tv New York Times Columnists on Media Culture Politics Fairfield Univ. CSPAN November 28, 2014 6:35pm-8:01pm EST
why science and discovery and invention is so important. all right? ahope all of you have wonderful reception. i hear the food here is pretty good. [laughter] [applause] >> on the next "washington kevin coolman from the national federation of independent business outlines his organization would like to see from the republican-led
year.congress next and the u.s. public interest research group will discuss to provideal efforts additional protection for who have had their personal information stolen through data breaches. take yourays, we'll calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. "washington journal," live on c-span. pulitzer prize winning reporter and arthur james risen on how the u.s. government wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on the war on terror. really the only u.s. official who became -- really tried to investigate what to all the money that the united states sent to iraq. the -- there's different estimates. the roughlyion of $20 billion in iraqi money that united states sent back to iraq was unaccounted for. what stewart bowin's
investigators found was that nearly $2 billion in cash, in hundred dollar bills cialtion , was stolenafter it was flown , apparently by powerful iraqis. and was being hidden in a bunker lebanon.row q&a.nday night on c-span's and join us as we get an talk withview, as we ann compton who recently retired 40 years ashan white house correspondent for abc news. now, two new york sometimes columnists -- "new york times" columnists. you'll hear from chief critic alessandra op edy as well as
columnist ed bruni. this is about an hour and twenty minutes. >> soon we will be meeting two distinguished journalists. the "times,"rom ms. alessandra stanley and mr. frank bruni. we all understand the very long and theffects reverberations of the "new york deeplywhich extend so into our nation's history, 1851, the good great lady has been published in all those years on fivecourse, is read continents. as we say, all the news that's in print, a albeit today the digit world all the news that's fit to click. li limbaugh, rush fewained, i can only read a
paragraphs in a "new york times" story before i puke. well, last summer i was watching rerun of a charlie rose of "the and the editor was speaking about the media in america, and healked about his career -- talked about his career. he had spent ten years at the washington post. 22 years, he said been the times" has greatest competitor of my entire yet, heonal career, and said to charlie rose, i think nation's times" is the most important privately held institution. and i thought about that. think about what you would list what is privately owned in the united states, and
of thes his assessment times." "new york open visions forum and fairfield university wants to thank, of our very generous sponsors who make these programs friends at tvir to the del mar hotel to harry's liquors and, of course, our friends at the group who publish "fairfield living" magazine and the entire set of magazines throughout fairfield county. tonight by the chairman of the communication department. but to set the stage, let's out another professor of communications, the deputy my assistant in helping to develop this series, serazio, for our guests.tion to our michael? [applause]
>> in the late 1960's, one of the rallying cries for that era's feminist movement went something like this. political.l is four dec decades later, an equay fitting slogan might now apply. the popular is political, for it is increasingly possible to extricate entertainment from electoral effects. just talking here about john stewart and stephen colbert rallying to restore and/or fear. undoinge potentially sarah palin or california's electing conan the barbarian. culture offers the rosetta stone for deciphering american politics. can't understand the dramatic shift in public opinion on gay appreciatingt mitchell on "modern family." we can't ups the re-- understand
reality of tolerating guantanamo detainees without the fantasy of "homeland 24". indeed neveras been more political, which makes timely.ts tonight so tastemakers, thought leaders and award winners, at indispensablest news organization, the new york times. bruni was quite literally the tastemaker, sandwiched in stints as rome bureau asef and his current gig op-ed columnist. alessandra stanley has been the critic for over a decade. their work is versatile, and perceptive, teasing out the way we live now from the
and makingnsume now out the big picture as it comes to us more and more on the small screen. please join me in welcoming, from the new york times, andalessandra stanley mr. frank bruni. [applause] >> well, let's hear what and ms. stanley have to say. and i think frank bruni is going now. to the podium all yours. >> hello, everybody. night. i mean, good evening. good night. yeah. i brought my pillow with me. coming.or it's a pleasure to be here. i want to thank rush for that compliment. sometimes when i feel the need a purgative, i listen to his radio show. i was asked to say a little bit
times,y career at the which isn't so different from alessandra's. we're both people who have bounced around a lot. in my now almost 20 years there, me to give that figure, because it means i'm getting on in years, i have been reporter on the metropolitan desk. i have covered a campaign, bush's first presidential campaign, i covered the beginning of his white house. from san francisco. i have been the chief restaurant critic for five years. the magazine. for this follows years earlier when i was a movie critic. my little brother likes to say that i don't have a career; i have an attention deficit disorder. and that is true. but i believe strongly in going through life and gathering as many diverse experiences as possible. intohen i first got journalism, my whole notion was that it would give me a ticket sorts ofport to all experiences and privileged
glimpses of the world that i couldn't get in any other way. it's done precisely that. met a pope, john paul ii. i've met other presidents. real privilege that i still kind of can't believe way.my my belief in that sort of diverse experience and the value versatile ti and all that leads me into what i want culturebout the media today, which is our topic. decades ago, as we made technological advances and as tv along, a supposedly wise man said we were becoming a village. well, we've had further advances beyond then. i think what's happened over the last decade is we've become a gazillion global villages, in a globe that is fractured as never before. i think the great irony of our
have this thing called the internet and all of these cable channels. and the way people use them to sample the world in the most diverse way possible. choosee all of this to an area of interest and to marinate -- i like food metaphors -- and to marinate in it endlessly. vocabularyhole that's developed for this habit. people talk of modern americans living in information silos. the way in which we sort ourselves. that is what happened. with ehave all of these -- we of these connecting mechanisms, twitter, facebook, all of that stuff. them to reachng out to a broad spectrum of our fellow human beings, we use them connect incessantly, over and over again, with people who think just like us. think about people who like "real housewives." in know, you can see them six different cities, six 24 hours accents, day. people who like "duck dynasty."
