"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 12 October 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.

    ABC's This Week Gang


Investing the phrase "egg on your face" with rich, new significance, Suck is proud to announce the recipients of its first annual Evil Genius Grants. Over the next 10 days, the Suck EGG honorees, as selected by Suck's blue ribbon panel of experts, will be profiled on this page. Included are standouts in fields as diverse as pop music and pop-music criticism, film acting and film directing, magazine punditry and television punditry. But unlike those humdrum, dime-per-dozen MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants, each Suck EGG fellowship is offered not for such narrow purposes as "rewarding outstanding achievement" or celebrating the "power and possibilities of human creativity." Nor are they extended to those whose work represents the "greatest benefit to mankind," like the recently announced Nobel Prizes.

Instead, the Suck EGGs provide an infinitely more valuable service to humanity: Namely, each fellowship is granted only on the condition that for the next calendar year, in the interests of Human Civilization, its recipients stop doing the voodoo that they do so annoyingly well. (To prevent welshing, actual prizes are not conferred until the completion of each term.) Those who aspire to the heights of EGGdom in the future should realize that, by definition, it is impossible for us to accept applications - since this is an award not for who you are, but who you will cease to be.

- Sucksters

  While the art of the pundit round table has taken great strides toward total McLaughlin/Maher devolution, we're still waiting for the next phase - in which the chatterati will settle differences of opinion with televised winkle-spitting competitions, or volubly discuss the issues of the day while eating spaghetti and meatballs. Until then, top honors for punditry must go to the only bunch that still seems to take the idea of "opinion leadership" seriously. ABC's This Week with Sam and Cokie already enjoys a level of opprobrium that would seem to render an EGGy award superfluous, but the unique blend of David Brinkley's soy-powered shill work (oddly more credible than the content of the show itself) and the correspondents' bewilderment at the oft-polled American public's refusal to join their manicured lynch mob makes it essential that we acknowledge This Week's debt to society.

ABC News' three-page Sam Donaldson résumé contains no reference to the commentator's Lexus-priced speaker fees, or to the subsidies he collects in exchange for not growing mohair on his New Mexico ranch (Rancher Sam also routinely calls out gun-toting Federales to hunt down coyotes and bobcats that have wandered onto his property). But the bio still offers heaps of comedy, from details of Donaldson's conspiracy-mongering "special reports" to numerous claims that the tough-talking Vulcan has "tracked down" aging Nazis, killer nurses, drug lords, and other villains who had managed to elude worldwide police organizations. This year, ABC brass attempted to put Donaldson out to graze in the notoriously news-free White House press conference beat. Even in this journalistic pasture, though, he has proven a pretty frisky stud, his querulous eyebrows heating press briefings up to a pitch that sometimes approaches room temperature.

But while Donaldson's raised-brow tactics are impressive, the superciliary talents of Cokie Roberts often threaten to turn This Week into a Tracy/Hepburn battle of the sexes waged entirely with the eyebrows. Although Roberts has in the past raised hackles with scabrous guesswork about Internet culture - a stance which ordinarily would earn her our complete admiration - she stands doubly condemned as part of a Washington-journalism power couple (with nearly-silent partner Steve Roberts) and as author of the "It Takes a Village"-toned flipbook We Are Our Mothers' Daughters. She's also a relentless collector of honorary degrees, currently boasting some 12 of these academic rub-on tattoos. On This Week, Roberts reports on the current state of Beltway received opinion, and perpetually looks as if she's just tasted rat excrement.

This Week commentator George Will is guilty of the kind of tortured pleonasm that tends to express itself, for example, in letting you know he knows what "pleonasm" means. He also has been known to wear bowties and pen whole books about the poetry of baseball - both of which are offenses punishable by death in most nations, or should be.

The air of mystery that enshrouds worn wonder boy George Stephanopolous stems from confusion over his motives. Is his new tough-on-Clinton line, as some say, an effort to prove that he can unmake the president he claims to have made? Or is it merely the culmination of a Machiavellian career strategy - first inflict Bill Clinton on the nation, then get paid to complain about the results? Either way, he makes us have second thoughts about our dismissive attitude toward Michael J. Fox in Spin City.

William Kristol, twee editor of the widely unread Weekly Standard, rounds out This Week's inner circle (though Pulitzer-winner Clarence Page is sometimes brought in to add some, you know, "variety" to the lineup). Son of conservative butt-scratcher Irving Kristol, Bill occasionally manages to warble out a comment amid the din, which is no sooner uttered than forgotten. His purpose on This Week is to prove that even the weakest of chains needs a weak link.

Although the sins of This Week are not exactly a national secret, we can never resist a late hit or a suggestion to Osama bin Laden about where he might consider an effective Sunday-morning bomb attack. To Sam, Cokie, George, the other George, and that other guy, we bestow the very rottenest of Suck EGGs.

Place of Residence: Washington, DC
Average Age: With or without Brinkley?
Award: Terms of the award amount were not disclosed, but the deal was structured to allow recipients a substantial number of shares in the Archer Daniels Midland Company, supermarket to the world.

courtesy of the Sucksters