Nathan Cummings Foundation, a private foundation which “owns a small amount of stock” in the News Corp., “has written a letter to the company’s board objecting to its political contributions” to GOP causes.
“The moment that caught it for me. It almost brings tears out, when you see ‘Super Mario’ getting out of the capsule and leading the whole gang in cheers.”MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan, on the rescue of the Chilean miners, “Morning Joe,” MSNBC, 10/13
The foundation promotes “progressive causes” and “owns 3,820 shares” of News Corp., called for “complete disclosure of all political spending” by the News Corp. before 10/15, when the “company’s board of directors meets for its annual shareholders meeting.”
The letter reads: “The apparent lack of a strategic rationale for News Corp. raises very serious concerns for shareholders as to whether Mr. Murdoch and the rest of the News Corp. Board of Directors are truly taking shareholder interests into account when they approve political payments made with shareholders’ assets.”
The foundation concludes that without disclosure: “… there are clear reputational risks involved in political expenditures - particularly for a news media company - and unnecessary potential for abuse of corporate treasury funds to further the personal political agendas of corporate management.” News Corp. spokesperson Teri Everett “declined” to comment (Shear, New York Times, 10/13).
FNC, which is owned by News Corp., debuted a new website “targeting Latinos” with FoxNewsLatino.com.
The “bilingual site spans topics including news, entertainment and lifestyle, with a twist focusing on Latino culture and interest.” FNX exec. Michael Clemente, in a statement: “The launch of Fox News Latino creates an unprecedented opportunity to expand our reach by engaging the fastest growing minority audience.”
In its first day, stories included features on SCOTUS Sonia Sotomayor and the “imminent freedom of the trapped Chilean miners.” The site’s managing editor Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, told the Miami Herald: “We’re aiming at Latinos whose first language is English, who inform themselves in English, who are deeply American, but share some of the cultural sensibilities of their parents or grandparents” (Melillo, New York Post, 10/13).
And those in NY or Philly “could lose” their FOX TV network, which means bye bye to the “MLB playoffs,” if “talks with Cablevision over a new contract aren’t resolved this week.” Cablevision exec. VP Mac Budill sent a letter to FOX “urging the company to reconsider” what Budill called a “fair offer” and “asking that Fox not remove Channel 5 or Channel 9 while the two continue to negotiate.”
Fox “believes pay-TV companies should pay for carriage of its TV stations,” is also “hashing out new terms with Dish, the satellite TV provider” (Atkinson, New York Post, 10/13).
This Morning On TV
“Today,” “GMA” and “Early Show” lead with the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners who’ve been trapped for more than two months.
Obviously Reliving Their Youth
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “have signed on to serve as consulting producers” on NBC’s new drama “Young Turks.” Other behind the show are “Prospect Park, the shingle run by Jeff Kwatinetz, Paul Frank and Rich Frank.”
“Young Turks” is about the “personal and professional lives of a group of New Yorkers in their 20s,” whose characters “find themselves in the high-powered worlds of finance, politics and media.” Jonny Umansky and Zach Hyatt “penned” the script while John Romano is “onboard” as EP. Universial Media Studios is behind the show (Schneider, Variety, 10/13).
One Doesn’t Belong
Two “quirky, politically minded indie docs” premiere this month to “drum up election-time aud support.” “GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Ho’s Please Stand Up” is a “left-leaning look at power dynamics in the modern world,” which opened 10/8 in “limited release,” is directed by William H. Arntz, of “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” fame and E. Raymond Brown, who penned the book which “inspired” the film.
The other doc, “I Want Your Money,” target the other side of the political spectrum. The film, which opens 10/15 in 500+ theaters around the U.S., targets “politicians and political groups on the right for endorsements of this conservative screen take on the economic crisis, which casts a critical eye on the excesses of big government.”
Arntz, on making the doc: “The vision that guided me was building a fire. We would basically go to one place and let demand there get really, really intense and then expand out.”
“Money” is distributed by Freestyle Releasing and the marketers are Motive Entertainment, the co. that “pushed” “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe.”
