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LA Times barred from Disney movies after report on corporate welfare (boingboing.net)
454 points by adamnemecek on Nov 7, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 209 comments

Seems like everyone is using the comments to throw shade on Disney, but I'd like to praise the LA Times for publishing good reporting under pressure not to.

Despite not technically being an independent paper (Are there any anymore?) I have long admired the LA Times as one of, if not the only, US paper left that does what seems like independent journalism and is not afraid to call out stories everyone else is ignoring.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a single owner, Glenn Taylor.

Source: I work for the Star Tribune.

The Washington Post also has a single owner, Jeff Bezos.

Classic Streisand effect. I wouldn't have heard of this had Disney not tried to "punish" the person who brought it to light.

Well, not really. Reading between lines, I'm assuming they're discouraging any future bad press articles from LA Times and all other news outlets, not necessarily suppressing a single article. Whether it's effective in the long run will be hard to determine as we can't measure future unpublished articles we never hear about.

Also, LA Times gets free advertising!

Many times people don't have the "star power" to meet the threshold for the Streisand effect inflect.

I would suggest that Disney is even more famous than Barbra Streisand.

If I were the LA Times, every Disney movie review would be replaced by text saying "Disney has blacklisted us from early screenings as a retaliation for an article we published on them. When our reviewer has a chance to attend a normal screening we will place the review here, until then, please enjoy this reprint of the original article".

They actually did release an article in place of a _Thor: Ragnarok_ review that mentioned the original article.

[edit: here's the note: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-holiday-movie-pre... ]

I would also urge the LA Times to consider submitting 1 star reviews to various review aggregators (metacritic/rotten tomatoes) due to being unable to view early screenings. I think the critic industry should stand up to this sort of strong arming.

It'd be fitting if the stink of this move clung to their creative productions.

That would muddy the waters. A review of any sort of something they haven't seen due to Disney's behavior would be unnecessarily vindictive. It would also far more negatively impact the people involved in the movie (outside corporate Disney) than necessary.

Point out why there isn't a review the opening day, with a reference to the original article and Disney's dispute. And then post a real review (or don't bother reviewing at all) once they can see it. That is far more responsible and professional.

That's the equivalent of people leaving 1-star Amazon reviews of an item they never received. It's juvenile and doesn't help anybody.

The proper response would be to go after Disney even harder. Go after the politicians they puppet. Be as much of a nuisance as they can be until concessions are made.

larry mantle on airtalk is actually talking about the LA times & disney conflict right now: https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/

they also talked about the blacklisting on friday as well on filmweek: http://www.scpr.org/programs/filmweek/

>Disney CEO Bob Iger is said to have ordered the retaliatory measure against the LA Times, and is also thought to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, which augurs poorly for his approach to the free press.

Wow, I hadn't heard this was a possibility until now. I sure am looking forward to seeing which of the many {m/b}illionaires ends up winning the presidency in 2020! How about we just cut out the middlemen and make it a big national bidding war. Most money offered gets to be president.

> Most money offered gets to be president.

But even that doesn't work. In 2016 for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton's campaign had $790M USD versus Donald Trump's $408M USD.

She had double the money 'to buy the presidency' and she still lost.


I risk to devolve this into a flame war, but I think it would be a good idea to wait what Muellers investigation finds with regard to influences on the presidential election, so money spend by third parties to help get someone elected can be attributed to the corresponding campaign.

No flame war here, but as someone who has friends and family in Appalachia and middle America who voted for Trump, I tire of the "Trump won, and we didn't foresee it, so it must have been Russia tricking stupid, dumb rednecks into voting for him" narrative. I dislike it because if Hillary had won, nobody would be looking into this at all. They would simply accept that in a free republic, policing what people hear is impossible, and you have to just trust the voters to not be fucking morons. But she didn't win, so we on the collective left have decided we can't trust voters to not be morons, and need to clamp down on the source of these people's misinformation. Does anyone here know a single person who switched their vote from Hillary to Trump? I don't.

Trump didn't magically get votes that Romney didn't. Instead, the data shows that Hillary didn't get black voters to turnout in the numbers that Obama did. She got them to turnout in the numbers that John Kerry did, and subsequently lost. Is this because she's white, and a significant minority of black people who voted for Obama simply choose not to participate when a non-black candidate is nominated by the Democrats? Nobody has the guts to ask that question.

We on the left need to get off of the "Trump stole the election with Russia's help" narrative, and get on the "Hillary doubled Trump's spending, had 5 times as much campaign staff, and according to Donna Brazille hijacked the DNC and the primaries, and still lost" narrative. We have two corrupt political parties in this country, not one. And both sides act like the other party is the only one.

> "Trump won, and we didn't foresee it, so it must have been Russia tricking stupid, dumb rednecks into voting for him"


Some other theories about why black turnout was low this election:

Voter suppression: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppressio...

Russian-funded fake social media activism specifically targeted at black people: https://www.npr.org/2017/10/20/559113232/russian-operatives-...


I agree with voter suppression possibly being a factor. However, any narrative involving "tricking" gullible voters with fake ads is, again, playing to a very dark place in the minds of too many voters on the left. Instead of Russia tricking dumb rednecks into voting FOR Trump, it's tricking poor, helpless black people into NOT voting for Hillary.

Both narratives are virtually impossible to prove or disprove, which makes them perfect fodder for the wishful thinking of the liberal think tanks.

I find them to be highly insulting to the working class whites and blacks that they pertain to.

It is the height of condescension when comparatively wealthy people ascribe a high level of gullibility to people groups who they likely don't associate with. It's patronizing and dehumanizing, and honestly, smug.

You're the one thats bringing in all this insulting classism. No one said "dumb rednecks" except you. No one called black people "poor and helpless" except you. No one in this thread suggested poor people have high levels of gullibility except you. I implore you to let go of this straw man.

