According to a new class-action suit being brought against Keith McNally, servers at Pastis and Balthazar were forced to foot the bill for customers who walked out on their checks, in addition to being denied minimum wage. [NYP]
Frank Bruni, like many other critics, believes a restaurant’s chicken dishes speak volumes about its overall quality. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
E-mails sent by Starbucks Corp. managers reveal their efforts to prevent unionizing among their employees, although labor experts say the activity is not illegal. [WSJ]
While the press has been running ragged up in New Hampshire, we set journalist Peter Keating to work watching the candidates to see which ones were putting in the most effort. Contrary to what the 24-hour news cycle would have you believe, some of them sleep. Some of them skip events. And some of them, well, aren't really trying. Later tonight, we'll bring you the results of all the hard work. For now, Keating's report from the campaign trail begins in a predictable place:
"Mayor Rudy Giuliani's Visit Here Today At 4:30pm Has Been Cancelled," reads a sign hanging in the window at John's Barber Shop, an old-school establishment nestled among the charming shops on Daniel Street in Portsmouth, N.H.
Of course it's been canceled. Rudy had better things to do this afternoon than to keep grubbing for votes in a state where he's been vying to keep pace with Duncan Hunter in the polls.
We woke up this morning and turned on the TV to find uncle-cute Matt Lauer interviewing dad-cute John Edwards on the Today show. It was a short interview, but long enough for Edwards to get across his main point: "Senators Obama and Clinton have over $100 million in their campaign chests," he told Matt. "I am the underdog in this race, just like the middle class in America." Bam! It was time, we realized, for every candidate to give his or her last word to New Hampshire voters (and no, the 11.5 voters in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, who "elected" Obama and McCain last night are not the final word). So what did they go with this time?
Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor began stumping around the state in front of a huge sign that said "WASHINGTON IS BROKEN." It's apparently his new motto ("Fix" is the new "Change!"). He also created a giant list of fifteen presidential to-dos that were supplied by New Hampshire residents he spoke to. He's literally asking voters to write his platform, people. The list included things like "Make America Safer," "End Illegal Immigration," "Cut the Pork," and "Strengthen Our Families." Nos. 14 and 15 on the list were empty because nobody told him what to put there. So populist, so budget. [National Review]
As the first arctic blast of January weather whipped through town last week, the city was chilled by news that Iowans had frozen out New York’s candidates for the White House. Hillary Clinton’s last-minute plea on the first post-hibernation Letterman show —starring Dave’s new reindeer-wrangler beard—failed to help her, and she finished behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani finished sixth behind Mike Huckabee but had left Iowa five days before the caucus anyway. Dark horse Michael Bloomberg denied that there was any significance in his attendance at a caucus of potential third-party candidates, though he took pokes at the front-runners’ lack of ideas. Fourth-place finisher Fred Thompson, who’s probably wishing he’d never quit as New York’s fictional D.A., lost his old Law & Order job to Sam Waterston.
Today, Iowa is all about the last word. Encouraged by a recent favorable opinion poll in the state, McCain returned for a brief trip, along with Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas. All three were harping on McCain's foreign-policy experience. “Call me old-fashioned, but I think foreign-policy experience matters,” Graham said. “And if it does matter, then the choice is easy.” “I know Pakistan, I know Israel," explained McCain at a different event. "I know these countries, I know their leaders." [NYO]
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton sent out talking points to surrogate speakers drumming up support across the state. They include bullet items like "Change isn’t something you just demand, or hope for, it is something you work for, and [Hillary] has been working for it all her life," and "Hillary has stood up to the Republicans and beat them twice in landslides." [Time]
As you know, everyone who's anyone in politics is in Iowa right now. But so is everyone who's no one! That's right, we're talking about the press, the unwashed mass following the candidates around, scribbling and taping and snap-snapping as Hillary, Obama, McCain et al spout platitudes, stuff themselves full of local cuisine and generally attempt to maintain a grip on the love handles of the elusive midwestern vote. That's who we want to know about. We've had enough of Billary and FreJeri Thompson and KuciniHottie. What about the writers, anchors and bloggers who make them who they are?? (Or at least tell us who they want them to be?) For those of you with a lurid curiosity about these sick characters, we did some digging into what the Iowa press corps is up to. And not just the Dana Milbanks and the Adam Nagourneys. (Spotted! The NYT staff having dinner at Lucca, the Italian place in Des Moines' "East Village" that Ad Nags raved about in the travel section a few weeks ago.) We mean everyone. Take Jodi Kantor from the Times, for example.
"Morning, Brock! I see you were reading the Wall Street Journal in your Town Car on the way to work!"
"Hullo, Trip! Indeed I was. Can you push the elevator button for the executive suite? Thanks. You know, I happened to notice that there was an op-ed by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in there."
