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Tales of humiliation at the hands of men
The media has come a long way in just a few weeks. My dinner last evening consisted of Korean beef steam buns with sweet potato tempura, spicy mayonnaise and sexual harassment.
Fixing a Blue Apron meal for the kids coincided with cable HLN's dinner-time special, "Enough!" There, host S.E Cupp elicited depressing tales of male outrages from three journalists against a backdrop of rotating images of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes.
CNN "New Day" co-host Alisyn Camerota remembered going out to a business dinner with her boss at a TV station, then having him announce they were going to finish up the discussion at a strip club. That was one of several humiliating sagas from a woman who's already gone public with the indignities heaped upon her (and so many others) by Ailes when she worked at Fox News Channel.
USA Today's Christine Brennan recalled being the first female sports reporter at the Miami Herald, covering the University of Florida football team, when an assistant coach followed her off a hotel elevator, down the hallway and suddenly kissed her on the lips.
And, imagine, she had to interview the jerk the next day! It was 1981, she was starting "the career of her dreams" and at the time asked, "Do I want to cause trouble for myself?" So she said zilch. Sound familiar?
And there was host Cupp, the right-leaning columnist and former regular CNN political pundit now with her own gig. She recalled being interviewed from a remote location and having the anchor inform her (with a microphone open for a larger world to hear) that he called her "C-Cup" around the office. She segued seamlessly into accounts of both an anchor who grabbed her ass and an unidentified U.S. senator who went for her thigh under a table on the set.
I listened, had the image of a senator stuck in my head and imagined James Earl Jones intoning, "THIS is CNN."
But Camerota underscored that there's been a sea change for the better in her realm. "It was the Wild West," she said. Indeed, my female friends recount a world of rather stunning male entitlement 30 and 40 years ago. A former CBS News producer says she had to knee a guy in the privates while out on assignment just to get him the hell off of her.
What to do? If there was one benefit of the HLN hour, it was that it did not presume to suggest how to change the culture. That's smart. No number of specials will do that. It's rather more complicated and would involve different messaging to different slices of America over a very sustained period of time, as well as significant behavioral change.
The show ended modestly with pragmatic workplace tips: Document transgressions, gather evidence, report them, lawyer up and, if you can (which many can't), get out.
I didn't stay for the very end. How long can you stare at a revolving gallery of Cosby, O'Reilly, Ailes and Weinstein? If our 8-year-old had watched for longer than the five minutes he did, what would my defense be to any investigator from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services?
So it was back to adding the white bottoms of the scallions, ginger and black bean sauce to the cooking meat — and, of course, wondering what high-profile male jerk will be outed today.
As The Washington Post puts it this morning, "Who’s next? A moment of reckoning for men — and the behavior we can no longer ignore."
Rough and swift justice
So it took about 24 hours for Mark Halperin to lose his cable TV gig, Penguin book deal on the 2016 campaign and HBO series based on his work, all as a result of sexual harassment claims dating to a prior life at ABC News.
You'd think that, like many elite journalists, he could at least rake in the dough on the speaking circuit. But there's a report he's been de-listed by his speakers bureau. He can knock on wood that he's made several million dollars in recent years as an author and overpaid Bloomberg employee.
New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor tweeted, "Very few narrators had the power that Mark Halperin did to shape the political discourse — which was often specifically about gender." It might be overstating his influence, even if underscoring his rapid-fire ignominy.
Not impressed in West Virginia
The folks at the Charleston Gazette-Mail know a few things about the opioid crisis, having won a Pulitzer Prize this year for reporting on the very topic. The state has the highest drug overdose death rate in the country. The reaction in their neck of the woods to Trump's announcement that declares a "public health emergency?"
"West Virginia officials were disappointed Thursday that President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency comes with no extra funds for West Virginia to fight the opioid crisis."
“My hope was that the president’s declaration would’ve resulted in additional resources and an even better partnership with Washington to combat this devastating crisis,” Bill Crouch, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said in a statement.
“We are losing a generation of West Virginians to drug abuse and in some cases, two generations,” Crouch said.
Meanwhile, the very good STAT, a terrific look at the health sciences, says this: "But the announcement included nothing about access to naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug that first responders across the country have credited with saving innumerable lives." And "Vice News Tonight" looked at addicted Americans seeking "their own desperate solutions," including in a natural drug called Kratom (popular for generations in Southeast Asia in dealing with opioid addiction) that is cheap and unregulated and linked to some deaths. And here's a good piece on Kratom from Wired last year.
