MediaBizBuzz for March 10, 2008: No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Week In The Rough & Tumble Worlds of Politics, And Yes, Technology

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Life in the Age of the Internet has re-imagined not only how we interact with technology, but with one another. It has democratized the playing field in ways both personal and professional. But it's far from a foregone conclusion that collaboration is the lifehack of the 21st century. This week saw very public battles in the realms of hardscrabble politics and technology, revisiting the debate: Despite recognition of the Wisdom of the Crowds, can success accrue by consensus or only by fiat?

Straight Talk Express?
After running the tables last Tuesday night, John McCain formally became his party's nominee. After walking back -- a few baby steps -- from the implications of Pastor John Hagee's endorsement, he failed to weigh in when Congressmen Steve Kim of Iowa touted that Al-Qaeda would be "dancing in the streets" with an Obama win. Hillary Clinton lived to fight another day with her solid win in Ohio; credit to her staff for spinning a Texas-sized win although Obama won that state's caucus, and therefore, a majority of its delegates. The War of Words escalated as the week wore on. Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson referred to Obama as Ken Starr (with zero fallout) while Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power -- in an unguarded moment -- let it slip that Mrs. Clinton was a "monster." The Clinton camp pressed for her dismissal and Obama later accepted her resignation. Seems like a game of chicken to me. Here's where it gets meta: MSNBC's Tucker Carlson interrogated the journalist Gerri Peev about her ethics.  It's debatable whether being called a Monster is a feather in one's cap. Afterall, as 30 Rock's Tina Fey recently opined, "Bitch is the new black." An especially fraught comment when you consider that the Democratic primary is a head-on collision of gender and race. (Only Patricia Williams' trenchant analysis in The Nation lays this bare.)  While the Senators three are missing House votes to get delegate votes, a raft of policy issues in Congress won't wait. TechDirt opines why the "Pro IP" bill is still very problematic; the FCC's Kevin Martin assured an audience at Stanford Law that a ruling over Comcast and its network management practices (i.e. "traffic shaping") would be handed down before June 30. How bi-partisan is the Senate's desire to undo the FCC's recent easing of cross-ownership in media? Both Clinton and Obama are co-sponsors of the bill.

Winning Through Intimidation
If Hillary's new strategy is to wrest the nomination by playing the Happy Warrior, she's in good company: Steve Ballmer managed to garner a bit of press at Microsoft's MIX conference for developers (leading TechCrunch to lament how he singlehandedly eclipses any traces of an open standards-embracing "new Microsoft" with his scorched earth policy); when queried about the status of the Yahoo! merger he jeered, "We've made an offer. It's out there, baby." But no one (at least in business) outdoes Steve Jobs' mix of bravura and deadly nightshade resolve. Last week saw a tsunami of press for Apple Inc.: A cover story in Fortune that Valleywag characterized as "soft" (despite an ex-Appler summing up his hot-and-cold history with Jobs as being a "hero shithead rollercoaster") to coincide with a week of announcements: The release of Apple's SDK (Software Development Kit for third-party developers) was further sweetened by a $100M fund created by Kleiner Perkins' John Doerr to incent innovation on the platform. In the same breath, AT&T said that it would invest $1 Billion in IP infrastructure. Jobs let the rumor of a 3Q 3G iPhone (started by a Citi analyst, published not only in the blogs, but in Barrons) stand. Icing on the cake: The Beatles catalogue on iTunes. The sheer volume of the coverage will bury Fortune's inconclusive findings over stock backdating; won't it?

TiVo This; Online Video That
Almost (but not quite) as beloved a brand as Apple is TiVo. Fortune (is it striving to be the US Weekly of business magazines?) has How TiVo Won, even as paidContent points out the company's financial shortcomings. The Wall Street Journal pens a belated valentine to the DVR pioneer, sort of a Dummies one-pager. And Omnicom signs onto its Stop Watch ratings service.  While TiVo seems to be ably navigating the waters as television continues to fragment, online video continues to evolve. PaidContent parses Bear Stearns' recently published 70-page report on monetizing online video which tags YouTube's revenues for 2008 at $90 million -- mostly due to banner ads. Optimedia's Antony Young gives AdAge readers a crash course on his agency's Content Power Ratings which strives to capture engagement. Silicon Alley Investor's Henry Blodget thinks we're about to see a Dot-Bomb for online video, while -- on the eve of its launch - the economics of Hulu continues to elude both SAI's Blodget and TechCrunch's Michael Arrington.

As The Acquisition Turns
Digg is being courted by both Google and Microsoft; look for the dowry to be at least $200M. Federated Media's hoping to raise $20-30M. Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff on the ongoing Diller/Malone blood feud. Everyone's a skeptic about the CurrentTV IPO (call Al Gore's presence a "reverse halo effect"). Google may drop a kidney stone (say 15% of its stock). With no White Knight in sight, Yahoo! is holding off Microsoft by extending the deadline for board nominations.

Ladies First
While Diller's Ask.com seems to be backing away from women-centric search, Yahoo!'s about to launch one and WowoWow (Women on the Web) -- think an XX Huffington Post with the likes of Lesley Stahl, Sheila Nevins, Lily Tomlin, and Joni Evans -- debuted over the weekend. It's off to a roaring start with Peggy Noonan's column on the "Monster" dustup. I'm no fan of Noonan's, but she knows power and politics. The column has something to offer both Jobs and candidates Obama and Clinton.  Speaking of the Alpha Woman herself -- Shelly Palmer thoroughly debunks the tech-snafu over Oprah's webinar crash, finding much to praise about the future of the endeavor.

Save your shillings. Those $4B plus bids for The Weather Channel are due today.

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