Five Things: June 12, 2020

I’ve been busy moderating comment threads today, but let’s see if there are five things in the world I want to talk about:

Tucker Carlson losing advertisers for being a blatant racist, again. Because, I mean, this isn’t exactly the first time, is it? Which does leave hanging just how many advertisers Fox News have, that they can keep shedding them for its premier program (I know, I know, some eventually crawl back. Even so). I don’t go out of my way to watch Fox News, but I see it now and again, and it does seem that it’s essentially propped up by ads for pharmaceuticals, gold investments, and, recently, Tom Selleck hawking the benefits of reverse mortgages. This suggests much about the Fox News demo, although honestly since I don’t watch CNN (or any other cable news network) all that much, I can’t really say if their ads and demo are really any different.

In any event, I don’t think Fox is too worried. If it came to it, they could fire Tucker Carlson, replace him with another preppy racist and then burn through that dude’s advertisers. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a nice graft, that Fox News.

Come for the inane ramblings of an incoherent bigot, stay for the easily transmittable virus! The Trump campaign wants you to know that if you come to one of its rallies, it can’t be held responsible if you catch the coronavirus. Which, on one hand, is probably going to be a standard-issue liability warning/disclaimer for any large event for the next couple of years at least, but on the other, yeeeech. Not at all the reason I would personally want to catch the covid. I also suspect that the transmission rate at a Trump rally would be higher than it might be otherwise, because of the right-wing fetish for not wearing masks because Real Americans™ Aren’t Afraid of Viruses, or whatever.  So, yeah, even if I were a Trump supporter, which I’m not, one of his rallies wouldn’t be high up on my list of things to do with my time.

Tom Hanks’ upcoming movie. Here’s the trailer.

I don’t mean to brag, he said, absolutely bragging, but it’s possible that I might have watched part of this in an editing bay sometime in February. It looked terrific then, and the trailer looks pretty great, too. It’s going to be on Apple TV, something which was a pretty big deal, because the movie was slated to go into theaters before theaters stopped being a thing people went to. It’s also possible that I got Apple TV+ just so I could watch it (I mean, they gave me a year for free after I bought Athena a new iPhone, so, you know. Why not).

Here’s an oopsie: The GOP basically cut and pasted the 2016 platform for its 2020 platform and in doing so left in criticism of the sitting president, who is, now, of course, a Republican. This will almost certainly be addressed in the near future, but it just really feels lazy and low-effort on the part of one of the two major parties of the United States. Mind you, I think it’s an acknowledgement that the official party platform isn’t something people pay much attention to, up to and including party members. But I think it would be okay to be a little less obvious about it.

Let’s end on a cat picture. Because why the heck not. You all like Smudge, and he… well. He tolerates you.

Have a great Friday, everyone, and a fabulous weekend.


40 Comments on “Five Things: June 12, 2020”

  1. My wife had a serious comment when we first read the Trump disclaimer this morning, and I think she has a point. You have to agree not to sue the Trump for President campaign, the arena, etc., true, But unless I missed it, there is nothing about suing Trump personally.

    Just saying, for future consideration.

  2. WRT Fox News and the advertisers – I recall the Sleeping Giants folks on Twitter recently pointing out that Fox’s main income comes from their licensing deals with cable companies. They apparently charge a rate for the cable companies to carry Fox News that’s orders of magnitude higher for anything that’s not a premium channel. They’re able to do so because FN has such a lock on their viewership that if a cable company balks and won’t pay the freight, Fox will unleash it’s viewers on the carrier.

    So while it’s definitely helpful for advertisers to leave, there’s a structural issue buried in the mess that is today’s cable landscape that’s fueling them.

  3. I feel like a LOT of CATV Networks these days (the news networks, places like History Channel, Discovery, taht sort of thing) have zeroed in on older audiences.

