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Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #350 on: December 22, 2008, 03:26:09 PM »

The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism
December 22, 2008

By George Friedman

Mark Felt died last week at the age of 95. For those who don’t recognize that name, Felt was the “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame. It was Felt who provided Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post with a flow of leaks about what had happened, how it happened and where to look for further corroboration on the break-in, the cover-up, and the financing of wrongdoing in the Nixon administration. Woodward and Bernstein’s exposé of Watergate has been seen as a high point of journalism, and their unwillingness to reveal Felt’s identity until he revealed it himself three years ago has been seen as symbolic of the moral rectitude demanded of journalists.

In reality, the revelation of who Felt was raised serious questions about the accomplishments of Woodward and Bernstein, the actual price we all pay for journalistic ethics, and how for many years we did not know a critical dimension of the Watergate crisis. At a time when newspapers are in financial crisis and journalism is facing serious existential issues, Watergate always has been held up as a symbol of what journalism means for a democracy, revealing truths that others were unwilling to uncover and grapple with. There is truth to this vision of journalism, but there is also a deep ambiguity, all built around Felt’s role. This is therefore not an excursion into ancient history, but a consideration of two things. The first is how journalists become tools of various factions in political disputes. The second is the relationship between security and intelligence organizations and governments in a Democratic society.

Watergate was about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. The break-in was carried out by a group of former CIA operatives controlled by individuals leading back to the White House. It was never proven that then-U.S. President Richard Nixon knew of the break-in, but we find it difficult to imagine that he didn’t. In any case, the issue went beyond the break-in. It went to the cover-up of the break-in and, more importantly, to the uses of money that financed the break-in and other activities. Numerous aides, including the attorney general of the United States, went to prison. Woodward and Bernstein, and their newspaper, The Washington Post, aggressively pursued the story from the summer of 1972 until Nixon’s resignation. The episode has been seen as one of journalism’s finest moments. It may have been, but that cannot be concluded until we consider Deep Throat more carefully.

Deep Throat Reconsidered
Mark Felt was deputy associate director of the FBI (No. 3 in bureau hierarchy) in May 1972, when longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover died. Upon Hoover’s death, Felt was second to Clyde Tolson, the longtime deputy and close friend to Hoover who by then was in failing health himself. Days after Hoover’s death, Tolson left the bureau.

Felt expected to be named Hoover’s successor, but Nixon passed him over, appointing L. Patrick Gray instead. In selecting Gray, Nixon was reaching outside the FBI for the first time in the 48 years since Hoover had taken over. But while Gray was formally acting director, the Senate never confirmed him, and as an outsider, he never really took effective control of the FBI. In a practical sense, Felt was in operational control of the FBI from the break-in at the Watergate in August 1972 until June 1973.

Nixon’s motives in appointing Gray certainly involved increasing his control of the FBI, but several presidents before him had wanted this, too, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Both of these presidents wanted Hoover gone for the same reason they were afraid to remove him: He knew too much. In Washington, as in every capital, knowing the weaknesses of powerful people is itself power — and Hoover made it a point to know the weaknesses of everyone. He also made it a point to be useful to the powerful, increasing his overall value and his knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the powerful.

Hoover’s death achieved what Kennedy and Johnson couldn’t do. Nixon had no intention of allowing the FBI to continue as a self-enclosed organization outside the control of the presidency and everyone else. Thus, the idea that Mark Felt, a man completely loyal to Hoover and his legacy, would be selected to succeed Hoover is in retrospect the most unlikely outcome imaginable.

Felt saw Gray’s selection as an unwelcome politicization of the FBI (by placing it under direct presidential control), an assault on the traditions created by Hoover and an insult to his memory, and a massive personal disappointment. Felt was thus a disgruntled employee at the highest level. He was also a senior official in an organization that traditionally had protected its interests in predictable ways. (By then formally the No. 2 figure in FBI, Felt effectively controlled the agency given Gray’s inexperience and outsider status.) The FBI identified its enemies, then used its vast knowledge of its enemies’ wrongdoings in press leaks designed to be as devastating as possible. While carefully hiding the source of the information, it then watched the victim — who was usually guilty as sin — crumble. Felt, who himself was later convicted and pardoned for illegal wiretaps and break-ins, was not nearly as appalled by Nixon’s crimes as by Nixon’s decision to pass him over as head of the FBI. He merely set Hoover’s playbook in motion.

Woodward and Bernstein were on the city desk of The Washington Post at the time. They were young (29 and 28), inexperienced and hungry. We do not know why Felt decided to use them as his conduit for leaks, but we would guess he sought these three characteristics — as well as a newspaper with sufficient gravitas to gain notice. Felt obviously knew the two had been assigned to a local burglary, and he decided to leak what he knew to lead them where he wanted them to go. He used his knowledge to guide, and therefore control, their investigation.

Systematic Spying on the President
And now we come to the major point. For Felt to have been able to guide and control the young reporters’ investigation, he needed to know a great deal of what the White House had done, going back quite far. He could not possibly have known all this simply through his personal investigations. His knowledge covered too many people, too many operations, and too much money in too many places simply to have been the product of one of his side hobbies. The only way Felt could have the knowledge he did was if the FBI had been systematically spying on the White House, on the Committee to Re-elect the President and on all of the other elements involved in Watergate. Felt was not simply feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein; he was using the intelligence product emanating from a section of the FBI to shape The Washington Post’s coverage.

Instead of passing what he knew to professional prosecutors at the Justice Department — or if he did not trust them, to the House Judiciary Committee charged with investigating presidential wrongdoing — Felt chose to leak the information to The Washington Post. He bet, or knew, that Post editor Ben Bradlee would allow Woodward and Bernstein to play the role Felt had selected for them. Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee all knew who Deep Throat was. They worked with the operational head of the FBI to destroy Nixon, and then protected Felt and the FBI until Felt came forward.

In our view, Nixon was as guilty as sin of more things than were ever proven. Nevertheless, there is another side to this story. The FBI was carrying out espionage against the president of the United States, not for any later prosecution of Nixon for a specific crime (the spying had to have been going on well before the break-in), but to increase the FBI’s control over Nixon. Woodward, Bernstein and above all, Bradlee, knew what was going on. Woodward and Bernstein might have been young and naive, but Bradlee was an old Washington hand who knew exactly who Felt was, knew the FBI playbook and understood that Felt could not have played the role he did without a focused FBI operation against the president. Bradlee knew perfectly well that Woodward and Bernstein were not breaking the story, but were having it spoon-fed to them by a master. He knew that the president of the United States, guilty or not, was being destroyed by Hoover’s jilted heir.

This was enormously important news. The Washington Post decided not to report it. The story of Deep Throat was well-known, but what lurked behind the identity of Deep Throat was not. This was not a lone whistle-blower being protected by a courageous news organization; rather, it was a news organization being used by the FBI against the president, and a news organization that knew perfectly well that it was being used against the president. Protecting Deep Throat concealed not only an individual, but also the story of the FBI’s role in destroying Nixon.

Again, Nixon’s guilt is not in question. And the argument can be made that given John Mitchell’s control of the Justice Department, Felt thought that going through channels was impossible (although the FBI was more intimidating to Mitchell than the other way around). But the fact remains that Deep Throat was the heir apparent to Hoover — a man not averse to breaking the law in covert operations — and Deep Throat clearly was drawing on broader resources in the FBI, resources that had to have been in place before Hoover’s death and continued operating afterward.

Burying a Story to Get a Story
Until Felt came forward in 2005, not only were these things unknown, but The Washington Post was protecting them. Admittedly, the Post was in a difficult position. Without Felt’s help, it would not have gotten the story. But the terms Felt set required that a huge piece of the story not be told. The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn’t what happened. Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat’s identity.

Journalists have celebrated the Post’s role in bringing down the president for a generation. Even after the revelation of Deep Throat’s identity in 2005, there was no serious soul-searching on the omission from the historical record. Without understanding the role played by Felt and the FBI in bringing Nixon down, Watergate cannot be understood completely. Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee were willingly used by Felt to destroy Nixon. The three acknowledged a secret source, but they did not reveal that the secret source was in operational control of the FBI. They did not reveal that the FBI was passing on the fruits of surveillance of the White House. They did not reveal the genesis of the fall of Nixon. They accepted the accolades while withholding an extraordinarily important fact, elevating their own role in the episode while distorting the actual dynamic of Nixon’s fall.

Absent any widespread reconsideration of the Post’s actions during Watergate in the three years since Felt’s identity became known, the press in Washington continues to serve as a conduit for leaks of secret information. They publish this information while protecting the leakers, and therefore the leakers’ motives. Rather than being a venue for the neutral reporting of events, journalism thus becomes the arena in which political power plays are executed. What appears to be enterprising journalism is in fact a symbiotic relationship between journalists and government factions. It may be the best path journalists have for acquiring secrets, but it creates a very partial record of events — especially since the origin of a leak frequently is much more important to the public than the leak itself.

The Felt experience is part of an ongoing story in which journalists’ guarantees of anonymity to sources allow leakers to control the news process. Protecting Deep Throat’s identity kept us from understanding the full dynamic of Watergate. We did not know that Deep Throat was running the FBI, we did not know the FBI was conducting surveillance on the White House, and we did not know that the Watergate scandal emerged not by dint of enterprising journalism, but because Felt had selected Woodward and Bernstein as his vehicle to bring Nixon down. And we did not know that the editor of The Washington Post allowed this to happen. We had a profoundly defective picture of the situation, as defective as the idea that Bob Woodward looks like Robert Redford.

Finding the truth of events containing secrets is always difficult, as we know all too well. There is no simple solution to this quandary. In intelligence, we dream of the well-placed source who will reveal important things to us. But we also are aware that the information provided is only the beginning of the story. The rest of the story involves the source’s motivation, and frequently that motivation is more important than the information provided. Understanding a source’s motivation is essential both to good intelligence and to journalism. In this case, keeping secret the source kept an entire — and critical — dimension of Watergate hidden for a generation. Whatever crimes Nixon committed, the FBI had spied on the president and leaked what it knew to The Washington Post in order to destroy him. The editor of The Washington Post knew that, as did Woodward and Bernstein. We do not begrudge them their prizes and accolades, but it would have been useful to know who handed them the story. In many ways, that story is as interesting as the one about all the president’s men.
Power User
Posts: 9484

« Reply #351 on: December 22, 2008, 05:53:43 PM »

What a great post, very insightful.  True that an informant and a newspaper exposed bad conduct and brought down a presidency.  Also true was the the informant and his base of power, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, was also a story of other government misconduct, far exceeding its authorized powers that deserved exposing, but was never pursued. 

Similar stories happened throughout the Bush administration as the NY Times for example kept exposing the processes that were keeping us safe.  It always seemed that no one looked deeper into the leakers and their own obvious violations.

The media, like the regulators, missed the failures and collapses of everything from Enron to Fannie Mae, AIG, Bear Stearns (and the Soviet Union)  etc. etc. and the ability of the ones we consider mainstream to investigate anything just keeps getting smaller and smaller.  So the news stories become selected by the call-in leakers instead the so-called editors or publishers.
« Reply #352 on: December 23, 2008, 08:38:11 AM »

Make many of the points of Crafty's piece above.

Patrick Cockburn: The reality behind Deep Throat
The Mark Felts of this world want to use the media as a weapon against their enemies
Saturday, 20 December 2008

Mark Felt, the senior official at the FBI who was the highly placed informant or Deep Throat who famously leaked information during the Watergate scandal, died this week. His nickname, drawn from a pornographic movie of the day, has since become a generic term for well-informed anonymous source.

It was Mr Felt, with access to all FBI files, who met Bob Woodward of The Washington Post in an underground parking garage in Rosslyn, Virginia. He famously steered him and Carl Bernstein towards exposing the Watergate burglary of the Democratic Party's national offices in Washington as only one part of a general campaign of sabotage and political spying directed by the White House. Mr Felt's role was long suspected but confirmed by him only in 2005.

His motives for directing Woodward and Bernstein towards the links between the White House and the Watergate burglars were two fold. After 30 years at the FBI, Mr Felt had expected to succeed J Edgar Hoover as its director when he died in 1972 and was enraged to be passed over for the job by President Nixon's nominee Patrick Gray III.

There was more at work here than the frustrated ambition of one man. Mr Felt's secret revelations to Mr Woodward were part of a general counterattack by US government law enforcement agencies against President Nixon who had been trying to place his own men in charge of them. The FBI man was not alone. A striking aspect of Watergate was the sheer quantity of leaks damaging to Nixon coming from all parts of the government, from the CIA to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Watergate investigation is often held up as the apogee of journalistic investigation, but the public memory of what happened gives a highly misleading and exaggerated impression of what journalists can achieve. The blow-by-blow account of Woodward and Bernstein in investigating the break-in are at the heart of their book All the President's Men and the film of the same name.

An impression is given that there are always lots of leakers out there desperate to leak and the assiduous journalist will always come up with an informant. In fact, Watergate was one of a kind as a scandal in the number of highly placed informants from the security agencies covertly willing to tell the media about the White House's illegal operations because they were defending their own turf.

The self-interested motives of the Deep Throats seldom comes across in accounts of the scandal in part because of the journalistic convention to pretend that anonymous sources make revelations from a sense of outraged morality or for no reason at all.

Journalists may think of themselves as spies, unrelenting investigators discovering and publishing dark secrets about the malpractices of government. This is the image commonly portrayed in movies about the media. But in practice every journalist soon discovers that people have an irritating inhibition about admitting to acts that might land them in court or in jail.

If they are forced to make admissions, as were so many of those involved in Watergate, it was because they are threatened with legal penalties by prosecutors and judges. A close look at the scoops attributed to Woodward and Bernstein shows that most of their accurate information was second hand and was extracted under threat of legal penalty by the Watergate prosecutors.

Most crimes are easy to discover and describe in general terms. I once covered the Lloyd's insurance market for the Financial Times in 1989-90 when it was perpetually mired in litigation and scandal. It did not take long to work out how those running some of the syndicates were parting investors from their money. But it was almost impossible to prove in detail what was happening because those making money out of it were intelligent enough to cover their tracks.

I had the same feeling a decade later when I was in Moscow as correspondent of The Independent and wanted to write about the Russian mafia. I knew a photographer whose uncle was a mafia boss in a city on the Volga north of Moscow. We met the uncle who politely asked why he should talk to us since this might lead to him being sent to prison. I said I could think of no reason in the world. He added that even to be seen talking to a journalist might lead to him being killed by his fellow mafiosi. I said that this was undoubtedly true. Nothing could be proven. We then drank a spectacular amount of vodka, and the uncle explained over the course of a long evening how his main racket worked. This turned out to be a simple but highly lucrative scheme for getting cut-price gasoline from the local oil refinery by a mixture of bribes and intimidation and selling it at a large profit. Unfortunately, the information was unpublishable because the local criminals had had the sense to hide their activities behind a maze of dummy companies and foreign bank accounts.

There is nothing wrong with Woodward and Bernstein benefiting from leaks that were generated by bureaucratic warfare in Washington in 1972. Anybody reporting on government will be dependent on sources within government. The Mark Felts of this world do not act simply out of a sense of righteousness but because they want to use the media as a weapon against their enemies.

At the height of the scandal over the Watergate break-in, Mr Felt found nothing strange in ordering nine equally illegal burglaries of the homes of friends and relatives of members of a left-wing splinter group. Crucial he may have been to the downfall of Nixon, Deep Throat was scarcely a single-minded opponent of the obstruction of justice.
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #353 on: December 30, 2008, 12:42:12 AM »

Year of Leg Thrills   
By L. Brent Bozell III | Monday, December 29, 2008

Sean Hannity marks 2008 as the year journalism died. But it could just as easily be the year journalism felt a thrill going up its leg. That Chris Matthews announcement in February, that a Barack Obama speech caused him a mild ecstasy, represented the everyday “mainstream” media view. Reporters didn’t so much produce “news” during this election year as they tried to make a sale. Every story seemed to say “You know you want Obama.”     

