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Author Topic: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues  (Read 572213 times)
« Reply #400 on: March 26, 2009, 11:28:28 AM »

March 25, 2009
DSCC Keeps Madoff Money; Mainstream Media Virtually Silent (Doug Heye)
@ 3:36 pm
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has apparently decided to keep $100K in contributions from Bernie Madoff, who faces up to 150 years in prison for swindling billions from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick in a massive Ponzi scheme.

In campaigns, one side often calls on the other to return money for one reason or another. Sometimes it's valid, sometimes not. Regardless, it's Campaign 101. But when the contributor in question is the single biggest financial criminal in history, there can be no question that those illicit funds should not remain in campaign coffers.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) gave thousands in Madoff donations to charity. Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) are doing the same.

Given the economic uncertainty our nation faces and that Madoff not only fleeced the rich and famous but major corporations such as HSBC — in other words, Madoff swindled all of us — the DSCC's decision is shockingly tone-deaf.

However, what’s almost equally surprising is the virtual silence from the media. During the Enron scandal, returning campaign money was a daily drumbeat, as were the news stories discussing Enron’s purported ties to President Bush. Now, when the Democratic Senate campaign vehicle makes the conscious decision to keep $100K in Madoff money, stolen just as if it came from a bank holdup, there's little to no outrage. Why?

Here's a suggestion for members of the media — ask Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who himself was robbed by Madoff, what he thinks of the DSCC keeping stolen money in order to help fund his colleagues’ Senate campaigns this election cycle.
Power User
Posts: 7824

« Reply #401 on: March 26, 2009, 02:52:08 PM »

This is outrageous.

"gave thousands in Madoff donations to charity"

Why aren't they giving it back to a fund for those robbed?
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #402 on: March 27, 2009, 08:01:13 AM »

Imagine If A Republican Were President
By LARRY ELDER | Posted Thursday, March 26, 2009 4:20 PM PT

President Barack Obama, in an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, made a self-deprecating but ill-advised joke, in which he referred to the Special Olympics. He quickly apologized. Crisis averted. Fair enough.

But the real story is the media double standard: Imagine the uproar if a President John McCain made the Special Olympics comment.

For that matter, imagine if a President McCain mistook a White House window for a door, his secretary of Treasury had not paid taxes, he granted two dozen waivers to his no-lobbyists-in-government rule and he had promised bipartisanship but got only three across-the-aisle votes for his "stimulus" package.

Imagine if President McCain, after promising a "clean break" from his predecessor, retained "extraordinary rendition," the FISA program, the option of wiretapping without warrants and the option of using "enhanced interrogation techniques.

Or if he promised to close Gitmo, then said it would take as long as a year, but then our European allies refused to take in "detainees" from their own countries.

Or if he reneged on or fudged his promise to have all combat troops out of Iraq within "16 months of his presidency."

Or if he adopted for Afghanistan the same counterinsurgency strategy used in Iraq, which, as a candidate, he'd criticized for not "achieving its objectives.

Or if he used the same "state secrets" argument as did the Bush administration in the same court case, to avoid turning over certain national security documents in an ACLU-brought case on behalf of an alleged torture victim/detainee.

Imagine if — on the campaign trail — a future President McCain had declared a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable" but agreed to engage in negotiations without preconditions, if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the new president he must apologize for 60 years of anti-Iranian activity, if President McCain then reached out to the Iranians in a televised address and, in response, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — who holds ultimate authority in Iran — told him to a) drop animosity and criticism, b) end sanctions, c) unfreeze assets, and d) end "unconditional support" for Israel.

Imagine if President McCain acted "outraged" — as though he, his secretary of Treasury and a party leader (Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.) had not previously known about and approved the controversial AIG bonuses and that executives at Freddie and Fannie, failed institutions now taken over by government, were getting bonuses, too.

Or if, during this recession and after criticizing taxpayer-funded corporate retreats, President McCain and First Lady Cindy McCain threw taxpayer-funded White House parties nearly every night, hiring entertainers such as Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers.

Imagine if, as sitting president, McCain appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and cracked jokes, while — as the media would have written — "millions of Americans have lost their homes and their jobs with millions afraid they're next, yada, blah, etc."

Or if he tripled the projected annual deficit and intended, within a short period, to double the national debt. Or if he promised to "create or save" an ever-changing number of jobs — never offering a yardstick to define a "saved job."

Imagine that McCain's vice president made a number of gaffes, including not knowing the "recovery" Web site despite going on national television to promote it and revealing on television — through his wife — that he'd had the option of a job as secretary of State or VP — thus showing the administration's extreme disrespect toward the current secretary of state.

Imagine if, of the 18 important sub-Cabinet positions in the Treasury Department, none was filled. Or if, after promising "transparency," McCain wouldn't say where the TARP money had gone and who had gotten it. Or after receiving bailout money, the largest 20 financial institution recipients actually reduced lending — the opposite intent of the program.

Or if after saying that he wasn't a "socialist," McCain defended himself by asserting that "it wasn't on my watch" that we'd bought shares of banks — but omitted that, as senator, he'd supported and voted for it.

Or if he constantly said he'd "inherited" the deficit despite — as a senator — voting for TARP and other programs that had wildly increased it.

Imagine if President McCain ungraciously treated Prime Minister Gordon Brown from the U.K. — our closest and oldest ally — and gave him cheap, tacky gifts apparently picked up from the White House gift shop and someplace like Wal-Mart.

Imagine if, despite a reputation for "eloquence," President McCain relied on teleprompters for even the most minor of statements, verbally stumbling and flailing when the teleprompters malfunctioned.

Or if he broke protocol and tradition by pre-picking and giving notice to the reporters to be called on in press conferences. Or if he admonished the out-of-power party by denouncing a popular talk show host and imploring the opposite party to refuse to listen to him.

Imagine if the media kept referring to him as "popular" when his poll numbers were virtually identical to those of George W. Bush at the 50-day mark in their respective presidencies.

Or if his chief of staff, in a newspaper article about his achievements as a House member, said in front of a reporter that the opposition party could "go f*** themselves."

On the other hand, Cleveland State beat Wake Forest.
« Reply #403 on: March 28, 2009, 09:40:18 AM »
The Future of News

A Simple Model for Online Journalism

By Jonathan Weber, 3-19-09

The collapse of the traditional metro newspaper business has been foreseeable - indeed, foreseen - for quite some time, but it’s still a shock to see venerable institutions like the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer close their doors. What’s equally shocking, though, is the widespread assumption that serious journalism will disappear along with newspapers, and that preventing the disappearance of journalism requires either a massive philanthropic effort, a coordinated effort by news organizations to force a return to paid subscriptions, technological breakthroughs with electronic news reader devices, new business models that have yet to be invented, or some combination of all of the above.

As a four-year veteran of a journalism-driven local online media start-up, I believe there’s a very viable business formula that’s actually quite simple, and here today: take advantage of new tools and techniques to cover the news creatively and efficiently; sell sophisticated digital advertising in a sophisticated fashion; keep the Web content free, and charge a high price for content and interaction that are delivered in-person via conferences and events. And don’t expect instant results.

I’m not saying this model will be a “replacement” for newspapers, or provide stable, high-paying jobs for all the journalists who once worked at newspapers. Nor do I claim that it will, by itself, support all the forms of journalism that we want and need. But I do think the potential of this approach has been radically underestimated. Some variation of it is already well-established in the trade and specialty press - Paid Content, TechCrunch,The Business Insider, Talking Points Memo, and many of the Federated Media and Gawker Media sites are all good examples - and though it’s perhaps harder in local general-interest media, it can work there too. As evidence of that, I’ll immodestly suggest a look at our experience of NewWest.Net.

We started this company in 2005 partly on the premise that the news business would be changing in profound ways, and that would create opportunities. We were also very interested in what we considered a very big story - the dramatic transformation of the Rocky Mountain West from an under-populated, resource-dependent region to a dynamic, fast-growing hub of the emerging “amenity” and technology economies. We thought the story was regional in scope, but at the same time we were very conscious of the fact that people relate most closely to what’s most local, so we established NewWest.Net as a regional online magazine with local sites in key markets.

The editorial model relies on a combination of professional journalism (currently two full-time and four part-time professionals, as well as a number of freelancers); what we think of as semi-professional journalism (talented writers or subject-matter experts who do something else for their day job); and citizen journalism (bloggers and others who contribute on specific topics, sometimes for small sums of money). We don’t have copy editors, but rather copyedit each others’ stuff. We’re direct and conversational in our style, which is actually easier and quicker once you get used to it, and more appealing to readers than old-style newspaper formulas.

We have a very active photo group on Flickr, and get great feature photography from that. We mostly use Google for fact-checking - not fool-proof, but it works. We use Twitter and Facebook and RSS to push our stories out into the world. We do great video-driven stories when we can, and happily link to others’ videos. In fact, we happily link to a lot of stuff, sometimes in combination with our own reporting and sometimes not. We have lively comment threads, which we manage with as light a hand as we can and which are often additive to the stories in addition to being entertaining. We have very active event calendars in our local markets - separate from our main sites but well-integrated, and with a dedicated editor. We’re experimenting with a new social media site in Missoula, and we’ll see where that goes.

Our coverage is far from comprehensive, and we rarely write about sports or TV or movies (except when the big documentary film festival is in town). Big investigative projects are few and far between. We’re not a “paper of record,” and we’re not (or at least not yet) a replacement for local newspapers. Still, if you ask people around here where they go for smart coverage of growth and development, land-use issues, local food, regional politics, and community culture, a lot of people would say NewWest.Net. On some big stories, such as the boom and bust of the regional real estate market and the bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club and other high-end resorts, we have been way ahead of the pack.

On the business side, we’ve found that the conventional wisdom about plunging display ad rates is simply wrong. If you have a quality site, with good editorial that drives meaningful traffic, and you work closely with advertisers and offer them flash ads, video ads, good stats reporting, and the opportunity to help understand a new medium, they will pay a premium. A critical thing we have learned is that selling online advertising is more different from selling print or broadcast than mostly people think. I’d suggest that the difficulties traditional media outlets have in getting good prices for online advertising have to do not with the medium itself, but with the learning curve involved in figuring out how to sell it properly. It took us a couple of years, and we didn’t have any legacy issues to deal with.

Everything on the Website is free, but we have about 1,000 people who pay $150 or $300 or $500 a year for their NewWest experience. This experience comes through conferences and events, which have been a major revenue source and an excellent promotional vehicle for our site. The conferences are content-driven - programming a conference is in many ways very similar to editing a magazine - and thus we see it as part-and-parcel of the journalistic mission, not a distracting commercial add-on. If anything, people like conferences even more when they spend so much time interacting via a computer screen. Conference attendees are our loyal subscribers, and they pay a lot for our content.

Newspapers had market power because they were the only ones that could deliver information to people’s doorsteps every day. That’s why things like classifieds were attached to newspapers. Online media organizations don’t have that leverage, obviously. But what they do have is the ability to get people to come to their sites by providing great editorial. We have always found that strong, original stories are far and away the best way to drive traffic. Over time, if you’re close to your community and story-driven, rather than being a generic platform of some kind, you can build a journalism brand that means something, and can be monetized.

NewWest.Net isn’t making money yet, but we’re not losing money either. We had start-up capital to get us to this stage, but that was gone as of about six months ago. Even in the worst economy any of us have every experienced, we’re making it - not with donations and not with new inventions, but simply by being creative with the tools we have and working our butts off. I wouldn’t underestimate that last bit, and sometimes I do think I’m a masochist for not riding the corporate media gravy train until it completely ran out of steam. But the world doesn’t owe any of us a living, and in the long run I firmly believe that NewWest.Net and things like it will feed the families of plenty of great reporters and editors.
« Reply #404 on: March 31, 2009, 08:45:07 AM »

March 31, 2009
Spot the party label

By William Tate
In basketball, 'D' refers to defense; in political reporting, 'D' signifies Democrats. When it comes to reporting political scandals, though, 'D' seems to be missing from the increasingly partisan publication that used to be the nation's newspaper of record.

In an egregious example of the dinosaur media's blatant bias in favor of Democrats, the New York Times on Monday ran a report on a probe into a potentialy devastating lobbying scandal -- while downplaying Democrats' possible involvement.

According to the Times story, the investigation centers on powerful lobbyist, Paul Magliocchetti, and his firm, The PMA Group.

Magliochetti is a former aide to influential Congressman John Murtha.

The article skims over accusations that Magliochetti and PMA may have used straw donors to skirt campaign finance laws -- a practice that, if true, could have potentially influenced the outcome of last year's election -- and instead focuses on inside-the-Beltway concerns that the FBI may be investigating lavish dinners and other gifts that congressmen and their aides might have accepted from Magliochetti.

What the story buries -- almost, but not quite completely -- is that this scandal centers on Democrats. The first reference to the political party is deep in the seventh paragraph, and even then is only made in reference to an attorney used as a source for quotes in the story, "a veteran Washington criminal defense lawyer known for representing Democrats."

The article waits until the next paragraph, the eighth, to identify Murtha's party affiliation, even though he is first mentioned in the far-more-prominent third graph. And, when the report finally does so, it is in the context of denying wrongdoing:

"A spokesman for Mr. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who is chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, said the lawmaker had done nothing wrong and was not involved in the investigation."

(It should be noted that a spokesman for Magliochetti and PMA also denied any wrongdoing.)

These are the only two times in the 1,500+ word Times article in which the word, Democrat, appears; Magliochetti's party affiliation is not referenced, nor are party affiliations for any other individuals, even though numerous other politicians are named in the story.

"Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, he (Magliochetti) and a PMA colleague, Daniel Cunningham, were hosting a rowdy table of lawmakers at dinner in a private room in the Capital Grille that included Representatives Mike Doyle, Tim Holden and Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania; Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey; Representative Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts; Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut; and former Representative John Baldacci of Maine, now governor. (Mr. Larson reportedly led the group in a sing-a-long...) All were members of an informal group that followed Mr. Murtha's lead. Asked recently about the night, representatives of the lawmakers declined to comment."

Setting aside the deplorable nature of a rowdy party in Washington while first responders at Ground Zero and -- just a few miles away -- the Pentagon were digging through rubble, hoping desperately to save even a single life, it is remarkable that the Times article didn't bother to identify the party affiliation of a single one of the individuals named above, even though two of them are now powerful members of House leadership. Larson is Democratic Caucus Chair , and Capuano is House Organization Study and Review Chairman.

And, yes, all the congressmen mentioned are Democrats -- as is Maine Governor Baldacci.

Even the Times article draws a comparison between the current scandal and the imbroglio that brought down former powerhouse lobbysit, Jack Abramoff. So let's contrast the Times' coverage of the two.

A Times Magazine profile of Abramoff, published on May 1, 2005, called Abramoff a "a kingpin of Republican Washington" in the first sentence of the second paragraph. (The first graph is just a one-sentence teaser to set up the second.) The next sentence tells us that "he (Abramoff) was close friends with the powerful Republican congressman from Texas, Tom DeLay," and, before we're finished with the paragraph, we also learn of "the countless fund-raisers he (Abramoff) gave for Republican congressmen and senators."

Thus, before the main opening paragraph is concluded, the Times had already tied Abramoff to Republicans three times, more than it used the word, Democrat, in the entire article on the current PMA scandal.

In all, the word Republican is used 15 times in the -- admittedly longer -- 2005 Times Magazine piece on Abramoff.

This is no aberration. A January 4, 2006 Times article presenting an overview of the Abramoff case named Abramoff as "a prominent Republican lobbyist", again in the prominent second paragraph, and referred to "former House Republican majority leader, Tom Delay, and other senior Congressional Republicans."

In all, that 2006 article used the word, Republican, five times in connection with the Abramoff scandal.

Other Times articles referred to Abramoff as:

 - "the corrupt Republican lobbyist,"

 - "high-flying Republican lobbyist,"

 - "the indicted Republican superlobbyist,"

- "The fallen Republican lobbyist,"

 - "prominent Republican lobbyist,"

 - or just "the Republican lobbyist."
When Democrats are involved in scandal, they are often identified as "Representative William J. Jefferson," or "Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana,"with party identification buried deep in the reports.

Yet, when it comes to a GOP politician, the Times often leads with their party affiliation:

"Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho," "Larry E. Craig, an Idaho Republican," "former Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho."

Or "Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican entangled in the corruption," "Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio,"   "former Representative Randy Cunningham, the San Diego Republican," "Randy Cunningham, a former Republican House member."

It's a pattern that's repeated almost endlessly; Times -- and the MSM in general -- coverage of scandals that involve Republican politicians unfailingly highlights their party affiliation, while coverage of scandals involving Democrat officials buries, or fails to mention at all, their political party.

It seems that, when it comes to reporting political scandals, the Times' printing press is missing a letter, the capital D.

As in John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania).

Or the New York Times (D-New York.)

William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author

Page Printed from: at March 31, 2009 - 09:41:12 AM EDT
« Reply #405 on: April 05, 2009, 11:20:04 AM »

Paper Money
Newspapers aren't assets to be flipped, leveraged, and stripped.
Each time a newspaper company closes or files for bankruptcy—as Sun-Times Media, the owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and 58 other newspapers, did this week—analysts are quick to hammer another nail in the coffin of the printed word. Roughly coinciding as they do with the advent of the Kindle 2, the failures give ammunition to voices who say newspapers are obsolete. Now that both of the Second City's major newspapers are operating under the umbrella of Chapter 11, and with papers in Denver and Seattle shutting down, it's tough to argue with those who say the industry has useless management, a fundamentally unviable business model, and not much of a future.

While newspapers have serious problems, the recent failures of several newspaper companies (here's a list of list of four others that have gone BK in recent months) shouldn't necessarily lead to visions of the apocalypse. Virtually every newspaper in the country has experienced a sharp drop in advertising and is suffering losses. But not every newspaper company in the country has gone bankrupt as a result. And the failures may say more about a style of capitalism than an industry. Each company was undone in large measure by really stupid (and in one case criminal) activities by managers.

Let's review. Sun-Times Media is the name given to the company formerly run by convicted felon Conrad Black. Black and his colleague, Publisher David Radler, who confessed to his crimes, improperly took tens of millions of dollars in fees from the company and caused it endless legal heartache. Jeremy L. Halbreich, the interim CEO of the company, blamed the bankruptcy filing on "this deteriorating economic climate, coupled with a significant, pending IRS tax liability dating back to previous management."

The actions of the top executives in other bankrupt newspaper companies were criminal only if you consider gross financial stupidity and recklessness to be jailing offenses. Who loads up newspapers—cyclical companies whose revenues are in secular decline thanks to the disappearance of classified advertisements and the rise of the Internet—with tons of debt at precisely the wrong time? Financial geniuses, that's who.

In 2007, legendary real estate investor Sam Zell decided that a talent for good timing in flipping office buildings made him an expert on the ailing newspaper industry. In December 2007, he closed on the $8.2 billion purchase of the Tribune Co., which owned the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Cubs. Zell put down just 4 percent of the purchase price—$315 million—and borrowed much of the rest, leaving the company with a $13 billion debt burden. This deal was the purest expression of the "dumb money" mentality. The only hope Zell had of making a dent in the debt load and keeping current on the $800-million-plus annual interest tab was to sell off trophy properties like the Cubs, office buildings, and big-city newspapers—assets that themselves don't throw off lots of income but whose purchase requires tons of cheap credit. Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy Dec. 8, 2008.

Two of the other large newspaper companies that went bust in recent months have similar back stories. A bunch of private-equity types bought the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News in June 2006, borrowing about $450 million of the $562 million purchase price. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late February but not before paying top executives $650,000 in bonuses in December. Among those getting a bonus: Brian Tierney, the former public relations executive who was one of the architects of the deal. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, which filed for Chapter 11 in January, was another private-equity train wreck. About two years ago, Avista Capital Partners bought the paper for $530 million, loading well over $400 million of debt onto the company.

In other words, the newspaper companies that have failed wholesale were essentially set up to fail by inexperienced managers who believed piling huge amounts of debt on businesses whose revenues were shrinking even when the economy was growing was a shrewd means of value creation. A similar dynamic is playing out in other industries. Several mattress companies have filed for bankruptcy or are near it. It's not simply because sales are down due to the economy or because mattresses, which rely on an inferior technology, are being displaced by futuristic futons. Rather, as the Wall Street Journal reported (subscription required), the companies are going bust because private-equity types loaded them up with absurd levels of debt at the wrong time.

It's true that plenty of smaller newspapers without huge debt loads are in trouble. But lots of newspapers are muddling through, in part because, like our sister publication the Washington Post, they're owned by a parent company that has other lines of profitable businesses; or, like the New York Times, their parent companies have the financial flexibility to take dramatic action to raise capital; or, like Gannett papers, the parent company manages expenses aggressively. All newspapers—all print media—have been hit hard in this recession. All face an existential crisis and may ultimately face the prospect of bankruptcy. Those whose owners saw papers as assets to be flipped, leveraged, and stripped are already bankrupt.
Daniel Gross is the Moneybox columnist for Slate and the business columnist for Newsweek. You can e-mail him at His latest book, Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation, has just been published as an e-book

Article URL:
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #406 on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:26 AM »

Gee, if I didn't know better, I'd think Obama was an inexperienced buffoon.  rolleyes
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #407 on: April 11, 2009, 08:14:48 AM »

Stop the presses?

Well, we just might stop the presses. And John Robson says he won't miss The New York Times when they go.
Stop the presses? Can it be? Compared to the suddenly very possible demise of newspaper titans including the New York Times, the fate of the “unsinkable” Titanic a century ago seems mildly odd, the collapse of General Motors merely a bit strange. It’s going to leave a gap in the American national conversation. But we’ll all survive fairly easily.
It’s weird to see this fate overtake the daily press, an institution that once seemed as much a part of American life as the neighbourhood barber shop. Twentieth century fiction and commentary alike could not imagine urban life without daily mass circulation newspapers, or those newspapers without the authoritative, massive, eternal flagships every reporter and editor envied. Now paper after paper folds up or seeks bankruptcy protection, and even the mighty Times is reduced to swearing it really honestly won’t go bankrupt... next month.

The economic difficulties of newspapers are not all that surprising. It is true that they have not been in a long slow decline like most of the “rust belt” industries that defined American economic might from the turn of the century into the 1960s. Newspapers were not slowly ground down by foreign competitors figuring out mass production while compulsory unionization drove up costs and drove out innovation. Instead, they were suddenly blindsided by the Internet.

It’s not that anyone solved the problem of how to make money giving something away free online. Instead, online searches and email took away newspapers’ ability to do exactly that the old-fashioned way. In their old, apparently unsinkable business model, subscription and newsstand prices never even attempted to cover production costs. Instead, they attracted readers with cheap papers, and then advertisers paid them to deliver their messages to those readers. And unfortunately the Internet made it possible for buyers and sellers to find one another faster and more reliably, and revenue from classified and retail advertising collapsed with catastrophic rapidity.

Thus far newspapers have my sympathy, and not only because they have been a major source of my income for the past dozen years. I didn’t see this terrible problem coming a decade ago either. But the other major problem now afflicting newspapers was entirely self-inflicted and I did see that one coming. It was content: what they covered and, even more, the way they covered it. The newspaper industry as a whole took on a particular tone of smug bias that now prevents it from adapting to changed circumstances in the only way I think is realistic.

There were exceptions, of course, but the typical newspaper and especially the typical elite newspaper deserve exactly the reproach my distinctly unconventional colleague David Warren delivered last May. “In my view... The idea of the news sheet remains essentially sound... People still want something to read that is portable and companionable and requires no technological savvy whatever. But those who can read want something ... intrinsically lively, informative, interesting, and even reliable and trustworthy and aesthetically satisfying.” Instead of which, especially as they came to recruit mostly from journalism schools, newspapers became the preserve of a narrow liberal elite “who think and sound like sociology majors, and express themselves in a jargon stream of pompous, preachy, preening, vaguely leftist and reptilian drivel.”

The only way newspapers can survive in the digital era is to exploit the negative tendency of the Internet to overload us with information of dubious quality. They must become trusted gatekeepers, sites to which you subscribe even for things you could get free elsewhere because they collect it all in one place in an intelligent and fair-minded way and save you hours of precious time for a few dollars a week. And nobody now trusts them to do so but the sorts of liberals who, in William F. Buckley Jr.’s apt jibe, go on endlessly about other points of view but are always amazed to find that there are other points of view. There aren’t enough such people to sustain the industry on reader rather than advertiser revenue.

Take The New York Times ... please. On questions of factual accuracy, and weight with the chattering classes in liberal epochs, it had some real claim to be the American newspaper of record. And it deserves credit for broadening its pages by inventing the Op Ed page (a seemingly timeless feature, it actually began in the “grey lady” in 1970). But the Times took a reliably and offensively biased liberal position from time out of mind without even realizing it.

In the 1920s it assured its readers Hitler had been tamed. In the early 1930s it published Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer-winning lies denying Stalin’s famines. Its crusade against the Vietnam war culminated with the notorious headline “Indochina Without Americans: For Most, A Better Life” from Phnom Penh, Cambodia on April 30, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took the city and began their genocide.

In 1983 the Times sonorously informed its readers that “the stench of failure” hung over the Reagan White House. And on and on. In a master-stroke of clueless pomposity, every four years the editorial board stroked its collective long grey beard before pronouncing that on this occasion they considered the Democratic candidate for president superior... 14 straight times and counting.

I do think the collapse of a national press is bad for a nation. Love them or hate them, a few generally recognized leading publications created a shared framework for a national conversation in which virtually every informed person knew many of the same facts and was reacting to the same thoughtful presentations of those facts.

The development of technology from the dawn of the microchip era was bound to fragment this conversation to some extent. Even cable television reduced the shared cultural experience of audiences in the industrial democracies in the 20th century, hearing the same handful of major radio shows then watching the same handful of entertainment and news programs. You don’t have to think it could have been prevented to see some drawbacks to the shattering of this common focus and the development of a sort of national and international ADD.

The Internet does take Chesterton’s warning about the parochialism of big cities to new heights; with millions of blogs to choose from we can easily avoid information overload by focusing only on those sources that confirm everything we already think in exactly the tone we find most congenial. Newspapers could make money combating that tendency, if they hadn’t long ago succumbed to the temptation to perform it for one elite point of view only.

They will be missed for what they might have done. But not, sadly, for what they chose to do instead while they still had a choice.

John Robson is an Ottawa based writer and broadcaster.
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #408 on: April 14, 2009, 07:01:35 PM »

Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama's Double-Homicide
APRIL 14, 2009 | ISSUE 45•16

The press hasn't figured out how best to display the gruesome crime-scene photos from the president's bloody rampage.

WASHINGTON—More than a week after President Barack Obama's cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.

"I know there's a story in there somewhere," said Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, referring to Obama's home invasion and execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz on Apr. 8. "Right now though, it's probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation."

Added Meacham, "It's not so cut and dried."


