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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Prior to Wednesday night’s debate, Newt Gingrich called the face-off in Denver 'the most important single event in Mitt Romney’s career.' Gingrich was one among a chorus of observers who made similar pronouncements about the candidates’ first clash. But can a debate really be a game-changer? Chart 1 below details Gallup’s polling before and after the first debate in each presidential cycle since 1960. At first glance, it is easy to see that there is always some survey movement before and after a debate, but of course one poll is not a perfect indicator of the political landscape. Plus, these data have a caveat: before 1992, Gallup polled less often, making it harder to judge the polling results in 1960, 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988 (Gallup polls daily now). But if we look closer at these numbers, there is one trend that seems typical: the race generally tightens after the first debate. This wasn’t really true in 1984 or 2008, but in every election between those years, the gap between the two major party candidates in Gallup narrowed in the days following the candidates’ first clash.The most recent election that is comparable to this one, 2004, saw John Kerry close the gap between himself and incumbent George W. Bush following the first debate. To a certain extent, Kerry’s improvement probably had something to with his debate performance: The conventional wisdom was that Kerry had won, and his victory allowed him to somewhat consolidate the anti-Bush vote. However, Kerry never actually took the lead in the final weeks of that contest, at least according to the RealClearPolitics national average of polls. Romney, after repeating Kerry's opening debate win (as judged by the press), will hope to recreate the Democrat's bounce -- and then some. There are other observations we can make about before-and-after polling. Our nation’s first televised debate, on Sept. 26, 1960, has long been viewed as a seminal event in American political history, and the story goes that John F. Kennedy got a boost out of the debate and went on to win in November as a result. Considering the less consistent polling of that era, we can’t know that for sure, but Gallup’s numbers do seem to suggest that Kennedy went from being tied with Richard Nixon, more or less, to having a small lead in the aftermath of the debate. The race ended as nearly a national tie -- Kennedy won the popular vote by less than 0.2 percentage points, though he captured more than 300 electoral votes." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"Last night over at Archivia, there was a BIG booksigning party for Alex Hitz and his 'My Beverly Hills Kitchen With a French Twist,' just published by Knopf. Millions know him from his appearances on QVC and now on HSN with his Beverly Hills Kitchen luxury gourmet food line. An Atlanta boy where he first learned Southern cooking and its mysteries from Dorothy Williams, the family cook whom he credits with having taught him not only cooking but also more about the world ... Afterwards Annette Tapert Allen gave a buffet dinner for some friends of Alex and hers at her Fifth Avenue apartment. The buffet, Alex’s recipes – a chicken dish, a mushroom tart, greens, followed by lemon tarts and two different chocolate brownies. This was all consumed by most of the guests who were sitting in the Allen library or the master bedroom, watching the Presidential debates. There was no talking while the candidates made their points. That detail was interesting because I rarely go to any event where the television program isn’t the center and yet people never stop talking over it. Not last night. What was the sentiment about it in the room? You know, I couldn’t tell. Carolyne Roehm was the only one who sitting stockingfooted on the floor leaning against the bed, looking up at the TV, made exclamatory remarks in some responses to what she was hearing. But even then, I couldn’t tell. This was unusual." (NYSocialDiary)


"Discussion that night was wide-ranging. The group talked about Apple, on whose board (Al) Gore sits, and Google, where Gore is a senior adviser, as well as climate change and energy policy. The most electric moment of the evening, though, was an exchange between (billionaire Al) Cooperman and Gore. Heavyset, with a lumbering gait, Cooperman does not look like a hedge-fund plutocrat: Scaramucci affectionately describes him as 'the worst-dressed billionaire on planet earth.' Cooperman’s business model isn’t flashy, either. He began his finance career as an analyst of consumer companies at Goldman Sachs, and went on to make his fortune at Omega as a traditional stock-picker. He searches for companies that are cheap and which he hopes to sell when they become dear. (In 1998, Cooperman made a foray into emerging markets, investing more than a hundred million dollars as part of a bid to take over Azerbaijan’s state oil company, but it went badly wrong. His firm lost most of its money and paid five hundred thousand dollars to settle a U.S.-government bribery investigation.) Cooperman had come to the dinner to give Gore a copy of the letter he’d written to President Obama. 'I’d like you to read this,' he told the former Vice-President. 'You owe me a small favor. I voted for you,' he said, referring to Gore’s Presidential run, in 2000. In the letter, Cooperman argued that Obama has needlessly antagonized the rich by making comments that are hostile to economic success. The prose, rife with compound metaphors and righteous indignation, is a good reflection of Cooperman’s table talk. “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them,' Cooperman wrote. 'It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.'" (Chrystia Freeland)


"Michael Jackson’s burial was delayed for nearly three months due to wrangling between Janet Jackson and her brother’s estate, a detail revealed in a November Vanity Fair–exclusive excerpt of Untouchable, Randall Sullivan’s Michael Jackson biography, which will be published next month. According to Sullivan, Janet put up the $40,000 deposit at Forest Lawn to secure a spot for Michael but refused to let the funeral take place until the money was repaid. Ronald Williams, of Talon Executive Services—a private-security company that dispatched a team to Michael Jackson’s rented château in Holmby Hills on the night of his death—tells Sullivan that hours after Jackson died, La Toya and her boyfriend, Jeffre Phillips, arrived at the house demanding to be admitted. 'We’re family and we should have access to the house,' they reportedly said. Sullivan reports that mother Katherine Jackson also arrived that night and entered the house, where she telephoned Grace Rwaramba, the recently terminated longtime nanny to Michael’s children. According to Rwaramba, Katherine said, 'Grace, the children are crying. They are asking about you. They can’t believe that their father died. Grace, you remember Michael used to hide cash at the house? I’m here. Where can it be?' Rwaramba described Michael’s standard practice of hiding his cash in black plastic garbage bags and under the carpets. Talon describes seeing La Toya and her boyfriend loading black plastic garbage bags into duffel bags and placing them in the garage. (La Toya insists that nearly all of Michael’s money was gone by the time she arrived at the Holmby Hills house.)" (VanityFair)



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