Tag Archives: News


Dear George,

Ann Coulter is addicted to grabbing attention by being as offensive as possible. We all know that. Maybe that is considered by network executives to be a good thing as it brings in viewers. But offensive and degrading remarks can only go so far, don’t you think? Does it have to take an average citizen’s open letter to speak the truth? Yes, it does. I am referring to the open letter by John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics athlete, who has called out Coulter for her use of the degrading term, “retard” and her recent “political analysis” on Twitter on Monday’s presidential debate, “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

This is actually the second open letter I’ve sent you. The first one, I believe, is related to what I want to say now. I’m concerned about the quality of broadcast journalism, television and culture in general. You have a role to play in all of that. When you take part in the “Good Morning America” prattle about things like, “World’s Worst Boyfriend,” it just seems pretty absurd. But giving Ann Coulter a regular seat right alongside legitimate commentators on the once venerable “This Week,” of which you are the host, is obscene. Look at it this way, would your predecessor, David Brinkley, have had, as part of his regular group of roundtable guests, a member of the John Birch Society or Rush Limbaugh? Of course not! He did not engage in that. But you will. Or I can only assume that you have the authority to hire and fire who is presumably on “your show.” Correct me, if I’m wrong, but the entire name of the show is “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” is it not?

ABC News is not Fox News, George, so Coulter never belonged on “This Week” to begin with. Coulter is such an obvious hatemonger. Her arguments are shameless like her problems with civil rights. In her racist and hateful mind, civil rights are only for “the blacks.” You questioned her about it, gave her time to promote her new book about it, on “This Week.” I recall viewing that broadcast and how elated Coulter was to be recognized, as it were, to be legitimized. She looked like she really couldn’t believe she was on the show, her eyes darting back and forth. She gleefully held up her book. She had arrived. It didn’t matter to her if you seemed to be asking some hard questions about her beliefs. She was on the show! She had won!

Unless there is something in her contract that makes it impossible to fire her, the time is way overdue for that to happen. Imagine if you, George, got on Twitter and made any comment similar to Coulter’s crazy rants. You would be fired! But I do understand that the joke is supposed to be on her. She is only on the show as comedy relief. Well, that joke isn’t funny anymore.

So, go head and fire her or suggest it to the powers that be. I’m betting that, if you want her out, she’s out. And, if she stays, well, that’s your hell to deal with. Trust me, it would be pretty easy to do: Just don’t invite her back. USA Today was stuck with her for a bit and they got rid of her. You can read about that here.

Your pal,



Filed under George Stephanopoulos, news, politics, pop culture, Television


Newsweek will cease print publication at the end of this year.

There’s no two ways about it, it is sad news to say goodbye to the iconic and venerable print magazine, Newsweek. I’m sorry but it is saying GOODBYE. It is not simply saying hello to new opportunities on the internet. It is a simple fact: Newsweek, the magazine as it has been known for 80 years, is gone. It is also a fact that we are all moving on. Why would you want to continue to have an expensive print version of your product when you want to invest in digital? Two years ago, The Daily Beast bought out Newsweek and, with the help of Newsweek content, The Daily Beast has soared. When you think of Newsweek now, it’s “Newsweek and the Daily Beast” or “NWDB” for short. And that’s the reality of things. The main reason to stop print is the high cost of print and distribution. That is what the comic book industry is definitely grappling with. The new digital version of Newsweek will be known as Newsweek Global, one world-wide digital version that you can only read through paid subscription with some content available on The Daily Beast website for free. That, like it or not, is a model for the future.

I recall, even as a kid in the ’70s, that Newsweek had more of a kick than Time. The headlines were usually more direct and the color was more saturated. The writing was bolder. The layouts were more robust. It had everything you could want in a weekly news magazine plus it had just the right amount of “eye candy,” a term that I believe originated in the ’70s in response to what was seen by some critics as the coming scourge of infotainment ushered in my this brand new candy-coated television program, “20/20.” But Newsweek wasn’t eye candy! It had style and it knew how to use text and image in more compelling ways than its competitor, Time. You could say that Newsweek was already, to a certain degree, hip to the look and feel of the internet before there was an internet.

That said, it really is too bad to say goodbye to the print version. I found it handy to tuck an issue under my arm and then read it on the bus. I also have an e-reader but I prefer to keep that for reading books, not magazines. The fact about e-readers: If you want to experience reading that is easy on your eyes, then you want the black and white e-ink type reader. If you want color, then you’re reading it off a bright screen which is not terribly eye-friendly. Here in Seattle, in 2012, there is a healthy number of tablet and e-ink readers on the daily commute. Among readers, there is also a similar number of people reading actual books and magazines. I’m not sure that we, the reading public, have reached the “tipping point” of reading everything on a gadget but, perhaps, advertisers have calculated it is time to make a greater investment in digital.

