Patterico's Pontifications

2/4/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:37 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Why not just leave well enough alone? I know it’s just a simple yet challenging word game that I look forward to playing on a daily basis and comparing notes and strategies with our host and JVW. And while you can currently play Wordle for free, it was just purchased by the New York Times, so get ready to pony up:

Wordle is a game in which once a day players get six chances to guess a five-letter word. It has had a meteoric rise: It first appeared in October; had 90 users on Nov. 1; and now millions play the game daily…

On Jan. 31, The New York Times Company announced that they had acquired it, and that, at least initially, it would stay free.

About the acquistion:

Wordle was acquired from its creator, Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, for a price “in the low seven figures,” The Times said. The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players…

“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world,” a company statement said. “New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.”

Since The Times put up a paywall in 2011, its business strategy has revolved around persuading readers and users, the overwhelming majority of whom get Times content digitally, to buy subscriptions. The traditional newspaper business model is centered on advertising.

Second news item

Pence positioning himself for a comeback while looking ahead to 2024:

Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that “President (Donald) Trump is wrong” in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.

Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference near Orlando, Pence delivered his strongest response yet to Trump’s ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, calling it “un-American” to suggest one person could have decided the outcome…

“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said…

“This week, President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ But President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to overturn the election.”

Trump responded to Pence as you would expect him to:

Third news item

Nancy Pelosi wants US Olympic athletes to remain silent in the face of China’s human rights abuses:

Pelosi noted that while the US has an obligation to call out Beijing over human rights violations committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups, Olympic athletes should steer clear of doing so.

“If we do not speak out against human rights violations in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights violations anywhere,” said Pelosi, who then told the athletes: “Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless.”

She again clarified that her concern is for the safety of the athletes:

“As I wish the athletes well, I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do. [To] remove all doubt about why I said they shouldn’t speak out, it’s because I fear for their safety.”

Related:

[A]n American snowboarder reached out to Yahoo Sports to talk China. She’d been reading about the government’s mass detention of Uyghurs; about forced sterilization and sexual assault; about crackdowns throughout the country. “These things are insane,” she said, and she was eager to speak about them.

But not on the record. The Olympics, she said, were a “life goal.” And activism, she worried, could jeopardize her pursuit of it.

“If I were to protest and become a big voice in this movement,” she said, “China could block me from even going.”

She didn’t have proof of that, she acknowledged. But she was afraid — and not alone.

…”There’s a lot of us athletes who are super upset about the genocide in China,” she said. “We’re upset about it. But we’re struggling to figure out, what can we do?”

The IOC is the group that picks the host country,” she reasoned. She couldn’t fathom how such a powerful organization that claims to serve athletes could choose such a problematic host, then refuse to comment on its crimes against humanity, and then, most spinelessly of all, not even assure athletes they’ll be safe in it.

Fourth news item

Good:

Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in the northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place. Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi—the leader of ISIS. All Americans have returned safely from the operation.

Fifth news item

A devastating read about an absolutely devastating situation:

it took four presidencies for America to finish abandoning Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s attention wandered off soon after American Special Forces rode horseback through the northern mountains and the first schoolgirls gathered in freezing classrooms. Barack Obama, after studying the problem for months, poured in troops and pulled them out in a single ambivalent gesture whose goal was to keep the war on page A13. Donald Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that left the future of the Afghan government, Afghan women, and al‑Qaeda to fate. By then most Americans were barely aware that the war was still going on. It fell to Joe Biden to complete the task.

The advocates omitted one person from their calculations: the president. But Biden’s history in this area should have troubled them.

On April 14, 1975, as North Vietnamese divisions raced toward Saigon, the 32-year-old first-term senator from Delaware was summoned to the White House. President Gerald Ford pleaded with him and other senators for funding to evacuate Vietnamese allies. Biden refused. “I feel put-upon,” he said. He would vote for money to bring out the remaining Americans, but not one dollar for the locals. On April 23, as South Vietnam’s collapse accelerated, Biden repeated the point on the Senate floor. “I do not believe the United States has an obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals” other than diplomats, he said. That was the job of private organizations. “The United States has no obligation to evacuate one, or 100,001, South Vietnamese.”