Chris Matthews won the “Quote of the Year” for 2008 in the Media Research Center’s annual tally of the year’s worst reporting, or “The Best of Notable Quotables.” The only quote that came close to Matthews in summing up the year in liberal tilt was this bizarre post-election headline from the Reuters wire service: “Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race.”
The “Obamagasm Award” went to Nancy Gibbs, Time’s senior writer in charge of obsequious fawning, for using her post-election cover story to compare Obama to Jesus Christ, only better: “Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope.”
A Kool-Aid-abstaining Obama critic might see in that line a reference to how Obama’s memoirs are a melange of biographical fact and self-serving literary invention, as authors from David Freddoso to Jerome Corsi have revealed. But no, Gibbs was celebrating the Obama victory as a massive crusade to save America: “He won because in a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than ever spoken before came together to try to save it.”
Even anchormen couldn’t resist the urge to “save the country” by selling Obama. NBC’s Brian Williams won the “Let Us Fluff Your Pillow Award” for soft and cuddly interviews for trying to help Michelle Obama identify the worst Republican lie about her husband: “What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What’s being said about your husband that you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?”
Do you remember Cindi McCain being asked claptrap like that?
Hillary Clinton was also lionized, most egregiously as she finally packed up her long-spoiled campaign in June. The day after the last primary, ABC’s Diane Sawyer won the “Media Hero Award” by conflating Hillary’s presidential campaign to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: “This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, ‘No thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” (The quoted “someone” was William Penn, who wrote a book on Christianity and Quakerism in 1669 titled “No Cross, No Crown.”)
By contrast, liberal journalists loathed Gov. Sarah Palin from the moment she took the stage in Dayton as John McCain’s running mate. Chris Matthews won the “Half-Baked Alaska Award for Pummeling Palin” for insisting in October that comparing Palin to Hillary Clinton “is the comparison between an igloo and the Empire State Building!” 

Liberal reporters often assumed that anyone who criticized these sainted Democrats must be inventing things out of whole cloth. Deborah Solomon of The New York Times Magazine won the “Damn Those Conservatives Award” by trying to shame T. Boone Pickens for backing the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against John Kerry in 2004.

She asked if he regretted funding them, and when he responded “Why would I?,” Solomon shot back: “Because it’s such an ugly chapter in American political history.”

Boone protested: “Everything that went into those ads was the truth.” Solomon retorted: “Really? I thought it was all invented.” Thus proclaimeth a scribe for that bastion of objective news, The New York Times. 
But Solomon was no Bill Maher, who’s in his own category of viciousness. On his little HBO show in February, Maher earned the “Crush Rush Award for Loathing Limbaugh” by reveling in P.J. O’Rourke’s mockery of Rush Limbaugh’s old OxyContin addiction. Asked Maher: “Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?”

Maher’s HBO rants also won the “Barbara Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity” when he railed against the Catholic Church as both “a child-abusing religious cult” and “the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia.”
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann ran away with the “Madness of King George Award” for yelling at President Bush in May to “shut the hell up” and attacked him for “a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense.” (That would pretty much describe the entirety of Keith’s not-so-special comments during the Bush era.) Olbermann also insisted Bush was a “fascist” who was “urinating on the Constitution.”

Up until convention season was over, MSNBC thought this kind of commentary qualified Olbermann for “objective” anchorman duties sitting beside ecstatic Chris Matthews. That also sums up the media’s year in review.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Virginia, and is a syndicated columnist.
Power User
Posts: 9484

« Reply #354 on: January 05, 2009, 11:34:57 AM »

Adding my comment to some positive and negative comments made regarding bias and quality at 'The Economist'.  To me, they have high quality writing and analysis.  I particularly liked the coverage and clarity in succinctly written stories from other parts of the world.  I canceled my subscription over bias that I just wasn't going to support on American politics.

The issue that lost me was 'HillaryCare'.  They wrote a short piece debating the pros and cons of some little detail healthcare proposal in the works - like the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic (Ibuprofen coverage or something serious like that) - with the presumption nationalized health care was both a good thing and a sure thing.  They missed the political outrage coming at the over-reach of the health care initiative which was based on Clinton's mandate from winning 43% of the vote and his need to give his wife a job. Socialized medicine in 1993 was not the direction of this country and led to the congressional revolution that held for 7 congressional terms.

Maybe just a sentence acknowledging that half the country would be up in arms about nationalizing our most important industry as we tear up the tenets of limited, constitutional government would have sufficed to hedge against perceived bias as they wrote about the secret task force negotiations.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 11:37:18 AM by DougMacG » Logged
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #355 on: January 05, 2009, 12:18:11 PM »

Adding my comment to some positive and negative comments made regarding bias and quality at 'The Economist'.  To me, they have high quality writing and analysis.  I particularly liked the coverage and clarity in succinctly written stories from other parts of the world.  I canceled my subscription over bias that I just wasn't going to support on American politics.

Yep,  that pretty well sums it up; high quality writing and analysis, succinct stories from other parts of the world, but definitely, they are not always right (although I think they have an excellent percentage)  smiley

Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #356 on: January 08, 2009, 10:29:33 PM »

Pallywood News Network!
Power User
Posts: 42558

« Reply #357 on: January 12, 2009, 10:25:26 PM »

CNN's Staged Video Update: Norwegian Doctor Works with Hezbollah

Media | Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 7:46:52 am PST

At Erik Svansbo’s Sweidsh blog, more information about the pro-terrorist agenda of Mads Gilbert, the doctor seen in that staged video from a Gaza hospital.

The doctor’s colleague actually told the Aftonbladet newspaper that spreading pro-Hamas propaganda is more important to them than their medical work—and the Norwegian organization for which they work is a partner with Hezbollah’s “Martyr Foundation.”
In Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Mads Gilbert’s norwegian colleague Erik Fosse reported about his work in Gaza:
Two Norwegian doctors have worked hard for seven days to save lives in Gaza. But to report to the outside world about what is happening in the war assessing the more important. - “Our witness function and to convey what is actually happening have been more important,” says the doctor Erik Fosse to VG Nett.

In Sweden’s biggest morning newspaper, columnist Lisa Bjurwald stated that NORWAC cooperates with Hezbollah’s Martyr Foundation:
GILBERT AND HIS medical colleague Erik Fosse seconded by the Norwegian aid organization NORWAC, for which Fosse is boss. NORWAC’s partners include Hezbollah’s Martyr Foundation, which collects and distributes money to suicide bomber’s families.

Not a single mainstream media source has reported the outrageous pro-terrorist views and actions of these doctors, but all have broadcast interviews with them.
Power User
Posts: 15536

« Reply #358 on: January 13, 2009, 08:09:16 AM »

- Pajamas Media - -

Is Time Rooting for Israel’s Defeat?

Posted By Stephen Green On January 12, 2009 @ 12:00 am In . Column2 01, . Positioning, Israel, Media, Middle East, US News, World News | 3 Comments

Has Time magazine joined the ranks of Hamas and come out in favor of the destruction of Israel? Probably not, but what else is a reader to think after just the first couple paragraphs of [1] this Tim McGirk story from last week? You’d think McGirk’s story couldn’t get any worse than the headline — “Can Israel Survive Its Assault on Gaza? — but you’d be wrong. Read:

With each passing day, Israel’s war against Hamas grows riskier and more punishing, with the gains appearing to diminish compared to the spiraling costs — to Israel’s moral stature, to the lives of Palestinian civilians and to the world’s hopes that an ancient conflict can ever be resolved.

That’s pure, and unsubstantiated, conjecture. No sources, no facts, no figures. And in a news piece. You’d think things really couldn’t get worse from there, but you’d be wrong again. Read a little further down:

But after 60 years of struggle to defend their existence against foreign threats and enemies within, many Israelis may be wondering, Where does that end lie? The threat posed by Hamas is only the most immediate of the many interlocking challenges facing Israel, some of which cast dark shadows over the long-term viability of a democratic Jewish state.

Go back and read that again. That pounding you hear isn’t just a headache, it’s the drumbeat of surrender. McGirk has, somehow, turned a fairly limited incursion into Gaza — which Israel occupied in its entirety for almost 30 years — into a referendum on the very existence of the Jewish state.

Notice again that McGirk hasn’t quoted any actual Israelis, or anyone else for that matter. He’s simply asserted that “many” Jews “may be wondering” if there’s any “long-term viability.” McGirk is making stuff up and reporting it as news. And his editors at Time seem to be fine with that. But don’t be surprised — McGirk and Time have quite the history of making stuff up together.

McGirk was the “journalist” who “broke” the “story” of the “massacre” by U.S. Marines at Haditha, Iraq. In fact, he fought with his editors to get the word “massacre” in the lede of the story, calling it “[2] a battle I lost.” A good thing, too, because the story of the Haditha Massacre has been proven to be a fake.

But, as Clarice Feldman noted in an [3] American Thinker article asking if McGirk was “the new Mary Mapes,” McGirk is no stranger to the moral equivalence game. Reporting from a Taliban hideout weeks after the 9/11 attacks, McGirk wrote that he left, “thinking that maybe this evening wasn’t very different from the original Thanksgiving: people from two warring cultures sharing a meal together and realizing, briefly, that we’re not so different after all.” Surely, McGirk’s access to the Taliban is no mystery.

Unfortunately, McGirk isn’t Time’s only questionable hire.

[4] Tony Karon has been writing for Time since 1996, and serving as a senior editor since 2000. In a December 29, 2008, [5] article on the Gaza War, Karon proved himself almost as incapable of hiding his biases as McGirk. He can hardly go a paragraph without spouting Hamas propaganda:

But Hamas has good reason to expect that Israel’s military campaign will be limited, and it believes it can come out ahead in the strategic equation despite the heavy cost in blood that will be paid by its own leaders and militants, as well as by Palestinian civilians.

Ah, those brave Hamas leaders, willing to pay any price and bear any burden — to fire rockets from school yards and into civilian areas. The suffering of the Palestinian people is all too real — but left unsaid is how much of it is caused by the terrorists Palestinians themselves elected to lead them. Context is everything, and Karon does his best to skew it to one side.

Again, do not be surprised. If you [6] click over to Karon’s personal website, you’ll find he thinks that “The fact of Israel’s survival” is “a grim reality” for its Palestinian citizens. Does that mean that if Israel were to somehow just … go away … that life would become not-so-grim for the Palestinians? It seems that Karon has left the answer to that question as an exercise for the reader.

Tim McGirk is Time’s Jerusalem bureau chief, and Tony Karon is the senior editor for world coverage. They are not simple stringers, or even on-assignment reporters. They help shape, define, and determine Time’s coverage of the Middle East — and thus shape, define, and determine what millions of people the world over learn about a vital region.

Everyone has their biases — here at Pajamas Media, we wear ours proudly on our sleeves. If only the folks at Time were so forthcoming.


Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] this Tim McGirk story:,8599,1870314,00.html
[2] a battle I lost.:
[3] American Thinker article:
[4] Tony Karon:,9565,494004,00.html
[5] article on the Gaza War:,8599,1868864,00.html
[6] click over:

Power User
Posts: 9484

« Reply #359 on: January 16, 2009, 08:39:28 PM »

Speaking of media bias, could we please have a moment of silence for the (Minneapolis) StarTribune that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.  Known affectionately as the 'Red Star' or the 'Star and Sickle', this paper is as liberal as they come and their their bias runs from page one to the editorials to the weather and yes, through the sports section.  I know the financial crisis in the newspaper business is about advertising revenue and competition from free internet sources, but it doesn't help that your product is designed to alienate nearly 50% of your potential readers.

MN is perhaps the most liberal state in the union, the only state Reagan never won and the home to names like Walter Mondale, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone and (NY'er) Al Franken.  Still, that tells only half the story.  Minnesota has elected only one new Democrat governor since 1970, so there is another view here and no newspaper to cover it.

I had the honor embarassed of writing the opposing view published in counterpoint to their predictable endorsement of Bill Clinton in Nov. 1992.  After being gutted by people who didn't understand the point I was making,  I started including 'no edit without permission' with my contributions and never got published again.

In chapter 11 they don't go away, they just quit paying their bills.  Maybe a savvy bankruptcy judge should require them to aim the product at more than half the market.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 08:42:42 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #360 on: February 04, 2009, 11:49:04 AM »

Bringing this over from the China thread

China: Beijing Plans to Infiltrate Mainstream Western Media(to buy & control failing MSM)
Boxun ^ | 01/28/09

Beijing Plans to Infiltrate Mainstream Western Media

By (translation)

Jan 28, 2009 - 11:06:03 AM

Boxun Exclusive

In mid-January 2009, a week before Chinese New Year, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party held a meeting to discuss its plan for foreign propaganda work in the year to come. It summarized the past decade's progress in co-opting international Chinese-language media into doing the propaganda work of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Politburo decided that in addition to continuing its Chinese-language international image promotion, it plans to infiltrate and influence mainstream Western media. The meeting cited the example of the Russian former KGB officer and present tycoon who has purchase the defunct British newspaper The Evening Standard. This overt an approach is undesirable, the meeting concluded, and instead influential overseas Chinese in the media business should be utilized to purchase and operate mainstream Western media organs.

The spring 2008 coverage of the uprising in Tibet by CNN and other Western mainstream media organs sounded an alarm. China's Politburo concluded that it must counter this by infiltrating and influencing Western coverage of China and China's image in the international media.

The opportunity is presently ripe because of the downturn in the world economy. Many media organizations are in economic difficulty, even going bankrupt, and they can be purchased and it will look like an investment and business opportunity and not the attempt of the Chinese government to infiltrate Western media organs and influence Western popular opinion toward China that it is.

Full Chinese report at:
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« Reply #361 on: February 04, 2009, 04:04:42 PM »

Unrestricted Warfare.
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« Reply #362 on: February 04, 2009, 05:38:07 PM »

February 04, 2009   CONTACT: COLLEEN O’BOYLE or TIM SCHEIDERER AT 703.683.5004
Bozell to ABC President: You Must Publicly Address Stephanopoulos' Apparent Conflict of Interest
Open Letter Demands Public Resolution to Daily Strategy Calls


Alexandria, VA – Media Research Center (MRC) President L. Brent Bozell, III has written a letter to ABC News President David Westin calling on him to publicly address and resolve what appears to be a clear violation of journalistic ethics by ABC’s Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos. Last week a Politico story broke the news that Stephanopoulos has participated in daily phone strategy sessions with now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel throughout his tenure at ABC.

Mr. Bozell on Thursday issued a statement demanding an explanation, and calling for Stephanopoulos to recuse himself from reporting on an Obama Administration whose plans and messaging he spends every morning helping to craft. Stephanopoulos has remained silent.

Bozell has now brought the matter directly to Westin, calling on him to either provide evidence that the Politico story is false, or admit and resolve what clearly would be a major violation of journalistic ethics.

To schedule an interview with MRC President Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen O’Boyle (x. 122) at (703) 683-5004.
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« Reply #363 on: February 04, 2009, 07:39:25 PM »


Refresh my memory-- what was Stephanopolous under President Clinton?  Press Secretary?  or?
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« Reply #364 on: February 04, 2009, 08:32:39 PM »

Per Wikipedia:

Prior to joining ABC News, he was a senior political adviser to the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and later became Clinton's communications director.
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« Reply #365 on: February 04, 2009, 10:37:39 PM »

My recollection is that he was a young ambitious staff worker working the strategy and rapid response war room with James Carville.  They had to answer a number of things that came up other than policy, "I didn't inhale", Gennifer Flowers, letter to draft board, etc. but they just keep saying Carville's line: "it's the economy, stupid."

