Can't say I'll miss it, but the death of VIBE, which was founded by Quincy Jones in 1992, and then sold to others and turned into a really wide teen magazine, must be dutifully acknowledged.
Word was broken early this afternoon by the Web site dailyfinance.com and spread to other music and media news sites. The spokeswoman, Tracy Nguyen, said the Vibe staff would be formally notified in a meeting at 2 p.m. She said she did not know how many people would be laid off as a result of the closure.
The closure of Vibe leaves just one large-circulation music magazine, The Source, focusing on hip-hop and R&B. The Source has had its own troubles, going through a bankruptcy and emerging under new ownership last year. A rock-focused magazine, Blender, folded last year.
In a memo to staff members announcing the closure, Steve Aaron, chief of the Vibe Media Group, wrote that for months, the company tried in vain to either find new investors or “to restructure the huge debt on our small company.”
“The print advertising collapse hit Vibe hard, especially as key ad categories like automotive and fashion, which represented the bulk of our top 10 advertisers, have stopped advertising or gone out of business,” he wrote.
What these and other articles don't say, is that VIBE and other print magazines like it, have essentially been rendered obsolete by the Internet, as sites like Bossip, TMZ, Livesteez and on and on, can break entertainment news in an instant, and keep fans constantly supplied with dirt. The same death knell that newspapers are hearing is clanging in the heads of magazines, which don't even have newspapers' essentiality and news bureaus to keep them relevant. It's time for media to adapt or die.
Doesn't Bonnie Fuller know that you're not supposed to make journalistic analyses based on Wikipedia? Apparently not:
Did you know that Michael Jackson, was the victim of a rare auto-immune disease called lupus? Yes, he was according to his Wikipedia autobiography and as it turns out -- lupus sufferers frequently die in their 40s and 50's from sudden heart attacks, caused by atherosclerosis.
Vibe Magazine's "Best Rapper Ever" contest makes a mockery of hip-hop (in fairness, commercial hip-hop has been making a mockery of itself since the mid-90s, so I guess all's fair in love and wackness.) The first inkling I got that something was wrong was when people like Cowboy, Cannibus, Trina and MC Hammer (plus someone called Kid Cudl) showed up in the round 1 rankings, while people like Dr. Dre, Common, Mos Def and any member of the Wu Tang Clan did not. It was pretty much downhill from there. Take a look at "Round 2, bracket 1": it pitted Eminem against ... wait for it ... Will Smith. Huh??? Are those two even remotely equivalent? I mean, Will Smith is a great comedic actor and seems like a terrific guy, but how did he even get near that bracket? ...
Throw in Redman vs. Juvenile, Big Daddy Cane vs. Camron (another perplexing match-up) and get this: Grandmaster Melle Mel vs. ... um ... Mase. Seriously. Mase. In other words: it was a facile way to get Eminem to the semifinals (he beat Snoop for the "honor." Why not just put Puffy ... I mean "Diddy" in the finals and blow the whole thing up!? As for the semis? They pit Eminem against Jay Z and Tupac against the Notorious B.I.G. with no real explanation as to the methodology, but with the inexplicable result of eliminating either Biggy or Tupac before the final vote, and elevating the arguably very talented Eminem and Jay Z, neither of whom is Tupac or B.I.G. ... (not to mention the possible result of crowning white rapper Eminem the Greatest of All Time, via a voice vote of college kids and tweens.) Here's a thought, Vibe (the magazine that helped spark the Tupac-Biggie feud that left both men dead, and also contributed to the Miamification and Puffyization of hip-hop): quit now, declare BIG and Tupac the co-champions and get out while you still have some dignity.
For decades, Black America has been the victim of all kinds of media distortion. It doesn't take a keen eye to see the regression of images in the past twenty years, in the eighties Cosby was America's number one sitcom and twenty years later VH1's "Flavor of Love" held television's highest rated African American program. Historically, one critical form of communication – Black radio - was the antidote to that distortion, consistently standing as a reliable source of news, information and culture throughout local communities nationwide.
Unfortunately, Black radio is swiftly becoming part of the problem, not the solution. It began, of course, with black-owned stations losing their independent voices and turning into sterile corporate jukeboxes limiting both information and community access, while feeding us music that reinforced the same stereotypes that for decades radio helped to defeat.
Now the few surviving Black-owned radio stations are abusing their unique influence in the community to misinform listeners about the impact of a new Congressional bill designed to support the kind of independent, creative and positive musical artists we all have demanding.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One, as one example, has been leading the charge against HR 848, an act of legislation that Hughes charges will “end black radio.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
The facts on HR 848 are clear if you take the time to read them. Formally called The Performance Rights Act, the bill proposes what should be simple - paying performers royalties for radio airplay. Only the United States, North Korea and Iran don't pay royalties for performers on free AM/FM radio. Currently performers and recording owners are only paid in the States when their songs are played on satellite radio, cable stations and internet radio.
Songwriters and publishers continue to be paid by AM & FM radio. So why should the performers be excluded? ...
Read the rest here. It's Cathy Hughes' party and she can certainly cry all she wants to, but at the end of the day, she and other purveyors of what passes for "Black radio" these days have to take responsibility for where they find themselves. They can hardly count on the same black public they themselves have helped to "dumb down" to suddenly stand up and fight their members of Congress over this (or any other) bill. Hell, half the people listening to joke/sex rap radio probably don't know who their Congressmen are. Meanwhile, the positive images black communities are being fed aren't coming from Black radio or God forbid, from BET. They're coming from the top: the White House. That, I'm afraid, makes much of Black radio virtually irrelevant.
For more info, read "who killed Black radio?" right over here.
Jeff Zeleny is in his own way, a freakin' genius, having produced the most interesting moment of the night ... and Obama thinks damned fast on his feet, using deft debate technique (writing it down, thinking through the next answer while answering the current one, etc. ...) to explain what has "enchanted" him most about the presidency so far...
Obama still prefers to be a generalist when answering questions specific to Black America. (And the Chyron guys at MSNBC didn't know who Andrew Showell is (he's from BET. I didn't know either until this morning, because I don't watch BET...) probably because the administration understands the dangers that still lurk in his being perceived as the "Black president" rather than the American president. Still, the communications team should come up with a lexicon that works.
The president skillfully explained why his government has intervened so heavily in the auto industry, and expressed hope for Chrysler's survival ... (he'll talk more about the automakers at noon today.)
He pronounced "nuclear" correctly, as "nuclear" and Pakistan as "Pah-kee-stahn" not "Paak-i-staan" (like Aflak).
And unline his predecessor, he didn't embarrass either himself or us with stupid fraternity-style nicknames and razzing of the press corps.
The other important moment in the press conference came when President Obama invoked none other than Winston Churchill to explain why the U.S. should not be in the business ot torturing people (and in doing so, he stated clearly what waterboarding is.) Per the Times of London:
President Obama last night waded back into the bitter controversy over the CIA’s harsh interrogation of terror suspects by declaring clearly that the waterboarding authorised by the Bush Administration was torture.
In a White House press conference, Mr Obama said that the simulated drowning technique used repeatedly on detainees such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had violated “our ideals and our values”.
He added: “I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.”
... Citing the experience of Britain in the Second World War, “when London was being bombed to smithereens”, he pointed out that Winston Churchill had refused to allow torture of 200 German detainees because to have done so would have corroded “the character of a country”.
And while some at the Huffpo are crediting Brit Andrew Sullivan for the Obama reference, the Times says the credit for the original article goes to one of their writers, Ben McIntyre:
The President cited an article he'd read,
"talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees, and Churchill said, 'We don't torture,'".
"As Britain's very survival hung in the balance, as women and children were being killed on a daily basis and London turned into rubble, Churchill nonetheless knew that embracing torture was the equivalent of surrender to the barbarism he was fighting."
No, I'm not caught up on blogging. But I am caught up on the nightmare that is preparing to go to the Obama inaugural. Not that I'm not happy for the brother, and insanely relieved that he's going to be president (Bush can't get out of town soon enough for me, no matter what great comedy relief he provides...) and not that I'm not completely enraptured by the fact that we're about to make history by rather matter of factly inaugurating our first black president ...
But here's the thing: the process of credentialing media for the multi-day, multi-part event has been, to put it in lay terms, PURE HELL.
First, we had to submit multiple pictures, each one more ghastly and mug shot-like than the last.
Then, we had to wait, and wait, and wait, to find out if we were even getting credentials.
Now, we find out that yeah, we have credentials, but only sort of. I'm going to be broadcasting from radio row on Tuesday, for Hot 105 Miami/FTL. Other than that? Bupkis. I have tickets to the swearing in, but beyong that? Who knows. It turns out that each individual event, and I do mean each ... requires its very own press credential. In short, media will have to walk around with like, a dozen different color credentials around our necks, or else.
I'm not sure whether to blame the capitol police, the Secret Service (whom I've always found to be lovely people, by the way, during my several dealings with Obamaworld) or the Presidential Inaugural Committee... you know? I'm going with them. This process is extremely frustrating and random.
The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) and NBC Local Media today announced that the intended sale of WTVJ to The Washington Post Company will not move forward. Given the current economic environment, and the delay in receiving the necessary regulatory approval, the deal has been terminated. The purchase of WTVJ was scheduled to close by end of 2008.
Congratulations, and a truly happy holiday to Trina, Hank, "Saint" Nick, Carpio, Julia and the entire gang at NBC 6 -- the finest news operation in town. You deserved a break, and thank God, there it is!
The right is going overboard to try and tar Barack Obama with the Blago brush. So desperate and tacky are they, that even Newt Gingrich has noticed. As you might expect, the winger cudgel has been taken up by the dutiful GOPer "Morning Joe" Scarborough, who has never let a little journalism job get in the way of his politics.
This morning, Joe harangued Obama chief strategist David Axelrod (a former journalist, just to add to the irony...) on the supposed "fact" that Rahm Emanuel (Obama's chief of staff and former Congressman from the Chicago area) "told (reporter) Ryan Lizza that he and Obama ran Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign in 2002." Really? Is that what Lizza wrote, Joe? Let's review:
*Lizza reports that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told him that Obama was a “top strategist” for Gov. Blagojevich’s first gubernatorial campaign. “He and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor,” Emanuel said. “We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.” A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel’s account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role.”
*The 2000 remap of state senate districts is a critical benchmark in the Obama history. With Democrats in control of the legislature—winning the ability to dictate the maps—Obama in 2001 was able to create a district that stretched from Hyde Park to the Gold Coast. That let him connect with a network of wealthy donors whose support was crucial to his future success
“In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod.”
Rahm "running Blago's campaign?" No, Joe. And as a former politician, Joe knows exactly what those passages mean. Politicians develop a base of operations, which includes donors, and precinct maps that helped them get elected. Often, they use their base to help other politicians from their party to get elected, too. I'm sure the staffers, and the campaign manager, who actually did run Blagojevich's campaign, would differ with Joe's characterization of Obama's role.
Meanwhile, the media continues to ride the Blago gravy train, with more news coming out of Chicago:
... from a partisan perspective ... The more Palin the better. But I think we also need to think about this from the broader perspective of national dignity. And simple human decency. You're at a party and someone's drinking too much and starting to do embarrassing things. Even you don't like them, and even if the unlovely part of you thinks it's kind of funny, still someone should step in. On the other hand, if Rush and Sean, are up for it, maybe we just tap another keg?
In other words, somebody pull her away from the cameras. Please.
The love affair between John McCain and the suck-up press corps is hitting a rough patch. During a recent interview with TIME Magazine, Mr. POW nastily refused to define "honor," or to ask whether there's anything about his campaign he regrets...
... when TIME's James Carney and Michael Scherer were invited to the front of McCain's plane recently for an interview, they were ushered forward, past the curtain that now separates reporters from the candidate, past the sofa that was designed for his gabfests with the press and taken straight to the candidate's seat. McCain at first seemed happy enough to do the interview. But his mood quickly soured. The McCain on display in the 24-minute interview was prickly, at times abrasive, and determined not to stray off message. An excerpt:
What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican Convention — about you, about your candidacy? I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.
There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us? Read it in my books.
I've read your books. No, I'm not going to define it.
But honor in politics? I defined it in five books. Read my books.
During another exchange, McCain uses the Keating Five scandal to once again, play the POW card:
Jumping around a bit: in your books, you've talked about what it was like to go through the Keating Five experience, and you've been quoted as saying it was one of the worst experiences of your life. Someone else quoted you as saying it was even worse than being a POW ... That's another one of those statements made 17 or 18 years ago which was out of the context of the conversation I was having. Of course the worst, the toughest experience of my life was being imprisoned, so people can pluck phrases from 17 or 18 years ago ...
I wasn't suggesting it as a negative thing. I was just saying that ... I'm just suggesting it was taken out of context. I understand how comments are taken out of context from time to time. But obviously, the toughest time of my life, physically and [in] every other way, would be the time that I almost died in prison camp. And I think most Americans understand that.
The reporters seem genuinely shocked at the clipped, surly attitude McCain is copping with them. I guess falling out of love is no fun at all...
I just got it on good authority that starting Monday morning at 5 a.m., Don Imus will be the morning show on 940 WINZ... Nicole Sandler, who has been "holding down the fort" since P.D. Ken Charles ousted Jim Defede (Sandler was Defede's producer), was the promotions director at one point, maybe she goes back to that...
