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Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

Bonus Quote of the Day (Political Wire)
“We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010. Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.” — Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), quoted by the National Journal, on the new Republican strategy.

This Modern World (by Tom Tomorrow)

Click here for more.

What’s distressing about these tactics is that they have worked so well for so long.  And will continue to work as long as Democrats refuse to become educators and defenders of liberal issues.

“Is There Anything Wrong With Saying Yes?” (by dday at Hullabaloo)
New York Times reporters had a conversation with Barack Obama on his plane, where they actually asked him if he were a socialist. Obama answered no, explained the thought process behind his budget, and later, after pondering it, actually called the reporters back and said, “It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question.”… [B]eyond the debates over opinions which are obviously ridiculous, there’s a larger point that was touched upon in the follow-up question about socialism by the Times. “Q. Is there anything wrong with saying yes?”

Only in a country where the balance of acceptable discourse has been so tainted and distorted that reasonable social democratic policies are completely forbidden from the conversation. And so you have Obama’s advisers running to David Brooks to prove that they aren’t crazy socialist radicals, but pragmatists. Which makes a certain political sense, but isn’t actually true… I don’t believe that Obama’s team is made up of pragmatists. Because pragmatists would look at reality and do exactly what’s necessary, regardless of ideological concerns.

Times Reporter Defends Asking Obama If He’s A “Socialist” (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
The unavoidable political context here … is that Republicans and conservatives — or “some people,” as the paper put it — are trying to tar Obama as a socialist right now in order to turn the public against his agenda.

Obama and the New York Times (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
The simple truth is that by asking Obama whether he was a socialist, the Times effectively endorsed the divisive right-wing rhetoric; the Times shoved it into the mainstream.
Eric says in this post that Times reporters haven’t done this to past presidents, and he uses Bush as an example.  Now, I don’t have Bob Somerby’s memory on specifics, but didn’t the media, including the Times, ask Bill Clinton and Al Gore the most embarrassing questions they could think of?  It’s always Democrats who are asked ridiculous questions.

Working in a Cole Mind (by myiq2xu at The Confluence)
John Cole: “…The reason social conservatives and progressives both hate the media is because they really don’t care about either group or their issues. This is about protecting the amassed wealth of the few.”… Unfortunately, [Cole] and his readership are not ready to consider the logical implications of that idea.  Consider these two facts:
1.  The media opposed Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Sarah Palin.
2.  The media supported Barack Obama.
The only logical conclusion is that the media supported Barack Obama because they believed him to be the candidate that would best protect the amassed wealth of the few.
And they are being proven right, day after day, decision after decision.

So, if Obama’s not a socialist, what IS he?
Obama: ‘I am a New Democrat’
(Politico, thanks to Cinie at The Confluence)
President Barack Obama firmly resists ideological labels, but at the end of a private meeting with a group of moderate Democrats Tuesday afternoon he offered a statement of solidarity. “I am a New Democrat,” he told the New Democrat Coalition, according to two sources at the White House session. The group is comprised of centrist Democratic members of the House, who support free trade and a muscular foreign policy but are more moderate than the conservative Blue Dog coalition. Obama made his comment in discussing his budget priorities and broader goals, also calling himself a “pro-growth Democrat” during the course of conversation.

Vaunted Obama message machine is off-key (by Steve Holland, Reuters)
When billionaire investor Warren Buffett says President Barack Obama’s economic message is muddled and undermining public confidence, it’s worth listening. Halfway through his first 100 days in office, ace communicator Obama has struggled to find the right tone in talking about the economy, twinning bleak warnings with optimism about the future… Obama, together with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, White House economic guru Lawrence Summers and others have so far failed to explain how they plan to rescue American banks, some of which are teetering on the brink of collapse.

‘Left’ Obamites Prefer Kool-Aid to Struggle (by Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report)
Ford answers Linda Burnham’s recent assault on the non-Obamite Left, whom she sneeringly refers to as victims of “Left ‘anticipatory disillusionment’” and assorted other “psycho-babble.” Burnham sets up Left straw men, to knock them down, all in an attempt to justify her cohort’s capitulation to Power. “One great tragedy of the current episode,” writes Ford, “is that the [economic] crisis occurred at a moment when the remnants of the Left and Black movements in the U.S. have been neutralized by imperialism’s Black champion.” Hilariously, Burnham credits Obama with having “wrenched the Democratic Party out of the clammy grip of Clintonian centrism” when, in actuality, “Obama’s government IS Clintonian. And the new president is as skilled and ruthless a triangulator as Bill ever was.”

Center For American Progress Launching Big War Room To Drive Obama Agenda (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
The Center for American Progress — which has emerged as perhaps Washington’s most influential idea factory in the age of Obama — is launching a major new war room, to be staffed by nearly a dozen people, that will focus on driving the White House’s message and agenda, I’m told. The Democratic operatives running the project are already holding a daily early morning call with dozens of operatives from liberal groups — labor, health care, the environment — to coordinate messaging and to deliver usable talking points for the day, according to liberal operative Jennifer Palmieri, who’s the project’s communications director…

The morning calls are key to the effort to present a united liberal front — something that the Obama White House had already been working to build among outside groups. “We do a coordination call to get our content out and to coordinate people so they can fire up for the day,” Palmieri says, adding that the group will work with the White House “only informally.”

Let’s dare call it conspiracy (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
The vast new left-wing conspiracy sets its tone every morning at 8:45 a.m., when officials from more than 20 labor, environmental and other Democratic-leaning groups dial into a private conference call [the call referred to by Sargent, above] hosted by two left-leaning Washington organizations. “ Yet more evidence, methinks, that the sheer shit we saw within the “prog” blogosphere — the incessant lies and hate-mongering directed at Hillary, the cult of personality built around Mr. O — was no grass-roots phenomenon…

I am particularly sad to read that Media Matters launched an attack on Limbaugh as part of this White House campaign. Not that I harbor any affection for Rush. But what would David Brock have said, back in 2005, about a website participating in a White House-coordinated attack directed against (say) Al Franken?… The pretense that something truly new has happened constitutes the triumph of marketing over reality. Hamsher’s protestation of independence reminds me of a story I once saw in an old issue of Soviet Life: In an interview, a Russian film director insisted that he decided to make his third biography of Lenin on his own, and not at the suggestion of the state.
I have, as long-time readers of MTA will recall, advocated coordinated efforts for years.  But attacking Rush Limbaugh isn’t what I had in mind.  Pushing a liberal agenda, educating, debunking right-wing myths is what I’ve wanted.  It’s what the Clintons do so well.  If all these groups are doing is participating in David Axelrod-Karl Rove-style astroturf, I’ll just sit back and watch, thank you very much.

The Confluence

Is Obama Ready to Mobilize His Base? (Political Wire)
David Corn sees evidence that President Obama and the Democratic National Committee are beginning to “awaken” millions of voters to apply political pressure on Congress to pass his legislative proposals. “It appears that the Obama political machine is rebuilding its activist base — rather than presuming it is there — and renewing their list of millions. They are prospecting and looking to see who among Obama’s campaign supporters are still out there and ready to do political battle on his behalf. And they are easing Obama’s base into the conflict. After all, it doesn’t take much to sign an on-line pledge and promise to jawbone friends and relatives.”

