The Call Up

The best of the internet as curated by me. Put me in coach.

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February 17, 2014 11:33 pm
"The most interesting news about Fox News is that for some years now it has been damaging the right far more than the left. As a pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, “When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections,” but since 1992, when “conservative media began to flourish” (first with Rush Limbaugh’s ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You’d think they’d be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot."

Interesting piece on the decline of the GOP and increasing irrelevancy of Fox News.  Rich thinks the Fox bubble has worked against the party, as the echo chamber just gets louder and more extreme.  He also argues that the left should just let them go ahead and shoot their party in the foot, since they’ve been doing it rather effectively for the last decade.  Hard to say whether it’s correlation or causation though.  

However, the notes about how blind Roger Ailes is to new media, the internet, and the importance of younger markets, is incredible.  Remarkable that someone who successfully overturned the media market now looks so crusty and old fashioned.
August 26, 2013 5:19 pm
"So, as managing editor of, I want our readers to know this: All you are to us, and all you will ever be to us, are eyeballs. The more eyeballs on our content, the more cash we can ask for. Period. And if we’re able to get more eyeballs, that means I’ve done my job, which gets me congratulations from my bosses, which encourages me to put up even more stupid bullshit on the homepage."

The Onion eviscerates for putting Miley Cyrus in the top news spot this morning. Perfect.

(Source: The Onion)

June 29, 2013 1:45 pm
"Is David Gregory a journalist? As a thought experiment, name one piece of news he has broken, one beat he’s covered with distinction, and any memorable interviews he’s conducted that were not with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, or Chuck Schumer."

Daaaaaamn. Frank Rich getting sassy with David Gregory.

(Source: New York Magazine)

June 9, 2013 8:04 pm

As someone who used to cover the Oscar season, I watched again and again as people used [Deadline] as the seedy park on the outskirts of town where they sneaked up on others and stabbed them from behind.

Absent that venal ecosystem, Ms. Finke would be just one more rage-aholic with a modem. But she prospers by exploiting a narcissistic industry that lives on fear and self-preservation…If it is true that people get the government they deserve, then many industries get the media coverage they merit as well. Regardless of her base of operations, Hollywood deserves Nikki Finke.


David Carr taking the Hollywood press to task.  

(Source: The New York Times)

April 21, 2013 11:00 am
"Spend about 10 minutes reading a couple of in-depth news stories about the events of the day. And that’s it: You’ve now caught up with all your friends who spent the past day and a half going out of their minds following cable and Twitter. In fact, you’re now better informed than they are, because during your self-imposed exile from the news, you didn’t stumble into the many cul-de-sacs and dark alleys of misinformation that consumed their lives. You’re less frazzled, better rested, and your rain gutters are clear."

This is all true…but there is an equally strong and valid case to be made that social media and cable news aided in the capture of the suspects.  Plastering images of the suspects everywhere, using every tipster and resource to help in the investigation…these things are not irrelevant.  How long did it take to find the 1996 Olympics bomber?  Months. 
Sure, we should probably stick to the age old method of news gathering — check sources, verify facts, print a story.  But I’m not ready to throw new media under the bus completely.

(Source: Slate)

February 10, 2013 2:24 pm
"“It’s all or nothing,” she wrote, flagging a dichotomy: cooking in trendy restaurants has never been fattier, while the trend of “cleansing” with a severe regimen of liquefied fruits, vegetables and nuts has never been hotter. Feast or famine. Binge or beet juice."

As I sat in a restaurant this week, seriously discussing the virtues of juicing, wheatgrass, and kale with a heterosexual man, it occurred to me that while LA is utterly absurd, I prefer this absurdity.  I could watch myself having this totally insane conversation, one which I would have mocked a year ago, and I loved every second of it. 

Leaving Chicago, where bacon, pork belly, butter, and beer dominate the dining scene, I can’t help but notice how much I don’t miss it.  At all.  In Chicago, NYC, and even SF, to be hip is to have tried the newest restaurant, done the full 12 course tasting menu, and then go for brunch the next day.  Don’t get me wrong, my juice cleanse was closely followed by In n Out and my diet would horrify the more image-obsessed Angelenos out there (of which there are many), but the food fixation just isn’t the same.

But outside of that, this piece is discussing the broader trends of extremes in this country — in food, in sports, in politics, in media consumption.  Bruni blames the internet…I blame consumer, ad-driven culture.  When industries and empires are built on convincing the public of how much stuff we need to eat/watch/buy/try, it’s inevitable. Marketing and advertising work.

(Source: The New York Times)

February 6, 2013 11:00 am
"Surely there were other questions to ask as the minutes ticked by: Why did the N.F.L. fail, throughout the entire interruption, to provide an informed spokesman to explain the problem and the plan to fix it? Who was responsible for the stadium’s operations? What did the local utility, Entergy, have to say? Could the mayor of New Orleans, who was surely in the stadium, be summoned on camera?"