"Really. I haven't been much paying attention to those liberals out in Iowa. Can you imagine spending the New Year in Des Moines?"
"There aren't even mountains there. Where do people ski? And more important, where do they après ski? The Wal-Mart parking lot? Ha-ha! Oh, dear, you're stepping on my Bally briefcase with your Ferragamo loafer, it seems."
"Sorry, my boy. Anyway, what does that old Edwards boy have to say? He does have good dental work and trustworthy hair. Maybe he's finally appealing to us, his own income class?"
"Let's take a look, shall we? Hm 'the bargain of America' 'skyrocketing education and health care costs' 'foreclosure crisis' wait a minute! Listen to this: 'The problem is forty percent of all economic growth over the past 20 years has gone to the top 1% of families.' That's the problem? Egad. Someone page Mindy. I need a Mylanta!"
Fifty-five-year-old Donna Karan's boy toy is 30-year-old model J.J. Biasucci. Ethan Hawke allegedly started dating "secret" girlfriend (his former nanny!) Ryan Shawhughes before he was divorced from Uma Thurman. Steve Martin played the banjo and read funny poems at the Cutting Room. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin shared a happy dinner at BLT Fish. Eighty-eight-year-old Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau may step down from his post, which would allow Governor Spitzer to appoint Cyrus Vance Jr. Michael Kors served mini-cheeseburgers at his store opening in Soho. Madonna kicked 25 yoga students out of a studio at the Reebok Sports Club on Columbus so she could practice by herself. Howard Stern is annoyed at Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner for bringing paparazzi to his Upper West Side block.
Lindsay Lohan spent her Thanksgiving shopping in therapy and shopping in New York with her mom and sister, while her boyfriend spent it partying. David Wright bought jewelry for his mom for Christmas. Tory Burch has been dating both Paramount head Brad Grey and Katie Couric's ex, Tom Werner. Whoopi Goldberg, who supports Bill Richardson for president, slammed John Edwards and Michelle Obama for canceling appearances on The View. Hayne Suthon, the owner of Lucky Cheng's, has finally made peace with ex-husband Robert Jason. Jerry Seinfeld is planning to stick to stand-up, not movies. Alec Baldwin bought the cast of 30 Rock mozzarella sticks after their show at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Donna Karan rear-ended Calvin Klein's Bentley while in her own Bentley. And get this, she was actually driving herself! Don Imus will have a co-host for the first time in his career when he returns to the air on December 3. Bryant Park charges the crew of Sex and the City $100,000 for each day they film there. (Also, the film's ending is supposedly not yet written.) NBC Universal Jeffrey Zucker bought Kitty Carlisle Hart's East 64th Street co-op for $12.3 million, "Page Six" reports, making us happy to see that they're catching up on two-month-old Daily Intel posts. More Secret Service guards have been hanging out on Barbara Bush's West Village block, perhaps because Janeane Garofalo gabbed on Bill Maher's show that she's Bush's neighbor. Downtown promoter Ivy Supersonic spent a night in jail after being accused of stealing $7,000 by the owner of the Plumm. 'Mocialite Kristian Laliberte hosted a party with BlackBook magazine for Carlos Campos at Upstairs in Soho.
Okay, okay, okay. So Hillary Clinton staged a comeback by opening up a can of whoop-ass at last night's Democratic presidential debate. She is "a champ," she "scored a win," and she "hit the jackpot" (the debate was in Vegas, see?). But after the last debate, a lot of the next-morning press coverage missed out on important events from the end of the debate because of reporting deadlines. So we went through the last few minutes of the New York Timesgenius transcript feature to see if our colleagues in print missed anything. Which, to our minds, they did. Right at the close came a question from Maria, a UNLV student:
Maria: [To Clinton] Do you prefer diamonds or pearls? Clinton: Now I know I'm sometimes accused of not being able to make a choice. I want both. Moderator: Now do I get to ask any of the other candidates or, I suppose, just Senator Clinton? Maria: It's the only shiny thing up there.
Tonight, the Democratic “hopefuls” (by which we mean one probable, two unlikelies, and four delusionals) are gathering for an 8 p.m. debate in Las Vegas. CNN isn’t even bothering with the respective Dem-candidate poll numbers in Nevada — they’re too busy matching Hillary up to Rudy (dead heat) and Romney (easy Clinton win). Which is funny, because the narrative of this debate seems to be more along the lines of “Can Hillary regain her momentum?”
