Purdue Pharma’s Opioid Ads Keep Trying To Dull America’s Pain

As the hardtsking staff has previously noted, the fabulously wealthy Sackler family, which unleashed OxyContin on an unsuspecting American public, played a key role in the country’s current opioid crisis.

Adding insult to devastating injury, the family’s corporate arm, Purdue Pharma, has run a series of newspaper ads professing concern about the opioid epidemic while admitting zero responsibility for it.

Latest example, from yesterday’s New York Times.

Sure Purdue wants to limit the use of opiods, now that the Sacklers have made billions of dollars off the sales of OxyContin and the news media heat is on.

Time to sack the Sacklers, yeah?

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NYT Ad for Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix Show Says: ‘Think Smile’

Jerry Seinfeld’s wildly popular Netflix series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has just dropped its new season on the Streaming Service That Ate Television, which ran this ad in yesterday’s New York Times.



That is, of course, a takeoff on the classic Volkswagen campaign of the 1950s, which quite remarkably had a Jewish ad agency selling Adolf Hitler’s people’s car to Americans ten years after they defeated the Nazis in World War II.

The Times ad promises that Seinfeld’s shows deliver “more smiles per gallon.”

Presumably, not a Lemon in the bunch.

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WSJ Gives Page One Shoutout to Boston’s ‘Discount Diplomat’

The hardworking staff has noted on numerous occasions the Wall Street Journal’s A-Hed, home of those quirky features that have adorned the paper’s front page since 1943.

This weekend’s Journal brings us Andrew Beaton’s international story with a decidedly local flavor.

Russia’s Biggest Problem? Not Enough Boston Sports Gear

‘Discount Diplomat’ travels to World Cup, handing out jerseys to strangers

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—Greg Conley sat down at a recent World Cup game here next to a family of Iranian fans who regaled him with stories about the team, its traditions and players.

Mr. Conley reached into his bag after Iran’s win over Morocco. He grabbed a Boston Celtics shirt and gave it to the Iranian man right next to him. The man beamed and put it on immediately.

“You see this whole section of Iranian-dressed fans,” Mr. Conley said. “Then all of a sudden, you see a guy wearing a Celtics shirt. It was like a black spot on a white piece of paper.”

This wasn’t an isolated event for Mr. Conley, a 54-year-old Boston-area native who calls himself “The Discount Diplomat.” It’s what he does. A hospital project manager by day, Mr. Conley spends his free time traveling the world attending major sporting events—not just marquee competitions like the Olympics and World Cup, but also the Irish hurling championships and Cricket World Cup.

According to Beaton’s piece, at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Conley was introduced to the Olympic pin-trading tradition. He subsequently brought some Boston sports apparel as a gift for the Japanese family that hosted him during the 1998 Games in Nagano.

The rest is bargain-bin history.

Certified sports nut graf:

What began as a casual endeavor turned into an elaborate operation over the years. He has now been to 17 Olympics, nine World Cups, six track and field championships, three Ryder Cups, two European soccer championships, and a Tour de France, among other events.

Read the whole thing. It’s a total hoot.

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The Nude York Times (The Met Breuer ‘Like Life’ Edition)

As the hard blushing staff has noted several times, it’s no longer unusual for the Grey Lady to drop the veil and display some rather revealing images.

The latest example comes from this full-page ad for The Met Breuer’s exhibit Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300–Now).

That’s Hercules and Rachel for those of you keeping score at home.

Yet another sign o’ the Times.

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Times of London Whacks Irish Times for Kevin Cullen Coddling

As the hardworking staff has repeatedly noted, the Irish Times has been derelict in its due diligence about Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s reporting for that paper about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

And now the Times of London is agreeing with us.

Edited Boston bomb tale still online

The Irish Times retains report from columnist on the 2013 marathon blast despite review challenging its accuracy

The Irish Times is keeping an article by Kevin Cullen about the Boston marathon bombing on its website, even though a Boston Globe review has found some of the columnist’s reporting of the event was a “complete fabrication”.

Cullen, an Irish-American journalist who has been a regular contributor to Irish print and broadcast media, has been suspended from his Boston Globe job for three months after it reviewed his coverage of the 2013 terrorist attack.

The review concluded that Cullen had fabricated parts of stories about firemen that he told in broadcast interviews in America, the UK and Ireland. Of “particular concern” was an interview Cullen gave Newstalk in which he claimed a fireman called Sean had returned to the site of the bombing to…

Given the Times of London’s hard paywall (which when first initiated vaporized 95% of the paper’s web traffic), it would have cost us £1 to read further. So the hardscrimping staff stopped there.

