Regrets laced with irony
Glenn Beck is sorry. He really is. He swears.
He’s sort of like Miss Otis in Cole Porter’s oft-recorded 1934 “Miss Otis Regrets” (I’ll take Bette Midler’s version). She “woke up and found that her dream of love was gone, madam.” And, them, “from under her velvet gown, she drew a gun and shot her lover down, madam.”
In this case, he’s pissed at Donald Trump. In The Atlantic’s “Glenn Beck’s Regrets,” he takes blame: “His (Beck’s) paranoid style paved the road for Trumpism. Now he fears what’s been unleashed.” (The Atlantic)
Peter Beinart, who teaches journalism and political science at the City University of New York, notes how Beck was an exception among prominent conservative talk hosts in adamantly opposing Trump. “He compared him to Hitler. He warned that Trump was a possible ‘extinction-level event’ for American democracy and capitalism.”
He originally campaigned for Ted Cruz. When Cruz dropped out and back Trump, he wound up voting (he says) for independent Evan McMullin. The irony is rife with Beck, who’s tied for third place with Mark Levin in the race for top right-wing pundit (Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have bigger radio audiences than both).
“The same doomsday sensibility that helps him appreciate the menace posed by Trump led him to massively exaggerate the menace posed by Obama — and thus to breed the hateful paranoia on which Trump now feeds. Beck, in fact, pioneered some of Trump’s most disturbing themes.”
With Trump’s win, Beck tells Beinart, he discerns “the seeds of what happened in Germany in 1933.” Does he actually feel somehow responsible? Was he really that much of a force? “I’ll not only take my share of blame, I’ll take extra,” he says. “If you want to blame me for him, that’s fine; I don’t believe it’s true, but it’s fine with me. Please just listen to the warnings now so we don’t continue to do this.”
Beck was once venomous toward Barack Obama. He called him an anti-White racist. His former Fox News Channel show was very loose in using terms like “fascist,” “Hitler” and “Nazis.” Now that Trump will be president, he convinces Beinart that he’s sincere in wanting to be a conciliator.
“But for years and years, he called sheep wolves. Now that the wolf is here, it may be too late.”
Come to think of it, the mob dragged Miss Otis out of her jail and strung her up. She was remorseful, too.
The coming digital “bloodbath”
Vice founder Shane Smith is a hot commodity these days, building a young-skewing, idiosyncratic media enterprise that’s luring hefty investments (Disney is betting $400 million on him, for one). In a chat, he tells me:
“What you’re seeing is for a lot of reasons — the death of display advertising, ad blocking — this bloodbath in online media, with online trying to make bridges from new to old.” (Poynter)
Financial necessity will accelerate consolidation. The pending AT&T-Time Warner deal is part and parcel of what’s up the road very soon. Big-name brand the URLs that can’t make those bridges will virtually die, with some snapped up “for pennies on the dollar.”
Mainstream media will be bought up by mobile carriers and others. “The death of the 30-second spot and display advertising will cause chaos,” he said. “Some will come out stronger and more international. Others will be sucked up and eaten up. You see it with AT&T and Time Warner, with Verizon buying AOL. That will continue apace.”
Meanwhile, Smith fronts “A House Divided,” a very solid Vice-made HBO documentary tonight on President Obama’s rancorous relations with congressional Republicans.
“NBC Nightly News” with Tamron Hall, subbing for Lester Holt, heeded the Big Three’s script last night with a solid obituary of John Glenn, the hyping of lousy weather and the latest on Trump’s Cabinet picks. It deemed as news the birth of Mick Jagger’s eighth child and declared word of “a new debate erupting tonight” — yes, “erupting” — on whether airline passengers should be allowed to make phone calls.
CBS opted for death, not birth, with its obituary of rocker Greg Lake, 69, of Emerson Lake & Palmer fame, but no news of the latest Jagger. Meanwhile, ABC World Tabloid News Tonight’s frontman David Muir intoned about how “the driving has turned deadly” and offered this understated consumer admonition: “Holiday shoppers, beware tonight. The lawsuit breaking as we come on. Several major department stores now accused of making you believe you’re getting a better deal than you actually are. We have the list.”
