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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Dick Durbin (D-IL) is that rarest of Democrats these days -- a senator who apparently contemplates but passes on retirement. While the Senate majority whip, who will turn 70 a couple weeks after Election Day 2014, is gearing up to run for a fourth term, four other Democrats have announced their retirements -- Sens. Tom Harkin (IA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Carl Levin (MI) and Jay Rockefeller (WV) -- and another, ex-Sen. John Kerry (MA), left the Senate after winning confirmation as secretary of state. A likely retiree, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), has not yet made an announcement.Such is life for Senate Democrats the past few cycles. In an institution where it’s common to overstay one’s welcome, members of the majority party have been retiring in droves this cycle and last despite, potentially, being able to run for another term. In 2012, Democratic Sens. Daniel Akaka (HI), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Kent Conrad (ND), Herb Kohl (WI), Joe Lieberman (the Connecticut independent who caucused with Democrats), Ben Nelson (NE) and Jim Webb (VA) all hung ‘em up. Would Democrats prefer their incumbents to run? Sure. But the dangers posed to the incumbent party in open seat contests can be overstated, while the benefits -- namely, subbing in new blood for old -- can be understated.It’s no secret that incumbency is rewarded in American politics: Even-numbered-year pleas to 'throw the bums out' are both common and ignored. Since 1954, an average of more than eight of every 10 senators who run for reelection in a given year win another term (more than nine out of 10 who want another term in the House get it). Simply being an incumbent provides a solid advantage in Senate races. But at the same time, in seats that do switch parties, the other party more commonly defeats an incumbent than captures an open seat. Over the same time period -- the past six decades -- 208 Senate seats have switched hands from one party to the other in regularly scheduled, November elections (Vital Statistics on American Politics does not include special elections in their calculations). Of those 208 party switches, 124 involved the other party defeating an incumbent, while only 84 involved taking an open seat from the retiring senator's party. On average over the past six decades, about four Senate incumbents lose in November, while about three open seats flip to the other party.Granted, this could just be because in any given Senate election, there are more incumbents running than there are open seats; over the past six decades, there has been an average of six retirements each cycle (that does not include resignations or deaths in office).So it’s not like it’s necessarily easier to beat an incumbent than to win an open seat, although more often than not in recent years, the retiring senator’s party holds an open Senate seat.Since 2000, 47 Senate retirements (24 Democrats and 23 Republicans) have created Senate openings that were contested in regular elections (that does not include senators who resigned, lost a primary or died in office). Of those 47, 30 -- or about two-thirds -- were held by the retiring senator’s party. " (SabatosCrystalBall)

 
"Staff members at NBC’s 'Today' show huddled for a performance review last month, 10 months after the longtime morning show leader first fell behind ABC’s 'Good Morning America' in the ratings. The mood was anxious, according to several attendees, as network executives discussed the findings from focus groups with hundreds of viewers. The employees were reassured that 'Today' viewers didn’t want their show to turn into 'Good Morning America,' the ABC rival that has become Americans’ No. 1 choice in the mornings. But then they were told this: 'What matters most is the anchor connection to the audience; what we need to work on is the connection.' As the word 'connection' was repeated, some people in the room started to chuckle because of a name that went unspoken: Matt Lauer. 'What they meant was Matt. But no one would say it,' said a senior staff member who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr. Lauer was not there, but it is clear that the once-popular host’s relationship with his audience is in peril. Last April, Mr. Lauer signed a contract said to be worth $25 million a year, the most lucrative deal in the 60-year history of morning television. And then the bottom fell out. The following week, “Today” fell to second place in the morning ratings for the first time in 16 years. When his co-host, Ann Curry, was forced out over the summer, it was Mr. Lauer and not network executives who shouldered most of the blame.
Since then, his popularity among viewers has plummeted and NBC has been forced to deny what was unthinkable a year ago: the rumor that Mr. Lauer, 55, who first took over the co-host chair in 1997, could soon be replaced by a younger host like Willie Geist, 37, or David Gregory, 42. Mr. Lauer’s year is a lesson in how a combination of missteps — NBC’s and his own — can precipitate a star’s fall." (Brian Stelter)
 
 
 
"MSNBC has announced that Chris Hayes will take over the 8 PM slot on the channel starting April 1. Hayes currently hosts 'Up with Chris Hayes' on Saturdays and Sundays, and has long been viewed as a 'next generation' talent for the network, at the age of 34. MSNBC plans to reveal more details on the new show in the coming weeks. 'I am thrilled to be joining Rachel and Lawrence in primetime,” said Hayes in a statement. 'I’ve absolutely loved hosting UP on the weekends and I’m looking forward to thinking through the news five nights a week.' Hayes will be taking the place of Ed Schultz, who will shift to MSNBC’s weekend lineup next month, part of an expansion of weekend programming at the channel. 'Chris has done an amazing job creating a franchise on weekend morning,' said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement. 'He’s an extraordinary talent and has made a strong connection with our audience. This is an exciting time for MSNBC.'" (TVNewser)
 
