Mike Allen Shameless Trump Suck-Up Watch (Parts 1-3)

Mike Allen, the man the White House used to wake up to, has moved his home address from Politico to the delusional startup Axios, where he currently curries favor with D.C.’s movers and shakers – and especially Trumpsters.

Exhibit A

Mikey’s servile selfie at Donald Trump’s off-the-record Christmas party.




Exhibit B

Allen’s brown-nosing interview last week with Trump administration house organ Breitbart News.

Mike Allen: ‘Very Smart’ Breitbart News Sees Business, Tech, Media, Politics ‘Colliding and Converging’


Mike Allen, co-founder of both Politico and the soon-to-launch Axios media company, praised Breitbart News for covering critical issues so often ignored and scorned by other outlets, implying they paved the way for his own new media effort.

“We admire so much of what’s been built at Breitbart. And—Charlie, Matt—one of the things we like about Breitbart is you do things people aren’t. And both journalistically and as a business, that’s a great place to be right now,” Allen told SiriusXM hosts Matthew Boyle and Charlie Spiering.

Geez, Mike – get a room.

Exhibit C

Allen’s Axios AM newsletter yesterday, which featured this item under the headline “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

New threshold for anti-Trump one-upmanship: Rep. John Lewis of Georgia tells Chuck Todd for tomorrow’s “Meet the Press”: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Trump tweeted back this morning: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to … mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

What’s really sad is that Allen didn’t even have the decency to fact-check Trump’s tweet. But his successors at Politico Playbook – Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman – did.


WELL … Say what you want about Lewis, but “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results” isn’t the way most people would describe a guy who bled and was jailed in the struggle for civil rights. Also, his district isn’t really falling apart. He has represented the tony Buckhead section of Atlanta for years — he now splits it with another lawmaker — and he represents Emory University and some of the city’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.

Memo to Mikey: That’s what a real journalist does.

We’ll pass over in silence – for now – Allen’s longstanding allegiance to advertisers, which the Washington Post’s Eric Wemple has dutifully chronicled.

But we’re guessing that will be a whole nother Mike Allen Suck-Up Watch in the near future.

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Donald J. Quixote Is America’s First Potemkin President

The new White House administration is pretty much Donald Trump and Kellyanne Panza (tip o’ the pixel to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni).

From Russell Berman’s piece in The Atlantic:

A President Without an Administration

The Trump transition is behind schedule in vetting its nominees, and struggling to fill senior positions before the inauguration.


President-elect Donald Trump will take the reins of the federal government on January 20. How many people he will have by his side on that date is very much in question.

The Trump transition is substantially behind the pace set eight years ago by Barack Obama’s team, and a late start to vetting Cabinet nominees for security clearances and financial conflicts of interest threatens to leave many senior posts vacant when Trump assumes the presidency in just two-and-a-half weeks. The delays, which were described by people familiar with the transition as well as several congressional aides, could hamper the new president’s ability to deliver the swift change he has promised in Washington.

How far behind is the Trump transition?

So far behind, it ran this ad in on page B4 of Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.





Look next for an ad in the Farm Journal magazine for Trump’s Agriculture Secretary.


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Fred Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Bicentennial Blues

Sad to say, Saturday’s Boston Globe featured this front-page probituary of Boston jazz impresario Fred Taylor.

Another blow to the local jazz scene: Legend Fred Taylor fired ousted at Scullers

Fred Taylor, a legendary figure on the Boston jazz scene since the 1950s, has been abruptly fired as entertainment director at screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-1-12-02-amScullers Jazz Club, angering local jazz fans and signaling a changing of the guard at the well-known music venue.

Taylor, whose acts at the club included Lou Rawls, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones, had presided at Scullers since shortly after it opened 27 years ago at the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel. He e-mailed friends this week to say he’d been let go by the hotel’s management.

What made Fred Taylor a legend? Just this:

A fixture on the Boston jazz scene for several decades, Taylor, now in his 80s, is perhaps best known as the former owner of the storied jazz clubs Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street, where he booked such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus, and George Benson.

And, quite memorably, Gil Scott-Heron in 1976.

Forty years ago, I was a minor league Boston music critic, writing (under multiple bylines from J. Redmond Carroll and John Redmond to J.R. Tardi) for local B music publications including – but not limited to – Musician’s Guide, Nightfall, NightLife, PopTop, and Rock Around the World.