can find some episode of it and go to the bookstore and buy written by the duck commander. i don't even know who the duck believe i'm, but i using the correct phrase. that's changed our political particular. this has been scientifically measured. americans are becoming more people whod those feel the most strongly are the most partisan. when they set up their media feeds, their twitter feeds, they do it not so they exposed to all kinds of information and perspectives. they do it so they can constantly hear what they believe. they live in these echo chambers. us of's kind of depriving the common ground that we need if we're going to have a congress that functions and if we're all going to participate in civic life and civic debate way.e correct and i hope we get to talk a little bit more about that tonight. heartfelt appeals to students or anyone else here newsht is in your own
consumption, in your own information consumption, i think you could do nothing better for ourselveyourself or the countryn making sure you are following a on twitter who don't believe as you do, that you're blogsrking a couple of that represent the opposite of your viewpoint in life. i think if we all began doing that, we'd be in much better shape as a country. can talka, i think, more about how this manifested itself on tv. i don't want to bore you any further. talk more as a group. do i get to introduce alessandra? dearandra stanley, my friend, and colleague. [applause] >> yes. i can see you. me?you hear first of all, thank you for having us. it's an honor to be here. but for me, it's actually a big know, ibecause as you watch tv all day, so i don't actually leave the house much or
pajamas, ever. [laughter] daughter makes fun of me because of my work and says -- calledtes a show "arrested development" and says i'm here stay-in-bed mother. be here.reat to people often ask me how i got in television and i have to explain that i'm sort of parents,ary tale for because mine didn't let us watch television when we were growing up. naturally, it's all i ever thought about. while to gete a there, but look at me now. [laughter] loved tvence was i because i never got to watch it. i want to tell you a little story i just like. met who was a very sophisticated gallery owner in him, you and i asked know, how did you become a gallery honor in new york?
collected futurist italian art. explained was tv and that he had grown up in arizona and both his parents worked for the airlines and he was left at home alone all the time and he watched "i dream of jeannie" constantly. a particularers episode where jeannie was in her bottle. bottle was decorated with what looked like a picasso vase.ming he thought, that's amazing! and then years went by. him onn the school took a field trip to texas. he went to a museum where he picasso with a ming vase. and he said, oh! real! and he actually quit high school, moved to new york. and he opened an art gallery and never watched tv again. have the two experiences. we're going to talk a little bit about television, i hope, but started ten years ago, there was a lot of good
television. sopranos was on, the wire was on, sex in the city was on. thatifference for me was nobody -- people like yourselves were not watching the way you are, i hope, now. and when i started, a lot of people said, well, you know, why critic?ant to even be a that's not a dignified thing to be. people would introduce me at say, oh, you know, she's a tv critic, but she used to be a rome bureau chief. but the shows have gotten more sophisticated. you were talking about a audience. i think that's true, that sort of our popularn culture. what i am always struck by is audience has grown to andude college professors laureates who are all watching the same shows we are. what's interesting about that is simply that that's how good television has gotten. it's still terrible in some
people will now -- you probably yourselves will movies a tv show before a before a novel, because it's been said many times, television is now like a novel. so that there was an adaptation of a novel which i loved, i thought. and it was adapted by the bbc and tom stopard wrote the screenplay. screenplay was so good it made the novel look bad. that's how things have evolved. [laughter] nobodyw, of course, that is going to movies because now all the movie directors are television. spielberg has a television company. pretty much anything with the "s" has a tv show. frank and i were good friends
with nora efron. before he died in the hospital, she was determined to keep working and she was working on television treatment. it was something that sounded great, about a woman who is a officer and realizes that her boss is a fraud. and i wish she had stuck around do that too. what i was going to say, then, is that people used to feel guilty about watching television. now people are going to feel bad about not watching it because they feel like, even talk to can't friends if i haven't seen orange is the now black. and the responsibility of a of the new york times because not just being a fan but say aboutng things to these television shows, good and bad, that tell us a little ourselves.bout i'm hoping in this discussion we'll have a chance to talk about what's going on out there. to tell you that if we get a chance, i want to talk about the depiction of men, the
demeaning depiction of men on television, because i always write about the depiction of women. talk aboute should the depiction of men. anyway, thank you for being here and i look forward to your in our discussion. >> okay. thank you. [applause] >> great. okay. who wants to jump in? david? mike? go ahead. >> so that sort of dovetailing have oaf sort -- dovetailing off of where you about thealking novelistic nature of television, i think clearly the most critically acclaimed shows had these intricate serial story slow, elaborate character development. and above all, they require deep investments of time. of ourneously, a lot media culture has shrunk and emphasizes, you know, twitter-length discourse viralund bites and
phenomenon. i'm wondering, how is it that those two things can exist? that we're willing to make time and put in the effort for these incredibly elaborate shows while at the same time we have trouble getting past something that's 141 characters? >> well, i think that the answer is actually in your question, beause i think it has to that elaborate. stop doingoing to things that they can do in ten seconds to do it for an hour. there's that belief of i'm going to draw down the curtains to watch ten episodes of deadwood and i'm not stop for food. antithesist's the that people need after a while. your head spins from all these twitter.he so it's sort of fitting, i think. frank probably has an even theory. but you probably couldn't have one without the other.
think it's -- is there something bad about it too, find -- ands,though, because i maybe folks share this experience -- it's hard to catch up with conversations if you haven't caught up with the shows. it would have been the case, you decades past that an extremely popular show, you 4,ld just drop in season 3, and catch up with the public conversation. now it just seems a lot harder put in the 10, 20, 30 hours that you need to up.h >> that's why people feel guilty all the time, ashamed and guilty they haven't watched enough tv. >> david? >> i do want to follow up with inr point on gender television, if in fact men are being portrayed in a demeaning way. review of "the good wife" and "madam secretary," you make the case that strong and women are no longer shocking on television. we almost come to expect it. time, we still can't pass an equal pay act, can't
president, all these sorts of things. i'm curious, if you think the onresentation of gender television is just completely off from the actual landscape and if so, why? >> i don't know if that's really clintoncause hillary was secretary of state. and we now have a tv show about a female secretary of state. that television is leading. it used to be leading. it used to be all fantasy. fantasy that there would be a black president. and oops. one.years later, there was it's all -- the great thing about television is there's so much of it. thatan make that argument it's -- what would you say? a fantasycorrect or version of reality. make theyou can opposite argument, because you can watch a reality show. i was talking about me because i noticed -- on more subliminal, on tv, women can be divorced.
