Monday, July 27, 2015

How Vanity Fair Got the Caitlin Jenner Scoop

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

The birthday boy takes the cake after the serenade by the guests.
"This past Saturday night, my birthday, I had dinner with several old friends at Swifty’s. JH and his wife Danielle were there, and he got a shot of the birthday boy being presented with Swifty’s famous vanilla cake which has an icing/frosting that is three inches thick and as light and sweet as cotton candy. The cake itself is really just there whole hold the icing. Irresistable. It was a great evening for a birthday party." (NYSD)


"The Financial Times is a rare media property: a global, long-established brand combined with a successful — although unfinished — digital transformation. Such uniqueness explains why Nikkei paid £844m ($1.3bn, €1.18m) for it. It takes less than ten people to assemble the famous pink printed edition of the Financial Times. The “carbon-based” team recycles the editorial produced all day long by the 600 people newsroom – with some deadlines adjusted to fit the newspaper’s closing.
The Financial Times has gone much further than many of its peers in the digital transformation. That fact paid a critical role in the stunning premium paid by the Nikkei. When discussions started, Springer came with a first bid around £600m ($930m, €848m.) The German media conglomerate later sweetened its offer to £750m ($1.16bn, €1.05bn) before being outbid by the Japanese group.
As Ken Doctor noted in his NiemanLab piece, based on the estimated operating income of the FT Group, Nikkei paid 'a 43x multiple, or a price 10 times what average US daily, large or small, would sell for today' (the actual ratio, though, is closer to 35x, but Ken Doctor removed the profit made by the Economist which is not part of the deal). Jennifer Saba in Breakingviews also notes that publicly traded European media companies trade at 12x EBITDA and that Nikkei shelled out roughly twice the amount paid by Jeff Bezos to acquire the Washington Post in 2013. While such ratios might be above the assumed price of news properties, they’re still way below the multiples observed for tech companies (in many instances, there is no ratio at all because there is no profit, sometimes not even revenue). Then let’s give a closer look at the two components of FT’s valuation: Its digital reach and the power of its brand." (Monday note)

China’s Elegant, Flawed, Grand Strategy
Image Credit: REUTERS/China Daily

"China is a country with more than a billion people, but as Ross Terrill observed, when we ask what China wants, we are really attempting to discern the goals of the nine 'male engineers' who make up the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. This clarification makes the answer straightforward: Like any bureaucracy or interest group the CCP wants to ensure its survival, which depends on maintaining legitimacy with the Chinese people. To meet this goal, the CCP under President Xi Jinping has articulated a strategy of peaceful development; however, increasing Chinese military capabilities and strategic coercion will cause other states to balance against China, making it harder for the CCP to protect its core interests and continue its economic and strategic rise. China’s Long-Term Goals The CCP considers foreign policy directly related to maintaining domestic stability and regime survival. Chinese Scholar Ye Zicheng expressed the nationalist sentiment: 'If China does not become a world power, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be incomplete. Only when it becomes a world power can we say that the total rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has been achieved.' This has become widely accepted among both common and elite Chinese citizens. To maintain control of Chinese nationalism, and to channel it as a source of legitimacy for the regime, the CCP has established the two concepts of 'core interests' and a 'new type of great power relationship.' The 2011 Chinese White Paper 'China’s Peaceful Development,' lists the six core Chinese interests as 1) state sovereignty; 2) national security; 3) territorial integrity; 4) national reunification; 5) China’s political system established by the Constitution and overall social stability; 6) basic safeguards for ensuring sustainable economic and social development. The concept of core interests is how the CCP signals the issues it is willing to go to war over. In the past, Chinese spokespeople have referred to both contested South and East China Sea territorial claims as core interests, but officially at least, the CCP has maintained ambiguity about their status. Still, the CCP has been clear that it considers its territorial claims to be sovereign Chinese territory, so maintaining these claims would fall under the core interests listed in the 2011 White Paper. In addition, in contrast to the ambiguity of its maritime claims, the CCP has been clear that Taiwan is a core interest, and it is unwilling to rule out the use of force to reunify China. China’s pursuit of its core interests has the potential to trigger great power rivalry or conflict with the United States and other regional powers. This is why in 2010 then Chinese President Hu Jintao told U.S. President Barack Obama that 'China and the United States should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns. This is key to the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties.'" (TheDiplomat)


