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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 13:59 GMT
Harry Shearer - a radio rebel?
This Is Spinal Tap
Shearer rose to fame in the "rockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap
In a HARDtalk Extra interview broadcast on 15 October, comedian and broadcaster Harry Shearer told Tom Brook about his concerns about the US media - and how they're covering the US presidential election race.

You may not have seen him but you'll definitely have heard him.

Harry Shearer is the voice behind a number of the characters in world famous animation series, "The Simpsons" and was the blonde wig wearing Derek in the spoof rockumentary, "This is Spinal Tap".

In the US he's best known for his weekly radio show, "Le Show" which rips the high and mighty off their pedastals and takes a satirical bite at the "mega morons of the mighty media".


Harry's biggest grievance is with the vast majority of American television news presenters.

"Tragedy hit Florida today," he joked. "It's not just bad journalism, it's bad acting! And nothing screams fake more than bad acting."

The problem, he believes, is with the 'corporatisation' of American news media. News, like all areas of entertainment has to turn a profit, and that's why news programmes focus more and more on crime news and celebrity gossip.

It's not a left or right wing bias in the media. It's a herd bias, a herd mentality
Harry Shearer
"It's beyond inane," he said. "It's mega inane ... it's meta inane!"

Harry believes a lazy media is partially responsible for the current situation in Iraq.

At the time of the interview a number of American newspapers were publishing apologies in their leader columns, admitting they had not scrutinised the Bush administration enough during the build up to the war in Iraq.

He believes too much blame has fallen on intelligence agencies and not on newspaper editors.

"It's not a left or right wing bias in the media," he explains. "It's a herd bias, a herd mentality."

He said journalists tend to follow what their peers are doing. Few have been brave enough to reach out and swim in a different editorial direction.

A crisis of legitimacy?

Harry is amazed at how politicised the US has become ahead of the Presidential election. He believes politics in the States boils down to a simple explanation.

"Democrats believe they're smarter than the opposition. Republicans believe they are more moral than the opposition. They're both wrong, but that's the illusion they both live under."

He said he hopes the current election will bring some stability to politics as the last two have been crises of legitimacy.

He said Republicans never believed Clinton was legitimate and Democrats feel exactly the same way about Bush. In fact the anti-Bush camp is currently so furious, he said he fears people might take to the streets if the election were in some way derailed.

In case John Kerry does win the Presidential election, Mr Shearer has already perfected his impersonation of John Kerry. Sadly, he refused to share it with HardTalk Extra viewers - but people who listen to his radio show can expect to hear it a lot in the coming weeks.

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30 GMT, 08:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 18:30 GMT and 23:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
25 Oct 04 |  Hardtalk

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