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

Latest in a very long-running series

Yesterday’s New York Times featured this heartfelt full-page ad from a Dad to his daughters.

The text:

Sweet guy, yeah?

Then again, tucked away at bottom left, there’s the link to his website.



Turns out that Dad is Kurt Sutter, whose IMDb bio details “the shit” he does.

Raised in the shadow of Rahway prison, Sutter spent most of his New Jersey childhood indoors, away from people, three feet from a TV screen. That’s where he learned the essentials of storytelling and the comic significance of anvils . . .

In 2001, he landed a gig on FX’s The Shield (2002). Starting as a staff writer, he stayed on “The Shield” its entire seven season run, finishing up the last two seasons as Executive Producer.

Kurt continues his relationship with FX, with his new critically-acclaimed series, Sons of Anarchy (2008). Along with his TV work, Sutter has feature projects in development at Warner Brothers and Paramount.

Along with some other stuff, of course. (WTF Sutter is also fun.)

The ad also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, which means Sutter dropped a pretty penny to address his two girls. Belle Zwerdling – the manager of Sutter’s wife, “Sons of Anarchy” star Katey Sagal – told the Tribune’s John Keilman that the ad is “a thoughtful, insightful love letter to his daughters — a love letter that was written because of the climate of the world.”

Another costly attempt at climate change, eh?


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Made Yankee Fan in Boston: That Craig Kimbrel Spidey Thing

In the wake of the Red Sox hang-on-by-their-fingernails win in Game One of the ALDS over the New York Yankees, we gotta ask: What’s up with Craig Kimbrel’s Pitch of the Spider Man mound vogueing?

Before every pitch? Seriously? That’s just weird, yo.

[Join our Facebook group today!]

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’14 Back’ Takes Us Back to More Than Bucky Bleeping Dent

It’s excellent timing that, as the New York Yankees face tomorrow’s postseason play-in game against the Oakland A’s, SI TV has released the documentary film 14 Back.

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is arguably the most iconic in sports history, and remains white hot to this very day . “14 Back” traces the origins back to the late 1970’s, when it was at its knock-down, dragged-out grittiest, culminating in Bucky Dent’s infamous home run.

I would have liked to watch it, but SI TV’s Free 7-Day Trial requires you to actually subscribe to the service, so here’s the trailer instead.



That was 1978, four years after I arrived here (Forced  busing? Seriously? What the hell is wrong with you people?), and many years before I became a Made Yankee Fan in Boston.

In fact, this story is how I avoided being made as a Yankee fan in Boston the afternoon 40 years ago today that Bucky Dent hit his infamous home run.

First, though, a recap of how we got there.

“The Red Sox had a 14-game lead over the ridiculously infighting Yankees in July before the teams’ fortunes flipped, and the Yankees caught and passed Boston in September,” Boston Globe sports media columnist Chad Finn reminded us last week.

Then again, as 14 Back filmmaker Jonathan Hock told Finn:

The Sox, when they fell 3½ games back in September, if they could have been tarred and feathered, if that was still legal in the Commonwealth, I’m sure they would have been.

For them to have then turned it around and win eight in a row and 12 of 14 with all of the starters going on three days’ rest, Dennis Eckersley winning four of the last 14 games and Luis Tiant winning three of the last eight, the last on a two-hit shutout in Game 162, that was heroic.

And, as Jerry Remy said in Nick Cafardo’s Baseball Notes column in Sunday’s Globe, “It’s pretty hard to say you choked when you won 99 games. We had an outstanding team. We just had so many injuries the second half of that year.”

Regardless, the race came down to the last game of the regular season. For me, the drama then unfolded in two acts.


The whole one-game playoff could have been avoided if the Yankees had won their 162nd game.

But they didn’t.

My friends Rob, Mike, and I – good native New Yorkers all – decided to trundle down to the Big Town to catch the regular season finale between the Yanks and the Cleveland Indians, which did not go well on a couple of levels.

Level #1

Level #2

After the game, we trudged out of the big ballpark – as Red Barber liked to call it – just three disappointed Yankee fans among the many.

Until we reached our car.

With the Massachusetts plates.

Right away we drew an angry crowd that raised quite a rumpus that had all the makings of a who-struck-john (namely, me). Luckily, some fast talking defused the situation sufficiently for us to enter the offending vehicle and exit the Bronx in a New York minute.

Only to return to another fraught moment in Boston.


On October 2, 1978 I was planning to take a Greyhound bus to Hartford and visit the folks, but once I got to Park Square, I figured I should catch the game first.

