Media Matters

* That was quite the classy, full-page ad in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times from the Kraft Family and the New England Patriots. They thanked Tom Brady for “20 amazing years” and encouraged “Buccaneers fans and Tampa Bay community (to) take care of him. You got a great one.”

Plus, the Times got a great, most welcome, full-page ad.

* “Artivists.”  A hybrid of artist and activist. It’s a way to engage the masses–who wouldn’t necessarily patronize a museum–in street art.

* “Telehealth.” The practice of letting doctors consult with patients on line, including from one state to another.

The Brady Hunch

Tom Brady has joined the Bucs. Good.

Maybe an iconic 42-year-old QB can still be the vote-of-confidence difference-maker the Bucs, a playoff-potential team with lagging attendance, need. And maybe this will be what Brady really wants: Out from under Bill Billichek, distance from a relatively frustrating season, a new challenge, super star money and the ultimate affirmation of legendary status. That would happen if he can succeed with the Bucs, who haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2007 and have had only one winning season in the past decade. By all accounts, Brady has sent the right signals by familiarizing himself with Bruce Arians’ system and requesting phone numbers of future Bucs teammates.

But already there is a confirmed winner. We really needed this diversion.


* The experience of other countries shows that softness and liberality are allies of the coronavirus.”–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

* “The low number of confirmed cases in published reports does not show the true number of people who have been infected by the virus in Miami, or anywhere else in the USA, for that matter. It only reflects where we should be testing.” Excerpt from a letter issued by 75 emergency room doctors, nurses and physicians’ assistants in Miami, the epicenter of Florida’s outbreak.

* “Today nearly all adults are eligible to vote, and yet because of the Electoral College, their votes do not count the same, and the candidate who gets the most can, and does, lose. … If candidates knew that they needed the most votes in the country, rather than the most votes in a few key districts in a few battleground states, they would base their appeals on what voters wanted rather than on where they happened to live.”–Jesse Wegman, author of “Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.”

* “Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress, but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.”–Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren.

* “We’re talking about a president who is basically doing what Herbert Hoover did at the beginning of the Depression and minimizing the danger and refusing to use available federal action. And people are going to die, and they shouldn’t, they don’t have to, if we could get the support that we’re asking for.”–New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

* “The typical modus operandi from (Trump) is to bluff, is to fake, is to deny. He always was more focused on who he could blame versus fixing the problem.”–Jack O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

* “The only industry that hasn’t been slowed down by the virus is the lobbying industry.”–Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., on the frantic efforts by lobbyists to get a piece of a proposed $2 trillion relief package.

* “When a scourge is upon us, immunization starts looking pretty good.”–Los Angeles Times.

* “Those three-word sentences can make all the difference: ‘I miss you.’ ‘I love you.'”–New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

* “For us to stay open right now was just not the right thing. The social responsibility that we possess is much greater than the need for group dining right now.”–Ferrell Alvarez, co-owner of  Proper, a Tampa restaurant.

* “Social distancing is essential to defeat this pandemic, however, we should be very mindful of the consequences of social isolation. … For many (abuse) victims and survivors, staying at home is not the safest option.”–Dr. Abraham Salinas-Miranda, director of the Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence at USF.

* “There is no precedent. Whatever we have experienced, it’s not this.”–Visit St. Pete/Clearwater CEO Steven Hayes.

* “I do know one thing for certain: When this has passed, people will need the beautiful, historic Tampa Theatre more than ever as a place to gather, embrace each other, and celebrate our collective humanity once again.”–John Bell, president and CEO of Tampa Theatre, in announcing that the theatre was extending its COVID closure until at least April 30.

* “We’re very much planning in the dark. … The good news is because we have worked so hard to build Tampa Bay’s platform, we have got a shot of more rapid recovery than most.”–Bob Morrison, head of the Hillsborough County Hotel and Motel Association.

Leadership: March Madness

 “A republic, if you can keep it.”

* “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” That was Founding Father James Madison waxing all too prescient.

* Now more than ever, we could use a “very stable genius” in the White House, one who could pivot to Empathizer-in-chief in a national emergency. Not one who politicizes and pathologically misinforms on everything important, from climate change to “alien” immigration to post-hurricane Puerto Rico to the coronavirus to–whatever’s next up before Trump is voted out before it’s too late.

* Too bad Alec Baldwin wasn’t available for that coronavirus address to the nation by President Trump. He would have been more credible. Trump is out of his league with a TelePrompTer if it doesn’t reflect his favorite last-call, barroom language fit for a “Lock it Up” Trump rally.

* “Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.” That was Trump targeting and trolling Barack Obama in 2013.

* “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.” That was Trump in a March 2020 press conference, responding to a question about this country’s flagrant delay in coronavirus testing. Presumably,his disbanding of the White House pandemic office in 2018 was just an ironic coincidence.

