Big changes are afoot at The Washington Times, including the possible departure of executive editor John Solomon. TPM's Ben Frumin reported today that in a "major shakeup," three executives are leaving the right-wing newspaper, and that "two newsroom sources said they expect [Solomon] to resign" as well.
The reasoning behind the "major shakeup" may be a surprise to many. In its official announcement of the moves, the paper stated: "Today's industry conditions and the general economic downturn necessitate this team-based assessment, planning, and subsequent implementation of a plan to enable The Times to become a sustainable multimedia company in today's challenging news industry environment. ... The process will clarify the steps needed to achieve the goal of a market-based, financially sustainable media enterprise."
That's right, fiscal responsibility has finally reached The Washington Times after decades of red ink.
One has to wonder what prompted this new attention to the bottom line. A Washington Post article on the Times' 20th anniversary in 2002 reported that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder, had "plowed about $1.7 billion into subsidizing the Times" in its first two decades of operation. That's a lot of cheddar to make sure your "bolder, brighter" paper gets out to one-eighth as many readers as the local competition. You can buy a lot of phony attacks on President Obama's "czars" with that kind of money, but the Times has now apparently decided that such expenditures are unacceptable.
What effect will the shake-up have on the Times' editorial content? We'll have to wait and see. In a memo to the Times staff upon his hiring, Solomon discussed making the operation "more profitable"; he also mentioned the staff's "shared pride as journalists" and claimed he wanted to create a "superior print and online news product." It's unclear how successful he was at pushing the Times toward profitability, but he seems to have maintained its standing as a major purveyor of conservative misinformation.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."
I wrote last week about how media conservatives just aren't that good when it comes to election analysis – in fact they pretty much suck.
This weekend Saturday Night Live did a send-up of Fox News' off-year election night coverage that is well worth a watch. Jason Sudeikis' Glenn Beck impersonation isn't quite as good as what The Daily Show's Jon Stewart offered up last week, but it's pretty funny all the same.
On a recent conference call with shareholders and the press, Murdoch, asked about recent Fox News battle with the White House, continued to push the bogus line about a ratings spike [emphasis added]:
As far as tension with the White House, I think they've overplayed it. And it's probably been good for us in terms of ratings.
False, as we documented this week, Fox News' ratings virtually flatlined in the two weeks after the public controversy exploded.
And oh yeah, on the conference call Murdoch also lied about the dispute and what White House officials have said about Fox News:
They have said publicly that we hare absolutely fair in our reporting of the White House. They just don't like one or two of our commentators.
At least we know where the misinformation at Fox News starts -- at the top.
From a November 8 post on BigGovernment.com
In November 2001, just 8 weeks after the devastating terrorist attacks on New York and DC, Steve Max delivered a speech to the progressive "USAction Delegation Assembly", on the topic of taking advantage of the new crisis as an opportunity to advance a progressive agenda.
The speech reads like Ward "little Eichmanns" Churchill and Rahm "never let a good crisis go to waste" Emanuel, all rolled up into one offensive Progressive rant.
Why does any of this matter? Because Steve Max, as a co-founder of Citizen Action (which later became USAction) and the Midwest Academy, is one of the people who likely trained SEIU's Andy Stern, Rahm Emanuel, and even President Bracak Obama, in the Alinsky method of organizing toward revolution.
President Barack Obama is deeply connected to Steve Max's Midwest (SDS-DSA) Academy and Citizen Action. Back in his Chicago days, then State Senator Obama was asked to deliver the Key Note address a fund-raising dinner for their sister organization, Citizen Action (Co-founder of the ACORN Working Families Party).
The New York Times has a good article spelling out the obvious problems with Newsweek's decision to team up with the American Petroleum Institute for a forum titled "Climate and Energy Policy: Moving?"
Here's the situation in a nutshell: API is paying Newsweek, in exchange for which API president Jack Gerard gets to be the featured participant in a Newsweek forum moderated by Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman. Newsweek says there's nothing wrong with the arrangement, because it is "transparent":
"There's absolutely no conflict of interest, because they're not driving our editorial" content, [Newsweek director of external relations Mark] Block said. "These events are transparent. They're on the record. They're inclusive of media. They're inclusive of people that might disagree. There's no concern of appearance of impropriety because it's an open and transparent process."
That does not, strictly speaking, appear to be true. Take a look at a "V.I.P. Invitation" email Newsweek External Relations Manager Jennifer Slattery sent out about the forum:
The panel discussion will be moderated Howard Fineman, Newsweek National-Affairs Columnist and Senior Washington Correspondent with special guest panelist Jack Gerard, President & Chief Executive Officer of American Petroleum Institute (API). Newsweek is also honored to have forum invitations currently pending confirmation with notable members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
No mention of the fact that API paid for Gerard's participation in the event. So much for "an open and transparent process."
[J]ournalism and ethics experts decried the arrangement.
"You're selling access," said Edward Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. "Newsweek is using its reputation as a great news organization to convene these officeholders to talk about public policy. Then it's renting out a space at the table for one of its customers who would not be at the table if not for giving money to Newsweek."
John Watson, associate professor of communication law and journalism ethics at American University in Washington, agreed.
"You're enticing them to buy these ads to get this thing of value," Watson said.
Newsweek's claims that API's funding doesn't influence its editorial decisions are undermined by the fact that the forum features Gerard -- but doesn't include any representatives of environmental organizations. And, it seems, Newsweek doesn't have any pans to address that exclusion:
Asked whether Newsweek planned to invite a representative from an environmental group to the upcoming event, to balance Gerard's appearance, Block said the magazine "would definitely consider that opportunity," if there were a high-profile environmentalist who might be appropriate. But he said that because members of Congress would likely also participate, time constraints might dictate against it.
