Daily Archives: November 6, 2012

Columnist: “If you screw up this rental Big Bird suit you have to pay $640 to buy it”

(Photo credit: Ralph Barrera)


That’s Austin American-Statesman humor columnist John Kelso in the Big Bird suit (and at the right).

He checked first with the clerk’s office to make sure he wasn’t breaking any rules by voting in costume. They were fine with it, so he headed to his polling place last Friday.

Just putting the suit on back at the house was a challenge. I had to ask my wife, Kay, to help me put the thing on because I couldn’t figure out what went where. I’ve had less trouble with a tux. The bird suit is a three-piece, and if you put the pieces on in the wrong order, as I did, you end up being held prisoner in the suit. Also, there was no place to put my car keys.

His motivation:

I didn’t pull this stunt because I’m a big fan of Big Bird. Nope, this one is Mitt Romney’s fault. If the Mittster hadn’t said during one of the presidential debates that he loves Big Bird, not likes but loves, I might have rented a Daffy Duck or a Tweety Bird suit instead. I prefer those two birds to Big Bird.

But when Romney said he would cut off funding to PBS, Big Bird’s boss, I decided to go to bat for the yellow guy.

UPDATE: Here’s what Kelso tells Romenesko readers:

The 47 percenters seemed to think this was an amusing stunt, while the rest of ’em were chapped. I got the usual emails reminding me I’m a moron.

I’m glad I got the suit back on time in good shape. If you screw up this suit you have to pay $640 to buy it from Lucy in Disguise, the costume rental shop in Austin where I got it. You almost have to be a friend of Mitt Romney to afford a suit like this, right?

I went to some trouble to nail down the suit. The store only had one Big Bird outfit, and this event went down near Halloween. I’m glad I didn’t have to get into a fist fight over renting it.

Most of the people in line with me who thought this was funny were women, who dragged out their iPhones and started snapping photos. The guys prety much ignored me. But my favorite reaction was the person who asked the poll worker if the taxpayers were paying for my security.

My security was Big Edd O’Donnell, my good friend and the guy in the picture wearing the dark suit. His pay? I’m taking him to lunch. If we can figure out a way to get the taxpayers to pick up the tab, we’ll do it. Come to think of it, this is a business expense. So I guess I’ll turn the receipt in to the IRS.

Is this a great country or what? Thanks for making me momentarily famous and have a good one.

* Turns out, voting is for the birds (
* Another Kelso column I liked was about Murdoch and pies (
* Big Bird outfit is fine, but think twice about voting in an MIT shirt (

In 2004, Sinclair Broadcast Group fired Washington bureau chief Jon Leiberman for criticizing the company’s plans to air “biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election” toward George W. Bush. Leiberman — now a reporter with Howard100 News and CNN’s HLN — sued the Baltimore broadcaster over his dismissal.

Sinclair aired another election special last night — this time, apparently, without any employee protest.

Talking Points Memo reports at least two Sinclair stations aired the special, which “featured some of the most partisan criticisms of President Barack Obama, and spent relatively little time examining Republican nominee Mitt Romney.” TPM’s Eric Lach says that “at times, it sounded more like Fox News than local news.”

* Sinclair Broadcast Group airs anti-Obama special (
* Earlier: Sinclair reporter fired for criticizing anti-Kerry documentary (

— Brooklyn fanzine editor and publisher “Full Force Frank”

According to author Kevin Dutton, psychopaths gravitate toward these professions:

1. CEO 2. Lawyer 3. Media (TV/Radio) 4. Salesperson 5. Surgeon 6. Journalist 7. Police officer 8. Clergyperson 9. Chef 10. Civil Servant

The man above is fanzine editor and publisher Full Force Frank, a self-described psychopath who had some problems with me in the 1990s.

* The 10 fields with the most psychopaths are… (

In recent days, I’ve posted memos from the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reminding their staffs about social media rules and what’s acceptable to tweet on election night. (By the way, @APStylebook let us know this morning that it’s “Election Day but election night and election results.”)

Reuters just sent this memo to staffers:

From: Freedman, Alix (Reuters News)
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 11:52 AM
To: US-News
Subject: The election and social media


On election night we want to take the opportunity again to urge you to exercise caution on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. We welcome your participation. But a premature tweet, for example, announcing a candidate’s victory before a race is clearly decided, or a tweet or retweet indicating any preference for a candidate may raise questions about our campaign coverage and our dedication to accuracy, fairness and freedom from bias.

Please also keep in mind that our exit poll results are exclusively for our internal use, at least until the pertinent races have been called and we have made the relevant exit polling data public.

As the handbook says, “Reuters journalists should be mindful of the impact their publicly expressed opinions can have on their work and on Reuters. … Before you tweet or post, consider how what you’re doing will reflect on your professionalism and our collective reputation.”

If you have any questions regarding tonight’s coverage and Twitter, feel free to contact me.