 
"The spinoff of Time Inc. to create the world’s largest publicly traded magazine publisher may be just the beginning of deals for the owner of People and Sports Illustrated. With analysts estimating an enterprise value of about $3.9 billion, Time Inc. would be bigger than any other publicly held company focused on magazine publishing after it separates from Time Warner Inc., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Following a failed attempt to divest some magazines to Meredith Corp. (MDP), Time Inc. could buy Meredith, which is half its projected size, to consolidate costs, said Wunderlich Securities Inc. Or, Time Inc.’s titles and its more than $3 billion in annual revenue may lure private-equity interest, said Wedbush Inc. Time Inc. 'could either be an acquisition target for a larger, traditional publishing company or it could itself be an acquirer,' Brett Harriss, a Rye, New York-based analyst at Gabelli & Co., which owns Time Warner shares, said in a telephone interview. 'It’s clear that magazine publishing is likely in secular decline. That being said, it doesn’t mean it’s valueless.' The spinoff, planned for this year, will shield Time Warner (TWX)’s cable networks and film studio from the publishing industry’s struggles with the transition to the Internet and lower online advertising rates, according to Argus Research Co. Time Warner shares already have risen 7.9 percent since talks of separating the magazine unit emerged, almost eight months after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWSA) announced plans to split its entertainment and publishing businesses." (Bloomberg)


"As his divorce battle with Demi Moore escalates, sitcom star and aspiring tech mogul Ashton Kutcher hit SXSW’s interactive conference looking for his next big investment. The actor — already an investor in tech companies Spotify and Airbnb — was spotted making the rounds with his partners in A-Grade Investments, Madonna manager Guy Oseary and billionaire Ron Burkle, in Austin this week. He was also hitting the conference’s party circuit and powwowing with the likes of Mark Cuban, Scooter Braun, Tesla Motors mogul Elon Musk and his 'Two and a Half Men' boss Chuck Lorre, who spoke at SXSW. On Tuesday, Kutcher and Oseary were spotted in New York at haute burger joint and beer hall Hudson Common. 'They were at what looked like a business meeting,' said a spy, adding the duo met with a group of dudes and 'stayed for about an hour.' Having moved onto his former 'That ’70s Show' co-star Mila Kunis (right), Kutcher’s battle with Moore is gearing up to be a bruising one after she filed for spousal support — despite the fact that, sources told Page Six, Kutcher 'believes he doesn’t owe her that much.'" (PageSix)


"David Wolkowsky, developer par exelence, is a true Key West treasure and easily the most interesting man in town. I met him a year ago, and I instantly recognized him for the mystical magical man that he is. Thanks to my own eclectic childhood, meeting everyone from royals to reg’lar folks, I know cool, and this guy is the real thing. An invitation from David is a major highlight and might lead one to any of his splendid palaces about town; all filled with magnificient artwork and orchids in fat bunches fixed half way up a doric column brought back from the east, and everywhere there are photographs of himself with famous friends. And then there is his private island, Ballast Key, a few miles off the southernmost coast. In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I was invited out to Ballast Key, and I did discreetly plant a Serbian flag in the sugar white sand. The island getaway is a confection of airy beach house with unstoppable views and paths leading to sculptures for guests to stumble upon like a trail of candy ... When I met David Wolkowsky I was delightfully fascinated. He is chic and gentle with a nimble and witty mind, and I along with everyone who has ever met him, adore him. So when, recently, he phoned and proposed I write about his long-deceased friend author Patricia Highsmith I said yes absolutely, gladly. I was thrilled for the opportunity to give back after basking in so much of his hospitality." (Christina Oxenberg)


"On March 6th, Services for the UnderServed (SUS) hosted the Inaugural Dinner for a Better New York for the food, business and entertainment industries at Riverpark Restaurant in Manhattan. Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern presented international dishes from a collection of 10 respected celebrity chefs who donated their time to cook and prepare on site at the event. 
The event celebrated the efforts of SUS' human service programs and services in helping to make New York a better city for all who live in, work in and enjoy it. At the event, Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods and host of MSN's web series Appetite for Life, sponsored by Toyota, presented the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in used in the MSN show to Donna Colonna, CEO of SUS, to use as part of SUS' fleet.

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