Media Blog

NRO’s MSM watchdog.

U.S. Finally Captures the Benghazi ‘Ringleader’ who CNN Interviewed Last Year


It is good news that we’ve finally apprehended somebody in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. NPR reports:

The United States says it has captured a militant suspected of leading the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by American troops after coordinating with law enforcement. Kirby said Khattala was captured on Sunday and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation are safe.

Khattala, said Kirby, is now “in a secure location outside of Libya.”

But let’s not pretend this is some sort of intelligence coup. 

NRP writes that he was living out “in the open” and CNN interviewed him last summer, angering many Republicans in Congress who asked how CNN could find him but the U.S. military could not:

A Republican lawmaker demanded Wednesday to know why investigators have not captured or killed any of the suspects in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, pointing out that CNN was able to find a man who some say was the ringleader in the assault that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Eight GOP lawmakers are asking that incoming FBI Director James Comey brief Congress within 30 days about the investigation. They say the administration’s inquiry into the September 11, 2012, attacks in Libya has been “simply unacceptable,” according to a draft letter obtained by CNN.

“One of the pertinent questions today is why we have not captured or killed the terrorist who committed these attacks?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told reporters. “News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn’t been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?”

Chaffetz was referring to CNN’s recent interview with Ahmed Abu Khattala, who Libyan and U.S. officials have described as the Benghazi leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated militia group Ansar al-Sharia — one of many groups that filled the vacuum of authority following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

The early report states that Khattala was captured by SOF troops as well as an agent from the FBI and that he’s currently en route to the U.S. on a Navy ship. 

Exit questions: Has the FBI read Khattala his Miranda rights yet?

Not Dead Broke: NBC Paid Chelsea $600K/Year



Chelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.

Clinton, who joined NBC News as a “special correspondent” in November 2011, was up for renewal or non-renewal this year. Instead, the sources said, the network decided to keep her on the payroll on a month-to-month basis so that the two parties could sever ties if Clinton’s mother, Hillary, runs for president.

Another example of why nepotism is the best-paying of the isms. 


Out: Innocent Until Proven Guilty; In: Bergdahl’s Crazy


Via Sally Kohn:

Weird. We can’t rely on the eyewitness testimony of soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon, but anonymous sources in the Washington Post can diagnosis Bergdahl’s psychological state at the time of his disappearance?

The Dignity of Office


President Obama, leader of the free world, answered questions yesterday on the social-media platform Tumblr. He started off the Q&A by fist-bumping Tumblr’s founder, David Karp:

Note: this isn’t a photshopped joke, but an actual item posted on



Miss USA 2014: Learn Self-Defense to Help Prevent Rape at College


Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez won the 2014 Miss USA pageant last night, but it was her answer to a question from celebrity judge Rumer Willis that generated a little controversy:

“Recently, Time magazine revealed that 19% of U.S. undergraduate  women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug so long, and what can colleges do to combat this?”

Sanchez, who is a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, answered thus:

“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”

Makes sense, no?

Well, not to feminists who expressed their displeasure of Miss Nevada’s answer on Twitter, but to most sane people it makes sense.





Next Big Issue: Obama Should Release the ‘Cleared’ Guantanamo Detainees


There’s some underreported anger from the Left at President Obama over the release of the five detainees in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. To sum it up, they question why these high-value detainees were released before those already “cleared” for transfer, with the implication being that “cleared” is the same as innocent.

Some headlines:

Clive Stafford Smith, Al Jazeera: At Guantánamo Bay, the guilty go free, the innocent remain

Cori Crider, The GuardianForget the ‘Taliban Five’ – Obama’s real chance is to free Gitmo’s Cleared 78

Natasha Lennard, Vice News: The Gitmo prisoner exchange puts deals above grim justice

And I had this exchange on Twitter last night with Glenn Greewald over the detainees left at Guantanamo:

Greenwald followed up later:

“Cleared for release,” however, is not the same as innocent — not even close. Here’s the language from the 2010 Final Report of the Guantanamo Review Task Force that makes clear what “cleared” actually means (Page 17):

That link above from Greenwald directs to this McClatchy article on how Yemen is trying to get back its citizens from Guantanamo. The article tells the story of Abdulrahman al Shabati and how his incarceration is just a “case of terrible luck.”

