Hillary Clinton Knows Where Her Bread is Buttered, Takes Op-Ed To People

hillary-clintonPresident Barack Obama may prefer the op-ed pages of the New York Times to impart his views to the world, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to go directly to the people, through People.com. The website has posted an exclusive op-ed from Clinton about her recent 11 day trip through Africa, much of which was overshadowed by her ‘I’m the boss’ response to a Congolese student.

Strange choice of venue? Brilliant might be the better word. People.com is one of the most heavily-trafficked sites on the Web, and arguably reaches an audience that doesn’t necessary follow the NYT op-ed pages with as close an eye as some media types might. It’s also a site that, according to its Quantcast description, “appeals to a more affluent, slightly female slanted, skewing older audience.” This could also be a fairly accurate description of Hillary Clinton’s base. Suffice it to say, Mrs. Clinton knows where her bread is buttered. It’s a move the President might consider making as he continues to struggle to reclaim the health care debate. In the meantime here’s a look at some of what Mrs. Clinton saw on her trip:

Women and girls in particular have been victimized on an unimaginable scale, as sexual and gender-based violence has become a tactic of war and has reached epidemic proportions. Some 1,100 rapes are reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every day.

I visited a hospital run by the organization Heal Africa and met a woman who told me that she was eight months’ pregnant when she was attacked. She was at home when a group of men broke in. They took her husband and two of their children and shot them in the front yard, before returning into the house to shoot her other two children. Then they beat and gang-raped her and left her for dead. But she wasn’t dead. She fought for life and her neighbors managed to get her to the hospital – 85 kilometers away.

I came to Goma to send a clear message: The United States condemns these attacks and all those who commit them and abet them. They are crimes against humanity.

Related: Hillary Clinton Pledges to ‘Banish Sexual Violence’ (People.com)

Who Exactly Was Cash For Clunkers “Popular” With?

monstruck The New York Times reports today that the government is ending the $3 billion Cash For Clunkers program, which allowed consumers to get a cash voucher of up to $4500 when they traded in low-mileage cars for higher mileage cars. According to the Times article, “Although the program has brought on a welcome surge in demand for cars after months of dismal sales, some dealers will be glad to put it behind them because it has been plagued by confusion and processing delays.”

The Times, like many other outlets covering Cash for Clunkers, leads off by referring to the program as “popular.” The LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer (”wildly popular,” in the Inquirer’s case), Forbes, and PC Magazine (”ultra-popular”) have all done the same. If it was so “popular,” then why did more than half of the country oppose it from the start? Continue reading "Who Exactly Was Cash For Clunkers “Popular” With?"

Godfather Rupert Murdoch Wants Everyone On Board His Paid Content Train

murdoch Ever since Rupert Murdoch announced that he was going to institute a pay-for-content policy on everything he publishes the media world has been much-a-chatter over whether Rupe publishes anything other than the Wall St. Journal that people would actually be willing to pay for. Solution? Make everyone get on board your paid content train…someone must have something that’s worth shelling out for! This from today’sL.A.Times:

Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller has positioned News Corp. as a logical leader in the effort to start collecting fees from online readers because of its success with the Wall Street Journal Online, which boasts more than 1 million paying subscribers. He is believed to have met with major news publishers including New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Hearst Corp. and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

Sound familiar? Steve Brill is attempting to do something along similar lines with his Journalism Online initiative, which announced the other day that 506 publications had signed letters of intent to become affiliates. However the fact that News Corp has apparently been in touch with both Hearst and the Washington Post Co. suggests they may also be interested in bringing magazines on board. The fact they have been meeting with the New York Times Co., well that just sounds like the media version of a Vito Corleone calling for a meeting of the Five Families to put an end to the violence (in this case, the freebies). You know: “It’s not like the Old Days, when we can do anything we want.”

