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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"The United States believed that the Soviet conquest of Western Europe would integrate Soviet resources and European technology. This same fear led the Americans and Europeans to fight Germany in two wars from two very different perspectives. For my European colleagues, it meant the devastation of their countries, even if NATO won the war. The Dutch, for example, had lived under occupation and even preferred devastation over capitulation. For me, it was an abstract exercise, both in the strange mathematics of the war games and in the more distant consequences of defeat for my country. At the same time, there was a shared sense of urgency that formed the foundation of our relationship: War might come at any moment, and we must consider every possible move by the Soviets, and we must propose solutions. The Americans were always haunted by Pearl Harbor. This is why 9/11 was such a blow. The historical recollection of the attack out of nowhere was always close. Doctrine said that we would have 30 days' warning of a Soviet attack. I had no idea where this doctrine came from, and I suspected that it came from the fact that we needed 30 days' warning to get ready. The Europeans did not fear the unexpected attack; rather, they dreaded the expected attack for which preparations had not been made. World War II haunted them differently. They were riveted on the fact that they knew what was coming and failed to prepare. The Americans and Europeans were united by paranoia, but their paranoia differed. For the Americans, staying out of alliances and not acting soon enough was what caused the war. The United States was committed to never repeating that mistake. NATO was one of many alliances. The Americans love alliances. It is interesting to recognize now what the Soviets were afraid of. When World War II came to them, they had no allies. Their one ally, Germany, was the one that betrayed them. The Soviets were both taken by surprise and fought alone until the Americans and British chose to help them. The Soviets had played complex diplomacy with traditional alliances, and when it failed the Soviet Union committed itself to never again depending on others. It had the Warsaw Pact because the West had NATO, but it did not depend on its allies. The Americans threw themselves into alliances as if an alliance solved all problems. The Soviets, however, acted as if allies were the most dangerous things of all." (STRATFOR)


"I went down to the Metropolitan Club before noon for City Harvest’s annual On Your Plate luncheon. City Harvest, if you don’t know already, is in the business of collecting food that is left at the end of the day from restaurants, markets, and distributors, and re-distributing it among the citizens of New York.  There are more than 1.7 million New Yorkers now living in poverty. Basics, like food, rent and medical are often financially out of reach ... Yesterday’s guest speaker was Martha Stewart. I don’t know her well but I have observed her for two decades, and was well aware of her as far back as the early '70s when she was first getting started. She is a remarkable woman, in my book. She started out in business baking and selling cakes and cookies and desserts, and catering in Westport, Connecticut back then. She went public with a little space selling her baked goods in an up market clothing boutique for men and women. The quality of her product was so good that her business naturally flourished, and she became a 'name' locally. In the early '80s she published her first cookbook, and the rest is history. But what is remarkable about her to me is not only her enormous business success but her capacity for work and for actualizing her ideas, be they for her personal life or for her businesses – which may be all part of A Life." (NYSocialDiary)


"The paranoia and influence of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes have been well-documented, although the more colorful aspects of the most important man in cable news's personality were absent from Zev Chafets's recent fawning, essentially authorized biography. Not so in the forthcoming book from MSNBC contributor and Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter, The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, which covers the last two years in American politics, most notably the presidential election, and comes with a chapter on Fox News. Stories about Ailes cutting the mike on Geraldo Rivera notwithstanding, the CEO's views are so embedded in the network's DNA, Alter explains, that he rarely has to tell his employees what to do. They know what produces ratings. Alter calls Fox News the 'validator' of stories that originate from conservative websites like Newsmax, the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, and Red State before winding up on Drudge, who filters those that will most rile the conservative audience. Fox News producers, who Alter claims are mostly 'political centrists or even liberals,' take their cues from there, often anticipating Ailes's desires. As an example, Alter points to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009: 'a Fox producer (whose colleagues believed him to be nonpolitical) sent out an email saying that of the two still photos the network had of Sotomayor, the unsmiling, less attractive picture should be used on the air.' Rupert Murdoch, Alter reports, 'routinely' says Ailes is 'cuckoo,' 'bonkers,' 'nuts,' and 'crazy,' according to two former News Corp. senior executives, but he sees the humor (and, of course, the dollar signs) in keeping him around." (NYMag)


