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Monday, April 15, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"The power vacuum in New York City that will be left by Michael Bloomberg's departure from public office will likely be compounded by another unfillable hole: the loss of the New York Post. The Post has been in business since 1801, and owned since 1976 by Rupert Murdoch (other than for a five-year hiatus when regulatory requirements forced him to sell the paper – that is, until he arranged to be exempted from those rules and buy it back). It's been Murdoch's money-losing personal instrument for all manner of trouble-making, political power-brokering, and punishment and reward. When it was not being bent to his personal will, it was to that of his editors, picking the paper's enemies and friends for both personal and institutional benefit. To say the Post is self-serving would be beside the point. It is the last of the great bully-boy newspapers. This joie de guerre has cost Murdoch as much as $80m a year in unstoppable losses – perhaps more than $1bn over 35 years. Murdoch's attachment to the paper has long been more sentimental than strategic. Once, it was the seat of his power in the US, electing Ed Koch mayor and making Murdoch the most feared publisher in the nation. But that was decades ago. Its truer recent purpose has been as a model for what he thinks newspapers ought to be: a semi-lawless, unrepentant, sometimes quite joyful agent of the carrot-and-stick of publicity. The Post newsroom has been his retreat in New York – a half-fantasy world where, when the burdens of running a big corporation and a fractious family became too much, he could repair. I urged my daughter to try to work there after she finished college. There would not be an opportunity, I advised, to experience something like the Post much longer. Now, as Murdoch gets ready to separate his newspapers from his richer entertainment holdings in a move that will force the papers to pay their own way, the Post's day of reckoning nears. The new newspaper company will be backed by a several billion-dollar dowry from the entertainment company, but that dough will be needed for cash flow-positive investments. The present assets, including the Wall Street Journal, more than 70 papers in Australia, and the Sun, the Times, and Sunday Times in London, will all need to become productive and ever-more-profitable members of the company. Many will struggle to get there. There is, however, no scenario in which the Post will reach that point; there is no scenario in which, even with cuts, it doesn't keep losing more." (Michael Wolff)


"While President François Hollande is reeling from revelations that his former tax-enforcement minister (no less) hid fortunes of money in offshore bank accounts, the scandal has brought a sense of satisfaction in at least one corner of Paris: the offices of a small, five-year-old news site called Mediapart. Beginning last December, Mediapart’s reporters had published articles about the tall, dapper Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac, saying that he had evaded taxes on his considerable earnings from years as a plastic surgeon. The explosive details emerged just as Hollande was vowing to crack down on tax cheats — the portfolio assigned to Cahuzac — and fuming against actor Gérard Depardieu for leaving high-tax France. Cahuzac fiercely denied Mediapart’s allegations, including to Hollande. In a speech that has come back to haunt him, the Budget Minister also told the French Parliament he had “not now, not ever” hidden funds abroad. Shortly after, Mediapart posted an audiotape conversation from 2000, in which Cahuzac can be heard worrying that his Swiss bank account might be revealed. Last month he resigned from his ministerial job on Hollande’s orders, and on Tuesday — thanks to Mediapart — he was forced to admit that he still had about $780,000 stashed in Swiss and Singaporean accounts. As bad as the scandal has been for French leaders, so it has been spectacularly good for Mediapart — for which it is just the most recent scoop. The small, feisty site has beaten the odds by breaking some of the biggest scandals of the decade in France, on a shoestring budget and against widespread skepticism from the much richer French newspapers. In its five-year existence, the site has published details of alleged campaign-finance abuse by Nicolas Sarkozy, for which the former President is now under formal investigation by police. Mediapart also broke the news of Sarkozy’s links to a Karachi arms deal; the intervention of IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in the legal settlement of a French businessman Bernard Tapie; and documents suggesting that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi might have sought to finance Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign. This week’s revelations have not only stung politicians but also the traditional French media." (Time)


