May 26, 2017

Vice-Presidential Debate Generates Fireworks, but Not Ratings

Senator Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence at the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

No Trump, no bump.

Less than half of the television audience that watched last week’s presidential debate between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton tuned in on Tuesday to see their running mates square off.

About 37 million Americans watched in all, Nielsen reported Wednesday, compared with a record 84 million viewers for last week’s debate.

Widely perceived as a matchup between two relatively mild-mannered politicians, Tuesday’s debate between Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana generated more fireworks than expected.

But it is now on track to be the lowest-rated vice-presidential debate since Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman met in 2000.

Ratings also fell off after the first half-hour of Tuesday’s encounter, which was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. That was a contrast from last week, when the vast majority of viewers stayed for the full 95 minutes of the debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump.

Statistics from the Nielsen Company, which conducts the ratings, did not include Americans who watched the debate on the internet or on mobile devices. Viewers of C-Span, which is not rated by Nielsen, were not included.

Continue reading the main story

Article source:

‘We Are a Big Family’: Dealers Unite Against Thefts of Rare Books

“We are a big family,” Fabrizio Govi, a consultant for PRPH, said. “We have quick channels through which we can communicate to each other. This is the first big mistake. The second is you steal books from a gallery from the Upper East Side with cameras? And you give your name to the people who work there? This is to me, it looks very weird.”


Continue reading the main story

Mr. Hundiashvili, who confirmed he was the person the Police Department identified on Twitter, said there had to be some misunderstanding. “If I had ill intentions of doing anything to this company, would I provide them with my real name, my phone number, my email?” he said. “Obviously there is video footage of me all over that store, all over that building and whatnot. Why would I do that?”

Images of Mr. Hundiashvili were posted in September to the Twitter account of the 19th Precinct, which covers the Upper East Side, with a request to the public for tips on his whereabouts. The Police Department declined to explain why the bulletin was issued since the store says it is aware of Mr. Hundiashvili’s identity. Shortly after a reporter contacted the police, a bookshop employee said workers were told by the police not to share the video footage.

The two books stolen were a humanist text valued at $15,509 and palm reading text worth $4,900. Most books in the gallery are stored in cases, but these two pocket-size volumes were on display in a sculptural bookcase that is also for sale. Shortly after the theft, a man resembling the person seen in the video entered an antiquarian bookstore a few blocks away and tried to sell the two books, claiming that he had stumbled upon them. Suspicious of their provenance, the bookseller refused, according to Mr. Govi, who spoke with the other shopkeeper.

Rare-book dealers are well versed in warning signs that make them leery of certain sellers, said Pom Harrington, who owns a London-based rare-books firm named Peter Harrington. A pristinely preserved book with an oddly humble origin story is a dead giveaway. “When they say it comes from their grandma’s attic,” Mr. Harrington said, and “you can tell the book is reasonably sophisticated.”

Inside PRPH. Booksellers there say the heist appears to have taken months of planning. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

“For a book to be found,” he continued, “it tends to have no indication it was handled by a professional.”

But the strongest indicator is a hit on the stolen book database operated by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. Mr. Harrington has used the database to identify stolen books that people were trying to sell to him. He has alerted the authorities more than once, which has led to arrests.

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America publishes a blog describing thefts nationwide and emails members the moment it is notified a book has been stolen, said Susan Benne, the group’s executive director. There are organizations like this around the world with task forces on stolen books, and there are global conferences on theft prevention, Ms. Benne said.

Still, sales of stolen books do take place and many booksellers have stories of inadvertently buying one, particularly those taken from private collectors who may not know about the databases. Some may not realize that they have been robbed: A particularly infamous case involved Marino Massimo De Caro, who was convicted of systematically pilfering the Girolamini Library in Naples, Italy, of which he was director, replacing many titles he took — including original texts by Galileo — with meticulous fakes.

(Filippo Rotundo, a co-owner of PRPH, has been cited in news reports as an associate of Mr. De Caro, an association Mr. Govi denies.)


Continue reading the main story

Despite their value, rare books are sometimes less guarded than might be expected. Glenn Horowitz, a rare-book dealer, installed an alarm at the front of the shop he used to operate in East Hampton, on Long Island, but it was just for show — none of his books were equipped with the devices needed to set it off. Still, in the store’s two decades, Mr. Horowitz said, nothing significant was stolen, a fact he attributes to the difficulty of selling black-market books.

There have been instances in which the rare-book community has been powerless to recover books: when they are taken by bibliophiles with no intention of reselling, said James Cummins, the proprietor of James Cummins Bookseller in Manhattan. Such thefts regularly befall library and institutional collections. When books disappear from the record, the loss is profound, he said. “You could lose diamonds, but a book has knowledge, it has history. You lose that entirely,” Mr. Cummins said. “Who cares about diamonds?”

Sitting inside the whitewashed gallery in the ornate Upper East Side brownstone a few months after the books disappeared, Francesca Biffi, a vice president of PRPH, was still troubled by their fate. “You don’t know what is their destiny,” she said. But she was comforted by the fact that the 500-year-old books had lasted this long. “I cannot say who is this man and why he stole the books,” she said. “I don’t know if he wants to keep them, if he wants to sell, I really don’t know. But I am sure they will survive.”

In late September, the mystery seemed solved. Mr. Govi emailed a reporter: The police had told him the books had been found. Then it deepened: The missing books had been mailed anonymously to the 19th Precinct station house on the Upper East Side, according to a Police Department official who did not want to be identified because the investigation was continuing.

No arrests have yet been made — of the man in the pink pants or anyone else.

Continue reading the main story

Article source:

Mediator: The Editorialists Have Spoken; Will Voters Listen?

USA Today made the first presidential endorsement in its history — or, more accurately, a “disendorsement,” as it came out against Mr. Trump but not for Hillary Clinton or some other alternative. Credit Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

The Atlantic magazine has made only two presidential endorsements in its 159-year history: one for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and one for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

The third comes Wednesday afternoon, when the magazine posted an editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton for president and dismissing Donald J. Trump as “the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.” For good measure, it calls him “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing and a liar.”

One day earlier, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter wrote, in his editor’s letter for the November issue, “Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with society.”

That came after USA Today made the first presidential endorsement in its history — or, more accurately, a “disendorsement,” as it came out against Mr. Trump (“unfit for the presidency”) but not for Hillary Clinton or some other alternative.

This is the time in the election cycle when media columnists write about whether endorsements have much to do with the outcome. The answer is usually, if not always, “no.”


Continue reading the main story

But the question takes on another dimension this year because of the sheer weight of the endorsements against Mr. Trump. They are overwhelmingly against him, and they just keep coming, in language that is notable for its blunt condemnation of the candidate and its “save the Republic’’ tone.

The endorsements are coming not only from the usual mainstream media suspects but also from newspapers that either never before supported a Democrat or had not in many decades — The Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Republic, The Cincinnati Enquirer — or had never endorsed any presidential candidate, like USA Today. The Wall Street Journal has not gone there, at least not yet, but a member of its conservative-leaning editorial board has: Dorothy Rabinowitz, who called Mr. Trump “unfit.”