This is actually a perfect example of how the Left is spinning “cleared for release.” Abdulrahman al Shabati, listed as Abd al Rahman Abdullah Ali Muhammad by the Department of Defense, isn’t cleared of wrongdoing as Greenwald would have you believe. The U.S. considers him a member of al-Qaida who participated in hostilities against U.S. forces and assessed him as a “medium” future risk to U.S. interests. Yes, he was cleared, but he was cleared “for continued detention” in Yemen, not freedom. (Page 10.) 

And with Abdulrahman al Shabati, Yemen admits in the article Greenwald linked to that they’re not ready to take detainees and need to create a detention/rehabilitation program before any transfer can take place:

[Hooria Mashhour, Yemen’s minister of human rights] said her government is aware that the repatriation of detainees would ultimately prove a massive undertaking, requiring a large-scale rehabilitation program, aimed at reintegrating the returnees into Yemeni society. She said such a program also would have to reckon with any psychological effects of a decade-long imprisonment.

“Of course we will need money, we will need logistical support; of course we are committed to doing what’s necessary,” she said. “But also, the American government has a duty to support us.”

Is Yemen stable enough to supervise his continued detention? What will the rehabilitation program look like? Will it work? How much will it cost? There are no answers to those questions, and without answers, no transfer is possible. Those who want the detainees freed en masse need to admit that it’s a lot more complicated than some in the media would have you believe.

We’ll be hearing more about this in the coming days and weeks and it’s important to set the record straight. If anything, hopefully the trade for Bergdahl will force Congress and the president to figure out a solution to Guantanamo (which might mean authorizing funds to keep it open) once and for all before more dangerous detainees get released under less than ideal circumstances. 


CNN’s Don Lemon Tells Soldiers in Bergdahl’s Platoon to ‘Wait for the Facts’



These soldiers are eyewitnesses to what happened, meaning, they are the facts.

And after enduring months of moronic coverage from Don “Is a black hole responsible for the disappearance of flight MH370?“ Lemon, we don’t need lectures from him about waiting for facts. 

Note: Don Lemon doesn’t link to CNN for his video commentary, but to Mediaite, a competitor’s website. Genius at work. 

Question for Media Matters, NYT: Are You Calling These Soldiers Liars?


The latest from the perpetually outraged Media Matters is that soldiers coming forward to speak about Bowe Bergdahl talked to Richard Grenell. Research Fellow Oliver Willis writes:

Fox News Contributor Behind PR Campaign For Soldiers Critical Of Bowe Bergdahl​

Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.

Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York TimesTimeThe Los Angeles TimesThe Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have “played a key role in publicizing” these critics.

Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.

The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter. 

One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”

Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican. 

This is some cracker-jack reporting from all involved as Grenell made his overtures in public via Twitter. Pick up your Pulitzers at the nearest courtesy desk.

But even if Media Matters is right and political motives were 100 percent behind the bookings, so what? What counts is whether the soldiers are telling the truth. Willis is careful not to say the troops are lying, but the implication is that their stores shouldn’t be trusted.

For what it’s worth, CNN’s Jake Tapper has had probably the best coverage of the Bergdahl story, and he denied any contact with Grenell or his firm. Media Matters conveniently left out that there are soldiers critical of Bergdahl telling their stories who aren’t connected to Grenell or Fox News or the Koch Brothers or whatever moronic thing they’ll think up next.

The New York Times went after the soldiers today, too:

Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky

Did the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl cost the lives of American soldiers?

Since last weekend’s prisoner exchange in which Afghan insurgents turned over Sergeant Bergdahl after five years of captivity, a number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers.

That second claim is hardening into a news media narrative. CNN has reported in scrolling headlines that six soldiers died looking for Sergeant Bergdahl after senior American military officials say he wandered off his base. The Daily Beast published an essay by a former member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s battalion, Nathan Bradley Bethea, who linked the search to the deaths of eight soldiers whom he named. “He has finally returned,” Mr. Bethea wrote. “Those men will never have the opportunity.”

But a review of casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive — even as critics of Sergeant Bergdahl contend that every American combat death in Paktika Province in the months after he disappeared, from July to September 2009, was his fault.