Tim Russert worked for Mario Cuomo.  As a reporter and analyst it would be normal that the analysts and anchors stay in touch as best they can with both sides getting the latest word before they go on the air.  But this story says Stephanopolous was too close to one side - a major media outlet perhaps favoring Barack Obama and hope and change over those ugly Republicans.  Please say it isn't so. sad
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 10:40:43 PM by DougMacG » Logged
« Reply #366 on: February 07, 2009, 11:31:43 AM »

A Minority Report from the West Bank and Gaza ^ | February 1, 2009 | Khaled Abu Toameh via Michael Totten

Khaled Abu Toameh is not your typical Palestinian journalist. He began his career at one of Yasser Arafat’s newspapers and today he writes for the Jerusalem Post. He has produced video for European TV stations, and even blogged for a while at Commentary Magazine in New York. It’s impossible to cram Toameh into a convenient ideological box, though that doesn't stop some people from trying.

I met him briefly a few weeks ago on my trip to Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Committee when he gave a talk to me and my colleagues and answered some questions at the end. I’m reproducing the entire transcript here because I think he deserves a full hearing.

Hamas, Fatah, Americans, Israelis, Europeans, Arab governments, American foreign correspondents – just about everybody involved in any way with the conflict comes under some well-deserved fire. There's something here for just about everybody to like and dislike, and I’m publishing what he said without quote-shopping or cherry-picking his words for convenience.

Khaled Abu Toameh: When I finished high school the PLO offices hired me as a correspondent, and I worked for a PLO newspaper for seven years during which time I attended university in Jerusalem. After I graduated I had to make a decision: do I go back and work for the PLO, or do I try to become a real journalist? It took me about two seconds to make that decision. I decided to work with the international media and the Israeli media.

When I say "work with the international media," what does that mean? We have hundreds of foreign journalists who come to this part of the world – every year, every month, and sometimes every week – to cover the stories here. Now there are two stories here. There's the one that's happening inside Israel, and there's the one that's happening inside the Palestinian areas.

Fortunately for us, Israel is an open country that allows people to write whatever they want, criticize the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF. You can write all these horrible things against Israel and still walk in downtown Jerusalem. But when it comes to covering the Palestinian territories, the story is completely different. You can't wake up in the morning as a foreign journalist and drive on your own into a Palestinian village. You can't just show up and say “Good morning, I work for the New York Times, can I speak to Hamas please.” It doesn't work like that for a number of reasons. You don't know the language and need a translator. You don't know your way around. And most important, it's not safe.

So foreign journalists who want to cover stories in the Palestinian areas rely on fixers. And that's where I fit in. For the past twenty years or so I've been working as a fixer, translator, advisor – call it whatever you want – with most of the foreign media. And of course in this work with the international media I got myself a number of jobs, one of which I'm still doing. I even have colleagues here. For the past twenty years I've been working with NBC News, and I was blogging for Commentary Magazine also. I was writing for U.S. News and World Report, occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, and a number of British tabloids. In the course of this work with the international media I became a writer and analyst of Palestinian affairs and a film producer for the BBC.

About eight years ago, when the Second Intifada started, I started writing for the Jerusalem Post about Palestinian issues. And I still work with the international media. My job is to serve as the eyes and ears of the international media.

Some of you may be wondering what's going on with this guy who started working as a journalist for the PLO and ends up writing for a Jewish newspaper. Some people ask me “when did you become a Zionist? When did you become pro-Israel?” Well, I'm not pro-anything other than the facts and the truth. As a journalist I don't have any problem working for any newspaper that provides me with a platform. I don't care if it's Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or even Buddhist.

And to be honest with you, I find it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world that I have to work for a Jewish newspaper or for the international media in order to be able to practice any kind of real journalism. Why? Because we don't have any free media. In the Palestinian areas we didn't have it when I was working there in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn't get one when we brought Yasser Arafat in to start the Palestinian Authority, and of course we don't have a free media today under Fatah, Hamas, and the rest of the gangs that are running the show out there. And this is very sad.

Sometimes I wish the problem with the media was the only problem that we have over there, but as you all know it's a very messy situation. I'm one of those who has been arguing for the past fifteen years that things have been going in the wrong direction in this part of the world. For a few months after signing Oslo we reached the point where many Jews and many Arabs missed the good old days before the peace process began.

Now, what do I mean by that? Oslo was not bad. Oslo was based on the idea of a two-state solution and ending the military occupation in one way or another. So the idea of Oslo was not bad. Separation between Jews and Palestinians who did not want to live together. And as such I supported it. I thought it was a good idea.

But the way Oslo was implemented brought disaster on both Jews and Arabs. The assumption back then in the U.S., in Israel, and in many places in Europe, was that if you bring the PLO and thousands of PLO fighters and you dump them into the West Bank and Gaza and you give them millions of dollars and guns that they will do the dirty job of policing the West Bank and Gaza. They would replace the occupation and fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They would do all these wonderful things. Why? Because they're on our payroll.

So the international community and Israel gathered all these PLO fighters from around the world, released thousands of PLO fighters from Israeli prisons, gave them uniforms and guns, and called them security forces. And the result was the people who had never received any basic training, people who had never finished high school, became colonels and generals in Yasser Arafat's Authority. He established sixteen different security forces with the help of the Americans, the Europeans, and the Israelis. And they started pouring money into this regime that they called the Palestinian Authority. Billions of dollars with the hope that Arafat would deliver.

Now, there's no need to elaborate. As you all know, Arafat turned out to be a crook. Most of the money that was sent to the Palestinian Authority literally went down the drain and supported the shopping sprees of Arafat's wife who was living in Paris. Instead of building us a hospital, Arafat built a casino in Jericho, as if the Palestinian revolution aspired for forty years to get us a casino. And the chutzpah was that he built that casino across the street from a refugee camp. So Palestinians did not see the fruits of peace.

My argument is as follows. The fact that Arafat was crooked didn't surprise us Palestinians. We were only surprised by the fact that the international community kept giving him money and refused to hold him accountable when he stole our money. Why didn't they invest something? They didn't want to believe it.

When I tried to alert my foreign colleagues in 1995, 1996, and 1997, to the fact that there was corruption in the Palestinian Authority, many of them asked me if I was on the payroll of the Jewish Lobby. I wanted to know where was this Jewish Lobby? If there was one maybe they would pay me.

I told them: “This is what I am hearing. The writing is on the wall. Come and listen to what Palestinians are saying.” And they told me they weren't interested in that story. They told me they wanted anti-Israel stories because it made their lives so much easier. They told me they didn't want to write anything bad about Palestinians, that Arafat was a man of peace and should be given a chance. I heard this from major American journalists, by the way. Leading American journalists. I don't want to give you their names right now, but I was really frustrated. And angry.

Listen. For all these years we've been attacking the military occupation. So why is it that when I tell you something that Arafat is doing, suddenly you don't want to report it and think it's Jewish propaganda? Most of these journalists did not even want to make any effort.

By depriving these people of money, what did Arafat do? He radicalized the Palestinians who did not see the fruits of peace. So that's reason number one why Palestinian society is radicalized.

But there are other reasons. Reasons number two is that you gave Yasser Arafat guns so that he could kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but instead he directed those guns against anyone who said they wanted reform or democracy. Arafat used your guns, your weapons, provided by the United States of America, to suppress the leaders of a new leadership.

Let me give you an example. In 1997, 29 Palestinian professors signed a petition demanding Yasser Arafat end the corruption. They found themselves either shot or killed or thrown into jail or they had to run away from the country. And of course this is not a story you would see on CNN. I don't think even the New York Times reported that.

So Arafat cracked down on the reformists and the democrats and the people who wanted good government. And he sent the rest of the people into the open arms of Hamas. He cracked down on the reformists and he refused to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Reason number three. You gave Yasser Arafat money to open a TV and radio station. And on this TV and radio station Arafat said “Jihad, jihad, kill the crusaders, kill the Jews, kill the infidels, kill everyone but me.” Now you may ask yourself why Arafat was inciting against his peace partners in Israel, why was he inciting against the Americans and Europeans who were feeding him? It doesn't make sense.

Well, to us it does make sense. This is how our Arab dictators survive. They constantly blame the miseries of our people on the Jews and the West and the Crusaders and the infidels and the Zionist lobby and the imperialists. They use all these slogans. Arab leaders always need to make sure that their people are busy hating somebody else, preferably the Jews and the Americans. Otherwise their people might rebel, and God forbid they might demand reforms and democracy.

This is exactly what Arafat did, but he did it in Arabic. The international community – and even Israelis – did not want to listen to what Arafat was saying in Arabic. They only cared what he said in English. They said that what he said in English was good.

I said “Excuse me, folks, but in Arabic Arafat is telling people to kill you.” But they did not want to listen to the incitement. They underestimated it. They said “you Arabs are all corrupt and don't know anything about democracy so you deserve a dictatorship.”

This incitement drove people into the open arms of Hamas. Arafat was telling people how evil the Jews are, and people then said “Hamas is right, Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs. Why should we make peace with them?”

A fourth reason, which is a lot less important in my view, is that Israelis brought the PLO into the Palestinian areas, armed the PLO, helped create all these security militias and gangsters and mafias, and then said they needed to protect themselves from their peace partners. And how did they protect themselves? By imposing restrictions and curfews, by surrounding Palestinian communities with checkpoints. Why? Because they needed to protect themselves from the militias and mafias that they brought into the West Bank and Gaza. So Palestinians lost faith in the peace process.

All this radicalized Palestinian society to the point that when Hamas decided to run in free and democratic elections under the banner of “change” and “reform” they won. It was all very obvious. The writing was clear on the wall that anyone who challenged Arafat back then....believe me that if even Ehud Olmert had run in the Palestinian elections promising change and reform and democracy he would have won. Because in January of 2006, the parliamentary elections that were held in the Palestinian Authority were largely about internal reforms in the Palestinian areas. Hamas was ready to deliver. What did they do? They came to the Palestinians and said “Listen, folks. You've tried all these PLO people. They're corrupt. They're bad. Arafat was a thief. Abu Mazen is also a total failure. These guys stole your money. These guys are US agents, they are CIA. Why don't you try us now? We will show you that we can establish good government. And, by the way, look at what we've done for you since 1988. We've established a vast network of educational, social, health, and economic services. Arafat built a casino, and we built two universities. Arafat gave his wife 100,000 dollars a month so she can do her shopping while we gave poor people money. Arafat built bars and restaurants in Ramallah while we built orphanages and charities.” So the Palestinians said “Let's try Hamas. If they come to power there is nothing left to steal. They can't be more corrupt than the PLO.”

That was the basic line. I'm not saying all those who voted for Hamas in 2006 were registering a vote of protest. We have to be very careful. Hamas does have a lot of supporters. What I'm saying is that had it not been also a vote of protest against the PLO , Hamas would not have won. Why? Because I know Christians who voted for Hamas. I know centrist Palestinians who voted for Hamas. I even know PLO people who voted for Hamas because the name of the game back then was “Let's punish the PLO.” And how do you do it? By voting for Hamas, their main rivals. And it worked. And Hamas came to power.

What has been happening since then is also very interesting. The U.S. government, with the help of some Europeans and some Israelis, after Hamas won the election, they went to the guys who lost the election and said “folks, here are guns and here is some money. Go bring down this democratically elected government.” And what was the result of this U.S. meddling in Palestinian affairs? It backfired. It played into the hands of Hamas and even boosted Hamas' popularity on the street.

What did Palestinians think when they saw Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush openly campaigning against this democratically elected government? Their sympathies went to this democratically elected government even though it was Hamas. And when Palestinians see PLO people, the Fatah people, openly conspiring with the Americans and the Israelis to bring down a democratically elected government, they're going to hate the PLO even more.

So U.S. and European meddling in Palestinian affairs in the aftermath of the Hamas victory further strengthened Hamas to the point where in June 2007 Hamas says “Everyone is trying to bring me down. No one is giving me a chance. The whole world is against me. You corrupt PLO people are conspiring against me. I won in a free and democratic election. If you don't believe me, ask Jimmy Carter. He supervised the election. What does everyone want from me?”

And they staged a coup. Some people call it a coup. They threw the Fatah people out of Gaza. Fewer than 10,000 Hamas fighters defeated more than 70,000 American-backed Fatah policemen. The question is, how did they do it?

The answer is very simple. As soon as Hamas started shooting, these people did not fight. They ran away. They surrendered to Hamas. They basically went to Hamas and said “No, no, Hamas, please. We will give you all the guns, everything. Just leave us alone.” And they ran away.

First they tried to run away toward Egypt. But Mubarak is not stupid. He sealed the border. I was there when it happened.

Israel was the only country in the world that sent troops and helicopters and gunships and ambulances to save Muslims from being slaughtered by Muslims, to save the PLO people from being slaughtered by Hamas. Israel took them and dumped them in the West Bank.

« Reply #367 on: February 07, 2009, 11:32:38 AM »

And where are we standing today? I told you before that I'm one of those people who support a two-state solution. I think it's a wonderful solution. But in the end we're getting a different kind of two-state solution. We have two separate entities. One in Gaza, and one in the West Bank.

The one in Gaza is an Islamic state run by Hamas and supported by Ahmadinejad, Syria, Hezbollah, and some people say Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. It's a very dangerous situation, and as a moderate Muslim that's the last place I want to live on this earth.

What we have in the West Bank is the secular, corrupt, powerless regime of the PLO. Abu Mazen, Abu Shmazen, all these Abus. The Arafat cronies who failed their people over the past fifteen years. Who lost the election in January 2006 because of the corruption. Who were kicked out of Gaza because they failed. Who have lost control over half the Palestinians who live in this part of the world. And they are sitting in Ramallah. These people are in power only thanks to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank. If the Israeli army were to leave the West Bank tomorrow morning these PLO people would collapse in five minutes and Hamas would take over.

The question we should ask ourselves in the wake of this scenario is whether or not there is really a partner on the Palestinian side for any deal, let alone a peace agreement. Any kind of deal. Is there really a partner on the Palestinian side? And the answer is simple. No.

Hamas is not a partner for any peace agreement because Hamas is not going to change. All these people who believe that Hamas will one day change its ideology, that pragmatic leaders will emerge in Hamas, these people are living under illusions. Hamas is not going to change. To their credit we must say that their message has been very clear. It's the same message in Arabic and in English. They're being very honest about it. They're saying “Folks, we will never recognize Israel. We will never change. We will not abandon the path of the resistance.” They're very clear about it.

After they won the election, by the way, the international community went to Hamas and said “Listen. If you want us to deal with you, accept Israel and everything will be okay.” And Hamas was very honest. They said “No. We are not going to renounce terrorism. We are not going to recognize previous agreements between Palestinians and Israel. And we are not going to recognize Israel's right to exist.” They were very clear about it. And they say the same thing today.

Ten days before the Hamas coup in Gaza I was invited by some U.S. diplomats to tell them about what was happening. I told them “Hamas is about to kick the PLO people out of Gaza because you are openly with the PLO and it has discredited them on the street. You're making them look like CIA agents.”

The U.S. diplomats said “You don't know what you're talking about. The PLO has 70,000 people. Who is Hamas? They will crush them. You will see.”

My prediction was not 100 percent accurate because I expected it to happen in three weeks. It happened ten days later. The writing was very clear on the wall.

There are so many things that are obvious in this part of the world that international leaders, diplomats, all these people in the West who are dealing with the Palestinian issue turn a blind eye to and don't want to see. Before we go to the Q&A and I take your questions, I want to give you one small example of how people in the West don't want to understand what's going on over here.

Before the January 2006 parliamentary election, the PLO people went to Condoleeza Rice and said “You are making a huge mistake by forcing us to go and have a free and democratic election. Our people don't trust us. We are corrupt and we will lose. Hamas will win. So please let's not hold an election. This is not the right time.”

“No, don't worry,” she said. “Let Hamas participate in the election. Hamas will not win. Everything will be okay.”

They asked her how she knew Hamas was not going to win. She said she warned the Palestinians that if they vote for Hamas, she will punish them.

That warning, by the way, gave Hamas ten more points in the election. Hamas took Rice's statement and made huge banners out of it that said Condoleeza Rice says no to Hamas.