Journos’ Jailing In North Korea Best Thing Ever For U.S. Intelligence

19korea.x448For all the fuss that was made about former President Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea being a private one, whose sole intention was to rescue journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, it has certainly provided the U.S. government with a lot of information that, up until now, has been nearly impossible to come by. Says the Times:

For all the billions of dollars a year that the United States spends on intelligence gathering about mysterious and unpredictable countries like North Korea, it took just 20 hours on the ground in Pyongyang by a former president to give the Obama administration its first detailed look into a nuclear-armed regime that looms as one of its greatest foreign threats.

Short version: Sending President Clinton to rescue the imprisoned journalists was maybe also a smart budgetary measure!

Clinton visited the White House yesterday to share his impressions of North Korea with President Obama. The Times has subsequently gotten most of the back story and trip details in an article, which sounds like the premise of a John LeCarre novel. It’s a fascinating piece and and well worth your time; it’s hard to imagine that this won’t eventually find it’s way to the silver screen — is Brad Pitt old enough to play the President yet? Matt Damon could probably swing Joseph R. DeTrani the “high-level American intelligence officer who spent much of his career trying to unlock the mysteries of North Korea,” who was mostly responsible for organizing the trip.

The article also mostly succeeds in putting to rest the idea that Clinton’s trip was merely about rescuing Ling and Lee (whose presence there still has yet to be explained). In fact, it becomes increasingly clear as more details emerge that the timing of the whole debacle could not have been more advantageous for all parties, most of the all the U.S. government who now finds itself on the receiving end of a bonanza of information they were otherwise only able to guess at. Needless to say, it wasn’t too bad for Bill Clinton’s image either.

NYT’s Krugman Gets In (Felix) Cat Fight!

Picture 13Blog fights are not just for the Tumblrs, even Nobel prize winning economists/columnists are susceptible! Behold NYT’s Paul Krugman, who reacted with shock and surprise (as did mostly everyone) to Niall Ferguson’s lede in a FT article last week, which said President Obama was like Felix the Cat: “Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky.”

Upon reading this a non-plussed Krugman wanted to know where the FT editors had disappeared to. Then, after Ferguson posted a response to the debacle on HuffPo — he was shocked, shocked! at the public’s response — Krugman called him a whiner. Ha! Continue reading "NYT’s Krugman Gets In (Felix) Cat Fight!"

Panel Nerds: Quentin Tarantino, That Inglorious Basterd

panelnerds-i-disagree-sirWho: Quentin Tarantino interviewed by Lynn Hirschberg
What: TimesTalks, “A Conversation with Quentin Tarantino”
Where: The Times Center
When: August 14, 2009
Thumbs: Up

“We love you because we know you love movies as much as we love movies.”

Those were the opening words to the night’s final audience question. If any in attendance were not aware of Quentin Tarantino’s adulation for cinema before Lynn Hirschberg sat down with him, they certainly discovered it by evening’s end. Tarantino not only loves writing and making movies, but he loves talking about his love for writing and making movies. And, if this audience’s reaction is a reliable gauge, people certainly love to listen to him talk.

Tarantino was brought there to discuss his upcoming film, Inglourious Basterds. Hirschberg pointed out that the heroes in Tarantino’s films are always anti-heroes, protagonists who possess villainous qualities. Inglourious Basterds, whose main characters are assassins – Nazi-killing Jews and Jew-killing Nazis – follows suit. Tarantino explained that he lets his characters be who they are, and he tries to see life from their perspective without judging their morality. The result, he hopes, is a different kind of World War II than moviegoers are used to seeing.

Those differences extend beyond just the movie’s script and message. Tarantino focused a lot on language in this film, casting only German actors to play German characters to ensure that the dialect was accurate. He also made what Hirschberg, having seen an advanced screening, called a “very funny movie.” This, Tarantino said, is actually closer to the films of the 1960s and 70s when World War II movies like The Great Escape were still charming, entertaining and witty, in spite of heavier undertones. It reflects the way that Tarantino can bring so much energy and excitement to conversations about films that grapple with revenge, violence and war.

