Posts Tagged ‘Bezos’

The Real News Scores a Win

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

    Score one for the good guys.

   In a time when (1.) “fake news” is thrown around routinely as a way to delegitimize real reporting by real journalists while (2.) social media is awash in actually fake news produced by fake journalists and (3.) the airwaves are polluted by well-funded “media” outlets pushing outright lies, all to support the propaganda machine of the Trump Republican Party, The Washington Post recently provided a lesson in what has historically been considered basic journalism ethics in America.

  Actually, The Post staff with major help from The New York Times gave Post management a lesson in basic American journalism.

    In brief, they forced the ordained new editor of  The Post to change his mind about taking the job because, well, it’s always more pleasant to work with people who like you and who share your principles and ethics. Or, in this case, lack thereof.

     Robert Winnett, the Post editor-to-be, announced that he’s decided to stay in England, where his brand of “journalism” is accepted and (by some) even admired, rather than come to The Post, whose staff was in revolt over his selection.

     That’s because Winnett was involved in a scandal that engulfed British newspapers years ago in which stories based on hacked or stolen phone and business records or records purchased from a data information company were published to embarrass prominent politicians and celebrities. Lawsuits followed.

      Those practices are frowned upon by legitimate American news organizations and have been for a long time. Winnett denied taking part in those activities, but both The Post and The Times published articles quoting individuals involved in those sensationalized stories saying Winnett was in it.

      Indeed. So was his almost new boss, Post CEO and publisher Will Lewis, who was, in fact, Winnett’s actual boss at The Sunday Times, a Rupert Murdoch newspaper across the pond. Lewis was reported to have assigned Winnett to do one of those hit jobs.

    Still, Lewis did manage to get hired as the top dog in Washington. Apparently, The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, didn’t notice or didn’t care that the British style of “journalism,” as practiced most outrageously in America by Murdoch-owned Fox News on TV and to a lesser extent The New York Post, wasn’t acceptable for major American media, especially those with a reputation for fairness and ethical practices, like The Washington Post.

     Bezos, who turned Amazon into a mega profit machine, is understandably concerned that The Post is losing money. Maybe he never considered all the advertisers that newspapers lost when businesses flocked to the Internet to companies like Amazon to promote their products.

   In any event, Bezos wants The Post to establish a third news-gathering wing, presumably centered on the Internet. Lewis wanted Sally Buzbee, the Post’s former top editor, to take over that new job, but she properly took it as a demotion and resigned. The Times and Post stories story on Winnett followed. Hence, the search for a new editor. (A new publisher wouldn’t be bad either.)

     Back in London, Chris Evans, top editor at The Daily Telegraph, Winnett’s current newspaper, sent a message to his staff saying, “I am pleased to report that Rob Winnett has decided to stay with us. As you all know, he’s a talented chap, and their loss is our gain.” 

     Well, chaps of a feather do stick together.

     In any case, the hope here is that Lewis and Bezos and others at The Post who maybe were thinking of taking part in some form of UK “hit job“ journalism get the message: The First Amendment protection afforded the press in this country in the Constitution is not a license to lie, cheat, steal or in any other unethical way ruin people’s lives for the sake of selling more newspapers or getting more clicks on social media.

    Not yet at least.

(Editor’s note: The author worked for more than 40 years at three daily newspapers, all of which followed the basic ethical principles of American journalism. Two of them — The Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton and The Times Herald-Record in Middletown — were tabloids in size, but not in the practice of journalistic sensationalism. The Evening Capital in Annapolis, a standard broadsheet, was no less rigorous about ethical practices.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com












Gruden and Shatner Meet Technology

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Jon Gruden

William Shatner

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Jon Gruden

couple of        interesting stories flashed by a couple of weeks ago and quickly faded from most news reports. That’s

common in today’s highly charged political atmosphere. “Other“ news has a tough time getting noticed.

