Friday, November 21, 2008

EDIT: Late Breaking News for the TR

Hillary at State!

Richardson at Commerce !

Geithner at Treasury !

It's an Obama Administration fire sale! All jobs must go !

Ok so we dropped the ball by about an hour on late breaking news. But these appointments looks promising and O, ever the understated showman, has given us the weekend to stew it over and bask in his brilliance.

The TR: Pining for Presidential Picks, Panicked Private Plane Passengers and Palin's Persecution of Poultry

Hey, we had snow flurries this week! Less than ten minutes, but here in DC, it almost set off a round of school closings. Stay bundled up and read on for temperature-raising snark. Better than a fireplace and hot cocoa, we promise.


In the main event, Hillary's never-ending vetting process should reach its big dramatic finish with either the big gig or new power in the Senate. The secretary of state chair is an equal-opportunity gabfest for talking heads on both the left and right, especially with Bill's "he'll do whatever it takes" pledge to smooth Hil's way. Including revealing every dollar received and every sexual indiscretion, maybe? Will next week herald a "Monday surprise" of particularly damning Uncle Bubba behavior? If so, don't look for Rahmbo's fingerprints. Whoever gives up the big guy will sleep with the fishes.

The auto industry has leapfrogged the The Man and rolled out a strategy to rally public support for federal loans. Detroit's finest flacks have gone online with a GM sponsored YouTube video and the website However, after a thoroughly degrading dressing down on Capitol Hill, the big three may have made only a little progress. What's worse for the unions? Bail-out conditions or Chapter 11 reorganization? This story will continue to unravel into next week, as will the still-plunging Dow and the lack of detail (and/or planning) regarding that famous 700B of our children's future tax dollars.

In coming weeks, the entire GOP will descend upon the runoff Senate race in Georgia to field-test messaging for 2010 and 2012. They got messages already? With the drubbing they received a couple of weeks ago, one would think they'd put a little more thought into it. This will mean a lot of old faces from the 2008 race and some new ones as well. TR Central (sigh) will keep you posted on the latest election news. Yeah, we know, we thought this was behind us too.

The tech guys over at MSNBC have designed a helpful Presidential appointment Keno ticket to help you keep track in the middle of spine-tingling suspense. Smell that bureaucracy in the air? But the new appointments so far have received mixed reviews from all sides. The Blogometer broke it down for us; check out the online reactions and then hit up our comments section to add your voice to the mix. We're not the only ones with strong opinions, are we?

And, of course .... Thanksgiving! Pick up the new Sarah Vowell Book and grab a flight/bus/train/hot air balloon to your embarrassing dinner table of choice. Gelatinous cranberry sauce anyone? No? Then how about pre-canned media: the Macy's T-giving Day parade, sports analysis, weekend news anchors, cooking segments, "Alice's Restaurant" on the radio and a hiatus from hard-hitting news. Try to enjoy the Spam feast and maybe even take a cue from Mrs. Palin, who talked to the media while a turkey was... what's the adverb we're looking for here... horrifically slaughtered in the background. There's that giving spirit!

The Week That Was

Motrin has a headache from online mommy attacks. Does Mom really use baby as a fashion accessory, and does it really give her a Motrin-craving back ache? Online protestors think not. Under the Twitter tag "MotrinMoms," they spread their hellfire into the blogosphere and mainstream media. It was an exercise in textbook crisis management using Internet activism and social media savvy. Call it "Cautionary Tale 2.0."

If anyone ever doubted the influence of women online, now they've got proof of their cluelessness. They could learn a thing or two at the newly announced Feminism 2.0 conference, online now and in the flesh on Feb 2, like how much louder women can roar online. Be there or be square!

Henry Waxman this week narrowly defeated old man Dingell for the Energy and Commerce chairmanship. The implications for this are twofold: First, Detroit's Rep is no longer in charge of the nation's energy agenda, which may be a huge opening for climate change. Second, the committee's jurisdiction over broadcast media means that new advertising regulation could be around the corner. Adjust your strategies accordingly.

This week also, Ted Stevens' reign in Congress came to an end, and thank goodness this wasn't Palin's "open door." No one knew how to play the appropriations game as well as Stevens. Could the last prize he reaps from Washington be a pardon from the outgoing president?