Thanks and best,


Alix M. Freedman
Global Editor, Ethics and Standards
Thomson Reuters

* Election Day: The worst day for headlines in all of American journalism (
* Recalling the great Dan Ratherisms from three election nights (

Pew reports today that 22% of registered voters have announced on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter how they voted or planned to vote. (About 29% of voters under 50 have announced their candidate picks on social media, compared with 17% of those 50 and older.)

Other findings:

54% of registered voters have had face-to-face conversations in the past 30 days with others, encouraging them to vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

25% have talked on the phone with others, encouraging them to vote for one of the candidates.

20% have posted voting messages to others on a social networking site (SNS) or Twitter, encouraging them to vote for one of the candidates.

12% have sent emails to others, encouraging them to vote for one of the candidates.

10% have sent text messages to others, encouraging them to vote for one of the candidates.

* Social media and voting (

A dozen news anchors from 12 cities read the same “salty” line. (

* Conan shows local anchors using the same “email overload” line
* Conan skewers anchors for their dog social network reports

Sorry, Drudge, but Mitt Romney (or “Romnmey,” as you spell it) does not have a 92,000 vote lead in Ohio. It was a Cincinnati Enquirer screw-up.

The editors at the Gannett paper’s website explain:

A front-page link to a chart with dummy data, created as a design template for election results, was inadvertently posted early Tuesday morning.

It purported to show early voting totals in Ohio counties. However, no votes have been counted yet – by law counting doesn’t start until the polls close. regrets the error.

The dummy data has been pulled, but you can still read the comments posted about it. Here are two:

* Early votes not counted yet in Ohio (

This tweet from Minneapolis Star Tribune film critic Colin Covert “is a new candidate for low point of Twin Cities newspaper competition,” says St. Paul Pioneer Press managing editor Chris Clonts. “I’m appalled someone would do this to fellow journalists, especially since he well knows the newsroom did not generate the opinion he’s upset with.” (He’s referring to his paper’s controversial marriage amendment editorial.)

He sent a protest email to Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes and deputy managing editor/content Rene Sanchez, which is posted below:

From: Clonts, Chris
Sent: Tue 11/6/2012 12:16 AM
To: All News
Subject: FW: Classy: Colin Covert encouraging Pioneer Press cancelations

Folks: Some of you have pointed out this evening what is a new candidate for low point of Twin CIties newspaper competition. Colin Covert, our industry colleague and movie critic at the Star Tribune, took to Twitter to encourage people to cancel their Pioneer Press subscriptions.

Chris Clonts

I play as hard as anybody when it comes to tweaking our competitors. But we at the Pioneer Press choose to win subscribers, not kill them for the other team. I’m appalled someone would do this to fellow journalists, especially since he well knows the newsroom did not generate the opinion he’s upset with.

I sent the email below to Star Tribune leadership.

Please, please do not begin an “all news” reply fest on Election Day. I’m happy to hear from anyone, but email me directly or stop by.


—–Original Message—–
From: Clonts, Chris
Sent: Mon 11/5/2012 11:55 PM
Subject: Classy: Colin Covert encouraging Pioneer Press cancelations

Nancy, Rene:

I’d like to respectfully call your attention to the following tweet from Colin Covert. He posted it tonight around 8:30 p.m.

Colin Covert @colincovert
If you like to vote with your dollars, cancel your subscription to the Pioneer Press. (651) 222-1111 or

It has been retweeted multiple times by his followers.

Colin Covert

I guess he, like lots of folks, is upset with our editorial board’s Saturday editorial on the marriage amendment and the follow-up that ran earlier today.

He’s entitled to his opinion, of course. And this is a heated political season. But encouraging people to cancel subscriptions is far below the kind of dignified discourse I and others can normally expect from the Star Tribune and its representatives.

I’m not asking for any kind of response. Just wanted you to be aware of this.

I appreciate your time.


Chris Clonts
Managing Editor | Pioneer Press

I’ve invited all parties to comment.

UPDATE: Clonts tells Romenesko readers that “I received — and very much appreciate — a genuine note from Rene this morning acknowledging the situation. Sincerely hoping the rest of the day (week? year?) we can all get back to journalism.”

* AOL reports higher-than-expected third-quarter revenue and profit. ( | Shares are up 135% this year. ( | (AOL press release)
* New York Times Co. discloses that president and general manager Scott Heekin-Canedy is retiring and the position is being eliminated. (
* Gail Shister: Why I’m skipping traditional TV election coverage and watching Comedy Central tonight. (
* FCC likely to ease media-ownership rules. (
* After months of reading Nate Silver’s blog, “traditional political commentary looks more and more outdated, even analog.” (
* Jeremy Peters: “By some measures, the partisan bitterness on cable news has never been as stark — and in some ways, as silly or small.” (
* Newspaper chain execs are quizzed about centralized design centers. (
* Amazon is testing $7.99 per month Prime subscriptions. (