Everyone is susceptible to propaganda and information warfare. Rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural.

Critically examining the way false information is spread via social media is not insulting or classist.

Examining social media spreading disinformation is interesting and should be done.

If you think that the fervor with which this is being done isn't being pursued due to a narrative that it caused Trump to win, you're being very naive.

I also resent the fact that you are insinuating I CALLED black people poor and helpless. I didn't. I simply characterized a belief that I believe many pushing the Russian meddling are running with: That these campaigns were not only run (of course they were) but that they were persuasive enough to have had an effect on the outcome of the election.

You aren't wrong about all classes being susceptible to propaganda. I've been shocked by how many well-off people I work and socialize with (fellow left thinking people) have begun to resemble the right-wing people I witnessed for years jumping to conclusions about the fake-scandal that was Benghazi. Rational people who latch onto rumors as facts.

Steve Bannon = White Supremacist (he's not, just an asshole) Donald Trump being blackmailed by Kremlin with tapes of him with hookers (zero evidence) Russians hacked voting machines in key states (zero evidence) Russian ads on social media influenced voting outcomes (zero evidence)

I want to point out that none of these are things that sway people's existing opinions. They are all just confirming their existing biases.

What effect do you think Russian propaganda and voter suppression had on the black turnout for HRC? And what effect did simply not fielding a historical black candidate have on the enthusiasm to vote among the black population?

Also, how does black targeted propaganda and state-wide "voter suppression" laws explain that HRC lost big on the black vote relative to 2012, but Republicans came out equal or perhaps even better in the black vote, despite the media screaming constantly that Trump is racist.

> despite the media screaming constantly that Trump is racist

This stuff is really, really not conducive to good discussion.

> Also, how does black targeted propaganda and state-wide "voter suppression" laws explain that HRC lost big on the black vote relative to 2012, but Republicans came out equal or perhaps even better in the black vote

A few things here:

* Can you cite a source that says Republicans did better in the black vote relative to 2012?

* Since the starting proportions were so skewed, you would expect lower black turnout to disproportionately impact Democrats (due to simple compositional effects).

* The propaganda was specifically anti-Hillary (not anti-voting), so you would expect it to disproportionately impact Democrats.

Despite having an account for almost 8 years here, I can only post about 1 comment per 12 hours, so here is my response:

Do you think it is an unfair statement? Perhaps I should have said "despite the media frequently asserting that Trump is racist".

> * Can you cite a source that says Republicans did better in the black vote relative to 2012?

I compared the 2016 and 2012 CNN exit polls for this: http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls and http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/race/president/

I know exit polls aren't perfect but the samples are large here and I don't see any reason to expect some kind of pro-Trump or anti-Romney bias in these.

What exactly is the Russian propaganda you're talking about? I've only read about them promoting both sides of contentious issues like BLM

As someone who also has friends and family in middle America I honestly believe that the best way to ensure that Trump gets re-elected again in 2020 is maintaining the "only redneck bigots voted for Trump" argument.

Roughly half of Americans voted for Trump, to insinuate that they are all bigots is to insult half of the country. Obviously most of the bigots voted for Trump, but they are still a very small minority. To win the next election Democrats need to convince Trump voters to switch sides by demonstrating that they care about middle America, which is 95% of what Trump's campaign was.

I normally avoid arguments about this, but factually you're incorrect.

There was approximately 61.4% adult voter turnout. Not only that, trump LOST the popular vote with only 46.1% of the ballots.

What this comes out to is that roughly 30% of eligible voting adults supported Trump. This is _nowhere near_ "roughly half of Americans".

(I'd add the additional factor that only ~130[EDIT: 250] million of the ~323 million US population is even eligible to vote. I don't mean this in terms of "Oh secretly all infants liked Hillary" but that it seems disingenuous to portray the numbers as an overwhelming popular mandate in the way you're suggesting. The data is simply not that comprehensive.)

EDIT: As newlyretired correctly pointed out I conflated the total eligible # (250m) with total voted # (130m) That being said, I still stand by the crux of my post.

I wasn't trying to suggest that Trump won by popular vote, I meant that of people who voted about half of them voted Trump.

True Trump only had 46%, but Hillary only had 48%. If the entire US population was only 100 people all lined up on opposite sides of one room you'd have a hard time telling them apart by their numbers alone.

My point was more like this: A lot of people voted for Trump. Incumbents typically have an easier time getting re-elected than their challengers. If Democrats want to stop a second Trump term they need to get voters on their side. Pidgeonholing the entire right side of the American political spectrum as redneck bigots is a surefire

The actual number of eligible voters was about 250 million in the last presidential election, up from 235 million in the 2012 race.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_St...

> I honestly believe that the best way to ensure that Trump gets re-elected again in 2020

That all depends on how the Mueller investigation will end. Chances are Trump will not be able to get on a ballot by then.

Considering that over half the country chose to field these two terrible candidates in the election, I'm perfectly fine with insulting half of the country.

Have you seen the left as of late? They have just as many bigots if not more. They're universally completely intolerant that the person they didn't vote for won the election. They also have rather interesting opinions on white people on the country. If that's not bigotry I don't know what is.

> Trump didn't magically get votes that Romney didn't. Instead, the data shows that Hillary didn't get black voters to turnout in the numbers that Obama did.

It was even worse than that (for HRC and the Dems). Did she even visit Wisconsin during the campaign?

Also there are reports that Trump received a higher fraction of the black vote than Romney got.

Per the Vox article linked in a sibling comment, 95% of black women who voted in 2016 voted for Hillary.

> Instead, the data shows that Hillary didn't get black voters to turnout in the numbers that Obama did.

It also shows voter suppression by Republicans hurt Democratic turnout in critical states (Wisconsin).

Take Wisconsin's 10 EC votes and give them to Clinton and she would still lose. As a side note, I find it interesting how one man's voter suppression laws are another man's voter integrity laws.

