You'd think NBC would have an ethics policy or something. ...
P.S.: One angle Arianna misses is the bad parenting angle. It's one thing if a big star uses his connections to get a job for his unemployed son. Connections help. Stars' sons are often talented! But a sophomore in college? Isn't that rushing the connections thing a bit? Does Tim Russert think he's actually doing his son a favor? Does Luke Russert have no spark of honest Oedipal anger? ... The late Marjorie Williams could get a whole column out of this parenting point. I'm not Marjorie Williams, so I'll stop. But quite apart from parenting, the whole thing stinks. If George Stephanopoulos, or someone with a perilous network perch, tried this, they'd be in deep trouble. Maybe Russert is too. ... [Don't you occasionally plug bloggingheads.tv, which you have an interest in?--ed. I do. (I just did again!) But that conflict's obvious to readers on its face. And it felt smarmy enough that I gave up my small ownership interest in bloggingheads. ... I'd also argue that blogs are a different animal, with different rules, than network chat shows. They're more like Don Imus--you listen to him because you're amused by his various conflicts, which are all-too-elaborately disclosed. Here Russert apparently couldn't bring himself to go the hang-it-out Imus route, perhaps because he realizes it wouldn't go over too well.] Russert certainly won't be giving a keynote address at a conference on "Ethics in Media" any time soon! ... Oh, wait. ...
P.P.S.: Does Howie ('Sure, I'm willing to attack my CNN paymasters') Kurtz have the huevos to write about the Russert/Luke/Carville incest in WaPo? I say no! ... 4:53 P.M. link
Josh Marshall opposes Hillary on anti-dynasticist grounds that are valid and resonant but surely second-order. If you actually thought she'd be a terrific president you wouldn't hold her last name against her. (And if you did, she'd change it!) ... 5:37 P.M.
General Motors still seems to be missing the point. On the company's FastLane blog, GM Advanced Concepts Group director Jack Keebler promises to "work on the creation of a line of small, agile, rear-wheel-drive cars." That's fine as far as it goes, but seems consistent with GM's approach of confining rear drive to a couple of sporty car ghettos (e.g. the Camaro and Cadillac) while normal, affordable everyday sedans get the unpleasant front-wheel-drive the corporation deems more suitable to "the intended purpose of the vehicle," to quote Autoblog. This is wrong! Rear-drive is more fun in sporty cars and non-sporty cars! The hot, franchise-making Chrysler 300C is not a "small, agile, rear-wheel-drive" car. It's a big, galumphing rear-wheel drive car. It can carry a family. Moms and dads can enjoy rear-drive dynamics on the way to Bed, Bath & Beyond! Is GM saying that if you have a family you lose interest in how a car feels? It needs a rear-drive Chevy Impala. ... P.S.: Give Keebler points for admitting that his company has produced "perfectly passionless products." ... 5:10 P.M.
TimesSelec t Hitting the Wall: On November 9, 2005 the New York Times announced that its new TimesSelect service had attracted approximately 135,000 paying Web subscribers (i.e., people who weren't getting the service for free as print subscribers). Today, two month's later, the Times reported it has attracted 156,000 paying Web subscribers, according to E&P's relentless Joe Strupp. Doesn't this mean TimesSelect has gained only 21,000 subscribers in the past two months, after attracting 135,000 in the first two months? I think it does! The TimesSelect sign up rate, as predicted with annoying frequency in this space, is slowing dramatically after the initial likely users signed up, despite an aggressive (and probably expensive) advertising campaign. It's a quagmire! ... Is the Times getting desperate? Today the paper announced a 50% price cut for college students, faculty, artists, writers, alumni, Kerry voters, and people with brown eyes or putty-colored computers. ... If they just cut the price one more time by the same amount, they'll hit the sweet spot! ... P.S.: Note how the Times cannily buried the bad news about TimesSelect under its bigger bad news about earnings--a proven public relations technique familiar to those who remember the "Densepack" missile deployment system, which relied on incoming nuclear warheads to knock each other out, minimizing the damage on the ground. Luckily for the paper's spinners, there should be plenty of bad news available in the future to bury the additional bad news under. ...
P.S.--Chris' Double-Secret Hidden Blog! On the other hand, TimesSelect has Chris Suellentrop now, writing a subscriber-only blog, The Opinionator [$], that he describes as a "'but-wait-there's-more' product, the journalism equivalent" of the "free shoephone that Sports Illustrated used to hand out with its paid subscriptions." Suellentrop's almost worth $49.95 by himself! But I suspect that within weeks, if not hours, he'll look at his stats and wish he weren't locked away behind Pinch's wall. ... 1:10 P.M. link
Sources protecting their reporters: Cathy Seipp deals with two newfangled bloggy etiquette questions: 1) When an MSM reporter (or anyone, for that matter) calls you to research a story, do you have to refrain from posting online about it? 2) Do you have to honor unilateral demands for confidentiality in emails from newsworthy figures like MSM reporters? ... I don't know what the right answer is on (2)--it would be nice if there were a technological fix ("Click here if you agree to keep this private.") But Seipp gives what seems like the right answer to (1), which is "no." If a New York Times reporter (hypothetically) calls me on a story, I don't think I have an obligation--as their source--to keep that secret unless I agree to keep it secret. They called me. And it's a story (for a blogger) that the NYT is working on a story! Isn't the default rule in a free country that you can write about what happens to you?** MSM reporters will have to learn how to deal with leaky, bloggy Heisenberg-inducing sources--presumably by extracting promises of confidentiality.*** ... P.S.: It's revealing that prolific NYT emailer and reporter David Cay Johnston seems to automatically assume the new etiquette rules should be written to favor the NYT, requiring bloggers to hold their fire until the mighty Times has the chance to go first. ...
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