Notes on the @Mediaite Party

Editor’s note: I realize that this is insanely detailed and disjointed, but it’s more for me than for you, sorry. I don’t get the chance to just crap out random thoughts very often (no wisecracks, please), so I’m indulging myself a little.

Last night, I had the honor of attending a celebration of my success with Mediaite, and I wanted to share some details with you all while they’re still fresh in my (now-sober) mind. True to my reputation as a notorious lightweight, I was buzzing after my second glass of wine. I picked up a third glass, just to use as a prop, but I ended up drinking that too. It didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten all day. I did snarf down several slices of baguette-n-brie. Continue reading

Kill Bill, Volume 1

First off, I want to thank Tommy for asking me to blog here. I think political blogging is best when there’s an exchanglee_stranahan_daily_dosee of ideas and voices. I’m honored to be able to add mine to the great work Billie and Tommy are already doing here.

That being said, let’s jump into it…

“The highway is alive tonight,
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes.”

– Bruce Springsteen, The Ghost of Tom Joad

As Tommy mentioned, I’m an advocate of health care reform. Congress has been busy for months working different proposals and this week, the House version emerged– one that’s been hailed by many, including Howard Dean, as ‘real reform’.

I believe the house bill should be killed.

There’s something that happens in casinos. A gambler may have been playing for hours and winning. Then they begin to get fatigued. They get tired of playing so they start playing sloppy. Rather than walking away from the table, the tired gambler starts to take a perverse pleasure in losing because it means they can finally STOP. So they grin while throwing money away and eventually when they are broke, they walk away from the table.

The casino doesn’t take those chances. They replace dealers with fresh ones, regularly. They have pit bosses watching those dealers. They have other bosses watching those pit bosses.

The battle for health care reform is battle against huge corporate interests. Those interests don’t get tired and there are billions at stake here. They have ground down health care reform for months, including plying key Congressman and the Obama administration with piles of cash that any casino would salivate at.

Introducing Lee Stranahan

Hi, Daily Dose readers, remember me?  The guy on the poster next to the pot-smoking alien?  Sorry I’ve been away for so long.  I’m still getting used to the extraordinary blessing that is being a real, full-time writer.  For those of you who don’t know, my initial deal with Mediaite only called for a weekly column.  The rest of what I wrote was voluntary gravy.  As of this month, however, I’ve gone from Pinocchio to real boy, with an obligation to crank out lots of content.  Concurrently, Asylum has also been asking for a lot more content from me.

As a result, I’ve been an absentee father to my home here.  Billie has stepped up admirably to fill in the gap, and traffic hasn’t really suffered.  I hope to be back here posting regularly soon, but it still won’t be what it was.

I’ve also been trying, for awhile, to establish a small contributor base.  This is tough, because I have high standards for you, our readers.  With this in mind, I’m proud to introduce you to our newest contributor, Lee Stranahan.

Lee Stranahan really needs little introduction, but I’ll do it anyway.  Lee first crossed my radar early in the 2008 Presidential campaign when I caught some of his very funny, satirical videos.  Our paths have crossed online quite a bit since then, especially on the Twitter.

He also blogs at Huffington Post, where he landed after being banned by Daily Kos for daring to believe what his lying eyes were telling him about John Edwards.  Lee currently spends his time writing and making films in support of aggressive health care reform.

Stylistically, Lee brings a harder ideological edge to the site than you might be used to here.  He’s also a very responsive guy, but I’ll remind you all to remember the rules anyway.  Let’s have fun.

Washington Post Publisher’s Apology Doesn’t Wash

Update: This is a piece I wrote for Mediaite that got pushed out by other news.  The WaPo ombudsman is as unimpressed as I am by Weymouth’s explanation.

The hot, steaming mess that is the Washington Post Salon-gate scandal just keeps getting hotter and more messified.  Katharine Weymouth, the publisher who was to host the chummy, “non-confrontational” soirees with Post reporters and Obama administration officials, has issued an apology:

I want to apologize for a planned new venture that went off track and for any cause we may have given you to doubt our independence and integrity. A flier distributed last week suggested that we were selling access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at my home. The flier was not approved by me or newsroom editors, and it did not accurately reflect what we had in mind. But let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem (emphasis mine). Our mistake was to suggest that we would hold and participate in an off-the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers paid for by a sponsor. We will not organize such events. As publisher it is my job to ensure that we adhere to standards that are consistent with our integrity as a news organization. Last week, I let you, and the organization, down.

That’s a pretty good start, but then, Weymouth goes on to explain that the way she had planned out the events would have been just ginchy.  So what happened?

When the flier promoting our first planned event to potential sponsors was released, it overstepped all these lines. Neither I nor anyone in our news department would have approved any event such as the flier described.

We have canceled the planned dinner. While I do believe there is a legitimate way to hold such events, to the extent that we hold events in the future, large or small, we will review the guidelines for them with The Post’s top editors and make sure those guidelines are strictly followed.

