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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"'No one ever gains votes in a national election by going through the presidential primaries,' Bill Clinton remarked ruefully in 1992. 'They're designed to chew you up and spit you out.' That maxim has never been more apt than during this Republican primary season. As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum do battle this Super Tuesday, March 6, they have dug themselves ever farther into the mire of a hard-line conservatism that is woefully out of step with America's changing electorate. No matter who wins on Super Tuesday, the Republican Party will have a huge problem expanding beyond its base and forging a winning coalition. Start with Hispanics -- who accounted for 55 percent of population growth in the last decade -- and the immigration issue. Romney, who is typically viewed as the 'moderate' in the race, has been aggressively conservative in this area in an effort to outflank his more ideological opponents. He has promised to veto the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors with their parents, opposes in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, and raised a much-mocked scheme for their 'self-deportation.' More generally, he has consistently sneered at any sign of softness among his primary opponents on these issues, raising the specter of an increasing flood of illegal immigrants coddled by the law and provided with benefits they don't deserve. No wonder Hispanics, despite the bad economy and concerns about the level of deportations on President Barack Obama's watch, are supporting the president at levels above those he received in 2008, when 67 percent voted for him, compared with 31 percent for John McCain. Indeed, a just-released Fox News poll -- not usually considered a Democrat-friendly source -- has Obama garnering 70 percent of the Latino vote, compared with just 14 percent for his closest Republican opponent, an incredible 5-1 ratio.
Given Obama's expected high support from African-American voters, this suggests that the president could certainly match his 80 percent overall support from minority voters in 2008. If that comes true, he has huge leeway to lose white votes. Amazingly, he could approach the levels at which congressional Democrats lost the white working class (30 points) and white college graduates (19 points) in the wipeout 2010 midterm election and still win the popular vote." (ForeignPolicy)


"So what sort of 'win' was that? Here’s Argument A: a win is a win is a win. That’s true in sports. If LSU plays horribly against Middle Tennessee State, but kicks a field goal with :03 left to win, well, LSU won. It’s over, and time to focus on Auburn. By that logic, Mitt Romney won Ohio and sails forward. And Argument B: this isn’t sports. This isn’t about earned performance on a field of play. It’s about what voters think. And if voters think that the guy who outspent the other guy by 10 or 12 to 1 and was supposed to have this locked up weeks ago is a guy they just barely agreed to push forward to the next fight, then it’s not much of a win at all. The Romney team will obviously spin Argument A, but Republicans all over the country, if they have any sense, are going to come out of Super Tuesday even more nervous about Romney than they were. Romney eked it out in Ohio, but he still managed to emerge bruised from Super Tuesday. He won Massachusetts. Big woop. Vermont, ditto. In Virginia, he won, but he won in as embarrassing a fashion as it’s possible to win something. With only him and cranky Ron Paul on the ballot, Romney managed just 59 percent of the vote to Paul’s 41. When Ron Paul is winning 41 percent of the vote, it’s time to stop and smell the rotting roses." (Michael Tomasky)


"Before it was refurbished, a few years ago, the lobby of The Washington Post’s office building was dominated by oversize photographs of important moments in the history of the newspaper. Visitors walked past the famous image of Katharine Graham, the paper’s matriarch, and her beloved executive editor, Ben Bradlee, as they emerged, laughing, from the Supreme Court in 1971 after the justices ruled in favor of the Post in its battle to publish the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. government’s secret history of the Vietnam War. Visitors also saw an enlarged copy of the nixon resigns front page from 1974, marking the culmination of the paper’s Watergate coverage.  Donald Graham, the son of Katharine Graham, and the current chairman and C.E.O. of the Washington Post Company, has been coming into the building as an employee ever since he started as a Metro reporter, in 1971. David Von Drehle, a former assistant managing editor of the Post, recalls a day in 1994 when he found himself in the lobby alone with Graham. 'I just came from an anniversary celebration of the most important moment in the history of our paper,' Graham told Von Drehle. 'Do you know which one it was?' Graham pointed to a picture of his grandfather Eugene Meyer and his father, Philip Graham, holding up a copy of the newspaper dated March 17, 1954—the first edition of the combined Washington Post and Washington Times-Herald, a merger that established the Post’s dominance in Washington. (At the time, Meyer remarked, “The real significance of this event is that it makes the paper safe for Donnie.”) Von Drehle says, “Everything else, whether it was Watergate or all the Pulitzers—all of that flowed from the incredible cash cow the paper became when it had the monopoly of the Washington metro area. That was always very illuminating to me of Don’s thinking.' The Washington Post is haunted by its history." (VanityFair)


"Midday I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Francine LeFrak. At the next table Joan Collins and her daughter-in-law Victoria Newley, and Catherine Saxton were lunching. Joan can always get a smile out of you because plays Joan so well, and that’s not like any other. You have to be her to do her. It’s a kind of pure, although not na├»ve personality. It’s what was called A Movie Star. Movie stars do not disappoint. So it’s always a treat to see her. Besides, it’s Joan Collins! Steve Millington the GM of Michael’s borrowed my camera to get a couple of shots of La Collins. Might he? Why of course. She looks good. As you can see. She looks good without her dark glasses too but she put them on for the shot – to garnish it with a little mystery, no doubt." (NYSocialDiary)


"As social media editor for Reuters, Anthony De Rosa is about as real time as you can get. His desk on the large newsroom floor at Reuters headquarters in Times Square is dominated by three large computer screens, two of which have TweetDeck open at all times. He needs it that way considering he and his deputy put out 100-plus tweets a day. De Rosa was named Reuters’ first social media editor just this past July, having already been a product manager and technologist at Reuters and an avid Tumblr user on his own time. De Rosa has his own extremely popular tumblog SoupSoup, which has been cited by Jon Stewart on 'The Daily Show' and is in the top 25 tumblogs out of the 2.3 million tracked by Compete. Prior to joining Reuters in 2011, he co-founded Neighborhoodr, a hyperlocal blog network. In perhaps a sign of the future, De Rosa’s background is more Web tech than beat reporter. Prior to being named social media editor, he served as an product manager for Reuters application programming interfaces. But he views his current role as firmly in the editorial camp. You won’t find him putting 'social media guru' in his Twitter bio. 'Oh dear Lord, no,' he responds at the suggestion. 'I hate social media ‘gurus,’ ‘experts,’ ‘shamans,’ etc. Anyone who calls themselves that should be avoided like the Black Plague.' To hear De Rosa tell it, social media is just another evolution of the media landscape." (Digiday)

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