What’s most striking is the collective sense of alarm they convey — that Mr. Trump is a “dangerous demagogue” (USA Today) whose election would represent a “clear and present danger” (The Washington Post, The Cincinnati Enquirer), or, as The Atlantic editor Scott Stossel said in an interview Tuesday, “a potential national emergency or threat to the Republic.”

That’s the same base line the magazine used when it decided to break its founding vow to be “the organ of no party or clique” and endorse Johnson in 1964 and, more dramatically, Lincoln in 1860.

And yet, for all the pan-ideological dismay in America’s editorial boardrooms, a huge portion of the country just doesn’t see it the same way at all.

National polls aren’t great for predicting the final outcome in the Electoral College. But they do capture the sense of the country. And right now The New York Times’s polling average — of various national surveys — shows that 41 percent of the country would choose Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton if the election were held now. (With 45 percent, she still holds an edge.)

The split between editorial opinion and a significant portion of voters, especially Republican voters, has been around for decades. But this campaign takes that schism to a whole new level — not just because of the mix of publications weighing in against the Republican nominee but also because of the contrast between their apocalyptic view of a Trump presidency and his supporters’ belief that he will indeed “make America great again.”

Then again, as the language of the editorial warnings hits ever-higher decibel levels, so does the language of the attacks against the mainstream media. Mr. Trump is stoking those attacks, depicting the media as among the “special interests” that have “rigged the system against everyday Americans,” as he put it in New Hampshire last week.

Which brings us to the question of how many minds it all changes. Die-hard Trump supporters will no doubt view the editorials as more evidence for Mr. Trump’s case that the media fix is in. Mr. Trump recently said as much when he celebrated the loss of subscriptions the more surprising Clinton endorsements have caused in some cases, saying in a Twitter post: “The people are really smart in cancelling subscriptions to the Dallas Arizona papers now USA Today will lose readers! The people get it!”


Continue reading the main story

(The Fox Business host Charles Gasparino provided one possible motive: “A jealously rooted hate” over his wealth, “his beautiful wives” and his television success.)

A driving question is whether they factor into the mix with truly undecided voters. That is, and will remain, hard to determine. I did stumble upon some interesting data from Google, which can provide a sense of what people look for on its ubiquitous search engine.

Searches for Mrs. Clinton spiked by nearly 50 percent in Dallas County after the Dallas Morning News recommendation in early September, though not as much as they did for the American swimmer Ryan Lochte — after his legal trouble in Brazil — or for the game between the Cowboys and the Giants. She trended in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County after The Enquirer’s endorsement, and in all of Arizona after The Republic’s endorsement, though data from Hamilton County shows she was behind subjects like “Clown Sightings” and “National Coffee Day” on the list.

Mr. Stossel of The Atlantic said he was aware of the divide in the country. “People who support Trump have legitimate grievances and he is speaking to them in ways that clearly resonate,” he said. (The editorial, whose language was shaped by the Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, addresses them by saying that Mr. Trump failed to present “realistic policies to address” their “legitimate anxieties.”)

Mr. Stossel knows that the power of endorsements can be limited. But, he said, “One hopes that our endorsement, along with many of these others, will have an amplification effect that sort of ripples out.”

“If it affects only a few people at margins in a few key states,” he said, “that may make a difference.”

“Given our previous endorsements, we’re two for two,” he noted. The streak will stand or fall Nov. 8.

Continue reading the main story

Article source:

‘Patriots Day’ Eases Into Promotion With Solemn Tone

Mark Wahlberg in Boston during the filming of “Patriots Day.” Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Trailers for high-profile movies usually arrive with as much noise as studio marketers can manufacture.

To get the footage viewed by as many people as possible as fast as possible — the formula for generating excitement — trailers tend to appear simultaneously online and in theaters. If a film has big stars, comes from a marquee director or focuses on a timely topic, entertainment TV shows often add sizzle by covering the trailer as news.

Not so for “Patriots Day.”

In a reflection of the sensitive subject matter — “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg, revisits the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath — CBS Films has gone out of its way to ease the first ads into the marketplace. A two-minute trailer was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September, with an introduction by Mr. Wahlberg, a Boston native who said he felt “huge pressure” to get the story right. The trailer then began running in theaters on Friday, attached to “Deepwater Horizon.” CBS Films made it available online on Wednesday morning.

“It’s about respect,” Peter Berg, who directed “Patriots Day,” said by telephone. “We want people to understand that we’re taking a complex look at a complex topic.”


It’s also about apprehension. Movie marketing, always a high-wire act, has become more difficult because of the rush-to-judgment nature of the internet. A negative reaction to early footage (or even the basic film concept), even by a small group of people, can create an online brush fire that can be difficult if not impossible to douse, potentially harming the commercial prospects for a film.

In August, a flubbed poster for “Arrival,” a coming science fiction thriller starring Amy Adams, made the wrong kind of headlines for Paramount Pictures. Sony had to battle internet trolls from the minute its female-led “Ghostbusters” was announced. The negative response to an early ad for last year’s “Point Break” proved fatal for that movie, a remake from Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment.


Continue reading the main story

With “Patriots Day,” set for release in the coming months, the worry is that some people — New Englanders in particular — will view the film as a callous effort to translate tragedy into entertainment. The bombing killed three people and injured nearly 300 others. When Mr. Berg filmed “Patriots Day” in Boston last spring, thousands of people turned out to play extras, but he also encountered resistance. “Exploiting Our Collective Nightmare” read one local headline.

The first trailer for “Patriots Day,” which co-stars Melissa Benoist, Kevin Bacon and John Goodman, is notable for what it does not show: explosions, carnage or mass panic. Instead, the footage, set to a plaintive piano rendition of “America the Beautiful,” emphasizes patriotism and community.

It opens with American flags flying from Boston porches and street poles. Mr. Wahlberg, who plays a police officer (a composite character), walks the marathon route. Runners appear under a perfect blue sky. Crowds cheer. Then the screen goes dark, and there are two muted booms. Appearing on screen are the words, “Some events test our courage. Some people inspire our strength. And some moments define our spirit.” The final image is of two people grabbing each other’s hand.

“It’s a movie about the power of community and how, in the face of horrible events, humanity can come together,” said Terry Press, president of CBS Films.

Early reaction was positive.

”It was very tasteful, and now I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie,” said Lisa Baragiola, a St. Charles, Mo., dietitian who ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon. “I liked that they focused on people and not the bombing. It brought tears to my eyes.”

“Patriots Day,” which cost CBS Films and its distribution partner, Lionsgate, about $60 million to make, is not the first movie to face “how soon is too soon” questions. The 9/11-focused films “World Trade Center” and “United 93” grappled with similar concerns in 2006. There are also other films in the works about the Boston Marathon attack; “Stronger,” planned for release next year, will find Jake Gyllenhaal playing Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the bombing.

Mr. Berg, who teamed with Mr. Wahlberg for “Deepwater Horizon,” a disaster thriller now in theaters about the 2010 oil rig catastrophe off the coast of Louisiana, said that terrorist events in Europe and the recent bombing in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood gave “Patriots Day” even greater weight.

“I live five blocks south of where that happened in New York,” he said. “I was angered, and I was horrified. But I was also not surprised. This has now, in a way, become part of society. And that’s why we have to explore it, even if it’s hard. How do we survive and make sense of these moments of madness?”