Los Angeles media had the story, and the list, about eight hours earlier. (KTLA) So did others. But it’s reassuring that word made it to Manhattan just in time for the broadcast.
Beware of what you wish for
So Hillary Clinton made it up to Capitol Hill to pay homage to departing Sen. Harry Reid, along the way urging some sort of federal legislation to deal with fake news.
“She did not make clear what legislation could combat the problem, but a Pentagon policy bill that cleared the House and Senate this week included a bipartisan plank that would create a new office in the State Department that would work across multiple agencies to come up with a strategy to counter foreign propaganda efforts.” (The Washington Post) Some claim Russia is behind fake news stories that may have undermined Clinton.
Well, guys and gals, there already are inter-agency efforts trying to deal with terrorist propaganda. Until recently, former Time managing editor Rick Stengel was right in the middle of those efforts in a top State Department role. (Poynter) He’s exited for positions with the Board of Broadcast Governors, which directs the governments overseas media efforts (like the Voice of America), and with Harvard University.
The Russians aren’t coming, the Russians aren’t coming!
It was not fake news: “It got so cold Thursday morning in Casper, even the Moscow Ballet couldn’t move.” (Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune)
“The traveling ballet group famous for performing ‘The Nutcracker’ this time of year couldn’t start their buses. The temperature in the central Wyoming city plunged to 31 degrees below zero overnight. Moscow Ballet spokeswoman Sally Michael Keyes says the group’s bus and equipment trucks had to be defrosted over several hours.”
How fitting that John Noble Wilford, 83, wrote the great, long-in-the-gestation New York Times obituary on Glenn. (The New York Times) He’s a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who’s no longer on staff. But, just like former staffer Anthony DePalma, who worked on the paper’s Fidel Castro obit for years and handled the final version, Wilford assisted his alma mater with Glenn.
He certainly knows the subject matter. His best-known handiwork came in 1969 with an utterly simple and arresting lede: “Men have landed and walked on the moon.” He recalled that opus a few months ago. (The New York Times)
And, “Yes, I turned 83 in October. Younger than Glenn but not by that much. Old enough to appreciate how much he personifies what really makes America great.”
Zuckerberg-Andreessen get cozy
In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg wanted to be able to sell most of his Facebook stock to fund philanthropy but still control the company. It raised the prospect of diluting investors’ ability to have a say, so Zuckerberg appointed a board committee to mull the matter, which has now spawned litigation.
It turns out that Marc Andreessen, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Zuckerberg chum and special committee member, “slipped Zuckerberg information” about the committee’s progress and concerns, “helping Zuckerberg negotiate against them, according to court documents.” (Bloomberg)
While the panel was meeting, he texted Zuckerberg. “This line of argument is not helping,” was one. “NOW WE’RE COOKING WITH GAS” was another. The potential legal problem is if Andreessen was working both sides and minority shareholders were somehow being screwed in the process.
Red Smith might cringe
You don’t think the craving for metrics has changed sports reporting, notably on baseball? Fangraphs.com continues its “ongoing position-by-position look at hitter contact quality” by turning to American League shortstops.
“As usual, this analysis utilizes granular exit-speed and launch-angle data as its foundation.” Do they think we’re idiots in not assuming same?
It proceeds to rank players in order of their “Adjusted Production order.” Admit it: you know more about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal Trump will trash. “Adjusted Production expresses, on a scale where 100 equals average, what a hitter ‘should have’ produced based on the exit speed/launch angle of each ball put in play. Each player’s Adjusted Contact Score, which weeds out the strikeouts and walks and states what each player should have produced on BIP alone, is also listed.”
Oh, “Most of the column headers are self-explanatory, including average BIP speed (overall and by BIP type), BIP type frequency, K and BB rates, wRC+ and Adjusted Production, which incorporates the exit speed/angle data. Each hitter’s Adjusted Contact Score (ADJ C) is also listed. Adjusted Contact Score applies league-average production to each hitter’s individual actual BIP type and velocity mix, and compares it to league average of 100.”