So I squeezed my way into a bar on Stuart Street (I think it was called My Brother’s Place and I think it might have been a gay bar, but I could be wrong on both counts).

And I’m watching the game and it’s the top of the 7th, Sox up 2-0, and Dent comes to the plate with two men on base and Mike Torrez on the mound. And here’s what happened next.



Of note in retrospect: How much Dent choked up on the bat; how Dent fouled one off his already battered left foot; how Dent got a new bat handed to him at that point; how cheap the home run was.

Also of note: I’m watching all of that in a bar full of Red Sox fanatics, trying my best to blend into the cheap furniture.

And then – two on, two out, Yankees leading 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th. And here comes Yaz and he . . . fouls out to the hated New York third baseman Graig Nettles.

(You can relive the whole game here if you like.)

Quick as a smile, I beat feet before I could out myself as a Yankee fan.

But I grinned all the way home on that Greyhound bus.

Postscript #1: There was also excellent 14 Back talk – and clips – on Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen (starting at 42:15), with both co-host Stefan Fatsis and director Jonathan Hock calling it the greatest moment of their young lives. Also, don’t miss Fatsis’s deconstruction of the whole Bucky Dent/Mickey Rivers corked bat kerfuffle (at 1:04:50). It’s a hoot.

Postscript #2: Very few (including me) remember that Dent was also the 1978 World Series MVP – the sixth worst in that category according to Dan Tylicki’s Bleacher Report ranking.

He did little in 1977 or the 1978 ALCS, so not much was expected in the 1978 World Series. Against the Dodgers, however, he hit .417 and had seven RBI.

Bleeping A, eh?

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New York Times Chases Younger Readers by Touting Old Guy

The headscratching staff has never really understood the Bernie Sanders connection to millennials, although The Bernie Sanders Connection would be a good name for a rock band (with apologies to Dave Barry).

But the New York Times, apparently, totally gets it, as this full-page ad in Thursday’s edition illustrates.


It’s all part of the Times’s “spirited live conversation series for college students.”



There are also, as you might suspect, New York Times “partners” to help corral the young’uns.



So, to recap: The Grey Lady is joining up with the white-haired guy (and a bunch of corporate shills) to monetize some green behind the ears kids.

Get with the Times, indeed.

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Ads ‘n’ Ends From the New York Times (CYA Edition)

The hardworking staff is always interested in the issue advocacy/corporate image ads that appear in major U.S. newspapers, most especially the New York Times, which functions as sort of the community bulletin board for corporate America.

The thing is, though, very often those full-page advertisements are actually what media historian James Twitchell refers to as exvertisements, “the type of advertising that draws viewers’ attention away from the client’s product or service.”

In other words, a misdirection play.

So, to begin: This ad for Philip Morris International ran in last Sunday’s edition of the Times.

Body copy:

So . . . Philip Morris can’t do it alone and it needs “leaders, policymakers, scientists, health professionals, and everyone else” to take responsibility for a smoke-free future.

What’s the dodge here?

Lisa Rapaport’s Reuters piece provides a clue.

‘Heat-not-burn’ cigarettes still damage lungs

(Reuters Health) – A new type of “heat-not-burn” cigarette may lead to just as much lung damage as traditional cigarettes, a recent study suggests.

So-called “heat-not-burn” devices are designed to heat disposable tobacco sticks and give users the taste of tobacco without the smoke or ash.

For the study, researchers analyzed data submitted by Philip Morris International to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the company was trying to win regulatory approval to market its I-Quit-Ordinary Smoking (IQOS) product as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

The FDA has yet to weigh in on whether Philip Morris can sell its IQOS device as a lower-risk cigarette alternative. But an expert scientific panel convened by the FDA recommended against such a move earlier this year, and the new study offers fresh evidence of health risks associated with IQOS.


Next up: This high-priced spread from Chipotle in Monday’s Times.

Body copy:

Real change? Really?

Maybe not so much, according to this Ad Age piece by Jessica Wohl.


Chipotle Mexican Grill’s first major marketing push under new leadership relies on less humor to put more emphasis on the food itself.

The new campaign comes about three years after Chipotle found itself in crisis mode as food safety concerns piled up. A lot has changed since those bleak days, as Chipotle instituted new food preparation techniques, mandated new training, brought in new leadership and hired new agencies. But reports of illnesses tied to its restaurant still flare up from time to time, dragging Chipotle back into a spotlight that it is eager to escape.

Chew on that, eh?

Moving along, Johnson & Johnson ran this ad in both the Monday and Tuesday editions of the Times.