Personally, I didn't enjoy Nicole's show and found myself choosing sports talk instead (or silence ... or a CD...) But I hate to see anyone lose a gig.
Meanwhile, word on the street is that at least three names you definitely would know are no longer going to be on the air at NBC 6, which was sold to the Washington Post Company...
Tough times are afoot in the media biz, folks! Consolidation and syndication are the name of the game, and that's death for local radio and TV.
The Prince of Darkness strikes again (and drives away)
Crack CIA agent outer and crotchety old political columnist Robert Novak has had an interesting week so far. First, he reports that John McCain will try to upend Barack Obama's international media extravaganza by announcing his running mate, then he complains that the McCain campaign used him to try and trick the media into talking about their guy (kind of like the way Karl Rove used him to out Valerie Plame, hm? but without the treason?) and now, a quick thinking bicyclist and Politico.com catch him in a full-on hit and run:
The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident. As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said a "black Corvette convertible with top closed plowed into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed onto the windshield.”
Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. “The car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.
He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street., finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blared and commuters finally went into reverse to allow Novak to pull over.Bono said that throughout, Novak "keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.”
He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a Washington celebrity but could not precisely place him. Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: “I didn’t see him there.”
Sure you didn't, not even after he was PASTED TO YOUR WINDSHIELD... Novak's 66-year-old victim was treated at a local hospital, and Novak got a ticket for failing to yield the right of way. Apparently, he's quite the speed demon, and was both "shaken" and "relieved' as he told the Politico reporter, "he's not dead. That's the main thing."
The jocks of the glossy magazine world have spoofed the nerds. Conde Nast's Vanity Fair has posted a mock cover showing Sen. John McCain dapping his wife Cindy, who cradles a armful of prescription drug bottles. A portrait of George W. Bush hands in the background of their fictional "house." McCain is shown resting on a walker.
BTW, Ambinder also points out that the VF jocks apparently ripped off the New York Daily News. Compare for yourself:
CBS helpfully edits McCain interview, ABC affiliate puts Dubya on the hot mic
Who says the mainstream media doesn't love John McCain? CBS has even pulled a Soviet-style edit to help him out of a major foreign policy gaffe, just the way the print press helpfully edits George W. Bush's syntax, as Countdown reported tonight and the Jed Report clarifies:
In its continuing attempt to appear to be an actual news channel, Fox "News" Channel has "removed" anchorperson E.D. Hill from its evening lineup, after her investigative reporting uncovered the terrorist leanings, and "fist jabs" of presidential candidate Barack Obama. (She later apologized.)
America's Pulse anchored by E.D. Hill goes away, but Hill stays with the network in a capacity to be determined. Hill has been with FNC since 1998. She co-anchored Fox & Friends for several years before moving to the 11amET hour, then launching America's Pulse.
Her slot now goes to the superbly intellectual (ahem) and not at all right wing reactionary Laura Ingram.
Surprise, surprise, it was our friendly neighborhood taper, Mayhill Fowler who caught Bill Clinton on tape calling a Vanity Fair reporter a "scumbag." Note to pols: when you see Mayhill coming, go directly to your talking points. She's wired.
Babwa Wawters reveals she nearly created a little Barack Obama of her own, back in the day:
NEW YORK (AP) — After three decades of keeping mum, Barbara Walters now says she had a past affair with married U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, whom she remembers as "exciting" and "brilliant."
Appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" scheduled to air Tuesday, Walters shares details of her relationship with Brooke that lasted several years in the 1970s, according to a transcript of the show provided to The Associated Press.
A moderate Republican from Massachusetts who took office in 1967, Brooke was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the Senate. Both he and Walters knew that public knowledge of their affair could have ruined his career as well as hers, Walters says.
At the time, the twice-divorced Walters was a rising star in TV news and co-host of NBC's "Today" show, but would soon jump to ABC News, where she has enjoyed unrivaled success. Her affair with Brooke, which never before came to light, had ended before he lost his bid for a third term in 1978.
Brooke later divorced, and has since remarried. Calls to a listing for Brooke in Miami by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Thursday.
Walters is the guest of Oprah Winfrey to discuss her new memoir, "Audition," which covers her long career in television, as well as her off-camera life. On "Oprah," Walters recounts a phone call from a friend who urged her to stop seeing Brooke.
"He said, 'This is going to come out. This is going to ruin your career,'" then reminded her that Brooke was up for re-election a year later. "'This is going to ruin him. You've got to break this off.'"
Winfrey asks Walters if she was in love.
"I was certainly — I don't know — I was certainly infatuated."
"I was certainly involved," Walters says. "He was exciting. He was brilliant. It was exciting times in Washington." ...
The drama continues at my former employer. I just got it from a very good source that Lee Michaels, the former regional PD (and my one-time nemesis) has been fired (there goes your meal ticket, D...) It's not in the trades yet, but I'm not surprised. His corporate counterpart Zemira Jones, took a walk a couple of months ago.
Apparently, the company finally managed to sell its L.A. station, (then called KKBT - 100.3 The Beat, now called V100, and the station that used to employ Steve Harvey, before the Radio One folks kicked him to the curb, allegedly over remarks he made about Cathy Hughes as she sat in the audience for the BET Comedy Awards, which he was hosting. The station, which with Harvey had the number one show in the market, promptly went in the tank after that, and in 2005, Harvey jumped to Clear Channel. The rest, as they say, is history...(Cliffs Notes version: he's really, really successful...) for $137.5 million (they bought it for an eye-popping $400 million in 1999, so I'm not sure if the selling price is the good news or the bad news.) Interestingly enough, they sold the station to a religious outfit -- in this case a Mormon broadcasting company -- much like they did with our station, WTPS here in Miami...) Not everybody was feeling the move:
... one of its own the outspoken and candid Baisden took difference to yet another Black station being sold to a White owned establishment during his show on Tuesday, but before his listeners could hear his comments he was silenced by music.
No comment. I wouldn't want to be silenced by music or anything...
And yet, even as the company continues to shed stations, they've now decided to launch yet another cable TV network, on top of the ... well ... on top of TV One.
Stock quote at the open: a cool buck. Can I sell now, or should I just hold onto my handful of shares out of nostalgia?
First, they posted the ill-gotten recording of Barack Obama's closed to the press fundraiser in San Francisco, taped by an opinionated non-reporter. Now, they've got secret video on Hillary, also at a closed-door event. The Huffington Post is fast becoming the "Inside Edition" of the web.
At a small closed-door fundraiser after Super Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton blamed what she called the "activist base" of the Democratic Party -- and MoveOn.org in particular -- for many of her electoral defeats, saying activists had "flooded" state caucuses and "intimidated" her supporters, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by The Huffington Post.
"Moveon.org endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."
The audio is on the site.
For the record, I think it's just as smarmy for someone to have secretly taped Hillary as it was for Mayhill Fowler to pull the same sleaze on Barack Obama. And I think the only way that Hillary will be truly hurt by this is if there somehow are lefties in PA who haven't yet made up their minds, and I doubt that. Most of the undecideds aren't MoveOn's constituency. The main problem for Hillary is beyond PA, where MoveOn's millions will surely mount a massive campaign to take her down in subsequent states.
Arianna Huffington is having a grand old time criticizing Hillary Clinton for trying to score cheap political points on the "bittergate" non-story (which the press is continuing to flog, five days on.) Writes Arianna today:
Here's Sen. Evan Bayh, commenting on the political firestorm surrounding Barack Obama's remarks -- broken here on HuffPost's OffTheBus -- about economically-depressed small town voters: "The far right wing has a very good track record of using things like this relentlessly against our candidates, whether it's Al Gore or John Kerry. I'm afraid this is the kind of fodder they might use to harm him."
They? They? It's not the far right wing relentlessly using these comments for political gain, Senator. It's your candidate, Hillary Clinton, adopting the frames, lies, stereotypes and destructive clichés long embraced by the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. She has clearly decided that the road to victory runs through scorched earth.
The question is, if she succeeds, what kind of Party will she be left to lead? She's burning down the village to save it -- or to prove that she would make the best fire chief. But the village won't be saved; only one house will be left standing. A house with room for just two occupants. Hill and Bill.
The trouble is, scoring cheap political points is, for better or for worse, Hillary's political strategy at the moment. She is losing the campaign, and is throwing the "kitchen sink" at her opponent in an attempt to wrestle away the nomination.
The Huffington Post, on the other hand, is a multi-contributor blog purporting to also be a journalistic outfit. As such, it is perfectly legitimate to ask, as Howard Kurtz did briefly in his WaPo column yesterday, whether it is ethical for the Huffington Post to send a supposed "Obama supporter" (Mayhill Fowler) into an Obama fundraiser, for which she purportedly made a donation in order to enter, and whether having her secretly tape the procedings and post a rambling cavalcade of personal opinion bears the slightest resemblance to actual journalism.
Fowler as blogger infiltrator, OK I get that. But Fowler as crack journalist? Hm. Today, Jay Rosen, Arianna's partner in crime on the blog that originally published Fowler's story (OfftheBus,) is complaining that the HuffPo and Fowler were not credited by Tim Russert and other MSM types for her story.
... Would Russert pick up on the novelty of the situation? An Obama supporter and donor, who also wrote regular dispatches for Huffington Post's pro-am campaign news site, OffTheBus, recorded Obama's words at an April 6th San Francisco fundraiser, and then wrote about what concerned her in them. From there it exploded. Pretty good story! (As the Guardian recognized today.) Plus, it would allow Russert to sound a savvy warning: "Heads up, candidates, your supporters include bloggers and they exercise their First Amendment rights. Barack Obama found that out this week...."
Tim and his staff decided on erasure. You'd have to ask them why. Mayhill Fowler's Obama quotes were shown on screen, but Meet the Press made no mention of her, or OffTheBus, or the Huffington Post.
Huh??? So the problem isn't that Ms. Fowler, a woman squarely in Hillary Clinton's age and gender demographic, faked her way into an Obama event and then conducted what amounts to a bugging of the candidate ... and the problem isn't that her "report" contained only her personal opinins, with nary a quote from another soul who attended the event, hence, it doesn't contain any actual journalism ... the problem isn't that the Huffington Post is now orchestrating campaign "gotchas" rather than covering them ... the problem is that Fowler didn't get her 15 minutes of fame? Interesting ethics over at the Huffpo.
Not surprised to hear that Tavis Smiley has quit the Tom Joyner Morning Show over the firestorm surrounding his repeated criticisms of Barack Obama. Joyner is an Obama supporter, and he has recently become much warmer with people like Al Sharpton, who very shrewdly dropped his early attacks on Barack and became tactically neutral, and Michael Baisden, who's unabashedly pro-Obama. Here's the story:
One of Sen. Barack Obama's toughest African American critics is quitting his long association with a national radio show after facing a backlash from the program's listeners.
Tavis Smiley said yesterday he will resign in June as a twice-weekly commentator on the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" after more than 11 years with the program. He cited fatigue and a busy schedule in a personal call to Joyner on Thursday night, but Joyner indicated otherwise on his program and in his blog yesterday, writing: "The real reason is that he can't take the hate he's been getting regarding the Barack issue -- hate from the black people that he loves so much."
Smiley has taken on Obama in a series of commentaries that began as the Democrat from Illinois emerged as the party's front-runner for the presidential nomination in early January. Days after Obama's win in the Iowa caucus, Smiley warned on Joyner's show: "Don't fall so madly in love [with Obama] that you surrender your power to hold people accountable. . . . I'm not saying overlook Senator Obama, but you now better be ready to look him over."
That commentary brought a hail of critical phone calls and e-mails down on Smiley, who replied two days later on the Joyner show that he stood by his criticism. "It's all about accountability," he said at the time.
Since then, amid mounting counter-criticism, Smiley has stepped up his critiques, contending that Obama wasn't sufficiently attentive to issues involving African Americans.
He was also critical of Obama's decision not to attend an annual forum, the State of the Black Union, that Smiley hosted in February in New Orleans. Obama's rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, accepted Smiley's invitation to the event. When the Obama campaign offered Michelle Obama, the senator's wife, as a substitute speaker, Smiley said publicly the offer was unacceptable.
He also rebuked Obama this month for not traveling to Memphis for the 40th anniversary ceremonies marking the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and for Obama's decision to distance himself from controversial remarks made by the Obama family's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. ...
Roland Martin, another up and comer in the Black commentary world, has also implied that Tavis is used to getting accolades, and can't take the barbs, but it's easy to say that when you're not on the receiving end. I have sharply disagreed with and been disappointed by what has come across to me as "hateration" on Obama by Smiley (I've even reported on it.) In many ways, Tavis seems to resent the fact that Obama's "post-racial" candidacy (or his formerly post-racial candidacy) makes people like him, for whom racial politics is the stock and trade, appear less relevant.
However, I'm reluctant to jump on the "get Smiley" bandwagon, perhaps because I was doing a talk radio show in the early days of the Obama campaign, and remember defending Barack on the air against far greater and more voluminous bashing from my callers, co-host and bosses, than I heard support. I also recall that the majority of Black Americans were ardent Hillary supporters, and actually rejected Barack's candidacy until he managed to win the lily white state of Iowa. Only then did the mass of Black folk relent, and back down on the cat calls of "he's not Black enough." The only difference is, Tavis kept talking when the others jumped on the bandwagon.
