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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Here’s the real story behind the nasty, anti-Obama remarks by General Stanley McChrystal and his staff in Rolling Stone. The U.S. military, officers and enlisted ranks don’t like and don’t trust Democrats and liberals. The bad feelings are mainly about values, style and constancy more than policy. The military feel the Democrats come at common problems from a different place and don’t stick to agreed plans when the going gets rough. The Rolling Stone article barely mentions policy differences over Afghanistan or anything else. And whether or not Mr. Obama fires the U.S./NATO commander, there’s likely to be a firestorm of criticism about the White House, perhaps reaching Tea Party proportions. After all, the nation is at war, and Americans haven’t seen such a spectacle since President Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. Well, actually, there was a similar trauma with the military less than two years ago when President Obama fired Gen. David McKiernan, then U.S./NATO commander for Afghanistan, for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about conducting a counterinsurgency strategy against the Taliban. McChrystal, a known enthusiast for just such a strategy, was selected as his replacement, and the noise about McKiernan quickly faded. Criticism of the White House was also smothered by the fact that Gen. David Petraeus, the overall regional commander, strongly endorsed both a counterterrorism strategy and McChrystal. Suffice it to say that McKiernan had many allies in the military and his summary dismissal by Mr. Obama was not forgotten." (LeslieGelb/TheDailyBeast)



"On Tuesday morning, Rolling Stone's explosive profile of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal dominated the news cycle. McChrystal's dismissive remarks about President Obama and some senior White House figures are still leading the New York Times and Washington Post websites — and buzzing around Twitter and the blogosphere — at this writing. Politico even published the entire article online. But for many hours, one place you couldn't read about the Rolling Stone piece was on Rolling Stone's own website. Magazine spokesman Mark Neschis told Yahoo! News that Rolling Stone generally does not put entire national affairs stories online, instead running them only in the print magazine. (One recent exception was Tim Dickinson's investigative piece this month on the BP oil spill.) While a magazine understandably wants to reap the financial benefits of having a major, deeply reported story only available on the newsstand, the idea of holding breaking news for print doesn't easily mesh with the demands of the 24/7 online news cycle." (Michael Calderone/YahooNews)



"I started out at the brand brand new INK 48 Hotel on 48th Street and 11th Avenue where Thomson Reuters was celebrating its new 'Breakingviews' financial op-ed online site which TR acquired last December and is edited by Hugo Dixon. Financial news organization parties are not my regular beat for coverage although I am an obsessive reader of such, but my friend Jolie Hunt (who’s been on these pages many times, and is a fun hostess) runs their public relations and I’ll go wherever she leads because she always brings together an interesting (and talkative) group ... The party with several hundred guests was on the hotel’s fabulous rooftop with its stunning views of Manhattan that are rare and wonderful to most of us (because they’re far west midtown). The crowd was media, banking and as Jolie put it, 'general movers and shakers' including some familiar NYSD faces. Among them was my friends Richard Kaplan and Edwina Sandys whom I’ve known for years although obviously not well enough to know certain facts. I pointed Edwina out in the crowd to someone I was talking to and said: 'that woman over there with the red hair is Winston Churchill’s granddaughter;' to which the person replied, 'yes, and the man she’s talking to is her son,' Hugo Dixon, editor of the new Reuters Breakingviews. Naturally I immediately took a picture, and as you can see, like mother like son. This photograph pretty much captured the mood of the party." (NYSocialDiary)



