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Monday, August 26, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"THE trial has begun in the northern Chinese city of Jinan of a former member of the ruling Politburo, Bo Xilai. Mr Bo has been accused of corruption and abuse of power while serving in the provinces, most recently as leader of the south-western region of Chongqing. His case is the most sensitive involving a senior Chinese official since the televised show-trial of the Gang of Four in 1980 and 1981. Why is it so important for China’s new leaders? Since the Gang of Four (comprising Mao Zedong’s widow, Jiang Qing, and three other former members of the Politburo) China has put two other Politburo-level officials on trial: Chen Xitong, a former party chief of Beijing, in 1998 and Chen Liangyu, a former party chief of Shanghai, five years ago. Both received lengthy sentences for corruption. Mr Bo’s case has aroused far greater public interest than those of the (unrelated) Chens. Until he disappeared from public view in March 2012 Mr Bo had been considered a strong candidate for promotion to the pinnacle of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, later in the year. He had also enjoyed considerable public support, especially in Chongqing where he had waged a sweeping crackdown on organised crime and among neo-Maoists (some Chinese are disgruntled with the country’s capitalist ways) because of his fondness for Maoist rhetoric. Now he is accused of illegally pocketing millions of dollars and abusing his power by trying to prevent the investigation of his wife, Gu Kailai, for the murder of a British businessman. Mr Bo’s case is about more than the sensational fall of a rising political star. It has had huge political ramifications. For Xi Jinping, who became China’s paramount leader in November, it has helped remove a charismatic potential rival. But it has also been damaging for the party. The murder of the businessman, Neil Heywood, and its attempted coverup, exposed the untrammelled power of senior officials to a global audience. It is likely the case would not have come to light had it not been for the flight of Mr Bo’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, to an American consulate. Mr Xi has had to tread carefully. He does not want too much of the party’s dirty linen washed in public. Neither does he want trouble from the Maoists, many of whom regard the case as a stitch-up. But he also wants to give the impression that he is serious about tackling corruption and about building rule of law." (Economist)

"The decisions that (Rachel) Maddow makes go a long way toward defining what MSNBC is, too. Phil Griffin, the president, calls Maddow 'our quarterback,' the person who sets the tone for the network. A few years ago, MSNBC had a different quarterback: Keith Olbermann, a former ESPN anchor who rose to fame during the Bush years, delivering urbane, fuguelike denunciations of a President who was sometimes known, on his show, as 'you, sir.' Olbermann and MSNBC agreed to a no-fault divorce in early 2011, and Griffin has spent the past two and a half years reinventing the network in Maddow’s image. At almost any time of the day, you can turn it on and encounter someone whose liberalism is earnest, upbeat, and perhaps a little wonky. Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the network’s rising stars, is a Tulane professor who rallies her followers on Twitter with the hashtag #Nerdland. . . ." (NewYorker)


"I made it back to Key West last night and went directly to my favorite bar The Green Parrot where there was dancing and friends and fun, and then, incredibly, almost a full blown showdown fight with a drunk. In all my time here I’ve never had any problems at all, despite the fact I’m always out and everyone everywhere is almost always drunk, meanwhile the mood here is mellow. But this man with a floppy hat and a soggy mind decided I had offended him and he got ugly and began screaming threats at me. Thankfully the Parrot is full of very large security fellows and the night’s stain got thrown out on his ass, which was mighty satisfying to watch. And then the merriment continued until late." (ChristinaOxenberg)


"I stopped by Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison between 81st and 82nd on my way home, and picked up 'This Town' ('Two Parties and a Funeral plus plenty of valet parking! In America’s Gilded Capital') by Mark Leibovich who is the Chief National Correspondent of the New York Times Magazine. Leibovich has been on the case for sometime. He knows of which he speaks. He begins his book with the memorial service five years ago for Meet The Press moderator Tim Russert which was held at the Kennedy Center.The author’s focus (which seemed to be the focus for those attending) was on who was present. Celebrity funerals are not unfamiliar to me here in New York (and the occasional one in Hollywood/Beverly Hills). They are spectator sports as much as memorials in (not all but) many cases – the opportunity to see and be seen by those who are working the scene on one level or another. Russert’s memorial was especially lively with the aforementioned because Tim Russert was a pivotal power point in the scheme of things. So the whole town (meaning the high mucky-mucks and their their lords and ladies in waiting) turned out including former President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, then soon-to-be Secretary of State." (NYSocialDiary)


"I’m not gonna watch it. I figure if anything happens worth knowing about, I can see it on the Internet tomorrow. That’s how far we’ve come, used to be you DVR’ed it and fast-forwarded through not only the commercials, but almost all of the musical performances. Now you don’t want to waste the hard drive space. And if it weren’t for Twitter, the show’s ratings would be so low they’d think about canceling it. You see now it’s no longer about the show itself, but the snark. The people on stage don’t realize they’re fodder for those playing the home game, making fun of everything happening on stage and off. Search Twitter, it’s not pretty. Even youngsters are sneering. And every oldster with a modicum of followers is live tweeting, which proves that the paradigm is done, once you’re afraid of being left out, once you’re leveraging your fan base for personal aggrandizement, we know the whole shebang is history. How did it come to this? Well, we know that television kills musical artists. Oh, it jets them to the moon, but sans mystery, they end up like sitcom stars, people with one moment of fame we end up laughing at, wondering if they’re off robbing a 7-11 now that their royalties are gone. This was true during the heyday of MTV. Now it’s even worse." (Lefsetz)


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