    I’m early Gen X (and stayed way the hell OUT of the prior thread, as I don’t need to show my ass inadvertently anymore than I already do) and even *I* have gone to mostly streaming service, news via website (, thanks, not Alex Jones or The Intercept). If you’re not pulling in even 54 year olds, your ad revenues are pretty much are limited to reverse mortgages and certain types of..ahem…male enhancement promotions. In case anyone wondered how long CATV/Satellite TV has to last.

  4. Fox News gets in the neighborhood of $1.50-2.00 for each and every Cable and Satellite TV subscriber, whether you watch it or not. Shaming advertisers off the channel for a while may make it less profitable, but it’s at absolutely no risk of failing.

    Check out

  5. Since my previous comment is in filter for using a three letter word for a part of the body one doesn’t want to show but occasionally does, I’ll add (having read further) if you just got AppleTV+ have you watched “For All Mankind” yet and if so, have you any thoughts?

  6. “This suggests much about the Fox News demo”

    This is the modus operandi for a lot of right-wing-inclined media, TBH. Some years ago, Newsmax was the go-to website for Conservatives. Over time, it turned into an advertising platform for tax relief services, gold investments and erectile dysfunction meds, with a light sprinkling of actual content. Definitely a trend emerging there.

  7. Just back from a six mile walk listening to Stephen King’s new novella collection “If it Bleeds” and was hit by this……..

    “Trump suggests Lincoln’s legacy is ‘questionable,’ brags about his own work for Black Americans” – CNBC

    My mind is completely blown!

    Someone tune in to Fox News and check if they are reporting on this….. I can’t go there… ever!

    Ok. Back to listening to SK…. much more soothing than this “horror” we are forced to deal with in our daily lives right now.

  8. RE Trump and the previous thread: this in from the NY Times –

    “The Trump administration on Friday finalized a regulation that will erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, a move announced on the four-year anniversary of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando and in the middle of Pride Month.”

    Remember, people, there is no bottom to this man.

  9. Since comments closed over on the other thread, I wanted to point out that I carefully wrote my comment to say “how we talk about” history, not to imply that you were dumb enough to think that gay rights would not exist without one unique event. You were using a trope that promotes a certain view of history even though the speaker usually probably does not think history works that way.

    :) So I did not think you were ignorant, just a promoter of ignorance :)

  10. The curse of 2020: everything sounds like it’s satire…except that it’s not. I mean, Trump’s celebrating Juneteenth in his Administration’s special way. I wonder if Trump will celebrate the eradication (almost) of smallpox by restarting our bioweapons programs, or give “A Modest Proposal” as a suggestion to alleviate childhood poverty in America.

  11. Dear itinerantpedant,

    For All Mankind? Yes, yes, YES!

    It’s going to be really hard to discuss without spoilers. I don’t want to give away anything, not even the first couple of minutes, because some people really know nothing about the series and are better seeing it cold (my partner, Paula, got to see it that way). That said…

    You label yourself as Gen X, but precisely how old? More pertinently, were the Apollo moon missions a part of your personal history or just history. Paula, and I are 70 years old, so all of that stuff is part of our real past life, at least up to episode four or five where they go into “nothing at all like this ever happened” alternate history.

    I’d really love to know the reactions of someone for whom the show is impersonal history. It has to be a very different experience.

    (I’d also love to know how Mary Robinette Kowal feels about the show. For obvious reasons.)

    Paula and I were amazed at how accurate it was, not only in almost every technical bit of minutia but in terms of getting the local culture correct, as well as the characters of the astronauts — the real (alternative) ones, the amalgams of real ones, and the purely fictional ones. Meticulously researched and brilliantly done. Science fiction at its absolute best, both hard and humanistic.

    The other thing we found impressive (and somewhat creepy) was the use of deep fakes. We see video footage and hear the voices of Richard Nixon, Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, Jules Bergman, and others, saying and doing things they never, ever did. Totally synthetic in the service of verisimilitude.

