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Weinstein: Althouse on Dowd and Dench

Tuesday, 17 October, 2017 0 Comments

In some circles, Maureen Dowd, a columnist with the New York Times, is regarded as a moral authority. But law professor emerita Ann Althouse is having none of it: “Shine some light on the weakness of your own profession, Ms. Dowd,” she says in a blogpost from Sunday, “You’ve been writing very extensively about the movie business for years. Why didn’t you go after Weinstein? Were you and your colleagues bought off by his generosity to causes that you like?”

Althouse adds: “And note the unopened door: Calling Weinstein ‘a master at protecting himself… by giving to liberal causes and cultivating friends in the media and politics’ makes it sound as though he was a genius and ignores the lameness of the journalists in allowing this obvious and simple ruse to give him cover.”

Ann Althouse is especially critical of Dowd’s writing about Weinstein during the Clinton-Trump election campaign: “There’s not a whiff of negativity about Weinstein in this old column, which is about Obama’s cool lack of interest in being ‘a glad-handing pol.’ The phrase ‘a glad-handing pol’ seems to relate more to going out among the common people. At Harvey’s, Obama was ensconced with the beautiful elite.”

And talking about the conduct of the elites, Ann Althouse cites a grovelling piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times Style section about the British actress Dame Judi Dench. Back then, Harvey Weinstein was the star of the show, but a month is a long time in Maureen Dowd’s morality tales:

Ms. Dench pulled down her pants and flashed the tattoo at Mr. Weinstein at a celebrity lunch she arranged at the Four Seasons in 2002 with Mike Nichols, Nora Ephron, Carly Simon and others, and again at the BAFTA awards when Mr. Weinstein asked Ms. Dench to show his gift to a skeptical Oprah Winfrey at Royal Albert Hall.

“I walked in and I saw Harvey, and I said, ‘Hello, Harvey,’ and I dropped my pants down,” Ms. Dench recalls gleefully.

Ms. Winfrey, Mr. Weinstein recalls, “turned into a 12-year-old squealing girl” after Ms. Dench told her, “I hear you’ve been doubting my love for Harvey?” as she unzipped her pants.

Is the Weinstein tattoo real or simply drawn on by her makeup artist when she needs it, given that she once threatened to switch it to Kevin Spacey when he was the head of the Old Vic?

In her typically saucy fashion, Ms. Dench purrs, “How can I possibly tell you? Ask Harvey.”

Mr. Weinstein isn’t sure, but he does know this: “She is one of the world’s great actresses but also great personalities. She speaks in the Queen’s English so elegantly and then she’s flirting and speaking like British sailors on shore leave. Johnny Depp and I will go to our graves thinking she’s the hottest of them all.”

Dame Judi Dench was not available for comment.


I’m not about to defend Stalin, but…

Saturday, 2 September, 2017 0 Comments

The epitome of today’s spoiled brat is Abi Wilkinson, who types stuff of such breathtaking inanity that one wonders if she has ever read a history book. Her idiocy yesterday went beyond #PeakGuardian and the shock hackette took it to 11 with a tweet that included “Stalin” and “but”:

Stalin but...

When the monster Stalin died in 1953, those who had survived his reign of terror and had made new lives on the other side of the Atlantic celebrated. No ifs or buts, either.

Stalin is dead


Brian Eno and journalism’s smarmy ferrets

Wednesday, 30 August, 2017 0 Comments

On 20 November 1995, the musician, artist and producer Brian Eno wrote of Diana, Princess of Wales, in his diary: “My sympathy goes out to her for the shitbag scum journos she has to deal with — imagine meeting those vile smarmy ferrets wherever you went.”


The BuzzFeedfication of the New Republic

Thursday, 10 August, 2017 0 Comments

Times hilarious, times terrifying is Franklin Foer’s account of how the pursuit of digital readership ruined The New Republic. “When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism” is filled with gems. Example:

Once a story grabs attention, the media write about the topic with repetitive fury, milking the subject for clicks until the public loses interest. A memorable yet utterly forgettable example: A story about a Minnesota hunter killing a lion named Cecil generated some 3.2 million stories. Virtually every news organization — even The New York Times and The New Yorker — attempted to scrape some traffic from Cecil. This required finding a novel angle, or a just novel enough angle. Vox: “Eating Chicken Is Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil the Lion.” BuzzFeed: “A Psychic Says She Spoke With Cecil the Lion After His Death.” TheAtlantic.com: “From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage One-upmanship.”

And The New Republic now? Trump, Trump, Trump and more Trump. It’s all about those clicks, you see. Once upon a time, and a very long time ago it was, The New Republic was an important liberal-moderate magazine. Now, it’s just one more silly site.


The tough choices facing killer Fords

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 0 Comments

“Lunch with the FT” is a weekend pleasure and last Saturday it was the turn of carmaker Bill Ford, great-grandson of Henry, to dine with Patti Waldmeir. In the print edition the mealtime was titled “Reinventing the wheel”, while the online version is lengthier: “Motor chief Bill Ford on a Rust Belt reboot for the driverless age.” Morsel:

“The autonomous age will also raise new ethical questions, says Ford: what would a self-driving car do when faced with the choice of crashing into 10 pedestrians or killing its occupant? Human drivers react as best they can. But autonomous cars will need to be told what to do. Will autonomous Fords choose to kill the driver to save 10 bystanders? Will Fords kill the driver, and Toyotas kill the crowd? Will Fords in Detroit do one thing and Fords in Shanghai do another?”

Lunch with the FT is always informative and entertaining, and as the paper says: “High quality global journalism requires investment.”


