June 23, 2018

Critic’s Notebook: How to Save ‘The Conners’ from Roseanne

Show Middle America. All of It.

A lot of the talk around “Roseanne” focused on ABC’s decision, after the 2016 election, to develop shows about life in the country between the coasts. That was a good idea, in that TV is better when it tells all kinds of different stories, geographically, demographically and otherwise. But the execution was an issue.

A lot of media outlets struggling to cover the country in the Trump era fell into the trap of acting like “middle America” and “working class” meant one thing: conservative, nostalgic, older white people watching Fox News in diners. If you didn’t fit that mold — if you were one of the millions of Midwesterners of color, or one of the liberals that make purple states purple — you didn’t exist.

“Roseanne” complicated that picture somewhat: Roseanne’s sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) was a liberal and Darlene and family returned from deep-blue Chicago. But it slanted its focus toward its title character and her “economic anxiety” self-justifications. Now it has a chance to spread the attention around, within the family and beyond. Remember Roseanne’s Muslim neighbors, Samir and Fatima (Alain Washnevsky and Anne Bedian)? How about making them recurring characters, with stories and challenges that have to do with things besides just being Muslim neighbors?

Keep the Politics Personal

I have no problem with politics in entertainment, because there’s a lot of politics in life. But “Roseanne” — both in the 1990s and in the revival — did its best work reflecting politics as lived experience: bills, health care, discrimination on the job.

The revival’s weakest episodes were its most on-the-surface takes on politics (the bad blood between Roseanne and Jackie over the election) and social hot buttons (Islamophobia). It’s not that sitcoms shouldn’t do this. It’s that the stories tried to turn “Roseanne,” unsuccessfully, into something it never was: a kind of modern-day “All in the Family” (something “The Carmichael Show,” for instance, did well).

I don’t know how much of that approach was driven by the writers, by Ms. Barr or by the writers deciding that they had to confront all the extratextual issues raised by Ms. Barr. But a post-Roseanne “Conners” has a chance to reset.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/arts/television/roseanne-the-conners-abc.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Charles Krauthammer, Prominent Conservative Voice, Dies at 68

In 2005, President George W. Bush followed Mr. Krauthammer’s published advice when he withdrew the Supreme Court nomination of his White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, after she was criticized as unqualified. Mr. Bush saved face by saying her opinions as counsel were protected by executive privilege and could not be shared with the Senate in any confirmation hearings.

The next year, The Financial Times called Mr. Krauthammer the most influential commentator in America. Mr. Krauthammer said he found all that influence worrisome.

“The reason,” he said, “is that when I was totally unknown, I could say anything I damn well please.”

Which subject had generated the most feedback from readers? “Well, if you write about dogs,” he replied, “you’re guaranteed to get enormous reaction.”

Mr. Krauthammer’s book includes a column about Rick Ankiel, a pitching phenom for the St. Louis Cardinals. During one inning of a pivotal playoff game in 2000, the 21-year-old Ankiel walked four batters and threw five wild pitches. He was banished to the minors for five years, survived injuries, but gave up pitching altogether. He fought his way back to the Cardinals as an outfielder and, in 2007, sealed a game with a three-run homer and two days later hit two more home runs and made a spectacular catch.

That column, on the value of resilience, appeared in a section of the book called “Personal,” but Mr. Krauthammer never mentioned himself. Instead, he invoked the hero of Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural,” Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy who attempts a belated comeback after being shot.

“No one knows why Hobbs is shot,” he wrote. “It is fate, destiny, nemesis. Perhaps the dawning of knowledge, the coming of sin. Or more prosaically, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-prominent-conservative-voice-dies-at-68.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

ABC Plans a ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff, Without Roseanne Barr

Examining the genesis of the original “Roseanne,” the executives and producers believed they had found a way to move forward without ABC’s paying Ms. Barr. Although she has been credited with coming up with and shaping the Roseanne Conner character, the creation of the show itself is credited to Matt Williams, a writer-producer who was fired after clashing with the star early in its run.

When “Roseanne” was canceled last month, many television executives expressed doubt that even entertaining the idea of a spinoff was possible. Marcy Carsey, one of the show’s founding producers, recently said she would not try to continue with a similar series.

“I think I would just say, ‘O.K., we had a wonderful run,’” Ms. Carsey said at a television festival in Austin, Tex., this month.