"South Carolina’s suspense-filled special election between Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch comes to a close Tuesday — and it’s anyone’s guess how it will end.
Will enough Republicans hold their noses and vote for Sanford, despite their misgivings about his personal conduct, to put him over the top? Or are there enough energized Democrats in the heavily GOP district to carry the day for Colbert Busch? Colbert Busch seemed to be in the driver’s seat a week ago, but the late momentum has been with Sanford. The race is now so close — a weekend survey by the respected Democratic firm Public Policy Polling had Sanford up by a single point — that a recount isn’t out of the question. Who ultimately ends up on top will come down to a handful of factors. Here are POLITICO’s five things to watch in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, where polls close at 7 p.m." (Politico)


"There is always a lot of chatter in the fashion community leading up to the Costume Institute's Met Ball, what Vogue regularly refers to as 'the party of the year.' It took place on Monday night, celebrating the museum's new exhibit, 'Punk: Chaos to Couture,' which examines the influence of the punk movement in the 1970s on high fashion. Most often the chatter involves how little the Vogue staffers and the rest of the attendees are eating in anticipation of the first Monday in May, or, more accurately, what juice cleanse they might be on.  On Sunday and Monday afternoon, there was more talk about what after-parties might be the hottest, especially for those who are not lucky enough to get invited to pay a large sum for a ticket, or are not famous enough to be invited by one of the many fashion houses that purchase a table. These days, thanks to live streaming mechanisms, one could, ostensibly, have your own Met Ball party at home, though, once the red carpet is done, there's no ceremony or awards to be given out. It's back to your regularly scheduled programming of vegetable chow fun, a Magnolia cupcake and a new episode of 'Two Broke Girls' One of the biggest conversations leading up to the big day is, naturally, who's going to attend. And then, of course, the question is: What is she going to wear? Punk Tartan? A Union Jack print? Spiked hair? ... Some of the more surprising attendees, who came for a dinner of loin of lamb with herbs and a mint-mustard sauce, served with artichoke stuffed with Maryland crab, at least for a high fashion event, included Miley Cyrus (whose hair was at least bleached blonde punk), Kim Kardashian and PSY." (WSJ)


"How many people do you think tuned in to watch Howard Kurtz's public shaming on Reliable Sources Sunday? Go on, take a guess. Two million? One million? Five hundred thousand?  Not even close. The actual number, according to Nielsen ratings data supplied to Buzzfeed by Brad Adgate of Horizon Media, was a paltry 359,000 total live plus same day viewers (which are viewers who watched the show on DVR playback later Sunday). The figure ranks as the show's lowest-rated broadcast since January 13, according to Nielsen data, and is well below the 752,000 and 518,000 total viewers it recorded the two weeks prior. You'd be forgiven, however, for thinking the ratings were higher, particularly if you were on Twitter last Thursday when Kurtz got fired from The Daily Beast for, among other reasons, claiming the recently out basketball player Jason Collins hid the fact that he was once engaged to a woman . Collins had, in fact, disclosed that fact.  Media reporters like Politico's Dylan Byers (who was one of two reporters selected to interview Kurtz on Reliable Sources Sunday, along with NPR's David Folkenflik) and Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, academics such as NYU's Jay Rosen, and others in the industry lit up the social network with comments and reporting when the news broke. But the low ratings lend credence to the claim that few people outside of the media world care about media reporting." (BuzzFeed)



"MSNBC.com is staffing up ahead of a major relaunch later this year. The relaunched site will focus on the world of politics and the personalities that populate MSNBC’s programming. There will also, however, be plenty of political news and information.To that end, the channel is adding a number of reporters, including Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin, who joins as a political reporter in Washington, The Washington Post‘s Suzy Khimm, who joins as a reporter at “All In,” and Rothenberg Political Reports’ Jessica Taylor, who joins the team of “The Daily Rundown” and NBC Politics. Other additions include Adam Serwer as a national reporter focusing on civil rights issues, Amy Pereira as director of photography, Jason Fields as director of design, Emma Margolin, Evan Puschak and Michele Richinick." (TVNewser)

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