Continue reading the main story

Article source:

Feature: How Donald Trump Set Off a Civil War Within the Right-Wing Media

The hourlong conversation struck Erickson as pleasant but unmemorable. What did stick with him was their exchange as he was leaving Trump Tower. “Trump asked me if I played golf,” Erickson told me recently. “And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m terrible.’ ” Then, he said, Trump asked if he would be interested in coming to Trump’s golf-club in West Palm Beach, Fla., to play. “I’m very flattered — I’ve never been to West Palm Beach before,” Erickson recalled. “Several times, his office reached out. So finally I asked my wife, ‘What do you think this is about?’ She said, ‘He wants to own your soul.’ So I never went.”


Continue reading the main story

Erickson did not see much of a political future for Trump, but he imagined that he might be good for ticket sales, if nothing else, at the RedState Gathering. He informed Nunberg that Trump could have a slot on the convention’s second day.

The evening before he was to speak in Atlanta, Trump went on CNN and denounced the Fox News host Megyn Kelly for her sharp questioning of him during a recent debate, speculating that Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever.” When Erickson saw the footage that evening, he called Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and rescinded Trump’s invitation on the grounds that he would be too much of a distraction. “And that was that,” Erickson would later recall with a sheepish grin. “Until the next day, when he’s blowing me up.”

On Twitter, Trump called Erickson “a major sleaze and buffoon” and said that the “small crowds” at the gathering were due to his absence. Trump’s supporters soon piled on. This was to be expected, but what surprised Erickson were the attacks from people he regarded as his fellow bomb-throwers in the conservative revolution. On Twitter, the talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham mocked “JebState.” The author and right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter brought up some of Erickson’s own crass utterances, like his characterization of the former Supreme Court justice David Souter in 2009 as a “goat-[expletive] child molester.” The next week, 30,000 readers of Erickson’s email newsletter canceled their subscriptions.

Erickson dug in, writing that Trump was “out of his depth” and lacking in “common decency.” But he was drowned out by Trump sympathizers with even bigger audiences than his own, like The Drudge Report and the online outlet Breitbart. It was one of the first salvos in what would open up in the year that followed into a civil war within the conservative media, dividing some of the loudest voices on the right. Days earlier, Erickson had unimpeachable credentials in the conservative movement. But by crossing Trump, he was now, in the eyes of his former allies, “a tool of the establishment.”

The conservative media has always been a playground for outsize personalities with even more outsize political ambitions. The National Review founder William F. Buckley fashioned much of the intellectual genetic code of the Reagan Revolution, while also writing fringe groups like the John Birch Society out of the conservative movement and, for good measure, running for mayor of New York against the liberal Republican John Lindsay. In 1996, the former Nixon media consultant Roger Ailes brought his attack-dog ethos to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel and built the network into a transformational power in Republican politics before his fall this year amid accusations of sexual harassment.

But alongside the institution-builders like Buckley and Ailes, the conservative-media landscape has also produced a class of rowdy entrepreneurs who wield their influence in more personal, protean ways. The godfathers mostly came to power in the 1990s: Clinton-administration antagonists like Rush Limbaugh, who began broadcasting nationally in 1988 and became talk radio’s hegemonic power in the Clinton years, and Matt Drudge, who started his pioneering Drudge Report online in 1996.

If these figures defied the stuffy ceremony of the East Coast think tanks, opinion journals and bow-tied columnists who traditionally defined the conservative intelligentsia, they rarely challenged the ideological principles of conservatism as they had existed since the Reagan era: small government, low taxes, hawkish foreign policy and traditional social values. What they mostly did was provide the Republican Party with a set of exceptionally loud megaphones, which liberals have often envied and tried unsuccessfully to emulate. Conservative talk radio and Fox News now collectively reach an audience of as many as 50 million — most of them elderly white Republicans with a high likelihood of turning out in election years. And this isn’t even counting the like-minded online outlets that have flourished during the Obama years, thanks to a growing internet-media economy and a presidency, particularly in the case of the Affordable Care Act, that gave conservatives common cause.

Then came Trump. In a sense, the divide that he has opened up among conservative media figures is simply a function of the heartburn his ascent has caused among Republicans more generally, pitting voter against voter, congressman against congressman, Bob Dole against the Bushes. Some conservative media outlets threw themselves behind Trump from the beginning, explaining away his more radioactive statements and his uneven-at-best record as a conservative. Breitbart, whose former chairman, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist, was an ardent early supporter, breathlessly covering Trump’s ascent in the polls and his smackdowns of “low energy” Jeb Bush and “little Marco” Rubio. But as Trump expanded into more sacrosanct targets — Fox News’s Kelly, George W. Bush’s performance in the war on terror and Cruz — the dissenting chorus among conservatism’s dons grew louder. The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer warned in December that Trump “has managed to steer the entire G.O.P. campaign into absurdities.” His Post colleague George Will predicted that a Trump nomination would mean the loss of conservatism “as a constant presence in U.S. politics.” The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol floated the idea of a new “non-Trump non-Clinton party.” And on the eve of the Iowa caucus, National Review devoted an entire issue to a single topic: “Against Trump.”


Continue reading the main story

Since Trump clinched the nomination, the dividing lines have become starker, the individual dilemmas more agonizing. Mark Levin, an influential talk-radio host, complains that among conservative commentators, Trump’s message is endlessly repeated by what he derisively refers to as “the Rockettes.” But Levin, too, recently announced to his listeners that he intends to vote for Trump, if only to prevent another Clinton presidency. As he put it to me, “I’m not going to be throwing confetti in the air if Trump wins,” adding that he viewed the candidate as “a liberal with some conservative viewpoints that he’s not terribly reliable at sticking to.”

Others — Sean Hannity, Ingraham, the former Reagan official and “The Book of Virtues” author William Bennett — have thrown in for Trump with a brio that strikes some in the business as unseemly. “Look, we’re in the opinion business, but there’s a distinction between that and being a Sean Hannity fanboy,” the Milwaukee-based talk-radio host Charlie Sykes told me. “It’s been genuinely stunning to watch how they’ve become tools of his campaign and rationalizing everything he’s done.”

“For 20 years I’ve been saying how it’s not true that talk radio is all about ratings and we don’t believe what we say,” he went on. “Then you watch how the media types rolled over for him. Obviously Donald Trump is very good for ratings, and at some point it’s hard not to conclude they decided the Trump train was the gravy train. I’ve been thoroughly disillusioned, and I’m not alone in that. It’s like watching ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’: Oh, my God, they got another one!”

When Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015, the part of his announcement speech that most clearly foreshadowed the campaign to come had to do with immigration. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he told the crowd at Trump Tower. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

The line struck Sykes as awfully familiar when he heard it. A month before, he had run a segment with Ann Coulter, who had just published her 11th book, an anti-immigration screed titled “¡Adios, America!” Sykes was well aware of Coulter’s views, but he was taken aback when she began a riff on Mexican rapists surging into the United States (a subject that takes up an entire chapter of “¡Adios, America!”). “I remember looking at my producer and going, ‘Wow, this is rather extraordinary,’ ” he told me. “When Trump used that line, I instantly recognized it as Ann Coulter’s.”