Let’s examine why this is murky in the first place. For starters, the soldiers involved in rescue operations were told to sign NDAs. Secondly, the Pentagon is just now getting around to investigating if the soldiers died while searching for Bergdahl. And finally, the Times is relying on logs of daily activities that they call “terse and contain few contextual details.”

Just thinking out loud here, but maybe a report from the Pentagon on what the soldiers were doing when they died or interviews with who were in those battles would clear up some of these “contextual details.” 

If Media Matters wants to arrange interviews with soldiers more sympathetic to Bergdahl to help the Times demurkify the story, please do so. I eagerly await that report. But until then, stop insinuating that the soldiers we have heard from are being anything other than truthful and forthright. 

Underreported News: FLOTUS Bemoans Money in Politics at High-Dollar Fundraiser


Just how expensive was this DCCC fundraiser in Boston? Very. Via the Boston Globe:

The invitation offers tickets ranging from $500 per person to $32,400 per couple. The top tier ticket includes “2 spots in VIP clutch, photo opportunity, and 1 table of 10 to the afternoon tea.”​

And here’s what she said to all those people who spent a lot of money to see her, and a whole lot of money to get VIP access:

And, yes, there’s too much money in politics.  Yes, special interests have too much influence.  But they had all that money and influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections.  And you want to know why?  Because we showed up and we voted.

And at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, they each have just one vote.  The folks who poured millions of dollars into the 2012 election –- they each have just one vote, too.  And so do each of us.  And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes.  That’s what decides elections in the United States of America. 

Here’s the best part I thought — the DCCC needs all this money because Democratic voters are lazy:

But the fact is that during the midterms, this is what happens — a lot of our folks, we don’t show up.  Women, minorities, young people — we don’t show up in the midterms.  And these are folks who agree with us.  They support our policies and ideas, so we don’t have to change any hearts and minds, we don’t have to spend hours persuading folks that we have the best plan.  We just need to get these folks out to vote.  And we need to call them and remind them that the midterms are coming, and then we need to give them a ride to the polls on Election Day to make sure they get there. 

She then told the audience to “dig deep” and “max out” their contributions with the “fattest” checks possible in order to get the lazy Democrats to vote:

And there’s something that all of you can do right now, today, to make a difference — and I say this everywhere I go, because it matters — you can write a big, fat check.  (Laughter.)  That’s what we need you to do right now.  We need you to write the biggest, fattest check you can possibly write.  I am so serious. 

[. . .]

And I know that some of you might occasionally feel a little bit annoyed that we’re always hitting you up for money — especially the folks in this room, because I know a bunch of people are about to do a fundraiser for Barack two days from now or something like that.  But that’s okay.  You can be annoyed.  You can admit it — we annoy you. 

But we do this because writing those checks is the single most impactful thing that you can do right now.  Because it is simply not enough for us to have the best candidates if they don’t have the resources they need to win elections.  It’s not enough to have the best values and ideas if we never get to make them into laws and policies.  We can’t just stake out the moral high ground and feel good about ourselves.  We need to act.

Because when you dig deep and we all dig deep, when you max out, that translates into staff hired and offices opened.  It translates into calls made, and doors knocked on, and ads running where they need to run.  And we can’t wait until September or October to get going, because these candidates need these resources today.

Well, the good news for the GOP is she’s getting this audience to waste their money trying to retake the House rather than on more winnable races in the Senate. Keep up the good work!

Michelle Obama’s entire speech here.


Susan Rice from Sunday: Bergdahl Served with ‘Honor and Distinction’


Jay Carney just wrapped up the press briefing and dodged all questions related to Susan Rice’s comments from ABC’s This Week where she said:

President Obama stuck to a “sacred obligation” when he agreed to a deal with the Taliban to release five prisoners held by at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said today.

“This is a very special situation. Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our Republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who were taken in battle. And we did that in this instance,” Rice told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos today on “This Week” in a rare Sunday interview.

I get the idea behind the prisoner swap, however odious, but I don’t get why the White House staged a photo-op with the family of a soldier who the Pentagon determined had voluntarily left his post and whose departure led to the deaths of other American soldiers tasked with looking for him.

