Take Five

Here are five brief observations swirling in my head waiting to get out:

  1. There was a time in our recent past when just one ill-advised comment could cause a politician or celebrity to lose their job or status. I’m thinking of Jimmy the Greek, George Romney and Ed Muskie to name a few. Today we have a number of politicians, pundits and journalists who make their livelihoods and careers based on almost daily ill-advised comments, reporting and opinions.
  2. Remember when the best way to judge a person was based on what they do, not necessarily what they say. So many people today are more impressed with empty hype than performance. A well delivered promise that may or may not come to fruition carries more weight than actual results.
  3. The day when we all signed up for AOL decades ago was the day that we forfeited our rights of privacy.
  4. The sole criterion for many Americans on the status and success of the US presidency is that the current officeholder is not named Trump.
  5. My grandmother died in 1971. She had tens of thousands of dollars representing her life savings in a mattress. She never had a bank account. I suspect that given she lived through the bank failures of the 1930s that she feared putting her money in a bank. Interestingly enough, if she was alive today, she would be earning about the same amount of interest income from putting her money in a mattress than putting her money in a bank.

16 Things to Do to Be as Smart as Me

  1. Listen to the Pivot podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway for commentary on business, culture, tech and politics.
  2. Read Maureen Dowd (New York Times)
  3. Watch a Chris Wallace interview. (The only thing worth watching on Fox News)
  4. View a White House press briefing by Jen Psaki.
  5. Read tweets from John Pavlovitz.
  6. Watch “New Rules” by Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect HBO)
  7. View Doonesbury cartoon on Sunday morning.
  8. View tech interviews by Emily Chang.
  9. Read posts on business, marketing, tech and entrepreneurship from Seth Godin daily (seths.blog)
  10. Listen to commentary from Fareed Zakaria.(CNN on Sundays)
  11. Watch PTI for sports commentary. (ESPN)
  12. Listen to Paul Finebaum for best insights into college football.
  13. Listen to first 15 minutes of Colin Cowherd show for his sports commentary on professional sports. (FS1)
  14. Listen to economic and business insights of Andrew Ross Sorkin (CNBC)
  15. Watch past Christopher Hitchens debates, conversations and discussions about politics, religion, history and culture found on YouTube.
  16. View online Yale course “Financial Markets” by Professor Robert Shiller found on Yale Courses on YouTube.

Book Review: Hoax by Brian Stelter

So there is a resistance movement within Fox News! Good to know! Today it was on display as many Fox “journalists” defended Jennifer Griffin after Trump wanted her fired after her sources revealed that certain allegations in the recent Atlantic article were confirmed by her sources. Trump accused our military dead, injured and POWs as being “losers.”

Fox Heroes: Carl Cameron, Shep Smith, Neil Cavuto, Chris Wallace and Brett Baier

Fox Zeroes: Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jeanne Pirro, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle

Listed below are some sections from the Stetler book to give one a taste of what it covered and was about:

The day after his on air powwow with Hannity, the president called the host with a question; “How did we do?” Hannity knew that the real meaning of the question was “How did we rate?” pg. 5

Hannity chose this life, so no one felt sorry for him, but the stress took its toll. “Hannity would tell you, off off off the record, that Trump is a bat shit crazy person,” one of his associates said. Another colleague concurred; “Hannity has said to me, more than once, “he’s crazy”. pg. 9

Most Americans knew that Trump was on trustworthy, but the Fox base still trusted him. They also trusted Hannity, who dismissed “coronavirus hysteria,” and Laura Ingraham, who called Democrats “the panDEMic party” and Watters , who said, “I’m not a bit afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid either.” pg. 12

It’s worth stating the obvious here: Trump’s entanglement with Fox has no historical precedent. Never before has a TV network effectively produced the president’s intelligence briefing and staff the federal bureaucracy. Never before has a president promoted a single TV channel, ask the hosts for advice behind closed doors, and demanded for them to be fired when they stepped out of line. pg.22

Here’s what everyone should understand about Fox’s relationship with Trump, a former Fox and Friends producer said: “People think he’s calling up Fox and Friends and telling us what to say. Hell no. It’s the opposite. We tell him what to say.” pg.43

What works (at Fox): 

  • Stories about undocumented immigrants killing Americans
  • Stories about citizens standing up to the government bureaucracy 
  • Stories about college students disrespecting the flag 
  • Stories about hate crime hoaxes 
  • Stories about liberal media outlets suppressing the truth 
  • And whenever possible stories involving attractive women pg.50

Sex is what Ailes (Roger) wanted, and sex is what he got. He used his power to enforce the short skirts and “leg cams” and exploitive segments that kept men watching. He also abused his power by preying on dozens of women, including Gretchen Carlson, who hatched a plan to hold him accountable. Ailes downfall would coincide with Trump’s takeover of the American right. (pg.51)

(Kimberly) Guilfoyle’s cheerleading for Ailes confused some staffers, since Ailes was known to be dismissive of her in private. According to unsubstantiated allegations in a lawsuit filed by former Fox co host Julie Roginsky, Ailes once said to her that Guilfoyle would “get on her knees for anyone.” pg. 67

In private, during the 2016 primaries, (Carl) Cameron likened Trump to a con man and reminded people of all Trump’s documented fraudulent activity. He pointed out that Fox was owned by Murdoch, a phenomenally successful businessman who built a global media empire, while Trump merely sold his name to other people’s projects. pg.123

Rounding out the five was a “hot chick,” and in Ailes’ words — – two actually, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros, who took turns sitting at the end of the table so the wide shot shot showed off their legs. That was the “leg chair.” pg. 139

(Ailes) always wanted a certain southern beauty queen look from the women on his channel. Sometimes (Suzanne) Scott would convey his messages directly, by telling new hires to “let hair and make up do their job.” She wanted more glam, longer eyelash extensions, shorter skirts, bronzer legs. Some of the Fox make up artists called it the “Barbie doll look.” pg. 143

Poll after poll showed that Fox viewers were less concerned about the virus than average consumers of other news sources, strongly suggesting a linkage between the networks’ commentary and the audience’s beliefs. The Knight foundation and Gallup found that 57% of respondents with a “conservative news diet” believe that the new virus was less deadly than or as deadly as the flu. pg. 306