Friday, January 30, 2009

Senate Stimulation, Climate Cataclysm and the Blago Bumpoff

Oh how lovely to have someone quick and smart and absolutely Presidential in our little town!

But, you horrid inconsistent readers, you really mustn't revile the Queen for snark one week and attack her for lack thereof the following. Since commenters who favor sarcasm outnumbered the niceniks exponentially we will return to our wicked ways. Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that "Yes We Can" is toddler fave Bob the Builder's theme song? Surely Michelle knew -- after all, she was Barney the purple dinosaur's legal counsel.


Stimulae, stimuli, stimulus? It's up to the Senate now. Background: on strictly partisan lines, the House passed a mammoth heap of help for the people. Meanwhile Neil Cavuto and others on the right argued that Obama has been exaggerating the crisis (huh?), and radio talk show host Chris Plant claimed Bob Reich wants money exclusively reserved for African-Americans. After the feeding frenzy House-side (was it really Pelosi's fault, and was access to birth control truly the problem?) the whole three-ring circus is heading for the calmer, more deliberative Senate.

O/Joe are scrambling for bi-partisan vote on stimulus in Senate - meanwhile we're already seeing attacks on the Wall Street bailout, counter-attacks on the wealth of O's cabinet, and cable shows constantly running O/Joe sound bites.

So the Stimulus Bill (which sounds like a Z-list porno star's name, says blogger CityMama) is THE conversation of the moment -- tag your issue to it or stand back from the fray.

Expect to see more -- a lot more -- of our new crush: dough-faced stud-muffin Robert Gibbs, Obama's press secretary. Can you say "transparency" darlings? Daily, lengthy White House briefings -- our CNN/MSNBC cup runneth over.

We'd like to see some climate change movement on the Hill next week, and E&E News PM says Sen. Barbara Boxer (chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works) plans to announce her ideas for a climate cap-and-trade bill on Tuesday. Senate Repubs, looking to demand their pound of flesh on the stimulus package, might give her a fight, but on the other hand our favorite prophet of doom, the Goracle, was just in town to formally testify that the planet is already ever-so-screwed, so could we puh-leeeze get with some corrective legislation like quick fast? This just after NOAA scientists, recently freed from their basement shackles, released a peer-reviewed journal article detailing the inevitable planetary destruction -- even if we cit-uh-zens and all polluting industries instantly switch to Priuses and those funny-looking lightbulbs this minute. So Boxer's timing may be fine.

The green-jobs-to-be-created-by-climate-solutions angle (stories and ads driven by EDF and the Alliance) was a grand slam amid the stimulus debate. (See spin advice item 1, dah-links.) We HOPE climate change becomes a BIG media item next week (tho we're betting on a few weeks/months down the line). Enviros -- CAN WE BUILD IT? YES, WE CAN!

Dear Blago-son-of-bitch is gone baby gone... or not. We so admired his chutzpah (if not his brain power) in taking his case to the media, but is there any point in continuing? Despite his dismissal, he just might have some more highly amusing Jerry Springer-like tricks up his sleeve. We love/pity his efforts to associate himself with movie heroes. We wickedly hope to see our favorite Elvis impersonator extend his political death throes.

The Queen has yet to receive her invite to O's bipartisan Super Bowl party (postal service screwup!) so she's making other plans. Guess who O's supporting (hint: PA was dark blue in the presidential election, and AZ's senior senator is...). BTW, by getting its racy ad banned from the Super Bowl broadcast, PETA got big publicity for its Veggie Love campaign without the multi-million $ ad buy.

The Week That Was

Oh my! O gets A+++ marks here at TR Central for media smarts. The flurry of executive orders, bill signings and other actions restoring the country to sanity came flying out of the Oval office at breathtaking speed -- can you say Gitmo, Gag Rule lifted, stem cell sagacity, Ledbetter gender pay equity and the like? We'd exclaim "no rest for the weary," but he even looked tan, rested and ready during the insanity of the stimulus debate. You go, O!

Even the things we weren't so sure about (Pakistan bombings, anyone?) were handled with grace and ease. Get your Secretary of State confirmed, bomb the mountainous border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan that harbors terrorists (check box next to campaign promise "focus on Afghanistan"), continue enjoying honeymoon with libs, and earn some points with neocons, but that's not all...

Give your first Presidential interview to Al-Arabiya!! Wow! The symbolism -- iron hand, velvet glove and respect, respect, respect. Say my middle name's Hussein like that's a good thang, suckas. Brilliant.

