Peter Drucker, R.I.P.: I once telephoned Peter Drucker, sometime in the early 90s, to try to pick his brain. Of all the experts and wonks I called when I was writing a magazine column, he's the only one who had the honesty to politely say (roughly) "I'm sorry, but why should I give my ideas to you?" I had no answer for that. I've respected him ever since. ... 8:36 P.M
Don't Tell Nikki Finke**: Bob Wright and I explore various paranoid riot and disaster scenarios at bloggingheads.tv. I'm not sure it's a 100% good plan for me to try to argue through a problem with a camera running. But that was the idea. ... P.S.: In an earlier episode, I experienced Scooter-style amnesia and thought I was hearing for the first time Dr. Weevil's idea about computer-game redistricting. ...
**--Finke specializes in early, attention-getting, hysterically negative reviews of journalistic experiments. ... 7:51 P.M.
Three times a day: The Los Angeles Times has reshuffled its op-ed lineup, introducing a crop of talented and non-expensive young 'uns, including Jonah Goldberg, Meghan Daum and Rosa Brooks. Seems a good strategy to me. I disagree with pajamista** Marc Cooper, who argues the paper should have bought itself "a couple of nationally-known powerhouses." Can't an institution with the size and market position of the LAT grow its own stars? ... I would have kept Robert Scheer, though. He's an annoying egomaniac, certain of his own authority even when he's wackily wrong. I remember him assuring me, shortly after 9/11, that we would discover it was the work of a rogue European cell and not Osama bin Laden. He once attacked my parents. (That was in the course of reviewing my book.) If I could press a magic button and end his career I probably would. But the op-ed page is a good place to explore alternative universes--that's better than just "piling on," as Maureen Dowd recently described her role. And Scheer is a skilled polemicist who's right more often than a stopped clock. (Though it's close, as Jackie Mason would say.) ... P.S.: Of course, thanks to Mr. Berners-Lee, firing a columnist no longer means silencing him. You can't shut anyone up anymore, even people you'd want to. Scheer's new venture, TruthDig, seems a potentially more impactful use of his talents than writing for an op-ed page that many LAT readers can't even find. (It's somewhere in the B-section, I think.) ... Scheer's column just moves to HuffPo. ...
The LAT also bounced Michael Ramirez, a sharp right-wing cartoonist who drove West Side libs up the wall. (And he's won a Pulitzer! I thought that was all Times readers were supposed to care about.) ... Publisher Jeffrey Johnson, who controls the editorial page, is doing a good job of giving everyone the impression he was sent from Chicago by the Tribune Company to make the paper less controversial. All other things being equal, why would anyone want to write (or draw) for a boss who will get rid of you if you stir up any criticism?...
LAT buries the lede: From today's piece on Warren Beatty's possible political aspirations:
(Weeks ago, he rebuffed a request for an interview, insisting he'd talk to The Times only for a front-page story. He made no such demands Wednesday.) [Emph. added]
How clueless was that? Did he think the LAT was Vanity Fair (and that he was Heath Ledger)? ... P.S.: The Times piece actually isn't all that friendly to Beatty, punctuating the inevitable, tedious recounting of his political non-starts with this quote:
"I don't think he has the stomach for it," said Michael Levine, an L.A.-based public relations veteran. "I think he likes the pedestal of Beverly Hills, where he can mouth off and not get his fingernails dirty."
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