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Monday, December 16, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres




"When I heard late last week that Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander—a Republican who was apoplectic about Harry Reid’s changing the Senate’s hoary filibuster rules—had said the majority leader should have the words 'The End of the Senate' etched on his tombstone, I imagined what Reid’s reaction would be: a broad, wry smile.In covering Reid for more than 25 years, I have seen that smile so many times. Reid is the most unconventional of politicians, one who cares little about public perception and delights in infuriating the opposition. He is the kind of guy who might walk up to Alexander and say, 'Lamar, I hope you’ll deliver the eulogy so people really know what I have done.' The former boxer’s ability to absorb blows and, even more importantly, to counterpunch, perhaps with an occasional hit below the belt, are the secrets of his longevity—and no doubt he will deploy them once again as the Senate fights this week over the budget deal. Unlike most of the preening Club of 100, Reid expends little effort tending to his public image. Driving home messages (the Tea Party is destructive) and advancing legislation (the nuclear option) are what energize this tireless son of Searchlight, Nev., a speck of a town outside Las Vegas where Reid’s hardscrabble childhood helped produce a man impervious to most political considerations and virtually immune to criticism. The majority leader is a mélange of contradictions—a Machiavelli with malaprops (otherwise known as Reidisms)—but you can’t understand them just from the vantage point of the theater up on Capitol Hill. I’ve seen them revealed over a quarter century of close observation back in Nevada, where Reid, 74, has always been both a study in outperforming expectations and a political fighter with bare-knuckles ambition. Many still puzzle over this—how Reid can be at once a seemingly soulless manipulator of the process while occasionally revealing deeply held beliefs; a religious man proud of his Mormon faith who has metamorphosed into a social progressive; and an outwardly meek, bland figure whose cutthroat ways make him easily the most feared man in Nevada by politicians of both parties. But Reid being Reid is inevitably on display when he comes back home." (Politico)


"The Condé Nast Christmas party was held Dec. 16 — much later in the season than ever before — without Chairman S.I. Newhouse, Jr., the man who for years had engineered the secretive seating chart that propelled it into one of the most-hyped parties of the season. It is the first time in memory that Newhouse did not attend. That’s apparently because the chairman has quietly retired from day-to-day operations. 'He retired around this time last year,' CEO Charles Townsend told Media Ink, 'although he still owns the company, so I guess you never really retire.'This year the party was held in the Temple of Dendur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and attendees had to endure a rather lengthy explanation of Egyptian artifacts from the Met’s curator.That’s a departure from its usual roost, a luncheon at the Four Seasons restaurant for top editors, including Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, the New Yorker’s David Remnick and other publishing elite.
Newhouse, 86, is still the titular chairman but has been in declining health during the past few years." (KeithKelly)


"Billionaire New York mayor-for-life Mike Blomberg has a dream: a dream that one day, through sheer spending power alone, he can build an editorial Centrist Dream Team that is as lavishly paid as it is widely ignored. His dream has come true. In The New Republic today, Laura Bennett takes a look at Bloomberg View, the opinion section of Bloomberg News. Bloomberg View is built upon this foundation: It has absolutely no reason to exist, other than the personal preference of Michael Bloomberg. It caters to no existing demand. (There are not reams of traders pounding their Bloomberg terminals each day and crying, "Enough with the financial news, I need some mildly prescriptive Peter Orszag columns about common sense and efficiency!") On top of that, as a rich man's pet project, it does not even have the good fortune to be the pet project of an inherently interesting rich man. An editorial board personally assembled by Larry Flynt might possess a natural public draw. An editorial team personally assembled by Mike Bloomberg just possesses Ezra Klein, on his off days. Bloomberg View is too 'centrist' to attract many readers who are not already likely to be reading Bloomberg for one reason or another. It is not that it lacks quality—some of its columnists are quite good—but that it lacks any real diversity. It offers the reader no potential surprises. Its spectrum of opinions runs from 'we could use some moderate reforms' to 'we could use some other, equally moderate reforms.' As a team, Bloomberg View's stable of writers lacks pizzazz. What they do not lack, thanks to their billionaire patron, is money. " (Gawker)


"Parties are a major part of the New York life. That is not to say everyone’s off to a party, at least not like this character. But they are integral in the commercial life in this center of the world’s commerce. They evoke the excitement that many of us feel living in this extraordinary city of dreams and schemes, of genius and elsewhere. There’s always a possibility that cajoles the imagination before you, and it motivates the invited to become a guest. Monday night there were several I heard about  (not necessarily invited to) in the city. Some of them come with an annual reputation. When I hear about them and am invited, I’m tempted. The problem is geographical. For example, on Monday James LaForce the public relations guru (LaForce & Stevens) and his partner Stephen Henderson give an annual 'come one, come all' at their Chelsea loft. Charlie Scheips, who writes Art Set on the NYSD, loves this party. He left his apartment extra early so he could be there for the very beginning. Evidently they’re practically beating down the doors to get in. Sounds good, no? LaForce and Henderson have kindly invited me more than once but I’ve never got there for one reason or another. I’ve been told (by Charlie) it’s mobbed from Moment One, and stays that way right to the end (9 p.m.)." (NYSocialDiary)


"Due to a broken leg, George Soros has asked for a delay in giving a deposition in his long-running legal battle with his former Brazilian girlfriend. The billionaire investor’s lawyers were in court Tuesday to seek a postponement in the case brought by Adriana Ferreyr, the former actress who is suing Soros for $50 million, claiming he reneged on a promise to buy her a $1.9 million apartment on the Upper East Side. ­Ferreyr said in her 2011 filing that they dated for five years and she was dumped in 2010. She was 27 at the time and Soros was 80. Ferreyr claims he gave her apartment to another girlfriend, Tamiko Bolton, who is now his third wife. Meanwhile, Soros is countersuing Ferreyr for defamation and assault." (PageSix)