The new talking point: “Bold” (by lambert at Corrente)
OFB being revved up: “On Monday, Organizing for America emailed its list and asked each to watch a video of Mitch Stewart, the group’s director. Those who clicked on the link could see the thirty-ish Stewart sitting in an office of seeming modest nature, in front of a map of the United States. ‘The movement that you built is just getting started,’ he says…” It’s a rather low-key pitch, delivered in a flat, no-drama manner. It’s not pegged to any specific fight under way or to come. Stewart makes no reference to recalcitrant Republicans. And on the web page next to the video is “The Pledge” he wants supporters to sign. It is simple and two sentences long:
- I will support President Obama’s bold approach for renewing America’s economy.
- I will ask friends, family, and neighbors to pledge their support for this plan.
That’s it. Nothing about bothering your House member. Nothing about lobbying your senator. Nothing about giving money. What the fuck’s “bold” about it?
Will it work?  I don’t know.  They didn’t get much response to their call for house parties on the stimulus bill.  I think the person leading the effort would have to have to be passionate about the issues at stake.  Obama was able to pull a lot of people in when he was passionate about getting elected, but I’ve never seen any sign that he’s passionate about anything else.

Ad ties five House Republicans to Rush (Politico)
The liberal group Americans United for Change is set to launch a radio offensive next week linking five House Republicans to Rush Limbaugh.
Is this part of the “coordinated effort”?  I think these ads are a serious waste of money.

The Obama Administration Is Going To ‘Listen To Citizens’ (Democracy in Action)
J. Brooke Aker of Expert Systems offers a guest commentary on how the Obama administration might do a better job of digesting the tens of thousands of public comments that are headed its way as it acts on its promises to make government more participatory.
They must have a new definition for “listening”, considering the message promotion they’re engaging in.

Obama administration is trying hard to influence pundits (Politico)
New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal tells Michael Calderone that the Obama White House has been more “proactive” than the Bush White House was, contacting policy thinkers to explain the administration’s positions — both before and after columns and editorials run. “I’ve had more unsolicited offers for participation from the Obama people in 45 days than in the last eight years from Bush,” he says.

Obama Says Hola To a More Inclusive Press Strategy (Washington Post)
President Obama has done a spate of interviews with Hispanic media outlets recently. And the White House plans to do more. “We should have a conscious strategy of communicating through Hispanic media,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

Freedom Rider: When Republicans Attack (by Margaret Kimberley at the Black Agenda Report)
The right wing’s “insidious” attacks on President Obama make the claim “that a president in office for less than two months is more responsible for unemployment, a crashing stock market and the demise of major banks, than the president who served for the previous eight years.” The corporate media, ever in search of sensationalism, megaphone the Republicans’ hair-brained assaults. What the public should really be upset about is that the worsening economic situation is exacerbated by the Obama administration’s failure to drastically reduced U.S. military spending, which “is larger than that of every other country on earth combined” and unsustainable.

Boehner Spokesman: Description Of GOP’s Drag-Dems-Down Strategy Is “Largely Correct” (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
I asked House GOP leader John Boehner’s office if he agreed with Patrick McHenry’s claim yesterday that the GOP strategy is to “bring down approval numbers” of Nancy Pelosi and House Dems… My parsing of [the response] is that Boehner believes that McHenry’s description of the party’s strategic goal as winning the message war and dragging down Dem poll numbers is “largely correct,” but that McHenry left out the GOP’s willingness on principle to work with Dems and that the GOP’s “first priority is doing the right thing for the American people.” That would appear to stop short of disagreeing with or criticizing McHenry.

Kilmeade claims Obama “wakes up in the morning” by declaring he’s not a Socialist (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Scarborough compares government deficit spending to Bernie Madoff schemes (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
That’s odd.  Joe had no problem with Bush’s use of MY retirement money to invade a country that was no threat to us.

Matthews questions whether Obama criticism of Bush is like “that woman that drove her car back over the guy she ran over” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Beck claims Obama “is so clearly” a socialist, “He’s surrounded himself with Marxists his whole life” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Irony alert: Jim Cramer wants everyone to stop with the ad hominem attacks (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
In his column, the CNBC loud mouth claims it’s time for a “serious non-ideological debate” about the economy, and to stop the name calling. This, from the man who recently has: repeatedly characterized President Obama and congressional Democrats as Russian communists intent on “rampant wealth destruction,” claiming Obama is “taking cues from Lenin” and using terms such as “Bolshevik,” “Marx,” “comrades,” “Soviet,” “Winter Palace,” and “Politburo” in reference to Democrats.

On Hannity, Victoria Jackson claims Obama is a “communist” who “wants to be Castro” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

World Net Daily columnist compares Obama to spousal abuser, while calling abused women “dunderhead[s]“ (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Savage guest host Stigall suggests Obama kept Blackberry to communicate with “domestic terrorist” Bill Ayers (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Beck: “I read an article … that said ‘the Manchurian Candidate couldn’t destroy us faster than Barack Obama’ “ (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Savage declares emerging “dictator[]” Obama to be “out of control” and says “I think it is time to start talking about impeachment (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Fox News’ Faulkner highlights viewer blog comments on stem cell policy invoking Hitler, comparing Obama to a monkey (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Savage claims that embryonic stem cell research requires “whole factories of fetuses aborted” because “[w]e need entire busloads of fetuses for the mad scientists to play with” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Beck: Stem-cell research will lead directly to the search for a new ‘master race.’ (Think Progress)
On his radio show [Monday], conservative talker Glenn Beck commented on President Obama overturning the banon federally funded stem-cell research. Beck argued that funding stem-cell research would lead directly to a search for a new “master race,” the revival of Eugenics, and the reincarnation of the Nazi’s “final solution.”… In reality, of course, stem-cell research has nothing to do with the search for a “master race.” Rather, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) explained this morning, “Obama’s executive order is a huge win for the millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and many other illnesses.”
Click through to listen to the audio.

Fox News’ stem cell expert: Ralph Reed (by Alex Koppelman at War Room, Salon)
of all the people Fox could have had on to talk about the president’s move to overturn his predecessor’s ban on federal funding for stem cell research, they turned to former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed. Naturally, Reed — who was on by himself — opposes Obama’s move..  What Bush’s restrictions did was ensure that most embryonic stem cell research was completely impractical… This red tape set up an interesting sort of Catch-22 for people like Reed to exploit. On Fox, he noted, “The real progress has been made in adult stem cells, it’s been made in cells harvested from amniotic fluid and cord blood. There’s not a single person in America who’s had a disease cured by embryonic stem cells.” Well, yeah. Considering the Bush administration’s restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, why should that be surprising?

Tent City (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
Along the American River, near Sacramento, California:
The right wingers are calling it Obamaville.

[Slide Show]    [Same Location during Great Depression]

Protesters target U.S. foreclosed-homes auctioneer (Reuters) – An auction of foreclosed homes in New York City on Sunday drew protesters who blamed banks for an epidemic of home losses and called for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Two dozen people marched outside a Manhattan convention center where Real Estate Disposition Corp was auctioning off several hundred foreclosed homes, chanting and carrying signs reading “Banks get bailed out, people get thrown out.”
Only two dozen people can be found to protest the continued preferential treatment of the people who put our country into bankruptcy?

Where Were the Media as Wall Street Imploded? (by David Folkenflik, NPR)
There are plenty of people to share the blame for the collapse of the nation’s financial system. But what about the self-described watchdogs in the media? The weight of coverage before the collapse fixated on executive suite intrigue and outsize corporate personalities.

CNBC Thrives as Hosts Deliver News With Attitude (New York Times)
Whether the attention is positive or negative, it is certain that this tumultuous financial season is CNBC’s reason for being. One month shy of its 20th anniversary, CNBC is being jokingly called “the recession network” within the halls of its headquarters in New Jersey.
Yes, it’s the network that helped promote the bubble, the popping of which caused this recession.

Irony alert: CNBC doesn’t want to be blamed for the Dow’s dip (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
CNBC talkers have no problem blaming Obama for the Dow’s recent decline, conveniently ignoring months worth of disastrous economic news, over which the new president has had no control. But defensive CNBC anchors and personalities think it’s unfair to blame them.

TOO BIG TO FAIL: (by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
For an odd divergence from [the normal Village media] pattern, consider the “Conversation With James K. Glassman” which appeared in the Outlook section of Sunday’s Post. As you may recall, Glassman co-authored the 1999 best-seller, Dow 36,000. In it, he and fellow seer Kevin Hassett predicted the Dow would hit 36,000 within three to five years. Nothing like that happened, of course. And omigod! At the start of Sunday’s “conversation,” Carlos Lozada actually asked the former Post columnist about his bungled prediction. This sort of thing just isn’t done–but when Glassman dissembled a bit in response, Lozada even called him on that!…

But then, … Lozada began asking Glassman’s advice about other policy matters! Brother Glassman had bungled as few ever do–and Lozada seemed to want more of his wisdom! Near the end, he even asked why Obama didn’t keep Glassman on in the post he held under President Bush. Translation: Inside the Village, you can’t be so wrong–or so disingenuous–that you’ll ever be culled from the herd. You can make history’s biggest mistake. We’ll want to know what you think next… Once you become a part of the club, you’re simply too big to fail.

Japan reconsidered (by Paul Krugman)
For a decade or so Japan’s lost decade has been the great bugaboo of modern macroeconomics… [T]he famed sluggishness of Japanese policy — the refusal to face up to banking system losses and pour in the funds needed to recapitalize the system, the refusal to let zombie banks die, the stop-go nature of fiscal policy, with concerns about rising debt warring with concerns about the economy — all of that seems entirely comprehensible now, doesn’t it? Even with the knowledge of what happened to Japan to motivate us, so far we’re following exactly the same path… I still hope we can do better than the Japanese did, but it’s not at all obvious that we will.

Americans want more stimulus spending but the press doesn’t care (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Forty percent of Americans think the government needs to spend more stimulus money. But you wont’ hear that discussed or covered by the media, which seem content to present just one side–the GOP side–of the stimulus ‘debate.’

Banks Counted on Looting America’s Coffers (by David Leonhardt, New York Times)
Sixteen years ago, two economists published a research paper with a delightfully simple title: “Looting.” The economists were George Akerlof, who would later win a Nobel Prize, and Paul Romer, the renowned expert on economic growth. In the paper, they argued that several financial crises in the 1980s, like the Texas real estate bust, had been the result of private investors taking advantage of the government. The investors had borrowed huge amounts of money, made big profits when times were good and then left the government holding the bag for their eventual (and predictable) losses. In a word, the investors looted… The looting theory explains why … laissez-faire theory didn’t hold up. The bankers were acting in their self-interest, after all.

The financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report issued today by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation. The report, “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” shows that, from 1998-2008, Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates made $1.725 billion in political contributions and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists, a financial juggernaut aimed at undercutting federal regulation.

Nationalization (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
Nationalization. Lots of people embrace the concept — unfortunately, Barack Obama is not among them. He considers the idea of nationalizing the too-big-to-fail banks to be “simplistic.”… Thus, we find ourselves in a strange situation where we nationalize bad assets while the banks do not go into receivership. Instead, they continue to be run by the same people who got us into this mess, and who have little incentive to reform. Screw the taxpayers who must fund the bad assets.

[Ezra Klein, describing a radio interview between Terry Gross and Simon Johnson, the former research director of the IMF:] “Terry Gross goes on to ask if Johnson has ever advised a country that successfully solved a banking crisis by buying the troubled assets. ‘No,’ laughs Johnson, ‘I don’t think anyone has ever bought troubled assets like that. It’s a terrible idea.’”

Congress approves massive $410B spending bill (AP)
Congress on Tuesday sent President Barack Obamaa once-bipartisan bill to fund the domestic Cabinet agencies that evolved instead into a symbol of lawmakers’ free-spending ways and penchant for back-home pet projects. The Senate approved the measure by voice after it cleared a key procedural hurdle by a 62-35 vote. Sixty votes were required to shut down debate.

Obama backs teacher merit pay, charter schools (AP)
President Barack Obama called for tying teachers’ pay to student performance and expanding innovative charter schools Tuesday, embracing ideas that have provoked hostility from members of teachers unions.

BHO Pushes Right Wing Attack on Education (by Pacific John at Alegre’s Corner)
Merit pay is a bad idea because a widespread objective system just isn’t possible. Do you depend on test scores? If you do, the problems of No Child Left Behind, where testing is already everything, get all the worse. What about children with learning disabilities? Many teachers and districts will shortchange children who drag down the average. It’s not likely the seasoned professionals who welcome troubled children will be rewarded. It’s a bad idea because it politicizes teaching. Do you want your kids’ teachers to be rewarded based on how well they kiss the administration’s ass or the asses of the people on the review boards?

And most fundamentally, it’s a bad idea because it does not go after real problems and root causes. The toughest schools have large numbers of teachers without credentials, because most of the best teachers follow the market, and take the best jobs in the best neighborhoods for the best pay. Our real problem with merit is that the market does not pay enough to draw adequate numbers of qualified teachers in poorer schools. That’s a problem you’ll never hear from so-called conservatives.

Reagans Cheer Obama Stem Cell Order — But Not Invited To Ceremony (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Monday’s White House ceremony lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research marked a major departure from the Bush administration and a turning point in the intersection of science and politics. With the stroke of a pen, the president pledged, in his own words, to “lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research,” “vigorously support scientists who pursue this research,” and “aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.” But two of the main principles who have long fought for the lifting of the ban, Ron Reagan and his mother, former first lady Nancy Reagan, were not in attendance.

