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Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Russian Is Coming
Mikhail Prokhorov, perhaps Russia’s richest man, discusses his planned buy of the Nets, his wealth and the unusual way he made most of his money in his first U.S. TV interview. Steve Kroft reports.
Watch the full segment here: CBS

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Washington Post: Obama signs law finalizing health care, loan redo
Huffington Post: Singer Erykah Badu Strips Naked at JFK Assassination Site
Dallas Morning News: Badu defends nudity in video made by JFK site
AP: McDonald’s opens Hamburger Univ. Shanghai

New York Times: Overqualified? Yes, but Happy to Have a Job
Gawker: Pretty Wild Might Be the Worst Television Show Ever Made
The Atlantic: Consumer Confidence Up in March

New York Times: Next Year in the White House: A Seder Tradition

One evening in April 2008, three low-level staff members from the Obama presidential campaign — a baggage handler, a videographer and an advance man — gathered in the windowless basement of a Pennsylvania hotel for an improvised Passover Seder.

The day had been long, the hour was late, and the young men had not been home in months. So they had cadged some matzo and Manischewitz wine, hoping to create some semblance of the holiday.

Suddenly they heard a familiar voice. “Hey, is this the Seder?” Barack Obama asked, entering the room.

So begins the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions. When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize.

In the Old Family Dining Room, under sparkling chandeliers and portraits of former first ladies, the mostly Jewish and African-American guests will recite prayers and retell the biblical story of slavery and liberation, ending with the traditional declaration “Next year in Jerusalem.” (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)

Top aides like David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett will attend, but so will assistants like 24-year-old Herbie Ziskend. White House chefs will prepare Jewish participants’ family recipes, even rendering chicken fat — better known as schmaltz — for just the right matzo ball flavor.

Read the full article here: New York Times

New York Times: CNN Fails to Stop Fall in Ratings
By Bill Carter

CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year.

The trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year is all up for one network, the Fox News Channel, which enjoyed its best quarter ever in ratings, and down for both MSNBC and CNN.

CNN had a slightly worse quarter in the fourth quarter of 2009, but the last three months have included compelling news events, like the earthquake in Haiti and the battle over health care, and CNN, which emphasizes its hard news coverage, was apparently unable to benefit.

The losses at CNN continued a pattern in place for much of the last year, as the network trailed its competitors in every prime-time hour. (CNN still easily beats MSNBC in the daytime hours, but those are less lucrative in advertising money, and both networks are far behind Fox News at all hours.)

About the only break from the bad news for CNN was that March was not as bad as February, when the network had its worst single month in its recent history, finishing behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but also its sister network HLN — and even CNBC, which had Olympics programming that month.

CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs, which are led by hosts not aligned with any partisan point of view.

But the numbers are stark: For the network’s longest-running host, Larry King, who has always been regarded at CNN as the centerpiece of prime time because he drew the biggest audiences at 9 p.m., the quarter was his worst ever.

Mr. King’s audience dropped 43 percent for the quarter and 52 percent in March. He dropped to 771,000 viewers for the quarter from 1.34 million in 2009. More alarming perhaps, Mr. King, whose show has been regularly eclipsed by Rachel Maddow’s on MSNBC (and is almost quadrupled by Sean Hannity’s show on Fox), is now threatened by a new host, Joy Behar on HLN (formerly Headline News.)

In her first full quarter competing with Mr. King at 9 p.m. Ms. Behar wound up beating him in the ratings 21 times.

CNN has given no indication that any changes in its lineup are imminent, but recently announced that it would try a series of specials in a talk-show format at 11 p.m. with its current 10 p.m. host, Anderson Cooper. The specials are interpreted by some at the network as a trial run for a new 9 p.m. show with Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Cooper has long been regarded as the strongest host at CNN, but his show has suffered badly as well. For the quarter, Mr. Cooper dropped 42 percent in viewers and 46 percent among the 25-to-54-year-old audience that the news channels use for their sales to advertisers.