Body copy:

Others, however, are waiting on a lawsuit against J&J, as Bloomberg’s Jef Feeley, Margaret Cronin Fisk and Sarah Favot report.

J&J Talc Cancer Case Ends in Mistrial With Divided Jury

Johnson & Johnson’s latest trial over claims that its baby powder causes cancer ended in a stalemate when jurors couldn’t agree on a verdict.

A state judge in Pasadena, California, declared a mistrial Monday after jurors deadlocked on Carolyn Weirick’s request for at least $25 million in damages over her mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Weirick said she developed the disease from asbestos-laced baby powder.

In the last case to go to trial, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.69 billion in July to more than 20 women who blamed baby powder for their cancers. J&J is appealing.

And appealing to our better angels in an attempt to change the topic.

You see how this game works, right?

Bonus Local Exvertisement 

This Coca-Cola of New England full-page ad ran the other day in the Boston Sunday Globe.

And why might Coca Cola of New England be running an exvertisement?

Maybe because of this Google News joint.

Well that’s a totally different investment Coca-Cola believes in. Just don’t look too closely, please.

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When a Nation Forgets Its Own Clichés (‘Uphill Lift’ Edition)

From our annual That’s Just Sad desk

As the hardworking staff wends its way through this veil – sorry, vale – of tears, we’ve felt obliged to keep track of the mangled phrases employed by our differently worded brethren, who go forth and multiply at an alarming rate.

At any rate, here’s the latest batch, in reverse chronological order.

• In mid-November 2017, one of the chin strokers on the ABC News podcast Powerhouse Politics said that Republicans in Congress voting on tax reform were “putting all their marbles in the basket.”

Actually . . . no.

You either put all your eggs in one basket or you play for all the marbles. Unless, of course, you’ve lost yours.

• That same day, Poynter’s Morning MediaWire, in a Donald Trump compare ‘n’ contrast segment, noted Dwight Eisenhower’s “ability to take orders, turn a chin and assemble giant military operations.”

In reality, you either take it on the chin or turn the other cheek. Of which Trump has quite a bit, no?

• In an early January 2018 New York Times interview with Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti, Trump gofer Chris Christie “defended Mr. Trump as well as his own role in the transition, which he said went off the wheels after his departure.”

Not to get technical about it, but either the wheels went off the transition, or it went off the rails. And, yes, it definitely did.

• During NBC’s broadcast of the 2018 Winter Olympics in February, Adam Rippon said of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s short program in ice dancing, “Watching them . . . I could feel my hair grow.”

The hardguessing staff believes that’s a variation on the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but it’s inspired enough to stand up on its own.

• Around the middle of March, Mike Allen’s Axios AM newsletter featured an item headlined Why China may not catch up to U.S. on AI. The reason? “The U.S.-Canadian side moves on a dime.”

Yeah . . . the headscratching staff is guessing he meant turns on a dime. We’re not sure what the two countries would move in this situation – maybe someone’s cheese? Then again, with Canada involved, there’s probably a tariff on that.

• In early April, New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi reported that David Smith, executive chairman of the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, said he “dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media,” adding that “[t]he print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble.”

Oddly enough, just weeks before that Fox News roboblonde Laura Ingraham had “rebuked  the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for ‘talking politics’ during a recent interview — something the Fox News host believes is out of bounds for an athlete,” according to NPR’s Emily Sullivan.

“Shut up and dribble,” Ingraham told James.

Memo to Smith and Ingraham: Seriously mixed messages, you zany right wingers.

• Also in April, Politico’s Playbook noted a Washington Post piece by Joshua Partlow, who reported that “President Trump recently blasted Mexico as doing ‘very little, if not nothing’ to stop the flow of people across Mexican territory en route to the United States.”

Please, someone tell the Cheeto-in-Chief that the proper phrase is little or nothing. Thank you very little, if not nothing.

• Later that month, when  South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Panmunjom in advance of the Trump-Kim Singapore summit, Axios’s Jonathan Swan wrote, “This is South Korea working overdrive to save the summit.”

Not to be undiplomatic about it, but South Korea was either working overtime or shifting into overdrive. Hold the nukes, please.

• In the middle of May, one of the chin strokers on Politico’s Nerdcast said of a candidate in a Pennsylvania primary race, “it was an uphill lift all along.” More likely it was an uphill battle or a heavy lift, but we don’t want to fight about it.

• In a July piece whose source we failed to note in our notes, the topic was apps collecting and circulating information off smartphones without the user’s knowledge. “We just scratched the tip of the iceberg,” someone said to someone else.

