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Archives: March 2005

Enemies List: Wolcott vs. Everyone

jwolcott2.gifJames Wolcott takes a club to nearly everyone who’s come across his TV screen in the last 48 hours:

· On Margaret Carlson and Robert Novak: …Carlson (how the hell does she have a career?) had been so effusive in praise of them and so abusive in disparagement of Michael Schiavo that Robert Novak commended her after she paused for breath, which is like being kissed by a vampire who’s removed his fangs. Of course, it’s easy for your heart to go out to people when it’s untethered from your brain, and Carlson’s brain has never been a wonder of science.

· On Nancy Grace and Don Imus: Just this morning the appalling Nancy Grace railed on Imus’s MSNBC show that Terri Schiavo was “turning and twisting in pain” and nobody was doing anything about it. I have no heard a single medical expert or visitor to her room claim that she’s showing any signs of physical anguish. That was something Nancy Grace just pulled out of imaginative ass and Don Imus, who can rampage for days on the finest details of the “vicious hatchetjob” the Wall Street Journal did on him, was too dumbfuck even to call her on it.

But most interestingly, Wolcott details a punch he pulled with regard to Joe Scarborough—one involving a dead woman in Scarborough’s former district office:

And then there’s Joe Scarborough. Because I have a heart, I removed a couple of pages from by book Attack Poodles about the death of Lori Klausitis, a young staffer for then Republican Congressman Scarborough whose body was discovered in his district office. He was in Washington, DC at the time of her death, but there were some iffy aspects about her case and unlike the Gary Condit situation, this mini-mystery got no play in the national media since it didn’t plug into the horny Clinton Democrats-interns meme…I felt I could make my points about him as a TV personality without the passage, so I cut it, and hearing second-hand he was concerned about the book, called him up to tell him so. We had a very pleasant, brief conversation, and that was it.

Or maybe he cut it because if it isn’t true, what he’s implying could result in a Condit-esque lawsuit, like the one his VF colleague Dominick Dunne is fighting (and possibly losing) at the moment. (UPDATE: Settled a couple of weeks ago, we’re told. But still.)

I Love the Smell of Showing Off in the Morning

rwa.jpgFrom the last paragraph of the LAT review of R.W. Apple’s new book Apple’s America, a guidebook aimed at ‘discriminating travelers’ (in other words, rich New Yorkers who are forced occasionally to go to other cities on business)(I did the bold-facing):

Naturally, the first city I looked up was Los Angeles… Reading an outsider’s take on the place where one lives is bound to highlight any shortcomings in the visitor’s account. Yes, we have smog, but efforts to control emissions have improved the air quality from what it was half a century back, despite huge growth in the interim. Apple has, however, noticed the lovely scent that pervades our atmosphere on non-smoggy days throughout late winter and spring, attributing it to hibiscus, oleander and jasmine. He’s right about jasmine, but the first two are not very odiferous. The fragrance, in fact, comes mainly from Victorian box and a plethora of citrus blossoms.

Thanks for the info. If only the LAT would apply the same standards of thoroughness to, say, its coverage of local news.

How the gossip gets made

mknauss.jpgNew York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia takes the Daily News’s Hudson Morgan to task for turning what Columbia thought were fairly innocuous, if not flattering, comments about Melania (Knauss) Trump into a slightly scandalous gossip item, and explains how the sausage was made, in excruciating detail:

I got a call late Monday afternoon from a man identifying himself as Hud Morgan, assistant to Lloyd Grove who has a column in the Daily News. He wanted to ask me some questions about Melania Trump, Donald Trump’s new bride.

Okay; it’s not unusual for someone in the media to call me about a social personality in New York, and I am always accommodating, if possible.

So Mr. Morgan says to me: “she’s the chairwoman of a benefit for the Martha Graham Dance Company and she’s calling herself ‘Melania Trump.’”

Okay, so?

Mr. Morgan asks something like ‘don’t you think it’s a bit early for her to be calling herself Melania Trump?’

We fully expect Columbia to be disappeared shortly for giving away the keys to the castle. It’s just a shame there were no publicists involved.

Huffington and Celebrity Pals to Start Blog

huff.jpgBig news. Business 2.0 reports that Arianna Huffington is preparing to launch a web venture called the Huffington Report, which along with more pedestrian web content will feature a group blog by a bunch of famous people:

Based in New York and staffed with a full complement of editors, the Huffington Report appears to be a culture and politics webzine in the classic mold of Salon or Slate. It will have breaking news, a media commentary section called “Eat the Press,” and its most interesting innovation, a group blog manned by the cultural and media elite: Sen. Jon Corzine, Larry David, Barry Diller, Tom Freston, David Geffen, Vernon Jordan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Harry Evans and his wife, Tina Brown. That’s just to name a few, and Huffington is still recruiting.