In the past, CNN relied on big audiences for Mr. King’s show to deliver viewers to Mr. Cooper. Now Mr. Cooper sometimes finds himself losing to repeats of shows on MSNBC and HLN. (At the other end of prime time, Campbell Brown’s show on CNN at 8 had its worst quarter ever with the 25-to-54-year-old audience.)

Even in the morning, CNN is sliding. Its “American Morning” show dropped behind “Morning Joe” on MSNBC in total viewers for the first time; it still beat the MSNBC show among 25- to 54-year-olds, though it was down 29 percent from a year earlier.

At the same time, Fox News, which had its biggest year in 2009, continues to add viewers. Greta Van Susteren’s show was up 25 percent from a year earlier. Bill O’Reilly, whose show commands the biggest audience in prime time with 3.65 million viewers, was up 28 percent, and Glenn Beck was up 50 percent from a year earlier.

Gawker: Christiane Amanpour: Too Brunette, Persian For TV?

New York Times: Bill Cunningham New York
By David W. Dunlap

Bill Cunningham is probably the most honest photojournalist in New York. But he can also be pretty deceptive.

Not that he tries to be. Rather, in his pursuit of a singular, joyful mission — documenting daily the interesting clothes that women and men can and (this is important) do wear — Mr. Cunningham makes it all look easy.

That’s deceiving because he may be, at 81, the hardest working reporter in New York. He’s also among the most private, despite the fact that he can easily be spied in public, wearing a blue worker’s smock and bicycling fearlessly through city streets. His personal life is so understated and ascetic as to seem anonymous. His aversion to the spotlight is itself the stuff of fashion legend.

So the miracle of“Bill Cunningham New York,” a new 88-minute documentary about the photographer of “On the Street” and “Evening Hours,” is that its subject agreed to participate in the first place. The film, which is to open the New Directors/New Films series on Wednesday at the Museum of Modern Art, took 10 years to make. The first eight were spent trying to get Mr. Cunningham to cooperate. “It started in 2000,” said Richard Press, who directed the film. Philip Gefter, to whom Mr. Press is married, produced it. “Philip and I approached Bill. He just pooh-poohed the idea. He couldn’t entertain it. He said, ‘Why me? There’s no subject here.’”

To read the full article: New York Times

To find showtimes & purchase tickets: New Directors

The Daily Beast:

Scary New GOP Poll
By John Avalon

On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes about Obama: Two-thirds think he’s a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24 percent say “he may be the Antichrist.”

To anyone who thinks the end of the health-care vote means a return to civility, wake up.

Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party.

Here’s new data to prove it:

* 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.

The belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” is widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come.

* 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim

* 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”

* 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”

* Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

These numbers all come from a brand-new Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts. It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.

Read the Full Article at The Daily Beast

Some Facts on School Lunch

31 million American children eat lunch at school, funded through USDA’s Child Nutrition Program. It was set up after the war to feed hungry children and deal with surplus agricultural commodities.

11 million children also get breakfast at school under the program.

The federal school meals budget is $11.9 billion a year. By comparison, healthcare spending on
obesity is already $147 billion.

CNN: Did Jamie Oliver really shape up town?
A spokeswoman for Huntington, West Virginia — the city Oliver singled out as one of the unhealthiest places in America — says local residents are exercising and eating better. But she’s not giving much credit to the cheeky British chef and nutrition activist.

“What people need to realize is there was already a movement to make Huntington healthier,” says Brandi Jacobs-Jones, whose West Virginia hometown plays a starring role in Oliver’s new macro-makeover show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” set to debut on ABC on Sunday.

The Globe and Mail: Jamie Oliver in America: sneers and tears
When British celebrity chef brings his fresh-food crusade across the pond, the reaction is chilly

Huffington Post: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Premiere: Can Oliver Change America’s Food System?

Don’t get a tattoo on your leg. It’s not sexy.


CNN: Tanning salons burned by health care bill
LA Times: Healthcare reform fun facts: The 10% tan tax