the heroine has to be single, because she has been to be able to date somebody. but she can be divorced. a man is always a widower. [laughter] because a man who is divorced obviously is a beast who left his wife. [laughter] but if he's a widower, he lost he canr and square, and be a sympathetic character. if i were a man, i would say, minute, not all divorced men are beasts, just most of them. [laughter] >> frank, let me go back to your thisssion about tribalization. i know this is something you've addressed. what seems to be going on is communale losing that water cooler conversation. -- that is, those of us a little older in the audience, we would all watch "all in the family" or we'd
the "dick van dyke" show or an episode of mary tyler moore and then we could come in and share that. feel it's being reflected then in the balkanization of our political life? that is, there's no there "there" anymore. think the habits that people exercise when they're theirng -- curating entertainment options, those habits carry over into other walks of life. you get accustomed, when you're looking at a cable dial hundreds of channels -- using the word dial now -- the old.ulary is getting we haven't come up with a vocabulary to replace the obsolete vocabulary. people are in the habit of curating their entertainment universe. once you get in that habit, you curate every aspect. interesting, binge watching was brought up. i'm sure a lot of you have traveled. one of the things that me, one of the other kind of perverse effects of
look around, if you you on a plane, you can take a five-hour trip that brings you country.e and you're deposited in a completely new environment and not people are doing is looking up around them at this new environment. they're staring down into their iphones or their ipads. they're spending that trip watching five hours of "game of thrones" to catch up. they're landing in a foreign country with the entertainment and information cocoon that they the former country with them. they're staring down instead of up. that makes us less aware of anything but the narrow band of experience we've chosen for ourselves. >> let me follow up on kind of what you spoke about, frank, with regard to information silos and echochambers. as your recent column, as you pointed out from the podium, bookmarkg that folks and reach for publications and
blogs and views that disagree from their own. which publications, blogs or read besides rush limbaugh that disagree from your -- >> well, on those rare moments when i have time, apart from lot, because he fills up a of air -- [laughter] >> sure. >> no. mean, a publication that i -- or publication/website that i a lot of people, for this reason, because you get this experience in the one are you familiar with a publication called "the week"? it does something interesting. little bit annoying in its mannerisms but it goes through the major news events of week, in the ways that news weekly pretend to do before they in other ways.s it goes to the stories of the last week. it gives you a paragraph or two really pretty objective summaries of what happened. then it gives you various -- like little glimpses of various takes on it, from different
sorts of columnists. reading online, it gives you a link to each of those things. using "thectually week" the way it's designed to be used, you are able, within event you're news looking at, to find out what a bevy of people said about it, all coming from different directions. that's one-stop shopping. i know i shouldn't urge any on you other than the new york times, but the truth of the matter is my work op ed page is moderates outnumbers really far conservatives there. it's not a real mirror of the distribution of people in the country. something like "the week" does that. i don't know if that's an answer. >> i'm curious how technology has affected your jobs, as op ed columnists. today it strikes me, tv as an example, in twitter, tv shows are reviewed by thousands of viewers all the time, and every is reviewed constantly by anyone who dines
or instagram. anybody can opine about anything that strikes his or her fancy. how do you see your jobs as a nation's-- has the newspaper record been changed by this constant culture of feedback? >> i'd like to think that because there is all this sort of instant uncurated and often unedited reviewing basically kind of has a -- beaconw, we can be that of making sense of it. so you could read on yelp or whatever. but at the end of the day, you want to come someplace where you know they synthesize the and they hire objective people or at least people who aren't corrupt and can trust it in a way. i mean, i hope that's the case. i know i rely on the paper for that. do -- i work that. but if something is happening in
the middle east, i want to know what we say, because i can't just rely on the blogs, because they're all over the place. i don't know who is writing them. i don't know what their backgrounds are. someone?paid by people are getting more suspicious because of advertising. but you don't know who is it.ing i think that is a service that the "times" provides. not.aybe >> i agree. i think if we, the new york times, can continue to find an economic model that keeps us alive, that keeps us, you know, sufficiently funded to do the do, i think there are a lot of people out there who find us more valuable than ever before. in terms of raw numbers, the problem with a newspaper like isn't that we don't have enough people reading us. the problem that the economic howl with advertising and we make income to pay for that journalism has changed. mean, i saw when i was restaurant reviewing, and i talked a lot about this as i job, people would say how has yelp affected it? the truth of the matter is, for
sophisticated reader, yelp did nothing to diminish the times reviews. i could see that, because i think intelligent readers know grabickly learn as they information from a citysearch for a yelp or whatever, you have the person telling you how many stars they give that restaurant has eaten in three restaurants in the last year. you have no idea if you're getting something from the chef'smother or the bitter enemy. i'm not joking. it's really true. what you get, if you're reading tv review, if you're reading a restaurant review by pete wells, our current restaurant reviewer, who is terrific, what you're getting is thing you know is not by an economic interest. you're getting something from someone who haven't just watched thatone show or eaten at one restaurant but is using a yardstick of vast experience years of watching tv or eating in restaurants. and you can't trust that when you're just reading twitter or yelp, et cetera.
