story forward. And yet, our news media — when reporting the story of Donald Trump — seems determined to never begin its reporting with what we know NOW. They keep starting the story with what we knew A WHILE AGO — back before we had hard evidence that took us to what we know NOW.

Trying to tell Trump’s story without STARTING from the very beginning (he’s a corrupt-to-his-core narcissist who’s been in bed with Russia from the beginning and whose criminality isn’t just conjecture, it’s verifiable) makes no sense. Yet that’s what our press does every day. They tell Trump’s story without telling it’s core truth. It’d be like telling the Jeffrey Dahmer story without mentioning “Hey, by the way — Jeff’s a cannibal”.

But, “strangely” (meaning NOT strangely), the press didn’t worry about not being able to “smoking gun” their evidence, without finding his victims’ DNA in Jeffrey Dahmer’s shit, the press was willing to go full cannibal in their reporting on Jeff — well before those were legally verifiable facts…

It wasn’t hard to figure out what was happening at Jeff’s house. The evidence was all over the place. Just like it’s not hard to figure out what’s happening at Donald’s house (formerly The Peoples’ House).

Would our press get squeamish suddenly and refuse to call Jeffrey a cannibal? Would they refer to his “unusual diet” instead — his “keto-on-steroids” choice of animal protein? No — the media went full cannibal the moment they had a whisper of cannibalism. They couldn’t get enough “cannibalism”. They got so obsessed with cannibalism you’d almost think IT was “eating” THEM.

You’d think they’d be equally hungry at the thought of treason. Treason FFS!

There’s a legal term: “the preponderance of the evidence”. It’s a smoking gun’s “get out of jail free” card. Even a smoking gun can get away without a smoking gun if it brings the preponderance of the evidence into play. Yet, our media has it in their heads that either 1) no such “preponderance of the evidence” standard exists (they’re wrong) or 2) their neutrality prohibits them from calling things what they are because calling them what they are would undermine their neutrality. Or something like that…

Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal as soon as the press could call him one. Donald Trump might never be a traitor, a money-launderer, a rapist, a con man, a liar, a thief or a traitor because no one the press gives credence to will call him any of those words directly. No smoking gun despite smoke so thick you can’t even see through it.

Maybe THAT’S the problem. Our press doesn’t know that it’s hair is on fire. They don’t know the whole house is aflame all around them either.

Shame… as assuredly as Jeff Dahmer chowed down on the people he lured into his apartment for comfort — to keep him company, Donald Trump will gobble up the news media (as he always does). The media won’t know it’s happened until well after Trump starts farting and shitting them out.

Our new media… they’re always the last to know anything.

Have You Heard The One About Meatloaf When He Met The Crypt Keeper?

Seeing Meatloaf on Morning Joe this morning brought to mind a story included in How To Live Bullshit Free: A Practical Guide To Not Killing Yourself, the book I’m now agent shopping. I once cast Meatloaf in a TV show.

How To Live Bullshit Free is also a memoir — the story of how I came within inches of offing myself (but got better). I’ve had a very unusual showbiz career. I wrote and produced HBO’s Tales From The Crypt and Showtime’s The Outer Limits. I’ve written and produced feature films. I have crossed paths with an amazing amount of people (as one does in show business) — many of them very, very famous. I’m not afraid to name names.

One of the stories I tell in How To Live Bullshit Free is about Meatloaf — and how we cast him in an episode of Tales From The Crypt called “What’s Cookin” about a down on their luck couple about to lose their incredibly unsuccessful diner. The homeless guy who works for them shows up one day with steak — that attracts so many customers they can stay open. In fact, they’re suddenly making money hand over fist. The problem? The steak is all human flesh.

Hey — it was Tales From The Crypt. Anyway — without further ado — this is from my book (which I’m agent shopping — or did I say that already?)

As the Crypt Keeper would say: “Bone appetite!”

