Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meet Sarah Palin's new boss - Major Democratic donor and business tycoon Leo Hindery Jr. - The surprising connections in America's media industry - UPDATES: The announcement of Sarah Palin's show causes havoc on facebook at "Guns & Ammo"

This man, Leo Hindery Jr., seems nice and supports Barack Obama and the Democrats - 
and he is now ultimately Sarah Palin's new boss

By Patrick

We have great news for Sarah Palin: If her upcoming, already widely ridiculed new show on the "Sportsman Channel" fails ("Jackass for Conservatives"), she could blame it on the Democrats. How fantastic is that! We are sure Sarah will be thrilled. After all, the right-wing nutjobs love nothing more a good conspiracy explaining how "Obama-evil-muslim-Kenyan-socialist" and his minions want to take over the universe and destroy Sarah Palin.

Kathleen and I today wondered who really is "in charge" of Sarah Palin's new employer, Sportsman Channel, who really is running the show, so to speak. Coming from an European perspective, we are used to the fact that the media world is broadly divided into "liberal" and "conservative" organizations. On the "liberal" side, there is for example the German media giant Bertelsmann who is also active on the US-market via the publisher Random House.

In the USA however, the situation is much more complicated. Despite the myth that there is a "liberal" media existing in the USA, also widely supported by Sarah Palin herself through her "lamestream media" claims, the truth is far more complex. Just yesterday, "Buzzfeed" published an article about the fact the mainstream ("liberal") media years ago discovered right-wing authors as a good source for profit. Apparently, there is not much money to earn these days through the sale of books - however, in the recent past, "liberal" media organizations in the USA had no hesitation to sign up right-wingers, putting profits over politics, as Buzzfeed explains:

The conservative book business has seen better days. Ten years ago, the genre was a major source of intellectual energy on the right, and the site of a publishing boom, with conservative imprints popping up at industry giants like Random House and Penguin. But after a decade of disruption, uneven sales, and fierce competition, many leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news, where an overcrowded field of preachers feverishly contends for the attention of the same choir.


The challenges afflicting the market are varied, but in interviews with BuzzFeed, several editors, agents, and executives faulted the same trend they were celebrating in 2003, when mainstream publishers began elevating conservative editors, like Adam Bellow and Adrian Zackheim, and luring high-profile Republican figures like consultant Mary Matalin into the book business. At the time, many on the right welcomed this development as the sort of victory that had eluded them in Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream press — a mass influx of conservatives that would wrest the industry from the hands of liberal elites, and work to reverse the tide of the culture wars.

The gutting of the conservative book market could mark the end of a cycle that began in the summer of 1987, when a roomful of bemused Manhattan publishing types gathered at the offices of Simon & Schuster to toast Bloom, a University of Chicago philosopher whose new book, The Closing of the American Mind, condemned the American higher education system for having “impoverished the souls” of its students. The volume had become a surprise mega-hit, eventually selling more than a million copies by channeling a popular sentiment on the American right that few in the literary class could relate to.

Roger Kimball, a conservative critic present at the party, recalled meeting Simon & Schuster publisher Joni Evans. Kimball said Evans was “pleased as punch” to have a runaway bestseller on her hands, but seemed perplexed by the book’s success. “It was clear she had never opened the book,” he said. “She had no idea what was in it.”

Books might be dead, as Buzzfeed believes, but cable TV, internet and social media are flourishing, and the same hard core right-wing audience still promises to deliver big profits. They love God and Guns and they ardently hate liberals - and they have lots of dollars to spend.

So who really runs the show at "Sportsman Channel", Sarah Palin's new employer? We searched, and the final results were rather surprising. The owner of Sportsman Channel is the "InterMedia Outdoor Holdings, Inc.", which also owns no less than 17 hunting, fishing and shooting magazines ("Guns & Ammo", "Gun Dog", "Handguns", "Petersen's Hunting", "Rifle Shooter" etc.). This company therefore has the right-wing audience squarely in its sights, and it comes as no big surprise that they signed up Sarah Palin, the infamous right-wing starlet.

However, the connections in the background are still incredibly interesting, and also shine more light on the structures of the American media industry.

Let's take a look first at the people who are in charge of the operations at Sportsman Channel, and who are the producers of Sarah Palin's show. These people are not difficult to find, as they recently proudly posed with Sarah Palin:

Gavin Harvey, CEO:

He presents himself as a big hunter and clearly knows his audience ("community of opt-in true believers"), and he can look back at a long career of executive media positions. He also appears to have excellent connections to cable giant "Comcast."