"Last night’s episode of 60 Minutes on CBS included what basically amounted to an uncritical commercial for the embattled National Security Agency, led by a journalist who used to be a government colleague. While the show — which has faced recent problems of its own, from the Benghazi debacle to the Amazon drone PR stunt — celebrated its own 'unprecedented access to NSA headquarters,' it’s clear the meeting was on the NSA’s terms. In fact, NSA Director General Keith Alexander 'made the call to invite us in,' a 60 Minutes producer admitted. They pretty much let him say his piece, nodding along excitedly. 'Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates,' said the reporter John Miller at the start of the segment. Then Alexander went right into his pitch: 'The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's e-mail, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that,' he said. 'Our job is foreign intelligence and we're very good at that.'" (NYMag)


"With Christmas in view I’m reminded of a time with Rachel, eons ago, when I was in Los Angeles. I was renting a bedroom in a mansion halfway up one of the Hollywood canyons. These canyons are a place to run into movie stars as well as hustlers. My roommate, a hustler, was gone on some sort of all-expenses-paid ho vacation with a B-list actor. That first night was eerily quiet i...n the big house and I spent most of it on the phone with Rachel. Rachel and I were in our early twenties and neither of us had anywhere to be. 'Pick me up at LAX!' she commanded and sure enough the next day she flew in from New York City and I fetched her from the airport in the roommate’s navy blue automobile. Rachel is an orphan and ‘family’ is a complicated concept for her. It would be years before she discovered her birthmother was Cuban. But it sure makes sense, if you think of Cubans as good looking, charming, smart and wily. No one is better at crime than Rachel. She is ‘Unflappable’, to the strains of Nat King Cole. She once managed to impersonate the owner of a box at the Ballet. Rachel attended every night of the season, with guests! We lounged around the marvelous spread, petting the doggies and watching TV. But we had no cash and we were getting hungry. 'Prepare the car, Jeeves! I have an idea!' Rachel suddenly said. Off we rumbled to a fancy food store where Rachel’s boss had a house account. We were both ravenous and we picked out many yummy items, including Christmas dinners with all the trimmings. Two overflowing carts later, stuffed with champagne and a feast for a king, we were at the front of the checkout line. 'What’s the drill?' I asked, my appetite tempered by terror. 'My name is Leona!' Rachel whispered. That was the start of the end of me. I began to jitter and sweat and mumble, 'Rachel!' I said. 'What’s your name again?' The cashier began eye-balling us with curiosity. This made me weak at the knees. Realizing my level of liability Rachel shooed me off, dispatching me to the car. 'Get it ready!'" (Christina Oxenberg)


"Saturday night I was going to dinner at La Grenouille with JH and his wife Danielle, and his mother-in-law Kathleen. The reservation was for 8 p.m. Recalling my traffic gridlock a couple weeks before when the weather was clear, I planned to leave a half hour early for what is usually a ten or fifteen minute ride to 52nd and Fifth on a Saturday night. The big traffic is gone by that time of day – with the exception of this specific time of the year when the great Christmas tree is on display at Rockefeller Center only three blocks from the restaurant. This night the problem was getting a cab on East End. But it turned out not to be. I got one in less than five. His meter was off. He told me it was broken. I believed him at first and then it occurred to me that because moving around was going to be a slow process (slippery), he thought he could make a few extra bucks. He quoted me a price: about 30 – 40% above what it would normally be on the meter (for that distance). Naturally I accepted; I was grateful to have a cab. He was a very careful driver too – another plus." (NYSocialDiary)



"Investor James Pattison, owner of the Guinness Book of World Records, has emerged as Canada’s richest person after new information revealed that David K.R. Thomson, heir to the Thomson media empire, owns a smaller stake in his family’s investment company than previously reported.
Pattison’s namesake conglomerate has more than a dozen businesses, including media distribution, grocery stores, outdoor advertising and auto dealerships. He has a fortune of $9.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 'I haven’t done the numbers, so I really don’t know,' Pattison said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'I never pay attention to that.' Thomson owns about 14 percent of Woodbridge, the Ontario-based firm that manages the family’s assets, according to a person familiar with the Thomson family’s finances who asked not to be identified because the company is closely held. Chief among Woodbridge’s assets is a 55 percent stake in Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI), the world’s largest financial data company.  In addition to his stake in Woodbridge, Thomson owns Osmington, a commercial real estate developer, a collection of John Constable paintings and a minority interest in the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. He has a net worth of $4 billion, according to the Bloomberg ranking, which had attributed the entire Thomson family fortune to him since its inception in March 2012." (Bloomberg)


"On the same day that Page Six reported Leonard Lauder, 80, had called off his engagement to Brooklyn Public Library head Linda E. Johnson, the very eligible-again billionaire mogul stepped out solo to a party thrown by Tommy and Dee Hilfiger. Sources said that ladies on the guest list were in a tizzy to get close to Lauder, Estée’s chairman emeritus, at the designer couple’s party in their swanky Plaza penthouse home. The fete was in honor of new Saks Fifth Avenue president Marigay McKee, who has arrived from London giant Harrods. Guests at the chic get-together included billionaire Patriots owner Robert Kraft, fashion designer Vince Camuto and Theory’s Andrew Rosen." (PageSix)

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