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#WarOnWomen at the New York Times



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Capital New York reports:

In an abrupt and unexpected move, The New York Times announced today that executive editor Jill Abramson will be leaving her position in the top masthead slot, to be replaced by her managing editor, Dean Baquet.

A full newsroom meeting was called immediately after the news went out around 2:30 this afternoon in which the paper’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., characterized the change as having been prompted by management issues in the newsroom.

He did not specify the reason precisely, but said it did not have to do with the business side.

“And that’s all I’m going to say about it,” said Sulzberger, according to two sources who were present. “It was an issue of newsroom management.”

The rest here.

CNN Replaces ‘Breaking’ Airplane Coverage with ‘Breaking’ Donald Sterling Coverage



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As with most stories on CNN about the missing airplane, this, too, is not “breaking news”:

 

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What We Learned From Yesterday’s Obamacare Hearing



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The New York Times is pretty happy about the testimony of  insurance company executives on Obamacare:

Called by Republicans, Health Insurers Deliver Unexpected Testimony​

House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it.

Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted. Indeed, several insurers said their stock prices had increased in the last few years.

The executives also declined to endorse Republican predictions of a sharp increase in insurance premiums next year, saying they did not have enough data or experience to forecast prices. And they said they were already receiving federal subsidy payments intended to make insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income people.

What we learned: the insurance companies are receiving their subsidy payments. But how? We’ve been told that we don’t know the number of people who’ve paid. 

Ah. . .

Representative Bill Johnson, Republican of Ohio, asked the insurers, “Does the administration know who’s paid for their plan?”

Insurance executives said they did not know the answer. Insurers said that they were filing invoices with the government to obtain subsidy payments, but that the government did not yet have an automated financial management system to handle the claims. The government and insurers will reconcile their books at a later date.

The Times doesn’t see a potential problem with this “later date” reconciliation? The “unexpected testimony” is that the share price of insurance companies went up? The entire back-end of the system still isn’t functioning — that’s the real news. 

My Question for Jay Carney on Boko Haram



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Thank, Jay, for calling on me.

The president met with Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan in September, 2013 and said this:

In the northern regions of Nigeria we’ve seen the emergence of one of the most vicious terrorist organizations in the world — the Boko Haram.  It presents an extraordinary security challenge for the people of Nigeria, and we want to be cooperative in that process of building capacity inside Nigeria to deal with that terrorist threat, but doing so in a way that is consistent with human rights.  Because we strongly believe that the best way to undermine the agenda of those who would do violence is to make sure that governments are responsive to the needs of people and following rule of law.

Can you tell us what exactly the United States has done to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram over the past eight months?

John Oliver vs. the White House Correspondents’ Dinner



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If you didn’t get a chance to watch Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ dinner, then you missed Susan Rice asking Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty for an autograph. That whole Phil Robertson controversy from last year is just water under the bridge now? Is there anything that summarizes all that is wrong the the intersection of Hollywood, the media, and politics than this?

This hilarious clip from John Oliver’s new HBO show, Last Week Tonight touches on the absurdity of the photo above as well as the overall absurdity of the dinner. Language warning:

 

 

 

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Lil’ Blue Eyes Is Fake Blue Eyes?



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Report: MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow wears contact lenses to make his eyes more blue.

I guess you have to accentuate the positive and fake the rest. 

Ronan Farrow: I Focus on ‘Substantive Hard News Coverage’



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Jennifer Vineyard of New York magazine ran into Lil’ Blue Eyes at a party for Time magazine, and asked about his low-rated show on MSNBC. An excerpt:

Farrow said that his show launched at a time when few other cable news programs (except those on MSNBC, obviously) “were hitting a diverse range of substantive topics. It was a time when one story was getting hammered over and over again.” Ronan Farrow Daily, he insisted, did not aim for “low-hanging fruit” but “substantive hard news coverage.”

What he’s saying is that he had the misfortune of launching his show (February 24) just days before the “low-hanging fruit” story of missing Malaysia Airways flight 370 (March 8) and CNN’s airplane coverage ate his lunch.

But that’s the easy excuse. Farrow is 1) guilty of going after his own low-hanging fruit stories; and 2) he’s confusing “substantive hard news coverage” with reporting on current events. Yesterday’s segments were on photoshopped magazine pictures, Donald Sterling, Donald Sterling’s girlfriend, and the execution in Oklahoma. In other words: fruit, fruit, fruit, and a real story. 

Farrow’s coverage of the Oklahoma execution could have been substantive, but in typical MSNBC fashion, Farrow only had one guest to speak about the issue, Mother Jones’s Stephanie Mencimer. Mencimer is no fan of lethal injection, which is fine, but one opinion on a five-minute segment does not count as substantive coverage. 

If Farrow wants to do substantive reporting, by all means, do so. Maybe there’s an audience for that. But Farrow is lying to himself if he really believes his show is special in any way. 

