Mouser's View

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Merry Christmas, grinches

[This ran last Dec. 24.]

It is just me, or does it seem like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is running in a continuous loop on TV?

Did you know it first aired on Dec. 18, 1966, as a special on CBS? And that it was almost never made?

The author of the children’s book of the same name was Theodor Geisel, under his pen name Dr. Seuss. Because of bad experiences with Hollywood, he was reluctant to sell the rights to the story. Mr. Geisel relented when he was approached by Warner Bros. veteran Chuck Jones. The pair had worked together before, in an Army filmmaking unit.

As recounted on the Mental Floss website, the expensive cartoon almost sunk for lack of an underwriting sponsor. Mr. Jones pitched every kid-oriented consumer products maker he could think of, finally selling it to the Foundation for Commercial Banks. (Did they misread the storyboards and think the Grinch was the hero?)

Which brings us to the today’s point, a Grinch mystery. The song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, who was accidentally left out of the credits.

Thurl was in a group called the Mellomen, who sang backup to many famous acts in the Big Band era. He had a parallel career as a voiceover artist, mostly for Disney, and became even more famous as the distinctive, booming voice of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg’s, a gig that lasted five decades.

In an interview, Thurl told of strolling down a grocery aisle, speaking to his wife and having a kid come around the corner yelling “that’s Tony the Tiger.”

Tony lives on in the cereal section, and Lee Marshall became the voice after Thurl passed away in 2005 at the age of 91. Only a trained ear can tell the difference.

Bet you’ve heard this song plenty:

Sayonara, traditional media

[Since this appeared Jan. 12, an election has been held and Mr. Cernovich’s profile has been raised considerably by his courageous reporting.]

At his Danger & Play blog, author Mike Cernovich examined what scares mainstream media outlets more than a collapsing marketplace. They’ve lost control of the narrative on social media.

In this evolving world of news, every orange cat can be his own media outlet. Quoting Mr. Cernovich: “Readers became writers. Readers began setting the agenda.”

His prime examples are the rise of Donald Trump as a politician and the migrant crisis in Europe, two stories the media would like to go away. (I know Mr. Trump is the subject of almost every GOP political story, but 90% of mentions are negative.)

Again, Mr. Cernovich: “Journalists have long known migrants rove in rape gangs. They have had the power to keep this information from the public for years. Social media has taken away the media’s power.”

Of course, the media elites won’t take this lying down. Like cornered rats, they will fight back at every turn — up to, and including, outright censorship of ideas they consider bad. (Their definition of bad means every single thought that might be considered conservative, libertarian or questioning of establishment politicians.)

Think this can’t happen? It already has at Facebook, run by the loathsome Mark Zuckerberg. I see Twitter as more in play, but Mr. Cernovich apparently disagrees: “If [CEO] Jack Dorsey has his way, the mainstream media will regain its power as gatekeepers of information. … The brutal beatings of women will be swept under the rug. Presidential elections will involve two sides of the same globalist coin.”

Mr. Cernovich’s book “Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions to Live Life on Your Terms” is available at I don’t follow him on Twitter, an oversight that will be corrected today.

Michael Crichton, visionary

Novelist Michael Crichton wrote an essay for Wired magazine about the media landscape:

“There has been evidence of impending extinction for a long time. We all know statistics about the decline in newspaper readers and network television viewers. The polls show increasingly negative public attitudes toward the press — and with good reason. … Large segments of the American population think the media is attentive to trivia, and indifferent to what really matters. They also believe that the media does not report the country’s problems, but instead is a part of them. Increasingly, people perceive no difference between the narcissistic self-serving reporters asking questions, and the narcissistic self-serving politicians who evade them.”

That all rings true today, as does this, later in the essay:

“Along with many other industries, the American media [produces] a product of very poor quality. Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk. So people have begun to stop buying it. Poor product quality results, in part, from the American educational system, which graduates workers too poorly educated to generate high-quality information. In part, it is a problem of nearsighted management that encourages profits at the expense of quality. … and in large part, it is a failure to recognize the changing needs of the audience.”

The poorly educated reporters cited probably are well educated by many standards, just inclined to push an agenda “to make a difference.” But let’s not quibble; he’s on a roll. Next he cites individual entities as candidates for Jurassic Park:

“Who will be the next great American institution to find itself obsolete and outdated, while obstinately refusing to change? I suspect one answer would be The New York Times and the commercial networks.”

Mr. Crichton — a workaholic who enjoyed considerable success as an author, film director, screenwriter and TV producer — passed away in 2008 at the age of 66. Partly because of his success, some in the media liked to take potshots at the essay I cite, titled “Mediasaurus” and published in 1993. Slate magazine asked him about it in 2002 and he answered by e-mail: “I assume that nobody can predict the future well. But in this particular case, I doubt I’m wrong; it’s just too early.”

In novels, Mr. Crichton liked to pose lengthy questions, or a series of them, and reply with a single word. As homage, I’ll do the same:


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