February 16, 2017 Last Updated 7:35 am

Auditions for ambassador to France; Apple said to be getting serious about TV again, but it is likely too late

Morning Brief: Can school newspapers survive the assault on public education, declining funding, and the general attitude that anything printed in a newspaper is fake news?

The post of Labor Secretary remains open today after Andrew Puzder, the CEO of a heart enlarging fast food chain, withdrew his name for consideration. Puzder said he didn’t want to go through the abuse, a strange position to take for someone so obviously unqualified for the post, not be mention being clearly one of humanities more disgusting examples.

“No matter how you cut it, there is no worse pick for labor secretary than Andrew Puzder, and I’m encouraged my Republican colleagues are starting to agree,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said yesterday before Puzder made it known he would withdraw.


Protest against the nomination of Andrew Puzder outside a Kansas City Hardee’s restaurant

In most administrations, large donors and politically connect billionaires, don’t get cabinet posts – those go to qualified and experienced government professionals because, well, most presidents want the government to function – no, they get ambassadorships.

It is often rather embarrassing who gets many ambassador posts. Some go to State Department veterans, but others go to donors and friends of the president. Charles Rivkin, for instance, was the California finance co-chair for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, as well as one of his top fund raisers. He also spoke fluent French – so, no surprise, he was made ambassador to France in 2009. That is not to say that the business vet wasn’t qualified, just that his most important qualification was, you know, money.

Today, all of government is up for grabs. It is a perfect storm of chaos and corruption, kleptocracy in its most third world form.

The Washington Post, Roxanne Roberts:

Who’s got dibs on France? Trump friends and donors jockey for ambassadorships.

And so it begins: the march of ambassadors.

It’s one of the most prestigious titles in public service and requires no diplomatic experience, just the blessing of the president and Senate confirmation. Most of the top postings — Western Europe and the Caribbean — go to political appointees, traditionally close friends and top campaign donors. The balance, about 70 percent of the 188 U.S. ambassadorships worldwide, go to career diplomats…

…For ambassador to Britain, which many consider the plummiest of the plum posts, Trump has picked billionaire Robert “Woody” Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and a generous donor to the Republican Party. Trump made the announcement the day before his inauguration during a lunch for his top Cabinet picks and other advisers, casually introducing “Ambassador Woody Johnson, going to St. James” – referring to the Court of St. James’s, the formal name for the U.S. ambassador’s post in London…

…And there’s endless speculation, but no leading candidates have emerged for what will undoubtedly be two of the most challenging jobs: ambassadors to Mexico and Russia.

Stay tuned: It may be the first time ambassadorial hearings are live-streamed around the world.



If there was one rumor that came out of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs it was the thought that Apple might get into the TV business. “I finally cracked it,” Jobs told his biographer. It would be a simple device with an simple interface, but no other details emerged.

If Jobs did, indeed, crack it, he apparently didn’t tell Tim Cook much about it, as nothing came of it. The Apple TV has changed little since its major upgrade in September 2010. Since then Apple has introduced a new remote and updated the processor, even launched an app store, but the revolution never occurred.

Today’s Apple TV doesn’t even stream 4K, something its competitors saw as essential. Apple even launched a new iPhone that shot in 4K, but didn’t think it important to be able to stream that content to its Apple TV. It was crazy, and a sign that things are most definitely wrong in Cupertino and that the product that Steve Jobs called a hobby has never stopped being that for those that followed him.

Bloomberg, Mark Gurman:

Apple Vowed To Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look at Why It Hasn’t

The features will probably boost Apple TV sales as consumers increasingly upgrade to 4K television sets, but those enhancements alone probably aren’t enough to turn the gadget into a groundbreaking, iPhone-caliber product. Time and again, the people say, Apple engineers have been forced to compromise on Apple’s vision of revolutionizing the living room.

Early on, the Apple TV was going to replace the clunky set-top boxes from the cable companies and stream live television. It never happened. The team debated bundling a gaming controller with the current model to better compete with Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation. That didn’t happen either. Originally, viewers were going to be able to shout commands from the couch to the Apple TV. Instead they must talk to the remote control.



I cannot imagine that many high schools will still have a school newspaper in the next decade. Everything is coming together in a perfect storm to kill off school papers.

First, school funding is being cut, and with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, the Congress has basically said that there is no future for public education, everything can be privatized and monetized.

Second, fake news. Everything coming from a metro newspaper, from professional journalists is seen as fake news by not only this administration, but by its supporters. Read the comments on any major news story and see that there are people who will not believe anything that is printed. Period. As Stephen Miller said the “media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” News is, in the view of the administration and its supporters, what the president says it is, and no journalist should question it.

Third, digital. Yeah, can’t avoid it. Does it really make sense to produce an expensive print newspaper when a school news website makes more sense? Probably.

I find the idea of the end of school papers sad, though. I published a paper via mimeograph machine in 6th grade. I was editor of the paper in middle school, and then high school. At my school, you could take four years of journalism: the first year was a class, the other three years were sort of independent study, where one worked on the school paper.

I’m rather proud to say that my old high school still has a newspaper. It has a supporting website, and even is using Issuu to create a digital replica edition. But then again, the Grosse Pointe schools have always been well funded (I was from Harper Woods, not Grosse Pointe, but attended Grosse Pointe North by sheer luck of geography).

Star Beacon, Danny Tyree:

School newspapers hanging by a thread

I wish I could tell you that my old alma mater (Marshall County High School in Lewisburg, Tennessee) still publishes a student newspaper, but that would be fake news.

The defunct MCHS paper (where I spent some of the happiest, nerdiest years of my life) has a lot of company. A Google search promptly brought up a National Public Radio story from four years ago titled “High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species.” Around the same time, the New York Times reported that only one in eight public schools in New York City produced a newspaper…

…I hope society can recognize the value of a strong student press. Student journalists give parents/taxpayers a more nuanced view than the “OK, I guess” or “Everything sucks” assessment that students usually deliver upon arriving at home.

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