Headline of the day (from Vox)
The New York media was scooped by David Kaplan, a Chicago sports host, on the city's big sports story of the day: the Yankees letting go Joe Girardi, the Northwestern University-educuated manager for the past decade.
Girardi and Kaplan share the same Chicago agent. This being 2017, Kaplan tweeted the scoop.
The story had the salutary impact of briefly diverting MSNBC's "Morning Joe" from its Trump-bashing cruise control this morning as both co-host Joe Scarborough and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson mulled the prospect of Girardi winding up in the nation's capital to manage the Nationals. It then moved to the disclosure of John F. Kennedy assassination records, with some very loose talk about why some records remain under wraps, including ad guy Donnie Deutsch suggesting Trump is keeping some records "in his pocket" for self-serving, politically motivated use somewhere down the road. There are a bunch of bonafide reasons and strict rules regarding some of the materials, according to trustworthy national security sources.
Elizabeth Drew in The New Republic
After exiting The New York Review of Books, she surfaces with a Trump analysis in The New Republic that includes this:
"This depiction of Donald Trump as a weak president would no doubt shock his ardent followers, especially since Trump usually covers his retreats with bluster. It might also be a surprise to those who have worried that he’s a would-be autocrat. It turns out that Trump has neither the wit nor the grit to seize power, and he may be too lazy and too uninterested in governing to make much of it if he did."
Are you a liberal, conservative, neither?
Pew Research offers a quiz to figure out your politics, or at least to "find out which one of our Political Typology groups is your best match compared with a nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults by Pew Research Center."
So take the quiz, then run to the person nearest you in the office to declare, "GUESS WHAT POLITICAL TYPOLOGY GROUP I'M IN?!!!!"
David Schwimmer, Poynter and the Telegraph
There's a word called "attribution." It's apparently not known to at least one New York reporter for London's Telegraph. It ran what's pretty close to a complete lift of a Poynter opus by yours truly on film critic Nell Minow's remembrance of a hotel interview with a very above-board David Schwimmer.
CNN's "New Day," with Camerota at her regular post, did a good job on the JFK records with Julian Zelizer of Princeton and Doug Brinkley of Tulane University detailing what we still don't know, especially related to the CIA and FBI. There seemed to be consensus that conspiracy theories, especially related to the CIA, will remain, even accelerate (if that's possible). Zelizer was most intrigued by a memo that the FBI knew of a death threat against Oswald right before the murder, while Brinkley doesn't find that much of a notable thing.
That said, a source actually involved in the process of declassifying, argues to me that some media have been very careless in their fact checking. Before last night there were about 38,000 documents withheld in full or in part, with only 2,800 releases. The source concedes the relevant agencies did a pretty lousy job of review, both vis a vis quality and compliance, and agencies were very inconsistent in what they redacted (one agency released the same information that another redacted, for example).
The source underscored something that much of the chatter, including on CNN this morning, hasn't paid much to, namely that there are law enforcement and intelligence sources still alive (and, surprisingly, not in retirement) and methods still in use and aiding U.S. national security.
Ultimately, there was a de facto all-or-nothing challenge and what was divulged yesterday constitutes a not especially satisfying set of compromises.
Happy anniversary, 'On the Road'
CBS News is celebrating the 50th anniversary of "On the Road," started by the late Charles Kuralt and carried on by Steve Hartman. Here's a nice interview with Hartman, with Hartman planning an extended look at Kuralt's work on this week's "Sunday Morning."
It's notable to be reminded, "The Kuralt series was broadcast on more than 600 editions of the 'CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite' throughout the 1960s and 1970s." As for Hartman, he said this is his own most asked-about contribution, namely on his dad and the selling of his childhood home that his dad built himself in 1955.
Kuralt was a well-liked, great reporter and gifted writer with what was only later revealed to be a complicated personal life. There was his family out East and a significant other in Montana for nearly 30 years. Yes, colleagues knew he spent regular time out West — in an age when, recalls one, you "could stay blissfully out of touch" — but the second life was a pretty well-kept secret.
The work survives, and continues with Hartman, as various events in the news involving famous men remind us that a personal life can be far knottier than the outside world possibly imagines.
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That's it for the week. The weekend includes a few soccer games, choir rehearsal and the start of the three-week intellectual and artistic feast that's the Chicago Humanities Festival. The baseball playoffs ended abruptly last weekend for Eliot Warren's Welles Park Iron Pigs, 9-8 in extra innings, but snacks healed most wounds for the 8-year-olds. See you Monday.