Reading Around on March 4th

Some additional reading March 4th from 16:15 to 19:51:


Reading Around on February 26th

Some additional reading February 26th from 17:50 to 18:48:

  • Chicago Reader | Norm Van Lier | Chicago Bulls – RIP – Awesome article from 1994 re the recently departed Stormin’ Norm Van Lier. A little bit of flash, 1970s beanbag bong hits, and some racism that still lingered twenty years (and fifteen years past that).”There was a time, not long before Michael Jordan, when Norm Van Lier was the best guard who’d ever played for the Bulls and was worshiped by basketball fans all over Chicago.”
  • Chicago Reader Blogs: News Bites – Quite interesting discussion of what newspapers might turn into, or not, and what might replace them, or not. Could one be a reporter for $41,000 a year, before taxes? Happily?
humor Links Photography

Reading Around on January 26th

Some additional reading January 26th from 10:22 to 22:31:

  • The Washington Monthly – This Explains a Lot– “On the one hand, the Bush administration released some detainees who apparently turned out to be pretty dangerous. On the other, the Bush administration refused to release other detainees who weren’t dangerous at all, and were actually U.S. allies.How could this happen? In light of these revelations about the lack of files, it starts to make a lot more sense.But to put this in an even larger context, consider just how big a mess Bush has left for Obama here. The previous administration a) tortured detainees, making it harder to prosecute dangerous terrorists; b) released bad guys while detaining good guys; and c) neglected to keep comprehensive files on possible terrorists who’ve been in U.S. custody for several years. As if the fiasco at Gitmo weren’t hard enough to clean up.”
  • The three primary roles your local website should play |– “Journalists tend to gravitate to only one of these roles: the town crier, the quaint colonial-era village character who walks around ringing a bell telling you what’s happening. It comes naturally. This is why 24×7 coverage teams and the “continuous news desk” concept take root so quickly when newsrooms suddenly awaken to the urgency of taking the Internet seriously.
  • But the other roles aren’t secondary. They’re coequal, and they’re grossly neglected by most local news websites.Moreover, they consistently surface in qualitative research as poorly met needs. The language people use is a little different, but recognizable: “Help me connect with people.” “Help me get answers I need.” “Help me find people like me.” “Help me pursue my interests.”
  • simple private file sharing, free internet file sharing – Hmm, seems useful
    “Use to create drops and privately share your files by web, email, phone, fax, and more. Drops are protected from search engines so you can conveniently share what you want, how you want, with whom you want.”
  • Undercover Black Man: Bad news for David Milch fans– “Now I hear that HBO has pulled the plug on Milch’s latest project, a New York City cop drama set in the 1970s called “Last of the Ninth.”They filmed a pilot episode… with British actor Ray Winstone (pictured) as one of the leads. Evidently HBO was not digging it.That’s a show I wanted to see. Since the ’90s, Milch has talked about creating a series based on Bill Clark’s early career in the NYPD.

    Clark spent two years undercover as a white radical. He hung out with Black Panthers (including Tupac’s mama).”

  • Food Is A Weapon
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Errol Morris Blog –– Awesome! “Photographs make this somewhat more difficult. They are a partial record of who we were and how we imagined ourselves. …The traveling pool of press photographers that follows presidents includes representatives from three wire services — AP (The Associated Press), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and Thomson Reuters. During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services — Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) — to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration. …. It is interesting that these pictures are different. They may be of the same scene, but they have different content. They speak in a different way.(The photos are reproduced here with their original captions, unedited.)”
  • Tijuana Bibles– “If you are offended by depictions of sodomy, bestiality, “alternative sexual practices,” racial and ethnic stereotypes, or just about anything else, you should leave now.Tijuana Bibles were pornographic tracts popular in America before the advent of mass-market full-color glossy wank-fodder such as Playboy. A typical bible consisted of eight stapled comic-strip frames portraying characters and celebrities (eg. John Dillinger, Popeye, Disney characters) in wildly sodomistic situations. Many could be considered grossly racist, sexist, and otherwise wholly “politically incorrect.” Browser discretion is advised.”

Enemies of Truth and Justice

The Dan Rather lawsuit against Bush’s cronies at CBS continues to move forward, and the New York Observer found this exhibit1 among the documents:

re-defeat bush

This week, Dan Rather’s legal team submitted a memorandum to the judge overseeing Mr. Rather’s $70 million civil lawsuit against his former employers, which for the first time made public some of the thousands of documents that CBS has already turned over in the ongoing discovery process.