Not to be cold about it, but you either scratch the surface of something or just see the tip of the iceberg.

Then again, we just scratched the tip of the story.

• An August item in Politico Playbook asserted that “As of today, almost every Republican worth their weight in salt believes Democrats will win the House.”

Memo to Playbookniks: Things are either worth their weight in gold, or people are worth their salt – that is, good or competent at their job or profession.

Which GOP lawmakers these days are decidedly not.

More grains of salt next year . . .

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Student ‘Social Influencers’ Earn an F in Disclosure

From our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Adtack

College students have always been natural-born marketers. Among their friends, they toss off more winners and losers than a race course tout.

But increasingly, they’re touting for dollars, as Claire Ballentine’s piece noted the other day in the New York Times.

Their Homework: Pushing Brands Online

Noah Lamfers, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, had never tried a 5-Hour Energy drink. But he still signed up to promote the brand online, getting paid to post images of himself and bottles of the product on his personal Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. He tagged each one with #5houruintern.

Elizabeth Gabriel, a recent graduate of the University of Texas, posted a photo on Instagram of herself relaxing in her last year with a glass of wine and gazing at the latest Samsung tablet. It was one of 12 similar photos she posted for AT&T over 12 weeks. Her payment: a Samsung Galaxy smart watch and an Apple TV.

Alana Clark, a 21-year-old senior at Virginia Tech, is one of more than 200 college students across the country using their Instagram accounts to promote Victoria’s Secret Pink sportswear and undergarments. She also hands out free underwear on the quad.

Fun facts to know and tell:

• Riddle & Bloom, a marketing agency specializing in building “meaningful relationships with millennial and Gen Z consumers,” employs students from more than 500 schools in all 50 states, according to its website.

• On the Victoria’s Secret website, you can search for the names of its representatives at 100 campuses, in schools from Columbia University to Grand Valley State University.

• At Virginia Tech, as many as 1,000 of the 30,000 undergrads are being paid to promote products as varied as mascara and storage bins, according to an estimate by Donna Wertalik, director of marketing for the university’s Pamplin College of Business.

All good, yes?

Well, maybe not.

In the 26th paragraph of the Times piece, the reader learns this.

Under Federal Trade Commission rules, people using their personal social media accounts to advertise products are supposed to disclose on their accounts the brands they represent. For instance, Ms. Gabriel tags AT&T in her posts while also including the hashtags #sponsored, #ad and #att.

Except . . .

Check the other links in the Times piece and very few of them comply with FTC guidelines.

Random sampling:

The hardtracking staff doesn’t have empirical data on disclosure rates, but we’re guessing FTC guideline compliance is roughly equivalent to New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez’s current batting average.

That’s because those FTC guidelines have gone over like the metric system.

And no surprise there – the idea that the federal government can regulate marketing on social media is an absolute fantasy.

So fasten your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be a pumpy ride.

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Ayanna Pressley’s Campaign Makes It in New York, New York

The New York Times took a beating two months ago for whiffing on the defenestration of 10-term incumbent (and potential future House Speaker) Rep. Joe Crowley by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional district.

Apparently, the Grey Lady has resolved not to repeat the error in similar quixotic races, as yesterday’s front-page profile of Massachusetts 7th Congressional district hopeful Ayanna Pressley by Katharine Q. Seelye and Astead W. Herndon indicated.

Ayanna Pressley Seeks Her Political Moment in a Changing Boston

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It’s not a sight you see every day, certainly not around Boston — a black woman mounting a plausible challenge to a 10-term white congressman from her own party, a politician with vast connections who votes the progressive line and opposes everything Trump.

But here was Ayanna Pressley, a Boston City Council member and rising Democratic star, exhorting volunteers in a Cambridge restaurant with an impassioned performance style she learned as a child at her grandfather’s storefront Baptist church in Chicago.

“This is not just about resisting and affronting Trump,” she declared, garbed in a flowing red jumper. “Because the systemic inequalities and disparities that I’m talking about existed long before that man occupied the White House!”

The crowd went wild.

As did the Times, some might say, considering that the paper gave Pressley a full-page jump.


Even better, Pressley got a Big Town bonus, hitting the NYC Dailies Double with this piece by Jennifer Levitz and Reid J. Epstein in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Liberal Democrats Battle in Massachusetts

BOSTON–Only one Democratic incumbent has lost a congressional primary this year, and Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano is trying to avoid becoming the second.

Mr. Capuano, a down-the-line liberal who refused to attend President Trump’s inauguration, faces a stiff challenge from Ayanna Pressley, a Boston city councilor. Unlike other Democrats who have challenged incumbents from the left, Ms. Pressley has few policy differences with Mr. Capuano.