That sounds a lot, to me, like “Yeah, the problem was the fliers.”

The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, doesn’t seem to be buying what Weymouth is selling:

Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti issued a statement describing the flier as a “draft.”

The “draft” is a single-page solicitation, printed in full color on glossy paper, which was distributed to potential underwriters for a gathering on health care. It reads: “Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth” on July 21.

Oh, it was a draft.  Kinda like those photocopied sheets they distribute in every office in America for the football pool, or something.  Just a sketchy, hastily prepared spitball-y deal, right?  Not so much.

post-salonflier

Alexander goes on to quote Charles Pelton, whose office produced the flier, taking a curiously high-handed attitude:

“There’s no intention to influence or peddle,” Pelton said this morning. “There’s no intention to have a Lincoln Bedroom situation,” referring to charges that President Clinton used invitations to stay at the White House as a way of luring political backing.

Do you really want to bring up bedroom hijinks here, Chuck?

The one positive, as I have noted, is that the Washington Post’s own Howard Kurtz did a good job in reporting on his own paper’s scandal.  Still, although it’s pretty clear to me that Kurtz got all he could out of Weymouth, some may question whether he really held his boss’s boss’s feet to the fire.

It also has the side-effect of undercutting Post reporters’ ability to point out other journalists’ potential conflicts of interests.  For example, when this story broke, I was immediately put in mind of Dana Milbank’s lecture of HuffPo’s Nico Pitney on Kurtz’s own “Reliable Sources.”  That splinter in Pitney’s eye is looking positively microscopic, now.

Kurtz, ironically enough, raised questions about such conflicts in reporting on the launch of this site.  In responding to criticism about his consulting business, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams was blunt:

Says Abrams: “It does seem I’m being held to a higher standard than anyone else in the history of the consulting world. That’s okay. . . . What some of the purists say is that if you’re engaged in journalism at all, you should not be able to work with business, ever.”

By that standard of purity, it would be tough to argue for the continued existence of the Post, at least under the stewardship of Katharine Weymouth.

“Washington Post For Sale” Bombshell Good News/Bad News

What a disappointing day for journalism.  Not minutes after I revisited the dark Playboy saga, I got an email from Lee Stranahan with his video parody of a story I hadn’t even heard yet:

Apparently, WaPo’s publisher hatched a half-baked scheme to pimp the paper’s staff, and the Obama Administration, for huge wads of cash: Continue reading

Meghan McCain Quotes of the Week: Bras, Bugs, & Beta Males

Unfortunately, Meghan McCain’s boobs can’t really talk, but thankfully, Meg’s Twitter feed is such a treasure trove of good quotes, they really don’t have to.  Politico even put one of Meghan’s tweets in its “Politi-quotes: The week in one-liners,” but I think she deserves a whole list to herself.

First, there was Politico’s pick, Meg’s tweet about killing a cockroach in her sink.  Funnier than that, though, were her followups.  Apparently, this one spurred a flurry of cockroach fun facts:

WHAT? @HeyDaveJ Tip: Put a paper towel over the cockroach before you kill it. They carry eggs on their back, and that way they don’t spread. 9:58 AM Jun 27th from web

stop tweeting me about roach eggs people! good lord, I just killed one! 10:18 AM Jun 27th from web

I have to give Meg some props here.  Even though she said “Ewww!”, she did kill the roach herself.  Several years ago, I had a girlfriend who made me drive 2 hours to the City so I could kill a roach that she had trapped under a glass.  To be fair, the thing was the size of a Rottweiler puppy, but it was also missing a bunch of legs.

Now, killing is second nature to Meghan, putting her even more squarely in the “Cool Chick” category, the kind of girl that every guy wants to have a beer with, then have breakfast with.

My favorite Meg quote (aside from her perceptive take on our Meg story) was this 2-Tweet decimation of her conservative critics:

I love people that tell me “I’m doing damage to the GOP”, yeah cause Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Sen. Ensign, Gov Sanford and the entire Bush administration have nothing to do with the GOP’s problems, no…it’s my 5″1 ass in a pushup bra thats the real problem with the GOP… about 19 hours ago from web

She’s right, of course.  The problem isn’t her ass, but the GOP’s habit of telling people what to do with their own asses, while stealth-hunting extracurricular booty.

Finally, she launches a funny one-liner at Hot Air blogger Allahpundit, who self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a “beta male”:

@allahpundit I don’t like beta males darlin’, I am a lot of a lot to date and guys gotta be able to handle it! 12:41 AM Jun 27th from web in reply to allahpundit

At least now, he’ll know who to call if he needs some exterminating done for him.

Other highlights this week include her run-in with an unhinged taxi driver, smackdown of a jerky Twitter troll, and coinage of a great Battlestar Galactica-related catch phrase.  What I’m saying is, you’re missing out on a full life if you don’t follow Meg’s Twitter feed.