As I’ve previously noted:

In the summer of 1976 (‘Bicentennial Fever Grips Hub’ – even Little Stevie’s House of Pizza redecorated in red white and blue), I saw two of Gil Scott-Heron’s three performances at Paul’s Mall during Fourth of July week.

He delivered serious versions of “Bicentennial Blues” and “The Bottle,” but his rendition of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” was absolutely transcendent.

Both times – and in fact every time I got into Paul’s Mall or the Jazz Workshop in those days – I had to talk my way through Fred Taylor, who was tough, dismissive, and, ultimately, soft-hearted toward anyone who loved jazz.

Memo to Fred: Here’s what you got for your kindness 40 years ago.




Admittedly, I was still writing with training wheels back then, but I think the lede holds up okay.

Anyway, here’s “The Bottle” from that great gig.



Also, that transcendent rendition of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.”



Thank you, Fred Taylor, for so often letting me into your home where the jazz was.

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Why Boston Isn’t New York (Billy Joel Concert Edition)

Full disclosure: The hardworking staff grew up in Manhattan, but we’ve lived in Boston for the past 42 years. So we can’t help noticing the yin and yang of the two cities.

Latest example: The Billy Joel concert index.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe featured this American Express/Fenway Park full-page ad.




Then again, yesterday’s New York Times featured this Citi/Madison Square Garden counterpart.




Not judging. Just saying.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (RefuseFascism Edition)

From our All Those Dollars and No Sense desk

The last time This Desk reported on a Trump Derangement Syndrome spasm in the Times, it was this $200,000 full-page ad in July from Josh Tetrick, the vegan mayonnaise czar of Hampton Creek.




Body copy for the condiment impaired.




(We’ll pass over in silence the whole Hampton Creek buy-back rumpus that subsequently surfaced in the news media, providing a reason to turn away from Josh Tetrick to say who he is.)

Now comes this Trumpiopathic full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.




Closer-up of body copy in the name of humanity.





Now call the roll of the refuserati, some of whom presumably paid for the ad:




Once again, file under: Just set your money on fire.

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Nobody Wins New York Times ‘Year in Pictures’ Bakeoff

As you might (or more likely might not) remember, for the past several years the hardlooking staff has provided all you splendid readers with a scorecard of the New York Times “Year in Pictures” wrap-up.

Previous winners: Tyler Hicks in 2015 and 2009, Daniel Berehulak in 2014, and Sergey Ponomarev in 2013.

The Times 2016 Year in Pictures, however, produced a low-level tie between Damon Winter and Todd Heisler, both of whom had three photos in the year-end photo album.

Fittingly, Winter gets the front page:




And Heisler gets the back page:




Props also to Tomas Munita, Landon Nordeman, and Doug Mills, who came in a close second with two photos each.

Which says what?

Just this: Visually, the Times is more wide-ranging than ever.

And all the better for it.

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On January 1st, NBC Boston Will Be Everywhere – and Nowhere

Remember back in the ’80s when cable networks fragmented the television audience?

That ain’t got nothin’ on what NBC Boston is about to do.

Just look at this ad from yesterday’s Boston Globe.




The back story, via the Boston Herald’s Alex Reimer.

NBC Boston cranks up dial before launch

Station avoids static with Markey by strengthening signal


After weeks of uncertainty, Comcast-owned NBC Boston has struck a deal with another full-power Boston station to reach over-the-air viewers in the market.

In a letter obtained by the Herald, Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said the NBC Boston signal will be up and running on WMFP, which will broadcast on digital channel 60.5 and other over-the-air channels, well before the network’s launch on Jan. 1 . . .

The station, which will broadcast from southern New Hampshire, was originally slated to use a low-power station to beam the signal into the Boston area. People who don’t have cable and other pay-TV services rely on free over-the-air broadcasts.

That’s all well and good, but let’s go back to the NBC Boston ad.




First off, check out the over-the-air options available to what used to be called “cable decliners”: 8.1, 60.2, 60.5.


Those are the same people who have a VCR flashing 12:00 . . . 12:00 . . . 12:00 . . . 

You think they can find Channel 60.5?

Beyond that, there are 20 – count ’em, 20 – places where NBC Boston will be in the New Year.

Rule of thumb: If you’re everywhere, you’re nowhere.

So . . . locally NBC will soon = Nowhere Boston Content.