Ms. Carsey’s former producing partner, Mr. Werner, held a different view. “We are grateful to have reached this agreement to keep our team working as we continue to explore stories of the Conner family,” he said in a statement.

By going ahead with the spinoff, ABC executives are gambling that viewers will approve of the network’s decision to bring back the Conners and will display an interest in characters who once served as foils to the lead.

A recent Quinnipiac University National Poll found that 48 percent of registered voters agreed with ABC’s decision to cancel the show, and 34 percent said they would have preferred to see it remain on the air. Among those identifying themselves as Republican, 50 percent disagreed with the network’s move.

Other notable shows — like “House of Cards,” “Transparent” and “Two and a Half Men” — have continued without key cast members. And there is precedent for continuing a series without its eponymous star. The 1980s sitcom “Valerie” was retitled “Valerie’s Family: The Hogans” and then “The Hogan Family” after Valerie Harper left during the show’s second season because of a salary dispute. The writers killed off Ms. Harper’s character — it was a car crash — and brought aboard Sandy Duncan as “Aunt Sandy,” the show’s new matriarch.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/business/media/roseanne-barr-spin-off.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Critic’s Notebook: Oprah Earned This Museum Show. And It’s a Potent Spectacle.

Maybe the chaos extremity of current events has made us wistful for the moral authority of “Oprah Winfrey”: school massacres, police shootings of unarmed black people, men chronically mistreating women, the government’s separation of children from their migrant parents. Whenever somebody pleads for a national conversation — about anything, really — what they’re saying is, “Where the hell is Oprah?”

Many a desperate “O”-shaped Bat signal has gone up in the last half-dozen years, and in January, the country believed she was answering it. That’s one way to interpret the thunderous response to her speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes. Oprah for President! As oratory, the moment really was electrifying. She endorsed the evening’s gender-equity platform, in part, by telling the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Alabama whom white men repeatedly raped one night in 1944. She denounced the coarseness of our national moment by praising the news media. Her pulpit gravitas would have brought down the house at a political convention. But the speech wasn’t enough. People seemed desperate to work themselves into Oprah 2020 fever.

Oprah Winfrey Receives Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes Video by NBC

To the extent that “queen of daytime” is any kind of office, it’s one Ms. Winfrey has never abused. She loves people, and she seems to understand the intensity of people’s love for her. But people also love power, and Ms. Winfrey’s display of it that night (and perhaps a New York Post column she retweeted) sparked pandemonium for her to ride it into Washington. President Oprah was fantasized about as an antidote to a caustic, whimsical president: the woman with the extensive “angel network” taking on a master Twitter troll, one television genius locking horns with another.

But the Smithsonian show leaves you thinking that she’d probably expect better fantasies from us. It makes you think she might be too good for whatever a candidate would have to do or say in this political climate to be elected president of anything.

BEFORE YOU EXIT “Watching Oprah,” you’ve scrutinized a case full of childhood photos, diary entries, high school letters and a signed copy of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” You’ve soaked up the music, speeches, imagery and writing in a room devoted to the musicians, actors, authors and political movements that helped a young Oprah determine who she wanted to be. You’ve checked out the amusingly arranged spot devoted to her Oscar-losing performance in “The Color Purple” (she had her Oscar luncheon biscuit bronzed, instead) and the space that enumerates her early television-news work, including a three-minute montage of her in Baltimore and Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s that is one of the most charming pieces of editing you’re going to see. At some point, a young Ms. Winfrey, in spandex, has to put her legs up for an aerobics-class segment and jestingly complains, “Oh, you’re gonna love this shot.”

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Ms. Winfrey’s high school scrapbook, from around 1971. Credit Harpo Inc.
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Ms. Winfrey was the first black contestant to win the title of Miss Fire Prevention, in 1971, at this Nashville pageant. She represented the local radio station where she worked and told the judges she aspired to be a television journalist like Barbara Walters. Credit Metropolitan Government Archives of Nashville

You’ve walked through the replication of the short, declining hallway Ms. Winfrey trod to get to the stage. It opens into the space devoted to the show itself — a pair of armchairs on a platform in front of a big monitor that plays a six-minute highlight reel. You’ve seen the large, almost sentient, encased Sony TV camera and the signed guest books and a copy of one of the show’s look books and some of Oprah’s actual outfits: the black turtleneck and leather pants she put on for Tina Turner, the gown from the DeMille speech, the legendary Calvins she wore the day she unsheathed the slim new figure that would vaguely haunt the show.

