In case you missed it — New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor made some strange representations to Chicago Magazine about her new book, ”The Obamas.” She suggested that, hey, she didn’t really need to interview the first couple — the story she was looking for was never going to come out of their mouths. She said she had an “intense” relationship with the Obamas, too. Why would she come out and say such things? We make a case for one answer.
Also: Newt Gingrich credits the New York Times over and over in the Saturday-night debate in New Hampshire for a big story on the impact of Mitt Romney’s former firm Bain Capital. Yet the story he was actually referring to was done by Reuters. That should make him happy. What’s a guy like him doing talking up the work of the New York Times anyway?
* Conservative media watchers swarm, with links, commentary, blog posts, and so on. They’re all over it. All over what? ABC’s Jake Tapper says that in 2008, the media was “perhaps, tilting on the scales a little bit.”
* Politico’s James Hohmann and John F. Harris address how the infinite debate schedule is prompting talk of reform — talk of the national party stepping up and scheduling a smaller round of sanctioned debates. The story also provides some hints as to why reform may well fail: Cable networks are very powerful, and lower-tier candidates love the debates because they provide the appearance of equal footing. Just think about this hypothetical: If the Republican National Committee tells Fox News that it can sponsor only so many debates, how’s that going to fly? Another consideration: In a world with fewer debates, would we ever have gotten Rick Perry’s gaffe on the federal agencies? Doubt it: Debates need to be so frequent as to outstrip the candidates’ ability to prep themselves.
l The Guardian tees up the competition in the New York tab market: Colin Myler, the last editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, moves to edit the New York Daily News, the chief competitor of Murdoch’s beloved New York Post.
Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has been the Daily News’s bitter rival since News Corp repurchased the Post in 1993, following some nifty squaring of Federal Communications Commission regulations. The fact that the Daily News is owned by Mort Zuckerman, a similarly mythologised beast in the New York landscape, gives the titles’ conflict piquancy. The Daily News and the Post, which represent Thing One and Thing Two to the New York Times’s Cat in the Hat, have relentlessly chased each other in a slowly declining print market with the Daily News coming out ahead, with a circulation of just over 600,000 a day while the Post has slipped to just over 500,000. Myler’s appointment is a little salt in the open wound of this gap.
To maintain the Daily News’s lead in this race, Myler needs only to keep a few principles in mind: Don’t call a woman a prostitute based on a single anonymous source; don’t say a national presidential candidate is getting Jewish donors because of name confusion; and make sure that your news stories are actually news stories.
* The New York Times’ Brian Stelter makes the case that network news programs are becoming more distinctive than ever. They’re all going for approaches that distance themselves from the competition, goes the thinking. CBS, hard news; ABC, “humanized” news; NBC, somewhere in the middle.
As at ABC, the bosses at CBS are new. Last winter, when Jeff Fager, the producer of “60 Minutes,” was made chairman of CBS News, he told staff members that he wanted the division to be known for hard news and original reporting. Although mired in third place in the mornings and evenings, the network attracts a huge audience each week for “60 Minutes,” and it is trying to replicate that success across the workweek.
* Talking about bowing to the standards of the establishment media: The Oscars are requiring that producers of documentary features send a copy of a review from the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times in order to receive consideration for an Academy Award. Kind of stunning.
But the rule might diminish the prospects of those who make smaller and less prominent movies; these filmmakers have often qualified their documentaries without the kind of commercial release that typically leads to reviews by the two news organizations.
Particularly hard hit will be DocuWeeks, a program sponsored by the International Documentary Association, which for more than a decade has let filmmakers pay a fee to have their pictures shown briefly in New York and Los Angeles, thus qualifying for awards. Under the new rule, those films would be considered only if a movie critic for one of the two newspapers chose to review it, something that typically does not happen.
The rule would apply to the 2013 Academy Awards season. Seems like Oscar’s getting a bit flabby here: “It will trim the number of films that must be viewed annually by the Academy’s small documentaries branch, which narrows the field to 15 qualifying movies, and then 5 nominees. In 2011 the branch considered 124 movies, up 23 percent from 101 films from a year earlier.” Is that really too much work, Academy?
* Where to go for news on the Keith Olbermann meltdown? The New York Times. In his weekly column today, David Carr writes:
Having worked for big, moneyed cable outfits in the past, Mr. Olbermann was clearly disappointed in the deep technical problems at Current TV, a cable news start-up that had trouble producing live news programming, including “Countdown,” his 8 p.m. show. He declined to lead the channel’s special political coverage until those problems were resolved, but Current TV officials called his bluff and went ahead without him, pre-empting his show in the process. It was a game of chicken in which everybody ended up with egg on their faces.
Carr also notes, “The impasse has been remarkable to behold, even if few people are watching.” Sure, the viewership numbers for Olbermann’s show, “Countdown,” are poor. But there’s been a lot of interest on the web in Olbermann’s latest kerfuffle. It’s one way to stay in the news cycle.
* CNN dials a wrong number and gravely inconveniences a person on the West Coast: