Friday, December 19, 2008

The TR: MSNBC's Moment, Moscow Mickey, and Madoff's Mischief

Last TR of 2008! The next time we see you, Obamauguration Mania (and we mean MANIA) will be at code red and about 4,000 Port-a-Potties will be installed on the mall (let's see, that's one toilet per thousand people... stock up now on your astronaut diapers). Come to the Inauguration Day party at TR Central if you get tired of the cold and the carpetbaggers and would prefer to watch the proceedings on giant flat screen TVs with beverages in hand, or just prefer clean bathrooms. (Really -- call us!) Let's make this a good 'un, folks.


Ah, just what the TR Department of Assessment needs over the holidays -- another Clinton audit! Was Whitewater really that long ago? Bubba has made public nearly 3,000 pages of donors to his Foundation, and the big sticking point in the weeks to come will likely be the amount of Middle Eastern money raised. We're keeping our eyes and ears open to see what happens to Hillary -- and here's hoping people refrain from further groping of her photographic likeness.

The GOP has to challenge at least one Cabinet nominee, no? AG pick Eric Holder will likely be the fall guy due to his involvement in the pardon of Mark Rich (the Clintons really never stop giving). So, yes, folks, turn to C-SPAN to see Arlen Specter lead the Potomac Rite of Passage grilling. (And thanks to a politics-obsessed friend for reminding us that Obama's historically-quickly-organized cabinet was NOT likely to go through without a murmur.)

Guess who's saying grace at dinner? Yes, you've all heard by now of anti-gay Rick Warren being tapped to give the inaugural invocation, and you won't have heard the last of it until after the Big Day. Gay rights groups are particularly wounded by Obama's willingness to welcome their opponents to a prominent stage. What, we wonder, is Obama's political calculation here? He's won the White House, so why pander to anti-gay evangelicals now? (Give us a shout if you have a theory.) Coverage of this decision will not relent online, in magazines, or on cable -- hell, Warren's on NBC tonight talking to Ann Curry, and something tells us she doesn't like him either. The QoS is still fuming with outrage -- what, is a NOOSE the only taboo these days? We don't buy O's quick little soft shoe "inclusion" routine. Unfired O-speechwriters fondling Hillary's cut-out, Mr. Say-No-to-LGBT-Equality giving an invocation, sexist Larry Summers heading the Nat'l Economic Council... this ain't Change. Should we resurrect George Wallace for a little pre-inaugural prayer breakfast, just for fun?

It hardly seems like Christmas is six days away, but here we are. The vibe is wrong, probably 'cause buzz words like "modesty" and "restraint" are prevalent now that the burden of a limp economy is on our collective shoulders. This explains why the still-unfolding and still-horrifying Bernard Madoff arrest hit especially hard this year. While one of Wall Street's titans goes down in flames, look for a hunt for co-conspirators this winter.

Russians shall soon be seeing Mickey Mouse ears on the corners of their TV screens. Disney plans to launch a free-to-air channel in the world's largest country, making it the only US media company with a full-time branded channel there. Better learn Russian, Miley; the Hannah Montana empire is about to expand across all of Northern Asia and 40% of Europe....

Chrysler has decided to shut down all 30 of its plants for one month starting at the end of this week, due to the historic nature of the industry slowdown, and other automotive companies are jumping on the desultory bandwagon. Thousands of workers who are not on the assembly line will most likely be talking to the press in some capacity -- look for them speaking about the stalled bailout and the future of the UAW well into next year.

But, yes, even in these troubled times, news anchors will not part from tradition. Stories of "Christmas miracles," good will towards humankind and New Year's resolutions will still bore us (does anyone make resolutions anymore?). But we'll gladly park in front of the Yule log with the other flacks and discuss our prospects for 2009. Spiked egg-nog, my dears?

The Week That Was

Well, you saw the shoes. We saw the shoes. You can even throw some yourself. The President saw them in time (say what you will, but the guy's got good reflexes) while Dana Perino didn't. But what did the press see? Something emblematic of our five year-plus occupation of Iraq. Dreams of congratulations and roses turned to angry screams and flying footwear. And, to cap off the week, we got news that the U.K. will be out by July and that a high-level coup was thwarted. The holiday season comes to Iraq early, eh?