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A mock set of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” with a pair of armchairs in front of a monitor that plays a highlight reel. To the right is a giant wall with the titles and airdates of Ms. Winfrey’s 4,561 shows. Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times
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Two microphones and the glass mug and metal straw used by Ms. Winfrey during the final season of her show. Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

You’ve noticed the decades of hair styles and pivots in emotional intent, from the loaded confrontations of what the exhibition reminds us was once called “talk-back TV” to the “best self” era — basically, from her inspiring the cage matches of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich to featuring the real talk of Iyanla Vanzant, the gender decoding of John Gray and the Richter-scale-registering impact of Oprah’s Book Club. You’ve close-read the two blue cards of questions — printed and handwritten, presumably by the host — for Ms. Winfrey’s first conversation with Tom Cruise after his excruciating pounce on her sofa. (“Do you have any regrets about anything these last three years?”)

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The Calvin Klein jeans worn by Ms. Winfrey on the 1988 episode in which she revealed a slim new figure. The jeans are among some of her actual outfits on display in the exhibition. Credit Harpo Inc

You’ve stood aghast before the giant wall printed, randomly, with every single one of the show’s 4,561 titles and airdates. “What Do You Stand For?” (4/24/00). “Tipper Gore on Depression” (6/22/99). “Wives Confess They Are Gay” (10/2/06). “Men Who Can’t Be Intimate” (7/21/88). “Sexual Abuse Ramifications” (4/14/88). “Jennifer Aniston and Beyoncé” (11/13/2008). “How Safe Is Your Home When It’s Alone” (12/1/06). “Cooking With Patti LaBelle” (7/2/99). “Donald J. Trump” (4/25/1988). “Are You Normal? Take the Test!” (12/1/2010). “What Is a Wigger?” (9/9/93). “How to Use Your Life” (4/10/00). You’ve noticed that the wall seems to reach to an absurdly illegible height. It could double as the meanest vision test of all time.

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There’s a lot here. And you depart it all mystified by the absurd contradictions that Ms. Winfrey’s achievements reveal about this country. Here’s a black woman who grew up poor in the segregated South and became the country’s first black female billionaire. Her prosperity inspired others to prosper, yet “Watching Oprah” is situated not far from the museum’s moral and scholastic centerpiece (“A People’s Journey”), a devastating odyssey down into — and then up out of — the creation of the United States from slavery, racism, revolution, innovation, hard work and good luck. She doesn’t seem to know how she made it, but like a lot of successful Americans, she appears to have moments when she can’t entirely believe she has.

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An advertisement from Ms. Winfrey’s early days as an evening news anchor in Nashville in the mid-1970s. Credit NewsChannel 5, Nashville, Tenn.

You wonder whether the show’s integrationist philosophy arises from its host’s having been raised, reared and professionally trained in Milwaukee, Mississippi, Tennessee and the broadcast environs of Baltimore and Chicago. Just geographically, Ms. Winfrey is intersectional. But it also explains something like the trip the show took in 1987 to Forsyth County, Ga., after it purged itself of nearly all its black residents. She wanted to know what about black people so scared the white residents, and she keeps having to remind the racists in her audience that the woman interrogating them is also black.

Ms. Winfrey contributed more than $20 million to the sponsorship of the museum. So there’s an urge to distrust the intent of an exhibition like this, to say that she bought it. But her museum donation doesn’t seem at all like vanity. It’s “how to use your life,” “what do you stand for” money. Across from “A People’s Journey” sits the Oprah Winfrey Theater. Maybe she paid for a piece of that. Anyway, our tax dollars are hard at work here, too. So Ms. Winfrey just paid a little more than I did.

Nonetheless, “Watching Oprah,” in its uncompromised captioning, goes out of its way to remind you about the chronic dissatisfaction, among some black people, with the lack of attention to the crises of black America. The show includes a 1986 letter from a black woman upset that Ms. Winfrey didn’t call on her during a broadcast because she didn’t “look like an ugly, fat, uneducated, frustrated black woman which is typical of the majority of the women you allow to speak on your show.” If that was ever true (suburban white women made up its biggest demographic), it wasn’t that way for long.