In fact, Corey Lewandowski had reached out to Coulter for advice in the run-up to Trump’s announcement speech. The address Trump delivered on June 16 bore no resemblance to his prepared text, which contained a mere two sentences about immigration. Instead, he ad-libbed what Coulter today calls “the Mexican rapist speech that won my heart.” When Trump’s remarks provoked fury, Lewandowski called Coulter for backup. Three days later, she went on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” and, amid shrieks of laughter from the audience, predicted that Trump was the Republican candidate most likely to win the presidency.

One evening this past March, Trump received Coulter at Mar-a-Lago, his estate-turned-club in Palm Beach. Though in recent years the two had developed a rapport on Twitter, she had met him face to face only once before he declared his candidacy, a lunch date at Trump Tower in 2011. Over lunch, Trump gave Coulter the impression that he had read her books. He also gave her a few items from his wife’s line of costume jewelry and told Coulter, who keeps a house in Palm Beach, that she was welcome to use the pool at Mar-a-Lago anytime.

The golf resort was the chief staging ground for Trump’s charm offensives against the conservative media. Many of its members have visited at Trump’s invitation in recent years, joining the resident Gatsby for steak and lobster on the patio, where Trump squints and appears to listen intently while his guests dispense political wisdom — though it is never clear whether he is actually interested in it, simply flattering his guests or sizing them up. When I dined with him on the patio this spring, Trump asked me eagerly about how I liked his odds in the election. Later, on the campaign trail, I watched him solicit the same counsel from random stragglers on the rope line.


Continue reading the main story

Coulter, at any rate, appeared immune to the whole routine. A week earlier, Trump bragged during a Republican presidential debate in Detroit that “there’s no problem” with the size of his penis. On the patio, Coulter told the candidate that no one wanted to hear about his endowment. She told Lewandowski that he should buy a dozen teleprompters and put them in every room of Trump’s house until he learned how to use them. Reminding Trump that she had been his earliest and most dedicated advocate, she told him: “I’m the only one losing money trying to put you in the White House. You’re going to listen to me.”

Ann Coulter at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York. Credit Gillian Laub for The New York Times

This appeal to the bottom line seemed to tweak Trump’s conscience. He gave Coulter an open invitation to Mar-a-Lago, waiving the $100,000 membership fee. The following evening at the next Republican debate, he exhibited considerably more restraint, for which Coulter, with characteristic modesty, claims credit. “Coulter delivers!” she told me.

Some of Trump’s supporters within the conservative media are attracted to his actual positions on issues. One is his trade policy, on which many media personalities on the right are considerably more populist and protectionist than Republican Party leaders and Chamber of Commerce boosters. Throughout Obama’s presidency, Laura Ingraham has warned of China’s predations: “The trade war is on, and we’re losing it,” she has often said. For others, Trump’s assurance that he will appoint Antonin Scalia-like conservatives to the Supreme Court is reason enough for their support.

But Trump also simply fulfills the ineffable urge many have to, as Michael Needham, the chief executive of the conservative policy group Heritage Action for America, puts it, “punch Washington in the face.” This is true for Coulter, who, in her newly published paean to the candidate, “In Trump We Trust,” writes that Trump is fit for the presidency not in spite of his crudeness but because of it: “Only someone who brags about his airline’s seatbelt buckles being made of solid gold would have the balls to do what Trump is doing.”

But what really sold Coulter on Trump, she told me, was his hard line on immigration. Coulter told me that she had never given the issue much thought during her childhood in New Canaan, Conn., and her student days at Cornell. Then in 1992, the British-American journalist Peter Brimelow wrote a 14,000-word essay for National Review titled “Time to Rethink Immigration?” which would later become a sort of ur-text for today’s alt-right, the ascendant white-nationalist movement that has found its champion in Trump. Brimelow cast the current wave of American immigrants in dismal terms: less skilled, less European, less assimilated, less law-abiding and less Republican than the previous newcomers. Coulter, who was 31 and a law clerk at the time, remembers reading it and thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve been completely lied to!”

Twenty-four years later, Coulter helped formulate Trump’s immigration-policy position, which she hailed on Twitter as “the greatest political document since the Magna Carta.” (Her additional tweet on the subject — “I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in the White House after this immigration policy paper” — prompted Mark Levin to tweet back, “These have to be among the most pathetic comments of anyone in a long time.”)

Coulter has not always gotten her way with the candidate. At Mar-a-Lago that evening in March, she lobbied unsuccessfully for him to pick as his running mate Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, who is credited with selling Mitt Romney on “self-deportation.” And her book tour for “In Trump We Trust” hit a momentary snag when Trump told Sean Hannity that he would be open to “softening” his immigration stance, though Coulter chose to believe that, as she told me, “it was Hannity badgering him.”

Still, she has become the Trump campaign’s most unrepentant brawler. When Khzir Khan, the Pakistani-American father of a U.S. Army captain who was killed in combat in Iraq, spoke critically of Trump at the Democratic National Convention, Coulter wrote on Twitter: “You know what this convention really needed: An angry Muslim with a thick accent like Fareed Zacaria[sic].”


Continue reading the main story

That tweet provoked disgust from fellow conservatives, among them Erick Erickson, who tweeted: “What a terrible thing to say about a man whose son died for this country.” When I reminded Coulter of Erickson’s scolding, she let out a hearty laugh. “I always hated him,” she said. “This is one of the fantastic things. In any political movement, there are many people you think are losers and dorks, but your friends talk you into liking them, because they’re on our side. Now all of those people are out.”

Sighing, she said, “Trump has made my life better in so many ways.”

You will not find copies of “¡Adios, America!” or “In Trump We Trust” on any of the many bookshelves in the home of the Washington Post columnist George Will. A week after Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican presidential race in early May, Will and his wife, Mari, a Republican political consultant, gave a catered dinner party for Cruz and his wife, Heidi. The other guests were conservative donors, activists and journalists, along with their spouses. The Wills have been hosting these off-the-record encounters with political celebrities at their Maryland home for decades. In early 2009, Will’s fellow conservative columnists gathered there to meet Obama a week before his inauguration.

Among the guests that evening in May was Laura Ingraham. Ingraham is of proudly working-class heritage — her mother was a waitress for almost 30 years and her father owned and operated a Coin-a-Matic carwash — and does not share Will’s reverence for decorum. She was an early defender of Trump’s willingness to say things “no one else is saying.” While interviewing Cruz on her radio show six weeks before the Wills’ party, she interrupted him to mock his Harvard Law degree. Still, Cruz knew that his political future relied on conservative opinion-makers like Ingraham, and it was at his request that the Wills included her in the party.

Over cocktails, the Cruzes spoke fondly of their experiences on the campaign trail, and the other guests listened politely, mindful of Cruz’s recent humiliating defeat. Then midway through dinner, at a table set with glasses once used by Abraham Lincoln, Ingraham insisted that Cruz needed to throw his weight behind the man who had branded him “Lyin’ Ted.” “If you don’t endorse him, where does that leave you?” she said. “You don’t have the public and you don’t have the establishment. How can you be a leader of the conservative movement?”

Cruz amiably replied that such a decision did not have to be made right away. Others at the table joined in to defend him, but Ingraham would hear nothing of it. “You can’t want Hillary Clinton elected,” she goaded him.

