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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

June 28, 2007

Mat’s Musings on Media….

Generally, something pops out at me and becomes the focus of my weekly writing. This week, nothing has stood out and grabbed me around the throat and demanded my attention.

I have been enormously relieved that my friends, Jon Alpert and Matt O’Neill, are not going to Iraq to do a follow up on their marvelous BAGHDAD ER. HBO put its foot down and said: NO, we’re not into that firestorm. Instead of an in-depth look at an American military hospital they were going to embed in an everyday Iraqi hospital. The story will still be done; a “fixer” friend of Jon’s who is Iraqi is back in Baghdad to film and they will direct via the wonders of the internet.

Speaking of the internet, one thing I noticed in the news this week is that the U.S. is fifth in the world in terms of the speed of its internet connections. South Korea is first, Japan second. That troubled me. Our digital infrastructure is critical if we are going to compete in the digital age.

The New York Times did an extensive profile of Rupert Murdoch. The eyes of the journalistic world are upon him as he makes two steps forward, one step backwards in his efforts in resting Dow Jones and its Wall Street Journal from the hands of the family that has controlled it for a century. The Wall Street Journal is often described as the “crown jewel” in American journalism. I have never been that much of a fan and by far prefer the Financial Times of London. Some of my apathy toward this particular publication came from the days when they were running an advertising campaign that had as its tag line something like: The Wall Street Journal, the journal of the American Dream. When I cancelled my subscription I was asked why and I told them that they were successful only 40% of the time in getting it delivered to me. As far as I was concerned it was the journal of the American nightmare.

Regardless of its status in my mind, Mr. Murdoch is in hot pursuit and his fabulous life, career and actions are being scrutinized. I’m not sure he notices and if he does, cares much. He has his own drummer and he marches to its beat.

Christy Whitman, who was Administrator of the EPA and who declared the air safe in lower Manhattan after 9/11 found herself enduring a grilling recently as Congress pressed her for answers as to why so many of the first responders are falling ill. She was booed by many in the room. We’ll be seeing more of this kind of grilling in the years to come.

The Bush Administration which, in its early days, marched in such lockstep unity that you’d think they were being organized by a Prussian officer seems, from my outsider’s amateur point of view, in a bit of disarray. A confrontation is brewing between the now Democratic Congress and the Republican White House over papers refused to Congress by the White House. It’s not pretty; there’ll be lots of name calling on both sides.

Tony Blair has stepped down as Prime Minister and taken over a role as a Middle East negotiator/envoy which is something I’d be more excited about at a time earlier in his career. He is, I suspect, Clinton brilliant and his effectiveness may be challenged by his stance on Iraq while Prime Minister.

I have saved the best for last. The world can breathe easily. Paris Hilton has been released from jail and she has managed to keep her sanity. Her release caused her neighborhood to scream for mercy from the onslaught of press who were clogging their street to cover this major story.

As I watched the Hilton huzzarah, I thought of something Cindy Sheehan said as she was surrendering her role as peace activist. She said her son had died for a country that was more concerned about who won American Idol than they were about the men and women fighting in Iraq.