So far, “Money” has “attracted” attention from the right, logging “some 3.5 million views on YouTube.” And Motive Entertainment’s Paul Lauer: “The only way to reach millions of people is to go through the organizations that have thousands of members or hundreds of thousands” (Cox, Variety, 10/13).
Oh Irma! But Not Of The Robert Byrd Kind
CNN host Eliot Spitzer really can catch a break, ex-call girl Irma Nici, “who claims David Beckham was a client,” alleges Spitzer “couldn’t last as long in bed as his one-hour CNN show.”
Nici tells Page Six: “It was 45 minutes at most, and that would include undressing. … Sometimes he would come over in jeans, a baseball cap and white gym socks. … He would hardly undress, he would keep the hat and the socks on and just go.” Nici claims she “can’t bear” to watch “Parker Spitzer,” “I don’t like to look at him, that little gremlin” (New York Post, 10/13).
Well she isn’t the only one not loving CNN’s new show. Insiders say that guests have been giving bookers for the show the “cold shoulder,” mostly due to “the two hosts — both new to TV — being unpredictable as with the show’s poor first-week ratings.” One insider claims: “The booking process [on ‘Parker Spitzer’] hasn’t been easy. … It’s about the fact that the show has a new, young staff with little understanding of and connection to politics … and everything with [‘Parker Spitzer’] being a new show with no track record and on a third-place cable network.”
However, another source think just one big guest will do it: “As soon as they get a heavy hitter who makes news, others will likely follow suit” (Starr, New York Post, 10/13).
Do Kids Even Know What Viagra Is?
The Parents Television Council, a “media advocacy group,” is “working with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly & Co. (Cialis) and Pfizer (Viagra) to provide a warning to consumers on when and where commercials for their pills will appear.”
The two pharmaceutical companies “have agreed to provide the PTC with schedules of what shows their spots will be running in every week.” Although the schedules “will only cover broadcast television, not cable TV, which is where most kids do the majority of their viewing.” PTC pres. Tim Winter: “This is an important first step in addressing the concerns many parents have about advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs.”
However, it will be an uphill battle for the two companies since “advertisers have media companies buy their commercial time and such purchases are made in bulk and not in individual shows.” Buys are “designed to hit a certain number of viewers in what demographic the advertiser seeks” and often doesn’t “know until after the fact what shows their spots actually appeared in” (Flint, “Company Town,” Los Angeles Times, 10/12).
CoCo’s Robin Returns!
On 10/12, it was announced that TBS’ Conan O’Brien’s longtime sidekick, Andy Richter “will be joining him on his new TBS show.”
Richter, in a statement: “I’m thrilled to be going back to work with Conan, and very excited to start a whole new venture on TBS. However, I am mostly looking forward to getting out of the house again.”
O’Brien, jokingly on Richter’s return: “The decision was made without my authority. I will get to the bottom of this” (New York Daily News, 10/13).
On the 10/7 ‘Daily Show,’ Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart “announced the Trust for the National Mall, which is dedicated to restoring and improving the Mall, as the official non-profit of his ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’” on 10/30.
During the 10/12 ‘Washington Unplugged,’ Trust pres. Catharine Cunningham “said” $55K “has been donated to the group since Stewart’s announcement.”
Cunningham “told CBS News they thought Stewart was joking when they first received the call from his production staff.”
Public Citizen’s Joe Newman: “Jon Stewart’s rally could be bigger than Woodstock which had 500,000 people, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we have 100,000 or 200,000 people show up just from what people are saying online” (Delargy, “Political Hotsheet,” CBS News, 10/12).
Jay Leno: “And Jerry Brown‘s staff spent the weekend coming up with a new campaign slogan, ‘Just say ho.’ That’s their new campaign slogan. And gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown’s campaign is in trouble, again for allegedly, calling their opponent Meg Whitman a whore. And of course now real whores are upset with Brown because they don’t want to be mixed up in politics. You know there are some things they won’t do. … This election gets weirder and weirder. We’ve had a witch. We had a whore, and now we have a Nazi. Do you know about the Nazi? Heard about this? A Republican candidate for Congress in Ohio, a guy named Richard Iott, apparently photos have surfaced of him dressed in a Nazi uniform. He would go to Nazi reenactments dressed as an SS storm trooper. And did you hear what he said, he said he only dress as a Nazi as a bonding ritual with his son. Really any other kid do that with their dad? Dress up as Nazis? I don’t want to fish I don’t want to play catch, come on lets dress up as Nazis!… But you know there were signs, like his campaign slogan, ‘In your heart you know he’s Reich’” (“Tonight Show,” NBC, 10/12).