Cut to the self-explanatory chase: “At only 22 years old, Carlos Correa is already clearly the best all-around shortstop in the AL.”(Fangraphs) Whew.
The Ohio press and the election
From the ColumbusMedia Insider blog: “This year’s election taught us that big money has taken over Ohio politics and that the news media’s role in influencing election outcomes has become insignificant.” (Columbia Free Press)
The morning babble
“Fox & Friends” had reporter Abby Huntsman at “The Machine Shed” restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa, frosting a caramel pecan cinnamon roll as big as one’s head. It was 5 a.m. local time. She was there to talk to Trump supporters as Fox diligently covers Trump’s “thank you” tour.
CNN’s “New Day” was mostly Trump transition, notably Andrew Puzder’s pick for Labor Secretary. Is he and others simply against what voters re seeking? Selena Zito of The Washington Examiner argues that those choices are within a conservative orthodoxy and in line with the craving of small business. David Gregory says the “big through-line” is a thrust to deregulation. Kudos for ongoing coverage of the Aleppo tragedy, clearly not upbeat breakfast fare.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, too, debated the Cabinet choices. “How does this play in Oshkosh?,” Joe Scarborough wondered. We’ll see. It had replayed Clinton’s comments on “fake news.” But did it really play a role in her loss? “Democrats need to face the facts,” he argued, namely that fake news doesn’t explain only having 11 governors, losing hundreds of state legislative seats in recent years and being a minority in Congress. “It wasn’t fake news.”
Two matters from a Bloomberg Businessweek inspection of Google, its Alphabet parent and corporate sibling known as X:
—”Overall, the Other Bets, the belittling term that Alphabet uses to refer to X and other business divisions not named Google, lost about $3.6 billion in 2015, roughly twice what they’d lost the year before.”
—”Critics, including more than a dozen former top Google executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements, describe a company having trouble balancing innovation and its core business, search advertising. Over the 12 months ended in September, Google’s ad business accounted for 89 percent of Alphabet’s revenue, or $76.1 billion. As one ex-executive puts it, ‘No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.'” (Businessweek)
Did The Frankfurt School nail it?
Check out critic Alex Ross in The New Yorker on how The Frankfurt School (at the Institute for Social Research in Germany) was prescient in a 1950 dissection of “The Authoritarian Personality.”
He underscores how way back then philosopher-sociologist Theodor Adorno “believed that the greatest danger to American democracy lay in the mass-culture apparatus of film, radio, and television.” Ross argues “His moment of vindication is arriving now.” (The New Yorker)
A White House Christmas for the press
It’s the end of the line for free food at the White House, at least off the Obamas. Kate Bennett of The Political Edit on their last Christmas party for the print press (the TV soiree is Monday):
“The highlights were: the food, specifically the piles and piles of stone crab claws, which are my favorite; the rosemary rack of lamb (can you tell I liked the food?); the ability to basically drink a glass of Champagne and then leave the glass on a table, because when we work events as press at the White House, if we so much as breathe on the furniture, it’s a big deal; being able to peruse the different rooms for as much time as we liked, without being herded; making my child pose in front of various portraits in the likeness of the portraits; taking my child to the White House; and, finally, officially meeting and taking a picture with the president and first lady.”
“Obama was particularly cool to my daughter, asking her what grade she was in and then telling her, ‘You know, Tess, you look exactly like your mom. And that’s not a bad thing.’ Thanks, POTUS.”
Maybe next year will bring Trump wine, water, steak, and deals on both greens fees and weekend rates at new nearby hotel. It’s somewhat softer duty than being, say, in Aleppo.
I’ve got bourbon, a $13 Italian red (via The Wall Street Journal Wine Club) and pizza tonight, with kids soccer and basketball on the weekend. If I leave glasses on tables, I’ll have to stick them in the dishwasher myself in the morning. Oh, well. See you Monday.