Downtown's changing skyline from the eighth-floor balcony of Patriotic Hall. I count eight construction cranes. Photo by Jim Beardsley.
Our occasional roundup of news and notes. As always, between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter — now with 24,566 followers.
This week in media sexual harassmentThings keep moving fast on the sexual harassment beat, thanks to the women coming forward and the media outlets that are vetting and publishing their stories. On Monday, TV host Charlie Rose was suspended by CBS and PBS after the Washington Post posted accounts from six women who said Rose crossed the line — showers, unwanted nudity, kisses — when they were young staffers, interns or job seekers at his company. Rose apologized "for my deeply inappropriate behavior" in a statement. "Sadly, my inbox is already flooded with women who have had similar, disturbing encounters with Charlie Rose," Post reporter Amy Brittain said Monday afternoon.
Also Monday, Vox reported on drunken pawing and more by New York Times White House reporter Glenn Thrush when he was at Politico. Thrush apologized today and said he is seeking help for alcoholism; he was suspended by executive editor Dean Baquet. Awaiting the Trump tweet on this one.
This past weekend in the Los Angeles Times, reporters Amy Kaufman, Daniel Miller and Victoria Kim came out with a strong piece alleging more cases of sexual harassment by producer Brett Ratner, and this time Russell Simmons was named by a woman as a co-conspirator with Ratner. Both men denied the accusations through lawyers. Also from the LAT: Olivia Munn doesn't understand why anyone is still working with Brett Ratner.
Last week, KABC Radio 790 news anchor Leeann Tweeden posted a personal piece at the talk radio station to announce that before he was a Democratic senator, comedian and liberal talk show host Al Franken kissed her for real during a rehearsal kiss for a USO show they were doing together in 2006 for troops overseas. "I felt disgusted and violated," Tweeden wrote. "At the time I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself....I tried to let it go, but I was angry... Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry."
Tweeden also posted a photo showing Franken mock-groping her breasts (over some kind of safety vest) while she slept. She talked about it on Doug McIntyre's KABC show. Franken apologized in a statement and said he would cooperate in any Senate ethics investigation. Since then, at least one woman in Minnesota has accused Sen. Franken of touching her butt during a photo session. Right-wingers giving Alabama candidate Roy Moore and Donald Trump a pass for sexual indiscretions are running with the Franken story, and Trump tweeted about it.
Also: The Guardian says it has the list Harvey Weinstein reportedly created of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers and others working in the film industry to be investigated for what they knew about his sexual activities. Meanwhile, banker and former Obama Administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet has made a bid to buy the Weinstein Company and run it with a majority of female leaders, the Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz reports.
Score another for the LA TimesTimes reporters Melanie Mason and Dakota Smith posted a story early Monday with the accounts of six women describing unwanted sexual advances by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra. The alleged encounters occurred when Bocanegra was the chief of staff for then-assemblyman Felipe Fuentes and after he was elected to the Assembly — and all occurred after he was quietly disciplined by the Assembly Rules Committee in 2009 for a previous case of harassment. "The allegations span the length of Bocanegra’s career in state government as a chief of staff, a candidate for office and a legislator, and they range from emails soliciting dates with a subordinate to uninvited physical contact with women he did not know," the Times story says.
Results: Bocanegra's office was presented with the Times' evidence on Friday, so he was ready Monday with a statement saying he would not seek reelection next year and would resign next September. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Monday stripped Bocanegra of his Democratic leadership roles and said if the accusations prove true he would seek Bocanegra's expulsion from the Assembly. He represents the east San Fernando Valley in his second stint in the legislature.
We talked about Bocanegra's case on Monday's weekly LA Observed segment on KCRW.
Garcetti White House ambitions 'not insane'Adam Nagourney, the Los Angeles bureau chief for the New York Times, took notice in a Monday story of Mayor Eric Garcetti's national travels and observed that there has never been a sitting mayor elected president. "The odds are long," Nagourney writes. Especially in this case: "Mr. Garcetti was sworn into his second term as mayor just five months ago, and has not built a particularly broad record of accomplishments to showcase to the nation."
Still, "in the course of an hourlong interview in his office, Mr. Garcetti, 46, a Democrat, made clear that, as unlikely as it might sound, he is considering a run for president, after announcing he would not run for governor. 'There are 23 states that have a population smaller than Los Angeles,' he said."
Mr. Garcetti’s attempt to test these waters — and the fact that he is being watched with some seriousness despite never running a national or even statewide campaign before — may say less about this city’s mayor and more about the national political landscape.
The success of President Trump, a business executive who had never run for office before, appears to have lowered the bar on the qualifications needed to run for the White House. And the Democratic Party is grappling with a sparse bench of candidates — many of its brightest prospects are in their 70s, like Joe Biden, the former vice president, or are relatively young and little known, like Mr. Garcetti.