Seems like everyone is in the mood for change lately, including PepsiCo. The Giant Liquid Sugar Pusher will no longer be working with longtime advertising agency BBDO Worldwide. BBDO may have made Pepsi "The Choice of a New Generation," but the switch to TBWA should inject new blood into the soda's image. The TR's marketing intern would like to suggest, "Have a Yes-We-Can of Pepsi today!" for starters.

We've known this forever, but now that it's on the front page of the NYT, everyone else should too. Newspapers nationwide may be wasting away, but don't worry, folks, journalism itself is still kicking. We've seen the future, and it doesn't suck! Small web-based news operations -- often staffed by laid-off newspaper reporters -- have sprung up to uncover stories overlooked by the varsity teams. These little websites won't be taking over the media just yet, but they are and will be a good source for getting the stories you won't find anywhere else.

Finally, if your teenage daughter has been especially agitated this week, allow Dr. TR to make the diagnosis: Twilight fever. The white-hot but chaste love story of girl and vampire hits the big screen this weekend, and we suspect there'll be older elbows shoving the young'uns to the side to get a fix of escapist romance in these decidely unromantic times.


Did we tell you the auto industry's bailout request would get major attitude? Even we were surprised by the impressive pile on by media and government. Remind us to never hit up Barney Frank for money. No TR next week! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The TR: Election Euphoria, Atheist Advertising and Messin' With Journalists

The media (and, admit it, the rest of us) breathlessly hang on every O workout and evasive syllable that falls from John Podesta's lips -- but the world economy still hangs in the balance. Read on for gallows snark to get you through next week.


Don't expect the Detroit bailout to go anywhere, what with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson morphing from indulgent parent of banks ("Anything to make you feel better, snookums!") to tough-love dad of automakers ("No handouts, young man -- it's character-building loans for you!"). Dad, must your discipline extend even to the defenseless baby in the family, the struggling homeowner?

Meanwhile, what to do about the tanking retail sector, aka "safety net for the newly unemployed?" As American Express converts itself to receive the holy communion of golden crumbs from the infamous $700 B, and as AIG, Fannie and Freddie line up for seconds, uh, could we please have a little transparency? PLEASE?!

A desperate world will be poring over the outcome of tomorrow's G20 Summit, which will discuss ways of addressing the international financial crisis. Come on, world leaders! No need to get all Debbie Downer by bemoaning how ineffectual it's going to be or by painting the host, Dubya, the fool by alleging he didn't even know what the G20 was (isn't that Jon Stewart's job, anyway? Give him his last few shots while he's got 'em!). Maybe it's the crushing disappointment that O won't be crashing the party. (But, hey, he'll be on 60 Minutes!)

With various Senate races dragging on, campaign junkies need not go cold-turkey into withdrawal after all (and thank heavens for that!). In Minnesota, elephants and donkeys will continue throwing numbers around through the Tuesday hand-recount, one side to cast doubt on the process, the other to forecast an Al Franken victory. Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin are facing off again in Georgia, and Mark Begich is edging ahead of Crypt Keeper Stevens as Alaska continues to slowwwly count absentee ballots. Dem hopes for that golden ticket of legislative dominance, the mythical and filibuster-proof 60 seats, could be achievable after all (if they can resist the urge to toss Lieberman overboard).

Finally, O's most important appointment, over which he is visibly struggling, could hijack the whole news cycle next week: First Puppy. The sheer adorable-ness of this Presidential Family is almost too much, even WITHOUT the puppy. Add in a baby animal and Hannah Montana cameos and we think our Culture Minister may require an insulin shot.

The Week That Was

Who could ignore this week's wildly amusing coverage of Towel Gate, Africa Gate (see our next item for more), and the continuing saga of Fashion Gate? Ye Gods, Sarah Palin, you are a one-woman scandal industry -- the Queen squirms with Schadenfreude. You are less successful in the spin game, however. Oh, and did you pay someone in the Secret Service to give your hubby the code name "Driller," or did you guys lose (or win!) a bet somewhere? We're going to take the high road and avoid all the obvious snark here, guys. If you've got a snappy one-liner, leave it in the comments!