Associated Press reporters investigate any possible gym training regimens the president might have used to get into peak physical condition for the murders.

Since the killings took place, reporters across the country have struggled to come up with an appropriate take on the ruthless crime, with some wondering whether it warrants front-page coverage, and others questioning its relevance in a fast-changing media landscape.

"What exactly is the news hook here?" asked Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News. "Is this an upbeat human-interest story about a 'day in the life' of a bloodthirsty president who likes to kill people? Or is it more of an examination of how Obama's unusual upbringing in Hawaii helped to shape the way he would one day viciously butcher two helpless citizens in their own home?"

"Or maybe the story is just that murder is cool now," Kaplan continued. "I don't know. There are a million different angles on this one."

So far, the president's double-homicide has not been covered by any major news outlets. The only two mentions of the heinous tragedy have been a 100-word blurb on the Associated Press wire and an obituary on page E7 of this week's edition of the Lake County Examiner.

While Obama has expressed no remorse for the grisly murders—point-blank shootings with an unregistered .38-caliber revolver—many journalists said it would be irresponsible for the press to sensationalize the story.

"There's been some debate around the office about whether we should report on this at all," Washington Post senior reporter Bill Tracy said while on assignment at a local dog show. "It's enough of a tragedy without the press jumping in and pointing fingers or, worse, exploiting the violence. Plus, we need to be sensitive to the victims' families at this time. Their loved ones were brutally, brutally murdered, after all."

Nevertheless, a small contingent of independent journalists has begun to express its disapproval and growing shock over the president's actions.

"I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but we are in the midst of an economic crisis here," political pundit Marcus Reid said. "Why was our president ritualistically dismembering the corpses of his prey when he should have been working on a new tax proposal for small businesses? I, for one, am outraged."

The New York Times newsroom is reportedly still undecided on whether or not to print a recent letter received from Obama, in which the president threatens to kill another helpless citizen every Tuesday and "fill [his] heavenly palace with slaves for the afterlife" unless the police "stop the darkness from screaming."

"President Obama's letter presents us with a classic journalistic quandary," executive editor Bill Keller said. "If we print it, then we're giving him control over the kinds of stories we choose to run. It would be an acknowledgment that we somehow give the nation's commander in chief special treatment."

Added Keller, "And that's just not how the press in this country works."
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« Reply #409 on: April 16, 2009, 03:40:23 PM »


April 16, 2009 --

THE top suits and some of the on-air talent at CNBC were recently ordered to a top-secret meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker to discuss whether they've turned into the President Obama-bashing network, Page Six has learned.

"It was an intensive, three-hour dinner at 30 Rock which Zucker himself was behind," a source familiar with the powwow told us. "There was a long discussion about whether CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much. There's great concern that CNBC is now the anti-Obama network. The whole meeting was really kind of creepy."

One topic under the microscope, our insider said, was on-air CNBC editor Rick Santelli's rant two months ago about staging a "Chicago Tea Party" to protest the president's bailout programs -- an idea that spawned tax protest tea parties in other big cities, infuriating the White House. Oddly, Santelli was not at the meeting, while Jim Cramer was, noted our source, who added that no edict was ultimately handed down by the network chieftains.

CNBC flack Brian Steel confirmed the get-together, but insisted: "The dinner was to thank CNBC for a job well done in our in-depth reporting throughout the financial crisis. As far as our coverage is concerned, we are built for balance and we are unabashedly pro-investor."

Our source retorted: "That is complete bull[bleep] . . . they didn't invite a lot of people to [the meeting]. There were many staffers who were working 24/7 during the crisis who weren't asked to attend, even Santelli, who was a big star for the network during those weeks. Why not?"

In addition, the insider said: "News of the meeting is starting to leak out and people are contacting a number of the on-air people to ask if they've been muzzled by GE."
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« Reply #410 on: April 17, 2009, 12:40:11 AM »

It's make-or-break time for many newspapers. Denver and Seattle recently lost dailies, the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times are both in bankruptcy, and owners of the Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle threaten closure. One reader mourned the loss of her local newspaper in Connecticut by lamenting that she had gone from living in a city to living off just another exit on Interstate 95. As comedian Stephen Colbert put it last week, "The impending death of the newspaper industry: Where will they print the obituary?"

Barney Kilgore.
Creative destruction is blowing hard through the news industry, as digital technology gives readers access to endless sources of news but undermines the ability of publishers to support news departments. City newspapers are no longer the dominant way people get news or the main way advertisers reach consumers. The recession is accelerating these trends, with advertising so soft even Web-only news operations, which don't have the legacy costs of print, are now struggling to support journalism.

As the remaining city newspapers rethink themselves, editors and publishers might consult a road map for how newspapers can live alongside new media that was drawn up more than 50 years ago by Bernard Kilgore, outlined in a new biography by former Journal executive Richard Tofel, "Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal and the Invention of Modern Journalism."

Kilgore had remarkable judgment early about the journalistic issue of our day: how readers use old media, new media and both. When Kilgore became managing editor of the Journal in 1941, he inherited a business model that technology had undermined. Founded in 1889 to provide market news and stock prices to individual investors, the Journal lost half its circulation as this basic information became widely available.

Kilgore observed that then new media such as radio meant market news was available in real time. Some cities had a dozen newspapers that had gained the Journal's once-valuable ability to report share prices.

The Journal had to change. Technology increasingly meant readers would know the basic facts of news as it happened. He announced, "It doesn't have to have happened yesterday to be news," and said that people were more interested in what would happen tomorrow. He crafted the front page "What's News -- " column to summarize what had happened, but focused on explaining what the news meant.

On the morning after Pearl Harbor, other newspapers recounted the facts already known to all the day before through radio. The Journal's page-one story instead began, "War with Japan means industrial revolution in the United States." It outlined the implications for the economy, industry and commodity and financial markets.

Kilgore led the Journal's circulation to one million by the 1960s from 33,000 in the 1940s by adapting the newspaper to a role reflecting how people used different media for news. His rallying cry was, "The easiest thing in the world for a reader to do is to stop reading."

Business and financial news is different from the general news focus of city newspapers, but in 1958 the owners of the New York Herald Tribune approached Kilgore for help. Mr. Tofel uncovered a five-page memo Kilgore wrote them on how to keep city newspapers essential to readers. The Herald Tribune, he wrote, is "too much a newspaper that might be published in Philadelphia, Washington or Chicago just as readily as in metropolitan New York." Kilgore urged the "compact model newspaper." Readers valued their time, so the newspaper should have just one section, with larger editions on Sunday when people had more time to read.

His advice was clearly ahead of its time. The owners didn't heed it, and the Herald Tribune went out of business in 1967. But his observations on what readers want from city newspapers may be even more true in today's online world. Readers increasingly know yesterday what happened yesterday through Web sites, television and news alerts.

"Kilgore's first critical finding," Mr. Tofel wrote, was "that readers seek insight into tomorrow even more than an account of yesterday." This "may only now be getting through to many editors and publishers." Indeed, at a time when print readership is declining, The Economist, with its weekly focus on interpretation, is gaining circulation. The Journal continues to focus on what readers need, growing the number of individuals paying for the newspaper and the Web site.

If readers would prefer more-compact city newspapers, a less-is-more approach could help cut newsprint, printing, distribution and other costs that don't add to the journalism. Newspaper editors could craft a new, forward-looking role for print, alongside the what's-happening-right-now focus of digital news.

There's a lot of experimentation by editors around the country to find out what people want from their print and online news. For city newspapers on the brink, the Barney Kilgore approach might deliver some badly needed good news.

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« Reply #411 on: April 17, 2009, 11:58:38 AM »

Fauxbama Photo Event Generates Positive Coverage
According to Minority Report's Dave Hinz, "[T]hat wonderful cheering welcome that President Obama received with his unscheduled surprise visit to the troops in Iraq, was entirely a staged event." One Army sergeant described the event this way: "We were pre-screened, asked by officials 'Who voted for Obama?', and then those who raised their hands were shuffled to the front of the receiving line. They even handed out digital cameras and asked them to hold them up." As Hinz put it, "[P]olitical operatives from the Administration orchestrate a faux-cheering crowd of adoring military, right in front of the media covering the event."

The Associated Press obliged, reporting, "President Barack Obama went for the defining television shot by capping his first extended foreign tour with a surprise visit to Iraq. He got it -- pictures of hundreds of U.S. troops cheering wildly as he told them it was time for the Iraqis to take charge of their own future. The war-zone photo opportunity produced a stunning show of appreciation for Obama from military men and women who have made great sacrifices, many serving repeated tours in a highly unpopular war."

It's not hard to believe that all the "journalists" tagging along on this assignment failed to mention this charade. But when covering the teleconference President Bush set up a couple of years ago with soldiers who were shown on camera, discussing who would take what question, all the media could say was "Scandal!" As for Obama, he must have learned from this comparison with a real commander in chief.
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« Reply #412 on: April 17, 2009, 10:33:20 PM »
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« Reply #413 on: April 18, 2009, 01:16:41 PM »
« Reply #414 on: April 18, 2009, 06:03:36 PM »

Impacting the collective global MEMRI
Apr. 15, 2009
Greer Fay Cashman , THE JERUSALEM POST

Retired IDF colonel Yigal Carmon, the president of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), has an impressive CV. He served in the IDF Intelligence Corps, was an adviser on Arab affairs to the Civil Administration in the West Bank and a senior staff member of Israel's National Defense College. He was a senior member of the Israel delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference, an adviser on counter-terrorism to prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, and director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.

All of this, Carmon said, made him aware of the need for the organization he founded a little over a decade ago.

"In my long government career, I had the opportunity to see how governments, legislatures and the public at large suffered from lack of knowledge despite the fact that information was available - but in alien languages," he told The Jerusalem Post. "This enabled self-proclaimed pundits, who didn't even know any foreign languages, to hold a monopoly on what was the perceived reality of the Muslim world.

"It reminds me of the bad old times of communism, when there were Sovietologists who didn't speak a word of Russian. Today, there are so-called Arabists who don't speak Arabic. It's untenable that people who don't speak Arabic should be in this business," he said.

The business he was referring to is the monitoring of the Muslim and Arab world, and the accurate translation of what is said on Arabic radio and television, which often differs from statements made to the print media.

There are also many hidden - and sometimes dangerous - messages in Internet publications, discernable only to the most competent of linguists.

"Diplomats and journalists rely on strategic information," said Carmon. "When I started this project, I brought some work to one of the wire services, which had its own translator. When the bureau chief read my report and compared it to that of the translator, he said it was as if they had come from two different worlds. In my perception this illustrated what was lacking due to language barriers."

With these obstacles in mind, MEMRI's mission is to bridge gaps between East and West.

Like any new enterprise, it suffered some teething problems. "In the beginning there were attempts to thwart our work, but we overcame the opposition by the quality of what we do," said Carmon. He added, with no small degree of satisfaction: "We send direct mail to 80,000 subscribers worldwide, but we have millions of hits and individual users of our Web site who aren't part of our subscriber base."

For example, material that MEMRI ran on Wafa Sultan, the outspoken Syrian-born secularist who now lives in the US and is frequently interviewed with regard to her critical views on Muslim terrorism and extremism, attracted so much attention that the Web site had received 16 million hits from 192 countries, he said.

One might expect the founder and president of MEMRI to work out of Washington, DC, where the independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization is headquartered. Carmon is indeed a frequent visitor to Washington, but prefers to base himself in the Jerusalem branch office. Other branch offices are located in London, Tokyo, Rome, Baghdad and Shanghai.

The material MEMRI researches is translated to English, German, Hebrew, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Additional languages are about to be added through the Urdu-Pashtun media project, which will include translations and analyses of media in Farsi and Turkish, in addition to Arabic.

The main topics MEMRI deals with are: Jihad and Terrorism Studies; The US and the Middle East; Reforms in the Arab and Muslim World; The Arab-Israeli conflict; Inter-Arab relations; Economic Studies; The Anti-Semitism Documentation Project and the Islamist Web sites Monitoring Projectd.

Just reading the headings on the MEMRI Web site, without studying the analyses, is a mind-boggling experience. There is an almost overwhelming wealth and variety of material.

Carmon is justifiably proud of the fact that in the past year, MEMRI's 50 salaried staff members have translated and analyzed 10,905 papers.

Would MEMRI be able to function without the Internet? And if so, to what extent?

"We live with the era," he said. "We started our work in a computer age and utilize whatever the Internet facilities enable us to do."

This includes a TV monitor project that puts numerous video clips, on many subjects, at the disposal of interested parties. The video clips are accompanied by brief explanations and are updated daily. For some it is much more important to see and hear someone saying something than to read a report about it.

Asked where he thought MEMRI had been most influential, Carmon unhesitatingly replied: "In explaining the ideology behind terror. In the past, terror was a regarded as a crime, but it wasn't generally realized that it's not a regular crime, and that it's motivated by ideology."

Today, MEMRI could almost qualify as an intelligence organization, given its success in monitoring of terrorist organizations and their activities, as well as the opposition and dissent in the population groups in which terrorists operate.

Its dedicated Web site, the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM), is available to paying subscribers only. The wealth of other information it amasses is freely available online.

"Ten years ago, the volume and quality of reports on the Middle East were not what they are today," acknowledged Carmon. "There was a prism of experts telling us about the Middle East, and we had to take their expertise at face value," he said.

"Today, MEMRI supplies primary sources and allows reporters and decision makers to judge for themselves and draw their own conclusions. We do not engage in advocacy."

He was pleased, however, when he saw someone else trying to create something similar to MEMRI - especially when it was a Saudi prince.

