Glenn Beck’s Beatles Karaoke Moment

Picture 1Glenn Beck returned to the air waves this week seemingly determined to prove he is still his own nutjob man. After rumors swirled last week that he’d been forced to take a vacation in the wake of departing advertisers who apparently do not want to be associated with a man who accused the President of being a racist, Glenn Beck has reemerged even more determinedly unhinged than when he left. This week’s shows were devoted to some “special episodes” wherein Beck exposed secret government codes and yesterday appeared to be writing his own constitution: Beck is such an excellent entertainer I sometimes have zero idea what he was talking about. If you happened to miss it, last night’s show was particular unhinged, the highlight of the hour, though, had to be Beck’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Revolution.” “Even the Beatles understood!” Words fail, but the spectacle begins around the 8:50 mark.


This Weekend’s Times Magazine Cover Story Cost $400,000 (They Didn’t Pay For It)

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Investigative reporting is often trotted out in defense of newspapers — without their newsrooms, who will go about the expensive and important work of digging up stories that don’t fall into reporters’ laps?

But with plummeting ad sales and shrinking newsrooms (not to mention print space), newspapers are not the bastions of investigative reportage that they once were, except in the minds of nostalgic mainstream media diehards. The good news, however, is that old-school outlets like the Times are fostering mutually beneficial relationships with independent, non-profit investigative teams — like Pro Publica.

Exhibit A: This weekend’s New York Times Magazine cover story about the horror at Memorial Medical Center in Uptown New Orleans by Sheri Fink.

Gerald Marzorati, assistant managing editor and editor of the Times Magazine, estimated in a “Talk to the Times” feature that the story cost nearly $400,000 to produce — between years of reporting and lawyering and a year of editing. But the Times received it for free from Pro Publica, where Fink works now. Fink also worked on the story as a fellow for the Kaiser Family Foundation and as a freelancer.

Though the various foundations may have picked up the tab for the reporting, the story still cost the Times money to edit and print, of course. The Times has printed four Pro Publica stories before, but this is the first to appear in the magazine, according to Editor and Publisher. And why not? The Times exists to publish all the news that’s fit to print — we’re all in trouble if that only includes the cheap news. Investigative reporting is expensive work…and it’s not like the Times has extra cash to kick around these days. Seems like joining forces with upstart non-profits like Pro Publica is a perfect solution — and the product is magnificent.

Fink carefully unwraps the scene at Memorial Medical Center in Uptown New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The reporter, an M.D. herself, explores the desperation and exhaustion that led doctors at the hospital to inject some patients with drugs to hasten their death and turn away others who could have been helped.

The 13,000-word story oscillates between the gruesome and the terrifying. From the New York Times and Pro Publica:

By Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Ewing Cook was physically and mentally exhausted, filthy and forlorn. A 61-year-old pulmonary specialist, he’d had his semi-automatic Beretta strapped to him since he heard on Monday that a nurse was raped while walking her dog near the hospital (a hospital official denies that this happened). Cook had had two heart attacks and could not help transport patients in the heat.

That afternoon, Cook stood on the emergency-room ramp and caught sight of a mattress floating up Napoleon Avenue. On it lay an emaciated black woman, with several young men propelling her through the fetid water. “The hospital is closed,” someone shouted. “We’re not accepting anybody.”

Isbell searched for Robichaux, her boss. “What is going on?” she asked, frantic. “Are they going to do something to our patients?”

“Yes, they are,” Isbell remembers Robichaux, in tears, saying. “Our patients aren’t going to be evacuated. They aren’t going to leave.” As the LifeCare administrators cleared the floor of all but a few senior staff members, Robichaux sent Isbell to the back staircase to make sure nobody re-entered. It was quiet there, and Isbell sat alone, drained and upset. Isbell said she thought about her patients, remembering with guilt a promise she made to the daughter of one of her favorites, Alice Hutzler, a 90-year-old woman who came to LifeCare for treatment of bedsores and pneumonia. Isbell fondly called her Miss Alice and had told Hutzler’s daughter that she would take good care of her mother. Now Isbell prayed that help would come before Hutzler and her other patients died.

The Nieman Lab followed up with Marzorati, who clarified that $400,000 is the amount that it would have cost if the story were executed entirely by Times staffers. Man, those were the days.

Fink discusses her reportage with Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism:

Everything I Know About Cars I Learned From Everything Except Cars

Greased LightningOn the Internet, everybody has an opinion about everything, but if you’re smart you know when to keep your mouth shut. That was me during the “Cash For Clunkers” story, which I still don’t really understand nor have any desire to. I am not a car person — have never been, never will be. Not only do I not drive, I don’t have my driver’s license; there’s a story there, but the upshot is that I spent my high school years an ardent environmentalist and workout junkie who wanted to save the environment, burn calories and have my boyfriends drive me around. I remember Lawrence Berger drove his mom’s burgundy Oldsmobile, and I’d slide over in the middle seat next to him as we trolled the mean streets of suburban Don Mills, aka my northerly suburb of Toronto. Subsequent boyfriends with snazzier rides have never been able to compete with that feature. Like I said, I’m not a car person.