Yeah, I bet they might.
And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Newsweek happily publishes global warming deniers like George Will. And its probably just another coincidence that Will's column relies on the work of the American Enterprise Institute, which gets funding from the likes of Exxon Mobil and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Trust.
That's Charles Koch as in Koch Industries, which was once required to pay "the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills from its pipelines and oil facilities in six states." Or perhaps you know Koch Industries better as the company that got rich in part by stealing oil from Indian reservations and federal lands -- that is, from U.S. Taxpayers. Then they used the money they stole from taxpayers -- that is, from you -- to fund right-wing think-tanks that advocate policies that would help people like Charles Koch at the expense of, well, you. (Koch Industries agreed to pay $25 million in penalties for stealing all that oil.)
Anyway, I'm sure that's all just coincidence.
Oh, and it's probably also a coincidence that Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post Company, and that the Post got caught earlier this year trying to sell off access to its reporters to corporate sponsors.
Neal Boortz: Rep. Maxine Waters is an "idiot" who "should be cleaning restrooms"
Ann Coulter: Without affirmative action, Rep. Waters couldn't get a job "that didn't involve wearing a paper hat"
And, of course, Don Imus famously referred to Gwen Ifill as a "cleaning lady"
Why is it that when some conservatives think of successful African American women, these are the first things that pop into their minds?
Here's a question Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon was asked during today's online Q&A:
Richmond, Va.: Watching ABC this morning and having them highlight things in the bill, I see that this is far from socialism. It seems to be an attempt at fairness in the insurance market. Can we have an honest debate now or will the tea party corporate warriors still rule the airways?
And here's Bacon's response:
Perry Bacon Jr.: I guess it depends on the meaning of socialism. The Tea Party people are alive and well and will continue to be a major force in our politics. Not sure if the Senate Republicans will show up at a rally with them like the House guys, but they will be involved.
So Bacon's questioner notes that right-wing cries of socialism are over-heated, and Bacon rushes to defend them. Maybe this is what Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli meant when he said the Post should be more responsive to conservatives.
The Washington Post's Michael Shear over-reads last weeks elections:
If he [President Obama] needed any reminder of how difficult that remains, the week began with a blunt message for his party from voters, who resoundingly rejected two Democratic candidates for governor and sent a shock through members of Congress who are up for reelection next year.
Senior Obama aides sought to minimize the power of that message but were largely out-shouted by a chorus of pundits and even some Democrats on Capitol Hill who warned that the results do not portend good things for Obama and his party next year.
Exit polls showing that people who voted in last week's elections generally did not consider them to be referendums on Obama? Not mentioned.
The Democrats' 2-0 record in last week's Congressional special elections? Not mentioned.
From Hudnall's November 9 BigHollywood.com post:
I have a confession to make. I hate politics. That's why I write about it, because I enjoy making fun of it. And one of the reasons I write for Big Hollywood is I am sick of other people's politics being jammed down my throat through alleged "entertainment."
So for many years I found escape on TV in the Food Network, because aside from the fact I like food and cooking, I loved that it was a politics-free zone. There was no angry Bush bashing, no digs at Cheney and Rumsfeld. No moral equivalency. No screaming about the 2000 election. It was all about the joy of food and cooking and how it brings people together.
In a world so divided, it was a reminder that we can all get along if we can find some common ground.
I'm sure the chefs and personalities on the network have their political views. The fact that so many of them are based in New York would suggest most lean Democrat. But the beauty of that network is never, ever does anyone let on where their politics lie. We don't need to know who they voted for because that has nothing to do with food. It's not relevant. And that made it a refreshing place to be.
Notice I say "made." Someone has sullied the garden and brought their politics in, and turned a popular show into an infomercial for one of her causes.
Michelle Obama, perhaps jealous of her husband's constant face time on TV, has decided to start injecting herself in other people's shows. First it was the Biggest Loser which aired the night Dems got their teeth kicked in in some major races. (irony ahoy)
In a collision of politics, cooking and popular culture, Michelle Obama will reveal the secret ingredient that the chefs must use in their televised cook-off: anything that grows in the White House garden (no further spoilers here, though). Mrs. Obama will also talk about her crusade to reduce childhood obesity through better school lunches, community gardens, farmers' markets and exercise, which around the White House has the working title Healthy Kids Initiative.
The first lady's cameo on "Iron Chef" is the latest example of her willingness to get her message across to the public in ways few of her predecessors would have considered.
Now, I can understand how she might want to be first ladylike and push her pet agenda, just as previous first ladies tackled such things as literacy and drug abuse. I also can't blame the Food Network for wanting to have the First Lady on their show. It has to be good for ratings (or maybe it would have been six months ago, this airs in January. Oops!). The problem is, the Food Network is the last place I expected to see scolds talking about taking away snack [sic] from kids and making them broccoli. This is the place that celebrates pork fat, butter and sugar. It's a haven from the Food Nazis who want us all to live on a diet of rice cakes and rain water.
The Obama Administration has been hostile to agriculture. From refusing to send water to California's San Joaquin valley farmers to bills that would limit your rights as a home gardener. This while they are promoting "organic gardening."
The Obamas love to stick their face everywhere, I'm sure the Cartoon Network and the Fishing Channel are next. The one place we probably won't see them is the Military Channel. He'll probably need more time to think about that.
Anyway, as a citizen I am lodging my protest. I don't want the Food Network politicized. I don't want the Obama administration starting to dictate diets to people there. What's next, they put Paula Dean on a soy and rice milk diet? Enough!