"Part of our success is reflected in the fact that Walid Bin Talal gave $20 million to Georgetown University to create a free on-line database on Islamic studies and the history of the Arab world. As far as I can tell, it is based on the MEMRI on-line principle."

Of all the subject matter MEMRI monitors and analyzes, there are two projects on which Carmon particularly likes to focus. One is reform in the Muslim and Arab world, and the other is anti-Semitism.

"Reforms in the Muslim and Arab world constitute our flagship project," he said. "We are big on reforms. We have helped several reform initiatives, and in 2001 we monitored and distributed dissident voices in the aftermath of the bombing of the World Trade Center.

"When these voices were small and weak, we were able to amplify them by publishing them - and we keep doing that without support from any quarter. We even helped reform Web sites to operate."

MEMRI also renders assistance to counter-terrorism organizations. "We help all security organizations working against terrorism, and we expose anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world," Carmon asserted. "Exposure of this ugly phenomenon provokes instant positive reaction, such as renouncing or backing away in the Arab world, unlike [in] Iran, where exposure prompts more anti-Semitism. One example of this occurred soon after our exposure of an anti-Semitic series on Egyptian television. A series of three articles written by Osama el-Baz in Al-Aharam refuted all anti-Semitic messages. He sent translations of these articles to every member of Congress."

Carmon sees incidents such as this as unmistakable sign of MEMRI's impact.

Unfortunately, he said, anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world was currently on the rise.

"Prior to Operation Cast Lead, the level of anti-Semitism in Arab and Muslim lands, other than Iran, had been reduced," Carmon noted. "Then it went up again, but I believe it will go down again."

Political and religious messages are often reflected in the arts, which is why MEMRI monitored the arts no less than raw politics,he said.

"We do a lot on social and cultural issues," he stated. "We have material on Arab music, culture, cinema and literature. North African cinema is very anti-terror, and in Pakistan there's a rock group that's anti-terror. We keep our finger on the pulse of popular culture."

MEMRI also gets involved in human rights issues. "We received a request from Sini Sanuman, a small NGO in Mali, Indonesia," Carmon related. "Sini Sanuman, which means Healthy Tomorrow, was interested in was getting a clip of the Egyptian television broadcast in which the Grand Mufti of Egypt addressed the subject of female genital mutilation, which he absolutely condemned.

"The NGO wanted to show the clip to Ousmane Cherif Haidara, a prominent religious leader in Mali, in the hope that if what the Grand Mufti said was sufficiently convincing, Haidara would also publicly oppose the practice."

Thinking it might be helpful if American women's rights activists were informed about what happened to women outside the US, Carmon went on the lecture circuit.

"I addressed 15 US women's rights groups about this issue, but they couldn't care less. They're not interested in women's rights in the Muslim and Arab world," he said.

Like all non-profit organizations, MEMRI relies on the support of donors, but under the present economic circumstances, financial support was waning, he said.

"The economic meltdown is a tragedy for us," said Carmon. "Some of our supporters, such as Elie Wiesel, who is on our board, can no longer help us. Others who continue to give are giving less. We are desperately in need of help. While I'm deeply grateful for all the financial support we received in the past, and I understand the difficulties imposed by the current financial crisis, I have to say that it will be disastrous if we can't finance our projects. We already have projects that we cannot implement for lack of resources."

To have made the enormous impact that MEMRI has succeeded in making in just over a decade is no mean feat. Nonetheless, Carmon isn't as happy as he should be. "I thought we would go a lot further in a decade than we have done," he admitted.

Though not an advocacy organization, MEMRI, with its wealth of monitored information, can provide tools for Jewish youth to use in countering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on campus. "Jewish youth on campus should be disseminating knowledge of the Middle East," he asserted. "Knowledge was always the Jewish people's survival weapon. Now I encounter terrible ignorance, which impacts negatively on all advocacy efforts."

There was a distinct note of frustration in Carmon's voice as he pointed out there was ample material available on video, "which is the language of the age."

It bothered him, he said, that young people who spend up to 18 hours a day on a computer could, with hardly any effort, disseminate knowledge to the whole world, but for the most part were not sufficiently interested to make the effort.

Now, on the threshold of the second decade of MEMRI's operations, what does Carmon wish for?

His response is simple and broad: "To win the information challenge worldwide."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710697837&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]

There are definitely Feminists organizations that are interested in genital mutilation.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2009, 06:07:57 PM by Rachel » Logged
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« Reply #415 on: May 01, 2009, 11:28:35 PM »
« Reply #416 on: May 03, 2009, 10:44:25 AM »

May 03, 2009
Pinch Sulzberger grovels before his Patron

Ed Lasky
The New York Times must be getting increasingly desperate.

The publisher of the Times, Arthur Sulzberger, writes a paean in Time Magazine to Carlos Slim, the billionaire Mexican monopolist who threw the flailing Times a lifeline via a 250 million dollar loan earlier in the year.

This is a man who has set back development in Mexico by his monopoly (or  near monopoly) of the telecommunications system in that nation. He has been milking his profits for decades, blocking technological development of competitors by using his influence with politicians. The Times has historically derided this type of crony capitalism, especially  when it takes place in the developing world because of its effects on the poor.

Before Slim bought the obeisance of Pinch, the paper had run critical articles on him. Now Pinch's soul -- if he has one -- has been bought, lock, stock and barrel.

Behave now Pinch --you have a master, now. And it shows.

Here is Pinch at his most servile:

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Carlos Slim. He had decided to invest in the New York Times Co. and thought it would be a good idea to get to know me and my senior colleagues. It was obvious from the moment we met that he was a true Times loyalist. We had an enjoyable conversation about what was happening in this country and everywhere else in the world. Carlos, a very shrewd businessman with an appreciation for great brands, showed a deep understanding of the role that news, information and education play in our interconnected global society.

Carlos, 69, believes that as people know more, they have a far better opportunity to change and improve their lives. As he spoke at our meeting, he conveyed the quiet but fierce confidence that has enabled him to have a profound and lasting effect on millions of individuals in Mexico and neighboring countries.

Well, Slim has slowed the development of the telecommunications system in Mexico and neighboring nations. He charges sky high prices for the use of the phone system that he was able to buy for a song years ago when the government privatized what had been a government owned system. Anyone been to Mexico lately? The phones are clunky and belong in the Mexican equivalent of the Smithsonian. Nevertheless they are slot machines for Slim.

Slim tapped his political contacts to arrange a sweetheart sale. This is precisely the type of behavior Sulzberger and his paper has condemned in the past.

The absurdity reaches new highs when Sulzberger claims Slim is helping millions of people become part of the information age. His efforts have retarded access to the internet because it has been profitable for him to derail competition and milk his monopoly.

Page Printed from: at May 03, 2009 - 11:42:24 AM EDT
« Reply #417 on: May 12, 2009, 10:42:40 AM »

Irish student hoaxes world's media with fake quote
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer - Tue May 12, 2009 8:57AM EDT

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.

They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia quickly caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it, but not quickly enough to keep some journalists from cutting and pasting it first.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets in an e-mail and the corrections began.

"I was really shocked at the results from the experiment," Fitzgerald, 22, said Monday in an interview a week after one newspaper at fault, The Guardian of Britain, became the first to admit its obituarist lifted material straight from Wikipedia.

"I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn't come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up," he said. "It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact."

So far, The Guardian is the only publication to make a public mea culpa, while others have eliminated or amended their online obituaries without any reference to the original version — or in a few cases, still are citing Fitzgerald's florid prose weeks after he pointed out its true origin.

"One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack," Fitzgerald's fake Jarre quote read. "Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear."

Fitzgerald said one of his University College Dublin classes was exploring how quickly information was transmitted around the globe. His private concern was that, under pressure to produce news instantly, media outlets were increasingly relying on Internet sources — none more ubiquitous than the publicly edited Wikipedia.

When he saw British 24-hour news channels reporting the death of the triple Oscar-winning composer, Fitzgerald sensed what he called "a golden opportunity" for an experiment on media use of Wikipedia.

He said it took him less than 15 minutes to fabricate and place a quote calculated to appeal to obituary writers without distorting Jarre's actual life experiences.

If anything, Fitzgerald said, he expected newspapers to avoid his quote because it had no link to a source — and even might trigger alarms as "too good to be true." But many blogs and several newspapers used the quotes at the start or finish of their obituaries.

Wikipedia spokesman Jay Walsh said he appreciated the Dublin student's point, and said he agreed it was "distressing so see how quickly journalists would descend on that information without double-checking it."

"We always tell people: If you see that quote on Wikipedia, find it somewhere else too. He's identified a flaw," Walsh said in a telephone interview from Wikipedia's San Francisco base.

But Walsh said there were more responsible ways to measure journalists' use of Wikipedia than through well-timed sabotage of one of the site's 12 million listings. "Our network of volunteer editors do thankless work trying to provide the highest-quality information. They will be rightly perturbed and irritated about this," he said.

Fitzgerald stressed that Wikipedia's system requiring about 1,500 volunteer "administrators" and the wider public to spot bogus additions did its job, removing the quote three times within minutes or hours. It was journalists eager for a quick, pithy quote that was the problem.

He said the Guardian was the only publication to respond to him in detail and with remorse at its own editorial failing. Others, he said, treated him as a vandal.

"The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source," said the readers' editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

Walsh said this was the first time to his knowledge that an academic researcher had placed false information on a Wikipedia listing specifically to test how the media would handle it.
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« Reply #418 on: May 13, 2009, 09:09:36 AM »

Previous media post of Huss where the student fools the media but gets caught by wikipedia is funny, but sad.

Similarly, here is the vice glibness spoofing the Washington Post.  Reminds me of Jay Leno on the national enquirer, 'you know it's true because they check, double check and check again before they run with a story' lol.


Washington Post (May 11) served up this headline: "Obama Enlists Biden's Expertise About High Court." The sole source cited by the Post for the proposition that Biden has a major say in selecting the next Supreme Court nominee is Biden himself. The only other source in the portion of the story that deals with Biden's role in policy matters is Ron Klain, Talkin' Joe's chief of staff. Klain touted Biden's foreign travels and asserted that "having a vice president who can do that sort of work has been a huge asset to the president."
« Reply #419 on: May 21, 2009, 02:04:33 PM »

It's always galled me that the media generally can't write a sentence about firearms without getting a fact wrong, yet just about everyone in American has an uncle or knows someone who could provide the ballistics table for just about any given bullet without breaking stride. Why can't the media get something simple straight, when everyone else knows who to consult? This piece speaks to variations on this vacuous theme.

Monday, the President ate a burger .. Mark Steyn
Steyn Online ^ | 21 May 2009 | Mark Steyn

Maybe if they’d covered the love child instead of a fast food foray, papers wouldn’t be dying

John Edwards’ adultery was back in the news last week. Well, okay, “back” is probably not le mot juste, given that the former presidential candidate’s mistress cum campaign videographer wasn’t exactly front-page news even in the days when he was coming a strong second in the Iowa caucuses or being tipped as a possible vice-presidential nominee. Every editor knew the “rumours” (i.e., plausible scenario with mountains of circumstantial evidence), but, unlike, say, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother’s drug bust, this wasn’t one of those stories you need to drop everything for.

Only when the hard-working lads at the National Enquirer doorstepped Senator Edwards in the basement stairwell of the Beverly Hilton after a post-midnight visit to his newborn love child and forced him to take cover in the men’s room did the Los Angeles Times swing into action. Alas, it was to instruct its writers to make no comment on a story happening right under their own sniffy noses. The editor Tony Pierce emailed as follows:

“There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.

“If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don’t hesitate to ask

“Keep rockin,


“Keep rockin.” If only. I think we can take it as read that, if Senator Edwards were delivering his mistress’s octuplets on the editor’s desk at the Los Angeles Times office, Tony would still insist we need a couple of corroborating sources before we can run with this thing.

While no doubt grateful for the Times’ efforts, by now even the adulterer had concluded it was time to fess up to his adultery. So he admitted to an affair with Rielle Hunter, but said that he only began it after his wife’s cancer had gone into remission. Er, so that’s okay then. And he insisted the kid isn’t his. Even Oprah found that a tough one to swallow: in her interview with Elizabeth Edwards last week, she observed that there aren’t a lot of guys who jump on a plane to scoot off to some Hilton in the middle of the night to hold a baby that isn’t theirs for 10 minutes.

Like so many of daytime TV’s happy homemakers, Mrs. Edwards produced something she’d prepared earlier:

“Golly, then you don’t know that many politicians. We do it all the time. Holding babies is what we do.”

Go on, try it yourself when you’re running for office. Wander into an EconoLodge at 2 a.m., and bang on the doors till you hit some obliging mom.

I met Mrs. Edwards when she was campaigning in 2004. And, compared to her oleaginous husband, she seemed very real. Operative word: “seemed.” It’s tempting to do as Oprah did—cast her as the victim. Yet she knew the truth about his affair throughout his second run for the presidency. In Iowa, Edwards pushed Hillary into third place. Had Mrs. Clinton gone on to lose New Hampshire the following week, Democrat primary voters might have concluded Edwards was the only viable alternative to Obama, and perhaps a better bet for the general election. The one-term southern senator was running on biography—son of a mill worker, happily married, stood devotedly by his wife during her cancer—and, although the press were aware the biography was false, they decided their readers didn’t need to know that. It’s not an Edwards scandal, it’s a media scandal.