Jon Stewart: “Strap it in, everybody. I’m going to take you on a journey to the past back to 2004. When many of you were nothing more than twinkles in your parents bulky 4gig iPods and a charismatic go getter, named John Kerry, with an unusual common man’s touch ran for president. And would have won, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and the large dog with a snatch fetish. Sorry I meant group of veterans who hate him. … Without that ad John Kerry would have been our next president. … The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a political group, classified as a 527, meaning that they could receive unlimited corporate donations for their political ads, as long as they did not explicitly tell people to vote for a certain candidate. And also reported the names of their donors to the IRS. I know what you are thinking. That sounds pretty restrictive. Well, don’t worry. The Supreme Court Citizens United ruling fixes this 527 unloophole allowing other groups not bound by the ban on pre-election candidate advocacy to feed more fully from the corporate trough. These groups called 501-C4’s, not to be confused with the Levi’s line of explosive jeans, … brought with them an added bonus. … That’s what is so exciting about it. It’s like a hot dog, if you knew what was in there, you wouldn’t want to eat it or a glory hole. … The anonymity protects whistle blowers. Like the secret group that blew the whistle on 17th term Democratic congressman Nick Rahall‘s long hidden terrorist agenda. … You know what I’m going to call the West Virginia Conservative Foundation just to say thanks for that ad. Excuse me a minute. … They don’t have a phone number. They operate out of a PO box meaning they are a front organization that exists only to funnel money to anonymous political advertising or they’re extremely tiny. … Now, the Democrats are furious, furious about these untraceable ads because of their stance again fear-mongering. … Secret foreign money. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that money has secret Chinese herpes on it. … It seems the fear mongee has become the fear monger. And that’s when this whole thing gets so bizarre that Karl Rove, the architect, has to express outrage over political tactics. … If only we had some way to show that Karl Rove’s outrage over phantom, ‘where is the money coming from’ allegations were in some way hypocritical. To do that we would have to go all the way back to slightly less than two months ago. … It might be Muslim money, dirty, dirty Muslim money. In fact it seems that Mr. Rove’s entire network has found a new found respect for not chasing the money. … In their defense they are talking about Muslim money” (“Daily Show,” Comedy Central, 10/12).
Jimmy Fallon: “Today, President Obama met with George Clooney at the White House to discuss violence in the Sudan. Unfortunately the meeting was repeatedly interrupted by Nancy Pelosi who kept accidentally spilling water all over her blouse. ‘Oh, I have to go change my shirt. George, you want to help?’” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/13).
Jimmy Kimmel: “The second lowest score of the night last night went to Bristol Palin. What an entertainer she is. Not only is Bristol Palin on ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ she’s also now making appearances in a music video. How she finds time to do all this and convince teens not to hump each other, I don’t know. Her ex-boyfriend, father of her child, Levi Johnston, his music video just came out the other day. He’s acting in it. I don’t know if this is, a response to that, or what, but wow what a talented family. I mean they’re like the Osmonds with semi-automatic weapons. And not only are Levi and Bristol making the music video rounds, even little Piper Palin has a music video with the rapper DMX. … I think it’s going to be a hit. The November elections are just around the corner. Former President Clinton has been out campaigning for various Democrats. Yesterday he was West Virginia campaigning for Senate candidate Joe Manchin, and I’ll tell you what, even ten years our of office he still has that magic touch. … Somehow she loses consciousness and he takes it as a compliment” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 10/13).TOP TEN ENTRIES ON BARACK OBAMA’S ENEMIES LIST 10. The smug know-it-all at Apple genius bar. 9. General Hospital’s Patrick for cheating on Robin with Lisa. 8. Secretary who answers the phone “Yell-O”. 7. Late Show audio technician Tom Herrmann. 6. Those Chilean miners… you’re trapped, we get it. 5. Online store that still hasn’t delivered his Captain Kirk chair. 4. Anyone who doesn’t think Glee makes your spirit soar. 3. Drugstores that don’t carry Topol, the smokers’s tooth polish. 2. Late night talk show hosts who deliver lame Top Ten lists at his expense. 1. Bastard who lost his birth certificate (CBS, 10/12).