We got Chris Reeve to play the lead with Bess Armstrong and
Judd Nelson in the supporting roles (Chris, remember, had done ‘Superman’ with
Dick Donner, one of our Executive Producers). 
Chris was experiencing a strange phenomenon – where an actor becomes
hyper-associated with a character in the audience’s mind.  Superman had done that to a degree to Chris
and he was having trouble getting cast as ‘other’ characters (something that
apparently plagued Chris’s Superman predecessor, the 1950’s TV Superman, Steve
Reeves).  
Chris’s hyper-awareness showed while we discussed his
wardrobe.  Our initial choices were a
little too ‘Clark Kent’; he didn’t want to go there.  To us it was just a blue Oxford shirt and a
pair of khakis but, to be fair, Chris had walked around a lot more in Clark
Kent’s (wardrobe-provided) shoes than we had. 
When ‘Superman’ tells you ‘It’s too Clark Kent’, you listen.
For the part of the Landlord, we cast the singer MEATLOAF.  I think I laughed for about a half hour when our casting director first mentioned his name.  I mean, c’mon – how funny is that – casting MEATLOAF in an episode about CANNIBALISM – where his character gets eaten?
There’s a scene – toward the middle – when Chris – freaking
out about their financial hardships while still dubious about the crowds
pouring in to gobble up the steaks his wife keeps tossing onto the grill –
follows Judd’s homeless guy to the walk-in refrigerator for more steak.  As the walk-in door opens, Chris sees their
LANDLORD (Meatloaf) literally hanging from a meat hook, naked and dead.
While Chris freaks out, Judd picks up a meat cleaver and hacks
a couple of ‘butt steaks’ from the carcass. 
Tossing them onto the metal tray he’s brought, he heads back to the
front of the restaurant to give them to Bess who’s busily barbecuing away.
“Don’t leave the fridge door open,” says Judd’s drifter as
he goes – to the still too-horrified-to-move-or-speak Chris – “He’ll
spoil.”   
This was going to be a tricky special effect to pull
off.  The body had to look super
real.  The way the steaks came off the
carcass had to look real.  The way they
looked when they hit the tray HAD TO LOOK REAL. 
Sounds like a Job for Todd Masters…
One of the reasons I loved doing ‘Tales’ was that I got to indulge in some really horrible behavior –
betraying people, killing people, ‘eating’ people – and all without actually
hurting anyone.  Some of my favorite
moments were when I got to sit down with our Special Effects Maven Todd Masters
– with a couple of pathology textbooks and a shitload of bad intentions between
us.  After the first time my assistant
found me in Todd’s work space, cackling away like lunatics, she never looked at
me the same way again.  
The problem with great special effects though is that (in
addition to money), they take time. 
Having cast Meatloaf so late into the schedule, there simply wasn’t time
for him to come in so we could do a body cast of him.  Necessity – and a rigid shooting schedule –
forced us to hire a body double who we thought would approximate what Meatloaf
would look like hanging naked in a meat locker. 
Now, I knew what Meatloaf (the singer and actor) looked
like.  When I was in college, Meatloaf’s
‘Bat Outta Hell’ was one of THE albums we all revered (there in the Drama
Department).  C’mon – “Paradise By The
Dashboard Light’ is classic.  And it’s
funny.  Meatloaf was a big guy.  A heavy guy. 
A guy who could probably afford to lose a few pounds.  But that wasn’t our problem.  We cast the Meatloaf we knew and got on with
our lives.
And then, the day before he was due to work, Meatloaf – the
actor – arrived at the studio for his wardrobe fitting.  And we realized we had a problem.  ‘Mr. Loaf’ (as Christopher Lee called him
when they appeared together on SNL) had just finished a crash diet and had lost
60+ pounds.
He looked nothing like the body double – which he wanted to
see.  
Having worked very, VERY hard to lose all that weight – and
wanting to show it off – he was NOT happy that the old, ‘heavier’ Meatloaf was
who we had cast.  He insisted that our
body double was a good twenty pounds heavier than he had ever been.  I got to know my hands very well – staring at
them for as long as I did while Meatloaf circled his ‘not-exactly’ body double.
In the end, Meatloaf sucked it up – being a pro first and
foremost.  His history of being heavy
helped too.  He even agreed – graciously
– to wear a fat suit under his wardrobe so that it wouldn’t look quite so
jarring when we saw him ‘naked’.

Like I said — I’m agent shopping. There’s lots, lots, LOTS more where that comes from.