What They Said
“With the possible exception of Jews, no one has revenge fantasies on the Third Reich like modern Germans.”
- Quentin Tarantino on why his film was well-received in Germany

“You have to drink a lot of milk before you appreciate cream, but you have to drink a lot of milk that’s gone bad before you appreciate milk.”
– Quentin Tarantino explaining why he loves exploitation cinema

Kill Bill exists in a movie universe…In that world, it’s not a ‘thing’ that women can be powerful warriors – also, there are samurai sword holders on airplanes.”
– Quentin Tarantino on the difference in filming Inglourious Basterds which is set in the real world

“I don’t have children, I come up with characters. They are my children.”
– Quentin Tarantino apparently birthed “The Gimp”

“World War II is the last time a whole bunch of white people fought another whole bunch of white people – you could infiltrate the other side, if you could speak the language.”
– Quentin Tarantino made a pretty fair point about war

What We Thought
•    At one point during the talk, a muffled emergency announcement went out over the Times building’s PA system. It was distracting. We half-suspected that Tarantino had arranged it to go off. When Hirschberg questioned him about it, he denied responsibility.
•    We’ve noticed it before, but it’s always more enjoyable to listen to people who have previous ties and affection for one another – rather than relative strangers – talk on stage.
•    We don’t know if there is anyone else who writes as organically as Tarantino. He says he does not plan subtext, doesn’t analyze his writing for themes, and doesn’t structure his characters.

Some audience behavior seems to repeat itself panel after panel. We’ll be updating a running list of “PANEL RULES!” that will help ensure that you are not the dweeb of the Panel Nerds.

Panel Nerds don’t like… Campers
There will be time at the end for audience questions. There is no need to camp out at the mic at any point before then. This is especially true if your question is about Tarantino’s relationship with Roger Avary, who, if you know enough to ask about Avary, you should know Tarantino won’t answer you about it.

Panel Nerds don’t like… Reruns
We know it’s the summer, but there’s still no reason to air a repeat question that the moderator has already asked. If you don’t have a new question, it’s okay to sit back and listen.


Quentin Tarantino’s Top 20 Movies Since Reservoir Dogs [YouTube via Kottke via Fimoculous]

Panel Nerds Etan Bednarsh and Danny Groner are New York-based writers and avid panel-goers. Want them at your panel? Email them here: PanelNerds@mediaite.com

The British Print Their Blogs

UK_TJHuffPo’s magazine man James Warren (formerly managing editor and Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune) took a trip across the pond recently and discovered, much to his amazement, that the British know how to have more fun than we do! Or more fun with their newspapers, anyway.

[A]mid the reflexive [American] industry rationalisations, many involving societal change and the coming of the internet, there’s rarely an admission of self-inflicted wounds, including the dreaded Curse of Tedium. Indeed, the country that makes the rest of the world envious of its technological and entertainment creativity, be it Microsoft, Google or Hollywood film studios, needs an emergency boost of British high-energy imagination and flair. We’re drowning in editorial sobriety.

After a few days with the British papers however, which contained “lots of gossip, speculation about possible soccer transactions, and hard-nosed political columns, with Gordon Brown served up as a two-legged, Scottish piñata,” Warren came away feeling “rather informed.” And that wasn’t all.

I came away feeling rather informed – it’s an embarrassment how much more international news there is to be found in British newspapers than in the average US paper – and, I dare say, having had some actual fun. And there is the critical difference.

Newspapers are boring! Americans are too bloody puritan about their news! Actually, Warren’s description of his holiday reading material sounds a lot like the blogosphere, no? Gossip, news, speculation, personality. If our papers were a more fun read — something like the Wall St. Journal meets the New York Post — would they have a better chance at survival? Probably not. Why buy the paper cow when you can get the digital milk for free (for now)? But that’s not to say we wouldn’t like the Times to give it a shot.