[Marxism] time warner gag order

Sudhir Devadas sudhirdin at gmail.com
Tue Nov 29 05:23:28 MST 2005

*another comic media caper, from bushland, which never ceases to amaze...*
*Time Warner's Stupid Gag Order*
Which Lloyd Grove spits out.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Monday, Nov. 28, 2005, at 10:53 PM ET

What on earth did Time Warner Chairman Richard D. Parsons have in mind when
he waited until the last minute to declare the Nov. 21 interview of Justice
Antonin Scalia by Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine before 100
journalists and businessmen at Time Warner's New York headquarters as "off
the record"?

Did Parsons mean, as some define the phrase, that the information could be
used but not attributed to the speakers? Or did he intend the
ultra-literalist's meaning—that the information could not be used in any
way? Whatever Parsons' intention, *Daily News *gossip columnist Lloyd Grove
undid the ridiculous sourcing demand two days later with a
sieved the talk for its news value and ridiculed the chairman of the
media conglomerate
<http://www.timewarner.com/corp/businesses/index.html>that owns movie
studios, an online service, cable news and entertainment
channels, a TV broadcast network, and publishes 155 magazines, including *
Time*, *People*, *Sports Illustrated*,* *and *Fortune*.

Grove—rightly—figured he wasn't obliged to honor Parsons' demands because
those weren't the terms under which he was invited. Besides, Grove writes,
"the place was crawling with journalists." Time Warner spokesman Edward I.
Adler told the *New York
(Nov. 28) that
*the company didn't expect complete silence from the press corps, expecting
an "item or two" to get out, but that Grove "went too far, given the ground
rules." This proves that Adler, whose company publishes 155 magazines and
owns CNN, either doesn't have any idea what off the record means, or doesn't

Lost in the dust-up was a discussion about why Parsons would impose
*any*conditions, well conceived or otherwise, on the invited audience.
obvious heavy would be Justice Scalia, who possesses a galvanic hostility to
the press. But Scalia seems not to have protested Grove's column, and as
Margaret Talbot tells us in her March 28, 2005, *New Yorker *profile, the
justice has recently rehabilitated his press image. In 2004, he may have
sanctioned the seizure of two tape recorders being used by reporters
attending a speech of his, she writes, but in 2005 he agreed to C-span
cameras at a public debate with another justice and approved the filming of
a speech at Washington's Woodrow Wilson Center.

No, the onus is on Parsons for making sourcing demands that exceed those
placed on Washington reporters by the government. As much as you may loathe
State Department and White House background briefings, they're designed to
disseminate the government's view, not block the circulation of information.
Reporters are free to write about what they hear at background briefings as
long as they attribute it to an agreed-upon unnamed government source
("senior administration official," for example). The idea behind attributing
information to an unnamed source—and I'm not defending the practice—is that
the viewpoint expressed belongs to the government, not the briefer.

As bad as this may be, it's better than the Parsons set-up. I'm assuming
that because Parsons didn't tell the crowd who they could attribute Scalia's
comments to—"a judicial employee," "a judge," "a judge on the Supreme
Court," "a notorious hothead"—off the record meant that the audience
couldn't repeat anything they heard. If that's the case what's the point of
holding the session in the first place?

The Time Warner interview of Scalia differs from your average White House
briefing in another way. A number of celebrities and hangers-on attended,
according to the Nov. 23 *New York Post*, which also thumbed its nose at
Parsons. The paper reported that the A-list attendees for the Scalia event
included "Michael Eisner, Jack Valenti, Mike Wallace, Tina Brown, Harry
Evans and Stanley Pottinger." Yes, yes, yes, Eisner and Valenti and Brown
won't tell a soul what Scalia said. At least until they fire up their cell

What possessed Time Warner—whose choice subsidiaries are in the business of
getting Washington's most powerful minds on the record—to stage this farce?

For whose benefit was the interview conducted? Obviously not for reporters,
who were barred from divulging its contents. As one in a series of talks
that included Pearlstine interviews with Karl Rove and Bill Clinton, was the
primary aim to increase *Time *magazine's "buzz"?

What businessmen were invited, and why? How many were advertisers or
potential advertisers, whom Time Warner wanted to impress by arranging a
private recital by one of Washington's hottest tickets?

I trust Grove to get the answers to these questions and more when he
replaces Pearlstine in the interview series and confronts Richard D. Parsons
in a wide-ranging on the record discussion in front of 100 A-listers and
journalists at Time Warner headquarters.

******Hey, you! Yeah, you. This column is off the record. Send e-mail to
slate.pressbox at gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer
stipulates otherwise. Unless the e-mail comes from anybody at Time Warner,
in which case it will be rejected.)
*Jack Shafer* <Slate.Pressbox at gmail.com>* is **Slate**'s editor at large. *

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2131126/

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