But! I am a pop culture person. And car people have clearly contributed to pop culture, which is how I knew about purple french tail lights and thirty inch fins without exactly knowing what they were. It was how I knew that cars were indicia of status and class differences (thank you, Bruce Springsteen and Dreamgirls), and how I knew that people who were too obsessed with that status were probably douchebags (thank you, “Justification For Higher Education” poster).

Turns out that, without knowing how to change the oil or why V-8 doesn’t just pertain to vegetable juice, I knew a whole lot about cars (even people who ain’t too clever/can learn to tighten a nut forever!). From Hot Rod to RamRod, Cadillac Assembly Line to Cadillac Ranch, Little Deuce Coupe to Little Red Corvette, here’s where I learned it all from. Maybe I am a car person after all — such a thrill when your radials squeal. Here we go:

Back to the FutureBack To The Future DeLorean DMC-12 Here’s the thing about the DeLorean: The doors go up. Even a non-car nerd like myself recognized that as cool in 1985 when my beloved Alex P. Keaton migrated to the big screen to shred a little Chuck Berry and not hook up with his mother. Like me, fellow Canadian Michael J. Fox was weaned on the metric system, so 88 miles per hour may not have sounded quite as impressive as 141.622 km, but still — nice car.

Grease Lightning Grease 1948 Ford “Greased Lightning”This, for me, is the iconic car song, because it involves male bonding, cruising for chicks and very specific car knowledge all in one snazzily-choreographed package. When I first saw this movie at age 5 I was as clueless about overhead lifters and four barrel quads as I was about what, exactly, constituted a pussy wagon, but I understood that having a shiny car with lightning on the side was cool. (Similarly, I also understood that a black-clad pelvic-thrusting John Travolta was hot.) I cringed as much as the next purist to see that smooth sleek metal despoiled by Balmudo’s souped-up muscle car later in the movie, but that was a minor technicality; Greased Lightning drove on bravado, brotherhood and creaming chicks. Am I wrong, or is that basically the plot of The Fast and The Furious? Lighting, lighting, lightning, lightning, lightning!

Ghostbusters Ecto 1 Ghostbusters Ecto 1 The Ghostbuster’s car wasn’t what one would describe as a pussy wagon, exactly, though it did get them to Gozer’s shrine where Dana awaited to lustily do the bidding of Zul, and that probably would have been enough for Bill Murray’s Dr. Venkman. It was also an excellent example of how a car can be retrofitted with special features to customize it for specific use. Obviously necessary when transporting poltergeists that slime you with green goo.

Christine Christine 1958 Plymouth Fury When I was in junior high, I went through a major Stephen King phase. Christine wasn’t as bone-chillingly scary as The Shining with its dead people in bathtubs or as close to home as Cujo, the friendly dog next door who would rip your face off, but for sheer raw mayhem, inventive swearing and a fundamentally tragic love triangle to rival that of Lancelot, Arthur and Guinevere, it definitely holds up. Reading through the transformation of Arnie Cunningham from pimply pocket-protector-wearing nerd to the guy with the hot car who scored hot girl I can remember how lovingly Stephen King described the details of the car: The upholstery, the curves, the mechanics (not to mention how lovingly he described how the car would ram Arnie’s enemies straight to hell, spattered blood and matted hair and all). This trailer for the 1983 John Carpenter film version was far from subtle — we get it, the car’s a jealous bitch — but the book somehow made the rather ridiculous idea of a car possessed by Satan into a book that has stayed with me two decades later. I’m not sure what it taught me about cars but maybe it helps explain why I never got my license.

>>>NEXT: The General Lee, Archie Andrews’ Jalopy, and Julia Roberts in thigh-high boots

Glenn Beck Has Most Demo Viewers Again, CNN Strong in Prime Time

Cable news ratings, August 27, 2009: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• For the 2nd night in a row, FNC’s Glenn Beck had the top-rated show on cable news in the A25-54 demographic. Bill O’Reilly had the most total viewers. It was a bigger than usual night for CNN as well.

• CNN was #2 in prime time in both categories. Larry King had the top non-FNC show.

Campbell Brown topped MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in both categories, and HLN’s Nancy Grace finished ahead of Olbermann at 8pmET in the demo. Rachel Maddow finished 4th in the demo as well.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

762

Blitzer

193

Matthews

166

Prime

145

6 pm Baier

446

Blitzer

249

EdShow

187

Prime

199

7 pm Shep

418

Dobbs

241

Matthews

271

Issues

286

8 pm O’Reilly

757

Brown

337

Olbermann

276

Grace

347

9 pm Hannity

691

King

378

Maddow

279

Issues

297

10 pm Greta

623

Cooper

343

Olbermann

258

Grace

234

11 pm O’Reilly

597

Cooper

226

Maddow

199

Showbiz

167

TOTAL DAY 407 214 156 165
PRIME TIME 693 352 271 287
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

