April 19, 2021

The TV Watch: Keith Olbermann’s Show Has Its Debut on ESPN2

It turns out that he also isn’t going to talk all that much about sports.

Mostly, he is going to talk about Keith Olbermann.

That’s at least what the premiere — and the title — of “Olbermann,” a live hourlong show on ESPN2, suggests. Mr. Olbermann ranted with characteristic sarcasm and brio about all kinds of things, but the subjects he chose seemed also to serve as allegories for his own experiences as a cable star turned celebrity flameout. As he put it in a diatribe about newspapers feeding on sensationalism, “Every reporter should spend one day as the only story in the world.”

Mr. Olbermann’s dramatic entrances and volatile exits from ESPN, MSNBC, Fox and, finally, a short, messy stint on Current TV, won this notoriously thin-skinned anchor a lot of unwanted negative publicity. Now he seems to be paying it backward.

One segment, “This Week in Keith History,” showcases clips of Mr. Olbermann when he was on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” On Monday, it featured a moment in 1994 when Mr. Olbermann, then with a mustache and oversize glasses, referred to a man as having been “on the grassy knoll of the World Series of Golf.”

Sports is probably a better fit for his style of needling humor and high-flying hyperbole. As a political commentator, Mr. Olbermann was clever and sardonic, but also intensely self-righteous, and his combativeness spilled over into public spats with network executives and producers.

Detractors may wince at so much self-absorption, but it is actually a large part of Mr. Olbermann’s appeal.

All television anchors are egomaniacs: it’s a requirement in an impossibly difficult job in which any live remark can be a career-shattering land mine. But success is often determined by peripheral, subjective factors like looks, on-camera likability and the dreaded Q ratings. Live television is an adrenaline boost as scary and exhilarating as sky diving or cocaine, and just as addictive. The only difference is that some television stars can keep their narcissism off camera, and others let it seep through.

Mr. Olbermann bathes in it.

He opened on Monday with an inside joke about his 16-year sabbatical from ESPN: “As I was saying.” Then he ripped into an excoriation of a Daily News reporter’s tweets about a Jets game, insisting that the reporter made up a controversy over the future of the Jets coach Rex Ryan to boost his own profile. Mr. Olbermann said he agreed in this instance with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who called the reporter a “dope” on a local radio show. Mr. Olbermann then noted slyly that he was already talking about a politician 48 seconds into his new, supposedly politics-free show.

And for many minutes, Mr. Olbermann assailed the reporter, Manish Mehta, for, among other things, asserting, without sources, that Mr. Ryan’s job could be in jeopardy after a quarterback was injured in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. That claim snowballed into a sports page kerfuffle that Mr. Olbermann, at least, considers ridiculous. As is his wont, he did not hold back.

“Reporting is dead,” he declared. “Long live making something out of nothing — if you can instigate controversy, if you can sell a few more newspapers to a world that no longer wants them, all your sins will be forgiven.”

Mr. Olbermann, who said his motto is “It’s your story, but it’s their life,” doesn’t appear to have quite as much empathy for civilians as he does for celebrities. A feature called “Keith Lights” is supposed to be a highlights reel, but it is also a low-blow montage of embarrassing moments, mostly focused on spectators looking foolish, like a fan at a Kansas City game picking his nose or another who caught a slammed tennis ball at the United States Open and playfully held it on the top of his head. “That’s not a good look, sir,” Mr. Olbermann sneered.

Mr. Olbermann may have left politics behind, but he has repurposed his signature segment on MSNBC, “The Worst Person in the World.” Now he is meting out the “The Worst Person in the Sports World” award. On Monday, it was Jim Crane, owner of the Houston Astros. Mr. Olbermann cited a Forbes magazine article that reported that even though the Astros were the worst team in the majors, television deals and low salaries have made them the most profitable baseball franchise, with an estimated $99 million in operating income this season.

For the final segment, Mr. Olbermann came back wearing a black leather Fonz-style jacket and told viewers, “Yes, it’s the jacket.” Mr. Olbermann said that it was the same one he wore 20 years ago when he inaugurated his first show on the newly formed ESPN2, and explained that he donned it not to look cool, but for warmth. Because of a problem with the air-conditioning, the studio was cold or, more exactly, 50 degrees.