So Rice, knowing that Hamas is a terrorist organization, did not set any preconditions for Hamas' participation in the election. Even in Israel, by the way, Hamas candidates were openly campaigning in Israel, in Jerusalem. In East Jerusalem, okay, but in Israel. They were campaigning openly. They were saying “reforms, democracy, and by the way we want to destroy Israel.”

What made Rice, after they won the election, say Hamas is a terrorist organization? Before the election they were not a terrorist organization? She bears responsibility for the fact that Hamas is in power. It was a huge mistake. Instead of learning from their mistakes after Hamas came to power, they continued with the same mistakes. And look at the mess we are in now.

I don't know how to solve this problem. Talking about a Palestinian state today is a joke. Where would that state be established? Israel controls nearly half of the West Bank. These PLO people can't deliver. If Israel gives up the West Bank, you will have to go to Cairo or Amman to take a flight back to America because snipers will be sitting on the hilltops above Ben-Gurion airport.

If you keep up this policy of supporting one party against the other, Gaza will move to the West Bank and we will end up with more anarchy and lawlessness and God knows what else is going to happen. It's a very unpleasant picture. It's very gloomy, I know.

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies: Let's see if we can steer this back to the Gaza issue. Given what you've said, what will the impact be on this fighting in Gaza and in the West Bank?

Khaled Abu Toameh: All those talking about how Hamas is finished or on the verge of collapse or that it's only a matter of time before the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip revolt against Hamas, I'm sorry to tell you that I don't share these assessments. Hamas may have suffered a major blow. Many of its institutions have been destroyed. It has been undermined in many ways. But what worries me is that Hamas still enjoys a lot of political support. Hamas continues to be as strong as it was in Gaza.

Why? I've been saying this for a long time: the only way to undermine Hamas and eventually bring about its collapse is to offer the Palestinians a greater alternative to Hamas. Not by bombing their headquarters and destroying their military arsenal. That's good, but it's not enough.

If I were the Americans and the Europeans after Hamas came to power, I would have gone to the PLO people who lost the election and, instead of giving them guns and money, I would have told them “Listen, folks. Hamas is in power because of your corruption, your mismanagement, and because you guys are thieves. Why don't you guys reform yourselves? Get rid of all these corrupt people in the PLO and Fatah. Form a youth party and challenge Hamas in the next election.” That's one way.

But I'm afraid that under the current circumstances Hamas is going to be around for a long time. Many Palestinians today will tell you that Mahmoud Abbas is a traitor, that all these people were actually in the IDF headquarters watching the war. Hamas is already saying that Mahmoud Abbas was passing information to the Israeli about the whereabouts of Hamas leaders.

These allegations are very serious, by the way. I don't know if you saw my story today in the Jerusalem Post about how Hamas in the past 48 hours has been waging a massive crackdown on Fatah in Gaza. They've killed or wounded maybe 100 Fatah people. They're dragging them into the streets and shooting them in the legs. They've even gouged the eyes of some of them out. Maybe you're going to have lunch later, so I don't want to go into graphic descriptions of what's happening to Fatah over there. But Fatah is really under attack, and I don't see anyone moving to save them.

I don't see a mass movement rising against Hamas. Not now. I've been talking to many people in Gaza. I haven't heard one person there blaming Hamas for the destruction of his house. I'm hearing a lot of voices against Israel and against the Arab states. And much of the anger is being directed against Mahmoud Abbas. This operation makes the moderate Arabs look like fools. It makes them look as if they were on the wrong side. When you have Al Jazeera, the most popular TV station in the Arab world, daily and nightly inciting against the Arab leaders and giving a platform for people who are saying our Arab leaders are traitors, that our Arab leaders are in collusion with the Israelis, that our Arab leaders were hoping to enter Gaza in Israeli know, this is reverberating. Most of the protests on the Arab street in Cairo, in Khartoum, in Yemen, wherever you go, you will hear people chanting slogans against Arab leaders and Mahmoud Abbas before they chant slogans against Israel and America.

And now there's all this talk of bringing Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza. Excuse me, but if Mahmoud Abbas enters Gaza he will be executed in the public square within minutes. You have all these militias roaming the streets. Most of them weren't fighting. They were hiding. They became “civilians” as soon as the Israelis launched their attack. They were all in hiding or they were all dressed as civilians. When they were brought to hospitals they were without their guns. They were counted as civilians.

We don't know exactly what's happening over there, but I don't see any attempt by the local Palestinians or other forces to challenge Hamas openly.

Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations: What about the Israeli expectation that with these attacks they will have established deterrence against Hamas? Do you think that's true?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes. Yes. Look. The West Bank was quiet during the attack in Gaza. Now, I was talking to many people. You know what they were saying? And this is the funny part. “You know what?” they said. “The Jews have gone mad. This is not the time to mess around with them.” And, you know, when you hear this from the man on the street, it really does create deterrence. I would rather see deterrence created in another way, but there is this perception on the Arab street today that the Jews have gone crazy, there are no more red lines, nothing, they don't care, and we should be careful. So in that sense, yes, there is some kind of deterrence, for the short term at least.

Before this war, four days before the war, I interviewed a number of Hamas guys. I published it in the Jerusalem Post. And the headline was Hamas Mocks Israel's Nonresponse to Qassam Attacks. What were they saying, the Hamas leaders? Basically that the Jews are cowards.

They think Israel ran away from Lebanon, that Hezbollah defeated them. They thought the Jews were scared and would not come into Gaza. They were really confident that Israel wouldn't fight back. Really. They were. They thought at most that Israel would send a few tanks into open fields just to calm Israeli public opinion. So the response really caught them by surprise, especially the first day.

So yes, there is this perception today in the Arab world that our neighbor has gone mad.

Anthony Cordesman: I was in the West Bank this summer, and it's amazing what they've achieved even though an awful lot of that money is still going to senior officials and not to the Palestinian people.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The other day someone came for the first time ever to this part of the world, and he called me and asked me to take him to Ramallah. So I drove him to downtown Ramallah and we stopped there. The man was shocked. He said “Where are the refugee camps? Where are the mud houses? Where's the poverty?”

I said “Why are you asking me these questions?”

He said “I'm shocked. Look how nice it is.”

You know, there are things that are contradictory and don't make sense over there. Some of the restaurants in Ramallah are more expensive than the restaurants in Tel Aviv. There are people with a lot of money.

The corruption hasn't been stopped, but it has been reduced. Some Americans and Europeans continue to pour money on the PLO people without holding them accountable under the pretext that this money will produce a moderating effect.

Max Boot: There does seem to be this sense that the West Bank has been doing better economically.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes.

Max Boot: Does that translate into better politics?

Khaled Abu Toameh: No.

« Reply #368 on: February 07, 2009, 11:33:01 AM »

Mario Loyola, National Review Magazine: One American strategy in the Bush Administration's foreign policy has been to make conditions in the West Bank so much better than in Gaza that the people in Gaza start to say, “Look, it's better under Fatah.”

Khaled Abu Toameh: They are saying that. But at the end of the day they're not going to vote for Fatah. Why? Look. People won't do that for two reasons, or they will vote for Hamas for two reasons.

One, Hamas is not corrupt in power, they didn't steal money. No one gave them a chance, so Palestinians won't hold it against them. Hamas are victims in the eyes of the Palestinians. And as such people's sympathies go to Hamas.

Two, when they look at the PLO guys, all these Abus sitting in Ramallah, they don't see any change. They don't see that the PLO people, the Fatah people, have drawn any conclusions from their own defeat. Fatah has been trying to hold internal elections for the past eighteen years, and they've failed. Mahmoud Abbas promised to hold general elections inside Fatah, two years ago, three years ago, fours years ago. The power struggle between the old guard and the young guard inside Fatah has been ongoing. People look at Fatah and don't see that there is a viable alternative to Hamas.

General Tom McInerney, Fox News Military Analyst: Is there a solution to this problem?

Khaled Abu Toameh: You Americans are always asking us that. Why are Americans always asking me if there is a solution? A solution to what?

Michael J. Totten: The whole thing.

Khaled Abu Toameh: What is the whole thing?

Anthony Cordesman: Is there anything useful that could be done this year?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Listen. Look. We must stop dreaming about the New Middle East and coexistence and harmony and turning this area into Hong Kong and Singapore. If anyone thinks a Palestinian will wake up in the morning and sing the Israeli national anthem, that's not going to happen. If anyone thinks an Israeli Jew will go back to doing his shopping in downtown Ramallah or to see his dentist in Bethlehem or eat fish in Gaza City, that's not going to happen. There has been a total divorce between Jews and Palestinians. We don't want to see each other.

I think that's good. Separation is good. Separation doesn't need harmony and coexistence. Forget about that. That's not going to happen. Let's focus on managing the conflict. Instead of talking about real peace, let's first of all try to stop the violence, reduce the level of bloodshed, and maybe that will pave the way for future peace. The only solution now is total separation between these two communities. Israel should not be involved in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, but at the same time Israel has the right to look after its own security. They should disengage from the Palestinians completely and tell them, “Listen, folks. Don't mess around with us anymore. We're going to strike back if you fire rockets at us. And if you want to have Hamas, Fatah, or whomever, go and do it over there without our help.” That's the only way. I don't see a real peace emerging over here. We should stop talking about it.

Max Boot: But earlier you said that if Israel disengages from the West Bank, Hamas will be in power in five minutes.

Khaled Abu Toameh: I mean the Israelis should disengage under the proper circumstances. Under the current circumstances, they should not disengage. Only if they have a partner on the Palestinian side.

Max Boot: The circumstances aren't going to change any time soon.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes. Okay. So don't do anything. You know what? Some Israelis ask me what they should do. I say “Nothing. You just sit there. And wait.”

If I were an Israeli Jew I would go to the Palestinians and say “Listen, folks. I'm prepared to give you a Palestinian state and the Israeli majority approves of that, not because we love the Palestinians, but because we want to be rid of the Palestinians.”

There's a majority of Jews today who want to disband most of the settlements and take only two percent of the West Bank. My Israeli Jewish friends say to me, “You know, Khaled. You Arabs can take whatever you want. Just leave us alone. It's no longer a territorial dispute for us. We'll give you anything you want if you just go and leave us alone.” Some of them even go further than that. Some of them say “Just leave us Tel Aviv, the airport, and the beach.”

In the wake of these positive changes that have happened inside Israel, all you need is a strong partner on the Palestinian side. There is some hope, but only if there is a strong partner on the Palestinian side.

General Tom McInerney: But not Hamas.

Khaled Abu Toameh: I don't care. If I were Israeli I would talk to any Palestinian who wants to talk to me, and I would shoot any Palestinian who shoots at me. I wouldn't ask if they were Hamas. You know what? Believe me, if you listen to Hamas and Fatah in Arabic there isn't much of a difference, especially these days. Fatah fought alongside Hamas in Gaza. Today they said they lost 36 fighters and fired 900 rockets at Israel. Fatah.

Mario Loyola: Hamas pretends its casualties are lower, and Fatah pretends its casualties are higher.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Look. Look. As I said before, let's stop saying “Fatah” and “Hamas.” Talk to anyone who wants to talk. Talking to Hamas does not mean that you recognize Hamas or that they become your buddies. The funny thing is that Israel went to war against a party that it doesn't recognize. And in the end Israel made a cease-fire unilaterally and negotiated with the Americans and the Egyptians for how to end it. And Hamas is still sitting there.

There's nothing wrong with Israel talking to Hamas if they want a ceasefire. Israelis can't ignore the fact that Hamas is in power. And Hamas continues to enjoy tremendous support over there.

Dr. Barry Posen, MIT Security Studies Program: I'm interested in going back a couple of steps and asking for your assessment of Hamas' strategy to let the ceasefire lapse and accelerate the firing of rockets. You already mentioned that they miscalculated the Israeli reaction, but what were they hoping to benefit? And what does that tell us about deterring Hamas in the future?

Khaled Abu Toameh: I think this is something many people in Israel and the West don't hear. I hear it in Arabic, and I hear it directly from them.

Dr. Barry Posen: That's why I'm asking you.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Just before the ceasefire expired, Hamas went to Egypt and said “Listen, folks. We agreed to the previous ceasefire because you, the Egyptians, promised us you would open the Rafah border crossing. And it didn't happen. And we, Hamas, were committed to this. We did our best to honor the ceasefire.”

Okay, there were some violations here and there, but Hamas did in a way honor the ceasefire. They arrested people who were firing at Israel.

Mubarak said “To hell with it. I'm not going to open the Rafah border crossing unless you allow Mahmoud Abbas to come back into Gaza. Do whatever you want. I'm under pressure from the Israelis, the Americans, and Mahmoud Abbas not to open the Rafah border crossing.”

Mahmoud Abbas went to Mubarak before the ceasefire expired and said “President Mubarak, please don't reopen the Rafah border crossing because that will strengthen Hamas. If you want it to be open, only give it back to me in line with the 2005 US-brokered agreement.”

And so, if you think about it, Mahmoud Abbas and Hosni Mubarak bear indirect responsibility for this war. When Hamas saw that they weren't going to open the borders, Hamas said “To hell with the ceasefire” and started firing rockets again. Israel reacted and now we are where we are today.

So now we are back to square one. Hamas is still making the same demand. They said “Okay, we agree to a ceasefire, but reopen the border.” They keep saying “reopen the border.”

Max Boot: Do you think there is going to be any change in Mubarak's attitude? Is he going to do anything to help out that he wasn't doing before?

Khaled Abu Toameh: No. We're back to square one. Look. For Mubarak it's better if these weapons go into Gaza and kill Jews, because if these weapons don't go into Gaza to kill Jews they might end up on the streets of Cairo. They might end up in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Smuggling is a business. We're doing Hamas an injustice by saying they're the ones who established the tunnels. These tunnels have been there since 1967. In the 1970s I visited some of the tunnels. In the 1980s I visited the tunnels. When Arafat was there I visited the tunnels. These tunnels are part of the culture. It's a cultural thing over there. If you have your own tunnel it's like you have your own business. Hamas now takes taxes and gives people a license to build their tunnel.

Listen. The Egyptians are hypocrites. They are busy killing African refugees who are trying to get asylum in Israel. They opened fire on an African mother and son who were trying to run away from Sudan and were trying to seek refuge inside Israel. I haven't heard that the Egyptians are destroying tunnels or anything. I haven't heard it.

Dr. Barry Posen: What was Hamas' theory about how the rocket fire would work? Was the rocket fire meant to being hawks to power in the election here? Were they trying to bring back attention? Were they trying to affect Israeli-Egyptian elections? Because in a weird way it seems to me that this war had a funny objective, that both Israelis and Hamas were fighting for Egypt.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Look. I believe this war could have been prevented. Really. Had we gone to Hosni Mubarak and the Americans and said “Okay, let's forget about the 2005 agreement. Let's come up with a new agreement.” Hamas would have agreed to have some Palestinian Authority representatives at the border in return. But no one wanted to listen. They all said “Bring down Hamas, bring down Hamas.”

To answer your question, Hamas thought that if they fire rockets at Israel that the Israeli public would revolt and start complaining and would go to their leaders and say “Go and find some kind of solution.” Israelis don't want war and can't afford to have war on the eve of elections. So they thought the Israeli public would revolt, that the Egyptian government would come back and negotiate a new ceasefire of Hamas' terms. They really thought these rockets would bring about some kind of international response or a response from the Israeli public.

Mario Loyola: Isn't violence for Hamas both a means and an end?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Of course. Of course. But in this specific case they used the rockets to put pressure on Israel and the West and the Egyptians with the hope that they could extract some concessions. Hamas believes they have created a balance of terror with Israel, and they're trying to imitate Hezbollah.

Anthony Cordesman: What are Palestinian attitudes going to be toward Iran and Syria? And what are Palestinians going to think about Europeans?

Khaled Abu Toameh: First of all, Hamas and Fatah are fighting over who is going to receive the international aid. This is very bad, and they are already accusing each other of stealing some of the aid that has come in from the West and from the Arab countries.