2544

Blitzer

1158

Matthews

519

Prime

346

6 pm Baier

1906

Blitzer

997

EdShow

541

Prime

507

7 pm Shep

1697

Dobbs

791

Matthews

783

Issues

760

8 pm O’Reilly

2896

Brown

1243

Olbermann

1199

Grace

957

9 pm Hannity

2402

King

1464

Maddow

1112

Issues

788

10 pm Greta

2330

Cooper

1280

Olbermann

800

Grace

638

11 pm O’Reilly

1478

Cooper

686

Maddow

608

Showbiz

434

TOTAL DAY 1483 810 499 404
PRIME TIME 2545 1329 1037 777
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Highway 61 Revisited: Dylan’s GPS Story Doesn’t Pass Inspection

Dylan_carThis week reports surfaced that Bob Dylan was considering lending his voice to a GPS navigation system – providing directions to lost drivers who seek the raspy tones of the folk legend. Numerous mainstream media sources picked up the story and ran it as hard news — BBC, NY Times, and the Washington Post all published stories about the convergence of 60’s folk rock and the latest in automotive technology. But as Gossip Cop reported today, this story doesn’t exactly check out.

Gossip Cop reports:

The “Highway 61 Revisted” singer told listeners that he had spoken with auto manufacturers, and that he would warble directions like, “Left at the next street. No, right. You know what? Just go straight.” Dylan then said, “I probably shouldn’t do it because whichever way I go, I always end up at one place – on Lonely Avenue.”

First, listen to the actual audio. It sure sounds to Gossip Cop like the “Jokerman” singer is, well, joking, as he routinely does on his show.

Second, the clip that news agencies clamored over is actually old news – from December 2008. The “recent broadcast” that sparked the GPS gossip was just a repeat.

This wouldn’t be the first time that reputable sources published something that, upon further review, didn’t pass the sniff test, nor will it be the last. But its somewhat shocking that a simple listen of the audio clip clearly reveals that Dylan was being facetious. Perhaps all the senior edit staffers that catch these sorts of things are all at the beach.

MSM Plays Catch-Up With Gawker

custom_1251308614786_penngettyTwo days ago Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan got his hands on a leaked email from the executive VP of PR giant Burson-Marsteller to it staff suggesting they use Mark Penn’s (yes that Mark Penn) latest column on the subject of “glamorous camping” as a way to get new clients in the industry. Mark Penn happens to be the CEO of Burson-Marsteller.

Yesterday, after the story made the media rounds, the Wall Street Journal responded:

“Mark has assured us that through our conversations that he’s complied with his conflict of interest policy. He does not have any glamping clients nor did they target them before the column appeared…Obviously when you have a contributor, they use a column to market themselves. Clearly what was done is not something that we liked. But we’re pretty sure that it’s going to stop.”

But it didn’t stop there. Today the New York Times (with the briefest of nods to Gawker’s involvement) decided to get on board:

The e-mail message was first made public by Gawker.com on Wednesday. In a statement, Mr. Penn, who declined to be interviewed, said that he had not seen the message until after it was sent, and that “nothing was done nor likely to be done as a result of it.” He said that none of the companies mentioned in his column were Burson-Marsteller clients.

“I had no business motive in writing it whatsoever,” he said. But, he added, “We will continue to distribute the columns to friends and clients alike, and assured The Journal they will not be tied to any specific marketing efforts.”

Journal executives said that Mr. Penn had assured them that he had did not know in advance about the attempt to leverage his column into new business, and that it would not happen again.
*
Robert H. Christie, a spokesman for The Journal, said, “the reality is that freelancers do use their columns as ways of marketing themselves.” When asked whether The Journal was comfortable with that practice, and specifically with Burson-Marsteller’s actions, he declined to respond.

There is a couple of points to note here. First, Gawker has been increasingly commanding the attention of the MSM these days. And second, the NYT would make for a great blogger (or the end of journalism as we know it, depending)! This entire 665 word article is based on a piece originally reported by Gawker, and all Gawker got out of it is one lousy sentence of attribution.

Rep. Barney Frank Discuss Larry Craig with Andy Cohen

cohen_8-28It wasn’t a “booty call” like when Anderson Cooper called in last week, but Rep. Barney Frank was a guest on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live last night.

And while he talked about Sen. Ted Kennedy’s passing, the majority of the time was spent dishing on The Real Housewives and similarly lighter fare.

The show’s host Andy Cohen introduced Frank, saying he “loved his wit in the face of a lady protester” earlier this week. They played a game called “House or The Housewives,” where Cohen read a statement and Frank had to decide whether it related to The Real Housewives or someone in Congress.

Inevitably, the conversation drifted to whether toe-tapping Larry Craig would “burst out of the closet anytime soon.” “No he insists that he’s not gay,” said Frank.

We’re not sure why Frank decided to go on this MidnightET entertainment show – maybe he’s just a big NeNe Leakes fan – but it definitely shows the Congressman in a new light.

Check it out (h/t FBDC):