Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Joe Biden? Why?

Why is it that the presidential candidate who so consistently says the smartest things (most recently here but most especially here) also keeps saying some of the dumbest things?

Maybe the cost of a candidate who speaks impressively and intelligently is someone who also has occasional verbal diarrhea. It's a cost I'd personally gladly pay to get a president who's actually really really qualified for a change, but there's almost no chance such a person could get through the modern media gauntlet.

As I think we demonstrated pretty well in All the President's Spin, the best media strategy for a modern president (or president wanna-be) is to tightly control everything he or she says. It's not very interesting for those of us who pay attention, but most of us don't pay that much attention. And we all know what kind of speech - impressive policy discussion vs. verbal gaffe - is going to generate the headlines and the late-night jokes from which those who don't pay much attention get their political information.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dateline Hollywood fools another Anna Nicole-obsessed nation

Dateline Hollywood fans know that we have had many great triumphs fooling stupid entertainment reporters into believing our obviously satirical stories. (If you don't know, Mike Schneider has a good summary here.)

Our latest accomplishment comes in a language I can't read (and can't find a reliable translation tool for on the Web). But I can read enough English words to tell that Finnish newspaper Italehti, which a DH reader told us is one of two Finnish national papers, picked up our report that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern will star in a reality show re-make of '80s sitcom "My Two Dads" along with Danielynn (the late Anna Nicole's daughter).

To quote the idiots in Finland:
Dannielynnin isäehdokkaista Larry Birkhead ja Howard K. Stern aikovat Dateline Hollywood -sivuston mukaan muuttaa saman katon alle.

It's good to know that a lack of basic reporting skills and obsessive interest in Anna Nicole are a universal trait for entertainment journalists around the world.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Thank you to the British people for your generous donation to me

This blog post is my official thanks to the people of the United Kingdom. Due to the policies of your publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation, I just made the easiest $80 of my life.

The BBC, I have discovered, has an unusual policy of paying those it interviews on-air. Most Americans would be surprised by this, since only tabloids like "Star" pay for interviews in the U.S. In my personal experience giving interviews in American media, I have always done it for my ego, for publicity, or just to be a nice guy.

But every few months, in my capacity as an "expert" on the entertainment industry, I get a call from the BBC asking me to comment. Sometimes I turn them down because the question is about some topic like the Eagles going back on tour that I know nothing about. But if I ever feel remotely qualified to talk, I do it. Why? They pay. And handsomely.

I just got my latest check, for about $80 (I don't have it in front of me, but it was just over $80, I recall). For what? An interview that lasted literally two minutes about Americans' reaction to the movie "300" and how I think it will perform overseas. Let's be generous and count every second of time that had something to do with the interview. There was a five minute phone call in which they asked me to do the interview and we discussed the topic. I spent about three minutes on hold waiting for the interview to start. And maybe one minute afterward giving somebody my address and Social Security number.

That's 11 minutes for over $80. Could be the easiest money I ever made in my life.

I'll be honest: I'm hoping nobody at the BBC reads this because I don't want the cash cow to end. But if I were a British citizen paying my taxes, I'd be a little peeved. (I just checked and it turns out the BBC World Service, on which I do my interviews, is funded by a separate government grant and not the $266 annual license fee every British citizen pays for their ad-free TV)

While it's nice to compensate experts for their time, it is, let's be honest, excessive. And for the record, while I'm tempted to blame this on the lack of commercial incentives, it can't be just that. I've been interviewed by NPR a few times and got nothing more than a "thank you" e-mail.

I guess I'll consider this my soul cleansing because I always feel a little guilty getting those checks that I honestly don't deserve. And now that it's done... give me a call, BBC. I'm saving for a house.