Stop the press: Barack Obama played golf with a woman. It’s apparently not enough for Obama to be surrounded two daughters, a wife and a mother-in-law at home, have Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State or appoint Sonia Sotomayor as Supreme Court Justice. No, he must play golf with them as well.

Yesterday the front page of the Sunday NY Times led with an article dissecting the Obama administration “boys club”, where “some high-profile sectors of the White House — economics and national security, for instance — are filled with men and exude an unmistakable male vibe”. It complained that ladies weren’t allowed to join in and shoot hoops at a famed presidential b-ball game. Plus, no women have played golf with Obama since he became president, but that a senior White House aide, Melody Barnes, was due to play this weekend.

Now whether it was the NY Times article that prompted the tokenism or not, Barnes teed off with the president in surely the most widely reported act of presidential social togetherness since the beer summit.

Journalist Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times deemed it worthy of three separate pool reports , almost like a live-blog of the golf game. It lead with the wonderful headline ‘Obama golfs with Melody Barnes, first female in presidential foursome’:

“It’s a crisp, beautiful fall day with the leaves changing colors along the drive from Washington to the base, in Virginia. Obama was observed walking out of the White House at 12:18 p.m. wearing a black short sleeve shirt. Barnes was wearing a baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and beige pants. Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director, was seen loading golf clubs.”

The NY Times reported that “Melody C. Barnes, a White House aide, broke through President Obama’s green ceiling Sunday afternoon”.

“Another crack in the gender glass ceiling” said the LA Times, with their article entitled ‘A first! President Obama actually golfs with a woman!’

As Politico noted, “Who says newspapers don’t have any influence anymore?” Now if only that influence was used for focusing on issues that actually matter.  — Amber Jamieson

Tune in to Obese. It had to happen. We’ve had The Biggest Loser, Dance Your Ass Off and now the ultimate weight-loss reality program, brought to you by the home of fatness, the US of A. US TV industry reports say the ABC Network had bought, sight unseen, a new program to be known (tentatively) as Obese. It’s to be made by Biggest Loser executive producer J.D. Roth.

Six one-hour episodes of the documentary-style series have been ordered from production company 3 Ball, which will assemble the story of six people who are heavily overweight. The story will tell of their battle over a year to try to lose 50% of their body weight. No host, each story will be introduced by the person involved. The series won’t be seen on US TV until 2011. Real fat TV at last. How about MasterFat Australia for the local version? — Glenn Dyer

Nine’s Top Gear ain’t cheap. Nine was boasting about securing Top Gear on Friday from SBS. (Crikey had pointed out two months ago that SBS had lost the series then, but the network demurred). Top Gear is not a cheap acquisition. It has bought all the backlog programming, except series one. There will be series two to 13, most of which have been seen on SBS and on pay-TV in this country. Nine has had to pay BBC Worldwide a premium to move the program. Nine also had to make a local program (this is where those Shane Warne stories come in). The local version isn’t cheap, it costs the best of $100,000 or more an episode (including licence fees, etc, to the BBC). Of interest will be whether BBC Worldwide has insisted that the program is not supported or sponsored by a car company. That was part of the deal with SBS. — Glenn Dyer

Vox pop of the day. Today’s NT News asked its readers if they felt the weekend’s earthquake. Some of the answers were, well … erm, interesting…

The story News Ltd didn’t want you to read. News Limited was willing to pay dearly for this story not to be published. It first offered a $110,000 payment, plus a private apology, to avoid going to court. But the price it demanded was that the matter be kept confidential. The company was told to take a jump. See you in court.

The Daily Telegraph had published four stories about Michael Towke, which he believed had defamed him, destroyed his political career, and caused untold stress to his family. “These stories sent my mother to hospital,” he told me. “They demonised me. I wanted to confront them in court.” — The Brisbane Times

Tinseltown Trannies! NW US could teach the Daily Tele a thing or two about Photo Gallery artistry…

Listen up to Helen Thomas. White House reporter and columnist Helen Thomas has covered every president since John F. Kennedy. After six decades of questioning, analysing and joking with commanders in chief, Thomas has plenty of advice for the current president, as well as future contenders. She shares her words of wisdom in her new book, Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do. Thomas talks with Rebecca Roberts about her 60 years in journalism, and describes her experiences covering the administrations of 10 different US presidents. — NPR podcast

Disney on rewriting the script. Bob Iger, the Walt Disney chief executive, has issued a stark warning to Hollywood, saying the film business is “changing right before our eyes” after a turbulent year in which studios have been forced to re-examine their business models. DVD sales have been Hollywood’s leading cash generator for the past decade but sales are tumbling and have not been replaced by revenues from platforms, such as digital distribution. — The Financial Times

Put down your phone and just enjoy the music. What were we all doing? Filming and tweeting and checking in rather than just putting our phones away and enjoying the gig. Why does the world need two thousand photos of the same band on the same stage, all taken from a slightly different angle. That kind of 360-degree imagery might have been useful on the day Kennedy was shot — not least because it would have kept Oliver Stone quiet — but for a Weezer gig? And what’s the point of checking in on Foursquare at a ticketed event that no one else can get into. You might as well tweet “I’m a dick” and be done with it. And yet this real-time mentality — pictures/tweets or it didn’t happen — continues to seep into every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally. — TechCrunch

MJ is on a roll. Mother Jones, the non-profit magazine of investigative reporting, has been around since 1976, but lately it’s been getting plenty of fresh attention. Partly because it’s a proven model for non-profit journalism (the magazine gets support from subscribers, donors, advertisers and foundations) in a moment when old monopoly-driven for-profit business models for journalism, particularly at newspapers, are crumbling. But also because editorially, the magazine has been on a hot streak. — MediaWorks, AdvertisingAge

Slutty Google. Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson has again opened fire on Google, accusing the internet giant of promoting online news reading “promiscuity”. Thomson’s unabashed criticism of the internet powerhouse last week in San Franscisco came as he and Google vice-president of search products Marissa Mayer took part in a Web 2.0 panel focused on the fate of journalism in a world of online news aggregation. “Marissa unintentionally encourages promiscuity,” Thomson said as discussion touched on whether Google providing links to news stories in response to search queries was bolstering or undermining traditional news operations. —The Australian

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Peter Fray
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