“Voter fraud” is just a pretext. It happens at negligible rates whereëver it's been studied, and Republican legislators have actually been caught red-handed conspiring against likely-Democrat demographics, it's not just speculation.

Unbelievably Trump even won overall with white women, he got 53% of that vote.

Source: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/20/14061660/w...

> "Trump won, and we didn't foresee it, so it must have been Russia tricking stupid, dumb rednecks into voting for him"

I disagree that is what the narrative is. I agree, though, that it's not likely any significant number of people (if any) switched votes.

To me, the narrative is that Russia was, and is, sowing discord into politics. They are just trying to incite more civil strife and divide us more. And that is what seems to be working.

The recently publicized ads, for example, all just reinforce right and left-leaning stereotypes. They don't try to get anyone sitting on the fence.

You are correct. This information would be useful, but surely we can't limit it to just one other country and one campaign?

Unless you have some amazing new information, one country and one campaign is about as bold as it seems reasonable to be.

I hear there might be Paradise on the horizon...

Surely we shouldn’t investigate every country in the world in regards to every election we’ve had?

In fact, we do this already. The thing you're describing is commonly referred to as intelligence.

> I think it would be a good idea to wait what Muellers investigation finds with regard to influences on the presidential election

Right now Russian companies are only alleged to have spent a few million dollars, so it's not clear that the investigation will show any material impact on the spending ratios.

Actually Rosneft is alleged to have given 19.5% of its shares in exchange for reducing sanctions against Russia. And by alleged I mean that's what the Steele dossier alleges [0], and 19.5% of Rosneft was sold to a yet to be named buyer in November of last year [1]. That's billions of dollars that a Russian company allegedly spent on the election.

[0] http://www.businessinsider.com/carter-page-trump-russia-igor... [1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-rosneft-privatisat...

Unless they sold that equity and used the money to buy ads, that's not really relevant. The allegations about Trump's digital team being mainly a money laundering operation would potentially be more impactful, but if proven true it would ironically cast doubt on whether they were designed to GOTV.

Relevant in what way? You were discussing alleged spend by Russian companies interfering with the election. You didn't specify that the spend specifically needed to be on mass media.

Paying for campaign staff, ad buys, etc. with dark money isn't a new thing. I don't see why that'd be out of the realm of possibility for the Trump campaign when "normal" campaigns get caught spending dark money.

Seems like this should be a Sputnik moment for the US if the Russian understanding and execution on social networks are so superior to our own that low six figure spending budgets can have any significant influence when hundreds (thousands?) of other entities are spending much more.

Anyone have a good source for an estimate of how much corporations and individuals spent on political advertising last election cycle?

> But even that doesn't work. In 2016 for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton's campaign had $790M USD versus Donald Trump's $408M USD. She had double the money 'to buy the presidency' and she still lost.

In addition, we can look at state-level races to get more data on the effect of campaign spending. It turns out that, after a certain point[0], campaign spending does not correlate very well with campaign success, and in self-funded candidates in particular actually tend to underperform: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/sometimes-money-cant-bu...

[0] ie, obviously your gubernatorial campaign won't get very far if you only have $1000, total. But the difference between $40MM (what Brown spent in his 2010 campaign for governor) and $200MM (what Meg Whitman spent in that same race) is a lot less than people think.

Does that count the amount of free press Trump received during the campaign?

Don't know why you're getting downvoted. Trump was the best thing that ever happened to the media and they didn't stop talking about his antics for the entire election.

He made them alot of money in clicks, and that's what journalism is about.

Ultimate responsibility maybe lies somewhere else, but there's plenty of blame to go around and they emphatically deserve some of it.

> they didn't stop talking about his antics

They still haven't. Whenever I tune into CNN, all they ever talk about is Trump. I watch NBC instead.

Natural disasters also get a lot of free press, if the ratings are high enough.

Natural disasters rely exclusively on word-of-mouth advertising. Political campaigns? not so much.

I agree this is a legitimate question. How much would this add up to in 'in-kind' contributions? Have any media companies claimed in-kind contributions to the Trump Campaign or Trump Organization?

Wasn't there an internal Apple document about the importance of free promotions its products receive in movies and shows?

Found a quick link from google.


It worked for Scott Walker in the Wisconsin recall. He outspent his opponent 10:1 to win only by a couple points.

That's because a very large fraction of the voters there has their mind made up long before the elections and only a small fraction will end up deciding the vote. So all that money goes towards targeting a very small number of people and whichever way the vote goes in Wisconsin it will only be won by a few percentage points.

To go beyond that you'd have to go back to Johnson vs Goldwater, which was before I was even born.

This was advertising spend to blanket the state, across different broadcast mediums (radio, tv, etc.) It wasn't "highly targeted" to just a small demographic.

It was highly targeted to a small group of people: swing voters. I didn't use the word demographic.

That those swing voters themselves are a mixed bunch is not relevant, all that expense went to influence just a very small fraction of the state population.

Are you sure about that? Seems more like 2-to-1 according to this: http://www.wisdc.org/pr072512.php

$408M USD, but how many rubles?

Versus Donald Trump's reported $408m. How much came from Putin et al?

Let's just start selling the role outright. It would be more efficient, most likely lead to the same result, and avoiding the grating, bullshit horserace coverage for a year would make everyone's live better.

This is a funny joke, but empirically not true as of this last election. Hillary massively out spent Trump.

I don't see why you're being downvoted, it's true.

There are some counter-arguments to make, of course.

One of them is that this model is true in general, but not in every single case. Rather, it may be more useful to say that media attention for your story wins elections, and typically money is a good proxy in terms of the purchasing power to get your story out there. Whether that's via pure advertising, or financing community organisers, or the best PR, money is a solid proxy. And Trump was exceptional in that he had celebrity status and an incendiary message that didn't need much money to get attention, combined with an exceptional time of social media that magnifies incendiary messages very cheaply and buries nuance as nuance doesn't go viral.