The Obamanator had such aplomb he even made time for humor, as he teased District denizens that closing schools over a smidge of snow and ice is wussy. Chicago public schools haven't closed for snow in 10 years, and the Obama girls used to play in the stuff at recess. No doubt Caribou Barbie would have dissed us worse....

While we're raving about a WH fully in control of the media cycle, we'd also like to note the genius of using the CEO of Google as a third party endorser of the stimulus package(s). Apparently it's all gonna be online, you're gonna be able to track every dollar, every locality. Check out this and this as test runs.

Now -- ahem -- are we only tracking money given to the worker bees? Can we also (oh excuse me for asking) see what's happening to all that money going to Wall Street? Please?

Add textual harrassment to your worries. The Advertising Council's "That's Not Cool" campaign raises awareness of the ways people (often youth) can use mobile phones and online accounts in abusive ways, which may lead to other kinds of abuse. Lesson #1... to remove creepsters from your Facebook, hit the 'remove from friends' button.

The Queen grows weary. So much to cheer, so much to snark, and two, count them, two conferences to keynote and/or organize. PRSA keynote on crisis communications today. But, bigger deal: kudos to VP Internet Gloria Pan, Project Coordinator Katie Stanton and an army of volunteers for putting together Monday, February 2nd's Fem 2.0 conference. Register here -- and be there or be square. If you can't show, then at least be modern and blog.

And, small round of applause, the Turner team recently achieved a publicist's wet dream -- Parade Magazine (women's pay equity) and Oprah (hormone replacement therapy) in the SAME WEEK. That's not counting all those down-market national newspapers, social networking triumphs etc in the same time frame. We can count old-school as the gold standard for a week or two more anyway, before the entire traditional media world collapses. (Thanks to clients AAUW and KLRI for making it possible.)

Ciao for now, kids! See you at Fem2.0!

In Parting...

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic
from "Perfection Wasted" by John Updike, 1932-2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snark-Free Edition

Say hello to TR Central's new neighbors!
We were so excited to officially welcome Barack and Michelle to our city -- and so were, oh, about 2 million of our closest friends. Though our intern was crushed by tourists, threatened by hypothermia and forgot her purse inside the Treasury Department, she reports it was totally worth it for her and her friends, who nabbed this shot of the First Couple strolling down the parade route.
So how about you, dear reader? Crash any parties? Regale us with your stories!
In other news, we have to plug our latest upcoming project: Feminism2.0, a conference on Feb. 2 at George Washington University. We're bringing together major women's organizations, the top voices in the feminist blogosphere and anyone else who wants to learn about the future of internet activism and the women's movement. It's only two weeks away, so sign up now!
We're giving all our points to Barry this week, and we're saving up our snark for next week. Don't worry, dearies -- the Queen is still here for you!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Burris' Bravado, Bush Saying Bye, and the Beltway Goes Bananas

Ahhhhh! The Queen (along with everyone inside the Beltway), is taking her kingdom into exile and scattering her unused ball tickets and seat passes like breadcrumbs along the way. She wishes all of you the best in finding your way around our newly entombed city. Have an extra glass of champagne glass for us.


Were you all holding out for some sort of Turner Inauguration Ball? Dear readers, we must urge you to clear your dance card and take refuge somewhere else for the big evening of the 20th. But if you just can't miss this, follow Roxanne Roberts' wise advice: WEAR FLATS. And, we'll add, shove a PowerBar in your pocket and bring a plastic flask so you can get through those metal detectors. And do tell us how it goes, braving the cold and crowds! We won't laugh, we promise.

For those of you landlocked in Virginia and beyond, MSNBC has gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring you the action in every way possible. We'll watch on a regular TV, but if that's just not festive enough for you, they'll also be broadcasting on movie screens and in Starbucks shops across the country. If you're feeling lonely on Inauguration Day, go share the excitement with your neighbors! Or, at least, with a frappucino.

Unless you have some sort of access to Washington's inner circles, for the love of God, STOP PITCHING STORIES until Wednesday. Nothing short of Michelle Obama waving your flag will get you issue placement in a city that will be drowning in pomp and very little substance.
Obama's people are embarking on an exhaustive PR push to save the nomination of Tim Geithner from his tax slip-ups. Expect the fruit of their efforts to be judged next week, since the GOP has already screwed up by postponing Tim Geithner's confirmation in order to dig up more dirt. Playing Russian Roulette with important economic figures isn't the best foot to start on if you want to be an effective minority voice. Expect Dems to respond to it by displaying the concrete details of their stimulus package.