Obama to create women’s council in the White House (AP)
The White House plans to create a group of experts to advise President Barack Obama on women’s issues. Obama plans to name friend and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as the head of the group. A White House spokeswoman says Obama official Tina Tchen (CHEN) will run the group’s day-to-day operations. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAHK-ee) says the creation of the group is timed to Women’s History Month. Obama plans to sign the executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls on Wednesday.

Obama Looks to Limit Impact of Tactic Bush Used to Sidestep New Laws (New York Times)
Calling into question the legitimacy of all the signing statements that former President George W. Bush used to challenge new laws, President Obama ordered executive officials on Monday to consult with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. before relying on any of them to bypass a statute. But Mr. Obama also signaled that he intended to use signing statements himself if Congress sent him legislation with provisions he decided were unconstitutional. He promised to take a modest approach when using the statements, legal documents issued by a president the day he signs bills into law that instruct executive officials how to put the statutes into effect.

But Mr. Obama said there was a role for the practice if used appropriately. “In exercising my responsibility to determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well-founded,” Mr. Obama wrote in a memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies in the executive branch.
Now, I’m not a fancy Harvard lawyer like President Obama, but I have to wonder why he would sign a bill that has what he believes is an unconstitutional provision in it.

IRS Gives the Boot to Private Tax Collectors (Washington Post)
If there’s one thing you’d expect Uncle Sam to do for himself, it’s collecting the money needed to run the government. That’s not always the case. The Internal Revenue Service hires private tax collectors to dun some of the folks who fall behind. But no longer. Last [week], IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman announced he is killing the program. “I believe this work is best done by IRS employees,” he said. And there will be more of them to do the work. The IRS plans to hire 1,000 new collection personnel this year. As much as the IRS is the butt of jokes, it also has a reputation for being staffed by professionals who keep taxpayer information confidential, even from other government agencies. When the IRS started using private collection agencies in 2006, that put them deep in the pockets and personal affairs of taxpayers.
Not to mention the waste involved in paying for high salaries of the executives who run the private agencies and even paying for their profit.  Privatization is a really bad idea in an awful lot of cases.

Mileage tax gains in Congress, but White House isn’t sold (McClatchy)
Despite opposition from the White House, a proposal to tax motorists on the number of miles they drive each year is gathering speed on Capitol Hill… Supporters say that a mileage tax would be a more reliable source of funding for the upkeep of the nation’s roads and bridges. Many environmentalists endorse it, saying that it would lead to less driving and less pollution. However, the proposal is raising privacy concerns — particularly if GPS devices were to monitor mileage — and opponents say that the last thing people need is a new tax, particularly in the middle of a recession. 

Obama Intelligence Nominee Withdraws (by Max Blumenthal at the Daily Beast)
Charles “Chas” Freeman, Obama’s pick to head the National Intelligence Council, has withdrawn from contention for the job. The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal reported that the leader of the campaign against Freeman was Steven Rosen, a former director of AIPAC awaiting trial on espionage charges, who has a long history of attacking and undermining anybody he deems hostile to Israel.

Charles Freeman fails the loyalty test (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
In the U.S., you can advocate torture, illegal spying, and completely optional though murderous wars and be appointed to the highest positions.  But you can’t, apparently, criticize Israeli actions too much or question whether America’s blind support for Israel should be re-examined.

Schumer Takes Credit For Getting Chas Freeman Ousted (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Chuck Schumer’s office sends over a statement from the Senator himself, saying he’s the one who got Chas Freeman dumped from the post of National Intelligence Council chief: “Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position. His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration. I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing.” As I reported the other day, Schumer had privately communicated his doubts to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Looks like those conversations had their desired effect: Schumer’s statement says straight out that that the White House engineered Freeman’s ouster.

Media Falsely Report Dean Will Become Lobbyist, Disqualifying Himself From White House (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Did Howard Dean unilaterally remove himself from consideration for an Obama administration position? That’s the blaring headline from USA Today, which, citing a report in the Washington Post, says that by signing on with the lobbying firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge, the former DNC chairman has apparently ended his “stated hopes of joining the Obama administration.” Only, it’s not true. While McKenna does lobby the government, and the Obama White House has an ethics policy that prohibits (almost all) lobbyists from serving in the administration on an issue on which they’ve lobbied, Dean himself won’t be a lobbyist.

Howard Dean Allies Not Buyin’ Those White House Leaks (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
An interesting new twist in the ongoing sotto-voce war, if you can call it that, between the White House and Howard Dean, courtesy of HuffPo’s Sam Stein: “Allies of Howard Dean are saying that recent leaks from the White House, in which anonymous officials suggest that the former DNC Chair is being considered for the post of Surgeon General, seem suspiciously-timed and politically motivated…” Dean allies tell me that they have made it known to Obama advisers through back channels that they’re angered by the Obama team’s stiff-arming of Dean, given that his 2004 campaign Internet innovations and 50-state strategy as DNC chair arguably helped lay the groundwork for Obama’s victory.

So any hints from the White House that Dean was being considered for surgeon general do seem like little more than an effort to placate these angry Deaniacs, given that Dean’s aides had already indicated that he wasn’t interested in the post.

Obama White House Discloses Two More Lobbyist Waivers Granted (by Jake Tapper at Political Punch, at ABC News)
The White House Tuesday evening disclosed that almost three weeks ago the Obama administration granted ethics wavers for two additional officials who had previously worked as lobbyists. On February 20 the administration signed waivers for Jocelyn Frye, former general counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Cecilia Muñoz, the former senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza, allowing them to work on issues for which they lobbied.

Coleman Court Case Will Run Course as Franken Petition Is Denied (CQ Politics)
A state court decision Friday ensured that there will be no declared winner in Minnesota’s disputed 2008 Senate election until a state judicial panel rules on vote-counting disputes, which have delayed a final outcome for more than four months.

More Bad News for Coleman (Political Wire)
Norm Coleman (R) “had hoped an inspection of hundreds of secrecy envelopes holding rejected absentee ballots would yield enough additional votes to help him cut into Al Franken’s (D) 225-vote lead. But it turned out that only 89 of them had valid registrations,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. “That means Coleman’s pool of 1,725 ballots that he has said should be counted probably has shrunk by several hundred — at least for now — making it more difficult for him to overtake Franken.”

AP Source: Prosecutor seeking FBI tapes of Burris (AP)
A county prosecutor exploring the possibility of perjury charges against U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has asked federal officials for FBI tapes of phone conversations between Burris and ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother, an individual with knowledge of the case said Friday.

Sen. Joe Lieberman now sings Obama’s praises (AP)
Sen. Joe Lieberman has changed his tune on Barack Obama. After campaigning across the country for Republican John McCain in 2008 and attacking Obama as naive, untested and unwilling to take on powerful special interests, Lieberman now showers praise on the popular new Democratic president.
Joe’s in trouble with the Connecticut voters.  Maybe he thinks he can latch on to Obama’s coattails.