Congress’s disapproval rating is spiking — an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed approval of Congress at a pathetic 13 percent. Voters didn’t much like last month’s debt-ceiling bill and are angry at Washington — both President Obama and legislators — for failing to fix the economy.
Voters seem to feel that lawmakers, in failing to take action to spur hiring, are failing to do their job of representing their constituents. That view is wrong.
Congress is not doing much for more the opposite reason. Lawmakers are by and large pursuing policies that enjoy support from, at least, the voting coalitions that elected them. The problem is that they represent voters who, despite sharing antipathy to Washington, disagree with each other on what Washington should do.
Many Democrats want the GOP to drop opposition to infrastructure spending. Up on the Hill, some Republican aides express incredulity that Obama continues to push such spending after what they call the failure of the 2009 stimulus bill. In each case, hopes that one party will react to bad news by doing what the other wants ignores a simple fact: Members on each side of the aisle are playing to mostly different audiences.
Various polls, such as a Pew Research Center survey in mid-August, find that Republicans and Democrats still overwhelmingly say they will vote for their party’s candidates. And voters on each side back their party’s economic plans.
Although views have changed in two years, these partisan divisions led to a divided government in 2010. Americans voted for a Republican-controlled House, while the Senate and White House remain in Democratic hands. We are watching the result.
In blocking each other’s preferred economic agenda, the House and Senate are behaving predictably, and, as they see it, consistently with constituents’ wishes. It is therefore surprising, in a way, that the result has disappointed people. Congressional stasis may be a failure of leadership. But it is an exercise in democracy.
Lawmakers will not change course until voters change their minds, not about who they disapprove of but what members should do. Along those lines, polls show no consensus; they also show no clear shift by independents or others that might push lawmakers to change the economic policies they pursue.
Congress is stuck not because members ignore the public but because they reflect the public’s divisions. And with Congress divided, the 2012 election is probably the only means to undivide it and allow for more robust Hill action.
Democrats — take, for example, the remarks of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Thursday — are calling on the GOP to end “political” stalling and allow Democratic jobs proposals to advance.
Don’t look for Republicans to comply. The congressional landscape will change not because the parties avoid partisan politics, but because they succeed in such behavior and win the power at the ballot box to push their agenda.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., a member of the super committee seeking $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts, said this week that the panel might struggle to find compromise on Medicare and tax-code reform. But “after the election, one party or the other has a dominant hand, we may be not so much in need of compromise,” he said. “It might be easier to do.”
Republicans may believe that rather than compromising now, they can oppose Democratic proposals, win power next year, and offer their own plans for reforming Medicare and the tax-code later.
In many eyes, such calculations would suggest a breathtakingly cynical view of the legislative process. But these people display a sort of faith in the electoral process as the arbiter of policy fights — and a more pragmatic view of lawmaking than that expressed by lawmakers who call for ignoring electoral considerations.
The truth is that both parties are already as focused on framing the landscape in 2012 as they are on legislating. President Obama’s address to Congress represented an embrace of an existing Democratic strategy of forcing Republicans to either accede to what seems a reasonable compromise to spur hiring, or to be seen as obstructionist.
A senior Senate Democratic aide said that Democrats do not assume they will get none of the proposals, particularly the extension of a payroll-tax reduction for workers, enacted; they don’t expect to. Instead, they hope that the GOP’s rejection of such plans increases that party’s ownership of a bad economy.
Spending the next 15 months maneuvering for the 2012 election is the kind of congressional behavior that enrages voters, but it would not be worthless. It will provide a long look for Americans to sharpen their political and policy preferences.
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