Sixth news item

Note to Oklahoma: No, no, no:

Republican Senator Rob Standridge has introduced a bill that would allow people to sue teachers if they offer an opposing view from the religious beliefs held by students.

The proposed act, named the “Students’ Religious Belief Protection Act” means parents can demand the removal of any book with perceived anti-religious content from school. Subjects like LGBT+ issues, evolution, the big bang theory and even birth control could be off the table.

Teachers could be sued a minimum of $10,000 “per incident, per individual” and the fines would be paid “from personal resources” not from school funds, from other individuals or groups. If the teacher is unable to pay, they would be fired, under the legislation.

The act will be introduced into the Education Committee next week, but it doesn’t specify which religious beliefs will be used to prosecute offending teachers.

Seventh news item

Hmmm…Black woman sentenced to six years in prison over a voting error:

Moses did not believe the judge had correctly calculated her sentence. So she went to the local probation office and asked an officer to figure it out. An officer filled out and signed a certificate confirming her probation had ended. In Tennessee, people with felony convictions who want to vote need that document from a correction official. Moses submitted it to local election officials along with a voter registration form.

But the day afterwards, an official at the corrections department wrote an email to election officials saying a probation officer had made an “error” on Moses’ certificate. Moses was still serving an active felony sentence, they wrote, and was not eligible to vote. The department offered no explanation for the mistake.

Moses is currently in custody and an appeal is expected. But the case highlights the byzantine maze that people with felony convictions have to go through to figure out if they can vote. And it shows the harsh consequences prosecutors can bring if people with felony convictions make a mistake.

Eighth news item

University of Pennsylvania swimmers say enough is enough despite fears of retaliation:

“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter read. “However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female. If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”

Thomas’s teammates did not identify themselves in the letter. It was sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer and chief executive of Champion Women, a women’s sports advocacy organization. She said in a telephone interview that she sent the letter on the swimmers’ behalf so they could avoid retaliation; in the letter, the swimmers claim they were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against Thomas’s inclusion in women’s competition…

“When it became clear, all this new science was coming through, transgender advocates were saying: ‘Oh, but it’s never going to happen. Nobody’s ever going to come and break women’s records. … You’re not going to see that at the Olympics or at nationals.’ And then Lia came along. It just shows the need to update the NCAA rule.”

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

RNC Seeks To Make It Official: Fealty To Trump Is Number One Requirement For Members

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:31 am



[guest post by Dana]

If this doesn’t make it perfectly clear to you that the Republican Party’s main priority is fealty to a liar who fomented an insurrection and continues to lie about the 2020 election results instead of loyalty to members who continue to sacrifice their political and personal lives to uphold the Constitution, then nothing will. What we are now seeing is the complete breakdown of the Republican Party as we have known it, and a rejection of the party’s longheld values and principles:

A Republican National Committee panel unanimously advanced a resolution Thursday to censure Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

The measure will go before all 168 RNC members at Friday’s general session, where officials will decide whether to endorse it.

“The resolution would censure Cheney and Kinzinger and call on the RNC to “immediately cease any and all support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the conference.”

Jonathan Chait describes the hard truth we are witnessing thusly:

Disturbingly, the committee resolution echoes Trump’s line about the insurrection itself. The resolution describes the investigation as a “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” And it condemns the Justice Department’s charges of the rioters as a “Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”

The party’s stance has moved rightward at such a dizzying rate that the full implications of every iterative move can be difficult to absorb. It’s helpful to pause and let this part sink in: The Republican Party is now on record as not only in favor of covering up Trump’s attempted coup, but also against charging the radical violent vanguard that attempted to carry it out on the ground. The insurrectionists, per official Republican Party doctrine, are martyrs.