Tavis, like Andrew Young and Rep. John Lewis, and God knows, BET's Bob Johnson, strikes me as a man on the wrong side of history, fighting against the furtherance of what had appeared to be their own dreams, by so doggedly resisting Barack's candidacy (Lewis excepted -- he seems to be genuinely struggling, because of the aforementioned group, he seems to be the only one who knows he's on the wrong side of history...) But Smiley's commentaries have been a highlight of the Tom Joyner show, which otherwise, I must admit I don't listen to. So in that sense, I'm sorry to see him go.
The Sunday talk shows focused, not surprisingly, on Barack Obama's "rough week," and the two things that made it less rough: his phenomenal speech on race, and the endorsement he received from Bill Richardson.
On the race issue, an interesting discussion took place on CNN's "Reliable Sources," where finally, someone addressed the issue of the media's sound bite mentality, and general ignorance on the issues of race and Black churches. The latter point was made by CBS reporter Byron Pitts, who is black, and whom Kurtz introduced at the top of the show, remarkably as having just come from church... don't believe me, believe the transcript:
KURTZ: Joining us now to talk about race, the media and the campaign, in New York, Byron Pitt, national correspondent for CBS News. In Tampa, Eric Deggans, media critic for "The St. Petersburg Times." And in Seattle, Michael Medved, host of "The Michael Medved Show" on the Salem Radio Network.
Byron Pitts, as a black journalist who just came from church this Easter morning, do you look at this furor over Jeremiah Wright's remarks differently than white journalists? Are you less offended, perhaps?
And he speaks so well, too! (eyes rolling...)
BYRON PITTS, CBS NEWS: Oh, I think so. I mean, I've been black for 47 years, I was baptized in the Baptist Church when I was 12 years old. And so Reverend Wright said why -- much of why it was offensive, those are comments I've heard in church before, and I'm mindful of the context, that I think many of my colleagues who are white, they don't have that context.
Like, I was just looking at the clip you showed. All those commentators, all those reporters, were white. They have a different life experience. They have a different context. And I think this story speaks to the lack of diversity in major news organizations, that you have people speaking from a position of ignorance, because they don't understand the black church, that can't bring the context that we as journalists are supposed to bring to a news event.
KURTZ: A good point about diversity, but in one of your reports this week, you said that critics have called Reverend Wright's sermons anti-American. That critics have called them. I mean, this is a guy who said...
KURTZ: ... "The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genociding (ph) his people of color," who said, "God damn America," who said, "U.S. of KKKA."
Why push it off on critics?
PITTS: Well, I think there's some people -- I mean, I think there's some people who have the position that they disagree with much of what Reverend Wright said, but for some people, there is some basis of truth. I mean, I'm mindful of, you know, during Hurricane Katrina, there were people initially in that community who thought maybe the government had blown up the levee there, because, in fact, in New Orleans history, that in fact had happened.
For many people in black America, they remember how there's a time when our government injected black men with syphilis, I believe, that those kinds of thing occur. So, one of the things I thought that Barack -- a point that he made in his speech is how you have in the church, in the black church, there's this wealth of love, compassion, and truth, and some ignorance. And it's a world that if you're a pastor, that you have to navigate that world.
After that, the St. Pete Times' media critic, Eric Deggans (whom we used to book frequently on the morning show,) helpfully pointed out that the media coverage of Jeremiah Wright's now infamous speech clips, excluded the context in which the remarks were made -- context which could easily have been provided by playing longer sections of the 20-minute sermons, or by posting the transcripts. Deggans provides the former on his blog, and as it turns out, during the most "shocking" statement -- "God damn America," Wright was actually quoting someone else. Whoops...!
ERIC DEGGANS, "ST. PETERSBURG TIMES": Well, I think the biggest problem that we have here is that people haven't actually looked at what Reverend Wright said. On my blog, the feed for "The St. Petersburg Times," I've actually put up longer clips of the two controversial speeches, the 9/11 speech, and the speech in which he said, you know, an expletive, "America."
And when you see the actual sermons, you see that he's trying to make some very explosive points about America, but he's leading up to them in a way where those statements make a little more sense. And in fact, the "chickens coming home to roost" comments he made about 9/11, he was quoting someone else. And the ABC News report that initially revealed this made it seem as if those were his words.
And you know, as much as I like Byron, you know, the reference to black men being injected with syphilis, what actually happened is that they had syphilis and they weren't treated for it by a government program. And I think one of the problems we have in this debate is that journalists are not getting to the heart of what's actually going on here, taking a step back and really explaining these issues to the American people.
KURTZ: All right.
DEGGANS: What we're doing is taking the emotional part of it and constantly putting it before people in order to gin up a conversation that may be based on false assumptions.
One of the other guests, reporter Byron Pitts, even caught useless talker Michael Medved trotting out the old "Barack is so articulate" meme, making the point that what white people fear about Rev. Jeremiah Wright is his tone of voice -- while Barack rather soothes them because he plays against type -- you know, black Americans, though born and raised here, only speak proper English as some sort of parlor trick...
Back to Eric's blog. A portion of it bears reprinting:
Because Rev. Wright deserved a better defender than I -- or, frankly Barack Obama -- have been during this nonsense. A look at these clips, which present much larger excerpts of Wright's speeches, shows that his seemingly damning statements came during passionate speeches about America's history of racial oppression and America's history of killing innocents while exacting military revenge against enemies.
One of Rev. Wright's most controversial comments -- the statements about "chickens coming home to roost" after 9/11 -- was his quote of a white ambassador speaking on Fox News Channel. Why didn't the TV news reporters tell us this?
...including the so-called "investigative reporters" among them, who claim to have easily obtained tapes of the sermons, but who couldn't be bothered to watch the entire tapes? Did they just scan forward to the offending remarks? Or did they just go by the Youtube? Either way, you'd think a "responsible" news outfit or two would see fit to make the whole sermons available, or at least the transcripts, on their websites, no? Or to seek that context themselves, rather than simply absorbing the Wright story for its horse race value? Oh wait, we're talking about the American media... Here's one of the clips (Eric posts two of them). The theme, interestingly enough, given even Barack's formulation that Wright is mired in the past, is "governments change, but God does not":
More on that white ambassador from Sam Stein at the Huffpo:
Meet the man who inspired Reverend Jeremiah Wright's now famous tirade about America's foreign policy inciting the terrorist attacks of September 11.
His name is Ambassador Edward Peck. And he is a retired, white, career U.S. diplomat who served 32-years in the U.S. Foreign Service and was chief of the U.S. mission to Iraq under Jimmy Carter -- hardly the black-rage image with which Wright has been stigmatized.
In fact, when Wright took the pulpit to give his post-9/11 address -- which has since become boiled down to a five second sound bite about "America's chickens coming home to roost" -- he prefaced his remarks as a "faith footnote," an indication that he was deviating from his sermon.
"I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday," Wright declared. "He was on Fox News. This is a white man and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true: America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Wright then went on to list more than a few U.S. foreign policy endeavors that, by the tone of his voice and manner of his expression, he viewed as more or less deplorable. This included, as has been demonstrated in the endless loop of clips from his sermon, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuking "far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye."
And then he concluded by putting the comments on Peck's shoulders: "A white ambassador said that yall, not a black militant, not a reverend who preaches about racism, an ambassador whose eyes are wide open and is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice... the ambassador said that the people we have wounded don't have the military capability we have, but they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them... let me stop my faith footnote right there."
And yet, this contextualization of the Wright quotes will itself remain a footnote of this story, because the media, having issued a soundbite meme, rarely takes it back. So where does Rev. Wright go to get his reputation back?
schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun: A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
You've got to believe that many Republicans on the Hill, and in conservativeland, are secretly enjoying watching "Mr. Campaign Finance Reform" John McCain take incoming on the issue of ethics and cozy lobbyist ties.
You've also got to believe that Mitt Romney is burning this morning, as a truism put forth by Pat Buchanan on MSNBC last night and increasingly borne out by the circumstantial evidence, solidifies: the New York Times may have decided the Republican nomination for president by holding the McCain-Isenberg story until now, rather than running it before the New Hampshire primary.
And you've also got to believe that in a way, this is the best thing that could have happened to John McCain. It will get the right wing of the party, which really hates him, to forget their guile and go after the "liberal" media on his behalf, putting their bloggers, talk radio flaks and Fox News at his service.
That said, McCain will not escape the questions of his personal relationship with Isenberg, like it or not. Stories about sex don't fade away easily, even if the mainstream media won't touch them. Evangelical Christians just got one more reason to hang in there for Huckabee. Even worse for McCain, his press conference this morning (with his rich wife, and her prenuptial agreement, by his side...) makes it clear that he will have an even harder time escaping questions about whether he did favors for his lobbyist friend, and whether there might have been other friends, and other favors. At the least, it paints McCain right into the corner Barack Obama wants him to be in: an old politician practicing old-time politics, complete with cozy ties with lobbyists, romantic or not.
Questions are also being legitimately raised about the Times, and whether they were pushed to release a story they were sitting on because a competitor was about to run with a story of their own, alleging that the Grey Lady was sitting on the scoop. TNR responds here. And as the MSNBC crew are saying this morning, the Times had to know that their story would lead to headlines like this:
Back to the story. The Washington Post advances the NYTimes' story:
McCain's Ties To Lobbyist Worried Aides Before 2000 Campaign, Advisers Tried to Bar Her
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Michael D Shear Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, February 21, 2008; Page A01
Aides to Sen. John McCain confronted a telecommunications lobbyist in late 1999 and asked her to distance herself from the senator during the presidential campaign he was about to launch, according to one of McCain's longest-serving political strategists.
John Weaver, who was McCain's closest confidant until leaving his current campaign last year, said he met with Vicki Iseman at the Center Cafe at Union Station and urged her to stay away from McCain. Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.
Members of the senator's small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly, according to sources, warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions. ...
Stop right there for a second. In his presser this morning, McCain twice denied not only that he had an untoward relationship with Iseman, but also that he was ever confronted by aides, and he referred to "more than 150" staffers reporting to him on Capitol Hill, and "anonymous" sources claiming they spoke with him. Someone is lying. If it's McCain, and it is somehow proved that he WAS confronted by aides about Ms. Isenberg, than he's got a problem. Onward, to the part of the WaPo story that to my reading, contains data that's even more harmful than the entire Times article:
... Three telecom lobbyists and a former McCain aide, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Iseman spoke up regularly at meetings of telecom lobbyists in Washington, extolling her connections to McCain and his office. She would regularly volunteer at those meetings to be the point person for the telecom industry in dealing with McCain's office.
Concern about Iseman's presence around McCain at one point led to her being banned from his Senate office, according to sources close to McCain. Senior McCain aide Mark Salter, in an e-mail, denied that Iseman was ever barred from the office or was even a frequent presence there.
Iseman's bio on her lobbying firm's Web site notes, "She has extensive experience in telecommunications, representing corporations before the House and Senate Commerce Committees."
Her partners at Alcalde & Fay include L.A. "Skip" Bafalis, a former five-term Republican congressman from Florida, and Michael A. Brown, the son of former commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown and a former Democratic candidate for mayor of the District.
Its client list is heavy with municipalities and local government entities, which suggests that its major emphasis is on the controversial business of winning narrowly targeted, or "earmarked," appropriations. [There go those nasty earmarks...]
In the years that McCain chaired the commerce committee, Iseman lobbied for Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, the head of what used to be Paxson Communications, now Ion Media Networks, and was involved in a successful lobbying campaign to persuade McCain and other members of Congress to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Paxson.
In late 1999, McCain wrote two letters to the FCC urging a vote on the sale to Paxson of a Pittsburgh television station. The sale had been highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multipronged lobbying effort among the parties to the deal.
At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.
McCain has argued that the letters merely urged a decision and did not call for action on Paxson's behalf. But when the letters became public, William E. Kennard, chairman of the FCC at the time, denounced them as "highly unusual" coming from McCain, whose committee chairmanship gave him oversight of the agency.
McCain's campaign denied that Iseman or anyone else from her firm or from Paxson "discussed with Senator McCain" the FCC's consideration of the station deal. "Neither Ms. Iseman, nor any representative of Paxson and Alcalde and Fay, personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said.
Iseman and her firm, which includes high-profile Republicans and Democrats, have also represented a number of other companies that have had issues before McCain and the commerce committee, including Univision, a Spanish-language television network. Iseman clients have given nearly $85,000 to McCain campaigns since 2000, according to records at the Federal Election Commission.
Bill O'Reilly doesn't want to lead a "lynching party" against Michelle Obama ... unless...
Meanwhile, the Factor man's producer defends O'Reilly's commentary, and gets a sympathetic hearing from this guy at Conde Nast. Question: if David Shuster had to apologize and take a two-week suspension for using the words "pimped out" to describe a Senator's daughter, why, pray tell, is it a.o.k. for O'Reilly to go up the offensiveness Richter scale about 400 times with this remark about a Senator's wife? And while I was not a member of the "fire Imus" club, the overwrought reaction to his remarks, versus those of a fellow radio / cable TV personality, looks even more absurd now.
I guess the moral of the story is, right wingers can get away with saying justaboutanything.
Finally, some cojones on the part of GE-NBC. They will not bow to the nattering nellies of NOW, nor to the intimidation tactics of Camp Clinton (who WILL attend that debate on Feb 26 thank you ... Hil needs the free media...) by firing David Shuster.
