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Friday, January 20, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"We may be in the thick of a presidential race, but on 19th street in Washington the thousands of World Bank employees can be forgiven for being more interested in the significantly more opaque process of selecting a new Bank president. The term of Robert Zoellick, the Bank's current president, ends later this year. In a fully meritocratic world, a global talent search would be conducted to find a top-notch successor to lead the huge enterprise. In the real world, the Bank presidency has always gone to whomever the president of the United States desires to have the post (Zoellick was George W. Bush's selection to replace his first man at the Bank, Paul Wolfowitz).The custom that Washington names the Bank president while Europe names the IMF managing director has come under strain in recent years, but there's no sign that it's in immediate danger of collapse. For all the talk of a new, more balanced era in international relations, the emerging powers failed spectacularly last year in challenging Europe's hold on the IMF. France's Christine Lagarde trumped Mexico's AgustĂ­n Carstens, the only serious alternative. The script may well be the same at the Bank. As a formal matter, the United States is the only country with enough voting share to block any candidate it opposes. If the U.S. insists on an American, no coalition of other countries can force the issue. At the moment, there are no signs that the emerging powers are planning to mount a coordinated campaign to pressure Washington into allowing a genuine campaign. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the Treasury Department is hard at work compiling (tantalizing) names for Obama's consideration, including Larry Summers" (ForeignPolicy)


"The final debate before the South Carolina primary brought into sharp relief why Newt Gingrich is re-emerging as a contender and Mitt Romney is stumbling toward the finish line. With a rousing denunciation of the news media right out of the gate, Gingrich electrified the conservative audience here and temporarily defused an issue that poses a lethal threat to his campaign. Then he deftly portrayed his “grandiose” persona as nothing less than fully American. He also managed to tweak Romney with an act of strategic showmanship: recognizing Romney’s unease about releasing his income tax returns, the former House speaker released his own during the debate, baiting his rival into yet another painful episode about his wealth. Romney, by comparison, worked his way through a series of halting answers on entirely predictable subjects, from his taxes to abortion to health care. All are issues he’s struggled with throughout the campaign, and it was never more evident than Thursday night that Romney hasn’t put them to rest — or even figured out how to speak about them comfortably. The former Massachusetts governor’s awkwardness was underscored at every turn by Gingrich’s fluent, flamboyant performance." (Politico)



"Last night was the opening night Preview of the 58th Annual Winter Antiques Show benefiting the East Side House Settlement at the Park Avenue Armory. There was a lot of activity on the part of Park Avenue also, with some of the blocks closed to traffic just to the south of us because President Obama was dining with filmmaker Spike Lee at Restaurant Daniel. Swirling red and blue lights and temporary barriers and cops everywhere. The Winter Antiques Show is the first big art and antiques show of the social season in New York. Arie Kopelman has been overseeing this for years, and it is a very popular, and therefore a successful venture for both the participating dealers and for the East Side House Settlement." (NYSocialDiary)

"Are you enjoying Bonus Day? (It's every New Yorker's favorite holiday, in this long stretch between Christmas and Passover.) The verdicts have been rolling in all day, as they are also rolling across the world between now and the end of the month. It's a funny thing! Remember how we used to hear about "talent retention"? That big compensation was mandatory to keep great talent at a firm (that was performing quite poorly)? That was already rich coming from a small industry that ditched of tens of thousands of staff, but it seems extra-hilarious now in the season of the wee bonus. • Morgan Stanley: Sounds like an invitation to quit: 'Lots of zeroes at junior levels.' • Goldman Sachs: works out to $367,000 on 'average' across all employees, which is dumb, and don't ever talk in public about "average bonuses". Because they sure ain't divided on the average. • Elsewhere: Say goodbye to yearly raises—unless you're in the Asian offices." (Choire Sicha/TheAwl)
"Billionaire Warren Buffett isn’t exactly known as a club-carousing party animal. But he was one of the first to arrive at the reopening of Jay-Z’s 40/40 in the Flatiron District Wednesday night. Flanked by two female co-workers, Buffett was overheard telling fellow guests that his blue tie was a gift from Jay, who had been wearing it at the time but took it off and handed it over after the mogul complimented him on it a few years ago. Buffett joked, 'I hope he doesn’t want it back.' Buffett invited Jay to his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ shindig, but admitted, 'It’s not quite as good of a party as this.' The Oracle of Omaha stunned onlookers when he posed for photos handing his wallet to fellow guests, with one witness telling us, “Despite his wealth, his wallet wasn’t that fat.” Other guests included Yankee CC Sabathia, who had just come from a Knick game and told us he’s been spending the off-season 'watching basketball.' Sabathia joined Knicks Mike Bibby and Tyson Chandler and Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh, among others, in the VIP room. Samuel L. Jackson made a late appearance at 1 a.m. And while there was no sign of new mom BeyoncĂ©, other guests included Ashanti, Fabolous, Questlove, Swizz Beatz and Russell Simmons." (PageSix)

"The nomination deadline for the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes is five days away. Newspaper editors around the county are busy crafting nomination letters, putting together elaborate packages showcasing their best work, and forking over $50 entry fees for a shot at winning journalism's most prestigious prize later this Spring. No one will care. When I started as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune—my first real newspaper job—almost a decade ago, I sat at a cubicle next to a lovely old hack by the name of Jeff. He was sweet and helpful to me as the new guy, and had been at the paper for decades before landing at the Sunday magazine section as a mid-level editor. He was good at his job, but he wasn't exactly treated as a star at the paper, and struck me as a loyal foot soldier who had long ago given up on the lure of the front page or climbing the masthead. When I found out that he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for his science reporting—one of only 25 the Tribune has won in its 165-year history—I was shocked. Here was the first real live Pulitzer winner I'd ever laid eyes on, and he was indistinguishable from the hundreds of other reporters and editors at the paper whose work had never been judged as representing the best American journalism has to offer." (Gawker)


"With the Golden Globes just wrapped and the SAG Awards less than two weeks away, Los Angeles is party central this month. But the dinner Elle Fanning hosted at the Chateau Marmont last night celebrated fashion, not the movies. In partnership with Van Cleef & Arpels, the young actress invited Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola, among others, to toast Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy. "Sometimes it's nice to steal away and celebrate what you've done with the people you've worked with for a long time," Laura told Style.com, referring to a recent spate of projects, including the A Magazine they guest-curated, their Fra Angelico solo exhibition at LACMA, and a just-announced collaboration with the L.A. Philharmonic. 'It's good every once in a while to take a step back and say, 'That was really cool that we did this together.' " (Style)

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