In Exhibit J of the current filing, Mr. Rather’s legal team include a list (turned up in discovery) which CBS executives apparently compiled in the fall of 2004, prior to settling on Mr. Thornburgh and Mr. Boccardi.

The list includes Mr. Boccardi’s name as well such seemingly reasonable potential candidates as David Gergen, Gene Roberts (former managing editor of The New York Times) and Dick Wald (former president of NBC News).

Then things get a little bit more conservative. Under the category “others” are the names of potential candidates such as… Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh.
Herein, CBS’s full list of “others”:
William Buckley
Robert Novak
Kate O’Beirne
Nicholas Von Hoffman
Tucker Carlson
Pat Buchanan
George Will
Lou Dobbs
Matt Drudge
Robert Barkley
Robert Kagan
Fred Barnes
William Kristol
John Podhoretz
David Brooks
William Safire
Bernard Goldberg
Ann Coulter
Andrew Sullivan
Christopher Hitchens
PJ O’Rourke
Christopher Caldwell
Elliot Abrams
Charles Krauthammer
William Bennett
Rush Limbaugh

At the very bottom of the list, someone wrote in one more name. “Roger Ailes.”

[From Juicy Bits Surfacing in Rather Case: In 2004, CBS Considered Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter Independent Panel | The New York Observer]

In other words, CBS was only interested in squelching the truth, destroying Dan Rather, and collecting scalps to ensure that George W Bush won the election in 2004. I hope Dan Rather keeps pushing this matter, and that more juicy documents get released. All of the rabid Republicans on this list are enemies of the state, I hope they all get deposed and publicly humiliated.

  1. I corrected any obvious typos []

Seymour Hersh, American Hero

“Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (P.S.)” (Seymour M. Hersh)

Rachel Cooke has an excellent profile of the great American hero, Seymour Hersh in the Guardian UK:

Every so often, a famous actor or producer will contact Seymour Hersh, wanting to make a movie about his most famous story: his single-handed uncovering, in 1969, of the My Lai massacre, in which an American platoon stormed a village in South Vietnam and, finding only its elderly, women and children, launched into a frenzy of shooting, stabbing and gang-raping. It won him a Pulitzer prize and hastened the end of the Vietnam war. Mostly, they come to see him in his office in downtown Washington, a two-room suite that he has occupied for the past 17 years. Do they like what they see? You bet they do, even if the movie has yet to be made. ‘Brad Pitt loved this place,’ says Hersh with a wolfish grin. ‘It totally fits the cliché of the grungy reporter’s den!’ When last he renewed the lease, he tells me, he made it a condition of signing that the office would not be redecorated – the idea of moving all his stuff was too much. It’s not hard to see why. Slowly, I move my head through 180 degrees, trying not to panic at the sight of so much paper piled so precipitously. Before me are 8,000 legal notepads, or so it seems, each one filled with a Biro Cuneiform of scribbled telephone numbers. By the time I look at Hersh again – the full panorama takes a moment or two – he is silently examining the wall behind his desk, which is grey with grime, and striated as if a billy goat had sharpened its horns on it.

And then there is Hersh himself, a splendid sight. After My Lai, he was hired by the New York Times to chase the tail of the Watergate scandal, a story broken by its rival, the Washington Post. In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book about their scoop, they describe him – the competition. He was unlike any reporter they’d ever seen: ‘Hersh, horn-rimmed and somewhat pudgy, showed up for dinner in old tennis shoes, a frayed pinstriped shirt that might have been at its best in his college freshman year and rumpled, bleached khakis.’ Forty years on, little has changed. Today he is in trainers, chinos and a baggy navy sweatshirt and – thanks to a tennis injury – he is walking like an old guy: chest forward, knees bandy, slight limp in one leg. There is something cherishably chaotic about him. A fuzzy halo of frantic inquiry follows him wherever he goes, like the cloud of dust that hovers above Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown strip. In conversation, away from the restraining hand of his bosses at the New Yorker, the magazine that is now his home, his thoughts pour forth, unmediated and – unless you concentrate very hard – seemingly unconnected. ‘Yeah, I shoot my mouth off,’ he says, with faux remorse. ‘There’s a huge difference between writing and thinking.’

