The 2010 Muckmaker Awards
Welcome to the 2nd Annual 2010 Muckmaker Awards, where we will dishonor the worst people, organizations, businesses, and ideologies of 2009. For the past year, these scumbags have been flushing our planet directly down the toilet, so we award them this little trophy as a reminder of their hard work and dedication to our misery. It was quite the miserable year, too, so we had quite a tough time narrowing it down, but our choices ended up being undeniably muck-filled. The Muckmaker Award is given to one candidate (or a group, when applicable) in each of the following 10 categories:
Worst News Source
Worst Religious Leader
And if you’re not a skimmer, not a reader, we’ve got a version for you, too – download the podcast version of the Muckmaker Awards right here! So either way you choose, enjoy our picks for 2009, and check our daily blog for more of the same!
Worst Newcomer: Scott P. Roeder
We all know a man like Scott Roeder. Maybe he’s your suspicious next-door neighbor. Maybe he’s your crazy uncle. Whoever he is, he loves his Bible, he loves his guns, and he lets you know it. He’s so passionate about his god and his country, however, that he alienates even his closest loved ones, latching onto extremist groups who only foster his resentment for those who don’t share his increasingly bizarre worldview. The problem is, despite his mounting insanity, nothing can be done to help or stop him before he takes his convictions too far and does something terrible, and that’s exactly what he did on May 31, 2009. Dr. George Tiller was a man who believed in god as well, but certainly not the same god as Mr. Roeder, as Tiller was also known as “the Baby Killer,” an abortion doctor who was just recently acquitted of violating state abortion laws for performing late-term abortions. He was serving as an usher at the Reformation Lutheran Church on the morning of the 31st when Roeder stormed in with a gun and shot him in the head at point blank range, taking a life in the name of a movement that claims that all life is sacred. Philosophical quandaries like this one certainly weren’t Roeder’s strong suit, as the man was a long-divorced schizophrenic who was court-ordered to stay away from his own child and had previously been arrested for driving around in an unregistered car with bomb-making materials in the trunk – a bomb, his ex-wife said, was meant for an abortion clinic. He was also a member of the Montana Freemen, who were arrested for an armed stand-off with the FBI, and the Sovereign Citizen Movement, a Christian anti-government group that dodges taxes and clogs courtrooms with absurd paperwork to reinstate an idealized government that has only ever existed in their own minds. People like this and the passionate (re: bat-shit) anti-choice movement gave Roeder the encouragement he needed to do what he felt he had to do, which was to undermine women’s right to choose in the most vicious way possible. He gets the Worst Newcomer award not just because of the murder he committed, but for rallying his base. Every time a McVeigh or a Roeder are arrested, another psycho gains another hero. He’ll probably never see the outside of a jail cell again, but it will only be a matter of time before another conspiracy-loving, Bible-beating nutjob follows in his goosesteps. And all we can do is watch.
Worst Pundit: Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck is, in his own words, a “commentator,” an “entertainer,” and a “rodeo clown.” None of those really qualify this college dropout and former alcoholic/drug addict as a voice of reason anywhere, never mind in the media, yet millions of radio listeners and Fox News viewers tune in daily to listen to this man spout political commentary as if he was a cultured scholar. It’s tempting to quip that his audience is as stupid as he is, but Beck is not really stupid at all – just the things he says are. Just within the last year, he’s claimed that President Obama is a racist communist fascist who wants to take away your guns and indoctrinate your children; if you do not comply, you’ll be forced into concentration camps by ACORN employees. (Who needs evidence when you’ve got charisma and the ability to cry on cue, right?) This is not to say that he has to be competent to give an opinion – they’re like assholes, and this asshole certainly has a lot of opinions. It’s just that there’s a difference between opinions and outright lies, and the line between the two has been purposely blurred. Beck begs his audience to heed his dire warnings one minute, then tells them to laugh and not take him seriously the next; “lies” quickly become “jokes” when need be, and he’s never really held accountable for anything he says. The reason he’s done this is the reason why he’s so smart – he’s a savvy businessman and he knows what sells. Like Rush Limbaugh, he panders to his right-wing audience by covering all the talking points that they want to hear while shouting over-the-top exaggerations of his views to piss off the left and get them talking. No publicity is bad publicity, and pretty soon his ratings were soaring and his books were bestsellers. In reality, he probably believes very little of what he says, which explains why he is constantly caught contradicting himself, as he did quite famously on the quality of our health care system. But his much less knowledgeable core audience isn’t quite seeing the entertainment value in his outrageous blackboard ranting, and instead is growing quite fearful of an administration that they don’t care to understand, even when it’s in their best interests to do so. Glenn Beck is the Worst Pundit of 2009 because he’s playing with fire (and people’s emotions) and he doesn’t care, as long as he’s making a buck. His “comedy” tour was just a cheap ruse to plug his useless books, his “9/12 Project” just abuses the memory of 9/11 to push an agenda, and worst of all, it turns out that his on-air tirades are nothing more than thinly-veiled advertisements. After stirring up more panic about the economy and the value of the American dollar, he suggested that the only safe investment anymore was gold. It’s no coincidence that Beck is also a paid spokesman for Goldline International, and let’s not forget that Goldline has also been a longtime sponsor of his shows. But it’s not a conflict of interest when your only interest was profit in the first place. And lest we forget, he still hasn’t answered for a certain crime he may or may not have committed back in 1990…
Worst Blog: WorldNetDaily