On “Olbermann,” no detail about the host is too small or too old to leave out. It may not be the most creative sports show on television, but it is any anchor’s dream format.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/28/arts/television/keith-olbermanns-show-has-its-debut-on-espn2.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: The Other Snowden Drama: Impugning the Messenger

As a pure story, it’s tough to beat the Snowden saga. Man of intrigue? Roger. Crusading reporter? Check. A powerful government in hot pursuit? Yessir. Unclear agendas by foreign countries? Most certainly.

And as Edward J. Snowden made his way across the globe with a disintegrating passport and newly emerged allies, Twitter was there, serving up a new kind of chase coverage, with breathless updates from hovering digital observers speculating about the fleeing leaker’s next move. All day Sunday, it was like watching a spy movie unfold in pixels, except it was all very real and no one knows how it ends.

Almost lost in the international drama was a journalistic one in which Glenn Greenwald, the columnist from The Guardian, found himself in the gunsights on a Sunday morning talk show. The episode was part of a continuing story about the role of the press in conveying secrets to the public.

If you add up the pulling of news organization phone records (The Associated Press), the tracking of individual reporters (Fox News), and the effort by the current administration to go after sources (seven instances and counting in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media), suggesting that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math.

For the time being, it is us (the press) versus them (federal officials), which is part of the reason David Gregory ended up taking a lot of incoming fire for suggesting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Glenn Greenwald may have committed crimes, not journalism, when he published leaks by Mr. Snowden.

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” he said in the interview.

Mr. Greenwald responded assertively.

“I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Mr. Greenwald responded.

“The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence — the idea that I’ve ‘aided and abetted’ him in any way.”

Mr. Gregory may have thought he was just being provocative, but if you tease apart his inquiry, it suggests there might be something criminal in reporting out important information from a controversial source.

In using the term “aided and abetted,” Mr. Gregory adopted the nomenclature of Representative Peter T. King, a Republican of New York who has argued that Mr. Greenwald should be arrested, lately on Fox News.

Writing in The Washington Post, Erik Wemple expressed deep skepticism about Mr. Gregory’s assumptions.

“The entire question of Greenwald’s ‘aiding and abetting,’ furthermore, collapses when considering what it would entail,” he wrote. “Snowden was a contractor for the National Security Agency. Over his years of work in intelligence, he developed an exquisite understanding of the government’s eavesdropping activities. Plus, he had passcodes and access privileges that came with his position.”

Mr. Gregory’s position on the show was that as a journalist raising questions he was “not actually embracing any particular point of view.”

“There’s a question about his role in this,” he said, referring to Mr. Greenwald. “The Guardian’s role in all of this. It is actually part of the debate; rather than going after the questioner, he could take on the issues. And he had an opportunity to do that here on ‘Meet the Press.’ ”

The press is frequently accused of giving itself a pass, but the present moment would seem like a good time for a bit of solidarity. The current administration’s desire for control of information is not a new phenomenon, but at this juncture, there is a clear need for a countervailing force in favor of openness.

There will be, as Ben Smith pointed out on BuzzFeed, an attempt to depict the sources of information as rogues and traitors, a process that will accelerate now that WikiLeaks has begun assisting Mr. Snowden. “Snowden is what used to be known as a source,” Mr. Smith wrote. “And reporters don’t, and shouldn’t, spend too much time thinking about the moral status of their sources.”

Politicians would like to conflate the actions of reporters and their sources, but the law draws a very clear and bright line between the two in an effort to protect speech and enable transparency. Mr. Greenwald may have a point of view and his approach to journalism is through the prism of activism, but he functioned as a journalist and deserves the protections that go with the job.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/business/media/the-other-snowden-drama-impugning-the-messenger.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Dish Network Takes to Twitter in Battle With Broadcasters Over Ad-Skipping DVR

The Dish Network’s battle with broadcasters over a tricked-out digital video recorder called the Hopper has come to Twitter.

Dish on Thursday accused CBS of telling one of the network’s stars, Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory,” to take down a Twitter message promoting the Hopper to her 1.2 million followers. For whatever reason, Ms. Cuoco deleted the message. The odd episode gave Dish’s chief executive, Joe Clayton, a chance to say on Twitter: “It’s disappointing that CBS — once the exemplar of editorial independence and innovation — continues to use its heavy hand to hold back progress from consumers.”