 

 

Comedian Louis C.K. vs. Common Core



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Is the Common Core education standard facing its most vocal, and toughest, critic yet? Maybe so.

Louis C.K., whose child is in the third grade at a NYC public school, is not happy with his daughter’s Common Core homework, and he’s taken to Twitter to make his displeasure known:

The comedian uploaded some of the questions that you can view here.

And the media is taking note:

Politico: Louis C.K. Hits Common Core

Jake Tapper, CNN: You seem very passionate about this. Want to come on my show and discuss your issues w CC as a parent?

New Yorker: Louis C.K. Against the Common Core

NY Daily NewsLouis C.K. blasts Common Core, standardized testing in NYC schools 

New York PostLouis C.K. blasts Common Core, standardized tests

Washington PostLouis C.K.: Common Core makes my kids cry

Um, where was this media attention before Louie’s kid had to take a test? It’s good news that Common Core is getting the attention, but why does it take, in Louis C.K.’s words, “a fat, dumb parent” to get the attention of the national media?

State Department Using Daily Kos, Think Progress to Defend Sec. Kerry’s ‘Apartheid’ Quote



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For real:

Was it too difficult for Psaki to find the Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert quotes on apartheid herself and write her own tweet?

She also tweeted a link to a Think Progress piece from 2013 in her effort to defend John Kerry:

Except, the Think Progress piece actually questions the accuracy and warns of the danger of using “apartheid” when discussing the Israel–Palestinian conflict:

But is the “apartheid” analogy accurate? Larry Derfner from the Israeli English language website +972 Magazine writes:

Myself, I don’t use that term to characterize the occupation because … apartheid was based on race, while the [Israeli] occupation [of the West Bank] is based on nationality and territory. Instead, I prefer terms like “military dictatorship,” “tyranny” and “colonialism.” But I think the similarities between the occupation and apartheid far outweigh the differences – they’re both based on one kind of people “legally” lording it over another kind – so while the term is imprecise, it’s not an insult, or an offense, or, to use a term right-wingers love, a “blood libel.”

Indeed, the term is contentious, and using it in the Israeli-Palestinian context often serves as a tool to shut down debate, as Matt Yglesias once noted on this blog. “The use of the term ‘apartheid’ seems to shut down people’s critical faculties and make them defensive,” he wrote back in 2010. “So I generally prefer to set it aside. The point is that there’s a political system in the West Bank where the Jewish residents have the right to vote, have privileged access to water, have exclusive access to some roadways, have privileged rights to travel, etc., none of which are shared by the non-Jewish residents. You can call it what you like, but it’s not democracy.”

We’ll be hearing more later today, I trust. 

CNN Now the Chicago News Network?



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The Chicago Tribune has a bombshell of a report detailing contact between producers of CNN’s documentary series Chicagoland and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staff, with the promise from CNN of positive coverage of Emanuel.

The opening salvo:

Emails show Emanuel aides, producers coordinated CNN ‘Chicagoland’ scenes

If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.

More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.

(See email samples)

Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.

City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.

The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.”

Creator and executive producer Marc Levin made a pitch to the mayor’s office last May as Emanuel’s hand-picked school board was two days away from a vote to close nearly 50 schools.

“This is a real opportunity to highlight the Mayors leadership – his ability to balance the need for reform and fiscal reality with compassion for affected communities and concern for the safety of Chicago’s school children,” Levin wrote of the school closings to Emanuel senior adviser David Spielfogel and two press aides. “We need the mayor on the phone in his SUV, in city hall with key advisers and his kitchen cabinet and meeting with CPS head BBB (Barbara Byrd-Bennett) and with CPD (Superintendent Garry) McCarthy.”

The first “Chicagoland” episode, televised in March, featured just what Levin had requested: slow-motion images of the mayor climbing into his SUV and talking on his cellphone, and Emanuel’s meetings behind closed doors with Chicago Public Schools CEO Byrd-Bennett and Chicago police Superintendent McCarthy.

The rest from the Tribune here.

Keep in mind Chicagoland is a joint project between CNN and Robert Redford’s Sundance Ventures. Here’s what Redford had to say about the current state of journalism and the importance of Chicagoland back in February:

“Entertainment has overtaken real journalism,” Redford told an audience at January’s Sundance Film Festival. “What we end up with now is sound-bite information, distorted information passing as the truth, too many voices out there interrupting each other, barking like dogs. There’s so much noise out there, and it’s so sound-bit, you don’t hear anything. So you wonder, where are you going to get the truth?”

Redford believes he’s doing his small part by getting into what TV executives like to call the “nonfiction programming business” via his Sundance Productions, cofounded with Laura Michalchyshyn in 2012. But when describing his company’s first project, Chicagoland, an eight-episode series that debuts March 6 on CNN, Redford prefers a more old-fashioned term. “I believe the real truth can come through documentaries,” he says, “because you have the chance, with films like this, to dig in and have more than a second to get information that gets deep into the issue.”

Yes, Robert — where are we going to get the truth? Because Chicagoland ain’t it.