of follow-up to david's question, you're critics yourselves, very influential ones at an influential organization. do you read criticism of your own work? >> no, not lately. [laughter] you know, i don't read other critics, because -- not because i think i'm better than they so afraidecause i'm of being influenced. it's not just that you're going to copy an idea, but if they it too much, you're going to overreact the other way. cannot read your own reviews. i mean, i think if you write a sort of have to. but, you know, the internet is fierce. you know, you can get preoccupied. i mean, you have to try to do what you do. the new york times. we're an easy target. it.we have to take >> but how much would you allow your own subjective taste and biases? how much of your own tastes are eitherling you need to
repress? frank, you might not like thai food or alessandra, you might not like sort of shoot-em-up these violent -- how do you then go into these, and youhave to review it, but know this is not your thing? >> well, luckily i'm not the critic. there's certain things. "game of thrones" i knew was a wasshow, and i just knew i never going to like it. so i gave it to a reporter who and more adventurous than i am. she hated it. then we give it to mike, who is a guy. he didn't like it either. shy.ree >> but then you're already self-editing the outcome. you're passing it off to people that -- >> no. i wanted to give the show a chance. and i think we can do that. like acause i may not certain genre, i will still don't havebut if i to, i want to give it the best shot.
when that much work has gone into something, you want to give it the best shot you can. we do that for big shows. everything. and i read a lot of shows that i myself. normally watch but that's parts o part of the . like a lot of stuff, so it's not so hard. >> and, frank, your taste? at theld look restaurant -- >> i was laughing when yourandra was answering question because i'm still waiting to meet a food i don't like. there's no country that i can safely go to and hope to lose weight. [laughter] a greatink it's question. i think you cannot -- i think can't suppress or try to adjust for the subjective -- subjectivities that you or any one person is going to have, because i know my relationship with movie critics isn't that i'm trusting my opinion, but if they're being true to their nature, i kind of can figure out where i overlap with them, where i don't, but that's
only going to work if that critic is consistent to his or her sensibility. was my duty as a restaurant critic to try to intelligent explanation did.hy i feel the way i but you know what i mean? i think a review is supposed to something of a consumer guide. but i think at a higher level, level that i think most critics at the time aspider more of abe at, a review is spring board no for a discussion the final review for everybody. >> staying with your experience as a food critic for a second, strikes me that some of the best writing in a newspaper often shows up in food criticism. that might just be a subjective opinion. but having been a food critic years, did you feel differently about the craft of writing as you approached a
restaurant review compared to other things where you could be more playful? a generic format you kind of had to follow at some point? >> if you're writing a unfortunatelyiew, or fortunately, there are certain things you kind of have ofaccomplish over the course the review. you have written a terrible review, since it does have a service element, if you haven't in some fashion told looks what the restaurant at, what it's sound level is, what kind of people go there. are a million ways to embed that information. i found it fun and challenging try and always make sure the review didn't have the same structure. so if the chef was a particularly compelling person, i might begin that way. i actually, because i'm trained as a reporter, more than a antic, i actually did enormous amount of reporting for each review so i could figure somef there was interesting wrinkle of this restaurant that gave me a way to approach the review somewhat
originally. i don't know if i succeeded. but i remember, for example, one pair ofactually, a chefs. a very common scenario you find in a restaurant industry, which going to sound sexist, but the restaurant industry is. you find a lot of couples where the husband is the chef and the wife is the pastry chef. a lot aboutk says society. there was a situation like that on the upper east side. i don't know how it came up when was interviewing them on the phone. but they lived right above the restaurant. had opened this restaurant is because a space had opened up right below them. have a fun oh, i read where i can ride about the commute inle manhattan. in that sense, i thought it was kind of a fun writing challenge. >> i want to add something about that, because i can say this. frank can't. think,t critics, i especially food critics, are people who bake. regardless of whether you intend to go to the restaurant. i like food.
care about restaurants. i just want the lighting to be dim. frank'sways read reviews, because there's always something in it for me, something entertaining that has nothing to do with food. and that's ideally what you would want in television reviewing or book reviewing. you don't have to be fascinated by the show or the book or the restaurant. want -- the new yorker has some wonderful writers as well who do this. invitation to just have a great experience while you're reading. an anthony lane movie review about a movie you have no interest in seeing, and just have a great time with his use of language and thing.nd that sort of >> the review or column -- is there a column either of you in that you wish you would go back and retract, take out of the archives, not necessarily because the restaurant changed or -- >> like every one. think the most dangerous thing you can do -- i mean that in a small way.
we do is produced on deadline. we're both in jobs and have jobs where we've had to be prolific. as soon as you put a time limit on something, which is necessary, you know, you end up making compromises or rushing in go back anden you look, you didn't say it as you elegantly asit, as you thought you were capable of, so i think you learn early on look back and to keep, like a sharp, going forward. things i regret aren't the articles i've written, although some of them are articles but it's the i didn't write, you know. >> like what? >> well, there was some vatican stories i wanted to do that i kind of chickened out, because in those days they were really in rome.n you and it was just politically different, difficult to do. a little lazy. stories in russia that were a little hard to do. i can think of a lot of stories that i would love to go back and
go backr than have to and take away stuff i've done, because a lot of times you can of something.out ask about house of cards for a second, because i most one of the interesting things, for me, about that show was its development. and as i understand it, you through this ran enormous amount of audience streaming data that it has, 30 day, fourays per million viewer ratings. and basically spit out an algorithm and said, plus winner. equals a they were right. my question is, will audiences off if creative development of shows becomes more kind of data-driven in that way? i mean, is there something that's potentially going to be lost when we're trusting the algorithm to create our shows? >> it's so interesting, because
challenge ofg amazon. they think they can create an getrithm for literature and rid of the editors and their individual tastes, but so far, luckily, that hasn't worked for them. i think it's true in television too. be saying --lways first of all, everybody has done that. nbc will see that something on successful. oh, families of seven? great. now it's just a little more, as data-driven. is serendipity to all of this. someone will come up with something. mean, "mad men" was amazing. hbo said, well, we've already a period piece, so they passed. it was a huge success. actuallyt really changed a lot of the way we look at television and what we -- and other shows.lot of but there was no algorithm that led you there. so i'm not that worried about it. i'm worried about amazon but for other reasons.