It'll remain to be seen if this will become the new model, or whether money will continue to be the best predictor of election outcomes. I think the model will change, but the latter statement will remain true.

Of course, by vote-outcomes indeed her campaign (and you may say, her money) did win her more votes. So even this election could be viewed as business-as-usual, the Democrats and its leader got the most votes.

Finally, there's lots of speculation about spending that aren't part of the official figures. We now have evidence that this is the case, with Russia spending in the order of millions on a divisive campaign, mostly against Hillary and in favour of her opponents (both Republican and Democrat. A bit like how Bush at one point ran a campaign for independents/greens, as they were most likely to steal away Democratic votes). With the level of support by Trump for cutting taxes for multinationals and the richest individuals in the country, as well as support from Russia, it wouldn't be surprising if they supported him outside of the official spending figures, either. There is evidence it happened, we're just unsure of the magnitude.

Trump had a real genius for getting free media attention (in return for giving the media good numbers of viewers with his antics).

This is what so many people fail to grasp. Trump used some major judo on the media. They thought they were totally trashing him (and they were), but he leveraged the massive negative media attention to his benefit in a way I think the media and Democrats still largely don't understand.

The biggest problem, I think, is that the media still think that people find them objective, when they are trusted at rates comparable to Congress' approval ratings. Trump tapped into this distrust and played the media like a fiddle, and in doing so, he was not only able to win a Republican primary that few people expected, but a general election that even fewer people expected.

To put this more simply, when the media acts like the propaganda wing of the Democrat Party, they are only preaching to the choir (who already agree with them), and the ignorant, who are gullible enough to believe the media are objective.

They aren't persuading anyone who is informed, unless they already agree with them.

He also simply called into the media, giving dozens of live interviews. Did Hillary ever do that? Or did she just go from one staged Q&A session to another?

It’s been a topic that’s has come up a few times - was it a tactic that was considered, or was it something that just happened and has benefitted him?

That's a big question. Probably a bit of both---Trump has been playing the celebrity game for long enough to notice that any publicity is good publicity.

But I'm by no means an expert, I'm not even American. And people who know more have been speculating about the exact extents of the two factors for a while.

Trump got several billion dollars in free coverage. No one would care about Trump if he was not Trump.

I don't think that's intellectually honest. The last presidential election was a clear counterexample of the "money buys the presidency" narrative.

After the fact you can always think of a reason that the counterexample is a special exception, and doesn't really invalidate a claim.

Someone who likes Trump could just as easily call his campaign grassroots from an outsider who didn't try to use his vast wealth to buy the presidency, but instead made a strong message for the voters.

The last election shows, among other things, that the media so grossly overplayed their hand that it backfired on them greatly, and Trump was there to take every advantage that was possible to take. Meanwhile, Clinton literally acted as if the election were merely a formality and coasted (although she spent a huge amount of money).

I can say personally that the media's breathless spittle-flecked coverage of Trump did nothing to turn me off to him, and only improved my opinion of him. I did not vote for him in the primary and was angry when he ran, but by the time the general election came along, the idea inflicting schadenfreude on the media and left became incredibly appealing to me, and along with the fact that I would no sooner vote for Clinton than for Chairman Mao, and the fact that I wasn't going to throw away my vote, I pulled the lever for Trump.

What you describe is similar to a heroic moment in a dystopian novel: the elites have already chosen for you, elimated all of your other reasonable options, left you with only one horrible alternative that you'd be a fool to exercise.

But you, the protagonist, defy wisdom and reassert your free will by choosing the horrible option.

Though your chance at heroism does place you in real risk of becoming a villian, in this case. I hope that doesn't happen.

Voting in the general isn't about picking the perfect candidate. It's about picking the best candidate out of a limited selection. It's not even really a political decision but a game theory one. I am willing to vote for someone I don't like because he's infinitely preferable (or even somewhat preferable) to the alternative. That doesn't mean I own every bad thing Trump does. Like you said, I asserted my will and made a decision.

I also know that I would face a lot of criticism, ridicule, and yes, hatred for expressing that truth (and I can already hear the chorus of, "But you deserve it!"... I'm not impressed ). Well, here it is. I voted for Trump and I'm glad I did.

You are correct. He didn't spend a single dollar on television (or radio) advertising (http://fortune.com/2016/08/09/donald-trump-tv-ads-clinton/). He relied on tweets, controversial statements, and third parties for all of his advertising. This was mentioned several times by at least NPR near the end of the 2016 campaign cycle, as I recall.

> He didn't spend a single dollar on television (or radio) advertising

Before that August. He started spending after that.

Does it even matter, with respect to the problems with our plutocracy? Every election the same plutocrats win no matter what, for example: https://theintercept.com/2016/12/09/trump-makes-america-gold...

Why shouldn't it anger a lot of people? Why can't we preserve America for Americans?

the vast majority negative.

what it really shows that it takes an incredible level of personal wealth and fame to beat the two party system and even then he had to usurp one of parties to do it.

I have no problem with his wealth and fame, I have a problem of it being an example of how much it takes to break the stranglehold those two parties have on our system. worse they use people and wealth like his as the means to implement rules to prevent outsiders from rising

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity...

Only in official spending. Third parties aren't counted so it's a mostly meaningless measure. All it means is Hillary was worse at hiding the contributions to her campaign.

Or that she legitimately spent way more money and it was spent poorly.

Possible, although I am dubious of any measure of campaign spending that does not include PAC contributions.

I'm sure it was a calculated decision rather than incompetence. She would have been burned at the stake long ago if she did anything not entirely above board.

She was burned at the stake politically anyway, I'm not sure how much difference it would have made.

There's a variant of this that's been studied: quadratic voting, but more in the context of corporate governance. It actually can have positive effects.


But then what would the media have to talk about?

