Monday, April 24, 2023

To that actuary, we salute you.

Ramblings Post #413
Don Lemon got fired from CNN today and it's almost a non-story. I kinda liked Don a while back, and yes, he has had his moments we all cheered that he was there, but you gotta be able to see where things around you are changing and adapt. I don't bear him any ill will and hope he lands on his feet, but man you gotta learn to check yourself from time to time, for the good of the long term. Now normally, Don might have been the focus. But sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. 

I think somewhere, in a small office at Fox News HQ, a small bespectacled man (or woman) of middle age did some very interesting math (actuarial science), emailed his boss and that boss emailed Rupert. At that Rupert called the lawyers and I'm guess five minutes after that they turned Tucker's badge off. Er, I mean, they told Tucker that he'd agreed with them to part ways.

While this is most certainty a tax write off for Fawx, as a cost of doing business, a good portion of these damages will probably be covered by insurance, the nature of which is referred to as media liability coverage. No doubt Fawx probably upped their coverage last year if it was an option, just in case. But settling with Dominion means that the impending suit with Smartmatic will probably have a similar outcome. It's kinda hard to argue when the judge starts with the premise that the defendant is guilty as hell. There may be a firm up for it, but I don't know who they might be. And as such there is a high probability that the settlement will be similar in size if not larger. Fawx has as cash on hand at this moment even after Dominion if need be, so no worries, and it too will be written off and handled by the insurer.  

But here is where the math comes in, and truth be told it's very likely that Capitalism is what did poor lil Tucker in. Let's guess that the total payout for both cases is around $1.8 billion. You may or may not be aware, but no insurer wants to pay out $18, much less $1.8 billion, although they're probably really only on the hook for 60-70% of it. But you've ever made a claim, you know what happens next: your rate goes up. So, with the Dominion payout and the the soon to be Smartmatic payout, either Fox's insurance rates just went through the roof, or any NEW policy they can find will no longer cover these circumstances - i.e., knowingly lying on the air. It's just too expensive. And although they admitted no wrong doing in the settlement, their current method of "news dissemination," which it didn't look like they planned to alter, was about to become more expensive.

So what does all that have to do with Tucker? Aside from the former producer's discrimination lawsuit? Well, it seems that on his show on Friday, Tucker stared out at the camera and denied that a Dominion settlement even existed.
Which brings us back to the at small bespectacled man (or woman) who was looking at future projections and realized what level of risk a continuation of current "news authentication" and "news opinion" was placing to Rupert's checkbook. The term "pattern" comes to mind, and patterns tend to increase judgments and therefore settlements that would come before them. The Dominion case, the Smartmatic case, the discrimination suit, the Shareholder suit I just found out about. My understanding is that Fawx literally ran the promo for Tucker's show right before the segment where they announced he that he and Fawx had decided to part ways. So, I'm thinking this decision was last minute.

I personally hope that he and his rhetoric are the first of many people that Fawx can no longer afford to keep supporting. To be clear, I doubt this ends the channel or anything else dramatic. I can already see the transition to podcasting or AM radio. But I do hope it returns some degree of civility to the majority of conservatives of this country and causes some degree of tempering of the most extreme conspiracy bound elements that seem to have been pushed the forefront as of late. I doubt that will happen, but one can dream.

Barkeep. Whiskey. The good kind. It's that kinda day. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

We Let Them Off The Hook

Ramblings Post #412
I need to get some focus. To find a center, calm the raging torrent of creativity trying to get out and find somewhere to start. And finish. At least a first draft. I've likened my production process for anything to that of freight train - slow at first, plodding but then picking up speed until once fully in motion I will put the rest of reality on hold to accomplish my goals. So, looking back, I'm thinking that might not be a good thing.

You let'em off the hook! 

In another reality, Dominion rejected the 788 million dollar settlement offer and went to trial. There there in a marathon session they went into detail about all 7,000 of their exhibits detailing what the court had already determined: That Fawx Nooz had lied. It took on Simpson trial proportions, with a nightly update in eighty three countries around the world. It was so damning even NewsMax pretended they hadn't lied as well and began covering it. That the network became a literal punchline. Then, the jury having tripled the damages to almost 5 billion, as part of the final ruling Fawx would have to make to the audience it hadn't even told it been in litigation an on-air admission. And so, in the form of an ongoing series of 1-minute spots to replace one commercial per hour - starring all the various hosts who'd pushed the election lie would tell there viewers that a)They'd been sued about their election coverage, b)that Fawx had lost, c) that the election hadn't been stolen and most importantly d) that they'd known that the election hadn't been stolen the whole time but told them that anyway. And that the judge would order these ads run on Fox, every hour in rotation, until the next election.