But you get the picture. The (pay)walls have closed in just a bit further on Kevin Cullen.

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Irish Times Sentences Kevin Cullen to . . . One Correction

Back in April when the whole Kevin Cullen rumpus began, the headscratching staff wondered if the Irish Times would scrutinize its Cullen column that ran in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, a piece that featured unverified details different from the unverified details in Cullen’s Boston Globe column at the time.

We consequently sent this email to both the Times editor and the paper’s news desk. (We also sent it to  the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman.)

Dear Sir or Madam,

[We just posted this to Campaign Outsider], documenting discrepancies among Kevin Cullen’s multiple versions of the Boston Marathon bombings, from the Boston Globe to the BBC to The Irish Times.

As you reported on Monday, the Globe has put Cullen on administrative leave “while an examination of his coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings is conducted.”

Is a similar examination occurring at The Irish Times?

Thank you for your consideration . . .

To our utter amazement, we never heard back from any of them.

But yesterday we did come across this tweet from the sharp-eyed @gmolloy.

So we hied ourselves back to Cullen’s 2013 Irish Times piece and found this note attached to the bottom of it.

* A sentence (“When I looked at young Marty,” Seán told me, “I knew he was gone.”) was removed from this article on June 18th 2018 on foot of the findings of a review commissioned by the Boston Globe into the journalist Kevin Cullen’s reporting on the Boston marathon bombing. The review found that a firefighter’s account of the identification of the body of a young boy, Martin Richard, as originally reported, was disputed by the firefighter, who said he knew the boy as Martin and would not have referred to him as “Marty”.

O’Brien also said in that external Globe review that “he didn’t identify the boy’s body at that time,” which raises other questions but never mind.

At this point it will be interesting to see if other pieces Cullen wrote for the Times (such as this one) receive further scrutiny at the paper.

If so, let’s hope that effort turns out better than the porous internal review the Globe just submitted. Pompoms sold separately.

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Our Media Culpa to WSJ Columnist Jason Gay Re: Rafael Nadal

A week or so ago, the hardworking staff had some stern words for the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay over his latest cover story for WSJ. Magazine.

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay, but his cover story in today’s WSJ. Magazine is a flatout bad joke.

First, there’s the cover itself.

Reclaims his throne?

Not to get technical about it, but a certain Rafael Nadal is currently No. 1 in the ATP World Tour rankings.

Then there’s the hed/subhed of the piece.

Enjoying tennis too much to stop just now?


Roger Dodger is currently ducking the French Open after sitting out the entire clay court season . . .

In Monday’s Journal, however, Gay – in his usual smart, stylish manner – absolutely gave Rafa his due.

Nadal in Paris Is Ridiculous

Greetings from Paris, where I’ve been reading with amusement the fretting over the Golden State Warriors, who have provoked an existential crisis in basketball with an “overly dominant” team which has won three out of the last four NBA titles.

Three out of four titles. That’s adorable. The magic horsey won three big horsey races in a row? Way to go, horsey!!!.

Because Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open Sunday.

I know, I know: different sport, different circumstances, shorter tournament, funky surface, no Kevin Durant. And he didn’t have to win the Preakness.

But still: if we’re going to talk about dominance in modern sports, the conversation must include Nadal, who has turned winning this majestic clay-court tournament into less of an accomplishment than an annual rite.

Many thanks to Mr. Gay for that tribute, which has restored him to the good graces he’s so long enjoyed in this space.

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Pepsi Puts Its Commercial and a Movie Into the Same Can

Kyrie Irving is Pepsi’s choice of a new generation of ads.

And New York Times culture reporter Sopan Deb has been on the Boston Celtics star like Brown on Williamson for weeks now.

Start with this piece last month.

‘Uncle Drew’: Branding Vehicle or Feature Film? Yes

At first glance, the movie looks like another inoffensive summer road-trip comedy. In the trailer, there are stars like Nick Kroll and Tiffany Haddish ping-ponging punch lines with Lil Rel Howery. There’s a sense of escapism along with a healthy dose of slapstick.

“Uncle Drew” may be all of that. It is also the continuation of a corporate marketing campaign for a soda company.

An unusual integration of branded content and film, the movie is built around the N.B.A. star Kyrie Irving and is based entirely on a series of Pepsi commercials that went viral beginning in 2012. A heavily made-up Mr. Irving plays Uncle Drew, a septuagenarian driven to show up younger basketball players on the playground. He sets out to reunite with his teammates from decades ago for one more run at the Rucker Park tournament in Harlem.

