Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's useless media critic whose column is the actual physical manifestation of "conventional wisdom," is upset. About Obama! Specifically, about the fact that every newspaper and magazine and TV network has decided that Obama worship is the proper coverage strategy at the moment. The media is engaged in outrageous "mythmaking," Howie Kurtz observes, long after all the worthwhile media critics have analyzed this point to death. Howie's method is to list every example of a media outlet celebrating Obama's victory, then to wrap it all up with a conclusion that you may not have considered yet:
So over the weekend Salon posted a dispatch from a guy named Avi Steinberg who got a job as a security guard at the Republican Convention. The main takeaway: RNC security guards had to wear tight pants. They are tighter than the skinny jeans worn by all the worthless bandannaed hipsters there to protest! They are so tight one delirious security guard warns him not to "spring a woody" because "Governor Palin is hot, dude." That is not all that happens — a lot of people get drunk and chant "Rudy" just for kicks — but it is generally all that happens, which brings us to a point about this dying genre of "immersion journalism." It is a big pain in the ass to get a whole job doing something just for a story, and it can be an equally big disappointment if you don't even get to Tase anyone. And yet, where else in the convention coverage will you find this sort of paragraph, a fun (and probably bullshit) taxonomy of the various species of Republican drunks:
Democrats are always so disappointing when they talk about the economy in speeches. Barack Obama's speech last week, while good, was long on pandernomics and short on the sort of basic insight into the rational inadequacies of economic indicators etc. etc. that could actually win over people's minds. Of course, as we noted when we read that giant Times Magazine story on Obamanomics, such things do not exactly lend themselves to pithy soundbites! Maybe it takes a true leader who has actually run a business to explain this stuff. Meet Mitt Romney! He gave a speech on Wednesday that no one watched. They missed out, because it was crazy. We have boiled it down to 42 soundbiting seconds of tried-and-true Republican rhetoric! Watch and be schooled, Austan Goolsbee!And just for Mr. Dismal here is the speech in its (admittedly more contradictory!) entirety.
This video basically sums up everything you missed in St. Paul this week. Liz Glover, DC-based videographer to the internet stars, sneaks into the CNN Grill while Sarah Palin's rant against community organizing distracts everyone. She tries to interview John Oliver but apparently he needs "approval" from "Comedy Central" or something. Then she meets a dog. The dog's name is "Sarah" and it is "panting" over all the "red meat" while literally attacking the media. McCain/Dog '08!!! [Wonkette]
Griff Jenkins is the new quirky young media figure to be celebrated. Everybody rally for him now! He's pretty young, he wears sort of hipster-ish black frame glasses, and he's not afraid to take on quirky assignments like reporting live wearing only a Speedo (LOL), or inciting riots. The only thing is he works for Fox News. But he's totally not that kind of Fox News guy! When all the famous TV personalities rushed down South to cover Hurrican Gustav, who was left to cover the anarchist protests at the Republican convention? Our friend Griff! And you can't say he didn't do it quirkily:
Wonkette tipped us off to this ABC Money Trail segment about a lavish party thrown at the Republican Convention by lobbyist Glenn LeMunyon, an ex aide to mammoth Texas corruptophile Tom DeLay, despite pleas from Party leaders that they stop flaunting all that ill-gotten defense contract wealth while that Humongous Hurricane was about to destroy New Orleans all over again (well, be downgraded to a tropical storm.) We don't really get what's worth covering your face with a ridiculous pink feather boa here. (Ha ha, but that's about :49 in.) Were they supposed to throw out perfectly good boas? It's clear they only went because the band playing was called Hookers & Blow, which is about as great a name for a cover band as one could ask, and to that end, shouldn't we commend the GOP here for, as long as their impulsive nominee just passed up dozens of relatively sober possible running mates for a wholly unvetted animal-skinning secessionist, for at least putting on a party that looks kind of almost fun? The Democrats had to suffer Kanye for Chrissakes.
Headed to the Twin Cities for the GOP convention? Here are the bars that will be observing the temporary 4 a.m. bar-close in convenient map form! The thing is tho they're pretty much the worst fucking bars in Minneapolis (and St. Paul, which has like one good bar period). Stick with the strip clubs! [SaintPaulitan]
Missed the convention so far? Want to know what all the fuss is about? Truthfully it's a series of mediocre-to-decent speeches and then hours and hours and HOURS of utter bullshit. The speeches are too long anyway, so our video department cut the whole thing down to 90 seconds. You got your Michelle Obama, your Ted Kennedy, your Clintons, and, of course, the next President of the United States, Dennis Kucinich. Enjoy!
Bill Clinton got rave reviews for his speech last night. Five-minute standing ovation! He looked so fucking thrilled to be there. Chuck Todd and Keith Olbermann loved it! If you listen to the pundits, Bill basically rehabilitated his entire miserable public image in one nice speech. Here's avowed Clinton-hater Andrew Sullivan:
There's no news in Denver. At least, no news that couldn't be reported by watching it on C-Span from the comfort of home. So what to do? Report on what all your fellow journalists are doing! So far, the single greatest example of this is HuffPo's constant reportage from their own "HuffPost Oasis" in Denver. At left, an unretouched screengrab from their front page today. The Oasis is remarkably popular with journalists, considering that we have no idea what goes on there but we don't think it involves free booze. Wait, maybe we do know what's going on there! "'I feel relaxed!' said a particularly refreshed Eric Alterman as he stepped away from a complimentary facial for a minute. 'I'll tell you this—everyone should add facials to their lives.'" Oh, wow. That quote is from John Koblin's piece in today's Observer. It's got more gems: Adam Nagourney couldn't find a seat at his own paper's workspace, then bitched about having to cover the convention with so many other, lesser reporters. Fox's Greta Van Susteren, though, was more than happy to be there.