Reminds me of the short lived reign of the emperor who purchased his title. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didius_Julianus

Ha, I specifically remember this as one of my favorite episodes from the History of Rome Podcast[0] by Michael Duncan (#98 in linked list[1]).

Of some relevance is his new book that just came out, The Storm Before the Storm[2], which details the events that preceded the rise of Julius Caesar and paved the way for him to overthrow the republic.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_Rome_(podcast)

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/ancientrome/comments/32lono/every_e...

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Before-Beginning-Roman-Republic...

After two years of getting through the back catalog I'm almost done with The History of Rome. I highly, highly recommend to it anyone who likes history or Rome or just a good story.

Oh man, I'm excited for you, I cried when I got to the end of THoR... you gonna continue with The History of Byzantium or Revolutions Podcast?

I find Robin Pierson to be pretty good (THoB), but I find I can't stop listening to Duncan... I'll buy the audio book for Storm Before the Storms just to keep listening.

Oh boy, I had heard of Revolutions but not that he did the history of Byzantium. Looks like I'm sticking with Romans, thanks for the heads up :D

Ah well, Mike doesn't do Byzantium, he started Revolutions instead... Robin Pierson was a podcaster who liked THoR so much that he decided to pickup where Mike left off.

I'm 60ish episodes in and it's pretty good, but not quite the same... Revolutions is pretty much the sameish format with Mike, but different kind of history.

I got you now. I'll definitely check it out anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

Careful; even Mike has cautioned against that comparison (in, I think his second Q&A episode).

And only the bidders who lost will have to pay!

And the federal government finances all of the bidding.

>Most money offered gets to be president.

Didn't seem to work very well for Hillary... (I know this sounds like a cheap shot, but it completely breaks down your argument)

$2B in free media attention helped a bit, I'd imagine. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-t...

It does. But that free media attention did not come out of Trump's campaign chest. So porfirium's argument stands.

Smart people know how to leverage spending. Dumb people just throw stupid amount of money at everything.

Of course, smart people do stupid things sometimes and vice versa.

(I am under the impression Trump was a much better campaigner than governor--and that's not measured by me liking any of his policies, but by the amount of things he's actually getting implemented.)

Was Clinton blocked from social media?

She could have polluted Twitter and the news with sound bites that forced analysis and coverage of her, which is what Trump did.

He played the media and Twitter and got free advertising. She had as much accessibility but didn't use it to her advantage and thus ended up losing.

Nah. She hired the smartest people in a room, the ones that laughted at Trumps digital operation. There was an article in 2016 that compared Clinton's Silicone Valley staffed machine with a pile of Macbook carrying geeks, big data, mobile developers vs. that sleepy dude in a corner. A few google queries can't seem to find it but i will dig it out later. It was that priceless.

The SV circle jerk worked about as well as expected.

The "Free media attention" was encouraged by the Clinton campaign. It was their "pied piper" strategy. They wanted to go against The Donald, because they felt it was their best chance of winning. https://www.salon.com/2016/11/09/the-hillary-clinton-campaig...

Oh hey are we under a post about a guy running for president that he didn't pay for?

As I recall, that media coverage was almost entirely negative.

These stories of malfeasance by elected officials, where the representatives act so clearly against their office and the public good, present a conundrum. The campaign contributions even at a national level simply aren’t enough money to incentivize the given level of corruption.

I really want to know: what are the incentives? Are there secret payments?

I remember Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was convicted for receiving porch renovations, and his legislative actions were worth billions to the industry providing gifts in kind. It doesn’t make sense, perhaps we are not discovering the true payments.

For the politician being bribed, the relevant calculus isn't the size of the service done for the briber - it's their perceived risk of discovery and punishment, which is already low enough before taking into account the human tendency to undervalue low-probability risks.

This implies that the moral cost of corruption (knowing you are responsible for banrupting the city you represent for example) means absolutely nothing to the elected official.

There exist officials for whom that is true, even if that's not the norm.

Jobs after you're done in office?

Disney reversed this decision and LA Times critics will be invited to screeners again.


I'm glad corporate influence on local politics is getting as much attention as it is, between this story and Amazon's second headquarters bid war. I hope these stories garner enough attention to call citizens to action. At the very least, we need to elect officials that will prioritize oversight of these public/private deals.

Curious how much headwind this will generate. Other critics and award groups already boycotting Disney screenings in solidarity:



Below I've linked a few more. It's a bit of a prisoner's dilemma: whichever media outlets don't participate in the boycott will have a competitive advantage when they put out early reviews, but it hurts all outlets if Disney is able to pull off the intimidation power play.




Implying people go out of their way to read Disney movie reviews. People who go see these movies are probably parents with children. Your average 5-yo doesn't make the decision whether or not to see "German fairy tales 5: Snow white harder" based on the review in Hollywood Tribune.

Disney is a massive studio that includes Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and TV shows on ABC and ESPN.

Disney puts out a lot of films, many through subsidiaries. Certainly Disney Children's Animated Film is going to get a lot of ticket sales regardless of reviews, but Marvel Comic Book Movie: The Comic Book We All Forgot About is something I'd like to check a review for -- especially if I'm considering bringing my child, I want to have some idea of what lines its crossing.

Good point. Idk how I forgot about that.

Disney is more than just movies for little kids. It's Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and more.

Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars. The have a massive leverage with those.


First, third and fourth most popular movies of 2017 are Disney, and the year is not yet over (Thor, Star Wars).


First, second, third fifth, seventh and eleventh most popular movie of 2016 are all Disney.

Which makes you wonder how YouTubers monetize their baby and dog videos. The internet is a magical place where money materializes for bad reasons.

Marvel films are covered by this as well.

Well, too much headwind I guess, ban already ended:


Aren't all video game review sites like this? All AAA games get inflated scores to not offend the studios.

