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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"What's wrong with America? Everyone has their own pet answer to that question -- especially in an election year -- but my nominee today is lack of accountability, especially among political pundits. To be specific: for high-profile public intellectuals, malfeasance of various sorts has virtually no professional consequences. Consider first the discovery that CNN host Fareed Zakaria had plagiarized an article by the New Yorker's Jill Lepore for one of his Time columns. Both Time and CNN suspended Zakaria temporarily, but eventually concluded that it was an isolated incident and reinstated him. To his credit, Zakaria (whom I've known for twenty years and regard as a friend), immediately owned up to his mistake and vowed to rethink the professional arrangements that led to his embarrassing blunder. That was the right response, but my larger point is that his error will have no consequences whatsoever for his future career trajectory. None. The whole incident might someday rate a short paragraph in his obituary, but that's about all. The next example is my Harvard colleague Niall Ferguson's instantly-infamous Newsweek cover story 'Hit the Road Barack,' which purported to offer a comprehensive indictment of Obama's performance as president. Here the problem wasn't inadvertent plagiarism; it was blatant dishonesty. As a diverse flock of respected commentators quickly pointed out, Ferguson's factually-challenged critique of Obama rested on an array of obvious misrepresentations and sleazy manipulations. Please don't take my word for it: just read James Fallows, Andrew Sullivan ... Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brian, and Joe Weisenthal. And that's just a partial list.  Unlike Zakaria, who promptly acknowledged his error and apologized, Ferguson responded by quickly doubling down on some of his original arguments. And he did so by selectively quoting a CBO report, deliberately omitting a key sentence that completely altered the meaning of the quotation." (ForeignPolicy)



"Mitt Romney's campaign has set a precise target for the share of the Hispanic vote it needs to win to defeat President Obama: 38 percent. That's a significant step up from the 31 percent of the Latino vote won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom Obama thumped while winning a number of key states where Hispanic voters are an important constituency, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Romney has to do better than McCain, and his advisers have set a goal that is just below the approximately 40 percent share of the Hispanic vote President George W. Bush won in 2004. 'Our goal is to do better than four years ago and the McCain campaign did — our goal is to hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote,' said Jose Fuentes, a co-chairman of Romney's Hispanic leadership team and former attorney general of Puerto Rico. 'That's our goal. That's our national average.' Polls suggest Romney's magic number with Hispanics might be a tough mark to hit. Obama led Romney 67 to 23 percent with Latino voters in a poll conducted in late July poll by NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and Telemundo. While Romney has softened his rhetoric on illegal immigration since he ran hard to the right on the issue during the primary, and polls show Latino support for President Obama is soft, there have been no indications that Romney has made up any ground with the key voting bloc in recent months." (TheHill)


"She was born into poverty on Welfare Island, New York City, on June 3, 1931, and went on to become the epitome of American glamour and optimism. Today, at 81, supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice is more beautiful and relevant than she was in her youth, and this made her an odd choice for the recent HBO documentary 'About Face,' which exploited her fame in its study of iconic models who have aged out of the industry. Dell’Orefice, you see, has never aged out. She is a survivor, in love and in work. She was never huge in her prime, largely because of her era; it wasn’t until the ’60s, when Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy came along, that models became stars. Yet Dell’Orefice never stopped working, and today, she is wholly unprecedented: our first octogenarian supermodel. She will tell you it’s because she has to work. (Bernie Madoff stole all her money, but it’s not that big of a deal; she lost her life savings once before.) But really, Dell’Orefice loves what she does. She’s very good at it. She sees absolutely no reason why she should stop. She thinks that women could do worse than to look to her as an example of how to age, because no one is as surprised by her third act as she is. 'I have had a lucky life,' Dell’Orefice says in the Dior Suite at the St. Regis Hotel, where, at 13, she posed for Salvador Dali. As payment, he offered her $7 an hour or an original sketch. She wanted the sketch, but she and her mother desperately needed the money. 'There are choices and hard work,' she says. 'But it’s always a lot of luck.'" (NYPost)


"The imagery on the canvas is relatively spare: a black oblong shape resides at the picture’s center, encircled by a loose knot of swirling red lines. It’s a small painting, just 24 by 20 inches. There is nothing to indicate that this unassuming, unsigned work has been the subject of an explosive, decades-long battle, a saga that has drawn in some of America’s best-known artists and the power brokers of the art world. Red, Black & Silver is the last painting ever created by Jackson Pollock. That is, if Ruth Kligman, Pollock’s mistress during the last year of the artist’s life, is to be believed. Famous in art circles—or notorious, depending on whom you ask—Kligman claimed that Pollock created the small canvas as a love gift to her just weeks before the car crash that killed him, in 1956. Kligman had been in the car, too; she was the accident’s sole survivor. The nickname 'death-car girl,' bestowed upon her by poet Frank O’Hara, haunted her for the rest of her life. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Pollock’s birth. It has been a good dec­ade for Pollock prices: this spring, one of his paintings sold at a Christie’s auction for $23 million. In 2006, Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 reportedly sold via private sale at Sothe­by’s for $140 million, which was said at the time to be the highest price ever paid for a painting. On September 20, Red, Black & Silver is scheduled to go to auction in New York City courtesy of Phillips de Pury & Company, with a price-estimate range available upon request from the auction house. The painting is said to have never changed hands before; it remained in Kligman’s possession until her death, in 2010." (VanityFair)


"If 1967 was the summer of love, 2012 might go down in the history books as the summer of snark. Just last week, Cindy Adams paid tribute to the departed Helen Gurley Brown by calling her chintzy and cheap, kvetching in The New York Post that the Cosmo editor and lipstick feminist once made her go all the way downtown to introduce her at a function, only to send a thank-you gift in a brown paper bag. (The gift, by the way, was a stuffed frog. If there was a coded message there, Ms. Adams clearly missed it while swiping at Ms. Brown’s old Chanel suits.) Oh, but everyone is in a grumpy mood. (Too much shuttling back and forth on the Jitney, perhaps?) Todd English’s ex-fiancĂ©e Erica Wang threw a tantrum after she was caught stealing over a grand of makeup from Sephora—shortly getting fired from Ralph Lauren for her sticky fingers. Police had to drag Ms. Wang out of the cosmetics chain kicking and screaming; her wailing was a rare relief to all those mommies who schlep their bawling babies to department stores. (At least this time it’s not your kid!) Then there’s the usual city-centric discontent." (Observer)



"I NEVER ran into anyone in show business who didn’t like/love Phyllis Diller. Her raucous comedy wasn’t really mean; just absurd. She kept the largest Christmas card list in history. She was always thrilled to meet the press and every utterance of hers was followed by that cackling laugh. She was her own best audience. I will miss her incredible costumes ... her laugh at herself ... and receiving the inevitable Yule greeting. The capper was this e-mail from a Hollywood agent on the day she died. 'I saw Phyllis Diller at a dinner party six months ago. To the table, she posed the question: ‘How do you get a nun pregnant?’ 'The table gave up on the answer. Phyllis answered the question herself: ‘You f*&# her!’'She was irrepressible at 95." (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)






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