The Roger Ailes Bio Is Brutal!

loudest ovice in the room-w1400-h1400I’m reading an excerpt from Gabriel Sherman’s new book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” It’s an unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes. What I’ve read so far is brutal.

He said he would never send Zachary to the public school because it was overrun with liberalism. At his window, he pointed at an outdoor sculpture exhibit at Boscobel House and Gardens, a half-mile in the distance. “Do you think they have the right to block my view?” Roger asked. “Isn’t it their property?” Foley asked. “It’s not their property! It’s a nonprofit! They get tax breaks!” Roger replied. He spoke of his security more than once. “He worried about his kid and his wife and said he wouldn’t want anything to happen to them because of what he was,”

If Sherman’s account is to be believed, Ailes is a paranoid, controlling, dickish son-of-a-bitch who gets his way by taking no prisoners! The excerpt doesn’t say Ailes is unhappy, but how can he not be? He is described as one troubled man.

What Ailes built at Fox News is astounding. He’s left both CNN and MSNBC in his dust. It’s not an accident. This is Ailes doing. Fox News consistently provides a broadcast easily digestible by its target audience. It is remarkably effective.

Recent reports say Ailes made disparaging remarks about his ‘stars,’ like Bill O’Reilly, but he mostly appears to be strongly supportive of his talent. Fox News pioneered talent-centric broadcasts in cable news. Outwardly, he seems the boss I always wanted.

If Ailes’ reported temper and vindictiveness can be believed, maybe Sherman should be looking over his shoulder as he reports Ailes already does on a regular basis.

How To Get Connecticut Snowfall Totals

Doppler Versus Snow

This time of year there’s a steady barrage of incoming messages looking for Connecticut snowfall totals. Some folks are curious. Others want to make sure their plow contractor isn’t overcharging, or they’re plow contractors who’d like to charge more!

The info isn’t easily obtained, especially for smaller towns. If you’re looking for Connecticut snowfall totals, here’s where I go.

The most complete source is the Connecticut Department of Transportation Weather Roundup. These are collected every two hours at DOT yards across Connecticut. Because of the methodology used the cumulative snowfall total is always more than what’s actually settled on the ground.

The National Weather Service splits Connecticut between three Weather Service Forecast Offices. That makes things more difficult. You’ll have to look at all three Public Information Statements to put the info together.

Shoreline counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Upton, NY.

Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Taunton, MA.

Litchfield County: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Albany, NY.

Snowfall and other weather data is often critical in accidents and contract disputes. For those more exacting cases when just numbers on paper (or a screen) aren’t enough I provide forensic meteorological services for attorneys and insurance companies.

Explosion In Middletown

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

kleen energy plant.gifAround 11:30 this morning my house shuddered. We’ve been hit by flying branches in storms. This was different. There was no sound, just a compression shock. I got out of bed and headed downstairs.

Helaine was on the sofa. She perceived it differently from me. She said we should check the house. I opened the door and saw nothing. We went to the basement and garage. Nothing again.

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

620 MW – Siemens-Combined Cycle, ISO & FERC 345kV Interconnect Approved –Pipeline Delivered – Dual Fuel – Gas & Oil Fired – Water Cooled

Helaine said the shake reminded her of an explosion while we were in Buffalo.

An untrained worker was moving a propane tank with a forklift. The tank fell and the valve sheared off. The propane, being heavier than air, spread out along the ground.

From Wikipedia:

The North Division Street explosion was a powerful explosion on December 27, 1983 in a warehouse at the intersection of North Division and Grosvenor Streets in Buffalo, New York. The building contained an illegal 500-gallon propane tank whose valve was broken off while it was being moved and the building was evacuated. The propane started to leak and eventually reached an open flame. The tank exploded, killing all five firefighters assigned to Ladder 5 and two civilians; and damaging a dozen city blocks and causing millions of dollars of damage in fire equipment.

When it happened Helaine thought a car had run into our house! Within thirty seconds of her calling me at the TV station every phone in the place was ringing.

Right now I’m listening to emergency responders on an Internet delivered scanner channel. There’s lots of activity which seems well coordinated. There’s talk of victims and casuaties. It’s horrific.

I wanted to make sure Ann Nyberg knew about this. By the time I called her she was already at the station helping with our coverage. Stories unfold much more quickly now than in ’83. I’ve posted on Twitter and Facebook and the replies have been coming at a steady pace.

This is a tragedy.

Oh What A Bad Feeling – Toyota

The public trust is not easily obtained nor should it be taken lightly. Toyota has been behind on this story at every step. It’s not going away.

toyota-logo.jpgOh Toyota. You are this close to becoming a business school teaching lesson. You are this close to becoming Bon Vivant Vichyssoise! Never heard of Bon Vivant? Read on.

Back in the early seventies there was a food company named Bon Vivant. They made high end canned soups under their own name and for others. I’ll let the NY Times pick up the story:

On an early July day in 1971 when it was too hot to cook, a couple in Westchester County, N.Y., sat down to a meal of Bon Vivant vichyssoise, a soup often served chilled (and in this case, straight from the can). The soup tasted funny, so they didn’t finish it; within hours he was dead and she was paralyzed from botulism poisoning. F.D.A. investigators found five other cans of vichyssoise from the same batch of 6,444 that were also tainted with botulism, and spot checks of other products raised questions about the company’s processing practices, so the agency shut down the plant and told the company to recall all its soups.

