Stewart’s future, Economist’s past (& what is Clinton doing in Chinatown?)

October 24, 2007

* Bush & Clinton Forever?
* Ra-Ra-Rap Putin
* RightWingFacebook parody
* Justice for a murdered journalist?




1. Jon Stewart extends role as Daily Show host until 2010
2. Viacom to offer all clips of Daily Show online, and for free
3. The Economist to put entire archive from 1843 onwards online
4. Nine charged in connection with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya
5. Podhoretz named editor of Commentary, effective 2009
6. The NY Times -- the only New York paper to ignore Lt. Michael Murphy


7. Bush & Clinton Forever?
8. Ra-Ra-Rap Putin
9. Facebook, with a twist
10. Dishwashers for Clinton
11. Cat fight
12. Al Gore’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Oslo…
13. Defining luxury down, Manhattan style


[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are some of the recent entries I have written and posted on the National Review’s Media Blog. These are the ones relating to developments in the media itself, and to politics and society. By separate dispatch, I am sending the items I wrote connected to the Middle East.


Friday, October 19, 2007


Jon Stewart will continue as anchor of The Daily Show for at least three more years.

The popular host has signed a two-year contract extension that keeps him at the Comedy Central show to the end of 2010, the network has announced. His contract had been set to expire next year.

Stewart, 44, joined the satirical newscast on Jan. 11, 1999, succeeding Craig Kilborn, its host since the show began in July 1996.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


Media giant Viacom may be suing YouTube in a $1-billion copyright-infringement suit, but it’s also taking a lesson from the online video service.

Following up the item above that Jon Stewart has extended his contract to host The Daily Show until the end of 2010, Viacom has unveiled a new website that will offer every minute of The Daily Show since it began in 1999 – and for free.

That’s 13,000 video clips in all, so the most avid fans of the satirical news show are unlikely to leave their computers for a very long time.

As The Los Angeles Times business section notes: “The site ( is meant to pull in advertising money from Day One, but it also will be something of a test lab for Viacom and perhaps for rivals looking over its shoulder.”

Viacom’s designers have been experimenting with ads that appear for two or three seconds at the start of a clip, recede, then emerge briefly from a corner of the picture like a network-TV promo while the video continues playing.

“Nobody wins when you have a 30-second ad in front of a 45-second piece of video,” says Erik Flannigan, executive vice president for digital media at MTV Networks, the Viacom unit that includes Comedy Central.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


More than 160 years of articles from The Economist are set to become available online with the launch of “The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2003.”

The archive will contain more than 600,000 pages of the weekly magazine’s reporting. Preview trials of the archive have just been made available and the full archive will be available via paid subscription in December. (The magazine’s website, offers readers free access to content under one year old.)

“The Economist Historical Archive is more than a database – it is a remarkable record of the most significant world events over the past 160 years through the unbiased, probing eyes of The Economist,” said John Micklethwait, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.

In fact, history has shown that The Economist isn’t quite as authoritative, accurate and unbiased as it likes to think it is, but the archive is nevertheless welcome news for researchers around the world.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Russian prosecutors on Thursday charged nine people, including five with links to President Putin’s security services, over the murder last year of the courageous investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

According to the Russian Interfax news agency, those arrested include Lt-Col Pavel Ryaguzov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor organization to the KGB.

Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of Putin, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building on the president’s birthday on October 7 last year. Some have even suggested it was a “birthday present” to Putin from his former colleagues at the FSB.

Politkovskaya is the most prominent of the 47 journalists who have been murdered in Russia in recent years. (Most of those murders remain unsolved.)


I attended a moving one-day “memorial conference” dedicated to Politkovskaya earlier this month, on the first anniversary of her murder.

The conference was held at the head offices of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague, the news organization to whom Politkovskaya had given her final interview criticizing Putin shortly before she was assassinated.

Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper for which Politkovskaya worked, Novaya Gazeta, told the conference by video link from Moscow that “Russian law enforcement officers assisted, helped and participated in Anna’s killing.”

(The newspaper is one of the last remaining free media outlets in Russia, although Muratov said the authorities had recently been intimidating advertisers to withdraw their ads from the paper in an attempt to financially strangle it into closure. Their English version is at


RFE/RL, together with the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, also held a follow up conference and memorial day for Politkovskaya, a few days later in Washington. Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, who will stand as an alternative candidate for president next year in Russia, was the keynote speaker.

It was also clear from these events that Jeffrey Gedmin, the new president of RFE/RL, is doing important work reviving the station. RFE/RL broadcasts pro-democratic but unbiased news in dozens of languages to countries that include some of the most important from an American foreign policy standpoint: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Russia.

It is quite possible that the RFE/RL conferences, together with street protests earlier this month by ordinary citizens in Russia, helped increase the pressure on Putin that led to this week’s arrests in the case.

[For a photo of Politkovskaya, see the foot of this item.]


October 17, 2007


The following announcement has been made this morning on Commentary’s website:

“We are delighted to announce that John Podhoretz has been named to succeed Neal Kozodoy in the position of Commentary’s editor as of January 1, 2009. Podhoretz will join the Commentary staff this November. In the interim role of editorial director, he will assume particular responsibility for the development and expansion of our online editorial activities.”

While Commentary readers will no doubt be excited by John’s appointment, I am sure I speak for many when I say we will also be very sad to see Commentary editor Neal Kozodoy step down after doing such a magnificent job at the helm of one of the world’s premiere opinion magazines. Neal will stay involved with the magazine.

(* Neal Kozodoy and John Podhoretz are both longtime subscribers to this email list.)


