Our Failed Legacy Media Open Thread: Infinite, Fractal, Recursive Fvckup-ery!

Fortunately, the attempt to defenestrate Rod Rosenstein seems to be going nowhere — for the moment. But what in the name of Murphy the Trickster God could the NYTimesmen responsible for starting this rumor have been thinking?


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Interesting Sunday Read: Something About Bob (Woodward)


 
Olivia Nuzzi, professional journalist-assassin, sizes up Bob Woodward, professional journalist-legbreaker, in NYMag“Bob Woodward on the ‘Best Obtainable Version of the Truth’ About Trump”.

IMO, she did a really good job of getting past the old man’s practiced patter and demonstrating just how cozy the Beltway Media Village expected to be with this season’s Temporary Oval Office Occupants, whether or not that warmth is reciprocated — or deserved:

Entering the author’s home required walking past a stack of the books on the floor. It’s a warm and colorful place, full of eye-catching paintings and, at this particular moment, lots of people and one medium-size dog. Woodward introduced me to his wife, the journalist Elsa Walsh, and then ushered me into a dining room. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed his philosophy and methods. But first, my tape recorder malfunctioned in front of America’s most famous journalist…

Nuzzi: I am but a humble newbie, visiting the Great Master…

I wanted to talk to you about how you decide who is credible. It is difficult for me, sometimes, to determine who is credible, even at the most senior levels of the administration at this White House. Mostly at the most senior levels in some ways.
Particularly if it is on the record and public. It is kind of a press release.

I agree to a large extent. But I am curious how you decide who is credible. Because somebody like Rob Porter, he is obviously very present in this book. I won’t guess about your sourcing. There is a lot to suggest that his character is — there is a fundamental flaw there.
In what way?

Well, by some personal accounts he is a very flawed human being. He is allegedly abusive. There is a lot to call into question his honesty.
Say that again.

There is a lot to suggest that he may not be an honest individual, right? So why do you decide to trust somebody like that?
Well, I am not going into the sourcing but there are — you test it with other people and documents and notes and it makes a big difference when somebody tells you something and you get your hand on the document itself. So because I had the luxury of time, of essentially two years to work on this, not quite, even. Ever since Trump was elected you can cross-check and see…

Woodward: I review theatrical performances on the world’s most important stage. Why should anyone expect me to take an interest in the actors’ personal hobbies?

In a review, Isaac Chotiner at Slate asked if you were perhaps the last optimist.
Really? I have not seen this.

He had a lot of criticisms of the book and one of them is there is this sort of view, a bias towards the people who cooperated, and they are presented in an almost heroic way.
But see, he does not know that. No one knows that except for myself and my assistant Evelyn.

Do you think that is true?
I know it is true.
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Late Night Luddite Open Thread: But Those Musk-y Pheromones!

Of all the striking things about the interview with Elon Musk The New York Times published Thursday night—the tears, the lack of regrets over certain tweets, the fact that rapper Azealia Banks may somehow be part of Tesla’s financial future—was Musk’s claim that he’d be ready to abandon his role as Tesla CEO and chairman…

… But there’s no replacing Elon Musk. Because the man is not just a CEO. To many, the man is a legend.

Start with the tale of Tesla. When the company launched in 2003, car salesmen were stocking up on the 12-mpg Hummer H2. The most popular battery-powered vehicles were golf carts. The American auto industry is famously brutal to newcomers, and the idea of one succeeding with electric vehicles racked up the lolz. For years, skeptics waited to bury Tesla alongside Tucker, DeLorean, Fisker. Musk defied them. He made electric cars capable (and sort of self-driving). He made them easy to charge (on an infrastructure he built). But most importantly, he made them desirable. Owning a Tesla became a status symbol; about 400,000 people are on a waiting list to own the Model 3. The entire venture proved you didn’t have to be GM or Ford or Chrysler to make cars in America. And you didn’t have to be BMW or Mercedes or Lexus to make luxury cars appealing to Americans.