Now Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood, all these people are playing a very negative role in this part of the world. Iran did not want Hamas to sign the ceasefire. Iran wants to fight to the last Palestinian. And they will do it through Hamas, through Hezbollah. They have their own agenda, these Iranians. Hamas could not have taken control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 had it not been for support from Iran and Syria. They had logistical and financial support, which means weapons. Most of the weapons coming into Gaza are being financed by Iran and facilitated by Syria.

So how do the Palestinians relate to them? They are some Palestinians who will tell you that the Iranians are bad, that we don't want them meddling in our affairs, look what they've done, these Iranians and Syrians are responsible for the divisions among Palestinians, they are inciting Hamas. Others will tell you they welcome Iran. There are mixed views. But I don't think the majority would like to see aid from Norway, Switzerland, or Canada instead of from Iran and Hezbollah.

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« Reply #369 on: February 11, 2009, 03:03:18 PM »

About half-way through President Obama's press conference Monday night, he had an unscripted question of his own. "All, Chuck Todd," the President said, referring to NBC's White House correspondent. "Where's Chuck?" He had the same strange question about Fox News's Major Garrett: "Where's Major?"

The problem wasn't the lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.

Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night's event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn't out of fear of being left off the list the next time.
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« Reply #370 on: February 17, 2009, 03:17:14 PM »

Just pointing out the most obvious in media bias and failings,  I was struck during the 'stimulus' press conference last week by the fact that no one asked the President where the money was coming from.  McCain has called it generational theft.  If this were a business proposal from a company president, the board of directors' first question would be where is the money going to come from.  Same if it was a proposal for a case study project at any reputable school of government.  The professor's first question would be, where is the money you propose to spend going to come from?  But no curiosity whatsoever from the White House puppet press corps.  That is the sad state of the fourth estate.

Any chance that wouldn't be Helen Thomas' first question if this were 'W' or even McCain?
« Reply #371 on: February 18, 2009, 09:21:10 AM »

February 18, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

‘Truth to Power’ Gap
Politicians and journalists are petrified of seeming hostile toward members of the “coalition of the oppressed.”

By Jonah Goldberg

‘Speak truth to power,” a phrase of Quaker origins adopted by campus radicals, Hollywood gadflies, and establishment journalists, has become shorthand for bravely criticizing government, big corporations, and other stereotypical villains.

But where’s the bravery? I don’t know many journalists who are afraid of the government, and most make their living from big corporations. Sure, liberals — which most journalists are — are afraid of what conservatives will do in power and vice-versa. But they aren’t very afraid of what government will do to them, specifically.

In fact, being singled out for criticism by the president of the United States is nothing short of a gift. To this day, aging has-beens exploit any opportunity to brag that they were on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. When Bill Clinton denounced William Kristol in 1994 for monkey-wrenching health-care reform, he helped make Kristol one of the most important people in Washington. Various White House assaults on Rush Limbaugh have him laughing all the way to the bank.

And yet, I’ve met innumerable writers and editors who are scared, even terrified, of one or more of these groups: gays, blacks, Latinos, Asians, Jews, feminists, evangelical Christians, and the handicapped. You can write 100 columns calling the president a mass-murdering, sexually depraved sociopath, or demanding that we nationalize the oil companies, but don’t you dare invite the wrath of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or the parents of autistic kids, or (shudder) cat lovers.

(I once wrote a column supporting the hunting of feral cats in Wisconsin, where up to 217 million birds are killed by wild felines each year. Several veteran editors sent me notes marveling at my naïveté. Indeed, the e-mail response was so frightening, I nearly put my family in hiding. By the way, I now believe feral cats should be permitted to dine on schoolchildren if they so desire.)

And it’s not just journalists. Politicians are petrified of seeming hostile toward members of the “coalition of the oppressed.” Legislators cower in fear of earning the wrath of gays, but will brag in their direct mail that they are at war with the White House or that they’ve stood up to the military-industrial complex.

But even the gay bullies on Seinfeld can’t hold a candle to radical Muslims in terms of their ability to strike fear in the hearts of others.

Just look at Britain. It is currently harboring a gaggle of non-British Muslim preachers who call for, among other things, the slaughter of Jews and the imposition of sharia law in Britain. These people are accepted, sometimes even given welfare benefits, in the name of pluralism, multiculturalism, and tolerance.

But when Geert Wilders, a documentary maker and member of the Dutch parliament, was invited by British members of Parliament to screen his documentary critical of the Koran in London, the government said, in effect: “Whoa, whoa, whoa! We can’t tolerate that.” Wilders has been barred from the country because his ideas “threaten community harmony.”

If only Wilders’ supporters beheaded people or thronged outside embassies spewing various “death to” chants, he might have been invited to have tea with the queen.

Speaking of beheading, have you heard about the founder of a television network in upstate New York dedicated to showing Muslims as peace-loving and political moderates? You might have when he started his enterprise in 2004, as the venture received lavish attention. But when Muzzammil Hassan allegedly cut off his estranged wife’s head this month, coverage not only was muted, but the media bent over backward to dispel any notion that religion had anything to do with it. After all, isn’t wife-beheading an ecumenical practice?

One can run through a long list of contortions and double standards when it comes to Muslims: honor killings swept under the rug, theater productions canceled, books shelved by publishers, thought-crime tribunals in Canada, death threats over political cartoons. Chin-strokers at the state department will tell you U.S. foreign policy needs to cater to the “Muslim street,” which chants “death to America” as a voice warm-up exercise.

But the point here isn’t to single out Muslims. Of course most Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful. And I would say that even if the Council for American-Islamic Relations wasn’t prepared to hound me from public life for saying otherwise.

But it’s worth remembering that government and corporations aren’t the only institutions that can abuse power. Factions, to borrow a word from the Federalist Papers, have a power all their own. When governments cave to that power, they become mere tools of bullies. And when journalists go along for the ride, there’s no one left to speak truth to power when that is what’s needed most.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.
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« Reply #372 on: February 18, 2009, 10:53:40 AM »

But the point here isn't to single out Muslims. Of course most Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful. And I would say that even if the Council for American-Islamic Relations wasn’t prepared to hound me from public life for saying otherwise.

I couldn't agree more. However I happened to be watching Law and Order:SVU last night and a girl made a video mocking TERRORISTS. The show became preachy about tolerating Muslims. WTF? She was clearly against terrorism not Islam. I guess the First Amendment is only for the NYT. The show is becoming unwatchable as the the detectives preach about the govt being into torture, but have no qualms about roughing up perps when it is convenient for them.  rolleyes
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« Reply #373 on: February 20, 2009, 12:22:22 PM »

Dear President Obama:

I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?

You have singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show. Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio. And a number of members of your party, in and out of Congress, are forming a chorus of advocates for government control over radio content. This is both chilling and ominous.

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As a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, you are more familiar than most with the purpose of the Bill of Rights: to protect the citizen from the possible excesses of the federal government. The First Amendment says, in part, that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." The government is explicitly prohibited from playing a role in refereeing among those who speak or seek to speak. We are, after all, dealing with political speech -- which, as the Framers understood, cannot be left to the government to police.

When I began my national talk show in 1988, no one, including radio industry professionals, thought my syndication would work. There were only about 125 radio stations programming talk. And there were numerous news articles and opinion pieces predicting the fast death of the AM band, which was hemorrhaging audience and revenue to the FM band. Some blamed the lower-fidelity AM signals. But the big issue was broadcast content. It is no accident that the AM band was dying under the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which choked robust debate about important issues because of its onerous attempts at rationing the content of speech.

After the Federal Communications Commission abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, Congress passed legislation to reinstitute it. When President Reagan vetoed it, he declared that "This doctrine . . . requires Federal officials to supervise the editorial practices of broadcasters in an effort to ensure that they provide coverage of controversial issues and a reasonable opportunity for the airing of contrasting viewpoints of those issues. This type of content-based regulation by the Federal Government is . . . antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. . . . History has shown that the dangers of an overly timid or biased press cannot be averted through bureaucratic regulation, but only through the freedom and competition that the First Amendment sought to guarantee."

Today the number of radio stations programming talk is well over 2,000. In fact, there are thousands of stations that air tens of thousands of programs covering virtually every conceivable topic and in various languages. The explosion of talk radio has created legions of jobs and billions in economic value. Not bad for an industry that only 20 years ago was moribund. Content, content, content, Mr. President, is the reason for the huge turnaround of the past 20 years, not "funding" or "big money," as Mr. Clinton stated. And not only has the AM band been revitalized, but there is competition from other venues, such as Internet and satellite broadcasting. It is not an exaggeration to say that today, more than ever, anyone with a microphone and a computer can broadcast their views. And thousands do.

Mr. President, we both know that this new effort at regulating speech is not about diversity but conformity. It should be rejected. You've said you're against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but you've not made it clear where you stand on possible regulatory efforts to impose so-called local content, diversity-of-ownership, and public-interest rules that your FCC could issue.

I do not favor content-based regulation of National Public Radio, newspapers, or broadcast or cable TV networks. I would encourage you not to allow your office to be misused to advance a political vendetta against certain broadcasters whose opinions are not shared by many in your party and ideologically liberal groups such as Acorn, the Center for American Progress, and There is no groundswell of support behind this movement. Indeed, there is a groundswell against it.

The fact that the federal government issues broadcast licenses, the original purpose of which was to regulate radio signals, ought not become an excuse to destroy one of the most accessible and popular marketplaces of expression. The AM broadcast spectrum cannot honestly be considered a "scarce" resource. So as the temporary custodian of your office, you should agree that the Constitution is more important than scoring transient political victories, even when couched in the language of public interest.

We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as "fairness" and "balance"? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?

Mr. Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.
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« Reply #374 on: February 20, 2009, 04:16:07 PM »

***Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio***

I would say that Rush saved me during the sliminess of the Clintons.  Listening to his talk show helped me live through Bill/Hill.  Without it and just watching main stream media,  I would have wondered if I was almost the only one who saw through the Clinton BS/swindel machine.

I loved him then.  And I like him now.  But I don't agree with him as much anymore.

Talking theories and ideals while otherwise promoting "you gotta fail, maybe lose everything, come back and work three times as hard to be able to do better..."

Just doesn't sound as pleasant as "don't worry the government will bail you out of all your troubles."

Rush just doesn't get it this time around.
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« Reply #375 on: February 21, 2009, 08:06:00 AM »

One of the darker periods of modern American history was J. Edgar Hoover's long reign over the FBI, as we have learned since he died in 1972. So it is more than a historical footnote to discover new records showing that prominent public television broadcaster Bill Moyers participated in Hoover's exploits.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Washington Post has obtained a few of the former FBI director's secret files. According to a Thursday front-page story, Hoover was "consumed" with exposing a (nonexistent) relationship between a gay photographer and Jack Valenti, the late film industry lobbyist who was then an aide to Lyndon Johnson. Hoover's M.O. was to amass incriminating personal information as political blackmail.

But as the Post reports in passing, the dossier also reveals that Mr. Moyers -- then a special assistant to LBJ -- requested in 1964 that Hoover's G-men "investigate two other administration figures who were 'suspected as having homosexual tendencies.'"

Hoover's Institution 07/20/05
– Laurence H. Silberman
This isn't the first time Mr. Moyers's name has come up in connection with Hoover's abuse of office. When Laurence Silberman, now a federal appeals judge, was acting Attorney General in 1975, he was obliged to read Hoover's secret files in their entirety in preparation for testimony before Congress -- and as far as we know remains one of the only living officials to have done so. "It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service," he wrote in these pages in 2005.

Amid "bits of dirt on figures such as Martin Luther King," Judge Silberman found a 1964 memo from Mr. Moyers directing Hoover's agents to investigate Barry Goldwater's campaign staff for evidence of homosexual activity. A few weeks before, an LBJ aide named Walter Jenkins had been arrested in a men's bathroom, and Mr. Silberman wrote that Mr. Moyers and his boss evidently wanted leverage in the event Goldwater tried to use the liaison against them. (He didn't, as it happened.)

When that episode became public after Mr. Silberman testified, an irate Mr. Moyers called him and, with typical delicacy, accused him of falling for forged CIA memos. Mr. Silberman offered to study the matter and, should Mr. Moyers's allegations pan out, he would publicly exonerate him. "There was a pause on the line and then he said, 'I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?' And then he rang off."

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Memories are short in Washington, and Mr. Moyers has gone on to promote himself as a political moralist, routinely sermonizing about what he claims are abuses of power by his ideological enemies. Since 9/11, he has been particularly intense in criticizing President Bush for his antiterror policies, such as warrantless wiretapping against al Qaeda.

Yet the historical record suggests that when Mr. Moyers was in a position of actual power, he was complicit in FBI dirt-digging against U.S. citizens solely for political purposes. As Judge Silberman put it in 2005, "I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends."

Mr. Moyers told us through a spokeswoman that he "never heard of the Valenti matter until this story and had nothing to add to it." He also pointed to a 1975 Newsweek article in which he wrote that he learned of the LBJ-Hoover relationship in "the quickly fading days of my innocence." In the Nixon days, this was called a nondenial denial.
« Reply #376 on: February 21, 2009, 10:17:28 AM »

Sermonizing moralist worked for LBJ outing gays for political ends, huh? I'm quick to change the channel whenever that posturing putz comes on, but this tidbit at least gives lie to the incessant left-wing nattering. PBS must be so proud. Maybe they can do an 8 part series in the Joseph Campbell "Power of Myth" vein where sanctimonious hypocrites can be canonized for displaying a shameless lack of veracity. Moyer could interview Gore first. . . .
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« Reply #377 on: February 22, 2009, 11:41:49 PM »

Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan


February 23, 2009

Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan

BARA, Pakistan

More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas, American military officials said.

The Americans are mostly Army Special Forces soldiers who are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops, providing them with intelligence and advising on combat tactics, the officials said. They do not conduct combat operations, the officials added.

They make up a secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. It started last summer, with the support of Pakistan’s government and military, in an effort to root out Qaeda and Taliban operations that threaten American troops in Afghanistan and are increasingly destabilizing Pakistan. It is a much larger and more ambitious effort than either country has acknowledged.

Pakistani officials have vigorously protested American missile strikes in the tribal areas as a violation of sovereignty and have resisted efforts by Washington to put more troops on Pakistani soil. President Asif Ali Zardari, who leads a weak civilian government, is trying to cope with soaring anti-Americanism among Pakistanis and a belief that he is too close to Washington.

Despite the political hazards for Islamabad, the American effort is beginning to pay dividends.

A new Pakistani commando unit within the Frontier Corps paramilitary force has used information from the Central Intelligence Agency and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking commanders, a senior Pakistani military official said.

Four weeks ago, the commandos captured a Saudi militant linked to Al Qaeda here in this town in the Khyber Agency, one of the tribal areas that run along the border with Afghanistan.

Yet the main commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, including its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and its leader in the Swat region, Maulana Fazlullah, remain at large. And senior American military officials remain frustrated that they have been unable to persuade the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to embrace serious counterinsurgency training for the army itself.

General Kayani, who is visiting Washington this week as a White House review on policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan gets under way, will almost certainly be asked how the Pakistani military can do more to eliminate Al Qaeda and the Taliban from the tribal areas.

The American officials acknowledge that at the very moment when Washington most needs Pakistan’s help, the greater tensions between Pakistan and India since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November have made the Pakistani Army less willing to shift its attention to the Qaeda and Taliban threat.

Officials from both Pakistan and the United States agreed to disclose some details about the American military advisers and the enhanced intelligence sharing to help dispel impressions that the missile strikes were thwarting broader efforts to combat a common enemy. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the increasingly powerful anti-American segment of the Pakistani population.

The Pentagon had previously said about two dozen American trainers conducted training in Pakistan late last year. More than half the members of the new task force are Special Forces advisers; the rest are combat medics, communications experts and other specialists. Both sides are encouraged by the new collaboration between the American and Pakistani military and intelligence agencies against the militants.