* “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation far beyond what the facts would warrant.” Yes, that was the Inflamer-in-chief doing what he does–undoing confidence in government wherewithal in a time of crisis.

* The European Union was insulted, angered and worse over America’s unilateral decision on a travel ban from Europe. This is not how the world confronts a common enemy. Not that Americans or Europeans should be shocked, even by something that is so globally counterproductive. We saw it coming with Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, renouncing the Iran nuclear deal and pleasing Vladimir Putin by periodically demeaning and threatening to withdraw from NATO. 

Speaking of NATO, recall that after 9/11, the NATO alliance stepped up and invoked Article V of its charter that an attack on one–such as the U.S.–was an attack on all. That was then; this is not.

* Here’s an ironic quote: “I believe that together we can make America great again.” That was Bill Clinton, courtesy of the four-part Hulu documentary “Hillary,” announcing his 1992 candidacy for president of an America that didn’t look like this version.

* I miss Ronald Reagan. He was a nice guy and could credibly read a speech.

March Madness

“March Madness,” indeed. This is the one we didn’t see coming. SARS and Ebola didn’t have this impact. Neither did storm-porn, Hurricane spaghetti models. Neither did the Great Recession. Nor 9/11. Nor the 2016 election.

It’s because–tension and fear notwithstanding–we still had diversions and escapes. That’s been the model. A night–however sobering the context–out. A movie, a play, a concert, a museum, a game, a festival, an Airfest, a Grand Prix, a river greening, a happy hour. We need our diversions and escapes. Physically and psychologically. Self isolation, however prudent, can be a depressant if you let it.

Ironically, the last movie-theater experience of my wife, Laraine, and I was the CineBistro showing of “The Invisible Man.” Too bad it wasn’t “The Invisible Movie.” Alas, a manipulative movie about an invisible, stalking menace was not an ideal choice, even though it was discount Tuesday with enough accumulated points to split a veggie burger.

When I think of the WHO, I want it to be about “Pinball Wizard” not “COVID-19.”

I miss being able to escape into the Lightning’s countdown to the playoffs, a new season of promise for the Rays and the upsets and buzzer-beaters that always define the NCAA’s “March Madness.” I miss a viable sports section to counteract apocalyptic updates.

An old SCOTUS Chief Justice Earl Warren quote now resonates more than ever. “I always turn to the sports pages first,” said Warren, “which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

There’s always binge watching–such as “The Windsors” or “Chernobyl” or “Hillary”–but eventually the bar gets lowered for those who used to wonder what house arrest was like. But going out amid renegades means invoking the “six-foot rule.” I preferred its application to the Mons Venus. And not everybody who’s a fan of ESPN Classic is a follower of “Project Runway” or “Top Chef.” At-home compromise can be an issue.

But kicking back with a “quarantini” can help. As does a new Amazoned book or an old backgammon board. And whoever would have thought a presidential debate would qualify as a diversion? But we’re definitely passing on watching the 9-year old Warner Bros. movie “Contagion,” now one of the most popular rentals for video streaming services in 2020. I’d rather watch Matt Damon in “Ford vs. Ferrari,” which we did. Good flick. 

So, we’ve become avatars of social distancing and are self isolating, and by so doing–taking one for the team. With apologies to John F. Kennedy and Ted Sorensen: “Ask not what staying home on the couch can do for you, but what staying home on the couch can do for your country.”  

Dem Notes

* Maybe it’s what happens after 11 debates. Maybe it’s what happens when it’s just a two-candidate encounter. But Joe Biden was a lot better in his Sunday CNN debate with Bernie Sanders. If his goal was to look substantive, trustworthy and assertive, mission accomplished. We needed this as much as Biden did. “It’s about the world,” he emphasized when referencing COVID-19. “It’s got to be all hands on deck.” In other words, a pandemic calls for global cooperation and U.S. leadership.  The former is not possible without the latter. It all complements his real-world experience. The former vice president would also utilize the military as necessary.

Although Biden took unfriendly fire from Sanders on past stands, ranging from the Iraq war vote to NAFTA to health care, he managed to wax inclusive when it came to Sanders and even Elizabeth Warren. Then he created a “breaking news” moment by committing to a woman on a Biden ticket as well as a black female on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The character of the nation is on the ballot,” underscored Biden. “We’ve got to restore the country’s soul.” True. Also true: It helps to look the part when delivering truisms.

* “Democrats are hungry for reform, not revolution.”–That was Will Wilkinson, vice president for research at the Niskanen Center, underscoring a post-1776 reality. Not even post-Great Depression FDR found revolution preferable, let alone practicable.