After Obama had been nominated and Edwards was history, a few press grandees conceded that yes, maybe there was a legitimate story there, but such a sordid tale was never going to tickle the fancy of their refined sensibilities. Oddly enough, this consideration never seems to come into play with, say, Mark Foley, the Florida Republican hounded from public life after some overly tender emails to one of the more fetching Congressional pages, or Larry Craig, the Republican senator caught playing some ill-advised footsie with an undercover cop in the Minneapolis airport men’s room. Admittedly, these sex scandals are less “sordid” than Senator Edwards’: for one thing, there’s no sex in them—just some unrequited cyber-billets- doux in Foley’s case, and a bit of club-footed George Michael stall-divider semaphore in Larry Craig’s. British Tories at least have the consolation of the career-detonating sex scandal; Republicans have to make do with the career-detonating no-sex scandal.

Edwards is history now, and Obama is President. And the other day he and Joe Biden visited a hamburger restaurant. In the Clinton years, the 8 a.m. news bulletin on National Public Radio would invariably begin: “The President travels today to [insert state here] to unveil his proposals on [insert issue here].” If you’ve read A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, you’ll recall that Hank Morgan, the eponymous time-travelling New Englander, was much taken by the Court Circular published each week in Camelot:

On Monday, the king rode in the park.

” Tuesday, ” ” ”

” Wednesday ” ” “

” Thursday ” ” “

” Friday, ” ” “

” Saturday ” ” “

” Sunday, ” ” “

The NPR morning lead is the merest variant: on Monday, the king rode in the park to declaim his proposals on reduced emission standards. And the massed ranks of the press corps dutifully rode behind to scribble them down while trying to avoid the horseshit. But, when King Barack rode to the burger restaurant, there were no such policy implications: he didn’t bring along the treasury secretary to nationalize America’s cheeseburgers or Barney Frank to cancel the busboys’ bonuses. He just went to have a burger and some “tater tots.” And not one self-respecting member of the press corps thought, “Uh, do we really want to schlep across the Potomac to Virginia just to file a report on Obama eating a cheeseburger?”

So off they all galloped. In 1939, President and Mrs. Roosevelt hosted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Hyde Park in upstate New York. Their Majesties had come down from Ottawa, accompanied by Mackenzie King, because, technically, they were visiting the U.S. in their capacity as King and Queen of Canada. Which is an arcane Commonwealth constitutional point of no interest to Americans, naturally. Instead, the point of local interest was that FDR served Their Majesties hot dogs, and much was made of the fact that this was the first time the Royal Family had ever eaten this quintessentially American delicacy. From the radio reports, it sounds like the first time for the Roosevelts, too: when Eleanor says, “Your Majesty, here is your hot dog,” she puts the emphasis on the “dog” rather than the “hot,” as if to distinguish it from a hot goat or hot mongoose. Appearing on the Rush Limbaugh Show last week, I made the observation that it had taken 70 years for American public life to turn up a fast-food photo op of similar absurdity, only now the media were marvelling not that a foreign king was passing among them and eating as ordinary mortals do but that their own citizen-president was. That’s not, to my mind, progress.

The blogger Mickey Kaus likes to distinguish between the news and the “under-news.” The “news” is what you get from your bland monodaily or your incontinence-pad-sponsored network news show; the “under-news” is what’s bubbling out there on the Internet. I can see why Obama, Edwards and others value the king-rode-in-the-park model. But it’s not clear what’s in it for America’s failing newspapers. If you’re conservative, you don’t read them because they’re biased. If you’re an informed leftie, you don’t read them because they don’t have the gleeful partisan brio of the Daily Kos or the Huffington Post. And, if you’re apolitical, you don’t read them because they’re just incredibly boring.

Throughout the ‘d’90s, from O.J. to Monica, the ethics bores of America’s journalism schools bemoaned at the drop of a New York Times commission the media’s “descent into tabloidization.” A decade on, American newspapers are dying. Really dying, I mean; not just having a spot of difficulty negotiating the transition from one distribution system to another, which is the problem faced by British, Australian, Canadian and other newspaper markets. But better to be the dead parrot’s cage liner, than the actual parrot. Which would you say was more responsible for the death of American newspapering? The “descent into tabloidization”? Or the dreary monarchical deference of American liberalism’s insipid J-school courtiers? The king rode in the park. He was riding his videographer in the shrubbery, but you don’t need to know that.

“Keep rockin,” Tony Pierce advises his writers. Why not start rockin’? Tony sounds such a cool guy, he knows all the hepcat lingo. What a shame his newspaper isn’t as groovily written as his memos. Which may be why the Los Angeles Times’ parent company has had to file for bankruptcy protection. If this crate’s a-rockin’, it’s because Tony and his chums drove it over a cliff and it’s bouncin’ on the way down.
« Reply #420 on: May 31, 2009, 09:53:59 AM »

Plan of Attack
Bob Woodward versus the White House.

Gabriel Sherman,  The New Republic  Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In early May, White House Counsel Greg Craig circulated a memo inside the West Wing. Part of a series of memos on protocol, it explained how to deal with writers researching books and articles on the White House. (Craig's unsurprising instructions: Clear interview requests with the press office.) While the memo didn't mention any journalists by name--and while there are currently no fewer than half a dozen major reporters under contract to write books about the nascent Obama presidency and the 2008 campaign, any of whom could conceivably end up embarrassing the administration--there is one person in particular the White House is undoubtedly nervous about: Bob Woodward.

Since the inauguration, the Washington Post legend has been quietly reporting a new book on the Obama White House. "I'm in the preliminary stages of working on it," Woodward confirmed to me by phone recently. "I'm working on it and making progress."

Officially, the White House says it is not adopting a press strategy to respond to Woodward. Ben LaBolt, an Obama spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that the Craig memo "was not issued in relation to any inquiry related to a specific reporter or author." Still, there is reason to think that Woodward might make the administration particularly anxious. "Every White House is wary of Woodward, " says New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, who worked alongside him at the Post. What's more, Obama's White House is known to hate process stories, exactly the sort of exhaustive, in-the-room descriptions of high-level debates at which Woodward excels. And, even worse, Woodward has some extra motivation to fill his next book with big scoops. His fourth and final Bush book, The War Within, sold just 159,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, far below his third Bush installment, State of Denial, which sold more than half a million. "The last time I talked to him about books, earlier this year, he had been lamenting the fact his last Bush book didn't sell as well," one of Woodward's friends told me.

And an especially hungry Bob Woodward is especially bad news if you're one of the people being written about. "Good luck," another Woodward friend told me when I asked if the White House will succeed in keeping Woodward out. "If you want to hide things from Bob, it always comes out. It always does."

As former White House officials have made clear, Woodward can easily become a vexing problem at the highest reaches of an administration. In his 1999 memoir All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos detailed the fallout from Woodward's 1994 best-seller, The Agenda, which helped to define the Clinton presidency as freewheeling and dysfunctional. "His books invariably created embarrassing headlines for their subjects, but his sources were assumed to be the most important, connected, and knowledgeable people in Washington. I was wary of Woodward, but flattered and curious too," the former Clinton spokesman wrote about his decision to meet Woodward and grant an interview.

Stephanopoulos explains Woodward's reporting style: "He flashes a glimpse of what he knows, shaded in a largely negative light, with the hint of more to come, setting up a series of prisoner's dilemmas in which each prospective source faces a choice: Do you cooperate and elaborate in return (you hope) for learning more and earning a better portrayal--for your boss and yourself? Or do you call his bluff by walking away in the hope that your reticence will make the final product less authoritative and therefore less damaging? If no one talks, there is no book. But someone--then everyone--always talks."

Not only did Stephanopoulos end up talking, he also passed along a letter from Woodward to President Clinton, who himself sat for an interview. It was a decision the president came to regret. Stephanopoulos writes that the "repercussions were immediate" when Woodward's book was released. (Clinton fired his chief of staff, Mack McLarty, and brought on Leon Panetta.) The president was said to be furious at Woodward's portrayal of his administration.

From the outset, the Bush White House decided to cooperate with Woodward. "It was a different era when the first Woodward book came out," recalls former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. "President Bush was riding high, and events were going well." Fleischer says that Bush himself urged staffers to cooperate with Woodward, especially then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was reluctant to grant an interview (he did). "The message got down to everybody: 'Talk to him,'" Fleischer says. Bush sat for interviews for Woodward's first two installments, and, even though the president didn't personally cooperate with Woodward's third book, State of Denial, Fleischer says that "the White House tried to be helpful."

This time around, Woodward told me that, while he had heard about the Obama White House's effort to manage access for writers, he was not worried. "People make their individual choices about what they're going to do, even in the White House and in the government," he said. "Over my four decades of working on books, you find that some people will help, some people won't help, some will help at certain stages and not at others, some people won't help at the beginning but will help later on. That's reporting."

"What he does," one Woodward friend told me, "is he just turns on the vacuum cleaner and goes around Washington scooping up information until he gets a focus." That focus, of course, is subject to change. For his first book on Bush, Woodward told me he initially reported on the Bush tax cut, which dominated headlines in the languid summer of 2001, before September 11 jolted the White House onto its war footing. "In the case of Bush, after he was elected, I decided the center of gravity was his tax cut," Woodward said. "So I worked for nine months on his tax cut. I was doing the last interviews on the Hill on 9/11, and, of course, the center of gravity shifted to national security, so I shifted. I still have those boxes sitting in my office. It's a book about the Bush tax cut that was never written and probably never will be written."

One possibility, and a potentially worrisome one for this administration, is that Woodward will choose to focus on national security--the area where Obama has always seemed hypersensitive about being portrayed as weak and directionless. If he does, a likely source could be Obama's national security adviser, Jim Jones. A couple of years ago, Jones was a guest of Woodward at his wife Elsa Walsh's fiftieth birthday party held at Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee's house. "He and Elsa were glued to Jones at the cocktail party before the dinner started," one attendee told me. Another source could be David Petraeus. A favorite Washington parlor game consists of trying to figure out whether various officials talk to Woodward based on how generously he depicts them. If that method is accurate, then it suggests that Petraeus, who was portrayed glowingly in The War Within, was a Woodward source--and perhaps will be again.

Of course, Woodward is not the only well-known author the White House has to worry about. Journalists writing books on Obama's presidency include Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, New Yorker Washington correspondent (and former TNR staffer) Ryan Lizza, and TNR's Noam Scheiber; two campaign books--one by Haynes Johnson and Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, the other by New York magazine's John Heilemann and Time's Mark Halperin--are also in the works.

But Woodward isn't fazed. "As they say in the book business, you can't judge a book by the proposal," he told me. "There are a lot of people doing books with angles that may or may not pan out." Woodward, it seems, not only plays head games with his sources, but also with the competition.

Gabriel Sherman is a special correspondant for The New Republic.
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« Reply #421 on: June 07, 2009, 08:33:35 AM »

Brian Williams bows to King Obama|htmlws-main|dl7|link3|
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« Reply #422 on: June 07, 2009, 09:41:20 AM »

Bowing?  Much ado about nothing...

But what riles me a little, and I am an Obama fan,  shocked  is that Brian Williams is suppose to be a newscaster; impartial,
honest, and trustworthy.  I watched part of the show with Brian Williams at the White House; even I concede it
was an inappropriate lovefest unbecoming to a professional and respected newscaster.  Matt Lauer; fine, that's entertainment,
but I am disappointed in Brian Williams.  I lost some respect for him and the position.
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« Reply #423 on: June 07, 2009, 10:16:46 AM »

Well, obviously there is a riff here based on His Glibness bowing to the Saudi king and for what the spontaneousness of the gesture reveals about what is in his heart-- which is manifested in the nature of his coverage.  We are in agreement about the nature of the coverage  grin
« Reply #424 on: June 09, 2009, 12:18:40 PM »

The Media Fall for Phony 'Jobs' Claims
The Obama Numbers Are Pure Fiction.

Tony Fratto is envious.

Mr. Fratto was a colleague of mine in the Bush administration, and as a senior member of the White House communications shop, he knows just how difficult it can be to deal with a press corps skeptical about presidential economic claims. It now appears, however, that Mr. Fratto's problem was that he simply lacked the magic words -- jobs "saved or created."

"Saved or created" has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs -- and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could "save or create" an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will "save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years."

Mr. Fratto sees a double standard at play. "We would never have used a formula like 'save or create,'" he tells me. "To begin with, the number is pure fiction -- the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being 'saved.' And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it."

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama's jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one -- not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- actually measures "jobs saved." As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama's jobs claims are "based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs." Nice work if you can get away with it.

And get away with it he has. However dubious it may be as an economic measure, as a political formula "save or create" allows the president to invoke numbers that convey an illusion of precision. Harvard economist and former Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw calls it a "non-measurable metric." And on his blog, he acknowledges the political attraction.

"The expression 'create or save,' which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius," writes Mr. Mankiw. "You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus."

Mr. Obama's comments yesterday are a perfect illustration of just such a claim. In the months since Congress approved the stimulus, our economy has lost nearly 1.6 million jobs and unemployment has hit 9.4%. Invoke the magic words, however, and -- presto! -- you have the president claiming he has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs. It all makes for a much nicer spin, and helps you forget this is the same team that only a few months ago promised us that passing the stimulus would prevent unemployment from rising over 8%.

It's not only former Bush staffers such as Messrs. Fratto and Mankiw who have noted the political convenience here. During a March hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus challenged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the formula.

"You created a situation where you cannot be wrong," said the Montana Democrat. "If the economy loses two million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would've lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs. You've given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct."

Now, something's wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It's true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn't tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.

If the "saved or created" formula looks brilliant, it's only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims. And don't expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration's line that the stimulus has already "saved or created" 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved.