[From Rachel Cooke meets Seymour Hersh, the most-feared investigative reporter in Washington | Media | The Observer ]

and this tidbit makes me really anticipate the Obama presidency, perhaps some of the more heinous crimes of the Bush Administration will be exposed:

The unknown quantity of voter racism apart, however, he is hopeful that Obama will pull it off, and if he does, for Hersh this will be a starting gun. ‘You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on 20 January [the date of the next president’s inauguration],’ he says, with relish. ‘[They say:] “You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.” So that is what I’ll do, so long as nothing awful happens before the inauguration.’ He plans to write a book about the neocons and, though it won’t change anything – ‘They’ve got away with it, categorically; anyone who talks about prosecuting Bush and Cheney [for war crimes] is kidding themselves’ – it will reveal how the White House ‘set out to sabotage the system… It wasn’t that they found ways to manipulate Congressional oversight; they had conversations about ending the right of Congress to intervene.’

A little personal history:

Seymour M Hersh (the M is for Myron) was born in Chicago, the son of Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Lithuania and Poland (he has a twin brother, a physicist, and two sisters, also twins). The family was not rich; his father, who died when Seymour was 17, ran a dry-cleaning business. After school he attended a local junior college until a professor took him aside, asked him what he was doing there and walked him up to the University of Chicago. ‘Chicago was this great egghead place,’ Hersh says. ‘But I knew nothing. I came out of a lower-middle-class background. At that time, everyone used to define themselves: Stalinist, Maoist, whatever. I thought they meant “miaowist”. Seriously! Something to do with cats. Among my peers, they all thought I would write the great novel, because I was very quick and cutting. I’ve just read Philip Roth’s new novel [Indignation], and the arrogance of his character reminded me of that certitude. I was always pointing out other people’s flaws.’ He went to law school but hated it, dropped out and wound up as a copy boy, then a reporter for the local City News Bureau. Later he joined Associated Press in Washington and rose through its ranks until he quit for a stint working for the Democrat senator Eugene McCarthy. Pretty soon, though, he was back in journalism. ‘Using words to make other people less big made me feel bigger, though the psychological dimension to that… well, I don’t want to explore it.’ His wife of 40 years, Elizabeth, whom he describes as ‘the love of my life’ in the acknowledgements of Chain of Command (they have three grown-up children), is a psychoanalyst. Doesn’t she ever tell him about his ego and his id? He looks embarrassed. ‘No, no… marriage is… different. When you live with someone you don’t… The hardest part for her is when she tells me to take out the garbage and I say: “Excuse me? I don’t have time. I’m saving the world.”‘ Later, however, he tells me that journalism, like psychoanalysis, is about ‘bringing things into focus’.

but you should read the rest of the article yourself.

I’d love to see a film made about Sy Hersh, but Brad Pitt? Really? Whatever gets you funding, I guess.


Hillary Diehards in the Media

Slightly more on the Hillary-Heads, from today’s Altercation:

this story from Scott Lindlaw at the Associated Press was headlined “Pelosi admits Democrats not yet united.” Here is the entirety of Pelosi’s quotes in the ensuing story:

  • Asked by reporters about female voters’ comfort level with Obama, Pelosi said women show a strong preference for Obama in public opinion polls. A “gender gap” in Obama’s favor had emerged “even before the convention, and even before the complete reconciliation that we need,” she said.
  • “The nomination is decided, we have a vice president, we’re going to work together and go forward,” she said.
  • “But to stay wallowing in all of this is not productive,” she said. “So we can talk about this forever, or we can talk about how we’re going to take our message to the American people, to women all across America, to see the distinctions” between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain.”
  • You know what? This is like a yesterday room,” she told the reporters. “We are going into the future. What did I walk into, a time capsule?”

[From Media Matters – Altercation by Eric Alterman]

Seems as if the Hillary Diehards are either a Republican concoction, a media concoction, or both. I love the final Pelosi response, I hope it becomes a meme for this election season.

Business News-esque

More on the Decline of Newspapers

More on the Decline of Newspapers and media in general, from Digby, who was on a panel about the media and the blogosphere with Arianna Huffington, Chris Cilizza, Jonathan Alter and Gregory Maffei:

Alter insists that nobody listens to the gasbags and pundits so we shouldn’t worry about them. I asked him how he thought people got their information about politics and he said from their talkative coworker or politically engaged relative and things like chain emails. It’s apparent that many in the mainstream media have not see the documentation and analysis that’s been done online about how the stories and themes of elections, as conceived by political operatives and political pundits, dominate the campaigns and color the voters impressions of the candidates. Maybe the inside of the bubble is too heady a place to be able to connect those dots.

(In the meantime, perhaps I should just direct everyone to Bob Somerby…)

I find it difficult to keep my patience with the inevitable discussion about how the news media is losing money and can’t afford to do the all important news gathering on which we internet parasites depend. It’s as if this problem has happened in some vacuum in which journalism itself has no culpability. They brought a lot of it on themselves, particularly when they gleefully allowed Drudge to rule their world and Rush to be feted and groomed by mainstream conservative politicians without raising an eyebrow. (Live by the wingnuts, die by the wingnuts.)