At some point, perhaps in another five to ten years, tablets will be as commonplace as cell phones. But will the internet become more accessible to everyone? No, probably not. All you have to do is go to any public library and see how heavily used the public computers are. People who use public computers can only use them for limited amounts of time, hardly enough to let themselves get caught up in too many articles from what the traditional Newsweek of yesteryear used to offer. That type of accessibility will be lost. What you get for free is The Daily Beast site and, for less fortunate readers who even bother to look on a public computer, that amounts to a few bites of info, gossip and world-class content along with your chance to enter the boxing ring with the animation of a bikini clad babe, or some such advertisement, that will pop up and share your reading space. So much for eye candy. But these readers are not really NWDB readers and hardly Newsweek Global readers. Anyhow, more serious readers, even impoverished ones, can always find a way to get what they need.

You can check out what NWDB Editor-in-Chief, Tina Brown, and NWDB CEO, Baba Shetty had to say about the Newsweek shakeup here. The conclusion that NWDB has reached is that the company can not lose itself in the “romance of print” and it must “embrace the all-digital future.” The last print issue of Newsweek will be for the week of December 31, 2012.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, news, Newsweek, pop culture, Print, Publications

Aaron Sorkin’s THE NEWSROOM: Olbermann/Lou Grant Mashup?

“THE NEWSROOM” will do for broadcast news what “THE WEST WING” did for true believers in good government. Bravo, to Mr. Sorkin for what looks like possibly another HBO hit. Let’s consider what we’ve got here starting with the best thing going for this show. We all loved what Sorkin did with behind-the-scenes White House drama. What we need to know is will this new show really fly. What’s the hook? Well, it’s not totally about idealism in journalism. What finally got me was seeing some sparks fly between the two lead characters, Jeff Daniels, as Will McAvoy, a grumpy and volatile news anchor, and Emily Mortimer, as MacKenzie McHale, his demanding (and rightly so) girlfriend. Just view this clip. It’s fabulous to see MacKenzie trap Will into making an intimate admission with the threat of hijacking his broadcast.

Honestly, I don’t know if the entire show, week after week, can live up to that little moment but here’s hoping it can. In reality, if a girlfriend pulled a stunt like that, it doesn’t seem likely a relationship would actually survive it. I’m also annoyed that the these two have Mc-names. McAvoy and McHale? It takes you out of the realism and reminds you of ’70s TV shows, “McMillan & Wife” and “McCloud.” Was the intention to yank us out of the moment and remind us it’s all artifice? I think not.

You know, at first, I thought this show was going to be something like a retread of “Broadcast News” and “Network,” and it probably is more than Sorkin cares to admit. Perhaps artifice does rule supreme and would that be a bad thing? Well, God knows, I don’t need to see Sam Waterston add to the countless hand wringing scenes in televsion drama over the decades. And I’m not that interested to see  Jane Fonda as a latter day Nancy Marchand in the role of Mrs. Pynchon on “Lou Grant.”

Then there’s the whole Keith Olbermann thing. Mr. Olbermann made a wisecrack that “The Newsroom” is the second time his life has been used for a TV show, the first being Sorkin’s “Sports Night.” Sorkin is irritated by that and stated, rather caustically, that “Newsroom” has nothing to do with Olbermann, “a man who I’ve spent about five minutes with in my entire life.” Huh? There really would be no shame in basing MacGyver, I mean McAvoy, with Olbermann. In fact, the more merging of fact and fiction, the better, it would seem. Frankly, a show loosely based on a bunch of other stuff, old TV shows, our own idea of what the world is like or should be, with a dash of Keith Olbermann, sounds like a winning recipe for success.

UPDATE: I have seen the pilot, which is available for anyone to see for free on YouTube or the HBO site. It does provide some good moments of entertainment but it comes at the price of it just messing with you. In the end, it seems like a big tease since the premise is flawed. We don’t live in a world that pays attention to the evening news like we once did in the era of Walter Cronkite but Sorkin believes we should.

Leave a comment

Filed under HBO, Television


It seems like only yesterday (well, 2006) that many of us were feeling full of regret over what could have been as presented in the enthralling documentary by director Chris Paine, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” And now, only a blink of an eye later (2011), we have an amazing answer in Mr. Paine’s follow-up, “Revenge of the Electric Car.” Oh, these are exciting times we live in! Yes, you better believe it, the future is now. We really do have electric cars. We’re at the early stages, but, as the film makes clear, there is no turning back. It’s history in the making and this time we’re getting it right.

Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Neil sets the tone in the opening segment as he ogles various sports cars he spots on a drive through LA. He recalls, wistfully, his love of fast cars. Everything about them was beautiful. “The only problem was the gasoline in the tank.” By measures humorous and contemplative, this documentary navigates through the maze of facts and comes out with a fully charged story centering on four main characters. 2006’s “Who Killed The Electric Car” made the case for how the electric car was scuttled before it had a chance at the dawn of car development. Then, to make matters worse, when GM recently developed a viable electric car, the EV1 (1996 – 2002), it chose to recall it and scrap it. This “sequel” picks up where the original film left off as GM re-enters the electric car market in 2008. But they have forfeited their head start. There are new players and it’s going to be a heated race.

The narrative is quite compelling as it hangs on four men coming from four very different directions. Each is given a title, and appropriate background music, as we enter their world. First, we meet “Mr. Detroit,” who is none other than the macho showman, Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM. This guy is such a legend in the business, having led various auto giants throughout his career, that he already has his own nickname, “Mr. Horsepower.” You would be hard put not to like the man. While he may not exactly believe in global warming, he has come to see the reality of electric cars. This epiphany has been spurred on by “Rocket Man,” Elon Musk, who made is fortune as the creator of PayPal. He now divides his time between Tesla Motors, his own rocket company, SpaceX and a new wife and five children. You almost see his head spin as the story unfolds. We see him struggle with his first entry in the e-car market, the Tesla Roadster, a ultra high-end car that is so expensive to create that Mr. Musk must go back to buyers still waiting on their orders and tell them that the price tag has gone up. We then do a zippy segue to “The Outsider,” Greg “Gadget” Abbott, an e-car converter. He is in the business of retrofitting old cars and turning them into e-car hotrods. He is caught at a difficult time with some unfortunate mishaps but remains optimistic. His portrait gives us a sense of the grassroots enthusiasm for e-cars.

Full of dramatic effect, we’re introduced to “The Warrior.” This is Renault-Nissan’s Chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn. The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil likens Mr. Ghosn to Sun Tzu, author of the classic in military strategy, “The Art of War.” The Ghosn strategy, according to Mr. Neil, is taken from this book and is, “Be where your enemy isn’t.” It is a game plan enacted with a vengeance with a commitment of 6 billion dollars behind it. “Every day that our competition delays is a good day for us,” Mr. Ghosn states with gusto at a news conference. His approach is full on: A purely electric car, with a 100 mile range, priced for the widest market. Unlike Tesla Motors, and its Roadster (prior to the Model S) priced at $100,000 and up; and unlike GM’s Chevrolet Volt, which has a backup gasoline engine, the Nissan Leaf is purely electric and priced right at about $30,000. Mr. Ghosn, with such a determined spirit about him, is undeniably in the driver’s seat. At the time this documentary was made, Mr. Lutz and Mr. Musk seem oblivious to him. Even towards the end, when the two men literally bump into each other at a major car show, they seem puzzled by the Nissan Leaf and its significance. It is fascinating to watch.

While it will still take some time before electric cars are the norm, the process has begun. All humanity, the Earth and all polar bears can breathe a sigh of relief. This documentary is essential viewing for all of us as we embark on a whole new way of life. Paced like a dramatic story, with narration by Tim Robbins, and full of insights by various auto industry insiders, you can’t help but get caught up in the narrative and root for the true hero in all this, the electric car. For more information, visit www.revengeoftheelectriccar.com.

1 Comment

Filed under Electric Car, General Motors, Movie Reviews, news, Nikola Tesla, Nissan, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Motors


On May 7, 2012, Russians protested Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as president in Moscow. Vladimir Putin has been in power since 1999. There was that stretch of time with Dmitry Medvedev as “president” while Putin was “prime minister” and now we’re back to Putin, all Putin. What’s sad is that his coronation, or whatever you want to call it, would not have caught the world’s attention, in quite the same way, had it not been for Julia Ioffe’s photo taken with her iPhone of a little kid appearing to confront a Russian anti-riot squad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Media, news

Open Letter To George Stephanopoulos

Hi George,

I just wanted to say a few words regarding your new job back at “Good Morning America” where you handle such assignments as, World’s Worst Boyfriend ‘Robs’ Girlfriends Home. That is the current link from ABC News. The first time I stumbled upon this video it was entitled, “Worst Boyfriend in America,” but I guess he’s been upgraded to the worst boyfriend on the planet. That still doesn’t seem to make him, and his story of briefly terrorizing his girlfriend, worthy of any notoriety, especially from such an esteemed journalist as yourself.