This might be the only show in television history to feature a ferocious four-way argument among black women about being a Republican. You watch a moment like that, in the exhibition’s “Talk-Back TV” montage, and you remember the show’s deep roots as a roving dialogue, often through national events, tragedies and disasters, with Ms. Winfrey holding the microphone (several of which are on display). It was a show that, in 1992, devoted a handful of daring episodes to racism, including a couple after the Los Angeles riots and one that featured a panel of American Indians and a white audience actually hearing the panelists’ dismay. Even when it was in the mud, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was determined to make so-called rednecks understand the problem with“redskins.”

ONE PROBLEM WITH being really good at your job is that people won’t let you stop doing it. But you watch enough of these montages and realize two things. First, “Watching Oprah” needs a lot more of “Oprah” to watch, more clips, segments, whole episodes, something. Second, Oprah didn’t do this work alone. She helped us do it. She was a platform. She was Facebook. Forget the presidency. She was the facilitator in chief.

The more she empowered us to speak, the better she got at knowing how her emotional algorithm could supply us with books and feelings and tools for betterment. And she took real risks to better understand this country, too.

That Forsyth County episode might have been a stunt, but it’s more audacious than Geraldo Rivera’s dragging millions of Americans into a bloody brawl with skinheads the following year. “Watching Oprah” doesn’t privilege any one episode over any other. So it’s hard, at first, to see what exactly it is about the show that matters. But then you think about that massive wall of episode titles and how it’s impossible to take it all the way in. And that incomprehensible vastness seems perfectly right, both for the enduring vitality of the show itself and the woman at its center.

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture
Through June 2019 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall, Washington; 844-750-3012, nmaahc.si.edu.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/arts/design/oprah-winfrey-smithsonian-national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Inside ‘Coachella for Journalists’

All told, there were 430 speakers and 210 sessions over four days. (Fifteen Times staff members spoke about their work.) The sessions covered such topics as improving investigative interviews, writing compelling narratives and mining data on websites.

Despite IRE’s growing membership, there continue to be calls to increase diversity in the organization. “It was definitely very white, and it was just reflective of what our industry looks like, unfortunately,” said Carlos Ballesteros, who is participating in a yearlong Report for America fellowship at The Chicago Sun-Times and is Latino. “Hopefully we will see more journalists of color next year in Houston.”

IRE organizers have been working to attract more minority journalists to the conference through fellowships and other efforts, Mr. Haddix, the executive director, said. “We’ve decided part of our mission is to help broaden the base of journalists of color who have the skills to do investigative reporting,” he said.

For those who attend, IRE can be a valuable resource and reporters often find senior colleagues are happy to offer support. “When I was younger and I was just starting out, there was so much I didn’t know, and there was so much I needed to learn,” said Ellen Gabler, an investigative reporter at The Times, “and all these really great experienced journalists willing to explain it to me and spend time with me.”

At one of her first IRE conferences, when she worked for The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Ms. Gabler met the Times correspondent Ron Nixon and pumped him for information about Small Business Association loans. After she returned from the conference, she sent Mr. Nixon an email with some questions about the loan data. Within minutes of sending the message, her phone rang. “He just got on the phone and was like, ‘All right Ellen, this is what you need to know.’”

Melissa Gomez, a reporting intern at The Times, was in the front row for Mr. Baquet and Mr. Baron’s panel.

“People tend to think both papers are at each other’s throats,” Ms. Gomez said. “It was nice to see these are two of the top editors in the U.S. and to see they were united and stood together in terms of holding the values. For me as a young journalist, it is just proof that journalism will still be around a long time.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/pageoneplus/investigative-reporting-newspapers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Womp Womp’: Corey Lewandowski Mocks Child With Down Syndrome Separated From Mother

“Our hearts and prayers go out to this child and her family during this unprecedented and trying time,” Ms. Weir said Wednesday morning. “N.D.S.S. will work with the appropriate agencies to ensure she receives all the resources from us that she needs to help comfort her until she can be reunited with her father and eventually her whole family, where she belongs.”