NBC insiders have told Greg Sergent of TPM that he will be back in short order (if by short order you mean after the debate) ... and I'm sure, he will be chastened...
Why has Shuster become the target of so much acrimony? Isn't this the guy who famously quit Fox News and then told the world exactly who they are?
The feminist brigade can't seriously believe that David Shuster is the worst of the worst -- on some Don Imus level of daily cruelty and abuse (and the former was doing it to be funny ...) What they clearly believe is that this story is helping Hillary among her base -- white women -- and that they will respond to it in such a way as to get her back in contention at the polls.
That calculation is cynical, highly political, and about as disengenuous as it is savvy. At the end of the day, Shustergate will probably help Hillary get her vote out, but it won't win her friends in the centrist end of the blogosphere...
Camp Hillary erupts over MSNBC's David Shuster's comment that the campaign was "pimping out" lil' Chelsea by having her call celebs, including the ladies of "The View" -- and hit the trail on behalf of her mom.
Now, Shuster has been suspended over the incident, after Camp Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson threatened during a conference call with reporters today, to boycott future debates on NBC, including one scheduled on February 26th. NBC, which also fired Don Imus (because they're actually very wimpy and P.C. reactionary ... trust me ...) issued the following Very Stern Statement:
On Thursday's "Tucker" on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.
Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns accepted invitations from us on Thursday evening to participate in a February 26th debate. Our conversations with the Clinton campaign about their participation continue today, and we are hopeful that the event will take place as planned.
TVNewser's insiders say the suspension is temporary -- probably at least until Hil wins another primary somewhere...
Damn, the Clintons are more lethal than the Bushies when it comes to punishing reporters for having a stray thought that's displeasing to "the family"! Break some legs, why don't ya???
BREAKING NEWS: Apparently, there will be no boycott of the ladies of "The View" for allegedly mocking Chelsea's high voice, with the lifting of the boycott immediately benefiting guaranteed Republican voter Elizabeth Hasselbeck...
OK, a girl's got to have a day ... or ten ... off.
So what's been going on while I've been on birthday break?
The Republican race for president has actually become more interesting, while the Democratic race is becoming a bore. Yeah, yeah, there's Oprah and all, but since I don't watch Oprah, and I'm not in Iowa, or South Carolina (and thus didn't have one of those 18-zillion tickets to the O&O Show) I'd rather have a free basket of the grand lady's favorite things (without the taxes to pay, please.)
Meanwhile, a new CBS/NYT poll finds GOP voters even less excited by their race than I am about ours.
Democratic voters, on the whole, view their candidates considerably more favorably than Republican voters do, and are much more optimistic about their prospects next November. Mrs. Clinton is viewed favorably by 68 percent of Democrats, followed by Mr. Obama who is viewed favorably by 54 percent. Mr. Edwards is viewed favorably by just 36 percent.
By contrast, on the Republican side, Mr. Giuliani is viewed the most favorably by members of his party — and that is by only 41 percent. Mr. McCain is viewed favorably by 37 percent and Mr. Romney is viewed favorably by 36 percent. Mr. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 30 percent, but 42 percent said they didn’t know enough about him to say whether to offer a view of him, suggesting that he might be vulnerable to the kind of attacks that his opponents have already been raising against them.
Among Republicans, 76 percent of respondents said that they could still change their mind about who to support, compared with 23 percent who said their decision was firm. Among Democrats, 59 percent said they might change their mind.
Libby Bass, 67, a Republican poll respondent from Woodbine, Georgia, said in a follow-up interview that she was weary of hearing the Republicans argue with one another, and that she was not ready to make a decision. “They’re not telling us what their plans or goals are; they’re just mimicking each other,” she said. “I’m waiting to see if someone comes up with something that will change my mind.
And there is no clear leader among Republicans: Mr. Giuliani was the choice of 22 percent of respondents, Mr. Huckabee with 21 percent and Mr. Romney with 16 percent. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Fred Thompson of Tennessee each had 7 percent.
On the Democratic side, the leader, Mrs. Clinton, has the support of 44 percent of respondents, compared with 27 percent for Mr. Obama and just 11 percent for Mr. Edwards. The rest of the Democratic candidates drew 2 percent or lower.
A CBS News poll conducted in mid-October — which offered voters a choice only of Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards — found Mrs. Clinton with 51 percent, Mr. Obama with 23 percent and Mr. Edwards with 13 percent.
He's facing new scrutiny of his controversial push to pardon a rapist whose victim was Bill Clinton's second cousin ... mainly because he appears to have pandered to the worst elements inside Arkansas, who couldn't accept the word of anyone related to Bill Clinton that she was victimized, even when a jury did accept her word, and that of the police, and the forensics people ... you know, the people who investigate such things...
So much for Huck being the "nice" candidate.
Other excitement on the GOP side:
Apparently Mitt Romney is a super duper Christian ... who knew? And he'll work hard as president to root out the evils of secularism, wherever it rears its ugly head. He will not, however, and did not in his big speech last week, explain the magical underpants. Perhaps fellow Mormon Glenn Beck will step up to the plate on that one.
Tim Russert finally asked a lethal question of a Republican, on this Sunday's Meet the Press, after Sir Rudy of 9/11 attempted to blame the NYPD for Judy's official, taxpayer dog walking security force, saying it was they, and not he, who demanded that Rudy's gal pal get protection, and that poor Judy didn't even want it (the poor dear). To that, Russert asked this:
MR. RUSSERT: Using that reasoning, would it be appropriate for a president to provide Secret Service protection for his mistress?
Bingo. And here's Rudy's waaaaay too long answer:
MR. GIULIANI: It would not be appropriate to, to do it for that reason, Tim, and that isn’t, that, that isn’t the right way to—you know, that isn’t the right way to, to analyze it or to say this. The reason it’s done is because somebody threatens to do harm, and the people who assess it come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do this. The reality is that it all came about because of my public position, because of the fact that when people are public or celebrities these kinds of threats take place. And the New York City Police Department has rules; they applied the rules, they applied them in exactly the same way as they always apply them. I did not make the judgment. I didn’t ask for it. Judith didn’t particularly want it, but it was done because they took the view that it was serious and it had to be done this way. And it was done the way they wanted to do it.
In fact, when you get security like this—and many people think, you know, this is a great convenience. And, and this is not at all to suggest that I don’t have great respect for the processionals who do this. Honestly, Tim, I know how it gets played in the media. This is not something you would want. You would not want to have this security, because it is coming about because somebody has threatened to do terrible things to you or your family and professionals have evaluated it that way and feel you need the security. And you say to them, “Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I go here? Can I go there?” And they tell you, “No, you can’t.” So this is not something—I know how it gets played, but this is not something that anybody ever desires. I remember the first time it happened with me. I mean, the things that I liked to do, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do any more, because they would tell me “You can’t do it this way. You have to do it another way.”
Uh-huh... Here's the take from Tom DeFrank of the NYDN:
His explanation of Nathan's police car service doesn't square with Friday's Daily News exclusive report, citing multiple witnesses and a law enforcement source, that she was being protected by city taxpayers months before the affair was revealed in May 2000.
"The threats were after" their romance became known, Giuliani maintained Sunday. The only guest on Russert's "Meet the Press," Giuliani endured a withering examination of his personal character and business dealings.
To the glee of fellow presidential contenders, the Republican front-runner spent nearly an hour playing defense, attempting to deflect a flurry of questions about his relationship with indicted pal Bernard Kerik and Kerik's mistress Judith Regan, controversial corporate clients and his own tangled personal life.
"The baggage is finally starting to catch up with him," a neutral GOP consultant said.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the aisle, the news is all ...
In all serioiusness, if Barack Obama's team can figure out a way to translate his pop culture wave into real votes, he has a damned good chance of getting the nomination. Hillary still has the machine, and the strongest ground team on the Democratic side, and honestly, new, "hype" voters are serially unreliable on election day, but if Barack can do what Howie Dean could not in 2004, he could pull off wins in Iowa and South Carolina, and seriously shake Hill's inevitability.
OK, the Dem race isn't all that boring. But its much more fun to watch the GOPers flail around, I must say.
Looks like White America finally got O.J., the object of their angry obsession, and his stupidity let them do it. The question still remains open for me whether he's being set up by his so-called acquaintances -- perhaps by this guy, who's actually profiting from Simpson's demise. But it's not arguable that Mr. Simpson, who is 60 years old, has the brains of a 1 day old squid. Now he's facing life in prison for an alleged armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel (indictement here.) The state is obviously over-charging O.J. and his cohorts in hopes of not creating the next Marcia Clark, Chris Darden and Judge Ito. It's a sad spectacle, and one that O.J. himself helped orchestrate by being so arrogant, beligerent and so ... damned ... stupid.
Still, there are principles at stake in this case that are bigger than O.J., like vindictive prosecution, white America's (I believe racist) obsession with O.J. (in my opinion, because he exploded the old taboo about Black men sleeping with white women, and then beat the system by getting acquitted for the Brown-Goldman murders), and the media's clear double standard (where's the outrage over Robert Blake beating those wife murder charges? Hm, Geraldo?)... and then there is the rather sorry, pitiful spectacle of the Goldmans, whose seemingly unquenchable obsession with scraping up Simpson's assets, including his largely worthless memoribilia, has become an embarassment.
I wish that all of this would go away, but unfortunately, I know the media too well to think that it will. Welcome back to the future.
No one really expects The Drudge Report, or any of its winger accolytes, to deliver the actual news. But this kind of blatant inaccuracy is bad, even for Matt and friends. Today, Drudge linked to his favorite "news" source, champion headline linker and right wing pundit Andrew Breitbart's self-titled link portal. The headline: US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring: poll
More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.
And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.
More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.
More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".
Sounds like straight reporting, yeah? Well, maybe not.
Heading over to the actual Pew Poll, we find something slightly different.
It turns out that the public as a whole has an overwhelmingly positive view of the news media, with 78% viewing local TV news favorably, 75% feeling the same way about cable TV news, 71% for network news, 78% for daily newspapers and 60% for national newspapers.
As for perceptions of bias, the percentage of Americans saying that the news media as a whole is moral has dropped from 54% to 46% between 1985 and 2007, the percentage saying the media "protects democracy" has dropped from 54% to 44% in that time, with a minority of 36% saying they "hurt democracy" and 20% saying they don't know ... and 66% now saying the media is "highly professional", down from 72% in 1985 and versus just 22% who now say the media are "not professional." Where the Breitbart headline almost sounds coherent is in the areas of factuality and bias: 30% of respondents to the Pew poll said the media "gets the facts straight" versus 53% who say stories are often inaccuate. Back in '85, the numbers were 55% for factuality and 34% for frequent error. That is a problem for the media, which has been subject to various "gotchas" in recent years, from everything from blogswarms to in-house liars like Jayson Blair.
And on the subject of bias, just 31% of respondentss said the media are "careful to avoid bias," versus 55% who called the media politically biased. In 1985, however, those numbers weren't much different: then, 36% said the media were careful to avoid bias, versus 45% who detected bias. In other words, the percentage of doubters, down from 19% to 14%, has declined, and the percentage of those who are certain that the media is out to trick them, has climbed, though the impact on those who consider the media honest is almost within the margin of error.
And what accounts for the increased certainty of bias? According to the poll, two things: the Internet, and Fox News.
Respondents who get most of their news from the 'net scored the highest in the poll in terms of perceiving bias in the news. Both on the left and the right, people who see the media as hopelessly tilted to one political side or another, have in many cases turned to getting most of their news online, sussing out information for themselves rather than relying on the talking heads. These folks tend to be younger, not nursed on the three major networks' nightly news, and highly skeptical of the official story presented by the often lap-dog press (have I revealed too much...?)
According to the Pew analysts:
People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers.
The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).
Indeed. But the even bigger drag on the poll in terms of perceptions of the media is Fox News. It has fed an almost hysterical revulsion for the "mainstream media," from the New York Times to CNN, and has led many Republicans to conclude that they -- and thus, America -- are under seminal attack by the left wing hordes of the press. Say the Pew researchers:
Across every major news source, Democrats offer more favorable assessments than do independents or Republicans. The partisan divide is smallest when it comes to local TV news, which 83% of Democrats rate favorably along with 76% of Republicans. The differences are greatest for major national newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Fully 79% of Democrats rate these newspapers favorably compared with just 41% of Republicans, based on those able to rate them.
While Republicans have long been more skeptical than Democrats about major media sources, the magnitude of the difference is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Pew's first measure of media favorability in 1985, there were modest differences of opinion across party lines.
And as for the "Foxified viewers" as described in the poll:
those who cite the Fox News Channel as their primary source of news stand out among the TV news audience for their negative evaluations of news organizations' practices. Fully 63% of Americans who count Fox as their main news source say news stories are often inaccurate – a view held by fewer than half of those who cite CNN (46%) or network news (41%) as their main source.
Similarly, Fox viewers are far more likely to say the press is too critical of America (52% vs. 36% of CNN viewers and 29% of network news viewers). And the Fox News Channel audience gives starkly lower ratings to network news programs and national newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
And why do Fox viewers feel so put upon?
Politics plays a large part in these assessments – Republicans outnumber Democrats by two-to-one (43% to 21%) among the core Fox News Channel audience, while there are far more Democrats than Republicans among CNN's viewers (43% Democrat, 22% Republican) and network news viewers (41% Democrat, 24% Republican).