"It’s not the insubordination, stupid. It’s the war. Behind all the indignant huffing and puffing, what Stanley McChrystal actually said about his civilian superiors in Michael Hastings’ Rolling Stone profile was fairly mild. Sure, unnamed aides made juvenile cracks about Joe Biden and James Jones. But the most impolitic thing that McChrystal himself said was that he feels hectored by Richard Holbrooke. If that’s a firing offense, most of the Democratic foreign policy class should start looking for work. Of course, McChrystal deserves to be reprimanded for letting a reporter make him and his staff look like arrogant jerks. But by focusing on McChrystal’s supposed challenge to Obama’s manhood—is the president afraid of his generals? Will Obama show that he can’t be pushed around?—the press is turning a story about policy into a story about penises. What matters isn’t what McChrystal said about Obama; it’s what he believes about Afghanistan. That’s why he should lose his job. For close to a year now, it’s been painfully clear that McChrystal, with the backing of David Petraeus and the rest of the top military brass, wants America to make an unlimited commitment to the Afghan war. Counterinsurgency, they believe, works; all it requires is an unlimited amount of money and time. As Jonathan Alter details in his book, The Promise, McChrystal and company spent last summer waging a media and bureaucratic campaign aimed at forcing Obama to make that unlimited commitment." (TheDailyBeast)



"I've just learned that, at tonight's Board of Governors meeting of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, members discussed moving up the 2011 Oscars to sometime in January. You read that right -- JANUARY! This would be a shocking change, not just because the ABC telecast of the 83rd Academy Awards would conflict with (or is it more like outfox?) NBC's competing Golden Globes broadcast. And bump up against the Super Bowl. But it would leap in front of the SAG awards January 30th and the BAFTA awards February 13th and also steal their thunder. It also would condense the awards campaigning for the already chaotic (and I think idiotic) Top 10 Best Picture nominations period, as well as dramatically alter the way studios are timing the release of their movies." (NikkiFinke)



"Art world It Girl Casey Fremont, the stunning blonde director of Art Production Fund, is engaged. Fremont, a favorite of designers like Calvin Klein, Brian Reyes and Dolce & Gabbana, recently appeared on the television show Gossip Girl and has been featured on the pages of ELLE, Teen Vogue, Vogue and V magazines. She shared the happy news with a group of young socialites at a party last week at Diane Von Furstenberg's studio. Smiling, she excitedly described the perfect proposal from chef Brandon Crowe on the walking dunes in East Hampton over Memorial Day weekend which was followed by a celebratory lunch with Fremont's parents -- Shelly and Vincent Fremont, co-producers of docmentary Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story, about the late Warhol superstar. Vincent Fremont is also the former vice president of Andy Warhol Enterprises." (Papermag)



"The initial reaction to Michael Hastings’s Rolling Stone article on General McChrystal was disturbing. The emphasis has been on the early parts of the article, with McChrystal’s dismissive attitude toward the President and his administration. Instant discussion focused on the person McChrystal—should he be fired, or resign, or have his resignation accepted? That does not matter. The Hastings article is powerful and important because of what it goes on to report from Afghanistan, building to a crushing conclusion, that the general was unable to command even the respect of Hamid Karzai and McChrystal’s own troops—for the very good reason that he has been given an impossible assignment, one that gets more surreal and absurd every day. His removal will not make the Afghan war go any better, for the simple reason that nothing will do that. The parallel with Truman’s firing General MacArthur was quickly bruited—and that was surely more needed, since the general in that war was calling for and threatening nuclear strikes. But firing MacArthur did not improve things in Korea. The war ground on in blood and frustration for another two grisly years, and was settled only when a new administration settled for peace terms that would have been available years earlier. Do we have to wait for a new administration to make a similarly sullen settlement in Afghanistan after further prolongation of what is already America’s longest war? The conflict around McChrystal will only matter if it is the occasion of recognizing what a fool’s errand he was sent on." (Garry Wills/NYRB)



"Michael Jackson. He was the most iconic star since Elvis, and in many ways the comparison was not unwarranted. He altered the way we heard music, and the way we responded to it. He desperately craved the adoration of his fans, but he sealed himself away from them in a gilded, childlike refuge, often overcome in a haze of drugs. His performances were transforming, yet at times he seemed so focused on sheer numbers that he was destined to disappointment when subsequent albums failed to live up to the record-breaking marks set by 'Thriller.' Even before the weirdness, before the child abuse allegations, before his disappearance from public view and then the comeback that was cut short by his death, he was a transformative and contradictory figure that changed popular culture and the entertainment industry. For better and for worse." (TheWrap)

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