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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old April 17th, 2002, 09:08 PM   #1
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Help! Who is this person?

I'm writing up a guide to cultural references in the TV Series "Family Guy," but I've hit a stumper. Who is this person?

http://www.robertks.com/stuff/mystery.jpg

A politician?

Please, let me know if you recognize this guy.
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Old April 17th, 2002, 10:02 PM   #2
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Looks like a young Dan Rather to me.
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Old April 17th, 2002, 10:19 PM   #3
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I'll second that. Looks like Dan Rather.

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Old April 17th, 2002, 11:32 PM   #4
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Definitely Dan Rather. Robert, next time we meet up, remind me to chastise you for watching too much Fox and not enough CBS.
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Old April 18th, 2002, 03:19 PM   #5
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Thanks, but I still don't get the joke.

Hey, Chris, that's unfair--I recognize Dan Rather as much as the next guy. It's just that the picture was in monochrome, and I'm luminance-blind. Yeah, that's it.

So here's my entry, culled from Google searches. Let me know if you've anything to add. The Family Guy episode in question is "Brian in Love."

"Lots of crazy people go on to lead normal, productive lives." [Image]
This is Dan Rather, reporter for CBS News since 1962 and anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News since 1981-03-09, famed for his colorful rural metaphors in his news broadcasts and for singing songs about railroad locomotives on David Letterman's late night show. Rather seems eccentric and at times emotional, but I had difficulty ascertaining why Family Guy might joke about his sanity. Here's what I managed to dig up: On 1986-10-04, Dan Rather was chased, pummeled and kicked on a Manhattan sidewalk by a well-dressed man who kept asking "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" That quixotic statement, and Rather's account of the surrounding circumstances, baffled the world, and some doubted the CBS anchor's story altogether. The line took on a life of its own, spawning a hit song (REM's "What's The Frequency Kenneth?" on the 1994 album Monster), a slang term ("Kenneth" has entered Gen-X-speak, meaning a confused or just plain clueless person), and the punchline to Letterman jokes for the rest of the decade. Rather's explanation for the incident at the time: "I got mugged. Who understands these things? I didn't and I don't now. I didn't make a lot of it at the time and I don't now. I wish I knew who did it and why, but I have no idea." Apparently the strange event moved R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, who said of the incident: "It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It's a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre." In a moment of self-parody, Rather donned shades and joined the band at Madison Square Garden for a tuneless (on Rather's part) rendition of the song, which aired on the Late Show with David Letterman. The opening lyrics turned out to be prophetic ("'What's the frequency, Kenneth?' is your Benzedrine/I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed."): On 1997-01-28, the "Kenneth" mystery was solved. William Tager, 49, while serving a 25-year prison sentence for killing an NBC stagehand outside the Today show studio, told a psychiatrist that he thought the news media was beaming signals into his head. One of his obsessions apparently was to find out the frequency of the signals. The psychiatrist tipped the police, and after examining photos given to him by the New York Daily News, Rather fingered Tager as his 1986 assailant. "Everybody's had their guess about what happened, and some have had fun with it. Now the facts are out. My biggest regret is he wasn't caught before he killed somebody." Later, on 2001-09-17, Rather appeared on the first Letterman show broadcast after the terrorist attacks of 2001-09-11. Rather broke down into tears on the show, a breach of personal emotional involvement ostensibly taboo for journalists. However, "Brian In Love" was broadcast on 2000-03-07, over a year before the Letterman episode, and several years after Rather was proved innocent of fabricating the "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" incident.
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Old April 18th, 2002, 04:07 PM   #6
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It seems today
that all you see
is violence in movies
and sex on T.V.
but where are those good old fashioned values
on which we used to rely?

Hey, here's a thought: Celebrity Death Match between Hank Hill and Peter Griffin, who would win?

My money's on Hank.
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Old April 18th, 2002, 07:25 PM   #7
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It's actually "violence and movies and sex on TV." That's the joke.
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