Feed on

Why on earth would any of us want to do anything that might prevent one of the nation’s largest and powerful media monopolies from maintaining that position? I hope the FCC sees reason on this and cooperates. We don’t want to do anything that might put roadblocks in Comcast’s way (*cough* Anonymous *cough*):

NEW YORK – Cable giant Comcast Corp. has asked the FCC to keep a document it will soon file about its deal with online video site Hulu from public view.

Politico reported that a letter from Comcast, whose NBCUniversal owns a stake in Hulu, argued the information is too sensitive for public eyes.

“The information in the Hulu LLC agreement would give third parties a detailed understanding of Hulu’s decision making process which could, in turn, allow them to make informed judgments about how Hulu might react in future negotiations or to predict Hulu’s future strategic decision making,” Comcast’s letter argued.

The FCC and other agencies in many cases keep proprietary information confidential.

“This document is entitled to enhanced confidential treatment because of its commercial sensitivity and the competitive harm that would result from its public disclosure,” Comcast said.

As reports that Meredith Vieira is planning an exit from NBC’s “Today Show” swirl, the anchor has sparked controversy over her failure to question a number of unsubstantiated challenges to the U.S. citizenship of President Barack Obama that Donald Trump floated in an interview with Vieira this morning.

Trump–the billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV figure who is flirting with a 2012 presidential run–again sought to suggest that Obama was not born in the United States. “Birther” activists on the right have circulated the unsubstantiated claim in an effort to depict Obama’s presidency as the outgrowth of a shadowy, constitutionally illegitimate conspiracy.

The birther position has been thoroughly debunked, and it hasn’t gained traction within the journalistic mainstream. But Trump has nonetheless been on a media blitz in recent weeks promoting it.

When the issue came up on “Today”–which airs on the same network as Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice”–Vieira didn’t exactly hold his feet to the fire.“His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth,” said Trump, reiterating a claim that has been proven false, as Vieira sat by silently.

Critics took note.”Trump simply steamrolled over her challenges, for instance, on Hawaii’s policy as to what birth documents it makes available,” writes Time’s James Poniewozik.

“But she also let him make the claim that Obama’s grandmother said she saw him born in Kenya–an old, and long-debunked, chestnut of birthers that ranks up there with the fake Mombassa birth certificate–without questioning it. So now millions of Today viewers are invited to take it as fact.”

The feds need to step in. This is bullshit.

What a surprise. Isn’t it funny, how these mistakes invariably fall on the Republican side of the ticket? Via Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — In a dramatic turn of events on Thursday, the Waukesha County clerk announced that the vote total announced for Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race had been mistaken — and that the corrected numbers changed the outcome of the entire election.

There were 3,456 missing votes for Democratic-backed challenger Kathleen Kloppenburg and 11,059 for incumbent GOP-backed Justice David Prosser. Kloppenburg has previously been beating Prosser by just 200 votes of the roughly 1.5 million cast statewide. The new total puts Prosser on a significant path to victory, about 7,500 votes ahead of Kloppenburg.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced the news in a press conference at 5:30 p.m. local time, sounding nervous and, at times, on the verge of tears. She insisted that there was no foul play in the results and blamed the mess on her own “human error.”

Nickolaus cited several reasons for the discrepancies between Tuesday night’s unofficial vote totals and the new numbers. In the city of New Berlin, the total for one ward was recorded as 37 votes for Prosser, but it was actually 237, she said. In the town of Lisbon, a “typing error” resulted in both candidates losing votes. The most significant error, however, occurred in the city of Brookfield.

“The spreadsheet from Brookfield was imported into a database that was provided by the Government Accountability Board, but it inadvertently was not saved,” Nickolaus said. “As a result, when I ran the report to show the aggregate numbers that were collected from all the municipalities, I assumed that the city of Brookfield was included. It was not. The city of Brookfield cast 14,315 votes on April 5 — 10,859 votes went for Justice David Prosser, 3,456 went for JoAnne Kloppenburg.”

“It is important to stress that this is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found,” she added. “This is human error, which I apologize for — which is common in this process.” The existence of the missing votes was first reported at National Review Online by Christian Schneider, a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Questions were immediately raised about the new announcement. As Schneider wrote, prior to the election, Nickolaus “was heavily criticized for her decision to keep the county results on anantiquated personal computer, rather than upgrade to a new data system being utilized statewide.

Added Schneider: “Nickolaus cited security concerns for keeping the data herself — yet when she reported the data, it did not include the City of Brookfield, whose residents cast nearly 14,000 votes.