Any website created with the intention of “exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power” is definitely OK in our book, but not when their version of “corruption” is “anything the Democrats do.” Both Democrats and Republicans have a lot of transgressions to get past, as this past year has certainly shown, yet websites like WorldNetDaily can’t get past this black-and-white, partisan attitude that has gotten us nowhere. While calling themselves “fiercely independent,” their columnists threw softballs at Bush for eight years while laying into Obama full force before he was even sworn in. They were one of the main perpetuators of the “birther” movement, hoping to give credence to the obvious lie that Barack wasn’t born in the United States, and just wouldn’t let go of this bullshit even months after he was in office. They started a petition to have the “real” birth certificate released and even collected donations from readers to erect billboards that asked, “Where’s the birth certificate?” Even after one its own columnists had concluded that the certificate was authentic after several investigations, WND’s founder Joseph Farah defended their ongoing search and continued publishing articles by Orly Taitz, a known conspiracy theorist. Taitz’s previous attempts at forging his own documents to disprove Obama’s citizenship had all been proven false (Ironic, isn’t it?), yet even as late as September of 2009, they published yet another one of his bogus Kenyan certificates; it was again disproven by one of their own columnists. As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, they also reported that the government was working on a bill that “appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.” The last president actually did create a detention center in Guantanamo Bay for dissidents, where many human rights violations have been committed in our names, and while it may not be anything comparable to a Nazi concentration camp, it’s certainly a lot closer to this vision of a dystopian future that these wingnuts keep trying to paint. It’s this unwillingness to admit your own party’s faults while actually creating misinformation to spread about the other that makes political discourse in this country such an absolute joke. The Obama administration and has made plenty of actual mistakes in their first year to report on, so why create issues where there are none? If Republicans want to be taken seriously and eat dinner at the big kids’ table, they have to begin distancing themselves from blogs like WND and the lies they insist on spreading. They certainly aren’t doing their already shabby credibility any favors.
Worst News Source: HLN
Fox News may be the undisputed king of biased and downright fake news reporting, but at least they actually do report the news on occasion. HLN, however, is in its own bubble, where only celebrities, Nancy Grace, and kidnapped children matter. HLN used to be called “CNN2” and “CNN Headline News” before they changed up its programming, but it should have been re-branded as “The Dead and Missing Kids” channel for how often they spend covering these fruitless manhunts. And as if exploiting grieving parents for ratings wasn’t low enough, Nancy Grace can’t shut up about her own “two beautiful children” long enough to hear their desperate sobs. Her “expert panels” are just as useless and self-absorbed, spending hours chastising child murderers and rapists, as if anyone, generally speaking, is for brutalizing children. “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” is basically the same exact show, so much so that Jane and Nancy fill in as host of the other’s show when one has the night off. This took the place of Glenn Beck’s program after he moved to Fox, if that gives you any indication of the clown shoes she had to fill. As you can tell, this hard-hitting news network only hires anchors with unparalleled credentials. Take “Morning Express with Robin Meade” as another example…a show that’s hosted by a former Miss Ohio and top ten Miss America finalist. I wonder if they hired her based on her exceptional broadcasting portfolio or the fact that she was rated “Sexiest Newscaster” by Playboy.com. It’s bad enough to dedicate an hour or two of programming to this crap, but an entire channel is just overkill. And shame on CNN for criticizing Fox for its degenerative programming while producing this slop under a different name; even Rupert Murdoch has the balls to stand by the garbage his minions churn out on a daily basis. If the secret location of Michael Jackson’s brain or the rise of “sexting” is what you consider news, then this broadcast version of “US Weekly” is for you. For the rest of us, this 24-hour eyesore is just another channel to skip over while searching for the real evening news.
Worst Corporation: Goldman Sachs
Many good little taxpayers know that they’re not big fans of Goldman Sachs, but they have a tough time summing up why, or even what exactly it is they did to deserve our hatred. Well, the scheme that they’ve been pulling for years now can be summed up in three simple words: “profit from misery.” This investment banking and securities firm essentially sold risky mortgage securities at overblown prices that they knew were absolute shit and then bet against these same securities and the deteriorating housing market, making windfall profits when the economy finally collapsed. To make matters worse, Goldman purchased billions of dollars worth of protection on toxic assets from AIG, knowing AIG would soon cave in as well. When it did, they had many of their own executives in high government positions ready to control the billion-dollar bailout of AIG, and since Goldman had performed what is a called a credit default swap, those billions used to bail out AIG just went directly back into their pockets. Meanwhile, the bailout is hailed by the government and the mainstream media as a huge success while Goldman simply pocketed over $50 billion in revenue in 2009 alone, and their top executives were awarded over $10 million in bonuses. Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Stephen Friedman, a former CEO of Goldman, was forced to resign after it was discovered that not only would he be regulating the bailout of his own former company, but that he had purchased many more shares in the company when it was at its all-time low, as if he somehow knew that his investment would pay off later on. This was probably the only time last year that any Goldman employee (former or otherwise) was scrutinized for their role in the economic crisis, and even then, he was never arrested and was granted a pardon for his crime in just over two months. Even though Obama ran on a platform of transparency and claimed he was tired of Wall Street corruption, he made the same mistake that the past several administrations made – he let these executives, in essence, reward themselves for their own oversights. Then again, it’s not really a “mistake” when it’s all being done on purpose. Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernancke should have been hung out to dry for their roles in this mess; instead, Bernancke was hailed as “Man of the Year” by Time magazine. We may not have any groundbreaking solutions for the economic crisis ourselves, but we certainly wouldn’t have put one of the companies responsible for said collapse in charge of its recovery, especially one that’s in a position to profit from it as well. And despite admitting to “improper behavior” many times over the years, Goldman Sachs continues to profit from its key positions in both Wall Street and Washington while going virtually unpunished. Crime not only pays, but it receives bonuses as well.