It's no wonder Roger Ailes can double as the network head and Rudy Giuliani's principal advisor. More from the poll:
Not surprisingly, the Fox News Channel audience is far more likely to say that news organizations have been unfair in their coverage of George W. Bush (49%) than those who cite CNN (19%) or network news (22%) as their main news source.
Further analysis of the data shows that being a Republican and a Fox viewer are related to negative opinions of the mainstream media. The overlapping impact of these two factors can most clearly be seen in the favorability ratings of network TV news, major national newspapers, and the daily newspapers that respondents are most familiar with. For all three, Republicans who count Fox as their main news source are considerably more critical than Republicans who rely on other sources. For example, fully 71% of Fox News Republicans hold an unfavorable opinion of major national newspapers, compared with 52% of Republicans who use other sources, and 33% of those who are not Republicans.
Of course, none of that makes it into Breitbart's news churner, let alone Drudge's.
...that Chris Matthews would criticize Rudy Giuliani. He just did so on "Hardball," saying, during a back and forth with actor/political junkie Ben Affleck about the politican candidates:
"I agree with what Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweekthis week, which is that terrorism isn't bombs and explosions and death... terrorism is when you change your society because of those explosions... and you become fearful to the point that you shut out immigration, you shut out student exchanges, you keep people out of buildings ... and begin to act in an almost fascist manner because you're afraid of what might happen to you, and that's when terrorism becomes real, and frighteningly succesful. That's what I believe, and that's why I question the way Giuliani has raised this issue. He raises it as a specter, and in a wierd way, he helps the bad guys."
Wow. That's a switch, Chris. I honestly didn't think this guy was capable of doing anything besides fawning over Rudy. Of course, he did get in a swipe at Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky during the segment, just to make the point that he's still Chris "the Clinton obsessor".
But a stunning development nonetheless. I get the feeling Matthews is disappointed that his Big City Mayor hero has turned out to be nothing but a fear mongering neocon -- liberal on social issues, crazy for war in the Middle East, and authoritarian in the extreme.
Carl Bernstein's book on Hillary Clinton is not on my reading list. I really can't abide hundreds of pages of Chris Matthews masterbation material. Here's one review that pretty much sums up why. How far this guy and his slimy partner (Bob Woodward) have fallen from their Watergate days. Imagine -- going from reporting on the crimes of one president to unzipping another's trousers and peeking up his wife's skirt. This is the guy who exposed the media-CIA connection back in the '70s in RollingStone? Sheesh...
Karl Rove is implicated in what appears to be the politicized prosecution of a Democratic political figure by one of Alberto's finest, during a heated re-election, which also happens to contain a fishy recount. TIME reports:
In the rough and tumble of Alabama politics, the scramble for power is often a blood sport. At the moment, the state's former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.
Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove "had spoken with the Department of Justice" about "pursuing" Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.
The allegation was made by Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama. She made the charges in a May 21 affidavit, obtained by TIME, in which she describes a conference call on November 18, 2002, which involved a group of senior aides to Bob Riley, who had just narrowly defeated Siegelman in a bitterly contested election for governor. Though Republican Riley, a former Congressman, initially found himself behind by several thousand votes, he had pulled ahead at the last minute when disputed ballots were tallied in his favor. After the abrupt vote turnaround, Siegelman sought a recount. The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge.
According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because "'his girls' would take care of" the governor. Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Canary reassured others on the conference call — who also included Riley's son, Rob, and Terry Butts, another Riley lawyer and former justice of the Alabama supreme court — that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman," the Simpson affidavit says. Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June. ...
Of course all of the parties named are denying it, with the exception of the White House, which, intrestingly enough, has no comment. More from TIME:
Canary was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve in the White House as special assistant for intergovernmental affairs, and then named chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. Later in the 1990's he also worked closely with Karl Rove in a successful series of campaigns to get Republicans elected to Alabama's state courts.
In an interview with TIME, Simpson confirmed that the "Karl" cited in her sworn statement was Karl Rove. "There's absolutely no question it was Karl Rove, no doubt whatsoever," she said. She also said she has phone records to back up the date and duration of her phone calls.
Though Simpson's legal work primarily involved research for companies seeking federal government contracts, she says she also did "opposition research" on Siegelman as a volunteer in Riley's campaign in 2002. A lifelong G.O.P. supporter, she says she has long been friendly with Riley's son, Rob Riley, whom she met at the University of Alabama and worked with on various legal cases.
In her interview with TIME, Simpson said the participants in the conference call expressed growing concern that Gov. Siegelman would refuse to give up his challenge to the vote count. According to Simpson, Rob Riley said, "Siegelman's just like a cockroach, he'll never die, what are we going to do?" At that point Canary offered reassurance by citing Rove's news from Justice Department.
Simpson said she had long been troubled by the conference call conversation, and even consulted an official of the Alabama State Bar Association to determine whether she could disclose it publicly without violating her obligations as a volunteer working for the Riley campaign. She was told, she said, that she was free to speak of the matter.
Simpson said she grew more concerned about the matter after Siegelman's conviction last June. She says she told several friends about the conference call ; one of them, Mark Bollinger, a former aide to a Democratic attorney general in Alabama and in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, has given his own affidavit, obtained by TIME, swearing that Simpson had told him of the conference call and Rove's alleged statements.
Hm. Wouldn't I love to see those phone records ... And what about the timing?
The federal investigation of Siegelman culminated in a criminal prosecution that became public not long after Siegelman announced that he would run again for governor of Alabama in 2006. Partly because of the investigation, Siegelman failed in his bid for the Democratic nomination.
So why hasn't this story hit the mainstream, television media? Could it be that reporters and senior management at the big three networks and their cable offspring are just too protective of, and close to, Karl and friends (every Washington reporter appears to be on a first name basis with him.) Could it be that they have decided, on their own, that Karl news isn't really news? It's too "inside the beltway," it won't go anywhere anyway (remember Plamegate?) Or maybe, they just assume that nobody cares.
Either way, stories like this are ones you only find linked to by blogs, or possibly on "Countdown." That, my friends, is why Karl Rove is untouchable. Not because his criminality isn't real or known, but because the Fourth Estate is playing on his team.
Other stories you won't hear on "Hardball" or the nightly news:
The media operates off of broad narratives, which are usually only belatedly shaken, and then, only by major explosions of fact. For example, even as his poll numbers continued to decline throughout 2004, President Bush was still routinely tagged as "a very popular president," with that line almost obligatory in any story about him. Other narratives that became common, even when common sense dictated otherwise included:
"John McCain is a maverick!" -- even as he became more slavishly devoted to the president and more cagey with the media ...
"The Bush administration is the most disciplined in recent history!" -- even as leaks continued to pour out of the White House and disarray was clearly evident in their policies, especially Iraq ...
"The Clinton administration was corrupt!" -- that used to be the narrative back in the 1990s, when fulminations over the Whitewater scandalette, in which no White House officials were indicted was whipped up into a serial story, while the more recent CIA leak scandal, in which the top aide to the vice president of the United States was both indicted and convicted, received only scant coverage. To add to the outrage, to this day, one major "liberal media" outlet -- CBS News -- has still declined to cover the firings of eight U.S. attorneys in unprecedented fashion by the Justice Department, and only MSNBC has bothered to delve into the larger implications regarding minority communities' right to vote.
"The Clintons are involved in a marriage of political convenience!" -- even though they have chosen to remain together, and are each other's only spouse, and despite the fact that their closest friends and associates insist that they truly are in love.
The Bush narrative was totally exploded with Hurricane Katrina, and since then, a new narrative has emerged: The Bush administration is in disarray, leaning toward incompetent. The media, therefore, has finally given itself permission to critique them. After 9/11, that permission was voluntarily withdrawn, and the "Bush is popular" narrative took over.
Let's try another, which still hasn't broken its stranglehold on the mainstream media elite:
"Rudy Giuliani is the hero of 9/11!" -- this one is the most irksome to me, because I lived in New York City under Giuliani's administration, and know him to have been less a heroic than a tyrannical and hated figure, loathed by most New Yorkers on September 10, 2001, yet given credit on that terrible day for being the only public official talking -- George W. Bush having scurried out of that Florida classroom to go into hiding. Beside the fact that any other mayor would have, and should have, done the same thing, and the fact that the mayors of Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA did, Giuliani was tagged, not only "America's mayor," but someone considered instantly qualified to be president of the United States -- with "credibility on the war on terror" to boot -- despite never having served in the military, led a single aspect of the actual war on terror, and despite having not an ounce of foreign policy experience. What's the disconnect, here? Add to that that the likes of Chris Matthews on MSNBC has continued to obsess over the Clinton marriage, but will not discuss the relationship "issues" inherent in the multiple Giuliani marriages, even dismissing Gloria Borger this weekend on his "Chris Matthews show" on NBC with a "nobody's perfect" side swipe when she tried to counter his Clinton marriage obsession by asking who on the Republican side would serve as the family values candidate, thrice married Rudy...???
But I digress.
Back to the MSM's narrative building. Witness a recent story about Giuliani -- who is loathed by NYC firefighters for his calousness after 9/11 in not allowing sufficient time for the bodies of their brothers to be retrieved from the wreckage of the Twin Towers -- being heckled by families of those same firefighters. The story appeared in an obscure New York newspaper, and notedly, not in Giuliani's home paper, the New York Times, which on the same day chose to run the feel-good Rudy headline: To Temper Image, Giuliani Trades Growl for Smile. How nice. Here's the story from the Long Island Press:
Rudy Giuliani’s campaign fundraising was marred by critical questions on Tuesday, as reporters and protesters demanded answers about his role in the Sept. 11, 2001 proceedings.
During Giuliani’s visit to City Island in the Bronx Tuesday morning, one stop in his visit to four of the five New York City boroughs, he was accused by a radical group of being one of the “criminals of 9/11.”
After conversing with a reporter outside the Sea Shore restaurant, Giuliani was approached by a woman claiming to be a relative of a firefighter who perished when the World Trade Center towers fell in the Sept. 11 attacks. The woman wanted to know why Giuliani did not try to stop police and firefighters from attempting rescue. She added that he allegedly told Peter Jennings the towers would not collapse but knew they would, thus sending rescue workers to their deaths. A young man from the same group voiced similar accusations, cutting Giuliani off when he tried to correct the woman. ...
Okay, let's break that down. Later in the story, they point out who the "radical group" was: the Skyscraper Safety Campaign. Here's what the group says on its website:
The Skyscraper Safety Campaign, (SSC), is a project of parents and relatives who lost loved ones in the September 11th attack at the World Trade Center. While condemning the terrorists' attack, the campaign is dedicated to finding out why and how the WTC collapsed, to ensuring that quality, safety and security are priorities in rebuilding lower Manhattan and to reforming New York City building codes. SSC represents several hundred family members of firefighters and other victims who since October 2001 have pressed for an independent federal investigation to examine the interrelated events that lead to the WTC disaster, identify failures that were preventable, and make specific recommendations for improved building codes, regulations and procedures.
On September 11, Christian Regenhard, a 28-year old firefighter, was killed in the rescue effort at the WTC. His mother, Sally Regenhard, began asking questions convinced that tower construction and fire safety had been inadequate. Unable to get answers from the agencies involved, she began uniting widows and parents to form the Skyscraper Safety Campaign and reached out to fire engineering experts. At a press conference at City Hall, she presented a petition signed by relatives of WTC victims and firefighters calling for "an independent federal panel to study the building construction, the integrity of the materials used and all the conditions that combined to cause the tragedy." SSC also organized delegations to congressional hearings in Washington, D.C. In June 2002, a federal investigation was launched to examine weaknesses in the WTC, evaluate fire-prevention systems and fire department response.
Joining Sally in the SSC is Co-chair Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband Richard, an employee of AON Corp., WTC2/103floor. He was last seen alive, waiting to be rescued, on the 78th Floor of Tower 2. Both Christian and Richard have not been recovered.
So the group isn't all that radical, and they're not "claiming" to be related to New York City firefighters, they ARE related to New York City firefighters. But of course, if they are questioning the heroism and purity of America's mayor, they must be either radical, liars, or insane. Oh, and check out their PhD filled board of directors. Muy radical...
WNBC were kind enough to call the "radicals" "activists" instead. Thanks, guys.
The Reidblog handy dandy guide to the first GOP presidential debate
The GOPers debate tonight, (and in so doing, they attempt to find their souls...) so in case you're not in the know, let's handicap the ten declared candidates, shall we? Here we go:
1. Rudy Giuliani Best known for saying, after 9/11, that the first thing he did after the attacks leveled the buildings where he had moved the command centers for the police and fire departments right after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was to turn to his crimie Bernard Kerik and say, "thank God George Bush and Dick Cheney are in the White House." Likes: gun control, wearing frilly dresses, gay civil unions (unless he's campaigning in the South) and public funding for abortion (see previous "like"). Dislikes: wives (once he finds a better one). Southern strategy: publicize the fact that he was once married to his cousin.
2. John McCain Also known as "Baghdad Johnnie". Best known for taking a stroll through an Iraqi market with 100 of his closest military friends, 2 Apache helicopters, 2 Blackhawk helicopters
3. Mitt Romney Best known for: Running the U.S. Olympic Committee, being a Mormon, and yet, having only one wife, and for looking exactly like Guy Smiley...
