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Monday, February 02, 2015

Media-Whore D'oeuvres












"When House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooked up a plan to bypass the White House and have Netanyahu address Congress, both men surely thought they had pulled off a coup. For Netanyahu, the speech offered a high-profile chance to push his top objective: derailing negotiations to arrest Iran's nuclear weapons program, which he's convinced will produce a deal that leaves Israel vulnerable. The timing of the speech, two weeks before Israeli elections, could also give Netanyahu a political boost. For Boehner, the yield was similar. By breaking long-standing protocol, he upstaged President Obama on the day after his State of the Union Address and served notice that the new Republican Congress would carve its own path, even in foreign policy, where national unity is most important. The move also pleased political contributors and hard-liners in Congress who share Netanyahu's misgivings. Less than two weeks later, however, the maneuver is looking less like a masterstroke than a singularly destructive unforced error.A backlash is underway in Israel, where a number of critics, including Netanyahu's former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, are worried that by politicizing the issue, Netanyahu and Boehner are jeopardizing long-standing bipartisan support for Israel. That's troubling, but the consequences for the U.S. are potentially worse. When Netanyahu speaks on March 3, a pivotal deadline in the nuclear talks will be just three weeks away. While it's fair to worry about a bad deal, the time to judge is after a framework agreement is reached. To kill any deal in the crib, as Netanyahu and the most radical factions in Iran are eager to do, is to destroy the last, best chance for a peaceful outcome, because chances that Iran will capitulate and drop its program under pressure are zero.By now, all Americans should be wary of leaping toward a new conflict in the region. But that is not the only reason Netanyahu's speech is a bad idea. In a scant few days, Boehner's invitation — worked out with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who was once a Republican political operative — has politicized the U.S.-Israeli relationship in a new way, marked by political sniping in both countries. Last week, the Democratic minority leaders in Congress, both longtime supporters of Israel, politely cautioned Netanyahu that he is making a mistake. Indeed. He risks swapping an alliance between nations for an alliance between his Likud Party and the GOP." (USAToday)


"In the four years since attempted rape accusations derailed his presidential ambitions, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has managed to dodge criminal cases over his sex life. That ended Monday as he stood before French judges for his role in an international prostitution ring. Strauss-Kahn is one of 14 men and women on trial in the so-called Carlton Affair, known for the four-star hotel in the northern French city of Lille where some of the alleged encounters took place and some of the defendants worked. Since resigning as managing director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011 while in jail for allegedly sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid, the 65-year-old has struggled in the private sector. In October, he stepped down from an investment firm days before his business partner died in an apparent suicide. Leyne Strauss Kahn & Partners declared bankruptcy days later and Luxembourg is investigating the firm’s collapse. 'It’s part of this soap opera, or human tragedy, depending on how you look at it, of someone who could have become the next president of France,' said Christopher Mesnooh, a lawyer in Paris who isn’t involved in Strauss-Kahn’s cases. 'To call it Shakespearean is probably an understatement.' A former French finance minister, Strauss-Kahn was once the leading Socialist to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president. While he reached a civil settlement with the woman in New York after the criminal case was dropped, and had a subsequent attempted rape investigation in Paris closed over statute of limitations issues, his presidential chances were through." (Bloomberg)





Rupert Murdoch Credit Rick Rycroft/Associated Press


"When Mitt Romney announced on Friday that he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination for a third time, he cited the desire to 'give other leaders in the party' a chance to win the White House. He did not mention the public mugging he had received from Rupert Murdoch, the media titan who had called him 'a terrible candidate”' and whose Wall Street Journal had suggested that his run in 2012 had been 'a calamity.' There are a lot of reasons that the third time did not prove to be a charm for Mr. Romney’s presidential ambitions, but Mr. Murdoch’s public rebuke sure didn’t help. Having tried and failed to get his hands on Time Warner, Mr. Murdoch is back to king-making. As the man who controls both the Fox News Channel and The Journal, he doesn’t exactly have to attend a precinct caucus to exercise political influence. He’s clearly enjoying life as a mogul and newspaper titan, enough to invite others to the party. (New York magazine had earlier reported, based on not very much, that Mr. Bloomberg might try to buy the newspaper.) Only two people in the world could have this conversation, whether in public or private: Both are New York media owners, both with more money than many sovereign republics and both huge fans of the news and the organizations that trade in it. Rupert Murdoch has a big national newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, and though Michael Bloomberg does not, they are otherwise similarly situated overlords. And so Mr. Murdoch’s entreaty to his friend Mr. Bloomberg: C’mon in, the water is fine. I don’t think The New York Times is for sale, but it is a telling sentiment, a conversation among kings about what possessions are truly precious to the man, or men, with everything." (David Carr)





Left: Teacher Joseph Koetters in the 2010–11 Marlborough School yearbook. Right: Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, who posted an essay about Koetters.