If you consider what happened on Jan. 6 as legitimate political discourse, and believe that efforts to root out the truth and hold accountable any and all for the events of Jan. 6 are “destructive to the…Republican Party,” then welcome home! It is inarguable that today’s Republican Party is where the quest for truth, protecting the Constitution, and holding individuals accountable for their actions is not only unwelcome but will result in punishment and rejection. By officially establishing the party litmus test (fealty to Trump), and publicly excoriating the last few honest brokers in the party, the Jan.6 participants themselves can be reassured that the Republican Party remains their home. While integrity clearly has no home in the Republican Party, all “legitimate political discourse” is welcome there:

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jan. 6

I left the Republican Party some time ago. I’m just not into that kind of “legitimate political discourse”. Today I am reminded that it was one of my better decisions.

I’ll leave you with these comments by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Rep. Liz Cheney, and Sen. Mitt Romney:

–Dana

More on L’Affaire Zucker

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:07 am



[guest post by JVW]

A follow-up to yesterday’s post on the departure of former CNN honcho Jeff Zucker when it came to light — though it appears now that everybody seemed to know — that he was carrying on romantically with Executive Vice-President and Head of Marketing Allison Gollust. First, an interesting Tweet storm from Megyn Kelly from Wednesday evening and Thursday morning:

Megyn Kelly Tweets

Always trust content from Megyn Kelly. (Just kidding, Boss. Please don’t fire me.)

And it appears that she will be proven correct. Earlier today, Rolling Stone published an article alleging what so many of us have suspected: that this relationship between Mr. Zucker and Ms. Gollust actually began, oh, about two dozen years before Ms. Gollust acknowledges:

In relationships, timing is everything. And the timeline on Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust’s coupledom is not only off by more than two decades, say sources who have worked with the pair — the CNN power couple also repeatedly lied about their relationship to their corporate bosses.

According to CNN president Zucker’s Feb. 2 resignation memo to staff, the romantic relationship — which marked a flagrant violation of corporate policy given that Gollust, the network’s top communications executive, was a direct report to Zucker for most of her nine-year tenure there — began sometime in the past two years. Gollust said in that same memo: “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during Covid. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time.” Added Zucker: “The relationship evolved in recent years.”

Zucker noted in his memo that WarnerMedia’s ongoing investigation into Chris Cuomo — who was fired in December for a breach of ethics after it was discovered he’d been advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while the latter faced accusations of sexual harassment — brought the affair to light and prompted his resignation. And it seems the probe, which is being overseen by the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, is unearthing plenty of embarrassing details about the goings-on at CNN. The scope of the investigation has now expanded to include Zucker and Gollust’s relationship with Andrew Cuomo, too, a WarnerMedia source acknowledged.

But sources who worked closely with Zucker and Gollust dating back to their days at The Today Show in the mid-Nineties dispute their statements in the memo. In reality, these sources tell Rolling Stone, Zucker became romantically entangled with Gollust back in 1996, when she was a trainee in NBC’s corporate communications group and he was the married executive producer of The Today Show. “It was the worst-kept secret, but Jeff was seen as untouchable,” says one insider. “And their statements [in the memo] are total bullshit.”

The article goes on to report that WarnerMedia (the parent company of CNN) had repeatedly questioned the clandestine lovers regarding rumors that had made it as far as the gossip pages of the New York Post, and that at one point they launched a formal investigation that did not lead to any disciplinary action. WarnerMedia denies that they ever investigated, though they do confirm that they had asked both Zucker and Gollust on more than one occasion about the nature of their “friendship.” It also informs us that when new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar arrived in May 2020, Zucker was shorn of his responsibility overseeing CNN’s finances, human resources, and corporate communications, the latter of which meant that Gollust no longer reported directly to him. The Rolling Stone reporter, Tatiana Siegel, had questioned WarnerMedia as far back as September 2020 as to whether that restructuring had anything to do with the gossip that the CNN chief was sleeping with his marketing director, but a Warner spokesperson refused to answer.