     The stories involved former pro football coach/sports commentator Jon Gruden and former actor William Shatner. At first glance, they may seem worlds apart, but I see a connection. Two, in fact.

      Technology and priorities. Technology sacked Gruden and lifted Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, to another dimension. In the process, misplaced priorities of others came into focus.

       Gruden was forced to resign his position as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL after The New York Times reported that emails Gruden had sent several years ago to the owner of the Washington Football Team (that’s its official name) were full of racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. Gruden was a football TV analyst at the time.

    His contract with the Raiders was for 10 years and $100 million. There were six years and $40 million left on the contract. He recently reached a settlement with the Raiders on the remaining dollars. Being a pro football coach pays well, but only if you hide your bigotry well.

         In the years before email, Gruden would probably have survived just as many coaches have survived, by hiding their prejudices in public. But this is a new century and the kind of things that were OK between the guys in private are no longer acceptable when they become public.

      Indeed, Gruden‘s emails came to light as part of an NFL investigation into charges of sexual harassment filed against the team by their cheerleaders, all female.  Gruden made his remarks in messages sent to the owner of the team,  a team, by the way, which still has not figured out a new nickname to replace “Redskins.“ It was finally forced to give up the name because, well, it’s a new century.

       Gruden released a statement, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt  anyone.”

       Well, yeah, that’s why you say nasty things about people behind their backs instead of to their faces. But when you are in a position of power, how do those opinions play out in your day-to-day dealings with those people? And when you say insulting things about people who might have some power over you, say the commissioner of the NFL, as Gruden apparently did, well that might have an impact on how that person deals with you and your team.

         Gruden is reportedly depressed about what has happened. But maybe he shouldn’t have sent those emails. And perhaps the NFL, before it gets too self-righteous, should apologize to Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed for economic reasons by the league for taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism in America. That would include the NFL, even though the majority of its players are black. The misogyny and homophobia in the NFL are a given. 

        Kaepernick, and other players who joined him, publicly protested treatment of blacks that Gruden, and for sure, others affiliated with the NFL, supported in private through their attitudes and comments.

   Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s a new century, gentlemen. New Technology tells you if someone really scored a touchdown. It can also tell you if that smiling face on the coach is the mask of a bigot.

     Shatner is a different story. In the first place, he’s a “former“ actor, because he’s 90 years old and retired. He wasn’t forced to resign.

      In an inspired theatrical gesture, he was invited to be a passenger on the New Shepard space vessel launched into sub-orbital space by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. Shatner set a record, going where no man or woman that age had ever gone before.

      He returned from his brief trip to space awestruck and emotional.. 

      “Looking into blackness,” he said, you “look down and there’s the blue down there and the black up there … there is mother Earth and comfort and there … is there death? This is life and that’s death.”

    While saying, “everyone needs to do this” when he returned to Earth, Shatner also had a message about the planet itself.

     Commenting on how thin the atmosphere appeared to him as he traveled upward he noted the “fragility” of the Earth. “We need to take care of the planet, but it’s so fragile,” he said. “There’s this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it’s our means of living.”

    Indeed. Well put, captain. The question is whether his host, Bezos, heard the two-part message: As humans seek to further explore space, we must do more to protect the health of the place we call home. Bezos, the worlds wealthiest human, certainly is in a position to do plenty to protect the environment of the planet that provides him with those riches.

     Space travel began in the 20th century and there’s apparently no way of stopping wealthy entrepreneurs from trying to capitalize on it. There were other passengers on Shatner‘s trip, a couple of whom may have paid half a million dollars apiece for the privilege. Perhaps some of that money could be invested in saving the Amazon forest or trying to reduce the pollution from all those Amazon delivery vehicles providing next-day service right here on Earth.  