Beyoncé Lands the Cover of Time’s 100 Most Influential Issue



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And here’s the entire list which is really a list of 100 people Time finds interesting rather than a list of the actual “100 most influential people in the world. 

 

From the Archives: Nevadans Using ‘Negro’ in a Sentence



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Since liberals are so keen to point out the horrid comments of Cliven Bundy, I thought I just remind readers of what Sen. Harry Reid said of then-candidate Obama:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) apologized Saturday for referring to President Obama in private conversations during the 2008 presidential campaign as “light-skinned” and as having “no Negro dialect.”

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” Reid said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments.”

I expect that, if Bundy apologizes, the Left won’t be as quick to forgive, however.

What Do Bloomberg’s New Anti-Gun Group and Iraqi Propagandists Have in Common?



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Well, for starters, no understanding of what a bullet looks like when it’s fired from a gun. 

Here’s a photo from 2007, with the caption: “An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.”

Did someone throw the bullets at the nice old lady? Now note the similarity to the latest from Bloomberg’s group:

And what I wrote about the first picture back in 2007 is as true today as it was then:

I’m no ballistics expert or anything like that, but I do know that when a bullet has been fired, it looks just a little bit different than as pictured above.

If you’re going to put out propaganda, at least make it believable, huh?

Brian Williams Raps ‘Gin and Juice’



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George R. R. Martin Not Happy With Sunday’s GOT



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Spoilers ahead. . .

George R.R. Martin responded to the growing controversy from Sunday’s Game of Thrones and the major change directors made to the disturbing incest-sex-scene between siblings Jamie and Cersei Lannister that occurred in his novel, A Storm of Swords. The HBO version had Jamie rape Cersei, which Martin makes clear was not how he wrote the characters:

Re: Jaime’s changes in Breaker of Chains

[. . .]

As for your question… I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her. 

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection. 

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing. 

If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

It’s interesting that Martin says the directors never discussed the change with him. I’ve read the books and know what’s in store for Jamie and Cersei and I don’t see why the HBO version thought it was necessary to deviate from the original. I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks.

WaPost on the Ratings Slump of Meet the Press



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The Post has a piece out today on NBC’s attempt to figure out why David Gregory as host of Meet the Press isn’t meeting expectations. An excerpt:

The main problem: The great-granddaddy of Sunday-morning Beltway blabfests isn’t just not No. 1. It’s No. 3 and in the midst of a three-year slide. During the first three months of this year, the NBC program finished behind perennial rivals “Face the Nation” on CBS and “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on ABC, despite being helped by two weeks of Winter Olympics hoopla. In the final quarter of last year, viewing among people ages 25 to 54, the preferred group for TV news advertisers, fell to its lowest level ever.

Now I get NBC’s desire for better ratings, but they hired a psychological consultant to help with their evaluation? 

Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.

I would love to see a breakdown — if it exists — of how many conservatives stopped watching Meet the Press over the past few years. I don’t watch NBC, and haven’t for years, because of its symbiotic relationship with the Muppets of MSNBC. 

Maybe it’s the NBC suits who didn’t think MSNBC’s liberal-bias would hurt NBC News as a brand who need the psychological evaluation.​

 

SEIU Trying to Unionize Media Matters



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And the best part is Media Matters is fighting it. Why does Media Matters hate organized labor?

 

Mega-donors: Bloomberg vs. Koch Brothers



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Here’s how the New York Times describes Mike Bloomber’s announcement to spend $50 million to fight the NRA. It’s a “grass roots network”:

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Let’s compare the above to how the editors of the New York Times describe the Koch brothers and their involvement in politics. “Oligarchs”:

Democrats have for too long been passive in the face of the vast amounts of corporate money, most of it secret, that are being spent to evict them from office and dismantle their policies. By far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races, for example, has been that of the Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections.

Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal — no party should — but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs.

[. . .]

Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. In his most recent speech, he pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. They own an industrial network that ranks No. 14 on the list of the most toxic American air polluters, and got their money’s worth in 2010 by helping elect a Republican House majority that has resisted environmental regulation.

If you agree with editors of the Times, you’re the leader of a “grass-roots network.” If not, you’re an “oligarch.”

 

Foreign Policy Thought Leader Ronan Farrow on Ukraine



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Via Mediaite:

Ronan Farrow Advises Obama to ‘Hold the Course’ of Inaction on Ukraine Crisis

I don’t think Mediaite is particularly fair here with their headline, no matter how much I dislike Farrow. Farrow goes on to applaud the president for “exercising caution” amid calls from some in Congress to provide lethal military aid directly to Ukraine. Inaction implies the president is doing nothing, but sanctions, warplanes to NATO allies, etc., isn’t exactly “inaction.”

 

 

 

Video: Sharyl Attkisson Tells How CBS Killed Her Obama Reporting



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Here’s Howard Kurtz interviewing former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on her past reporting on stories like Benghazi and why she left CBS. Good stuff:

 

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