McCain Prepping ‘Contract With America’ Style Economic Plan (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Sen. John McCain is putting together a major economic plan that will be structured, in some ways, off of Newt Gingrich’s famous Contract With America. In an email obtained by the Huffington Post, the Arizona Republican’s chief of staff, Marc Buse, asked an outside adviser for help with a “ten principles” program that the senator could use as a “definitive” platform… The fact that he is going outside the Senate office for advice on a “definitive plan” modeled off of Gingrich’s work suggests McCain is laying the groundwork for more comprehensive opposition. Gingrich and his Republican colleagues famously introduced their blueprint for a GOP renaissance six weeks before the 1994 midterm elections.

Republicans Have No Leader (Political Wire)
A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows 68% of Republican voters say their party has no clear leader. Just 5% view either Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential candidate, or new party chairman Michael Steele as the party’s leader. And just 2% see Rush Limbaugh filling the role.

Conservative Group Planning Aggressive Attack On Obama’s Justice Nominees (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
In a highly unusual move designed to make it tougher for Senators to vote to confirm four of Obama’s picks for key sub-cabinet slots at Justice, the conservative Family Research Council is planning to “score” the votes of individual Senators on whether to confirm those nominees. The Family Research Council’s planned assault concerns four nominees that are highly regarded on the left… Senate votes on the four are expected this week. But the move could slow efforts to get them confirmed, because it could make GOP Senators hesitant to vote for them, lest their conservative “rating” by the group suffer.

Sanford plans not to use stimulus fund to stimulate South Carolina economy. (Think Progress)
ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports that South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), who is considering a run for president in 2012, “will be sending President Obama a letter in the next few days asking for permission to apply a quarter of South Carolina’s stimulus money, approximately $700 million, to paying down state debt rather than using the money to fund government programs.” If Obama rejects Sanford’s request, the governor will not seek the $700 million in stimulus funds which are under his discretion, possibly causing the state legislature to override his efforts. Sanford’s move follows the attempt by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), another 2012 contender, to reject $90 million in stimulus funding that would have benefited 25,000 unemployed Louisiana residents.
Paying down the state’s debt isn’t a STIMULUS, Gov. Sanford.

Federal stimulus plan spawns online, e-mail scams (McClatchy)
When President Barack Obama said earlier this year that he wanted to put money into the pockets of the American people, he had something specific in mind: the $787 billion federal stimulus package.

Steele May Face No Confidence Vote (Political Wire)
Republican insiders tell Political Wire that a no confidence vote on RNC Chairman Michael Steele is likely to be called after the NY-20 special election on March 31 — regardless of whether Republicans win the seat or not. Katon Dawson, who came in second in the January RNC vote, is said to be quietly organizing a vote and is getting the support of several state party chairmen who want to dump Steele.

Peretz, investors buying back TNR (Politico)
Marty Peretz, former owner of The New Republic, is buying back the magazine with a group of investors led by former Lazard executive Laurence Grafstein. Peretz confirmed recent reports of his interest in the magazine … to POLITICO and said that the deal is under way, with an official statement later.

Katie Couric’s Sarah Palin Interview Wins Cronkite Award (Huffington Post)
Katie Couric has won a Cronkite Award for her revealing, multi-part interview of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The Cronkite Awards have been presented biannually by the USC Annenberg School for Communication, in honor of CBS News legend Walter Cronkite, since 2000.
How were Palin’s responses to Couric different from Obama’s responses in a recent NYT interview (thanks to Riverdaughter at The Confluence:

Q: Sir, we’re landing here, but what are you reading these days? What kind of newspapers do you read, do you read the clips, do you read actual papers, do you watch television?
A: Other than The New York Times?
Q: Other than The New York Times. Do you read Web sites? What Web sites do you look at?
A: I read most of the big national papers.
Q. Do you read them in clips or do you read them in the paper?
A. No, I read the paper. I like the feel of a newspaper. I read most of the weekly newsmagazines. I may not read them from cover to cover but I’ll thumb through them. You know, I spend most of my time these days reading a lot of briefings.
Q: And television? Do you watch? Web sites?
A: I don’t watch much television, I confess.
Q: And Web sites?
Q: No blogs?
A: I rarely read blogs.

County Fair gets results (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
[W]e tagged the WashPost for publishing the Worst Headline of the Day and suggested editors change it online. The headline’s been changed. The original unfortunate, and insulting, headline read, “Obama plays the ethnic card.” It now reads, ”Obama Courts Ethnic Press.” 

More from the brain invaders: (by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
[The] nonsense continued over the weekend…:
- For the “Outlook” section’s page-one piece on the marvels of Barbie, click here. (Synopsis: “I took off all her clothes and sent her looking for love. My Barbie got AROUND.”)
- To see what’s on a Slate editor’s mind, just click this. (Warning: This editor loses her buzz in fancy hotels–when she’s asked if she’ll volunteer to use towels more than once.)
- For the New York Times’ requisite piece about Barbie, just click here. (“Why did my Barbies end up dismembered, naked, pierced and slashed in the toy-dregs mausoleum of dusty closet crates?”… Note: This is Barbie’s fiftieth anniversary..)
- To see Maureen Dowd devote her whole column to Michelle Obama’s arms, just click this. (“In the taxi, when I asked David Brooks about her amazing arms, he indicated it was time for her to cover up.”)…
Those four pieces all came from the press corps’ ladies, as your world was melting down. Sheer nonsense spilled from the gentlemen too, a point we’ll explore as the week progresses.

Michelle Obama Gets a Taste of Being Hillary-d (by Ani at No Quarter)
The UK Telegraph recently put forth a rather ridiculous article [“]Was ‘Lady Macbeth’ behind Barack Obama’s snub of Gordon Brown?[?] postulating that “gift gate,” wherein the President disrespected British PM Gordon Brown with his less than thoughtful present of 25 DVDs, was somehow Michelle’s fault. Nonsense… No matter how I may feel about Michelle Obama’s past statements or actions, she is not the President and cannot be used as a shield, a distraction or a whipping post for his faulty actions. By that very logic, if she is that all-powerful, she should have run for President, not he.

Personal Obama Prompter (, thanks to Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Designer John Pszeniczny has come up with a classic.

Because a president needing prompting is so funny:

Former WSJ Editorial Writer to Head Wash Times Opinion Pages (Editor & Publisher)
Richard Miniter, an author and former Wall Street Journal editorial writer, has been named editor of the editorial pages and vice president of opinion at The Washington Times. Miniter will head what are considered among the most conservative editorial pages.