This morning distinguished political commentators Ana Marie Cox, Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNichol filed a slumber party-themed video dispatch from the Democratic National Convention in Denver. At the risk of crushing you with intellectual heft I had the video department cut it down to its thirty-two most totally totally crucial seconds. I cannot overstate how much you like need to watch this like right now. And because I was forced to cut some of its meatier moments I have distilled the main arguments after the jump.*
FINDINGS: 1. Michelle Obama's hair is newly "swingy" and thus patriotic. 2. Wolf Blitzer is Batman. 3. Michelle Obama's brother "looks like a basketball." 4. Caroline Kennedy's appearance qualifies her a cabinet position if not the vice presidency. 5. The Obama daughters' appearance qualifies them for residency the White House.** 6. The Brady Bunch is for white people.
Did you watch Hillary Clinton's speech last night? She went on late, and long, but we watched. It was pretty good! She is much better at giving speeches than she used to be. We are depressed that no one does big angry barnstorming Jesse Jackson speeches anymore except the tiny white tomte from Cleveland but whatever. Her speech was good on its own merits. A well-delivered and pleasantly inoffensive series of uplifting syllables. The second it ended liberal favorite Keith Olbermann was all "she hit it out of the park, masterful, blah blah" and his MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews made even less sense, but they were quite tired from being on TV, outside, in the rain, for 72 hours straight or so. What did the well-rested print pundits say? Everyone wants to marry that speech.
You stuck in New York doing, like, real work while your colleagues party it up in Denver? You jealous? Well honestly, man up. Because you can just keep on partying like usual while they are all stuck going to lame sponsored bullshit parties in Denver. Our man in Denver reports that the Planned Parenthood party was massively overbooked, the GQ/Maker's Mark party was unexciting, and apparently the party featuring Bill Maher was lame. Yes, but what about the awesome schwag, you're probably not saying! According to Wonkette, it's dismal. Something called "Joint Juice" seems to be the highlight. But there's also hand sanitizer and a free ringtone card! Seriously, why do people go to this? Are journalists so bored and nerdy that the prospect of a hotel party in Denver excites them? It is like the School Band Trip of the National Press Corps, isn't it? We got a better schwag bag at some weird Time Out party we went to this month. It had condoms and Stuff White People Like. We have no use for either of those things but it's still better than Post-It notes!
It has been months now since Fox News' PR machine issued one of its trademark slams of a critic, and we, for one, are happy that they have come off their summer vacations and gone back to work. The target this time: Jon Stewart, darling funnyman of the liberal elite. Surprise! The best part about this new spat: the person who comes off looking worst of all is not Stewart, nor Fox's flack, but rather the Washington Post's vacuous conventional media wisdom purveyor Howie Kurtz. A fight to admire, and a symptom of increased media fragmentation and public alienation! A full recap: The Democratic convention is such a news-bereft wasteland that Stewart was apparently giving a press conference, consisting of him riffing to a roomful of eager reporters. During the course of this, he said that Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan is "the biggest 'fuck you' to people with brains that I've ever seen in my life" and that Chris Wallace is the network's only legit anchor, and that Fox is biased against Obama. Stop the fucking presses, right? But Howie Kurtz, trooper that he is, put in a call to Fox, and came back with this paragraph for his story:
The convention just started!!! Howard Dean screamed (with his eyes, anyway) and now a lady is praying! Then the announcer lady from the Oscars introduced some Navajo Indians who are presenting the colors. The colors of the USA, the country that tried to kill them all. Then a lady said the pledge of allegiance and a chorus of children sang the national anthem and killed all Navajo dudes' cattle. Oh, Wolf just explained that those guys were the Navajo code-talkers from WWII. They are heroes and patriots! Jack Cafferty is babbling about how he is stealing things from Wolf's office as Wolf flies from Denver to Saint Paul in his tiny flying machine. Barack Obama is not even there yet! Someone here will tell you about Michelle Obama's speech, later tonight, probably. Now you are informed.
Jacob Weisberg is stepping aside as the editor of Slate... OR IS HE? Technically, sure, he's ceding the reins after six years to deputy David Plotz, but if Slate has taught us anything, it is to question blatantly-obvious facts just for the hell of it. And if one does that, one discovers Weisberg isn't stepping down at all, he's stepping up, to run something terrifying called the Slate Group, which will be in charge of Slate and various spinoffs, including a new business site called The Big Money. Weisberg compares Slate Group to Time Inc., which of course has not only the flagship newsmagazines but also celebrity, business and sports titles, as well. It might seem natural for these new spinoffs to be, say, blogs, but of course Slate Group isn't using that word, because it's too popular. Instead the site is looking at launching "tools or news aggregators." [Times]
If you're in the magazine publishing business, you care deeply about these numbers, nominations for the National Magazine Awards. No great surprises. The New Yorker still leads. Adam Moss' New York is the comer. Virginia Quarterly Review: is it really good, or do they just have some editor who's mastered the politics of ASME, the association which hands out the prizes (like the creepy Pulitzer-chasing editor in David Simon's HBO show, The Wire). Outside the top ten, Maer Roshan's Radar and Joanne Lipman's Portfolio squeeze in with one nomination each. As Jeff Bercovici says, they are now officially as good as once-reputed Esquire magazine, which only gets one nomination. (After the jump, the full list.)