It seems that the White House really didn’t think they’d get any criticism for it, and now they won’t answer any questions about it. 

Media Matters and Fox News: The War Goes On?


Remember a few months ago when Media Matters declared victory over Fox News and said they’d scale back their coverage?

Yeah, that didn’t go as planned. Here’s their homepage from this morning with 41 hits for “Fox”:

SCOTUS Sides with Government and Rejects James Risen Appeal


The AP reports:

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to get involved in the case of a reporter who has been ordered to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of disclosing classified information.

The justices did not comment in rejecting an appeal from New York Times reporter James Risen, who detailed a botched CIA effort during the Clinton administration to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Risen’s reporting is at the center of criminal charges against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Federal prosecutors want to force Risen to testify about his sources at Sterling’s trial.

Risen argued that he has a right to protect his sources’ identity, either under the Constitution or rules governing criminal trials. The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, rejected Risen’s bid to avoid being forced to testify.

The Associated Press and many other leading news organizations supported Risen’s appeal.

Congress is considering a proposed media shield law, similar to laws in place in most states, which would protect reporters and news media organizations from being required to reveal the identities of confidential sources. But it would not grant an absolute privilege to journalists.

The rest here.

Chris Matthews Has Lost the Leg-Tingle Over the VA Scandal


Chris Matthews with some rare criticism of President Obama and his handling of the VA scandal:


Joe Biden Talks About His Sons at Air Force Academy Commencement


Joe Biden spoke at the Air Force Academy yesterday and used his sons as props while addressing the crowd: (emphasis mine)

Fifth and finally, America has to remain a force for dignity and relief from suffering. That’s why we have to continue to stand up for basic human rights and democratic principles, speak out against injustice wherever we see it. That’s why we have to continue to help and provide people in desperate need and those fleeing war and persecution. And that’s why we have to continue to lead the world in fighting hunger and disease, working toward the prospects of an AIDS- free generation.

Ladies and gentlemen, my sons, like you — one is chairman of the World Food Health Program in the United States, the largest food agency in the world and the other is a major in the United States Army who spent a year in Iraq and won the Bronze Star. They’re like you. They know what they have to do, they know where America’s future lies, and like them, we rely on you.

None of this can be carried out successfully without you, without the finest Air Force in the world. Owning the skies, space and cyberspace, providing global reach, global strike capability, nuclear deterrence and command and control, it’s all — all — within your grasp and duty.

I don’t get why this line about his sons was included. I read the whole speech, and it doesn’t really add anything.

Biden’s description of Hunter is especially egregious. As far as the vice president is concerned, Hunter is just a humanitarian trying to end world hunger. Conveniently omitted was Hunter’s new job as a board member of a Ukrainian gas company. Although the administration claims there’s no conflict of interest, Hunter’s role has given Russia a huge public relations win:

The news that Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter had taken a job with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma has been met in Russia with malicious glee. “Ahaha,” tweeted Member of Parliament Alexander Sidyakin, reacting to the White House statement that there was no conflict of interest after the news of Hunter Biden’s new role was made public on Tuesday. “Joe Biden is a good dad – took the trouble of going across the ocean to secure a job for his son,” the pro-Kremlin website politrussia.rucommented in its Twitter feed, referring to Vice President’s recent trip to Ukraine.

Rossiya TV channel’s commentator Andrey Arkhipov said the appointment was “in line with Washington’s plan to gain control over global energy resources.” Dubbing Joe Biden “the curator of the military coup in Ukraine” – a reference to the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February following months of public protests – Arkhipov ridiculed the idea that no U.S. lobbying was involved in the appointment.

Earlier in the speech, Biden did talk about Ukraine, but not about his son’s business ties to the country:

It’s why we stand up against bullying and aggression in international waters and airspace in the Pacific, why we condemn Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and the illegal annexation of Crimea, and why we will continue to support a democratic Ukraine, and why we’re determined to complete international trade agreements to raise the standard of economic conduct in the Atlantic and Pacific, and why we believe it’s essential that we make progress on a global framework for climate change.

Keep in mind these graduates might one day be ordered into combat to protect a “democratic Ukraine.” The vice president doesn’t see how his silence on his son getting used by Russia to help justify the undemocratic actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine might sound cynical to the graduates? Where’s Code Pink when you need them shouting, “No blood for Hunter Biden’s natural gas!”? 

