MediaFile

Obama tech dinner photos offer fodder for Silicon Valley Kremlinologists

ObamaCarIt’s Kremlinology day in Silicon Valley as industry-watchers pore over the details of the two photographs released by the White House of President Obama’s big dinner with the lords of the tech world.

Who sat where, who was drinking what, and what does it all signify, were among the top questions under debate the morning after the commander-in-chief and fourteen guests broke bread at the house of venture capitalist John Doerr.

If proximity to the president is the key measure of clout, then Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Steve Jobs won top honors, with both executives flanking Obama at the dinner table, as can be seen in this picture.

The White House denied press photographers access to the event, so Reuters and several other media outlets are not publishing the photos. But you can find them here.

Whether the White House’s official dinner-table photo was deliberately shot from an angle to show only Jobs’ back was a subject of speculation, coming a day after the National Enquirer published photos which seemed to show Jobs — who is currently on medical leave from Apple — outside a cancer center looking particularly frail.

Corning and Xerox bask in SOTU limelight

Forget Larry Page becoming the new chieftain at Google or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg being crowned Time’s Man of the Year — the only two U.S. business leaders who will be sitting in Michelle Obama’s private box tonight at the State of the Union address will be  Xerox’s CEO Ursula Burns and Corning’s CEO Wendell Weeks.Beautiful

The high profile honors for the decades-old U.S. tech giants just happen to have been conferred in the same week both report earnings.

Corning, the 159-company which produces specialty glass for flatscreen TVs and more recently, smartphones and tablets, saw its shares rise today by almost 7 percent. While the bump  probably has more to do with the company’s earnings forecast than tonight’s appearance on Capitol Hill, we’ll just have to wait and see if the special invite has the same effect on Xerox, which reports earnings early tomorrow.

Google, Halliburton and an ‘oops’ moment

It was a rare “oops” moment at Google on Wednesday when Senior Competition Counsel Dana Wagner explained why he feels good about working at Google, even after working at the Justice Department.

A few hours earlier, Google confirmed that it had received a formal notice from Justice seeking information on Google’s deal with book publishers, which would make millions of books available on line. That’s on top of two other matters involving Google that are being looked at by U.S. antitrust authorities.

Google convened the press to show that it opens its products to competition instead of protecting them. Google has been giving similar briefings since February to reporters and congressional staffers.

Obama fesses up in comic book: I’m a Spider-Man fan

The superhero finally gets to meet his humble fan thanks to the magic of Marvel Comics.

The comic book setting is inauguration day 2009. And it is the president-elect who is the superhero and none other than the irrepressible Spider-Man who’s the fan.

“…This is your day, after all, and I know it wouldn’t look good to be seen palling around with me,” Spider-Man says as he tries to leave Obama to the limelight.

Sanjay Gupta: He is a doctor AND he plays one on TV!

The Obama administration looks like it’s getting a 3-for-1 deal in CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta if it really turns out to be true that he will be tapped for the new U.S. surgeon general: He’s a celebrity, a journalist AND a doctor!

Here’s Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post with the scoop:

President-elect Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Gupta has told administration officials that he wants the job, and the final vetting process is under way. He has asked for a few days to figure out the financial and logistical details of moving his family from Atlanta to Washington but is expected to accept the offer.

from Summit Notebook:

Time Warner Cable and the Audacity of Hope

It's not every day that you have a top executive in big business talk about how nice it will be to see the back of the Bush administration. Republican presidencies typically tout their adherence to free markets, unbridled capitalism and, most importantly, a smaller pile of what corporations often consider burdensome regulations. That isn't what they usually expect from Democratic administrations, even ones led by Barack Obama.

That's why we thought it so interesting that Time Warner Cable's chief financial officer, Rob Marcus, is happy for some turnover at the Federal Communications Commission. It is the FCC, after all, that has to approve some key licenses for Time Warner Cable's split from its majority owner, Time Warner Inc. For some reason, the FCC can't seem to find room on its schedule to do that, and that seems to have irked Marcus. It is, after all, preventing the two companies from separating by the time Time Warner Cable said it would.

"There's nothing substantive that has currently arisen in connection with the FCC approval. They just haven't put it on the agenda," he told the Reuters Media Summit in New York on Monday.

Obama: Good for newspapers — today

NEW YORK – In the same way that the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series win boosted Inquirer and Daily News sales last week, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is jumping in to help papers across the country survive.

People across the country flocked to convenience stores and newsstands snatch up copies of their local papers, which ultimately will prove the most enduring mementos commemorating the election of the first black president of the United States. It’s not a long-term game changer, considering that you can’t hold an historic presidential election every day, but it’s a nice sweetener for a bitter industry story.

Here’s just one example of how the day is shaping up: The New York Times is printing an extra 50,000 copies of today’s paper for the local market after completely selling out, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. (See the Romenesko journalism blog for more details about heavy press runs at other U.S. newspapers.)

McCain, Obama tackle Monday Night Football

On the slim chance that this year’s political television juggernaut has not penetrated the homes of devout sports fans, the campaign trail will lead Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama to ESPN’s Monday Night Football just hours before next week’s presidential election.

In pretaped interviews set to air during halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Washington Redskins game, Obama and McCain will face probing questions from ESPN anchor Chris Berman about — sports.

“We are obviously primarily a sports network so the questions you are going to get here are going to be different than you would get with ABC News,” says ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer.

Huffington Post top indy political blog for traffic

obamamccain.jpgPolitical Web sites and blogs compete for scoops and eyeballs with an intensity rivaling the presidential candidates, so the Internet traffic figures released Wednesday by industry tracker comScore are likely to provide some bragging rights.

The winner is… HuffingtonPost.com  – founded by commentator Arianna Huffington, the site led among stand-alone political blogs and news sites with 4.5 million visitors in September, comScore said. That was way above the site’s tally of 792,000 in the same month last year.

It was followed by Politico.com with 2.4 million visitors and DrudgeReport.com with 2.1 million. The biggest gainer among the top five was realclearpoltics.com, a clearinghouse for commentary and polls that has become a must-read for the politically inclined. Its traffic surged almost six-fold from last year to 1.1 million visitors.

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That’ s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

The report shows that negative stories about Arizona Sen. McCain has been decidedly unfavorable and has worsened over time, with negative stories about him outnumbering favorable Obama stories by more than three to one.