A Moment of Civil Discourse With Ann Coulter (New York Times)

After declaring that the “continual playing to stereotypes must stop,” Limbaugh says “everybody knows it was the vacuum cleaner that liberated women more than the pill” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh on EFCA: “One day Tony Soprano will walk in with a lead pipe and he will start beating people upside the head to vote to unionize” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Frum discussing Limbaugh’s “race problem” with Matthews: There’s been “five instances” between inauguration day and present where Limbaugh has said Obama isn’t vulnerable to criticism because of his race (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Media Matters for America headlines

IBD editorial blamed Frank for “nix[ing] reforms” of Fannie and Freddie in ’02 and ’03 — when GOP controlled House

Media figures referring to “Obama bear market” did not refer to “Bush bear market”

Blitzer, Blankley falsely claimed Obama was calling NY Times back “to clarify” he’s not a socialist

Fox’s Wilson aired economist’s attacks on EFCA without noting her study’s industry funding

Despite reported “updates” to “style,” Wash. Times repeatedly refers to “illegals” in headlines

Fox News allowed Diaz to criticize EFCA without noting his affiliation with group opposing it

Fox News’ Kelly falsely suggested Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate secret ballot elections

Morning Joe cropped Buffett’s comments on the “obligation” of Dems and Republicans in “economic war”

More Fox News revisionism: Baier ignored Limbaugh assertion that he hopes stimulus “prolongs the recession”

WSJ falsely suggested a secret ballot is currently required for employees to gain union representation

By focusing on earmarks — less than 2 percent of spending bill — media allow bill’s opponents to dictate debate

Report slams crude effort to fight Web militants
Western governments have overstated the role the Internet plays in the recruitment of militants, and measures to block extremist material are “crude, expensive and counterproductive”, a report said on Tuesday. Any attempts to filter or restrict access to sites grooming potential suicide bombers would be impractical and ineffective, said the study… “Self-radicalisation and self-recruitment via the Internet with little or no relation to the outside world rarely happens, and there is no reason to suppose that this situation will change in the near future,” it said. “Indeed it is largely ineffective at drawing in new recruits.”

New Citizen Media Projects Foster Rising Voices In Ivory Coast, Liberia, China, Mongolia, And Yemen (Global Voices)
Of the 270 project proposals we received from activists, bloggers, and NGO’s all wanting to use citizen media tools to bring new communities – long ignored by both traditional and new media – to the conversational web, the following five are most representative of the innovation, purpose and goodwill that Rising Voices aims to support.

Are Blogs Losing Their Authority to The Statusphere? (by Brian Solis at TechCrunch)
We are learning to publish and react to content in “Twitter time” and I’d argue that many of us are spending less time blogging, commenting directly on blogs, or writing blogs in response to blog sources because of our active participation in micro communities.

Turning Some Online Writers Less Opinionated
The mocking writers from Gawker and Defamer are changing their tone as they work on the reopening of the Movieline Web site.

The Twitter Backlash Begins (by Devin Browne, The Wrap)
In recent months, Twitter has broken the news for plane crashes, wildfires, and terrorist attacks. But while Twitter is changing the way reporters and editors have to do their jobs, it is also inspiring a round of crankiness, agita, and outright backlash against the service.

The Twitter Followholic: An Epidemic (by Elliott Kosmicki, founder of, a productivity and personal development blog for home business owners, writing at Mashable)
It’s an illness. It’s a disease that attacks the brain, affecting the response of your fingers on the keyboard and mouse. “Stop clicking,” you say to yourself as another follow button has turned into a green-checked following icon. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem: you’re a followholic and you can’t stay away from a Twitter user’s follow button. (Say it out loud: My name is ______, and I’m a followholic.)

Go and sin no more: Many have given up Facebook for Lent
College students were the first to hit on the Facebook fast. This year, adults — the fastest-growing Facebook demographic group — have taken on the challenge. Now Italian Roman Catholic bishops are onto it. Sort of. They’re urging believers to take a high-tech fast for Lent by switching off iPods and abstaining from instant text messaging.

Times Techie Envisions the Future of News
Nick Bilton, an editor in the New York Times research and development lab, doesn’t think much of newspaper. In fact, he doesn’t even get the Sunday paper delivered to his house. Thankfully for Bilton and his employer, he’s bullish on news. It’s just the paper he hates.

Would You Pay Extra for a Phone With a Mobile-Optimized News Service? (by Simon Dumenco, Advertising Age)
The Hearst e-reader project suggests media executives just can’t stop clinging to the concept of news as a thing — news as a discrete product that can and should be purchased like any other package good. It’s amazing that in 2009, that idea still has such a grip. Arguably a death grip.

MediaNews Touts ‘Personalized’ Newspaper Experiment; Anyone Remember The Radio Newspaper From 1939? (Paid Content)
Given the dire straits of the newspaper business at the moment, trying anything to boost circulation and ad revenue can hardly sound like a bad idea. Still, MediaNews Group’s plan to offer subscribers the chance to pick the kind of news stories they get from the Los Angeles Daily News seems unlikely to provide a real shot in the arm… At a time when the online media industry is faced with regulatory challenges on targeted ads, focusing some of those efforts on the printed format do make sense. But whether they will be able to make more out of it than than have on the web will certainly be more cumbersome. For one thing, MediaNews expects daily newspaper readers to buy—or perhaps rent—a special printer that will spit out daily pages…

A post on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog offers a good deal more skepticism about MediaNews project, comparing it to previous ill-fated efforts to create a “fax newspaper” in 1939 and then again in the 1980s. The main point: while Hearst’s investment in an e-reader sounds promising, for the most part, newspapers need to get out of the hardware business, not into it.
Why not have the option of downloading to an ereader and/or receiving a pdf format?

Wikis in Seattle and San Francisco Help Build Model for News Organizations of the Future (Poynter Online)
When a local metro daily is dying, what’s next? How do you rescue the best talent and resources and create a replacement news organization — one that serves the community well while making economic, technological and business sense? That’s what two new wiki-based collaborative communities are trying to figure out.

Professors Could Rescue Newspapers (by Jonathan Zimmerman at Christian Science Monitor)
It’s getting too expensive to gather news, so here’s a novel idea: Let’s get university professors to do it. We have a lot to teach about nearly every subject that a paper might cover. And did I mention that we’ll work for free?

Medsger: I hope prof’s plan to save papers is a joke
Betty Medsger’s reaction: “Talk about wild anti-labor practices. Not to mention the fact that most professors would not be interested in pursuing the meticulous research and verification the job entails, day in and day out.”
But they might be willing to teach courses where the students do the writing as PART of a process of democratizing the news.

United, Newspapers May Stand (by David Carr, New York Times)
Perhaps someone can blow a secret whistle and publishers and editors could all meet at an undisclosed location, and decide to jump off the following cliffs: No more free content; no more free ride to aggregators; no more commoditized ads; and throw out the Newspaper Preservation Act.

Time Inc.’s Moore Looks to Online Subscriptions
“I think it is time for Time Inc to sit down and seriously think, what is the model? We are going to have to figure out a way to have paid content in the future,” says Time chief Ann Moore, adding that the business is considering making and subscription-based.

NYT’s Nisenholtz: Paid Content Would Be ‘Incremental Revenue’ (Paid Content)
It’s Martin Nisenholtz’s turn answering questions for the feature “Talk to The Times” and the SVP of digital operations for The New York Times Company has already scaled the pay wall and the company clearly isn’t done with the notion of pay to read… [T]he company is trying to find a balance between paid content (Nisenholtz lists subscriptions, micro-payments, membership tiers) and what Nisenholtz calls “a very large national display revenue stream” that separates from “many local news Web sites that still depend mostly on declining classified ad revenues.” 