And it’s not just Hunter. In this 2012 HuffPo piece, Beau Biden was pretty happy with President Obama’s stewardship of the VA: 

A record number of veterans are entering the VA health system, so President Obama has significantly boosted the Veterans Affairs budget to ensure that veterans receive timely access to the highest-quality benefits and services. And though he knew it would be difficult, he’s making sure the VA eliminates the backlog by 2015.

To keep up with that growing demand, the VA is hiring claims processors to get veterans their benefits faster and is deploying a new IT system to improve claim processing times. President Obama believes we must keep improving health care for all veterans, whether they served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or World War II.

I wonder, does Major Biden, Iraq war veteran, still feel the president has done a good job with the VA?

Ed Schultz Ends His Talk Radio Show


I’m a little late to this, but Ed Schultz has delivered his last radio show. 

Jack Coleman at Newsbusters has the details.

Of note, Randi Rhodes has ended her talk radio show, too. And I thought this was amusing. Her replacement in Santa Fe, New Mexico sounds like a real gem:

When Rhodes left the airwaves, KTRC did some reshuffling of its schedule, moving Thom Hartmann’s show up to Rhodes’ 1-4 p.m. time slot and replacing Hartmann’s 4-7 p.m. slot with a guy named Norman Goldman.

If every place had Santa Fe’s political leanings, Hutton observed, liberal talkers probably wouldn’t be dropping so rapidly.

Hartmann has a following here. Hutton said several listeners were glad that his show is now live on KTRC (which means you’ll probably hear more people from Santa Fe calling in).

This Goldman guy lost me, though. I tuned in a few nights ago, and the first thing I heard was Goldman not comparing the Republican Party to Hitler, but saying the Republican Party is Hitler. Perhaps a lot of profound political dialogue followed that, but I wasn’t listening.

Liberal talk radio is dying, if not dead already. 

Amazon to WaPo: No Comment


Do they draw straws to see who gets to ask the guy who signs their paychecks the tough questions? Politico:

Jeff Bezos’s Amazon did not respond to requests for comment from the Washington Post, the paper he owns, regarding a dispute between the bookseller and a major publishing house.

Amazon, the country’s largest bookseller, and Hachette, which publishes best-selling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Colbert, have been locked in a public war over costs. As a result, Hachette has accused Amazon of hiking book prices and delaying deliveries of its books in order to discourage buyers.

Since The New York Times reported on the dispute earlier this month, media critics had been encouraging the Post to follow up with its own coverage of its owner’s company. It did so onMay 16 and again on May 23, noting that the feud had escalated to the point where Amazon had halted pre-sales on Hachette titles.

Yet when the Post’s Steven Mufson reached out to his boss’s company for comment for the first article, Amazon “would not comment,” according to the report. When he reached out for the second article, the company did not even respond.

The rest here.

One solution might be for media companies to print/air pieces from rivals when there is a conflict of interest. 

WaPost Critic Blames Hollywood For Santa Barbara Killings


Movie critic Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post thinks movies like Seth Rogen’s Neighbors and Judd Apatow “comedies” are connected to the mass killing in Santa Barbara. She writes:

As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.

How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like “Neighbors” and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?

Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it. The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram and Vine. If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger — thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections — no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large.

As you might expect, Rogen and Apatow are none too pleased

Rogen called the criticism “horribly insulting and misinformed,” while Apatow accused Hornaday of using “tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts.” Oh, and Judd Apatow does have a keen eye for how online journalism works: “They say something shocking and uninformed & get you to click on it to profit.”

You know who else does “something shocking” for “profit?” Hollywood. 

I doubt Rogen or Apatow read the entire piece, however. Hornaday went on to write:

Every year, San Diego State University researcher Martha Lauzen releases a “Celluloid Ceiling” report in which she delivers distressing statistics regarding the state of women in Hollywood. This year, she found that women made up just 16 percent of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013; similarly, women accounted for just 15 percent of protagonists in those films.

Weird how this didn’t come up when President Obama was recently in California raising money. How can the president take campaign contributions from such a misogynistic industry? What would Lilly Ledbetter say?

