November 4, 2016

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Imagine a millennial Andy Rooney with an Australian accent, beard, dark hair and a picture of what looked like Boris Yeltsin at his side.

He was the finale of “Vice News Tonight,” the new alternative evening newscast that airs on HBO. And even though the satirist wasn’t identified, he was droll in telling us that millions tuned in to the 7th game between the Cubs and Indians for the same reason everybody watches sports: “to see if a 71-year-old curse involving a billy goat would be lifted.”

He then segued to the internet, which, he said, “perhaps to escape its presidential Stockholm Syndrome, was desperately searching for meaning.” When a rain delay hit after the 9th inning, “the parallel to the election came pouring out,” he said.

He showed these tweets: “What if #WorldSeries is just the preview of Election Night?” “Is anyone else fearful this #WorldSeries is just foreshadowing of what we’re all going to experience on election night?” “This #WorldSeries is God saying to America, ‘Look, next week’s election is going to suck so here is my gift to you.'”

Also, he found “this even more ominous article”: a piece from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight a few days back, right after the Cubs went down three games to one against Cleveland: “The Cubs Have A Smaller Chance of Winning Then Trump Does.”

“Meaning,” he concluded, “we’re about to witness the apocalypse, a Donald Trump presidency…or both.”

Well, maybe both since “The CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley” opened, “the race gets tighter as Election Day gets closer.” Ditto “ABC Evening News With David Muir,” which opened with the following: “Tonight, breaking news: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the new polls just out. There’s new hope for both of them in unexpected states.”

Then, he teased another story: “The stunning and gruesome discovery at a home… a woman missing for months…allegedly chained inside a storage container…Tonight she’s been rescued, the realtor under arrest. And the authorities say it doesn’t end there.”

It doesn’t?! Well, maybe the apocalypse is already here.

Megyn Kelly discloses Roger Ailes’ groping her

There is a report in Radar that Megyn Kelly’s upcoming book says, “There was a pattern to his behavior. I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me — veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g. about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.” (CNN Money)

The Wall Street Journal, owned by the same folks who own Kelly’s book publisher, reports on the saga, with denials from Ailes lawyer, Susan Estrich. Ailes allegedly offered to advance her Fox career “in exchange for sexual favors” and made “physical advances.” Those included an incident last year when he “crossed a new line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips.” Rejected by her, she writes, “he asked me an ominous question: ‘When is your contract up?’ And then, for the third time, he tried to kiss me.”

Well, this should make depositions of Ailes even more interesting if he’s got the audacity to make good on threats to sue New York magazine for Gabriel Sherman’s pieces on his Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of female employees. It led to his exit from Fox — and won’t hurt Kelly book sales.

Mr. Crowdsourcing vs The Donald

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold is unceasing in his reporting on Donald Trump’s charitable foundation and dubious claims and expenditures. An adroit user of social media to procure assistance, he’s now confirmed how Trump’s foundation paid $20,000 for a portrait of the boss, identified the artist and procured an image. But, as he said Thursday, he still doesn’t know where the heck the damn thing is.

The gold of looping video files

“Giphy Inc., a search engine for the short, looping video files that are all the rage on social media, has raised a fresh $72 million round of equity funding….The infusion doubles the amount of cash Giphy has raised, to about $150 million, as well as the company’s valuation, which now stands at around $600 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.” (The Wall Street Journal)

$600 million? That’s more than a lot of pretty big newspaper companies. (Pew Research Center)

A Rhode Island take on the Cubs

Kevin McNamara of the Providence, Rhode Island, Journal noticed how “In the midst of the clubhouse celebration, the cameras focused on a smiling Theo Epstein, the kid from Brookline, Mass., who grew up to help the Red Sox break their 86-year World Series curse in 2004. Now the president of baseball operations with the Cubs, Epstein filled his team’s roster with talented, young players and sprinkled in just the right amount of high-priced free agents to bring the World Series title back to Chicago for the first time since 1908.”

“Those two achievements alone will one day earn the 42-year-old Epstein a bust in the Hall of Fame. So what’s next, Theo? Curing cancer? Erasing the national debt? Fixing Rhode Island’s bridges?” (Providence Journal)

Dick Ciccone R.I.P

Dick Ciccone was a terrific, old-school political writer who delivered with remarkable speed and context; a onetime Marine leader and Vietnam War Bronze Star winner who had a fine career at The Associated Press, then rose to managing editor of the Chicago Tribune. He worked hard, played hard and later wrote solid books on legendary columnist Mike Royko and the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

He was alternately idealistic and cynical and, at a memorial service for a great foreign editor, once gave me his de facto theory of managing. At any given time, say, you might have foreign correspondents whose marriages are in trouble, perhaps battling booze, depression or other maladies. Manage with a light hand, play the cards you’re dealt and turn out the best paper you can with the players available. He was 76 when he died of a malignant tumor in a leg. (Chicago Tribune)

Hillary Clinton, lawyer

Asserting that “little attention has been paid to Mrs. Clinton’s work in the courtroom,” The New York Times offers a solicitous take on that work and its supposed trademarks:

“Diligent preparation and a surgical approach to dismantling opposing arguments. A capacity for warmth with clients and adversaries alike. Toughness and deftness in the face of male condescension. And a minimal appetite for the spotlight, if not quite an aversion to it.”

This follows by six days “Hillary Clinton’s Forgotten Career: Corporate Lawyer: For 15 years she defended big companies for the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, a chapter all but excised from her official story.” (The Wall Street Journal)

A window onto a golden era of sports journalism

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs cranked out a nearly frame by frame assessment of a subtle but important play by the Cubs in the climactic 10th of the World Series finale Wednesday. It was a runner smartly advancing to second base from first after a long fly ball, but Sullivan uses images and data-crunching to dissect the many elements bound together and how a play that won’t be part of many highlight reels was critical. (Fangraphs)

The World Series and presidential elections

OK, if you don’t buy the Vice News take, try this bit of research from Henry Weinstein, a former longtime and award-winning Los Angeles Times legal affairs and labor writer who’s now teaching at the University of California Irvine School of Law:

“Since the first World Series in 1903, there have been 10 presidential elections in a year in which the Series lasted seven games. In six of those 10 years, the American League team won the Series and a Republican was elected: 1920-Indians and Warren Harding; 1924-Senators and Calvin Coolidge; 1952-Yankees and Eisenhower; 1956-Yankees and Dwight Eisenhower; 1968-Tigers and Richard Nixon; and 1972-A’s and Nixon.”

“In three of those 10 years, the National League team won the Series and a Democrat was elected: 1940—Reds and Franklin Roosevelt; 1960–Pirates and John F. Kennedy; and 1964-Cardinals and Lyndon Johnson.”Obviously, the Cubs, a National League team, just won.”

So if you watch any news snatches of the Cubs victory parade today, remember the odds are now stacked in Clinton’s favor — damn the polling! Have a good weekend. I’ve got travel soccer all over a very blue state.

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Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the Vice News Tonight’s host’s accent. It is Australian, not British.

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
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