Will sat fuming silently. “She was quite animated,” he would later recall. Cruz refused to offer his support to Trump that night or in the weeks to follow. Speaking at the Republican convention on July 20 moments before Cruz was to do the same, Ingraham taunted him: “We should all, even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos — and we love you, we love you — but you must honor the pledge to support Donald Trump now, tonight!” The following morning on her radio show, Ingraham declared that Cruz’s refusal to endorse had “effectively ended his political career.”

Will was no more persuaded by Ingraham than Cruz was. The first and only time Will met Trump was in March 1995, when, at Trump’s invitation, he gave a speech at Mar-a-Lago. Years later on Twitter, Trump would ascribe Will’s harsh view of him to Will’s having “totally bombed” with his performance that night. Will told me: “He started telling this story: ‘The reason Will doesn’t like me is I invited him to give a speech at Mar-a-Lago, and I knew it was going to be boring, so I waited out on the patio.’ Which raises two questions. First, if he knew it was going to be that boring, why did he invite me? And second, who would be the guy with the orange hair sitting in the front row?”

Will said on ABC’s “This Week” in 2012 that Trump was “a bloviating ignoramus” and he has spent much of the past year predicting the candidate’s imminent political demise. “I thought even an entertaining bore could be a bore after a while,” he told me. By late December of last year, however, his contempt had given way to alarm. “Conservatives’ highest priority,” he wrote in a Post column, “must be to prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination” — even if it meant Hillary Clinton’s election.

Then on June 2, three weeks after his dinner party for Cruz, Will learned that his friend and fellow Republican Paul Ryan, the House speaker, had endorsed the nominee. Will considered the matter over martinis at home that evening. The next morning, he walked into his office and told his assistant: “Go change my registration. This is not my party anymore.”


Continue reading the main story

Recently I visited Will at his office, a three-story Georgetown brick rowhouse erected in 1811. Its walls are covered with framed photographs, several of them depicting the writer in his youth alongside Reagan and other titans of his former party. The dean of conservative pundits, now 75, wore a crisp pinstripe shirt and gray slacks, his customary owlish Mona Lisa expression a bit tighter than usual, owing to the subject matter. Will told me that he cast his first vote in 1964, for Barry Goldwater. He voted for the Republican candidate in every succeeding presidential election, until now.

“I don’t use the word ‘frightening’ often,” he told me. “But it’s frightening to know this person” — Trump — “would have the nuclear-launch codes. The world is getting really dangerous. His friend Mr. Putin is dismantling a nation in the center of Europe. Some trigger-happy captain of a Chinese boat with ship-to-ship missiles might make a mistake in the next three years near the Spratly Islands. All kinds of things can go wrong. And the idea that this guy will be asked to respond in a sober, firm way? My goodness.”

He seemed genuinely despondent. “Given that, could you see yourself urging your readers to vote for Hillary Clinton?” I asked.

Will’s lips pursed slightly. “Well,” he said, “it’s clear from everything I’ve written that I think she’d be a better president. That said, I’m not going to vote for her. First of all, I’m a Maryland voter. She couldn’t lose Maryland if she tried.”

“Then. …”

“I haven’t decided,” he said. “You can imagine — I get tons of emails: ‘I, too, have left the Republican Party. What should I do?’ Well, there are a number of legitimate options. Not voting is a legitimate expression of opinion.”

Ingraham and other conservative media personalities hailed Trump for having “tapped into” a shared and seething disquiet among predominantly white, non-college-educated voters. “What I don’t understand on the part of those being tapped into,” Will told me, “is: What exactly do they want? I can think of nothing the American people have wanted intensely and protractedly that they didn’t get. Took a while, but they got it.”

With a resigned half-smirk, he looked at the ground and intoned, in the manner of a hostage-video monologue: “It’s gonna be yuge. And it’s all gonna get fixed. And we’re all gonna be winners.”

Erick Erickson in a studio at WSB in Atlanta. Credit Gillian Laub for The New York Times

“If he doesn’t build that wall, I’m pissed,” Sean Hannity told me, reflecting on the prospects of a Trump presidency in the office of his radio show in Midtown Manhattan. “If he doesn’t repeal Obamacare, I’m gonna be pissed. If he appoints a liberal jurist to the Supreme Court, I’m gonna lose my mind. And by the way: I’ll be screaming. Not talking — screaming about it. But in fairness, if Trump doesn’t keep his promises, you can also blame me, because I believed him.”


Continue reading the main story

Although Coulter was Trump’s earliest cheerleader among prominent conservative-media personalities, Hannity’s stake in the election perhaps runs deepest of all, if only because of the size of his audience. He hosts the second-highest-rated show (after Limbaugh) on talk radio and the third-highest-rated program (after Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly) on cable news. More than 2.4 million weekly viewers and 13 million listeners have witnessed Hannity sticking his neck out on behalf of a first-time politician and sometime Republican who has voiced support for Planned Parenthood while vowing to limit America’s military footprint and shred trade deals that the G.O.P. has backed for decades.

Hannity’s critics on the right have accused him of essentially running hourlong daily Trump infomercials. When I asked him about this, Hannity responded with a well-rehearsed litany of sins perpetrated by the Republican establishment in concert with Obama: perilously low labor participation and homeownership rates, soaring national debt, Obamacare and so on. A Clinton presidency, he warned, would be “Obama on steroids.” These were his motivations. “My conscience is clear. And I feel like Donald Trump would be a great president.”

Hannity told me that he had in fact never stayed at a Trump hotel property, played on a Trump golf course or visited Mar-a-Lago. “I have my own place — on the other Florida coast, in Naples,” he said. “I don’t need his place. I always got the sense people were asking him for something. I don’t believe in asking for free stuff.”

Nonetheless, the two men have a mutual affinity that has spanned at least two decades. The MSNBC “Morning Joe” host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough theorized to me that their relationship has a psychological underpinning: “Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly all share the same resentment that they will never be accepted into Manhattan’s polite society no matter what they do.” (Trump is from Queens; Hannity and O’Reilly are from Long Island.) Trump, in a recent phone conversation, offered me a somewhat simpler explanation: “Sean likes having me on his show, and that has to do with ratings more than anything else.”

No presidential candidate in history, Hannity told me, understands television better than Trump — “not even close.” On this score, I couldn’t disagree. One evening this past spring, on his plane after a campaign event in Buffalo, Trump told me that at rallies, he always made a point of finding the TV cameras at the back of the media pen and noticing whether a red light was flickering. “That means they’re airing it live,” he explained. “So I make sure to say something new” — by which he meant newsworthy, the better to own the next news cycle.

Trump was a TV star for more than a decade before he became a politician; he watches TV news incessantly and understands the medium intimately. He knows the optimal time slots on the morning shows. He stage-manages the on-set lighting. He is not only on speaking terms with every network chief executive but also knows their booking agents. He monitors the opinions of hosts and regular guests more avidly than most media critics do and works them obsessively, often directly.

Scarborough told me that Trump’s family — particularly Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner — sometimes asked him for advice, and more than once “called me and asked me to get him off the ledge. I’ve said, ‘I can do that, but six hours later he’s going to revert to form.’ I told Jared at one point: ‘Jared, your father-in-law listens to me more when I’m attacking him on television than when I’m trying to convince him to be rational for the sake of the party.’ I think he’s a creature of TV.”