The public narcissism of cultural knowingness

Sunday, 30 April, 2017 0 Comments

The dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association in Washington D.C. last night was defined by the man who wasn’t there. “It isn’t hard to figure that President Donald Trump will regret not being at the center of the kind of adulation and mutual self-congratulations that the media annually shared with former President Barack Obama,” wrote Michael Wolff in the Hollywood Reporter, adding: “At the same time, he apparently is self-aware enough, or combative enough, to refuse to swallow the slights and indignities that former President George W. Bush was said to annually feel amid the spring rites of the liberal media — slights and indignities that would, presumably, be much worse for Trump.”

Public Narcissism  and the White House Correspondents' Dinner

According to Michael Wolff, Donald Trump would have loved being the centre of media attention last night, but his presence among the “elites in their protected bubble” would “offend the populist heart and soul of Trumpism.” And then he wades into the fray:

“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner by any reasonable measure has become a very bad political symbol. It’s an exclusive and exclusionary event that celebrates power and influence for power and influence’s sake. It’s public narcissism, wherein all the celebrities become ecstatic at the sight of one another. (Of note, I have never known anyone invited to the dinner to say they actually wanted to go — rather, it is a burden of celebrity, a self-satisfied martyrdom.) The event is too, in its form, a kind of kin to late-night television — invariably hosted by a late-night star or a comedian aspiring to be a late-night star. It extols a cultural knowingness that, to say the least, excludes Trump and the Trump base, who are the reverse of cultural knowingness. One of the most notable aspects of the dinner for the past eight years, and one of the most notable aspects of Obama’s character, is how much, stepping out of presidential earnestness, he resembles — in timing, sensibility and archness — a late-night host.”

Indeed. But no late-night host is trousering a $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee.


Trump vs. Media: 100 Days of Trust and Mistrust

Saturday, 29 April, 2017 0 Comments

American adults trust President Trump more than the national political media, according to a poll released yesterday. Thirty-seven percent trust the White House against 29 percent who believe the political media in the Morning Consult survey (PDF). Thirty-four percent are unsure or have no opinion.

Morning Consult found that nearly half say the national political media is tougher on Trump than past presidential administrations. Forty-eight percent said America’s political journalists are harder on Trump, compared with 16 percent who say they are easier. Twenty-three percent say they are “about the same,” while 13 percent have no opinion.

Yesterday’s results found a slight majority who say the national political media is “out of touch with everyday Americans.” Twenty-eight percent said it “understands the challenges everyday Americans are facing,” and 21 percent were undecided.

Morning Consult conducted its survey of 2,006 US adults via online interviews from 25 to 26 April. It has a margin of error of two percentage points.


Apps away!

Monday, 10 April, 2017 0 Comments

As Facebook nears two billion users, Instagram is heading towards a billion. Meanwhile, Messenger and WhatsApp continue to surge onward and upward.

Apps


Gramable

Thursday, 6 April, 2017 0 Comments

The adjective Gramable refers to an image that’s suitable to post on the social media platform Instagram. Example: “Ann’s impressionistic photo of the Clontarf seafront was, like, totally Gramable.”

Today, being Gramable is an asset. “When anyone with a steady hand and a Stila eyeliner can find themselves featured on a brand’s Instagram page, professional makeup artists have to find ways to establish their work. An Instagram portfolio is a start.” So wrote Hilary Milnes on Glossy last Thursday in a piece tilted How the ‘Instagram look’ gave rise to a new makeup artist. Miles says that the top Instagram beauty hashtag, #instabeauty, yields 11.8 million results, and adds that Pixability, the video advertising buying and marketing software company, doesn’t differentiate between “beauty influencers” who have professional training or work as makeup artists because it’s almost impossible to tell. Snippet:

“We’ve found there’s no point in differentiating,” says Jackie Paulino, vp of customer success at Pixability. “Brands are interested in looking at who has the most subscribers and who is growing the fastest. From there, they figure out who’s the best fit for their audience and voice. They’re not asking about professional training. Just like a social media star, makeup artists can build their own brands online.”

Message: Be Gramable. (Hat tip for the word: Niamh O’Brien, Hoodman Blind).

Ann's Gram


The King of the News

Saturday, 25 February, 2017 0 Comments

Sure, he’s the man the press loves to hate, but Donald Trump is also the man who shifts papers and magazines and powers the clickstream like no one else on Earth. From Germany to Spain to Sweden to Japan, the press is all Trump all the time now. Sex sells was the old media mantra. Trump sells is the updated version.

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Trump vs. Media

Thursday, 19 January, 2017 0 Comments

In one of the most surreal moments of these strange times, the Columbia Journalism Review yesterday published “An open letter to Trump from the US press corps” written by a person called Kyle Pope. With no apparent sense of irony, Pope declared, “We will set higher standards for ourselves than ever before.” After eight years of White House press sycophancy, this absurd statement can only be greeted with laughter.

Tom Kuntz is the opposite of Kyle Pope: realistic, honest, serious. His “Trump vs. Media Is Much More Than Meets the Eye” for Real Clear Investigates explains that it’s not just the mainstream media that will be going to war with Donald Trump. The shock troops of the Fourth Estate gathering in Washington are part of regiments with names such Old and Blue, New and Blue, Red and New and Old and Red. Snippets:

“Aside from obvious factors — the mainstream media’s liberal leanings and Trump’s Twitter-centric, anti-elitist combativeness — this perfect storm of presidential-press combustibility reflects a striking transformation of the media landscape since the last White House transition, to President Obama in 2009.

The resulting dynamics seem a fair bet to make Richard Nixon’s relationship with the press in the Watergate era look like a lovefest by comparison.

Every President has faced a press filled with sympathizers and skeptics. Trump may be the first in modern times to face serious fire from all sides. This has as much to do with rapidly evolving media as it does with the man.”

Seconds out!