Giantbomb doesn't, as far as I can tell. Jeff Gerstmann started the site shortly after he was let go from GameSpot (rumored) for posting a low-score review of a game which was advertising heavily on their platform.


They openly talked about it when CBSi (also owners of Gamespot) bought Giant Bomb back in... 2012? I forget what year, but it was pretty open about his Kane and Lynch review got him fired.

Was there. Can confirm it was Kane and Lynch.

Indeed they do - because video game journalism does not have the same ethical standards (not in the Gamergate sense) that film and literary journalism do.

How so? Until I got to college my second job (after "sandwich artist" at Wendy's) was as a paid contributor to one of the two powerhouse gaming blogs at the time (the one that wasn't Kotaku; if you were in the scene back then, you'd heard of us), back when blogging was first coming to the public consciousness and the term "blogosphere" had yet to be coined. And while in retrospect I'd classify the quality of my own writing as "tabloid amateur" at best (please, God, don't go look at it!), we held ourselves to quite high standards of integrity: we could not accept any gifts from publishers, including paying for our own lodging and airfare when traveling to events; if we attended after-parties (at E3 and such), we had to disclose our presence and acknowledge any conflicts of interest; and when receiving games to review not only did we have to disclose as such, but we were forbidden from keeping any games, so we held raffles in order to award the games to our readers (back when physical copies were the norm, remember). If even our flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants blog could adhere to standards, why is everyone so dim on the prospect of integrity for game journalists?

The blogs on that scale sadly do not set the standard; as long as IGN and Gamespot are willing to put up with these shenanigans, the game companies can get away with it.

Kotaku was blacklisted by Bethesda for reporting on Fallout 4 before it was revealed.


Not exactly local government corrupted by a major corporation here, but yeah studios blacklist for reports they don't like.

Isn't violating embargo different? I thought most reviewers agree to that explicitly.

The main difference is that gamers are much better connected than movie goers I think. This sort of behavior might not have as many repercussions for movie studios as it does for gaming studios.

That's not necessarily true, lots of gamers are just casual gamers who will only buy the blockbusters, just as with movies, and will probably not go beyond checking the metacritic score before buying, or even worse they will preorder it before the reviews are even out.

I think the main difference is that AAA games are much more expensive than a movie ticket, so the percentage of people who do this is lower.

"better" doesn't seem a good description for the gaming community's connection to studios. In many cases, gamers themselves might even strong-arm media outlets for studios with or without permission, hence the inflated scores. The recent fake review on Mario Odyssey comes to mind.

The Jim Sterling one?

This behavior has near zero repercussions for gaming studios. Despite companies like Ubisoft blacklisting and badmouthing critics who gave honest opinions of arguably poor game design choices, these companies have never been richer

For a company that has aspirations for a streaming service, they sure are digging in their heels with the traditional theater/award model.

Never leave money on the table.

I think companies need to fail every once in a while, to teach them humility. Companies that are too big to fail learn only pride and arrogance. As we should know from the history of theater, hubris is the one thing that telegraphs more than other that the character is headed for some dramatic comeuppance.

Four critics' groups have already declared a boycott on Disney with respect to their awards presentations, explicitly citing the LA Times ban as their reason.

We do not have an adversarial press in the US anymore. There is virtually no investigative journalism from major outlets that threatens the status quo at all.

BTW TFA caused my laptop to heat up with all the ads.

So let's assume the people who run Anaheim are not idiots. My question would be did they run the cost analysis of these tax breaks for Disney versus the expected boon to the city from other incomes? If the income from externalities is greater than the actual income would have been from Disney, it seems like it would have been a decent decision. This is of course ignoring political principles of fair taxation.

Being an "idiot" is not the only or even the most probable reason for making a bad political decision (if this is one). You're committing the common fallacy of oversimplifying by assuming that the principal and the agent are identical, which is never true in government,by definition. Anaheim is not a person who makes its own decisions: there are politicians who make decisions on behalf of the city of Anaheim (and its constituents). Those politicians, as separate entities, have their own incentives. It's entirely rational (and unethical, but not "idiotic") for them to make choices that benefit themselves to the detriment of their constituents. For example, FTA:

> Support for various deals benefiting Disney has come from Anaheim City Council members who have received generous campaign contributions through a byzantine network of political action committees funded by the company

Now I'm not saying that this definitely _is_ bad policy, but your assumption that they must be "idiots" to make the wrong decision for the city isn't a well-founded one. It could easily just be garden variety corruption.

Well said.

On a related note on of my most memorable classes in college was Philosophy of Business Ethics. One of the many takeaways I had was that business do not make decisions. People (agents) in the business make the decisions. Disney did that, Disney decided this, what's best for Disney is, etc. But in reality people are making these decisions, not some nebulous company concept. Same concept as you are pointing out.

If it's like any other large suburb, the people who run Anaheim are only there short term as a springboard to bigger offices. If you want to move up in politics, Disney is a great friend with deep pockets. So they probably did the bare minimum of analysis with the goal of giving Disney what they wanted.

Edit: Wanted to add that this is actually a great way to think about people's motivations. Most people are not stupid; so assume a smart person made this seemingly stupid decision. If you do that, you can usually back into their personal motivations, which probably are not aligned with those of the organization they are representing.

If it's anything like cities near me, the problem is that the elected officials have concentrated their concerns on one area of the city, and neglected other areas. Disney tax breaks are probably great for Disney and the immediate area, but Anaheim has a lot of area outside the immediate area of Disneyland.

In the Bay Area, see how San Jose officials spends so much focus on the downtown, but the city is very spread out, and many residents have no connection to downtown.

Disney and Anaheim need each other. It's not as if Anaheim didn't pay for the private parking lot Disney would have picked up and left. It's just pure political bribery corruption of the type that is legal and commonplace in our great democracy.

We don't have to assume they'd do that. How many municipalities around the country have given massive tax breaks for theme parks or sports stadiums, despite every bit of research saying they don't pan out?