Instead Ms. Pressley, who is African-American, is making the argument that Mr. Capuano, a white 10-term incumbent who was the mayor of Somerville before going to Congress, isn’t enough of an activist on progressive issues for an urban district where racial minorities make up roughly 58% of residents.

The two face off in a primary on Tuesday.

We’ll see then how the New York papers play the result.

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NYT Uses Its Journalists Offline, Then Abuses Them Online

As the hardworking staff noted yesterday, the New York Times is increasingly turning its journalists into arm candy for revenue-enhancing commercial ventures, from Times Journey duty to high-powered busine$$ forums.

Meanwhile, the Times has stripped its homepage of their bylines.

Where Did the Bylines Go? Times Editors Respond to a Home Page Question

Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, and managing editor, Joe Kahn, explain our thinking regarding bylines on our home page.

We have updated our home page with a new design, and scores of readers have written to us regarding the placement of bylines on the page . . .

There will always be bylines on New York Times stories. We love to boast about our writers, their backgrounds and expertise, and the risks they take to deliver the news. In fact, we put our writers forward as never before.

But . . . “[with] the new design, bylines are now not displayed above summaries on the desktop home page. Desktop will now resemble mobile.”

Of course it will. Because it’s all about mobile now.

Then again, not everyone is interested in going mobile.

From Michael Calderone’s Politico Morning Media.

“I’m a huge fan of writers/reporters (obviously) and I could be in the minority here but I hate that the NY Times has removed bylines from its home page outside of op-ed writers. I know the bylines exist in-story but given the power of that home page, the bylines should be there.” [Richard Deitsch]

“Dear @nytimes: I’ve tried your new home page. I hate it with a passion. I want to see bylines for the main stories. I don’t want to scroll through junk to get to sections I like. And I don’t want news that supposedly caters to my interests. Can’t I keep the old home page? Please?” [Walter Shapiro]

“I’ve been reading NYT every AM since I was a high school freshman. The number of times I’ve read something I otherwise wouldn’t because I trusted the byline is literally countless. With my usual caveat that a lot of media conventions are dumb, I don’t see how readers served here.” [Wesley Lowery]

Amen, brothers.

Anyone checking with the sisters? You’ll find some here.

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Is the New York Times Pimping Out Its Major Journalists?

As our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Adtack noted the other day, the New York Times has been using its journalists as arm candy at a rapidly accelerating pace.

The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi pointed out last year that Times Journeys excursions like the $135,000-per-person “Around the World by Private Jet: Cultures in Transformation” have raised a few eyebrows, given that “[a]mong those scheduled to join the traveling party are Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller, op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and [then-] Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.”

But the Times’s trips raise a question among journalism ethics experts about ethics and access: Is the Times effectively selling its journalists to private interests? Could, for example, corporate lobbyists or political operatives sign on and seek to influence the Times’s coverage?

Although the question is largely theoretical, the issue has come up before in a somewhat different context. In 2009, The Washington Post aborted an effort to produce “salons,” or small private dinners that would bring together the newspaper’s top editors and publisher with government officials and industry lobbyists. The off-the-record dinners were to be sponsored by individuals or corporations willing to pay anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000.

Now comes Alexandra Bruell’s Wall Street Journal profile of New York Times chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien, which illustrates how tight Times marketing and Times journalists have become.

Two summers ago Levien brought Times Op-It Girl Maureen Dowd to the French Riviera for a sales pitch to Samsung.

Months later, the companies sealed a deal: the $14 million, 15-month commitment included Samsung “360” cameras distributed to hundreds of Times reporters, as well as heaps of ad space. The resulting 360 videos got prominent placement, some on the home page, and they carried a credit for Samsung.

Times executive editor Dean Baquet says not to worry, he didn’t force anyone to use the Samsung devices and “some found it really cool.” You have to wonder if some also found it cool when Banquet let a marketing executive from a financial group sit in on an editorial meeting to see “how the sausage is made.”

Regardless, the commingling of journalists and commerce proceeds apace.

Exhibit A from Tuesday’s edition.

Lineup of Times journalists.

There are ten – count ’em, ten – cooperators/sponsors/partners in all. That’s a lot of business to take care of.

Exhibit B from the same edition.

Random sample of a Times journalist drafted for Journey duty.

Hey, we get it that there are worse gigs than seven days “[delving] into the world of London theater with artists and artisans who work to create and maintain it.”

Let’s just hope the Times doesn’t start assigning those worse gigs.

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