      That way, we can all live long and prosper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

BOB GAYDOS

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

THE REPORT … mowers, mail, movies and moving Michael Cohen

April 20, 2020

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Bob Gaydos

    So the lawn guy showed up unannounced and unsummoned today to a great deal of running about, barking and general enthusiasm. The dogs were excited, too. Went out to greet him at appropriate social distance. “You mowing?” I asked. “We’re essential!” He answered. “Heard last week. That Cuomo’s a tough cookie.” Yes, he is. Thankful for that. By the way, the grass is now neat and manageable for walking about and tending to business. The dogs are excited about that as well. Grateful to have a lawn guy.

  —  By the way … Michael Cohen, we hardly knew ya and now you’re about to leave us? The onetime lawyer/fixer for Hewhosenameshallnotbespokenhere has been residing at a minimum security federal prison camp in Otisville, about a 10-minute drive down the road from us. But if Cohen comes through a two-week quarantine in a medium security penitentiary next door, he’ll be going home to finish out his three-year sentence. He can thank COVID-19. Since social distancing is a major challenge in prison, some federal inmates are being switched to home confinement. Also, Orange County, where Otisville is located, had 211 confirmed virus-related deaths at this posting. My first reaction to the Cohen news was that somebody cut him a break. But then I remembered he cut a deal with the feds to get a lighter sentence on campaign fraud and lying to the FBI about hush money paid for Hewho… so Hewho wouldn’t likely make a call for Cohen. Looks like the system just did its job. Go figure.

   — By the way … We’re doing our part to burnish the reputation of Netflix and Amazon Prime during this period of isolation. Recent viewing includes “The Danish Girl, “The Coldest Game” and “The Ladies in Lavender.” Each is a little quirky, but time-passable with some good performances. Any suggestions, please feel free in the comment section.

    — By the way … If the post office is worried about losing $2 billion a

Forget the rain, snow, etc., the Post Office needs cash.

Forget the rain, snow, etc., the Post Office needs cash.

month because of the pandemic and Republicans in Congress won’t bail it out, why doesn’t Jeff Bezos just sign a month-to-month contract with the USPS to make up the difference? He could do it out of his pocket change and not even touch his Amazon stock. It would actually be a patriotic thing to do.

  —  By the way … a report just issued by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed that the 2017 assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia covertly meddled in the 2016 presidential election, with the ultimate goal of helping Hewhoshallnotbenamed win, was accurate. Big surprise only in that Republicans admitted it.

   —  And finally, by the way … if there was any doubt left of the utter lack of basic decency in today’s GOP, I give you Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of the great state of Texas, which is starting to reopen its economy despite warnings from medical experts that it’s too soon and spreading the virus could result in deaths. Says Patrick: “There are more important things than living and that’s saving this country.” No plan. No leadership. No concern or compassion. Nothing. Texas is no country for old men or women.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

In Search of 21 Influential Thinkers

Monday, December 10th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison ... who are their 21st Century counterparts?

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison

A few weeks ago, in a burst of subtle synchronicity, Elon Musk was removed as board chairman of Tesla at the same time John Flannery was removed as chairman and CEO of General Electric. Since both companies were struggling in different ways, the firings, while surprising, were not shocking.

The surprise in Musk’s case was that he was forced out by actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which actually fined him and the company $20 million apiece for false statements Musk tweeted about financing to take the 21st century startup company private. Musk stayed on as CEO, but it’s nice to see the SEC is paying attention.

In Flannery’s case, he had only been on the job for a year, which seemed to many Wall Street analysts not nearly enough time to breathe life into the moribund, more-than-century-old company.

So, a reliable old company, with a household name, a onetime giant of household appliances and energy, but which has seen better days, and a new, hotshot company, with a sexy name, electric cars, solar panels, a colorful leader with an eye on dominating the next century of energy production, were both having trouble making their stockholders happy. That’s Wall Street, you say. How are the simultaneous takedowns of their bosses anything more than coincidence?