“The Waukesha County Board also heavily criticized the clerk after she brushed aside their recommendations for improving election security. At one point during a hearing in January, board chairman Jim Dwyer grew exasperated with Nickolaus and said, “There really is nothing funny about this, Kathy. Don’t sit there and grin when I’m explaining what this is about.”

“Wisconsin deserves elections that are fair, clean and transparent,” said Scot Ross, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. “There is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding the Waukesha County Clerk and there remain unanswered questions.”

Neither the campaigns nor the Democratic and Republican parties in the state were immediately available for comment. An official recount may be sought as early as next week.


Rickie Lee:

The letter

The Box Tops. Look at the young Alex Chilton, wasn’t he a cutie?

On the road again

Canned Heat:


I’m not one of those people who “loves” New York, mostly because the fast pace makes me so tense. The minute I’m through the Holland Tunnel, I feel as if I’m driving through a live version of Death Race 2000. And the parking? Oy. I like the idea of New York more than I do the reality. But oh God, do I love musical theater, and that love has forced me to make periodic treks to the anxiety capital of the world.

“Company” is the first Broadway show I ever saw, and it’s a great one. When I went back home and raved about it to people, they smiled condescendingly and said, “Well, it’s the first one you’ve ever seen, what do you have to compare it to?” It was infuriating. I was only 15, but goddamnit, I knew a work of art when I saw one. And it was about the baffling complexities of modern marriage, not about dancing leprechauns or singing nuns.

I was the one who got to smile condescendingly when the show was nominated for 12 Tonys and walked off with six of them. It was a turning point in the history of the American musical, and all of a sudden, people were paying much closer attention to Stephen Sondheim.

The theater geeks and queens I hung out with in high school also loved the show, and of course we’d break out into the songs everywhere we went. (We all loved Elaine Stritch’s scenery-chewing rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”)

When I auditioned for a cabaret series at Penn’s Annenberg School, I performed “Another Hundred People.” (“How old did you say you were?” the director asked me. I got the gig.)

The day of my own wedding, I was singing “I’m Not Getting Married” to myself. (It should have been a clue.)

No matter how many shows I’ve seen since then, it remains my favorite. That’s why I’d kill to see this production next week. But it’s in New York, I’d never get a ticket even if I could afford it, and it would make me tense figuring out how to get there.

But I’ll still get a kick out of the thought that Stephen Colbert, another Gleek, just like me — is performing in “Company.” Perfect.

The phone is ringing

This is the Wonder Pets theme song, and it’s cool as shit. Republicans hate the show — it emphasizes altruism and teamwork!

Betting pool

Come on, what are the odds on Obama “folding like a lawn chair” on the budget, as David Stockman just said on CNN?

Cutting the cord

Not there yet but I’m closer all the time:

The cord-cutting boogeyman has reared his head again, this time in a pair of reports that say, yes, it’s still a problem-and maybe a growing one-for the pay TV industry.

A survey from Consumer Reports says 7 percent of pay-TV subscribers are considering cutting the cord. Bear in mind that, once again, the key word, “considering,” plays a prominent role. The report, due out in the May issue of CR, says 16 percent of respondents stream movies from Netflix, and 90 percent are still connected to a pay-TV provider.

That same reports also rates triple-play bundles, where Verizon’s FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-verse services walked away with the best rankings receiving 78 and 76 points respectively out of 100.

The bottom of the heap? Time Warner Cable (68), Comcast (65) and Charter (62).

One of the big reasons pay-TV operators cite to downplay over-the-top delivery as a threat to their business is that “when a problem happens with picture quality or delivery, consumers want someone to call, and that’s not going to be their ISP. When there’s a problem with their cable, they just call and we fix it.”

Uh-huh. Let me tell you a little story…

I recently has a little problem with my cable/telephone/Internet provider (hint: it’s one of those bottom three listed above). At one point a couple of weeks ago, one of the folks I was interviewing for a story told me my voice had begun to resemble Darth Vader’s. It was about the same time that my Internet began to move at 14.4 dial-up speeds and my VOD offerings went belly up.

So I called my help line, and ended up in Eastern European call center Hell for almost 10 days. Really. Almost a dozen phone calls, holds, promises of return calls and a half dozen, “Let’s reset your modems…”

Finally, a call to the corporate office got a second technician to the house, I got my Internet, telephone and cable back up. But, just to be clear, it took 11 phone calls and HOURS of waiting and explaining. That’s a customer service issue that makes cutting the cord a little more appealing.

By the way, I functioned for a week with my network tethered to my iPhone… and I watched the $20 bills flowing toward Verizon. Sigh.

Read more: Dish, Blockbuster, Netflix and cord cutting on the way to NAB – FierceOnlineVideo
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