Two aspiring TV producers fooled the blogosphere (and harried TV newsrooms that prowl blogs for fodder to toss into the gaping 24-hour news maw) into believing that Martin Eisenstadt, adviser to John McCain, was the source of various colorful Palin fun facts. All it took was a few amateurish YouTube videos, a quickie website for "Eisenstadt's Think Tank," a deadpan blog, a few emails, and source-checking neglect at MSNBC, The New Republic, and the LA Times. A web search would have turned up plenty of warnings that Eisenstadt was fake, says the Gray Lady. Would-be hoaxers everywhere are waiting to see whether this feat lands masterminds Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish a TV pilot based on the fictional pundit (cuz that's, uh, original?). As for Palin's alleged Africa gaffe, New York Magazine says it has yet to be debunked.

Maybe we did kinda take Johnny Boy's word for it when he asserted to Jay Leno that Arctic Barbie did not hurt his ticket. Without her, would more of the ultra-conservative Republican base have stayed home, making way for tumble weeds to blow across the empty fields of his rallies as the old war hero faded away? (Hey hacks! How's THAT for purple prose?)

Hmm, perhaps Obama can be friends with lobbyists after all. They're not all bad, you know -- some use their powers for good, not evil. Virginia gave a good deal more than an inch, but the Dems are plotting to take a yard: How about Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe for Guv'nah? Howard Dean is stepping down from the chairmanship of the DNC, while... wait, could it be?... OMG, is that Newt Gingrich edging his way to head the RNC?!

The culture wars rage on, with the Obama win provoking conservatives to new heights of aggression. Catholic bishops vowing to fight the administration on abortion, and the passage of Proposition 8 eliciting passions and protests that continue to re-ignite. Liberals, if you need a break from the backlash, we can help.

So, Larry Summers, women's pretty little heads are incapable of advanced math and science? Bam! Off the short list.

In entertainment news, the pregnant man is (spoiler alert!) pregnant again; Michael Moore is really trying to stay relevant; the new season of Top Chef started in NYC on Wednesday (Spike, our favorite from last season and who hangs in DC, was live-Twittering; this really IS the best cooking show on TV); atheism has marketing reps, apparently; and publishing lay-offs continue at gossip rags. Luckily, the Turner Report is still doing a-ok!

The election may be over, but media outlets are still looking for ways to keep the excitement going. How, you ask? By writing a book about it! Step right up for your copy of America Speaks: The Historic 2008 Election by ABC News and USA TODAY. Every last story, detail, and picture will help you re-live it over and over. And if that's not enough, there's a fancy little companion DVD that captures the "voices of the voters" so you can return to the days, er, months... no... YEARS of the campaign.

Finally, our favorite story of the week: supremacist skinheads charged with Obama assassination plot cry foul -- the jury has too many black people. Another DIY-snarkfest, dearies; put your quips in the comments and show us some love.


Media coverage of Treasury Secretary appointment? Nailed it. Hard-right turn for the GOP? Nailed that one too. Automakers? Yup. We are on FIRE, y'all!

Get geared up for those holiday parties, people; you've got a LOT of hobnobbing to do. If you need cool stories to impress your boss with, you know where to find us.

Have a lovely week!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The TR: Holograms, Hooligans, and Hope

Yes, he did. Now... what's next?


Barack Obama wins and effectively kills the Red State/Blue State Map for the time being. VA, IN, and, yeah, even NC are now true blue! Does that mean maybe the media will cool it with the cartoon, Joe Six Pack, hard workin' white guys spiel for the time being? We mean, c'mon, that ship has totally sailed.

Cabinet and inner-circle speculation is running rampant right now. Hell, it's more fun than this election stuff anyway, unless you really want to parse over flag pins and plumbers again for another couple of months. (Uh, no thanks.) But since this was an election that was all about the economy, the media thinks that the most immediate vacancy to fill is the treasury secretary slot. We wouldn't be surprised if AG speculation replaces it next week, since the Bush gifts of Gonzales and Ashcroft left open wounds nowhere near healed. The Obama spin will be all about the perception of a new type of administration from the top down. Will that mean new and unexpected faces at every turn?

Rumblings of the coming Civil War in the GOP have also jumpstarted. The real problem for them is that Bush has remade the party in his image of Salesman-in-Chief, and so far no one has seriously questioned whether or not they should improve their product-they seem to want just bigger and prettier billboards. El Rushbo and friends want to hit harder and become tougher. And, the defeats of moderates Chris Shays in the House and Gordon Smith in the Senate point to a hard right turn for the national party, now that their middlemen (haha, get it?) are in the wilderness. This is miles away from Karl Rove's dream message of a center-right permanent majority. Coming weeks will chronicle new stars who might take this opportunity to give the elephant's trunk a good tug, and, dare we say, in the process fire up the grassroots.