>This is of course ignoring political principles of fair taxation.

Of course.

You also can't ignore the possibility of kickbacks.

"Anaheim has made a number of seemingly inexplicable decisions that offered millions in direct subsidy to Disney: for example, the city spent $108.2m to build Disneyland's new parking garage (where visitors pay between $20 and $35/day to park), and charges the company $1/year to lease it. The garage was financed with bonds that will pay out $1.1B in interest, and when they are paid off, the company will own the garage."

Wow. That's infuriating. The people of Anaheim should be irate. A total of $1.2 billion essentially donated to Disney over however many years those bonds are for. I wonder if anyone violated any laws to make that deal happen...

This is similar to the tactic used by Harvey Weinstein to discourage newspapers from reporting on rape allegations against him.

Journalists that participated in the cover-up got access to his film premieres, parties at award ceremonies, interviews with celebrities and so on. Turns out that was enough to get every entertainment journalist to cover up his crimes for years.

Apparently people in Hollywood don't see any problem with this!

> Apparently people in Hollywood don't see any problem with this!

I suspect the bigger problem is that there are so few honest people involved in the business that you would have to shut down if you broke off association with everybody doing shady things in Hollywood.

While I'm pleased to see Weinstein going down, I keep scratching my head about "We know that there are people in Hollywood doing far worse things. Why the focus on Weinstein in particular? Something smells kind of fishy ..."

I wonder if the child sex abuse problem in hollywood will ever be blown wide open like this current scandal was. I imagine it is comparably widespread and it's a /much/ greater threat to the reputations of those involved, so really any measures to keep it covered up would seem justifiable those on the inside.

My assumption is that he upset some other powerful people who then allowed this to happen. Reminds me of a line from Rules for Rulers by CGP Grey:


It's not the people's revolt that overthrows the king, it's the court who are overthrowing the king by allowing the people's revolt to progress... because the king has stopped providing them with enough treasure to keep him propped up.

My guess is that something changed the political calculus for his key supporters and they either precipitated this or allowed it to happen.

For sure there are other abusers who are probably showering their allies in treasure to keep them loyal so they don't get caught up in this.

It's also the tactic used by the Bush administration to deal with negative reporting... limit their access to white house pressers and the President.

Probably something done a lot in politics.

At a lower level, this is the game everyone who participates in "access journalism" is playing. Journalists and publications build relationships with sources and report stories keeping one eye on the writing/impact/truthfulness and another on the long term relationship with the sources.

That's the implied norm of institution (business/government) relationships with the media - we maintain relationships, you write about us and some stories will be critique us so we'll soft cut your access off for a little bit but not explicitly and then we'll let you in again.

An example would the one you yourself made. Journalists join the White House press corps, and over time get access to various West Wing staffers to write stores.

(if you're wondering whether this mechanism contributes to status quo bias and protection of established interests you're headed in the right direction :) )

Access journalism is distinct from investigative journalism which is what we're seeing here. Investigative journalism assumes journalistic independence and a more adversarial relationship with the institution being documented. What we hope to see after an expose like this is the institution coming to terms with its behavior and in response to public outcry, tempering the things that were revealed.

The problem of course is that institutional power in the United States, especially that of large corporations, is so large that they respond to this kind of journalism with aggression.

I don't know whether Disney will suffer for making that choice, but I hope that they do.

Same thing happens with pro sports teams, especially when it comes to coverage of stadium subsidies. If you want year around free content via access to players and staff, you can't report anything that harms the business side of the operation. So now almost every local media outlet cheerleads for new stadiums and arenas to be paid for by public dollars.

Government should not be picking winners and losers. Giving tax breaks and subsidies to Disney so they can stay afloat is horrible. Hats off to the LA times for exposing this, the people are waking up and are tired of big government and corporate America robbing the poor and middle class blind.

So this what the serious movie reviewers do in such cases:

They ignore it. Sometimes it's fun to take down a bad movies, such as the usual big warmongering patriotic Hollywood blockbusters or the latest fascist superhero fad or genocidal fanfare. Sometimes it's necessary education. But mostly you ignore it.

Those blockbuster movies only live by the advance hype and star power. After the first weekend and the first serious reviews are in, they usually go down very fast, that's why they take the Spielberg/Jaws route, starting in >3000 theaters, best worldwide, and leave them after the first or 2nd week.

If it's really bad, no advance screenings to the previews are allowed for certain movies when they don’t expect the reviews to be very positive. Although studios often give the flimsy excuse that a particular movie was intended only to please the fans, rather than snooty critics, most of the time this is a strong indication that a movie is a piece of crap. They just want to give themselves a chance to make money on the opening weekend before word gets out about how bad it really is. Disney is one of the worst offenders in the business, besides the Weinsteins, Relativity and New Line Cinema.

This is also the best sign to check if it's worthwhile. When there's only marketing hype or official press clippings but no serious review, the movie is mostly crap. No one writes about it.

Disney has reversed its LA Times ban after backlash by other media outlets. Apologies if this was updated before and I missed it.


Am I the only one who DID forsee Donald Trump becoming president? He is the most accurate reflection of what America has become.

Yes. You are the only one.

I feel like things like this are a fundamental social problem. How can this be prevented?

Pass a Constitutional amendment that states that corporations are not people. Then start passing laws that restrict the free speech of corporations and then pass more laws stating that money is speech. Then there can be fine tuned laws stating the max that a person can give to a candidate and start forcing all organizations that have anything to do with politics to register and state who is giving them money. Eliminate all anonymous donations.

It is highly unlikely this is going to happen.

> Pass a Constitutional amendment that states that corporations are not people.

No one claims they're people. The law lets them stand in as people so society can function. The whole "corporations aren't people" meme is myopically fixated on campaign finance, ignoring the much larger issues around this legal doctrine.

Can a corporation own property?

Can it own patents? Copyrights? Trademarks?