  "John Oliver has tackled the prison industrial complex from multiple sides — including bail and the elections of judges. On Sunday night, he went after mandatory minimum sentencing. Oliver noted during 'Last Week Tonight' that mandatory minimums helped explode the American prison population since the war on drugs that was started in the 1970s by President Nixon. Now one out of every 100 adults is in lock-up, which Oliver said, is unsustainable. 'We have 2 million people incarcerated. If we keep going this direction, we’ll soon have enough to populate a new country with prisoners. And trust me when I say this is not a good idea,' Oliver said while a map of Australia appeared next to him. 'Literally the only good thing to come out of that experiment was Hugh Jackman and it took 180 years. It was worth it, but it took a long time.' Mandatory minimums have torn families apart and ruined lives for small amounts of drugs, Oliver said. 'Circumstances make a huge difference,' Oliver said." (TalkingPointsMemo)

"I’m in Belgrade, Serbia for the summer. I will never give up on Key West, but I am glad to escape the heat. However, turns out it’s hot here too. Hot during the days of searing azure skies and hot at night. The days are easy as I slump beneath the a/c, usually in a comfortable deep sleep. The nights I fill with walks through the city, under curves of an orange moon, passing by late games of basketball where shirtless sweating men scatter about, and tiny kids mimic on the sidelines with mini basketballs. Speaking of sweating, not to gross you out, but it’s steamy here. On these evening walks I feel myself glueing to my clothes. A gathering of drips trickle from my nape down the furrow of my spine. Belgrade is an ancient city and it is fascinating to me. Obviously, I have my mother’s side of the family to thank for that. I am constantly running into fresh information on long dead relatives who did a variety of intriguing activities. Some deviant, some daring, all interesting, at least to me.
This old town is full of dusty stories and as I stroll I collect motes, my ankles are plied with soot. When I get home I am a clammy mess. Which makes me laugh because many nights in Key West, after dancing at the Green Parrot until closing time, it was the hot shower at the end that was often the best part of the night." (Christina Oxenberg)

"It’s been a big summer for European royals, what with Kate Middleton and Prince William welcoming baby Charlotte, Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia tying the knot, and Princess Caroline of Monaco’s son’s wedding this month. Meanwhile, Prince Alexander of Serbia celebrated his 70th birthday at his palace in Belgrade, hosted by Princess Katherine. Spies said guests included King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Prince Albert of Monaco and Spain’s Queen Sofía. There were also royals from Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Jordan and Baden, plus Prince Pierre d’Arenberg, Prince Karim Aga Khan and (our favorite name) Princess Ira von Fürstenberg. During a toast, the birthday boy said, 'For someone who, by a twist of fate and history, was born in exile, who was declared an enemy of the state as a 2-year-old . . . the fact that I am celebrating my 70th birthday . . . in my homeland, in my home . . . is an emotional moment.'
Civilians there included Susan Gutfreund, Bill Sclight and Cheri Kaufman." (P6)

Another view from the same vantage point, looking to the north where the harbor opens up.

"On Thursday I went up to Martha’s Vineyard to visit an old friend, flying JetBlue to Edgartown. The weather up there was perfect; didn’t feel any humidity, and by sunset it was just a sweater side of getting chilly. I get out of town so infrequently, and especially to real countryside environments, that I was surprised at the silence of the night out where Mother Nature continues to call the shots on comfort for us humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.This was my first trip to Martha’s Vineyard since I was a kid just out of college and had a girlfriend whose family summered in West Chop. In those days, we’d take the ferry from Woods Hole on the Cape, across to Vineyard Haven. It was about a forty minute ride across to the island. Now, being a long time New Yorker, Woods Hole is, of course, a five or more hour drive from Manhattan. The trip from JFK, once aloft, is about 35 minutes. I’m not an enthusiastic traveler at this time in my life and as readers know I prefer the quiet of Manhattan on weekends, especially in the summertime in my neighborhood where many people leave the city: it is quiet. Yes! However, I made this trip so as to take the opportunity to see someone I cared for and whom I hadn’t seen in many many years. It is an unusual opportunity in life to re-connect with another whom you last saw a lifetime ago." (NYSD)

New York Magazine Cover: The Bill Cosby Accusers

New York Magazine's photo.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Numerologist Dezia Restivo.