ahead, david. >> alessandra mentioned the vatican. you've written extensively about asues relating to sexuality discussed in the catholic church and that the catholic church is focused on this, maybe at the other social issues or moral teachings of the church. i'm curious why you think that is. and then secondly, if you hold out as much hope as liberal isholics do that this pope going to create some change within the catholic church. second question first. adon't think -- i think misimpression has been created or people are kind of buying true.omething that's not i don't think you're going to see significant changes in church teaching from this pope. church moves the at that pace. i think a lot of the source of that progressive jessuits are not going to be on the menu.
true of catholicism is the religion, its leaders have always picked and chosen on, what theys enforce, what they turn a blind eye to. i think what you're seeing with the signals he's sending over and over again and those have been fairly notistent, is that he does want the church anywhere in the world and certainly in america in some of the stuff that it's been mired in before. that's not a change in teaching. that's a pretty powerful thing, because there have been many catholics who always lived their own consciouses, made their own -- consciences. what they needed to do that is simply not to be ostracized, denied communion, whatever. theink that will -- i think pope is saying let's get out of the judgment business. i think that will continue. >> what advice do you give to a lesbian catholic now who is contemplating their role as a country?in this >> it depends on what area of the country you're in. a lot of areas you can find a
catholic parish that is extremely accommodating to you explicitly or with a wink and a nod says we don't care what the dogma is. of the country, that's a lot harder. i don't know what to say to areas, excepte maybe go to an episcopal church. mean that flippantly. but a person's relationship with relationship her with god and i don't think any cleric or church can pervert or govern that utterly. findnk you can always ways, and in some cases would, a wayship your god in that is not mediated or compromised by rules that you don't believe in. >> let me go back to your experience as a food critic. >> that's an interesting transition. >> i know. i know. [laughter] >> from safe to souffles.
>> that would have been a much better segue. tenure.e te mike doesn't. >> when you -- actually, no. figure out a segue. >> just go for it. >> when you got asked to serve a food critic, having had your own complicated relationship with food and it,ng written a book about did you hesitate in taking the job? there's probably equivalent challenges that reporters would have, being assigned to a job like that. mean, how did it strike you sort of viscerally and intellectually when you got asked that do the job? iswhat he's referring to before i became the "times" food critic, over the course of my -- i had bullyn a bull bulimia in college. i guess i felt it would be the
answer as to whether i had truly gained control of that sort of stuff. i also knew that my problem had one of -- and this is kind of a common dieter's magnified, but i was one to make false extreme promises to myself. to eatw, i'm not going anything but celery for three days, and because of that i'll today. of course, i'd pig out all those other three days as well. thought that being a food critic might actually be good for me. much betteras in shape when i was a food critic, and i was never in better shape than those five years. >> this is sort of the walter mitty fantasy, you're the food critic of the new york times. walk us through it. the expense account like? don't tell us how much. but how did you organize it? pick theou restaurants? yourid you find
companions? or were you in disguise? through what it was like walking into a fine restaurant or any of the sort of big luminary restaurants? >> there's so much -- i can't do oftice to but a fraction that. but what i can tell you is are almostcritics always recognized in new york city, because it's a very sophisticated restaurant market. forou've been the critic the new york times, they care so much and they have so much money hinges on your opinion, that they make it your business to know you're there when you're almost alwaysy do. i guess the best way to answer your question about what it's like when they know you're there is to tell you about a visit i made. my third visit to a restaurant in mid-town, a new incarnation. we on my third visit there, noticed, as we went through this extremely long multicourse meal,
a woman, had no other tables but ours. hanging she was kind of back, sort of eavesdropping and just sort of watching the table at all times. toward the end of the meal, i went to the bathroom. and i was washing my hands. soap dispenser very hard. landed ontch of soap my tan shirt and made a kind of dark markment i came back to the table. looked like an idiot, i said to my table mates, i hit soap dispenser really hard. that's why i look like this, forgive me. the waitress comes over and says sir, your three glasses of wine taken off as an apology for the malfunction of the soap dispenser. um... i then explained to her that the soap dispenser had not malfunctioned, that i had malfunctioned because i was a klutz. well, be that as it may, we're so sorry.
i didn't argue because the bill $900. we're on our way out of the restaurant. me, orager rushes up to a man i assumed to be the manager, and he says, sir, i apologize so much for the malfunction of our soap dispenser. that it wasn'tin the soap dispenser's fault. andhe handed me his card said, be that as it may, i want you to know that if you need the need dry cleaned or if you to replace it, please get in touch with us and we'll reimburse you. i shouldoint i thought point out it's soap; i think it's going to come out. [laughter] restaurant really is showing its true colors and its vanities. and it is kiel's. but that's what it's like being critic.rant basically upre is in the back of the kitchen. they've got a mug shot of you. >> they not only grab whatever pictures they can of you, but they -- in my first months as
criti critic, if i was in a theaurant -- most of restaurant was visible from the foyer. i would often notice, people would come in, stand inside the door, look at the table for five minutes and leave. this would happen over and over again. what was going on is the person who owned the restaurant i was in would be calling colleagues from around the neighborhood, saying if all you have to do date is a picture and want to see him in the flesh, he's here now. that's exactly what was going on. they would exchange notes on what music i was overheard to like. i don't think there's ever been are of my music played in manhattan restaurant than during my tenure as a restaurant critic. >> remember the great scene in the godfather when they go to the italian restaurant in the and michael has the gun up. is it true that you have gone men's room and dialed and called your own home phone