TV networks, in the mainstream as well as conservative media, have profited handsomely from Trump’s election-season theatrics, but some of their on-air personalities like Hannity are drawn to him for reasons apart from ratings. The prospect of getting in on the ground floor of a Trump administration that is short on policy ideas and disdainful of old Washington hands amounts to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. By employing the Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon, and by including both Ingraham and Roger Ailes in his debate preparations, Trump has implicitly encouraged the conservative media to consider itself part of the campaign team.


Continue reading the main story

I asked Hannity if it was true that, as a Trump confidant had told me, he wished to be considered as a potential Trump White House chief of staff. “That’s news to me,” he insisted, adding a politician’s practiced nondenial denial: “I have radio and TV contracts that I will honor through December 2020.” Nonetheless, Hannity’s service to the Trump campaign well exceeds that of ritually bashing Clinton and giving Trump free airtime. He has offered private strategic advice to the campaign. The same Trump confidant told me of at least one instance in which Hannity drafted an unsolicited memo outlining the message Trump should offer after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June. In public, Hannity has made it his mission to warn fellow conservatives — naming names, like the columnist Jonah Goldberg and the National Review editor in chief Rich Lowry — that if they do not soon climb aboard the Trump train they will, as the hashtag threatens, #OwnIt: Clinton’s picks for the Supreme Court, her response to the Islamic State, her trade deals, all of it.

Hannity maintains that his scolding of Trump’s conservative dissenters derives from his fear of a Clinton presidency. “It’d be pretty much over,” he said. Taken alone, George Will or even National Review might have little impact on Trump’s standing in the race, Hannity argued, but “cumulatively they do. I can look at the poll numbers. If you go back to a month ago, he was garnering 73 percent of the Republican vote. The most recent, I think he had 88 percent. He needs to get to 93.” And the key to the last 5 percent might very well lie with the noisy holdouts, like Erick Erickson.

On Sept. 16, Erickson showed up at the National Press Club in Washington to participate in a debate sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters. Erickson left RedState at the end of last year to concentrate on his radio show and his online opinion journal, The Resurgent, but he has remained influential among conservatives who do not support Trump. In July, when he learned that Ted Cruz was about to have a private meeting with the nominee on the eve of the convention, Erickson texted the senator: “Don’t endorse! Don’t endorse!” Later that evening, Erickson says, Cruz texted back: “Didn’t endorse! Didn’t endorse!” (Cruz finally announced that he would vote for Trump on Sept. 23.)

The subject of the debate, inevitably, was Trump: specifically, whether evangelical Christians should support him. Being a lifelong evangelical himself, Erickson had some thoughts on the matter. Over the years, he had been condemned for his own offensive words, like the time he called the Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis “Abortion Barbie.” But he had recently apologized for many (though not all) of these statements and had called upon Trump to affect a similar posture of Christian humility. “1 Corinthians is very explicit,” he told me. “If someone holds one’s self out to be a Christian and doesn’t behave that way, Christians are supposed to judge him. This is a guy who’s bragged about his affairs.”

This was Erickson’s principal argument during the debate. Trump was not merely a sinner, he said, but a gleefully unrepentant one. Erickson’s debate opponent, the Christian talk-show host and fervent Trump supporter Janet Parshall, responded by reciting a litany of sinners in chief — from Thomas Jefferson with the out-of-wedlock child he fathered with a slave, to Warren G. Harding with his multiple liaisons, to Richard Nixon with his foul language memorialized on the White House tapes. “We are not electing a messiah,” Parshall said. “Last time I checked, he was appointed to office and he is not term-limited.”

Erickson’s debating partner, the conservative activist Bill Wichterman, argued that Trump appealed to the worst in America: His bullying, his lying and his bigotry were “corrosive to our national character.” Erickson could testify to this. At one point, he was receiving as many as 300 emails a day from Trump supporters. Some of them referred to him as a “cuck” or “cuck-servative.” The word — a masculinity-insulting derivative of “cuckold” — was new to Erickson, as were its originators in the white-nationalist alt-right.

More than one of the emails predicted that Erickson would be shot to death. At the local grocery store, a man walked up to Erickson’s two young children “and told them they needed to know their father was destroying this country by supporting Hillary Clinton,” Erickson told me. And one evening, two people showed up on the Ericksons’ doorstep to deliver a threat — Erickson would not tell me what it was — explicit enough that he later hired security guards. “I’ve never had Obama or Romney or McCain or Clinton supporters come to my home or send me nasty letters,” he said.

Did Trump beget all of this? If so, what begot Trump? Erickson argued that the fault lay with Beltway Republicans. “They’ve broken so many promises,” he said. “They promised to defund the president’s immigration plan. They promised to defund Obamacare. They promised to fight the president on raising the debt limit. At some point, the base of the party just wants to burn the house down and start over.”


Continue reading the main story

But even Erickson did not seem convinced that this alone explained what he saw as a nihilistic turn among Republican voters. “I do think there are a lot of people that have just concluded that this is it — that if we don’t get the election right, the country’s over,” he said. As to where they might have gotten that idea, Erickson knew the answer. It was the apocalyptic hymn sung by talk-radio hosts like his friend and mentor Rush Limbaugh, whose show Erickson once guest-hosted, though in the time of Trump, it seemed unlikely he would receive another invitation.

This February, Limbaugh, who has applauded Trump without endorsing him outright, posed to Erickson the question of whether a commentator should try to act as “the guardian of what it means to be a conservative.” In effect, the legend of talk radio was laying down an unwritten commandment of the trade, which applies as well to cable TV: Do not attempt to lead your following.

This was simple enough for an avowed Trump supporter like Ingraham. “Laura’s never missed an opportunity to build her career on the backs of others,” Erickson told me. He counted Hannity as another mentor and admired his entrepreneurial cunning, saying: “Sean reflects his audience. He’s not going to leave his audience.” On his own radio show, Erickson found that the more he denounced Trump, the more female listeners he picked up. But most of the 300,000 people who tuned in weekly during rush hour were men. While Erickson refused to abandon his principles, he did not wish to go broke, either.

On Sept. 20, Erickson wrote a long post for The Resurgent titled “Reconsidering My Opposition to Donald Trump.” He made no effort to disguise his moroseness. “I see the election of Hillary Clinton as the antithesis of all my values and ideas on what fosters sound civil society in this country,” he wrote, and described his manifold objections to her at great length. But, he went on, “I have to admit that while I may view Hillary Clinton’s campaign as anti-American, I view Donald Trump’s campaign as un-American. … While I see Clinton as having no virtue, I see Donald Trump corrupting the virtuous and fostering hatred, racism and dangerous strains of nationalism.” The election left him adrift. “I am without a candidate. I just cannot vote for either one.”

And so Erickson’s conscience led him back to where he was 13 months ago. Nowadays, he told me, he was doing all he could to avoid discussing Trump and the election altogether — a tall order for a talk-radio host. Responding to my look of bewilderment, he said, “Why dwell on the train wreck?”

Erickson believed he was not alone. “People know where we’re headed, don’t like where we’re headed and would rather talk about something else,” he said. Erickson had won many fights. This one was the biggest yet, and he had lost. There was nothing left to do but step back from his megaphone, dwell on happier matters and wait for the next righteous cause.