“The intelligence sharing has really improved in the past few months,” said Talat Masood, a retired army general and a military analyst. “Both sides realize it’s in their common interest.”

Intelligence from Pakistani informants has been used to bolster the accuracy of missile strikes from remotely piloted Predator and Reaper aircraft against the militants in the tribal areas, officials from both countries say.

More than 30 attacks by the aircraft have been conducted since last August, most of them after President Zardari took office in September. A senior American military official said that 9 of 20 senior Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan had been killed by those strikes.

In addition, a small team of Pakistani air defense controllers working in the United States Embassy in Islamabad ensures that Pakistani F-16 fighter-bombers conducting missions against militants in the tribal areas do not mistakenly hit remotely piloted American aircraft flying in the same area or a small number of C.I.A. operatives on the ground, a second senior Pakistani officer said.

The newly minted 400-man Pakistani paramilitary commando unit is a good example of the new cooperation. As part of the Frontier Corps, which operates in the tribal areas, the new Pakistani commandos fall under a chain of command separate from the 500,000-member army, which is primarily trained to fight Pakistan’s archenemy, India.

The commandos are selected from the overall ranks of the Frontier Corps and receive seven months of intensive training from Pakistani and American Special Forces.

The C.I.A. helped the commandos track the Saudi militant linked to Al Qaeda, Zabi al-Taifi, for more than a week before the Pakistani forces surrounded his safe house in the Khyber Agency. The Pakistanis seized him, along with seven Pakistani and Afghan insurgents, in a dawn raid on Jan. 22, with a remotely piloted C.I.A. plane hovering overhead and personnel from the C.I.A. and Pakistan’s main spy service closely monitoring the mission, a senior Pakistani officer involved in the operation said.

Still, there are tensions between the sides. Pakistani F-16’s conduct about a half-dozen combat missions a day against militants, but Pakistani officers say they could do more if the Pentagon helped upgrade the jets to fight at night and provided satellite-guided bombs and updated satellite imagery.

General Kayani was expected to take a long shopping list for more transport and combat helicopters to Washington. The question of more F-16’s — which many in Congress assert are intended for the Indian front — will also come up, Pakistani officials said.

The United States missile strikes, which have resulted in civilian casualties, have stirred heated debate among senior Pakistani government and military officials, despite the government’s private support for the attacks.

One American official described General Kayani, who is known to be sensitive about the necessity of public support for the army, as very concerned that the American strikes had undermined the army’s authority.

“These strikes are counterproductive,” Owais Ahmed Ghani, the governor of North-West Frontier Province, said in an interview in his office in Peshawar. “This is looking for a quick fix, when all it will do is attract more jihadis.”

Pakistani Army officers say the American strikes draw retaliation against Pakistani troops in the tribal areas, whose convoys and bases are bombed or attacked with rockets after each United States missile strike.
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« Reply #378 on: February 23, 2009, 01:15:29 PM »

I really doubt the Post cartoon was meant to demean BO with the monkey.
No major newpaper would have purposely done that in this day and age.

Eric Holder is correct.  Whites are a nation of cowards  But not for the reason he states.  But for our willingness to continue to put of with this kind of crap:

 June 15, 2008

Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy's and Pfizer have contributed thousands to the Rev. Al Sharpton's charity.

Almost 50 companies - including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase - and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton's National Action Network annual conference in April.

Terrified of negative publicity, fearful of a consumer boycott or eager to make nice with the civil-rights activist, CEOs write checks, critics say, to NAN and Sharpton - who brandishes the buying power of African-American consumers. In some cases, they hire him as a consultant.

The cash flows even as the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn has been conducting a grand-jury investigation of NAN's finances.

A General Motors spokesman told The Post that NAN had repeatedly - and unsuccessfully - asked for contributions for six years, beginning in August 2000.

Then, in December 2006, Sharpton threatened to call a boycott of the carmaker over the closing of an African-American-owned GM dealership in The Bronx, and he picketed outside GM headquarters on Fifth Avenue.

Last year, General Motors gave NAN a $5,000 donation. It gave $5,000 more this year, a spokesman said, calling NAN a "worthy" organization.

In November 2003, Sharpton picketed DaimlerChrysler's Chicago car show and threatened a boycott over alleged racial bias in car loans.

"This is institutional racism," he bellowed.

In May 2004, Chrysler began supporting NAN's conferences, which include panels on corporate responsibility and civil rights and a black-tie awards dinner to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Last year, Sharpton gave Chrysler an award for corporate excellence.

In 2003, Sharpton targeted American Honda for not hiring enough African-Americans in management.

"We support those that support us," wrote Sharpton and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of NAN's Michigan chapter, in a letter to American Honda. "We cannot be silent while African-Americans spend hard-earned dollars with a company that does not hire, promote or do business with us in a statistically significant manner."

Two months after American Honda execs met with Sharpton, the carmaker began to sponsor NAN's events - and continues to pay "a modest amount" each year, a spokesman said.

"I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation," said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia, a conservative corporate watchdog. "He's good at harassing people and making noise. CEOs give him his way because it is a lot easier than confronting him."

Sharpton denies his organization pressures corporations for cash.

"That's the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever," he told The Post yesterday. "Why can't they come up with one company that says that? No one has criticized me."

A businessman who hired Sharpton as a consultant says the flamboyant leader skillfully persuades CEOs by wielding the statistic that African-Americans spend $738 billion a year.

"His way of doing things was, 'If we're going to support you and you're not going to support us, then we have to focus on telling the African-American community not to spend their money,' " said La-Van Hawkins, a partner in Hawkins Food Group, which owns and operates fast-food franchises nationwide.

Hawkins spoke from the Yankton Federal Prison in South Dakota, where he's serving time for attempted bribery.

After Hawkins lost an attempt to sue Burger King in 2000 for denying him franchises, he sent Sharpton, attorney Johnnie Cochran and a Miami lawyer to meet with the company's top execs.

"They ended up settling with me for $31 million," Hawkins said.

Sharpton did not get a cut, but Hawkins Food Group paid him an annual $25,000 fee, Hawkins said. He said he has donated "over $1 million" to NAN.

Sharpton has snagged other gigs as a consultant. Less than a year after he threatened to call for a consumer boycott of Pepsi in June 1998 because the company's ads did not portray African-Americans, the company hired him as a $25,000-a-year adviser until 2007.

Sharpton made the same complaint against Macy's in 1998. The company appointed Sharpton an unpaid adviser on diversity, but also funds NAN's annual conference. Last week, Macy's Senior Vice President Ed Goldberg praised Sharpton as "the kind of guy you can sit down and talk to."

In a dramatic flip-flop, Sharpton in 2000 blasted New York developer Bruce Ratner for paying low wages to workers at his Atlantic Mall in Brooklyn.

"We will not allow you to enslave our communities, Mr. Ratner," Sharpton told a rally. "You must meet with us - you must come to terms with the poverty you are creating using public dollars."

By 2004, the developer's company, Forest City Ratner, had begun to fork over thousands of dollars to NAN. Sharpton now strongly supports Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards project, which includes a new arena for the New Jersey Nets.

"Just because Pepsi and other companies had me on their board advising them didn't mean that I wasn't blasting them all the time," said Sharpton.

"Look at Forest City Ratner. I blasted them and they came up with one of the best community agreements for blacks and Latinos."

NAN, which began humbly in Harlem in 1991 with Saturday-morning rallies at PS 175, now boasts 45 chapters across the country. The group lobbies for African-American rights and raises awareness of issues such as police brutality and racial profiling.

"Sharpton went national just like a franchise," said Flaherty. "Each of these local chapters can now hit up businesses for support in their communities."

In 2002, NAN launched a Las Vegas chapter that solicits corporate and individual donations of up to $5,000 on its Web site. NAN spokesman Charlie King said all donations go through the New York office.

It's unclear how much the chapter has raised, because Nevada does not require charities to report their revenues. King would not give numbers.

Sharpton vowed to call a national boycott against MGM Mirage in 2001 and 2002 if it refused to meet with him to discuss alleged racism in hiring and employment at the company's Detroit casino.

In 2003, MGM named NAN one of its diversity "partners" in Detroit.

Sharpton sticks up for his corporate patrons.

Since 2005, Wal-Mart has given yearly support to NAN, including sponsorship of last April's conference, without disclosing the amounts.

In 2006, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Sharpton rival, accused the retailer of buying silence from critics of its employment practices by trying to "throw money at us."

At the time, Sharpton rushed to the company's defense. "Wal-Mart has in no way tried to persuade me with money," he declared.

NAN, a tax-exempt nonprofit, closely guards its corporate largesse. Most companies also keep the sums secret, and some would not divulge them. The corporations interviewed by The Post viewed their relationships with NAN as friendly and beneficial.

Anheuser-Busch states on its Web site that it gave the group "between $100,000 and $499,000" last year.

Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found NAN had failed to file years' worth of financial reports. The group has filed more records, but the AG's office said it won't release them pending the US attorney's probe.

In its 2006 IRS filing, the latest available, NAN reported about $1 million in contributions and $1.1 million in expenses and programs. It owes the IRS $1.9 million in payroll taxes, The Post has learned.

A NAN spokesman said the group is cooperating with authorities "to pay whatever obligations it owes and continues to do so."***

« Reply #379 on: February 23, 2009, 01:51:50 PM »

Companies need to man up and tell NAN and others to shove it. Don't hire him. Don't fall for his IMHO empty boycott threats.

There are plenty of other spokespeople of all backgrounds to whom African Americans will listen.

People are over the likes of Sharpton and Jackson, as well as their counterparts. Unfortunately, no one has thought up a good way of making their ridiculous "messages" obsolete and exposing them for the self-aggrandizing frauds that they are.
« Reply #380 on: February 23, 2009, 05:01:14 PM »

I loathe Bill Moyers so it's pretty amusing to see his skeletons get outed, so to speak:

The Intolerable Smugness of Bill Moyers
He just can't help himself.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Friday, Feb. 20, 2009, at 6:27 PM ET
Bill Moyers took it in the shins this week after the Washington Post's Joe Stephens, drawing on FBI files liberated by a FOIA request, reported the liberal lion's role in hunting suspected homosexuals inside the Lyndon Johnson White House.

The Post story's primary focus is on the FBI investigation of presidential aide Jack Valenti's sexual orientation, an investigation OK'd by President Johnson. It also reports that Moyers, then a special assistant to the president, asked the FBI to investigate two additional administration figures thought to have homosexual tendencies.

These weren't the only Moyers White House homo-hunts. On Commentary's blog, Jason Maoz quotes former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Laurence Silberman, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2005 that weeks before the 1964 Johnson-Goldwater election, Moyers "was tasked to direct [FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files."

The Wizbang blog continues the Moyers bashing by quoting from CBS News correspondent Morley Safer's 1990 autobiography, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam. Safer writes:

[Moyers'] part in Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover's bugging of Martin Luther King's private life, the leaks to the press and diplomatic corps, the surveillance of civil rights groups at the 1964 Democratic Convention, and his request for damaging information from Hoover on members of the Goldwater campaign suggest he was not only a good soldier but a gleeful retainer feeding the appetites of Lyndon Johnson.

Rounding out the week's pillory is my old boss, Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin, who finds the Post discovery consistent with the thuggery that marked Moyers' political career. As long as Moyers is taking such a well-deserved beating, allow me a couple of licks.

When Moyers was Johnson's press secretary, he believed that journalists existed to serve the president. James Deakin writes in Straight Stuff: The Reporters, the White House and the Truth that Johnson's assistant press secretary Joe Laitin told Moyers that it was OK to plant a question with reporters every once in a while at presidential news conferences. A bogus idea, for sure, but Laitin thought the technique was useful in getting important information out. "When [the president] volunteers something, everybody immediately is on guard: what's he trying to sell?" Laitin told Deakin.

Moyers pitched the idea of planting questions to Johnson, who embraced it, giving Moyers a couple of questions for Laitin to distribute, which he did.

Johnson so loved this innovation that he was determined to plant every question at his next news conference. About 15 minutes before the session started, Moyers brought Laitin about 10 questions from the president. When Laitin protested that this was too much—"Bill, this isn't the way it's done"—Moyers said, "Do it!"

A rebuked Laitin approached John Pomfret of the New York Times first, primarily because the two were close. Deakin quotes Laitin:

I said, "John, would you mind asking the president this question?" There was no time for amenities; I had to be blunt because they were waiting and it was now eight minutes away from call time. He looked at me and said, "How dare you try to plant a question on the New York Times? I'm offended by this, and it's highly unethical."

Laitin did succeed in planting one or two questions, but, as Deakin writes, "the Grand Plan had failed."

Nancy Dickerson confirms the Moyers methodology in her 1976 memoir, Among Those Present: A Reporter's View of Twenty-Five Years in Washington. She writes:

The tactic [of planting questions] has been tried before, notably in Ike's day, with little fuss, but it hurt Johnson immeasurably. …

One day when I phoned Bill Moyers he asked if I was going to go to the news conference later that day. When I said that I was, he suggested, "You'd be the perfect one to ask LBJ how he feels; after all, it's his birthday.

Dickerson agreed to the request, but another reporter beat her to the question at the news conference. She continues:

I don't know how many other plants there were that day, but in retrospect I know that I was wrong in agreeing to ask one, even if it was a valid news question. Bill Moyers was out of line in suggesting it, and I was at fault in agreeing to it. Years later Bill told me that [Eisenhower press secretary] Jim Hagerty and [Kennedy press secretary] Pierre Salinger had done the same thing with great skill, and that it was necessary to compensate for the inadequacies of a press corps that often fails to ask the key question. I disagree. If a President has some information he feels the American people should know, he has only to make an announcement before the reporters' questions start.

Now compare Moyers' willingness to script Johnson news conferences with the sanctimonious interview he gave to Buzzflash in October 2003. He observes that modern journalists "who don't serve a partisan purpose and who try to be disinterested observers find themselves whipsawed between these corporate and ideological forces" and goes on to complain about the White House press corps, saying:

I think these forces have unbalanced the relationship between this White House and the press. Frankly, even if we had tried it in LBJ's time, we wouldn't have gotten away with the kind of press conference President Bush conducted on the eve of the invasion of Iraq—the one that even the President admitted was wholly scripted, with reporters raising their hands and posing so as to appear spontaneous.

Where does the guy who planted questions at LBJ news conferences, who told Nancy Dickerson that previous press secretaries had done it, and who told her that planting questions was necessary get the moxie to accuse the Bush press corps of participating in a scripted news conference?

The scripted news conference he's harping about is the one from March 6, 2003, in which Bush snubbed a reporter who was trying to get his attention by saying:

We'll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted—(laughter.)

Does this mean the Bush news conference was "scripted"? Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer claimed absolutely not in a March 7, 2003, briefing. Fleischer said that Bush had called upon questioners from a "suggestion" list he had prepared. The president preferred this method because it results in a "more orderly news conference," added Fleischer. The scripted comment was just another Bush joke gone flat. (If you have a Nexis account, see the nicely done March 8, 2003, Newsday news story "Not Scripted, but Listed: Checklist of reporters helps Bush work news conference" by Ken Fireman.)

Bush isn't the only president to have relied on the list approach. Barack Obama favors it, too, something that Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin was complaining about in early January, before the Obama inauguration and well before his first news conference (Feb. 9). As you may recall, Obama made no effort to conceal his reliance on a list as he called on reporters.

I await Moyers' "expose" of the Obama administration's blatantly scripted news conferences.


Oh, never mind. A Feb. 11, 2009, Wall Street Journal editorial already claimed this scoop. "We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors," the Journal editorial states. Many thanks to Slate's John Dickerson, son of Nancy, for pointing me both to the Deakin passages and to his mother's book. Send Moyers news to (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the word Moyers content in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to

Jack Shafer is Slate's editor at large.
Article URL:
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« Reply #381 on: February 23, 2009, 05:28:16 PM »

Companies need to man up and tell NAN and others to shove it. Don't hire him. Don't fall for his IMHO empty boycott threats.

