Press Corps Warns White House Of Increased Adversarial Tone If They Aren’t Nicer To Press Corps

Hey, folks, have you checked your local listings? Big press conference tonight! You know what that means, right? Big bitching from the White House Press Corps this afternoon! Nobody should be surprised by this.

Print reporters in the White House press corps are seething at perceived slights against them by President Obama and his team. Many print journalists see their role being diminished as Obama and his aides seem to lavish attention on television anchors and reporters and on liberal bloggers, and this is raising the adversarial tone at the daily briefings of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Got that, Robert Gibbs? You are going to get an increased adversarial tone from the press corps if you don't watch it! Is it because the White House has been obfuscating (on White House visitors), breaking promises (on Don't Ask Don't Tell), struggling to hold the line on major policy (health care, energy), or dodging key issues (TARP transparency)? No! Because you see, those would all be GOOD reasons to get adversarial with the White House. Instead, the adversity is motivated by the same things that have traditionally motivated the White House Press Corps: status and vanity.

Oh, and this is not a new story, not at all! These same criticisms were levied against the Obama administration way, way back during the campaign! In January 2008, the press corps were bitching, through able-bodied mouthpiece Howard Kurtz, that they weren't doing enough to "court" the reporters. HOW CAN REPORTERS LEARN TO LOVE OBAMA IF HE DOESN'T EVEN TRY TO WIN THE NEWS CYCLE? And who can forget the elegant laments of high-toned ass Dean Reynolds, who literally complained because the campaign was not being nice to him?

Guess what, the press has not managed to change the Obama press operation in all that time. What's changed instead is the Magical Press Room Protocols, the Arcane Mystery that the Press Corps has guarded as their most precious possession. Those are a few of their favorite things, and Obama hasn't shown them sufficient respect!

He usually adds a liberal voice, such as a blogger, and a member of a minority-oriented news organization. And since his opening statement tends to be a minispeech and his answers usually run long, this leaves little time to call on other reporters in the hour-long format. Reporters at Gibbs's briefing Monday also raised objections to Obama's practice of preselecting those he calls on and operating from a list.

OH, WAAAH. It sure sounds like Fallujah or something!

Of course, it seems petty to single out the structured "mini-speech" beginning of the presser as a cause to raise ire. That "mini-speech" is for the president's constituents to hear. And it's been made pretty clear to me that preselecting questions and lists are de rigeur practices for the White House Press Corps. That's why, to date, despite my repeated asking, I have never had a single member of the White House Press Room tell me that they would refuse to participate in the process if they were preselected. So, you know what? I think it's time for the White House Press Corps to maybe be quiet about their feelings for a while.

Seriously. His answers run long? Jeezy creezy. If the White House replaced the opening "mini-speech" with a spirited session of "Hand Jobs For the Front Row," they'd let that presser run all night.

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Reese Schonfeld: Just Like Old Times in the Rating Game

Now that Michael Jackson's passing on has passed on, the cable news network ratings are pretty much the same as they used to be -- although FoxNews seems to be better than ever.

Thanks to Cynopsis, I've learned that last week, FoxNews had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined in primetime, and in total day. In prime, Fox averaged just under 2 million; CNN and MSNBC totaled 1.68 million. Total day, Fox averaged just over a million, and CNN/MSNBC had 966,000. In the key demo, adults 25-54, Fox edged out the combo by 11,000 viewers in prime, in total day, the combo won by 33,000.

If these numbers sounds small to you, it's because it's the midst of summer, everybody's out at the beach, and television viewing is way down, and pretty old. Well, more than half of Fox viewers are over 54, with CNN and Headline News slightly under. By now it's clear to all of us that cable news is an old person's game.

I am slowly going back to my belief that cable news viewing does reflect popular attitudes about the left/right split in the US. The decline in CNN/MSNBC viewing probably does reflect the feeling among liberals that President Obama is not living up to the promise embodied in his campaign. FoxNews rating performance similarly may reflect conservatives' hopes that Obama was a just a flash in the pan, and they may well make major gain in Congressional elections next year.

I know the President has a primetime news conference tonight, but I have a feeling he's been more than somewhat overexposed, so I don't know how much good that will do him. I'm eager to see this week's ratings next week.


Why Is Arnold Schwarzenegger Brandishing A Gigantic Knife? (VIDEO)

So, I guess this is what is happening, in the world. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a video for his Twitter followers yesterday, and for some reason, he is holding a gigantic goddamn knife at the beginning of it. Seriously, look at that thing. It looks to me as if, in the moment before this video begins, he's just looked at the crazy, massive knife and asked it, "Well, who's your Messiah NOW, knife?" And then he sat there, waiting for his ginormous knife to give him an answer, only it didn't, because it's a huge honking knife. Or maybe this extra-large piece of cutlery speaks with a voice that only Arnold Schwarzenegger can hear! I don't have the answers to these questions, but trust me, I am terrified.

Anyway, Arnold then goes on to thank his constituents for all the "great ideas" he's received for "cutting the state costs." Only...and maybe this is just me, okay...he sounds sort of sardonic, and mean? Anyway, you Californians should think, long and hard, about that super-sized, terrifying knife he was holding in his hand and give your governor a wide berth, today.

[WATCH]

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Charles Warner: The Economist Eats the WSJ’s Lunch

Because there is so much information available on the internet free and because more and more people are using the internet as their main source for information, consumers of information content are becoming more discriminating. Interesting, well-written, thoughtful content thrives and boring, poorly written, mindless content gets little or no traction or traffic among educated, discriminating consumers.