Craig Piligian, executive producer of Sarah Palin's show:

Craig Piligian is the President and CEO of "Pilgrims Film & Television", a company which describes itself as "A National Treasure", and they now proudly present Sarah Palin's show as part of their portfolio:

What is really interesting is the fact that in 2012, Craig Piligian was voted by "The Hollywood Reporter" to be the "18th most powerful person" in reality TV. Never say that Sarah Palin doesn't have influential friends any more, because that's clearly not the case.

Funnily, Craig Piligian also has no hesitation to "hang out" with Sarah Palin's archnemesis Kathy Griffin. It's Hollywood, after all! I guess somebody should explain to him that Sarah Palin neatly divides everything which is alive on this planet in friend and foe, and that she is very serious about it (h/t HopeforAmerica):

However, the real surprise is the business connection behind the owner of Sportsman Channel, the already mentioned "InterMedia Outdoor Holdings, Inc." Who is in charge there? The company is owned by the "InterMedia Advisors, LLC", also known as "InterMedia Partners", a private equity investment firm.

Wikipedia explains:

The firm, which was founded in 2005 by notable private equity investor Leo Hindery, is based on the 48th floor of the Chrysler Building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Among the firm's most notable investments are Thomas Nelson, Universal Sports, Control Room, Aspire, BlackBook Media, @Home Network, InterMedia Outdoors, Sportsman Channel, Cinelatino, Soul Train Holdings,Vibe Lifestyle Network, Up, and Puerto Rican station WAPA-TV.

But that's not everything. The real surprise is the fact that the Managing Partner of the company, business tycoon Leo Hindery Jr. is a major Democratic supporter, and he also is a close friend to Tom Daschle, who is an advisor for the company. Wikipedia notes about his political views:

In 2004, his name was floated as a possible successor to Terry McAuliffe as head of the Democratic National Committee.

Hindery served as Senior Economic Policy Advisor for presidential candidate John Edwards from December 2006 until February 2008. He is currently acting as an economic advisor to Barack Obama. On the withdrawal of Bill Richardson as nominee for Secretary of Commerce on January 4, 2009 it was suggested that he might be a suitable replacement.

On January 30, 2009, it was reported that Hindery's friendship and business partnership with former senator Tom Daschle might cause problems for the latter's Senate confirmation for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration. Daschle has been a consultant and advisor to Hindery's InterMedia Partners since 2005, during which time he received from Hindery access to a car and chauffeur. Daschle did not declare this service on his annual tax forms as required by law. (He reportedly paid the three years of owed taxes and interest in January 2009.) According to a Daschle spokeswoman, the former Senator "simply and probably naively considered its use a generous offer" from Hindery, "a longtime friend. On February 3, 2009 Daschle withdrew his nomination.

Interestingly, the right-wingers also quite recently discovered Leo Hindery's deep involvement in  "pro-gun" magazines and TV-channels, and the Daily Caller in an article from February 2013 seriously claimed that Hindery is "in the process of consolidating all of America’s leading gun-culture media outlets and stripping them down to virtual destruction." Did I already mention that right-wingers love nothing more than outlandish conspiracy theories...?


Employees of Obama donor Leo Hindery Jr.’s media conglomerate Intermedia Partners, which now owns most of the top gun-culture media outlets in the country, believe that Hindery plans to gut and destroy all of them as part of a business plan that has already led to numerous layoffs and the virtual shuttering of prominent television production facilities in Minnesota and Montana.

Hindery, who was in consideration to be President Barack Obama’s secretary of commerce, is managing partner of Intermedia Partners. The New York-based media private equity fund owns Intermedia Outdoor Holdings, which publishes 17 hunting, fishing, and shooting magazines, including Guns & Ammo, Handguns, Gun Dog, Rifle Shooter and Shooting Times.

InterMedia Outdoor Holdings purchased the pro-gun hunting and fishing network the Sportsman Channel in 2007, and is now in the process of acquiring the Outdoor Channel, pending the federal government’s approval of last month’s merger between InterMedia Outdoors and Outdoor Channel Holdings.

InterMedia employees believe that Hindery, a Huffington Post blogger who has contributed to numerous Democratic politicians including Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren, is in the process of consolidating all of America’s leading gun-culture media outlets and stripping them down to virtual destruction.

Leo Hindery Jr. is very outspoken about his political views, he is not hiding in the background. He is a blogger at Huffington Post, and he is actively involved in political discussions. His portfolio of posts at Huffington Post shows his profoundly Democratic views - excerpt:

Just a month ago, he was also named as one of five "business tycoons who want to close the wealth gap", next to other prolific multi-millionaires like Warren Buffet and Nick Hanauer.