"On Sunday I went into Carl Schurz Park to get some photos of The Bloom. This is joy all around; a chance to get outdoors in the Sun. We’re halfway to May when the flowers really start to show themselves, and off to a good start. I had a sick dog. Missy aka Madame. Missy under these circumstances. She was acting weird – just sitting there, staring at nothing, late on Saturday afternoon. She’s one of those dogs who likes to get into things, scavenge, look for some morsel that I didn’t know was there; something she might chew or gnaw on; anything. If I leave my rubbish/garbage in a plastic bag hanging on a drawerknob in the kitchen, she’ll nip at the bottom until she opens it -- and like a piñata, she revels in the (possible) riches (if I’m not looking) for a canine scavenger. I have great affection for all my dogs, but this one makes me laugh all the time, and it is often at my expense. I think she knows that. That’s why I call her Madame. Saturday night when I went to lift her, however, she yelped and snapped at me. She was in pain, And her belly felt hard as a rock. I looked it up on the web of course. About 11:30 Saturday night I thought it might be a good idea to hit an all-night animal hospital. Animal Medical Center. So I took her. She walked, very quickly, as is her habit down East End Avenue. She actually often pulled me. And then she stopped to relieve herself. Very steady, very healthy. We got to the corner of 79th Street and she was still moving along as if she had places to go. So I figured maybe it was 'gas' and she’d just have to work it out. We returned home instead. Sunday morning she did something she never does: she wouldn’t eat her breakfast. Usually she eats faster (and more) than the other two and then she raids theirs while they’re eating. If I’m not watching. So not eating was an alarm bell. Yesterday afternoon we went down to the AMC, Missy and I. She still had the strong gait. Until she stopped. And sat. Then I had to pick her up. We spent two hours there. There was a consultation, then some kind of blood work, then a sonar to see what was going on inside. Nothing remarkable. It was concluded that she had gas or something that she hadn’t moved along. Gastroenteritis. We came home with a couple days ‘ painkillers if necessary." (NYSocialDiary)


"After we revealed last week that members of the snooty Southampton Bathing Corp. are revolting over the possibility that fashion and social-scene staples Lauren Santo Domingo and husband Andres might be allowed to join, we hear that other members have even had trouble getting their spouses into the private oceanfront club on Gin Lane. A source reports: 'The club admittance policy is so tough that it will sometimes approve an applicant while rejecting their spouse. Cristina Greeven Cuomo is a member but her husband, [CNN anchor] Chris Cuomo, did not make the cut — and Samantha Boardman is a member but her husband, Aby Rosen, was denied access' and was allowed only 'certain guest privileges.' Also, Muffie Potter Aston is listed as a member, although husband Dr. Sherrell Aston isn’t. And Elena Ford, daughter of Charlotte Ford and Stavros Niarchos, made the cut — but when she married a plumber, he didn’t get past the gilded gates." (PageSix)



"I am exclusively selling my new book on my website for Byzantine reasons to do with anti piracy efforts none of which I expect will work very well. I expect the ramparts to give way after a simple battering. Yet my warrior blood impels me to at least try to hold some ground. This translates into me and a box of fresh pressed books, dedicating each in thick felt tip, wrapping and sealing them in puffy envelopes, and hauling the lot to the post office. I was a couple of humans from the front of the line when I engaged in conversation with a native American, or so he claimed, a man who appeared neither noble, nor wise, nor spiritual, not even a supreme horseman. Arguably his blood has authentic Caloosa DNA and the spit-up of malaria carrying mosquitos. But his concerns were confoundingly plebeian. The Caloosa, with his odd habit of tilting his bald head back and closing his eyes, would expound on his previous commute from a stay in Mastic Shirley, Long Island to an office at the center of Manhattan, 'Two and half hours in each direction!' he repeated, and shook his sweaty bald head, eyes closed.'Next' the attendant called and off shuffled Caloosa. One more person in front of me, ‘Walter the good pirate’ is how he introduced himself and he certainly looked the part, with earrings and hair swept into a ponytail, knee length overcoat and a tricorn hat with a yellow budgie clinging disinterestedly at the brim." (Chrinstina Oxenberg)

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