The House has passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Alas, only Ledbetter is on its way through the Senate. Since that only returns women to the rights they had before Ledbetter, we need the Paycheck Act to move through as well. Do women really have a forum, or do they just think they do? Or is this just grandstanding by Mikulski to get the Ledbetter Act out on her own?

Oh dear... We thought at least Bank of America was safe. But now they want more bailout funds. The second batch of funds has been released, and we'll be Googling frantically to keep track of what's going on with all this money. If you get a tip before we do, let us know!
The Week that Was
So...that's it? A paltry farewell address to wrap up eight years of the weirdest political sideshow we're likely to ever see? From what little we can gather, the last week could be Bush trying to plant seeds for a revolution of neo-conservative thought years from now. Now that conservatives are out in the cold, those seeds stand little chance of germinating anytime soon.

Truth be told, Bush got upstaged all afternoon by the heroics in the Hudson River by Chesley Sullenberger, who executed a picture-perfect emergency landing in the water with zero fatalities. Real-life heroics to take the wind out of the dying Administration's sails. A secret FISA court has said that phone companies must comply with unwarranted wiretapping. Is this the last gasp of the Bush administration or a green light for Obama? O has pledged to not prosecute the sins of previous presidents and to keep moving forward. The CIA is with him on that, but what do you think, dear reader?
A secret FISA court has said that phone companies must comply with unwarranted wiretapping. Is this the last gasp of the Bush administration or a green light for Obama? O has pledged to not prosecute the sins of previous presidents and to keep moving forward. The CIA is with him on that, but what do you think, dear reader?
It is only fitting that during the last week of the Bush Administration (pause for popping champagne corks), there was one last admission of wrongdoing. The dubious honor goes to Susan Crawford, who admitted that Mohammed al-Qahtani, the 20th 9/11 hijacker, was in no uncertain terms tortured. Perhaps this helped Eric Holder the most in his confirmation hearings by giving him the chance to make a very public stand against detainee abuse.
From Ben's Chili Bowl to George Will's residence (flanked by his conservative brethren), Obama has already proven his versatility in navigating the Beltway's ins and outs. Hopefully he can continue this without tying up traffic too badly. We have been spoiled by our outgoing decider, who spent a total of 400 days in Crawford, Texas, and avoided our fair District like the plague.

With American Idol and 24 tanking in their season premier ratings, we're giddy over this farewell to Bush-era vapid and/or obscene displays of human and musical suffering. Though we have a confession to make: We couldn't stop watching Ryan Seacrest trying to high-five the blind contestant. Anyone still wondering who voted for Bush twice?

Give Roland Burris a gold star. He not only overcame the long oppressive shadow of the most hated Frankie Avalon impersonator in the country, but also convinced a strong opposition within his own party to recognize the validity of his appointment. Chutzpah we can believe in! Is this the new example of political persistence in Obama's Washington?

Oh and be sure to get our take on the imperiled Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the TR Blog. Insight! Analysis! Loud proclamations of expertise! How can you resist?
We were very afraid that Jon Stewart wouldn't be funny in the snark-free era of hope, but thank God he's starting to get his licks in on the new admin already. Special thanks to Awkward-Grandpa Biden (the impressions bit in the video are just priceless).
The unemployment spike and Gaza derailed virtually every other story for the time being. But the year is young and we expect a comeback next week. Stay warm!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Intelligence Briefing

For those of us breathlessly following all of the recent doom and gloom stories about the newspaper biz, a particularly hard pill to swallow comes with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Hearst Corp. has put the paper up for sale with a 60-day deadline attached. If a buyer isn’t found after two months, the paper will cease its printed publication and revert to an online-only format. Prospects for such a buyout are, understandably, grim.

The P-I was founded in 1863 and has a lot of its legacy tied up in the golden age of print media. Hearst’s purchase of the publication himself in the early 20th Century was in the foreground of and the expansion of the business to the westernmost states.

Current slash-or-crash pressures put on by the never-ending dip have forced venerable institutions like the Christian Science Monitor to discontinue its printed content as well, while publications like the San Diego Union-Tribune also find their fate on the bubble. Add the Sun-Times juggernaut, which has had to close 12 of its suburban papers while reporters are getting the axe left and right, and 2009 is already shaping up to be an awful year to find your hands dirty with newspaper ink.