"You would think that any self-respecting White House press corps would show some of the same skepticism toward President Obama's jobs claims that they did toward President Bush's tax cuts," says Mr. Fratto. "But I'm still waiting."

Write to
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« Reply #425 on: June 09, 2009, 06:13:26 PM »
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« Reply #426 on: June 11, 2009, 11:17:18 AM »
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« Reply #427 on: June 16, 2009, 08:33:27 AM »

If you haven't seen drudge yet today check this ou
We essentially are seeing government controlled media:

Folks, I don't know if health care costs can be controlled withoug some form of controls on delivery.  But make no mistake about it.  Those of us who are now paying for it will have are care rationed to pay for those who are not.  End of story.
The Republicans need make this clear.  We want all Americans to understand that they can decide if they want to spurge for universal care but theirw WILL be rationed.  Don't let BO deny this.  The cost controls they are talking about are only the beginning.
But this as far as I know is a seminal event in our history is it not?   Unless we had something like this during wartime (WW2) before I was born:

Tue Jun 16 2009 08:45:10 ET

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care -- a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda:

ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special -- 'Prescription for America' -- originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.


Late Monday night, Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay fired off a complaint to the head of ABCNEWS:

Dear Mr. Westin:

As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC's astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.

Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party's views to those of the President's to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected. I believe that the President should have the ability to speak directly to the America people. However, I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party's opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.

Ken McKay
Republican National Committee
Chief of Staff


« Reply #428 on: June 18, 2009, 01:38:30 PM »

ABC quiets Obama opposition
June 18, 11:57 AM · 1 comment

ABC network has denied the Republican National Committee the opportunity to advertise during the White House’s presentation on health care reform.
Scheduled to air June 24, the President’s ‘Prescription for America’ will air in the East Room, along with Charlie Gibson’s deliverance of ‘World News’ from the Blue Room.
Ken McKay, Republican National Committee Chief of Staff, issued a complaint to the head of ABC news Monday evening, saying, "In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda.  If that is the case, this primetime infomercial  should be paid for out of the DNC coffers.  President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime.  The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate.  Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime. "  To read Mr. McKay's full compaint, click here.
It seems the Republican National Committee wasn't the only one turned down by  the network.  Conservatives for Patient's Righs requested rates for a mere one minute ad to follow-up 'Prescription for America' but was denied.
Chairman for Conservative's for Patient's Rights, Rick Scott, issued the following statement:

"It is unfortunate-and unusual-that ABC is refusing to accept paid advertising that would present an alternative viewpoint for the White House health care event.  Health care is an issue that touches every American and all potential pieces of legislation have carried a pricetag in excess of $1 trillion of taxpayers' money.  The American people deserve a healthy, robust debate on this issue and ABC's decision-as of now-to exclude even paid advertisements that present an alternative view does a disservice to the public.  Our organization is more than willing to purchase ad time on ABC to present an alternative viewpoint and our hope is that ABC will reconsider having such viewpoints be part of this crucial debate for the American people.  We were surprised to hear that paid advertisements would not be accepted when we inquired and we would certainly be open to purchasing time if ABC would reconsider."

With General Motors, banks, and health care at his fingertips, it's not surprising that media is to follow.  It's just unfortunate that ABC is so willing to oblige.  It's probably just a coincidence that Obama's Director of Communications for the Office of Health Reform is Linda Douglass, a former long time reporter for ABC news.
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« Reply #429 on: June 23, 2009, 10:15:23 PM »
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« Reply #430 on: June 27, 2009, 02:42:15 PM »

Michael Yon on why he held back info on kidnapped NYT reporter
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« Reply #431 on: July 01, 2009, 08:25:04 AM »

President Bush received considerable heat from the American Pravdas (my new name for the MSM) with its allegations of his politicizing science.

Lets see how this story is covered!

Suppressed EPA scientist breaks silence, speaks on Fox News
Editorial Page Editor
06/30/09 12:10 PM EDT
Alan Carlin, the senior EPA research analyst who authored a study critical of global warming that was suppressed by agency officials, has broken his silence and spoken on Fox News about his situation. Carlin told "Fox & Friends" Steve Ducy and Gretchen Carlson that his most important conclusion in the study was that the U.S. should not rely upon recommendations of the UN in making policy decisions regarding global warming.
"The most important conclusion, in my view, was that EPA needed to look at the science behind global warming and not depend upon reports issued by the United Nations, which is what they were thinking of doing and in fact have done," Carlin said.
Asked what happened to his study once it was completed, Carlin said "my supervisors decided not to forward it to the group within EPA who had the responsibility for preparing an overall report which would guide EPA on whether to find that the emission of global warming gases would be something that EPA should regulate."
You can watch entire interview with Carlin here.
Carlin has been at EPA for 38 years and until the Fox interview was telling reporters seeking interviews that he was instructed by EPA officials not to speak with them. He almost certainly risks retalitation by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other Obama appointees within the agency.
There are federal laws designed to protect whistle blowers like Carlin from political retaliation. It will be fascinating to watch how an administration of the Left deals with a whistleblower who for whatever reason opposes their political agenda. Will they persecute him or protect him?
I've had occasion to deal with quite a few whistle blowers over the years and they generally fall into two categories: First are the sincere employees who see something they believe to be wrong, are rejected when they go through channels seeking change, and are then subjected to reprisals, big and small, which ultimately exact an incredibly high emotional, professional and financial toll. It is not uncommon for these folks to become obsessed with seeking vindication, to suffer nervous breakdowns or end up divorced.
Then there are the others who somehow manage to maintain an emotional and professional balance while maintaining the rightness of their cause and pursuing it to a conclusion. It often takes years, but eventually they sometimes win vindication, though by that time the original controversy is usually long past and the wrong they exposed has either been forgotten, papered over or, occasionally, addressed and remedied.
A great example of this second kind of whistle blower is William Clinkscales, a man I greatly admire who exposed hundreds of millions of dollars of waste and fraud at the General Services Administration (GSA) during the Carter years, and was put through hell as his reward. He was vindicated by President Reagan who honored his service and recognized the importance of what he had done.
Bill once told me of his being reassigned to a do-nothing job as his boss in effect saying to him: "Now Bill, in this extremely important new job I am giving you, your task is to watch that flagpole out in front of the GSA headquarters and if it moves, you come tell me immediately." I still chuckle when I think of Bill telling me that, but it was indicative of the lot that too often greets whistle blowers like Alan Carlin.
Carlin told Fox that "things are a little tense, but as of last night, I still had a job." Sounds like he is expecting the worst.
My prediction in this case is that Carlin will be stripped of duties, given an office that was previously used as a broom closet and transferred to a duty location as far from EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as possible. Or he will soon opt for retirement, which will then free him to write and speak as he pleases, secure in his receipt of a pension from the federal government's old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) broke the story about Carlin's study being suppressed last week and has posted extensive information about the situation. It appears the story has generated so much interest that CEI's web site is overwhelmed with traffic, as it is taking a loooonnnnnggggg time to load.
UPDATE: CEI demands EPA hear public comments on suppressed study
The good folks at CEI have issued astatement today demanding that EPA reopen the comment period on the proposed rule on the agency's plans to regulate global warming emissions - CO2, the same thing every human being breathes out during the normal course of living - and to which the Carlin study was addressed.
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« Reply #432 on: July 01, 2009, 08:37:35 AM »

This just in!

Michael Jackson......still dead.

Details at 11:00
« Reply #433 on: July 01, 2009, 09:58:40 AM »

Him and Franco.

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« Reply #434 on: July 01, 2009, 05:42:19 PM »

Pre-packaged questions for His Glibness:
« Reply #435 on: July 02, 2009, 12:35:53 PM »

WaPo cancels lobbyist event amid uproar
By: Mike Allen
July 2, 2009 08:04 AM EST

Washington Post Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Katharine Weymouth said today she was cancelling plans for an exclusive "salon" at her home where, for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few": Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff."

With the newsroom in an uproar after POLITICO reported the solicitation, Weymouth and Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli both said they were not aware of the flier.

“This should never have happened,” Weymouth told Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. “The fliers got out and weren't vetted. They didn't represent at all what we were attempting to do. We're not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom."

Brauchli told Kurtz he was "appalled" by the plan."It suggests that access to Washington Post journalists was available for purchase," Brauchli told Kurtz. The proposal "promises we would suspend our usual skeptical questioning because it appears to offer, in exchange for sponsorships, the good name of The Washington Post."

Earlier this morning, Brauchili said in a staffwide e-mail that the newsroom would not participate in the first of the planned events — a dinner scheduled July 21 at the home of Katharine Weymouth. Brauchli,was named on the flier as one of the "Hosts and Discussion Leaders."

The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — was a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.

And it's a turn of the times that a lobbyist is scolding The Washington Post for its ethical practices.

"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders."

Kris Coratti, communications director of Washington Post Media, a division of The Washington Post Company, said: "The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company’s vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.

"As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this. We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business, and that The Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity. The newsroom will participate where appropriate."

In his e-mail to the newsroom, labeled "Newsroom Independence," Brauchli wrote: "Colleagues, A flyer was distributed this week offering an 'underwriting opportunity' for a dinner on health care reform, in which the news department had been asked to participate. The language in the flyer and the description of the event preclude our participation.

"We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchange for money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrain from confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable. There is a long tradition of news organizations hosting conferences and events, and we believe The Post, including the newsroom, can do these things in ways that are consistent with our values."

The flier says: “Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. … “

Offered at $25,000 per sponsor, per Salon. Maximum of two sponsors per Salon. Underwriters’ CEO or Executive Director participates in the discussion. Underwriters appreciatively acknowledged in printed invitations and at the dinner. Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 … Hosts and Discussion Leaders ... Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post ... An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done. ... A Washington Post Salon ... July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m. ...

"Washington Post Salons are extensions of The Washington Post brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard," the flier says. "At the core is a critical topic of our day. Dinner and a volley of ideas unfold in an evening of intelligent, news-driven and off-the-record conversation. ... By bringing together those powerful few in business and policy-making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues, Washington Post Salons give life to the debate. Be at this nexus of business and policy with your underwriting of Washington Post Salons."

The first "Salon" is titled "Health-Care Reform: Better or Worse for Americans? The reform and funding debate."
Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #436 on: July 03, 2009, 08:55:11 AM »

The Washington Post escapade reminds me of the Mark Sanford tryst.  The Post 'journalists' worked so hard for so long to build their own power and contacts in the rising leftist movement and they worked so hard to achieve the mutual adoration of the hate-America crowd that now take offices as high officials in the Obama administration and they feel so unappreciated for all that they have accomplished, with so many people just reading their content on the internet for free, taking their hard work for granted, with classified money lost to craigslist and their beautiful Sunday edition sold out to the grocery coupon high bidder, who would not lust for the money, power and glamour of selling these contacts to the CEOs that could actually cash in the new multi-trillion dollar boondoggle that they worked so hard to create?  Caught up in the excitement they forgot it might look bad once exposed.

It is very telling of the bankrupt newspaper business today that within the publisher's staff after just 6 months of the Obama administration NO ONE could either remember that they were supposed to maintain at least a public facade of neutrality or no one had the nerve to point that out to the boss before the invitations went out.  Unbelievable.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #437 on: July 03, 2009, 09:17:48 AM »

Exactly so. angry
Power User
Posts: 7824

« Reply #438 on: July 03, 2009, 11:48:43 AM »

"supposed to maintain at least a public facade of neutrality"
That's out the window.
The glee with which the msm goes after Sanford.
Remember they ingored the John Edwards thing as long as they could get away with it until, one of the tabloids broke the story.
(nat Inq?)

Notice the difference in motivations btw investigating crat vs. the can?
Clear as a bell to me.
« Reply #439 on: July 05, 2009, 08:43:57 PM »

I found the below post really fascinating because the future role of journalists, critics, pundits, publishers etc is really up in the air.
Journalistic narcissism

At the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, Andrew Sullivan said, “Journalism has become too much about journalists.”

True. It’s not just that newspapers are covering their own demise as thoroughly as Michael Jackson’s. This is about the mythology that news needs newspapers – that without them, it’s not news.

In an offhand reference about the economics of news, Dave Winer wrote, “When you think of news as a business, except in very unusual circumstances, the sources never got paid. So the news was always free, it was the reporting of it that cost…. The new world pays the source, indirectly, and obviates the middleman.” This raises two questions: both whether news needs newsmen and whether journalists and news organizations deserve to be paid.

I tweeted Winer’s line and Howard Weaver then started a discussion with this tweet: “Is it news if it’s not reported? I don’t think so.” I don’t think he’s saying that the reporting needs to be done by a professional, but he is saying that reporting is what makes news news. Does news need the middleman?

Steve Yelvington just tweeted that “The Washington Post ’salon’ debacle is a clash between myth and reality on so many levels: ‘the select few who will actually get it done.’” Being needed.

The realization of that myth – the myth of necessity – hit me head-on when I read an unselfconsciously narcissistic feature in The New York Times this week about the room where the 4 p.m. news meeting is held. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has likened that meeting to a “religious ceremony.” The Times feature certainly acted as if it were taking us inside the Pope’s chapel: “The table was formidable: oval and elegant, with curves of gleaming wood. The editors no less so: 11 men and 7 women with the power to decide what was important in the world.”

Behold the hubris of that: They decide what is important. Because we can’t. That’s what it says. That’s what they believe.

I was trained to accept that myth: that journalists decide what’s important, that it’s a skill with which they are imbued: news judgment. I worked hard to gain and exercise that judgment. The myth further holds that no judgment of importance is more important than The Times’; that’s why, every night, it sends out to the rest of newspaperdom its choices. News isn’t news until it’s reported and it’s not important until The Times says so.

