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Monday, January 13, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres







"Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News Channel, has little left to accomplish in a remarkable television career. He has made billions for his owners, created an entirely new genre of TV and, in doing so, he has changed the way politics is conducted. His business legacy is secure. Besides, there are only two audiences that would seem to matter to him — Rupert Murdoch and Fox News viewers — and neither could give a rip what 'The Loudest Voice in the Room,' an unauthorized biography of Mr. Ailes by Gabriel Sherman that goes on sale Tuesday, says about their guy.
So why is the consummate P.R. pro, the man who taught both Richard Nixon and Bill O’Reilly to connect with the masses despite their flaws, pushing back on the book and blowing air into it in the process? It would be a very simple matter for Mr. Ailes to tuck in behind Gov. Chris Christie, another Republican accused of being a bully, and let Mr. Sherman sell his own books. Some of it is reflex, part of the permanent campaign that Mr. Ailes, a former political consultant, has been running all his life. I’ve  dealt with Mr. Ailes while covering the news media, and beyond his charms and smarts, he is animated by a belief that just about everyone would like to see him laid low. Even as he has vanquished his opponents, he clings to the role of aggrieved underdog, and Mr. Sherman’s critical book reinforces that worldview. To those of us who have reported on Fox News, Mr. Sherman’s portrayal of the operation — with its loyalty tests, its culture of fear and reprisals, and its deep involvement in stories it was supposed to be covering — is hardly shocking. But it is not a pretty picture, and Mr. Ailes must know that. He has been calling around to some of the people who show up in the book to apologize and spin, saying Mr. Sherman used accounts of disgruntled ex-employees to distort events." (David Carr)






"Inside a cramped third-floor office of Hillary Clinton’s once-bustling presidential campaign headquarters in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Va., Kris Balderston and Adrienne Elrod put the finishing touches on a political hit list. It was late June 2008, and Hillary had dropped her bid for the presidency earlier that month. The war room, where her brain trust had devolved into profanity-laced shouting matches, was empty. The data crunchers were gone. The political director had drifted out. A handful of Hillary’s aides had already hooked up with Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign in Chicago.Balderston’s salt-and-pepper beard gave him the look of a college English professor who didn’t need to shave for his job. Then in his early fifties, he had been with Bill and Hillary Clinton since their White House days, serving as a deputy assistant to the president and later as Hillary’s legislative director and deputy chief of staff in her New York Senate office. The official government titles obscured Balderston’s true value: He was an elite political operator and one of Hillary’s favorite suppliers of gossip. After more than a dozen years spent working for the Clintons, he knew how to keep score in a political race. Elrod, a toned 31-year-old blonde with a raspy Ozark drawl, had an even longer history with the Clintons that went back to her childhood in Siloam Springs, a town of 15,000 people in northwestern Arkansas. She had known Bill Clinton since at least the age of five. Her father, John Elrod, a prominent lawyer in Fayetteville, first befriended the future president at Arkansas Boys State, an annual civics camp for high school juniors, when they were teenagers. Like Bill Clinton, Adrienne Elrod had a twinkle in her blue eyes and a broad smile that conveyed warmth instantaneously. She had first found work in the Clinton White House after a 1996 internship there, then became a Democratic Party political operative and later held senior posts on Capitol Hill. She joined the Hillary Clinton for President outfit as a communications aide and then shifted into Balderston’s delegate-courting congressional-relations office in March. Trusted because of her deep ties to the Clinton network, Elrod helped Balderston finalize the list.For months they had meticulously updated a wall-size dry-erase board with color-coded symbols, letters and arrows to track which lawmakers were leaning toward endorsing Hillary and which were headed in Obama’s direction. For example, the letters 'LO' indicated that a lawmaker was 'leaning Obama,' while 'BD' in blue denoted that he or she was a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition on Capitol Hill.Read more:" (Politico)










"In Salon today, Daniel D’Addario wrote about how disappointing it was that Michael Douglas, who delivered such a moving performance as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra, has accepted his awards for that role with such cringeworthy gay jokes. Last fall, he accepted at the Emmys with a string of quips about gay sex; last night at the Golden Globes, he said that being offered the role made him worried that his self-presentation was 'mincing.' Douglas’ jokes made him seem nervous and self-conscious about being identified with a gay character, the opposite of the empathetic spirit he brought to the role. But D’Addario goes beyond that to say that the speech 'calls the quality of his work into question.' Does it? Does a moving portrayal of the passions, flaws and loves of a celebrity in a gilded closet become retroactively worse because the vessel for it shows his flaws? Is the power of Steven Soderbergh’s movie invalidated? I doubt that. You might even argue that Douglas’ apparent self-consciousness about playing a gay man adds to the accomplishment of the performance. Maybe this is something that great art can do–empower people to find an empathy, an ability to transcend their internal wiring in a way they can’t in front of, say, an audience in the Beverly Hilton ballroom.
I mean, I know it’s not completely that simple. Is there nothing Michael Douglas could say that woud change the way I saw his Liberace, if I watched it again? Or that would affect my view of a gay character he played in the future? That would be silly to claim, and yet: his performance is his performance. It doesn’t simply become worse because it needs to, as a punishment for subsequent offenses. The quality of his accomplishment is not tethered to the quality of his character. It’s possible for people to do good work and bad things." (Time)








"Jon Friedman, writing for the New York Post, thinks MSNBC is in 'a mighty mess' following a lackluster 2013 in the ratings department and the messy departure of two high-profile hosts — Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin — and the apology of another, Melissa Harris-Perry, following controversial comments she made about Mitt Romney‘s family. 'We took the appropriate actions,' MSNBC president Phil Griffin tells Friedman. But a crisis-management expert says MSNBC and its parent company might have to rein in outspoken hosts to avoid having additional embarrassing situations. 'Comcast needs to show that everyone at MSNBC, from the president on down, must be held accountable from now on and that this [behavior] cannot continue to happen,' said Mike Paul, a 25-year public-relations strategist known as 'The Reputation Doctor.' 'We live in a society where sensationalism is often rewarded. That has to be factored in when we consider why people are constantly crossing the line.'" (TVNewser)







"I’ve been thinking of the drunken old good times while watching young people socializing online, constantly messaging in a dizzying pace, never looking around, certainly not bending over a Xerox machine. One hears junk talk about things they like or dislike, mostly about fashion, cars, and jewels, never about how we lived and what we were like, only about the glittering dystopian world of the present. It is a click-happy hell on Earth, with books now mere objects that fall down when one passes out. Once upon a time books gave us access to history, and we were allowed to become those we never dreamed of being. Clicking and texting back and forth is only good for giving masturbation a bad name. But there’s still a way to get away from it all: cross-country skiing. I go late in the afternoon, after karate training or downhill skiing if the weather’s nice. I swish through Pushkin-like forests, watching dogs gamboling in deep powder. I like it when the dark falls ever so suddenly: From all-white to cobalt to black. There’s a sudden chill and lights begin to twinkle far away. Snow-dripped trees are the only guide, so I plow along until I reach the inn. There’s no one around: no mobile phones, no iPads, no nothing but silence." (Taki)

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