4. Sam Brownback Dubbed “God’s Senator” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. Voted NO on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program to put more police officers on the street. And says Stare decisis would have upheld separate-but-equal! What would Jesus do, indeed.
5. Mike Huckabee Former governor of Arkansas. Most famous for: losing a busload of weight (over 110 pounds). Biggest problem for the GOP: as governor, he raised taxes, a big no-no.
6. Duncan Hunter Most famous for: promoting the Gitmo diet, and saying that the food at the Guantanamo detention facility is to die for! Perhaps no one briefed the California congressman about the suicides...
7. Tom Tancredo Most famous for: calling Miami a Third World country. Southern strategy: don't campaign in Miami.
8. Tommy Thompson Former governor of Wisconsin and Bush's onetime Health and Human Services secretary. As secretary, he helped create Bush's stem cell research compromise, which legalized federal funding for the use of ... well ... compromised, old and mainly useless stem cell lines for research. Researchers, were mostly not interested.
9. Jim Gilmore Former governor of Virginia during the Clinton era, and was governor during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Stole Howard Dean's line by saying he represents "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." Negatives: not many. Biggest problem: no one outside of Virginia knows who he is.
10. Ron Paul 10-term Congressman, medical doctor (M.D.) and two-time and current presidential candidate from the U.S. state of Texas. Wants to abolish both Social Security and the Federal Reserve. Chances of becoming president: 0. Look for him to be the Mike Gravel of tonight's debates.
George W. Bush has succeeded in making a horse's ass out of himself four years running, maintaining a consistent record of failure in Iraq, of mendacity and stubbornness at home, of using American troops and pawns and props the world over, and of cementing in stone, his place as the most incompetent and worst president in U.S. history.
Today, on the four year anniversary of his infamous flight suit adventure aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (an affair so staged and false it was actually prissy, and after which his administration very crisply blamed the troops for hanging that ridiculous banner, produced by the White House, oh, and media, before you get to haughty today, some of us remember how Glorious you thought the flight suit thing was at the time ... Chris Matthews...) Mr. Bush vetoed legislation that would have funded the troops, funded increased mental and physical health care for those wounded in his useless war in Iraq (and the forgotten war in Afghanistan), given those troops the body armor, and the rest, they should have been entitled to from the beginning, and given the American people the timeline that 7 in 10 of us -- the citizens of this country -- have made clear that we want.
When this war began, Bush told us that we were going in with some 30 allied countries: a "coalition of the willing," that actually meant more than 150,000 American troops, 11,000 brits, 1,200 or so Aussies, the scatterlings of the old Soviet empire and a smattering of technicians and mechanics from here and there, a scad waving at us from the ground as we flew over their tiny states, plus really strong "tally hos" from the rest... (yes, and not a single Arab country.) The war was swift, and successful, lasting just 41 days, as our troops marched relentlessly towards Baghdad, benching the Saddam Hussein government, and handing a free country to his formerly repressed people, who promptly began to trash, loot and blow it up, and that was before the civil war. In seven more months, Saddam would be captured. The following June, an interim government would be in place. Another year on, the first of three elections, followed by three prime ministers (shuffled at the whim of the Bush administration, rather than the Iraqi people...) endless newfangled surges, revamped strategies, tweaks and milestones: Zarqawi killed, Saddam hanged, and on and on and on. In the meantime, there were darker milestones: Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, the bombing of the Golden Mosque, and about that hanging...
Today, there have been 3,622 coalition casualties in the war, 3,351 from the U.S. There have been 117 in this month alone, 107 U.S. That's versus just 92 coalition including 65 U.S. combat deaths on this day four years ago, on the day the war supposedly ended.
How much damage can one man do to a military, to a country? And can he yet do more?
Sadly, the answer to the last question is yes. George W. Bush seems determined to keep on damaging this country, this military, and Iraq, until his last damned day in office, and probably beyond.
Happy fourth anniversary of Mission Accomplished, George W. Bush. I'd say I hope you can sleep tonight, but unfortunately, I know all too well that you're going to sleep like a baby. You're just that kind of guy.
Four years ago, I was right where I am today: against the Iraq war. From the Miami Herald, April 3, 2003:
Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2003
JOY-ANN L. REID
Against a senseless war
I am about the same age as Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson, who is at the upper end of the age range of Americans fighting in Iraq. Johnson was taken prisoner by Iraqis when she and her convoy took a wrong turn on the road to Baghdad.
I don't pretend to speak for everybody my age but do know that most of us are ambivalent about this war. Even the hard-core Republicans I know are more fiercely supportive of President Bush than they are coherent or persuasive in explaining why our soldiers and Marines have been sent to fight and die thousands of miles away.
Weapons of mass destruction? Haven't seen 'em. To stop Iraq from getting nukes? Two words: forged documents. Two more: North Korea. Preventing another Sept. 11? Go after Osama bin Laden. Avenging the Kurds? 20 years too late. Liberating the Iraqi people? They are not cooperating. Enforcing U.N. resolutions? Give me a break.
Many of us are still shaken from Sept. 11, but there is no proof that Saddam Hussein was involved in it. Despite Bush's mantra -- ''Saddam is an evil man who gassed his own people and who must be disarmed for the sake of peace'' -- many of us don't think that it's worth the lives of our soldiers to topple the Iraqi dictator.
Americans like me respect the military, because unlike those who advocated this war, we tend to know people who joined up -- public-school kids who did ROTC in high school and who enlisted for good jobs, pay for college or to get some direction and discipline in life. Conquering the world was definitely not a reason. Even the most anti-war people see our military as dedicated professionals who aren't at all culpable for the political policies that they are duty-bound to implement.
So what's the disconnect?
• Maybe it's the creepy, neoconservative crowd whose decade-long determination to go to war makes the whole exercise look suspect.
• Maybe it's time to bring back the draft. Unless we all have a friend or family member in the Gulf, Americans have surprisingly little at stake in this war. For many young people, it's just another TV reality show -- great graphics, banging soundtrack and ''embedded'' reporters becoming the next superstars. But this reality show is full of real tragedy, real dying and real suffering, on both sides. The question is: Without the prospect of being whisked off to the front lines, how deeply will the generation that grew up on Mortal Kombat feel it?
• Maybe it's the fact that while a war with potentially dire consequences for the world is raging in Iraq, the United States isn't on much of a war footing. We're told to go about our business. We don't even sweat the orange alerts anymore; they've become background noise.
When we get tired of watching the MOABs lighting up Baghdad, we can watch undeployed soldier Scott Grayson belt one out for a chance to get signed by Simon Cowell (the bad Brit to Tony Blair's good, dutiful one). For all its great coverage at the beginning of the war, MTV hasn't pre-empted The Real World, and BET is still booty-shaking and bling-blinging for all but 30 minutes a day.
There are no calls for sacrifice, no war bonds or rations (in fact, if we make enough dough, we're even getting a tax cut) and no exhortations from our leaders to get involved. The people most inclined to get involved -- on the anti-war side -- are being told to quiet down. Meanwhile, the two major parties are busy dolling out the post-Hussein spoils to their corporate friends -- and Specialist Johnson and other young soldiers are still waiting to be rescued.
America is about to produce a whole new generation of grizzled war veterans in their 20s and 30s. This Greatest Generation might turn into the Most Cynical Generation as well.
As proud I am to never have been fooled by the Bushies, I'm still damned sorry I wasn't wrong. The cost to this country and our military has been too great for it to all have been for nothing.
Our long national nightmare is over (and so is Barbara's)
Anyone who knows me knows I can't stand Rosie O'Donnell. I was forced to deal with her back in 1995 when I was interning for New York Women in Film and Television, which for some inconceivable reason, gave her an award that year. Lucky me -- I got to be her P.A. for the day. It was an unmitigated nightmare. Rosie was surly, mean, pushy, crass and vulgar. In short, she is EXACTLY what she appears to be on The View (not that I watch it -- I just watch the clips on Scarborough Country ... that's about all I need, thank you...)
So why would a supposedly sound journalist like Barbara Walters hire her to take the place of Star Jones? Beats me. But what's clear, is that Barabara has been struggling with her internal self ever since -- loving the ratings, but hating the Rosie. Well, now the ratings ... er ... vulgar she-devil is leaving The View. She's not being fired, she's just leaving. While Harvey Levin has been all over MSNBC defending her, I suspect that if Rosie quit, she did so because she knew that, particularly after her recent performance in front of over 1,000 industry women and 17 high school girls -- plus Hillary Clinton and Rupert Murdoch (video here) -- Barbara didn't want her back, ratings or none.
Good riddance, Rosie, you miserable shrew. But I'm still not TiVo'ing that horrid daytime monstrosity you've left behind. It's hard to watch Babs now, knowing what she was willing to do for ratings...
CBS fires Don Imus' perennially offensive longtime producer and sidekick, Bernard McGuirk, more than a week after Imus got the boot. McGuirk, who started the whole "ho" diatribe, will have to do his Ray Nagin and Cardinal O'Connor impressions elsewhere. Meanwhile, Jason Whitlock is publicly cool to the idea of replacing Imus at the FAN. ... the operative word being publicly. I know how hard it is to get a radio job, let alone a nationally syndicated show. If Whitlock has half a brain, he's seriously considering. ...
CBS Radio is reportedly interviewing Jason Whitlock, an African-American sports columnist for AOL Sports and the Kansas City Star, to take Don Imus' old spot on WFAN as a syndicated national radio host. Conventional African-American Wisdom: That's great!
Jason Whitlock, the columnist for the Kansas City Star and AOL Sports, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the effort to get Don Imus taken off the air for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Whitlock isn't defending what Imus said, but he is saying that in many respects, Imus's critics are worse than Imus.
And in an appearance on Tucker Carlson's show on MSNBC, Whitlock lashed out at Imus's two harshest critics, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Whitlock said, "I would say to CBS, don't negotiate with terrorists...
I tend to fall on the side of freedom of information, and I loathe the idea of censorship. Americans receive such sanitized news, particularly when it comes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consequently, we have no idea what war looks like, and what the wars we're paying for are doing to the peoples of those countries, let alone our own troops. But I also sympathise with the families of the victims in Virginia, who are angry at NBC News for airing footage of the VTech killer. (As I stated in a previous post, I opted not to post a big pic of him on this blog...)
NBC News had this story all to itself, having been the only one who received the video. What to do with that video is the ultimate Hobson's choice. If they run the footage, people will be outraged. If they don't, they could be accused of suppressing information. And then there is the hypocrisy of rival networks, who have been running exerpts and pictures of Cho, just like NBC News, and who would have put that video out in a New York minute if they were the ones with the scoop. If I were the news director at NBC, I would probably have voted to air at least part of the footage (though perhaps I would have held off more than the day or so that NBC did...)
Airing the footage had as many drawbacks as could be: it hurt the families, could inspire copycats, and gave the killer what he wanted most: the world's attention. But it also gave us a window into the mind of a deranged soul whom human nature desperately wants to at least comprehend, if possible. And let's face it, it also satisfied the prurient curiosity of people, including myself, who wanted an answer to the question: what kind of person could have done this? It's the same drive that has so many of us scouring the Internet for the derivation of "Ismail Ax." This story can't be sanitized. It shouldn't be. And yet, the families' reaction breaks my heart. I'm SO glad I'm not in TV news anymore...
But here's my beef with the Peacock Network, who I must disclose used to pay me a salary, via the web company it co-owns (I worked for a local affiliate here in South Florida): I don't get how the same network that was too prissy to keep Don Imus on the air because he called some college girls "nappy headed hos," and the same management team, including NBC News chief Steve Capus, that crumbled under the outraged sensibilities of Black employees weren't too delicate to air the final words of a serial killer whose "multimedia manifesto" served as a dagger in the hearts of 32 families who have lost loved ones. Weren't their sensibilities likely to be just a little bit more raw than Al Roker's? And yet, outrage from the employees forces a show with 400,000 daily viewers off the air, but the outrage of these families, and the community at Virginia Tech, just can't trump that fantastic ratings opportunity?
That's about as hypocritical as it gets.
Update: Just heard a clip of Rosie lecturing NBC News on their decision to air the footage (on Scarborough Country.) Talk about pot calling kettle. Rosie is the last person who should be smugly declaring what is and isn't permissable on the air.
I suspect that trying to understand the mind of a serial killer is rather like trying to figure out the ingredients in a hot dog. You might be able to figure it out, but you probably don't want to know.
The media, and the psychiatric community is now pouring over the "multimedia manifesto" left behind by Cho Seung Hui, the VTech killer. Online, the hunt is still on for the derivation of the phrase "Ismail Ax," which was scrawled in red ink on one of his arms when he was found dead by suicide after the shooting.
One clue might be the package that was sent to NBC News, probably by Cho, between the first and second shootings. As BlogHero points out, it had an interesting return address:
So could we be reading the phrase backward? He appears to have made this second reference, not to "Ismail Ax" but to "A. Ishmael." I'm sure that will be the next highly googled phrase. Cho made references to "dying like Christ" in his video message.
It was mailed from Blacksburg at 9:01 a.m. the day of the shooting, minutes before he went on his second shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.
What the nondescript package did contain was a printout of.pdf file titled “axishmiel”, a Cho’s 1,800-word manifesto broken up by the now famous photographs -- 43 total: 29 of them showing Cho with his weapons: the Glock 9mm automatic and the .22 caliber handgun as well as a hunting knife. But two images seemed incongruous: smiling portraits. The more appealing of the two was the first image shown in the manifesto. It was almost as if he wanted to show himself as non-threatening, as a good guy. Of the remaining 14, all but one were of the weapons, the other a photo of a blue sky.