Continue reading the main story

Article source:

Highlights and Lowlights of the Show

A veteran host of other awards ceremonies, Neil Patrick Harris made his Oscar debut on the Dolby Theater stage and did a little bit of everything. There was a spectacle-packed opening number featuring the DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future” and several Marilyn Monroes. And there was his parody of a scene from “Birdman,” in which Michael Keaton runs through Times Square in his underpants. Mr. Harris ran through backstage corridors and onto the stage in white briefs and black socks and shoes.

The show itself was an awkward mix of socially charged commentary — like Patricia Arquette’s call for gender equity and John Legend’s plea to protect voting rights — and traditional segments like a tribute to “The Sound of Music.” After Laura Poitras collected the Oscar for her documentary “Citizenfour” and praised her subject, the whistleblower Edward J. Snowden, “for his courage,” Mr. Harris joked that he “couldn’t be here for some treason.”

February 23, 2015

With a 90 percent chance of rain, the Academy was taking no chances and erected elaborate tenting. But a leak sprung and pandemonium ensued. Among the journalists. The celebrities were much more sanguine. For the British contingent, which included David Oyelowo, the weather was a reminder of home. “If the Brits are going to invade, we should let the weather do it, too,” he said.

And Kerry Washington, the “Scandal” star, had practical advice for her fellow celebrities. “So what if we all have to deal with a little bit of sogginess and frizz?” she said. “California needs water. Everybody suck it up and celebrate the rain.”

The Academy took steps Sunday to quiet the clamor — fueled by the perceived snub of “Selma” in the directing and acting categories — over a lack of diversity among its membership voters. Among the black stars lined up to present were Terrence Howard, Kevin Hart, Oprah Winfrey, Zoe Saldana and Viola Davis. The musical performers included Common, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson.

The Oscar audience was up last year, to 43.6 million viewers, the best since 2000 according to Nielsen. But that set the bar high — and the black audience is crucial. In a good ratings year, like 2005, when Chris Rock was the host, African-Americans accounted for 12.5 percent of Oscar viewers, Nielsen data showed. In a weak year, like 2008, they fell to 6.7 percent.

Neil Patrick Harris hit the controversy head on at the start of the show, quipping, “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry, brightest.”


“Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em.
Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone.”

— J.K. Simmons, accepting his supporting actor Oscar for “Whiplash”

Gender equity, or lack thereof, was a theme of this awards season, and the absence of female filmmakers like Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Angelina Jolie (“Unbroken”) in the best director category was widely noted. So when Patricia Arquette took the stage to accept her best supporting actress Oscar, her rousing speech brought cheers from the audience and a fellow nominee, Meryl Streep, to her feet. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody’s equal rights,” Ms. Arquette said. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

“They are four women, plus, in accordance with California state law, Meryl Streep.”

— Jared Leto

“The Lego Movie” may have gotten snubbed for best animated feature, and it may have lost best song, the only category it was nominated in. But the performance of that song, “Everything Is Awesome,” was a hit in the Dolby Theater and online.

The rousing number featured Tegan and Sara, the Lonely Island guys, Questlove, a Batman, many many dancing construction workers (per the movie) and even a furry Awesome Possum.

But they weren’t even the best part: That would be the Lego Oscars given to Oprah and others and were instantly coveted by multitudes of Twitter users.

By the way: Not many people knew Tegan and Sara were behind the song. “It’s kind of like the perfect thing where we can tell people it’s us if we want them to know,” Sara said on the red carpet, “and then if they’re like, that song is driving me crazy, I’m like, I know, who sings it, they’re the worst.”

For the In Memoriam segment of the Academy Awards, the membership of the committee that selects who is remembered reportedly keeps itself secret. After Joan Rivers was not remembered in this year’s broadcast, you could understand why.

The segment mentioned Mike Nichols, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Peña and more than one marketing executive. But when Ms. Rivers wasn’t mentioned, the outrage was vented in many, many tweets:

“Did I miss Joan Rivers? Or did the Oscars?” — @poniewozik

“Hey @Oscars Joan Rivers is the only reason 3/4ths of people watch your boring 3 hour award show, put her in the In Memoriam.” — @nikkikoppers

“Look, Joan Rivers was ok but she was no Marketing Executive. — @BillCorbett

“Bad news, Academy. There’s a red carpet on the way to the afterlife, and Joan Rivers will show you even less mercy than usual.” — @peterhartlaub

Ms. Rivers, as the chief of fashion police for the red carpet, played an important role in the Oscars, but perhaps one the Academy might not want to acknowledge.


“Tonight, I am wearing the real Michael Keaton
tighty whities.”

— Alejandro G. Iñárritu, accepting the Oscar for directing “Birdman”

John Travolta memorably mangled Idina Menzel’s name at last year’s ceremony. Remember Adele Dazeem? But the witty idea of pairing the two onstage at this year’s show was undercut when the actor touched her face in a sort-of caress more than once. Cue the GIFs.

Common and John Legend’s performance of “Glory,” the song they wrote for “Selma,” proved an emotional showstopper. The visibly moved audience — including a tearful David Oyelowo, the film’s star — leapt to its feet and applauded for what seemed like minutes. As a fitting capper, the musicians won the best song Oscar.

February 23, 2015

Going into Sunday’s ceremony, the cinematographer Roger Deakins had been nominated 11 times without a win (that includes the year he was nominated twice). The 12th time was not the charm. His work on “Unbroken” was passed over in favor of Emmanuel Lubezki and “Birdman.”

February 23, 2015

The Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are known for their love of movie musicals, and they’ve used the Academy Awards ceremony to celebrate the form before. This year, they enlisted Lady Gaga in a 50th-anniversary tribute to “The Sound of Music” that proved winning even if it arrived after 11 p.m. At the end, the original Maria, Julie Andrews, applauded her note-perfect performance.

As he was presenting the best picture Oscar for “Birdman” to the Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Sean Penn joked, or tried to, “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?”

The show was ticking past midnight, and Mr. Iñárritu took the stage and went for the save: “Two Mexicans in a row. That’s suspicious, I guess,” he responded.

The remark by Mr. Penn, a star of Mr. Iñárritu’s 2003 film “21 Grams,” did not go over well in many quarters, but backstage the director said he wasn’t offended. “I found it hilarious,” he said, adding “Sean and I have that kind of brutal relationship. I think it was very funny.”

Correction: An earlier version of this item misidentified a comedy group taking part in the performance of “Everything Is Awesome.” The group is the Lonely Island, not Lonely Planet.

Article source:

‘Birdman’ Takes Top Honors at Oscars


Neil Patrick Harris revealed his Oscar predictions. Credit Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

Jon Caramanica

I was prepared for the Whitest Oscars Ever, and by extension, the Least Political Oscars Ever. But kudos to the winners who used their platforms to speak about mass incarceration, wage equality, immigration reform, and so much more.

Melena Ryzik

I wish “Boyhood” had made a better showing; as a film-making achievement it had both sensitivity and guts. But I agree, Jon, the winners did their part to show some of both on stage tonight. Also is it the first time someone has done a shout-out to their dog?

Jon Caramanica

Do you think “Boyhood” was ultimately punished for being too subtle? I think it’s maybe because the story threads felt loose.

Melena Ryzik

Well, who knows, really. I also think Academy members don’t like to be reminded of their mortality, and “Boyhood” was of course a meditation on time.