Somewhere, former NBCnik Ed Ansin is . . . dancin’.

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New York Times Eager to Crowdsource Editorial Content

Just as with the search for local weather watchers (“Thanks Betsy from Medford for that beautiful sunset picture!”) or cable news network iReporters  (“check out this photo of the aftermath of the snowstorm in #Portland #Oregon”), the New York Times is now trolling (as in,”fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat”) for civilian tipsters to feed its newshole.

Exhibit A: This full-page ad in yesterday’s edition of the Times.




For the body-copy impaired.


Your punch (or Pinch) line goes here.

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Weekly Standard Whacks Mike Dukakis Re: Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg may have been executed in 1953 for conspiring to pass atomic secrets to Russia, as this  Los Angeles Times front page noted.





Except they haven’t really.

During the past six decades, the Rosenbergs have been subject to more revisionist history than Joseph Stalin in his prime.

(Full disclosure: A couple of years ago I moderated a panel discussion at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center that included the Rosenberg’s sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, who concede that their father was a spy but contend that their mother was an unwitting accomplice. Video here, if you care.)

Now comes the latest effort to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, with both her sons and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis urging Pres. Barack Obama to issue a presidential pardon.

But . . . pardon us, says the current edition of The Weekly Standard in this Scrapbook item headlined “The New Red Scare,” which unequivocally states that “among serious people, which is to say outside of the media, the Rosenbergs’ guilt is not in doubt.”

They’re a bunch of nuts graf:

Then there are the unserious, like former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, who has been among those urging President Obama to screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-11-03-15-ampardon Ethel Rosenberg. We found this out in a tendentious Boston.com article, which got off on the wrong foot when it called her “an alleged Soviet Union spy” (the word they were looking for is “convicted”). The most precious part of the report is Dukakis proudly citing as a precedent his own proclamation as governor that the notorious left-wing anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, convicted of first-degree murder in 1921, had received unfair trials and that “any .  .  . disgrace should be forever removed from [their] names.”

(Boston.com story in question.)

Weekly Standard coda:

(As they are with the Rosenbergs, Boston.com and Dukakis are proudly ignorant of historical developments in the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Upton Sinclair was arguably the most influential writer in lionizing Sacco and Vanzetti and denouncing their conviction. There’s one small problem—in the mid-1990s a letter was found in a California auction house in which Sinclair reveals he was told by Sacco and Vanzetti’s lawyer that the two men were guilty and that the lawyer had helped concoct an alibi for the two murderers.)

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, a recent Boston Globe report included this: “[Rosenberg’s] brother, David Greenglass, whose trial testimony helped convict her, admitted in a 2001 televised interview that he lied on the witness stand to protect his wife, Ruth Greenglass. He said he was coached to lie by prosecutor Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his unbridled hunt for Communist sympathizers.”

The Globe piece also says that claim is corroborated because a newly unearthed grand jury statement by Greenglass did not match his trial testimony. Not to mention that “[Rosenberg] did not have a KGB code name, while Ruth Greenglass did.”

As we said, never die . . .

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All the News That’s Fit to Print (Only)

The Good Grey Lady has gone bipolar.

On the one hand, the New York Times is hellbent to goose its digital subscriptions, an effort that has been aided and abetted by the election of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president.

On the other, the Times has made efforts to boost its decreasingly lucrative print edition by producing print-only features like yesterday’s Puzzle section, which was promoted by a full-page ad in Thursday’s New England edition (although – inexplicably – it doesn’t appear in the Times Replica edition) and this press release two weeks ago.

New York Times to Offer Special Puzzle Section, Exclusive to Print Readers

The New York Times Magazine today announced that it will produce a special, print-only Puzzle Spectacular, to appear with the Sunday, December 18 edition of the newspaper. The special broadsheet section, which will be edited and introduced by New York Times Crossword editor Will Shortz and The Times’s puzzle team, will be devoted entirely to a series of different puzzles, including, as a centerpiece, the largest crossword puzzle in the history of The New York Times.

Via Google Images:




That special section follows on the heels of print-only offerings of an August excerpt from Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and April’s  Fraying at the Edges, which chronicled a heartbreaking story of coming to grips with Alzheimer’s (and eventually wound up on the Times website).

Respect to the Times for doing its best to get the print edition off life support. But, sadly, it’s just whistling past its own graveyard.

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