Deseret News reported:


Leo Hindery Jr., the New York City media and investing mogul, is one of hundreds of wealthy people directly asking Congress to raise their taxes as a member of Patriotic Millionaires. The group was formed in 2010 to advocate for the end of Bush-era tax cuts for people making more than $1 million a year. Hindery is also a member of Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity, and he was among a group of entrepreneurs who went door-to-door in the halls of Congress in early February asking for a higher minimum wage.

A managing partner of the media industry private equity fund InterMedia Partners, Hindery was previously chief executive of AT&T Broadband and of the YES Network, the cable channel of the Yankees. He says he's turned down raises to ensure that he never makes more than 20 times the salary of his employees. He is also one of the biggest Democratic fundraisers in the nation.

The 66-year-old argues that giving rich people tax breaks makes no economic sense because people like him don't put their extra dollars back into the economy.

"Do you think I don't own every piece of clothing, every automobile? I already have it. You spend money. Rich people just get richer," he told the AP.

Hindery credits his Jesuit upbringing with giving him the tools to look beyond his own economic advantages.

"How can we believe in the American dream when 10 percent of the people have half the nation's income? It's immoral, I think it's unethical, but I also think that it's bad economics," Hindery said. "The only people who can take exception to this argument are people who want to get super rich and don't care what happens to the nation as a whole."

The USA could surely need more people like Leo Hindery Jr., and one can safely conclude: He seems nice.

At the same time, we also have to note that he manages the investment company which controls Sarah Palin's new employer, Sportsman Channel - and that his investment company purposely, with a broad range of magazines and TV-shows, targets a clearly defined right-wing audience.

What should we make of all that? As described above, it already seems to be an established mainstream media strategy to target the right-wingers, in order to generate profits from them. In the end, this is money before politics. This strategy once popularized right-wing demagogues like Ann Coulter, and now a highly controversial figure like Sarah Palin seems to be good enough to create revenues. But what about the moral side? Should there be moral considerations as well, or is it all just "business"?

There is another thought: Now that a lot of powerful people (not even counting Fox News!) have a real interest in Sarah Palin's "success", does this mean that critical mainstream articles about Sarah Palin are a thing of the past? I believe that this is a valid question, and yes, Sarah Palin already was treated with kid-gloves by large parts of the mainstream in the past. It was brave people like Joe McGinniss, Geoffrey Dunn, Andrew Sullivan and a few others who showed the world the "real" Sarah Palin, and they have been harshly criticized for their efforts. The mainstream largely kept quiet after the 2008 election, with just a few exceptions like the article by Michael J. Gross in Vanity Fair from October 2010.

But isn't it just wonderful for Sarah Palin: If her endeavour fails, she can always blame her political enemy, LOL! And judging the hilarious "over-the-top" marketing by the Sportsman Channel, failure is virtually guaranteed.

Yesterday it was reported that Sarah Palin will have a co-host, Mark Christopher Lawrence, and a pro-Palin blog reported that there will even be a second co-host, Jerry Carroll.

Interestingly both co-hosts are comedians. That is rather telling, is it not.

Mark Christopher Lawrence

Also, the pro-Palin people posted more over-the-top marketing which comes actually close to parody, and they love it, needless to say:

So good luck, everyone! Hopefully the profits of the series will go directly to Democratic candidates. Wouldn't that be sweet? Still, I wish that intelligent people would stop trying to earn money with dangerous right-wing nonsense, in a country in which gun-culture is on the rise and is responsible for thousands of tragic deaths every year.



There are even three-co hosts!

Benny Spies announced at his facebook that he will also appear in the show. His fans are not exactly pleased! The comments are stinging (h/t mealewis):



More fun! Sarah Palin also caused havoc on the facebook page of "Guns & Ammo." Note: Not every gun enthusiast loves Sarah Palin. Many don't like her at all. Her poisonous influence always works wonders (h/t Myrtille2).

Some screenshots:

NOTE: "Shelly Dankert", the pro-Palin commenter in the above screenshots became a little internet celebrity after she posted an epic, unhinged rant in 2012 on youtube, slamming her right-wing friends for not "sharing" her videos, and therefore causing Barack Obama to get re-elected. Gawker had a field day with this back then. This clip really has to be seen to be believed. Shelly Dankert was one of the founders of the "Sarah Palin earthquake movement" in 2011, urging Sarah Palin to run for president.

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