The National Enquirer business model is blackmail

The failed attempt by the tabloid to blackmail Jeff Bezos has put a bright light on the way that they do business. It was a fairly open secret that they would threaten to report dirt on celebrities unless the celebrities gave them exclusive access for other stories but now the details of such stories are coming out, with former employees of the parent company AMI, including those who did the investigations for them, willing to speak out.
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Jeff Bezos versus the National Enquirer

David Pecker, the publisher of the gossip tabloid the National Enquirer, is a friend of Donald Trump. The tabloid is notorious for its aggressive investigations into the lives of public figures and weaponizing that information, publishing it if it does not like them and withholding it in return for favors. Basically it practices a form of blackmail, using its journalistic cover to defend itself from accusations of sleaziness.
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More on commercials as windows to the zeitgeist

I have written before about how commercials on TV are a pretty good measure of the zeitgeist. While niche companies may seek notoriety by airing an ad that skirts the boundaries of social acceptability in order to create controversy, major companies do not want to alienate large segments of their market and thus their ads give an idea of what is acceptable in mainstream society.
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When strategic silence must give way to truth-telling

The editorial pages of the two major newspapers in the US, the New York Times and the Washington Post, have long been unswerving in their support for whatever the Israel government does, issuing at most the mildest of criticisms even as Israel increases it apartheid–like treatment of Palestinians and commits the most horrific crimes such as in Gaza. While the news sections might report some of the atrocities, their stable of regular columnists could be relied upon to paint Israel’s actions in the most favorable light.
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Learning from the pros

Members of the Democratic party have realized that there is a lot they can learn from the millennials in their ranks.

The House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee is hosting a session Thursday morning with Ocasio-Cortez of New York (@AOC – 2.42 million followers) and Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut (@jahimes – 76,500 followers) “on the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling.”

“The older generation of members and senators is pretty clueless on the social media platforms. It’s pretty clear that a lot of members have 25-year-olds in their offices,” running their social media, Himes said.

“For younger members, they think of social media as every bit of an established form of communication as print or television or radio,” said Josh Hawley, who, at 39, is the youngest U.S. senator.
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Kevin Spacey’s weird video

When news broke on Christmas Eve that actor Kevin Spacey was going to be criminally charged with felony indecency assault and battery for sexually assaulting a teenager at a bar, few expected that he would respond with a bizarre three-minute video titled “Let me be Frank” where he channeled his character Frank Underwood from the show House of Cards for what seemed like an passive-aggressive pre-emptive defense.
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The short life and welcome death of the Weekly Standard

The magazine folded last week after 23 years of existence. I have been surprised by the level of mourning that has been expressed in media circles at its death, when the right reaction should be rejoicing. All that one really needs to know to form a judgment as to the quality of this publication was that it was financed by Rupert Murdoch and its founding editor was Bill Kristol and the magazine accurately represented their interests. The fact that Kristol has now been welcomed into some liberal enclaves in the media because of his dislike of Trump is mystifying. Thankfully Jon Schwarz delivers the appropriate epitaph for this nasty and pretentious little rag.
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Just what we needed, more Fox News garbage

I had not been aware that Fox News just started a new streaming channel called Fox Nation that features its standard garbage only in a more condensed form. Samantha Bee describes what it consists of. What I found most interesting is that she says that Fox Nation is available during the hours when the supposedly ‘serious’ news programs on Fox News is on and shuts down when the talk shows hosted by the nutcases come on in the evening. In other words, Fox Nation provides an option for those people who think that the afternoon line up on Fox News is not crazy enough.

The Fox problem

Fox News has long since abandoned any pretense to being a news organization. It is now an unapologetic propaganda arm of the racist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, Republican movement in America that has reached its apotheosis in Donald Trump. Long gone are the dog whistle codes to provide a face-saving façade. As Jon Schwarz points out, Fox News has done more to incite domestic political violence than Trump, and he discusses the history of how the network was designed to serve this purpose.
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Elite racism can be just as sincere as common racism

Amanda Marcotte has an interesting piece where she says that the recent Megyn Kelly episode explodes the common myth that exists among the intelligentsia that the elites are too sophisticated to really buy into racist ideologies and that when they do indulge in race-baiting, it is part of a cynical but conscious political strategy that does not reflect their real views. Such people can often point to ‘friends’ to dispute the characterization. It is this kind of thinking that may have prompted NBC to hire Kelly despite her past history of race-baiting at Fox News where the willingness and ability to do so is practically a job requirement. But even though she was no longer working at Fox, she still went there.
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