Can it be sued in court?

Can it file lawsuits itself?

Can it make contracts?

I don't think any of us would like the result of answering "no" to all those questions, yet those are the questions that the legal fiction of corporate personhood was invented to answer.

Should corporations have the same free speech rights as people? I can see an argument for answering that "no", as rich corporations may speak disproportionately powerfully. I can also see an argument for answering it "yes", in the sense that corporations are just people acting together, and collective speech should be just as protected as individual speech.


Remember that whatever constraints you put on EvilCorp's speech are going to apply just as well to the Sierra Club, a labor union, or the NAACP. I honestly don't know if that's a tradeoff work making. Maybe it is.

I agree with your point about transparency.

Unlikely to work, if it were to happen.

Addings more laws tends to help the people who can afford lawyers.

You could look at simplifications instead, eg change the voting system from first-past-the-post to something like range voting, and candidate behaviour (and thus reacting to incentives) would completely change.

I'm a billionaire. I buy a couple local news companies and tell them to run what ever content I want. How do you stop this without limiting free speech of the individual as well?

Right but there's a bigger problem and that is that law making is detached from law making.

A culture of expectations that businesses behave ethically and do not bribe their governments. Campaign finance reform. Powerful government regulators that actually scare companies. A department of justice, for example, that observes this and decides to nationalize Disney, break it up, or delete it from the universe using existing anti-bribery or anti-trust laws. A state of California that decides to prosecute executives or at least threaten them with jailtime. Maybe send SWAT teams to raid their mansions and shoot their dogs, like they do with suspected poor black pot dealers.

The worst punishment any company receives for bribing, stealing from, defrauding, or poisoning the public is a slap on the wrist that is outweighed by the profit they make committing crimes. We need to be comfortable with devastating corporate punishments (company-destroying fines, mandatory company breakups, nationalization, jailtime for executives, asset seizure) to have any effect at all. What did we learn from Equifax? Don't worry about the security of people's data, there is basically zero real consequence to posting sensitive data on every citizen in plaintext on the Internet. Money spent on security is a waste, an objectively bad business decision. That's what our government and regulatory bodies have told us. And it's what the market has told us as well, but we already expected that -- we expect the market to choose evil when given the choice, every time. That is its function.

Right now, a CEO cannot say to their board "Yes, the cost/benefit analysis and market forces suggest we should bribe the city officials and steal money from the taxpayers, but we'd go to jail so we can't" because it is not true. All they can say is "it is morally wrong" which does nothing except get that uppity CEO fired so somebody who really cares about profits can be brought on.

Another day, another despicable act by our political elites.

haha, wrong thread, but it kind of fits...

This post seems to have brought the concentration of corporate power / regulatory capture HN critics out of the woodwork.

I am so happy to see and read all of you.

Private company does not invite random media outlet to movie screening. How is this news?

Private company is also spending suspicious amounts of money on political action committees, and receiving suspicious favors from local government; and the news outlet reported on this before being barred from screenings.

Yeesh, even if you only read the headline, you should be able to figure out that there’s more to it than that.

The private company in question depends on a squeaky clean image. So, finding evidence of them interacting with corrupt politicians is news. Then it turns out that they are so made that they throw a tantrum that makes them look even worse.

I think municipalities should be free to make the best deal they can with large employers like this. Chips fall where they may. They are all elected officials so therefore directly accountable. Seems like the system is working just fine here.

Doesn't seem like this is anyone else's business.

>They are all elected officials so therefore directly accountable. Seems like the system is working just fine here.

Did you actually read the LA Times article? Be honest. This post really makes it sound like you did not.

Yes I did, bad assumption

Part of holding those officials accountable is reporting on what they're doing.

And, quite frankly, no, they should not be able to make deals like this. Not without the city voting on it. There is precisely zero reason why this is needed.

> They are all "elected" officials so therefore "directly" "accountable".

Please look into how campaign funding works. The fundamental problem is that if you employ half of the city, you have quite a bit more leverage than the mayor.

>Seems like the system is working just fine here.

They gifted a parking garage/ 1 billion dollars of tax-payer funds to a multinational corporation who was hardly going to pull up stakes and move one of their flagship parks. How is this working fine?

If you live in that town and work for Disney you probably think it's working just fine.

Anaheim's population is roughly 350k. Disneyland has 22k employees. Obviously, not all of them live in Anaheim; anecdotally, at one time I knew a handful of Disneyland employees and only one of them lived in the city.

I'm sure Disney corporate, headquartered in nearish-by Burbank, employs some Anaheim residents too, but you're still talking about a small minority of Anaheim's citizens.

It's also not clear why an ordinary Anaheim citizen and employee of Disney would be happy with this arrangement.

From the article:

> Chris Shively, an Anaheim resident and server at Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland, drives by the Mickey & Friends garage each day knowing that city tax dollars are paying for the facility.

> “It’s a company — they have their own best interests,” he said. “But it is definitely something where the company, Disney, got a great deal — a deal that we are paying for. Absolutely frustrating.”

I certainly would be pissed finding out that my city officials effectively donated billion to a private company.

Are you paid for this opinion? I have to imagine yes.

I don't agree with the parent either, but this growing trend of accusing everyone you disagree with on the internet of being a paid shill is just getting absurd.

It's not so absurd when you are good friends with people who run astroturfing companies.

It's an attempt to nullify the speaker rather than responding to the statement. It's become quite the thing these days.

No I am not a paid shill, try again,

Ok, but it's not absurd.

I paid him like $10, totally worth it.

Are you serious? Wow

You guys pre-suppose the poor people in this town can't make up their own minds and are somehow oblivious to whats really happening. I guarantee each one of you that your opinion would be different if you lived in this town and worked for Disney. Who are we to tell these people how to vote?

What is your alternative? Pass laws to 'force' them to 'do the right thing' according to people who don't live there?

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