‘This is an Apple’

I haven’t watched CNN in years, to be honest, but their promotional advertisement about Trump’s alternative facts outlook is spot on.

It’s more common for me to read than to watch cable news, but my two favorites on television are Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow. Watching Hayes or Maddow is always valuable: informative, engaging, and therefore truly enjoyable.

(I’ll also sometimes watch recorded segments from Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity, but only with the general outlook of someone who would watch a nature program on hyenas before going on safari – one should be prepared for what one might meet.)

Sec. of State Tillerson Distances America from Trump

I’m no fan of Rex Tillerson, an American Secretary of State who is a recipient — from dictator Vladimir Putin — of the Russian Order of Friendship,  but even Tillerson had the sense to disclaim the stain that Trump has spread over this country.

In the clip below, on Fox News, Tillerson makes clear that Trump speaks not for our people but only himself when he defends bigotry. That’s true, of course – we are a better people than Trump is a man. It’s not even close – he’s markedly below the ethical and moral standards of America’s just and worthy people.

(How long Tillerson, such as even he is, will last in this administration one can’t say.)

H/t to Kyle Griffin, a producer at MSNBC, who remarks that the clip is “Must-watch. Wallace asks Tillerson if Trump speaks for American values: “The President speaks for himself.” (Note Wallace’s reaction.)”

Erin Gloria Ryan on Fox News

Erin Gloria Ryan, a senior editor at The Daily Beast, writes of Fox News in light of so many harassment allegations against Fox News hosts:

At this point, Fox News seems to be functioning less like a news organization with a sexism problem and more like a sexism organization with a news hobby….

For a certain slice of its viewers, Fox is fantasy. I should be able to spend all day hanging around skinny blonde Miss America types. I should be able to talk over these women, tell them they’re dumb but fuckable, and suffer no social consequences. I should demand physical perfection. I should have my needs catered to and feelings tiptoed around, while ironically decrying others who demand basic human politeness and consideration.

This sort of viewer demands being the central focus, taken seriously at all times except for when they are deliberately joking, and then celebrated as a comedic visionary. They can demand sweetness and beauty and give none of it.

See Fox News Is Like Porn for Aggrieved Men.

(In these paragraphs, Ryan is describing some Fox News viewers (‘a certain slice of its viewers’), but elsewhere in her post she describes the Fox hosts who create what others view.)

Everything Ryan writes (accurately, I think) is about people who want others to be seen, and to behave, in a certain obliging way toward them. They’ve firm expectations of others’ deference and delicate regard. Ryan’s right to call it a fantasy (albeit, of course, a sometimes malevolent one).

By contrast, there’s always a fair chance that one will listen, express a view, reply to other views, and thereafter find a tomato flying in one’s direction. That’s one of the reasons there are laundries. So much the better not to expect a fawning reception from others (or worse, impose one on them).

How The Apprentice Manufactured Trump

The first season of The Apprentice re-introduced Donald Trump to the world as an incredibly successful and intelligent businessman—it was a hit show in 2004 and boosted the Trump brand. The show was a major opportunity for producers to create his persona and sell his image to America. How did they pull this off? And what does it mean for Donald Trump to be a reality TV president?

Predictable: From the first episode, Trump starts with lies.

Funny: Trump contending that his gaudy, vulgar designs are beautiful. It’s like a bum’s idea of appealing aesthetics. (For more about what Trump’s design sense is truly like – and it’s not rooted in traditional America styles – see Peter York on Trump’s Dictator Chic (“I wrote a book about autocrats’ design tastes. The U.S. president would fit right in”).

Stranger Things References

If you’ve enjoyed the Netflix original series Stranger Things, you’ll enjoy this short video of the film references in the series. If you’ve not seen the series, it’s well worth catching. (I’ve included a Stranger Things trailer below the video of the film references.)

Brookings on ‘7 trends in old and new media’

The liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, in a paper from Elaine Kamarck and Ashley Gabriele, offers insight into 7 trends in old and new media.

Their seven observations are solid, and broadly similar to the assessments of Clay Shirky, in Last call: the end of the printed newspaper.

Brookings summarizes their work:

The following are seven essential truths about the news today that Kamarck and Gabriele explore in detail:

  1. Print newspapers are dinosaurs
  2. Hard news is in danger
  3. Television is still important
  4. And so is radio
  5. News is now digital
  6. Social media allows news (and “news”) to go viral
  7. For the younger generation, news is delivered through comedy

It’s worth noting that print is failing both because it’s not interactive, and because it no longer has even the inquisitive sensibility toward the powerful of once-lauded, but still top-down, publications. (When online publications ape the incurious, fawning presentations of print publications, they consign themselves to the same fate as print.)

I’ve embedded the full white paper below –

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The X Files – Official Trailer (2015)

Returning for a brief run in January 2016 –

Fans of the X-Files may also enjoy Gillian Anderson in The Fall, as a detective superintendent searching for a serial killer in Belfast. Anderson’s character in that series is different from the one she plays on the X-Files, but no less tenacious in pursuit of her objectives.

Television: Pilot for “The Orson Welles Show”

What might have been, and even now, what’s compelling:

The Fountain of Youth is a 1956 TV pilot for a proposed Desilu TV series (with a tentative title, The Orson Welles Show) which was never produced, and was subsequently televised once, on September 16, 1958 for NBC’s Colgate Theatre. The short film was directed by Orson Welles,based on the short story “Youth from Vienna” by John Collier, and stars Joi Lansing and Rick Jason as a couple faced with an unavoidable temptation concocted by a scientist (Dan Tobin). Welles himself is also much in evidence as onscreen narrator. The show won the prestigious Peabody Award in 1958 after its single broadcast.

Some Assets Can Only Be Sold Once

A person with an apple orchard can – and expects – to sell apples for more than one season.  In fact, his success almost certainly depends on more than one year’s crop. 

For media companies selling radio or television stations, or spinning print from broadcast assets, it’s a one-time transaction. 

When the broadcast properties are gone, they cannot be sold by the same company again (and probably can’t be repurchased, at least for the same or lower price). 

Perhaps the assets to be sold aren’t worth much, and are mostly a headache, anyway.

For broadcast-station sales, that’s not true; those sales are more like selling a kidney than an appendix, so to speak. 

Then again, media problems are not, principally, economic problems; they’re content problems. 

It’s by failing to see that content is paramount that media develop economic problems.  Asset sales, though, aren’t lasting solutions to those problems. 

Super Bowl Commercials

America saw an exciting Super Bowl last night, uncertain in outcome until the end. While the game wasn’t on, or the lights weren’t on at the Superdome, there were commercials to talk about.

The full list of ads is posted at Super Bowl Commercials, and my favorite was the one for Sketchers (they’re really not good running shoes, but at least they’ve a good ad agency):