To many observers it won’t be. But to those who recall that Thomas Edison was one of the founders of General Electric and that Tesla Inc, is named after Nikola Tesla, Edison’s arch-rival for credit in discovering electricity as well as profiting from the discovery, well, perhaps it’s just another example of their names and future being linked by some invisible yet undeniable force. Like electricity.

Or synchronicity.

Were he still with us in more than name and spirit, I think Tesla would agree. Consider this statement from the visionary inventor: “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Of all the non-physical phenomena, perhaps the most common and least explored is “coincidence.” Carl Jung made some significant efforts, but more “traditional” science has for the most part ignored what it cannot easily explain.

Don’t worry, this is not going to be an effort to do so.

Tesla first entered my consciousness in more than a vague, yeah-I’ve-heard-of-him kind of way, eight years ago. I had recently retired and begun wading into the world of blogging. When you write daily editorials for 23 years, it’s difficult to go cold turkey. One day, a couple of friends who actually read my blog gave me a challenge: Come up with a list of the 20 most influential thinkers of the 20th Century.

Not a bad idea. Challenging and a good way to engage readers by asking for suggestions.

“Nikola Tesla,” my friend Ernie suggested when I put out the call for nominations. “He should be on the list. He invented electricity and radio; he just didn’t get credit because he was a terrible businessman and didn‘t know how to promote himself.”

As it turned out, the one who “got credit” and a good deal more, was Thomas Edison, who I had wisely put on my first, tentative list. Connection made. Eventually, Edison, who gave us the incandescent light bulb, and Tesla, who contributed alternating current, both made the list. Yes, Edison was the better businessman and Tesla the more visionary thinker.

But Edison’s heirs, if you will, eventually lost their way, venturing into health insurance and buying NBC-TV, among other non-power-related ventures. Meanwhile, the company that took Tesla’s name for inspiration, has been true to his visionary approach and, in hiring Musk, apparently, also true to the Tesla disregard for conventional wisdom and clumsiness with business affairs. Must be a coincidence.

What’s the point?

I’m looking for a new list of thinkers, this one for the 21st century. The question: Who are the Teslas and Edisons and Jungs who will shape the way we live in the rest of this still young century?

As with the 20th Century list, I need your help. This is a cooperative venture. It’s kind of what social media is best suited for. In fact, I will start the working list with names of thinkers who make this venture possible: Bill Gates (who made the 20th Century list), Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs.

Others who are having profound influence on our lives: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the aforementioned Elon Musk, who at least seems to aspire to Tesla’s legacy. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, is working on a new, privacy-focused web to rival the world of Google, Facebook and Amazon.

But there’s more to life than technology and shopping. As Jung explored coincidence and synchronicity, so now do Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Rupert Spira and Deepak Chopra make us think about the nature of reality — the “non-physical phenomena” of which Nikola Tesla spoke. Author/essayist Rebecca Solnit has become the voice many people seek out for an explanation on a variety of complex subjects. Are there other authors, political leaders (77-year-old Bernie Sanders, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?), scientists, philosophers, poets, artists, inventors, business leaders or anyone else you think will have profound influence on the course of this century? Please share and I will share and eventually come up with a list of 21 influential thinkers for the 21st Century.

As a possibly useful prod, I include the list we came up with eight years ago. Of course, looking back is much easier than looking ahead, but compiling a list of those we think will be influential in the 21st century actually makes us part of the process of shaping things to come.

The 20th Century thinkers list:
Albert Einstein
Gandhi
Henry Ford
The Wright Brothers (count as one)
Thomas Edison
Picasso
Nikola Tesla
Mark Twain
James D. Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin (DNA trio count as one)
Winston Churchill
Philo Farnsworth
Rachel Carson
George Orwell
Sigmund Freud
Carl Jung
Bill Gates
Margaret Sanger
Bertrand Russell
Bob Dylan
T.S. Eliot

I know these are stressful times, but if we all contribute in a positive way to the Greater Consciousness, it just might relieve some stress. Email or comment. Don’t be bashful.

rjgaydos@gmail.com