Arguably CBS won the quote war though, with this statement a few hours later: “Once again, Joe Clayton demonstrates his dubious gift for hyperbole and hucksterism. No demands were made, but it’s clear that Dish’s culture of fabrication is alive and well.”

Let’s pause right there. This isn’t really about Ms. Cuoco, it’s about copyright and consumer rights. Dish and broadcasters like CBS have been in court for months now, arguing over the legality of the Hopper, a digital video recorder that allows users to automatically skip all the ads on prime-time network television shows. The newest version of the Hopper uses technology from a company called Sling that lets customers wirelessly watch recorded shows away from home.

Dish says the Hopper is a legitimate response to changing consumer behavior. The broadcasters say it’s a violation of their copyrights, and perhaps a violation of their carriage contracts with Dish, too. They have, according to Dish, refused to sell the company any advertising time to promote the device.

Mr. Clayton brought up “editorial independence” in his statement on Thursday because it came to light last month that CBS prohibited one of its Web sites, CNET, from presenting an award to the Hopper. CBS also refused to let the CNET staff disclose the details of its involvement. But the details leaked out a few days later, and Dish condemned the corporate interference. CBS said the case was “isolated and unique” and said “in terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100 percent editorial independence, and always will.”

With Twitter, Dish seized on another opportunity to criticize CBS. It said Ms. Cuoco’s Twitter message in support of the Hopper was a “sponsored tweet,” meaning that it paid to have the message placed there. “Amazing!” the message said, pointing to an online commercial for the device. “Watching live TV anywhere on the #Hopper looks pretty awesome!”

A Dish spokesman said that the company heard from Ms. Cuoco’s agent that CBS demanded that she delete the message. “No demands were made,” CBS said in response.

Ms. Cuoco’s show, by the way, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the digital video recorder. On a typical week, about 17 million people watch the sitcom either live or within a few hours of a new episode’s debut. Another four million people watch the show via a DVR within a week of the debut — a gain of 24 percent. Among 18- to 49-year-olds, the gain is even bigger — 35 percent.

Broadcasters don’t object to the DVR per se — they’ve learned to live with the ad-skipping technology. Just because people can skip ads doesn’t mean they always do. But the Hopper makes it easy to skip ads automatically — and that’s what the networks fear.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/dish-network-takes-to-twitter-in-battle-with-broadcasters-over-ad-skipping-dvr/?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Media Equation: The Danger of an Attack on Piracy Online

Stay with me here.

SOPA deals with technical digital issues that may seem to be a sideshow but could become crucial to American media and technology businesses and the people who consume their products. The legislation is the rare broadly bipartisan piece of apple pie. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to resume hearings on it this month and all indications are that it will approve the measure, setting up a vote in the full chamber. The Senate is also expected to vote on its own version of the bill when it returns from the holiday break.

Virtually every traditional media company in the United States loudly and enthusiastically supports SOPA, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for the rest of us. The open consumer Web has been a motor of American innovation and the attempt to curtail some of its excesses could throw sand in the works of a big machine on which we have all come to rely.

Rather than launch into a long-winded argument about why the legislation is a bad idea — it is, as currently written — I thought it might be worthwhile to boil SOPA down into a series of questions.

A NONEXISTENT PROBLEM? Hardly. Regardless of what Web evangelists tell you, SOPA is an effort to get at the very real problem of rogue Web sites — most operating from overseas — offering illicit downloads of movies, music and more. The Motion Picture Association of America cites figures saying that piracy costs the United States $58 billion annually.

Mark Elliot, an executive from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a letter to The New York Times that such piracy threatened 19 million American jobs. Those figures surely include some politically motivated hyperbole, but anybody who has spent time around a twentysomething consumer knows that piracy is a thorny fact of life for content companies.

In an effort to stanch the flow, on Oct. 26 Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, introduced the legislation that has come to be known as SOPA. The Senate version, called the Protect IP Act, is seen by tech companies as less onerous because it targets domain name providers and ad networks and not Internet service providers. Both bills seek to create remedies to pirated content because most of the foreign-based sites operate outside of the United States’ legal system.