There are plenty of other spokespeople of all backgrounds to whom African Americans will listen.

People are over the likes of Sharpton and Jackson, as well as their counterparts. Unfortunately, no one has thought up a good way of making their ridiculous "messages" obsolete and exposing them for the self-aggrandizing frauds that they are.

Gee, our President could. Oh wait, he's busy running the economy into the ground right now. Oh, yeah and he's a product of the Jackson-Sharpton-Wright school of "Hate Whitey".
« Reply #382 on: February 23, 2009, 07:45:59 PM »

he's busy running the economy into the ground right now

Pretty sure that baby had a full head of steam before Captain Basketball stepped into office....
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« Reply #383 on: February 23, 2009, 07:59:58 PM »

Really? Compare TARP vs. the Porklus and Barry-O's "Soak the rich" class warfare.
« Reply #384 on: February 23, 2009, 11:34:39 PM »

Um, yeah, you won't find me crying to hard for the rich people getting "soaked" any time in the near future.

Lord knows how hard they've had it over the past eight years... rolleyes

As for comparisons, I like to keep my head from exploding. When people (regardless of party) mention numbers in the billions as solutions, I get pissed off. I'm at least willing to wait a little bit before calling a month old administration a failure.

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« Reply #385 on: February 23, 2009, 11:41:39 PM »

Cry for the impact that "soak the rich" has on the non-rich as money flees overseas. Look at California today and telll me it's working well with horrific levels of taxation and goverment overspending. Think this will somehow turn out different when tried on a national level?

The Obama-Kool Aid will be getting very bitter, very soon.
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« Reply #386 on: February 23, 2009, 11:50:32 PM »

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meltdown on MSNBC: The Leg Tingle Is Gone?

I can hardly believe what I'm watching on MSNBC right now. Chris Matthews is almost critical — no, not even almost, he's flat-out critical of President Obama on the economic front. He mentions an earlier conversation with CNBC's manic stock analyst Jim Cramer and a University of Maryland professor (Peter Morici?) knocking Obama for several economic decisions — that the stimulus bill needed more real infrastructure and less pork, that the housing bill isn't inspiring confidence and doesn't look like it will work, and that no one has faith in Tim Geithner's solution for the banks.

Howard Fineman of Newsweek says Obama has been "grim and a little distant at the same time . . . Tim Geithner hasn't inspired any confidence anywhere, as far as I can tell."

Matthews: "He seems like Barney Fife to me."

Eugene Robinson: "I actually referred to him as Doogie Howser, Treasury Secretary, and I think it's a little unfair." Much laughter ensues.

More Fineman: "Despite his high approval rating and obvious intellect and goodwill, he hasn't quite yet seemed to convey the sense that he knows the way forward and that he can get us there . . . I thought the first fifteen minutes of this show were devastating. Not that Jim Cramer is the only person they have to convince, but they have to convince people that they know what they're doing, that they're not just feeling their way forward." Robinson points out that they are feeling their way forward.

Matthews: "I thought 8,000 was the floor, and it looks like 6,000 is the floor. People are angry, I'm getting angry."
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« Reply #387 on: February 23, 2009, 11:53:35 PM »

Thank you for bringing things back to the subject matter of the thread.
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« Reply #388 on: March 04, 2009, 12:45:34 AM »

Expecting a deluge of MSM mockery over this BO gem tomorrow?

Yeah, right.

"What you’re now seeing is a profit and earnings ratios get to the point that buying stocks is a good thing if you have a long-term perspective on it,” the President said to reporters after meeting in the Oval Office with visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown."
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« Reply #389 on: March 05, 2009, 07:55:58 PM »

Interesting.  I wonder if Chris Matthews would still get a chill on his leg after reading this.  He seems to delight with glee and glow in anything that mocks W as being less than intellectual.

In a similar vein Lou Dobbs showed BO mistating the PE ratio as "profit" to earnings ratio.  He asked if the main stream media would have let W off the hook if *he* did that.  We all know the answer.

BO would do well to remember Lincoln's famous phrase about you can fool some of the people some of the time....

Bo is too disingenious by half.   If only the Republicans can get the right message and the right messenger (it ain't Limbaugh)....BO is finished.

***Obama's safety net: the TelePrompter
By CAROL E. LEE | 3/5/09 3:22 PM EST  \President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter.

The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks.

Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks.

Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck.

His use of the teleprompter makes work tricky for the television crews and photographers trying to capture an image of the president announcing a new Cabinet secretary or housing plan without a pane of glass blocking his face. And it is a startling sight to see such sleek, modern technology set against the mahogany doors and Bohemian crystal chandeliers in the East Room or the marble columns of the Grand Foyer.

See Also
Dueling Dems have Obama in earmark jam
GOP tries to lure Dems on housing
Reports: Obama goes gray!
“It’s just something presidents haven’t done,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a presidential historian who has held court in the White House since December 1975. “It’s jarring to the eye. In a way, it stands in the middle between the audience and the president because his eye is on the teleprompter.”

Just how much of a crutch the teleprompter has become for Obama was on sharp display during his latest commerce secretary announcement. The president spoke from a teleprompter in the ornate Indian Treaty Room for a few minutes. Then Gov. Gary Locke stepped to the podium and pulled out a piece of paper for reference.

The president’s teleprompter also elicited some uncomfortable laughter after he announced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice for Health and Human Services secretary. “Kathy,” Obama said, turning the podium over to Sebelius, who waited at the microphone for an awkward few seconds while the teleprompters were lowered to the floor and the television cameras rolled.

Obama has relied on a teleprompter through even the shortest announcements and when repeating the same lines on his economic stimulus plan that he's been saying for months — whereas past presidents have mostly worked off of notes on the podium except during major speeches, such as the State of the Union.

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« Reply #390 on: March 05, 2009, 08:05:04 PM »

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« Reply #391 on: March 05, 2009, 09:09:16 PM »

Powerline does a nice job of bias and accuracy watch over a place that Crafty calls the NY Slimes. 

The Times Clears Up a Misunderstanding

The New York Times has long been an advocate for illegal immigration. Today we got some insight, perhaps, into what has motivated the Times' editors, via the paper's corrections section:

    An editorial on Feb. 22 stated incorrectly that unlawfully entering the country is not a criminal offense. It is a misdemeanor for a first-time offender.

It's quite remarkable: until today, the Times' editors believed that illegal immigration was legal!
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« Reply #392 on: March 06, 2009, 05:53:17 PM »
Levy suspect's illegal status stirs media debate
Jennifer Harper (Contact)
Friday, March 6, 2009
It has become the dreaded "I-word" at many news organizations.

Much of the press has shunned the terms "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant" to describe Ingmar Guandique, recently charged by police and federal prosecutors in the 2001 slaying of Washington intern Chandra Levy.

The designation of Guandique - who entered the U.S. illegally in 2000, was convicted of two nonfatal attacks on women and incarcerated - has reignited a debate over whether a person's immigration status is relevant to the story. Journalists also are debating whether the words "illegal" and "immigrant" are too loaded to use in an already emotionally charged story. And maybe even racist.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has long cautioned journalists against using the word "illegal" in copy and headlines. The practice is "dehumanizing" and "stereotypes undocumented people who are in the United States as having committed a crime," said Joseph Torres, the group's spokesman.

That has not prevented Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly from repeatedly calling Guandique an "illegal alien," though Fox used plain old "Salvadoran immigrant" in its news coverage. Guandique has been called "Salvadoran immigrant," "incarcerated felon," "suspect" and "jailed attacker" in assorted accounts.

"Too many journalists don't want to provide ammunition to those who want stricter immigration laws, so avoid connecting illegal immigrants to evidence which will bolster the argument that illegals cause harm," said Brent Baker of the Media Research Center.

"So, when police charge an illegal immigrant with murdering Chandra Levy, reporters for CBS, CNN and AP benignly describe him as a 'Salvadoran immigrant' or as simply 'a laborer from El Salvador,' " Mr. Baker said.

USA Today, the Washington Examiner and The Washington Times, however, referred to Guandique as an "illegal immigrant."

"We aspire to give our readers as much accurate and relevant information as possible. Ingmar Guandique's immigration status and his entire criminal history fell within our definition of reporting as near as possible the whole truth. We saw no reason to censor ourselves or deny information to our readers," said Michael Hedges, managing editor of the Examiner.

"The suggestion that immigration status somehow is irrelevant or should be treated like race in a crime story seems flawed. Being white or black or Hispanic or Asian isn´t a crime. Entering the country illegally is," said John Solomon, executive editor of The Times.

"If a suspect entered the country illegally and then committed a crime, as is alleged in the Levy case, it is relevant information to the reader. If the illegal immigrant hadn´t gotten into the country, he or she might not have been in a position to commit the crime," Mr. Solomon said.

The Washington Post, which has produced extensive coverage of the case in the past year, often opted for the term "Salvadoran day laborer," though the paper does not forbid its journalists from designating immigration status.

"We don't have any such policy. Our view is that any reference to someone's immigration status, employment, race, ethnicity, nationality or other characteristic should be relevant, and add context and understanding for readers. We are aware of the debate about whether describing the Chandra Levy suspect as an 'illegal immigrant' is scaremongering, and we've discussed it and believe we've stuck to our principle," said editorial spokeswoman Kris Coratti.

Although Guandique entered the country illegally, he was eligible for "temporary protected status" granted by President Bush to Salvadorans who had been in the U.S. before February 2001. Guandique had filed for that status and received authorization to reside and work in the U.S. while his application was pending. His request ultimately was denied.

"This is a very complicated matter. The goal is to make sure that journalists are specific and precise in the use of words like 'illegal,' 'immigrant' and 'undocumented.' It gets complex because different news organizations have different policies, and journalists themselves interpret those policies," said Robert Steele, a media ethicist at the Poynter Institute.

 "There is a widespread and I believe logical argument that the broad use of certain terms in disrespectful. The press should be particularly cautious and conservative in our use of the term 'alien.' It should only be used when referring to certain specific laws," he added.
"Our style is to use 'illegal immigrant,' rather than 'undocumented worker' or 'illegal alien,' for those who have entered the country illegally," said Darrell Christian, editor of the Associated Press stylebook.

"Based on Webster´s definitions, 'immigrant' is a broader term. 'Alien' is a resident who beats political allegiance to another country; 'immigrant' is someone who comes to another country to settle, whether legally or illegally. Not all non-U.S. citizens living in the United States would be considered workers, undocumented or not," Mr. Christian said.

The most recent AP coverage of the Levy case did not examine the legality of Guandique's immigration status, and refers to him as a "Salvadoran immigrant," "inmate" and "convict."

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Copyright 2009 The Washington Times, LLC
« Reply #393 on: March 12, 2009, 08:27:18 AM »

Interesting exchange between Bush spokesman Ari Flesher and Chris Matthews:

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« Reply #394 on: March 16, 2009, 12:59:43 PM »

The message is clear.  Go after the chosen one and we will come after you.  Ironically this sahkedown group is funded by one of the Wall Street big shots Soros who spent his life making fortunes on Wall St:

  NEW YORK (AP) - Some critics are seizing on comedian Jon Stewart's attacks of CNBC to launch an online petition drive urging the network to be tougher on Wall Street leaders.
The liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America and some economists are behind the effort, launched Monday. They're asking CNBC to hire economic voices with a track record of being right about the current crisis and do more to hold business leaders accountable.

CNBC has been in the firing line since Stewart pointed out network personalities who, in retrospect, offered bad financial advice.

CNBC had no immediate comment. CNBC spokesman Brian Steel said last week that the network was proud of its record of offering diverse opinions on the economy.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
« Reply #395 on: March 18, 2009, 01:28:27 PM »

March 18, 2009
As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up

Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, a waste of eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“We were stunned,” said a defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he had been on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.

Last week, a building products company asked an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment, claiming that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial.

And on Monday, defense lawyers in the federal corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator, Vincent J. Fumo, demanded before the verdict that the judge declare a mistrial because a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The juror had even told his readers that a “big announcement” was coming on Monday. But the judge decided to let the deliberations continue, and the jury found Mr. Fumo guilty. His lawyers plan to use the Internet postings as grounds for appeal.

Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their cellphones, they can look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps, violating the legal system’s complex rules of evidence. They can also tell their friends what is happening in the jury room, though they are supposed to keep their opinions and deliberations secret.

A juror on a lunch or bathroom break can find out many details about a case. Wikipedia can help explain the technology underlying a patent claim or medical condition, Google Maps can show how long it might take to drive from Point A to Point B, and news sites can write about a criminal defendant, his lawyers or expert witnesses.

“It’s really impossible to control it,” said Douglas L. Keene, president of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

Judges have long amended their habitual warning about seeking outside information during trials to include Internet searches. But with the Internet now as close as a juror’s pocket, the risk has grown more immediate — and instinctual. Attorneys have begun to check the blogs and Web sites of prospective jurors.

Mr. Keene said jurors might think they were helping, not hurting, by digging deeper. “There are people who feel they can’t serve justice if they don’t find the answers to certain questions,” he said.

But the rules of evidence, developed over hundreds of years of jurisprudence, are there to ensure that the facts that go before a jury have been subjected to scrutiny and challenge from both sides, said Olin Guy Wellborn III, a law professor at the University of Texas.

“That’s the beauty of the adversary system,” said Professor Wellborn, co-author of a handbook on evidence law. “You lose all that when the jurors go out on their own.”

There appears to be no official tally of cases disrupted by Internet research, but with the increasing adoption of Web technology in cellphones, the numbers are sure to grow. Some courts are beginning to restrict the use of cellphones by jurors within the courthouse, even confiscating them during the day, but a majority do not, Mr. Keene said. And computer use at home, of course, is not restricted unless a jury is sequestered.

In the Florida case that resulted in a mistrial, Mr. Raben spent nearly eight weeks fighting charges that his client had illegally sold prescription drugs through Internet pharmacies. The arguments were completed and the jury was deliberating when one juror contacted the judge to say another had admitted to her that he had done outside research on the case over the Internet.

The judge questioned the juror about his research, which included evidence that the judge had specifically excluded. Mr. Raben recalls thinking that if the juror had not broadly communicated his information with the rest of the jury, the trial could continue and the eight weeks would not be wasted. “We can just kick this juror off and go,” he said.

But then the judge found that eight other jurors had done the same thing — conducting Google searches on the lawyers and the defendant, looking up news articles about the case, checking definitions on Wikipedia and searching for evidence that had been specifically excluded by the judge. One juror, asked by the judge about the research, said, “Well, I was curious,” according to Mr. Raben.

“It was a heartbreak,” Mr. Raben added.

Information flowing out of the jury box can be nearly as much trouble as the information flowing in; jurors accustomed to posting regular updates on their day-to-day experiences and thoughts can find themselves on a collision course with the law.

In the Arkansas case, Stoam Holdings, the company trying to overturn the $12.6 million judgment, said a juror, Johnathan Powell, had sent Twitter messages during the trial. Mr. Powell’s messages included “oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they’ll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter” and “So Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh nothing really, I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”

Mr. Powell, 29, the manager of a one-hour photo booth at a Wal-Mart in Fayetteville, Ark., insisted in an interview that he had not sent any substantive messages about the case until the verdict had been delivered and he was released from his obligation not to discuss the case. “I was done when I mentioned the trial at all,” he said. “They’re welcome to pull my phone records.”

But juror research is a more troublesome issue than sending Twitter messages or blogging, Mr. Keene said, and it raises new issues for judges in giving instructions.

“It’s important that they don’t know what’s excluded, and it’s important that they don’t know why it’s excluded,” Mr. Keene said. The court cannot even give a full explanation to jurors about research — say, to tell them what not to look for — so instructions are usually delivered as blanket admonitions, he said.

The technological landscape has changed so much that today’s judge, Mr. Keene said, “has to explain why this is crucial, and not just go through boilerplate instructions.” And, he said, enforcement goes beyond what the judge can do, pointing out that “it’s up to Juror 11 to make sure Juror 12 stays in line.”

