February 14, 2017 Last Updated 8:25 am

New admin teaching us not to go to bed too early; Cooper Hefner restates ‘Playboy Philosophy’

Morning Brief: Layoffs at Slate almost too predictable to make a deal about for HuffPost; Amazon to open brick and mortar store in Walnut Creek, where B&N had given up

These days it doesn’t make much sense, if you live on the East Coast, or even the Midwest, to go to bed early without turning your phone on mute. You will, inevitably, be awakened with push notifications trying to inform you of the latest outrage. Last night it was, of course, the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn is the first Trump administration official to resign, not able to make it through the first month of the administration’s term. But he is not the first person tied to Trump who has had to resign due to connections with the Russians. It should be remembered that both Paul Manafort and Carter Page both had to be distanced after their ties to Russia were exposed in the press.

Much of the press is still struggling with the Flynn story, wanting to believe that what they know is all there is – that Flynn is leaving because be lied about what he said in his conversation with the Russian ambassador, as if Trump really cares about a possible violation of the Logan Act. As with everything to do with this administration, somewhere or other it will come out that the real issue was money, who gets paid, who pays, and why.


Playboy’s experiment with publishing with no nudity is over. At least that will be the headline. And because TNM i writing about it, this site can expect to get another notice from Google saying that we are in violation of its rules due to nudity.

At no point, in writing about Playboy through the years, has TNM run a nude picture, yet every time Playboy is in the news, and therefore in TNM, Google sends a violation notice. No doubt TNM will get another one.

The real change at Playboy may not be that nudity is back, so much as it will try to capture the spirit of the magazine as it existed when it was launched. Cooper Hefner’s new “Playboy Philosophy” statement is really a throwback to his father’s statement from the fifties: that Playboy is about a progressive vision, one tied to sexual freedom. One could see the connection then, will it be so obvious now?

Maybe. Cooper Hefner, in his column, talks about LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, and marijuana legalization as issues that are important to liberals, and therefore are important to Playboy. It isn’t surprising then that the very first comment on the column is from a read who clearly does not agree with those values:

“I’ve never understood why any company would choose to alienate approximately half of the country by bringing politics into the discussion. I would think you would want conservatives to subscribe to your magazine as well. The comment at the end of the next to last paragraph just seems like bad business to me, especially at a time when you’re trying to lure readers back,” the reader said in their comment.

Cooper Hefner does not actually mention the return of nudity to the magazine in his column, instead choosing to announce it via Twitter.

Playboy, Cooper Hefner:

The New Playboy Philosophy: An Introduction

At this point in history, the most vital intellectual discussion we can have is how to create a society that’s as free as possible without ignoring the social and economic implications of our policy decisions. We need to identify who our allies are at a time when, on the liberal side, a culture of political correctness discourages debate that may hurt people’s feelings and, on the conservative side, politicians seem comfortable jeopardizing the rights of specific groups in the belief that it will “make America great again.”

So let this stand as an introduction and a declaration that, regardless of our sexual orientation or political point of view, what we’re seeing in society has happened before and that we all agree an attack on Muslim Americans, on women’s healthcare rights, on the LGBTQ community or on the First Amendment is in fact an attack on all our rights. And we should be ready to defend those rights at all costs on the intellectual battlefield.



One of the properties that stayed under the ownership of Donald Graham when he sold off The Washington Post to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, was Slate. One wonders if Graham would have preferred to have had the website go but Bezos said “no, it’s your problem.” I suppose we’ll never know.

Slate, like Salon, and other opinion websites, really is only ever going to be as good as its slate of writers sorry for the pun). It has to get attention for breaking news, or for important analysis – and even then its financial success would be iffy.

This may explain why the headline on the HuffPost’s story seems lazy, tired. There is really not much to say, more layoffs. What else is new?

The Huffington Post, Michael Calderone:

Layoffs Hit Slate

Slate laid off about a half-dozen full-time staffers and contract writers, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Editor-in-chief Julia Turner notified staff of the cuts Monday. Politics editor Tommy Craggs, senior editor Rachael Larimore and associate editor Laura Anderson were among the employees let go, according to sources.



The Digital Reader saw this story in the Mercury News, and being a former Bay Area resident, it caught my eye: Amazon is opening an Amazon Books store in the Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. Those unfamiliar with the area, Walnut Creek is the major city in Contra Costa County, sort of the Orange County of Northern California.

The move comes after Barnes & Noble exited the area and is further proof, if that was necessary, that the real problems with the big brick and mortar bookstores was less about Amazon and more about just how poorly Borders and B&N have been managed. As the story points out, it is not that the area wouldn’t support bookstores so much as large, impersonal, stores with large mark-ups are dying. As well they should.

One other note: the story is from the Mercury News, but the same story appears in the East Bay Times, an almost exact copy of the sister paper. When I worked in the Bay Area for Lesher Communications, we had four papers that served the area, plus some weeklies. In addition to those papers, there was the Alameda Newspaper Group. Now there is just the East Bay Times. Like the bookstore business, sometimes change occurs not because the market has changed, but because management has.

San Jose Mercury News, Jennifer Modenessi:

Walnut Creek: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar bookstore

Whatever the final incarnation, Amazon’s foray into tony Walnut Creek doesn’t shock Laurelle Swan, who operates the city’s last remaining independently-owned book store, Swan’s Fine Books.

“I’m not surprised Amazon came in because they saw a need here for new books,” she said.

Despite its booming retail, dining and arts scene and its state-of-the-art public library, the city lacks a book store where shoppers can browse the shelves for the latest bestseller or newest cook book. The nearest general interest bookstores are in Concord, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda and San Ramon.

Two decades ago, Walnut Creek had an outpost of Books, Inc., a longtime San Francisco-based independent book store chain. It also had national chains like Crown Books and a Barnes & Noble, which closed last year. There used to be a Borders in neighboring Pleasant Hill.

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