No Plagiarism in Fortune Writer’s Newsweek Work
Last week, Fortune was forced to publish an apology after discovering that Barney Gimbel, a precocious staff writer, had plagiarized from a New York Times Magazine story on Lukoil. Although Gimbel quickly resigned, an in-house review of his work for Fortune turned up no other instances of plagiarism.

Where 1990′s Top Papers Are Now
Of the 25 biggest weekday papers in 1990, the year newspaper employment peaked and the year before circulation declines really gathered momentum, 21 papers have lost ground. Only four have expanded paid circulation.

The Ten Major Newspapers That Will Fold or Go Digital Next
Based on the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition that they face in their markets, and industry information on how much money they are losing, it is possible that eight of the fifty largest dailies in the U.S. could cease publication in the next eighteen months.

California Newspaper Company Growing Thanks To The Internet
Recognizing the growth of social networks, two years ago The Bakersfield Californian, a local paper serving Bakersfield and greater Kern County, decided to try a radical online experiment. They launched their own news social networking site called Bakotopia. Aimed at reaching nonreaders, especially young people in the city of nearly 329,000, the website became so popular, the company expanded the business, publishing 20,000 copies of a free magazine with content from Bakotopia twice a month. Since the magazine reaches the elusive young, hip crowd, the publisher requires advertisers to pay full ad rates. Dan Pacheco, senior manager of digital products at the company, says this has helped the magazine actually turn a profit.

Sacramento Bee Union Votes for Pay Cuts to Reduce Layoffs
The Bee’s unionized news and advertising employees agreed to pay cuts Friday in a move to reduce the number of layoffs at the newspaper. The vote means as many as 34 news and advertising workers covered by union contract will be laid off — down from as many as 53.

Chronicle Reaches Tentative Pact With Union
The San Francisco Chronicle and its largest union have reached a tentative agreement on contract concessions that the company says are essential for saving the newspaper. The Chronicle has asked for changes to the collective bargaining agreement involving hours, wages, benefits, and staff reductions.

SF Chronicle union wants a chance to buy the paper
The California Media Workers Guild has told Hearst: “It is our intention to form a public-labor partnership to explore the possibility of acquiring the Chronicle should the paper be offered for sale. If necessary, we will keep the paper going on borrowed funds and volunteer labor.”

Seattle Paper Says Workers Told Jobs Will End
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has told employees they might lose their jobs as soon as next week after a deadline for Hearst Corp to sell the newspaper passed on Monday. Hearst has not yet decided what to do with the Seattle paper.

McClatchy to Cut 1,600 More Jobs as Part of Restructuring
McClatchy Co. will cut 1,600 jobs, or 15% of its work force, and cut salaries, including its chief executive’s, as the company looks to save money and navigate through what it called “an increasingly poor national economic environment.”

NYT Co.’s Rent-to-Own Loan (Gawker)
A debt-strapped New York Times Company has managed to mortgage its shiny new headquarters for a quick cash infusion of $225 million. But at what cost? Some quick Excel work gives us an ugly answer: Anywhere from 11 to 16 percent.

Rupert Murdoch Corners Market in Brooklyn
It’s not the first time Rupert Murdoch has come knocking at the doors of The Brooklyn Paper, but it is the first time the independent news outfit’s founder felt inclined to listen. Murdoch’s News Corp. has completed a deal to buy the newspaper chain for an undisclosed amount.

Who Would Want To Buy A Newspaper? Eli Broad Resurfaces (Paid Content)
Back in 2007, when Sam Zell was swooping in to buy the Tribune Company, Eli Broad was mentioned as a possible last-minute bidder for its flagship paper, the Los Angeles Times. Now, as Tribune files for bankruptcy, the billionaire founder of KB Homes and SunAmerica is talking again about a possible LAT purchase. At a lecture on business and philanthropy in New York City…, Broad discussed how a deal might be structured if the paper is put up for sale as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Newspaper, Online Job-Board Ad Sales Dry Up As More Employers Turn To Search (Paid Content)
Non-stop layoffs made job search the fastest-growing online category last year—with traffic to sites like, and Yahoo HotJobs up by 51 percent in December, per comScore. But that influx of traffic didn’t translate into increased revenues for the big players in recruitment-ad sales. Digital media consultancy Advanced Interactive Media Group found that online recruitment-ad sales fell by five percent last year. Newspapers fared even worse, with recruitment ad sales down by 34 percent in 2008. And the pain may continue for both on- and offline recruitment services, according to the WSJ, as employers are increasingly using search ads as a cheaper, faster way to reach a growing pool of hungry job-seekers.

Yahoo Newspaper Consortium Adds Boston Globe And St. Petersburg Times At CEO Summit (Paid Content)
[T]he Newspaper Consortium is welcoming the addition of NYTCo’s Boston Globe and the St. Petersburg Times, published by the Times Publishing Company, which is owned by the Poynter Institute. Since Yahoo unveiled the APT ad targeting and delivery platform back in September, the company has added over 50 other papers to its roster. It hasn’t hurt that the worsening outlook for newspapers has made the early promises of the program more attractive.

As Leon Levitt, Cox Newspapers’ VP of digital media, told me, “This has changed the way we sell. We’re no longer selling the Atlanta Journal Constitution or We’re selling audience to advertisers and we’re agnostic as to the product we sell to get advertisers that audience. That’s much more of an internal change. If we’re going to survive, and I believe we will, we have got to be able to do that. As for how we’re doing, just at the Atlanta paper alone, we sold $2 million in Yahoo inventory since we launched with APT last fall.”

Magazine Pro to Newbies: Downturn A ‘Petri Dish For Innovation’
Despite the numerous challenges it brings, [MPA membership vice president Shaunice Hawkins ] encouraged the crowd to see the recession as an opportunity to showcase new ideas and solutions. “This is where you get rid of all the fluff and you get down to your most creative thought,” she said, calling the current downturn a “petri dish for innovation.”
Maybe they need to be growing something edible in that petri dish.

National Mags Hope to Find Bright Spot in Regional Ads
It’s not just start-ups and newspaper refugees fighting over local marketing and media — national magazines have planted a stake in local turf as well. Publishers are hoping that regional ads in magazines can provide their industry with a very welcome bright spot.

Regional Mags Rocked by Layoffs
Regional magazine publishers have reported layoffs. Texas Monthly publisher Emmis Communications eliminated 91 full-time and 14 part-time positions, or about 7.5 percent of its overall workforce. Meanwhile, the Texas company that owns D magazine laid off 12 staffers, or about 12 percent.

Reader’s Digest: Restructuring With Advisors, Not Bankruptcy (Paid Content)
RDA CEO Mary Berner…: “RDA has proactively hired respected law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which advises companies on a vast array of corporate matters, as well as a top financial advisor, Miller Buckfire, to advise us on a wide range of restructuring and financing issues. We want to have the best advisors as we navigate this incredibly difficult economy, and retaining companies like these ensures that we will be well prepared and well advised. They will assist the company in staying ahead of the problems in the market by exploring strategic initiatives, including (but not limited to) raising additional capital and easing our debt burden.”