NBC also delves into the timestamps, which say much about just how long this slaughter was planned:
But what was as revealing about the manifesto was the time and date the .pdf file was last modified: 7:24 a.m., April 16, minutes after he had shot and killed his first two victims, and nearly two hours before he went on his second rampage.
Beyond the .pdf file were two other files with time stamps hinting at just how long he had been thinking about the attacks: two Microsoft Word files, and a six-minute .avi file. The Word files were drafts of the two sections of the manifesto, which he had written earlier, one being last modified on April 13 at 3:45 p.m. and on April 15 at 8:22 a.m. The sole .avi file of him reading the manifesto, titled “letter1” was recorded even earlier, at 9:40 a.m. on April 10, a full six days before the massacre. ...
Back to "Ax Ismail," or "Ishmael," I did separate Google searches for Ax and Ishmael, and found one interesting thing. Cho was an english major, having switched from business. Wikipedia has the following on a book entitled "Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn:
The story begins with a newspaper ad: "Teacher seeks pupil, must have an earnest desire to save the world". A nameless character (who is identified in a later book as Alan Lomax) responds to the ad out of nostalgia. He seeks the teacher and finds himself in a room with a gorilla.
To the man's surprise he finds that the gorilla can communicate telepathically. At first baffled by this the man quickly learns the story of how the gorilla came to be this way and he accepts the gorilla, Ishmael, as his teacher. The novel continues from this point as a socratic dialogue between the man and Ishmael as they hash out what Ishmael refers to as "how things came to be this way" for mankind and the environment.
Ishmael begins by telling the man that his life, which began in the wild, was spent mostly in a zoo and a menagerie, and since had been spent in the gazebo of the man that extricated him from physical captivity. He tells his student that it was at the menagerie that he learned about human language and culture and began to think about things that he never would have pondered in the wild. Subsequently, Ishmael tells the man that his subject for this learning experience will be captivity, primarily the captivity of man under a civilizational system that forces him to exploit and destroy the world in order to live.
The narrator has a vague notion that he is living in some sort of captivity and being lied to in some way but he can not explain his feelings.
Ishmael uses the example of Nazi Germany as he attempts to show his student that the people of his culture are in much of the same situation. Either held captive with the mythology of being superior, or " an animal swept up in the stampede" of the captivity of those around them.
Before proceeding Ishmael lays some ground definitions for his student so they can be on the same page as they continue to discuss. He defines:
"Takers" as people often referred to as "civilized." Particularly, the culture born in an Agricultural Revolution that began about 10,000 years ago in the Near East; the culture of Ishmael's pupil "Leavers" as people of all other cultures; sometimes referred to as "primitive."
A "story" as an interrelation between the gods, man, and the Earth, with a beginning, middle, and end. To "enact" is to strive to make a story come true. A "culture" as a people who are enacting a story Ishmael proceeds to tease from his pupil the premises of the story being enacted by the Takers: that they are the pinnacle of evolution (or creation), that the world was made for man, and that man is here to conquer and rule the world. This rule is meant to bring about a paradise, as man increases his mastery of the world, however, he's always screwed it up because he is flawed. Man doesn't know how to live and never will because that knowledge is unobtainable. So, however hard he labors to save the world, he is just going to go on screwing it up.
Ishmael points out to his student that when the Takers decided there is something fundamentally wrong with humans, they took as evidence only their own culture's history- "They were looking at a half of one-percent of the evidence taken from a single culture-- Not a reasonable sample on which to base such a sweeping conclusion."
One more line:
Ishmael makes the point that this story of the Fall of Man, which the Takers have adopted as their own, was in fact developed by Leavers to explain the origin of the Takers. If it were of Taker origin, the story would be of liberating ascent, and instead of being forbidden to Adam, the fruit of the Tree would have been thrust upon him.
BTW, one expert is speculating that Cho was schizophrenic. Could he have internalized some fictional world, and manifest it in rage against the student body at Virginia Tech?
Baghdad faces its deadliest day since the start of the U.S. "surge." Somebody had better tell John McCain before he takes another stroll or says something stupid... The targets of the carnage were Shiits, this days after Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his people out of the Maliki government, after its failure to agree to a timetable on Iraq withdrawal.
Meanwhile, on this side of the world, Alberto Gonzales: It's your day! Gonzo's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee jumps off this afternoon. He's got a lot to answer for ...
Surprise! An anonymous group of Justice Department employees has blown the whistle on the Gonzo shop's political litmus tests for hiring. Unfortunately, this is hardly news coming out of this administration.
MSNBC takes full advantage of its Cho scoop, even as the chattering classes ask tough questions about whether to broadcast a clearly demented killer's manifesto, giving him the fame he sought.
TV Newser defends the network, and urges other members of the media to do the same. Some VTech family members are upset with the Peacock network. NBC faces the multimedia age.
Meanwhile, could a movie have influenced the VTech killer? Only because he was already sick...
Maybe it's part of the reaction to the massacre, but Florida has finally done something smart on gun control.
Art Teele, who famously killed himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building, has been posthumously exonerated on at least one charge -- that he threatened a plain clothes police officer whom he thought was threatening his life. This was another case that caused the media to do a good bit of self-examination, not that it changed much that goes on in this 24 hour media environment.
Between the time he killed two fellow Virginia Tech students at around 7:15 a.m. on Monday, and his 9:30 massacre of 30 other students, mass murderer Cho Seung Hui mailed a package to NBC.
NBC News President Steve Capus said the package arrived in New York late Tuesday night and was delivered to NBC headquarters about 11 a.m. Wednesday. The letter carrier noticed that it bore a return address from Blacksburg and alerted NBC security officers.
Cho’s name was not on the package; instead, the return address said it came from “A Ishmael.” Investigators said Cho’s body was found Monday with the words “Ismael Ax” scrawled on his arm.
There was no indication why Cho chose NBC News to receive the package, which was immediately turned over to FBI agents in New York. Capus said NBC News was cooperating with Virginia State Police and the FBI, which is assisting the state police.
The package included an 1,800-word manifesto-like statement in which Cho expresses rage, resentment and a desire to get even. The material is “hard to follow ... disturbing, very disturbing,” Capus said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.
The material does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does contain vague references. And it mentions “martyrs like Eric and Dylan” — apparently a reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenagers who killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., eight years ago this coming Friday.
The material is deeply angry, crying out against unspecified wrongs done to Cho in a diatribe laced with profanity.
I'm not going to post the pictures because I think it just glorifies this sicko, and could inspire other wack jobs. There have already been several scares on at least 10 college campuses, including another scare today at VA Tech and one at the University of Minnesota over the last 48 hours, with the threat of copycats always out there. NBC News has had to make its own tough choices on the pics and video. I mean what do you do? Other nets will be quick to throw stones, but what would they do if they had the scoop? I'll leave that to their consciences.
It's now emerging that Hui was deeply mentally ill, had stalked at least two women on campus, including in one instance, using his MySpace identity "Question Mark," and had been hospitalized on suicide watch in 2005. Poet and professor Nikki Giovanni had put him out of her class at VA Tech due to his behavior. A judge at one point even declared him a danger to himself or others, but he was sentenced only to outpatient treatment. An acquaintance, according to one report, even reported to authorities at the school that he might be suicidal. He told his roommates he had an imaginary girlfriend, and he apparently became obsessed with his first victim, Emily Hilscher, described online as a "cool girl", and may have killed her out of jealousy, rejection or envy.
And yet, he was legally qualified to purchase two handguns, including a semi-automatic Glock, in Virginia.
The people of South Korea are reacting to the VTech shootings by a former Korean national with "shock and shame." No worries, SK. This kid lived in Virginia since he was 8. This one's all ours. ...
Related: Arrests at two univeristies today over threatening messages to other students. One at Boston University and another in Colorado.
The adventures of Baghdad John, continued ... when a stroll isn't exactly a stroll
Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a pleasant stroll through that Baghdad market ... Baghdad John McCain "clarifies" his remarks about just how safe it is in Iraq:
(CBS) Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says he misspoke in comments he made about security in Baghdad and acknowledged that heavily armed troops and helicopter gunships accompanied him when he visited a market there. ...
Apparently, McCain took his stroll along with that heavy guard, and a crew from 60 Minutes. Apprently it was meant to be the centerpiece of a free media coup for the McCain presidential campaign, the way that horrid Katie Couric interrogation of the Edwardses boosted John Edwards' prospects for the Democratic nomination. It didn't quite work out that way, which McCain acknowledge in an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes tomorrow:
... "Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," says McCain. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life," he tells Pelley, adding, "I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."
Well isn't that nice...
He continues to maintain that the president's surge policy has improved safety in Baghdad. "I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I'd asked to do it, they would have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress," says McCain.
You can watch the full interview for yourself tomorrow, including full video of the now infamous "stroll..."
Katie Couric gets tough! Channels El Rushbo in scorched earth interview with ... cancer ... victim...
So NOW Katie wants to be a tough minded journalist, asking the hard questions and holding the feet of the powerful to the fire. And the subject of her sharp journalistic lens? Cancer victim Elizabeth Edwards and her husband, former Senator John Edwards. And being the brilliant mind that she is, Katie even managed to include a littany of questions straight from Rush Limbaugh's radio show, without even calling the Fat Man by name! An astute IFilm poster has the medley of Katie-style grilling:
Wow, Katie. You're like ... Edward R. Murrow, only perkier! And don't let those critics get you down... they're just hating on you because you're in fourth place in the news race and they're not. Oh, sorry, is that third?
Foxy Brown is at it again. Her beauty shop antics continue with her latest arrest, this time in my neck of the woods, Pembroke Pines, Florida. The Herald has the story, and the arrest report:
...Police say the rapper was hauled to the Broward County jail last night after squirting hair glue at a beauty store owner, swearing and spitting at him, knocking over display shelves and tussling with an officer.
The charges: battery and resisting an officer -- with violence. ...
Thursday's alleged smackdown happened at Queen Beauty Supply, 12105 Pembroke Rd. in Pembroke Pines. Police and the owner gave this blow by blow:
Brown showed up just before closing with a female companion, wearing a neon green jacket, jean miniskirt and knee-high stiletto boots.
She bought a squirt bottle of hair glue, then went to the bathroom at the rear of the store to apply it.
But it was closing time. Hayssam Ghoneim, the proprietor, knocked on the bathroom door and told her it was lights out.
No answer. He knocked again and became more insistent. The rapper indicated she wasn't finished with the hair glue.
'I said to her, `This is not a beauty salon. You need to leave. The store is closed,' '' Ghoneim recalled.
He said she opened the door and he grabbed it. She tried to push him out of the way, and then, spewing profanities, tried to squirt him with the glue.
She missed, but managed to get the glue all over the floor.
Brown then knocked over two display shelves of spray bottles and ''was throwing everything in sight.'' Ghoneim said. ``I was afraid it was going to get out of hand.''
According to Ghoneim, Brown then declared: ``I'm going to send some guys to hurt you and the store. You're in big trouble.''
She spit on the floor and the store owner before leaving.
Roughly three minutes later, Ghoneim said, he heard loud screaming and cursing in the parking lot. He believes that was the arrest.
Former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway hates gay people ... no ... I mean he really, really hates gay people. And he's dumb enough to say so to a sports talk radio host ... who's also a freaking reporter...
The comments came as Hardaway appeared on Dan LeBatard's Miami talk show, as he was being asked about former NBA star Don Amaechi's revelation that he is gay. Hardaway said that not only is he homophobic, he wouldn't want a gay person on his team ... oh, read it for yourself:
``You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.''
As for a gay player like Amaechi sharing the close confines of the locker room with Timmy:
''First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team,'' Hardaway replied. ``And second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room. But stuff like that is going on and there's a lot of other people I hear that are like that and still in the closet and don't want to come out of the closet, but you know I just leave that alone.''
Asked what he would do if he had a gay teammate, Hardaway said he would ask for the player to be traded or to be bought out of his contract.
''Something has to give,'' he said. ``And I think the majority of players would ask for him to be traded or they would want to be traded. Or buy him out of his contract and just let him go. Something has to give. If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that are upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate.''
As for Amaechi, he says:
''We are much further behind than I'd like,'' Amaechi said. ``People in America and England [where Amaechi grew up] would like to think racism is over, sexism is over, and homophobia is over, but it's not. My coming out will show that gay people don't all look like Jack from Will and Grace. Some of us are big, athletic men, and that should be OK.''
Amaechi said he had not heard from a single former teammate or NBA player, that he had only heard from former coach Doc Rivers. He challenged straight athletes ''who feel able'' to stand up for gay rights.
''I would like professional male athletes to be active supporters, and that doesn't mean putting a rainbow decal on their car,'' he said. ``It means letting other guys in the locker room know that it's not OK to make gay jokes, that it's hurtful, and that it's not OK to be homophobic.
``But it's hard to get straight guys to step up. When men stood by women during the suffrage movement, they were called progressive and bold. When whites stood by blacks, they were heroes. But a straight guy standing up for a gay guy faces discrimination, and that's a big part of the battle we're fighting.''
After the interview, Hardaway expanded on the comments with CBS 4 reporter Jim Berry, telling him that if he found out a family member was gay, he would have nothing to do with them.