I’m going to sponsor a contest: The first person who provides convincing proof that one of the celebrities’ blog posts was in fact written by an assistant will win an all-expense paid visit to the FishbowlLA offices.

Soft launch expected in April. Parody websites expected in about five hours.

Pat Sajak, media critic: the Paper of Record

psajak.gifWheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak has a blog now. [via Asymmetrical Information]

From a recent entry, titled “Slanted Journalism Is Everywhere”:

As long as mainstream journalists share a similar view of the world, that world can never be reported ‘objectively’… When you check out something called ‘The View from the Right’, you know what you’re getting, but when you read The New York Times, you think you’re getting “All the news that’s fit to print“.

Well, we’re not sure people really think that. “Media critic” Christopher Hitchens in this book:

hitch.gifHow to ward off atrophy and routine, you ask? Well, I can give you a small and perhaps ridiculous example. Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” it says. It’s been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine that most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse.

You may choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily influsion of annoyance with extending my life span.

Tea Leaf Reading 102

Per Tea Leaf Reading 101, Mickey Kaus parses CNN‘s Jim Walton:

walton2.gifWhen, in an NYT story about CNN president Jonathan Klein’s newest ratings-boosting strategy, his corporate superior says

“What I can assure you is Jon will be successful in this position, and he’ll be in this position for many years to come.”

it means:

1) Klein’s newest strategy will fail.
2) Klein will be gone by August.
3) (1) and (2).

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (if They’re Getting Fired)

The NYT Business section covers new imported-from-Britain editor Paul Field’s efforts to expand and retool the The National Enquirer. Apparently what this means is that heads may roll, particularly in the LA office:

The ever important Los Angeles office, with its roster of old-school reporters who have a web of paid and unpaid tipsters among the maids, drivers and bodyguards of the famous, remains substantially intact, for the moment.

“I was on a conference call with the L.A. office this morning, and there has been quite a bit of speculation over what was going to happen to them,” [Field] said. “And I told them they had nothing to worry about, as long as they perform to the standards I have set out. If they don’t, then they are dispensable. Before my regime, what they got was good enough, but not any more. I am not going to pay somebody $75,000 a year if they don’t make the grade.”

Wow. It’s hard to imagine many American editors being that blunt. ‘Dispensible’? He sounds like a B-movie villain. Good luck over there, guys. To any tipsters who get canned, feel free to deposit your tips here.

David Foster Wallace: Chicken?

dfw.jpgA while back I mentioned that David Foster Wallace was slated to appear on John Ziegler’s KFI show to discuss his lengthy (and worthwhile) Atlantic Monthly profile of Ziegler. Apparently, this never happened. From Ziegler’s website:

[Wallace] was invited on to the show to discuss, in a friendly manner, his observations (as well as some of the inaccuracies) in the article, but he was apparently too much of a coward and without enough gratitude for the access we gave him to even provide us with an hour of his time.

A shame. It would have been a Great Moment In Radio.

In keeping with yesterday’s “schadenfraude” theme…

gvitch.gifWe’re hearing that New Yorker staffers are none too happy about Philip Gourevitch’s departure for the Paris Review. Anyone have more specifics?

Related: The New York Finger [FishbowlNY]

Tea Leaf Reading 101

fblogo2.jpgWe like to think of the “New on Poynter” sidebar on Romenesko as the “Playboy section,” where no one actually reads the articles. But as professional narcissists, we immediately assumed the one titled “Editing in a Fishbowl” was talking about us. (Fishbowl?** Fishbowl? Did someone say our name?) As it turns out, the piece is about newsroom environments where the editor’s behavior gets excruciatingly overanalyzed and misinterpreted, i.e.,

Your assistant managing editor for visuals sent you an e-mail today saying he really liked your photo on the front page. He asks that you stop in to see him; he wants to talk about why you decided to shoot from that particular angle. This means:

A) He hated your photo.
B) He really hated your photo.
C) He thinks you should go into catering.

We’ve certainly seen this before—silly superstitions like, “if Patrick McCarthy wears the red tie today, someone gets fired by 3 PM and Memo Pad does an item about Steve Florio.” Actually, we just made that one up, though we’re sure that somewhere in the recesses of the Fairchild building someone’s looking mournfully at their computer screen and whispering, “but it’s truuuuue…”

Send us your superstitions:

**We also recently noticed that was an advertiser on Gawker, but ultimately decided that it was no stranger or ironic than advertising on Gawker.