The question Deb asks is this: Does anyone give a damn that Irving’s Pepsi-funded mashup is an ad in sheep’s clothing?

“Moviegoers might not realize or care that they are watching what is essentially a Pepsi commercial when they turn out for the June 29 release,” Deb writes. “Academics, meanwhile, believe ‘Uncle Drew’ is the first feature film of its kind, taking product placement one step further in a new avenue for branding and signaling the film industry’s willingness to — ahem — play ball.”

Product placement in cinema goes all the way back to Thomas Edison. According to the website Brands&Films, “[Edison] made the product placement in films into a very lucrative business. He created deals with advertisers to reduce ‘out-of-pocket production expenses while providing promotional services for customers of his industrial businesses’” [italics theirs].

Consider Edison’s deal with the Lackawanna Railroad for his 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery. In exchange for access to the railway and its trains, Edison made the heroine of the film the same actress – Marion Murray Gorsch – who played Phoebe Snow in Lackawanna’s Road of Anthracite ad campaign.

Then again, we’re guessing Ms. Gorsch never gave an interview like the one Kyrie Irving gave Deb in this Times piece last week . . .

Read the rest at Sneak Adtack.

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Some Serious Editorial Mishegas at the Wall Street Journal


First, there’s Kali Hays’s piece in yesterday’s WWD (tip o’ the pixel to The Missus).

WSJ Reorganization Continues as Editors Reapply for Positions

The Wall Street Journal has been slowing moving forward with its restructuring.

The Wall Street Journal is still reorganizing its newsroom and editors are taking the brunt of it.

Members of The Journal’s deep bench of desk editors have been asked to “reapply” for their positions, WWD has learned, as the News Corp.-owned title continues to lurch forward with plans to be more of a digital-first publication.

Many desk editors at The Journal have been at the paper for several years, according to some online profiles, and having them reapply for their positions, while demeaning, is a way to move people around or to different positions — or move them out.

It’s all part of the Journal’s “WSJ 2020” reorganization plan around digital and mobile, which is not about cost-cutting but rather “efficiency and cohesion” and a “new central editing structure,” according to a WSJ executive.

That exec happens to be editor-in-chief Gerard Baker who, coincidentally or not, happens to be exiting the paper, according to this piece by Lloyd Grove and Maxwell Tani in The Daily Beast.


WSJ Editor-in-Chief Leaves to Host Show on Pro-Trump Fox Business Network

Gerard Baker, often accused of being too chummy with Trump, will leave the Journal to host a show on Fox Business Network, arguably the most pro-Trump cable outlet.

The Wall Street Journal’s controversial editor-in-chief Gerard Baker—often accused of being too chummy with President Trump—is leaving the newspaper to host a show on the Fox Business Network, arguably the most pro-Trump cable-news outlet.

In a Tuesday press release, Newscorp announced that executive editor Matt Murray would replace Baker, who, in addition to his new FBN gig, would become the paper’s editor at large.

So Baker is leaving . . . but he’s not leaving.

Too bad the same can’t be said for the lowly desk editors about to get 30’d.

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WSJ = Worst Sports Judgment Ever in WSJ. Magazine Cover

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay, but his cover story in today’s WSJ. Magazine is a flatout bad joke.

First, there’s the cover itself.

Reclaims his throne?

Not to get technical about it, but a certain Rafael Nadal is currently No. 1 in the ATP  World Tour rankings.

Then there’s the hed/subhed of the piece.

Enjoying tennis too much to stop just now?


Roger Dodger is currently ducking the French Open after sitting out the entire clay court season, obviously because of this (via Amy Lundy of FiveThirtyEight).

Rafael Nadal is likely more dominant at clay-court tennis than any other athlete is at any one thing. Winning a set, let alone a match, against Nadal on clay can seem almost hopeless. As he nears 32 years old, he’s already won 56 clay-court titles and a record 10 French Open championships — with a chance to add an 11th next week.

Even so, as the Missus notes, you don’t see Rafa sitting out Wimbledon. (In Rogerspeak, of course, it would be Wimpledon.)

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, Gay does mention Federer’s feet of clay.

Federer has trimmed his schedule (this is the second year he’s skipped the clay court season) and remodeled his game, switching to a bigger racket, shortening points, turning his angelic one-handed backhand into a fearsome weapon.

We get it that Federer doesn’t want to spend any time at Stade Roland Garros.

We just don’t get the timing of Jason Gay’s mash note to him.

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