Here at TR Central we’ve come to admire many of the blogs the P-I has used to reach out to a national audience. These blogs may yet help the Seattle institution retain some of its luster if the online conversion comes to fruition. Expect to here more news about the shifting trends in print media on this blog and in our weekly newsletter.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gupta's Gumption, Grief Over Gaza, and Gender Neutral Goodness

Oh dear, our commute to Farragut Square has been downgraded from miserable to obamanable. Obama's move to the Hay Adams Hotel (while in exile from Blair House) has shut down several nearby city blocks. Consider this our formal protest against the guys with machine guns patrolling the perimeter just outside our office windows.


Gaza continues to be an unrelentingly brutal situation. The entire mediasphere is walking on eggshells as it attempts balance between Cain and Abel, so it's up to the blogosphere to provide the heated debate. And, boy, is everyone piling on. Even Progressive Communicators of DC 's tame little listserv felt the fire. Along with Obama and the dire global economy, this will remain a top story for a long time.

It's official! The bailout is the best game in town. If you can't personally get a few trillion, just tie all of your messaging to the issue and watch your PR dollars flow in. We'll supply the mad libs just for fun. O's speech this week was a show of forcefulness by one of the only guys in Washington cool enough to hang with Spider-Man.
Harry Reid: Stop the confusing and annoying contradictory press releases NOW. With MN, IL, and NY up in the air and our city full of freshmen Senators and lobbyists a-dither trying to find the political epicenter, we need some calm and quiet leadership. So let's start the people's business! Meanwhile we'll try to get that image of Franken in tight pants out of our heads.
Hill will be on the Hill next week for her confirmation hearings. Who wudda thunk she'd speed right through the process? Could it be the spoils of playing the insider game so well these many years?

Bruuuuuuuce. (Sorry, had to get that out of our system.) Rumors are buzzing that The Boss will be part of the free Inaugeral Concert at the Lincoln Memorial. It would make a joyous birthday surprise for our editor if nothing else. Do the right thing E Street!

While we're on the subject, we'd love to share an NPR internal memo. Apparently reporters covering the Inaucalypse are expected to supply their own astronaut diapers and Meals-Ready-to-Eat. Cots, however, will be provided in the NPR cafeteria, as no one is expected to be able to enter or leave the city for the duration. Hunker down, folks!

The Week That Was

West Wing paging Dr. Gupta! Surgeon General? Surgeon General?! Not since C. Everett Koop has the health-spokesperson-in-chief had such star power. Could this be the beginning of the cable news invasion of government?

For the record: TMZ gets the gold medal for headlines this week: "Porn Kings to D.C. - Help Us Through Hard Time." Silver goes to CNN's crawl line: "Porn Industry Needs Stimulus." If you spotted any other that's-what-SHE-said-worthy headlines, enter 'em in the comments and we'll give you your due props.

Twitter is no Fort Knox, as any 20-something knows. Still, it's alarming how many high profile Twitter accounts have fallen victim to hackers. Sometimes of course, as with Shaq's bizarre messages, it's hard to tell whether hacking has occurred. Just be vigilant -- if it can happen to Britney, it can happen to you.

An un-armed teenager was shot in Oakland, instantly followed by online footage of the incident and a subsequent riot. Once again, the Internet showcases the power of citizen journalism. So the psychotic Ann Coulter is NOT banned from the Today show after all. Despite Media Matters' best efforts, NBC simply bumped her to another day.

Joe the Plumber goes to war! He'll be reporting for the conservative website Pajamas TV (we haven't heard of it either) to get an on-the-street perspective in Gaza. Odds are they don't need a guy whose credibility is rivaled by the GEICO lizard, um, "illuminating" that situation.

Coming in under the radar, Congress will now be adopting gender-neutral designations for leadership, i.e. "Chair" instead of "chairman/chairwoman." Somehow we suspect Thomas Jefferson would have come up with a more elegant solution than to call people furniture. And the Queen of Snark wonders... will the Chair ask us to table our "dish"?

The NY Times reported this week on... the NY Times. The decline of newspapers and the crap economy forced the paper to (horrors!) add ads to the front page. CBS had first honors with a 2-1/2" ad across the bottom. Worry not! The Gray Lady clings to her dignity by keeping the ads "below the fold." They may be right in front, but not side-by-side with the day's breaking world news story (we can see it now... "Atrocities in Gaza! Got Milk?"). Goodbye, Kinko's, late-night savior of our college term papers and printer of our activist manifestos. With quality and service recently in decline, FedEx (which acquired Kinko's in '04) decided to ditch the brand in favor of "FedEx Office." If service doesn't improve, the stellar FedEx brand will take the hit.


The unemployment spike and Gaza derailed virtually every other story for the time being. But the year is young and we expect a comeback next week. Stay warm!