“I don’t think it’s crazy at all,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director under President Barack Obama. “The traditional definitions of electability have been turned on their heads. The skills that get someone through a presidential campaign are no longer résumé-based. Obama had served two years in the Senate when he started running for president.”
Mike Murphy, a Republican adviser to the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain of Arizona and Jeb Bush, compared Mr. Garcetti to Jimmy Carter, little-known as a first-term governor from Georgia who ran as an outsider against Washington after Watergate.
“It’s audacious, but it’s not insane,” Mr. Murphy said. “He’s good on his feet. Generational. He’s got a story: West Coast, the future.”
Meanwhile, Smith tweeted Monday that she was briefly blocked from covering an event at the mayor's official residence titled "Women & Journalism: The Status of Women in Media.” It featured reporters from the New York Times and NPR, but Smith said she had to complain to get into Getty House.
Jim Newton versus the LA Times on Disney dealLewis D'Vorkin, the new editor of the Los Angeles Times, has yet to explain in detail — or let his journalists report on — what Disney meant when the company boasted that it had "productive discussions" with Times leadership that led the Hollywood giant to cancel a ban on LAT reviewers and reporters.
Jim Newton, the former Times reporter, columnist and editor of the editorial pages, isn't letting people forget the silence. On Twitter, Newton has kept up a steady demand that the Times be more transparent. Over the weekend he upped the ante, offering in a Sunday tweet to report out the facts for the Times.
Dear LATimes: You must earn and maintain the trust of your readers. You’ve countenanced harassment of women and cut a deal with Disney. You have work to do.— Jim Newton (@newton_jim) November 20, 2017
A proposal to my LATimes: Hire me report out the “productive” conversations with Disney. I’ll do it for free if you agree to publish the results.— Jim Newton (@newton_jim) November 19, 2017
Room in my Sunday LATimes for a vigils and incremental updates on local crime, but not on the relationship between The Times and Disney. How’s that possible?— Jim Newton (@newton_jim) November 19, 2017
The Disney brouhaha comes up briefly in a new piece in CJR (by LA freelance journalist Shaya Tayefe Mohajer) on the guild organizing efforts in the Times newsroom. I'm quoted a few times in the piece, which looks at the history of Times editors and publishers who left rather than make drastic cuts and the paper's shrinkage the past decade. Speaking of transparency: no one from Times or Tronc management would be quoted in the story. D'Vorkin and publisher Ross Levinsohn did talk the previous week for a New York Times story on the Disney flap.
"I listened to their point of view, they listened to what I felt was our point of view, and we agreed to move forward and report and work with each other as the two companies have done for decades,” D’Vorkin told the NYT. By the way, he was not happy that someone on the staff taped his meeting with the newsroom and said so at a second all-staff session he called last week.
Media notesSunday night in the Washington Post: Six months into special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, "White House aides and others in President Trump’s close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril."... Trump's last sit down with a TV network other than Fox was May 11. No surprise at some level that Trump is hiding, says CNN's Brian Stelter: "He would have to answer inquiries about Roy Moore's accusers... about his own accusers... about Don Jr. communicating with WikiLeaks... about Kushner's apparent forgetfulness... and about how much his family stands to benefit from tax cuts."
There's a "digital media crash" underway and nobody is calling it that, says online politics pioneer Josh Marshall. And about that pivot to video many publishers are pursuing? "There is basically no publisher in existence involved in any sort of news or political news coverage who says to themselves, my readers are demanding more of their news on video as opposed to text. Not a single one. The move to video is driven entirely by advertiser demand."
Jay Penske, Irving Azoff and Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg are each said to be weighing offers to buy Rolling Stone. "If this sale fetches more than $40 million, it will surprise some people I’ve talked to," says ReCode's Peter Kafka... Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer was in town last week for meetings and appearances, including on KFI with morning show host Bill Handel. Spicer's ambitions for a big network pundit spot aren't panning out, says BuzzFeed's Steven Perlberg... Vanity Fair fashionistas weren't very supportive of new editor Radhika Jones on her introductory visit. If they're smart, they'll get on her good side fast... The Story Behind the Unjust Shutdown of Gothamist and DNAinfo in The New Yorker. Also, LA Times data editor Ben Welsh was so perturbed by the brief disappearance of Gothamist archives that he came up with a service to archive journalists' work online.
Scandal-plagued Cinefamily dissolved itself. The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax will be closed and remodeled, per the owners... Elizabeth Becker on the female reporters who covered the Vietnam War: "There’s a reason none of us wrote a female version of 'Dispatches,' Michael Herr’s memoir of white nights of drugs, rock ’n’ roll and sex followed by hair-raising coverage of battles. In that book, Herr refers to us as 'girl reporters' and treats us more or less like wallpaper. We didn’t need the attention. We had enough on our hands with the sexual politics of the day and the endless gossip about our personal lives."