Customs and Border Protection said that it came into contact with the girl, four of her siblings and her mother on June 3, when they were stopped in a car. The driver of the car was a United States citizen who was trying to smuggle the family into the country, the department said.

Three of the children, who are United States citizens, were released to an aunt. The 10-year-old girl and a sibling were placed into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

While the mother told the authorities she was in the country illegally, Customs and Border Protection said she had not been charged with a crime.

“The mother was not prosecuted, but is instead being held as a material witness to support the prosecution of the smuggler, which precipitated the separation of the two other children, both Mexican citizens,” the department said in a statement. “This smuggler has a criminal history including a flight, escape, aiding and abetting making it important that we prosecute.”

The foreign minister of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, discussed the girl’s situation at a news conference in Mexico City on Tuesday and called the Trump administration’s separation policy “cruel and inhumane.” He said that the girl and her brother were sent to a facility in McAllen, Tex., while their mother was moved to Brownsville, about 60 miles away.

Mexican officials at a consulate in South Texas were trying to have the girl released and reunited with her father, a legal resident of the United States, Mr. Videgaray said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/business/media/corey-lewandowski-womp-womp-down-syndrome.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Los Angeles Times, Searching for Stability, Names Norman Pearlstine Top Editor

“There’s been a lot of attrition, a lot of talent has walked out the door,” Mr. Pearlstine said in an interview. In meetings with the staff in recent weeks, “what I heard was a lot of frustration, a lot of fatigue,” he added. “A lot of problems, but none that can’t be addressed by a lot of care, of listening.”

In recent years, as the disruptions of the digital age continued to pummel the newspaper industry, Tronc made a number of awkward attempts to reshape The Los Angeles Times. The company, in a widely ridiculed move, changed its name from Tribune Publishing to Tronc — short for Tribune Online Content — in 2016, and tried to push a technology-driven approach to journalism. Its aim to “funnel” its journalism to a global audience was met with skepticism, and the paper has had three different top editors in the past year. (On Monday, the company was reportedly considering changing its name again.)

So the newsroom viewed the emergence of Dr. Soon-Shiong as a new owner with relief.

“The message he’s trying to send is ‘I stand by the tenets of this industry,’” John Geddes, a former editor at The New York Times who worked with Mr. Pearlstine at The Wall Street Journal, said of Dr. Soon-Shiong.

The appointment of Mr. Pearlstine, who was introduced to the newsroom Monday morning, was widely applauded by members of the staff. On Twitter, one of them called finally being free of Tronc “Liberation Day.” Another wrote, “Hallelujah.” Mr. Pearlstine is known to many of them already, thanks to the recent meetings.

“In those conversations, he showed a pretty granular grasp of the newsroom’s internal dynamics,” said Matt Pearce, a national reporter at the paper who is also the vice chairman of its union, the Los Angeles Times Guild.

“People like him,” Mr. Pearce added. “He’s met with a ton of us behind the scenes and has come off as smart and approachable.”

Dr. Soon-Shiong, who will take on the role of executive chairman at the paper, also said he immediately planned to invest $150 million in building a 10-acre campus for the newspaper in El Segundo, an area near the Los Angeles airport, that will include a museum to honor the newspaper’s past. The property will also include event space and a state-of-the-art studio for producing podcasts and documentaries.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/norman-pearlstine-los-angeles-times.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

In China Trade War, Apple Worries It Will Be Collateral Damage

Apple, meanwhile, has a deal with China’s biggest telecom company, China Mobile, giving it a direct channel to nearly 900 million subscribers in China. The competition to sell smartphones in the country has become increasingly intense, with a number of other Chinese companies also offering high-end — but usually lower-priced — phones.

Mr. Cook’s frequent visits to China are part of Apple’s increased efforts to court China’s leadership, started in 2016 after the country suddenly removed Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks Store there.

Apple set up two research-and-development centers in China, made a $1 billion investment in the Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing, and created a new position, head of China, that reports directly to Mr. Cook. The company appointed Isabel Ge Mahe, who was born in China, to the role.

Apple also complied with Chinese orders to store its data on Chinese-run servers and to pull certain apps from its App Store, including The New York Times app and many that allowed Chinese users to get around censorship that blocks sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The company has reason to fear retaliation. In 2014, the Obama administration indicted five Chinese military hackers, stoking tensions already high from leaks about American surveillance from the former government contractor Edward J. Snowden.