* “It’s going to be up to the (Biden) campaign to craft messages for young people and develop a really good surrogate program. I don’t think Biden is the best person to speak directly to young people.” That was Anne Moses, founder of Ignite, which encourages young women to enter politics, underscoring a major challenge. As a corollary, you would have to wonder if, for example, AOC is up to the surrogate challenge–given the extended, existential threat to the nation and the globe if the Democratic nominee loses to Trump.

* “Not me. Us.” The Bernie Sanders’ campaign slogan.

Media Matters

* It’s not only Fox that derives bottom-line benefits from the hyper-partisan Trump era. MSNBC has seen its net advertising revenues nearly triple during the Trump years.

* Speaking of MSNBC, a sure sign that the Sanders campaign is very, very concerned: Bernie Sanders recently appeared for a sit-down interview with Rachel Maddow. Until then, the Sanders campaign had been castigating MSNBC as “corporate media” that was biased against Bernie.

* If only Andrew Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor who came within 34,000 votes of becoming governor, could confine himself to CNN commentary, “Real Time with Bill Maher” appearances, Gillum family camaraderie and Forward Florida leadership. This isn’t about “unforced (corruption investigation) errors,”  borne of carelessness. This is career cratering. What happens in Miami Beach won’t stay in Miami Beach.

Tampa Bay Tidbits

* So Riverwalk Place is down to one developer (Two Roads Development of West Palm Beach) since Feldman Equities exited the downtown condo tower project that is now looking at a redesign to add a luxury boutique hotel and hotel-branded condominiums. What hasn’t changed, however, is that the E. Whiting Street site will never be what it was originally designed as: Trump Tower Tampa. This city will not be stuck with that odious branding; some bullets are dodged.

* When it comes to 86-acre, Tropicana Field-site development, the city of St. Petersburg knows it ultimately needs to attract a master developer with a single vision. Alas, Jeff Vinik is already taken.

* Speaking of, Vinik and Vinik Sports Group have announced a compensation plan for Amalie Arena’s part-time employees who were scheduled to work hockey games and other events through March. The assistance also covers those scheduled to work events at USF’s Yuengling Center, which Vinik’s group manages.

Sports Shorts

* It’s been said–and a lot more of late–that sports locker rooms are not unlike kindergarten classrooms when it comes to venues that morph into breeding grounds for illnesses.

* Locally, the Lightning have franchise experience for shutting down operations. Lockouts cost games in 2012-13 and a whole season in 2004-05, the year after the Bolts won the Stanley Cup. One big difference with a pandemic shutdown: Back then, teams could offset some lockout losses by scheduling concerts or other sports events. Not this time.


* “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”–EU statement.

* “I would not be betting on Mother Nature (warmer weather) here. I would be betting on case-finding. Isolation (of patients). Contact tracing. Testing. Testing. Testing.”–WHO adviser Dr. Bruce Aylward.

* “I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”–Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

* “We need one another. If we act like it, more of us are going to be okay.”–Connie Schultz, Creators Syndicate.

* “A leader who cannot be believed will not be followed, even, or especially, in periods of emergency.”–Bret Stephens, New York Times.

* “Trump needs his administration to do something he is awful at: acting in a predictable manner.”–Daniel Drezner, Washington Post.

* “From the beginning, when Trump suggested that warming weather would solve the epidemic, his aim has been to downplay the risks and talk up the stock market, whose strength is key to his argument for re-election. … Trump exemplifies an ideological approach to the coronavirus (and Democrats must avoid the converse tendency to predict the worst just because Trump is in charge).”–Nicholas Kristof, New York Times.

* “One of America’s true strengths is our ability to summon unity and collective confidence when facing an external threat. We’ve seen it in time of war. We’ve seen it during the race to the moon. We’ve seen it after the attacks on 9/11. Are we seeing that now with the spread of this virus? … This is a test we need to pass.”–Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

* “Biden’s success in the suburbs makes him an acceptable alternative to Trump. His turnout in the suburbs threatens the Republican Senate.”–Scott Reed, top political adviser for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

* “When stresses arise in the Treasury market, they can reverberate throughout financial markets and the entire economy.”–Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in announcing emergency action that included slashing its benchmark interest rate to near zero and buying $700 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds.

 * “As far as I’m concerned, Bernie, stay in Vermont and Joe, stay in Delaware. Stay healthy because we can’t beat Trump if we lose either of you.”–Ione Townsend, chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party.

* “Jack was a Tampa original–filled with charm, wit and wisdom.”–Former Mayor Pam Iorio, on the passing of Jack Espinosa Sr.

* “As we work to minimize the impact of coronavirus, we are proud to see companies like Uber Eats step up to help our community. Technology helps us to stay connected, despite social distancing.”–Mayor Jane Castor, on Uber Eats’ announcement of free delivery and marketing efforts to more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the U.S. and Canada.