December 23, 2016 Last Updated 9:06 am

The Rockettes may go kicking (and screaming) to inauguration, but their union will be of no help

Morning Brief: Breitbart and Fox News use family to promote their ‘war on Christmas’ meme, but the story – as usual – turns out to be more complicated than originally reported

Twas the day before the night before Christmas, and a Friday on top of that. Hanukkah also begins at sunset tomorrow. But as these holidays fall on a weekend it makes it a bit strange, doesn’t it? When I worked at a daily newspaper the day before Christmas was usually a time to clear off one’s desk, do a gift exchange, and cut out of work early – it was, in other words, my favorite work day of the year. When the holiday falls on a weekend, though, one is forced to take a vacation day if you want to have the day off.

Next year Christmas falls on a Monday, which is really an awful day for it to land as, here in the States, one doesn’t get Boxing Day off automatically. The closest thing to Boxing Day we have here in the States is the Men’s Half Yearly Sales at Nordstrom, but as I don’t work in an office anymore that hardly gets me very excited. Besides, Nordstrom is not the store it once was.

This is all a long winded way of saying the news cycle for publishing is really slowing down, so TNM will be only lightly attended to during the next week. I recommend following TNM on Twitter in case something comes up.

The president-elect is having trouble lining up talent for his inauguration, but yesterday the Trump organization was able to announce that the Radio City Rockettes are booked to perform. It seemed like a perfect fit for the incoming president, but like much that goes on with this new administration there is more to the story than it first appeared.

Unlike a music performer or comedian, the Rockettes cannot make the decision to perform on their own. They are employees of Radio City and so do as their bosses command. It turns out, then, that some of the Rockettes are less than thrilled about having to perform for the new president.

Vulture.com, Karen Brill:

Union Representing Rockettes Reportedly Calls Inauguration Boycott ‘Invalid,’ Says Full-Time Dancers Are ‘Obligated’ to Perform

After a beleaguered struggle to nab performers for Donald Trump’s inauguration, it was announced Thursday that the Radio City Rockettes will high-kick for the occasion. But, as with all things Trump, controversy was not so easily dampened, as it became clear that many Rockettes dancers, who share in a Broadway community that vehemently opposes Trump, do not feel comfortable performing at the event. Now, Broadway World has obtained an email reportedly from the American Guild of Variety Artists, the union that represents the Rockettes, suggesting that full-time employees will be coerced into performing, whether or not they object…

…Though a widely circulated social media post suggests that Rockettes are being threatened with termination if they refuse to perform, the AVGA email does not specify consequences, only strongly alluding to employment requirements. Given Trump’s extraordinarily disturbing record with sexual conduct, the situation is garnering particular attention as objecting women face the prospect of literally being forced to dance for the President-elect.



The idea that the president-elect is negotiating fighter jet prices via Twitter seems rather odd, but it cold be effective. It could also set up an interesting situation should someone discover that the president or someone in his cabinet owns stock in either company. It would provide just the kind of evidence needed to begin an investigation.

I’ve always thought that the idea that the new president would one day be impeached absurd. We’ve only had two presidents impeached (Nixon came close), but none were ever convicted. I don’t see Donald Trump too afraid of the Senate actually voting him out of office. But given the obvious conflicts of interest that will arise one might expect that the question will become more and more relevant.

But, it turns out, right-wing websites have been talking about this for the past eight years, fantasizing about whether Barack Obama could be arrested and thrown in jail. As this conversation has been ongoing in the darker corners of the Internet, it was not something I was in any way aware of. It turns out, though, that the question really has no solid answer. No one really knows. Some say that the Secret Service would prevent an arrest of a sitting president, but the next president plans to have his own private security force, which would likely prevent an arrest – but then again it might encourage the secret service to let it happen.

In any case, my prediction is that the new president will face more opposition from state attorneys general than he will from the Democrats in Congress.

The New York Times, Christopher Drew:

Trump Pits Boeing Against Lockheed to Cut Costs of New Fighter Jets

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s latest missive on military spending suggests that Boeing has perhaps swayed him more than its rival Lockheed Martin. Now, he is preparing to pit one off the other to try to decrease the cost of new fighter jets, military analysts said on Thursday…

…Military analysts said Mr. Trump’s post also sharply raised the pressure on Lockheed to lower the cost of the F-35 program, which is projected to cost $400 billion for 2,400 planes for the Air Force, the Marines and the Navy.

His suggestion that the F-35s and the F-18s were comparable also indicated that Mr. Trump was not yet fully up to speed on the technical characteristics of the jets, some analysts said.



The year is ending as it began… with patent lawsuits.