I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. You used to host the respected Sunday political show, “This Week.” You used to work for President Bill Clinton. And, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but your current role seems to be better suited for a guy on his way up rather than such an established guy as yourself. Well, maybe it’s part of a much bigger picture. It worked, I guess, for Charles Gibson. He went from “Good Morning America” to briefly anchoring “World News Tonight,” now known as “ABC World News,” and anchored by another “Good Morning America” former host, Diane Sawyer. That brings to mind Katie Couric and her brief time with “CBS Evening News.” She’s sort of in the same boat as yourself at the moment. It didn’t work, or maybe it did, for Matt Lauer. Now, Lauer is probably as happy as clam to just stay put on “Today.” He gets serious assignments here and there. And I guess, of course, you do too. But maybe not as often.

All I can say is that it just doesn’t feel right having you “interview” the kid who hid in his girlfriend’s apartment and then deliberately made her believe she was confronting an intruder in her very home. That smells like a lawsuit not fodder for a little gabfest. There’s the kid laughing about it on national television with a highly qualified journalist. Does that not seem sort of wrong to you? I’m just saying consider where this is going. Did ABC promise you an anchor position in the future? Or are you heading in a new direction, less David Brinkley and more Dick Clark? Just wondering. The 18 to 35 demographic find you appealing. I suppose it doesn’t matter if they know or care where you came from.

But I’ll keep checking in on what you’re up to. I definitely wish you well. Like many professionals at your level, you’re very likable. One last thing, I highly recommend not developing this “worst boyfriend” story into a series. I can imagine that idea has been kicked around. Look away, George! Don’t do it.

Your pal,


1 Comment

Filed under Media, Television

A Milestone Comic: Review: Batman Inc. #1

Comics come and go so quickly it makes a regular observer’s head spin. So, when something this special comes along, it is a pleasure to share with all readers, those familiar with what I’m talking about and those without a clue. “Batman Inc” is a significant comic. So significant that it can truly be called a gateway comic for new readers.

Anyone who is into comics has been talking about this title since it was announced at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Legendary designer Chip Kidd highly recommends it. Fans of the writer Grant Morrison, fans of comics in general, know this is where to be right now in comics.What is so amazing about this book is more than can be said in one review. Essentially, it is flawless. The artwork and the writing do a dance in your mind that will entrance you. It truly takes you away from your everyday routine and transports you to a happy place, a full comics experience.

Grant Morrison is known for his dark and multi-layered writing which brings in all manner of pop culture, history, myth and symbolism. That approach to writing has served Batman well as Morrison has navigated through a story, which has spanned a number of titles, that repositions Batman and Bruce Wayne after a long and tortured time when DC Comics had Bruce killed and it had looked like he’d stay dead. To bring Bruce back would need to be done with utmost care and so, presumably the best writing talent in the business, Mr. Morrison, has led the way to make this a truly special time in comics. For this current title, “Batman Inc,” we find Bruce in full command and running the show, the Batman part of his life, with the same vigor he runs his business empire.

Yanick Paquette (pencils) and Michel LaCombe (inks) provide spot on artwork, both beautiful, energetic and relevant. Not a missed note anywhere to be found. The colors too, by Nathan Fairbairn, are exquisite. We begin with Batman and Catwoman working together in Tokyo on the search for Mr. Unknown, who is supposed to figure prominently in Batman’s plans. But, oh wait a minute, actually, just before that, Mr. Unknown is killed by one very scary villain, Lord Death Man! And, yes, no matter how geeky that may sound, it is done with great elegance. This Lord Death Man looks like somebody from a Day of the Dead festival done up in a skeleton costume. But he looks fierce instead of festive and he means to kill without mercy just like the Grim Reaper himself. He comes upon Mr. Unknown and instantly takes away his hands. Mr. Unknown is in shock. He askes where his hands went. Lord Death Man says, “They are in hell! Awaiting the rest of you!”

This is just a little taste of the comic, with special consideration given to those of you out there who normally do not buy comics. I have to tell you, it will prove such an unexpected treat that I urge you to venture into your local comics shop and give it a try. You want to be in on the next big thing? This one will continue to reverberate for some time to come. It’s not exactly underground either. It’s DC Comics after all. But that’s the thing, so many of you just don’t know how good comics can be and this could be the first you hear of Grant Morrison, let alone “Batman Inc.” That said, do check it out.

And for those out there who already know the score. I love this line from Catwoman after she’s knocked out a bunch of Lord Death Man’s henchmen, all following a skeletal motif: “Bones don’t seem so scary when they’re broken in bits, do they?”

Batman, along with every comic book character around, keeps being revisited, tweaked, reborn, readjusted. This is a major shift. This is a new generation’s Batman.

Leave a comment

Filed under Batman, comic books, Comic-Con International: San Diego, Comics, DC Comics, Grant Morrison