Monthly Archives: March 2009

Hard times for the Times

In my latest for The Guardian, I take a look at Mark Bowden’s exceedingly tough Vanity Fair profile of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Bowden may be right in arguing that Sulzberger is not up to the job. But given the implosion of the newspaper business, would better leadership have made all that much difference?

What’s wrong with CNN

CNN has fallen to third place in prime time. It’s an easy way out to argue that it’s because CNN is doing news while Fox and MSNBC are doing talk. But it seems to me that CNN has three problems of its own making:

  • It’s given up on the 8 p.m. slot, where Campbell Brown is caught between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. Has anyone ever watched Brown’s show? She certainly isn’t compelling enough as part of “The Best Political Team on Television” (or at least the largest) to make me want to check her out.
  • Larry King at 9 p.m. — you can’t live with him, you can’t live without him. CNN’s fortunes have been tied up with King for so many years that no one dares to mess with his show. But it’s not what it used to be. I’d move it to 8 and try to come up with something else at 9. An intelligent political talk show, perhaps? If that’s not too oxymoronic?
  • At 10 p.m., CNN ought to clean up. Its best anchor, Anderson Cooper, is up against Greta Van Susteren and the Olbermann rerun. Trouble is, Cooper’s newscast lacks a distinct identity. And because it’s two hours long, he spends way too much time flogging stuff that will be coming up after 11, when people are either in bed or watching Jon Stewart. I’d cut it to an hour and make it a consistent, signature newscast. Then again, that’s what Aaron Brown was doing in that time slot, and I would have kept him and deployed Cooper elsewhere.

Problem solved. Next?

Marty Baron is not tweeting

So what did I find in my inbox this morning? A message from someone named Marty Baron, letting me know that he was following me on Twitter. Well, I started following him and sent him a private note to make sure it was really him.

As it turns out, it’s not Boston Globe editor Marty Baron, but someone pretending to be him. “It’s not me,” Baron told me by e-mail. Such gamesmanship is far from unusual on Twitter, though it looks like the normally savvy Adam Gaffin was taken in.

Why can’t everyone be as honest as Fake Rahm Emanuel?

Shorter Freeman Dyson

He doesn’t deny global warming. He likes global warming. From Nicholas Dawidoff’s profile in the New York Times Magazine:

Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still “a relatively cool period in the earth’s history.” The warming, he says, is not global but local, “making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter.” Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious — a sign that “the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse,” because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. “Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now,” he contends, “and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.” Dyson calls ocean acidification, which many scientists say is destroying the saltwater food chain, a genuine but probably exaggerated problem. Sea levels, he says, are rising steadily, but why this is and what dangers it might portend “cannot be predicted until we know much more about its causes.”

Given that Dyson accepts the basic science of global warming, how — despite all his brilliance — is his opinion on the effects of warming worth any more than anyone else’s?