WOULD IT FIX THE PROBLEM? Probably not, and even if it made some progress toward reining in rogue sites, the collateral damage would be significant. Under the terms of each proposed bill, the federal Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, could seek a court order against a Web site that illegally hosts copyrighted content and then wall off the site permanently.

Under the House version, private companies would be allowed to sue Internet service providers for hosting content that they say infringes on copyright. That represents a very big change in the current law as codified in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which grants immunity to Web sites as long as they act in good faith to take down infringing content upon notification.

WHY ALL THE ALARM? The bill has exposed a growing fracture between technology and entertainment companies. Digitally oriented companies see SOPA as dangerous and potentially destructive to the open Web and a step toward the kind of intrusive Internet regulation that has made China a global villain to citizens of the Web.

Entertainment companies think that technology companies are aiding and abetting thieves on a broad scale, but the legislation is alarming in its reach, potentially creating a blacklist of sites and taking aim at others for unknowingly hosting a small fraction of copyrighted material. In a joint letter to Congress, Google, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo, eBay and many other companies made it clear that they perceived a broader threat in the effort to thwart pirate sites.

“We support the bills’ stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ Web sites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” the letter read, which was published in a full page ad in The Times.

“Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of Web sites.”

Laurence H. Tribe, the noted First Amendment lawyer, said in an open letter on the Web that SOPA would “undermine the openness and free exchange of information at the heart of the Internet. And it would violate the First Amendment.”

You can see why big Internet guys are upset by SOPA. Maybe you and I should be, too.

E-mail: carr@nytimes.com;


Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3d79874035d3cfc38f04c04baf429866

You’re the Boss: After the Fire: Do Not Touch Anything

The adjuster's advice: Touch nothing.Courtesy of Southfork Kitchen.When can we reopen? Who knows?
Start-Up Chronicle

“I have three rules. Don’t walk into a courtroom without a lawyer. Don’t go on a date without Viagra. And never settle an insurance case without Littman.”

That’s Danny Lembo talking. As usual, he has a drink in his hand, a blonde on his arm and a story on his lips: cold, hot and hyperbolic. He’s an old friend who called himself Mr. Connected on “Survivor: Nicaragua” last year, but the guys call him Too Tan Dan. His biceps are the size and color of tawny lap dogs, and they receive just as much attention, exercise and health-enhancing treats. By profession, Too Tan Dan is a property builder and manager; by avocation, he is a fixer. He knows people. He knows people who know people. He knows Littman.

Jeffrey Littman wears a pinkie ring and speaks softly, politely, incessantly. He’s been a public adjuster for 32 years, which means he advocates for policyholders, appraises damage, assesses coverage and negotiates settlements with insurance companies. His son is a lawyer, by the way, who defends insurance companies. I wouldn’t wish those kinds of Oedipal issue on anyone. (Except maybe Laius.)

“Lembo says you’re a friend, so I will give you my lowest rate, and you know I will do good by you,” says Mr. Littman. “‘Cause if I don’t, Lembo will have my head.” I trust Mr. Littman, too, is prone to hyperbole.

First thing, he says, touch nothing. Leave everything smelly, sooty and living proof that we need a special task force to clean every fork and light fixture and square inch of wall. This is expensive. (Mr. Littman, whose name may or may not be ironic, gets a percentage of the final numbers we collect.)

“Touch the wrong thing, and the policy could be null and void,” explains Mr. Littman. “Let the experts come and take pictures and do their investigation before you move a single salt shaker.”

“We don’t have salt shakers.”

“What do you serve your salt in?”

“We don’t serve salt. But if someone asks for it, we have little copper pots.”

“I’m asking you to not touch the copper pots. All your salt is ruined. Everything is ruined. You can’t see it, but everything is covered with a fine layer of soot. Salt is just a symbol.” (Not since Gandhi has salt been such a symbol.)

Mr. Littman also needs the cost of the building, the cost of the contents of the building, a copy of the deed, all insurance policies, rental agreements, reservations, payroll, a list of every opened bottle, all product thrown out that night, since that night, and before we can reopen. When can we reopen? Who knows? The fire investigators need time, the insurance companies need time, the cleaners need time, city hall needs permits, the board of health needs to inspect, and the staff needs retraining and probably restocking; surely, some good people will find other work during this unplanned summer hiatus. Then we have to let the public know we have reopened.