When AT&T divested itself of WarnerMedia the following spring, Kilar began negotiating an exit arrangement and the word around the office was that Zucker would be given back much of the oversight authority that he had lost the previous year. In fact, rumors abounded that Zucker would amass even more authority in a new CNN-Discovery Channel conglomeration, while Gollust would be in line to become the new boss at CNN. These plans got waylaid by the Cuomo imbroglio, which as we know laid bare (yeah, my double entendres again; sorry) the nature of the relationship between Zucker and Gollust, as well as the connections the two had with the stupid, venal, and thuggish Cuomo brothers:

The source says the investigation suggests Zucker and Gollust were advising the governor at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in ways not dissimilar to what led to Chris Cuomo’s dismissal. As Andrew sparred on a daily basis with then-President Trump over Covid messaging, the couple provided the governor with talking points on how to respond to the president’s criticisms of the New York crisis. They also booked the governor to appear on the network exclusively, which became a ratings boon for CNN, with Chris Cuomo doing the interviewing. Cuomo and Gollust’s conduct, too, would appear to mark an ethical breach for executives acting on behalf of an impartial news outlet.

“The autonomy of a news organization requires it to not be engaged in any sort of direct activity with any political actor,” says Tim Gleason, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon and media ethics expert, speaking broadly. “If they’re advising a politician [while] presumably reporting on activity that that politician is engaged in, that’s duplicitous and deceptive and a disservice to the audience of a news organization.”

Here’s a timeline of the Zucker/Gollust professional relationship. As you follow it, recall that it is alleged that their romantic entanglement began in 1996:

1996 – Zucker is a producer for NBC’s Today show; Gollust is a trainee.
1997 – Zucker remains a producer; Gollust becomes senior publicist, reporting to Zucker. Gollust soon also begins working on other NBC shows.
2000 – Zucker becomes president of NBC Entertainment; Gollust continues to work in publicity for multiple news shows under the NBC umbrella.
2006 – Zucker becomes CEO of NBC Universal.
2009 – Gollust becomes Executive VP of NBC Universal and Zucker’s chief spokeswoman.
2010 – Zucker ousted in June when Comcast acquires controlling stake in NBC Universal; Gollust resigns her position in December.
2012 – Gollust becomes communications director for Andrew Cuomo.
2013 – Zucker named President of CNN in January, hires Chris Cuomo; Gollust comes aboard as Senior VP for Communication.

What is sad and pathetic is the report published in Vanity Fair yesterday detailing an internal meeting held at CNN on Wednesday in which many members of the staff expressed their dismay at how unfairly their former boss was being treated by mean old Jason Kilar, who apparently stayed around as CEO after all. Featured prominently is a fantastically mindless claim by a staffer that she had received a call from a member of Congress (betcha it’s either Zoe Lofgren or Adam Schiff) who currently serves on the January 6 Committee and claimed to be “devastated for our democracy” that Zucker was shitcanned. Jake Tapper, who publicly has stayed pretty quiet on the matter except for a few retweets here and there, asked if firing Zucker wasn’t handing Chris Cuomo a victory of sorts (the answer would be no, Jake, because CNN is still refusing to pay Cuomo any severance money). How a bunch of alleged journalists could be so surprised at these developments — the execrable Brian Stelter acts as if yesterday was the first inkling he ever had that the two executives might be an item, which, if true, makes him the least observant journalist in the fucking world (slipped in another double entendre there; not sorry) — is beyond me, but it’s a solid bet that the general sense of contentment and professional inertia apparent at CNN would go a long way towards explaining why that network’s ratings continue to slide more alarmingly than the agony of defeat guy.

I expect we’ll hear even more in coming days, and that eventually (perhaps even by the time you are reading this) Allison Gollust will join her lover in the unemployment line. But what a messed up story, and what an indictment on how dysfunctional the world of big media truly is.

– JVW


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