"It was the kind of article that might have gone unnoticed. Last summer, Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, posted a personal essay on the Web site xoJane.com, about a flirtation with a certain, unnamed English teacher at a certain unnamed high school. The relationship had culminated, she wrote, in the teacher’s professing how attracted he was to her and touching her knee. When she complained to school administrators, all they did was require the teacher to undergo counseling. The essay was not long, the details scant, but within a day or two it went viral among graduates of Marlborough School, an elite all-girls private school in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, that for 126 years has been educating the girls of California’s most prominent families—with such last names as Spielberg, Goldwyn, Bloomingdale, Ahmanson, Booth (of the Los Angeles Times), and Munger (of Berkshire Hathaway). To the girls reading the article, there was no doubt about it. She was talking about Dr. Joseph Koetters, now 47, who had been head of the school’s English department. Eight other girls contacted Mikaela via Facebook with their own stories about Koetters. The basic pattern, according to the girls: he validated as brilliant their insights into human nature while pitting them against one another for his affection, bitching about his wife (a Santa Monica gynecologist) and kids, and finding reasons to have private meetings, which often climaxed with him putting his hand on a girl’s knee. His yearbook photo shows a doughy blond resembling Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter. But in person he evidently oozed charisma.
Buzzfeed broke the story about these girls (who remain anonymous), and the Los Angeles Times followed. Among current Marlborough parents, who came of age mostly in the 70s and 80s, the reaction, says one, 'was ‘Big whoop. These are 16- and 17-year-old girls. They’re flirtatious and dramatic.’ ' But with sex abuse on campus dominating the national headlines, the school had a potential crisis on its hands. The board of trustees put together a 'special investigative committee,' consisting of five of its own members, that would look into and resolve the crisis.Instead, everything went wrong." (VanityFair)




"Saturday night at six o’clock I went with Joy Ingham and Lisa Schiff to see our friend Barbara Carroll play her week gig at Birdland. Readers may recall I wrote about Barbara in last Monday. Lisa gave a surprise lunch for Barbara to celebrate her 90th birthday.Barbara and I have been friends for about thirty years. I met her through Lisa Drew who was the editor of the book I wrote for Debbie Reynolds ('Debbie, My Life; William Morrow). As it happened Lisa was there too, seated at a table next to ours.Lisa was a longtime fan of Barbara. She’d come out to Los Angeles to edit the too-long manuscript with me and Debbie, and Barbara was coincidentally playing a gig at the Westwood Marquis, a hotel in Westwood. Barbara grew up in the era of the American Songbook in creation; and the great jazz era. When she came to New York as a young girl from Worcester, Massachusetts to make her way as a jazz pianist, New York was rich with jazz joints featuring the great jazz talent of the 20th century. Fifty-second Street was known as Jazz Street, all the way from Third Avenue to Broadway – almost every doorway led to a club featuring live music. New York was nightlife and nightlife was music, dancing, drinking, music. The kid, Ms. Carroll, has now had a long career that spans an amazing seven decades, and is one of the remaining disciples of the original talents that created the American Songbook and the jazz repertoire. Barbara plays Birdland every Saturday night for about an hour’s show. She’s accompanied by Jay Leonhart on bass." (NYSD)



“Orient” by Christopher Bollen


"Artists, collectors, curators and gallerists with homes on the East End of Long Island are sure to be scanning a new murder mystery next summer to see if they get bumped off. Christopher Bollen, former editor-in-chief of Interview magazine, has written, 'Orient,' set in the same North Fork town where real-life residents include artists Rob Pruitt, Elizabeth Peyton, Lisa Yuskavage, Wade Guyton, T. J. Wilcox and Kelley Walker. 'People will see themselves in some of the characters,' warns Bollen, who hatched the plot while staying an artist’s home in the titular town. 'There’s the Russian collector, the Swiss gallerist and the crazy older photographer.' But he adds, 'I didn’t want to do an exact copy' of people for the main characters. Fictional art reviews by Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz are also in the book. Bollen is slightly worried his usual number of summer invitations to the area may drop. 'That’s why I don’t have real estate there, so people can’t throw rocks,' he joked." (P6)

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