Simultaneously, Musk was running SpaceX. Under his leadership, the commercial space company defied entrenched aviation giants like Boeing by breaking into the rocket science business. Musk promised to colonize Mars. As his side hustles, he wished a hyperloop industry into creation, dabbled in artificial intelligence, and won a contract to dig tunnels under Chicago.

And all along the way, much of the world cheered him on. Musk graced magazine covers. He inspired songs. He went on talk shows, appeared on The Simpsons and South Park, made Page Six headlines. Sure, he had a sizable ego (who wouldn’t?) and habit of belittling those who doubted or opposed him (haters!), but the public largely forgave him these minor transgressions given his major skills in proposing big, bold ideas, and delivering on them.

But over the past year, this goodwill has started to fade…

The pressure to perform has eased, but its effects, it seems, endure. Musk cares deeply about what people think of him and his companies. His harsh reactions to negative press often beget more of the same, a surely unsettling shift from the years of mostly adoring coverage he received, of the publicly validated self-worth he must have come to expect. And while he retains a loyal army of Twitter followers, his mantle as a Renaissance Superman, gifted by an enthralled public—and media—is slipping…


 
Yes, I find PayPal very useful too, but I’m beginning to suspect Elon Musk’s unique genius is… well… Look, some of the greatest minds of the ancient world spent their lives working out Ptolemaic planetary regression charts. And that was perfectly respectable! Their work is still used by modern astrologers; modern astronomers, not so much.

Honest questions: Have I missed something technologically significant? All this showmanship around SpaceX and ‘hyperloops’ — is it just a fun way of boosting the sales of high-end branded electric cars?








GOP Criminality Open Thread: Trump Suddenly Very Interested in Prosecutorial Reform…


(One of the Law & Order series? Or does Fox News show Matlock re-runs?)


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Late Night QFT Open Thread: “Trump’s GOP, Party of Corruption”

Tina Nguyen, at Vanity Fair“In the witch-hunt era, a criminal indictment has become a mark of pride for Republicans”:

If there’s anyone who can sympathize with Rep. Chris Collins, the first congressman to support Donald Trump, who is currently facing indictment for insider trading, it’s Michael Grimm. “He’s going to have a really, really difficult emotional time,” the retired Republican congressman, who was himself indicted on 20 counts of various crimes, told The New York Times on Thursday, when asked what he’d say to Collins. “He’s going to have to swallow every bit of it. And smile.” He went on, “Washington, as long as you’re riding high, they want to be your friend. And when you’re not, they don’t want to be anywhere near you. . . . And whether he knows it or not, a lot of Washington is going to look at him as a pariah.”

They might also look at him as unelectable, a realistic concern in a potential wave election that threatens to wipe out the Republican hold on Congress, particularly if Collins refuses to bow out of the race. But fear not, Grimm said—he himself had done what Collins aspires to do, running for re-election under indictment in 2012, and winning…“If I were him, I would double down on the president needing us,” Grimm suggested….

But could anyone in the Serious Grown-Up Business-Friendly Party actually defend stock market fraud?

Heeerrre comes MCARGLEBARGLE!

To be fair — to the Washington Post, who paid her this time — McArdle eventually gets around to explaining that, well, insider trading might be offensive, but it’s really all the fault of Government Overregulation:

It’s surprisingly hard to pin down an actual harm from insider trading. And yet we have a stubborn intuition that it ought to be illegal because it just doesn’t seem fair. That’s a reasonable response: Insiders such as the sons of congressmen and board members should have to take the same losses as anyone else on speculative investments.

There is no evident problem with confidence in the markets today, but there is an obvious problem with confidence in our institutions. That’s the harm of insider trading — and all sorts of other self-dealing, self-interested practices by networks of folks with cultural, economic or political power. Occupational licensing, building restrictions that make it impossible for disadvantaged families to gain access to better schools, professional networks and degree requirements that help “people like us” climb the ladder into the best jobs — all of these look, from the outside, like more insider trading. They’re also often defended by people who regard the allegations against Chris Collins with horror…

Look, regulations only serve to encourage law-breaking, knowhutimean? As J.P. Morgan said, during our first Gilded Age, “Anything not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose, was not nailed down.” It’s not the plundering, it’s the nails!