Media people doing stuffHands in cement at Vromans bookstore in Pasadena for author Luis J. Rodriguez.... Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the New York Times reporters who broke much of the Harvey Weinstein news, described their reporting to host Terry Gross on "Fresh Air." Also on recently: Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, "Lady Bird" director Greta Gerwig — the questions about Woody Allen are quite uncomfortable — and Mindy Kaling.
Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison is joining the Washington Post to cover the intersection of media, politics, and technology... Jill Leovy, the recently formered LA Times reporter and homicide blogger, has a piece in the December Atlantic on The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper... Charles Ornstein, another ex-LA Times reporter, was named senior editor of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network... Joel Stein's column is finished at Time magazine after 19 years. "Other writers might be disappointed to find out they were just a clown and that everything in between their desperate stabs at humor was filler. But I was thrilled I got to create all that filler," Stein writes in his farewell entry. "There are times when society needs a punk who doesn’t care. There are far fewer times when society needs a 46-year-old punk who doesn’t care."
Patric Kuh, the longtime food critic and writer for Los Angeles Magazine, is now a manager at Manhattan Beach steakhouse The Arthur J... Andrea Richards and Teena Apeles have published We Heart P-22: A Coloring + Activity Book Celebrating L.A.’s Famous Mountain Lion... Singer-songwriter Liz Phair has signed a two-book contract with Random House, starting with “Horror Stories,” described as “a rich and kaleidoscopic memoir of Phair’s experiences with fame, heartbreak, motherhood, and everything in between.”... Former KFWB anchor Penny Griego is now a media relations specialist at L.A. Care Health Plan, says LA Radio... LA Times culture reporter Carolina Miranda revealed to Instagram that she's going gray.
The Sound R.I.P.Cynthia Fox, Mimi Chen, Uncle Joe Benson, and Rita Wilde of The Sound. Photo: Keith Weiner
If you are of a certain age and music persuasion, Uncle Joe Benson and Cynthia Fox have been part of your Los Angeles radio life for a long time. KMET, KLOS, KPPC, KLSX — the call letters of FM rock stations past tell a story of the decades on the radio dial. Anyway, Benson and Fox and their colleagues at the late 100.3 The Sound had to turn off the lights at another rock and roll station last week. The Sound was sold and on Thursday afternoon the station flipped to Christian programming.
Thanks old friends.They got nice send offs from the Orange County Register and from Don Barrett at LARadio.com. Columnist Larry Wilson at the Pasadena Star-News used the moment to try and kick up a little bit of a feud with his rival and buddy at the Times, Chris Erskine.
Warren Olney goes podcast at KCRWOlney's long-running national show "To the Point" has gone off the airwaves at KCRW, as previously announced. "Thanks for all the kind words as I transition from radio to podcasting," he tweeted last week. "My first podcasts will be [this] week, and I’m excited. This new medium provides an opportunity to use my tv and radio experience (50 years altogether) to explore and learn more about the issues I think matter."
Closing the show results in some job shifting at KCRW. Producer Evan George becomes Senior Editor, On-Air. "He will provide editorial oversight and strategic guidance for KCRW's on-air news staff, with a primary focus on local content scheduled for Morning Edition, midday, and All Things Considered," says the memo from program director Gary Scott. Sonya Geis shifts to Managing Editor, Features and Documentaries.
Also: George interviews the former longtime head of KCRW, Ruth Seymour, about KCRW’s early days as a scrappy innovator.
Where is Los Angeles Valley?LA Times readers in the West Valley recently found a sticker affixed to their front pages about a new Bristol Farms store in Woodland Hills. Annoying if you want to read the paper, but okay, it happens. The faux pas is on the sticker. No one in LA has ever, ever seriously called the San Fernando Valley "Los Angeles Valley." Now someone has. Tronc? Click to enlarge
The Pico Boulevard corner where Norms coffee shop closed in Rancho Park last December will be a Christmas tree lot this season - LA Observed
Hollywood’s 1950s musicians union building could become a city landmark - Curbed LA
For the First Family of Pleasure Products, Toys Are Us - NYT
New 11-story Arts District office building will cantilever over A+D Museum - Curbed LA
Historic Echo Park sign flickers back to life - The Eastsider
Well, that looks pretty bad. https://t.co/6wmQ59mKZ1— Mariel Garza (@marielgarzaLAT) November 20, 2017
One of the toughest parts of this fall has been realizing that so many male colleagues assumed our careers didn't take off like theirs because we were less talented.— Amy Sullivan (@sullivanamy) November 21, 2017
Six years ago I created a show called #TheMindyProject and got to play the lead. Not the sassy friend or nagging wife. It completely changed my life. 117 episodes later, it’s ending, on my own terms. That’s so rare, and I just want to say how grateful I am. Love forever, MK ❤️— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) November 14, 2017
Note to self : I've got to fucking get it together— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) November 17, 2017
Your new pop star name is your mother’s maiden name and your social security number. Go!— Robin Hilton (@nprobin) November 21, 2017