It took guts — if not smarts — to say that on September 17, 2001. And despite the nasty backlash, Maher is still a commendably loose cannon and a first-rate political satirist.
Maher’s politics aren’t entirely predictable. But if you’re looking for an hour of gleeful Bush-bashing, he’s your man. It helps that Maher gets good guests — his most recent show included George Clooney, Congressman Barney Frank, and Sir Ian McKellen. But basically, they’re all foils for the host’s nonstop shtick, which is the best thing about the program anyway.
3) WEEI’s midday guy Michael Holley
On a station of testosterone-laden talk from guys who probably stole their classmates’ milk money, Holley stands out as the one ’EEI host you’d actually like to hang out with.
A former Globe columnist, Holley bounced around in a multimedia career that included a contribution to the Akron Beacon Journal’s examination of racial issues that won the paper a 1994 Pulitzer Prize.
Holley’s views on race, his musical taste, his media savvy, and his cultural awareness distinguish him from his fellow hosts, who have a pretty narrow range of opinions, many of which are not worth sharing with the public.
One favorite moment came last year when Sox GM Theo Epstein was playing Hamlet about his future. A somewhat exasperated Holley had to explain to his disbelieving partner, Dale Arnold, that a 30-ish bachelor who’d made a couple-hundred grand the previous year could actually afford to live off his savings for a while. Thank God someone at ’EEI understands the real world.
4) New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta
As the “Annals of Communications” writer for the New Yorker for 14 years, there is no media reporter who goes deeper on meatier subjects than Auletta. Sure, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz is busier and the late David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times produced longer stories. But Auletta writes with a unique authority, whether it’s his tough take on Dan Rather’s exit from CBS last year or his excavation of the rift that caused Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll to throw in the towel with the penny-pinching Chicago Tribune Co.
A piece last December reporting concerns about Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s stewardship of the Times Co. proved prescient in light of bad economic news at the company and a mini–shareholder uprising directed against Sulzberger at the Times Co.’s recent annual meeting. The author of 10 books, Auletta simply plays in a higher league than any other professional media snoop.
5) The Smoking Gun Web site
THE GUN BLASTS FREY: One other reason to be grateful for the Smoking Gun was its scoop this past January -unearthed after a six-week investigation - that Oprah Winfrey favorite James Frey, author of the bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces, had an unfortunate proclivity for fiction writing
Wanna see Rush Limbaugh’s newly minted mug shot? This nine-year-old site, now owned by Court TV, is a cyber-voyeur’s dream. (And I don’t mean in the XXX sense, although some of the material is definitely adult oriented.)
A clearinghouse of fascinating documents, the Smoking Gun features everything from starlet Denise Richard’s sworn declaration that estranged hubby Charlie Sheen had a weakness for Internet porn to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s court filing revealing that former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby had been authorized to leak classified material by President Bush.