I speculated on Twitter that the reason for the latest batch of patent lawsuits is someone at the attorney’s office discovered that they had filed few suits in 2016 and didn’t want to look bad. So, here comes more lawsuits.

It goes without saying that the patent system in the US is broken. But, of course, that is the perfect environment for the lawyers.

The New York Times, Vindu Goel and Mark Scott:

Apple and Nokia Battle Over Cellphone Patents

For the past five years, Apple has paid Nokia a modest royalty for the use of its patents. But with that pact about to expire on Dec. 31, Nokia wants Apple to keep paying for that portfolio, and is demanding that Apple license additional patents. Apple is refusing to pay Nokia’s price and has accused it of extortion.

The impasse, after two years of tense negotiations, broke into open warfare this week in a volley of lawsuits in 11 countries, including the United States and Germany.

“Apple is saying, we want to pay one low price and not have to deal with any of your patents again,” Clem Roberts, an intellectual property lawyer at Durie Tangri in San Francisco, said. “Nokia is saying, ‘I don’t want that low price because my patents are worth more than that.’”



The story yesterday of the Jewish family from Lancaster that was said to have fled the county after receiving threats is an interest case of both the concept of fake news and that of online harassment. It turns out, as it often does, that the story is more complicated than first reported, but that there were elements of truth in many of the accounts.

Here is the background, if you are unfamiliar with the story: A Hempfield elementary school cancelled its annual performance of “A Christmas Carol” and Breitbart News and Fox News reported that the reason was the annual, and high traffic driving meme of “the war on Christmas.” The reports blamed a Jewish family who, it was said, objected to the play. That led to the family being harassed, and then a Lancaster newspaper reported that the family had “fled the county” (not necessarily their words, but it was picked up elsewhere that way).

In fact, the play was cancelled, but the school says they did so because “instructional time was the school’s primary concern” and the so there would be no time to put on the play. The family did want their child excused from the play, but did not call for it to be cancelled. In fact, they asked for this exemption way back in September.

Breitbart and Fox News did single out the family, however, and the family did get harassed. Did they “flee the county?” The Anti-Defamation League, which investigated the report and issued a press release, says “no” they went on vacation.

“News reports alleging that a Jewish family has ‘fled’ Lancaster County are untrue and damaging,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, ADL Regional Director. “We spoke with the family, who explained that they went on a previously-planned vacation for the holidays. Stories like this can sow fear in the Jewish community and beyond, and it is important to stop the spread of misinformation.

“There is no truth to the rumor that the school cancelled A Christmas Carol at the request of parents. The Hempfield School District released a FAQ clearly stating that the play was cancelled due to the inordinate amount of class time taken up by rehearsals. We commend the district for setting the record straight.”

But elements of the story are true, and in many ways, the most important part is true – that a family was singled out by right wing media and a lie was told about them in order to push the ‘war on Christmas’ BS. That much is true. The rest… only parts.

For its efforts, Breitbart got over 1,300 comments on the story, which drives page views and therefore advertising. But its most recent comment is probably the best and most accurate one:

Brietbart continuing the time-honored journalistic tradition of misreporting news to stir up controversy where none exists. Further down in the same note from the principal that was quoted in the above “article”:

“One rumor we’ve been addressing is that one or two families influenced this decision. That’s just not true. The instructional time issue was our primary concern. Alternative solutions were explored for offering the play differently, including the use of non-core instructional time, but it was decided by the building team to not go down this path. We also looked at having rehearsals after school hours, but, at this time, parents nor staff members have stepped forward to take advantage of this possibility.”

Consider your new sources folks, this is a shining example of why Breitbart doesn’t deserve your time; they have no integrity.



More along this same line of craziness of “the media” that most reporters don’t think of when they think “media”:

Montana Standard, Vince Devlin:

Whitefish dealing with backlash from white supremacist website

“Incoherent and angry would probably be the best way to describe them,” says the restaurant owner who received them. “By incoherent, I don’t mean you couldn’t understand them, it was that trying to argue with them over the phone just wasn’t worth it. They were one-sided conversations.”

The calls were followed a day to two later by a few bad reviews – from people the owner is certain have never set foot in his restaurant – that started showing up on internet sites. One claimed to have found a pubic hair in his food. Another said his meal was delivered with a dead cockroach in it…

…“Maybe they thought we’re Jewish because of our last name,” says Alex Maetzold, whose parents opened the Buffalo Café in 1979.

The Maetzolds aren’t Jewish, but theirs is one of many Whitefish businesses that have felt the effects of The Daily Stormer’s “call to action” against some Whitefish residents and Love Lives Here.

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