Muntadar al-Zaidi my hero

If only that shoe had hit Bush. It wouldn’t have compensated for the hundreds of thousands of people

I am in love with the guy who threw his shoes at George W Bush.

He is my hero. I love you Muntadar al-Zaidi and I hope that you are not punished for your brave and wonderful shoe based act. This is a protest. Shooting someone or blowing someone up is not way to go about making a point. By killing someone you only prove yourself as bad as them. But to fling a clog….

It’s funny, it’s insulting and it makes the recipient of the flying espadrille look like a cock.
I think it’s even better than passive resistance. Sitting around and letting soldiers hit you in the face with a rifle butt is a pretty good way of showing you’re in the right. But if, after that, you chuck a sandal at their head…. Well it’s the cherry on the cake!

What I love about the Bush clip, aside from the fact that there is a shoe being thrown at his smug oleaginous face, is the fact that Muntandar gets time to throw a second shoe at the President of the United States.

He clearly hasn’t prepared himself to do that, or he’d have both shoes in his hand. But after Bush dodges the bullet, al-Zaidi actually leans down, takes off his other shoe and throws that too. What are the secret service up to? They all must have vowed to take a shoe for the President and the minute the first one left the journalist’s hand they should have been leaping in front of him in slow motion shouting “Noooooo!” and buffeting the trainer away with their chest. But they don’t do that. Not even for the second one.

Watch the clip again and look out for the guys at the back dashing into the room comically much too late to do anything about anything. They were probably sitting out the back having a sandwich and a fag and then hear a kerfuffle and by the time they’ve stubbed out their cigarettes and wiped the cake crumbs off their faces the whole incident is pretty much over. But they run in anyway, looking like they’re trying to do their job, but knowing that if anyone has used a gun or a knife that Bush is already dead. Let’s face it a man had time to take off both his shoes and bung them at the President before they were even in the room.

As it turned out Bush didn’t need anyone else. He’s pretty wily for an old fella and he gets right out of the way of the first shot and unfortunately shot two is slightly rushed and goes a bit too high. If only its sole had slapped him on his nose. It would only have stung him. Maybe caused a bit of blood to come out. It wouldn’t have compensated for the hundreds of thousands of people who have died in Iraq, but it would have been a good start. Leaving a man bewildered and stunned and with a stinging nose is much better than hurting him. That is satire.

And wouldn’t it be great if the rest of the world registered its disapproval in the same way? If everywhere he went for the rest of his life, Bush had to deal with a constant shower of shoes, coming at him from all directions. Just to let him know that what he’s done in the last eight years has made the world a worse place. His goons can’t ensure that everyone is bare foot, unless only Sandie Shaw and Zola Budd are allowed in the vicinity.

Shoes raining down on him for every minute of the day, banging against his windows when he was trying to sleep, smacking against his windscreen as he drove into town. Then maybe he’d get the message.

Make shoes, not war.

Then throw the shoes at the people who make war.

Happy Christmas.

Richard Herring began writing and performing comedy when he was 14. His career since Oxford has included a successful partnership with Stewart Lee and his hit one-man show Talking Cock
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The toxic new right-wing media will outlast Trump even if he’s impeached

Fox News and a network of smaller outlets have created an alternative version of reality. That ecosystem might prove more durable than the US president. 

An early end to Donald Trump’s presidency looks more feasible than at any time in the 117 days since his inauguration.

The New York Times revealed on Tuesday that FBI director James Comey – who was fired by Trump a week ago – wrote a memo recording the President’s request he “let go” an investigation into links between Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for national security advisor, and Russia.

Already there is talk of impeachment, not least because the crime Trump is accused of - obstructing justice - is the same one that ended Richard Nixon's presidency.

But with a Republican-controlled Congress the impeachment process would be long and fraught, and is only likely to succeed if public opinion, and particularly the opinion of the Republican voters, swings decisively against Trump.

In another era, the rolling coverage of the president's chaotic, incompetent and potentially corrupt administration might have pushed the needle far enough. But many of those Republican voters will make their decision about whether or not to stick with Trump based not on investigative reporting in the NYT or Washington Post, but based on reading a right-wing media ecosystem filled with distortions, distractions and fabrications.

That ecosystem – which spans new and (relatively) old media - will be going into overdrive to protect a president it helped elect, and who in turn has nourished it with praise and access.

On Monday, BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel took a forensic look at how a new breed of hyper-partisan right wing sites – what he calls the "Upside Down media" – tried to undermine and discredit claims that Trump disclosed sensitive security information to Russian officials.

The same tactics can already be seen just 24 hours later. Notorious conspiracist site Infowars talks of “saboteurs” and “turncoats” undermining the administration with leaks, mirroring an email from Trump’s campaign team sent late on Tuesday. Newsmax, another right-leaning sight with links to Trump, attacks the source of the story, asking in its web splash “Why did Comey wait so long?”. GatewayPundit, which published several false stories about Hillary Clinton during the election campaign, appears to have ignored the story altogether. 

As Warzel points out, these new sites work in concert with older media, in particular Rupert Murdoch’s ratings-topping cable news channel Fox News.

Fox initially underplayed the Comey memo’s significance, switching later to projecting the story as a media-led attack on Trump. At the time of publication, the Fox homepage led with a splash headlined: “THE SHOW MUST GO ON Lawmakers vow to focus on Trump agenda despite WH controversies.”

Fox acts as a source of validation for the newly established right-wing sites. Once Fox has covered a story, smaller sites can push further and faster, knowing that they aren't going too far from at least one outlet considered respectable and mainstream. If anything should make the UK value the impartiality rules, however imperfect, which govern its broadcast news, it’s Fox’s central role in enabling this toxic mix of misinformation.

These new media sites have another weapon, however. They understand and exploit the way internet platforms - in particular Facebook - are designed to maximise attention. They have found that playing on very human desires for stories that confirm our biases and trigger emotional responses is the best way to build audiences and win fans, and they have little compulsion abusing that knowledge.

This isn’t just a Trump or Fox-related phenomenon. It’s not even just a right-wing one. In both the US and the UK left-wing hyper-partisan sites with a tenuous relationship with the truth have sprung up. They have followed the same playbook, and in most cases the same advertising-based funding model, which has worked so well for the right. Emotive headlines, spun stories, outright fabrications and an insistence that “the corrupt mainstream media won’t report this” work just as well in generating clicks and shares for both ends of the political spectrum.

The main difference between the two political poles is that the right has benefited from an ideologically and temperamentally suited president, and a facilitator in Fox News. 

Of course the combined efforts of this new media and the Fox-led old may still fail. Trump’s recent transgressions appear so severe that they could break through to even his diehard supporters.

But if Trump does fall, the new right wing media ecosystem is unlikely to fall with him. 

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