    Not a spoiler but in case you missed it… you watched past the closing credits of the last episode to the very end, right? If you didn’t, rewind — there’s a wonderful Easter egg. It’s not made up, that was a proposed design from the early 60s, that hardly anyone knows about today. Boy, the production team dug deep.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  12. I don’t want to catch COVID either, but there is one place I will risk it, the ballot box. I was going to vote by mail and then decided that I want a vote that Trump can’t call compromised.

    I think he is laying the groundwork to contest the election. Hopefully it won’t do his fat butt any good.

    A cat picture is a good way to start a weekend, even though they aren’t as much fun as they used to be.

  13. Thanks for the heads-up about Fox News’ carriage fees, escapecar! I’ll start including in my Social Media profiles…

    I’d be curious to see GREYHOUND, given most of what I’ve heard about it is unfavorable before now — Tom Hanks should stick to acting, The film looks cheap (with a $50.3M budget for a WWII naval warfare film, I’m not surprised!), the CGI’s awful (see previous comment), blah blah blah. I’d love to see if it’s better than its feedback.

  14. The GOP’s half-assedness around the 2020 platform tells me they’ve written off the Trump re-election run. Now if we could sideline the current Senate Majority Leader…

  15. Another thumbs up “For All Mankind.”. Like ctein, I would like to know MRK’s thoughts on this show.

  16. Hanks is much too old to play a WW2 destroyer captain. Most were in their 30s; some in their late 20s even.
    I’ll probably watch the movie anyway.

  17. I can say from experience, that I had at best a so-so Friday, June 12, 2020. This weekend promises to be just as mediocre. I know, this a bummer way to start a comment.

    I can’t figure out why anyone takes Tucker Carlson seriously. Seriously. He’s just an idiot racist nerd, even by FOX News standards. He can’t even make a coherent argument for his stupidity, which is something that even stupid people should be able to do. He’s just a cretin.

  18. Well, the bit about the 2016 election platform being pasted to 2020 doesn’t surprise me that much. For one thing, you know Dump ain’t gonna read it because he doesn’t read anything without his name in it (if it just says the president, he’s not gonna care–he wanted to be king). For another, the base isn’t going to care, either, because if they still support all the things Dump said and did that were racist, sexist, and just generally inhuman, they’re doubling-down and don’t wanna look weak for doubting their choice.

  19. I’m a complete sucker for sea stories. Greyhound is based on what I think was CS Forester’s best novel, The Good Shepherd, so it’s the highest on the stack from a writer high in the second tier. And it appears from the preview that they’ve kept at least some of the interpersonal and existential issues from the book. (It also appears that they’ve moved wolfpacks, a relatively late in the war thing, back to the first desperate months of 1942 when air cover was sparse and escorts superannuated.) At least Hanks is old and tired looking enough to play Krause.

    So I’m there, indifferent to the SFX, and hoping they didn’t screw up a good human story with too much junk going boom.

  20. The back of my brain was bugging at me so I looked things up and discovered that, no, wolfpacks were active from the very beginning of the war. In the book Krause, as is realistic, doesn’t actually know how many U-boats are attacking at any given moment, but leafing through my old copy I find that he clearly is aware that sometimes there is more than one.

    So I have once again been cured of knowing something that is not true, and have slightly better odds of enjoying the movie.

  21. Like Privateiron, I found the comments on the previous thread closed before I could respond to a comment directed to me by Scott Morizot.

    I am autistic as all-get-out. I did not learn this about myself until quite late in the piece. Some days I function quite well; other days I feel like my head is wrapped in damp cotton wool.

    I’ve spent nearly my entire life not knowing why I felt so out of step with the rest of the world. I’ve survived decades of undiagnosed, untreated chronic depression. I endured years of grinding on the sectarian left, amongst some of the most supercilous, doctrinaire, humorless people on the planet. Managed to get away from that with (most of) my sanity intact, then I bore and raised two good kids to adulthood.