The questions that should have been asked in the interminable Super Bowl blackout.  Steve Coll notes: “CBS acted as if it possessed no news division.”  And indeed…the whole reason why it happened has been more or less forgotten.  Maybe it didn’t matter, maybe no one cares, or maybe it’s just that CBS failed to do its job.


December 19, 2012 9:00 am
"Brian’s insight is that in a world of loudest and fastest, he has turned it down, doing it slow and doing it right,” Mr. Sicha said. “And by being consumer facing, he doesn’t have to have monster numbers. The people come ready to buy."

Interesting piece on the new affiliate web models, where scale and volume are irrelevant and quality is the barometer.  I would love to see a business model that could produce Gawker-esque results without the Nick Denton approach — slave-driving production of snarky drivel. 

(Source: The New York Times)

February 17, 2012 9:41 am
LA Times standard.

LA Times standard.

January 23, 2012 3:30 pm
"Amid the plague that hit the magazine industry back then, Esquire was worse off than most. Beaten up by a crop of lad magazines like Maxim, then hammered by the flight of advertisers and readers to the Web, Esquire suffered a 24.3 percent loss in advertising pages compared with 2008, which was almost as bad, by the way."

I mostly chose this quote because it uses the term “lad magazines,” which makes me giggle.  I imagine Disney-like characters with fair hair and square chins, bounding down cobble-stoned streets, slinging papers, whistling tunes, maybe tipping their caps to the ladies.  Also it’s a good article, which uses the aforementioned term more than once. 

(Source: The New York Times)

January 16, 2012 4:19 pm
"…the “post-pointless” era of journalism, in which any and all experiences no matter how banal can be packaged as journeys of discovery and wonder, and sold to superficially pop-intellectual sites like Slate and Salon as something that appears just meaningful enough for a bored office worker with an advanced degree to justify wasting ten minutes of her life reading it, only to be left with the mental equivalent of the junk food hangover we get from feasting on an entire bag of unadorned Tostitos™ brand white corn chips…"

Hamilton Nolan of Gawker (via eyefivestyle)
Ahhhmazing.  The best part is, this is from a GAWKER staff writer…whose entire career consists of reading things and mocking them.  Nevermind junk food fluff pieces, he’s just mainlining sugar. 

(via eyefivestyle-deactivated2014072)

January 15, 2012 1:11 pm
"Audiences form an intimacy with television that they do not have with other visual mediums, not because television comes into their homes but because television comes into their heads. And stays there. To “watch” a series, one must interact with it, carry the characters and plotlines around in between episodes, consciously or unconsciously thinking about what will happen next, talking about it with friends or, nowadays, taking the pulse of other viewers via the Internet."

A discussion of how “binge” TV watching affects the experience of a show.  Viewed all at once, the Sopranos or Mad Men takes on a very different tone.  Divorced from the current cultural relevancy and collapsing drama and suspense, “It’s television as novel rather than serialized story.”

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

January 13, 2012 1:12 pm

It was the latest sally by the president, who has gone on the offensive against Congress as he embarks on his re-election bid. He appointed a new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, as well as other appointees to regulatory agencies, during a Congressional recess, to get around the opposition of lawmakers.

Under the terms of the reorganization proposed Friday, six relatively small agencies — the Small Business Administration, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency — would be consolidated into a single agency focused on opportunities for the private sector.


Here’s what’s notable about these two paragraphs: they are consecutive paragraphs quoted directly from the midpoint of an article about Obama’s plan to consolidate the government.  Does this strike anyone else as strange?  Why did it take 12 (yes I counted) paragraphs of political analysis and opposition quotes before describing the plan?  This goes back to Jay Rosen’s piece which discusses how true, fact-finding journalism has been replaced by the kind of insider gossip that worships the all-knowing and savvy media player.  No one bothers to actually discuss the facts and analyze them for what they are.  Instead it jumps straight into the gamesmanship at hand, name drops a few big players, and launches into inside baseball analysis of the political stakes. 

When I finally got to the actual description of the proposal, I drew my own, very obvious, conclusions: good proposal, but very limited and business-friendly. Clearly designed to steal some of the political spotlight from the GOP and give Obama an easy Congressional win (or embarrassing Republican flip flop).  The article improves from there, describing the facts of what reorganization means, what it costs and what this program will actually do.  But the whole piece has already been colored, it’s too late.

(Source: The New York Times)

January 5, 2012 7:00 pm
This is what I see when I watch Fox & Friends or “The Five.”  Blerrrrrrg.

This is what I see when I watch Fox & Friends or “The Five.”  Blerrrrrrg.

April 28, 2011 9:08 am
"There is a moment in your 20s when you know what it means to love rightly, but not how to do it, and then you begin to learn. I’m less worried about missing something these days. I’m not worried about missing the party. I’m not worried about missing a connection with someone I don’t know."

A moving little piece in the Times.  There is something interesting about the shift to online newspapers and what it means for writers and readers alike.  You would never find this in a print publication — a sort of random meditation on life, love, New York etc..  Whether that’s a good or bad thing is subjective, but I’m not complaining.