With a new day for America comes a new direction for foreign affairs. While the world was overjoyed by the renewal of America's promise, Russia proved itself to be the bad dinner guest at the celebration. Obama's first challenge may be handling Putin's plans to re-ascend in a Russia bolstering its military ambitions. In this narrow window of time in which we have a President-Elect, it will be very interesting to see where this situation goes.

Everyone wants a slice of the new-power-structure pie. Lobbying workshops that were burning the midnight oil before the election are now going into hyperdrive to get an ear and a voice for their causes. But it seems that American automakers will get their first crack at Speaker Pelosi next week in an effort to get the lion's share of bailout money; the environmental community needs to act now so they can make sure their voice is heard just as loudly.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is visiting Iowa on November 22. Oh God... it's started!! Do people have to start donating their Facebook status to him already? Wonder if Sarah Barracuda has sat up and taken notice of Bobby's perambulations.

The Week That Was

Well, if the media didn't love Obama before, they have plenty of reason to fawn over him now. Election viewership was through the roof, and newspapers (remember those? We think Starbucks still sells 'em, or maybe the bookstore) were going like hotcakes the morning after. Will all this new attention and revenue lead our beloved media to continue to finance silly/awesome things like holograms (our Culture Minister's favorite, natch)? At least we can be sure that Olbermann will have enough hair gel to last him through the State of the Union. The TR's MVP award goes to Newsweek for their riveting quadrennial piece on how the Presidency was won. It was like I, Claudius for flacks.

Usually we reserve our gloating for the Scorecard. But we'd like to point out how right we were about Hispanic turnout carrying Obama, AND how criminally this was underreported by the press. Luckily the almighty blogosphere picked up some of the slack. This is now the new demographic to watch, and we'd advise you to keep an eye on how immigration reform will play a new role in the new Democratic majority.

To California's shame, Prop 8 passed handily. TR Central agrees with Kos in projecting that gay rights will take on a new vitality in the culture wars, even in our Brave New World. That many voters in the state split their ticket between Obama and the decision to ban gay marriage means, tragically, that even liberals can be persuaded to vote for discrimination if it's framed attractively enough. While many lawsuits are appealing the decision, the GOP will no doubt seize on this, one of its few bright spots.

A new White House, of course, comes hand-in-hand with a new inner circle to craft the Presidency. Bush's backslapping-salesmen Texans are history; meet Obama's Chicago Mob. He's already tapped Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, Bob Gibbs as press secretary and David Axelrod as senior advisor (the Rove hot spot), all tough and determined guys who know what they want. And don't expect the normal chaos of an incoming administration with John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett helming the transition team.

Part of the transition will also include the first ever government website devoted to updating the public on the activities of the President-elect. From where we stand, this looks like the nascent period of what is sure to be a Presidency that will avail itself of the internet at every opportunity.

With the election now over and McCain happily grilling ribs in Arizona, it's revenge time for beleaguered ex-McCain aides -- fortunately for us (the fun don't stop!) and unfortunately for Arctic Barbie, it seems. Someone remind us, please: Is Africa is a country? Sigh... maybe we WERE being too kind these past two months. But we can stop this train before it heads into the next station: The Stop Sarah '12 movement has begun, starting with the people who worked for her. We do think, though, that "Wasilla Hillbillies" has sitcom potential.

Finally, we want to send an appeal to the untold numbers of people who used the election as a pretext for finding love in all the wrong places: Do tell and satisfy the curiosity of our dirty (but discreet, we assure you) little minds.

Reader Comments

We're shutting down the Election Center at TR Central for 2008 and focusing on palette-cleansing TMZ for while, which has our friend Dean weeping over his coffee:
"Gee, there are only two things I'll miss after next Tuesday: 1) All those sleazy and entertaining nasty & negative ads on NY TV for races in NJ, and 2) The weekly Turner Report snarkfest on the week that was."
Fear not, dear readers. While the campaign theater may be over, the political snark goes on - we can't help it, because, to our mothers' despair, we're just that kind of people.


We promised an election based on strong economic messaging and the voters delivered in droves. We were wrong about Stevens, but almost take comfort in the fact that he and Palin get to stay in Alaska - might be too much punishment for one state to bear. Also, we said we'd see you at the recount but, heehee, we didn't say which! Go Franken!