messaging to write the review into your own telephone? >> no. way i would taking notes -- it wasn't even so much to althoughtaking notes, i didn't want to do that at the table, i would either walk having and pretend to be a cigarette or walk into the men's room. dictatet rather than into a tape recorder, i'll just call into my home voice mail. that way, i could access my messages and just take dictation myself. it worked. >> alessandra, i want to ask you little bit about the long view of -- let's call it the history of televisiontory today. so you've written about these shows, "house of cards." called it utterly joyless. it's a series that's joyless. many -- isw how anyone here watching ray donovan? despair of utter this, the remorselessness. extended an
psychotherapy session. so 50, 100 years from now, what aboutople going to think life in america in our times? that this is the -- this is what we were entertained by? >> it's so sweet that you think left in 50be anyone years. [laughter] well, we were -- i mean, it is -- >> it is a snapshot of our times. at girls, orange is the new black. i mean, there is a sort of almost -- sort of a quality to these shows which is so, you just so downtrodden in tone. >> two thoughts. watching -- you're all egg head, so you're watching cable television. a lot of americans are watching very cheerful television about people being killed for good conditions. americas.two but we were talking about doing a piece about how -- i like the
walking dead. know if anybody watches it. dystopia thats a is a cheerful, happy dystopia, is ruineds, the world and has been taken over by the few but all survivors are all in the same class, all in it together. whereas in these dystopia not only has the world come to an end and horrible things have happened, but difference,g class like the 1% versus the -- well, there's only 2% left. but there's definitely a distinction between the elite and the regular class. what trying to figure out could possibly make television so cheerful and movies to cynical really. realized, of course, movies is an industry that's threatened and insecure. and there's nothing more -- you
someone.to blame you just can't blame the end of the earth. you want to blame those people that are ruining my existence, whereas tv is ever-expanding, so the world has come to an end, it's great, because have more tv. >> also, if it's a tv series, people have to come back. you depressvie, them utterly, but you have their money. brag on alessandra for one second. and i'm not going to get it verbatim. but i think one of my favorite leads was her review of the walking dead. if i remember correctly, she said the best thing about the walkingle dead is that they don't drive. [laughter] true.s zombies don't drive. >> go ahead. curious.i'm if you think tv in general is sort of smartening up or dumbing down, on the one hand we have a television, which we think of as the lowest common
denominator. other hand, we have these very complicated dramas, even if to serials 20em years ago, are just a thousand times more sophisticated and a lot quicker. i'm curious, if, on the whole, hasou think television gotten smarter in the last two, three decades or has it gotten -- >> that's interesting. so there's more smart tv but also more dumb tv, i'd say, basically. distribution? it actuallyect that hasn't changed that much. the ratio. know,was good tv, you back in the 60's, in the 70's. and there was a lot of terrible tv. of it.sn't very much and now we have so much of it. and i don't know. be a very interesting exercise to see if you could do quality-quantity ratio. you'll have to do that, because
interesting to find out. but i have to -- you know, the about netflix is you're not just watching american tv. you're watching tv's from all over the world. i keep urging readers to watch a french crimes great.hat is it is a british-discovered show that has been put on netflix. you can watch a swedish tv and danish tv. our world is getting smaller, but some people can narrow it down. >> what is a tv show that you have watched that you want to tell people you watch? [laughter] >> god, there are so many. >> give is a top five. >> i am ashamed to admit that i watch a lot of sitcoms. but i'm also ashamed to admit
that i can watch "dr. phil," and be glued to it. we were talking about wendy williams. i can't turn that stuff off. so, yeah, there is a lot to be ashamed of, actually. but i get paid to do it, so i watch bad tv for you. [laughter] >> let me ask you a question about talking about getting smart. if you could go back to college and be undergrads again, 18, 19, 20 years old, what would you study? >> wow. >> history. >> why? why would you choose history now? >> i was an english major, but wish i had challenged myself more and take in and history and
social sciences. you know, i missed an opportunity there that i hope other people -- i did not take advantage of learning things that i did not already know. i have a lot to redo. i should go back to school. >> i should have become an english major. i think my broader answer would be the farther you get away from college, the more you appreciate what a unique juncture of life it is. it is often your last opportunity, free of some economic concerns or economic concerns that are not as pressing, to really rummage around ideas and really challenge yourself and stretch in directions that you normally wouldn't stretch in, to take chances that you have sort of a net under you to i think joan gideon said in one of her famous essays, you don't have that later on. i would have been or i would be
much more adventurous about everything in college than i was, because in the benefit of hindsight, it is a juncture the cannot replicated later on. >> you write a book about college. it is called "demanding more from college," where you talk about the need to be more inquisitive, more expansiveness. the really concerned than is the withdrawal from activity in politics and getting involved in citizen campaigns. what will the impact be on our democracy than? >> i think the impact would be profound. if you are not using college to fill in the gaps of your information and to learn the history of your own country and the world, you are not going to be suited as well as you should
be to be participating in the specific life that you are going to be and the decisions you are going to make. there was noise surrounding college admissions and the most incredible race to get into the most elite schools. i think that is taking up so much oxygen and it is forming people partial psychology that we are in danger of raising a generation of kids who are focused entirely on getting into things and crossing this threshold and not experiencing and making the most of what is on the other side of that line. that is my biggest concern about what we are doing to kids today in terms of our conversation about college. [applause] it is a market for my book! yay! >> when is your book going to be published? >> march 17, i think.