Jon Caramanica

Sure, but “The Tree of Life” it wasn’t!

Melena Ryzik

What did you think of the show overall?

Jon Caramanica

I think we’ve officially seen the outer limit of NPH’s gifts, or at least the outer limit of his ability to overcome soft writing. He couldn’t rescue this thing, which, given that other people are doing great things with hosting, is going to taint him.

Melena Ryzik

I felt like he was building to the underwear moment and then it was all steam-less from there. But then again, I’m not really worried about Neil Patrick Harris’s career. Nor about anyone else’s who was featured on a, what, nearly four-hour display of self-congratulations.

Jon Caramanica

You’re right. The only person whose career I’m now truly worried about is the orchestra director, who decided at some point to nullify the Oscars rules and just not play people off.

Melena Ryzik

Let’s wait to see what the ratings data says. He could be in line for a raise next year. (Hat tip: Patricia Arquette.)

Article source:

Live Coverage: Oscars 2015


Patricia Arquette, with presenter Jared Leto, accepted the award for best actress in a supporting role. Credit Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for her work in “Boyhood.”

Jon Caramanica

Patricia Arquette wins for playing very, very beleaguered in “Boyhood,” but I would not have been mad if Emma Stone had pulled that one out.

Melena Ryzik

Yes, if that had happened, it would’ve been a “Birdman” night for sure. But for now we’re still playing mostly by the numbers.

Jon Caramanica

On the one hand, Arquette is a complete pro, writing a list of everyone she needs to thank. On the other, she uses the opportunity to promote wage equality, which gets Streep and J.Lo jumping.

Melena Ryzik

The joke goes that winning an Oscar automatically bumps your pay grade. But Patricia Arquette openly asks for a raise — for everyone.

Article source:

Live Coverage: Kanye West Steals the Show

Beyoncé performed “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Dave Itzkoff

Take me to church. Is this like a pre-emptive subtweet of the Academy Awards?

Jon Caramanica

There must have been actual Grammy magic floating around tonight because the show managed to make John Legend better than Beyoncé, for at least a few minutes. I felt like she was a little lost inside her song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”

Dave Itzkoff

I take your point, but I thought the Beyoncé performance was pretty stellar. How strange that the show closed with an artist (Beyoncé) and a movie (“Selma”) that were overshadowed or otherwise ignored.

Jon Caramanica

Maybe because after a night full of soporific performances, this was the only one with a palpable pulse? The Grammys was like a UCB folk-music sketch this year.

Dave Itzkoff

Yes, those were their aces up their sleeves. Someone knew Beck would win.

Jon Caramanica

Is it even worth being dispirited by that? I’m far more vexed by Beck’s win than any of Sam Smith’s, for what it’s worth.

Dave Itzkoff

Maybe I’m just restating your question, but can I say that I genuinely enjoyed this show, while being disappointed by so many of the wins?

Jon Caramanica

You can say that. I don’t know if you’d be right, but you can say that. The speed of this show was so slow, the energy so low, that it’s hard to feel warmly even about the high points.

Dave Itzkoff

Really! The Kanye solo performance? The Rihanna/Kanye/Paul performance? Dwight Yoakam and Brandy Clark? These mean nothing to you?!

Jon Caramanica

Those were wondrous! I submit! But so much space between them. I like that the Grammys were willing to let Kanye do two new songs and that he repaid them by letting them know just how little he respected their statuettes.

Dave Itzkoff

He was my big winner tonight, even over Sam Smith. And he patched things up with Taylor Swift!

PhotoPop truce: Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards.
Pop truce: Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards.Credit Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Naras

Jon Caramanica

I like to think that photo is really of the two of us, live-bloggers brought together by destiny.

Dave Itzkoff

No matter what Kanye said, smiling makes me smile.

Jon Caramanica

Enjoy your vacation, Dave – will miss you at the Oscars!

Dave Itzkoff

Thanks man. Will try to check ’em out when I’m not changing diapers.

Common and John Legend closed the show with “Glory.” Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Article source:

Biography Casts Critical Light on Fox News Chief

In the corporate thicket of News Corporation, according to a new book, Mr. Ailes dared to battle with Lachlan Murdoch, a son of Rupert Murdoch, the chairman, openly gloating when the younger Mr. Murdoch eventually left his post at the company and even commandeering his chair.

At Fox News, the book says, Mr. Ailes was disdainful of even his most bankable on-air talent, privately calling Bill O’Reilly “a book salesman with a TV show” and Brian Kilmeade, a peppy Fox host, “a soccer coach from Long Island.”

Those episodes are described in “The Loudest Voice in the Room” by Gabriel Sherman, a 560-page biography of Mr. Ailes being published on Jan. 21 by Random House.

The book aims to be an exhaustive look at Mr. Ailes’s life and his monumental career, particularly as chairman of Fox News Channel. Under his stewardship, the network, known best for its conservative opinion shows in prime time, dominates the cable news competition, frequently posting ratings better than those for its main rivals, MSNBC and CNN, combined. It has also become the most profitable division of News Corporation, its parent, with annual earnings that have been estimated at $1 billion.

The book describes in detail Mr. Ailes’s professional ambition, his desire to influence American politics through a conservative prism, and his status as a visionary who possessed an intuitive understanding of the power of television to shape public opinion. Before entering the corporate world, Mr. Ailes was a political consultant, and Mr. Sherman’s book credits him with being a pioneer in using television during election campaigns.

In the months before publication, the book has drawn sharp criticism from a chorus of people connected to Fox News, including employees and contributors who have taken to Twitter to attack Mr. Sherman.

Mr. Ailes, in what some viewed as an attempt to pre-empt Mr. Sherman’s book, cooperated with another biography, “Roger Ailes: Off Camera” by Zev Chafets, which was published last year by Sentinel, a conservative imprint at Penguin.

In his book, Mr. Sherman, a contributing editor at New York magazine, follows Mr. Ailes from his boyhood in Ohio to his perch as one of the most powerful figures in the history of television.

Despite being unsatisfied with many of the Republican candidates for president in 2012, Mr. Ailes endeavored to promote Mitt Romney on Fox News programs, the book says. Before the Wisconsin congressman Paul D. Ryan was chosen as Mr. Romney’s running mate, Mr. Ailes advised Mr. Ryan that his television skills needed work and recommended a speech coach.

At the beginning of the general election, a four-minute video criticizing President Obama’s policies was broadcast on “Fox and Friends,” provoking outrage from the left and prompting the network to say publicly that Mr. Ailes had no involvement in its creation. In “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” Mr. Sherman writes that the video “was Ailes’s brainchild.”

The New York Times obtained a copy of the book in advance of its publication.

Mr. Sherman said in the source notes that he interviewed 614 people who knew or worked with Mr. Ailes for the book, which took more than three years to report and write. More than 100 pages are devoted to source notes and bibliography..

Former employees cited in the book talked of Mr. Ailes’s volatile temper and domineering behavior. In one anecdote, a television producer, Randi Harrison, told Mr. Sherman that while negotiating her salary with Mr. Ailes at CNBC in the 1980s, he offered her an additional $100 each week “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.”

A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday: “These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.”

The book also describes an explosive episode dating back to 1995, when Mr. Ailes was a high-ranking executive at NBC and locked in a power struggle with another executive, David Zaslav.

Article source: