LA Observed Notes: Xavier Becerra, water everywhere and more

isupportjournalismsign.jpgSign from Saturday's march in Washington (I think) posted to Twitter by NPR's Sarah McCammon.

Our occasional roundup on media, politics and place from multiple sources. Have a tip? Share!

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New AG: Xavier Becerra, the former Los Angeles congressman and candidate for mayor, was confirmed Monday as state attorney general. He will be sworn in Tuesday at Gov. Brown's state of the state speech. Becerra has said a key role will be to protect California's interests against new policies of the Trump Administration... In an LA Times op-ed, Becerra was urged to pick his fights carefully and resist pressure from progressives to sue early and often. I looked at the new attorney general on Monday's LA Observed segment on KCRW.

Media obit: Bonnie Tiegel, senior producer for "Entertainment Tonight" and a former talent coordinator for "KTLA Morning News," died at Cedars-Sinai of cancer. No age is given in the media reports I've seen. ET put out a statement that called Tiegel "the heart and soul of our show and a respected member of the Hollywood community." Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Sam Rubin at KTLA

Dodgers news: The Dodgers had to settle for not their first choice of a second baseman for the coming season, trading for Logan Forsythe of the Tampa Bay Rays. They gave up pitching prospect Jose De Leon, the same piece they tried to use to pry slugger Brian Dozier from Minnesota.

Local flavor: Ray Davies of The Kinks has a track on his new solo album called A Long Drive Home To Tarzana.

Planning ahead: Oscar nominations are coming Tuesday morning at 5:18 Hollywood time. Presenters include Brie Larson, Jennifer Hudson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jason Reitman and Ken Watanabe.

Water from the Pacific

A couple of years in every decade, on average, it rains like this for days or weeks in January and February (and sometimes March, like in the 1938 deluge that transformed Los Angeles.) Los Angeles International Airport and Long Beach Airport both recorded their rainiest January 22nds, and some canyon roads remain closed and power is out for some customers here. Gov. Brown has declared a handful of counties disaster areas. Downtown Los Angeles has counted over 13 inches of rain for the season, that's more than double what's normal over time. In Northern California some stations in the Sierra Nevada reported three feet of new snow in 24 hours, and the snowpack is well ahead of average. A few places got over 100 inches of snow in the past week, per NWS Sacramento. The reservoirs have also begun rapid filling.

So it looks as if California will have dodged another drought. But not before the top residential water user in Los Angeles, someone in Bel-Air and Beverly Glen's 90077 Zip code, did use up 9.8 million gallons in a year, based on reporting by Reveal.

ICYMI: When it rains this much The Mighty Los Angeles comes to life. In a big way... More of that runoff has been collected this time, but nowhere near what it could be.

Ya gotta laugh: When it rains in LA, people enjoy it if they can.

In Fullerton:

Trump's America

If the first three days are any indication, the Trump years are going to be——interesting. The Gallup Poll says Trump starts out historically unpopular: "Trump is the first elected president in Gallup's polling history to receive an initial job approval rating below the majority level. He starts his term in office with 45% of Americans approving of the way he is handling his new job, 45% disapproving and 10% yet to form an opinion. Trump now holds the record for the lowest initial job approval rating as well as the highest initial disapproval rating in Gallup surveys dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower." No one is close to Trump on the disapproval side. Obama took office with an approval rating of 68% and a disapproval of 12% from the same pollster.

Trump will do his first sit-down interview as president with ABC News anchor ABC's David Muir. It tapes Wednesday and airs as a prime-time special Wednesday at 10 p.m... Trump's decision to visit the CIA on his first day sent mixed messages. He walked in and out to a lot of applause in the room, though how much was real is in dispute. While standing in front of the agency's wall of fallen agents, the president did his campaign stand-up routine about the media being the worst people on Earth and about how he's so great. He was caught greatly exaggerating about having the "have the all-time record in the history of TIME magazine" covers — Richard Nixon has that, and even Hillary Clinton had more than the "14 or 15" Trump claimed — and surely caused a lot of eye-rolling from the professional spies when Trump said there's "nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump. There's nobody. Nobody."... Former CIA director John Brennan blasted Trump, and even MSNBC's Joe Scarborough tweeted: "A president who speaks from hallowed ground at Langley about crowd size and press coverage may soon see his ratings drop into the 20s."

Then there was the Sean Spicer performance on Saturday, ranting at the reporters in the White House briefing room and giving out false numbers about the crowd at the Trump inauguration. He looked a little bit maniacal on TV. "The White House press secretary is saying things that are provably untrue. That should terrify every American," wrote Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen... Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of the NYT, tweeted "I've known Sean Spicer since he was the press aide to the House Budget Committee. I don't know this Sean Spicer." Former Bush spokesman Art Fleischer tweeted "This is called a statement you're told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching." Former Obama spox Jay Carney said "The President I worked for never told me to lie. Ever. And I doubt Pres. Bush ever told @AriFleischer to lie. Today was not normal."

Jennifer Steinhauer, the former LA bureau chief for the NYT, tweeted "If @seanspicer is going to lie in your faces fellow reporters, you don't need to go to his briefings. You don't need to talk to him at all." James Fallows of The Atlantic: "No press sec, for any org public or private at any level of responsibility, has succeeded w the angry-ranter approach Spicer is using now."... Los Angeles Times editorial writer Scott Martelle, one day into the Trump term: "The lies from this administration are already stunning."

Then on Monday, a new Sean Spicer appeared in front of the nation. He came out for his first full white House briefing all smiles and professionalism — dressed better (one report said Trump told him to clean up), more in command of his emotions, and with the podium set at a more flattering height. Spicer made a joke about not being as popular as Obama's last spokesman, Josh Earnest, he straightforwardly gave a report on Trump's work day, and he bantered with reporters. All good moves. When it came to questions, he eschewed the tradition of starting with AP and pointedly called first on the Murdoch-owned New York Post's Daniel Halper, who has authored a book critical of the Clintons. Perhaps that explains the hed in the rival NY Daily News... Second question went to a reporter from the Christian Broadcasting Network.

In the end, Spicer stayed at the podium for 79 minutes and called on 43 different reporters, including mainstream media like CNN and NBC. He vowed never to lie to the press, but to call the media on inaccuracies. He also complained that the media has been trying to make the Trump presidency seem illegitimate and unpopular, which he said is demoralizing to the staff and to Trump supporters. Brian Stelter's story for CNN, Tom Kludt for CNN, Hadas Gold for Politico. Here's the NYT story... CNN did not show the Saturday shout live, deciding to wait and see if it was newsworthy. MSNBC did air it. Monday's full briefing was widely available including on Facebook Live... Ari Fleischer tweeted after Monday's briefing: "Relationship betw press sec and media is complex. It needs to last a long time. Good to see things return to a more normal footing today."... David Axelrod who advised Obama and is good as a pundit for CNN, said: "Much different tone and approach from @PressSec today. And more effective."

Some early commentary on how the media should engage with the Trumpies:

Ross Douthat in the NYT opinion section: "Mainstream journalism in this strange era may be freer than the fearful anticipate, but not actually better as the optimists expect. Instead, the press may be tempted toward — and richly rewarded for — a kind of hysterical oppositionalism, a mirroring of Trump’s own tabloid style and disregard for truth."

Ken Doctor argues at Nieman Lab that Trump may be the news industry’s greatest opportunity to build a sustainable model...

Jack Shafer of Politico: "Extraordinary times—and we are living in an extraordinary time—do not necessarily call for extraordinary measures on the part of the press, as comforting as a full berserking might make many of us feel....he Trump administration cannot by itself pollute the river of truth with its bogus tweets, its press conferences in which no questions are allowed, or by Conway jibber jabber. Extraordinary times like these call for normal measures: The meticulous, aggressive, and calm presentation of the news."

From Jay Caruso at Red State: "Reporters covering the White House have a duty to call out the administration. That’s to be expected, and nobody should complain about it. It gets annoying, however, when the press decides to get self-righteous about it, and that’s what I saw last night when some journalists decided it was time to pontificate."

Jay Rosen suggests the media pull the stars from the White House briefing room to do more enterpriuse reporting and send the interns to take down the prepared spin at the briefings.

Trump's Kellyanne Conway introducing the concept of presidential alternative facts on "Meet the Press."

Links: Why White House Claims About Donald Trump’s Inauguration Ratings Are Wrong, Variety... Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller stood out in his time at Santa Monica High School... The New York Times essays on the echoes of Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here" in the rise of Trump. Sorry NYT, Joel Bellman was two months ahead of you in LA Observed... SNL writer Katie Rich was suspended "indefinitely" for a tweet mocking Trump's youngest son Barron. She apologized by tweet: "I deeply regret my actions & offensive words. It was inexcusable & I'm so sorry." Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin is set to host SNL for the 17th time on Feb. 11.

And to wrap up the first working day of the Trump presidency:

Media and books

lat-march-front.jpgThe Sunday LA Times front page was all women's marches, including banner hed. And on the opinion pages, there was a double-truck illustration by Steve Brodner depicting Trump insiders in Goya-inspired caricatures under the headline The Court of Donald I...

Ken Doctor at Politico Media: "New year, same question: Is Tronc chairman Michael Ferro a seller or a buyer?" Tronc bought the parent of ProPublica introduced some of its reporters and the beats they will be investigating as the Trump era begins. A number of them — Charles Ornstein, Ginger Thompson, Robert Faturechi, Ken Schwencke, Peter Gosselin and Andy Revkin at least, maybe others — have the LA Times on their resumes. Managing editor Robin Fields was an investigative reporter at the LAT... Big changes seem to be brewing this week at Conde Nast. Uncomfortable meetings on the business side, WWD reports... In the New Yorker, Judith Thurman speaks via e-mail with Philip Roth about the election of Donald Trump and the echoes to “The Plot Against America,” his novel in which Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in 1940 with meddling from Nazi Germany... Sundance screened a new film by Michelle Morgan called "L.A. Times", no relation. It's "a look, at once both breezy and insightful, into the personal and professional intersections of a small group of people in the creative enclaves of Silver Lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz."...

The 70th anniversary of KTLA's first broadcast, as the first TV station in Los Angeles, will be feted Thursday at the Hollywood Heritage Museum's Lasky-DeMille Barn. Longtime KTLA personality Tom Hatten will take part, with former KTLA newsman Joel Tator and Los Angeles Magazine's Chris Nichols. Info... Entries are being taken for the annual Greater Los Angeles Press Club awards. The deadline is April 3. Enter here... Frank Mottek will be master of ceremonies at the Jan. 26 Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Transitions: Reporters Lisa Breckenridge and Maria Sansone are out at KTTV Fox 11. Breckenridge had been with the station since 1999... Juliet Williams moved from AP Sacramento to AP San Francisco as editor of the bureau... New York Times deputy tech editor Quentin Hardy is heading to Google to head editorial for Google Cloud... Mark Halperin has formally left Bloomberg Politics... Wayne Barrett, an investigative reporter best known for his work at the Village Voice and his exposes of Donald Trump the businessman, died at age 71 due to complications of interstitial lung disease. NYT... Paula Dell, a star at Santa Monica's Muscle beach and later as an early Hollywood stuntwoman, died at age 90. NYT... Politico launched ten years ago Monday... Alex Capriotti, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Broad, is moving to the new Main Museum in downtown as deputy director... From The Onion: Struggling Media Company Almost Desperate Enough To Hire Someone Qualified For Job.

Politics notes

Sen. Kamala Harris voted to oppose the confirmation of CIA director Mike Pompeo... Gavin Newsom talks about the prospect of Trump ally Peter Thiel jumping into the race for governor in California... The city of Los Angeles has collected $13 million in taxes on Airbnb rentals in just five months— much more than expected... Mayor Garcetti heads out to North Hollywood Tuesday night for the first day of the annual homeless count. 8 p.m. at LA Family Housing on Lankershim Boulevard... Councilwoman Nury Martinez and the LAPD on Thursday will unveil a CSUN study of "infrastructure and environmental factors that contribute to human trafficking" on Sepulveda and Lankershim boulevards in the Valley... Santa Monica city manager Rick Cole on what Los Angeles leaders can learn from Santa Monica’s approach to growth and "commitment to placemaking and community engagement," in The Planning Report... Follow the money to see how LA City Hall does business, guest commentary in the Daily News from Austin Beutner and David Fleming.


Eugene Loh, the rather well-known father of author and performer Sandra Tsing Loh, celebrated his 96th birthday this weekend. You might remember Mr. Loh as Malibu's most interesting hitchhiker. Mr. Loh has been featured on This American Life and KCET, in Utne Reader, discussed on NPR and had many other moments in the media.

Apparently a guy was performing "Superstition" in the lobby at the Anaheim Marriot when Stevie Wonder walked in. And helped him out.

Botts dots are disappearing from U.S. highways and soon from California's, where they originated. Sacramento Bee

The Epic Story of "O.J.: Made in America’s" Creation. Wired

Is LACMA head Michael Govan Los Angeles' $600 million man? Adam Nagourney in the NYT

rodger-young-village-pf.jpgLeonard Nadel, Housing Authority Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

When the parking lot for the Los Angeles Zoo was post-war housing in Quonset huts for veterans and their families. Rodger Young Village (above) was controversial because it was public housing, integrated and a hotbed of politics. Bonus factoid: Before World War II, the site was an airfield. Photo Friends

The Sears store in downtown Santa Monica is closing in April and could be destined for a mixed-use makeover. SM Daily Press, Curbed LA

la-inequality-map.jpgThis 1939 map illustrates housing inequality in LA. KCET

An old pink neon marquee from The Whisky on Sunset Strip is being auctioned this week. NBC LA

This year's Night on Broadway is Saturday.

The LA Kings are hosting the National Hockey League All-Star Game this weekend. Fifth Harmony will sing the national anthem and Carly Rae Jepsen will do "O, Canada." Performers during the weekend also include John Legend,. Nick Jonas and Robin Thicke.

Selected tweets

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