Entries in Brian Williams (2)

Thursday
Jan192012

Whitney Cummings is Right

REVIEWING THE NEWS: We may not love her sitcom, but we do applaud Whitney's provocative and insightful blog post in defense of SNL casualty Lana Del Rey.

 

By Kenny Herzog

We assume this was Whitney's reaction to reading Del Rey criticism. (Credit: Chris Haston/NBC)

 

When we posted our op-ed regarding Gawker founder Dick Denton and Editor-in-Chief A.J. Daulerio's mishandling (read: reprehensible fumbling) of the Brian Williams/Lana Del Rey private e-mail fiasco, we failed to acknowledge one important repercussion: Their actions not only alienated Williams' confidence and belied any basic journalistic ethos, but also further defamed Del Rey, who'd been plenty humiliated already by bloggers whose explicit goal was to publicly shame her.

It's a mean, mean world we live in, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Whitney Cummings, an often-scorned female entertainer in her own right, can relate to being smothered with ill will. Early this morning, the comedian/actress published an open letter in Del Rey's defense. It's a surprisingly candid, sensitive and absolutely spot-on plea for consumers and critics of pop culture to—in paraphrased Real World-ian parlance—stop being hurtful and start getting real.

Cummings admits she's neither objective nor qualified enough to comment on the veracity of peoples' horror at Del Rey's actual SNL performance. By the same token, we're far from pre-inclined toward solidarity with Whitney, and have been among the voices expressing dismay at her eponymous sitcom and 2 Broke Girls. But what her letter tries to emphasize—and it's a point of view we fully support—is that Del Rey's supposed "Video Games" debacle (which wasn't actually that bad) seems to have opened up a permissive space for simmering discrimination against and regressive attitudes about women in pop culture. 

Maybe it was late at night, and Cummings had just polished off a bottle of wine and was feeling sentimental enough to convey how she's "protective of girls, especially young performers, because they live a hard, emotionally challenging, often physically challenging life" and avow that, "Other peoples success doesn’t fuck up our lives and other people [sic] failures should not brighten them." Perhaps all the Del Rey venom hit close to home, but with enough distance for her to comment on it comfortably. Whatever the impetus, and without dismissing Whitney's opinion on the basis of disregard for her television alter-ego, her ballsy testimony is the kind of outspokenness that deserves encouragement and support. 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: You go, girls.

WHITNEY RATING: 2/10

WHITNEY RATING: 10/10

INEVITABLE, INSECURE BACKLASH TO WHITNEY'S REMARKS: Mean People Suck/10

 

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Tuesday
Jan172012

Gawker, Denton and Daulerio Get Brian Williams/Lana Del Rey Fiasco All Wrong

REVIEWING THE NEWS: The gossip site and its founder, Nick Denton, draw line in the sand of journalistic ethics after posting Brian Williams' personal e-mail about Lana Del Rey.

 

By Kenny Herzog

 

Nick Denton's Gawker Media embodies the blogosphere's curious position as unfiltered aggregator of truth and unchecked court jester. REVIEWniverse has taken the company's principal domain, Gawker.com, to task in the past for the relatively victimless distinction of boasting less-than-credible musical taste. But yesterday, Denton and his new editor-in-chief, muckraking former Deadspin Editor A.J. Daulerio, imposed a substandard of poor journalism when they posted NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' personal e-mail to Denton without consent. 

By now, you've all read that Williams wrote Denton on Sunday to join the chorus of boos hurled at last weekend's maligned SNL performer, pixie chanteusse Lana Del Rey. It was an informal, clearly personal and off-the-record correspondence in which Williams lamented that Del Rey was "the least-experienced musical guest in the show's history" and good-naturedly bemoaned that "it was a fallow holiday period for those of us who check your shit 10 times a day by iphone [sic]." And you also know that Daulerio, after what we presume was much discussion with Denton and Gawker staff, posted the e-mail verbatim on their site the following afternoon. Lastly, you've heard or seen that NBC PR (no doubt unhappy about the cross-contimination within their brand) sent Gawker a stern but reasonable demand to remove the item, and Daulerio merely updated his original story by making that correspondence public as well.

Frankly, this reeks more of Daulerio's recklessness than Denton's salacious tendencies. Either way, the gauntlet has been laid. It's clear that for Gawker (and as they go, so do countless apers), no friendship or set of basic personal or journalistic principles will stand between them and a childish impulse to determine what qualifies as "news," deliver it with irresponsible whim and no discernable point of view, and let others sort out the consequences and implications while they calculate Web traffic and turn it into liquid ad-revenue gold.

For any of us who've ever worked in a real newsroom or, as consumers, are simply adapting to the digital information age with a bit of blind faith, it's impossible to fathom that Denton and Daulerio's story could be planted with total transparency from the inside. It's depressing to consider the breakdown of accountability within an organization that, like it or not, influences more readers on an average afternoon than most major newspapers even reach in a week.

Gawker may have caught Williams in an untenable position by putting him at odds with his employing network, but something tells us we haven't heard the final word on all this. In journalism and in life, corrupting privacy and closely held relationships can have short-term gains, but almost always precipitates an eventual collapse of relevance and character. Daulerio better realize he's playing with the big boys now, because Denton's just a careless schoolyard bully.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: There has to be some kind of bar before it can be lowered.

DENTON AND DAULERIO RATING: 0/10

WE STILL LOVE BRIAN WILLIAMS RATING: 10/10

NO COMMENT ON LANA DEL REY BECAUSE THIS SITE'S EDITORS HAVE WILDLY DISSENTING OPINIONS RATING: We'll Publish Our Private E-mails About It Later/10

 

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