As for Hornaday’s thesis, I don’t buy it and it’s no better than the knee-jerk reactions blaming the tragedy on the NRA. For example, here’s Albert Brooks:

Brooks won’t admit this, but it’s the NRA that has been pushing states to put more Americans with mental health issues into the system that would prevent them from buying a gun. 

When confronted on Twitter, Brooks dismissed the facts from Santa Barbara that three of the victims were killed by a knife and the plan was to kill many more with a car. He then went on to make a joke about AAA lobbying Congress to legalize ”assault towing.” This might be funny if the last movie I saw starring Albert Brooks wasn’t Drive, where characters were killed on screen with guns, knives, and cars. Maybe Hornaday can add Brooks to her list of Hollywood culprits? 

There is a pattern emerging with these incidents, however, and it’s not related to Hollywood culture or the NRA. It’s that killers like the ones in Sandy Hook, Aurora, and now Santa Barbara were under mental-health treatment of some sort and the treatment providers — as well as the killers’ families – missed what was going to happen. And in the case of Santa Barbara, not only did the the mental health-experts miss the warning signs, so did law enforcement officers sent to check on the killer after a request for a “wellness check“ from the killer’s family. 

As much as Hornaday or Brooks want easy answers to assign blame, they’re just not there. 




Ezra Klein Explains ‘The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency’


For real, and here is the graphic Vox created for this masterpiece:

The NYT, Game of Thrones, and Spock


What was it like in the newsroom when the New York Times fired its editor Jill Abramson? Thankfully we have David Carr of the New York Times to shed some light on the palace intrigue. An excerpt from his piece yesterday:

I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain from a very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire.

But none of that was as surreal as what happened last week. When The Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., stood up at a hastily called meeting in the soaring open newsroom where we usually gather to celebrate the Pulitzers and said that Jill was out, we all just looked at one another. How did our workplace suddenly become a particularly bloody episode of “Game of Thrones”?

To expand on Carr’s Game of Thrones reference, this would make Sulzberger Jr. the cruel and dim-witted King Joffrey who only attained his title because of his name. 

Carr continues:

The current mayhem aside, Mr. Sulzberger’s real failing has been picking two editors who ended up not being right for the job.

I was standing there when Howell Raines, taken down by the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal, handed over control of the newspaper. There was sadness and anger, but also a measure of dignity. Instead, this has become a grinding spectacle.

This is part of the Abramson story that’s not really getting any attention. The way the Times is set up as a corporation protects Sulzberger as a publisher-king. . .

The Times Company has a dual share structure: Class A stock, which is publicly traded, and a special class of stock, Class B, that allows the Sulzbergers to elect about 70 percent of the company’s board.

At some point, employees and stockholders of the Times need to question if a change in executive leadership is needed, and not just an editorial switch. And those are questions not being asked. For example, Carr wrote that “increases in digital circulation have bought the company some breathing room.” Maybe Carr can ask Sulzberger why anyone subscribes to the Times digitally at all as the paywall to protect digital subscribers can be bypassed simply by using the private or incognito setting on your browser. 

Carr ends with this anecdote regarding his interview with the paper. Think like Spock if you want to work  in King’s Landing at the Times:

Before I came to work here, Gerald Boyd, the crusty — or should I say “pushy”? — managing editor who would eventually be swept up in the Jayson Blair affair, was interviewing me. I could tell it was not going well. He was skeptical of my lack of daily experience and my more noisy tendencies. I finally realized what he was waiting to hear.

“I understand that if I come to work at The New York Times, the needs of the many will frequently supersede the needs of the one,” I said.

I meant it when I said it and I learn the truth of it with each passing day.

Well, since Carr does bring it up, when do the needs of the many at the NYT outweigh the needs of the Sulzberger family?


Live-Tracking a Great White Shark off Miami


I had no idea this existed: real-time shark tracking.

And here’s the track of a great white shark named Katharine as it heads toward Miami:

Local news in Ft. Lauderdale is reporting that it might be the same great white that menaced a diver in this video from a few days ago:

It’s too bad CNN isn’t covering this as “breaking news,” because I think I’d watch it. Especially if they had a helicopter in the air showing how close Katharine was to swimmers. 


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