NBC Considering Hour-long Nightly Newscast
NBC’s surge in the evening has been strong enough for the news division president, Steve Capus, to suggest that NBC is positioned to be the first network to expand to a full-hour newscast. (He did not set any timetable for that move.) The network’s news division is making a pile of money.

“The Fix” is in at ABC…
ABC News is expanding its digital only content with the launch of The Fix. The Web show features ABC News correspondents/anchors John Berman, Juju Chang, Dan Harris and Bill Weir, and ESPN’s John Anderson. Andrew Morse, who is also EP of GMA weekend is the executive producer of The Fix. Weir hosts the debut episode of “The Fix” with the ongoing series “Accidental News.” It includes a Charlie Gibson pseudo obscenity and Weir sleeping on some stranger’s couch in Madrid.
Now, THAT’s worthwhile journalism.

CBS Says Internet Ad Revenue for NCAA Tournament May Rise 30%
CBS Corp. said it expects a 30 percent increase in revenue from online advertising for college basketball’s postseason tournament. Online ad revenue will be about $30 million, up from $23 million a year ago, and Internet ad inventory is almost sold out.

Muziic turns YouTube into rich source for songs
A schoolboy and his father have unleashed software that lets people listen to YouTube’s vast collection of music videos as if it were a private collection.

YouTube blocks UK users from watching music videos
Google Inc. said Monday it will block U.K. users from watching music videos on its popular video-sharing site YouTube after negotiations with Britain’s music royalty-collecting body broke down.

YouTube Rights Battle Over Music Videos in the U.K. Could Spread to MySpace (The Guardian)
The dispute between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society for Music that prompted the Web site to remove music videos could spread to MySpace UK and other music sites MySpace UK and other sites are struggling to renegotiate their own licenses with PRS, which pays royalties to artists.

What Online Ad Meltdown? TPM Creates In-House Ad Sales Business Headed By Former Yahoo (Paid Content)
Left-of-center political news blog TPM has tapped former Yahoo ad sales exec Diane Rinaldo to kickstart the site’s own in-house ad sales business. Although online ad revenues in general have been slowing down over the past year, TPM execs say that they have benefited from the 2008 presidential race—it claims to have reached 3.1 million monthly uniques last October—and it’s been able to maintain momentum as the Obama Administration deals with the economy and the war in the Middle East… The site attracts advocacy and political advertisers, as well as corporate marketers.

Beyond Ad Sales: Retail, Subscription Revenues For Casual Games Are Up, Too (Paid Content)
Mediaweek, keying on the fact that companies like WildTangent and MTV Networks’ are raking in the ad dollars in spite of cutbacks elsewhere, asks whether the casual-games industry is recession-proof. But ad sales are only half the equation—retail sales and subscription revenues also contribute to the bottom line. And for companies like PopCap Games and RealNetworks, those numbers are coming in just as strong.

ForSaleByTxt: Get Instant Information on For Sale Signs via SMS (Mashable)
How often do you see for For Sale signs while you’re driving in your neighborhood? Most of them have a contact number that you can call for more information, but if you’re looking for more immediate information to consume at your convenience, ForSaleByTxt just makes sense. Sellers can use the tool for their big-ticket items — think boats, cars, houses — to let potential buyers use SMS to receive more info. It’s not the prettiest site, but ForSaleByTxt does offer a service that plenty of buyers want and sellers should want to support — information made available via SMS message — and it’s pretty painless to use.

Social Networking More Popular Than Email (Mashable)
New stats from Nielsen Online show that by the end of 2008, social networking had overtaken email in terms of worldwide reach. According to the study, 66.8% of Internet users across the globe accessed “member communities” last year, compared to 65.1% for email. The most popular online activities remain search and Web portals (with around 85% reach) and the websites of software manufacturers. The far-reaching study also explored a number of other trends within the social networking space. In 2008, users spent 63% more time on member communities than they did in the previous year.

Facebook Becoming Major Traffic Driver; Will The Revenue Come Next? (Paid Content)
Facebook’s willingness to work with third-party developers and pull in third-party content, and its encouragement of content-sharing between members has helped the social network’s population surge to more than 175 million members. That openness is also boosting Facebook’s status as a traffic-driver: the social net has topped Google as the number-one source of traffic to a number of large sites, including, and events site Evite… Much of the Facebook-driven traffic comes from links that members post via areas like “Notes” and photos. If Facebook’s influence as a traffic source continues to rise, the next step would be to figure out how to monetize the traffic to those areas with paid search.

New Banner Ad Formats Debut
The Online Publishers Association is unveiling several ad formats to breathe new life into the lowly banner ad. “We’ve been talking about the creative for a long time,” said Pam Horan, the group’s president. “We need to think about how we will provide ad agencies with more of a palate.”

Google’s Behavioral Ads: The Users Are In Control (Mashable)
Today, Google will start displaying AdSense ads based on users’ previous online activities and habits. In the simplest possible sense, if you’re frequently visiting sites about cars, you might see more car ads while you browse the web. It’s done through a cookie which stores information on which sites carrying AdSense ads you’ve visited. Google calls it interest-based advertising… While this is not anything new in the world of online advertising, all eyes are set on Google due to privacy concerns. Users may ask themselves: What information is stored about me when I browse the web? Can i change it? Can I choose not to be a part of this? Fortunately, the answer to all of these questions is yes. 

ESPN360 Unveils Self-Serve Ads For Live March Madness Video Streams (Paid Content)
By allowing the insertion of dynamic ads into its live simulcasts, the Disney-owned sports media franchise promises it can work with marketers on making the ads in pod more creative and flexible, as opposed to offering sliced up versions of a general TV spot. In particular, ESPN believes that insertion offering will make it possible to more effectively sell its premium inventory. The technology was developed with help from the Disney Interactive Media Group and if the test works as they expect, over the next few months other Disney digital properties will quickly adopt it for other big events such as awards shows and special entertainment webcasts.

Report Predicts Three Down Years for Ad Biz
The advertising business in the U.S., for the first time ever, could fall for three years straight. According to the Jack Myers Media Business Report, media revenue generated through advertising declined 4.2% last year and will decline another 12% this year, then as much as 7% in 2010.

Groups Recommend Rules for Broadband Grants
Government agencies tasked with handing out about US$7 billion in broadband deployment grants over the next couple of years should provide competition in areas where existing services are lacking and should give priority to local broadband providers over national ones, some broadband advocates said Monday.

Devices To Help You Ditch Cable TV
In a tough economy, CNET looks at devices that could substitute for expensive cable service.

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Comments (1) left to “Media & Politics”

  1. Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Deja Vu All Over Again wrote:

    [...] look! Our new president is not quite a Blue Dog – just Blue-ish. Change you can trust! [via] President Barack Obama firmly resists ideological labels, but at the end of a private meeting with [...]

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