The latest beneficiary of this year's MSNBC boom has been Chuck Todd, the new White House correspondent for NBC News. Todd's the biggest rising star in the NBC galaxy and his handling of NBC's First Read has been an enormous help to the TR and our faithful. Congrats, Chucky T!

It looked like Eliot Spitzer might have a comeback as he signed on as a Slate columnist. But the internet certainly taketh away a whole lot more than it giveth. Mere days after his first articles launched he was caught at a holiday party saying his new gig sucks. At a former massage parlor, no less! Has he learned nothing this year?!

The wags at MSNBC certainly learned some lessons, and posted their most successful year since their launch. But with election season over and the new government more, umm, "sympathetic" to the network, how will they fare in the coming year? Please submit your ideas as comments on our blog, you bunch of smarties.

Oh god. Jay Leno is never leaving. Were we really bad this year, or is Santa replacing the coal in our stockings with that chin in our faces? It appears Leno will be back at the 10 pm slot for NBC. Luckily, we're already bracing our Netflix queues at TR Central to counter this onslaught.

On the heels of the revival in interest for the Nixon Administration (e.g. "Nixonland" and "Frost/Nixon") comes news of Mark "Deep Throat" Felt's passing. As one of Hoover's prized G-Men and legendary Watergate informant, he journeyed through two fascinating American eras. We'll break out our paperback copy of the White House tapes in tribute. (It's surprisingly travel-friendly.)

So Obama is Person of the Year. Quel surprise... but heck, why not. Indeed after finishing up all of his cabinet appointments this week, his approval rating has reached a near-record high of 70%. O has changed the fault lines of not only the nation (duh), but also the Turner Report. If not for his historic year, we're not sure what this newsletter we're so proud of would have looked like week after week. Never mind -- we don't want to imagine it.

And now for our first-ever Q1 Flack Planning Guide!

If it's not about Obama, change, the new administration or a new gadjillion dollars being pumped into an undeserving industry, wait until late February/early March to tell your story. The only exceptions may be curtain-raisers for the return of Congress. And oh yes, if you've rented your house for $50k/night during Obama-rama, you can get some ink. Also let us know (sotte voce, natch) how you did it.


Shopping-on-a-budget stories were available far and wide. Plus a healthy amount of chatter on Obama's new energy team by progressive bloggers, as well as more revelations from the Blago tapes.

You've learned a year's worth of snark from the very best, so that mass family email on your cat's latest adventures should be more entertaining than ever. Hit us up if you still need some training. Happy Holidays!


Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Suzanne said...

Thanks, Susan! Sign up for Feedburner. We only publish once a week -- on Fridays -- to forecast the coming week's news and re-hash the previous week's coverage. We're glad to have you aboard. And, btw, we have a lot of parties here in D.C., so if you live in the Capitol City, keep an eye out for invites. Cheers! Suzanne

Gloria said...

Great TR guys - got some particularly good zingers in there!

Ok (deep breath, Gloria), I myself DO buy Obama's promise of change, and here are my takes on his stinkier cabinet choices:

I don't like Larry Summers - wouldn't want to work for him, wouldn't want him to be head of the EEOC -- but by most accounts the man is a brilliant, brilliant economist. So better a brilliant man we don't like get battered in probably the worst job in the world these days than someone we love, like, say, Paul Krugman. Imagining Krugman battered and broken and miserable in that job would break my heart.

As for Rick Warren... I don't like his views on sexuality and his persecution of gays and as someone who is not Christian, evangelicals make me uncomfortable. But, Warren has a huge following and his message about alleviating poverty and saving the environment is important for educating conservative audiences who, for 8 years and longer, have been told that such messages are liberal blather, and whose support will be important for getting things done on those critical issues.

The CRANK said...

Stop navel-gazing, liberals! You have no idea how alarming Obama's OTHER racist preacher was to middle America. That's right -- JEREMIAH WRIGHT. While you may have been bought off by the "softshoe" (your word, TR) of his so-called historic speech responding to the Wright issue, much of the country was not. Obama's just switched aisles in his racist church by inviting Warren to give the invocation -- thus his claims of "inclusion" and a collective sigh of relief from people you don't like.

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