[From Hullabaloo]

Builds upon the late-great Molly Ivins’ point: the best way to get more subscribers is to put out a better paper, not just whine.


Guampedia Missionaries

Missionaries for good, for the spread of knowledge, we hasten to add, not zealots…

Shannon Murphy and her staff of two are practically missionaries. But it isn’t religion they’re hawking. Instead, the trio is spreading the good word about Guam and behind them are more than a hundred others following in their path.

To deliver their message, Murphy and company are relying on the Internet and the Guam Humanities Council project Guampedia, an online encyclopedia about the island.

“We think it will make for a better understanding about the depth and history about the people here,” says Murphy, Guampedia’s managing editor who holds a hefty passion for Guam and its people.

[From Sharing Guam: Guampedia aims for understanding of island | | Pacific Daily News]

The federal government can be a positive factor in people’s lives sometimes:

The Council jumped on board with the project in the year 2000 when the National Endowment for the Humanities began offering grants to create online encyclopedias around the country.

“We had to spend two years developing the content, figuring out what kind of software,” Murphy says. “We had to hire someone to do all the software and do all the programing.”

As an aside, these sort of federal grants are anathema to Republicans like John McCain. He considers them waste, but happily throws away billions in tax-payer dollars for oil corporations.

Anyway, congratulations to Guampedia for a successful launch, we look forward to watching their continued growth. The Guampedia is one of the first National Endowments to actually get off the ground (fourth to start, per Shannon Murphy), many states considered the work a bit too challenging to tackle, at least at first. Now, if only the Guampedia could add an RSS feed of new content…

Here was a television interview on the topic from last week, including statements from my aunt Shannon :

The video clip includes Guam commercials, so you can feel like you are actually watching Channel 8 KUAM on Guam, plus a flashing error message about “No disc”.


Liberal Bias Bogus

Of course, we already knew the claim of liberal bias in the media was bogus, but noted nonetheless

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

[From In study, evidence of liberal-bias bias – Los Angeles Times]

Odds are, though, that the claim of liberal bias will continue to be parroted by the McCain supporters in corporate media up until November.

Now, if we are discussing the new media (blogs, web-zines and related), there certainly is a bias. There are very few non-partisan blogs of note. Also, one could even plausibly argue that blogs rebalance the slant of corporate media1 – blogs pick out the small stories that conform to the interest and bias of the site and its readers. For instance, glancing through B12’s archives, there are lots of negative McCain stories. What percentage of the day’s news are these stories? A small percentage, I’m sure, but they are nonetheless a large percentage of B12’s topics.

  1. at least, to the few brave souls who actually read blogs []

Squeamish Quotations of Those Potty Mouths

The New York Times cannot decide if it is a contemporary publication, or a throwback to the Puritan/Victorian heritage that considered exposure of an ankle to be shocking. Naval-gazing is not solely the province of the blogosphere.1

The Times does not always seem consistent in its decisions. It would not print “nuts” last week but put “cojones” in a headline 10 years ago. The newspaper reviewed a rock band last fall without printing its name because it contained what is probably the most objectionable of Carlin’s seven words. When Vice President Cheney used a variant of the same word on the floor of the Senate in 2004 to tell Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont what to do to himself, The Times again passed. But two years later, it did print another of Carlin’s words when President Bush told Tony Blair, then the British prime minister, what Syria needed to tell Hezbollah to knock off. The same word appeared last year in an article about a telephoned threat to Bernard Spitzer, whose son Eliot was then governor of New York. The Times was back on the conservative side this year, ignoring a vulgarism by former President Bill Clinton in the middle of a rant about Todd Purdum, a writer for Vanity Fair.

Keller told me before the Jackson issue arose: “I think the trend here — and it’s something I share — is we don’t want to be leading the charge to a coarser public discourse. We want to err on the side of civility. If occasionally that makes us seem squeamish or square, I can live with that.”

Caine, the law professor, argued that The Times needs to loosen up and cited as one model The New Yorker, where the barriers to Carlin’s forbidden words began falling in 1985.

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, said, “People use these words in everyday speech. Why should we editors become so decorous and want to protect our readers from them? If a vice president uses a profanity to describe a senator, why should we sanitize his expression?”

Allan Siegal, Whitney’s predecessor as standards editor, said that Remnick was invited to speak at a retreat of Times editors some years ago and criticized “the prudery and hypocrisy of not using dirty words in the paper.” But while Remnick sees his audience and The Times’s as the same, The New Yorker is not delivered to middle- and high-school classrooms as 40,000 daily copies of The Times are.