And because there is so much information available free, surfing for good content is free and easy and, therefore, it's easy to break old information consumption habits and to sample new content and switch preferences.

So, in these conditions, what business and economic information content is thriving and what business and economic content isn't?

Obviously, most business content printed on paper and distributed the old fashioned way via the mail or newsstands is dying. Not only are readers going away, but advertisers are deserting most newspapers and magazines faster than consumers are -- with one exception, the Economist.

In June, Folio reported "Economist Group's Profit Jumps 26 Percent."

The London-based company, which publishes its namesake magazine, reported approximately $92 million in operating profit, up 26 percent over the previous 12-month period. Revenue was up 17 percent to roughly $514.2 million.

The Economist uses a business model that Chris Anderson in his book Free refers to as freemium. In other words, the Economist gives some content on its website away free but charges for full access to all of its magazine online content. If you want to get full online access, you have to subscribe to the print edition, which costs $126.99 a year, for which you get a special world business forecast issue, 20 special reports a year, and a technology quarterly supplement.

Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal also uses a freemium model. You can get free access to some of its content on the Web, but full access to the same information that is in the daily printed version costs. The WSJ's pricing model is $1.99 a week ($103.48 a year) for Web only access, $2.29 a week ($119.08 a year) for just the print edition delivered to your home, and $2.69 a week ($139.88 a year) for both the print edition and full access to the website.

The Economist makes a lot of money and the WSJ loses a lot of money, even though they both have a freemium business model for their Web offering. Why? Because the Economist prints and sends in the mail a magazine once a week and the WSJ prints and delivers by hand or sends in the mail a newspaper daily. The WSJ's costs are a lot higher.

But lower costs are not the main reason the Economist is growing faster; its content is better. And the WSJ's is getting more boring and less about business under Murdoch.

Mark Potts, who blogs as the Recovering Journalist, writes:

Longtime Journal fans (and I'm one) worry that the paper has moved too far away from the insightful, savvy and even entertaining coverage of the business world that had been its bread and butter for decades. The Journal's day in, day out business reporting -- with some very notable exceptions -- has become much more pedestrian lately, scrubbed of many of its formerly lovable quirks. That may reflect a recognition that a great deal of good business reporting and analysis is widely available elsewhere on the Web, something that threatens the futures of business-news stalwarts like BusinessWeek (for sale), Fortune (being redesigned and rethought, yet again) and Forbes (in management turmoil). In that context, the Journal is just smartly tacking in another direction.

Still, I miss the Journal's depth and insight into business coverage. It's just not as interesting a read as it was before Murdoch. The formerly wonderful and eclectic Marketplace section has been gutted, for instance, and a lot of the paper's former personality has gone by the wayside. That's what made it valuable and unique, and I daresay it's one of the things that made its much-vaunted online subscription model a success. Subscribers paid for the online (and offline) version of the Journal because there was nothing like it as a source of vital, interesting and readable financial news and information.

The Economist's content is intelligent, well written, and well researched. And because it's the best business and economic content on the Web (and in print), it can charge for it (although not quite as much as the WSJ does) and continue to sell ads at high rates because of its desirable audience.

This is a trend -- people will pay for excellent, intelligently written, insightful content because it's now easy to find it on the Web. Discerning people will stray from boring, unremarkable content because news brands don't mean as much as they used to.

The New York Times has lost its brand for reliable information, except in art, culture, and food, and the Wall Street Journal under Murdoch has lost its brand for insightful, well-written business coverage.

No matter what kind of brand it is (news, information, celebrity gossip, or tech gossip), a brand has to earn its stripes every day in the open, searchable, free environment of the Web. The Times and the WSJ have lost their business information stripes by being inaccurate or boring or irrelevant (or all three).

And the Economist has eaten their lunch.


The Best Of ‘Fox And Friends’: Miss California, Baby Vacuuming, And Brian Kilmeade’s Vaseline Obsession (VIDEO)

Imagine a world in which pundits spontaneously walk off sets, shoving vacuum cleaners in babies' faces is cool, and Carrie Prejean is taken seriously...seriously. Thanks to the fine folks at Fox News, such a place not only exists but is granted three whole hours of uninterrupted airtime every morning! Now, we obviously can't recommend you actually watch all or any of said program. Instead, we've compiled a best-of-the-best video, enjoy.


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Online Poll: Jon Stewart Is America’s Most Trusted Newsman

Well, in a result that he will probably accept as downright apocalyptic for America, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart has been selected, in an online poll conducted by Time Magazine, as America's Most Trusted Newscaster, post-Cronkite. Matched up against Brian Williams, Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, Stewart prevailed with 44 percent of the vote. Now, if we're being honest, he probably managed to prevail as the winner precisely because he was the odd man out in a field of network news anchors. Nevertheless, I think Jim Cramer should feel free to SNACK ON THAT.

Brian Williams drew the second largest percentage of votes, with 29 percent. Gibson and Couric finished third and fourth, respectively, with 19 and 7 percent of the vote.

Time has helpfully broken out the results, state-by-state, so if you want to muse on some anomalous results, feel free. Brian Williams won Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, Delaware and Vermont, and tied in Kentucky and Alaska. Charlie Gibson was big in Tennessee and Montana. Katie Couric pulled off the Mondalian feat of winning one state: Iowa.

Stewart finished no lower than second place in all states, except, curiously, Vermont.

To view the results, click here.

Jon Stewart had been honored previously by Time Magazine as the winner of the 2006 Person of the Year.

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