Has Bill Clinton accidentally drawn the national attention to the fact that his wife is, gasp, a woman? This is what the former president and possible First Laddie said yesterday about the Democratic candidates’ recent televised gang-up on Hillary: “Those boys have been getting tough on her lately.” They sure were, just as sure as they are all, in fact, boys and she is, in fact, a she. No controversy here, right? Wrong. “Mr. Clinton’s use of the word ‘boys,’” writes the Times, “caught the attention of the Republican National Committee Barack Obama and John Edwards.” All three camps are now accusing the Clintons of trying to graft a war-of-the-sexes story line onto the argument.
Much ado was made this morning over the way the other candidates turned against Hillary Clinton during last night's Democratic presidential debates. Obama and Edwards went after her so aggressively (especially regarding her refusal to clarify whether she supports Eliot Spitzer's licenses-for-illegal-immigrants plan) that Bill Richardson even said, “I’m hearing this holier-than-thou attitude toward Senator Clinton. It’s bothering me because it’s pretty close to personal attacks that we don’t need.” The question is, is this kind of response to Clinton's wide lead in the polls coming too late to do any good for her rivals? Having Obama and Edwards focus on her made her the star of the debate, even if she made some missteps. Just look at the Times ingenious "Transcript Analyzer" to see who managed to speak the most during the debate: Hillary got out 25 percent more words than anyone else and managed to insert herself most frequently. And just as her opponents started making her their main focus, she's shifting into general-election mode. Refusal to give a solid answer on a divisive issue like licenses for illegal immigrants is a move clearly designed to avoid offending both Republicans and Democrats. If Hillary continues to behave as though she's already won the primary, it's sure to make Obama and Edwards go even more ballistic. Which has us so excited, because nothing is more entertaining than watching a pretty boy stomp his feet.
A Pitched Debate: Clinton Hears It From Her Rivals [NYT]
Today Cindy Adams predicts that Wesley Clark is in line to be Hillary Clinton's running mate. He recently endorsed her, and Adams points out that four years ago, the two of them were the big Democratic stars. Interesting! Or, at least it would be, if Cindy Adams were at all a political expert. She's not, and neither are we. But since America is probably going to have to deal with the whole running-mate issue earlier than ever this year, we thought we'd pile on with our prediction of whom she'll anoint. After all, if Hill really wants to cement her position as the de facto Democratic nominee, why not go all the way? Barring any of the other candidates, we think she's going to pick Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Why? If you've even bothered reading this far down, you might as well click through to the jump to read our crackpot logic.
One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that rumors and scandal take on a life of their own. No one even needs to report anything! Once a story is out there, it's fair game for everyone else to repeat it, often under the guise of media analysis. The story starts at the bottom of the food chain of credibility. Bloggers and tabloid outlets egg each other incrementally on, until eventually more serious outlets pick it up.
We may be about to leave the early stages of such a cycle with the growing scrutiny into the professional relationship between John Edwards and a woman named Rielle Hunter, a.k.a. Lisa Druck, who produced films for his One America prepresidential campaign. Ann Coulter is even involved! The following timeline details the anatomy of an innuendo, including a few steps into the perhaps inevitable future.
Huffington Post's FundRace 2008 feature, which lets you track individual campaign contributions by name or address, continues to be a reliable source of stalkerish joy. Today we decided to check up on how 740 Park Avenue, with its plentiful dollar, votes. What we found might shock you.
When any other Democratic candidate announces a health-care reform plan, it’s a thoroughly wonkish moment in the campaign. When Hillary announces hers, as she will today, it’s high drama: See, she’s tackled the subject once before, as First Lady, and destroyed the congressional Democratic majority in the process. The plan Clinton is set to propose this time centers on the “individual mandate,” which sounds totally empowering but is actually a Clintonian way of saying health insurance will be a requirement akin to auto insurance. Instead of tearing down the existing system, the plan expands it in every direction. The companies now offering health care to their employees will be able to simply continue to do so; those that don’t will have to either start or chip in toward a federal health-care kitty. The remaining uninsured get a tax credit to buy coverage, and the criticism you’ll hear from every Republican for the next thirteen months (oh, God) is that this two-step transaction is somehow limiting and invasive.
Nicole Kidman may be playing Vanity Fair–style arbiter Amy Fine Collins in the film adaptation of her memoir. Rupert Murdoch may be trying to lure CNBC "Money Honey" Maria Bartiromo to his new Fox Business Channel, though the Post isn't making matters easy by writing negative items about her. The Suffolk County D.A. has seized over 45,000 pages of legal papers in its investigation of the Fire Island double voting scandal. Mischa Barton may or may not have had a wardrobe malfunction at a Save the Children event at Lincoln Center. Andy Roddick referred to Roger Federer as a "robot." Authors of a book about Doris Duke are claiming that Bob Balaban, director of an upcoming movie about the tobacco heiress, may have committed copyright infringement. Rudy Giuliani played golf — though presumably not well — sans Secret Service at the Noyac Golf Club in Sag Harbor.