But Dominion took the money because...they're a business, not a national crusade and they needed the money. But to quote former Cardinals Head Coach Dennis Green, we let'em off the hook. And quite frankly it's more than a little sad.

Now, to be honest I hadn't expected a magical Matlock moment, a Legally Blonde realization or a My Cousin Vinny deduction at the last minute. It was always going to be more along the lines of an event Law & Order episode where at the end they look resigned to knowing that they'd given it the very best they could. In retrospect it was too hopeful to think this was about something larger than damages. The lawyers talked up the loss of reputation aspect a lot as we lead up to court day, but without a VERY public apology and/or a retraction of their characterization of Dominion's machines, it means that the national disinformation machine slips back into fifth and frames these damages as "minuscule" and "addressing a nuisance." The folks who believe Dominion was and still is compromised will still believe it - primarily because those people, some of whom control voting in local jurisdictions, only watch Fawx. With this little bump out of the way they will return to their bias affirming comfort propaganda with pockets just a touch lighter but not a wit wiser. The network is going to chalk this up as a victory, I can promise you that.

I can't really blame the lawyers here. They listen to their clients as to settlement. So it falls to Dominion. And I think their management was a bit short-sighted in their version how the future needs to play out. But then they have duty to their shareholders on down the line. In the end the people who choose the voting machines and who only watch Fawx are going to wake up next week and possibly not even know about the case. Dominion might have secured the bag, but at what cost. Maybe money alone wasn't the best fix if it doesn't address the long term perception, one which Fawx news can heavily influence?  

One hopes that the next defamation case, one by Smartmatic which should get a boost from this settlement, gets a little juicer. But I wouldn't count on it.     

Barkeep. A nice gin and tonic. For old times sake.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

No Bracket, so it's Meh...

Ramblings Post #411
I once opined that the least racist person in America is a football fan on Saturday Night in the south when their team is down by four with two minutes left. At that moment, if they think you can score a touchdown and get the W, they don't care what color you are. I stand by that statement.  

This year I could not spare the hours of research, player evaluation, game simulation and consideration of all of the other endless variables (height, weight, shoe size, major, beard or clean shaven) required to confidently construct a bracket that reflected my expectations for this years March Madness. Yeah, that sounds good. It's better than the truth, in that because I usually throw one together in five minutes based upon a) how impressive the team was in the mid-90s b) if I recognize the college c) if the mascot is cool and d) if my bracket needs some upset razzle-dazzle. And this year I just forgot. I remembered, but again because of my aforementioned well-honed and time-tested methodology I thought I could just do it later. I was wrong.

via the ESPN

Looking at the final four....wait, this is the Final Four? Like for the NCAA? Seriously? This looks like it would have popped out of a 2K version of March Madness, not actually happened. Theoretically, we all the love the Cinderella story, but damn. A couple FIVE seeds? A NINE seed? Was the selection committee on that Henny while setting up the brackets? We sure this isn't for baseball? Wait, if this is the final four, what the hell happened? 

I have to ask because this time around, because I didn't have any virtual skin in the game, I did not feverishly tune in. Or even really casually tune in. ... I suddenly realize why they make the brackets a thing. In any case, my usual situation would have been a pizza and/or some wings and few beers on Thursday and Friday, flipping between channels, catching snippets of a game here, listening to an announcer's thirty second history lesson of player 143, watching the drama unfold. Good game? I'm locked in. Game getting tight? I'm there. Upset alert? Changing channels now. This year? I think I watched Maine Cabin Masters. Due to some flooding and rot they put in new floors for this family retreat on one of the lakes, and tried to save the cabinets but eventually had to replace them. No, I'm not getting old. Maybe. But I wasn't watching basketball.

And I like sports. You know this. Maybe it's because I'm not as active as I could be I'm not into as much lately. Or maybe it's because I'm not into them I'm not active? In any case maybe it's because the NFL season never really ended with the Lamar Jackson shenanigans sucking up all the sports news oxygen in the room. Or that college basketball hadn't ever really been my thing. I like the pros, play the full 48 min games in whole seasons for 2k, can actually watch soccer and enjoy it, and on more than a few occasions stumbled across a sport, learned the basic rules and caught up in the drama in a matter of thirty minutes. And I'm supposed to be more social this year. So why did I miss this year's Madness? Dunno.

Barkeep. A gin and tonic. No, I have no idea why. No, I don't actually want one either. Just some juice.