Monday, October 15, 2007


From The New York Post:

The New York Crimes: Medal Of Dis-Honor For The Gray Lady
By Bill Sanderson and Selim Algar

October 13, 2007 – The posthumous award of the nation’s highest battlefield honor to a Long Island war hero has become an other black mark for the Gray Lady.

The New York Times carried not a whisper of news yesterday about the bestowal of the Medal of Honor to Navy Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue - the first time the honor has been given for action in Afghanistan.

Area veterans, as well as Murphy’s neighbors, were outraged – but not all that surprised – that the paper carried nothing about Murphy in Friday’s editions, unlike The Post, The Daily News and Newsday, which all carried prominent reports and photos.

“If he had killed 15 people, he’d be on the front page of their newspaper,” fumed James Casey of Malverne, a Vietnam vet and past commander of the state American Legion organization.

“It’s amazing that a Long Islander and a New Yorker can receive the highest commendation this country can bestow and the Times doesn’t see fit to mention it – especially on the heels of the Gen. Petraeus ad,” said Casey – referring to the paper’s decision to run a full-page ad from a liberal group containing the headline words “General Betray Us.”

The Times seemed alone in ignoring Thursday’s White House announcement of Murphy’s honor.

In addition to the local coverage, some out-of-town papers, including The Denver Post and The Los Angeles Times, covered the news with their own reporters.

… It wasn’t the first time the Times gave short shrift to such a story. The paper ran just one paragraph about the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Jason Dunham, a U.S. Marine from upstate killed in Iraq in 2004. That paragraph ran in January in the middle of a story about congressional opposition to Bush’s Iraq war plans.



Saturday, October 20, 2007


Here is a site imagining one possible future.


Monday, October 22, 2007


In a previous dispatch, I sent videos with the Obama and Giuliani girls* strutting their stuff on behalf of their respective presidential candidates. Now comes…

Now supporters of Vladimir Putin in Russia – who although he is supposed to step down next year is widely rumored to be preparing to stay in control of Russia by taking the office of Prime Minister with greatly increased prime ministerial powers – have produced their own video.

You can watch the tribute to Putin here.

* (To see the videos by Obama and Giuliani girls, please see item 11 in the dispatch titled “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo” (& Giuliani’s girls vs. Obama’s girls) (July 19, 2007)


Saturday, October 20, 2007


You might find this leftist site, parodying the right, amusing: Rudy, John and Mitt.


Monday, October 22, 2007


You’d think the Clinton campaign would know that they, of all people, can’t afford to look “slippery.”

Below are extracts from today’s Washington Post editorial. If Hillary can’t do better than this, many left and center voters may join the right in concluding that the Clintons are just too unethical to return to the White House.

The Washington Post writes:

Donors whose addresses turn out to be tenements. Dishwashers and waiters who write $1,000 checks. Immigrants who ante up because they have been instructed to by powerful neighborhood associations, or, as one said, “They informed us to go, so I went.” Others who say they never made the contributions listed in their names or who were not eligible to give because they are not legal residents of the United States. This is the disturbingly familiar picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign presented last week in a report by the Los Angeles Times about questionable fundraising by the New York senator in New York City’s Chinese community. Out of 150 donors examined, one-third “could not be found using property, telephone or business records,” the Times reported. “Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.”

This appears to be another instance in which a Clinton campaign’s zeal for campaign cash overwhelms its judgment... As the Los Angeles Times reported, a single Chinatown fundraiser in April brought in $380,000. By contrast, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry raised $24,000 from Chinatown in the course of his entire campaign.


Monday, October 22, 2007


News about some callous treatment for the former first pet, from yesterday’s Sunday Times (of London):

As the “first pet” of the Clinton era, Socks, the White House cat, allowed “chilly” Hillary Clinton to show a caring, maternal side as well as bringing joy to her daughter Chelsea. So where is Socks today?

Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks any more. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, who also had an embarrassing clean-up role in the saga of his relationship with the intern Monica Lewinsky.

… Clinton’s treatment of Socks cuts to the heart of the questions about her candidacy. Is she too cold and calculating to win the presidency?

… “In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list,” writes Caitlin Flanagan in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. “But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet has been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference.”

Flanagan points out that Clinton wrote a crowd-pleasing book Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets, in which she claimed that only with the arrival of Socks and his “toy mouse” did the White House “become a home”.

Being Clinton, she also lectured readers that pets are an “adoption instead of an acquisition” and warned them to look out for their safety.


Friday, October 19, 2007


As envisaged by Michael Ramirez in Investor’s Business Daily.


Friday, October 19, 2007


Bret Stephens in today’s Wall Street Journal writes about what passes for “luxury” in the Manhattan real estate market:

“I live in a large Lower Manhattan apartment complex that has the great virtue of being situated directly across the street from my office. Other than that, it’s hard to see how the complex – built in a brutalist style of unadorned, heavily chipped concrete that would have blended well in East Germany – meets any plausible definition of “luxury.” The popcorn ceilings certainly aren’t luxurious, nor are the single-plate windows that don’t quite keep out the winter cold. And let’s not talk about the condition of the air-conditioning units.

“… Yet thanks partly to Manhattan’s circumscribed geography, partly to the stock market’s record highs and partly to the verbal effusions of billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg, who in 2003 described his city as a “high-end product” – Gucci on a metropolitan scale – there’s very little in New York today that isn’t a “luxury,” in name if not in fact. In turn, this has created linguistic challenges (or opportunities) for real-estate developers trying to distinguish their offerings from the rest of the pack. Call it subprime language in an era of subprime mortgages.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.