Writing about the exchange he instigated with Hardaway (one of only a handful of NBA stars who ignored their publicists' advice and answered questions about Amaeichi's coming out in a new book, "Man in the Middle," Lebatard describes the comments as hurtful and homophobic, but "honest." They were also stupid for a public figure.
But ... and this is the big "but..."
Keeping it real ... most straight men feel exactly the same way, and would have the exact same reaction to the idea of stripping naked in a sweaty locker room in close quarters with a gay teammate. Most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing. Most straight people cringed at the Snickers commercial. Most straight people had a hard time being convinced to watch "Broke Back Mountain." (I admit that I couldn't go see the movie either, despite my sister's ringing endorsement, because I didn't want to watch the two male characters having sex.)
Does that make me homophobic? Probably. And I'm not exactly proud of it. But part of the intrinsic nature of "straightness" is that the idea of homosexual sex is ... well... gross ... even if you think that gay people are perfectly lovely individuals. For the record, I'm sure gay people think straight sex is gross, too, it's just that the nature of political correctness is that gay people are allowed to say straight sex is gross, but the reverse is considered to be patently homophobic.
So was Tim Hardaway wrong to say what he said? Yes and no. On the one hand, in a free society, he has the right to feel and say exactly what he wants. On the other hand, he's a grown man and will have to suffer the consequences. He probably sunk his prospects of ever becoming an anchor on ESPN, and he has already begun to suffer career consequences, including being bounced from All Star Weekend. In the current age, you never, ever say blatantly bigoted things out loud, on the air, to a reporter (or if you're Isaiah Washington, you don't say them on the set...) ... unless of course, you're Rush Limbaugh... As one gay leader in South Florida put it:
"'It is a very simple process to say `no' or 'I'd rather not comment' than to go on the record and make malicious and bigoted statements,'' (president of the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Steve) Adkins said.
``. . . Let's just say I'm very disappointed that if someone in this day and age has these kinds of feelings, they're not intelligent enough to keep them to themselves. Beyond that, there is no place in our society for that kind of hatred and bigotry. End of story.''
Further, as an African-American, you're actually held to an even higher tolerance standard, which may or may not be fair. But as LeBatard himself noted, what Hardaway said probably met with quiet, embarrassed agreement on some level by many other players, who are now looking to their left and right, and perhaps quietly, and uneasily, wondering if the guy showering next to them is sneaking a peek at their naughty bits.
There are times when I think the left reads way too much into things. This is one of those times. John Aravosis' rather overwrought reaction to the Snickers SuperBowl ad (one of the few funny ones on an otherwise dull ad night) is, to me, way over the top. Dude, it's just a stupid commercial. And sorry, but most straight guys (and women) do react with winces at the sight of two men kissing on the lips. As Shabba Ranks used to say, it's just reality. And more importantly, it's just a commercial...
Update: the New York Times picks up the story ... and Snickers backs down, pulling the ad. This is actually quite unbelievable to me. Watch the ad for yourself, below, and tell me you seriously, seriously see violent homophobia at work. Seriously:
And here's Snickers' statement:
“As with all of our Snickers advertising, our goal was to capture the attention of our core Snickers consumer, primarily 18-to-24-year-old adult males,” said a spokeswoman for Masterfoods, Alice Nathanson. “Feedback from our target consumers has been positive, and many media and Web site commentators on this year’s Super Bowl lineup ranked the commercial among this year’s best.”
“We know that humor is highly subjective and we understand that some consumers have found the commercial offensive,” Ms. Nathanson said, adding: “Clearly that was not our intent. We do not plan to continue the ad on television or on our Web site.”
That apparently, is not good enough for John Aravosis and his commenters, who want a major league apology and even new ads showing gay men in them. Try to follow me here ... Snickers bars are primarily eaten by children, and by young men -- as the company says, its target market is college aged men. And those two groups ... follow me now ... would definitely react with laughter or "gross-out" to the same situation. Right? Isn't that why the ad works?
Update: Just for reference here is the other Snickers ad, called "Wrench." Note how many commenters who themselves are gay say they found the ad funny. Go figure...
Here's the version called "Motor Oil":
And here's are the reaction spots, from the Colts:
...and from the Bears:
Now when you listen to the reactions, I can see where someone who is gay might have had their feelings hurt by hearing the reactions of rather typical straight men to seeing two men kiss. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those reactions, if disheartening to a gay person, are very, very typical. EVERYONE at the Super Bowl party I was at reacted the same way. We can't ALL be violent homophobes. It's human nature to expect romantic pairings to be male-female. The visceral reaction people have to this ad is, I hate to say it, rather normal. Maybe gays don't want it to remain that way, but for now, it is.
But more importantly, it's JUST A FREAKING CANDY COMMERCIAL.
Oh, okay, if you hated that one, check out this Snicker's ad from Australia:
Sick, misanthropic bastards like Bill O'Reilly and fact-challenged morons like this guy should be slapped for insinuating that the abducted Missouri boy, Shawn Hornbeck, who was held by a wacko named Michael Devlin for for years, either liked his circumstances as an abductee, or ran away from home and stayed with Devlin on purpose. The latest news, that he talked to a police officer about a stolen bike, 10 months into his ordeal, and that he made friends and even went to a school dance, are titilating to a public hungry to know the gory details of his captivity, but as most psychologists will tell you, they are not dispositive.
It seems to me that the most likely scenario is the obvious one: Shawn, who after all was just an 11 year old child when he was taken at gunpoint. was terrified of his captor as he told Oprah, not to mention psychologically brutalized and so he complied with him completely, in order to survive. It seems likely that Devlin not only had a gun, he also had abducted, probably molested and maybe even killed, children before. And then there was the other kind of terror he likely used. This chilling slip by a Missouri Sheriff tells a lot:
"In cases like these, there might be a possibility that there might be other kids involved," Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke told a news conference.
Franklin County is home to Ben Ownby, 13, one of the boys Devlin is accused of kidnapping.
Toelke described Devlin, who will be arraigned today, as a sex offender but then took it back.
"People who commit these crimes don't just wake up one day and decide to be a sex offender," he said.
But in the next breath, the sheriff said he didn't have information that the 300-pound pizzeria manager was a sex offender. ...
But he most likely is, and maybe even a murderous one.
And if that's true, it's also likely that the day that police stumbled on that truck, and discovered Ben Ownby in that apartment, was the luckiest day of Shawn Hornbeck's life. It seems obvious that his captor was drawn to boys around 11 years old, and since Shawn was now a considerably bigger, older teen, he was looking to "replace" him with Ben Ownby. And that can only mean one thing: Shawn Hornbeck probably didn't have long to live. Scroll down to the second headline in this report:
The captor who held Shawn Hornbeck for more than four years kept him from fleeing by threatening to kill the boy and his entire family, investigators said Monday.
That helps explain why Shawn, 15, freed Friday when police tracked a second kidnapped boy to an apartment in Kirkwood, did not seize ample opportunities to run or summon help, according to the investigators....
Officials have determined that Shawn and Ben both were grabbed off the street and prevented from leaving Devlin's vehicle. And while all three were wired into the Internet and involved in computer games, there is no evidence of prior contact between Devlin and either boy, according to investigators.
Investigators have found no evidence that Devlin abducted any other children, sources said. But they are poring over computer equipment and videotapes obtained in a weekend search of his apartment, looking for evidence in Ben and Shawn's cases and any indication of other victims.
Investigators say they are puzzled that Devlin never has been accused of lesser offenses, which tend to be found among people who work their way up the crime ladder to child abduction.
Also on Monday, Washington County Sheriff Kevin Schroeder said Devlin owned a piece of vacant property there, about 20 minutes from where Shawn was kidnapped in the rural community of Richwoods.
Cue the backhoes...
All the speculation about him should end. What this kid needs is support -- emotional, psychological and financial. He's going to need to catch up on four years of school, four years with his family, and create new memories to replace what have to be horrible ones -- and mundane ones -- he was likely forced to adjust to a situation he didn't create, and to his credit, he seems to have done so. That said, his parents will have to keep a close eye on this young man, and pray that he can still become a well adjusted adult, after several years of loving care and some semblance of a normal life.
There are a lot of questions here. Why didn't anyone around "Shawn Devlin" act on what seemed to be suspicions that he at least looked like Shawn Hornbeck? Why didn't his friends tell their parents? If they did, why didn't their parents tell police? This case was apparently huge in that part of Missouri, yet no one seemed to question what was apparent, right in front of them? Even Devilin's boss apparently became suspicious of him eventually, and to his credit, he did talk to a friend on the police force. But the boss was the exception, and that's the real tragedy here; in addition to the prurience of so many people about what these two boys went through, and the insensitivity of a Bill O'Reilly (who should, as Keith Olbermann said, be immediately pushed off the public stage,) there is this paralysis that inflicts all of us -- an unwillingness to get involved, which allows people like Michael Devlin to do the evil things they do.
But even that is 20/20 hindsight. Those folks in Missouri could have been any of us.
Anyway, give to the Shawn Hornbeck foundation here. I'm not sure if there's a fund for Ben Ownby, but there should be, and if I find it, I'll link to it, too.
How much longer until that chubbed-out shrew Rosie O'Donnell gets her fat ass canned by Babwa? How much longer will the freak show that is "The View" continue to darken our television screens? How much more kick-ass funny can Donald Trump be???
Just when you thought it was safe to open Page Six, we get the news that Rosie O blew up at Babs in the ABC dressing room, calling her a "f**king liar" and insisting that Walters has been pushing the Trump-Rosie fued for media buzz. Barbara has publicly denied taking sides in the fued (unlike myself ... I'm for square for The Donald on this one...) but Trump continues to insist that she is anything but neutral, even sending her a letter detailing what he says, she says, about Rosie. First, the blow up:
The fight started around 8:30 a.m. when Walters, back from a two-week vacation, walked into the hair and makeup room at ABC studios and tried to hug O'Donnell, whom she hired onto the popular show. According to spies, O'Donnell recoiled from Walters' touch and yelled, "You kept me in the newspapers this whole time!" Both "View" producer Bill Geddie and Walters tried to calm O'Donnell. Walters told her, "I did everything I could to squash the story" - prompting Rosie to scream, "You didn't call me for 10 goddamn days, and you didn't tell me what you were going to say on television!"
O'Donnell is fuming because Trump went on Larry King two weeks ago - after she had called Trump a "snake-oil salesman" - and said Walters told him she regretted hiring O'Donnell. Trump also blasted the comic as "a horrible human being and a loser."
During her vacation, Walters issued a carefully worded statement saying, "I'm sorry there is friction between Donald and Rosie. That said, I do not regret for one moment my choice to hire Rosie O'Donnell as the moderator of 'The View.' "
After O'Donnell's outburst at Walters yesterday, Geddie jumped in and told her, "You've crossed the line." O'Donnell retorted, "Cameras are now outside of my house where my wife and kids are." She turned to Walters and said, "You went all around this and never called [Trump] a liar. You never said, 'Donald is lying.' You never called him a liar."
When Walters tried to defend herself, O'Donnell erupted, "Are you looking me in the face and denying you didn't tell him you didn't say this? You're a [bleeping] liar." ...
Trump’s letter, sent to The Post and other media outlets, mocks Rosie throughout and reveals conversations when Walters complained to Trump about Rosie’s behavior. "After your maniacal and foolish rant against me two weeks ago, Barbara called me from her vacation (I did not call her) in order to apologize for your behavior," the one-page letter reads. "She had heard that I was going to retaliate against you and tried to talk me out of it."
Trump asserts that Walters urged him to come on "The View" so that she could "patch things up," but he refused. Trump also claims that Walters told him "working with her is like living in hell," and "Donald, never get into the mud with pigs." Walters went so far as to say: "Don’t worry; she won’t be here for long."
The WaPo's Richard Cohen comes to the defense of America's fallen lady, and smacks down the media for continuing to treat her like a punch line:
She is a branded woman, not an adulterer but something even worse -- a girl toy, a trivial thing, a punch line. Yet she did what so many women at that age would do. She seduced (or so she thought) an older man. She fantasized that he would leave his wife for her. Here was her crime: She was a girl besotted. It happens even to Republicans.
But she is now a woman with a master's degree from a prestigious school and is going to be 34 come July. Her clock ticks, her life ebbs. Where is the man for her? Where is the guy brave enough, strong enough, admirable enough to take her as his wife, to suffer the slings and arrows of her outrageous fortune -- to say to the world (for it would be the entire world) that he loves this woman who will always be an asterisk in American history. I hope there is such a guy out there. It would be nice. It would be fair.
It would be nice, too, and fair, also, if Lewinsky were treated by the media as it would treat a man. What's astounding is the level of sexism applied to her, as if the wave of the women's movement broke over a new generation of journalists and not a drop fell on any of them. Where, pray tell, is the man who is remembered just for sex? Where is the guy who is the constant joke for something he did in his sexually wanton youth? Maybe here and there some preacher, but in those cases the real subject matter is not sex but hypocrisy. Other than those, no names come to mind.
This is the year 2007, brand new and full of promise. It would be nice if my colleagues in the media would resolve to treat Monica Lewinsky as a lady, to think of her as they would themselves, to remember their own youth and the things they did and to understand that from this day forward anyone who takes a cheap shot at Lewinsky has a moral and professional obligation to look in the mirror.