The Times has built one of the most powerful brands in the world on the strength of writing “in a civil, measured way for people who want to read in a civil, measured way,” as Siegal put it. Although I would have quoted Jackson — and Cheney and Clinton, for that matter — I think the newspaper is wise to preserve its character and adapt slowly and carefully to the language around it. I use some of Carlin’s dirty words, but I do not want to read them in The Times unless it is essential, and I do not think I am alone.

[From The Public Editor – When to Quote Those Potty Mouths – Op-Ed –]

How about my compromise: use language that is appropriate to the topic. My grandfather, Joe Murphy, has a quote about writers and salty language, which goes something like, “only a poor writer requires curse words to communicate clearly.” The culture has changed a bit since Joe Murphy was a newspaper editor though, and the self-proclaimed paper of record should accurately quote Vice Presidents,2 musicians,3 and other public figures, but reporters need not work the word “fuck” into their supporting sentences, unless absolutely necessary – like discussing George Fucking Bush and his love for torture and other war crimes.

  1. yes, skippy coined the phrase []
  2. Cheney told Senator Leahy to “Go Fuck Yourself” []
  3. Bono proclaimed winning some award was “fucking great” []

Abramoff Down the Memory Hole

Just a little taste of how President Obama’s administration is going to be covered. Hint: it won’t be as soft as the coverage of the current Resident, not by a long shot. At least there is a stronger alternative media/blogosphere than existed in the 1990s.

George Zornick writes: Yesterday, a congressional report revealed that disgraced uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion, and remains at the center of one of the largest influence-peddling scandals in recent memory, met with the president of the United States at least six times and that there were over 150 verifiable contacts between Abramoff and White House officials, and probably many more — these contacts included White House officials who went to Abramoff “seeking tickets to sporting and entertainment events, as they did seeking input on personnel picks for plum jobs.” When asked about the report, White House spokesman Tony Fratto’s dismissive response was, “Give me a break.”

Luckily for Fratto, the press largely did. These revelations were not reported on any of the major networks broadcasts last night. Nor could the story be found on the front page of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or The Washington Post today.

This is nothing new for coverage of the Abramoff scandal. Recall, back when the scandal broke in 2005, that the press largely refused to hold Republicans responsible for what was clearly a Republican scandal of epic proportions. (None other than the National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that the Abramoff mess “is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.”)

But the press didn’t usually agree. For example:

Chris Matthews asked, while discussing the scandal in January 2006, “[D]on’t you have to be a real ideologue, a real partisan to believe that one party’s more crooked than the other?”
No Democrat ever took money from Abramoff directly. But that didn’t stop NPR’s Mara Liasson from saying it, nor Tim Russert, nor Katie Couric, nor Bill O’Reilly, nor the AP, nor The New York Times.

The Washington Post uncritically reported Grover Norquist’s claim that Abramoff didn’t meet with President Bush in May 2001, even though there was a photo reported to show that Abramoff was there.

David Brooks baselessly claimed Abramoff only met with Bush twice, based on some incomplete Secret Service logs, and Brit Hume did the same, even though the White House itself acknowledged there were more visits not mentioned in those logs.

The press also repeatedly brushed off the scandal — The New York Times’ Anne Kornblut, only hours after the Associated Press reported that Abramoff told Vanity Fair magazine he had close ties with President Bush and White House senior adviser Karl Rove, cited what she called “good news” for the White House, which is that “no one’s talking about Jack Abramoff anymore.” Chris Matthews predicted in early 2006, “It’s not going to be part of a larger story of Washington this year, I think.”

When this same House panel released a preliminary report on the Abramoff/White House connections in 2006, revealing far more ties than previously acknowledged, CBS and NBC didn’t cover it at all. That same report led directly to the resignation of Susan Ralston, a senior adviser to Karl Rove. But the three major networks — on all shows, morning, evening, and weekend — completely ignored the resignation, fulfilling White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino’s prediction that “nothing more will come from the [congressional] report, no further fallout from the report.”

And then there’s the current “break” being given to the White House. Which all, of course, leads to this question: What if this had happened to a Democratic president, and Abramoff’s name was Jim McDougal?

(Here’s a clue: Yesterday on Fox News, the name “Rezko” was mentioned 19 times, and the name “Abramoff” zero times, according to Lexis).

[From Media Matters – Altercation by Eric Alterman]

Can we elect a new national corporate media in 2008 as well? Please?