But why do we need anyone to tell us what’s important? We decide that. What’s important to you isn’t important to me. Why must we all share the same importance? Because we all shared the same newspaper. There is the wellspring of the myth: the press.

I am trying to cut through these many myths about newsso I can reexamine them. In something I’m writing now for another project, I say: “To start, it is critical that we understand and question every assumption that emerged from old realities – for example, that news should be a once-a-day, one-for-all, one-way experience just because that’s what the means of production and distribution of the newspaper and the TV broadcast necessitated.” And: “Owning the printing press or broadcast tower used to define advantage: I own and control the means of production and distribution and you and don’t, which enables me to decide what gets distributed and forces you to come to me if you want to reach the public through news or through advertising, whose price I alone set with little or no concern for competition.”

No more. The press has become journalism’s curse, not only because it now brings a crushing cost burden but also because it led to all these myths: that we journalists own the news, that we’re necessary to it, that we decide what’s reported and what’s important, that we can package the world for you every day in a box with a bow on it, that what we do is perfect (with rare, we think, exceptions), that the world should come to us to be informed, that we deserve to be paid for this service, that the world needs us.

The journalistic narcissism that extrudes from the press extends to so much of the journalist’s relationship with her public. Jay Rosen just tweeted his headline for Plain Dealer Connie Schultz’ return of spitball (below): “A blogger was mean to me so that means I’m right.” John McQuaid tweeted that he feared I was “only abetting Connie Schultz’s effort to turn a real debate into a bloggers vs. MSM culture war.” He’s right. Schultz didn’t address the substantive objections to her hare-brained and dangerous scheme; she made it about her.

Oh, I know, this is all a big set-up for your punchline: A blogger is talking about narcissism? Heh. Isn’t blogging the ultimate narcissism? But who called it that, who made that judgment? Journalists, as far as I’ve seen. When they talk, it’s important. When we talk, it’s narcissism. What we say can’t be important – can it? – because we’re not paid and printed. But I don’t want to replay the blog culture war, which I keep hoping is over. I want to question assumptions, to find the cause and effect of myths.

And that’s what Winer is trying to do when he reminds us that the important people in news are the sources and witnesses, who can now publish and broadcast what they know. The question journalists must ask, again, is how they add value to that. Of course, journalists can add much: reporting, curating, vetting, correcting, illustrating, giving context, writing narrative. And, of course, I’m all in favor of having journalists; I’m teaching them. But what’s hard to face is that the news can go on without them. They’re the ones who need to figure out how to make themselves needed. They can and they will but they can no longer simply rest on the press and its myths.

: LATER: Good discussion in the comments already. I particularly like this from Craig Stoltz:

    At the WaPo, where I used to work, the story conference room was decorated with (1) the metal frame with sticks of backwards type that was used to print the “Nixon Resigns” front page [it is said that that wall had to be reinforced to bear its weight--myth?]; (2) a framed Post advertisement from the early 70s reading “I got my job from the Washington Post,” which Gerald Ford was good-natured enough to sign; (3) two columnar shelves of important tomes written by Post staffers over the years; and, yes, (4) a polished wooden table whose craftsmanship and sheen suggested the Pedestal of Truth.

    No coffee was allowed in the room.

    Confession: Every time I was in that room I felt inspired, breathed in the myth, absorbed the history and mission that made the Post such an extraordinary institution [and which makes these week's "salon" disaster so heartbreaking].

    That room and the myth it conveyed may have made me a better journalist.

    I suspect it made me a more arrogant, and therefore ultimately vulnerable one.

: In Twitter, Aaron Huslage asks: “How is curating journalism different from the NYT editorial meeting? isn’t it, at heart, picking ‘what’s important’?” And I responded: “Now it doesn’t have to be one-for-all. And it’s not necessary what’s ‘important’ (as the NYT says) but ‘relevant’ (Google’s goal).”

: Juan Antonio Giner takes apart the Times room: an analog space for a digital age.

: Tim Russo responded to Schultz, though she refused to respond to him.

: ANOTHER great comment, this one from David Weinberger:

    May I add one more, related, myth to your collection, Jeff? Here goes: It’s possible to _cover_ the day’s events.

    This is just a different way of putting your formulation “One man’s [sic] noise is another man’s news.” But I think it’s worth calling out since the promise of global sufficiency is a big part of traditional newspapers’ promise of value to us: “Read us once in the morning, and after going through our pages, you will know everything you need to know.” (Do radio stations still make the ridicule-worthy “Give us 8 minutes and we’ll give you the world?” claim.) Yeah, no newspaper would ever maintain that claim seriously if challenged — they know better than their readers (or at least they used to) what they’re leaving out — but it’s at the base of the idea that reading a paper is a civic duty. The paper doesn’t give us _everything_ but it gives us _enough_ that reading one every day makes us well-informed citizens.

    The notion that newspapers give you your daily requirement of global news — which works to wondering, along with Howard, if there is such a thing as “news” — seems to me to be as vulnerable as the old idea of objectivity. Like objectivity: (1) It’s presented as one of the basic reasons to read a newspaper; (2) it hides the fact that it’s based on cultural values; and (3) it doesn’t scale well in the age of the Net.

    Ultimately, this myth is enabled –as so many of the myths of news and knowledge are — by paper. Take away the paper and the newspaper doesn’t become a paperless newspaper. It becomes a network. That’s what’s happening now, IMO. From object to network … and networks are far far harder to “monetize” (giving myself a yech here) than objects….

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 4th, 2009 at 11:19 am and was tagged journalism, newsbook, newspapers.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #440 on: July 06, 2009, 10:20:59 PM »
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #441 on: July 07, 2009, 09:21:36 AM »

A calm Sunday breakfast might have been ruined after a glance at The Washington Post's front page on June 14. A chart below the fold explained that under Obama's federal spending proposals, the United States would be required to borrow $9 trillion during the next decade. That's $9,000,000,000,000. The Post compared that, in today's dollars, to the financial burden of World War II: $3.6 trillion. That's not all of Obama's spending plan. That's only the part that's in the red.

Is it any wonder that a recent Gallup poll found more people disapprove rather than approve of Obama's handling of the deficit? But we've only just begun. Now President Obama wants to add another enormous chunk of government health-care spending. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the latest Democratic bill in the Senate would add another one trillion dollars to the budget over the next decade, and they suggest that's only a partial estimate.

Remember when the Democrats and their media allies wailed about how the Iraq war wastefully drove up the national debt? The Post's chart estimated that the Iraq war costs from 2003-2008 totaled $551 billion, a pittance compared to the massive load of debt the Democrats want to pass right now. And they want to pass it at breakneck speed, so just like the "stimulus" bill, it will become law before the public learns its manifold outrages.

Sadly, this Washington Post article notwithstanding, the news media aren't questioning the new health "reform" drive. They are enabling it.

ABC News has announced plans to put Barack Obama in prime time again from the White House to push his health-nationalizing agenda for an hour – and then another half-hour on "Nightline." ABC will broadcast live from the White House for "World News" and "Good Morning America," interviewing both Barack and Michelle Obama.

It's bad enough that NBC News just gave Obama two hours of fluffy promotion in prime time (followed quickly by two hours of prime-time fluff reruns). Now, ABC isn't going to promote how Obama buys hamburgers for the staff and has a cute puppy. They're going to help him sell his hard-left "Prescription for America."

Forget participation. ABC isn't allowing time even for any official Republican rebuttal. Republicans will have to hope they find a spot or two in the audience ABC News selects with the promise of "divergent opinions in this historic debate." ABC also promises the participation of their medical correspondent Dr. Tim Johnson, who's been a blatant cheerleader for a European-style "right" to health care.

This isn't unprecedented. ABC handed over two hours of morning air time after Columbine for Bill and Hillary Clinton to lament our country's gun culture in 1999. In 1994, NBC News offered the Clintons a two-hour special to promote Hillary-care, paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major supporter of socialized medicine. The Democrats always seem "overprivileged" when they want to sell their programs on network news.

Skepticism is warranted when ABC promises "divergent opinions," which probably means a debate between leftists, that people who want a single-payer socialist system will be granted the floor. If the past is prologue, if Charlie Gibson has any tough questions for Obama, he'll be asking him to explain why our ultraliberal president's too much of a conservative on health care. Gibson angered President Clinton during the 1999 Columbine special by insisting he wasn't enough of a gun-banner. He said a friend of Clinton's complained the Colorado high school shooting "seared the national conscience," and yet "the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed."

More conservative White Houses have not been awarded a supportive network platform. Does anyone remember that ABC prime-time special that allowed President Bush to sell Social Security privatization in 2005? Or the two-hour 2006 prime-time Bush White House special promoting the War on Terror? Try not to laugh too hard at the impossibility of such a concept.

You can just hear the protests, can't you? "Why, we can't do that! We're journalists!"

In prime time, Barack Obama is overexposed and under-challenged. If ABC wants to add any sliver of credibility to all this freely offered air time, it will ask the president to defend adding ten trillion dollars to the national debt in the decade to come, and ask if the current government's priorities should really require a deficit three times the "investment" of World War II.
Power User
Posts: 7824

« Reply #442 on: July 09, 2009, 03:18:49 PM »

I would be shocked if this does not go on all the time.
Many things Katherine and I have said, ryhmes, comments and ideas has shown up in all places media,  Commercials, cartoons, sitcoms, CNBC, talk shows and anywhere the media can make a buck.
Katherine who used to buff cars for some extra dollars many years ago said to her psychopathic mother that they ought to come up with a shammy for the kitchen and she responded "wow" what a grat idea.  Next comes out the shamwow!
Also snuggies after Katherine told her the idea of a blanket that places for ones arms came out.  they get people on CNBC to read phrases obviously from telepromters that are made in our house.   These people even appear to be smirking as though they hav no idea why they are supposed to be reading what they are reading - which I am sure they don't.
commercials, cartoons, sitcoms, anything that supposedly can be used to sell.
Some of these times are undoubtedly coincindents which do occur, but of these are not.
Eavesdropping is assuredly rampant.  No law enforcement agency investigates this so unless one has a fortune to pay private investigators and lawyers so well that they cannot be bribed to help cover it up - that's it.

If one doubts what I am saying - and it would be understandebly so - remember - where are all the songs from the musical geniouses who claim they have vast libraries of music?

If they can't steal it at some point in the next few years - maybe sooner - remember it here - something will happen to Katherine and or me.  They will not wait forever.  Not with what could be hundreds of millions at stake.

In any case this is no surprise to me and is certainly only the tip of the iceberg.  And as eavesdropping devices get smaller, cheaper and more ubiquitis this will only get worse.  And governement - they don't give a shit.  Theft is not a real crime in this country unless one is high profile like Berie Madoff and/or one rips off the well connected.

*****Guardian exclusive: News of the World phone-hackingMurdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims• News of the World bugging led to £700,000 payout to PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
• Sun editor Rebekah Wade and Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson – both ex-NoW editors – involved
• News International chairman Les Hinton told MPs reporter jailed for phone-hacking was one-off case
Rupert Murdoch's News Group News­papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.

The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public ­figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.

Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence, which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for:

• Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.

• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public.

• The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel.

• The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity.

The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge.

But one senior source at the Met told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at "two or three thousand" mobiles. They suggest that MPs from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets.

Last night, Prescott said: "I think Mr Cameron should be thinking of getting rid of Coulson."

However, a spokeswoman for Cameron said the Tory leader was "very relaxed about the story".

Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, one of many victims of mobile phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, comments on the huge out-of-court settlements Link to this video News International has always maintained it had no knowledge of phone hacking by anybody acting on its behalf.

Murdoch told Bloomberg news last night that he knew nothing about the payments. "If that had happened I would know about it," he said.

A private investigator who had worked for News Group, Glenn Mulcaire, was also jailed in January 2007. He admitted hacking into the phones of five other targets, including the chief ­executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor. Among the phones he hacked were those of the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, celebrity PR Max Clifford, model Elle MacPherson and football agent Sky Andrew. News Group denied all knowledge of the hacking, but Taylor last year sued them on the basis that they must have known about it.

In documents initially submitted to the high court, News Group executives said the company had not been involved in any way in Mulcaire's hacking of Taylor's phone. They denied keeping any recording or notes of intercepted messages. But, at the request of Taylor's lawyers, the court ordered the production of detailed evidence from Scotland Yard's inquiry in the Goodman case, and from an inquiry by the Information Commissioner's office into journalists who dishonestly obtain confidential personal records.

The Scotland Yard files included paperwork which revealed that, contrary to News Group's denial, Mulcaire had provided a recording of the messages on Taylor's phone to a News of the World journalist who had transcribed them and emailed them to a senior reporter, and that a News of the World executive had offered Mulcaire a substantial bonus for a story specifically related to the intercepted messages.

Several famous figures in football are among those whose messages were intercepted. Coulson was editing the paper at this time. He said last night: "This story relates to an alleged payment made after I left the News of the World two and half years ago. I have no knowledge whatsoever of any settlement with Gordon Taylor.

"The Mulcaire case was investigated thoroughly by the police and by the Press Complaints Commission. I took full responsibility at the time for what happened on my watch but without my knowledge and resigned."

The paperwork from the Information Commission revealed the names of 31 journalists working for the News of the World and the Sun, together with the details of government agencies, banks, phone companies and others who were conned into handing over confidential information. This is an offence under the Data Protection Act unless it is justified by public interest.