Months later, Chinese regulators delayed approvals of the iPhone 6 for additional security reviews. Apple executives perceived the moves as retaliation, said people familiar with the matter, which has not been previously reported.

Apple’s primary leverage with the Chinese government is Chinese consumers’ love for Apple products, said Dean Garfield, head of the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade group that represents Apple and other tech companies.

However, Mr. Garfield added, Chinese consumers would also love Facebook and Google, two products blocked in China. “There are limits,” he said. “Xi and the national party will do what’s in their interest.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/technology/apple-tim-cook-china.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

With Two Suitors for Fox, the Murdochs Consider Next Steps

That outcome could help Comcast, which will be challenged on two fronts: as a content distributor, through its cable and broadband service, and as a content provider, via its NBCUniversal division.

Last week’s ruling allowed ATT, a distributor, to purchase Time Warner, a news and entertainment colossus that owns HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. film studio. The decision could conceivably be applied to the Comcast-Fox deal, according to at least one former lawyer for the Justice Department.

When announcing his company’s bid for Fox last week, Brian L. Roberts, Comcast’s chief executive, said he was “highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction.”

Sports networks on the table

However, Fox owns 22 regional sports networks, such as the Yankees’ YES channel in the New York area. Comcast’s NBCUniversal group already operates nine regional sports networks, while Disney has control of ESPN, the dominant cable sports channel in the country. The Justice Department could see either of these combinations as potentially stifling competition.

Mr. Murdoch and his board will want to see which side has crafted the better regulatory maneuver. Both Disney and Comcast are willing to divest the regional sports networks should the government require.

Separately, Hulu would come under the control of either Comcast or Fox — both of which currently own portions of the streaming service. The Justice Department could see Comcast as a possible threat here since it is also the largest broadband provider in the country. Disney is just a programmer. But according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss company deliberations, Comcast would also consider selling Fox’s 30 percent ownership of Hulu as a concession.

In other words, it might be a regulatory wash.

Taxes matter

If so, then it comes back to which offer is better. Mr. Murdoch is said to have favored Disney’s offer last year, partly because an all-stock transaction would not require an immediate tax payment. Comcast’s bid is all cash and would be taxable right away.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/business/media/fox-comcast-disney-whats-next.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Norman Pearlstine Named Editor of The Los Angeles Times

“Norm’s mandate is to help me hire the smartest talent,” he said.

He added, “You need the experience and chops of a person like Norm Pearlstine.”

Dr. Soon-Shiong’s acquisition of the newspaper returns it to local control after 18 years of out-of-town management. In 2000, the paper was sold by its controlling shareholders, the Chandler family, which had owned the paper for decades, to Chicago-based Tribune Co. It went through other iterations of management, including the real estate tycoon Sam Zell and hedge funds, a time that saw the once storied paper fall into disrepair amid steep staff cuts and, at times, a frat-house culture that further diminished morale.

In its heyday, the newspaper was an essential institution in the city, helping bind together a vast and sprawling metropolis. It began its rise in the late 1800s when it was bought by Harrison Gray Otis, a Civil War colonel, and over the years was an important cheerleader for Southern California, helping the rise of the region’s industries — aerospace, Hollywood, real estate. In the 1960s and 1970s, under the guidance of Otis Chandler, a descendant of Mr. Otis, the paper expanded nationally and internationally, earning a place among the country’s greatest newspapers.

Restoring that position as an essential voice in American journalism is Dr. Soon-Shiong’s goal, he said. “We have to find a way to be more competitive,” he said.

For Dr. Soon-Shiong, who grew up in South Africa as a son of Chinese immigrants and then moved to Los Angeles in 1980, the paper’s success is now tied to his own legacy. In purchasing the paper, Dr. Soon-Shiong, who in addition to his biotech businesses also owns a piece of the Los Angeles Lakers, is positioning himself to become an important power broker in the city.

With its diversity — the population of Los Angeles is roughly half Latino — and its dynamic economy as the fifth largest in the world, California has not in recent years been well-served by its journalistic institutions, he said.

“The Times has not taken advantage of that,” he said. “I look at the paper, it’s a shadow of its former self. We need to fix that.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/norman-pearlstine-los-angeles-times.html?partner=rss&emc=rss