    My desire to know *exactly* what neurochemical and/or genetic mechanisms are at play in gender dysmorphia and neurological difference? Comes from knowing that, had I been born 60 years later, the course of my life might have gone very differently indeed.

    I’ll thank you not to tax me with my supposed “ableism.”

    PS – I’m always up for a good cat pic. Cats are, as Mr Scalzi says, tolerant.

  22. Ctein I’m the very FIRST year of Gen X (1965) and one of my very first clear memories located in time and space is sitting in my brothers baby bathtub like a capsule as I and my entire family watched TV on July 20, 1969.

  23. Also, yep, I hung around. In part because ending the episode with an eighties song was puzzling (I don’t think it’s spoilers to point out the soundtrack was as near as I can tell period accurate).

    My wife was born in 1975 so she always little amused. For her It was history, for me memory.

    What I liked was, reading deeper, the alternate history started in 1966. And yes, if you read a synopsis you knew the initial WTF moment, but all the others are great to watch.

    Finally, I’m super happy they already confirmed Season 2. There’s a young lady I suspect is going places.

  24. Since you closed the comments on the other post, I just wanted to say that I’m glad you aren’t squishy about civil and human rights. I’m with you on that.

  25. Greyhound looks like CGI at finest. Of course, how else would you do it.

    Gonna have to figure out how to see it.

  26. I also was in the midst of writing a comment when the previous thread closed. An earlier comment on that thread reminded me of a brief but funny (in context) scene in an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode, in which a very white guy claimed to be “trans-racial”. In the future when we’re all mutually supportive (or at least tolerant) of everyone else’s expressions of personal identity, there will still be someone who crosses a line – which we won’t know about until it’s crossed – and earns opprobrium.

  27. I’d like to see our indiginous people called Real Americans from now on; it would annoy all the right people. It’s already nice to see the Klan unable to use “Native American” the way they used to.

    Bob P.

  28. Does anyone know whether the covid-19 liability waiver will actually hold up in court? Aren’t they still liable for the gross negligence of packing thousands of screaming people into an enclosed space?

  29. What I’ve seen suggests that as written it has very little force, just intended to be dissuasive I believe. But I can’t say I have any expertise or strong interest in the question, so I’m just tossing that in. It’s just part of one day’s insanity, we’ll move right on to the next.

  30. P.S. A propos of nothing, I want to say I’m really enjoying the online TorCon. Just now, a communal brunch with Mary Robinette Kowal.

  31. WRT the 2020 Republican platform: I watched part of the 2008 GOP convention with my 80+ year old father. Michael Steele (the GOP chair at the time) gave a speech which I summed up as “we’ve got to send Republicans to Congress to fix the mess those Republicans have made.” I was incredulous. My father, a lifelong Republican, agreed that this was a fair paraphrase. So this isn’t a first. I think it’s about railing at whoever is in power, whoever that may be.

    @John Appel, @escapecar and others: a few years ago I had a job which gave me access to per-subscriber cost numbers for the various cable networks. ESPN was by far the highest, I think it was about $5/subscriber/month at the time. Fox News was a lot less ($1.50/subscriber/month?) but was in second or third place IIRC. For the leading cable networks these fees are a major source of revenue. If you have cable, you’re likely putting money in Fox News’s pockets whether you watch it or not. contains a chart from the WSJ showing costs in 2014. IIRC these are negotiated by each provider so all specific numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. As should my numbers above.

    Re the Greyhound trailer: CGI isn’t all bad. They used mothballed US Navy ships in some scenes in Pearl Harbor. Seeing 1950/60’s vintage ships in the background of these scenes took me right out of the movie. At first glance it looks like they got the ship designs right for Greyhound.

  32. Just different, I have seen news articles asserting that the waivers for the rallies don’t protect the organizers if they are seen as acting “reckless”. Packing a bunch of unmasked shouting people into a convention hall during a pandemic would seem to qualify….

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