With no track record, no archives to present to the insurance people, there will be a fair amount of dickering about the moneys lost. The chef, sous chefs and managers are gathering all the pertinent information. It is not their favorite activity.

The two people in a small town you don’t want to know too well are the pharmacist and the reconstruction guy at city hall. It means something is out of kilter and you are less than tip-top; they both need prescriptions of a sort to make you feel better. Sal the Pharmacist knows more about my bloodstream than Lembo and Littman and my phlebotomist combined. The recon guy at city hall sends my blood pressure skyward as he hands me the building permit application checklist.

I need five copies of the survey, three sets of plans, one copy of the house certificate occupancy, an estimate from a licensed general contractor with New York-approved workers’ compensation, a check for an unknown amount (based on work to be done), and a drawing of the septic system with the red stamp from the Suffolk County Board of Health.

“The septic system?”

“Yes, with the red stamp.”

“But you have that here, on file. That’s how we opened in the first place.”

“You have to resubmit all these forms in order to start construction.”

“How long will all this take?” I ask.

“The sooner you fill out the application and satisfy all the requests, the sooner we can get to work on it.”

“Today is Wednesday. I’ll be back Friday.”

“I wouldn’t come back Friday.”

“Why not?”

“It’s summertime.”

“I know. That’s why I’ll be back in two days.”

“Everyone who wants a swimming pool or a new fence or a guest house stops here on their way to their weekend abode. Fridays are crazy. You’ll be in line for hours. Forget Fridays.”

The next day, Thursday, seven people converged on the restaurant at 10 a.m. They handed me business cards and commenced firing questions — about money and staff and guests and firefighters and mortgages and partners and family. I finally ask these men if they are actually divorce lawyers who made a wrong turn back on Montauk Highway. What the heck is going on?

They are, in point of fact, fire investigators, cleaning experts and general contractors. They need to know everything. In duplicate. The restaurant business has one insurance company (Scottsdale) and the property has another (National Specialty). Mr. Littman says the two companies could end up in a turf war: was it a kitchen fire or damage to property? No matter now. The reps pop questions and scribble in their books or type into their laptops and reveal neither pleasure nor displeasure to any response. This could be a poker game. Mr. Littman hovers over every conversation, adding his 2 cents or removing mine. There is no bluffing.

Meanwhile, two guys not taking part in the inquisition snoop around the restaurant with cameras and tape recorders. Eventually, they invite me to sit down in a booth. They are in their late 20s or early 30s. Nice guys. There’s no telling which one has rank. They come at me willy-nilly.

Willy: “What time did you first become aware of the fire?”

Buschel: “Around 7 o’clock, Saturday night.”

Nilly: “How did you become aware?”

Buschel: “The chef called me into the kitchen to show me the smoke.”

Nilly: “What is your relationship with the chef?”

Buschel: “I’m not sure I understand the question.”

Willy: “Do you two get along?”

Buschel: “We get along fine.”

Willy: “Do you owe him money?”

Buschel: “No.”

Nilly: “Is he a partner or an employee?”

Buschel: “Wait a minute. You think the chef started the fire?”

Willy: “He isn’t here today, is he?”

Buschel: “Are you guys from CSI Bridgehampton?”

Willy: “Sorry. We have to ask these questions.”

Buschel: “Why?”

Nilly: “We are investigating a fire.”

Buschel: “You can ask anything you want, but don’t expect me to answer.”

Willy: “We are here for your benefit, and we have to cover all the angles.”

Buschel: “Here’s my angle, gentlemen. Before two hours ago, I never saw either of you. You could be from Al Qaeda for all I know. Or you could be the arsonists. So I take the Fifth on questions I don’t understand. Nothing personal. But I can’t answer half these questions without consulting Littman the adjuster and Sal the pharmacist and Joe the chef. By the way, if you were the arsonists, you should be ashamed — that was a really bad job.”

Next: tips about insurance. And how we finished renovation in record time and opened to record crowds. (I made up that last sentence. I’m trying the power of positive thinking. Can it hurt?)

Bruce Buschel owns Southfork Kitchen, a restaurant in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e4bdb592c6f4859cac5824eca7756481