"I met Dezia Restivo back in the late 70s just before I was making a major move in my life out to Los Angeles. I was told that she read the tarot and did numerology as well. If it should sound like I have knowledge of such: I didn't and I don't. Some friends of mine had given me a "reading" by Dezia as a going-away present. I went to her apartment on the appointed day with no expectations. Dezia is a diminutive lady with a jolly personality and an easy charm. We sat down immediately face to face across a small table, and she shuffled a deck of cards, spread them out in a row face down and told me to pick out five and hand them over to her. Which I did. Then she began talking to me about myself in a very casual way. She did know I was making this major move out West. She began with comments about my likes and dislikes, as if she knew me. Then she said: 'You're going to meet a royal lady who wears rose-colored glasses and has houses on three oceans ...' Perfect: 'You're going to meet ...' in this strange land I was headed to. Frankly, I can't remember much more of that reading, although she taped it so I could listen again later (I never did). I remembered the bit about the lady with rose-colored glasses and houses on three oceans because it sounded like a scene from a novel. I don't recall her telling me much more about it except to comment that 'she'll be very good for you.'Soon after I moved to Los Angeles and began a new life-changing adventure. I forgot about Dezia's reading entirely until one night several months later, I was invited to a cocktail party in Beverly Hills at the home of a woman named Lady Sarah Churchill." (NYSD)

Big Fat Greek Weddings

"Tempus sure fugit, and how. Twenty years ago today, Thursday, July 2, 1995, monarchs from around the world descended on London for the wedding of Greek Crown Prince Pavlos to Marie-Chantal, daughter of the duty-free magnate Bob Miller. I remember it well, especially the hangover. Never have I seen so many royals under one roof. The Greeks had treated King Constantine, father of the groom, very badly, managing to convince the press, and in turn the people, that the first man to resist the military takeover and stage a countercoup against the colonels was in fact one of them. Leave it to the Hellenes to say black is white and vice versa. I’ll come back to the Greeks a bit later, but first the royal wedding. Both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended the wedding ceremony and all the bashes, as did Prince Charles. At one point the heir to the British throne sent Selina Scott to my table to fetch me. He asked me a direct question and I answered him and he wasn’t too pleased. Something to do with race and three men who had tried to mug me in Cadogan Square. It was not an auspicious beginning. That evening, I spotted a tall lady with an ample bosom and asked my neighbor, Prince Michael of Greece, if I should take her for a whirl. Go for it, was his advice. Once the lady stood up, I realized it was going to be tricky. The Queen of Denmark towered over me, so I tried to bury my face in her poitrine, but she expertly pushed me away. Worse was the reaction of the mother of my children. She and a bunch of wise guys were pointing at me and laughing. I have felt more embarrassed in my life, but right now I can’t think of when. Nevertheless it was a great party and I was the last to leave. I gave Selina Scott a ride back to Cadogan Square and asked her in for a drink. It was past 5 a.m. and the sun was coming up. 'I’d love to,' said Selina, but then pointed at somebody next to her. The wife. I was up front with the driver. Second faux pas of the night. But Selina and I are still friends, which shows women do have a good sense of humor." (Taki)

By Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

"On  Monday, the Associated Press obtained 2005 court documents that Bill Cosby’s lawyers had attempted to keep sealed. The records chronicle a deposition in the sexual assault case filed by Andrea Constand, the first woman to take legal action against the comedian and former family-sitcom star. As previously reported, the documents show that Cosby admitted to giving women drugs before having sex with them. But after reading through the 66 pages of legal documents—now available online—we've found other clues to the disturbing Cosby puzzle. Cosby testified that he obtained seven prescriptions for quaaludes. If there is one surprise in this dense deposition dialogue—during which the plaintiff’s lawyer alleged Cosby’s lawyer 'openly coached the witness,' 'interrupted the questioning with long-winded and repetitive speaking objections,' and 'ultimately improperly terminated the deposition'—it’s that quaaludes were mentioned a lot. In fact there is a whole section devoted to the sedative in the paperwork entitled “Questions related to Quaaludes.'" (VF)