>> why with the 800 channels and the 1000 cable outlets that there is so little success for anything educational beyond the obvious public television? why is there no market to support it in this fragmented -- >> there is not much of any for the "mooc," right? >> "massive online courses" or something? >> yes, one person tried to take it and said that the site crashed. >> so everyone is online? simpsons" is so educational. can i tell a little story? i have a daughter in college but when she was little we were with my nephew and we were talking about the war and kristallnacht
came up. my nephew was in high school, and i asked him, you know what that is, right? he said, no. his girlfriend was smarter, and she knew about it. and i asked my daughter am about it, and she made a quote, and i said, is that from "the princess diaries?" and she said, yes. [laughter] people are learning things from things you would not expect. i wish there were more, but it is amazing how much andisticated cartoons are the cultural references that are there, it is not deep learning, kids to things they might otherwise not know. andn terms of media
watching things, and, frank am a you're a true teas world, pat -- that when this part of your career is over, would you be a consultant to a restaurant group or they would fly out to hollywood and would you take the other role and become the expert consultant? it seems like everyone who was in washington, d.c., goes out of power and is already taking up a consulting group. is that a life in the times? >> well, it is, but it shouldn't be. there should not be a revolving door. i wish in politics there was a year or two were you would not be a lobbyist immediately. frankly, there is the pauline kael example. remember she was a famous film critic? and then she was convinced to come out to hollywood and work
in movies, and she was terrible, and she wasn't a film person, she was a film critic. it is a different field. i root for good television, certainly, but i don't think that's it. i think i am going to be -- >> ok. i'm going to ask our guests a couple of quick questions and i'm going to see how we do on this. this is called our lightning round. >> a pop quiz, is it? >> yes. you are flying on virgin or jetblue out to sfo or lax, and you know there is no real food on the flight, so what is your airport food drill? [laughter] it is a seven-hour flight to the coast, you are flying from jfk -- >> i usually have a couple of cliff bars on me. in terms of their protein and carbohydrate ratio, they are
better than a lot of other stuff, and if you are hungry and you just want to state that hunger a little bit, you can have a cliff bar. and a chocolate chip peanue butter one, to be specific. [laughter] >> allesandra, what about you? >> on what have a drink at the airport first. [laughter] maybe a sandwich. a cliff bar sounds better. >> tell us who controls you. frank? >> oddly enough, one of the wrinkles or privileges that is held to be an op-ed columnist is that nobody knows what i am doing next. it is one of the jobs in a paper where the editor does not know
the jobs until it lands right before they are supposed we online. so in these particular jobs we are given and absolutely hellish amount of freedom. >> likewise, but less so. i have an editor and we discuss what has to be reviewed, and she is very helpful. she usually says, we should do this, all should we really do this, should we really do that? inlet's start with a tv show recent memory that you feel has the greatest impact in catalyzing some type of social change, that what is on the air is impacting reality in america? >> i cannot think of a better example, so i am going to say "law and order: svu," i think when it started it was a period
where in new york were people had this idea of sex crimes and that kind of thing, but out in the country it was not as well known. it is not necessarily that it did not have the most social impact, but off the top of my head, "law and order: svu," changed the way that we looked at sex crimes in america. and it is still very entertaining. >> and i were to give an example which i do not think it is a bad one, but it is the "cosby" show. is certainly represented something that was more real. >> if you were asked to take a six-month leave, what is your
-- what would be your dream posting right now, but still reporting in? >> paris. that is a great story. every president is having a sex scandal. you have every possible story you could possibly want, plus a sex scandal. so, yes, paris. [laughter] >> me? i have kind of fallen in love in recent years with portugal, so maybe there. >> ok. >> we talked about tv from the past, so what is your most memorable television show from your childhood that you just remember at 8:00 on whatever it was, sunday night -- what was your favorite childhood -- >> i was not allowed to watch television. so i had, when my parents went out, we had a spanish babysitter, and we were little we were allowed to watch one "la lucha," was
which was spanish wrestling, and i loved it! [laughter] we were very small of the time. >> um -- "all my children." [applause] i have not watched a soap in a gazillion years, but i bonded with my mother by watching "all my children," and i was so addicted to it that when i was in college, there were courses towards my major that i had to >> that i failed to take in my senior year because they were scheduled at 1:00 p.m. when "all my children" was on. >> i know you fly around a lot, what is the best restaurant city in the united states besides manhattan, besides new york city?
>> that is tough. i think l.a. there is strength in numbers. the size of the city matters, but it also think l.a. is an underrated restaurant city. i prefer eating in l.a. compared to san fran. >> the best meal i ever had when you did the tour of genes that not -- of chains that were national chains. >> i did a cross-country road trip where i just tried to eat nothing but fast food from dawn until midnight and i tried to hit all of the fast food chains that were regional. i had three different friends who each did a segment of the trip. if i remember correctly, my friend carrie went from new york to atlanta with me. then i picked you up at the airport. allesandra went from atlanta to dallas with me. and then my friend barbara met me in dallas and went from dallas to los angeles.
i was the only one eating fast food for the whole week. >> ok, allesandra, you are first now. it was your past summer, your toes are in the sand, what would you read this summer? what is the book the you would read that you would keep turning the pages? >> i am not going to tell you because it's going to sound pretentious. but i read the best book i ever had. >> but we have 600 other people who want to hear it. >> but it is in french and it was absolute amazing. it came out during world war i and it is an absolutely amazing book. >> ok, the mystery french book. >> frank, what about you? >> there is a trio of comic novels. i think i have his name correct. he wrote a lot of "frasier," and a lot of other shows, and he
ritz."putting on the they were satires. unbelievably funny. and i do not know why they were not enormous bestsellers. >> you were both in moscow and you were both in rome, what is your most inspirational moment in front of an artwork -- artistic inspiration? >> does vodka count? [laughter] >> vodka? [laughter] >> absolut. >> what work of art? painting or sculpture? saint bld say this
asel's cathedral in moscow. if you have never been exposed to eastern churches, you have no idea what it looks like inside. that was for me, just mind blowing. >> there is a bernini sculpture in a church in rome and it is the most crazily sexual thing that you ever seen that masquerades as religion. it is in santa susanna or someplace? you can go and look at it and you're not standing behind 10 other people are looking at it. >> that is a great choice. a great choice. my last question is, of all of the articles you have published, what was for you the greatest, most gratifying experience with the feedback and the letters and the letters of people were thanking you because you wrote that column? what was that? personal, professional, gratifying work? >> there was no feedback and no one thanked me, but i was very
proud of a piece i did in russia right when the chechen war started when we were able to speak into the morgue, where you just realized how savage the russian army still is. they had hundreds of bodies laid out on the ground for days and families would have to come out and just take out their family member and bury them themselves. and you felt nothing had changed since 1930. not many people had read the story, but i was glad that i did that. >> frank? >> i wrote a column about a year and a half ago about my relationship with my sibling. i thought i was writing something personal and heartfelt and narrow, and it had a viral life and it was one of the five most viewed things on "the times," during the entire year.
