The Love of Monopoly
May 19, 2011

Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications By Richard R. John (Belknap Press, 520 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time, some thought it obvious that competition was a bad thing, particularly in communications. As Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, put it in 1913, “The public as a whole has never benefited” from competition. Monopoly, he said, was the better choice. The reason, he argued, is that “all costs of aggressive, uncontrolled competition are eventually borne, directly or indirectly, by the public.” Nowadays corporate executives carefully avoid expressing such sentiments.

Local Boy Makes Good
May 04, 2011

First Read reports: Ayman al Zawahiri is by no means a shoo-in as al Qaeda's next leader. He is not liked by many in the organization, and he faces competition from at least two others, one of them an American, a senior U.S. official tells NBC News. In addition to having a face for radio, and not at all charismatic, he is not nearly as popular as bin Laden internally. He has a reputation as being arrogant," said the official.

Is Trump Killing His T.V. Ratings?
April 27, 2011

Josh Green has some strong evidence he is: Gauging the effect of Trump's presidential run on his viewership is a fairly tricky science. There are actually two distinct "Apprentice" shows -- the ordinary "Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice," which is the one currently airing Sunday nights on NBC. What's more, the neither "Apprentice" series runs for a full television season.

April 07, 2011

The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.

Inside the Intervention
April 01, 2011

Strategy is a strange beast. Up close—as it is unfolding—even a good strategy can appear muddled, confused, and indecisive. Its logic only becomes clear over time. President Obama’s Libya strategy demonstrates this. It has drawn howls of criticism from across the political spectrum, most of the “muddled, confused, and indecisive” variant.

It's Possible Wisconsin Republicans May Have Slightly Overreached
March 04, 2011

WSJ editorialist Stephen Moore, in the course of urging Wisconsin Republicans to hold firm, gently acknowledges that things have not gone exactly as planned, politically speaking: On Wednesday, Republicans held a "unity" press conference that was attended by all but one senator, Dale Schultz.

Crisis of Confidence
March 04, 2011

Most economists believe that while the recovery remains fragile, it is likely to accelerate over the next year. As recently as a month ago, the American people agreed. But they don’t anymore. And there is a threat that these suddenly gloomy expectations could turn out to be perversely self-fulfilling—causing Americans to stop spending and investing, and thus hobbling the pace of economic growth to slow the already subpar job rebound. Two recent surveys highlight the shift in popular sentiment.

Republicans Stampede Toward The Cliff
March 03, 2011

Interesting findings from the NBC/WSJ poll.

Snooki vs. Children’s Books
January 26, 2011

For more than a decade, the winners of the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott Medals—think the Oscars for children’s books—have appeared on NBC’s “Today” show the Tuesday after the awards’ announcement.

Legislate, Hold, Build
January 24, 2011

Washington—President Obama faces a choice in this week’s State of the Union message: Does he spend the next two years consolidating the gains he has made, or does he go into retreat? My prediction: He will go for consolidation that conservatives will try to label as retreat, even as they attack him for not retreating fast enough. Obama will deliver his address Tuesday evening in an expectedly strong position.