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Monday, October 25, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Bob Woodward's latest book, Obama's Wars, discusses how, during the debate within U.S. President Barack Obama's inner circle over the best military strategy for Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus was the main proponent of a classic 'protect the people' counterinsurgency strategy. During the debates, Petraeus railed against Vice President Joe Biden's proposal for a narrower 'kinetic' counterterrorism approach that would focus on killing al Qaeda and Taliban leaders with bombs, missiles, and special-operations raids. Obama eventually gave Petraeus's plan the nod. Attempting to implement the soft touch recommended by counterinsurgency theory, former commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal severely limited the use of airstrikes and artillery and ordered U.S. ground units to disengage from firefights rather than risk firing into occupied buildings. But that was then. Under pressure to show measureable results, Petraeus now seems to be warming up to Biden's approach more than he is likely to admit." (ForeignPolicy)


"The more the rest of the media abandons the field, the more important NPR’s foreign reporting becomes. Yes, there are now websites overflowing with information about everything in the world, but very few have the resources and expertise to do the kind of reporting NPR does. And since America is increasingly buffeted by decisions made in other countries, our national ignorance is becoming a threat to our national security. Once upon a time, there was a wing of American conservatism that recognized that there were public goods and cultural standards that needed to be insulated from the whims of the market. Today, that’s considered elitist. Flagrant ignorance, by contrast, especially about the rest of the world, is a sign of populism, a sign that you don’t think you’re better than anyone else. On the right today, Sarah Palin isn’t adored in spite of her parochialism; she’s adored because of it." (Peter Beinart)

"Tina Brown has always had a thing for older men—years ago, she’d married one. There was S. I. Newhouse, her admiring boss and patron at The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. There is Barry Diller, funding her current buzzy, money-losing Internet venture, the Daily Beast. And here she was again, on the verge of tying the knot. This time the suitor was Sidney Harman, a 92-year-old audio-equipment magnate—a young 92, he hastens to add: 'I know I don’t look or act my age.' Looking for another, perhaps final act, Harman had bought Newsweek magazine for $1 (and substantial liabilities)—the deal was announced August 2—and he needed someone to run it. He’d been searching for a partner for the past four months, and now, at last, he seemed about to win over Brown, once the most glamorous and sought-after editor in the city. Brown, too, wanted a new, expanded act. And there were, or at least everyone said there were, endless synergies between the Daily Beast and Newsweek, which would merge in the deal to get Brown. The newsy Beast needed serious ballast, a big mainstream identity—about the only asset the failing Newsweek still had—while Newsweek needed to make peace with the modern digital world. But there were a couple of hitches, as there would be, given such a complicated union of companies and missions and egos." (NYMag)


"After lengthy negotiations, NBC has closed a deal for Jamie Foxx's drama project Tommy's Little Girl based on the trailer Foxx shot with Selma Blair, Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico and James Russo. The network also has picked up Life Is Good, a comedy from Unhitched creators Chris Pappas and Mike Bernier and Hangover 2 writer Scot Armstrong. Based on Foxx's idea, Girl is described as Le Femme Nikita meets The Sopranos and centers on a young girl (Blair) raised in a mafia family who is hidden away in an orphanage after her family is murdered by a competing mafia crime boss. She grows up to become an attorney by day, and a deadly, well trained killer by night, as she avenges her family's murder and attempts to locate her last living relative." (Deadline)


(Photo: Eleanor Bentall via NYSD)

"NYSD readers know that I am avid reader of obituaries. I remember as a kid making fun of my mother for reading them avidly and daily. The joke’s on me. Although not all obituaries are good or even interesting. The Americans tend to look at one’s life in terms of what they’d 'done.' While this may be laudable, it often leaves out the life. The best I find are in the (London) Daily Telegraph. Their writers are excellent and the lives they chronicle are rich and telling.  Today’s includes that of Natasha, Lady Spender who died last Thursday at 91. Lady Spender was the widow of poet Sir Stephen Spender. The story of her life is dramatic, romantic, poetic, and inspiring. She was a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a professional woman who had two careers, one of which resulted from an infirmity that came upon her. Every paragraph of her life seems to contribute to her initiative and self-reliance and the ability to adapt and make the most of what is given." (NYSocialDiary)

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