Bon Vivant tried to fight the recall, calling it an overreaction to a highly isolated problem, but it soon became obvious that few consumers would touch anything with Bon Vivant on the label. And because it was known that the company manufactured store brands as well as its own, people started to be suspicious of every kind of canned soup on the shelf. Bon Vivant filed for bankruptcy within a month.

Instead of getting ahead of the story Bon Vivant pushed back. They put their profits and priorities before their customer’s. We tend not to like that from those who feed us and from whom we expect scrupulous attention to safety.

Nearly seventy years of soup making and Bon Vivant was gone within a month! They became the poster child for what not to do in a crisis.

Fast forward to 1982. Someone injected cyanide into Tylenol capsules after they were already on the store shelf. What did Johnson and Johnson do? They took responsibility and bore the immediate cost though the sabotage happened out of their reach.

Although Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety first and recalled all of their capsules from the market. In fact, in February of 1986, when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning in Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson permanently removed all of the capsules from the market.

You don’t think twice about taking Tylenol today, do you?

I am a Toyota guy. My first new car was a 1970 Toyota Corona. I or my family have had one for most of the time since then. Helaine and Stef both drive Toyotas today.

I have no animus toward Toyota. But seriously, it seems they are following the lead of Bon Vivant and not Johnson and Johnson.

The public trust is not easily obtained nor should it be taken lightly. Toyota has been behind on this story at every step. It’s not going away.

I just watched CNN’s Jessica Yellin play a phone conversation with Toyota about her own Prius. Damning.

I know GM and Ford are licking their chops hoping for Toyota’s downfall. I’m not sure that would be as good for all of us as it is for them. I am not rooting for Toyota’s failure. Their prior attention to quality has forced the US auto industry to step-it-up over the last few decades.

Right now more than Toyota’s cars are speeding down the road out-of-control.

They’ve Ruined Times Square

New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

times-square-daytime-empty.jpgNew York City has ruined Times Square! Is that blunt enough? They have changed the entire complexion of the “Crossroads of America” by removing vehicular traffic–and it sucks!

I’m a Times Square guy. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. I remember when it was a scuzzy strip of sleaze. No regrets from me those days are over. The family friendly, advertising overgrown, garishly bright Times Square that replaced the sleaze was magical.

No more.

The secret of Times Square was you were walking through a city in perpetual motion. The traffic on Broadway and 7th Avenue just reinforced that ‘heart of the city’ feel. The lights from the cars and trucks and the sound of their horns performed as an underscore does in a movie.

times-square-empty-at-night.jpgGone! It’s gone. New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

When we were in New York last week I originally thought we’d picked a dead night. Nope.

With broad spaces of the square open the feeling of the crowd is gone! Every night feels like a dead night. There is too much space in a city which prides itself on the optimum use of too little.

I’m sure there are good reasons for this move, but they’re lost on me. Times Square has now been fully “Disneyized!’ It’s disappointing.

ruby-red-staircase-times-square.jpgThis blog entry could easily end right here, but there is one thing that was done right–the rebuilding of the TKTS facility in the northern end of Times Square. A ruby red staircase has been placed over TKTS stretching toward the statue of Father Duffy.

This wide open access staircase was constantly full of tourists with cameras during my trips through the area. It’s a great vantage point from which to view the surroundings.

It would be better with traffic flowing around it.

looking-south-into-times-square-from-stairs.jpg

Living The Fantasy: Conan’s Last Tonight Show

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

In broadcasting you usually don’t know you’re doing your last show! That’s part of the reason it’s every broadcaster’s fantasy to have one chance to go off as a class act (or flaming a-hole) and say all those things you always wanted to say, but couldn’t. Tonight was Conan’s night.

This is a very complex story with heroes and villains.

Briefly, NBC made some serious mistakes and tried to get Conan to share the blame.

Correctly, Conan refused to hold hands with the guy getting electrocuted! That one move of defiance has jumped started whatever Conan will do next.

At the same time Conan’s 11:35 PM show was an unquestioned ratings disaster. His recent actions may have bought him a pass from the public, but the industry knows he underperformed in nearly every possible way.

Was he too hip for Middle America? Maybe. Personally I think the show should have stayed in New York.

In the end NBC looks foolish and vindictive and pays through the nose. If anyone outside the business cared about NBC’s Jeff Zucker they’d wonder how he’s staying employed through all of this? I’m wondering.

Would you still be employed after a decision you personally made proved so costly?

Jay Leno, who also shouldn’t be the villain right now, turns into the poster child for Dear Abby’s&#185 famous, “Time wounds all heels.” He is the Hannibal Lechter of late night television!

Jay’s crime was beating out David Letterrman for the Tonight Show and then winning in the ratings even though he is less smart, less talented and certainly less funny than Dave.

He is literally a victim of his own success. I guess that’s sad, though I feel no sympathy.

I’ve had friends who should know tell me Jay isn’t a nice guy. Is that true or just sour grapes? No way to know.

That characterization has gotten a lot a play recently. Jay is injured by it.

So, Conan gets a last show and an “A” list line-up for it. Tom Hanks said, “In our house, you will always be the host of The Tonight Show.” Will Ferrell sang off-key. Neil young sang on-key. Steve Carell gave him his NBC exit interview.

In his valedictorian address Conan said: “I hate cynicism, It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Finally, he walks away with a boatload of money.

Money can make life easier, but it is not the key to happiness. Satisfaction comes with accomplishment.

Conan will be back.

&#185 – I find no evidence on the Internet she is the originator of that line though I always thought she was. Whatever.