It does not always work out that way. Seth A. McDowell, a data support specialist who lives in Albuquerque and works for a financial advising firm, said he was serving on a jury last year when another juror admitted running a Google search on the defendant, even though she acknowledged that she was not supposed to do so. She said she did not find anything, Mr. McDowell said.

Mr. McDowell, 35, said he thought about telling the judge, but decided against it. None of the other jurors did, either. Now, he said, after a bit of soul-searching, he feels he may have made the wrong choice. But he remains somewhat torn.

“I don’t know,” he said. “If everybody did the right thing, the trial, which took two days, would have gone on for another bazillion years.”

Mr. McDowell said he planned to attend law school in the fall.
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« Reply #396 on: March 18, 2009, 04:35:10 PM »

An interesting outcome of the electronic world we live in.  While everything I do or my wife or I speak in our house is monitored, I am sure my vehicle has a GPS system hidden somewhere, including no doubt eveything I post on this website, I have learned there really is nothing I can do about it.

One cannot even get any electronic device today withour remote access.  There are cameras everywhere, our cell phones document who we call and when and where.  Our financial records, and increasingly our health records are on line.  OUr children put all their personal infornation on line.  Some even think it cute to put up naked pictures of themselves.   There are not even laws that address most of these issues.  Even those that one would think would be simple common sense.
Bama's friends even want to monitor our bathroom habits!

Nothing is sacred anymore - nothing.

As for the jury thing I have a story - kind of a confession.  I was on jury duty once.  While we took our break I stood outside the courtroom and happened to look up to read a bulletin board that was right there.  On it it mentioned the cases of the day.  It mentioned the one I was on the jury duty for.  It mentioned it was for the third DUI offense of the defendant.  She would lose her license permanantly if she lost the case.

Thing of it is - the fact that it was her THIRD DUI was never mentioned during the trial.

I am guessing this information was kept out perhaps because it would "prejudice the jury".  Perhaps it could have only been brought up if the character of the defendent was brought up by the defense team - which never was the issue.

The evidence against her was overwhelming anyway.  She was clearly staggering on the police video.   She was literally driving the wrong way down a large thorough fair at 2AM after being seen leaving a bar/grill.

Her BAC was over the legal limit.  Yet some saps on the jury still felt bad, "well haven't you ever driven after drinking too much?" went the line.

Would they have felt this way if they knew it was her third arrest for this?  She was clearly a menace on the road.
Anyway, there were no blackberries or Iphones.  Just me standing outside the courtroom reading what the bailiff posted on the board.

« Reply #397 on: March 20, 2009, 02:09:48 PM »

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it.

One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about that conversation a lot these days.

The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, and during the early 90s they came up with not just one plan but several. One was to partner with companies like America Online, a fast-growing subscription service that was less chaotic than the open internet. Another plan was to educate the public about the behaviors required of them by copyright law. New payment models such as micropayments were proposed. Alternatively, they could pursue the profit margins enjoyed by radio and TV, if they became purely ad-supported. Still another plan was to convince tech firms to make their hardware and software less capable of sharing, or to partner with the businesses running data networks to achieve the same goal. Then there was the nuclear option: sue copyright infringers directly, making an example of them.

As these ideas were articulated, there was intense debate about the merits of various scenarios. Would DRM or walled gardens work better? Shouldn’t we try a carrot-and-stick approach, with education and prosecution? And so on. In all this conversation, there was one scenario that was widely regarded as unthinkable, a scenario that didn’t get much discussion in the nation’s newsrooms, for the obvious reason.

The unthinkable scenario unfolded something like this: The ability to share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow. Walled gardens would prove unpopular. Digital advertising would reduce inefficiencies, and therefore profits. Dislike of micropayments would prevent widespread use. People would resist being educated to act against their own desires. Old habits of advertisers and readers would not transfer online. Even ferocious litigation would be inadequate to constrain massive, sustained law-breaking. (Prohibition redux.) Hardware and software vendors would not regard copyright holders as allies, nor would they regard customers as enemies. DRM’s requirement that the attacker be allowed to decode the content would be an insuperable flaw. And, per Thompson, suing people who love something so much they want to share it would piss them off.

Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.

When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse. This shunting aside of the realists in favor of the fabulists has different effects on different industries at different times. One of the effects on the newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away.

* * *
The curious thing about the various plans hatched in the ’90s is that they were, at base, all the same plan: “Here’s how we’re going to preserve the old forms of organization in a world of cheap perfect copies!” The details differed, but the core assumption behind all imagined outcomes (save the unthinkable one) was that the organizational form of the newspaper, as a general-purpose vehicle for publishing a variety of news and opinion, was basically sound, and only needed a digital facelift. As a result, the conversation has degenerated into the enthusiastic grasping at straws, pursued by skeptical responses.

“The Wall Street Journal has a paywall, so we can too!” (Financial information is one of the few kinds of information whose recipients don’t want to share.) “Micropayments work for iTunes, so they will work for us!” (Micropayments work only where the provider can avoid competitive business models.) “The New York Times should charge for content!” (They’ve tried, with QPass and later TimesSelect.) “Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports are doing fine on subscriptions!” (Those publications forgo ad revenues; users are paying not just for content but for unimpeachability.) “We’ll form a cartel!” (…and hand a competitive advantage to every ad-supported media firm in the world.)

Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.

With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

* * *
Elizabeth Eisenstein’s magisterial treatment of Gutenberg’s invention, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, opens with a recounting of her research into the early history of the printing press. She was able to find many descriptions of life in the early 1400s, the era before movable type. Literacy was limited, the Catholic Church was the pan-European political force, Mass was in Latin, and the average book was the Bible. She was also able to find endless descriptions of life in the late 1500s, after Gutenberg’s invention had started to spread. Literacy was on the rise, as were books written in contemporary languages, Copernicus had published his epochal work on astronomy, and Martin Luther’s use of the press to reform the Church was upending both religious and political stability.

What Eisenstein focused on, though, was how many historians ignored the transition from one era to the other. To describe the world before or after the spread of print was child’s play; those dates were safely distanced from upheaval. But what was happening in 1500? The hard question Eisenstein’s book asks is “How did we get from the world before the printing press to the world after it? What was the revolution itself like?”

Chaotic, as it turns out. The Bible was translated into local languages; was this an educational boon or the work of the devil? Erotic novels appeared, prompting the same set of questions. Copies of Aristotle and Galen circulated widely, but direct encounter with the relevant texts revealed that the two sources clashed, tarnishing faith in the Ancients. As novelty spread, old institutions seemed exhausted while new ones seemed untrustworthy; as a result, people almost literally didn’t know what to think. If you can’t trust Aristotle, who can you trust?

During the wrenching transition to print, experiments were only revealed in retrospect to be turning points. Aldus Manutius, the Venetian printer and publisher, invented the smaller octavo volume along with italic type. What seemed like a minor change — take a book and shrink it — was in retrospect a key innovation in the democratization of the printed word. As books became cheaper, more portable, and therefore more desirable, they expanded the market for all publishers, heightening the value of literacy still further.

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen. Agreements on all sides that core institutions must be protected are rendered meaningless by the very people doing the agreeing. (Luther and the Church both insisted, for years, that whatever else happened, no one was talking about a schism.) Ancient social bargains, once disrupted, can neither be mended nor quickly replaced, since any such bargain takes decades to solidify.

And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.

* * *
If you want to know why newspapers are in such trouble, the most salient fact is this: Printing presses are terrifically expensive to set up and to run. This bit of economics, normal since Gutenberg, limits competition while creating positive returns to scale for the press owner, a happy pair of economic effects that feed on each other. In a notional town with two perfectly balanced newspapers, one paper would eventually generate some small advantage — a breaking story, a key interview — at which point both advertisers and readers would come to prefer it, however slightly. That paper would in turn find it easier to capture the next dollar of advertising, at lower expense, than the competition. This would increase its dominance, which would further deepen those preferences, repeat chorus. The end result is either geographic or demographic segmentation among papers, or one paper holding a monopoly on the local mainstream audience.

For a long time, longer than anyone in the newspaper business has been alive in fact, print journalism has been intertwined with these economics. The expense of printing created an environment where Wal-Mart was willing to subsidize the Baghdad bureau. This wasn’t because of any deep link between advertising and reporting, nor was it about any real desire on the part of Wal-Mart to have their marketing budget go to international correspondents. It was just an accident. Advertisers had little choice other than to have their money used that way, since they didn’t really have any other vehicle for display ads.

The old difficulties and costs of printing forced everyone doing it into a similar set of organizational models; it was this similarity that made us regard Daily Racing Form and L’Osservatore Romano as being in the same business. That the relationship between advertisers, publishers, and journalists has been ratified by a century of cultural practice doesn’t make it any less accidental.

The competition-deflecting effects of printing cost got destroyed by the internet, where everyone pays for the infrastructure, and then everyone gets to use it. And when Wal-Mart, and the local Maytag dealer, and the law firm hiring a secretary, and that kid down the block selling his bike, were all able to use that infrastructure to get out of their old relationship with the publisher, they did. They’d never really signed up to fund the Baghdad bureau anyway.

* * *
Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model. So who covers all that news if some significant fraction of the currently employed newspaper people lose their jobs?

I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it. The internet turns 40 this fall. Access by the general public is less than half that age. Web use, as a normal part of life for a majority of the developed world, is less than half that age. We just got here. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

Imagine, in 1996, asking some net-savvy soul to expound on the potential of craigslist, then a year old and not yet incorporated. The answer you’d almost certainly have gotten would be extrapolation: “Mailing lists can be powerful tools”, “Social effects are intertwining with digital networks”, blah blah blah. What no one would have told you, could have told you, was what actually happened: craiglist became a critical piece of infrastructure. Not the idea of craigslist, or the business model, or even the software driving it. Craigslist itself spread to cover hundreds of cities and has become a part of public consciousness about what is now possible. Experiments are only revealed in retrospect to be turning points.

In craigslist’s gradual shift from ‘interesting if minor’ to ‘essential and transformative’, there is one possible answer to the question “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” The answer is: Nothing will work, but everything might. Now is the time for experiments, lots and lots of experiments, each of which will seem as minor at launch as craigslist did, as Wikipedia did, as octavo volumes did.

Journalism has always been subsidized. Sometimes it’s been Wal-Mart and the kid with the bike. Sometimes it’s been Richard Mellon Scaife. Increasingly, it’s you and me, donating our time. The list of models that are obviously working today, like Consumer Reports and NPR, like ProPublica and WikiLeaks, can’t be expanded to cover any general case, but then nothing is going to cover the general case.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

We don’t know who the Aldus Manutius of the current age is. It could be Craig Newmark, or Caterina Fake. It could be Martin Nisenholtz, or Emily Bell. It could be some 19 year old kid few of us have heard of, working on something we won’t recognize as vital until a decade hence. Any experiment, though, designed to provide new models for journalism is going to be an improvement over hiding from the real, especially in a year when, for many papers, the unthinkable future is already in the past.

For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers. Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues. Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results. Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need.
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« Reply #398 on: March 23, 2009, 07:48:15 AM »

Overseas reporters have been a casualty of budget-chopping news organizations, leaving an opening for the online start-up GlobalPost. But at a time when many news executives are exploring nonprofit business models to keep specialized reporting flowing, GlobalPost, which made its debut on Jan. 12, is intended to be a moneymaking venture.

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David Blumenfeld
Matt Beynon Rees, shown in Beit Jala, is a former correspondent for Time magazine, and contributes to the for-profit GlobalPost from Jerusalem.
With 65 correspondents worldwide — drawn from a surfeit of experienced reporters eager to continue working in their specialties even as potential employers disappear — GlobalPost has begun offering a mix of news and features that only a handful of other news organizations can rival.

Recent articles, free at, included reports on Thailand’s Islamic insurgency and Indian yogis worried about the financial crisis.

That ad-supported reporting is only one part of the GlobalPost business plan. If it is to succeed, it will depend in part on how many people sign up for a separate paid section of the site, which was to have been available in test mode beginning last week but is now expected to go online in the coming days.

Called Passport, it offers access to GlobalPost correspondents, including exclusive reports on business topics of less interest to general audiences, conference calls and meetings with reporters, and breaking news e-mail messages from those journalists.

Passport subscribers, who pay as much as $199 a year, can suggest article ideas. “If you are a member, you have a voice at the editorial meeting,” although the site will decide which stories to pursue, said Charles Sennott, a GlobalPost founder and its executive editor. He said Passport is meant to “create a feeling of community” for subscribers who might otherwise see newsrooms as “impenetrable and fortresslike.”

GlobalPost correspondents, who include the former Washington Post writer Caryle Murphy in Saudi Arabia and a Time magazine correspondent turned novelist, Matt Beynon Rees, in Jerusalem, are paid extra for Passport work. Their basic compensation is $1,000 a month for four articles, plus shares in the venture. The site had 500 applicants for the jobs, Mr. Sennott said.

Only a couple of dozen people have signed up for Passport, said Philip Balboni, GlobalPost’s other founder and the president and chief executive. The site is depending on marketing partnerships to generate subscriptions, some discounted, and hopes to have more than 2,000 by year’s end.

Two months in, the Boston-based company says demand for the free site — the mainstay of the business — is ahead of expectations. It has logged 250,000 unique users who have visited at least once, compared with the 90,000 Mr. Balboni had hoped for by now, and 1.1 million page views, more than half from returning visitors. “People have clearly liked what they’ve seen,” Mr. Balboni said, adding that the site has had visitors from every country except North Korea, Chad and Eritrea.

Advertising remains slow, he acknowledged. Liberty Mutual Insurance signed on for a year, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University has been advertising on a trial basis. “I think it will just take time,” Mr. Balboni said. “We are in an incredible down market.”

More encouragingly, a third revenue stream has been growing, as the company has signed up a growing number of news outlets, including The Daily News and The Boise Weekly of Idaho, to carry its reports and have use of its correspondents.

CBS Radio News recently signed a nonexclusive deal. It will be able to call on GlobalPost correspondents during breaking news, as a backup to its own reporters, said Harvey Nagler, CBS News’s vice president of radio.

Public television’s “Worldfocus” weeknight newscast features reports from GlobalPost correspondents, who carry inexpensive Flip digital video cameras when in the field.

The site was started with $8.5 million from private investors.

Mr. Balboni, who created the New England Cable News network, said he was a passionate defender of for-profit journalism. “I believe deep in my heart and soul that the discipline of the marketplace makes for a stronger organization,” he said. “It gives you a far greater chance to be a self-sustaining enterprise, without having to turn to government or foundations,” which can be mercurial, he said.

Long before the debate about whether newspapers and magazines should be charging for Web content, Mr. Balboni envisioned having consumers pay for at least a part of GlobalPost, he said. It was a lesson he learned after years in the cable TV business, which is supported by subscribers as well as ads. Having created a hybrid model, he said, “now we have to prove it in the marketplace.”

Alan D. Mutter, a media investor who analyzes news-business models at the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur, praised GlobalPost in an interview “for being thoroughly modern in its approach to revenue, in that it understands it won’t be simply advertising or subscriptions.” He added, “They’ve identified every conceivable revenue stream I can think of.”

But questions remain, he said, including how many news organizations still have the budget to pay to use its articles, and whether GlobalPost’s executives can create compelling content that will draw enough subscribers. “I’ve seen other publishers who offered premium content, and the content wasn’t good enough to make you want to write a check,” he said.

“This is definitely a forward-looking model, but it remains to be seen whether the audience materializes and whether they can execute,” Mr. Mutter said, adding that “I think everyone wishes them well because they are pretty close to what the future will be for news publishing.”
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« Reply #399 on: March 25, 2009, 12:58:47 PM »

Not one single question on either war even though Obama last month ordered 17,000 more Americans into Afghanistan. Wonder if a Republican president could escalate a war and then hold a economic press conference?
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