it was one of those moments that you fell you are really blessed to make a connection. >> both of you have moved our audience, so they want to ask you some questions. we are going to take some questions and get some house lights up a little hit, and if you could come up, if you want to ask a question, and we are going to go as quickly as we can . try to make your question short and to the point. not all ones, but here comes a lady, i am assuming you are coming to the mike. anyone here? do we have a question? oh, here is a brave -- no. >> we have defectors. >> i told you this would be the most curious audience in new england. thank you, ma'am. >> i wrote this question because i thought i was supposed to hand it to someone. you say you have no editor at
the op-ed page. what about those incredible columns that you write on sunday, do have editors for those? >> sorry, i kind of miss spoke a little bit. we have editors. the presumption for the opinion column is the idea that you are writing up opinions and people want to respect that. someone does get the column and --e sure that you have it someone has to get the column and make sure that you have not said something so clumsily that you'd did not -- you did not make sense of what you mean, what on my sunday columns i tell them what i am going to say ahead of time so it can be illustrated. but no one has ever said, you should not write this, you cannot write this. in that sense you are on your own. >> under broadcast television and the sunday section of "the
times," nsic is invariably number one. it was also named the most-watched series in the world at the 54th annual television conference. why is it then that we never see "ncis" or its stars as emmy winners? >> because hollywood is a very mean and jealous place. i think "ncis" is extremely successful and they have a formula that works and it sucks me in and i hate myself. but i don't you can talk about great artistic merit. i think that is what people aspire to. that is what is surprising.
if you have a formula that has worked that well and actors who have practice, it is hard to say what is a great moment. it is pretty damn successful and is broadcast. >> let's go to this mike here. we will hear from this young lady? >> i would love to hear your comments on the future of journalism. >> those will be brief. [laughter] you want to take that one? >> me? >> yeah, you. the blonde. >> i think i may be a future of journalism. it may not be in print, but they will eventually figure out a way to pay for it. so i am not that worried. i think it is going to be a very hard profession to get into and i would not recommend it for people who can't afford it, basically. you are basically subsidizing yourself a lot of times when you start out. if you are paying off college
loans, you don't want to go work for huffington post. some people always want to be journalists and know news and read newspapers, whether online -- i am not that word. are you worried? >> there is a trend towards journalism becoming opinion journalism because it is cheap. it doesn't cost them traveling time or reporting time to riff on events of the day. they don't have to go out and find information, so i think there are elements of journalistic information gathering that are in serious jeopardy and that worries me. >> ok, yes ma'am? >> from the very beginning, "the new york times" has been owned by one family, and "the
washington post" was owned by one family and has been sold to the ceo of amazon. i wonder what you think about the new ownership of "the post." >> it is too soon to know about the ownership of "the post," so far, but it is way too soon to tell what it is going to mean down the line. the bezos could be a great era because what they gained with that owner is one with much it could turn, so out very well, we just don't know what that owner's priorities are yet. >> i would just add as a
cautionary note the first appointment was the new executive editor has no real background in journalism. he is essentially a fixer, a very sophisticated one. he helped politico get -- he helped politico establish itself. so you wonder, at some level, is he going to be a picture for b ezos? you have to ask yourself, why that guy? his real skills are what you are after in newspapers. >> hi. i am a local girl, and i'm not sure you are aware of this, but you are in pine valley right now. pine valley, the exteriors for
up high and valley was -- >> is erica kane here? >> they were waving for you. "all my children," the exterior shots were done in southport, connecticut. when philip and i were talking today, we said that we should have a food question for frank or something very relevant for sandra, and then you mentioned "all my children," and i thought that was totally local. we live here in connecticut and not very many people come from new york to here. so if you are in manhattan and go here, where are we going to and you are going to get off the grand central, where are we going to go to dinner in walking distance and have an easy trip back to the train, because everybody asked me, where am i supposed to go to mid time where -- midtown where i can have a real experience? .
>> it depends on your priorities, but i will give you one answer that is a very universal answer, there is a restaurant on 39th street between fifth and sixth, and it is called szechuan cafe. you can grab ice cream at the terminal on your way back. >> actually, there is a wonderful bar in grand central. >> campbell's apartment. it is called campbell's apartment. >> thank you very much. pine valley will never be the same after your visit. >> since it is getting late in the evening, we are living through the golden age, in many ways, of femlae comedians.
when do you think we will see a female comedian take over a who-night network show, and do you think will break that barrier? >> well, i like chelsea handler. it may just be that women who are successful in comedy don't want that job. it is not just that -- the world is not that sexist. anymore. if you are a successful comedian, you can write your own show and have your hours, why would you want -- you can write your own shows and have your own hours, why would you want to do that? it has long hours and it is exhausting. all of the guys that do it, they are all the guys that grew up watching that guy.
there are not a lot of girls that grew up wanting to be johnny carson. i would like to see someone do it, but i don't think it has to be. >> you mentioned lucille ball. when lucy and desi moved to the country, they moved to westport. so let me just say to all of us and for everyone, we really appreciate you being here. we thank you all. thomas jefferson, we certainly talked about history a lot tonight. jefferson reminds us that where the press is free in every man and woman, and everyone is able to read, all is safe. i feel a lot safer that we have critics like frank bruni and like frank bruni and allesandra here. we want to thank our audience and we want to thank c-span, and we want to say good night from the university, and please remember in november on election election day to please vote. thank you. [laughter]
[applause] ♪ >> you are so great. >> tonight on c-span, the big 12 conference hosts a discussion about money in college sports. then a look at the problem of drowsy driving. later, the texas tribune debate on undocumented immigrant children. >> up next, a discussion about money in college athletics. sports writers and officials discussed the money made, compensation for student athletes, and possible reforms at the ncaa. the big 12 conference hosted this event at the national press club in washington. it is an hour and a half.