Senior editors are among those implicated. This activity occurred before the mobile phone hacking, at a time when Coulson was deputy and the editor was Rebekah Wade, now due to become chief executive of News International. The extent of their personal knowledge, if any, is not clear: the News of the World has always insisted that it would not break the law and would use subterfuge only if essential in the public interest.

Faced with this evidence, News International changed their position, started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that Taylor signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity.

The Scotland Yard paperwork also provided evidence that the News of the World had been involved with Mulcaire in his hacking of the mobile phones of at least two other football figures. They filed complaints, which were settled this year when News International paid more than £300,000 in damages and costs on condition that they signed gagging clauses.

Taylor declined to make any comment. Goodman, now out of jail, said: "My comment is not even 'no comment'." A spokesman for News International said: "News International feels it is inappropriate to comment at this time."

Last night, John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said the revelation "raises a number of questions that we would want to put to News International".

He added: "The fact that other people beyond the royal family had their calls intercepted was well known. But we were absolutely assured by News International that none of their journalists were aware of that, that Goodman was acting alone and that Mulcaire was a rogue agent".

Asked if the committee would reopen the issue, he said: "The committee will want to discuss it very urgently. I think we will do so tomorrow morning, and if we decide that there are further questions to ask, then certainly we would summon back witnesses and ask those questions."

Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil described the story last night as "one of the most significant media stories of modern times". "It suggests that rather than being a one-off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun," he said. "Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 3353 3857.*****
« Reply #443 on: July 10, 2009, 09:54:04 AM »

White House Press Corps Happy to Attend Barack Obama's Off-the-Record BBQ
By John Cook, 12:44 PM on Thu Jul 9 2009, 33,791 views   
Reporters from roughly 30 television networks, newspapers, magazines, and web sites celebrated the Fourth of July with Barack Obama at the White House last weekend. Why didn't you know that? Because they were sworn to secrecy.

We reported yesterday that Politico's Mike Allen was spotted milling about as a guest at the White House's "backyard bash" by the pool reporter, who was allowed into the event for 40 minutes and kept in a pen before being ushered out. When Allen quoted from the pool report in his Playbook column the next day, he deleted a reference to his own name and didn't bother to tell his readers that he was actually at the party.

Well, he wasn't alone. Gawker has learned that the White House gave tickets to virtually every major news organization that covers the president—the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, ABC News, NBC News, CNN, CBS News, and so on, about 30 in all. The reporters were invited to attend on the following condition:

"You are being invited to attend this event as a guest. Blogging, Twittering or otherwise reporting on this event is not permitted. If you feel that you cannot agree to abide by these ground rules, please don't claim a ticket."

That's right: Much of the White House press corps spent the Fourth schmoozing with White House staffers, catching performances by the Foo Fighters and Jimmy Fallon, and watching the fireworks from the most exclusive vantage point in the D.C. metro area, all off the record—not to mention off-the-Facebook and off-the-Twitter. These are the same people who just a week ago were whining in the press briefing about Obama's malicious and dastardly attempts to "control the press." (Well, not the self-same people—we're not sure if Chip Reid and Helen Thomas, the primary antagonists in that exchange, were in attendance.)

There is a cosmic irony at work here: The party was "closed press." (Ha!) It was covered, under onerous restrictions, by a pool reporter—the Baltimore Sun's Paul West. West was ushered in by White House staffers for a mere 40 minutes, so he could record the president's remarks. He was kept in a pen so that he wouldn't run amok and interview someone. He shouted questions at Obama as he worked the rope line, which the president ignored. Then he was taken away. West wrote up his blindered account of the party and then e-mailed it to the White House press corps, many of whom were actually at the party, outside of the pen, hanging out with all the other guests. And then, because they had temporarily signed away the right to do their jobs in exchange for facetime with staffers, a few cold Stoudt's American Pale Ales, and some corn on the cob, their news organizations picked up that pool report and used it to tell their readers what happened at the party. This is how the press covers the White House.

The party was designated "closed press" because it was originally going to actually be closed to the press. But on Thursday of last week, a batch of last-minute tickets opened up, and White House staffers decided it would be nice to invite the press corps. They distributed them to the news organizations, who then decided who to give them to. (We are reliably told it was mostly White House correspondents who snapped them up.) But instead of just opening up the event to coverage, which would have meant spoiling a nice backyard bash with network cameras, radio correspondents, international press, and the vast machinery of live electronic media, the White House decided that it would be more fair to the news organizations who weren't invited if they just kept it off the record. That way, the thinking went, no one's getting special access. As absurd as that sounds when you're talking about inviting a select group of reporters to a party with the president, it kind of makes sense if you have to deal with a host of news outlets jockeying for access. If it's all off the record, a small regional paper can't complain that not being invited seriously hurts their coverage.

What doesn't make sense, at all, is why a group of reporters who have recently begun clinging to the notion that they are independent of Washington's clubby morass of back-scratching self-congratulation would agree to attend an off-the-record party at the White House while one of their own is walled off in a pen like some forlorn scapegoat, doing the job they're supposed to be doing.
Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #444 on: August 13, 2009, 12:19:31 PM »

This could fall under 2nd amendment or religion but to me the issue is the reporter.  Like the obnoxious Lawrence O'Donnell interview with Peter Schiff this poor lady just couldn't grasp what she was being told while the midwest businessman was calm and explanatory with her.

I recall after some past GOP victory a famous radio host said the NY Times would need to send foreign correspondents to the heartland in search of understanding of what had happened.  This CNN morning host didn't leave her studio to gain these insights:

Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #445 on: August 13, 2009, 07:04:30 PM »

Q: Fox News’ Glenn Beck said that the government will get complete access to your computer and all of your files when you log on to for the Cash for Clunkers program. Is there any truth to this?

A: This claim is false. Beck quoted from a security message on the site for dealers, not the site for the general public.
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #446 on: August 14, 2009, 01:31:49 AM »

August 3rd, 2009 Terms of Service: What Glenn Beck Gets Right and Wrong
Commentary by Hugh D'Andrade
There's an entertaining clip from Glenn Beck's Fox News program making the rounds on the Internet lately, featuring this language from the Terms of Service for the "Cash for Clunkers" program:

This application provides access to the [Department of Transportation] DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the U.S. Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed... to authorized CARS, DoT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.

While this language was accessible only by registered dealers, and not the public (and has apparently now been removed), it nevertheless is a shocking example of the kind of problems that can come with click-through agreements written by faceless lawyers and basically imposed on the rest of us. No one should ever try to force you to "agree" that accessing a government website turns your computer into a government computer or gives up your privacy rights in the other contents of your computer.

This hopefully careless language demonstrates the concerns that EFF has long raised about the creeping reduction in user privacy and rights online that we see through various means, including terms of service, cookies and even the “phone home” nature of some of our devices like the Amazon Kindle. This sort of contracting away of our privacy and rights is bad enough when companies do it — it should be off limits for government.

Unfortunately, the commentary of Fox anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle was also wrong about the scope of the privacy issues:

They are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private information, and absolutely legal, Glenn, they can do it... They can continue to track you, basically forever, once they've tapped into your system, the government of course has, like, malware systems, and tracking cookies, and they can tap in any time they want.

Clicking "continue" on a poorly worded Terms of Service on a government site will not give the government the ability to "tap into your system... any time they want." The seizure of the personal and private information stored on your computer through a one-sided click-through terms of service is not “conscionable” as lawyers say, and would not be enforceable even if the website was capable of doing it, which we seriously doubt. Moreover, the law has long forbidden the government from requiring you to give up unrelated constitutional rights (here the 4th Amendment right to be free from search and seizure) as a condition of receiving discretionary government benefits like participation in the Cars for Clunkers program.

The problems with overreaching terms of service are real, and EFF has been working hard to combat them, especially when your privacy is at stake. Companies and government departments repeatedly sow the seeds of confusion, concern and outrage when they sneak catch-all terms into the small print. Our ToSBack site tracks these agreements and allows the public to find out what they say and track their changes over time. But terms of service agreements don’t go as far as allowing the government ongoing, free range into your personal computer with a single mouse click. At least not yet.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #447 on: August 15, 2009, 07:22:58 PM »

Glenn Beck claims science czar John Holdren proposed forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population

As evidence that the country is closer to socialist than capitalist these days, radio and talk show host Glenn Beck recently made this claim about John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:

"I mean, we've got czars now," Beck said during his July 22, 2009, program. "Czars like John Holdren, who has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population."

Political figures like Holdren, who are little-known by most Americans, make easy targets. And Beck's biting quick hit on Holdren provides a healthy enough dose of outrage on which to hang his argument.

But is it true?

Beck's allegation has its roots in a book Holdren co-authored with Paul and Annie Ehrlich more than three decades ago called Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment .

Conservative bloggers have quoted the book extensively, and often out of context, to make the point that Holdren has advocated positions such as the ones Beck stated.

We obtained the book to see exactly what Holdren, then a young man, wrote (or co-wrote). The book is just over 1,000 pages, and it clearly makes that case that an explosion in population presented a grave crisis. Although it is a textbook, the authors don't shy away from presenting a point of view. As the preface states, "We have tried throughout the book to state clearly where we stand on various matters of controversy."

In a section on "Involuntary Fertility Control," Holdren and the other authors discuss various "coercive" means of population control — including putting sterilants in the drinking water. But they stop well short of advocating such measures.

Here's a few excerpts:

"The third approach to population limitation is that of involuntary fertility control. Several coercive proposals deserve discussion, mainly because some countries may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means. ...

"Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock. ...

"Again, there is no sign of such an agent on the horizon. And the risk of serious, unforeseen side effects would, in our opinion, militate against the use of any such agent, even though this plan has the advantage of avoiding the need for socioeconomic pressures that might tend to discriminate against particular groups or penalize children."

Later, the authors conclude, "Most of the population control measures beyond family planning discussed above have never been tried. Some are as yet technically impossible and others are and probably will remain unacceptable to most societies (although, of course, the potential effectiveness of those least acceptable measures may be great).

"Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying. As those alternatives become clearer to an increasing number of people in the 1980s, they may begin demanding such control. A far better choice, in our view, is to expand the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences, while redoubling efforts to ensure that the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time. If effective action is taken promptly against population growth, perhaps the need for the more extreme involuntary or repressive measures can be averted in most countries."

And here's the part that some have interpreted as Holdren advocating for forced abortions.

“To date, there has been no serious attempt in Western countries to use laws to control excessive population growth, although there exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated. For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however."

This comes in a section discussing population law. The authors argue that compulsory abortions could potentially be allowed under U.S. law "if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society." Again, that's a far cry from advocating or proposing such a position.

In the book, the authors certainly advocate making abortions readily accessible for women who want to get them. But they never advocate forced abortions. Big difference.

In response to the comments from Beck and others, Holdren's office issued this statement: "The quotations used to suggest that Dr. Holdren supports coercive approaches to limiting population growth were taken from a 1977 college textbook on environmental science and policy, of which he was the third author.  The quoted material was from a section of the book that described different possible approaches to limiting population growth and then concluded that the authors’ own preference was to employ the noncoercive approaches before the environmental and social impacts of overpopulation led desperate societies to employ coercive ones.  Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of population limitation."

Holdren's office also provided a statement from Annie and Paul Ehrlich, the co-authors: "We have been shocked at the serious mischaracterization of our views and those of John Holdren in blog posts based on misreadings of our jointly-authored 1000-page 1977 textbook, ECOSCIENCE.  We were not then,  never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described — but not recommended — in the book's 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator.

Under questioning by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., during his Senate confirmation hearing, Holdren said he "no longer thinks it's productive to focus on optimum population for the United States. ... I think the key thing today is that we need to work to improve the conditions that all of our citizens face economically, environmentally, and in other respects. And we need to aim for something that I have for years been calling 'sustainable prosperity.'"

Vitter continued with his line of question, asking directly, "Do you think determining optimal population is a proper role of government?"

Said Holdren: "No, senator, I do not. ... I think the proper role of government is to develop and deploy the policies with respect to economy, environment, security, that will ensure the well-being of the citizens we have."

But with regard to Beck's claim that Holdren "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population," the text of the book clearly does not support that. We think a thorough reading shows that these were ideas presented as approaches that had been discussed. They were not posed as suggestions or proposals. In fact, the authors make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control. Certainly, nowhere in the book do the authors advocate for forced abortions.

Some have argued that Holdren's view of the imminent and grave global dangers posed by overpopulation should provide pause, given Holdren's current view that global warming now presents imminent and grave global dangers. That's a matter for reasoned debate. 

But in seeking to score points for a political argument, Beck seriously mischaracterizes Holdren's positions. Holdren didn't advocate those ideas then. And, when asked at a Senate confirmation hearing, Holdren said he did not support them now. We think it's irresponsible to pluck a few lines from a 1,000-page, 30-year-old textbook, and then present them out of context to dismiss Holdren's long and distinguished career. And we rate Beck's claim Pants on Fire!

Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #448 on: August 19, 2009, 09:45:17 PM »

Another proud journalistic moment from MSNBC.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #449 on: August 24, 2009, 06:24:04 AM »

"We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the
prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its
efficient auxiliary. It follows the substance like its shade; but while a man walks
erect, he may observe that his shadow is almost always in the dirt. It corrupts, it
deceives, it inflames. It strips virtue of her honors, and lends to faction its
wildfire and its poisoned arms, and in the end is its own enemy and the usurper's
ally, It would be easy to enlarge on its evils. They are in England, they are here,
they are everywhere. It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there
would be no liberty without it." --Fisher Ames, Review of the Pamphlet on the State
of the British Constitution, 1807

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